I’m writing this blog the day after Dallas Comic Con ended. The convention took place at the Dallas Convention Center this time, instead of the Irving Convention Center, due to space limitations. As a result, there were an amazing amount of vendors, writers, artists, and craftspeople there hawking their wares. I was there promoting MarvinDog Media with my friend Taylor Lymbeyr (@barnlord on twitter, and at www.taylorlymbery.com you should seriously check out his art). I had plenty of time to walk the floor and see the various offerings, and I was struck by how few dealers were there selling vintage toys. This is troubling to the collector in me.
You see, when I first started going to these sorts of conventions, back in 1999, you would find table after table of vintage toy dealers and a few swordmakers and lightsaber dealers mixed in. It was a nerdy collector’s dream. And if you found something you wanted at one table, take a lap around the exhibit floor, you’d probably find it at a better price elsewhere. These days, the balance has shifted. Now, there are tons of people selling leather goods, swords, sabers (light and otherwise), and very few collectibles dealers around. I know the rise of eBay has a lot to do with this, and it has made it easier for people to fill holes in their collections. However, as we old people are fond of saying, “It’s just not the same as it was before.”
There’s something truly magical about walking up to a table, scanning the inventory, and seeing something. Is that what I think it is? Is that really a complete-in-open-box Kenner Micro Collection Millenium Falcon from 1982 that I need to complete my run? It is!! How much for this? Really? SOLD!
The flipside: Let me log in to eBay. What is it I’m looking for? Oh yeah, the Micro Collection Falcon. How would I search for that. Let’s try “Kenner Micro Collection Millenium Falcon” and see what happens. Oh, look, a lot of Micro Machines from 1998. Page after page and you might find what you want. There might be pictures. Those pictures might give you some idea of what you’re bidding on, but you can never be absolutely sure.
I used to anticipate these conventions because it was a chance to visit my favorite toy dealers and maybe meet a few new ones. Nowadays, I’m lucky if the guys from the last show are at the next show, and the ones that are typically have the same stock as last time.
As with most things, as our society becomes more connected electronically, our interpersonal interaction in some areas becomes less common. This isn’t a bad thing. I’ve struck up friendships with all of you over the wires of the internet, and those friendships are as real as any I have in my day-to-day local life, but it DOES lack the warmth and instant connection that you get from face-to-face interaction. The same is true of collecting. Sure, I can build my collection from my laptop, but that’s not the way I prefer it. As you may have guessed, a big part of what I love about collecting are the stories that come along with a specific item I have tracked down. “I got it from this guy who lives in Trenton and has this terrific southern drawl but loves toys” is better than “I placed my bid with 5 seconds left and got it before anyone else could snipe me back.” Or, maybe that’s just me.
Is this experience unique to my area, or do you all have the same experience at your local conventions? Let me know in the comments section, because I’d love to know how it is in other parts of the country.
I’m hoping I make it to Celebration next year. I also hope I remember to pack an extra suitcase for all the goodies I find there. I also hope to bring back as many stories as I do new items for my shelves. Most of all, I hope to make new friends.
Til next month, Marvin says hi.
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