Back when the X-Files was a cult hit, one of my family member was pretty smitten with it. There was a lot of fan things to be done, and different organizations catered to the fans of this then-growing, popular franchise. Merchandising, specifically, was all over the place.
That got me thinking later on: how does merchandising fit in the mindset of a fan? It’s definitely something people use to show off to others. But showing off is something people of all segment and all cross sections do. After all, there’s nothing wrong with showing off something that is genuinely praise-worthy. Perhaps a live-recorded Momoi alarm clock is one of those, when you requested it from her to say something to get that blood sugar up in the AM. Perhaps it’s your straight-A student-child that you want to show off. Or maybe it’s some battle scar and the long story behind it.
Looking at the collector complex from this angle is getting just half the story, however. There are some collectors who do so out of compulsion and not out of love. It’s not to say they do not love the shows they are collecting, but they do it mainly out of the curse that has been set up before us. A limited edition of some popular show many people like, included with the DVDs are a bunch of pretty but also pretty useless trinket (in the sense that once you use them, the value of the collection depreciates).
Perhaps it’s out of value, then? Do we have any “collectors” who do not value the special stuff they are buying, but merely buy them because they want to have/use the extra stuff? I think it would be a very small number.