Collector’s Curse

Shamelessly stoen from the guy who draws Mahotsukainitaisetsunakoto

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.


9 Responses to “Collector’s Curse”

  • Kidan

    I’m a collector of the type you’re describing. I buy figures, and open their packages, I buy lego sets, and then build them to display. I buy comics and books and actually break the spine, dog ear the pages and read the things. When I buy a “special edition” of a movie with some oddball trinket, I choose the trinket that I’d actually use (such as a movie still from Transformers for my son’s room or a set of Harry Potter bookmarks). As such, I won’t usually purchase the limited editions of animes, as I see no value in the collector’s items included with them.

    All that said, it’s not that I don’t value my collection. What it is, is that I don’t view my collection as an investment. I purchase these things because I want them or I want to use them. Their value to me is in the intrinsic joy I get out of the items, rather than some arcane price tag applied via market forces.

  • IKnight

    By and large I don’t collect anime stuff. Finances forbid going beyond standard DVDs: I can’t eat figurines, after all.

  • hayase

    I like to have stuff too, but the lack of budget and space in my room forbid me from buying as much as I can. I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t indulge too much in consumerism–yes, that’s how I placate my sorry self. lol

  • omo

    I buy stuff for archival, so there is some value in the market prices of arcane objects. But then again lately I just want to get the stuff for the cheap, because it’s also a moot point–buying anime merchandise is an exercise of waste from an economic standpoint.

  • Alex D.

    Why did you link that Momoi blog?!? Arghh, I totally should have gone to Connichi instead of AX. DDDDDDDDDDDDD:

    As for collector-mania, I’m not sure how many people buy stuff to show off. Maybe it’s just the phrasing; the way I structure my purchases, the showing off is a by-product rather than the impetus (and maybe this is what you were saying anyways?). No doubt for some it’s the opposite, but (based on my limited interaction with fandom) they’re the minority.

    You pretty much nailed the two reasons I go out of my way for merchandise. I either love the show or I’m buying premium for premium’s sake. In the second case, I typically go for the special edition because I prefer (where possible) to have the most complete/best version of what I’m buying.

    Even then though, a lot of the premium stuff I buy I actually do use (artboxes, OSTs & figures). Beyond that, stuff like pencil boards and postcards are really there for the art anyways (who in their right mind would mail away the CCS postcards?), so in a sense I “use” those just by looking at them. The only major category of stuff that I don’t use is apparel (hats, shirts, pantsu, etc), but I know people that do (well, except for the pantsu). Beyond that, you start to get into the really unique stuff like the F/SN clock or the Sugar shampoo bottles, which might be some of the best examples of what you’re getting at, but really make up a small fraction of DVD bonus stuff.

  • dm

    I suppose I wouldn’t mind one of those UCC Evangelion coffee cans (though, please, not the new ones with the maid motif). I would drink the coffee, though.

    I suppose I am at the anti-collector end of things. I throw the boxes away, I won’t buy something with an included tchotchke unless that’s the only way to get it, I store the DVDs in a binder (along with their support material — booklets, DVD covers, that sort of thing). I do have a rotating display of pencil-boards and post-cards, however.

    As to cels and cel sketches and reference-sheets, I buy those because I like the shows or the characters. Few of them will have any value in the future because the shows will be forgotten in ten or twenty years’ time.

  • digitalboy

    It’s probably compulsive for me, like most things are =_= I just collect because it makes me happy… my reason for everything :p

  • omo

    Alex: LOL re: Momoi. I should’ve told you sooner. Re: buying: I call what you are doing “showing off to yourself.”

    dm: We know you are weird, it’s ok, there is hope.

    digitalboy: werd.

  • dm

    Plus, I have a box where I put stuff just for AGP prizes.

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