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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just One More

A strange sequence of events has occurred over the past few months. Either an inordinately large number of vintage Transformers that I still need have become available or I have just finally decided to stop waiting and finish out the remaining figures I need. Regardless of circumstances, I have been purchasing everything in sight. I have probably spent more in four months than I have in the past two years combined.

This has necessitated that I sell some other, less desirable items in order to compensate. Regardless of what some may think I am not made of money and even if I were I couldn't justify spending such ludicrous amounts of money at once on toys. After all, as rare and fragile as some of them may be they are still plastic toys for children. Fortunately I had enough other items I could sell in order to break even on all my purchases meaning that I really didn't spend any money at all on these new figures. However the experience opened an interesting door.

I have often heard of other collectors remarking about how once they began selling they had a hard time stopping. And I can see exactly why. Personally I have become complacent with a lot of my items and don't really even notice them anymore. After selling everything so far I am in no way regretful about my decisions, in fact I feel unencumbered. Collecting does tend to weigh you down mentally, after all you have purchased a lot of physical material and you want to do your best to keep it in the best shape possible for the future. Especially in my case where all I have takes up an entire room; it is a lot to maintain.

Already gone.
Which leads me into the next step in the sequence. I have always known buying everything on my lists requires a certain amount of sacrifice. One of those sacrifices being that I would pay a large sum for a vintage Black Zarak and never be able to touch it. However when a friend of mine told me he was thinking about selling his it got me to thinking about how much I actually want one. Is BZ more of just a status symbol? Would I really enjoy having the figure or would I continuously worry about breaking or it just falling apart one day? Would I be able to justify to myself the expense if it did break and was all of a sudden worthless? I have to face the fact owning the figure would probably add more stress to my life, which seems like a strange thing to say but I believe it to be true.

So what does this mean then? Do I purchase all the other figures save the ones that I know are too fragile to handle? That certainly removes most future AFA purchases. Could I handle having all figures in a collection save one? This brings up another serendipitous step in the sequence; I happened upon this article not too long ago. Once sentence stood out to me:
A set of N-1 is as worthless as an empty set.
Which essentially says if you don't have every single figure in a given set of figures then you have nothing. This has been my guiding tenant for a very long time. Ages ago it was "Collect Every Transformer, EVER." Today it is more refined, but it still requires me to finish off eras, lines, etc even if there are figures I don't really care for. It is all about having Every. Single. One. Amazingly this has begun to open my eyes somewhat. As the article says:
Is it worth collecting something if you don't have the complete set? And that, in turn, means finding other reasons why you might be collecting something beyond merely achieving some metaphysical sense of completion because you have all of the kinds.
I have already completed one of my goals: a complete loose G1 American set, with all paperwork. So I know what it means to achieve one of these said goals. Even though there are figures in that set which I absolutely abhor (Action Masters) I purchased them all because that was part of the goal. It was about achieving an end result, regardless of the minutiae.

Gotta snag 'em all.
How long will this go on, and to what end? How much do I need to accumulate in order to feel like I have achieved something? Perhaps it is because I don't have enough other challenges in life that I feel the need to achieve these collecting goals. If that is true and I am collecting in order to compensate for some misplaced sense of achievement, then it needs to stop. I do not want my life to be defined by what I collect, or how much I have, or how much I have spent. As I am sure many people can relate, I am already "the Transformer guy" to most people I know. And within my local Transformer community I am "the G1 guy" or "the guy who has everything". For a while this was acceptable, but I refuse to be defined by my hobby, in any capacity.

Where the true value lies.
I used to think collecting was a means to an end in-itself. "I collect because I enjoy collecting and I will collect forever." But as time has gone on it has become more apparent to me that collecting may only be a step in the process, because once I have achieved everything there is to achieve in collecting, what is left? Long ago collecting was a very solitary exercise, but through collecting I have been able to share my passion with other like-minded individuals and interact with a wonderful group of people whom I feel privileged to call my friends even if we have never met in person or they live thousands of miles away. I even had the opportunity to host a Transformers convention which I feel was like the epitome of what my hobby has afforded me. And I feel like this might be the true purpose of my collecting; not to accumulate, but to interact and share.

So what is the lesson and where do I go from here? If I have redefined the rules of this hobby then that necessitates some changes. By no longer being a completionist it means I am done with vintage figures as I purchased all the ones I really wanted long ago (with one possible exception). But this is not giving up, it is letting go. And that is what I took away from selling so many things. I have realized there is a great deal that I don't want or need and so it is time to clean house, literally.

No longer will I be ruled by the next purchase; "just one more and I'm done". It is an illusion, I will never be done, and I have to make some changes to interrupt the cycle. I can finally take a look at what I have accumulated and trim it down to the essence of what I want. Does this mean I will be selling some American G1's? Very possibly. Japanese G1's? There's a good chance. Everything between that and Prime? Most definitely. But this new mindset will require some acclimation on my part, as I believe it is wise to think about such drastic changes thoroughly before making them. Because once they're gone, they're gone.

See also:

Collecting Rules
The Chance of a Lifetime


  1. It's good to become and remain flexible about collecting habits! Especially when it comes to Transformers. I think in the end you'll have a collection that, pound-for-pound, you enjoy even more.

    May I recommend you post here any items you've decided to sell? :D

    1. Yes, I think it is important to not get bogged down for too long, after all the very essence about these things is "change", so I guess it isn't such a bad thing to embrace that.

      I haven't decided how best to advertise what I am selling, I will probably put up a thread on TFW (which I will link here of course) but I imagine most of it will be going to eBay as I don't want to hold on to it forever trying to sell it.

  2. Man, is everyone getting introspective this year? I can completely relate to your Black Zarak problem. I wrestled with it mightily when I recently got Monstructor. Let's face it, anything with GPS is gonna break; it's only a matter of time. Did you ultimately get him?

    It's good to have goals to keep your collection contained and in perspective. I marvel at those who just seem to have everything. I love the Transformers as much as the next collector, but I sometimes wonder where it ends with collectors like that.

    Great, thought provoking article. By the way, what's your eBay seller ID so that I might see what your selling?

    1. I think we're all raising the bar for each other and so our articles are becoming better as a result. I have ultimately decided not to buy Black Zarak and it feels pretty good actually. I realized that being a completionist is easy, you don't have to decide what you really want and what you don't, you just check off everything on the list. So now I have a much more difficult task ahead, choosing what I really want, and letting go of what I don't.

      My seller ID is the same pretty much everywhere: Arkvander. Same on TFW, Allspark, Seibertron, Shmax, eBay.

  3. Arkvander has finally seen the light! Seriously though I understand where you are coming from. All this time I've felt like no one understood why I constantly sold stuff. Remember my big purge from a few years back when my family needed the money? Once I got started I just got on a roll. Do I miss any of those Botcon sets and other TFs I sold? Nope, not at all. Do I regret my decision to sell so many things? Again the answer is nope.

    Being on an ever tighter collecting budget as most I have to sell something I own to fund just about any new purchase these days as the term "extra money" or "disposable income" just isn't in my vocabulary. I guess though I kind of see that as a blessing and not a curse. What I mean by that is I don't make too many impulse purchases or feel compelled to buy something just to complete a series. I really have to contemplate what I want since it usually means giving something up.

    I've never been a completionist, although I have to say you've made me want to complete my G1 collection for quite some time...I just haven't been actively motivated to buy some pieces. Most of what I still own is stuff I Spychangers, Micromasters, Pretenders and the like. I've long given up some of my original collecting goals and just focused on what I like. It feels liberating.

    In addition to letting BZ go, I've got a shelf I'm currently staring at as I type this with a few elusive TFs I'm thinking about parting with. Got a few things I'd like to buy (Grandus...I can dream can't I?), but ultimately it's about freeing up space (and money) for the future and getting rid of things I just don't want. You won't be seeing a "collecting goals / rules" type post from me anytime soon. I'm simply sticking to my "buy what I like / can afford" rule.

    I wish you luck with your sales and I'm curious to see what you'll be parting with. So does it feel good to finally breathe again?

    1. I will say, honestly it feels very good. Just not to be under the continuous pressure of trying to get those last 20 figures (and how much money it would require to do so) I can already tell I am more relaxed, lol. I have also totally given up on Shmax, I have items moving in and out so quickly now I just can't keep up. I will say that removing a lot of these items from my peripheral view has really helped me focus. Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better and I think I hit my low point a couple weeks ago. It is all sunshine from here on out.

  4. I also get what you mean about Black Zarak, and have ultimately decided to make a custom of him. If I can get my hands on the Darkov kit, it'll make things easier, but even if not, It'll be done. I broke the gotta have them all cycle with 3rd party all making the same characters, which ultimately led to me not buying any 3rd party stuff at all for a long time, and selling most of the ones I had.