(In)Definite Article #1: Collecting, Past, Present, and Future

Collecting is all about value. But what does it mean to value something? Is something inherently valuable because of what it is, or what it represents to the collector? Questionably an article and not canon at all, read on to see some recent reflections I had on my collection habit.

This article was inspired by episode 96 of the Toy Run podcast. You can give them a listen here . 

 

In the news, a new trilogy of Star Wars films headed by Rian Johnson has been announced. Another set of films of indeterminate number will be put together by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff of Game of Thrones fame. We’ve also got Solo coming out this May, Episode IX in 2019, a TV show for Disney’s streaming service, and the unconfirmed Obi Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett films. For better or worse, this means you’ll be up to your ventilation shaft in Star Wars media – tie-in comics, novels, animated shorts and series, and of course toys and collectibles.

The podcast I mentioned earlier mentioned a couple good points. For one, ‘completionist’ collecting may go away with the release of so many films. How can you grab up every figure from every film with such a rapid pace of releases? For a time it was a feasible goal, and many collectibles sold were on a level playing field in terms of quality. Before the sequel releases, there were plenty of core characters, weirdos in the background, and vehicles to cart them around in. Yet with the sequels came more variety and certain changes in quality and distribution. Now we have 5POA figures, 12 inch figures, and Black Series figures fighting for shelf space with Hot Wheels Star Wars vehicles (and character-themed cars,) die-cast mini statue sort of things that no one wanted, and Black Series helmets big and small. Releases are becoming more and more focused on the masses rather than just kids and just hardcore collectors – and that makes sense, because Disney of course wants to reach as broad an audience as possible with its new films. That means not only products for hardcore collectors, but also things that sometimes collectors won’t touch with a ten-foot stick.

So collecting will soon come down to where you draw your personal line, and where you place value in what’s offered from toymakers. Sure, you can still grab everything if you’ve got the disposable income. But what about cancelled lines such as the Black Series vehicles? I myself have several and love them, but they aren’t being made anymore. I haven’t decided if I’ll go after ones I’m missing or not. But since the realization that no more of those particular toys will be sold, I’ve picked up probably a dozen or more Black Series 6 inch figures over the past year. Maybe I’ve decided I want poseable, fairly large figures to pose around in my studio more than I want smaller vehicles. It all comes down to what you want to hold onto, display, or maybe even resell – does this have personal value or monetary value?

I’m not the kind of collector that has a number tallying in my head of what each figure is worth and what I could sell things for. I honestly don’t care. I pick things up and hold onto them because I love the characters and stories, and having a version of a character I can hold onto and display as a piece of art is fun for me. I vaguely remember how much I paid for things and usually use toy receipts as bookmarks for Star Wars novels and comics, which sort of makes them like little time capsules in my mind. That’s where the value in my collection comes from, that and the occasional funny stories that come up from hunting toys. I know I could dig out the box for my Darth Revan figure and probably resell him for $100 or more, but I wouldn’t do that to someone who genuinely wants to enjoy the figure. Scalpers make me sick, so I do most of my shopping in physical stores just to avoid price gouging when I can.

Collecting in the future, I hope, becomes more about personal value than scalping figures and hoarding valuable collectibles for the sake of cash value alone. There comes a point where obsessing over numbers – and I’m a numbers guy by day at work – has to become tedious and boring. To show the kind of value I get from my collection, I wanted to talk about a few oddball figures I’ve picked up recently.

 

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Even though I love the Empire so much their symbol is on my wedding ring, my next-favorite group is of course bounty hunters. These law enforcement agents bring enemies of the Empire to justice with sometimes unconventional methods – customized starships, modified blasters, and usually a business sense that can negotiate some extra credits and compensation for their dangerous line of work. I’ll get to Boba Fett someday (I have a lot of Boba Fett figures) but right now I want to talk about Dengar.

I picked this Dengar up at my local comic shop for $3.00, along with an Attack of the Clones version of Boba Fett I didn’t have prior. As you can see, the card art notes the first appearance of Dengar (in the films) at the meeting aboard Darth Vader’s Executor. That scene with the original bounty hunters spoke to me in a weird way when I first saw it. The Empire can’t be absolutely everywhere, and when it’s troopers and other forms of enforcement can’t get the job done, they dive into the underworld and hire expert trackers and assassins.

So do I value this figure at $3.00 or the $14.99 it’s going for on Amazon? Well, monetary value is largely irrelevant to me. I like Dengar, and it’s a good Dengar figure (yes, I know there’s a better one out there – I’m personally waiting for the 6 inch Black Series version though.) What’s more important to me is that I can connect memories to the figure, not only the film but to where I’m at in life right this moment. While I examined the card more closely, I found some numbers on the side – series 4, figure 17. My wedding anniversary, and coincidentally dating anniversary with my wife, is April 17th, or 4-17. When she came home from work that day, I made her laugh with a comment about how this weird, kind of fat mercenary has this oddly-specific tie to our relationship just because of that random number. And now I might keep it on the card just to remember that moment by.

 

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That portrait – A face only a superfan could love

Then there’s this guy, BoShek, or as I like to jokingly call him, “The Most Important Star Wars Character.” BoShek first appeared in A New Hope, and although he does very little onscreen, he’s the guy Obi Wan Kenobi talks to just before he gets to talk to Han Solo and Chewbacca. This guy clearly knows who can get a job done, or he’s fallen for Solo’s charm and believes in the scoundrel. I paid $7.00 for an acceptable carded figure, whereas the going price on Amazon is currently $19.95. I say I got a fair deal for THE MOST IMPORTANT STAR WARS CHARACTER. I plan to display him proudly in my studio because I love that in Star Wars, the characters you see for barely a second are just as important and popular (if not more so) as some of the main characters.

 

 

These two figures from Revenge of the Sith were actually purchased years apart. I just bought this ROTS version of Tarkin on a separate trip to the same shop where I bought BoShek. And The Senate was purchased a few years ago at a collectibles and record store near me. I paid less than $20 for both figures and I bought them both mostly because they made me laugh. This version of Tarkin of course is not Peter Cushing, and instead is based on some guy who was made up to look ‘enough’ like him to be onscreen for a few seconds in ROTS. The fact that they made a figure of him and put that odd young Tarkin face on the box is priceless! When I bought The Senate years ago in my more amateurish collecting days, I thought it was some kind of production error because of the blue lightsaber. Turns out a ton of them were made that way and it wasn’t an error at all. For $5.00 I don’t care. I can represent him as a hero with a blue lightsaber alongside weird makeup Tarkin and the Mas Amedda figure I also bought.

 

 

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So these figures may seem pretty random, ridiculous, and maybe downright worthless to certain readers. But then there’s something I went through my collection for that I know is valuable, and for that reason I haven’t opened it. This Lego set was only given away to select members who were invited to attend Lego store May the Fourth events in 2016. Does this set look particularly valuable? Sure, there’s the exclusivity and the nicer box, but there also aren’t any pieces unique to the set itself (as far as I can remember.) I think there was a poster too, come to think of it. But check eBay. Does this set look like it’s worth 200 kriffing dollars or more? No! I can’t imagine anyone falling for that price and that’s why research is important in collecting. But anyway, I’ve never opened this thing just in case I can retire from Supreme-Leading someday. . .

Here’s what I’m getting at – don’t bother collecting every single thing, and enjoy what you collect. If you don’t value what you’re collecting, you’re never going to get any enjoyment out of it. Odds are you’re never going to have every single thing that’s ever had Star Wars stuck on the front of it. And that’s okay. Gather the things you want to enjoy or pass down. Get the films in the packaging you want to enjoy seeing on your shelf. Buy the figures that remind you of that day or that scene in the movie. Those memories are worth more than something mint-in-box. . .most of the time – sometimes it is worth keeping something up and keeping it nice, you never know. Look, enjoy your stuff however you want. Don’t come to me for life advice on collecting, I’ll always tell you to buy if the price is right.

 

I was thinking about my collection as I put more of it together in the studio and just had these random thoughts reflecting on some recent purchases. I’m debating if I still want to review figures or just talk about the really special ones – I think going off on a tangent like this or doing specific characters might be more my style, and that’s just the kind of thing you figure out as you go along. Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this weird glimpse into my collection!

 

Keep on trooping,

Supreme Leader David

 

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