Every time people asked me whether I am collecting toys or not, I just don’t know how to answer that. Even until today.
Well, I can defend myself by saying I am collecting action figures, plastic models, miniatures, replicas. But in the end, people will just call it toys. In the past when I was a kid, toys were just merely things to be played and that’s about it. Now things have changed and I see a different perspective on it. There are two things, it is a good hobby in my spare time. The other, I am just a victim of commodity fetishism in this late-capitalism era. Or am I?
One of my friends once argued that if a toy cannot be played and only just to be displayed, that is not a toy at all. He may be right at one point, but I don’t think I can accept that kind of mindset, not now.
I re-checked all of my collections on my precious display cabinets. I tried to categorize the toys based on their age segments. Let me try:
This is definitely for kids, but its rarity outside of Japan makes it ‘a collector item’. To make it ironic, I never see any kids playing with minipla. I was late to start collecting minipla, but not as late as gunpla. Luckily the prices are still reasonable (some minipla’s prices went nuts when they reached ‘rare’ status). So I need to buy it near its release date or I will experience hell in finding it.
Although miniplas are for kids, but assembling the models are complicated, I would say miniplas are suitable for ages 10+ due to their complexities.
Currently the largest and the most collections I have. This one is not for kids, unless it is in SD or cheap grade (Entry Grade, First Grade). I can say this one is suitable for ages 15+ (maybe even more for Perfect Grade). Gunplas are good for photography or just for display in cabinets. An army of gunplas attracts people, seriously. Gunplas are easily available especially for popular releases. Some limited, not popular design, or strange looking gunplas are difficult to find and way too expensive. Even when I said SD above is for kids, the assembling is difficult for first-timer. If we want more pain, just buy bootlegged version and enjoy it.
There are so many things to do with Gunpla. Lining, recoloring, modifying, weathering, coating, and making photograph on it makes gunpla not just a model, it is a piece of art. We can enjoy the assemble mechanism ranging for the simple one (SD, HG), to intermediate (RG, MG), and advance (PG). Gunpla is also a very good figure to make a diorama. I have seen so many customizations on it and it never stops.
3. SH Figuarts
Beat me, but this one is not for kids at all. Even when we buy it, there are some labels added that SHF is for ages 15+. It never be meant to be played by kids considering its target for adult collectors. SHF has gimmicks and parts that intended for realism, definitely not a toy, but still it is a toy. Mindblow? No, SHF is a figure to be collected.
I only collected main Kamen Riders (their main forms), even I still cannot buy Showa Riders because of supply cuts and expensive prices. Once I want to sell it all, I don’t think I can follow more than that. I still cannot buy SHF Son Goku even though I love Dragon Ball Z.
4. SIC Kiwami Tamashii
The same with SHF, I only collected main riders, and luckily I can collect their final forms and motorcycles due to their affordable prices. But there is one, SIC KT Faiz Blaster that gave me pain to buy it. So far that is the only SIC KT that is not Mint in Box when I bought it, means I bought second-handed figure. But other SIC KT up until Kuuga Mighty Form are still MIB. I collected SIC KT because I cannot afford to buy its SIC counterparts.
SIC KT, again, the same with SHF, are not intended to be collected by kids. All that I know the kids will tear the figures for good. Yes, it is not for kids at all.
Most of my bootlegged figures are for kids, notably from Candy Toys, Transformers Knock-Off and DX Sentai Mecha. But still, there are some that indeed are not for kids such as Revoltech SFO Chun-Li, Revoltech VF-1 Valkyrie, and several non-articulated figures. Still I am wondering which kids in Indonesia has the same style of figure collecting as mine?
You may notice that most of my collections (read: toys) are mechas. Yes, I love mechas whatever they are. I love Gundam, Macross, Transformers, Super Sentai, Super Robot Taisen, and many more. For me, mechas are the reflections of my weaknesses. I am not tall, yet mechas are created in realistic manner as tall as possible. Mechas designs are cool in contrast of my appearance (true story).
I am not saying that I am degrading myself here, but that is the way I analyze myself psychologically. Maybe in my consciousness I am OK with my height, but unconsciously that is a problem. People often mistaken me as students due to my appearance, and that is irritating. Maybe the love for mechas are the way I am channeling my hatred. Rather than complaining (that I am a lecturer, not a mere student from your subjective skeptical point of view), I rather not being bothered by it. Oh I forgot how Sigmund Freud already discussed that too much. And that’s the way I admit it.
Enough with psychoanalysis, maybe I am the victim of consumerism too. Sometimes I wonder, where my collections will go when I got married and have a family. This kind of hobby is not for eternity, there will be a time when I have to stop this at all. Even now I am slowly limit myself buying these stuff considering my future and more important needs outside figure collections.
This is one of many manifestations why I love popular culture. I enjoy it as much as I feel the pain from it. Now I see the strange of myself when I got the package, open the box, assemble it (if it is a model), take picture of it, and then put it on cabinet and that’s about it. How happy I am seeing my complete collection (yes, I am complete-ist, perfectionist), and how painful for me to find it when the figure is so rare that the price is already went nuts.
Still I try to defend myself whenever people complain that this hobby is such a waste. I’d rather buy figures than cigarettes, that’s the common excuse I said every time. Funny as hell, because both are money-wasting activities, still we got excitement after buying it. Passion, that is what I call it.
I was so upset whenever people judge me collecting figures as childish, meant for kids, and any stereotypical biased accuses just because they have no idea what is inside of this hobby. But dealing with such people if not for more time-wasting, it is just them who have no fun in their life. People have so many different ways in amusing themselves. And several of us amuse ourselves by collecting figures. People today are still short-simple minded, these kind of persons are still exist. I don’t see any differences between them and outdated fundamentalists.
To make it even more ironic, I never see any kids collecting toys. So far, what I have seen that they ‘love’ to destroy their toys. Toys collector, figures collector that I have met so far are already adults. This happens because of different orientations. Playing and collecting are different things. In collecting we may also playing it, but not the other way around. This is true to myself since I destroy all of my toys when I was a kid, and that is my bad as nature calls it. But now I am collecting it, as pieces of art.
Yeah yeah, commodity fetishism at its finest, I do admit it. But someday I will stop from this hobby, sooner or later.
I have talked this issue many times, whether on Multiply, or Facebook. And I often feed up with “the ignorants” with their biased judgements. Maybe figure collection is something that not all people can enjoy it. Considering this is an expensive hobby and you need a lot of money to accommodate buying this and that in the name of passions.