People can be so closed minded when it comes to the interests of others. I’m sure at least one reader of this article will have been told at one point that “cartoons are for kids” by a person without any ounce of understanding of anime as an artform or the fact it’s a medium that appeals to a wide range of age demographics.
Similarly, there’s a rather large stigma attached to anyone collecting action figures, toys or model kits no matter what media they’re based on. People often tell them to grow up or get a more productive hobby. If it’s someone we don’t have to deal with in our day to day lives then the comments can probably be brushed off and disregarded rather easily, however if it’s family, friends or a partner then it can be quite hurtful.
We all collect things for different reasons and ultimately if it’s something that makes us happy we shouldn’t have to face derision from people just because it’s not their “thing”.
I’m blessed in that when I chose to start collecting figures and models as an adult I already had my own house and my own income and no-one could really tell me what to do anymore.
I love the aesthetics of figures and model kits. It’s amazing to see the craftsmanship and skill that goes into making the high end stuff (which unfortunately is often reflected in the price). Some of them also astound me with their miracles of engineering. Look at the amount of transforming robot toys based on anime that have almost seamless transformations that look stunningly accurate to the source material in both modes, the design of these things is an incredible feat.
I think the main reason I love them though is there is just something pleasing about having a physical representation of something you really love.
I’m 38 at the time of writing this and honestly I think the older I get the more I enjoy the hobby. For me it’s an escape from the craziness of busy everyday life. I work a full time job Monday to Friday and unfortunately it’s one I don’t particularly enjoy. When I get home I like to spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend who I live with and weekends are often taken up with family stuff so I REALLY appreciate my free time.
When building a model kit it’ll often take me two or three weeks to build it fully because of the limited amount of free time I have. I’ll do a part here and a part there but that half an hour spent working on it is usually a quite relaxing and serene experience. Like someone who enjoys playing a musical instrument or videogames you can kind of lose yourself in such an activity for a little while and there’s a nice feeling attached to being focused on one single, enjoyable task. Then there’s seeing the final product being built from the ground up little by little, which can be immensely satisfying. I’ve collected figures for around 18 years on and off now, however model making is a fairly recent thing for me.
Traces of my geekery can be found all over the house but it is the upstairs spare room that is the true otaku room in our place. Super robots rub shoulders with Devilman, a plushie of Ein from Cowboy Bebop and a whole manner of Gundams and other Mecha, not to mention the Transformers collection of masterpiece toys based on the original 1984 show and various cult movie characters. Having this one room to myself and it being surrounded in manga, anime, games, movies and characters from all of those things makes the place kind of like a refuge for me. My whole house is a relaxing place but it’s in the otaku room that I often feel like I can let the stresses or worries of recent days just fade away. It can be quite inspiring creatively as well. Using this room as a place to write fiction yields good results for me because I feel quite positive in this room and I’m surrounded by things I find inspire me creatively.
I can’t ever see me quitting toys and models in the foreseeable future. Maybe if my finances got worse I might have to knock the hobby on the head but even as broke as I am most of the time I still find a few quid here and there to squirrel away for something nice. Money is a big consideration though when it comes to collecting. My finances were one of the reasons I turned to model kit making as some toys I wanted were much cheaper in model form than the high end figure equivalents. I also keep a very close eye on the third party market where figures and kits are produced without the official licence and avoid using trademarked or branded titles and copyrighted materials on boxes. Often many of these products are being made at increasingly high levels of quality (sometimes even outdoing the official manufacturers in certain regards) but turn out to be much cheaper.
I feel like 2018 is an exciting time to be a collector of toys and models. There’s so much high quality stuff on the market both official and unofficial and so many online resources for collectors looking to find stuff.
If you’ve got the figure collecting bug already or you’re thinking of starting a collection (or in fact any hobby or pursuit) listen to your gut and what you want and don’t let anything or anyone stop you.
What are your experiences with collecting? Why do you love it so much? Let me know in the comments. Also if you’d like to see action figure reviews please let me know as it’s something I’m considering on this blog and my other blog for The Retro Mecha Podcast in the near future.
I also wrote an article on my first experiences with model building at the companion blog for Retro Mecha Podcast. If you’re interested you can read it here: https://retromechapodcast.wordpress.com