The following post originally appeared on Toy Bender.com and it was a huge hit. I’m reprinting it here because I’m awesome.
Defending Toy Collecting
I’ve been thinking about writing an article about how toy collecting as a hobby is looked down upon by a large portion of society. Particularly, I was interested in getting the point of view of someone who thinks that there’s something wrong with toy collectors. The main problem with such an article was that I didn’t think I’d be able to find anyone who could give me this kind of unbiased opinion. It’s not like my friends and family are going to go on record to tell me that I’m an idiot. Maybe for other reasons, but not for toy collecting.
Then my article “Why I am a Toy Collector?” became a minor hit. It even made it to the front page of the social networking site Digg. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I got a lot of page views that I normally don’t get. Along with these page views I also got a few nasty comments directed at me on Digg itself. It seemed that I had discovered the the article I was looking for.
There were, of course, some really stupid jokes there like this one by a user named saikhan, in reference to why I collected toys, “Because he is the real life 40 Year Old Virgin.”? Wow, what a stretch that one was. I wonder how he could have even made that kind of connection? Among these poorly executed jokes, I found a real gem from a user going by the name Pikachelsea:
“A lot of the stuff this guy says can easily translate into other hobbies and shouldn’t be discounted because it’s about action figures.” (Ed. Note: From another Digg user)
And why not, exactly? Why do we have to tiptoe around the fact that this is an article about grown men paying obscene amounts of money for (and occasionally actually playing with) children’s toys? I pay a lot of money for video games but at least they are actually intended for more demographics than just the 3 and under audience.
People are so eternally understanding with their “Oh well they’re not hurting anyone, and it’s not illegal.” So what? That’s your standard for what makes a decent hobby? It’s not ILLEGAL? What people like this could actually use are social skills, not a basement full of pieces of plastic shaped like Superman. “Hobbies” like this are no less nerdy and hopelessly antisocial to me than people who go cosplaying at anime conventions or run around role-playing in the woods in medieval garb.
Yes, it’s his money. Yes, it’s not hurting anybody (except himself and his social life, more than likely). That doesn’t mean we can’t tell people like to GROW UP.
For the sake of discussion let’s forget that this comment is coming from someone with a forum name that is a word play on Pikachu, which is from a popular children’s cartoon. Her opinion of toy collectors is reflected upon all the stereotypes and falsehoods rampant about people like me, which I should examine in detail.
1.) “…grown men paying obscene amounts of money.”?
First of all, we need to clear something up. While the vast majority of toy collectors are male, there are a lot of female collectors out there, and a few even read this blog. Secondly, I’ve never paid obscene amounts of money for a single toy, but I know there are rich collectors out there or those that just got to have something so they’ll drop over a grand on a Star Wars figure. Yes, if you add up all the money I’ve spent on figures over the years, it would be a lot, but it’s like anything else if you balance it out. If I were a golfer or hunter, I can guarantee you that I’d be spending a lot more money than I do on purchasing action figures. Even if I were some rich guy who purchased a 1950s robot that’s worth several thousand dollars, who cares? It’s no worse than a million other things a person can waste their money on.
2.) “…(and occasionally actually playing with) children’s toys?”
I wonder where she gets this fact about playing with toys? Out of all the toy collectors I know, I don’t know of a single one that actually plays with the toys they collect. Even if I were so inclined, I would feel idiotic doing so. In childhood there’s something with your brain wiring that allows you to play with action figures or dolls and it almost feels like they’re alive. Somewhere in puberty there’s a transition where you can’t have that depth of imagination any more. This is why I write, play video games, or watch movies. The escapism offered in toys simply isn’t there, and hasn’t been since I started sprouting hair like a monkey. The fun of toy collecting is a separate kind of fun a child gets from a toy.
3) “I pay a lot of money for video games but at least they are actually intended for more demographics than just the 3 and under audience.”
Oh yes, this is why the only toys in existence are Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh. There is a huge market for toys that are aimed at an adult audience. Just look at McFarlane’s… well all of his stuff, from his sports figures to his evil demon monsters:
Is this for a three year old?
On another note, I don’t consider myself a true “gamer”, even though I love video games. I just don’t play them enough for that kind of classification. While many gamers might think they are in the mainstream, they are only right up to a point. Gaming is still considered nerdy. There are many grades of nerds that are poorly defined, but gamers are still within the whole nerd spectrum. Within that spectrum there’s a certain invisible boundary between someone who plays Madden a lot and someone who plays Japanese RPGs obsessively. Within this system, there’s a nerd pecking order where the top level nerds make fun of the lower and less socially acceptable rungs. PikaChelslea seems to imagine herself outside this world, but she’s not. She’s a girl gamer. That’s at least two levels below a casual gamer. You have to be a really nerdy girl to enjoy games enough to “pay a lot of money”? for them and to spend time on Digg reading about them. Any girl who isn’t a geek that plays games plays on her boyfriend’s system. Girl gamers are nerds no matter how you look at it. Take for instance the queen of girl gamers, Morgan Webb, who may be a minor celebrity and less geeky than her X-Play co-host Adam Sessler, but you could never make the argument that she wasn’t a nerd. Therefore, Pikachealsea is simply a self hating geek with a huge case of Arrogant Nerd Syndrome.
4) “People are so eternally understanding with their “Oh well they’re not hurting anyone, and it’s not illegal.” So what? That’s your standard for what makes a decent hobby? It’s not ILLEGAL?”
Then what does make a decent hobby? Is there some sort of standard that says, this is okay and this is not and who defines it? While I think it’s silly that millions of women are wasting their time scrap booking, I’m not going to think ill of anyone who does it. It’s your thing that you do for fun and maybe to relax a little. There are tons of hobbies out there that seem stupid to me, but if they’re not hurting anyone then who gives a crap about it in the long run? A hobby like LARPing makes for good comedy, but I’m not going to say they can’t do what they do. You certainly can make fun of me for collecting toys, that’s your right. I make fun of myself all the time. However, to say what I do is wrong is another issue entirely.
5.) “What people like this could actually use are social skills, not a basement full of pieces of plastic shaped like Superman.”
I find this comment amazing. I’d really like to know if she is basing it on any sort of facts. She has no idea who I am. I really wonder what kind of exposure she has had to toy collectors that she feels this way. Yeah, sure there are a lot of trolls out there who collect toys, but there are also weird guys that are really into cars. Does this make all auto-enthusiasts weird? I don’t think so. For someone to cast judgments upon me for no other reason than I have a bunch of plastic figures is crazy. I’m not above casting judgments myself, but when someone does so based purely on false assumptions it’s aggravating. Like, I’m not going to say that PikaChelsea is a gigantic rag, because she has a ridiculously huge nose. Oh wait, I did. Sorry.
6.) “Hobbies” like this are no less nerdy and hopelessly antisocial to me than people who go cosplaying at anime conventions or run around role-playing in the woods in medieval garb.”
LARPers (Note: There is more than one of them)
It’s odd that both of the activities she named (while hilariously nerdy) require interaction with other people. Cosplay involves going around to conventions where they meet and talk to hundreds of other people who do the same thing. LARPing involves getting together in groups of friends and acting retarded while having a good time. Pikachelsea, this is the definition of social:
so•cial /?so???l/ Pronunciation Key – [soh-shuhl]
1. Pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
2. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.
Now, my point is that while toy collecting isn’t social, there isn’t anything inherently unsocial about it. I get a figure, put it on my wall, and then go about my business. Now take the example of a video game addict. How is that social? Playing most games involves being alone. Yes, there are times when you get together with friends, but the majority of gaming is the one player experience. Even with online gaming you are isolated from the people you play with. Is a video game addict anti-social? Not necessarily. If there are toy collectors who are anti-social, their hobby may be a symptom of their inability to deal with others and not the cause.
7.) “Yes, it’s his money. Yes, it’s not hurting anybody (except himself and his social life, more than likely). That doesn’t mean we can’t tell people like to GROW UP.”
Her whole point is to tell me to “GROW UP”, when I even said in my post that a small part of me hasn’t grown up. I doubt she even read it before she posted her comment (like most Digg users do). Even with that taken into consideration, I don’t see how liking toys for their aesthetic qualities is any worse than collecting something more “mainstream” like sports memorabilia.
The problem with people like Pikachelsea is that she doesn’t realize that there are many collectors like me who aren’t socially retarded trolls. We’re normal, good natured people that just like to have some kick ass figures on their computer desk. Sure we may skew nerdy, but that comes with the territory. It doesn’t mean that we are completely introverted and unable to function in society. More and more, toy collecting and other nerdy hobbies like comic book collecting are becoming more mainstream. If we just drop all the crappy stereotypes about them we can all be a lot happier.
Toy collectors, do me a favor. If you are one of these less than social types, try a little harder for the rest of us? Okay? I’m sick of all the stereotypes spouted off by morons.
Oh yeah, and PikaChelsea: