31 March 2011

Why do you collect?

Image from an earlier post (and no those are not my stuff)

"Why do you collect this sort of stuff?"

Assuming one is into anime-, manga-, or game-related media, it is likely that s/he buys and collects items related to them too, be it figures, models, cards, CDs/DVDs/BDs, or many other things. Some may have just collected a small handful of them, while others may have the majority of their rooms filled with such hobby items.

So someone or even yourself may ask you, "Why do you collect them?". What would you say?

The things we collect, aka collectibles or collectables, are (as Wikipedia defines it) any objects regarded as being of value or interest to a collector.

What we may feel interested towards something can be anything like "we like the character from XYZ", or even simply "I like the appearance".

As for value, this can be quite subjective too depending on what type of "value" one is perceiving on the object of interest. This can be play value (fun?), quality/finish, or perhaps even monetary value that one may consider investing so that he can resell for a profit in the future.

So we all have all sorts of reasons to collect.

But then there are people who would question their existance. There are increasing number of voices saying that hobby has more and more been regarded as business driven, where it is sometimes viewed that collectibles have been manufactured for the sake of being collected driven by other media, with demands artificially created like bottled water. Or more seriously, wherever there is new stuff and is popular, people will follow without thinking for themselves. While this is not exactly the subject of talk in this post, it is something worth thinking about too.

Image from Radiant Dreamer

In fact, this post has somewhat been inspired by two other posts: Why Do You Buy ???? from Radiant, and Should I Open My Toy? from LEon. While what I am saying here may not seem as deep as what the others have written (I do get easily intimidated I must admit, and at the same time I do humbly recommend reading these two posts), but I want to put it in a positive way and look back on what we enjoy doing.

So you may ask, why do I collect?

Well, everyone has his own story. Mine is nothing glamourous, but here it is:

This may surprise a few who are not familiar with me, but I am actually a small enthusiast for German WWII tanks, or many other things WWII-related. It's still one of my earliest and most passionate hobby, but it's not something I talk about very often on my blog or even on my twitter page (only not to confuse people too much). To me, these miniatures do represent the vehicles in real life and history, and each of them have their own stories to tell: why they are made, how they performed, and how they made an impact. It's a bit like going through history and relic museums but miniaturised while you link the little puzzle pieces together to make a bigger image in your head. This picture comes from one of my early posts on my 1/144 tank collection. This also brings in my interest to building 1/144 scale Gunpla (Gundam models) and also collecting some N Scale miniatures (for diorama purposes).

While I did get myself briefly into Gundam very partially during childhood, it was only a few years ago some friends brought me back into anime, as well as Gundam, so this got me back into Gunpla as well. Speaking of anime, I probably will consider taking part in Nopy's "My History With Anime" project, but it will take some time. While I have been a fan of some Gundam units, given my enthusiasm for military stuff I tend to have a big tendancy to lean for the grunt units (and get multiple units to make teams of them), even though most are depicted as cannon fodders in various series... ^^;

... And I have made notorious examples before, like these Balls ^^;

And last but not least, being the latest kind of hobby I've delved into, bishoujo figures. The motivations behind getting them is quite shadllow I'd admit - I simply like the character in the series I have watched or if some unusual cases, I just like the appearance of the figure. While I personally prefer articulated ones so I can pose them however I like (and I do like having interactions with toys rather than a static piece), it is not one that will take firm, solid grounds compared to my other hobbies I'd say.

But I might have started to digress. To put it simply, I enjoy what I collect. It's that simple.

I do want to become more open-minded, but this does mean I am slowly becoming a bit too open to temptations from new stuff... ^^; Space and money are always the restrictive factors no matter how much you like something, or like collecting something.

And of course there's also a possibility that you may collect so much stuff but you don't get to enjoy them all, or feel that you don't seem to enjoy them as much as you used to.

Funny enough I am one of the guys who are really quite reluctant to let go off my stuff. While it doesn't happen all the time, I do take a lot of decisions whether I really want this particular something or not, and whether I will continue to appreciate it or not. It's not exactly easy to do with so much new stuff coming at you nowadays.

Image from Ngee Khiong Ex

But bottom of the line, a hobby is meant to be enjoyed, so while we may have different interests or ways to collect them, we should (IMHO) simply enjoy what we buy. This reminds me of a phrase that Ngee Khiong has mentioned in his Ex blog shortly after he stops his main blog: "買得開心, 玩得開心" (Buy Happily, Play Happily). Certainly a phrase I would like to go by.

... Or am I just trying to be a bit too optimistic against the dark clouds of what is ahead of me?


  1. Good article bro. We are always looking for something new in life even in toy collection. Buying make us happy but buying what we wanted is even happier. Most of the time we buy stuff because there was nothing around that time we wanted to buy and ended up wasting money, time and space on some crap. It's a good thing tho. Then we know what we truly want and what we can do without. Now I am more patient to give myself some cooling down period before buying it. :)

  2. Nice article. You should have bought out the German Giant Cannon thingy as a emphasis of how you like WW-II era stuff. Money and interest in something is what usually starts a hobby.

  3. Part of the collection mentality that Americans see is "hoarding". Basically wanting everything only for themselves and not letting anyone have it. I've been collecting now just for the sake of the looks, but honestly, I barely open anything that I receive in a well-packed box anymore... I think I'm stopping most static PVC figure purchases now with the exception of ones that I will open for sure. Right now it's mostly figmas because I may have a potential story for them or looks really cool (STR). And boy... The dolls are expanding rapidly as well; faster than I can say "Azone Addict". Seems like my collection now is only for the coolest and ones that I will play with. Like a kid ^^;

    Hmmm 1/144 tanks? I wanna see some of them beside a 1/144 Gundam :)

  4. I've been slowly losing interest in Figmas over time, but there are still those that catch my interest long enough. Action figures are definitely dominating my collection (and always have) but I don't feel the urge to travel into doll territory much, luckily (though I sort of act out that with Shinkis). I used to collect Magic the Gathering cards, I still have a ton of them and have no idea what to do with them as I've almost entirely lost interest. One of my hobbies as a child was medieval stuff, I was always fascinated by knights and castles. For the most part I buy my figures now to photograph, and because they bring a bit of happiness to my life. Sometimes I have a good reason other times I just buy them to buy them, but I almost always unbox immediately after receiving.

  5. that is lot of tanks and cannon ball.. i guess this is the common decease to every collector that being ask "why do you collect".. i remember few years ago i was asking the same question to my friend and now i finally realize it.. and he ask me the same question back cause what we collect is pretty much different from each other.. he collect S.H.E merchandise.. hehe.. i was one of the fan too but do not have the money to collect those stuff that time.. collecting stuff doesn't mean just for hobby.. but it is also part of our life.. just like the german tank you have there.. every one of it have their own story.. every collection for a collector do have the story relate to the collector as well.. people tend to ask this question but they do not know they are also a collector.. haha

  6. Ah, Where to begin? - My collections are very linear, so for instance - My MS Gundam collection started back when I was about 14, and built my first 1/144th kit. I started learning more and more about the different series and was hooked. So now I do collect MS Gundam items, but only Gundam stuff, not say Voltron or Macross or anything like that.

    The same goes for say Monster Hunter, which is predominately a video game series, but I have obtained a few art books from the series and that's something I consider on a true fan of the series would bother picking up.

    I tend to think of my collections as a museum of my personal interests so I'm always looking for rare items to add to it, but I don't buy stuff just to have it, as I don't like clutter.

    So I guess, I collect things to enhance my personal appreciation of the subject matter.

  7. A very good post I must say! I started out collecting gundams because of gundam 0083 anime and have been a fan of both the anime and kits ^^. I collect because I like to bots haha.

    Its nice of you to share with us that little background on your military collection!

  8. I'm one of those with my room filled with hobby items. My collecting days started early on when I was just a few years old. Whenever I got a sticker I would always stick it in my sticker book. Later I started getting into coins and Sailor Moon cards. Once I started working and making money, I got into figures. I guess you could say I have a "gotta catch them all" gene (yes, I had to have all the Pokemon too, way back in Red/Blue).

    I love everything I collect though, so I don't see myself stopping any time soon.

  9. hey sweet stuff. I think your post filled in some critical factors that my post didn't, and that's "an answer". I presented my take and posed a pretty innocent question, and I think it's totally awesome that it sparked such a great response from you from this blog post. You've got something genuine going on, and that's "passion". Nobody can deny that from you, no matter how much they don't understand why you collect what you collect.


  10. I don't really know either, but I guess like you, I collect because I simply enjoy the things I collect.

  11. This is going to take me quite some time to reply to the comments. Please bare with me ^^;

    @ LEon:
    Indeed we tend to look for new things in many aspects of life, or at least try new things out. Though I must admit it is very easy to just go buy for the sake of buying. Maybe that's consumerism to us? I don't know. But the feeling when you've bought and something you really like and value it even after so many years, it can be very satisfying.

    @ Tom:
    Ah the Dora? I was tempted to throw more pictures of my military collection out, but chose to show my rows of tanks instead since they were what got me more into military in the first place ^^ If I have completed the 1/144 Hildolfr I'd have shown that too I think (a good link among tank, big gun, and Gundam universe)!

    Money and especially interest do indeed start a new hobby, but I think curiosity also plays a big part too. At least that's what got me into tanks in the first place :o

    @ Lightning Sabre:
    To put it negatively, collection is like hoarding indeed. While we do keep the stuff to ourselves normally, we do share our hobbies and photos on the Internet via blogs and other medium I suppose.

    It does seem like that more and more people are moving on from static PVC figures now, and going along with the waves i.e. dolls. I wonder how long it will last before a new wave of interest comes in. ^^;

    I do plan on doing a post on 1/144 stuff again in the future (a comparison of various stuff in the same scale). Hope you can wait on that! ^^

  12. @ Persocom:
    Interests, like many things, do come and go I suppose. How long people tend to keep with their interest(s) tend to vary from one person to another: some move on from one to another periodically, while some still cling on to the old ones while adopting new ones at the same time.

    Nice to know how your interest is based and built on on medieval and fantasy stuff, and how photography keeps you happy and motivated in life. I'd need to find time to unbox my figures and models - that's when I wish I get to have a lot of free time again ^^;

    @ seven6398:
    Oh you were into S.H.E. back then. That's interesting to know.

    I like the way you have put it how every collection has a story related to the collector himself, and like the German tanks how each one piece together to form a bigger story.

    @ korewagundam:
    It's good to keep collections focused, or else it'll go all over the place (a bit like what has happened to me now).

    I think a hobby is indeed how we start off with a few stuff and start to learn more and more about something as we go deeper into it. And with something like Gundam that has a lot of background stories and lore one can go surprisingly deep with them, which can add more flavour to what and why we collect.

    Almost forgot that you're big into Monster Hunter. I know they have a lot of more casual merchandises like plushies and gashapons. Artbook is always a nice choice for collection, and is one of the more 'serious' ones to have.

    "Collecting to enhance personal appreciation of the subject matter" - I like the concise reason you've put there, and definitely one I'd relate my reason to too!

    @ chubbybots:
    Oh you started off with 0083 for Gundam! Even though it's one of the later series I've watched, it's definitely a good one with lots of actions and tension. I haven't gone so much into other mechas, but I can see how your toys mostly revolve around robots in general! ^^

    And I'm glad that you like my humble brief mention on military collection!

  13. Nice one, it's always interesting to know how someone get to their interest.

    At first I started collecting plamos simply because I'm interested with Gundams, mostly from playing SRW and G Generations, and also a vague interest with gunplas, and a coincidentally enough money on the wallet when I'm at a gunpla store :p. Although I had to admit my first kit is a very random pick (HGUC Hazel II).

    Later on after building a couple of other kits and my first (and till now still my only) MG, I started to really like model kits because I felt really involved in the building of the kits. Even if I can't do much detailing, I usually felt proud and can say "I built that". Somewhere along the line I started to like the UC series anime, which also made me like the HGUC line, especially the mass-produced units (although I usually get frustated with old build designs like the recent HGUC GM Custom).

    And since a while after I started blogging, I started making comics using them, making them have more use to me rather than just as a decoration. Even lately I'm starting to think of getting certain kits just to make comics about them. XD

  14. I look forward to your 1/144 scale-off! :D

    Well seems like it's increasing in scales. From 1/8 PVC, to moveable 1/12 then moveable 1/8, the 1/6, 1/4 and now the 1/3 scale dolls... It can only go up to 1/1 scale doll!! And then 1/1 Gundams, hahaha. Well only joking, but like you I am curious what would be the next thing ^^

  15. @ Nopy:
    Oh you start collecting as a hobby very early! You sure do go through a variety of collections, from stickers all the way to figures ^^. I can feel it being a long history there! A completionist, wuhuhuh~ I commend your "gotta catch 'em all" determination; it's not easy to do so IMHO!

    Also good to know that you are still keeping up with your passion and collection! Keep it up!

    @ radiant:
    Thank you for your kind words. Passion sure is a very important factor that drives an interest going. One can feel it when he can talk about something s/he likes without hesitations, and can go all sort of lengths on it.

    I think it's good to have one's own view or story included when making a post that will bring discussions or encourage others to give out their own stories. Like hobby it's about sharing too, right? ^^

    @ Yi:
    Collect because you enjoy what you collect sounds good enough! Or else it would sound a bit strange to collect what you don't like in the first place, right? ^^

    @ hiroy_raind:
    Thank you for giving out your own story on Gunpla too!

    I remember how I got partially got into Gunpla not because of watching anime but rather after playing friends' games, namely Rengou vs Zaft II on PS2 (I haven't watched any of Gundam SEED series back then). Took a liking to the broken (gameplay-wise) Strike Noir so I had to fine a model for it, and that's how I got back into Gunpla again XD

    There is a nice feeling of satifisfaction once you've completed a model, and reenacting them for certain scenes or make your own stories of them adds more fun to it!

    @ Lightning Sabre:
    Will try and find some time to take photos and make a post dedicated for 1/144 scale!

    Things to seem to increase in scale, and in prices too ^^; I have no idea what the next big thing is supposed to be, but meanwhile it appears that the current one is still hot and is continuing to get a lot of exposure :o

  16. Weve already talked about this quite alot on MSN but it doesnt hurt to write a bit in the comments either...

    I am also one of the Collectors that buys things because he enjoys them and not for a certain value they might achieve or credibility I might get for owning that certain Item.

    Even though I am buying alot more Collectibles than you, I still count myself as a self-conscious Collector that tries to limit himself on buying things he can only really appreciate even though I did some purchases where I am questioning myself afterwards.

    As a result of this I still appreciate most of my collection :D

  17. @ Blowfish:
    Buying what we enjoy is a very fair reason, and it's one of the core reasons for people to collect.

    I too sometimes bought things that I later ask myself whether I really like it or not. Worse if they are still yet to be opened. Most of those are impulse purchases of some sort too. Although I can also see how some may become less of an interest over time (as we may get distracted by newer ones).

    Well, perhaps nothing last forever, so we should treasure what we have and enjoy while we can :)


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