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If you’ve been to my blog before, you probably know that I’m a bit of a geek, and one of my biggest hobbies is collecting toys. I know generally people think I’m crazy. “OMG how childish!” and “what a waste of money” are some of the common comments I receive. The big question is, why does MY personal collection offend you? I only talk about it to those that ask. My Instagram is full of pictures, and only people who want to see them follow it. So I’m starting to think there might be something about people ‘being themselves’ that others find offensive, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
First let me backtrack. Why do I collect toys? Because I love them! They are colorful and vibrant, some are my favorite characters from my favorite shows, some are independent mass productions from independent artists, and some are unique one of a kind art pieces. In fact I like to say I have two collections. I have a massive DC Bombshell collection that’s a pride and joy, and an art toy collection that is, well, also my pride and joy. They aren’t even in the same room, and I dare say I collect them for different reasons.
My DC Bombshells started my collection. Actually my husband started my collection, and I started his. You see when we were dating I learned that he loved Batman and he learned that I loved Harley Quinn. So I surprised him one day with a Funko Pop of Batman, and shortly after he surprised me with one of Harley. That kicked off our obsessions. I quickly grew tired of Funko Pops and one day on Instagram I saw an awesome wood toy that became my ‘unicorn’, introducing me to the world of art toys and the artists that bring their art to life in 3D mediums.
A huge part of collecting something is the thrill of the hunt. The idea is not to own everything you see, but search for pieces that you connect with. I love art toys because I think it’s a beautiful, misunderstood medium. It seems childish, juvenile and maybe even silly. But these toys aren’t made for kids, they are pieces of art, hand sculpted into something unique and beautiful and full of stories. And sitting on my shelf they drive memories and conversation starters. Stories of how the artist created them, stories of how I learned of the toys existence and how I was able to get one myself and stories of the emotional response I get when I see it. An art toy sitting on the shelf isn’t about playing with toys, they are no different than a painting on your wall.
One of my favorite things about art toys are the artists behind them, a huge majority of the artists are on Instagram and are down to earth, wonderful people willing to share their stories, showing behind the scenes, the pain and process of creating the toys, and trying to make a living creating art. Most of these people don’t have contracts with big companies selling hundreds of copies of their toys. Many are hand poured resin, or small batch vinyl. Buying art from the artist supports their way of life. Buying art toys connects you to a community of artists and collectors.
Maybe you don’t love art toys, or art in general, so why should you collect it? Well, you shouldn’t. Art is about passion and emotion, if you feel nothing please DON’T buy it. But I still strongly believe everyone should collect something. The hobby of collecting is one of stories and memories. Each item you find should bring back a memory and hold some sort of value to you. Sure it could be monetary, but money isn’t the point.
Maybe it reminds you of something (or someone), maybe its the journey it took to find it, the funny story about the first time you saw it, or the feeling you get every time you look at it. Finding the pieces should about the thrill of the hunt, the joy of finding it and the pride you feel every time you see it. Never be embarrassed by collecting something. It doesn’t matter if it’s coins, or pins, patches, tea cups or sports memorabilia. If you are proud, your loved ones will support you. Which leads me to my last point.
Perhaps the most serious, and could be a own post in and of itself is about people who don’t support you collecting things. People who judge you for finding happiness. Now I understand the idea of not finding happiness in things. I don’t disagree at all. But as I’ve mentioned a few times, collecting things isn’t about money or the item itself. It’s about memories and connections. And while yes, collecting can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be either. My husband and I collect something every time we travel – a stone, a shell (before we knew not to), a smashed penny, etc. – we write the date and location on the back in sharpie and drop it in a clear vase.
We also take random adventures off the beaten path to find tiny hole-in-the-wall shops and antique stores where we stumble across one-of-a-kind pieces. We take annual road trips to attend a huge Toy Show where people sell new and vintage toys. These journeys are memories, we have silly photos, ticket stubs, and toys from these trips as mementos. We’ve met amazing like-minded people, and run into new friends each trip.
You may not like the item that someone collects, but its not your collection to appreciate, and vice-versa. It’s the journey behind the collection that matters, respect that for others, and ask that others respect that for you. Because truly, if someone can’t see past a material item that affects them in no way – are they really a friend anyway?
Do you collect anything? I’d love to see pictures of your collections! Drop a comment below sharing your thoughts on collecting, and links to pictures of your collections! Happy hunting!
PS: Check out my Instagram for more toy photos!
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