If you’ve read me here on AFI since the beginning (which, unbelievable to me, was seven years ago), you know I spent most of my time back in the column days wringing my hands, fretting, and generally hating myself over the number of toys I had and the capricious manner in which I acquired them. Here’s an example, from my very first AFI blog entry, back when us old timers had individual blogs we didn’t maintain.
I’ll wait while you go read it and embarrass me.
We were so young, then…
That was six years ago, since then I’ve tried to turn up in this space whenever something about the toy world, be it collecting, manufacturing, distribution, or anything else, drove me to speak out. I think I’ve been successful most of the time in those endeavors but, as you’ve possibly noticed, I’ve appeared here less and less over the last few years. The reason for that is a simple one. Toys have become less and less important in my life.
No hand wringing. No fretting. No hating myself. At least not about this. Just reality.
Although, saying that, this is the room in which I currently sit, writing these words to you…
I can explain.
We moved about three and a half years ago. When we did, my wife agreed to zone the second bedroom as an office for me to pursue my writing career…provided all my toys, which were in displays and piles all over our one bedroom, went with me. So, what you see here is pretty much the lion’s share of all the toys I own. As you can see, some are displayed with the meticulous precision of the best serial killers, some are stood on the very desk at which I’m currently sat, and some are just strewn on the floor.
The pic makes it look worse than it is, I swear.
It’s the floor toys with which I want to concern you for a moment. Most of that stuff is currently up on ebay and it’s just the latest in a long series of things I’ve weigh-stationed on that bit of carpet over the last few months before sending them off to their new homes.
I hear you thinking it. Big deal, he’s done that before. He’ll buy them all back.
But I won’t, because selling off big chunks of the collection feels very different now than it did six years ago. Back then, I did it because, among other things, I was panicked for space, I felt out of control of both what I bought and how much, and, frankly, I just wasn’t that happy with myself or the way my life was going and I filled those gaps with toys.
This time, I started selling things quite casually. Just a few extra things I didn’t want anymore to repay my charge card for the Ruger 10/22 I’d just bought. I got that done, and suddenly other toys started looking superfluous. So those went. Then more fat become obviously in need of trimming, so that went. Then the DVDs and Blu-Rays, both opened and watched, started offering themselves up as vestigial. Off they go.
Speaking of trimming the fat, I’ve lost 60 pounds in the last year. That has a lot to do with this, too, as you’ll soon see.
Back to business. I’m making trips to the post office to mail packages almost every day, of late. It’s to the point I just leave my stuff there because it’s all pre-paid and they know they can trust my scale. Every week or so, something else in this office, or in the closet where the rest of the treasure is buried, catches my eye and I think, yeah, that can go. It’s served it’s purpose, or maybe it never had one, and it’s time to send it on its way and get at least some of my money back. My meager Godzilla collection, toys and DVDs both, were the latest things to get the bum’s rush. The stack of carded and boxed 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe might be next, or maybe this huge box of Disney plush that’s been sat here since the move. In the end, they’ll both probably go.
And so, much of it, goes.
But not all of it.
One of the things I knew, even in the bad old days, was the less you buy/own, the more you appreciate what you buy/own. I think that’s more true of impractical items like collectors’ toys than anything else because, if they’re piled in a closet or strewn on your office floor, they’re literally useless, at best, and, at worst, they’re robbing you of room to maneuver and, in the extreme, they can make you feel like the walls are closing in.
I’ve been there.
So, as Dave Moss once asked John Williamson, what is this in aid of?
Indeed, why am I telling you all this? Is this my valedictory? A new crisis of conscience of the kind I used to blubber into this space?
Nope. This is just me now. I don’t really buy that many toys anymore.
I do still pick up characters from my favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe and I’m planning some displays for the space I’ve created I think are going to look great.
And I still love Transformers Prime (two Vehicons, so far).
And it sure was awesome fun collecting and building LEGO Atlantis last year.
But I’m also enjoying my new body and the bicycling it’s allowing me to do (toy sales are paying off my new bike) and it turns out shooting is really for me. Plus, my wife and I are more social with friends and family now than we ever were back in that one bedroom in the Bronx, so there’s that, too.
Being Disney Vacation Club Members doesn’t hurt, either.
There’s also my fiction, which is why I have this office in the first place. Two short stories in the pipeline for editing and submission, another in progress, and I’m working on my second novel.
And there’s my new labor of love, which we recently discussed.
And, yes, there are still toys, and my little corner of Men of Action. I’m not going anywhere, but now you know where I’ve been. I hope, when I have something I want to tell you, you’ll still be interested in hearing me out. I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this just how meaningful this time we spend together is to me. I’m glad we have it, and I hope you enjoy it, too.
Looking ahead, there’s something I’ve wanted to do on the ‘Net for a long time. It’s toy related, but it never really occurred to me to do it here until recently. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy it more than you will, at least at first, but, if I’ve tried to do anything here, it’s allow my passion for what we discuss to flow from my keyboard to your screen and, for good or for ill, you seem to respond to that.
I’m not going to tell you what I’m planning now, but I’ll leave you with this…
…and maybe that will get one of my fellow AFI bloggers excited, at least.
Thanks for reading. For seven years.