Choices – Toys or …
September 4, 2009

Yesterday, I was in the checkout line at a small grocery store in the next town over.  They used to have a store in my town, but constant road construction in front of their store finally killed of enough business that they closed that store.

Anyway, I was driving by their store in the next town and noticed that store was now under siege by road construction. 

So, I went in to give them some business.  Bologna, cheese, a box of cereal on sale, and then I remembered we needed a piece of meat for dinner.  About six months ago, a friend introduced my family to the practice of marinating meat.  Since the other store closed, I’ve had difficulty buying eye-round roast in the right size pieces.  I need about 1.5 to 2 pounds for my family for this meal.  Its just the amount my family eats.  The remaining stores sell packages obviously meant for 2 people or to feed 8 people.  Nothing in between.  So there I am and they local store has packages of 1.4 lbs.  "Perfect", I think.

As I am unloading my groceries onto the checkout conveyor, the man ahead of me looks down at the roast and says, " I see you will be eating well tonight.".  Without thinking, I responded, "Its about 5$, which is what I try to limit the cost of meat to for 1 night."  Then I watched as his wife paid for their food with food stamps.  5$ for meat was probably a luxury they could not afford.  "Enjoy your dinner", he called as he left.  "Thanks", I said.

This reminded me that the day before I had bought my latest action figure.  DcDirect’s JLA Classified re-release Batman.  It had cost me 11$.  Twice the cost of that piece of meat.  A week ago, I bought myself a new pair of sneakers which also cost me 11$.  The old ones had holes where the uppers had separated from the sole near the toes.  I began to think.  What if I had had to choose between the shoes and the toy?  or what if I had to use that money to put food on my table?


Admittedly, I have cut back my toy buying this year.  I’ve bought a grand total of 2 DcDirect, 2 DCUC, and the 2 JLU six packs.  That’s it.  That’s not a lot for a toy collector.

Surely, in this economy, action figures are a luxury.  One not everyone can afford.  I think I will try to spend more time being grateful that I feel I can afford to buy a figure once in a while and less time complaining how difficult it is to find them.

Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.





  • Chip Cataldo says:

    I know that I’m probably more guilty than anyone of not looking at what is around me and being most appreciative of what I have. I have work than brings in more money than my expenses, I live in a place that allows me free time in the sunshine, and I can collect toys & comics as well as put food on in my coffers. We should appreciate what we HAVE and not what we don’t have.

    A thoughtful blog, Erik…thanks for posting it.


  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    I’ve been trying to teach my son this very lesson for the past few months now (he just turned 7 yesterday) as we opened his “first” bank account.

    There have been a few tantrums in the store and some sassiness at home when he doesn’t come home with that new book/Wii game/Bakugan toy but it is starting to sink in.

    My aunt has also introduced the family to the idea of “toy recycling”. Every 6 months or so each house boxes up some forgotten toys and passes them on to the next house. The kids each get a box of “new” toys to play with and it doesn’t cost us anything but the gas as we travel back and forth, but that is negated by the increase in family time among all the cousins. I guess she used to do it with other new-mommies when her children were first born and the kids always looked forward to that next box of goodies and getting something back after it had been passed on became a bit of a treasure hunt bonus.

    Every now and then, its nice to have a reminder that I don’t have it as bad as I might make it seem and there is always someone worse off than me. Thanks for the heads up.

    I think the sun is shining and there is a box of chalk in the garage. Hopscotch seems like a nice way to finish the day …

  • You must wear old man shoes. LOL. Seriously $11 shoes? Anyway good post. I definitely have had to cut down on some stuff and consider myself lucky to be able to get all that I have.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      11$ – “Starter” sneakers on an end cap at Walmart. Interestingly enough, they were more when I was there the other day and they had been moved off the end cap to the middle of an isle.

      • Tony C says:

        Forget the food stamps and the $11 Zipps, i think the saddest thing here is that you’ve just now discovered “the practice of marinating meat.” You’ve gotta be in your 30’s or 40’s, and that my friend, is a lot of dry, tasteless chicken. After that first bit of sweet, sweet teriyaki tickled your taste-buds, your world must have exploded into color a la “The Wizard of Oz!” You’re a crazy-man SuperFriend!

  • You know Erik and Chip, you are not the only ones with that kind of after thoughts.

    I believe it’s what i could call, “The responsible Man inside the small boy we all have”.
    I live in a beautiful country named MEXICO, and about three months ago, i could afford to buy 5 DCUC figures for approximatedly MX$1500 (US$100) and wanted to get more.
    I have a 3 year old pretty daughter, who just happen to start pre-school this year. and I pay monthly that same amount of money for her school.

    I think the Collecting biz for some of us has become a luxury in some ways, The Thinking of buying “Toy Exclusives” or “Limited editions” or “Re-paints” are out of my list. Even the retail items have become harder to find and the ones i have found, i cannot afford anymore.

    I thank GOD that i have a job which helps me to get food, cloth and school to the ones i love. And i hope in GOD for better times, that could be like the old times.
    I think you know what i mean.

    Juan Jaime.

    • Erik superfriend says:

      Wow. 20$ each for DCUC. I feel 12$ is too much. (I got the two I picked up on line without the CNC piece for 10$ each shipped.) I know after the price increase goes in I will hardly buy any at all.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I’ve had to cut down on figure and comic purchases for the same reasons you mention, Erik. I also don’t frequent fast food places anymore and my arteries must be truly grateful for that. I remember one guy who sold his collection during a dry financial spell because “he couldn’t eat his toys” in order to survive. So yeah, I would choose meat and shoes over my hobby of choice if things got to the point where I had to make such a decision.

    As Chip said, we gotta appreciate what we do have, ’cause you never know what lurks around the corner…

    • Erik superfriend says:

      I haven’t cut my comic buying yet. I even started buying Green Lantern because I wanted to know about of all the different Lanterns. And I’m buying Blackest Night (but not the minis). Then again, DC helped by ending Trinity. That was = to 4 books a month. Blue Beetle was canceled and then merged with Booster Gold. But I’ve added the new Adventure title (I realized I missed the Legion after reading “Legion of 3 Worlds”.) So I figure I’m about where I was before.

  • Spilldog says:

    I feel your pain, guys. I’ve cut back on my comic-buying considerably. I’ve even resorted to selling off about half of my vintage comic collection at my local comic specialty shop just to make ends meet. I’ve done the same with my action-figure buying. The price of action figures suddenly shot up right after ToyBiz handed the Marvel Legends line over to Hasbro (who ruined the line, I might add!). I religiously check out this website and various action figure periodicals to see what’s coming out soon, so I can “map out” what I will buy. Time was when I would buy a whole wave of Marvel Legends or DCUC in one swoop, but not anymore. Now I only buy the figures of characters that I absolutely love. I’ve also found that some retailers, like Target and Toys-R-Us are actually cheaper on action figures than Wal-Mart. $8 for those 3.75-inch Marvel Universe figures is a bit too rich for my blood! And $14-$15 for Hasbro’s Marvel Legends (with their poor quality) is highway robbery! I’ve already told myself that once I get my hands on the DCUC Joker figure in the upcoming Wave 10 (Wal-Mart exclusive), I’m done buying action figures… but I know I’m lying to myself. I’ll never stop buying them. I may cut back, but I’ll never stop collecting. What a hobby!!

  • chad says:

    could not agree with the article more. for the way things are one must be gratefull for what we have and if it includes being able to buy the must have stuff and maybe also ones hobby in balance more power to one.

  • stcardinal says:

    Thanks for this article, having to decide whether I buy toys or food is something that I have to do daily. Usually in the end, toys get the cut or I try to find ways to acquire them cheaper. I’ve been pretty good at deciding what figures I must buy now in order to save or save for later when I can get them cheaper. While I’m not on foodstamps, which I am grateful for, I’m not exactly high rolling with my two pack of ramen a day meals either.

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