How much is too much?
July 11, 2007

So we finally found a house, after roughly a year of looking and discussing finances, schools, location, etc. Since sold our previous house last August, we’ve been renting a townhome and keeping pretty much everything packed for the eventual next move into the new house. This includes almost my entire collection of toys, prints, comic books, artwork and the like. So the other night, while contemplating the thought of moving the 10’ wide x 10’ tall jenga-style mountain of boxes stacked in my current basement, it got me thinking -

How much is too much?

I’ve been collecting all kinds of things since I was a kid – action figures & vehicles (loose and carded), statues, art prints, model trains, baseball and basketball cards, vintage books, WWII items, Frank Sinatra stuff, Norman Rockwell art books, Chicago Cubs and Denver Broncos items…and a bunch of other stuff too.  My family never really threw anything away, so I got to play with all the vintage junk from my siblings – Mego, Planet of the Apes, Micronauts, GIJoe, comic books, baseball cards – so I learned to appreciate and retain this kind of stuff and not throw it out or give it away. And I grew up in the 80s, so I received GIJoe, Transformers, MASK, He-man, Thundercats, etc for every birthday and Xmas.  For whatever reason, I never gave any of it away, or sold it to friends or destroyed it.  Even when I went through the “toys are uncool” phase in high school; I simply packed it all carefully away and stored it until after college when I discovered the hobby again and was glad I kept it all.

But it’s a lot of stuff.  I enjoy having it all, and it has been great fun tracking things down at garage sales, or in tiny antique shops, or on ebay or from friends.  And I feel very blessed and lucky to be able be in a situation where I can obtain and keep all these things without having to sell them to pay my pimp.  But packing it all up and moving it last summer, and now facing moving it all again next month, the reality of the size of my collection makes me think sometimes that it’s just too much.  Maybe more than a normal person should have.  But then what do I get rid of? I’ve sold off some parts of my collection over the years, all my Transformers and Godzilla, and other stuff here and there, but overall it’s still fairly intact and takes up roughly 75 boxes right now.  And that’s just action figures and statues.  Add in my books, art, 24 comic boxes and other stuff and it’s really overwhelming.  I know a few guys who have sold off some of their stuff only to get frustrated and depressed soon after and buy it all back within a few years.  Logic dictates it may make sense to pare down my collection, but I’d hate to get rid of anything and really regret it later.  I just don’t think I can do it.  Too much sentiment, and too much time spent chasing all this stuff down, and of course the cost to buy all this back would be insane.  And of course, where does logic fit into collecting stuff anyway?

In the past, I was much more of a completist, buying everything in a line. Now I tend to just buy what really appeals to me, or what I can realistically afford and that helps keep the amount of current collecting intact. But even with cutting down, there’s still a steady flow of toys, comics, statues, prints and other things coming in and not much of anything going out.  I still love my huge collection, and this collecting hobby.  But at what point do you say, “ok, I don’t have space/money/time for all of this in my life anymore” – literally and figuratively.  Or when it gets to the point where you have much more stuff in storage than on display, then what’s the point of keeping the collection if everything stays in the closet?  Or when the wife looks at the mountains of toys and says nothing, her wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights expression tells the whole story. Makes it tough to logically explain what a grown man is doing with 2 tons of plastic men.

As I’m getting older, maybe I’m outgrowing it.  Maybe my interests and focus are changing, or it could be just the fickle nature of being human where your interests wax and wan depending on outside influences.  Who knows?  In all likelihood, I will find a way to keep everything and keep collecting more…but at some point I may reach the end.  And I’m sure I’ll blog about it.

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Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast
Current designer, future artist, eternal manchild, Ryan "The Superfly" Prast uses his toynerd acumen to delve deep into the profound nuances of life. With a penchant for tiny plastic men and nostalgia of times past, he also enjoys panelology, obscure cultural references, tomfoolery and/or shenanigans, conspiracy theories, and watching his Cubs flush another season down the toilet. And he always keeps his fork when there’s pie.
Read other articles by Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast.

 

 

 

6 Comments »

  • Jon says:

    random toy thoughts-
    though you may get crap from our collecting peers…
    you two don’t have any kids yet? no college funds to build?, I hope you don’t have any credit debt?, if you do you should pay that off asap.
    and if that’s the case, why not pick one or two series and sell everything else in waves like you have, and take a vacation with your wife somewhere incredible and make some memories that will last throughout your marrige?
    for me, the same thing happened.
    I put almost everything in storage and a year later i realized I would never know it was gone. I kept my favorites that will fit on one bookcase and losing everything else. meanwhile you got credit debt or you are bored. I realized what was in the closet could pay for a lot of exciting experiences. keep what you still enjoy, at least comics are interactive, or what would you want displayed proudly? and let the rest go. you can’t take it with you. you won’t miss it all and you will still be cool without it.

  • CeyJay says:

    This article really hit home for me for the exact reasons you stated. I’ve got more stuff in storage than on display…not too mention all the years of collecting have put me into serious debt…and the toys, comics,etc just keep rolling out.

    I think I’m getting to a saturation point as well…where I only want to get certain things and not be such a completist anymore.

    Thanks for the blog and for listening.

  • Jason says:

    Trust me I am in the same boat—when we move again(the house is to small with my collection in it). When moving in I figure 2/3 of the move consisted of items in my collection (as well as books/DVDs/CDs in such) it got so bad with the books we couldnt take them all in one trip because we started to see the UHaul start to sag.

    But I figure it still easier to spend the money on this stuff instead of alcohol and smokes.

    Remeber whoever dies with the most toys wins– although what we win I have yet to figure out– Ill let you know when it happens

  • superfly says:

    great comments, thanks guys. We do have two kids, and have college funds and very little debt. But you guys have some great ideas and thoughts, much to contemplate…

  • bh says:

    Great article. I don’t have nearly as much stuff as you do, but have found myself asking the same question. I was looking for something I knew I had and getting frustrated sorting through all the boxes. Heck, I found stuff I didn’t even know I had and wondered what possessed me to buy so much stuff. I think it was partially the completist mentality and partially impulse buying. I keep telling myself I’m going to make some huge nice display one day, but that day hasn’t come yet. No answer for you, but your thoughts strike a familiar chord. Again, very good article.

  • Thomas says:

    I feel the same way. It’s gotten to a point where I have so much stuff they are mostly boxed away or it’s filling up my room/workspace. It’s also kind of difficult because I’m not a fan of clutter. Now I make it a priority to buy only things I really want and I give everything a few weeks wait rule so I don’t buy on impulse. And let me tell ya, I’ve seriously cut back this way.

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