Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Collectibles for Cash or Toys for Fun?

When I was a young kid, I got the Star Wars action figures from Kenner. Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, in particular. By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I don't think I was getting them anymore. I also got a landspeeder, an X-wing, a Tie-Fighter, a Snow Speeder, and a Bespin cloud ship (whatever the heck that was called).

I don't think I got all of the figures. I never got any of the big ticket (expensive) stuff - no Death Star, no Millenium Falcon, no At-At Walker (though I did know kids who had those and played with theirs). My parents probably could have afforded to buy me those things, but they just didn't. They grew up poor. While they were solidly middle class by the time I got around, they still were very frugal. It probably helped me in the end. Now there are lots of things I could buy for myself that I don't simply because I have the mentality in the back of my mind that I just can't afford them (even when I can) that I think makes it not even occur to me that I can buy something. I hope I can instill similar habits with my children. I don't want to spoil my daughter. I want her to be happy - I think she will be much happier if she does not get everything she wants, even if we could get it for her.

Now all of those Star Wars toys are worth some money, at least if they are in their original packages and in good condition.

I also had some Star Trek action figures - a set of six tall figures with cloth uniforms, belts, and little phasers and communicators. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, and a Klingon. (Here's a pic of Spock and Klingon on ebay). Apparently those are also worth some money today, particularly in their original packages.

I mentioned this to someone and they pointed out how much money I could have today if I had just held onto those in their original packaging. And that is probably true. And I do wish I had the packaging still. Though some of the Star Wars packages had the 'proof of purchase' seals cut out so I could order the 'Survival Kit' - something that gave accessories you could add to the Star Wars figures and that I rememeber waiting a long time to get.

But really, would it have been worth it had I saved all of those things? I do have the figures and the vehicles still. Most of the vehicles are tremendously beat up. I played hard with them. Most of the Star Trek figures have their limbs broken and then taped back together. Some of the uniforms are stained and ripped. Most of the phasers and communicators are either missing or damaged (the tip at the end of the phasers were notorious for snapping off - I think only McCoy's is intact, and that is because I got him last, when I was older - my parents I guess got the figures all at once and only slowly gave them to me as gifts over the years). Spock is in particularly bad shape. All of his limbs have been broken off and then taped back on. All of his accessories are gone. This is in part because I taped a paper 'S' on his shirt and a paper cape on his back and then would repeatedly throw him up the stairs and into the railing as I shouted 'Super Spock!' So basically that figure is worthless, at least in monetary terms. But as it turns out, they are all priceless to me. Especially the Spock. Not the figures themselves, which I do still have and perhaps my children will play with them someday (if they are interested). I could have lost them all and they'd still be priceless to me. Because it isn't the figures that have value - it is all of the memories I have of all of the fun I had playing with those toys. That can never be taken away (well, save Alzheimers, and that usually affects later memories, I think). All of the fun that I had with 'Super Spock' over my childhood years is worth more to me than I can possibly explain. I had so much fun. It brings a smile to my face even now to think of it. Giving up all of those memories for $500 today or even $5,000 just wouldn't seem worth it, as much as I could use the money. A happy memory from childhood is priceless.

So while perhaps it would be nice to have some of those toys intact or with their boxes today, I really don't regret not saving them that way. I had way too much fun with them. That's what toys are for. To play with and have fun. And I hope my own children get to have the same fun with their toys. My daughter has already destroyed several books she really likes. We replaced one and just taped up the other one. But she is so happy when she plays with them, I don't mind. The smile on her face is worth it.

5 comments:

Maya's Granny said...

There is such fun to be had from a toy. Saving them as collectibles is a strange thing for a child to do. When I was a little girl there were dolls that you weren't supposed to play with, you were just supposed to display. Some of my friends had them. If they did play with them, they would get in trouble. How lame is that?

beansa said...

What a sweet post, dbb! My little bro and I whiled away many a happy hour playing with his Star Wars toys. I remember helping him hang up the ships with fishing line so they looked like they were really flying. Good times!

es said...

Personally I think saving things - whatever things they are - as being "too good" to use is a perversion. My mother has Noritake china that she's used possibly 2-3x since my brother brought it home from Asia after Vietnam. How sick is that? The only things that I can see displaying for decoration are things that are decorative items per se, like some vases, which have no other use.

Another thing that falls into the category often of being "too good" for use is dress-up clothing. Why not let the child get some wear and pleasure out of the damned rag before s/he grows out of it?

es said...

Personally I think saving things - whatever things they are - as being "too good" to use is a perversion. My mother has Noritake china that she's used possibly 2-3x since my brother brought it home from Asia after Vietnam. How sick is that? The only things that I can see displaying for decoration are things that are decorative items per se, like some vases, which have no other use.

Another thing that falls into the category often of being "too good" for use is dress-up clothing. Why not let the child get some wear and pleasure out of the damned rag before s/he grows out of it?

es said...

Sorry for the double post!