Today I want to talk about a very simple thing: fun. On fansites you can find lots of comments by people who sound rather disappointed, sometimes even outright angry, especially after one of Hasbro’s live events. So I wondered: how much fun is Star Wars collecting in this day and age to you? If it’s not much fun or maybe even no fun at all… what makes it no longer fun and why do you still collect? And if it’s fun to you, what exactly makes collecting enjoyable to you? So click through for a discussion about the fun (or lack thereof) of collecting!
There are various aspects that have an impact on how we feel about collecting.
The current selection of Star Wars action figures
How happy are you about the current selection of Star Wars action figures? How do you like the character selection by Hasbro / Funko / Hot Toys / Japanese companies? In my opinion there could very well be a clear divide here between TVC only collectors and those that also buy TBS and other lines.
I would argue the character selection for 6 inch scale figures is quite decent, it’s a good mix of figures from new entertainment and alltime classics that almost any adult fan would love. Sure, there is a distinct lack of colorful background characters (including aliens and droids), but of course main characters will always be more popular and more in demand. But overall you can get a good variety of 6 inch scale figures and I believe most Black Series collectors are probably pretty happy about what figures are available to them. Funko also offers quite a huge variety of figures and Hot Toys, the few figures they make, are usually of an extremely high quality.
But what about 3.75 in collectors? Are you happy about what figures you get? And if not: why do you keep collecting even though you rarely get what you really want? Or are you more or less happy with the current selection of 3.75 in figures, vehicles and dioramas?
Finding and buying a figure
I believe the term “toy hunt” touches on a few important points. Toy hunting is a dying hobby. More and more things shift to online, with online pre-orders and – depending on where you live – almost online only availability of figures.
In my opinion “toy hunting” appeals to many (older) collectors because it also appeals to our instincts. Back in the day finding a juicy rabbit in the wilderness and hitting it with an arrow made a hunter quite happy. It’s no surprise to me why collectors used to go “hunting” for toys. I believe there’s little doubt that actually finding a figure you’ve been looking for “in the wild” and buying it before anyone else gets their paws on it is quite a satisfying experience.
But a lot has changed. Buying online is certainly extremely convenient, but in many ways buying a figure online is like ordering a pizza from a delivery service instead of hunting or making your own food.
So the question is: how much fun is ordering figures online to you? To me the convenience of buying online outweighs the cons, but it’s certainly not “fun”, not in the least.
Depending on where you live (mostly the US vs all other territories) you have to contend with pre-order windows and the fear of not being able to place your order because everything is sold out within seconds or minutes. In Europe and elsewhere you don’t have to deal with this. You can order virtually anything at any of the etailers, you need to be aware what day something gets available, but you don’t need to set an alarm clock, you can place your order quite leisurely, things still sell out eventually, but there’s not this mad rush on pre-orders like in the US.
So at best buying a figure has become just plain boring. You click with your mouse and then you wait for several weeks or months until the figure arrives. At worst it has become a stressful experience where missing a pre-order can mean you are out of luck (until more figures arrive later, maybe) or you are beaten to the punch by bots and scalpers. Which all leads to frustration.
I believe the issue here is that the figure you want is dangled right before your eyes… you want it… you almost have it… but then someone else snatches it from right under your nose. If anyone experienced that while actually toy hunting in stores things could get quite heated. But online it means you just have to deal with it and that can certainly lead to massive frustration.
Another downside of buying online is that you don’t see what you get. What is the quality of the figure? Will the etailer package the figure properly or just stuff it into a tiny box or cram it inside an envelope?
Buying online means companies like Hasbro have to become very consistent with their quality. But it also means etailers need to take proper care when sending the figure to you. Of course things vary depending on whether or not you are a mint collector or just want the figure and dispose of the box/card anyway.
And general availability is always a factor to consider. It can certainly impact the fun factor if you can hardly find anything anywhere. Do you feel you can still get everything you want, or does it happen more often now that you miss out on something you wanted (and you refuse to pay scalpers on ebay)?
So how much fun is buying a figure to you? Or how frustrating is it? Would you enjoy collecting a lot more if you could go on actual toy hunts again? Or do you consider toy hunting a quaint thing from the past that wastes time and gas and the convenience of buying online more than makes up for the lack of immediate fun you have? How important is the experience of getting a figure to you?
I believe few would disagree that modern action figures are the best they have ever been, no matter the scale. Sure, there may be paint app errors here and there, but overall figure quality has greatly increased, from better sculpts to much better paint apps, the new figures set new standards.
So the question is: how much of a factor is figure quality to you? Would a great looking figure make up for any boring or outright unpleasant experience while buying it? I would argue that the actual figure is the most important part of the equation here. Or do you feel that the experience of getting a figure can be so bad that it outright ruins the enjoyment for you?
Displaying (or playing with) a figure
This is basically what collecting is mostly about, I would say. So at the end of the day, when you have went through all the hoops of getting a figure, have waited anxiously for the package to arrive and unboxed the figure, how much satisfaction does your collection give you? Or do you just put the figures in a box somewhere because you have run out of space?
Does displaying a new figure outweigh all potential unpleasantness that comes before it? And can it also make up for any perceived lack of good new figures, i.e. do the figures you may actually still like from what is currently available more than make up for the figures you don’t want at all, like repacks or characters you don’t care for? How important is it to you how many new figures you can add to your collection each year? Are you ok with a handful of figures each year you really want or does a perceived lack of desirable product put you off so much that you might eventually no longer care about the few new figures you may want?
I have read quite a few comments in the past years where collectors said they sold off their collection because they couldn’t get enough new figures they actually wanted. So does the number of new figures have an impact on how much you can enjoy what you already have? Does a Rose Tico figure retroactively ruin all the figures you already own and (used to) love, so much so that you want to quit the hobby and sell off your figures?
To wrap things up: what is most important about collecting to you? What is it that gives you the most joy and what is it that annoys you the most? Does the good still outweigh the bad? And if it does not and things have become either unpleasant or outright annoying… why do you keep on collecting?
What would need to be improved to make collecting more fun again? And if things remain the way they are now… do you see yourself quitting the hobby eventually or will you keep on collecting?
Or do you think the collecting experience is quite good and things are still mostly fun with little to complain about and you wonder why some people get so angry all the time?
I wonder how happy (hardcore) collectors are. I would encourage people who have little or nothing to complain about and feel things are quite fun to leave a comment here as well. Complaints are usually vastly overrepresented online, thus a comments section filled with complaints could be very misleading. So please, leave your feedback and let’s see how many of you are more or less happy or feel it’s the worst of times when it comes to Star Wars collecting.
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