Originally posted at slangards.multiply.com on Dec 22, '08
I got started toy collecting slowly; after consciously deciding to collect, the first one I got was an overpriced Hulkbuster Iron Man at 2Rats. It was P800 at the time, though I probably could have found one on PinoyToyKolektor for half that. Most of my early purchases were much the same, from specialty market stores in Megamall or St. Lucia in Cainta. I had yet to try Greenhills or meetups with fellow collectors, which is where I get most of my big ticket items now. I went to a few conventions. The first one was the Philippine Toycon during summer, and then I remember passing by the Hataw Hanep Hero con as well. Great pictures, but I didn't buy anything. The one that won me over though, was the December Toyfair at SM Megamall.
The reasons for this are simple:
- it's like 10 minutes walk from my office.
- it coincides with 13th month pay.
- it's all about toy vendors unloading stock. Very little "activities".
- there's a lot of variety.
I'm not really a "hard-core" collector. I don't focus on particular lines, and I don't really care if the line I'm buying is in a popular line, or an exclusive one. I don't usually care if it fits in with toy lines that I currently have (though I am more or less aware of scale). I just love toys.
What the Toyfair reminded me of were the yard sales I went to as a kid. Before eBay, the way to unload your junk in my neighborhood in Honolulu was the good old Yard Sale. We didn't have a whole lot of extra money, so many of my toys came second hand from my neighbors. I didn't mind. If I learned one thing from my parents, it's that second hand doesn't usually mean anything but LESS EXPENSIVE. I loved going around with my mom and digging through the tables of toys or books while she would go through clothes or kitchenware. Finding a GI Joe that I could buy for 50c or a big Transformer for $1 was a sweet deal for a kid.
There is a unique feeling you get from that that you don't get from retail stores. When you wait for a toy in Toys R' Us with the rest of the geekdom and it hits shelf, there's a feeling of gratitude that you bought it at suggested retail price and didn't get screwed over by hoarders; it's roughly equivalent to winning the office raffle. But toy HUNTING at different locations, or digging through piles of plastic, never knowing what you'll find, just in it for the fun... well that kind of treasure is yours alone. It's like finding gold. Or winning the Lotto.
When I first found myself at the December Toyfair, I was like a kid back at home. The other cons, although bigger, with more pomp and brighter lights, were about a part of toy collecting that I never really identified with. Great experiences all, nice photo opportunities, but not me. THIS was my kind of collecting. In the sale bins, digging in the dirt, looking for rare gems and precious idols. While I now realize that some of my purchases back then were less than thrifty (mostly Mint-On-Card stuff), I don't mind. It was the elation of being in the middle of a big yard sale, with loose second-hand toys, at (arguably) less than retail prices that enthralled.
That first year, I came out with an army duffel bag full of MOC Marvel Legends (my main line at the time). Ditto the second year out, when I came home with several MIB (Mint-In-Box) Playarts figures. I remember taking my cousin with me to this one and even he found something (Those dark fairy tale statues by McFarlane) and he's not even a collector. This year was a little slower, but I think it mostly has to do with the sheer number of toys I already have. It takes a little more work to find things to add simply because I've already got many of the ones I wanted in the first place. A little joy in and of itself and I'm grateful for it.
Next year, when Christmas rolls around and the vendors in Greenhills start thinking about unloading their excess stock, I'll be at Megamall waiting. This time I'm gonna save more and camp out there for all three days.