Collecting like crazy and the need to validate my fandom

Unforeseen circumstances meant my family and I had to find a new house on short notice. If there was a silver lining it was finding a place by the river with a small downstairs bedroom that was perfect for an office. At least, that had been the plan. Ultimately it became a dumping ground for my Star Wars collection and the shelves were soon stacked with collectables and ephemera. By the time I actually got a desk in the room, it was clear that my collecting had reached a tipping point.

The solution was simple – pack the collection up. Not the whole lot, I should say, but enough to fill three boxes in the garage. I’d already made a start down this path after taking the majority of my carded figures out of their packaging. I knew I was going to be keeping some of it out, I mean I did have all this empty shelf space. The first thing to do was to identify what parts were going to stay on display. First and foremost was my LEGO collection. But it was clear there was too much of even that to keep out. So, only the ships remained, my UCC Slave 1 taking pride of place, and what I call diorama play sets – Battle on Naboo, Luke’s hut on Ahch-To, that sort of thing. The buildable figures all went into the garage along with most of the Microfighters and mini-figs. The rest of the shelf space I dedicated to some old Yodas and my beautiful Padmé dolls. Away went the action figures, both carded and loose, the Black Series and the little knick-kacks I’ve picked up over the years.

So now I have an office I can use, with a bookcase filled with books(!) rather than figures. There’s even room to have a few of my Star Trek collectibles out. All in all, it was a cathartic experience but one that left me feeling a little hollow. I’ve always had the need to validate myself as a fan through my collection, whether that was comic books, Magic: The Gathering cards or, my biggest pop culture love, Star Wars. All in all, packing up half or more of my collection made me feel like a fake fan. I was curious how prevalent – if at all – this sentiment was with other fans. So I put a poll to Twitter.

I asked whether collecting and merchandise is important to people’s fandom and experience of Star Wars. The results were surprising with 41% of almost 250 respondents saying that they can take or leave it. Only 18% said it was “incredibly important” to their fandom experience, with 28% saying “quite important”. I also asked fellow collectors to share their own experiences.

I love collecting Star Wars memorabilia, and it’s one of my favourite parts of the Star Wars fandom experience. While I love just about anything Star Wars, I mainly focus on Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, and Rey memorabilia, since those are my favourite characters. I enjoy collecting LEGOs, action figures, Funko Pops, T-shirts, books, stuffed animals, and more – if it has Star Wars on it, I’ll probably get excited about it!

However, my favourite pieces usually aren’t the ones I buy for myself, but are actually the stuff that is given to me as gifts. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Star Wars, and family and friends often get me Star Wars stuff for my birthday or holidays. I love looking at all these pieces on my memorabilia shelves, because they remind me of my friends and family and how much those people mean to me.

Also, whenever I go to a geek convention, I like to pick up Star Wars artwork. I love being able to support the work of local artists and have a really unique piece to hang on my walls.

– Ashley Pauls (@jediash1)

It depends on what type of item it is. I’m not very materialistic, but I like things that are useful or enhance my experience of the story. For example, I love reading, and I love learning more about the stories and characters, so I ended up having a shelf full of Star Wars books–novelisations, canon stories, and Ian Doescher’s Shakespeare parodies. I also like subtle, classy items, like Han’s dice for my car, a Resistance pin from Disney World, or Padmé’s dress from Her Universe. When I made my Rey cosplay, I bought a replica of her staff, because that’s a good prop to have. That’s about as far as I go. I don’t feel the desire to own a lot of toys or action figures, or ordinary items (like clothes or household items) that advertise Star Wars.

Side note regarding toys: I used to help my little brother put together the LEGO sets, and I enjoyed that because I’m good at putting things together. The big Millennium Falcon in the LEGO catalogue gave me pause, until I saw the price. I don’t desire them enough to spend money on them.

– Jacqueline Tetrault (@JackieTetrault)

Someone once asked me; “If your house was on fire and you could get only one thing out, what would it be?” I replied: “If I couldn’t get EVERYTHING out, then I’d simply go inside and burn with the house.” The person of course didn’t believe me, so he turned to my best friend and asked if I was serious, he replied “Oh yeah.”

– Dan Dudych (@HK47nRevan)

Categories: Opinion

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