Thoughts About Collecting Transformers And Other Plastic Toys
"What I'm thinking about is an upgrade to this collecting culture. A more sustainable approach to collecting."
Collecting anything is awesome. It allows you to preserve the past in the present. You get to meet wonderful people who are passionate about what you are passionate about. For me, I'm really interested in collecting figures (aka toys). Mostly of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Transformers, Pokemon, etc..
The stuff I bought more recently, like Transformers Armada Unicron, Generations hotspot, and Generations Fall of Cybertron, I sold or gave away also. I remember I put up an ad on classifieds, I wanted to sell this Minecraft Creeper cardboard mask. I wanted it for making youtube videos, but it didn't fit me. I met this lady outside Starbucks, and when she offered the 10 Euros I was asking for it, I told her, is this for you or for your kids. She said " yes and that they love Minecraft." I asked, "do they by chance like Lego, and other toys? " She said "of course."
I went to my car, and got a box full of all my collection. Dark of the moon Crankcase, generations bumblebee, generations cliff jumper, dotm sideswipe, lego sets, x-wing etc. The whole deal. She had 3 or 4 kids. And I gave them all to her. I just wanted to meet someone who has kids that like this stuff so I can giveaway. She was shocked and was really surprised that I had these toys. She asked "why did I have these toys when I don't have any kids?" I said "Well I'm a fan, I collect them, I do stop motion." She thanked me and accepted the "donation/gift" and I moved on. Her kids were ecstatic. Turns out Bumblebee was their favorite, she surprised them in the car.
Why are you telling us this Bud?
Well, I'm not telling you this to paint me as a person that donates. In fact I think this was a rare event, especially when it came to my collection.
As a collector, I wanted to sell and maximize the price so I have money to buy the next figure. I was going to meet her, so I said why not just giveaway everything and see how it felt. I felt both good and regretful. I felt good because knowing that instead of being on my shelf somewhere, these kids were happy. Also that the toys, were re-purposed. I felt regret because of losing my collection and financial "losses" so to speak.
Today ( a year later), I yearn for collecting again. I want to buy new figures. Display them, play with them, take pictures of them etc. I see amazing collections on Google +, on Youtube and all that. I spend a long time browsing ebay, Amazon, BBTS, looking at new toys, and wishing to buy the latest movie accurate Avengers collectibles. It's a wonderful hobby. There isn't a better time to be a collector. The quality of figures and accuracy are the best in human history. However, "Houston, we have a problem."
One big problem is preserving human history. The overwhelming supply of toys everywhere. More and more and more plastic. At first it was "omg which one should I get, this is blue, black, ooooh it's a Decepticon too", but now it is more like "wait a minute, this is a lot of plastic on the shelves". So it dawned upon me...All these toys are going to end up in a landfill or in the ocean somewhere. The plastic breaks down and contribute to destroying our environment. The factories producing these plastic toys are making greenhouse gases, using lots petroleum as a raw material. Petroleum that is a limited resource. And here we are molding it into a badass toy (I'm looking at you Mp-10B), but ultimately non functional in the end.
This isn't a depressing streak, nor is it a a judgmental post. I'm not hating on collectors. Perhaps, this is more of a pause and reflection. Collectors if anything are doing their part, since they keep the figures as long as possible, they pass it down and cherish them , and don't cause them to end up in landfills. They clean them, maintain them, share their love. Which is a wonderful thing.
But the great garbage patches are just too big of a problem affecting our and humanity's future. It is too big to ignore. If you are unaware of these patches, here check this aritcle out by National Geographic . I urge you to read it. It puts things in perspective.
What I'm thinking about is an upgrade to this collecting culture. A more sustainable approach to collecting.
Maybe collectors can pool their collections and minimize overall consumption. Sure the toy companies might see reduced sales, but if they put being Green on top of their list, maybe they wouldn't mind. You don't have to be an Optimus, Megatron, and Spiderman collector all at the same time. What if you are just collecting Optimuses, and your buddy is collecting Megatrons. Rather than being a personal effort, why not make it a collective one.
You'll say, "but that's stupid, I want Megatron because I want to hold it in my hand, if it's somewhere across the globe, how is that part of my collection?"
Here is a thought: assume we have a Transformers game like Fall of Cybertron. If you choose to collect only Optimuses, and you are in a clan with someone who collects Megatrons, you get perks for doing that. You get all the Megatron skins for free. That way , you get to participate, enjoy the character while keeping your footprint as small as possible. We start doing this with every franchise, and we might have a shot at bringing the consumption levels down a bit (at least from toys side). Of course toys/figures are probably a small fraction of the plastic waste. Of course there are many other items we can reduce.This isn't just a plastic problem. Plastic bags etc. So this isn't only pointed at collectors. But let's start somewhere.
Here is an idea for example, if Fedex gave a rebate for people in this collector program, your buddy could ship you all the Megatrons and you can "time share" the collection. All for the goal of sustainability. All to save Earth. For your kids, for their kids and for our home. You benefit from a community and reduced expenses for your collection.
The answer isn't in...stop collecting. It needs to be a consorted effort. The toy companies need to see a change in the market significant enough to respond. We all need to be responsible. If we keep buying and buying and buying, they'll keep making more and more. I know there are many responsible collectors that sell their figures at conventions and trade stuff.
There are many great things currently helping the effort of minimizing plastic consumption. Youtube reviews are a great way because they let us see the figure before buying and we get to be more selective. The digital gaming world has been the biggest breakthrough, since now you're only buying characters in digital space. The main reason I like Minecraft is that it is basically Lego, yet without all that plastic. Not only is it cheaper, but environmentally friendly. We need more of that.
I'm so happy to see kids playing minecraft or mobile games. Sure we are entering in gaming and the problems with gaming (I'll have a blog post on this some day). But that means the toys are getting less attention. Toy companies are trying so hard to not be eroded away.We see the recent shift in skylanders, amiibos. Bringing the physical world into the cyber world. But that means more plastic consumption again. We need a solution.
Consider this post one of awareness and not judgement. I love the hobby, and will continue to do so. But I have personally decided to make a tough choice and limit my consumption. I have another post coming up about what I decided to do with regards to collecting.
Earth is truly so unique, we have to care for her, she is bigger than all of us.