I’m fascinated by collecting. It seems to be something that humans do to excess (although I’ve met a few squirrels that are downright certifiably nuts about nuts). People collect for all sorts of reasons, from fascination with a thing, to wanting to connect with something bigger (a brand, a community) to the edge of mental illness (when it crosses over into hoarding).
I imagine to a degree that collecting is a evolutionarily selected for trait. Certain members of our species out-survived others because they were more adept at collecting food and making it through the winter or drought or blight times. More recently some survive over others because they are able to accumulate wealth that purchases resources, protection and other key survival items.
What got me thinking about this was actually shoes. People that collect Nike runners in particular. Running shoes are the height of consumable good. They are designed and intended to be purchased and used up in a few months of serious training. The materials are designed to fall apart, the tread wears fast and the cushioning deflates. They are not intended to be put on a shelf and looked at. Yet they are. People spend frightening amounts of money on shoes that never get worn.
As with running shoes, skill toys qualify for none of the above mentioned survival traits (although I’m sure I’ll see cries of “Yoyos are life!” In the comments). Unlike running shoes, it’s possible to have a pristine yoyo collection that does get played with (over carpet, with a short string in a padded room with a metal detector at the door). Of course the extreme end doesn’t allow for that, as everything needs to stay sealed, mint in box.
But there are varying degrees of collector.
1. The museum collector - You purchase your items, then keep them in their boxes and put them in sealed displays to be looked at but never played with. You might collect everything or just rarities, but you are only interested in mint condition, unopened in box. If you are going to play with it, you buy a 2nd one for that purpose
2. The display collector - You are more flexible about playing with your toys. You usually display them in or with the box, but you will take them out and play with them (although usually over a carpet).
3. The casual collector - You collect for the sake of having the variety to play with. You aren't as worried about condition as you intend to give each one a turn in your bag or on your belt for a day here and there.
4. The brand collector - You are very selective about your collecting. Within your niche hobby you collect everything you can from your brand. If it’s a yoyo company you have every yoyo in every colourway, including that rare prototype that no one knew existed. You have every hat, t-shirt, badge, pin and sticker. You probably even collect empty boxes.
5. The trader - You don’t collect for the sake of keeping the throws, you are trying to get a chance to play with every possible yoyo (begleri, kendama, etc). You hunt the buy/sell/trade forums looking for deals, trying to get your hands on as many different toys as you can for as little as you can spend.
6. The hoarder - You have 3 boxes full of broken yoyo parts. You buy every yoyo you can find, even the terrible dollar store ones that no one in their right mind would play with. You bought a bigger house to hold your boxes of yoyos, yoyo packaging, life size cutouts of Gentry Stein and other collectables. It’s rumoured that you have Jensen Kimmet living in your garage. You feed him donuts and he makes you yoyos.
7. The mail addict - This is me. I just like getting yoyos in the mail. That was why I collected. I solved that problem by starting returntopshop.com. Now I get yoyos in the mail, get to try them, then sell them at a “profit”.
Did I miss anything?
Where do you fit?