Why collect?

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Let’s face it, folks… Collecting childhood toys is hella lame. It doesn’t matter if somebody’s collection makes it on io9 or if Robot 6 runs a weekly feature. Toys are still the anti-chick magnet, a forever shame that you must carry that shows you never reached adulthood, when you can start collecting, you know, actual cars or commemorative plates or sports memorabilia or stamps.

It’s not just Transformers collectors either. You got a bunch of dolls in your house, ladies? Well, you’re either a hoarder or painfully lonely or both. Train collectors probably get the best of it, what with their collections being full of wonderful details, but still there’s the idea that miniature railroads are the product of time-displaced obsessive compulsives. Young men these days are collecting miniature pony figurines… and I seriously don’t know what to say about that.

The thing is… there is some truth to it all. If I really asked myself the hard questions of why I collect Transformers, there is indeed some element of trying to recapture the thrill and naïveté of youth. When you could be amazed that a car can turn into a humanoid and vice versa. There is still the nostalgic glow burning in my mind of half-remembered cartoons when Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, and Chris Latta would bring life and character to badly animated robot men designed to sell toys. I personally stick to Transformers that remind me of G1 (the Transformers that came out in 1984). The kids I talk to are fans of the movies or Transformers Prime, and one day they too will succumb to the same nostalgia bug.

And I would quit… except it totally still works. Part of me is totally aware that there are clumps of plastic residing on my bookshelf, when really I should be using that space for linen storage or, I don’t know, BOOKS. Part of me knows that my memories are cynically being used by Hasbro, since a lot of these new toys can not be easily transformed by a child’s hands. (I’m looking at you, Blitzwing.)

But it’s been such an interesting ride so far, and it’s been fun. I love seeing the advancement in articulation, the sophistication of the new headsculpts, the drive to recreate the new toys so they look just like the characters I remember on TV when even the original toys were way out of bed (looking at you, Ratchet).

So yeah, it’s a pretty embarrassing hobby that makes me incredibly self-conscious when I wander into the children’s toy aisle to see if… yes, they did manage to stock a Thrilling 30 Springer! Woo! And it does make me formulate fake contingency plans (“It’s, uh, for my kids.”). But I resigned myself a long time ago that I wasn’t going to stop myself I Hasbro managed to wow me again with a clever new process that turns a car into robot.

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