There are many different types of collector. Some people are completist, having to have the entire set, entire years’ worth of items, or even everything ever made for a particular line. Others will pick and choose different runs or sets and happily let the other toys pass by. Some people I know of have different parameters, for instance I know of a few pony collectors who are only recreating their childhood herd, or only collecting ponies they find in thrift stores.
As I was drawn more into the world of toy collecting, I realized pretty early on I needed some limits to be comfortable. There were hundreds of different My Little Ponies made in the 1980’s, and there have been more ‘generations’ of ponies since then. While I love my toys, I draw a line at having a toy filled house. Because my interest was first sparked by remembering childhood toys, I have concentrated on those items. This helped to keep my collection small and somewhat within my budget- a plus as I was in graduate school at the time!
However, as I joined communities I saw many ponies and other toys that were awesome. Things I’d never seen as a kid, or had known about but didn’t have. I looked for ways to expand my collecting, but within limits. After keeping a few ponies with planets and stars as symbols I decided to collect celestial ponies (any pony with a celestial symbol). At the time I was also teaching an Earth Science course at the local community college, and so the celestial ones also fit in with meaning there (you study space when you study Earth Science, in addition to the Earth itself). I decided against collecting any non 80’s (G1 or generation one) ponies, as they came along after my childhood toy days were over. If you combine my childhood heard with the celestial ponies you would have a sizable but not unmanageable (for me) collection, and I liked the defined boundaries of it.
But..what about all the pretty and unusual ponies that didn’t fit those two categories? Sometimes you see pictures of something amazing and you just want it. I gave in to that a few times and had a few odds and ends ponies that I thought were cool. Sometimes my collecting parameters overlapped with other, interesting groups. For example, Night Glider is a gorgeous pony covered in stars and planets- covered because she is also a Twice-as-Fancy (TAF) pony. One of my childhood ponies was Diamond Dreams, a beautiful Merry-Go-Round (MGR) pony. The more I looked and enjoyed these ponies, the more I wanted others done in that style. After looking over those groups I decided to include them, as they were small (6 MGR ponies and 12 TAFs).
I do, however, have a specific way I like to acquire my ponies- by thrifting! I especially love buying dirty and discarded ponies and cleaning them up. The cheapest way to do this is often to buy lots from thrift stores and flea markets, taking a chance on the contents. This aspect really appeals to me for a variety of reasons. I love fixing old items up and seeing their quality shine through. I love finding things other people didn’t value and revealing their coolness. I love a bargain, and wanted my thrifting to pay for itself. What I didn’t realize when I started this was how this aspect keeps my collecting under control.
Because I bought lots and resold the ponies I didn’t want, I have been able to have a variety of ponies and toys pass through my hands. I get the joy of researching them-their names, who made them, etc. I get to hold them and shine them up, and then, I let them go. I have found that for me much of the pleasure of collecting anything- My Little Pony’s, Fairy Tail birds, American Girl dolls- lies is seeing the items, touching them, and fixing them up. Owning them isn’t actually as important to me as seeing them and researching them. I still get the thrill of the hunt; a major pleasure for any collector, I think. I get the excitement of finding something, the thrill of a package in the mail, the joy of opening up a new toy- but without the crowding of my spaces or the pain in my wallet. I also really enjoy knowing I am passing along these items to new homes and the people that have been looking for them. This helps me remain satisfied with my small collection.
So, how do you collect? Does your collecting fill a shelf, a room, or your house? Are you a completist, or do you just collect what catches your fancy?