Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Collecting

Over Thanksgiving I went to visit the family and stayed with my parents. I ended up carting back two giant boxes of Barbies that I collected in high school and college. I was honestly hoping that they'd stay on the shelf at my parents until the end of time, but I was living a fantasy.

So, I hauled them back and kept them in the garage for two weeks until I had time to figure out where to put them. I'm at the point where I just want to take them out of the boxes and throw them in the Big Barbie Carry-all (okay, it's a Rubbermaid box) of the dolls I did play with. None of the dolls that I "collected" were high end ones with the exception of the King Arthur and Guinevere dolls (along withe Romeo and Juliet, part of the ironic "Together Forever series). Even those, comparatively, aren't high end.

When I first bought these dolls, most of them reproductions of the first Barbies, I took them out of the boxes. That's half the fun of these things, being able to take them out! But of course, the money is in keeping them in a box on a shelf somewhere. And in the interests of cleanliness (dusting is a pain), I packed them back in their boxes. Where they sat for ten years.

So, now I take a look at them. Tonight, in fact. And what do I find? Decayed elastic. Dust in the boxes, in a cosmic joke just to say, "See, you have to dust the doll anyway!" Box or not. And I go on E-bay. Guess what? Not shockingly, reproduction dolls aren't in big demand.

Of course, my joy in collecting them was not in the value they may or may not gain in time. Look at the Beanie Baby craze! All that money spent on beans and fabric that you can't give away at Goodwill.

Boxes tear over time; seams rip. Fabric fades and elastic decays. The usefulness of the item is now lost, and what joy did I get from the item? I can go back and point out other items I've "collected"--those My Little Ponies of about six years ago, got tons of those. All that Star Trek stuff, hundreds of dollars of ephemera that has long been sent off to a friend after an effort to clean out my house. That never-completed Enterprise model that I so desperately wanted. The Wesley Crusher action figure. That one hurts to admit. That Transformers toy. Had to have that one. Why? Oh, and I can't forget the Breyer Horse models from high school as well. (Those were replaced on the shelf by the Barbies.)

Am I enjoying them now? No. I can honestly say that the only things I still actively collect are my Donald Duck items (I can so identify with him and his irritated attitude!) and my American Girl dolls. That last collection has been the most enduring for me, having begun when I was 11 years old with the now-retired Samantha doll. I still buy things for them, and most importantly, I ENJOY them. They are not fads, like the others.

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