Parameters of Collecting

Parameters of Collecting

One thing I have learned over the years is that there’s not enough time, money or space to collect everything I would like to collect. Because of this, I often have to set parameters for my personal collections. My Parameters of Collecting. For example, I like vintage computer software: Commodore 64 games are my favorite, but I also enjoy Apple II and old DOS game packages as well. The problem with collecting Commodore 64 games is that there were at least 20,000 official titles released for the system. Collecting every one of those would be impossible (again see: time, money, and space). So instead of collecting all of them, I’ll occasionally set up little mini-collections. For example, in the early 80s Electronic Arts began releasing their software in packaging that resembled vinyl albums.

Instead of collecting every Commodore 64 game, for a while I simply worked on collecting games that came in this style of packaging. Along with Electronic Arts a few other companies including Accolade and Mindscape also employed this style of packaging for a while, so I began collecting those as well. (Incidentally I had to abandon this particular collection fairly early on as it turns out many of these games are super expensive.) Anyway, that’s what I mean about setting up collection parameters — instead of collecting all of something, sometimes I will just collect a subset of those things.

Packaging is just one parameter you can set up for yourself. Another is price. Back when old console gaming cartridges were still plentiful at thrift stores and garage sales, I decided to buy every Atari 2600, NES, and Sega Genesis game I could find for less than $5. Believe me, that was a lot. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 NES cartridges, each of which cost me five bucks or less — same goes for Atari 2600 games. (I ended up selling my Genesis collection a few years back.)

As an avid Star Wars collector, I have had to set parameters of collecting many times on my collecting habits. Sometimes I will focus on a very specific subset of Star Wars related items, like Star Wars helmets or Star Wars lunchboxes or Star Wars Pez dispensers. Without doing that, you’ll drive yourself crazy (and broke) buying one of everything (or two of everything if you’re a “open one, keep one boxed” kind of guy.) The few times I didn’t have any personal parameters set up were the times I ended up with boxes of Star Wars Pogs, paper plates, napkins, and cereal lining my shelves.

I have some pretty tight parameters tied up around my vinyl record collection. Most of what I buy is kid-related albums (Sesame Street, Disney, or cartoon-related) that wasn’t released on CD. I also collect percussion and drum-based records, for music/sampling purposes. For a while I had no parameters for my album collecting and things got out of hand very quickly.

While it’s okay to occasionally okay to step outside these personal boundaries, I find operating within them gives me a finite goal to achieve (while keeping my wife happy as well!)

So what about you guys? What do you collect, if anything? And, do you have your own Parameters of Collecting set up for your collecting habits? Or do you just buy it all and hope there’s space for it when you get home?

Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I grew up grubbing through boxes at comic shops so the hunt is the best part for me. (You haven’t lived until you’ve dug through dusty unsorted boxes in a sweltering store basement looking for something as utterly valueless as ‘Fish Police #6’. Good times.)

    These days my only collections are game cartridges, Tomy wind-up robots and Transformer mini-cars. All I need is a Bumblejumper. I refuse to buy one off of eBay though, that just feels like cheating. Oh well, the hunt continues…

  2. My wife sets the parameters of my collections…

  3. Justin – I hear that! I previously collected several several video game systems, but these days, most of those are gone and I only add to the few items missing from my Vectrex collection. So, now when I see something I used to collect, I just try to enjoy seeing it whenever I come across it – in the store, or a garage sale, or wherever.

  4. Rob, 20,000 titles? Oh man, I drool at the thought.

    vinvectrex & Rob, I’m playing the lottery today. When I win the big one, I’ll invite you guys over to the “Personal Computer & Retro Gaming Museum” that I will have built in my backyard ;) Oh, it’s going to have a video game arcade too!

    All you need is a dollar and a dream.

  5. My main focus of collecting is Indiana Jones. I don’t really have parameters for that. I try to collect any and all official merchandise. I don’t have any props from the films but would like at least one. That would be too much money. I do have the Sideshow prop replicas.

    I do have some niche collections. I also collect Simpsons Treehouse of Horror items. Since collecting The Simpsons as a whole would be a large undertaking I’m sticking to that subset. I put the stuff I have out as Halloween decorations and put it away when Halloween is over. I try to add one or two items per year to this collection.

    I’m also a big fan of Superman but that is another franchise that is difficult to be a completionist. For him I just collect Christmas ornaments. There are several and continue to be produced. I have a smaller tree that I just put Superman ornaments on.

    I have also started collecting smaller action figure/toy lines. I’ve started collecting The Karate Kid toy line and the Super Powers line.

    If you’re just interesting in collecting something you can always start with something small and try to complete it rather than go big with something like Star Wars or GI Joe.

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