No matter the size of our budget or the number of toys we own, the collecting of Transformers toys will inevitably have an effect on other parts of our lives. Whether it’s strategic placing of furniture or even a modest bit of extra expenditure per month, other endeavours and areas of our lives will be affected. This week, with the help of our contributors, we’ll be looking at some positive and negative effects that Transformers collecting has had on their everyday lives and living conditions. I have already spoken at length about the positive effects of the hobby on my life here, but it’s been interesting to think about the drawbacks and get others’ to chime in with their experience too.
This is not a very easy subject to come clean about when it’s the negative effects we are asked to consider. I can think of plenty of my own examples beyond the common issues collectors can face regarding money and space. For a start, my use of social media and forums increased exponentially when they became places I could engage with the Transformers collecting hobby, be it buying and selling or communicating with other collectors. As a result of increased social media and internet use, I found myself tied to my smartphone a lot of the time, and it was not a development I cared for when trying to set a better example for my young daughter.
Craig, from the Repacked Podcast also shared some of the negative effects collecting has had on aspects of his life: “The dark side of toy collecting, especially for people in our 30’s I think, is that we were coming up at a time in our 20’s when we had money from working, but none of the wisdom and constraint of age. I got married at 23, and I know that part of the reason my wife and I don’t have more savings or own a home is that I spent far too much money. I never stopped being a kid who loved toys, but my budget increased. I’m better than I used to be, and I spend far less now, but it’s too late to start saving for a home in Sydney when I’m close to 40. It’s a hard lesson to teach younger collectors; don’t let the hobby be your life.”
A difficult and personal admission to make, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Other interesting effects in my life I can attribute to my hobby include drinking more, if you can believe it. Not through stress, though, quite the opposite. I had stumbled upon a wonderful group of local collectors and we started to meet up often, and beyond just being hobby acquaintances we became good friends who helped each other out in many aspects (more here), but as a result of regular meet-ups at pubs, my alcohol consumption definitely increased. That’s not a cheap pursuit in a city like London.
The social aspect is a great one, undoubtedly. Allen Greenwood tells us a bit about his experiences where he lives: “There are some areas in the world that are very conducive to our hobby. The area in which I live is not one of those. As you can imagine, our hobby is still much more ‘taboo’ than others, say sports or outdoor activities. Even socially, our hobby isn’t the most common or even accepted. I don’t mind this as much, since I’m not constantly talking about all facets of Transformers all of the time with anyone I meet. Regardless, it would be kind of cool to not have to rely on so many deliberately organised events just to discuss our hobby, especially the vintage aspect of it.
“The lack of social acceptance of our hobby, as a result limits me being able to truly reveal something that I’m both very passionate and knowledgeable about. There are friends and family that are otherwise unaware of something that really inspires me, makes me passionate, and a hobby I’ve devoted a lot of my time to, both with my own collection as well as our social community.”
Mike Murray tells us about how his collection had an affect on the way he and his partner furnished their new home: “Collecting Transformers has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but one particularly notable area where my collecting impacted on my life was when my partner and I were buying and furnishing a home together, after years of renting. To my very pleasant surprise, display space for some of my collection was part of the discussion from day 1, and in lots of ways the way we furnished our home was decided based on the idea of me having toy displays that my partner would also be happy with seeing every day! I’m reminded how lucky I am in this regard every time I talk to friends who are in similar living situations, but aren’t able to have much of their collections on display at all. Maybe not the biggest way collecting has influenced anyone’s life, but it’s one that’s got an ongoing presence day-to-day in mine.”
The more one becomes involved with a hobby, its community and the need to keep up with news – especially the case with Transformers news – the more time it requires. Even before it wanders into the realms of obsession, you can find yourself checking TF websites at work. This can inevitably lead to distraction and a loss of focus. I am reminded of one collector whose employer was extremely annoyed with him for “conducting his business interests” from his work computer, basically looking after his many eBay sales! I would also like to say, from experience, that getting into heated arguments and in-depth debates with others regarding the hobby during working hours is not something that aids productivity.
Alongside the difficult aspects of trying to fit in a luxury, and sometimes enveloping hobby, there are some very bright aspects that collecting brings to our wider lives. There must be, otherwise we’d all be insane to continue in this fashion. Neil Dela Cruz tells us how Transformers collecting impacts upon his life in a meaningful way: “One important effect I guess is that Transformers help me de-stress. Work is really full on, its stressful… I work as an ICU nurse. At the end of the day you need to unwind. People say drink wine, I go to my collection room drinking coke and fiddle playing. You can just lie there and look around surrounded by all this stuff you love and accumulated through the years… and you unwind, you relax, your mind shuts out any niggling thoughts you’ve been overthinking on the way home. It calms the nerves so to speak.”
Mike Kingcaid also explains to us how the hobby has affected other areas of his life positively: “The Transformers collecting experience was a solitary one for the most part. I had a few friends that also collected, but there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But after I posted the pics of my collection, you interviewed me, and then I received a ton of requests and was added to a ton of Transformers/Collectors groups on Facebook. That would end up really having a positive effect on my life beyond the simple plastic and die cast robots. I’ve made a mountain of acquaintances in the two years since that interview, which was fun in itself, just to discover how large and passionate the fan base actually was. But along with all the acquaintances, friendships and opportunities came along as well.
“I got a chance to work on projects with talented artists in the community like Favian Gonzalez and Jason Brehn, just to name a couple. I also became really tight with a few friends in the community, Jason being one of them….I actually consider the guy one of my best friends. A bunch of the people in The Hardcore Collectors group became friends as well. My artwork has gotten around the community and many people have been very supportive of it, so that’s been a great feeling. It also gave the conventions a whole new meaning for me.
“When I went to BotCons back in the day, I usually went with a couple local friends and the main attraction was the Transformers themselves. But these days….I don’t want to say the Transformers are secondary, but I really go for the social aspect of the whole thing. To actually get to meet up with everyone you know online, even if it’s only a day or two a year, is a very cool experience. The Transformers fan base is a fun group of people to be around. I know we’re sometimes nitpicky and hard to please, but overall, we’re a large collection of overgrown kids and we know how to have a good time. Throw us all in one hotel and add an adult beverage or two into the mix, and it’s a guaranteed memorable experience. Hopefully, one of these days, Maz, we’ll get a chance to cross paths.”
What did I tell you about the drinking?
Many kind and gracious thanks to Craig from the Repacked Podcast, Mike Murray, Allen Greenwood, Neil Dela Cruz, Mike Kingcaid, Nic Hughes, Emalie Pugh, Virak Lim, Sixo, Ben Parfitt and Egor Nikolaev for contributions.
All the best