Remember the mail-in Boba Fett?
By Steven Smith
When I was a kid I used to buy one copy of every comic book I liked. Just one. Kind of like what I do with trade paperbacks now. But when I was a teenager and buying comics like a madman I used to buy THREE copies of every book I liked. One to read, one to trade, and one to sell. All this meant was I have three copies of every G.I.Joe comic Marvel ever printed (except for the silent issue dangitall), not the best investment policy ever made but what did I know?
APPARENTLY, I knew nothing about how markets work, and how could I at that age? Now, when I want to sell the collection I’ve amassed to pay for my kids to go to college every dealer asks if I have any Silver Age comics. And I do, except I read the hell out of them so they aren’t worth anything. Which is what you’re SUPPOSED to do. Meanwhile, all the books I so carefully read on flat surfaces, delicately turning the pages from the top corner, aren’t worth diddly.
This is the same with all of my old Star Wars toys. I’m old enough to remember Boba Fett when you had to mail away proof of purchases to get him and I didn’t know anyone who had the forethought to keep theirs in the box once they did. WE PLAYED WITH THEM. I went nuts once and broke continuity and made all the bounty hunters a big bad super team, droids and all. My imagination was terrible to behold and my bedroom a maelstrom of interconnecting fantasies and worlds, like most kids. I didn’t think I needed to keep the card Dengar came in. I threw that noise out! There were no waves of toys that I could remember but there were lame as hell plastic playsets with different cardboard backdrops. Lucas was anything if not greedy. Oh, you painted Tattooine white so now it’s Hoth? Nice.
Now, with Toy Fair looming, and thoughts of limited editions are sprinkling through my brain, I find myself saddened by collector culture. It’s a trap that I see carry over into the music world, with low distribution colored vinyl records sold and don’t get me started on variants in the comic book business. CRAP and greed and buckets of shame bestowed upon those companies who play that game. And yes, I know they don’t make you buy them but they play on our need to have and that ain’t cool.
Back in the day, indie comics were worth something because they were usually self-published and low distribution. When it came to toys, there were few random rare action figures because we wanted to buy them all (Jawas – man they were hard to find) and the reason for that was to play with them! And yes, complete your collection, but as a kid, complete your collection didn’t mean store it and sell it on eBay. It meant fill up your Darth Vader collector’s case and carry it around the house like the arsenal of imagination it is.
I’ve never been to Toy Fair and I’m beyond excited to go. I love how it’s cross-generational based in marketing fun toys to kids and wild and crazy art stuff for older collectors. The best part is I know I’m not alone in my feelings and pretty certain all of them are busting their new vinyl one of kind limited variant make the collector nerd sweat toys right out of the box when they get home and making worlds the likes of their childhood selves would never have seen. At least I will be.
Steven Smith still has all his old Star Wars toys even the ones destroyed by his little brother, his podcast Going Off Track features singer/songwriter Laura Stevenson this week, and he plans on buying a LOT of Crazy Aaron’s putty next week. Quite a bit.