Something happened. Something that would rock my world. Something that may have bettered my life. Something that would definitely change my life….
I stopped buying toys.
It’s been nearly 10 years now. I know there was several reasons that determined my decision. And I remember, I didn’t just stop cold turkey. Like a drug addict, I slowly weaned myself.
It all started following the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. I had spent the last five years buying pretty much every Star Wars toy they made. And I didn’t just buy one. I was the moron that had to have two of everything. I had to have one to open and one to leave sealed. The sealed item served a double role, one to preserve the original toy as it was sold and it would make a great display item. And second, it would be that item to sell down the road when all my Star Wars toys would pay for my kids college eduction or at least my summer home in highlands of Scotland. I just knew that these toys would be worth millions in the future. (I forgot to take one small detail in to account with this ideology: these toys will be worthless because they not only made millions of them, but there are millions of collectors thinking the same thing I’m thinking. So I made one small error….). So, I’m standing in the toy aisle on the eve of release and I’m watching the horde of collectors race to the pegs and attack the pallet of toy cases. And I just had an epiphany: why am I swarming over these things like its the last loaf of bread in the supermarket during a Zombie apocalypse? I stopped. I waited and I slowly walked to the pegs. I told myself buy the cool ones– buy the ones I really liked. I don’t need one of everything. And I’m not buying more than ONE! That started the end….
Suddenly, after so many years, there was no more hype of future Star Wars movies. Star Wars had driven my collecting for over ten years at that point. I had gotten in on the first figures of the revived Kenner figures in 1995. We got so many new figures. The design and quality only got better and better. Not only did Star Wars drive my collecting, I got my wife into buying Beanie Babies. I bought other toys I liked from Hot Wheels to Spawn figures. Many of these I just used to bargain or trade for more Star Wars figures. It got so obsessive; there wasn’t many days I wasn’t on the the hunt. If the wife went to Target for groceries and I was at work, I had her go to the toy aisles first. We used our kids to get store associates to check “the back” for more cases saying it was how they wanted to spend their allowance. We were now the parents using our kids to feed our own addictions. We craved more and more. We needed that new Ty Beanie Bear or Star Wars R2 with Holo Leia. Then we looked to our house. It was overflowing with toys. We had so many Beanie Babies, most were in the garage in plastic bins. My Star Wars figures filled two closets. We couldn’t display a fraction of what we owned. Then we looked to our credit cards. They were maxed out. Why? Because of toys. We needed to seek help. Painfully, we went to credit counseling and cut up our cards….
With not having the buying power to just buy everything and anything, we (mostly me) only bought what we really liked or thought was really cool. Yet, I found with rising costs of action figures and how most of the current releases were just re-dos of things they had already been released in the last few years, I was slowly being turned off by new Star Wars stuff. I felt, finally, I may have stopped the desire to buy new toys. Then, 2007 happened and the 25th anniversary of G.I. Joe happened. I had enjoyed so many Joe toys in the 1980s that, like Star Wars before it, I would do it right this time and buy everything released. I went in just buying one of everything. I had learned my lessons from the past with the “buy two” fallacy. I went at it smart. I didn’t get crazy. I bought them when I found them but I could feel the return to the obsessive desire to “collect them all” which could easily force me off the “wagon”.
But, whether a intervention from God or just poor management and marketing from Hasbro, the Joe line slowed and eventually died. With it, saving my bank account and my compulsive behaviors. So, I was like this is my chance to stop 100% and not buy any more toys. It was mostly true. I’m most certain I’ve only bought a few items over the last few years. I pick up an occasional Hot Wheel or collectible item. I sold most of my collection and the wife completely rid her life of the Beanie craze (I was so proud of her mainly as I felt somewhat responsible for that collection). And life has been good. I will say, its been a lot less stressful.
So what are the all the reasons I stopped….. well stay tuned for part II…..