Thanks to Jedi Temple Archives for posting this on their website, there's been a lot of feedback from other collectors who obviously have had the same issues I've had.
I've been reading and watching a lot of stories lately on Star Wars collectors managing their collections, specifically James Burns and a great discussion on the Flyguy.net podcast. These are all guys with enormous amounts of merchandise numbering in the thousands and even tens of thousands. But even though my collection is much much smaller at about 500 pieces, the question is the same: what do you do when you don't have the room for it anymore.
Last January I wrote about where I was going as a Star Wars collector in 2013, based on some experiences I had in 2012, a sort of “State of the Star Wars Room” address to myself. Jedi Temple Archives was kind enough to post it on their site and there were many helpful responses from readers there. A little over a year later, well beyond my original deadline, I’ve finished the room.
In early 2013 I basically locked myself into the room and began moving displays around. Within a few days I felt I was finished—and hated what I saw. All I was doing was cramming as many figures onto the shelves as possible. The room is full of toys but I never wanted it to look cluttered, and it did at this point.
About a month later I tried it again. I then spent 3 evenings after work quickly rearranging things. By the third day I was fed up. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish. I’d get maybe one shelf done, like moving my Prequel display to a top shelf, and get so frustrated at the time it was taking that I wasn’t taking any care in how it ended up looking. A hobby should be fun, relaxing. This was feeling like work.
So I took a deep breath, tossed about half of my shelved figures into boxes and walked away. I needed some distance from this situation. I made a decision that I would finish the room but without a deadline. I'd treat it like my zen garden. A little bit at a time. Finish it when it's finished. That was last April and my plan worked. Instead of trying to fix everything at once, I would sit on the couch, turn on the tv and just use the room as it was intended—a spare tv room. I'd look around from time to time and start putting ideas together. Hoth? Vintage? That's a lot of clones-group them?
I think one of the big reasons I couldn't decide if it was finished was that until recently it was a room in constant disarray, with a cheap futon and 15 yr old tube tv. I didn't want to sit in it and if I wasn't going to sit in it how would I enjoy my collection? So in recent months we swapped the futon torture rack for a nice couch and a 40" flat screen for the old tube tv. Almost all the shelving in the room is black now and I found an awesome deal on a tv stand to match that scheme. It started coming together.
Ok, so one problem solved. The next issue was how to manage my growing collection of 500+ items. Originally that meant toss every figure I own onto a shelf. You should have seen my Cantina shelf at one point. I could make an excuse to toss any character that wouldn't fit into another scene--including Qui Gon Jinn, a Mustaphar Lava Miner and even a spare Sy Snoodles as a bartender. I needed to decide what figure I no longer needed. Thanks in part to my son who grew up during the Prequels I/we have more Qui Gon, Obi-Wan and General Grevious figures that it could look like we were trying to troop build these guys. So the next decision was to realize there isn’t room to display every piece in my collection. As I redid each shelf, one at a time, with no deadline, I would start pulling all of these extraneous figures and putting them in a box. By the end I ended up with one large container with about 40 figures and assorted vehicles and ships that weren’t fitting into the plan. Most are my son’s prequel vehicles—mostly from Attack of the Clones. I based this decision on the fact that my ‘vehicle interest’ has always been in the Original Trilogy. That isn’t to say no prequel ships survived the purge, his AT-TE and Obi Wan’s star fighter are on display as is Anakin’s pod racer and Revenge of the Sith star fighter (those last two are mine). The bin that all these extras are in will be within easy reach in storage for when younger kids come over and ultimately they’ll go with my son when he decides to move out on his own—hopefully for my future grandkids.
The next thing I did was to go through the 10 or so office boxes stored in the laundry room that contained carded figures and general merchandise. I reduced the 5 or so boxes of carded figures down to two. One is a comic long box that I’ve labeled “Carded-One of Each” where I’ll attempt to only own one carded figure from each line, no variants or limited editions, just a representation of what a Star Wars figure looked like when it was first released.
I have a second comic long box labelled “Power of the Force 2 and Modern Vintage.” I was actually going to sell off most of my carded POTF2 figures which is roughly the first two waves of that line but my son surprised me by asking me to keep them. I asked him why since he stopped playing with the opened versions after better, more realistic sculpts came along. His answer stopped me in my tracks: “because those are MY vintage figures.” SO true! I only recently embraced my original Kenner figures as a collector—my son never really played with them because I didn’t have them, my brother did. I’ll be hanging onto those POTF2s now until my son asks for them. As far as the Modern Vintage? Sorry, I just love the packaging. As of now, I won’t be buying anymore until Hasbro decides to start the line back up and I can pick up the rest of the modern versions of the Original 21.
I then when through my general Star Wars merchandise boxes and tossed things like fast food toys, a bunch of Phantom Menace plastic cups from Taco Bell and basically anything that didn’t spark an emotion when I picked it up. I remember when Star Wars was making it’s comeback in the mid-90’s and I was buying anything with the logo on it. Since almost nothing remains of the thing I owned as a kid in the 70’s, I think I was determined to make sure it didn’t happen again to me in the modern era. Now all I have left is a carefully cultivated, much smaller collection in storage. Less ‘stuff’ yes, but much more meaningful to me now. I have a single shelf devoted to books in the room and I hope to pull out more of the paper products I have in storage and add them to this shelf. I found a bunch of cereal boxes from the Special Editions release that I always loved and would like to have quicker access to them.
It’s now been over a month since I started writing this article, life intervenes as always, I expected to have this finished much earlier.I can honestly say the room is finished for now. Why “for now?” Mainly because my wife has made me realize that although I may not sit on the floor and play with this stuff like when I was a kid, I’m still (even after saying “it’s done) playing with the room, coming up with new ideas and still moving the odd display around.
The difference now is I’m doing it for fun.
The difference now is I’m doing it for fun.