View Full Version : The Hunter-Gatherer Notion: A short essay on collecting

Darth Detori
08-27-2002, 10:28 AM
Nowadays we've got everything stowed away in convenient places, where we know we can get them. You want food, you go to the grocery store. Being a hunter-gatherer really isn't much in existance anymore because of this; except with collecting.

I, and others here I'm sure, consider themselves figure hunters. And if you think about it, it really is a lot like hunting. There are correct times of day to go out when you'll have more luck: The morning. There are spots where you know you'll have more luck, as opposed to others (an other being Ames). And of course certain things have higher value. This is probably why you feel such a feeling of defeat when you finally just break down and order something online. It's also probably what causes you to follow trails- if one toys r' us has half a wave, then you'll go right on to the next one looking for another half. It's also probably why some of us wont buy pegwarmers even if we don't have them.

Perhaps our hobby sets us apart from the world in a different way; Most people don't get to feed this sort of primitive desire, and those who do are usually seen as weird. Many would think equally of a hunter going out to hunt deer in the morning as they would of a collector waiting outside Target at 8 AM. In fact the only people who can really appreciate their trophies (be it figures or heads) are the people who practice it themselves!

Few other hobbies than collecting really give you this exhilaration. In most hobbies it isn't as much a matter of quantity as it is price. Knife collecting, for instance- that's all a matter of knowing the right people and having a fat chunk of cash. With collecting, everything is affordable, but there aren't always a lot of it. This is where paranoia comes into play. Back in the caveman era, when you found food it was yours and no-one else could have it. While not as greedy, the collector has this quality as well. No-one can really tell entirely what item we'll see again, and what will diminish into oblivion. This is another factor that spurs us to go out early in the morning, driving many many miles, and doing this day after day. If you find it first, you're immediately safe, you've found your trophy, and then you go on to the next. You wish the best for your fellow collector, but deep down you know you won't be happy until you've found everything first.

So what makes the collector so unique? They have that primal feeling of hunting and gathering fullfilled in their lives, making their lives that much fuller. It's not only something to do, something to spend your hard-earned cash on, but it gives you something to let yourself lose upon, without harming anyone, or anything, in the process. But never, of course, are we hunting anything we don't want to.

08-27-2002, 01:52 PM
Yea, there's certainly something to be said for the thrill of the hunt. I knew it was going to be a hunter-gatherer mess during 4/23 when people lined up around TRU only to find 1/2 of the initial run of figs not there. Meanwhile, at a nearby Wal-Mart that no one lined up for, they had everything.

Times, places, forums such as these...it can be a pain, but a good one. I've been pretty lucky on many occasions, but still have trouble hunting and gathering stuff too. It's all part of the collecting game.

08-27-2002, 03:42 PM
i know what you mean. heck when i go out for my hunt i refer to as a hunting trip. me weapons are me hands and money. heck i safe the internet as a very last stop.

08-27-2002, 05:04 PM
Interesting essay.

I do get a few chuckles from people when I tell them I collect toys (SW and GI Joes). To me, it's no different than that big-*** boat they take to the lake/river every weekend.

In the post-PM world, I have noticed a real drop in avid hunters in my area. There are only two or three guys I run into regularly now whereas before PM there were 10 or more. This, I believe, is contributed to people getting fed up with finding nothing except pegwarmers week after week. More alternate sources (online stores) have also cut down on the number of hunters. Personally, I don't have the funds to regularly buy a case of figures from an online store. It would be nice but living on a budget, I just can't do it.

I still enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the feeling of finding an elusive figure.

08-27-2002, 10:15 PM
Well... quite a way to put it, the "hunter gatherer" thing. I don't think collecting works at that subconscious level, at least for me, but there is a comparable metaphor, I guess.

Why do we collect? The innate human desire of possessing that which we like, for whichever reason(s) we like the object of interest.

On a minor note about the "hunter/gatherer" theme: if people had to go out and seek, kill, skin and disembowel their food, be it cattle, poultry or whatever, there'd be a lot more vegetarians these days, don't you think? Thank God for industrialization, huh? :)

Old Fossil
08-28-2002, 11:39 AM
Industrialization has become, at best, a necessary evil.

Mandalorian Candidat
08-28-2002, 02:50 PM
The hunting-gathering thing is a necessity for collectors, plain and simple. It's degenerated to the level that we have to be out at the stores constantly in order to find stuff which may be extremely limited. Since 199X when scalpers came onto the SW scene we've been reduced to this level.

While it's great to find something difficult I'd rather be able to just walk into any retailer and pick out whatever I want at any time of the day.

jedi master sal
08-28-2002, 04:13 PM
Here, Here MC! I totally agree. My biggest complaint is EXCLUSIVES, nuff said there. As well as scalpers, short packs, early morning risers/very late night shoppers, stores who only put product out in the morning. This really screws the collector who has a 9-5 job, (ME for one), although I'm usually lucky at getting everything since I HUNT 5-6 times a week and too many to count stores. Some of the early/late people are true collectors and to them I have no problem. It's those nasty, wretched hive of scum and villainy we call scalpers that make it bad for everyone. Usually nice people become lunatics over toys. I agree with that feeling of having to have everything FIRST, then wishing well for your fellow collector. I run into this when I army build. But as I have explained many times over, at least I will give up a fig to a kid (FIRST) or a person who seems to be a genuine collector. I'd much rather someone get their first of a type of figure than me my 15th of the same one. This keeps them going and I can usually find more of what I want at a later date.

And I certainly like your theory Darth Detori. That sums it up pretty good.

08-28-2002, 04:14 PM
I hate the hunting aspect of this hobby. I would prefer to walk into the store when it is convenient for me and find what I am looking for. Like buying milk, I don't want to have to determine the best time of day or best location to find my milk. Nor do I want to have to beat other milk-buyers to the goods and have to deal with people who buy up all the milk only to sell it later on at a drastically inflated price.

Nope, the hunting aspect of this hobby is my least favorite part. Since I buy so few figures nowadays, I tend to just take the easy route and buy from online stores. Sure they are more expensive, but if you only buy 1-2 figures every few months, the extra cost is well worth the reduced aggravation.

08-28-2002, 05:12 PM
OK, there's nothing like getting this stuff for a fair price. Yestertoys.com is pretty good for offering you that online, however, most of them I avoid like E-bay.

Exclusives allow things that would not normally get produced to become available to us. There is not much shelf-space for Shuttle Tyderiums at most Wal*Marts and Targets, and toys are not those chains' focus. As to TRU, they can still sell other things. I would have liked to have known how they got rid of all their Royal Starships...

Now people like myself might be more at fault for 'hoarding' than actually are scalpers. I do go out to find stuff early in the morning when there are reports of it shipping. And people who work 9-5 like I do often, ARE able to hit the store at 7am and 8am along their way to the office. You lose sleep for one day. For example, next we're going for Ephont Mon, right? I want 2 of him. I'll get up and out the door early when I learn he's shipping to my area, and once I get him, I've got no more reason to bother.

If you want to get him before me - get to my store earlier! If there's only 2 per case and they get one case - well if I'm there, you can forget about it until a week later. (Well, I share if you're there).

But just like primative man competing for survival - I'll defend my "food" and try to make sure I've gotten my fill.

On April 23, with the Geonosian Warrior - I had 15 on my list, and that's exactly what I bought. Incidently, there were enough to go around - but people were hopping mad that I got 7 Counts, and 11 Anakin Hanger Duels.

08-28-2002, 05:31 PM
Well, I plan to simply order my Ephant Mon from Brian's Toys, if I can find him by the end of October. My searching consists of simply stopping by the toy aisle for a few minutes once every two weeks when I help my dad go grocery shopping. Getting up early and rushing to the store to wait for the doors to open in the hopes that they put out a new case? No thanks. If he's there when I get a chance to go to the store, great; if not, oh well.

I'm hoping that Ephant Mon becomes as plentiful as Ellors Madak was. And I also plan to pick up two (though probably not at the same time). However, if I have to buy him from Brian's Toys, then I will buy one and hold out in the hopes that I find him on the shelves later.

Darth Detori
08-29-2002, 01:12 AM
my strategy is to watch the just found boards (both here and rebelscum) and watch the progression of waves make their way over here, since we get them last in the US. It helps me better gauge when I should be heading out and when I shouldn't. Like right now I KNOW that a truck is going to arrive at toys r us tomorrow night, and therefore I'll be there at opening on friday since it's quite UNLIKELY that they wouldn't have the new unleashed's

08-29-2002, 01:17 AM
I think that it would be sad if Ephant Mon became as plentiful as Ellors. Ellors was a really cool figure to begin with. Hasbro released so many, and they warmed the pegs. It was sad seeing such an awesome figure that no one wanted to buy.....Ephant Mon deserves to be released in fairly large quantaties, but not so much that he warms the pegs...

08-29-2002, 02:35 AM
True, it seems that no matter how cool a figure is, pegwarmer status will always hurt it's popularity. (look at Bespin and Mechanic Chewie) So I don't want Ephant Mon to become the Ketwol of the Saga line; but I do want him plentiful enough that people aren't still looking for him years later (like Zuckuss and Han w/ TaunTaun).

08-29-2002, 03:07 AM
Well... steering back to the hunter/gatherer theme, one of the big turnoffs of the "hunting" is seeing the same figures over and over again.

Of course, once you have acquired most of the items from a line you can't expect new things to pop up at the aisles, but seeing the same pegwarmers over and over again is frustraing. Well... boring, at least. I wouldn't mind running into a POTJ Sandtrooper, Biker Scout or Geonosian Warrior instead of nothing but Ketwols and Duros.

I'd like to see some more Geonosian Warriors, Dookus or... well, now that I think about it, there's not many figures of the Saga line that I'd care to see around (now that I have 'em, of course). Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is a hard find still I guess because he's one of the few cool figures of the line. Nicely sculpted, painted and detailed with no silly "action" gadgets or dumb accessories.

Perhaps this is why some figures become pegwarmers when others keep moving out and around.

08-29-2002, 03:08 AM
Meant POTJ Gungan Warrior. Sorry.

08-29-2002, 04:47 AM
Originally posted by Darth Detori
Few other hobbies than collecting really give you this exhilaration.

Yes. With collecting in general, there is a thrill to the hunt. I think this is why collecting in general is becoming more of a social standard ... I've seen a half dozen shows on TV in the last week on the topic of "collecting". I've been involved in collecting one thing or another (too many different things) over the past few decades ... and in general, it's grown both more difficult and somewhat easier to satisfy the "lust" for collecting.

It used to be that no matter what you were after, there was always the chance that you might just find it in a box at a yard sale or at a thrift store for a buck or two. Now, the whole world is hip to online auctions ... so most people look over even their most worthless junk before putting it out on the lawn on Saturday for sale. The result is that people in even the most remote places can become "super-collectors".

Case in point ... a few years ago I started collecting vintage video game systems from the thrift stores, etc. I would often find them in near mint condition and very often with their original box and several games. I've got a pretty fair collection going ... but, in the past year I've found nothing at all. That particular avenue of collecting has dried up because of the Internet. More people know they can actually sell their stuff online and more people know that the stuff is semi-desirable ... so they buy it when they see it.

Now, bringing it back to Star Wars toys ... I think the nice thing is that we're dealing with something that's always been pretty well saturated ... mighty accessible. The stuff, even the vintage toys, aren't impossible to find. If you look hard enough and have the money, it's all there for the taking. It's a fun hunt, not too difficult of a hunt and a hunt that's shared by a fairly broad based and interesting community or people.

I just wish I could still maybe once in a while find a decent vintage figure at the thrift store.


08-29-2002, 03:59 PM
Perhaps we'd do better collecting something less "accessible". Rare items mean more expensive, yes, but that means you don't spend money every time you hit a store.

Sometimes, after a few weeks of going by KB, WM or TRU without finding anything new I'll just pick an extra Battle droid, Clone trooper or Geonosian Warrior just for the little thrill of having yet another "new" (just bought) item to keep on building my collection. Sick, ain't it? Compulsive shopping? The need for the "hunting - gathering" shtick? Who knows?