Updated: Dec 28, 2020
This article explains some of the reasons why people love to collect things, not just wrestling figures, to try to help others understand why grown men go to 5 Targets on the way home from work and end up at home empty handed.
I wanted to write an article about toy collecting but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I will admit that while I do like to collect wrestling figures, I am not as into it as much as many others on this site are, so trying to write strictly about wrestling figures seems out of my element.
So here I go trying to put into words what we as collectors embody.
I think the first thing any collector will tell you is that it is the thrill of the hunt.
When you find that figure or whatever you have been looking for, especially a hard to find or exclusive figure, it’s a serious sense of accomplishment. I can’t really describe the drive I feel, but it causes me to spend hours on my days off driving around town looking for whatever it is I want, and once I get my hands on it, it’s like a long drink of water after crossing a desert.
Once you have that figure in your hands, it all becomes real that this is yours now - there is nobody that can tell you otherwise. The sense of satisfaction after searching so long for whatever you want is incredibly difficult to describe, but it feels so good. To add a little bit to this point, there is also an exclusivity element. I remember collecting wrestling figures as a kid, but the goal was to just get everybody. I didn’t know what was coming out or anything like that, and I got the figures I didn’t have to expand my roster for my playtime.
Maybe I saw the back of the box and they had the series on it and there were ones I wanted, but it wasn’t the same as it is now. Now it’s a matter of these are out and I want them and I’m going to get them. It adds to the satisfaction of finding what you want when you know it’s a difficult to find piece that many people are looking for.
Another reason people collect is as a memento of sorts. Personally, I like to get a t-shirt at wrestling shows I go to. Not necessarily every show I go to, but any new promotions or special events. I’ve managed to collect a decent amount of event shirts and sometimes just the performers shirts if there is someone I really like at the show. I have shirts from all over at this point, and each one gives me a unique experience and story I can bring up if someone mentions it. I have a shirt from ALL IN, Double or Nothing 2019, NWA 70 in Nashville, Mania 34 and 35, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 parts 1 and 2, Kaiju Big Battel 25th Silver Jubilee, Rockstar Wrestling’s 7 anniversary show, a Juice Robinson shirt from the Mark Hitchcock Memorial show at Wrestlecon, and a whole mess more from other shows I’ve been too. Every time I wear one of these I’m reminded of the incredible times I had at these shows.
With the way figures are today, this can even go further. I’ll just stick with WWE for examples since that seems to be most people’s bread and butter around these parts. The thing that gets me personally on wrestling figures is moments I remember that I particularly enjoyed that are made into figure form. My personal favorite figure is my Macho Man Slim Jim figure and that’s because I love Slim Jims and remember Macho Man being their spokesperson, so I absolutely had to have this figure. Another example of a figure I absolutely had to have was the recent Elite 76 John Cena in his WrestleMania 35 gear. I was at this show and the friend I was with nearly lost our minds when the Dr. of Thuganomics himself John Cena came out, out of the blue, and rocked the audience with his promo. That was one of the hardest I ever popped. 10 year old me came right out, and now I have the figure sitting on my bookshelf reminding me of that moment every day.
Now my personal top reason I like to collect is that I have a museum of carefully curated items that I got to choose every piece of.
I’m going to assume most collectors either have a collector room if they are lucky enough or at least a bedroom where they display their wares. I live in a duplex with a couple roommates, and my room is in the attic. I have essentially the entire third floor of our house, and it has become a museum of pop culture collectibles and relics. It’s a sea of different figures from different franchises I like and it’s almost like having my own personal version of these things.
For me when I come up into my bedroom, it’s my own personal sanctuary. Nothing else matters, I’m in my own wonderland. You ever have a horrible day at work and you’re just mad at the world for no reason? I have, and I come home and all my troubles melt away. I am surrounded by characters I love and nobody else has any say in what goes on. If I want He-man to fight John Cena I can do that. If I want the Joker to drive the Mystery Machine I can do that, If I want monster trucks to smash Ninja Turtles I can do that. I can set up my figures in any god damn way I please and create any crossover I want.
I absolutely love showing off my collection to people, as I’m sure most people do. It’s something to be proud of and its an extension of yourself and a way to express yourself.
Just about everything in my room I can tell you something about, it probably helps that I am a huge movie and TV buff so I love little references and Easter Eggs. To be honest with you, it is also a little braggadocios. It’s always fun to show someone something that is incredibly rare, such as a convention exclusive or limited run figure.
When I bring someone upstairs to see my toys I just wait for them to point something out, and that’s when I pounce. I can’t wait to tell them all about whatever they just mentioned to me, the year it came out, the specific episode it was from, where I found it, almost everything has a story. I recently had my little cousins over for the first time to show them my collection and they absolutely could not believe it. They range from ages 3 to 15 and they were all impressed, even the 15 year old girl, and we all know they aren't easy to impress. The look in these kids eyes made it all worth it to me, they couldn’t believe an adult would have so many toys.
“You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.”
Follow Jon on Twitter @Badger751