How much is your crap worth? 16, May 2007Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Life and living, Light Fluff, Play.
Tags: collecting, Hobbies, star wars
Ha bet that title scared you. Don’t worry, I haven’t been eating beetroot again… well, no, I have but that’s not what I’m talking about here…
I’m referring to my collection of complete rubbish; toys, things that go boink for no particular reason, things I wanted but couldn’t have when I was a kid or just stuff, a spent lighthouse bulb – a foot long, 3000 watts – and of course my extensive collection of StarWars tat.
So having discussed my collection with a friend who has amassed a similarly huge and pointless selection of railway memorabilia he mentioned his lot was worth the cost of a small house. Ca-ching went my eyes and pound signs appeared where the pupils were… well… ok, that didn’t happen. What actually happened was a horrible fear raised it’s ugly head.
What I would do if anyone nicked all of my stuff? There’s ten years worth of tat there, what if I lost it all? How would I ever replace it? I’d be gutted! For a start, I’ve never seen another used lighthouse bulb? I’ve only ever heard about one other person owning one and they’re Norwegian and fished it out of the fjords near Stavanger. Anyway, lighthouse bulbs don’t look like that these days they’re halogen and ritzy and small and really quite boring. So I wondered… should I insure my shite? What if it was actually worth something?
I think there are other people collecting stuff like this but nobody has actually sat down and comprehensively listed it all, not the collectors of Dr Who or supermarionation toys and memorabilia, anyway. Certainly not the collectors of the kind of spin off film merchandising which catches my eye sometimes (if they exist). As for me, though an avid collector, I haven’t the depth of knowledge, not to mention collection, to do something like this myself. I’m too broad brush, not obsessed enough with one particular thing.
Even the web is no help, most of the stuff is uncatalogued, anywhere. As far as I can see the only way to guess at the value is to look at the listings on eBay but even those can be misleading since, on a lot of occasions, the price achieved depends on two factors. The first is the skill of the seller in choosing which categories to sell it in, what to call it, timing for the auction end et al , the second factor is chance, is it the school holidays, were two collectors clearly after the same thing? Neither gives cast iron proof of the item’s intrinsic value. I guess, for the most part, since a lot of my crap us only about 10 or 15 years old, it’s all too recent to bother with anyway.
On the other hand, Star Wars, well, that’s a bit of a thing. Star Wars is different. I suspect this is mostly down to two men a Mr Stephen J. Sansweet and a Mr Geoffrey T Carlton both of whom are such an enthusiastic and obsessive collectors that they have pretty much anything ever produced with the Star Wars logo on it and have become kind of unwitting experts. As well as being enthusiastic and obsessive both write very well – especially Sansweet – and individually, they have produced some excellent books.
The best one I have by Mr Sansweet is called “The Action Figure Archive”, which Mr BC gave me a while ago. It’s brilliant! It identifies all the figures up to about 1999 and also shows which weapons, when I’m lucky enough to find those, go with which figure. In other words, it’s written by a collector who understands intuitively what collecting things is like and more to the point, understands the kinds of things collectors want to know and how they will want it laid out. He also produced a pocket guide to Star Wars collectibles which is worth buying if only to read the potted account of how he started collecting.
So I thought there might be some kind of catalogue of everything StarWars ever because I reckoned if I was Mr Sansweet and I wanted to help out fellow collectors that’s exactly what I’d do. So I stuck his name into Amazon and up came the Action Figure Archive but there wasn’t a new edition and there didn’t seem to be any “collector’s bible” among the other books by him. A partial success then…
However… lo and behold! Alongside it in the “if you like this you might like…” section I found the Star Wars super Collectors Wish Book (4th edition) for the princely sum of £17.99. This is where Mr Carlton comes in! To my delight he is clearly in the same league as Mr Sansweet, I don’t think he’s added two floors to his house to accommodate his collection but if he’s extended it to fit, I wouldn’t be surprised.
The Star Wars Super Collector’s Wish Book lists just about everything you could ever find with the Star Wars logo on it – including almost everything I own – and gives a price, in dollars. It is regularly updated and revised – my edition is 2007 – and contains a, frankly, ludicrous number of illustrations – 14,000 or so if I recall. Some of these are changed in each revised edition so if you buy the updated version and a picture of your piece of tat has appeared in one of the other volumes it will give you the page number. Practical or what?
At the back of the book there is also a comprehensive list of articles and links to StarWars collecting sites on the web. If I get to the point where I am editing this post anywhere near the book I will add them in but needless to say, I am writing this in my office and the book is in the house!
So I now have a vague handle on what the Star Wars half my collection of tat is worth… Hoorah! Unfortunately, it would seem that any value I could attribute to the things I have would be down to sheer weight of numbers rather than because they are genuinely rare or collectable. My collection does not have the bulk required to push the value up to “small house”. It doesn’t even make “small greenhouse” although it might possibly run to Argos Cold Frame (£39.99 from a store near you).
Am I disappointed?
Nope! It’s a massive relief. OK so in some ways it would be nice if my collection was worth a lot of money but in other ways it would be a serious pisser! I’d have to insure it. I’d have to store the expensive items in a bank vault where I’d never see them and might as well not have them. Anyway value is not what it’s there for. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s there for me to play with… even though I’m 38 now and I really should have grown out of this kind of thing.
Ah well, it takes all sorts, no?