Friday, November 19, 2021

The End Of A Universe

In 2010, I was working as a web designer in Singapore. Before I made my move to the Lion City the year prior, I was basically just a Transformers collector. But being in Singapore with a fairly decent paying job opened me up to delving into more toy lines. I had already recently fallen for the G.I.Joe 25th Anniversary line, and I was about to fall HARD for yet another one.

One Sunday afternoon, I was on the MRT train heading out to Chinatown for my regular weekend toy hunt.. On the way I took a quick side trip to a little toy store located in one of the MRT terminals. This store was so small there was hardly any room for more than two or three customers to come in and browse at a time. Yet it was packed with so many toys of all kinds hung on the walls and stacked on top of each other. Despite the chaos, it didn’t take long before a bunch of shiny new figures caught my attention.

Before my eyes were the newly released figures for the upcoming Iron Man 2 movie. There were about five or six of them; Iron Man, War Machine and a bunch of concept armors. Despite being just 3.75” in size they looked pretty stunning with a lot of detail and mostly covered in shiny paint. After admiring them for some time I decided to “just” get myself Iron Man and War Machine (how’s that for self control!) and then continued on my way to Chinatown. Little did I know that this innocent and random purchase would lead into something bigger.

Who am I kidding? I knew full well that I wouldn’t stop at just two. It wasn’t long before I got myself the entire wave and was clamoring for more. Anyway, a few months prior, Hasbro had launched another line of 3.75” Marvel Superhero based toy line called Marvel Universe. Aside from Spider Man, the initial wave consisted of heroes I wasn’t particularly interested in, including an X-Force Wolverine, Punisher and Silver Surfer.

As a kid, even if I read a lot of Marvel comics, I never really had any action figures of them so this new line didn’t have any nostalgic pull for me, so initially they were easy to pass on. But when I started getting into the Iron Man 2 line...well, that provided enough room in the door for the Marvel Universe line to start looking….more attractive.

Anyway, as with all the other stuff I got into, it all started with a series of denials (I didn’t collect Marvel as a kid so I shouldn’t now) which slowly led into some rationalization (I’ll just get this one set) to eventually opportunism (this guy is selling a bunch of his toys for a major bargain!). And this is exactly what happened with me falling into the Marvel Universe.

A few weeks later I came across this exclusive Invaders Box set which was composed of 4 figures, Captain America, Namor, the Original Human Torch and The Red Skull. As always, I figured I would just get it and that would be it. It’s a complete team and that’s all I needed. And then a few weeks later after that, I came across a local seller selling a lot of more Marvel Universe figures for real cheap so I figured what the heck! And that was pretty much it, game over.

Fast forward 6 or 7 years later and fitting to the name of the toy line, I had amassed my own personal 3.75 Marvel Universe. Aside from the main line itself, I had gone pretty much all in on all the offshoot movie based lines; Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and the First Avenger movie...I pretty much got them all (ok maybe about 90% of what was ever released). This totaled approximately around 250 plus figures. And this made for quite the display.

Anyway, by this time, Hasbro had shifted their focus from their 3.75” Marvel Universe to the 6” Marvel Legends line. After a few sporadic releases here and then, the 3.75” died a quiet death around 2015-16. As for me, I too had moved on to Marvel Legends as well (another story for another time) and that collection had grown immensely too. Pretty soon, given the limited display real estate in our house, my Marvel Universe line was relegated to a secondary location in our family room which meant I didn’t get to see and admire it very often and I basically grew detached from it.

Ultimately, it came to a point where it felt redundant to have two robust Marvel collections in the house, especially when one was infinitely superior to the other. Marvel Universe figures were good for their time, but standing next to a better sculpted, articulated and painted Marvel Legends figure, it was really no contest. And so after a lot of back and forth, I decided to sell my entire Marvel Universe collection.

Now ideally, the easiest way to go was to sell the entire collection to a reseller for a really low fire sale price, which I didn’t want to do. I wasn’t in a rush to sell. The other alternative was to sell the figures individually, but that would probably lead to people cherry picking all my rare variants leaving me with a collection full of holes and missing key characters. So I went for a nice middle ground.

I basically broke up my collection into smaller sets of figures that made sense; an Avengers set, X-Men set, get the idea. That way If I only managed to sell a few sets, I would still have complete “sub teams” to display.

Anyway, to my surprise, this worked out better than I expected. Buyers came pouring in, I had to use a Google sheet to keep track of everything. Since this was dab smack in the middle of COVID, for the most part I didn’t do any meet ups with buyers. Instead, riders booked by them were picking up items right from my gate almost non stop. And in a little under a couple weeks, I managed to sell off my entire collection (aside from my Iron Man 2 figs which I decided to hold onto for just a little longer). And I made quite the profit! I basically shaved off almost half my toy spend budget for the year, which was huge!

A healthy collection doesn’t just grow, but evolves. In my opinion, despite it being quite a hassle at times, selling toys is really a part of collecting for two main reasons. First is a practical one, display space is limited. I am extremely fortunate to have an understanding wife who allows me to display toys pretty much all over the house. And even with that much lee way I still find myself running out of space. And for me, if a toy can’t be displayed and admired from time to time, then it defeats the purpose of the collection. It doesn’t make sense for me to buy things just to store them in a bin (unless you rotate your displays). There's a fine line between collecting and hoarding.

The second reason is financial. I won’t lie, despite my best efforts, I definitely could be more financially responsible with my collecting. This hobby is quite costly and can get out of hand easily, so selling older toys I no longer “need” helps me keep the toy spend down to a manageable level.

Selling my Marvel Universe was a huge undertaking, but the results were extremely satisfying. Even if it meant breaking up this amazing set I assembled over multiple years, it’s good to know that the individual parts went to other fellow collectors who would appreciate them as much or more than I ever did. And so as my Marvel Universe story came to an was now time to move on to something….Legendary.