Rethinking Collecting: Is it a Collection, or a Hoarding?

    Taneleer Tivan, aka "The Collector," as played by Benicio del Toro in the MCU

    I know many of us have heard this classic debate before. Maybe it is from a family member, a friend, or perhaps your life partner: are you collecting, or is it really hoarding?

    Don’t’ worry, I promise not to tell anyone about how often you have bought something to add to your collection. This article and my question are purely about the nature of whatever hobby/hobbies you love and enjoy. For me, it is collected editions of comics books (with some single issues mixed in) and figures (right now, it is statues). Before that, it was Funko Pop figures. However, I moved on from the Funko Pops, with only the rarest of exceptions, is because, for me, it is about the nature of being a collector is: showing off.

    Beforehand, for me, and perhaps for you the fair reader as well, either currently or prior to whatever your hobby is, you collected because it was something that connected you to your childhood, or to a moment, or a feeling you have/had about something. For me, the very first franchise I remember watching with my parents and brother when I was younger for the “Sunday afternoon movie of the week” was the original Back to the Future trilogy. It was a strong story, great characters and performances from everyone, science-fiction-y elements (time travel), and, honestly, the coolest car I have ever seen, the DeLorean. It evolved from the to the superheroes (Marvel, DC Comics) and the space operas (Star Wars and Star Trek). So, naturally, when I got older (meaning, I got a job with a paycheck), I wanted to get these things to surround myself with and have. Part of it was the hunt for these items, and the other part was, well, I felt it was cool to own them.

    However, the problem began really with collecting Funko Pops. There is absolutely nothing wrong with collecting these figures, the figures themselves, or the company themselves. It is just I began to collect these figures a couple of years after I got married (to my amazing, loving, beautiful, and supportive wife). The next minute I knew, after maybe 2ish years, I had amassed roughly 300 figures piled into a one-bedroom apartment with a new (and incredibly cute and I love her so much) baby girl. Also, my wife had purchased for us these wonderful bookcases for our apartment, which were getting pretty tight with my then collected editions of comics books. The Pops were displayed on top of a dresser in our bedroom, but some honestly had been going wherever I could put them, including my closet and various boxes that I could store at points in my apartment. I did not admit it at the time, but it was getting out of hand and, even though I could not admit it, it had become a hoarding. And collecting should not ever feel like a hoarding.

    Thankfully, we had moved from the apartment into a beautiful house and, it was shortly thereafter that I decided to stop collecting Funko Pop figures nearly completely and focus on my collected editions and on these larger figures/statues. I am now, a year after moving into the house, am slowly but surely beginning the process of organizing the collecting, taking them out of storage boxes, and putting them on shelves for display, and organizing my “home office.” Because, as I have learned, with some exceptions, a collection that is not seen, but hidden, is a hoarding. And honestly, it is beginning to look a lot better and hope to be able to properly “show off” soon.

    I will admit, as we are at the end of this piece, is this was a somewhat therapeutic exercise writing all of this down. I hope, as you are reading it, perhaps you have come to the same realization as well: is your collection really a collection, or a hoarding?

    I look forward to seeing it, and I hope to show off my collection on social media soon.