FW Presents – The Collectors

Are you a collector, completionist, hoarder or something else? We all collect things. Now listen to Fire and Water Network All-Stars Shag, Rob, Ryan, Chris, Max discuss their collections! Collections of what? Listen and find out!

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24 responses to “FW Presents – The Collectors

  1. Congratulations on the new show, the most fascinating collection is Max and his Molderama, that sent me straight to the internet. What an amazing machine!

    I’ve never read a Doctor Who novel but as a kid I was always amused that one of the writers was named Malcolm Hulke. And Terry Nation, of course, created the Daleks, well done to Shag for telling him he helped a young chap learn to enjoy reading, it likely made his day.

    I don’t collect anything. Am so boring. I guess the completist gene is related to the list-making gene, I am absent both.

    1. Oh weird, a week later I have a dream about being a contestant on a Great British Bake Off/Great Pottery Throwdown/Great British Sewing Bee-style TV show involving Mold-a-Rama. It was called Molten Men – I rather like that title – and we had to make wee figures and install all kinds of bells and whistles. It was really stressful.

  2. Loved this episode. I’d enjoy more episodes about any of these collections.

    Max – My wife still has the Sinclair dinosaur Mold-A-Rama that she got when she was tiny. I’ve never seen a Mold-A-Rama machine, so I didn’t realize they were still around. My wife’s dinosaur is Sinclair’s classic green brontosaurus. But, there are at least five other Sinclair dinosaurs. Apparently, Sinclair had six different dinosaur Mold-A-Ramas available at one of the World Fairs.

    Shag – Since I’m visually disabled, I can’t read the Doctor Who novels. But, like you, I’m a massive fan of Big Finish. Big Finish audios are the only thing that I collect these days. The only way I’ve heard any of these novels is from the few that Big Finish has adapted. My favorite adaption is The All Consuming Fire which teams up the Doctor with Sherlock Holmes. So much fun.

  3. Good stuff here in this episode. And, it got me really thinking about my own collecting habits. Although I have things I can say I collect, I don’t collect anything that is the same level of exotic as Chris’s blow molds or Max’s Mold-a-Rama figures.

    Instead, I’m painfully conventional in my collecting passions. Besides comics, I have an extensive DVD/Blu-ray collection and an even larger book collection. What has kept me from going bankrupt or living in utter squalor are the rules I set for myself in how and why I go about adding to either collection.

    For the film collections, I have to insist on the following:

    1) I have to have already seen the film. No buying or ordering a movie in order to watch it for the first time.
    2) The film purchase has to be a movie I like it enough to watch it over and over. No movies are to languish on the shelf forever and ever.
    3) Preferably, the DVD/Blu-ray should contain at least some special features in order to maximize the viewing opportunities.

    For books, I follow these rules:

    1) The vast majority of purchases need to be made using my 20% Educators discount at Barnes & Noble.
    2) The majority of the books have to be stored in my classroom and displayed on a shelf. No shelf space, no purchase.
    3) Once year, perform a book culling and select books to donate.
    4) If I have read it and have no real personal attachment to the book, allow a student who wants it to have it.

    These guidelines, followed strictly, are the only reason why my life isn’t adrift in a sea of Blu-rays and books.

    On the horizon, I see myself potentially becoming a collector of artwork from local artist. There is an art school very close to me that holds an annual arts festival. The artwork is AMAZING, and I have lots of wall space. So, I will need to come up with a new set of guidelines to guard against going overboard.

  4. Excellent episode, gentlemen! This was the distraction I needed from the endless hours of politics podcasts and constant state of panic that has been my existence since … well, 2016, really, but at least since last week. Shagg is so good at moderating a panel discussion so that it’s streamlined, and you guys had some great stories that really made this feel deep.

    I’ve been offloading a lot of my collected items in the last two years (literally have a blog about it: http://theuncollecting.com) and it’s kind of amazing how much crap just piles up to the point where it actually kind of becomes a “collection.” But I guess being a true collector of something is when you cross that particular line of actively seeking these things out as opposed to having them accumulate.

    As far as what I own, I have books, movies, comics, music (mostly CDs and MP3s, although I do have a small record collection), and also own eight different video game systems (although that wasn’t so much collecting as it was saving the systems we had as kids). But there’s a couple of things that I guess would qualify for the “odd” collections …

    1. Pins. I haven’t counted how many pins I own. Many of them weren’t even purchased, but were promotional giveaways or swag from an event. Some are old press pass badges and work badges. I don’t seek many out (although I’ve bought a few at Walt Disney World), but I don’t turn them down when they’re available. It’s honestly something I could write a blog post about.

    2. Trivial Pursuit. At my last count, I have 16 different versions of Trivial Pursuit in my house. This includes the original Genus Edition as well as a number of special topics editions, such as the 1980s, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. It seriously is another topic for an entire blog post. It’s also what laid the foundation for me actually being competitive in local trivia contests (and now I’m missing faculty lunchtime trivia).

    Oh, and I would happily contribute to whatever Kickstarter you guys are setting up to help Max film that documentary.

  5. An excellent episode. Always a pleasure to listen to geeks geeking out about geeky stuff. I had never previously heard of Mold-a-rama, so that was a fun bit of Googling. They’re cute!

    As to my own non-comics collecting habits… I have books, DVDs and CDs/vinyl by the ton, but there’s little rhyme or reason to that. That’s just shattershot accumulating, whereas collecting is a bit more purposeful. Notable collections of recent times:

    1) Books by the genius cartoonist B. Kliban. I’ve been obsessed with this guy since I first stumbled across his book ‘Whack Your Porcupine’ about 30+ years ago. He died in the early 1980s and all of his books are out of print, so naturally I set out to collect them all. There are only about ten of them, but very hard to find, especially in the UK. As is common for collectors, I was determined to find them in the wild, in second-hand bookshops, rather than via eBay. It took me about 15 years to find the first six! I eventually cracked and bought two more from eBay. Thought I’d completed my collection, but have since discovered there are two more even obscure collections out there. If anyone’s interested, I started The B. Kliban Appreciation Society over on FB, which now has thousands of members and has become a pain in the arse.

    2) Japanese underground music. After discovering the joys of the Japanese underground in the late 90s, I went through a long period of amassing hundreds of records by obscure and noisy artists, ranging from big names (relatively speaking) such as Boredoms, Ruins and Acid Mothers Temple (who alone have a staggeringly vast discography) to extremely niche DIY CD-R stuff. I still love a lot of that stuff, but eventually lost the urge to amass it in warehouse volumes.

    3) Martian Manhunter figures. I’ve never been an action figure guy, but I do really, really like J’onn J’onzz, and I have gradually gained a meagre collection of seven figures. I am on the lookout for more. Again, my rule here is that I have to stumble across them in the wild, and they must be cheap – either reduced or second hand.

    To be honest, I’ve pretty much left the collecting bug behind these days. It’d be nice to find a J’onn figure in a charity shop, but I don’t mind if that never happens.

  6. Thank you, gentlemen. This episode was a lot of fun.

    I’ve probably collected several things casually over the years, but have only two “serious” collections. First, I believe I have a copy of every book written by J.R.R. Tolkien or his son, Christopher Tolkien. I’ve read them all, but the last couple I got, “Mr. Bliss” and “Bilbo’s Last Song”, were bought, primarily, to complete the collection.

    My second collection is made up of 100+ Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) novels. I stopped buying the books off the shelf during the Legacy of the Force series, but I do pick up used copies of books I’m missing, from time to time.

    Finally, Shag, I do have a handful of those early Doctor Who books, and agree that they are a great way to revisit those classic episodes.

    1. Finally, for real, it looks like there was a Corran Horn (in pilot gear) and Whistler action figure 2-pack as part of the Star Wars Legacy Collection.

  7. Ryan: Get vinyl. It’s a license to be a snob! It’s great. I love it. It’s expensive and heavy! And, yeah, you need to invest in quality turn table and sound system.

    General note: I collect band stuff. And I mean collect. Let’s take my favorite group, Fastball. I have different versions of the same album – promo version; first vinyl pressing (if available); multiple colored versions; versions from different countries; singles from the album… And it’s expensive and I love it. Or McCartney’s latest album…let’s just say I have too many versions of the same thing just because it’s a different color or has a single demo track that’s different.

    Rob: you’re not a Dylan album collector if you’re not doing what I do. Meaning, you’re a bit more sane about it and buying his catalog for the music, not for a weird sense of completion. Now, this Razor’s Edge thing of yours, now THAT’S collecting.

    Shagg: Am I in your will???

    Ryan: Am I in your will???

    Chris: That’s, um, a very different hobby.

    Max: Well, you take the cake. Again. We get it, you’re weird.

  8. Very interesting episode. There’s just one thing I’d add: don’t expect your kids to want or keep your collections when they’re adults. I know from experience that most collections are either sold off in pieces or unfortunately junked when a collector passes away.

    There are some archives interested in unique collections. For example, at BGSU we have the Browne Popular Culture Library which is actually a non-circulating archive. We’ve got action figures, board games, fanzines, comics, postcards, greeting cards, & tons more treasures. Let me know if you’re ever interested in doing an episode on the BPCL & I know one of the librarians would love to talk to you.

  9. Great episode and loved hearing everyone’s other hobbies.

    I collect (no surprise) Supergirl memorabilia and have a shrine like Rob. I am definitely a ‘take out of the box to display’ guy, so action figures, toys, statues are all displayed. Currently they all are on a relatively small bookshelf. But the collection has grown to the point that I think I need a true display case. It sits in a small walk in closet/storage room adjacent to my home office area. I don’t think I am a completist but I will try to buy all the stuff I like when it comes out. Too many of the more prurient Supergirl stuff stays unbought.

    I guess the other thing I collect … although not really in the way of your collections …is artist commissions at conventions.

    Regarding what Chuck said, I have had the long discussion with my kids about the ultimate fate of my comic book collection when I pass. I have said that I don’t mind if they sell it all. I would ask that maybe they consider keeping some portion of it for posterity. But I have started to contemplate going through and marking the more valuable books with some sort of sticker so they know which ones they should try to get a good price on.

  10. This was lots of fun! I love hearing about your collecting passions! Like MattEv said above, geeks geeking out about geeky stuff is great because it really is a “Find Your Joy” conversation. I would love to hear more episodes and updates on how your collections are going and if, you’ve found any new stuff. To me, because I grew up in the non-eBay era, it was all about the thrill of the hunt finding some of these pieces in the wild and I love to hear when someone finally finds that one elusive piece (Anj with your Crisis Supergirl statue!).

    Max – like many above, I had no idea what Mold-A-Rama was. And since I live in Canada, there was no chance of me ever finding one in the wild. But, on finding out what Mold-A-Rama is, I found a news story from 2 years ago that happened in my neck of the woods!


    I didn’t realize that they take it that seriously that different parts can change what is and isn’t a Mold-A-Rama. But, I guess, like any collector, if you are collecting these things, you are serious about them.

    Chris – I would love to see what your lawn looks like at Christmas and if Batman is there standing beside Santa.

    I would say that I’m not so much a Collector (oHOTmu Hot) so much as an Accumulater (oHOTmu Not) of things I enjoy. My 30+ (Shag has 49?!?) long boxes will attribute to that. But there are times in my life where I was determined to hunt down certain things. I think the one that I tried hardest was my Universal Monsters Classic Collection on VHS! Remember VHS??? In fact, I got a lot of them, but I did it mostly for the fun of the hunt; walking into a store and finding them in the wild. Sure, I could probably just find the rest of them online (with a working VHS player, sheesh) but that just doesn’t seem as fun to me. That doesn’t seem like collecting as it does just checking a box on a list.

    Collecting can certainly be fun and this episode showed that in spades! I enjoyed this immensely and can’t wait to hear more! Keep up the great work!

    P.S. – now I know that if I ever spot a Marvel Slurpee cup, an old Doctor Who novel, a random Rebel Pilot action figure, a Mold-A-Rama, or a blow mold….. I know who to contact!

  11. I touched on this a little bit in Ryan’s recent Fiona Apple podcast, but after one particular relationship, I made a conscious effort to divest myself of as much possessiveness as I can manage. I don’t want to feel a sense of ownership of people or things to the best of my ability. I’m very territorial about personal space and control over a project that I’m spearheading, and I need certain tools for the tasks at hand that I don’t want stolen from me. Otherwise though, it’s just stuff. I love having nice sturdy bookshelves like I always wanted so that I can have a personal library of easily accessible reference and entertainment. I like having fun stuff to put on those shelves, like statues and mini-busts. I pretty much gave up on action figures years ago, so they’re all in a plastic container in the attic. I had a bunch of Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter stuff, but I’ve stopped accumulating much of anything on that front. I still purchase physical media, because streaming/digital isn’t reliable and rarely offers bonus materials. I get art commissions because I want specific works to be brought into the world, but I often think about donating most of the physical artifacts of that creation to a charity auction (but nobody wants the things I get drawn, anyway.) Basically though, the only thing I actively collect and archive is still comic books, and I’m mostly about collections for the shelves these days. Nothing stays packaged, and I don’t even dust.

  12. Something occurred to me while listening to this, Beyond comics (and that’s really not all that much), I don’t think I collect anything. Oh, I have “stuff”, but I really don’t have a drive to get anything specific. For example, I’ve got many of the works of JRR Tolkien, but at least half of them are gifts I got from family. I didn’t seek out “Roverandum”, for example, it’s just something that I received.

    My wife, on the other hand, has a collection of G1 My Little Ponies (including the castle), but she also isn’t driven to complete it. Most of it is her original toys she had as a kid.

    I guess it’s the old man in me, but I see some really cool stuff (like a model of the 2199 Yamato) and while I might love to own it, my brain says “Where would it go?” and “It would just collect dust.” I guess that’s why I’m more focused on experiences now. Visiting Walt Disney World, when we’re able, and seeing stuff that we have never been able to before is much more in my wheelhouse now.

    1. Gene, I’ve had a similar experience with Lego Star Wars sets. I have a decent number of them, but I don’t seek them out or ask for them. People give them to me as gifts, because they know I’m a Star Wars fan. I don’t play with them the same way my daughter plays with her Lego sets. If I build them, they just sit on a shelf collecting dust.

      Now that I think of it, that’s probably why I collect books, because I still use them for their intended purpose. So, I guess I’d classify myself as a utilitarian collector.

  13. Great ep guys. Loved listening to this.

    The Mold-a-Rama really caught my attention, especially the part about the San Diego Zoo. I live in San Diego, so thought it was really cool to hear about it.

    I looked around, and it seems like the only machine near SoCal in in Las Vegas! Such a bummer, but now I have an extra thing to check off my Las Vegas list when I head there next.

    I do have a Mold-a-Rama story to share. I didn’t know that’s what it was, but I remember having one when I was a kid. Probably about 40 years ago. I got one from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I remember it because, for some reason, I decided as a kid that I’d nibble on it. And nibble and nibble. So I’m sure about quarter of the base of it was gone by the time I saw it last, lol.

  14. A super fun and heartwarming episode, thank you all for recording it! The Mold-a-rama really stood out to me, too.. I had no idea these things existed. But by the end of the episode, I completely identified with Max’s motivations for collecting them. The fact that each one can only be obtained in a particular time and place, from that one machine, there’s something really poignant and special about that. Good luck collecting them all, Max!

    I still remember the moment that I realized something really interesting about collecting. I was in the first comic book shop that I ever discovered, probably around age 12. This was a real shop, with thousands of back issues in bins, all alphabetized, going back decades. And I asked myself, “if someone were to just give me all of the comics in this store, would I want them?” And the answer that came from within me was, “No.” And I found that very surprising. “Why not?” I wondered. And I came to realize that I just wanted to own only those particular comics that I had chosen to become part of my own collection. I didn’t want every comic, I just wanted these particular comics. And why is that? Why would you rather have a subset of what’s in this store, than have the whole thing? And why would you prefer to pay for them than to just have someone hand them to you for free?

    Because, I realized, what I collect must define me in some way, and I want to make those choices for myself, and make the effort to acquire them. It has to cost something.

    A really weird realization.

    And then there’s the flip side of this realization, as several folks have pointed out above: nobody but me actually cares what these choices are. My kids will not marvel at my good taste in comics after I’m gone, they will just wonder how to get rid of all of this stuff without getting taken to the cleaners. So the only thing I’m curating here is my own self-image, not how anybody else sees me or defines me. This part of it was really brought home to me a few years ago when I took on the task of helping a deceased older friend’s widow sell off his collection. It has made it a lot easier to let go of parts of my own collection.

    Of course, I’m still acquiring other parts!

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