I think the earliest time of me collecting something was age 8. I was in our family wagon, a taxi cab yellow Volvo with no A/C and my mother had made curtains for the back area of the illustrious machine. Windows didn’t crack open on those models so needless to say I suffered several heat strokes on our way to the AMANA COLONIES. Oh the joy of hand made chairs, baskets and washing machines. As we are heading out of the town we stop at a small mom and pop gas station and inside I buy my Dip Stix and come upon my first obsession (no it wasn’t BIGG JUGZ) it was a standing rack of comic books. Not singles mind ya but the ol’ 3 packs sealed in plastic. I reach into my cut off blue jeans (non- daisy duke) and find my allowance ($1.00 a week) to have been mounting to a masterful height of $3.50 ish. (this was back in in 1979), the price if I recall was around $1.25 for 3. This is considered the prime time of collecting, the mid 70’s. The 3 pack consisted of 2 issues of Micronauts and 1 something I forget. Micronauts is a direct knock off of Star Wars with a princess escaping a darth vader like enemy along with their own versions of R2D2 and C3PO. I took to it instantly because to me aliens are much more interesting than humans. (yuck)I re-read the 2 books about 10 times on the way home. Next pay day weekend I went to Dragons Lair and bought all I could and repeated that for the next year until I caught up to the series (16 issues) at ¢.35 ea and +.10-20¢ for back issues, the highest being a 2 part issue with the appearance of the Uncanny X-Men.
From that point on I’ve been collecting Comic Books off and on with the late 80’s being my 200-300.00 weekend conventions in Houston, Texas. At that time I was heavy into Uncanny X-Men and had/have about 70% of the entire series. I even had teh famous issue #96. (that was the first introduction to the new LOOK and team of the X-Men) and was one of stories of how I came across this GEM that many talk about. *another time*.
The next obsession happened just before I got married to my future ex-wife. I started working as a designer of ‘Pull-Tabs” aka “Scratch-Offs” and there we’re two super geeky coworkers playing a card game. This was 1993. Our break room consisted of a half court basketball, volleyball court, a pool table and shuffleboard. The owner invented latex gloves. True story. He decided to buy a bingo sheet maker and pull tab company and in his wiseness wanted his workers happy. I was. So these two geek heads we’re ignoring the fine sports equipment (not me) and would play cards the entire time. I was fine tuning my billiard skills and inspired by the movie The Hustler. I casually and fonzie like walked over to really SEE what they we’re doing. The art is the first thing that captured my attention. The second thing was they looked like they we’re into it. The malaise and discontent artists have is something most are born with and these two looked like kids at a circus/porn house. Wait…not kids…more like over the age of 18…..at a porn store. Nevermind. I asked what it was called and the reply was “Ummm…Magic the Gathering…..why?” I shrugged and walked away..Fonzie like. Few weeks later one of the workers, Tony went to the 2nd shift with me. He would bring the cards in and make decks. I would fax crude naked drawings I made to local radio stations. The DJ’s loved my drawwwrings. One night, well maybe two nights…I asked if he could teach me how to play. He did and it took a week to learn all the mechanics (simple at that time) and able to play at his level. The first rules of Magic the Gathering involved playing for Ante. We followed the rules to a T. Since MtG was new the card prices locally sold at Comic Book stores we’re relatively cheap. Here goes my paychecks. It is damned hard for me to do things half assed on obsessions. I would go to stores and buy boxes of cards. Boxes at $79.99 each. My collection swelled and my confidence and soon Tony refused to play with me because I would win most of the games and took most of his good cards from winning the Ante cards. (ante cards we’re the top card of your deck flipped over). I took to the local tournament scene in Omaha and Council Bluffs. Played from midnight to 6 am 3 days a week. Bought more cards. More tournaments. Then we had a baby. My first son. (and only, that I know of). My gaming slowed to a crawl. Then we moved to Lawrence Kansas. Once my son was 3 I started back up again. The need to play and buy was very bad. Strain on my marriage. I wasn’t there for her as much as I should have been. Then we had another baby. I stopped again. For awhile. Then started again. By this time I had acquired over 25,000 magic cards and value was around $15,000.00**** IF I had not sold those cards the value in todays market is around $50,000.00 I had doubles of the Power 9’s. Complete sets of: Legends, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, 120 Dual Lands, Beta Moxes, the whole enchilada, and 3 Black Lotus. Go now and go to Ebay…type the words “Black Lotus” or “Beta Black Lotus”. You’ll see. Makes me cry.
As this obsession waxed and waned I came across Diablo…then Diablo II and those took over for quite awhile. I even took the day off work for the release of Diablo II….then Starcraft……oy vey. My life went on and I focused on video games and magic seemed to curtail. A lot has to do with your circle of friends who will encourage and enable your obsessions or make fun of you, my friends enabled me. I like the sound of the word “enable”, it takes a lot of pressure off oneself. My kids starting to grow up and I got them into sports, especially my son, so my interests we’re aimed on him. My daughter took interests in dance, so I helped her there. With all my focus I lost focus on my relationship with my wife, it was not what we wanted or expected. We grew apart, I blame myself but it also lies on her shoulders as her views on life are and we’re very skewed on not really based in reality. (kettle..calling black…). So…we got divorced. ALL my obsessions ceased and dissisted. (sp) I sold cards to pay bills and lawyer fees. She stopped working and stopped paying for utilities so I sold my assets. Cards and comics. She reveled in it. I cried. YADA YADA YADA.
Next up. Star Wars. I’ve always have been a fan since my father took me to see it in the theaters opening day in Omaha Nebraska. My very first toy was a Storm Trooper. I’ve been collecting the toys for over 25 years now and have an extensive collection of new and vintage. This came into play when SOE made their version of the game Star Wars Galaxies. I was stoked. Totally. One issue was it was only for the PC. So…I went out and had a custom made PC gaming rig JUST for the sole purpose of playing SWG. I was NOT disappointed. Instant love and hate of the game. (you can’t totally love games..there has to be a balance of hate). This is exactly the same time I met my fiance. That Christmas she bought me a Video Card. What kinda babe buys her new boyfriend a Video Card for Christmas??!! Well, mine does! And she started playing SWG as well, she went the Smuggler route and I delved into nearly all the professions. It was initially a blast!~! But like most MMO’s the developers started messing with the game play, the pvp, the crafting and that ended up a bad deal all around. We ended up playing World of Warcraft. Brought over several SWG buds and they’ve come and gone to out right quitting (for other MMO’s) lol and this is my current obsession. That and Animal Crossings, updating my Comic collecting and recently started collecting original artwork and prints from my favorite artists. These all encompass what I love to do and spend my time with. I am very lucky to be partnered with someone who shares the same interests in gaming, reading, geeking out. These obsessions, to me are very light and non hurtful to people around me except when I ignore my basic responsibilities. Those would be: going to work, paying bills, paying complete attention to Alix and my family, being social on a face to face level, focusing and completing life goals. All of that is a balancing act and I believe I’ve come very close to the act of balancing those with semi-ease. My family is relatively happy and def. healthy. My career is on an upswing, my son and daughter are happy but are reaching the “teen” years so I need to knock on wood and pay MORE attention to their lives and friends.
I understand this post has nearly nothing to do with Old School or WoW but felt like sharing what maybe a common thread among gamers, readers, obsessive type personalities. Please feel free to share your collectings, musings and what you do with your time. Thanks for reading a long read.