Thursday, March 27, 2014

Freedom Through Rules

I'm going to start out on a tangent, but bear with me, as it all ties together; it's like the The Dude's rug.  A few years ago, I read an interview with James Hetfield of Metallica discussing the recording of their album Death Magnetic.  In the interview, Hetfield stated that in going back to their original recording roles, there was more freedom in those constraints.  Metallica is famous for their recording roles.  Hetfield records every guitar part and Kirk Hammett comes in and knocks out the solos.  A lot of other metal bands follow this practice, like Carcass.  The reason for doing this is that the one person laying down the rhythm tracks isn't deviating from timing or playing something slightly different, leading to a more intense experience for the listener.  At any rate, back in the 1990's with Load and continuing through St. Anger, Hammett started recording his own rhythm tracks, leading to a looser sound.  During the recording of Death Magnetic, Metallica went back to their old dynamic and Hetfield recorded all of the rhythm parts, which lead to the interview about freedom through restriction.  I found this to be a preposterous idea.  How could having more rules and constraints give anyone a sense of greater freedom?  And then my wife and I had a talk.
I tried to name my son after him.  One day.
As I've repeatedly stated in this space, child number four is on the way.  I've been through freakouts and stress, but I'm over it now.  I've decided to treat this year just as I had intended when I set out my collecting goals for the year: complete the 1985 figures and get my first Japanese figure.  Like this guy:
Not long ago, brr-icy informed me about a seller on TFW2005 selling a boxed Metal Hawk.  I was on that faster than you could say "Head On!".  I showed him to my wife, and she asked me what the big deal was.  When I informed her that I was thinking about finally getting a G1 Japanese figure, she inquired about the completeness of my U.S. collection.  She knows that I want to complete my U.S. collection first, so that was a very informed question on her part.  Then she asked how much Metal Hawk was.  While I hadn't made it that far, or even contacted the seller, I quoted her a rough estimate of around $500.  Then she said that we needed to talk.
Guns may have been involved
So we talked.  And talked.  The gist of it is that I've decided to table my desires for anything non-U.S. for awhile.  Maybe ever?  I'm not sure of that at the moment.  I don't want anyone reading this to think that my wife browbeat me into curbing my collecting, because that simply isn't true.  With a new kid comes new dimensions and one thing I've always said was that my collecting would never affect any other aspect of my life.  My family would be taken care of first, and then I would come last.  Balance is the key when you're into a hobby, especially one like the one we're in.  It's important to keep the important things in focus. Which is something my wife really drove home with me.

I will say that since coming to that momentous decision a couple of weeks ago, it has really freed me.  Implementing guidelines and rules has eliminated the overwhelmed feeling I had when thinking about collecting.  There were times when I just couldn't decide on what to buy or when to buy it and I constantly felt like I had so much to catch up on.  Just thinking about it made me dizzy.  And really, if I'm feeling overwhelmed doing something that I supposedly love, what's the point?  With that in mind, I've given myself some guidelines to my future collecting habits.  I'm using the phrase "guideline" because it doesn't feel as rigid as "rules".  Here, then, are the guidelines I've given myself:

Buy What I Like

Basically, do I actually like the figure or character?  If not, then I won't buy it.  This means abstaining from Powerdashers, mini-spies, and possibly Micromasters.  Yeah, I said it.  No Micromasters.  Probably.  And in case you were wondering, I will be getting Action Masters.  Because they are awesome.  But only the U.S. ones.  No neon Thundercracker for me.
Tell me he shouldn't have been in an EMF video.

Buy U.S.

Pretty much self-explanatory, no?  Now that isn't to say that if one day whilst perusing eBay, or some seller's thread and I run across a Canadian Slag, or some such figure at a rock bottom price I won't stick my nose in the air and pass it by.  A deal is a deal, after all.  I'm not made of stone, but then again, I'm not exactly made of money either.  This doesn't preclude Masterpiece as, well, those figures aren't too expensive when you compare them to vintage figures.  Mostly. which means K.O.  Just look at the nice picture
Those are pretty much my only guidelines right now.  There are a few others, such as my new buying repaints of the same character rule (thanks YOTH Prime!), but they're minor.  I have to say, since I've gotten a little stricter in what I will and will not buy, I feel like a better collector.  The pressure and overwhelmed feelings have dissipated.  Now I know what James Hetfield was talking about.


  1. Ain't it fun balancing collecting with a family! Always good to hear when collectors have their priorities straight. I remember freaking out when I found out #2 was on the way, so I can't imagine what scenarios and what not were running through your head with #4 on the way!

    I've backed off on buying a lot myself. Of course it helps when I have a year and a half's worth of purchases sitting in my closet un-opened! Now that things are work are settling down a bit and my reorganization of my room is nearing completion, I hope to finally show off the fruits of my labor and get back to opening and reviewing all these cool toys I have building up.

    Keep up the good work buddy!

    1. I really want to see what the new set up looks like! You need to post pics soon!

  2. Just name your kid Necroticism, the wife should be okay with that.

    1. Being a fan of setting up jokes far, far in advance, I'll just say that if this kid turns out to be a boy, his name will make everyone smile. Especially if you read a comic in the '90's.

  3. haha I tho that photo was from Canadian band Thor :D. It good that you set some rules for your collecting, I write down each toy I want and if I still have the desire to purchase it three weeks later, then its worth purchasing, saying 'purchasing what you like' is futile in practice, tastes change and this hobby is always about opportunity. Good to read this post, buying less means less toys your accidently trip over in the house :)

    1. Buying what I like just frees up my head. Thinking about every figure I needed was driving me nuts!

  4. Actionmasters aren't even transformers lol. Those are a very hard sell to me, the only reason I've considered them is because of the Euro exclusive ones. Pretenders, I did go on a slight kick of a couple months ago, but they don't have the same staying power as Micromasters for me.

    About a year ago, when i was done with what i had on my list as far as US stuff, I asked myself one question, would I rather have Thunderwing or Star Saber? It was an easy answer, sorry Pretenders,

    Modern stuff has taken a backseat, I'll get it when I get it lol. No more rushing and OMG!! gotta get the next 3rd party figure before it skyrockets, I actually sold a good 3/4 of my third party stuff to fund my Japanese collection, which made a lot of these figures a lot easier on the wallet.

    Personal rules for modern stuff:
    1) Same character repaints are a no go.
    2) 3rd party has to be an exceptional, be all end all of a character. No kindas, maybes, or sortas lol.
    3) MPs must either a) have an original toy or b) be in the show more than a minute. ehobby repaints don't count as original toys lol

    These rules keep my collecting budget down on newer stuff. I tend to browse the sales threads for G1 stuff, and i'm not rigid on what I want to get next, if it's a deal, i get it.