Vintage toy collecting usually centers around one thing, nostalgia. That feeling you get by looking at your toys through the eyes of a five year old, a reminder of a simpler time; a sense of comfort in the not-so distant past. I have watched myself go through certain stages of toy collecting over the year and I see the same pattern in many other collectors around my age. Now this pattern isn't exact an science, not everyone goes through the same evolution. If you will, my observance of the vinatge toy collector's gradual evolution.
- The loose collector- The loose collector will buy just about anything out of the package, no matter what state of condition it's in. Most of the time it's just to say “I've got that figure.” or to brag “I got that for a quarter!” Many times the loose collector will be found digging through bins upon bins of loose figures at garage sales, comic book stores or flea markets. They can be identified by the amount of small bills and loose change they carry to purchase their goodies, and they aren't beyond trying to haggle a fifty cent toy down to a quarter. They look at it as filling a hole in their collection, no matter the condition as long as the price is right. They also rarely have what would be considered “formal” display space. Most of their collection will occupy a desktop near a computer or a box very much like what it was found in.
- The loose/complete collector- The loose/complete collector is always looking to upgrade their collection so they have the closest to mint condition figure that is available. They've grown slightly snobbish of their older ways and will refuse to buy a figure that they feel will need to be upgraded in the near future, regardless how cheap it is. Granted, when applicable, they will still look for the best deal available but in a pinch will spend what it takes to crown their collection with that one piece (the feeling is ten fold when that piece completes an entire line). The loose/complete collector displays their treasures with pride on a media shelf, sometimes in diorama scenes complete with action poses. Often this type of collector will stuff toys that just don't fit the new, more sophisticated tastes in a box. Out of sight, these toys will not sully the presentation of the collection; because a dirty/loose/incomplete toy is nothing to brag about. This collector is also of the same mind to often buy 2 of everything they can afford so they can branch out into a carded collector, decorating the walls with their finds ( double points for having 2 of a chase figure, one loose and one packaged).
- The carded collector- This collector has completed almost every line in their collection and has decided for the ultimate upgrade, to attempt to collect carded examples of any figure they can get their hands on (as long as the price is right). Collecting carded figures can get seriously expensive. While a loose Star Wars 1977 Storm Trooper may cost $5 loose, $10 loose/complete, a carded one (depending on the style of the card) could run upwards of $75 or even double that. This collector starts off small, with a cross between what they can afford and what they like the collection eventually grows into a nice representation of carded examples from every line they can get reasonably. This collector may set themselves goals so they have that one figure that other collectors envy them over. Such as, an involved Star Wars collector might have a Yak Face but this collector might go the distance and purchase a carded one (double points for an unpunched card with a clear blister). Occasionally this collector is of a certain mindset to upgrade an entire line of figures to carded examples and sell their loose figures to fund this venture.
None of the above is set in stone and there is no real age range where these frames of mind set in. While I collect figures across several lines, I'll often buy what many would call a substandard figure to fill a gap in a collection but leave myself open to trade up for a better figure in the future. If I'd been picky over all these years I would have never amassed such an impressive collection. My bragging rights would have been really slim and most people wouldn't even know who Tom Khayos is.