What I’ve Been Up To. The Collection!

Through a series of previously mentioned unfortunate events with a very favourable outcome (known collectively as “moving”) I have ended up in a splendid new home, with much, much more room.  This means adding at least one more full-size shelf to the display. This also meant boxing everyone up snug and secure for the trip. After battling to get the internet set up correctly in my new home, everything is — finally — back on track. I was ready to simply dive back into the boxes like a small child on Christmas morning (if that small child had personally selected each item under the tree) to set up my display again as well. That’s when I was stopped by something my wife had previously said.

Now, to say that my wife is an avid reader would be like saying Grimlock is an avid fan of war. Much like the Dinobot commander’s astonishing appetite for Decepticons; she consumes books at an insatiable, remarkable, almost inhumanly effective pace.

“Me, Grimlock, take issue with my depiction in post. Me, Grimlock, enjoy good book on occasion too. Mostly ones with pictures. Lots of pictures.”

Unlike being a Transformers fan, it would be literally (literarily? ha!) impossible for a person with a book collection but without unlimited space to be a completionist. So how does she keep it from getting overwhelmingly unwieldy?

“I like to think that I curate my collection.”

This was the thing that she said that stopped me from simply throwing my display back up. She does curate her collection. She chooses what books are purchased and make it into the collection or what is read on the Kindle — and joins the digital collection — versus what is borrowed and read or picked up for cheap and then passed along once read. She chooses releases for the cover art, she even has her acceptable “repaints”; such as multiple editions with different covers and bindings of her favourite books.

I too like to think that I curate my collection. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Everyone that collects something does that… right?

Nope.

The more I thought about it, the more I considered the fact that there are quite a few people out there that buy anything and everything, their only qualification being that it reads TRANSFORMERS® on the packaging. I’m not judging, to each his own, but I don’t know how someone like that has any idea what is in his or her collection at all.

Warning! Warning! Incoming horrible realization.

Despite being very, very particular in my selection of every piece in my collection, I am at a loss for a detailed list. Even when I know for certain that I own a particular Transformer, unless it is on display, it usually takes an inordinate amount of digging to locate it. Heck, this is something that has even hampered my ability to write posts on this very blog over the last almost-two-years. Long story short (too late!); that brings me to step one: count the bins.

Step two: make labels for numbering each bin.

Step three: number the bins. Step four: fire up Excel and make a spreadsheet.

Step five: go through each bin individually cataloguing. My columns of choice are:

Name Alt – If the toy has a different name that is not normally what I associate it with. Example: Alternators Meister.

Name – The name I normally associate with the toy. Example: Alternators Jazz (This helps me get around that pesky trademark issue, i.e. with a quick sort by name, all the Jazz toys are together.)

Partner(s)/Unit(s) – I don’t count Duros, the Headmaster Hardhead’s head, as a separate toy, but I wanted him listed. Especially in cases where I have one and not the other (how else do I account for Flattop’s Carrier unit when I don’t actually own Flattop?)

  • Series – The actual section of the actual continuity the toy belongs, i.e. Air Attack Optimus Primal is a Beast Machines continuity toy.
  • Release – The actual series the toy came out in, i.e. Air Attack Optimus Primal was released in the Robots in Disguise toyline.
  • Box – Which bin the toy is in.
  • Display – Asterisk for toys that are currently on display.
  • Notes – Mostly just lists of missing pieces or damage, i.e. “Optimus Prime – Machine Wars – Trailer flood damaged : ( ” (Yes, the frowny face is actually in my notes.)
  • KO? – This denotes a knock-off piece. If the opportunity comes to replace a knock-off I am currently using as a placeholder, this column is the one that’ll keep me honest.

At the end of three bins, the list was up to 188, an even 200 with partners. There are 24 bins total. Needless to say, I will be doing this for a couple more weeks. With the amount of tagging I will have done, starting next Wednesday I should be in a good place to get back on the two regular toy posts a week schedule. At the least, this Friday, we’ll see someone, though I’m not sure who just yet.

In the meantime, I am — surprising even to myself — having an absolute blast doing this cataloguing.

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12 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Up To. The Collection!

  1. While my collection doesn’t approach your vast volume of TF, I must say that I can relate.

    It was at my last apartment with my fiance — now wife — that the collection really grew and flourished. Now that we too are in the midst of a move, I had to prune in earnest. While packing my robotos meticulously proved to be a chore in the end — thanks to time constraints and the repetitiveness of bubble-wrapping — it did allow me to “rediscover” items of my collection, both those on display and those not, that I’d forgotten or otherwise taken for granted despite several of said items being in plain sight.

    And indeed cataloging them was a real joy, as was photographing the pieces on display, however rushed or poorly-lit the photos were. I photographed each shelf and marked bin and box contents in reference to what shelf, etc, as well as what name I called them, similar to what you had mentioned above. I’ll will certainly take more inspiration from your spreadsheets for future cataloging however.

    Now that we’re in the closing stages of the move –*knocks on wood* — having found the new apartment and all, I’m looking forward to the boxes arrival. They’re in storage now and I will be having them all shipped. UPS kind of balked at the sheer volume of boxes and it’s all paid. I trust / pray they’ll all arrive safely!

    Glad your move went well and that you’re back in action, blogging-wise!

    • I hope everything arrives incident-free. I must admit, I didn’t want to let the movers touch the boxes, so I have been apprehensive, even now going through the boxes. Luckily there doesn’t appear to have been any issues. *knock on wood*

  2. This is an incredibly good idea. I once tried to make an unwieldy Word document list of all my TFs, but it wound up being such a pain I gave up. A nice spreadsheet might be a good idea… maybe with an additional numeric column for toys I own a bunch of in various conditions. =) Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I must say that I am currently lucky in some ways. Because even though my own collection, in its entirety, is less than half of the number of bins you use (11, to date), I feel like I am aiming for a collection that will ultimately describe who I am… Not not have me define what it means to be the kind of collector the uninformed tends to believe. Mostly because when I meet the person I want to marry, we have kids, etc., I want to explain the pieces to them and why they are in my collection. So that way, they understand why this is important to me, and who I have chosen to become ever since I started this collection.

    In all cases, there are times that I want to splurge and buy the remaining Encore figures that I “need.” Because I thought that may look nice in the long run, but it does not mean that it is possible. And not every character interests me. So what I have done with the main Japanese Generation 1 line is ask myself a set of questions, and when it comes to others continuities… You guessed right as I ask myself a totally different set of questions! ^^

    In the long run, my collection currently (and I hope it stays this way) contains the following:

    Takara Tomy:
    – Autobot (1 variant)
    – Cybertron (3 Commander (2 Lieutenant, 1 regional), 3 Exclusive/Redeco (1 Variant), 1 Reissue/Variant)
    – Destron (1 Combiner/Reissue, 1 Exclusive/Redeco/Variant, 1 Reissue)

    It’s a self-contained collection, almost like your wife’s book collection. I am being selective due to a set of rules that decide if they go into my permanent collection, will be displayed on my shelf “as-is,” and so on. So far, no “as-is” and the rest are hibernating in my closet for the day I submit them to AFA! But that is for preservation and so my future children also have something to inherit from me. That, and atop of what I said.

    So until the day I feel my collection is complete… I am sincerely hoping that my luck hits the jackpot and I am able to obtain a MISB Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock in C-9+ packaging soon. That, and somebody within this community will be willing to chat about this stuff with me. ^^; Until then… I need to redevelop my anime collection, and obtain a few more books as well. ^^

    • Right, this is what I am talking about, that important distinction between amassing a collection and curating one. I like the idea that my collection reflects who I am as an individual Transformers fan.

  4. Have you thought about using Shmax.com to catalog your collection? The site has come a long way since it’s interception and I find it quite handy personally. (Not saying there is anything wrong w/ your system BTW)

    • Now you tell me! Heh. Yeah, I hadn’t gone back there in a while after my first failed attempt when they were pretty new. Their system is way better now, but there’s still too many variations on toy listings. I mean, I guess I could just ignore entries like “Injector (instruction variant)”, but when I go to G1 Grimlock, I really don’t have a way to tell if I have an Assortment 1 or Assortment 2. In this case, I think it boils down to too much thinking for me. 🙂

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