Oh hey! The Fetish keeps on niching! Check out the first part of this conversatiun- here. Last time we heard from Hateball, he was a toy collector. As of last night around 7:30pm, he still is. With passion! And that’s what we are talking about here. The passion for collecting: the joy of owning stuff, the pains of not owning stuff you want to own, and the stuff you would do to get more stuff. And when I asked him to tease out any differences in the approach of US and Japan-based collectors, he tried his gosh hardenest to be culturally sensitive. Cute! This week, in part thanks to my interview skills, Hateball spills it all, guts and headers included.
Gnou: Appropriately you are speaking of Chuck Taylor, a shoeman and a showman. I have 11 pairs of Converse (none of them actually are Chuck Taylors – I hate the way those look on my feet)(though I do have two pairs of Poorman Weapons, which are a hybrid of Chucks and Weapons). Two of them I barely ever wear, two of them I wear the shit out of. One I am dreading to throw away soon. One I used to wear much more, but not so much lately. I love Converse. I don’t care who they sponsor, I don’t own anything but shoes from them. But these shoes, OMG DO I LOVE THEM. I also love a lot of Converse shoes that I do not own. I’m not a sneakerhead though. I love Converse. Yet I don’t consider myself a collector of Converse shoes. There’s also records. I have A LOT of records. Too many, considering. I love records. But I don’t think of myself as a record collector. But I do have a record collection. A record library I guess. I have a lot of books, but I don’t think that I have a large book collection. I suppose I do have a large book library. A large record collection. But I’m not a record collector. Incidentally, I have a lot of rubber bands. And screws and bolts. I’m not being a smart ass though, I’m talking about various colors of rubber bands that are in a tray (actually, a cup) in a (Converse) shoebox where I put things i just keep. It is separate from the ones I use to keep my bag of chips shut (though I probably wouldn’t mind using them for that purpose). The screws and bolts I usually just found on the street and they appealed to me – the way they’re scuffed, broken, or just big. Some I removed from my car though. Some I dropped and thought I lost and replaced and eventually found again. I probably could tell you which ones. Half of these things were designed to look good, and I guess I got suckered into them. Actually, they suckered me into them. I think I collect things because I’m part sucker. I don’t think I’m a collector. I’m just a sucker.
Hateball: A sucker, maybe…but a sucker with a sense of history.
I have boxes and boxes (and boxes) of T-shirts in my attic. They’re not earth-shattering t-shirts. Not special. Band t-shirts. Not original. Mall shit. Graphic tees. But they’re mine, and they were mine, and the only reason they’re not in my closet is because they’re too big. I used to wear a size xxxl, and now I don’t. They don’t fit. But I can’t get rid of them. Because, even though I cannot make practical usage of them, I am not emotionally or mentally ready to give them up. But I wouldn’t call myself a T-shirt collector. It is a passive thing. I am a t-shirt gatherer.
But I guess, at the end of the day, I AM a toy hunter. It’s an active thing. Now, is that exclusive of suckerdom? No. Quite the contrary: I think there is a large aspect of suckerness in toys…just as there is with comics or clothes or…shoes. Is there a difference between consumables and collectables? Is there, really? Both are influenced by trends (be they micro or macro) and both would seem to at least have some semblance of a built-in expiry. But they’re different. You are not your shoes. But then again…are you your toy collection?
As you or anyone who’s read my bullshit online before knows, I collect tons of other stuff, too. Coffee Mugs. Stretched pennies. Books. I have modest collections of each of those things, plus I’m sure tons of other little pockets of collectordom. I have been wont to say that I collect collections, even. I’m not really proud of that ‘a little about a lot of things’ status that I have…even if that status is only with myself.
In fact, one of my pride-points about my toy collecting is that I’ve stuck with it for as long as I have. Now… I am by no means a veteran toy collector. I’ve only been seriously collecting toys for a few years now. But I’m still not ‘done’. I haven’t lost interest. I’m still active in the way that I want to be active…and it hasn’t been as ‘on to the next one’ as other stuff I’ve decided to start to do has been in the past. There’s a stick-to-itiveness that I really enjoy. And so far it’s been entirely unforced.
But back to you for a moment: don’t you see (I’m sure you do) the autobiographical nature of your collect-o-vision? You do collect those things. But more importantly, is the fact that (I bet, at any rate) you might find yourself sitting in your room and thinking about those bands of rubber. Those nuts and bolts. Those Nike shoes you love so much. You might actually ask yourself ‘what does this say about me?’ and be surprised by whatever it is that comes back. And I’m not talking about what it says about you to others…I’m taiking about what it says to you. About you.
My toy collecting has taught me that I can be mirthfully frivolous. That I wallow in the guilt of that frivolity. That I am not at all shrewd. More than anything, that I am a hopeless sentimental, and that I enjoy this sort of underrated and forgotten notion of the keepsake.
Sure, I also like metallic paints and big goofy monsters, but, well, that should be obvious.
Gnou: I see what you did there. Calling my Converse “Nikes.” I actually love brands: I have many pairs of Converse and many many Fred Perry shirts. That part I know. Because brand is such an over-used (again) word that when I see a brand that actually behaves like one – I will gladly subscribe to that newsletter. Collecting is of course in large part a product of marketing strategies. Marx notoriously hated collectors – “commodity fetishists.” I bask in materialism. In material things. The great agitation of my senses. Later Marxists had to spend an awful amount of time reconciling their obsessions with their political aspirations – envisioning collecting into a celebration of workmanship and creativity, therefore a subversion of the Kapital. I think it’s difficult not to collect – what is our sensory process but a collection of data about the world around us? We (you and I) just like to surround ourselves with some material sensory reminders, because we like how it makes us feel about ourselves. Unless I’m being Wittgensteinian. That’s also very possible. It is so very personal though. Did you have to explain your collection to your wife? Did she ever ask for explanations? Will you explain your collection to your son? (Do you?) How do you feel about the inevitable time of his life when he will inevitably call your collection “stupid”?
Hateball: In that you are talking about talking; feeling about feeling, and writing about thinking about talking about feeling, you just may be. Wittgensteinian. But I think that’s the sort of language game that you and I like to indulge in, and as a result, people stop reading. They do not like being toyed with (haw). They also don’t like “hearing” a guy like me talk out of his ass about the philosophy of toys. The philosophy of philosophy. Or something.
I (like) hear(ing) you (talk) about brands. And branding. And brands and branding do play a pretty weirdly extended part of this here toy game. There’s people who follow toymakers. A brand. There are folks who follow characters. Toy characters. Toy characters who, incidentally, many times began their life as movie characters. Property of some studio somewhere. Brands. There are folks who follow colors and color schemes. So much so that when someone says something like ‘Tokyo version’ or ‘Hawaii version’ or ‘Walder Tribute’, everybody knows what that means. Brand. There are folks who follow ‘formats’ of toys. On. And on. And on. This is, I think, where the OCD aspect of it might come into play: when you get hard-core focus like I’m talking about, you start to run into this idea of completionism. You also start to hear dudes say things like ‘I need that.’
They are toys.
But it’s interesting nonetheless. Creep with me as I metanarrate through the hood. There is a toy company called Rainbow. That’s more or less what I know about them. They are called Rainbow. Rainboy Toys—as far as I know—deals exclusively with creating toy versions of creatures that are found in an old Japanese television show called Barom-1 (the show itself is an adaptation of a manga). The basic plot of Barom-1 is as follows: It’s about two boys that join to form a powerful hero/monster, Barom One, who’s job it is to battle and defeat the evil minions of an overlord named Doruge. That is what Barom-1 is about.
Now. Rainbow. Back to Rainbow. Rainbow creates toy versions of Barom-1 villains. The evil minions. BUT! They do not create toy versions of Barom-1 villains. They create toy versions of how the Barom-1 villains were depicted in the 1972 television show called ‘Barom-1′. The toys are designed to look like actors wearing rubber costumes that are designed to look like real-world adaptations of pen-and-paper renderings of fictional supernatural creatures that populate the original Barom-1 narrative. Which was published 40 years ago.
My wife? My wife gets it. Sort of. She herself dabbles in Blythe dolls, which are admitted beautiful and amazing. I think she raises an eyebrow at the monetary cost of it all, but I think she trusts me to keep a handle on all of it. She has referred to my toy collection as my son’s ‘college fund’ several times, but that is when I remind her that most of it would just be junk to other people.
When my son was born, I carefully went through my toy collection and pulled a few items to donate to his room. They guard the top of his bookcase. I caved to tradition and kept all of my picks within the ‘baby blue’ color scheme, and I really like that I did that for him. I even think that I don’t consider those to be my toys anymore. I mean…he’s 1. All his shit is my shit. But those are his toys. It’s cool.
Some of those toys are just cool toys, but some of them have a deeper meaning. There’s a Tokoji Seijin, a Killer, and a pocket-sized Deathra…all hand-painted by my good friend Koji Harmon, who creates toys. There is a Mummy Boy, who is the mascot of Super 7, which is run by Brian Flynn, whom I have a personal and professional relationship with.
It’s interesting that I presupposed that he would want some of my toys. I realize now that I did that for me. But maybe someday it will become something I did for him. Maybe he’ll like these toys that he’s not allowed to touch. Yet. But you’re right: I suppose I need to be prepared for him to just think it’s all bullshit. But I do hope—toys or not—I am able to find some common link with him…something we can geek out on together and have it be a special father and son thing.
Did you see how we got so up close and personal? I love this guy. Almost can smell him, ya feel me? See you next week for more.- Gnou