Friday, 28 May 2021

Housekeeping

 Traditionally at this time of year I’d be in the thick of con prep.  That’s not happening again this year, and if you think I’m using the time to do some other things with my collection, you’d be mistaken.

We’re in an interesting flux state with our collections just now.  The plan is still on to move Marie’s MOTU/POP collection down to the TV room in the basement (geeky name pending), leaving me in sole possession of the Geek Cave.  However, we still need display cabinets before this can happen.  While some of these will be the collector’s friend, the Billy Bookshelf, we haven’t found a large cabinet to house Greyskull yet.

Naturally, the lack of cabinets means that things aren’t moving much in the Cave…except where they’re not supposed to be.

There appears to have been a struggle.

Well, the Velcro strips holding the shelves on the wall seemed like a good idea. Actually, I suspect these might have continued to work if we hadn’t just had several weeks of extreme weather fluxes.  Going from heat and humidity to cold and dry rapidly and continually may have just been too much for the adhesive.  Never mind, I have a poster that can go on that wall.

Cleaning up the tiny ponies was a bit of pain though.  Naturally, some of them fell behind the shelves.  They also bounce well, and made some good distance.  I haven’t actually checked to see if I’ve got everyone yet, and probably won’t until I figure out what to do with these little cube shelves now.  Time to get creative.

Speaking of which, you’ll have noticed that it’s been ages since I posted any custom ponies.  There’s two reasons for this.  First, I haven’t been doing a lot of art since the pandemic started.  I’ve been too lazy and tired some days, and I’ve been spending quite a lot of time working in the garden as well (a different kind of art).  Second, the photos I have of finished customs are currently trapped on my memory card because my camera has broken down, specifically, the little door to access the memory card and batteries is broken and preventing the camera from realizing that it has either.  Since we’ve been in lockdown for the past several months, I’ve not been able to take it into a store to get looked at.  All in good time.

So that’s what’s been happening (or not) here in the last little while.

Elf

Friday, 7 May 2021

Time to reflect

 You know I’m big on curating a collection.  It’s half the fun, in my opinion.  For the most part, I do this on the front end, meaning that if I’m not very sure that I want to add a piece to my collection, I simply don’t buy that piece.  This doesn’t mean that I never look at the existing collection through a critical lens though.

One time I do this is when a part of the collection ends.  G4 slid slowly into G4.5 but Hasbro recently announced the start of G5, effectively ending the G4 toy line.  It’s a perfect time to go over the G4 portion of my collection and see if there’s anything I’ve changed my mind about keeping.  This includes the many (many) unopened packages I still haven’t gotten around to adding to the display yet.  

I did the same thing at the end of G3, sitting down and going over the whole generation one pony at a time to see if there were any I no longer wanted.  I try very much to focus on each individual pony when I do this.  With G3 I looked at individual ponies, but I was also influenced by the number of figures I had and the space I had to display them.  The display was crowded and I felt that I probably didn’t need as many ponies as I had.  This resulted in my selling off quite a few ponies that I later added back into the collection when I found the pony second hand.  It turned out that I actually quite strongly liked that individual pony, and, as collectors do, I found the room I needed to display everyone.

I’ve also done it after adding ponies unexpectedly to the collection.  Sometimes when buying second hand you end up with something that wasn’t on your want list, but also isn’t already in your collection.  The temptation can certainly be to keep the new piece because it’s new (to you), and better to do that than sell it on immediately and regret it later.  However, I’ll go back and look at that pony again several months or a year later and think about whether or not I actually want her.  More often than not, the answer is yes, but there have been times when I’ve felt instead that I’m keeping that particular figure only because it conveniently landed in my hands, not because I actually wanted it.

I find curating the vintage section of the collection easiest, possibly because I'm never in a situation where I'm standing in a store having to make a quick decision on whether or not I want a specific pony (thrifting is different than retail in this regard - thrifting requires you to know the market and make quick decisions based on perceived value while retail is just about whether you want it now).  With the current line, there's always a chance that you'll never see that particular item on the shelves again, so you need to decide if you're buying it or not (a collector also often develops a 6th sense about whether or not a current item might be hard to find later).  With the vintage ponies it can be a bit easier.  Most figures are relatively easy to come by, so you've got a relatively good chance of finding another one later on.  Collectors will learn which figures are hard to find or rare and be prepared to buy when they're ready to add that piece to the collection.

I've said before that I think curating is important in the life of a collector.  This is part of how I curate but there's no right way of doing it.  Every collector has to make their own choices about how to curate their collection.  I just hope it's enjoyable.

Elf

Friday, 23 April 2021

Why did I do this?

Even when you're really curating a collection, you might find yourself looking at part of it and asking, "remind me why I did this again."

I have a couple of areas in the Geek Cave that fall into this category.

I don't actually remember the moment when I decided I needed to have all 12 Birthflower Ponies. For the longest time I only had my own birth month.  I might possibly have gotten some of these in a large lot I bought and decided then to get them all.  I don't actually remember if this was the case, I just remember that in the summer of 2019 I was completing the collection and at the same time wondering how I got here.

I mean, they're lovely girls, but not exactly the most exciting shelf.  I keep trying to find a way to display them so their symbols (the only part of them that's different) are better displayed.  Clearly, I've not been overly successful in this.

I confuse myself over the 35th anniversary ponies. Why did I want them?  I already have these ponies, vintage, in great condition.  I'm not generally interested in doubles or in box items.  What am I doing here?  Obviously Basic Fun has hit on the correct nostalgia vibes for these girls, if someone who is neither a doubles collector nor a MIB collector is buying these and displaying them in this way.  They really don't fit the general parameters of my collection.

All I can say is that the 35th anniversary ponies make me happy in (almost) the same way that the original ponies do.  The original unicorns especially have always had a special place in my heart and I like having a second version of them (but they do take up quite a bit of space).

Don't get me wrong, I don't regret any of these purchases.  I just can't completely figure out how to account for them in my collection.  So I think about them, and I look at them, and I wonder about them.  And I enjoy having them even if I can't really understand or articulate why.  It's all part of the fun of collecting.

Elf

Friday, 9 April 2021

Seeing Double

On the topic of deciding what to include in a collection, unless you’re only collecting one-of-a-kind (OOAK) items the question of doubles will eventually come up. I’ve never been hugely interested in collecting doubles of the same character (even my Snuzzle/Peachy army doesn’t admit just any old pony – there has to be some significant difference between ponies for me to keep both).  This decision was made partly as a concession to space, or the lack thereof, that doubles take up. I have enough ponies with individual characters to fill the Geek Cave, never mind adding 300 Peachys. There are many collectors who collect armies of the same pony (by which I mean same version of the same character) and they can be really cool collection pieces, but it’s not something that works for me.

Naturally, for every rule there’s an exception. When I started collecting Nirvana versions of Peachy and Snuzzle, I thought I’d focus on the ponies that looked significantly different from the original Hasbro versions.  That hasn’t actually been the case so far, although I still want to add more of these different versions to the herd.  But the majority of my army are the Nirvana versions that look pretty much like the Hasbro versions.  The thing is though, they do have their differences.  The eyes, the hair, the way the symbol is placed, these subtle differences make collecting these different versions interesting.

Back row: Lily Ledy Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Greece, 2 Italy;
Front row: Factory Sample, Flat Foot, 2 Concave Foots, 2 Macaus.

The Nirvana ponies are also an exception in that I view them very much as different characters from the Hasbro originals.  With G2-4, Hasbro started to rerelease characters much more frequently than they’d done in G1.  If I didn’t need both the short and curly haired versions of Bow Tie in my collection, then I certainly didn’t need 300 Pinkie Pies in different poses.  I made two exceptions in G3 – Cheerilee and Cherry Blossom and Minty and Christmas Minty.  In both cases the design was different enough that I was able to look at them as separate characters.

G4 might be considered the generation of the rerelease.  That was fine for awhile, I only needed one of each Mane 6 character.  Then Twilight Sparkle became a princess.  OK, I’ll keep an original and a princess version, no problem.  Except they’ve put out about 10 different versions of Princess Twilight and I like them all and how do I choose which one to keep?  This is when Roomy suggested I could consider keeping more than one version and the G4 Princess army was born (because once the dam was breached, there were several versions of Celestia, Cadence, and a few of Luna that I also really liked).

The dam was indeed breached.  I have the original Mane 6 figures.  But these pearlized versions would look great on the Crystal Empire part of the display.  And obviously I’ll need the sea pony versions for the Seaquestria display.  And I really like this particular version of Pinkie Pie…the list goes on.  And, as usual, the way I looked at a later generation changed how I looked at my G1s as well.  I’m not quite at the point of needing that second version of Bow Tie, but I have made room for a couple of doubles under specific circumstances.  BBE Tiddley Winks came from an old friend when I bought her childhood ponies.  I already had NBBE Tiddley Winks, but the BBE version was so nice, and I had her nursery playset now, I felt I just had to keep her and I’ll have a set of twins (I need to come up with a second name though).

I chose to have the same version of Spike that I'd had as a child, but when the MO and Lavender Castle versions arrived, they stayed.

Am I more open to collecting doubles now that my want list is getting a little smaller, with mainly more expensive items on it?  Probably.  I know many collectors who are now looking for both Hong Kong and China versions of common ponies.  I’m not there (yet) but who knows what will happen.

Elf

Friday, 26 March 2021

Changing Ideas

I spend a lot of time thinking about the act of collecting.  You may not have noticed. ;)

I started collecting as an adult in 1997, and for a long time I had very specific ideas of what I wanted my collection to be.  I focused on the brushable ponies I liked (mainly ponies I'd had or wanted as a child), playsets, and accessories. That's it, that's all.

At a certain point in the early 2000s, I started to change the way I looked at my collection. This was partly due to G3 coming out - I loved the throwbacks to G1 in general look, names, and some of the styles. But there were also styles that I hadn't liked in G1 that I did like in G3.  Namely, ponies with raised symbols. It made me start to reexamine some of the G1s I'd previously dismissed.


Swirly Whirly was the first G1 with a raised symbol I added to my collection.  And suddenly I loved this set. They embody everything that I love about G1 - the pastel candy colours, the colour scheme, the accessories (and the scent is a nice plus).


After that I was away. Suddenly, there were a lot more ponies I was interested in adding to the herd. Sweetberry Ponies, Candy Cane Ponies, Magic Message, Happy Tails, Merry-Go-Round, Perfume Puffs...the list was (nearly) endless. Even the Princess Ponies got a second look (but I still hate their symbols and display them so I can't see them).


The latest change has been the addition of some Pony Friends.  I'd only had one as a child, Spunky, and even then I wasn't sure how I felt about her.  Two years ago I found one second hand and decided to keep her for a while. Then ZigZag joined her.  There will be others, but not every Friend.  I'm still curating and although I have a lot of full sets, I'm still not a completist.

This is something that I find fascinating about collecting and collectors.  We're always looking, thinking, reexamining, and making another decision about our collections (even if it sometimes feels more like instinct than active thought).

There are still individual ponies and sets that I have no interest in (Dance 'N Prance comes immediately to mind). Will that remain the case?  Who knows.  I may yet end up with a complete G1 collection someday.  But not right now.

Elf


Friday, 12 March 2021

A year later...

At approximately this time last year I was looking around my office deciding what to take home with me when I left that night. I knew I wasn't coming back to the office the following Monday, but I had no idea I'd still be working from home a year later. I had no idea that my visit to a restaurant that night would be the last such visit for (at least) a year. I had no idea that the casual get together between friends wasn't going to happen again for the foreseeable future.

 

I've been incredibly lucky in many ways. I have been able to work from home, and largely stay home otherwise. I live with someone I like to spend time with on a daily basis, four snuggly cats, in a house that I love. My family and most of my friends have been healthy. Because we didn't travel in the summer (and because the necessary background work was finished the year before), I was able to do more work in the garden than I'd been able to do in the six previous years we'd lived here. Because I didn't have to commute (or even go outside) on a daily basis in the winter, my chronic pain has been better managed than it has been in the last 27 years.

I've been amazed at how people have come together to help each other, through volunteering, through donations, through sharing a funny meme, and checking in on each other. I've been disgusted at the selfishness of people who refuse to make sacrifices for the benefits of others, who whined about having to self-isolate for two weeks if they take a southern vacation this year, who think they're above regulations or that they can't possibly be the person who becomes the super spreader when five different households get together.

I miss seeing my mom.  I miss seeing my family. I miss seeing my close friends and my long-distance friends. I miss some of my coworkers. I miss going on trips. I miss a lot.

I don't miss going to the office. I don't miss small talk. I don't miss my commute. I don't miss eating junk because I'm bored or lazy and it's cheap and accessible. I don't miss many of the social obligations that we've not been able to have this year. I don't miss a lot.

I didn't pick up any hobbies during the pandemic. I already baked, cooked, gardened, read, created art, and (of course) collected. Aside from working full time, I feel like I've been in training for when I retire. I've been damned lucky so far and I know it.
We're marking the one year anniversary of the "last normal day" by ordering take out from one of our favourite restaurants and sitting around in our pjs. I'm going to bake something for dessert. The moment someone offers me a vaccination I'll be right there, but in the meantime there are so many people who should be ahead of me in line. They should have the first chances to be vaccinated. In the meantime, I'll sit here with my collections, my books, my plants, my art, my baking, my cats, and my person and look forward to the things I'm looking forward to.

Elf

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Geek Cave Week, 2021

 Seeing as how I had more unused vacation than usual this year (not usually a problem for me), I took a week off in February this year, rather than just a long weekend.  And naturally a good chunk of that was spent playing with ponies.

Last year Roomy and I had decided to split our collections between the Geek Cave and some glass-fronted bookshelves in the basement tv/art/office room.  Then pandemic hit and all plans to buy furniture were put on hold for quite some time. In the meantime we had the "extra" elements of our collections boxed up.  The "extras" included things like EQG minis, blind bag figures, and some merchandise. Eventually we were able to pick up a few shelves and start placing things on display again.

Not long after that Roomy and I both had the same realization at the same time. Roomy's office is in the basement where this new display space was going.  Over the first couple of weeks, she kept going over to the display cabinets during the day and admiring and playing with her collection.  She was spending more time with her collection there than she did in the Geek Cave.

So the ponies moved back upstairs and we've started the process of moving the MOTU and POP collections downstairs (slightly hampered by the need for more cabinets).  But it's a plan we're both happy with.

And so, with some modern things piling up in the Cave, I spent some time rearranging the vintage side of the room.  The G2s moved all in a row.  The G1s are the real winners here though, gaining quite a bit more display space.  I took advantage of the shelves vacated by She-Ra by spacing several of the ponies out more, so they're both easier to see and have more room to breathe.  It also means I've got more space to add more ponies, which is good because I foresee most of my pony money going towards G1s in the future.


I also moved the playsets that were displayed on top of the shelves down to the bottom shelves.  It's always a bit difficult to see what's displayed on the lower shelves unless they're larger pieces, plus they're a heck of a lot easier to access here, so that made sense. The 35th anniversary ponies are now living on top of the shelves and looking great.


The Shortcake space got a bit of a makeover too. The mane characters are now displayed entirely within the giant house (which I love displayed in it's new home on the opposite side of the room), while the Brazilian Shortcakes are looking a bit better higher up on the shelves and there's plenty of room to add some more later on.



The only part of the modern side of the room that had any attention was the addition of some wall shelves for the blind bag ponies. These shelves are attached to the wall with velcro strips, which are holding fantastically, but can come right off if (when) I next reorganize the room.

I'm really happy with what got done in the Cave this week, but it's certainly not the clean, organized room it was this time last year.  Frankly, it's a mess, but we're moving toward two display spaces that we're extremely happy with and we'll be having fun setting up our collections for quite a while to come.

I need another week off now.

Elf