Collector vs. Consumer

Variant Covers, Box Sets, Shiny Pokémon, Director’s Cuts or the Ultra Super Mega Amazing Perfect Edition defines a collection. The math is right in front of you – a 1:100 variant edition is 100 times more awesome than the regular old pedestrian version. Customization allows individuals to stand out from the crowd; fans do not want to be a 99:100 variant. The question is though, do you want to be defined by your possessions or your tastes; are you a Collector or a Consumer?

If you are a Collector, or have one in your life, you might have heard these phrases before: “I need a complete run,” “The box art is much nicer,” “I already bought the other Extended Editions,” or “Why did they change the cover type?” Their euphoria is an alphabetically organized shelf, a pristinely bagged-and-boarded issue or a limited edition item won on eBay. It isn’t the content housed within the collection that matters but the mere fact that it exists. At times, the Collector will gather belongings to the point where they haven’t even interacted with the package; it sits in the same condition as it did in the store.

There are worse things one can spend their money on, like stamps, and these types of fans do have an impressive amount of shelf porn. Collectors can fall into two separate sub-groups, those who believe that their collection can be flipped for a profit at one point (it probably can’t) or those whose collections will lay to rest with them once the pyramid is forever sealed.

A Consumer is a rōnin in the marketplace, no loyalty to any director, company or character, choosing products based on the experience they anticipate. This type of individual is willing to watch the sequel without ever viewing the original and could care less if the experience is iMax, 3D or standard def. If a story can create entertainment value, then it is a success to the Consumer. This makes the Consumer extremely difficult to shop for as gifts in their fandom kingdom hold no true intrinsic value.

Unless you are a sitcom character, you don’t probably don’t fall into one category but rather represent a Venn Diagram of both. Which way do your tendencies lean: to surveying all that you own or looking back on the experiences gained?

Me? Thanks for asking! I’m a Consumer. There were points in my life when I was the Harbinger of  the Collector camp, assuming direct control. I bought wanted a copy of every movie that I saw but that was before streaming simplified everything. There are so many games, movies and books out there that I will never be able to catch em all. I would rather watch a potentially bad movie for the first time than re-watch my favorite movie again. I feel that with each new piece of media I consume I gain a greater appreciation for it all. There is an inherent fallacy in reading every Batman comic, because out of the twelve published every month, chances are that most are going to be less than good.

I understand the Collector model, but it is not one I can subscribe to. It’s too expensive to purchase things just to purchase them – I have an immunity to retail-therapy. Spare-time is precious and I am going to spend it doing things I enjoy and I don’t enjoy looking at things just to look at them, except my wife—she is beautiful. Continue consuming the products that make you happy and collecting the items that bring you joy, but make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons.


Level Up, Friends!