It's a question asked in every collecting community over the past fifteen odd years. Is the thrill of the hunt gone?
Sure, it's been a lot easier in the past two decades to hunt down items once lauded as "holy grails." A collector doesn't even have to leave the house in order to build an enviable hoard in this day and age. Of course, it'll cost a pretty penny.
The most recent controversy in the wrestling action figure world has been Mattel's decision to release future figures in the WWE Legends series exclusively through their Matty Collector website. While the process has proven to be easier than ordering figures from other licenses with exclusive items sold through the site, many collectors are still unhappy.
For one thing, the figures are about double the price that they would've retailed for in stores when including the shipping costs. Releases are also limited to one new character per every couple of months. While these are viable qualms, some collectors feel that simply clicking a few buttons, entering a credit card number, and playing the waiting game just doesn't have the same "feel" as finding new shipments of the figures in stores.
On the flip side, ordering collectibles online saves the time of searching, gas money, and the disappointment of coming away from a store empty handed. We live in a world where instant gratification is key. Building a collection without all that trouble may coincide with that fact. Maybe "the hunt" for collectors has gone the way of the telegram or the pager.
eBay, with its many flaws and injustices, has become the absolute only way to gauge the value of an item and subsequently is the only place to get the most money when selling. Bringing your collectible to a collectors show or convention? Great. 500 people may see your item. If you're lucky, one of those people just may be willing to pay $10 for it. On eBay, anyone in the world who is looking for that particular collectible can easily find it, provided that you've listed and described it properly. Perhaps only two people want your item. If they want it bad enough, they may bid it up to ten times what you would've gotten at that convention. The eBay fees suddenly seem like a small price to pay for such massive exposure.
But is the hunt still there? Many sellers either don't know what they have or don't want to mess with eBay. That's where the thrill of the hunt still lives on. People often ask me how I've amassed such a collection. I don't hide the truth. Instead, I pass it on hoping that others will follow suit. I let items "fall into my lap." Sure, that magazine might be gaining prices upwards of $50 on eBay, but why pay that? If someone has the resources to do so, more power to them. I would rather wait knowing that with a proper search, patience, and maybe a bit of luck, that item will most likely find its way to me eventually, provided that it isn't a one-of-a-kind piece. A good example recently happened to me with the infamous November 1970 issue of The Wrestler. The issue features one of the goriest and best selling covers in wrestling magazine history. Bobby Heenan's face, enveloped in a "crimson mask" of blood, takes up the entire cover with the headline, "My God, Bobby! What Happened To Your Face?" While I have wanted to own the issue for quite a few years, it was not until a few months ago that I found the magazine for sale at the very reasonable price of only two dollars at a show. A much more wallet-pleasing rate than it has been selling for online in recent years.
And how about garage sales, flea markets, and rummage sales? It wasn't that many years ago that LJN WWF figures were popping up right and left at venues like these. One flea market in my area had two elderly women on opposite sides of the sales floor with large displays of wrestling figures for sale each and every weekend. You haven't lived until you've heard a smokers voice that would make Lucille Ball sound like Justin Bieber barking out names like "Jimmy Hart" and "Hercules." They were hard bargaining, middle-aged, business women who wouldn't give up their secrets as to where they obtained their rubber treasures. For $5 each, those treasures could easily become your own. That's the thrill of the hunt.
Certainly kids should still be able to feel it as well. After all, that's who these toys are really made for. We're just butting in on their territory. I can fondly remember a day in the fall of 1993 when, upon entering Toys "R" Us, a near riot seemed to be occuring in front of the Hasbro WWF figure display. The yellow carded series had hit retail! HBK, Razor Ramon, Kamala, Owen Hart, Crush, and Nailz were suddenly available to enter Hasbro rings nationwide! As I made my way through the sea of children and plucked a figure of "The Ugandan Giant" from the peg hook, I knew that feeling. The feeling of having a plastic representation of another of my heroes to play with and collect. The feeling of being able to recreate the jungle cry of Kamala's theme as he lumbered down the "aisle" of my bedroom floor. The feeling...of the hunt. It was a great feeling, and I hope that kids still feel it as they lay their hands on that brand new figure of Brodus Clay or Madison Rayne. It's why I love collecting and why many of you do as well.
I'm starting to think that the hunt isn't really gone at all. It's a frame of mind. It's about enjoying what you're collecting and what you've already collected. It's about coveting the awesome and fun items that have come from the great sport of the squared circle that we all love so much.
Damn. I love wrestling.