May 25, 2001


Diceman and I were talking the other night concerning the Collector vs. Builder vs. Speculator attitudes found in the Modeling Hobby. If you're old folks like us and have been into various hobbies that deal with material from the 1950's and 1960's, like Trading Cards, Comic Books, Toys, Original Artwork, etc. then you're well aware of the damage a Speculator attitude brings!

Lucky for us, our early collections of Original Artwork, Non-Sport Card sets and Comic Books are pretty much complete, since we were both avid collectors during the 70's and 80's when prices were extremely reasonable. Unlike the attitudes today in these particular hobbies!

Comic and Fantasy artists today have been burnt too many times when they felt kind-hearted and drew you a big colored sketch done on a large artist sketch page, only to turn around and see it being sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars!! So now when you go to those huge Sci-Fi or Comic conventions you see why they're asking for alot of money... if they're gonna do the work and put their name on it why should they give you a deal and have you rake in the dollars on an auction bid?! That's why I like getting the artwork signed to me by name. It ain't for anyone else, and if you see any artwork in the future with " Kim..." or " Buc...", then I must have died and my wife is selling this stuff off! [and you can bet your bottom dollar, I'll be haunting the hell outta her, too!!]

The Non-Sport Card hobby which was pretty dormant during the 70's and early 80's, when the only company producing a set per year was TOPPS, exploded in 1986 and stayed somewhat affordable all the way up til 93' or so. Baseball was in a slump and alot of the dealers on that side of the hobby shifted to the Non-Sport side when they saw the money 'MAGIC' and other card games were raking in!

But then three or four 'CHASE CARDS' in a set wasn't good enough for the card companies anymore. Not when they were discovering that dealers were buying up cases just for the more expensive selling Chase cards and throwing the commons in the trash! So they started upping the amount of Chase Cards per set. When that proved profitable, they went the Hologram/Prism route...but now there were only 2 in every 100 boxes. And still they sold like wildfire! Let's get actors to autograph the cards and we'll put them in 1 out of every 1000 boxes!! A box of cards that normally went for $30 dollars, was now going for $60 - $80, sometimes more!!

What they didn't realize, and what many 'collectors' DID realize, was that when you came right down to it, all you were actually buying was a 3x5" piece of cardboard with a freaking picture on it and it certainly wasn't worth $300 to collect all 100 commons, 15 bonus cards, 6 holograms and 5 autographs cards before you could safely say you had a complete set!

By 1995 many of the people who simply enjoyed buying a box of cards and spending a quiet afternoon opening packs and looking at the cards... and finding those last three cards that made a complete common set, had thrown in the towel and left for something cheaper to spend their money on. The 'Chase Card' syndrome coupled with greedy manufacturers, dealers and speculators had ruined another cheap past time!

(Footnote: Nowadays it's quite easy to pick up common sets from the late 80's to the end of 99', really cheap!! I rather buy by the box, but for collection completeness, and if sets are your thing, it's a good time to do it!)

All through the 70's Comic Books cost .35. There were very, very few 'Comic Shops' back then, in fact I can't recall any around my town. We got our fix by going down to the newstand, or the drug store to pick up our monthly issues. 'Head Shops' were still doing a hefty business, and many were the motherlode for finding all your 'Underground' comix titles! As we entered into the 80's, and the drug scene started getting some heat, many of the Head Shops turned into Comic Shops and we could find almost all our hobby fixes there in one place! It was the norm for me to buy up multiple copies of many of my favorite DC, Marvel, and independant titles and still not spend an awful lot of money doing so.

In 1986 the price of a comic shot up to .75 per issue and it was only then that I realized two things. 1) There was no way I could continue buying 30 to 50 titles per month, nevermind multiple copies, and 2) I realized that the stack of unread Comic titles from the last few visits were piling up in my spare room! So at first I tired a massive weeding down of what I actually read each month, and after finally deciding on which titles I really wanted to get, the price was still pretty steep! I gave it the old college try anyways, for a couple of months before I finally said the hell with it and went 'cold-turkey' on the whole comic scene. [Did keep my subscription to the 'Comics Buyers Guide' and the 'Comics Journal' for many more years, but I think the last issues of those I read was way back in 1990 or so!]

It was during the 90's, while going to Card shows which always shared tables with the Comic boys, that I saw the speculator frenzy eat that hobby to death! The infamous 'Death of Superman' period is a prime example of 'how to get burnt paying out hundreds of dollars, only to see it in the bargain bins two months later for a quartah' syndrome! And when Diamond became a distribution monopoly, well you don't need a neon sign to point the way to ultimate damnation and ruin, do you?

Do you???!

[Deep Breath!] ...which brings us back to Modeling!! Remember modeling??! :)

Dice & I pretty much agree that there is both a Collector mentality and a Builder mentality in modeling. And we pretty much agree that both can enjoy this hobby quite contently without impinging on the other. With sources like eBay, the Collector can more easily find that unopened, original Aurora Wonder Woman or Zorro, and the Builder, who'd rather not dish out hundreds of dollars for a .98 original, is quite happy to dish out $40 - $70 for a build-up, strip it down and rebuild it again.

We both think the pickings are alittle scarce for the Speculator, though. Especially with Polar Lights, Revell and AMT reissuing or recasting the old favorites which enable the Builders to scoop them up quite happily, and the Collectors having a better chance to get that unsealed original now that the Builders have the new kit to satisfiy their glue & paint hunger.

And what normally happens when one of the big Three companies doesn't reissue or recast an old classic? Do the Builders finally cave in and purchase an unopened original at high prices? Nope! We wait for some Garage Kit producer to recast the kit in resin and THEN we buy that one! So if there are Speculators out there hoarding all those Wonder Woman, or Zorro's, or even the Prehistoric Scene kits, Dice and I feel the chances of them cashing in during some 'Modeling Frenzy' like their counterparts in the other hobbies feed off of, probably won't happen in our lifetimes.

We're both quite happy with Modeling being our most active hobby, nowadays. For a certain amount of money we feel the kits we get are worth it! Unlike spending $3.95 for a pack of 5 measely cards, or $5.95 for the same 16 page Comic Book, spending $17 to $21 for the 'Forgotten Prisoner' or $100 for a good Garage Kit is still good bang for your buck nowadays! And as for Original Artwork? Well, we're both finding that the older we get, we're meeting many of our Icons from our youth, and they're so grateful that SOMEONE still knows them, that we get more artwork now for FREE than we ever did when we were slobbering fanboys, standing before their table in awe for even a thumbnail sketch!! Nowadays we just sit at their tables and slobber fanboyishly!! :)

Back on Sprue #7 I talked about finding a safer way for shops and kit producers to sell their wares. Well, in last Sunday's CULTTVMAN DIGEST, Steve Iverson quoted an email from Clark Bradshaw and his newly formed Sci-Clone site.

Seems Clark is trying to have one central web-site where producers of Science Fiction ships, conversion parts, and other related merchandise can find a place to showcase them. Like I discussed in Sprue #7, and reading the different pages on Clark's site, I'm assuming that Clark will play 'traffic director' much like I do on my site. Not sure if Clark will handle the actual transaction between Buyer and Seller, or if Clark will just pass on any e-mail inquiries to the Seller? If the latter, then again, it's up to the Seller to decide whether to respond to the inquiry or not.

I wish him the best of luck. Truthfully though, I think Rob & John's Starship Modeler site does a great job in this regard already! I know I'm always checking his 'HOBBY NEWS' section, at least 3 times a week, and nine times outta ten he's usually updated it with something new coming out! Has been a heaven sent for me in keeping up with new releases on the SF side of the house!! He always provides great links in case you want more information on any particular tid-bit, or if I need a bigger photograph that I can get from the originator's site! But more info is always a good thing, so go for it, Clark! I've bookmarked ya!

Oh, by the way! It's that old, crusty, Diceman's birthday today! Send a big Italian birthday card to Pain in the Ass!!


Til next week...

Happy Modeling - Buc   Archives