Every collector has one. Maybe it’s an individual figure or a vehicle or a playset. But everyone has that one thing that has either remained elusive or became a defining piece in their collection. I’m going to talk about a few of mine, and I invite you to join in with yours.
My Original Quest: Jawas
I was born in 1973. The first movie I clearly remember seeing in the theatre is Star Wars. And I was ALL IN. My parents got me the Early Bird Certificate package. I got the first four (Luke, Leia, Chewie, and R2). When the figures got to the Zayre in Terre Haute, IN, they had a freaking rope-line and a 3-to-a-person limit. My mom took me and I’m pretty sure I got Han, Vader, and C3PO first. Mom went back later that evening and picked up Obi-Wan, the Tusken, and a Stormtrooper. The Death Squad Commander happened later in the week, if I’m not mistaken. But . . . there were those damn Jawas. Not only did we not get the Jawas right away, it was weeks. When Mom finally ran across them, she bought two out of spite. Those Jawas were my first experience with both a difficult hunt and the (honestly unobtainable) idea that you’re one perfect figure away from a complete set.
I was pretty fortunate in terms of Star Wars playsets and vehicles. I had the Death Start playset, and a number of ships, including the Falcon. But one thing my parents drew the line at was the AT-AT. That was a disappointment, because I, like many others, loved that thing. When Star Wars figures returned in the ‘90s, I said, “If they make the AT-AT again, it’s coming home.” They did . . . and it did.
Super Powers Collection: Wonder Woman, then incompletion
Of the original 12, I had a stunningly hard time finding Wonder Woman. I remember getting Flash and Green Lantern first, and the others fell into place, but that Wonder Woman hung out there forever. I remember eventually finding it in a K-Mart, just in time for the second wave to hit. Series 2 left me Kalibak-less, and Series 3 was just a massive pain in the ass. The few I got I didn’t get until my late teens or adulthood, and Mister Miracle and Cyborg never joined the ranks.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Come on, you know . . .
I had A LOT of Joe stuff. I mean, A LOT. I even wrote about it in The Joy of Joe. But one thing that I, and many others, never had was the 7.5 feet of glory known as the U.S.S. Flagg. It barely would have fit in my room back then. Just the idea that it existed was fairly audacious on the part of Hasbro. I always considered this one a great lost opportunity. If you had it, good on you. And send us pictures.
Star Trek: The Next Generation by Playmates: A Love Story
It’s a familiar story (hell, I’ve told it twice in this column). You’re trying to put together a wave, and one figure remains elusive. At this point, it was the first wave of the ST:TNG figures from Playmates. I didn’t have much trouble putting together the first nine, but Counselor Deanna Troi seemed lost in the wild. In January of 1993, as a sophomore in college, I started dating Rebecca Marie Jones. A couple of weeks after that, she went home for the weekend and she and her mother ended up at a craft/antique fair at a local mall. When she came back Sunday night, she had Deanna Troi. I always say that’s how I knew she was the one; we’ve been married almost 20 years and have two teenage boys. I told that story on Twitter once, and Marina Sirtis herself liked it, which is awesome. To this day, Becky will still text me from Walgreens and what-not, checking if I have something in particular or if I’d like her to look for something. That’s love, kids. (Thank you, Becky.) There have been others over time, sure. But it’s hard to beat that one.
How about you, campers? What are your grails? You Ark-like finds and the ones that got away? Let’s hear it. And thanks for reading.