Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Great Haul

The Haul: It could be a successful fishing trip or a clearance sale at the shoe store. The kind of haul that I'm talking about happens at yard sales, thrift stores, Christmas mornings, and birthdays. They are those seminal moments in one's collecting history that you relive like Jeff Lebowski listening to a bowling match.

They are memories that are so clear in your head that you can still smell the plastic off-gassing as your treasure comes out of the blister package. You remember those contradictory emotions of, "I can't believe I found this!" and "This is mine; It has always been mine!"

There was my hall from BotCon 2006, where I accumulated enough treasures to fill a small suitcase (modest by most standards). I remember on the final day, looking longingly at the vendor hall when my wife (then 8 months pregnant), put her arm around me and said "Let's go have a baby!" It was the only thing that could have pulled me out of there.

The most amazing haul that I ever experienced though, the one that catapulted my collection from a slightly embarrassing fancy to a diagnosable disorder, was THE GREAT CRAIGSLIST HAUL OF 2007. The ad read: "One container of transformers. $40. What you see is what you get. Arlington, VA." I loaded up the car with my wife, my visiting sister-in-law, our 6-month-old baby and I think even the dog was there for some reason. 

What was he thinking? Not much, I promise you.

Resisting the urge to run every red light, I drove them all few miles up to a McMansion where I met a man with two large tubs filled with his son's toys. Were I of any scruples in these matters, I would have refused to pay $40, for in these two tubs was the mother of all Transformers loads, with an actual value likely exceeded $1,000. I remember bringing all of it home, and piecing together all of these amazing figures I never would have had the cash to find on eBay. What a thrill!

These are just a few. Whatever this man did to piss off his father,
I thank him dearly.
In the great 2000 film, High Fidelity, starring John Cusack, his character, Rob Gordon, makes an art of  organizing or reorganizing his record collection on a regular basis. Alphabetically (by artist or by album), chronologically, etc. His greatest achievement though, is when he decides to sort his records autobiographically.

I love this idea of one piece of a collection moving you from one moment in your life to another. For instance, to think of how I completed my Generation 1 Galvatron, I have to remember that I bought the body at the now defunct "Earth Toy Mall" in Cincinnati, but that I didn't have his translucent, speckled cannon until it was given to me by my friend Rich in Virginia, some ten years later. 

Or, I can look at my Armada Smokescreen and easily forget that I originally owned him in 2002, sold him in 2009, then bought him again at a vintage toy store in Chicago for my son's birthday.


The great hauls of my collecting past are fun moments that still give me a giddy feeling when I remember them. Moreover, they link together the complete collection by acting as markers- chapters in a book.

Now get going; Find your next haul!

The Big Lebowski, Copyright, 1998 Polygram, All rights reserved. 
High Fidelitym Copyright Touchstone Pictures 2000, all rights reserved. 

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