Hi, I’m Jonathan and I have a disease. A sickness.
A sickness known as the collector’s bug, with this particular bug being the need, the want and the desire to collect toys. Toys spanning multiple lines and franchises with Transformers being my primary collecting focus. I’ve had the collector’s bug for as long as I can remember, going back to my childhood and seeing commercials on TV, leafing through department store catalogues toy sections (especially as Christmas drew near), and wandering up and down the aisles, wide-eyed taking in those Transformers I loved so much as well as Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even what I once referred to; in good humor, as the Mega Blocks to the Transformers Lego in GoBots.
I loved them all, and I had to have them all, because deep down I’ve been a completest all of my life and once I get my mind set to something I have to see it through to the end, however possible. I was fortunate enough that throughout my childhood I was able to add to my various collections in the form of the expected Christmases and birthdays along with receiving toys as gifts or rewards by getting good grades, doing chores around the house and through my monthly allowance when I wasn’t spending it on heavy metal cassettes or Calvin and Hobbes books and Dragonlance novels. Eventually though, my collector’s bug went into hibernation as I got older and my interests began to change, my need for completing my toy collections ended. I never got rid of my toys; they remained in my childhood home waiting. Waiting for the day the bug would return.
And, return it would something fierce when I ventured three hours north of Calgary to the Edmonton Collector Con back in March. Walking through the toy convention’s aisles and seeing tables full of GI Joe’s, Kenner Star Wars figures, MOTU and of course my beloved Transformers sent waves of nostalgia washing over me and after picking up a G1 Swoop that I never had the voice in my head told me I needed more, with regular additions being added to my burgeoning Transformers collection. From the Siege line and G1 reissues at my local Walmart to picking up original G1 toys, like the Insecticon trio at the Calgary Expo back in April.
At least once year I make my way back home to Nova Scotia, and this year was no exception. While I was travelling home to see family and celebrate with good friends our impending fortieth year on this planet, in the back of my mind I remembered my toy collection from my childhood was still there in the house where I grew up. Waiting, calling out, beckoning for me to come and reconnect. I had planned to visit the house regardless, but now I had an extra incentive to walk through the door again. The only question was would my toys from my youth still be there, and if they were what sort of condition would they be in?
The night before excitement and anticipation were quickly setting in, but also what was stronger and more prominent was the cold, clammy feeling of panic permeating my brain and filling me with sleepless doubt. What if this winds up being a huge disappointment? What if everything is gone; sold or sent to the dump or everything is there but has been destroyed beyond recognition?
Living by a river and a large field in the country, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that mice or other creatures could have got into the house and chewed on or done worse things to the toys that I was certain were still in my bedroom and in the giant trunk in the basement. My house; while structurally solid, is still an old farmhouse, so as I lay there trying to sleep, my brain began to imagine the worst while another question popped into my head, could I get to my room and/or the basement as the house has seen better days and there was no telling how accessible those spaces would be.
Arriving the following morning, I made my way first to the basement where that old trunk hopefully still sat, forgetting how narrow the stairwell leading down to the basement was. I’m twenty years older and with a larger frame than in my youth. Turning on the flashlight on my Pixel I made my way through the basement, peering around until finally the light fell on the familiar sight of that large, heavy black trunk. Anticipation mixed with fear crept through me. What would I possibly find within? Carefully moving items away and from on top of the trunk, I opened it feeling like a 2019 Indiana Jones, and found….
My toys! More than I had remembered storing in this trunk, many of which were in old grocery bags. Several Masters of the Universe figures were present, some oddly with their heads removed as I don’t remember decapitating any of them for any particular reason, but I could see my old Dragon Walker and various MOTU figures as well as a lot more GoBots than I remembered owning, but whatever. The previous night’s feelings of nervousness disappeared as I marveled at how; aside from a little paint being chipped away on a few and once again the decapitated heads, everything was in the same condition in 2019 as they were in 2001 when I left and moved away from home.
Overjoyed and relieved, I then made my way to my second floor bedroom and proceeded to sweat my ass off due to the humidity laden 95 degree heat outside, and discovered other old toys like Doctor Terror from the Centurions as well as more GoBots and Transformers to add to what I had unearthed in the basement. Picking up a cheap suitcase from a local thrift store nearby to transport them back to Calgary, the ear to ear grin on my face was impossible to remove, as my inner 6-year-old was stoked to look everything over in greater detail, reattach the heads of some of my MOTU (Rio Blast and Spikor were a particular pain in the wazoo!), and continue to feed the sickness, the sickness known as the collector’s bug. Much like how Woody in Toy Story will never give up on his friends, I’ll never give up on being a toy collector, and I’ll end this tale of rediscovery with six simple words.
Don’t grow up, it’s a trap.