Confession of The Collector

It all started so innocently. It was a little picture in a magazine of a miniature Homer Simpson wearing a radioactive suit, standing in Section 7-G of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. “Cool,” I thought, figuring it would be fun to have a member of the Simpson clan on my desk – cubicles can be so dull.

I didn’t give it much more thought until I unwrapped a tiny piece of Springfield that Christmas. There he was in all of his yellow, diminutive glory, with his three-hair combover, the bulging eyes, the permanent five o’clock shadow and a hearty “D’oh!” when he was placed into the perfect replica of his nuclear plant environment. I was in Simpsons’ fan bliss.

Little did I know that this was but the first in what would become an ever-expanding series. It was my first introduction to the world of action figures since I was a kid with visions of stormtroopers battling in my head. Now I was an adult with what is correctly referred to as “disposable” income. The next one I bought was the living room of 742 Evergreen Terrace, followed by Apu and the Kwik-E-Mart. The obsession had begun.

The series were released in waves, usually with six separate figures and a new miniature environment every couple of months. I began dropping into the Sliver Snail – a comic geek Mecca in Toronto – every couple of weeks, to see if they had anything new and my collection began to grow. The characters weren’t that pricey, but the environments weren’t cheap, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked.

Soon I was haunting comic book stores across the city, not only looking for new series but for the exclusives that only certain stories were carrying. The first one I truly hunted down was the second Treehouse of Horror with Kang and Kordos. It was a great looking set and I tracked it down in the bowels of a store where I swear I met the physical embodiment of the Comic Book Guy. When I told him that I took them out of the box he was both appalled and curious. “What are the like?” he asked breathlessly, never having seen them out of the package. I’ll never be that kind of collector – toys are for playing. Ask my friend’s two year old, she loves the hard plastic characters.

But the collection was beginning to get out of hand and soon new shelving had to be bought to house it. Then we advertised our summer parties with entreaties to see the Wall of Simpsons, where inebriated people would amuse themselves trying to make conversations happen between the denizens of Springfield, endlessly pressing the buttons that made the characters belt out their lines from the show. My obsession became well know and I began receiving more and more Simpsons paraphernalia and I knew I had to rein it in. We were running out of space.

Luckily this came at a time when the minor characters like Wendell, Gil and Mr. Largo and one episode characters like Larry Burns and Don Vittorio were being released, all the others having already hit the stores. There was also a growing number of repeats – Homer in a suit, as Mr. Plow, as a Stonecutter. But I still had one more set to track down, my white whale, the huge Interactive Main Street. It was triple the size of the others and was only being sold by Toys ‘R’ Us in the U.S. It sent me on to eBay and to auction after auction.

Eventually, I managed to win one and I paid through the nose for it. When it arrived in the mail, it was too big for the display shelves and had to be relegated to the top of a big china cabinet, but I had it and though I didn’t know it, I was done. After a mental calculation of the all the money spent and the time expended, I had to call it quits. Until my next obsession comes along, of course.


  1. Is that... Hank Scorpio on Main Street... *instant jealousy*

  2. Indeed it is.. And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
    He loves German beer!

  3. Oh, I do love your Wall O' Simpsons (as does my 2-year-old) but I agree... the obsession can get out of hand. For me it was the Buffy action figures. I started buying the basics, then the variations, and then had to call it quits. Now there's a lot of dust on them. Sniffle. The Simpsons were sets I always wanted to start collecting, but decided to just live vicariously through you.

  4. The variations really are the tipping point. When you've got you third Homer (or Spike) you really begin to question what you are thinking. But I still enjoy looking at them.