Blog Archive

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Collecting Story

Not unlike many other He-Man collectors, I have very fond memories of growing up amongst the battles of He-Man and Skeletor. During my college years, I became particularly nostalgic for the MOTU toys that I played with when I was a child. Most of my original toys had disappeared over the years, so I needed to buy my collection back.

I started picking up loose figures for 25 or 50 cents at yard sales and flea markets. My girlfriend (now wife) bought me a 3-foot tall plastic vacuum-form He-Man from a local antique store (which I later found out was a hard-to-find vintage store display.) About a year went by before I was able to amass about 60 different figures and a few other items.

With my introduction to eBay in 1998, I had a whole new outlet for buying He-Man figures. I was buying large collections from eBay, friends, and other dealers. Before long, my collection was getting to the point that my “doubles” were taking up a lot of space and money. I realized that I needed to start moving some of the extras so I started to sell on eBay and also created a website, The Cafe Wha?. Through eBay and The CafĂ© Wha?, I was able to amend my collection while helping other collectors add to theirs.

I was building my collection one piece at a time. Always on the lookout for new or different figures, I soon came across a loose He-Man with brown hair and black boots. It was advertised as a "Wonder Bread Mail-In Figure." Though it meant spending more than I had ever paid for a loose figure, it quickly became part of my collection.

As money permitted, I would buy carded figures to build up my MOC (mint on card) collection. At some point, I decided that I wanted to strive for a complete He-Man collection. However, I kept coming across items that I didn’t even realize existed. I found (often with the help of fellow collectors) figure variations, foreign released figures, and other collectibles like cake pans, fabric, magazines, and jewelry. My collection was continually growing but it was clear that the end was nowhere in sight.

I came across many variations on the carded figures, from the original 8-Backs to the Man-E-Weapons special pack and the Black Face Grizzlor variant. I soon located many of the cool foreign exclusive figures like Laser Power He-Man, Laser Light Skeletor, Tytus, and Megator. I found many foreign carded variations such as "Super" Hordak, European figures that came carded with a mask, and Mattel licensed Top Toys figures from Argentina. At a toy show, I came across a 3-Pack of Moss Man, Buzz-Off, and Mekaneck and thus stumbled upon the very rare field of multi-packs. I was soon able to track down other multi-packs including figure/vehicle 2 packs, figure 2-packs, and brown-boxed store catalog multi-packs.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity (thanks to friends) to buy cases of vintage He-Man carded figures and boxed vehicles. It still amazes me how they have survived over the years. In one of the purchases, I bought over 20 cases of figures; in another, I acquired a few cases of the hard to find "Powers of Grayskull" dinosaurs. Purchases like these were the highlights of my collecting experience at the time, but I was soon to find items I had never even dreamed of owning - non-production pieces such as artwork, prototypes, and Mattel documents.

I saw an ad in Lee's Action Figure & Toy Review magazine in 2000 that listed "He-Man Prototypes" for sale and I wanted to add them to my collection. I had only recently seen 2 examples of collectors having a single prototype figure and knew they would not be available for long. I called the dealer and found that this collection consisted of 17 test-shot prototype He-Man figures. I conferred with my girlfriend and soon decided to buy them all. Though they were relatively expensive and I was still in college, I felt that I would regret passing on the opportunity to purchase these rare artifacts of the He-Man production process.

One day in 2006, I received a call from Roger Sweet, one of the original creators and designers of He-Man at Mattel. This introduction led me to purchasing Roger’s entire collection of original artwork, prototypes, and documentation from his years at Mattel. These items will be made available to He-Fans at shortly.

I owe a large part of my collection to Val Staples, of and MVCreations fame. Over the years, he has been one of the most positive influences on my collecting success. He recognizes the importance of preserving and archiving items to ensure that they do not get lost, destroyed, or hidden in private collections. An episode of the television show “Fanatical” that Val and I appeared in can speak for itself.

I have found that completing a He-Man collection is a rewarding, expensive, time consuming and fundamentally impossible process. Although I am not likely to complete my He-Man collection, I am still working as hard as ever on doing so. I have made friends with many collectors who have generously helped to find and obtain items and establish sources. I hope that I have also assisted some others on their quest to get their childhood memories back as well.

No comments: