I hesitated to write about my experience. I worried that people would interpret my feelings the wrong way or that they would say, “That’s easy for you to say – you have an Alpha figure.”
Then I came across this article by Bill Wyman: Lester Bangs’ Basement: What it means to have all music instantly available.
I was initially interested in the article as a former music snob. I had been a collector of rarities, B-sides, and imports. However, as I read the article I was brought back to M.U.S.C.L.E. and my Non-Poster Kinnikuman figures. It felt as if the two hobbies could be perfectly analogous – if the collector allowed it.
The article explored the idea that rarity with music, and most digital media, was gone. Everything is available to everyone. From a certain perspective, the same is true for M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors. Many of the Non-Poster figures are lusted after by collectors, but why? Is it the rarity of the figure or the quality of the figure?If it is the latter, then a Flesh Kinnikuman figure fills that need. The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are readily available as Kinnikuman figures, many of them at a minimal price. And if M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are particular about a color or texture there are more and more people within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community that can provide a custom version of the Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.
As I sat looking through my Non-Poster figures there was no less enjoyment because they were not cast in M.U.S.C.L.E. plastic. Of course, other collectors may disagree – and I thought Bill Wyman’s article did a nice job acknowledging the other perspective.
For some, the enjoyment of art or culture has fetishistic aspects. To them, being a fan is about something more than just experiencing the art. There will always be collectors, fixating on the physical objects, like the great LP jackets from the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s, in the underground and alternative-rock worlds, labels like Sub Pop, exploiting their brand, played to this side of their fans’ nature with innovations like the singles club, convincing people to shell out serious money for nonalbum Nirvana and Mudhoney 45s. (Their descendants today are coughing up for old-fashioned LPs of hep new releases.) And there will always be people who can’t be happy unless they have something regular fans don’t. Indeed, a friend of Bangs’, long after he died, said to me that the unspoken corollary in Bangs’ mind to his fantasy was that no one else would have access to it.
There is certainly not a “best” way to collect. Each collector needs to take their own path. Nonetheless, it does appear that if collectors step back and focus on what they truly enjoy about their hobby, then it provides many more opportunities for fun and enjoyment.
Save your money and have fun!