I want to apologize for simply disappearing and leaving the website unattended. I had several personal issues arise simultaneously, which left everything M.U.S.C.L.E.-related utterly irrelevant.
As the dust settles and a new reality emerges I have found myself struggling to find a place for M.U.S.C.L.E. in my life – both this website and collecting the figures. Over the last few years I have become more and more disenfranchised with collecting in general. Two separate home fires and the birth of two sons profoundly reshaped, and more appropriately adjusted, my outlook regarding collecting. However, I still really enjoyed researching, documenting, and discussing M.U.S.C.L.E which made the LRG message board and this website a fun and active alternative to simple collecting.
Over the past few months I have lost that activity. I struggle to decipher whether I simply didn’t miss M.U.S.C.L.E. or that I missed it and didn’t have time to think about it. I hope it is the latter.
The truth is I found myself thinking about things for this website – topics, contests, t-shirts, etc. I also found myself wondering about friends I’ve made and how their lives were going. Yet I never wondered about the toys. I never worried that I missed an auction or a sale or whether someone was behaving in a devious manner.
As my life has started to allow moments for my mind to wander (or keep me up at night) I have tried to understand my feelings about M.U.S.C.L.E.. When I was an undergraduate psychology student I remember hearing that most psychology students get into psychology because they want to solve their problems. At the time I laughed at the notion, but more than once recently it has felt very true. While I’m not psychoanalyzing myself I have been asking myself, quite often, “Why?”
All of my wondering and questioning has led me to a few different hypotheses (I haven’t quite decided if these have earned theory or principle designations.).
1. I really miss the friends I’ve made.
This website, and the LRG message board, are the main mechanisms that drive our friendships and allow us to communicate. Admittedly greater efforts could be made to email, call, or even get together – but I struggle to do that with lifelong friends and family. Regardless of the details and methods, I will cherish these friendships. I could go on and on; making special notes to each person but I’ll spare everyone (still reading) from my sincere and slightly melodramatic musings.
2. The website needs to continue, but some changes will need to take place.
Right now it seems impossible to maintain the daily updates I strove to achieve. The optimist in me wants to believe it could continue, but the realist sees it differently. Posts that were written during lunches and stolen moments seem impossible today. That time is needed elsewhere, but I believe there may still be some minutes hidden throughout the week. Two things may help me better use those minutes: (1) changes in style; and (2) help.
I made a very conscious attempt to write in predominantly 3rd person, which would take my personal feelings out of many aspects of the website. This would allow for different sections to be objective M.U.S.C.L.E. resources. However, the tracking stats of the UofM website have shown that many of the most popular posts are when I shy away from 3rd person. It is my belief that by more often sharing my opinions and observations it will not only allow me to more easily post, but will also increase participation through comments and other participatory additions that I hope to introduce.
I also hope that some other collectors will step forward to help complete some of the last “objective” projects that need to be completed – most notably the “Super Rare” and the M.U.S.C.L.E. poster sections. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. needs more than one author.
3. I (want to/don’t want to) finish my Color M.U.S.C.L.E. collection.
This hypothesis changes daily. Two main reasons drive my need for completion: (1) I want to have comprehensive pictures for the Color figure archive and possibly a Figure Guide; and (2) it has been a goal for so long. The latter seems like a very weak reason. When I have collected all of the figures, what would be achieved?
I like to think that I’d finally display them as I always intended. I would have a beautiful case built and allow myself and visitors to marvel at their uniqueness. That wouldn’t happen.
It is that realization that has spawned intense reflection. If I displayed all 1500+ figures, what story would or could be told about them? The factual information (flanker brand, top selling, two years, etc.) may or may not be interesting to people, but are those the reasons I collected all of them? If I collected them as a nostalgic nod to my childhood, then why did I need all of them – including figures I never owned as a child?
There are a variety of objects that have been “collected” and displayed in our house. They range from commissioned artwork to vintage water tower advertisements. All of these pieces have an interesting hook or story. They spawn interest and conversation because there is succinct and universally interesting story attached to them. Most importantly the “stories” are suitable to be told by any family member without losing passion.
This is not true of the vintage Star Wars figures that are displayed. When visitors see these figures there is usually polite approval and an attempt at relatability, “Yeah, I liked Lego as a kid.”
Star Wars is arguably the most popular collectible action figure. If those figures are unable to elicit the same interest and conversation as a framed drawing, then there is absolutely no chance that 1500+ M.U.S.C.L.E. figures will be able to do it.
These musings often got me thinking about collecting in general and even the argument of rarity, value, and prices. I originally started collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures because of nostalgic curiosity, the comically inexpensive figures, and the seemingly unique community. It didn’t seem to have the drama and dishonesty that plagues almost any other collectible – from art to Zoids.
I was naïve to believe that M.U.S.C.L.E. could sustain itself as a unique collecting culture, or that it ever was a unique culture. I was even more naïve to believe I could positively influence the collecting community. At the end of the day, M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting is part of the larger culture of Collecting. Within the larger culture of Collecting there is a wide spectrum of behaviors that are considered acceptable. I have often found myself disagreeing with the behaviors that many people consider “part of the game.”
I thought M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting, with its relative small size, would be able to remain separate from many of the shenanigans and conniving that seem to plague Collecting. It has become clear to me that my approach and ideal of ethical collecting is the outlier for both the M.U.S.C.L.E. community and the larger Collecting culture.
So what does all of this mean?
I hope to continue the website, but there need to be changes and hopefully help from others. I think I want to collect the last 20+ M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Again, I will need the help of others. While I don’t know what will happen once I actually own all of them, I do know that a positive resource will become available to all collectors – which seems worth the effort.
Finally, thank you to all of the friends I’ve made. You have all helped me more than you know and are appreciated far more than you’ll ever know.
Let’s try and have some fun!