- Dorian MacQuarrie
Space is always a concern for us collectors. Shelf space, cupboard space... mental space.
Recently I have been going through the process of making more of such space by selling toys, packing some away and generally taking control of my collection before it takes control of me. One of the biggest moves I have found which helps in this endeavour is binning my boxes and I encourage everyone to do the same.
Let's slow down, I'm not talking about binning all your boxes. Some are worth keeping, as pieces of design or in those rare cases, as real contributions to the value of a toy. Outside of vintage (G1, G2, maybe early Beast Wars at this point) or some exclusive/special releases, the value of a toy complete with packaging isn't substantially more than without these days. By and large, boxes don't add considerable value to a toy, regardless of how wonderful they might look. Even most Third Party toys can still hold their value loose as compared to a pre-owned boxed piece. Throw in the fact that many toys aren't appreciating in value these days at all and I find myself wondering, why are we keeping these boxes? Why do we insist on having mountains of packaging stored away, taking up more space than they're worth?
I can understand, that for some people it's part of the whole package; toy, box and corresponding paperwork are all part of the whole. I admit that when I started binning boxes there were more than a few moments of apprehension. There's a certain finality in the process. Once that boxed is binned, it's gone, the 'whole package' as it were is no longer complete. I can never again own this particular toy complete, with box. This wouldn't necessarily be about a future resale, the day in which I sell the bulk of my collection will be the day I'm done with this hobby and will therefore just want rid of them, no, this is that little bit of collector-mania that lies within us all and this I understand all too well.
I'll admit, the initial purge did sting a little but the pay off of seeing how much space I had created was more than worth those moments of doubt.
So where did I start? Mainline toys have never been so lucky as to keep their packaging for more than a few seconds after tearing through the plastic prison to reach the treasure within. With that in mind, I had kept a few pieces of packaging from Takara's Henkei releases. Takara releases often make a bigger show and dance of their packaging as a sales pitch and even as a display piece, more than Hasbro have ever deemed necessary for Western releases since the halcyon days of Generation 1. Those were the first to go. It seemed silly to keep some card backed blister packaging for what amounted to a few deluxe and voyager toys. Yes they were a fun novelty to have from the point of view of a Western collector but they were run of the mill, general release products. Nothing inherently special outside of their original sales territory. Once I had started this packaging purge it became easier and easier to move onto the next set of boxes. Masterpiece were next to go, starting with the largest and most space-intensive. I had initially thought I'd just hold onto the smaller Autobot Cars boxes, no particular reason, just a sign that I wasn't ready to rid myself of it all in one go, but even they were eventually disposed of.
It was only when I started to approach the majority of my Third Party toys' boxes that I gave myself pause. A lot of these were well designed, sturdy boxes, replete with display windows, fantastic artwork, magnetic seals and filled with a character of their own depending on which line they came from. I'm sure a small percentage of the retail cost of some toys has come from such luxuriant packaging, making them seem all the more 'valuable'. MMC's Reformatted boxes bring a level of cohesion to their releases by their aesthetic and particular numbering system but they are also famously huge for the toys contained within (less so these days, admittedly). The Function X boxes from Fansproject would make a great background display for their respective releases with their colour-coded boxes overlaid with fantastic technical drawing details. But did I have the cupboard or even shelf space to display them in such a way? No, of course not and there is little chance I would in the future so into the bin they went.
In a silly and possibly childish way, I found it easier to dispose of the more attractive boxes by damaging them in some way. 'Oh this corner has ripped? I guess I'll need to bin it now'. And of course, if one of my Function X boxes was now gone, then it was okay to get rid of the others as there was no point in only owning some of them. It's either all or none so I manufactured ways of taking a full set down to just a 'some' that I wouldn't want to keep hold of.
This might all sound a bit mad but it's the sort of Doublethink I find myself indulging in for self justification in a number of areas. From buying to selling and now to binning, it helps to make me feel secure in my decisions. Nothing worse than binning or selling something then wanting it back next month because you regret your decision. With a bit of self-convincing, that's not the case.
There are of course a few I'm still holding onto. The Fansproject Retro-future boxes are a marvel of design and very much part of the line's charm. The same goes for their Lost Exo Realm convention exclusive releases and all their Diaclone-esque glory. Those are likely to stay as I place real value in them as pieces of design and find them more pleasing than most other examples. There are also a few which hold too much emotional value to let go. Again, looking at Fansproject, the City Commander and first Crossfire boxes will stay, the former for being part of such an historic release, the latter being my first Third Party purchase (back in the dusty days of upgrades and add-ons).
Beyond those narrow specifications of good design, emotional weight and possible real value (G1 exclusively for my current collection), everything goes. If there is ever the question of devaluing certain toys by ridding myself of their boxes, then it is quickly quelled by the knowledge I have still enjoyed them immensely and any money made off of future sales is just a bonus on top of that. When I have a brief moment of doubt as I look upon the mounds of cardboard and plastic headed for the [recycling, we hope!] bin, I focus on the relief and mental breathing space I feel over my myriad storage spaces slowly being emptied, cleared and unburdened as I feel the same towards my own strange relationship with material goods.
Until next time, keep it #Refined.