It is rare that one collector has the joy or purpose of writing about their collection. In the realm of collecting, the area of “focusing” or concentrating on one character, theme or area is probably the most challenging.
I started focusing on the Star Wars character “Jawa” around late 2001. Why the jawa? Why would I choose a minor character from one of the most identifiable films in the last forty years? Why not choose characters like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or Boba Fett? The answer is pretty simple. I love those little guys. When I first watched Star Wars in 1977, I clearly remember these little guys blasting R2D2’s ass and dragging him away. While Darth Vader and Han Solo also made a huge impression, I love Jawas. Another reason is finances!! Darth Vader and Boba Fett are iconic characters from Star Wars. There likeness has been attached to paper plates, napkins, back packs. Heck, even a Valentine’s Day likeness of Darth Vader surrounded by chocolate. This is probably the last thing I want to see on a box when looking for the “special present” and wanting a sweet reward in the end. When is the last time you saw a Jawa on a napkin or Holiday card?
So where does one start a focus collection? Will I collect every Mint on Card (MOC) in existence? Will I collect Playsets or Vehicles with their likeness? What about foreign releases and the area of pre-production? Where the hell do I start? This question alone is the most daunting and the hardest to answer. The best answers I can provide are research, knowledge and luck.
Research your area of focus. If you are focusing on ESB characters released on a specific cardback, you need to know which characters were issued and the ones that were not. Understanding where to look is also helpful. Ebay is a great guide for searching for your area of focus, but this should not be the only one. Search for “Star Wars Forums”. Once you locate some of interest, read over the forums. Forums provide a great tool in networking. You can read threads concerning collector’s areas of interest, how they collect, their financial strategy and maybe your specific area of interest. If you are interested in the specific forum, register and begin posting. Every collector has to start somewhere. Search on old threads (if possible) about your area of interest. You might find the answers to your questions. If not, create a post about your beginning focus. Ask questions about rarity, prices or anything else that might help you on your way. Do not limit yourself to one forum. Once you find a good forum, search for others. A focus should not have limits, so why should your research?
Knowledge is probably the most important element in collecting. Once you have researched your area of interest, your knowledge base will increase. Are there any variations that you should be aware of? If so, is there a price difference in collecting one variation from the next? There should never be a limit to your knowledge. The most experienced collectors are always open to learning new things in their hobby of choice. Understanding the most about your focus, gives you an advantage over other collectors. For example, you notice an Ebay auction for “star wars figures”. Looking over the pictures you notice a particular carded variation that is quite valuable. If you are able to win the auction, you have acquired a nice item for your collection. If you want to trade or sale the item, you have funds for other purchases. Read all of the articles you can. Ask questions about your area of collecting. You might have a particular area of interest, but do not let this be your sole focus.
The more you network as a collector and build your knowledge base, the next element of collecting becomes more obtainable. How many times have you heard the expression “right place at the right time”? There is an element of luck in every aspect of life. Collecting should be no different. If you are known for collecting a certain item, other collectors might offer you a hard to find figure/item before making it available to the public. Though luck is an important part of collecting, this goes well in hand with finances. Okay, you were offered a hard to find item in your collection. Can you afford it? If not, do you think this “offer” will be presented again? If not, are there other items in your collection that can be sold and purchased again in the future? You should have a plan or strategy for collecting. It is naïve to think you can collect “everything”. Your perspective toward collecting should be realistic.
Collecting should be fun. Amassing a nice collection is half the journey. The “thrill of the hunt” is the most exciting part of collecting, but can also present the most frustration. Once the hunt has been completed, now what? What is the next goal? I will be honest enough to say, I do not have an answer. Some collectors get bored after the hunt and sale everything, only to collect it again. Be honest in your approach and collecting focus. It might last a year or six years. Only you know what lies ahead…