The first collectibles I had to have or die trying were the original Star Wars glasses from Burger King. You ordered a soda and it came right in the glass with a plastic lid and a straw so you could enjoy your new found treasure on the spot. I used those glasses every day. We even had an extra set that my Mom wrapped in newspaper and stored in a cardboard box in the basement in case one broke. She recently sold the house where I grew up, and I discovered that the glasses had gone missing.You may have heard the echoes of my “Nooooo!” which would have impressed even Vader.
I blame my Mom for my obsession with collecting because, at seven years old, I wasn’t the one with deep pockets springing for those glasses. Each week we stalked the only Burger King in town to see if the newest glass was available. It was important to get there early in the week because they were only available for a limited time. Limited! What if they ran out? What if I missed one in the set and never found it and was stuck with *gasp* an incomplete collection?! The horribly uniformed girl in the commercial said I had to collect them all and I believed her.
I’m pretty sure that if I did some research, which I am not going to do, I’d discover there were roughly nine bazillion of these glasses produced and there was never any real danger that I wouldn’t get the whole collection. I’m a grown up. I get it. Marketing. But, the Burger King Star Wars glasses instilled in my the idea that when something is cool, and it’s limited, then it is worth scouring the planet to find.
This idea was reinforced when I worked at The Disney Store back in college. If ever there was a place where the limited edition ruled supreme, then it was within the walls of that store. We had ceramic figures and lithographs and cels and watches and shirts and, really, I think at some point every product in existence was available in a limited edition, numbered, commemorative something or other. Yes, I bought some of these things and they are carefully stored for the future, mint-in-box. Is there any other way?
I also discovered through my time with Disney that the grand poo-bah of collectibles is not just a limited run, but one that is numbered. It doesn’t matter how large that number is, just that you own 1,452,635 out of 2,000,000. A numbered, limited edition, collectible thingamajig is sure to be worth its weight in gold someday. It might put the kids through college. Or maybe it’ll let you buy a yacht, or, best of all, maybe you can sell it and buy more numbered, limited edition thingamajigs! Wheeeeee!
This all came to mind the other day watching a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory where Raj buys a special, handmade Harry Potter wand on eBay. It is clearly nothing but a stick. It is gray and pointy and stick-like and Raj is not happy. Until he notices that it’s numbered. Whoa! A limited edition numbered stick is an entirely different story and Raj is happy. I get it Raj. We all do. Now, if someone can just make a limited edition, numbered, authentic replica of the stick-wand used in the episode, then all will be right with the world.