I’m building a new book case. Some knotty pine, wood screws, and three coats of white paint. I’ve built a lot of shelves and book cases for my comic book/book collection and here comes another. It’s going into my laundry room in a spot that held my collection of Matchbox/Johnny Lightning/Hot Wheels cars. They have been moved into the garage above the work bench. I haven’t bought any 1:64 scale cars in years now.

I like collecting things but as a freelance artist don’t always have a lot of money. Therefore I certainly can’t can’t collect expensive things. Expensive doesn’t mean better or more interesting anyway. There are plenty of cheap things in this world worthy of collecting.

I started collecting Matchbox cars in the late 1990’s. They were just a dollar and there were a lot of fun makes and models. I say “Matchbox Cars” but there are plenty of different brands to buy. Plus they don’t take up a whole lot of room. At least at first.

I probably have a few hundred cars now. That’s where I stopped. I keep then in little plastic cabinets that have a lot of drawers. The kind of cabinets that are made for holding various types of screws, nails, little tools, or whatever in a workshop. They work great for little cars too. I have six of those cabinets. That’s too many.

I stopped getting any new cars around the year 2000. I remember getting some new millennium special edition ones but not much after that. What made me stop you ask? Money and space. Those two oh so important elements.

The cars were getting more and more expensive. Not huge money of course but the toy companies were making more and more “Collector” cars at $2.99 – $4.99 a pop. I liked them. Some were much better than the basic one dollar car. As nice as they were getting two or three cars for ten bucks is a lot different than getting two or three for three bucks. Cheap suddenly isn’t cheap. I could’ve be getting comic books with that money.

And space to put toy cars isn’t always easy to find. Each year Hot Wheels and Matchbox put out new cars for the year. There are forty or so cars in their dollar line. That plus another ten buck will get you a case to put them in. Only a hundred dollars a year. Not bad. But then what do you do?

I collected two years worth of cars and had four cases but said to my self, “How long can this go on?”. In five years I’d have ten cases. In Ten years twenty cases. Did I want that many? The answer was, of course, no. I don’t like toy cars that much. I much prefer to collect comic books.

I couldn’t see spending and more of my limited resources on toy cars. I’d rather spend my money on comic books and support the industry that I had worked in for many years. They are of much more use to me as a fan, a professional, and an artist.

I still like my toy cars. At least some of them. I keep a couple of them on my drawing table and rotate them for others whenever I feel like it. But I could probably get rid of about 90% of them and never know the difference. But where do you get rid of toy cars? Who wants them? A problem for another day. For now they’ll sit in the garage.

Matchbox cars are cheap but they are not the cheapest thing I’ve ever collected. Those would be little plastic football helmets. It was 1996. I remember that because in December 1995 I bought my first computer ever. It set me back about five grand and I was more broke than I had ever been before. Sure I was still getting my regular comics but I wanted something new to collect. Toys, games, cards, they were all too expensive.

I was at the toy store one day and I noticed a bubblegum machine filled with those little plastic NFL helmets. I hadn’t noticed them since I was a kid. And they were only a quarter per random helmet. I started getting a couple of them whenever I had the urge to collect something. It was fun. Until a few months later when the price raised to fifty cents a helmet. Too much dough. Plus I had most of them already. Fun while it lasted.

In the early 1990’s I used to collect action figures. I don’t have a lot of them left though. I gave them away. They also took up too much room. Most of them were crappy anyway. I never wanted to spend that much on an action figures so I used to collect the ones that were in the sale bin. Those are usually not the most desirable ones but some were okay. They eventually took up too much space and I gave them away bit by bit. Threw some out even. Those were the really crappy ones.

So that’s a story of collecting for you. Some of us just love collecting things. The key is not to let them overwhelm you. If they start to then get rid of stuff and build more shelves. Shelves are your friend.