"Special Collectors Edition?"

Recently I clicked on a series of links and ended up at a forum discussion where the forum members were discussing a ‘special collectors edition’ adventure that was only going to be availible if you went to a particular convention (the details are not important to me, but, if you are curious, the link in question is here).

At issue in the discussion (at least in the page that I read) was a special edition copy of an adventure that was going to be availible only if you attended the particular convention. Some people (who want to collect at least one sample of every single adventure this company puts out) were upset because by putting out an adventure that could be purchased only at the Con, the publisher was forcing them to either go to the con or have an incomplete collection.

I’m not really a ‘people person’ (my never-to-be-realized dream is to live alone in a small cabin in the wilderness, near a body of water) so conventions are not my thing, but collecting ‘completeness’ is not something I understand either. I’m plenty greedy and grasping and I like certain things, but I can’t imagine wanting to own books without physically handling and reading them. The pride that some people take in collecting things just to have ‘one of each edition of the same book’ like in this photo just baffles me:

I got that picture from Austrodavidicus’ (sp?) blog. I didn’t know what it was a picture of at first until I read the text and followed the links and discovered that it was multiple copies of the same game (like the original D&D sets) in all the different printings and variations, all wrapped up in plastic. Theres a LOT more to that particular collection. Follow the links and see.

I have no idea of what a collection like that is worth (I suspect it is worth a lot) and, if I had that kind of scratch, I’d probably be trying to buy that aforementioned cabin in the woods as well as a shitload of canned goods, liquor shotgun shells and .30-06 rounds so I would be ready for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I’d also buy artwork from artists I like (but I would ‘use’ that too — by hanging it on the wall). And I have my own things that I am fond of — I have a lithograph by Arthur Rackham that I am fond of (and I suppose it is worth something, but not a huge amount) and a Piranesi etching of one of his ‘fantastic prisons’ pictures (which I bought for very little and probably still overpaid for) and I crave ownership of expensive Smith & Wesson and Walther pistols and Leica cameras even though I don’t NEED them… so I am not innocent of being infected by the need to own shit.

If it brings the collector joy to have one of each, then good for them I guess. Seeing all those games collected together to just ‘be a collection,’ however, is strange (and sad) to me… especially since I would like to have just one of those boxed sets (but I would probably just ruin it by reading and playing with it). I have a few very tattered OD&D booklets and some PDFs so I suppose I am good.

I don’t know what to think about books and games being produced as “special edition collector’s items.” On the one hand, I suppose it’s good for the people who publish game books (and probably anything that can create positive cash flow ought to be tried… well, nearly anything). On the other hand, I can understand the “completeist’s” frustration at the creation of artificial scarcity.

As a player/reader/tinkerer/doodler, I just don’t think I ‘get’ collecting because my relationship to the books and things that some people see as objects in a collection is quite different. I see it as bedside reading or reference material for my doodles.

8 Comments on “"Special Collectors Edition?"”

  1. Restless says:

    As someone who doesn't really collect a ton of stuff but does understand the idea of what I do collect being complete, that sort of BS would make me stop buying anything by that publisher.

    Then again, I consider having stuff from torrents or online storage lockers or DC++ to be “collecting” it, too, so it doesn't irk me too much to see collections like that as long as I have access to the material inside. (In fact, in this situation if I got ahold of the product it'd probably find its way into lots of hands, on general principle.)

  2. The collector mentality eludes me, as does the mentality of publishers/producers who cater to it, but then lots of things elude me, so this is nothing new.

  3. ChicagoWiz says:

    I'm the collectors' bane, as I will happily tear shrink wrap off, punch counters, cut out sheets, rip open blisters and assemble/paint minis and use all of the above. I wait for the marked/scarred/torn and purchase it. I have 3 LBBs and Supp 1 that has crayon and pen marks on the covers and I just don't care – it's all good, its all playable and that's the way it should be.

    That picture above is scary/sad at the same time, to me. It says those games need to be taken out and played/shared.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    Collections such as that make me think of Maal Dweb's collection of women whom he froze in time: They sure look pretty, but what's the point if you can't play with them?

    (reference: “The Maze of the Enchanter” by Clark Ashton Smith)

  5. I'll admit that I am a bit torn on the whole collection bit. I've got a fairly sizable collection myself but I don't have any duplicates and I don't collect for investment purposes. I collect because I like games. I love reading through my RPG Games. I have a very cluttered nightstand on which currently sit my 3LBB, S&W (Whitebox, Core Rules, and Complete) as well as my Lamentations of the Flame Princess Deluxe Edition. I have several bookshelves crowded with games. I have games stacked next to my bed and *ahem* next to the throne. I'm sure that if any of my stuff would incidentally accrue value, the overall condition is a bit used (I read them and reread them and then reread them again). I play them whenever I can wrange a group up (which is woefully infrequent). Bear (my six – almost seven Year old son!) spend our Saturday mornings in bed looking through comics and game books (we don't have TV so this substitutes of Saturday cartoons). So yeah, I collect but I suppose it is a bit different than other collections.

  6. Gaming has no point? My brain just overloaded.

    As my son once said, oh, the wasted days!


  7. M Pax says:

    I can see why that would annoy folks if they want a complete collection of something.

  8. Von says:

    I've never really understood the completist tendency and, to be honest, I'm not sufficiently wealthy to buy multiple copies of the same thing just to have them. Buying one, using it to death, and then selling it on to fund something else is about my limit. Collecting as an investment is something I do understand but have no personal inclination towards – have nothing beautiful that is not functional, and all that.

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