Welcome back to Collectors Showcase, an ongoing series at SYFY WIRE highlighting the biggest and best collections of geek memorabilia accumulated by fans everywhere.
With this series, we aim to get to the heart of what drives a fan to keep collecting and collecting for years, not as a professional, but as someone with a sheer passion for all kinds of geeky things. We're hoping to keep this celebration of collecting and collectors going for as long as we can, so if you have a collection you think we should know about, check the bottom of the post to find out how you can show it off to us.
This week we're talking to Wendy Brydge, a commission artist from Northern Ontario, Canada, specializing in wildlife paintings. Wendy describes herself as a lover of many fandoms, from The Munsters to Elvira to Star Trek: The Next Generation, but she has one first love: Scooby-Doo.
When Wendy reached out via Twitter to show us her massive collection of toys, comics, and more featuring the Mystery Machine gang and everyone's favorite talking Great Dane, we were immediately struck by what turned out to be a nearly lifelong dedication to Scooby and his friends. So we took some time to chat with Wendy about her love of Scooby-Doo, how she approaches collecting, and the memories her collection evokes.
Check out the interview, and be sure to peruse the gallery at the bottom of the post for a closer look at Wendy's Scooby-Doo treasures.
How long have you been collecting?
WENDY: Probably since I was 5. So a little more than 25 years!
What was the spark that lit the collecting fire for you? Was it a particular item or a particular franchise?
Honestly, I think it was a person who lit that fire for me. My Aunt S. loved to collect things herself: Miniatures, dolls, toys ... just whatever she liked. And it was a bit out of control – her collection filled an entire bedroom, and also spilled out into nearly every room of the house. But what got me is that it was always very attractively displayed. Better than a museum. And I remember as a child growing up, those rare occasions where she'd take me up to the bedroom to look at all the toys ... it was pure magic. I wasn't allowed to touch anything, and only a select few were invited to look, but just the feeling it gave me to be completely surrounded on all sides by a sea of cool things was indescribably good. There was so much to look at, and she knew exactly where everything had come from, or who had given it to her, as well as just general information on the items themselves, so it was, in effect, like taking a museum tour.
She started buying me things from a pretty young age, encouraging me to “collect” like she did (much to my parent's chagrin!), and while I never grew to like the same things she did, I don't think I can overlook the huge impact she had on why I became a collector.
Some collectors like to assemble these big eclectic displays of various franchises and interests, while others approach one or two specific things with laser focus. How did Scooby-Doo become your thing?
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't, in some ways, an eclectic collector, despite my obvious preoccupation with Scooby-Doo. My other main collection is wrestling figures (100+). But I also collect just a lot of odds and ends that I like. I have a small Batman collection, Barbies I'm fond of, Star Trek, Tinker Bell, Wonder Woman, I Love Lucy, and a lot of miscellaneous toys from my childhood. But all this time, I've just thought of it as amassing some stuff that I like – not necessarily creating an actual “collection” of it.
Scooby-Doo, though? Well, I've just always loved Scooby. I was born in the late '80s, the original run was already over, and most of the Scooby-Doo spin-off series were already playing in reruns too. So I got to watch a real mix of all things Scooby right from the start. This is also probably why I have an unhealthy love of Scrappy-Doo ... but we won't go there today!
I can't say what it was specifically about the show that drew me in, but I've always been a mystery hound, and even as a kid, I loved puzzles and brain teasers, and felt great satisfaction in being able to find things that were hidden. I also really enjoyed anything scary. I'm pretty sure my penchant for Great Danes predates my introduction to Scooby too, so it could just be that this crazy cartoon from decades prior just so happened to tick off every last box in my list of likes! Call it kismet, call it fate ... Scooby and I were just destined to be together.
I think my collecting focuses on him because he was my favorite growing up. I never wanted to be a collector whose collecting got out of control (like my aunt). So I tried to choose my favorite thing and just focus on that. As I described above, Scooby-Doo kind of fit me to a T, so I'm not surprised that this is what became my actual “collection,” and not just something I happen to like enough to buy memorabilia from.
When you’re looking for a new piece, what does it take to make you say, “I have to have that”? What qualities do you look for when you know it’s going to cost a lot or take a lot of effort to obtain a piece?
I never buy anything that I genuinely don't like. And that's my number one rule: If you don't like it, don't buy it. Just because an item has Scooby-Doo on it doesn't mean that I need it, or actually want it. Clothing, blankets, non-vintage books, trading cards, or anything from the live-action films are all passes for me. I'm perfectly okay with family and friends buying me something just because “it's Scooby-Doo,” even if it isn't something I would have picked up for myself. But when it comes to pieces that I'm choosing, that I'm making room for, and that I'm paying for? No, I have to really, really like it. This rule helps me keep collecting under my control.
These days I try not to get too emotional about pieces I'm considering buying, because I'm only human – if I see Scooby's face on something, for an instant there's that feeling of “I collect Scooby-Doo, therefore I need to have it!” Yep, I feel it too. But then I fight it. I try to look at every piece through critical eyes. For every piece, I ask myself five questions: Do I want it? Do I like it? Does it fit the collection? Do I love it? Is it over-priced? In that order, where the first question is least important, and the final question is most important. And if I answer “no” to either of the last two, I'll pass on the item. And that's not always an easy decision!
But I'm a bargain shopper. I will not pay a lot of money for anything, or go out of my way to get it. Again, this helps me keep control of my collection rather than my collection controlling me. Bargain hunting is also half the fun – knowing that I got a great deal on an item.
The most expensive piece in my collection is my Scooby Mystery Mansion, and it was an incredibly generous birthday gift from one of my friends a few years ago. (That's a sign of true friendship, isn't it? When a grown woman marches into a toy store and slaps down money to buy a Scooby-Doo Mystery Mansion for another grown woman! Lol, thanks, M!) I never in a million years would have shelled out for it myself. I know it was NOT cheap.
Thinking of every piece in my Scooby collection, I think the most I personally paid for a piece was $40. That was for the Hallmark Interactive Story Buddy Scooby-Doo.
So my first consideration is whether or not it's an item I really like, and then how much it costs. I definitely gravitate to figurines and plushes, and when it comes to Scooby Villains, I'm sometimes willing to be a little more generous with what I think is an “acceptable” price. Captain Cutler's Ghost is a recent acquisition, and at $16, I was really pushing my personal collecting budget limit!
Do you ever think about stopping the collection where it is, or does this feel like a lifelong endeavor?
I will absolutely never stop. I will keep collecting until the day I magically quit liking Scooby-Doo. And I don't see that happening anytime soon. I often don't even really think of this as a “collection,” per se, because I just buy what I like when I happen to come across it. I don't often go looking for specific pieces. I prefer the excitement of digging through a toy table at a flea market, hoping to spot that little brown dog ... and then finding him for $3!
What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gone to in order to get a particular piece for your collection?
I'm definitely not someone who goes out of her way to obtain pieces. I'm just not that kind of collector. As I alluded to in the previous question, I prefer to let the items find me – like stumbling onto a mystery piece rather than going out and proactively looking for that certain "something." But to answer the question, I guess the most trouble would have been how I acquired the item I list in the following question as my favorite piece. A jumbo plush Scooby.
I can't say for sure that he was my very first Scooby item, but he's certainly one of the earliest. I really couldn't have been more than about 5 years old when I got him. I live in the fairly rural North, where there isn't anything special in the way of shopping. Every summer, we'd go and visit family in the South, and my favorite thing to do was visit this enormous flea market. Quite a few pieces of my collection came from that flea market over the years – including this giant plush Scooby.
It was the end of the day, almost closing time, and I spotted this Scooby-Doo from quite a distance. The booth he was in was filled with big, oversized stuffed animals, and the vendor was already packing up. I wanted that giant plush SO badly. I can still remember the feeling of excitement, anticipation ... and then concern that he'd be too expensive. I think he was marked at $30. I just stood there silently (probably noticeably vibrating) while my dad talked to the vendor. Finally my dad took me aside and I quietly pleaded for the Scooby. My dad told me that $30 was too much. But if I went and talked to the man, and really nicely made him an offer, then we would buy the Scooby. I was terrified. Asking a shy kid to go talk to a stranger was bad enough. But to ask her to haggle with him too? I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. And I was heartbroken because I was sure I was going home Scooby-less.
But thankfully I have a really awesome dad, and even though I couldn't work up the courage to ask ... he still bought it for me. I was elated! Many, many years later, I found out that when my dad pulled me aside, he had already made a deal with the vendor to buy the Scooby. Naively enough, until he told me that 20+ years later, I didn't actually realize that that was what happened – I thought the guy just felt bad for me!
If you have a crown jewel in your collection, what would it be and why?
I'm particularly fond of my 1980 Canada's Wonderland pennant that features Scooby, Scrappy, and other Hanna-Barbera characters. As well as my Harvey Classics Scooby comic #1, that I actually remember getting back in 1992 when it was released. I carried it with me everywhere, and read it so many times that it's completely falling apart. So when I spied a replacement in mint condition on eBay a few years ago, I snapped it up. It wasn't expensive, and there are such good memories attached to this particular comic that I thought it only appropriate to splurge for a second copy.
But if I had to choose just one favorite item, it's going to be the 1980 jumbo 44” Mighty Star Toys plush Scooby-Doo that I mentioned in the above question. When I was 5 years old? This Scooby was as big as me! For years I couldn't go to sleep without him there on my bed. I think I dragged that poor Scooby with me everywhere – including on rides up and down the driveway in my electric Power Wheels Jeep. My dad even installed a little seat belt for him, no joke!
He was so well loved that after a few years, all the stuffing in his ankles got worn down so he couldn't sit up anymore. His collar fell off, and there were a few places on his body where the seams let go, and he was bleeding little beads of stuffing. My dad surprised me when he convinced an elderly seamstress friend to take him and perform a little surgery. He came back stitched up, with a repaired collar, as well as re-stuffed feet and ankles! Having my Scooby back good as new might have been one of the happiest moments of my life as a child!
What’s your Holy Grail of Collecting, that one piece you’ve always wanted but haven’t been able to get your hands on yet?
I'm tempted to say the 1973 Scooby-Doo and the Headless Horseman metal lunch box, but if I'm being honest with myself, that's my #2 want.
In 1977, the Imperial Toy Corporation made a set of three push puppets: Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Dum, and Scooby-Dee. If I could add only one item to my collection, it would be the Scooby-Dee push puppet. Even though she only made a single appearance (“The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller,” The Scooby-Doo Show, 1977), I've always loved Scooby-Dee. And as far as I know, the only other Scooby-Dee collectible is the #1 card from the Scooby-Doo “War” game deck. So I'm always on the lookout for the Scooby-Dee push puppet – though I wish they had made her collar pink like it's supposed to be (the pink is part of why I love her)!
What does collecting mean to you from a personal standpoint? What feelings does it evoke?
It really boils down to nostalgia, doesn't it? Surrounding yourself with the things that make you happy; that bring back good memories; that create a warm feeling of comfort in your body. To me, the “feeling” is what collecting should be all about. And if you're not getting that feeling, you should probably rethink what you're doing or how you're doing it.
I've always believed that you should collect only what you really like, and don't buy things as "investments." In my opinion, if you buy things just because you hope someday they'll be valuable, you're not really a collector. You're kind of just a banker, aren't you? Hoarding away your valuables in the hopes of turning a profit. What good is a vault full of priceless art or collectibles if they're not on view for anyone to admire? Part of art's “value” is its appeal: Not only how beautifully it's rendered, but how it makes you feel looking at it. It's fine if you own some things that ARE valuable, but if you don't love them, if they don't fill you with that warm feeling of nostalgia and put a smile on your face ... well, what's the point?
If you want a collectible and would rather display it out of the box? Then please, take it out of the box! And if you like how it looks in the box? Then leave it! But don't leave it JUST because you're imagining dollar signs years down the road. You can overthink things when it comes to collecting, and again, that takes away the important aspect of fun.
Some collectors get way too uptight about their collections, and without even realizing it, this “fun” thing they used to enjoy doing becomes a chore that they subconsciously resent. Collectors sometimes lose sight of the fact that they don't have to drive 1,000 miles to a con, or drop $500 on a single item. If you enjoy doing it and you can afford to do it, then by all means, do it. But if you think about that long drive and that huge chunk of change and go, “Ugh, why do I keep doing this?” Now you're not collecting for fun anymore, and it might be time to stop, or at least reevaluate your priorities.
When I sit in the middle of my Scooby-Doo collection, it just makes me happy. I can look at each and every piece and it evokes a good memory: Where I was when I got it, who gave it to me, what a great bargain it was, etc. Take, for instance, my bath squirt Scooby. Living where I do, Scooby stuff was very scarce growing up. So finding anything Scooby-related was a big deal for me. One day, my mom took me for lunch at Pizza Hut, and lo and behold, there was a picture of this Scooby squirter toy on the door! They wouldn't sell the Scooby separately from the kids' meal, but we had both had our hearts set on getting the lunch buffet. I was disappointed that in order to get the Scooby I'd have to pass on the buffet, but my mom leaned down and whispered, “Don't worry – I'll get you the kid's meal, and then I'll just put extra food on MY plate and we can share.”
My mom passed away 18 years ago, and that's a memory that I never want to forget. And having something tangible from that moment in time is a wonderful reminder of her and the kind of person she was.
I worry that so much of this kind of feeling is lost, especially today with the growing mentality of artificially forcing something into “collectible” status immediately upon release. Limiting quantities and making everything a special edition or an exclusive so that only a few people can enjoy having it (and while many others are disappointed) really makes me sad, because I think it kills the very spirit of collecting – fun. I honestly don't take any pleasure in having something that someone else doesn't have, and I wish that everyone could add the pieces they love to their collections. This is why I enjoy seeing other people's Scooby collectibles. Far from making me jealous, it shows me some of the really cool items that are out there – things that I can add to my own wish list, and watch for myself!
When all is said and done, collecting always boils down to one thing for me: How it makes you feel. Because without the feeling, it's all just stuff.
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