Welcome back to Collectors Showcase, an ongoing series at SYFY WIRE highlighting the biggest and best collections of geek memorabilia accumulated by fans everywhere.
This time we're focusing on something a little different. Rather than chat with a collector who's spent decades accumulating a vast swath of memorabilia and toys, we're talking to a relative newcomer to the joys of action figure collecting. We spotted Servando, a husband and father of two from South Texas, thanks to the creative photos he was staging with his action figures, which you can see over at his Instagram devoted to his photography. When he agreed to chat, we found out that he's only been at it for about a year (happy first birthday, Servando's Collection!), and that what started as a small interest quickly grew into transitioning from one kind of collectible (marbles) to something else entirely.
Check out our chat with Servando below, and check out his full collection in the gallery at the bottom of the page!
How long have you been collecting?
SERVANDO: This part is embarrassing; I have only been collecting since June 2017. When I tell people how long I've been collecting and they see how many figures I have already, they automatically assume I'm rich or heavy in debt. Truth is I was really into collecting marbles prior to action figures and sold a large chunk of my marble collection to help fund my action figure purchases.
What drove the transition from marbles to action figures?
I lost my passion for collecting marbles. My marble collection was nearly complete, and I think looking back at my "complete" collection made me realize I didn't really like collecting marbles as much as I thought. I already knew some people that collected figures, and I always thought they looked cool, but never saw it as something I'd want to spend actual money on. Once I bought my first figures it became so much easier to buy more, and I sold my marbles to fund my new passion.
What was the spark that lit the collecting fire for you?
I am really into this video game called Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. I loved the game so much I decided to buy some figures from this series. The plan was just to get a few figures of just this ONE game. However, from there I thought to myself, maybe some other figures from things I like wouldn't be so bad, and it just exploded from there.
When you’re looking for a new piece, what does it take to make you say “I have to have that”?
I try to limit my "have to have" figures to properties I grew up with or characters I truly love. It's very easy to fall into the hole of being a completionist. There are way too many cool-looking figures coming out nowadays, so I need to set rules for myself. If an action figure comes out and it looks cool AND it's Batman, though? I have to have it.
I try not to spend too much on an individual figure, but I will bend those rules if the figure is of a property I truly love or it’s a very hard-to-find figure.
Do you ever think about stopping the collection where it is?
I definitely don't think I'll be stopping anytime soon, however I am being more selective into what I purchase. I don't think I'll be buying as many figures a year from now. I have purchased figures for most of my favorite properties, and I'm sure one day I'll have them all, but there will always be another Batman or Spider-Man that I will just have to have, so I'll never be truly done.
What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gone to in order to get a particular piece for your collection?
Nothing too crazy. Sites like eBay or Bigbadtoystore make it very easy to find what you're looking for. The most I've done was go to multiple Walgreens, Targets, and Walmarts in one day just looking for one figure. I ended up coming home empty-handed and just bought it online soon after.
If you have a crown jewel in your collection, what would it be and why?
It's so hard to pick one, but whenever I'm asked that the Mezco The Dark Knight Returns Batman always pops into my head first. It's the first "premium" figure I bought. It wasn't cheap. It looks amazing, and it's of my favorite character. If I could only save one of my figures from a fire, it would be that one. Of course this is after making sure my family is safe first.
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?
With all these websites, everything feels within reach as long as you're willing to pay for it. If I had to say one item I think it would the Toybiz Marvel Legends Apocalypse Build a Figure. The figure is massive, and while you can easily find it on auction sites, you'll have to pay a nice chunk of money for it. I just haven't been able to bring myself to buy it yet. Not much a holy grail I guess, right? I suppose any figure I thought of as a grail is in my collection already.
What does collecting mean to you from a personal standpoint? What feelings does it evoke?
I didn't have a lot of figures growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money, so I didn't have many toys in general. This is me buying the things I couldn't afford as a child. Buying these figures is a stress reliever to me, and they make me feel happy. I'm surrounding myself in nostalgia and buying a physical representation of these characters and worlds that I love so much. I've collected other things in the past, but nothing quite has that deep connection and gives me that feeling of calmness as buying and posing my action figures.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)