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A collector confronts her demons by watching Collection Intervention

Alex Casey watches Collection Intervention and comes away with some key learnings for fellow hoarders collectable enthusiasts.

When I die, my body will be buried with hundreds of plastic E.T. figurines. Not because I love them and want them to stay with me forever, just because I’m certain I won’t be able to fucking get rid of them in this lifetime. As my flesh rots and me eyes fill with worms, those stupid E.T.s will remain in mint condition, taunting me deep into the underworld.

I’m a collector and I really hate it.

Welcome to hell

There’s a grainy home video of me, about age four, unwrapping my first wind up E.T. figurine. Things begin buoyant and inquisitive. “Creepy crawly” I gurgle. Nek min, Mum winds up the E.T. and lets it loose across the floor, its zombie walk naturally causing me to scream and cry and scream some more. Little did I know, that’s when my collector state of mind began.

“I recall that the movie E.T. had a profound and very negative effect on you as a child,” recounted my torturous, evil mother over Facebook chat. “I think by giving you funny toys I was trying to show you that he was really an endearing little extra-terrestrial.” I still, to this day, have absolutely no idea why my mum is in the pocket of big E.T. PR – I’m not even convinced she’s seen the film in full.

Bathtime in hell

Nonetheless, I am now a 26-year-old adult who spent last weekend lovingly bathing numerous plastic aliens in a warm soapy soak, gently cleaning each one before air drying and packing away carefully into Sistema containers. Year upon year, my collection inexplicably grows, and I still haven’t stopped the screaming and crying and screaming. 

What does one do with a completely useless collection that they actively loathe, but can’t seem to part ways with because it might be worth something in roughly 200 years? I turned to Collection Intervention for answers, a reality show which is pretty much Hoarders with fewer bottles of urine. Here’s what I have learned.

1) ACCEPT THAT IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD

Every single subject on Collection Intervention has become hung up on some element of their youth that they just can’t let go. After battling a childhood illness and turning to Transformers as a beacon of strength, Dahveed can’t let go of his plastic Optimus Primes at the age of 38. “You’re reliving your life” says GI Joe collector Jack, “it’s as if you are a child again.”

A therapist, or at least someone who appears to be a therapist via wearing glasses and a tie, advises that you seek out a connection in your collection to something from your past. “There’s always something,” he says. Surely not. Seems absurd. Not me. No sir. Not my childhood. Not my president.

Ffs.

2) BRING IN THE EXPERTS

The people of Collection Intervention are blessed with Elyse Luray, formerly of Christie’s Auction house, to sort through their tat and sell off the less valuable stuff. In one particularly stubborn case – Joe refusing to sell one of his 30,000 comics – comic book creator James Robinson has to be brought in to talk him around. “If you streamline it down to the things you really like, you enjoy it more,” he coos. “MY COLLECTION IS ME” Joe replies.

MFW PHONE HOME

Unrelated: does anyone have Drew Barrymore’s phone number?

3) VINTAGE IS QUEEN

Reproductions and updates are a dime a dozen, but the vintage pieces are the most crucial in any good collection. Take Jack with his extraordinary male doll collection, featuring a contingent of extremely rare African American GI Joes, or Beverly’s pristine 1960s Barbie cases.

All I can offer in the vintage stakes is a mint condition 1982 leather ET, which my stoned friend once succinctly referred to as “a giant poo that has fallen from the sky.”

Poo city.

4) … BUT ACCESSORIES ARE KING

Collecting requires the same organisation as an S Club 7 reunion concert – if you don’t have the full set then why the hell would you bother? If toys or dolls are your cup of tea, take care to ensure you have all the finicky accoutrements down to the last Barbie bangle. It’s the little things that go missing in the sands of time, the smaller the thing the bigger the $$$. Sidenote: I’ve never seen someone openly weep over a pristine Barbie hat until I watched Collection Intervention.

5) WIN THE STORAGE WARS

Elyse is all about keeping your collectables in mint condition, steaming your tiny doll clothes and filing away your pristine comic books. But she’s also insistent that you find a way to proudly display your wares. “If you keep a collection in a closet, nobody is enjoying it. What’s the point?”

The point, Elyse, is that my partner will leave me if I put my maybe cursed, definitely larger-than-life-size E.T. on display in the house. That’s why it lives here, on top of the cupboard where it can’t frighten anyone:

Mum thinks this is the biggest E.T. in the Southern Hemisphere

6) NEVER FORGET: YOUR MOST VALUABLE PIECES ARE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

“A collection can dramatically get in the way of a marriage” Elyse reckons, goading Barbie collector Beverly to ditch half her collection in order to give her husband his wardrobe back. Hot Wheels collector Jack doesn’t have much of a family lounge, and our Transformers fiend Dahveed has a love life that is far from prime.

How to solve this? Try conducting all of your collectable dealings in secret, and hope that you never get foiled by the odd package turning up at an inopportune hour…

7) DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET GO

In an episode aptly named “Toy Hell”, Elyse reaches the conclusion that collectors are really the only ones who can decide what to let go of. It’s not about the monetary value in the end, but what each piece is worth to you personally. With that said, if anyone wants to purchase a hefty E.T. collection I’ll be – in the immortal words of E.T. the space poo himself – right here.


Dealing with a collection nightmare of your own? Delve into the goldmine that is Collection Intervention on Lightbox today

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