This rant's title come from some sage advice given to new collectors by a friend of mine:
Buy low, sell high
Hate the game, not the player
EVERYTHING IS GRAIL
Sure seems like it anymore. The bar for what constitutes a grail is now on the floor. I want it - GRAIL! It’s selling for 50 bucks - GRAIL! It’s a Freddy- GRAIL! More and more people are posting ‘grails’ for sale or worse still, advertising that they’re buying ‘grails’. No real explanation of what they’re looking for, just that it’s a ‘grail’. Oh, well, just buying grails, that clears everything right up. Here’s a cup. F*ck you.
That’s kind of harsh. Let me back off that for just a bit and start over. I’ve seen the debate over what constitutes a grail a lot recently, and almost always someone posts that it’s an ‘expensive’ pop and then everyone talks about how their favorite ‘grail’ just topped 100 dollars (more on what a sham this point of view is later). The answer that gets quietly ignored, because it’s right and unsexy, is that a ‘grail’, like everything else in collecting, is a matter of personal choice. It’s the figure that YOU want the most.
I would like to add three conditions to that.
One: It should exist. Does this need explanation? I mean, I thought this was a no-brainer, but every now and then someone posts something along the lines of ‘If Funko would only make Gilligan’s Island, my grail would be Thurston Howell, because I’m a big Jim Backus fan.’ Technically that’s a wish. Learn the difference.
Two: It should be hard to find. The story of acquiring a grail should be semi-epic and involve lots of drama. Like you fought a tiger for it or something. If it’s newly released and sitting on the shelves at Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble, Target, Wal-Mart or clogging up my FB feed, or listed on Ebay in the hundreds….not a grail, even if it was previously a wish. Something shouldn’t be your ‘grail’ because you can’t get your ass to GameStop to pick up your pre-order. You’re lazy.
Three: You don’t own it already. Seems kind of obvious. King Arthur didn’t quest for ‘The Cup He Already Had In The Kitchen’. It might have been a grail for you at some point, but now it’s simply ‘yours’. This means that pieces in you collections don’t magically become grails over time. They might get expensive. They might become highly sought after. But your work is done. Hunting for it is as simple and easy as turning your head. Not a lot of challenge there.
Please note that none of the above three conditions has anything to do with ‘value’.
I always argue against people judging their collections based on how much they’re worth. It’s why I hate Top Ten lists. It’s why the discussion about grails becomes so tiresome. Because it’s not about the money, stupid! It’s always about what YOU love to collect. Grails don’t have to be super-expensive or super-rare. Thinking that they do is fairly one-dimensional thinking. Expensive = Grail = You’ll be out of money and the hobby soon. I’ve gotten sideways with more than a few people online over this point, hence my previous ‘F*ck you’ comment. But that’s less about the money and more about the dogma (ummm...not true, right now I’m running 60/40 in favor of telling the money people to drop dead). Nothing in collecting HAS to be anything. It’s all personal. Personally, I think a real Funko collector should have at least one Freddy, but not everyone else does. Of course, those people aren’t true collectors so their opinions don’t matter. If you like to collect in box, that’s cool. Out of box, that’s cool, too. It’s your stuff, display how you like. Likewise, pine for what you want. Here’s a heartbreaker: there aren’t any consensus ‘grails’. Not everyone has an interest in owning a Clockwork Orange pop, or a Headless Hershel, or Headless Ned, or a Shadow Trooper, therefore, not grails. My current ‘grail’ would cost me about 25 bucks if it ever became available. It just doesn’t come up for sale very often, and when it does, I’m on vacation without internet. FML.
As you can see, once you clear the first three hurdles everything could be a grail more or less. I do think that people use the word too casually, which is why I joke about the bar being on the floor. All too often you see it tossed around breathlessly for new releases, like say Toucan Sam, which isn’t a grail, at least not yet. In the short term, it’s not going to be that hard to find. There are over a 100 listing on ebay already, and when they start shipping next week, there will be another couple hundred. Oh, it’s expensive right now, but that’s because of all the dipshits who equate a ‘page not found’ error to extreme rarity. Goddamn dummies. Someone actually argued that the error made it more collectible because it showed how much demand there was for it. Bullshit. It was an IT hiccup. The payroll system at work glitched out, it didn’t mean that people really loved their jobs that week. There’s no place in life for that kind of stupid. Eat something other than glue.
My version of the advice given above went something like this:
Collect what you like
Share your passion
Don’t be a dick.
Now, I recognize that arguing that something is personal, then arguing passionately for my point of view is a little dickish (and hypocritical), but, saying that ‘I consider something expensive to be a grail’ is different than ‘A grail is super expensive’. One is an opinion, the other sounds like a fact. Too many ‘experts’ spout off as if their opinions are facts (me included) and we do make an impression on new collectors. Unfortunately, we're giving them the impression that all grails have to be expensive, and that all expensive pops are gails. I want to see more people collecting what they like and sharing their passion. I want to see more people stand up and say ‘Hong Kong Phooey is my grail because I love him!.’
Otherwise, here’s your cup. You know the rest.