Comic-Con Time With the Raroos

[GameSetWatch columnists The Raroos wrap up their San Diego Comic-Con coverage with Missus Raroo's thoughts on the "Catch 'em all" mentality. In case you missed the Raroos' other Comic-Con write-ups, be sure to check out their account of Preview Night, The First Day and The Second Day, and The Third Day, not to mention their photo gallery of Sega Arcade.]

Attending Comic-Con has been a family tradition for Mister Raroo and me that goes back to when we first started dating. This year, we were able to share the experience with our two children, and it stood out as the first time that our four-year-old son truly anticipated the convention. I was impressed that he actually remembered going last year, but of course, his main memory of it is just as a place where he got new toys.

Thus, besides passing along the tradition of Comic-Con to our kids, this year's experience at the convention made me take some time to reflect on how Mister Raroo and I have already managed to unintentionally pass along the drive to "collect." I started to think about the compulsion to collect while at the LEGO booth, where my son and I simultaneously lit up upon spotting some boxes of little orange Minifigures packages at the sales counter.

Guessing What's Inside

Mister Raroo first discovered these collectible LEGO miniatures a few months ago, and we became almost obsessed with them. Since then we managed to get 15 out of the 16 designs from the Series 4 line, though it took visiting several stores and spending hours trying to figure out which figures were in the mystery packages by feeling the pieces through the wrappers.

Not only did manhandling the packages create suspicion with some store employees, but we ended up with unfortunate duplicates--two wolf men, two mad scientists, and two Vikings--but no Frankenstein, a figure that continued to elude us.

The Minifigures are so popular that they quickly sold out in all of our local stores, but this year's Comic-Con came to the rescue and we have been lucky to score Frankenstein at last.

Frankenstein Get!

Intellectually, I know that I should not allow the "Catch 'em all" mentality to dominate, but as a self-admitted completist, there is a definite feeling of relief that I feel in rounding out the set. With all of the stresses in the world and in our lives, somehow finding Frankenstein gave some small sense of order to our personal universe.

As ridiculous as this sounds, I know I am not alone. Walking around the floor of Comic-Con, we are certainly in good company when it comes to collecting. There are collectors of classic comics, custom painted Indie plastic toys, limited run ray guns, and pretty much anything else with a booth to match.

On the one hand, I worry about the consumerist values that we are instilling in our children. As we walk to the Convention Center, passing many homeless people carrying all of their worldly possessions in a single bundle, I can't help but feel some shame when I think about the mountains of toys that my children have amassed in just their few years on earth.

I don't want our kids to falsely believe that acquiring things can provide them with happiness nor that possessions are what make them important. I hope that they are appreciative of what they have and do not fall into the oh-so-common entitlement trap. I want to make sure that they are fiscally responsible when it comes to indulging in their discretionary purchases. And, I never want them to prioritize things over the people in their lives.

At the same, I totally get it. I get how amazing it is to discover a new Star Wars figure or Hot Wheels car that "I've never seen before" (what our son always says when he sees a new toy he wants to add to his collection).

You Don't Need More!

As my husband, my son, and I pored through layers of Hot Wheels on display at a booth, I overheard a mother snap at her son, "You already have so many Hot Wheels. You don't need more!" The boy tried to point out that he didn't have a particular car that was so cool, but his mother was deaf to his pleas.

Mister Raroo and I are perhaps guilty of buying too many toys for our son, because we see things like the kids. The fact that our son already has a large bin full of cars at home can't stop us from getting just one more when we, for instance, find a car that is in the shape of a bomb that opens up sideways to reveal the engine! And yes, we got that one today.

Our soft spot for toys is readily apparent if one should ever visit our home. And, as much as I want to keep us in check, not letting our home turn into the next episode of Hoarders, I also find comfort in the "stuff" of our home.

I recently read an article where someone lamented the loss of print books in favor of e-Books, because the physical books that adorn his home's bookshelves are not just content, but forms that stand as evidence of the ideas that have shaped the person he is, almost like a collage of the person he is.

Our Collections Represent Us

I agree. There is a reason why people usually store books on shelves and not in drawers or cabinets. The books manifest who we are. Take one glance at the game cases that make up my husband's video game library, and you'll get an instant picture of the type of gamer that he is.

Take any individual title, and he can further explain how it plays into the history of his life, how he got it and what his life was like when he was playing it. These "things" reflect his life's experiences.

Sitting on the couch in our home, I can see the toys my son got from Comic-Con this year. There are no house rules about our children having to keep all of their toys stowed away in their rooms, in fear they might mess up our home's decorating scheme.

Instead, toys are not only out to play with, but they also function as our decor. I love seeing my son's toys because to me, they represent the little guy we so love. His collections embody and externalize all that stirs his imagination and captures his heart.

See you again next year, Comic-Con. We'll see what's filling our shelves when next we meet!

[Missus Raroo doesn't consider herself to be a "real" gamer, but between listening to her husband excitedly talk about games on a regular basis and trying her hand at a select few titles herself, she knows a thing or two about video games. She served as the co-editor-in-chief of the Game Time With Mister Raroo print zine and was called the "heart and soul" of the publication by readers. She lives in El Cajon, CA with her husband, son, daughter, and pets. You may reach Missus Raroo at [email protected]. For all your Game Time With Mister Raroo needs, visit Club Raroo!]