Collecting started pretty early for me. At around seven or eight I was handed down two massive chocolate tins from my brother. excitedly I opened them, drooling at the chocolatey surprise I expected to be held within, only to face a huge bundle of stamps. Not only that, but they were still attached to bits of envelope. These were the remnants of my brother's collection, handed to me to sort, soak, remove from the envelope scraps and attach to my own stamp collectors book, a Christmas present that had been sitting collecting dust on a shelf. So I set about the work and really got into the whole hobby for several years.
Panini soon entered my life in the form of football sticker books. Every year a new book and set of stickers for the season, with every player in the major divisions. As most boys at that time, I collected, swapped and filled that book, sending off an order to Panini to get the last ones I needed, until the next season came around. I remember also a Guinness Book of Records sticker collection which I obsessed over.
Collecting went on through my teens with Roleplaying books, Warhammer figures, then music vinyl, tapes and cd's and VHS tapes and DVD's. And books, lots and lots of books.
When my daughter was just over a year old, a collectables series became available in newsagents called My Animal Farm. With it came a hard back book teaching you about various farm animals along with a farm animal figure, cows, pigs, geese, even a peacock. As ever with these things, the first one was £1.99 so I jumped on board, thinking it'll make a good collection both of toys and educational books. Naturally it reverted to the full price of £5 every two weeks which was manageable. By issue 30 it hit me I'd spent almost £150 on this collection and I decided perhaps that was enough toy animals.
Now, at four years old, she is obsessed with all things Frozen and what should appear free in a Frozen magazine she regularly cajoles me into buying? Our old friend Panini, Frozen sticker book and two free packets. Now it's my turn to go through what I put my parents through only now instead of 5p a packet as they were in the 70's, they're 50p a packet and you need a lot to finish your collection. Thankfully Panini still allow you to buy single stickers from them to finish your collection but now you can do it all online. It's also interesting to note that a whole market has grown up on eBay selling Panini stickers, a good way to get rid of 'swaps'
On the subject of eBay, I've now taken to selling off McDonald's Happy Meal toys, which there also seems to be a market for. They go for anywhere from £1 to £7 currently ( where a Happy Meal is somewhere in the region of £2.40) so I'm not sure who is buying them or why, but I'm thankful for the collectors. It pays for the Frozen stickers if nothing else.