As I stared at a limited edition Akuma statue online yesterday, I was simultaneously torn between feeling "this is really cool" and "why the hell would anyone buy this?" The dramatic pose and thought of Akuma adorning my desk was tempting, but at $120 I was finally convinced he was best left as an in game experience. That's what's so puzzling; I made the connection with this cool character in the videogame and it's in the game that I will remember him most fondly. Why would I spend any money on an inanimate statue?
If you've been a gamer long enough chances are you've stumbled upon or been tempted to purchase some sort of gaming related merchandise. Maybe it was the Halo cat helmet or a Solid Snake statue. These collectible items are common across all of Geek culture - whether it's the meticulously replicated light sabers or the dramatically detailed and posed statues - fans are awash in resin sculptures, plushies and replicas of equipment associated with their favorite franchises. Add to this the fact that Kidrobot has a multilevel store in NYC dedicated to vinyl figurines, and its clear the love of the tchotchke has moved beyond fad towards something more enduring.
Geek memorabilia is the cookie jar collection of our generation. Someday, 150 years from now, the Antiques Roadshow equivalent will delight viewers with tales of Ma and Pa Bucket as they find out their Gundam model collection is worth 4,000 clams (clams being the currency of the future). However, I think the greater likelihood is that none of this stuff that Geeks are collecting so ravenously will be worth a damn thing in 25 years. The Pikachus, tricorders and Ryu posters will be unceremoniously dumped in the next big move to a new house or cubicle. Maybe a few people are collecting with an eye for value, but for me the fascination is more psychological.
At this year's NY Comic Con I was inspired to buy some Revoltech giant robot figurines. These five inch statues sit on my desk, collecting dust, conversation pieces for no one, only slightly less weird than a Troll doll. But when I bought them, I was utterly enthralled for a day. Media is, in many ways, fleeting and there's a strong desire to somehow capture the experience of it in something physical. Cartoons and videogames are especially ripe for this because they present us with images that just beg for some sort of tangible interpretation. As cinematic as Final Fantasy VII was, for many fans the ability to see and touch a Square licensed Cloud Strife statue is yet another way they can further connect with the game. Although these statues will be treated like the expensive pieces of craft that they are , locked away in glass cases, surely there is a thrill in briefly touching the character usually stuck behind the glass of a television screen.