In searching MUSCLE out, we'd invariably find pictures of ones that we remember having as well as ones we always wished we had. We'd research what they are, and find them on eBay or on forums like this one, and try to rebuild our collections. The fact that we are all here, reading this post, is indicative that we all found more than we bargained for. We set out to purchase toys, and we wound up collecting new friends and acquaintances through the process of building our collections. We get really stoked on collecting, and come up with grand designs on how we'd like to shape our collection... We come up with ways to extend the collecting process to make the thrill of the hunt last longer, while trying to educate ourselves about the form in general.
And then, as it always does, shit hits the fan. I'd like to believe that the "shit" in question can be summed up in one word ("greed", but there is also a lot of hubris), but in reality what happened to MUSCLE collecting, happens on a cycle and most of us that have been around for years have see that cycle repeat several times. There are mind-boggling trends that have fallen on the MUSCLE community, and the community as a whole seems to cosign on the behavior. Those who disagree, just fell out of the hobby. Those who were ambivalent stuck around, and I believe unwittingly bartered down ethics of the community in a handshake-with-the-devil for the sole purpose of keeping the hobby alive.
Breaches in the ethical boundaries of the community always happened... If you go back to the pioneer days of the AKIA (pre LRG) you still had the shill bidding, price gouging, taking advantage of newjacks, and people artificially driving up the prices of figures for their own monetary gain. You had members trying to manipulate the database to make common figures look more rare (to sell at a profit), or to make rarer figures look more common (to purchase, then resell at a profit). The fact that there is a lot of shady shit going on around MUSCLE collecting is nothing new... The widespread acceptance of it, however, is.
The bullshit that has become commonplace in the MUSCLE community, has driven a lot of people out of collecting. People bargain down their own expectations for their personal collections, just to avoid that breakdown in ethics being displayed by the fish-headed majority. That majority is actually a MINORITY, but only seems like a majority because nobody stands up to them. Real talk: people have looked away for so long in the interest of "just getting along", that they have stood back and watched the hobby turn into a psychotic shit-show OR just left the hobby all together.
I have noticed that people are more or less stalking each other on eBay, that they are buying lots at inflated prices, and then turning around once the value has been artificially augmented and reselling their doubles/triples/quintuples/etc for that higher inflated rate... Hell, even that purple claw's value is known to be an artificial value generated by Alex Forbes, who has been ostracized from the community to the point that we're not even supped to invoke his name! But for some reason, the greedy machinations left behind in his wake are considered acceptable? This makes zero sense. People on the board are doing the same shit that he was banned for, but I guess they are just smart enough to do it incrementally.
People tout that Class A's are so valuable, and the price only goes up... But when there are enough of the common Class A's that there is discussion that maybe some of the Class A's aren't as valuable and may actually be "Class B's"? Well, that conversation gets swept under the rug. We can't dare use the information, that we as a community (Namely Veers and Soupie) compiled (not for monetary reasons, but to understand the origins of the hobby better) to lower our artificially high prices... We can only use it to gouge the prices up higher? Right? Pfff
And don't even get me started on how Uncommon MUSCLE auctions go for 1:1 MUSCLE prices... The MUSCLE community doesn't accept the concept of "outliers"... Somebody pays 20% more than the value of a figure, then forevermore that becomes the value... We can't accept that it was some dummy paying a lot more than the figure was worth (and then move on).
MUSCLE collecting has become a drag, and to be frank, I am sick of it. MUSCLE, at one point in time, was the thing that brought almost all of us together.
We're ruining it, one shady interaction, shill bid, rule-of-two auction, and bold faced lie at a time.
Hell, maybe I am just the self-appointed sheriff of LRG... But I honestly feel less like that, and more like a friend who just found out that his best friend is a junkie.
It just f@#$ing sucks.