Next Gen?Posted: April 2, 2011
This past weekend the 19th David Comic Clan Convention took place at the YMCA here in San Juan. There were many dealers with a decent variety of Comic/Sci-Fi related merchandise but unfortunately none of them got any Non-Sports (bad day for me, good for the wife’s). Still, I was surprised and pleased to see more people than usual. Even more to see many teenagers looking around and some of them were all dressed up in their favorite anime character. And that is –in my humble opinion- the most important element in order to keep hobbies alive: getting the young people involve. Otherwise, we will all be buried with our “priceless” treasures.
And that’s something that’s been missing from our hobby lately, young people. Most of us card-hunters are adult males. Man who have either grown up collecting them or collectors that once gave it up and are now back searching for lost memories of their childhood. But it didn’t use to be like this. Back in the 90’s a big part of the hobby was composed of young teenagers and eve younger kids. But times have change now.
Technology has increase, and with it, the access that the youth has to it. Internet, video games, cell phones have come to take the place that collecting once had. According to a survey by the “Pew Internet & American Life Project” 97% of teenagers play some type of videogame. That’s an incredible number considering that it would mean that almost all of them have access to a game console. Yet, why then is our hobby in such a bad shape? To get an answer of the present, we must first understand the past; we need to see at the moment where card collecting started falling.
It all went down in the 90’s (my collecting era). Manufactures where eager to produce for in the first half of that decade a lot of interest emerge for sport cards due to the popularity that reach both baseball and basketball -we all can thank Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal for that. But let’s go further back for a moment.
In the beginning cards (in the format we know them today) were an extra from a main product, the chewing gum. As time went by, kids started to be more and more interested in the card, the hunt, the fellowship. Then came the Second World War and with the scarcity of paper a lot of cards and comic books where donate by mothers all across America.
In the mid eighties there was a lot of attention to the high prices that these old comics and cards were reaching. Then at tsunami of buyers in the early 90’s saw current comics and cards as a retirement fund that they would cash in some day. As an answer to that, manufacturers started producing thousands of comics saturating the market. People were buying not boxes, but cases of cards and dozens of comic’s dups. When all of them realized that at the end those items were worth some pennies above the original price, they stop buying.
People didn’t realize that those comics and cards that were been auction for incredible prices were real rear to come by since most of them got destroy; either by kids, or later, the war. Producers got hit as true collectors as well; not the guy who saw cards as IRAs, but the ones who treasure them for the fun.
So, what does the future holds for card collecting. It’s hard to say and I don’t see much hope. We’ve been outbid by technology; kids almost seem to get to this world with precognitive skills for computers and game consoles. Lots of parents have also neglect the quality time with their children, where it was where parents use to collect and sort cards with children. That initiation is lost and TV has come to fill that void.
We got to get young people back to collecting. Not only to keep our hobby alive, but to give them the opportunity to share the fun, the hunt, the memories that comes with every pack! One can start by making cards cool for our kids and grandkids; find the right subject or theme set. Cards can be given at birthdays and Christmas. Collect with them! Read with them (or to them) the back of the cards! Sort them out. Take them to your local card shows! BE CREATIVE!
And lastly, support your dealers, shops, favorite card websites, and magazine editors (like Les Davis or the Tosers); we can make waves. Again WE can!