Collection Intervention premiered on Syfy last night and I have to admit to being more than a little nervous about this one. The premise of the show is that the host, Elyse Luray, helps people who have collections that have grown out of control–think Hoarders for geeks. The reason for my trepidation is that I was afraid the show would give us collectors a bad rap.
The ominous tone of the voiceover during the show’s intro didn’t do a whole lot to allay my fears:
“There’s a fine line between collecting and hoarding, where the attachment to the collection becomes an obsession–an obsession gets completely out of control, where one person’s passion becomes another person’s nightmare. It can ruin friendships, wreck finances, bring relationships to the breaking point–something has to give.”
Elyse Luray is a seasoned pro in the collectibles area, having been an author, appraiser, and auctioneer, as well as hosting TV shows such as PBS’ History Detective and HGTV’s World’s Longest Yard Sale. This premiere episode starts with Elyse visiting Garet and his wife, Consetta, who have amassed an entire houseful of Star Wars items. (It was awesome.) Their collection may have started small but it eventually grew “like a fungus,” taking up just about every square inch of living space. They even had their Star Wars themed wedding cake, a massive Star Destroyer, preserved and on display. This couple is hard core.
Elyse thinks the collection is worth $150k–three times what Consetta and Garet thought it was worth–and tries to convince them that they need to sell off some of the clutter, and it only takes about three minutes before the tears started to roll.
While Garet and Consetta have their own issues, I would put the next collector in an entirely different class. Mark is a Catwoman hoarder. Yup, I did it, I used the “H” word, here’s why: Everything Mark buys is immediately put away in a box and tossed on the pile in his garage, a place he never lets anyone see. Mark spends money on his Catwoman fetish before he pays his mortgage–a practice that obviously doesn’t sit well with his wife, Lolly.
Most of the items Mark has collected are fairly recent products that don’t have much monetary value, but there are a few gems tucked away in the boxes, such as a cool ceramic Catwoman music box from 1978. Elyse also finds a treasure trove of vintage Bionic Woman items and Mego figures. She estimates the value of his entire garage of items to be $4,000-6,000, whereas Mark thinks it is worth around $100k, and to him, it probably is. I felt bad for the guy, because we all have items that we value way more than they’re worth–he just happens to have an entire garage full of them!
This show has an awkward way of flipping back and forth between the two collectors, and now we’re back at Garet and Consetta’s house where Elyse has invited Brian Flynn of Super 7 over. She thinks if he buys something from Consetta, the floodgates may open and the Star Wars toys will start flowing out the door. Easier said than done. Brian offers $500 for Conseta’s vintage action figures, but she refuses. Eventually, she agrees to part with just one, Wicket, and Elyse seems happy that the ice is broken.
This whole process just baffled me, and I’m sure it’s due to the show’s editing and need for drama, but why on Earth would you ask them to sell the items that are probably some of the most collectible and valuable items in the house, leaving behind all the worthless dreck that’s just taking up space? Nevermind the fact that they are loose action figures, which take up almost no room! Everyone wants a vintage collection of Star Wars figures, so why would Elyse think it would be easy for Consetta to sell her collection, or break it up. After this scene, I snarkily tweeted that I bet Consetta already bought another Wicket as soon as Elyse left the house. Who thinks I’m wrong?
Back at Catwoman’s hideout, Mark and Lolly have a sit down. Mark knows he needs to unload some stuff to save their marriage, and reluctantly agrees to meet with Larry, who owns Blast from the Past collectibles. (Remember Larry? We saw him on an episode of Hollywood Treasure this season.) Larry offers $50 for a boxed Steve Austin doll, citing the poor condition of the box. Mark doesn’t want to sell and thinks the price is too low (I do too!). He also has a boxed Maskatron and a large unopened Mego Hulk figure. Larry buys all the items and whatever else was in the boxes for $1,100. It’s hard to judge if this was a good price or not because we didn’t get to see everything in the box.
Here’s where I had another issue with the show. I think Elyse could have made more money for Mark by selling these items to collectors rather than to a dealer. It would have been easier for him to part with the items if he felt like he was getting a good deal rather than half of the items’ value he received by selling to a dealer. I know on Clean Sweep or Hoarders, the typical solution is to dump or donate a good bit of the items, but this show is dealing with collectibles that actually have a good bit of value, so let’s see what they’re really worth!
A bit later in the show, Mark actually does try his hand at selling some of his Catwoman items directly to collectors. At one point while holding up a hideous t-shirt, his wife, Lolly, asks him “What were you thinking when you bought this thing?” To which he replied that he bought it because he bought ANYTHING that had Catwoman on it. Well, there’s your problem right there.
Lolly sells a (scary) Michelle Pfeiiffer Catwoman bust for $110 and Mark is not happy, but he slowly overcomes his anger, and the stuff starts flowing out the door. He makes $238 that day and feels proud of his accomplishment. I’m not sure what his mortgage bill looks like, but the show did note that the happy couple is nearly out of debt, so way to go Mark!
The last scene of this episode occurs at, of all places, Rancho Obiwan! It turns out that Consetta is friends with Steve Sansweet, the biggest Star Wars collector and curator in the galaxy. Consetta has put many of her items up for auction, with the results going to charity (I don’t believe this was stated on the show, but I learned about that fact later–very awesome). After a bumpy start, her items start selling for good prices and the full-size Captain Rex statue by Gentle Giant sells for $2,300–to Steve Sansweet!
I did enjoy seeing the Star Wars items sell for decent prices and going to collectors rather than dealers, and I hope they pursue this avenue more often in future episodes. Everyone wins with this kind of scenario, and we viewers get to see some “real” prices and can learn about valuing our own collections a little better.
Overall, I think that Syfy did a commendable job with this show and I am looking forward to future episodes. It’s weird, but the collecting community is the harshest critic of these kinds of shows. Personally, I think it’s important to watch them, promote them, and cheer for their success if we ever want to see more. Never in a million years would I have imagined seeing vintage Mego figures featured in a prime-time major network TV show, unless it was used to mock their existence, so I will continue to hope for the best for this show and any other shows with collectors in mind.
Also, one last note: I want to commend Elyse Luray for interacting with me and others via Twitter before, during, and after the show. She certainly didn’t need to do that, but the fact that she did, made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. Follow her on Twitter and see what I mean.
So, that’s my long-winded review. What did you think?
I didnt like the show very much. The fact that the “dealer” said that he had never seen the large ( very common) Mego Hulk before just left me questioning what kind of expert he really was. I think maybe Mark should have looked into getting Lolly instead of his collection.
I think he might have meant he had never seen one in the box, because it was kind of a strange comment. Let’s all hope Mark and Lolly the best. 😉
The Goodwill Geek says
The idea of this show made my stomach sick. Just in a nervous way… not in a way that insulted my principles or anything like that. It just made me feel like my wife was watching me to gauge my reaction. There was a time when I was spending a ridiculous amount of money on ridiculous things because I was a completist collector who had to have every figure in a line or it just wasn’t “worth” it.
Now, I pride myself on finding things cheap and randomly, and I’m much happier. It feels like I’m letting things happen naturally instead of trying to force them.
But the idea of someone coming in and telling me my collecting is unhealthy or that it somehow makes me weird… just makes me feel like a little kid in trouble. I don’t want to watch a bunch of guys (and girls, but probably more guys) feel self-conscious and ashamed of their collections.
I think this episode did a pretty good job of toning down the guilt. I don’t think the show caused the guilt, so much as the spouses did.
A large collection can absolutely become a burden and strain one’s relationships, but when you find the balance where you can financially afford your collection and keep it stored and organized properly, there’s nothing better. I am proud of the collection I have put together and love to sit in my cave, surrounded by my “treasures.”
The Goodwill Geek says
Well good. Maybe I’ll give this show a shot then (when the wife is not around).
Reis O'Brien says
Gentlemen, gentlemen… I think we’re missing the most important aspect of this show; that Elyse Luray is wicked hot. Please, let’s try to stay focused.
There is that. 😉
Her eyebrows were disturbing.
So, I missed the last 15 minutes of the show because we were having a crazy storm and the power was touch & go… but I have mixed feelings about what I saw in the first 45. I kind of feel like the whole thing was pretty rushed. I’d have rather the show focused on one collector vs. going back and forth between two. I also didn’t agree with some of the advice that was being dispensed. I dunno; I’ll tune in next week to see if it gets better, but so far…meh.
Glad to hear the tornado didn’t carry you off to Oz! I had the same thought about it feeling a bit rushed, and the flipping back and forth between the collectors didn’t help that problem. If you bail on the show, I’ll be sure to let you know when they tackle an out of control TMNT collection. 😉
Great review Brian. I can’t believe how many collectors seem to be opposed to the show. I thought it was great and would love to have Elyse come over to The Batcave Toy Room anytime.
Thanks John. Yeah, the collecting community is really harsh towards shows like this and I just don’t get it. We’re the intended audience, shouldn’t we be cheering for shows that showcase toys? The poor hosts of these shows can’t win–If they offer too little for an item, they get flack, if they were to ever overestimate something’s value, they’d get even more flack, and God forbid if they come across something they don’t recognize (see Toy Hunter episode 2).
I think some of us have a guilty conscious and sometimes the truth hurts.Also, some collectors feel like they are getting a lecture. I know. I think no matter how big a collector you are, there is always going to be something out there that you have never seen before.
Part of the reason I watched this show was to gauge how far gone I am as a collector. Thank goodness my wife told me that I wasn’t even close to the level that these two were. *whew*
Also, we had the same exact reaction regarding all the Star Wars dreck vs. her old action figures. That made no sense to us either. Hmmm…your vintage action figures or that Yoda in a Santa Claus costume…or a tie-fighter pilot spatula, etc. Give me a break!
I wonder if Lolly has ever dresses up like Catwoman. I want to see photos. 😉
I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. (My wife made that same comment, poor Lolly.)
Like you, my wife felt much better about my collection after watching this show, but I think the seed of doubt is still lodged deep in the back of her brain. 😉
Ha!!… He was totally dressing Lolly up as Catwoman!!… I bet that’s why she was all pissed off!!… It was prolly pretty fun until she found the garage of shame!!….
That was a great recap. I hadn’t even heard of this show until one of my coworkers at Dish told me about it and said, “You think I’m bad? Check this out…” So I went to Dishonline(dot)com last night and streamed it for free. And wow, these people needed a push, especially Mark. I actually think Elyse did the right thing for him by selling to those dealers. I don’t think his behavior had anything to do with money or the value of those items—for his own sanity he just needed to be rid of the Catwoman stuff as quickly as possible.
Yeah, you might be right. Mark’s “collection” was certainly a burden on him, and getting rid of all that stuff probably was a huge weight lifted. Hopefully, things worked out for him.
Joe Kelly, Jr. says
Hello, Brian (and everyone else) –
First off – great site! I hope to come back and visit often.
I was pretty worried about the show, myself. We (my pal Frank and I) were asked to go to New Jersey to join Elyse at the home/collection of “Crazy” Jack Struller, whose collection of Hot Wheels, die cast models, car toys, plastic kits, and GI Joes was rumored to be in the thousands. We were to act as appraisers, so that Jack and his wife, Deb, could get an idea as to what their home contained, value-wise. This will be one of the subjects of the next episode, “Two Houses Divided”.
It was amazing. In addition to the Hot Wheels and auto-themed toys and collectibles, Jack is a serious car builder with TV cred and years of street racing experience; some of the projects he had in his garage were amazing – not to mention extremely valuable. Unfortunately, those areas weren’t a part of this show’s focus. We could have shot a two-hour show in the garage, alone.
Elyse was gracious, knowledgeable, and, most importantly, respectful of Jack and Deb. It was a pleasure to work with her and the High Noon crew, and my fears have been put to rest, having seen the end result. I only hope that Jack can get his collection in front of more collectors (if he’s serious about selling some of his treasures).
As a side note, we’re in the process of connecting Jack with a world-renowned Hot Wheels expert/author who will help him max out the return on his years of collecting.
I’m looking forward to Tuesday night!
After your comment here Joe, I’m looking forward to next week’s show even more! Thanks for the inside scoop, and please check in again next week. I’m glad to hear it worked out for Jack!
Ty Law says
I would like to add Lolly to my collection!