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Many weekends, Aaron Taylor can be found hitting yard sales, surfing the Web or rummaging through boxes from his parents’ attic discovering treasures from his childhood.
Many sci-fi enthusiasts, such as Taylor of Elizabethtown, have personal connections to their memorabilia collections and valid reasons for loving them.
Around every corner of his office and home are bits and pieces of his collection, mostly Transformers and “Star Wars” merchandise.
“What I enjoy is the hunt and the time-travel aspect of collecting,” Taylor said. “Every time I come across something I used to have, or always wanted, it cracks open memories and emotions long gone.”
He explores yard sales and flea markets, but it’s getting harder and harder to find the types of items he loves.
“The ’90s were a big time for scooping up Transformers collections and old ‘Star Wars’ toys,” he said.
During that time, people who were fans as kids were in college or out on their own. Their parents began cleaning out their attics and selling their collections in yard sales, he said.
Today, he checks eBay and patiently digs for bargains. But he finds a lot of stuff at www. shopgoodwill.com.
“It’s like eBay for Goodwill stores across the country,” he said.
Collecting can get costly but is worth what you are willing to pay, he said.
It also can be competitive.
“A good friend of mine and I would compare and contrast collections from the time we were in grade school all the way up to today,” he said. “It’s interesting to see what other people prize in their collections; what their Holy Grail is.”
That item can be a toy that’s hard to find or one they had as a child and always regretted losing, like Taylor and the G1 Megatron Transformer.
His greatest joy is sharing with his 4-year-old daughter, who also has a growing collection.
“To watch it spark her imagination is amazing,” he said.
CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” gives millions of viewers a glimpse at the hobby when Sheldon, for example, laments over a “Star Trek” collectable, mint in box. Fans of the show also have been exposed to cosplay —or dressing up like favorite sci-fi characters — another aspect of collecting.
Jason Schreck makes his own costumes and accessories. He has a shirt resembling one from the original “Star Trek” series as well as costumes he’s made for participation in the 501st.
The 501st is a worldwide professional “Star Wars” costuming group of more than 5,000 members. The unit often is called on for Lucasflim publicity and charity events, sometimes visiting children in the hospital through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
All of Schreck’s costumes are handmade and sometimes take some ingenuity to create. A gun started off as a Nerf Blaster and was painted for a costume. For one costume, he built a cooling mechanism into a chest plate and helmet to make it easier to breathe inside. He also has made a light saber from an old camera flash.
His costumes include an Imperial TIE fighter pilot, an Imperial officer, “Episode III” Anakin, an Imperial Navy trooper and an Imperial crewman.
But he also does Civil War re-enacting and makes costumes for that as well. He has participated in local ghosts and legends tours.
Schreck, who uses a wheelchair, usually plays someone wounded and is a part of the 6th Kentucky Regimental Field Hospital re-enactment group.
“Star Trek” aficionados Dennis and Jill Rayburn of Radcliff are picky about what they collect.
The Rayburns know the family of original “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry personally and host their own entertainment website, www.soentertain.me.
A few items they own are autographed action figures, a wooden mask used in the movie “The Mask” and one of Roddenberry’s awards given to them by Roddenberry’s son.
They also have a print of a painting of the cast of “Babylon 5” with several signatures on it and an autographed action figure of Spock from the new “Star Trek” movie signed by Zachary Quinto.
They don’t usually spend a lot of money on their collection and find more value in items made by other fans. From his experience at conventions, fan-made art is something the creators and stars of the shows appreciate, Dennis said.
Collectors — especially those after expensive items — should make sure collectibles are certified and only work with dealers they trust, he said.
And the best way to make sure an autograph is real is to take something to a convention and have it autographed in front of you, Jill said.
While some collectors can go overboard, most are just like anyone else with a hobby.
“There are some in fandom (fans of a particular genre) that are slightly nutty, but don’t judge us all that way,” Dennis said. “We’re in the workforce and your neighbors; just normal people.”
Anyone can go overboard with something they like, including sports teams, model trains or other collections, he said.
“The wisdom comes when you figure out how to balance it all,” he said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
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