The hobby of collection has been somewhat prominent for the longest time, whether it's jewellery, fine art or even stamps, it's something within each niche that communities are born out of the appreciation for their chosen objects of desire.
Today the world, especially in the case of buying goods, has become a lot smaller and accessible thanks to the internet. It not only aids in buying goods but also played a major part in how many would be collectors gained/garnered that interest in the first place. Whether it would be through watching anime/ reading manga from Japan or getting the latest on comics and video games from North America. It goes without saying that if the internet didn't exist, neither would the market let alone the way in which we receive information or new media in general.
On the topic of certain collectibles, many were already familiar with the pursuit of gathering rare comics. Being regarded as the tell tale sign of a true 'nerd' it is this stereotype that not only gave rise to the culture we see now but also paved the way for the rise of importing such material from North America for mass marketing overseas and as time passed created a community that made way for the slightly newer addition of Japanese goods. Although this boom in fascination has only really taken off in the last few years, we now have full blown conventions within the capital and full participation when it comes to cos-playing, giving birth to one of the fastest growing communities today, being present across countries around the world.
At it's core we have the merchandise, collectibles where small market stalls representing companies from all over, arrive with the vastly sought after reading material, DVDs, figurines (even erotic material, but that's a whole other kettle of fish), the list can go on forever. Furthermore, working with a fan base so infatuated with any given series such as One Piece or the now retired Naruto and into new pastures such as Attack on Titan and Hunter X Hunter, you'll be able to make just about anything saleable when it's themed on a certain series.
One of the greatest things for merchandise dealers and fans themselves is that the market (for the foreseeable future) will never really die. For as one series ends (such as Naruto which recently finished after 15 years) another will inevitably take it's place in the top spot, attracting new fans and in turn a new collection is born, giving sellers an almost infinite supply of new stock to bring in. All in all the trend of collecting that would have been seen in a different light in the past, is now becoming a fast growing phenomena thanks to the web and ever increasing fan base and convention attendees, giving rise a to a vast and varied community of people who share a common interest in the world of fantasy fiction. I feel that this won't be a temporary trend as such and that the community and popularity of such materials and media will only grow even more as time goes on.
Needless to say, I don't think the Western world will ever show the same enthusiasm for such things as a country like Japan, but when it comes to more 'sensible' approach in terms of acceptable media, such as video games or more common collectibles (such as trading cards) will push the boundaries or what the current target audience is meant to be, which may not only change the scene (for the better), but also in the way our current and future generation of enthusiasts are perceived and the community as a whole.
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