Here at TolkienCollectors, we love seeing nerdy collections and collectibles, and we couldn’t do it without you–the collectors! We want to start a regular feature where we shine the spotlight on different collectors, getting to know them and getting to know their collections.
Our first interviewee was a no brainer. Putting our long-time friendship aside, Myla Malinalda has had a noticeable impact on the Tolkien collector scene, especially on social media. She has been the champion of the #TolkienCollection hashtag, even creating Middle-earth News’ Tolkien Collection Photo Challenge. She shares tons of photos of her collection on her blog and Tumblr (find all of her links at the bottom of the interview) and is always willing to lend a helping hand to other fans and collectors looking for more information.
When did you first realize that you were a Tolkien collector?
I think it was when I was middle school. One day, I took everything out of my bookcase, spread them all out across bedroom floor, and recorded every single item down in a journal. I didn’t have a laptop back then, so walking back and forth between my room and the room with my parents’ computer to type it instead wasn’t an option, haha. I remember being shocked at how much I owned and it just made me want to add more to my collection.
What was your first item?
I honestly don’t remember. I was pretty young when I first became a fan and I’m sure the first item was probably something given to me by my dad–I’m guessing a copy of LOTR.
After you became a collector, did you ever regret something that you didn’t keep?
YES. I used to own a bunch of LOTR action figures, you know, those amazing ToyBiz ones? Well, in 2009, I decided to sell them all to be able to afford a ticket to a FOTR concert at Radio City Music Hall because I was desperate to get a seat really close to the front. About a year later I started to regret it a lot and got so mad at my dad for letting me do it, haha.
How has your collection evolved (and I’m not just talking size) since you first started collecting?
In the beginning, I think I just collected anything I could get my hands on. I’m not sure if I had a focus back then. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t know if I have one now! There are copies/sets of LOTR that I want to add to my shelves, art prints I’d love to display, swords that I want to wield (*cough*Herugrim*cough*)…the list goes on! But I will say that when I first started collecting, books weren’t much of a priority like they are now. I definitely have a soft spot for books, whether they’re old and worn or new. Now I do research and discover items that I want to add to my collection rather than just hoping to find something at shops.
Tell us about what you decide to collect: Does your collection have a certain theme? Are there some things that you’re just not interested in? Do you go for things that you think will be valuable in the future or are your reasons purely personal?
My collection has a mixture of a lot of stuff: books, movies, action figures, board games, magazines, calendars, etc. I don’t think I have a theme and if I had to give one it would probably just be “Tolkien.”
While I would love to own every single Tolkien-related item ever created (ha, in my dreams, right?), there are still things I’m not exactly dying to have which include video games (seeing as I own no gaming system) and The Hobbit action figures (sorry, Bridge Direct).
I’ve never added an item to my collection with the thought that it would be valuable in the future because everything in my collection I want to keep. I have no intention of selling anything, so I would say that my reasons are purely personal. It’s like my own little section of Middle-earth, I can’t see myself ever parting with it!
How do you explain to non-collectors or non-Tolkien fans why you collect?
I won’t lie, it’s a little nerve-racking telling people about my collecting habits because it’s not exactly something the average person does, at least from my experience. But if someone asks me why I collect, I just tell them it’s because I want to and that it makes me happy. Everyone has things they love and everyone expresses their love in different ways. Collecting is just one way I channel my love for Tolkien.
I’d love to learn the stories behind any of your pieces, so please give us a tour!!
If it wouldn’t be so long, I’d talk about every single piece in my collection because they all have a story!
I’ll start with the first set of LOTR that I ever read from. I was around 9 years old, so it’s no surprise that I had a really tough time understanding the books. Somehow I got through FOTR and TTT, but only read a little bit of ROTK. I feel happy every time I look at this set; it brings up a lot of nostalgic emotions.
The edition of The Hobbit with illustrations by Jemima Catlin is one of my favorite pieces in my collection! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of it for Middle-earth News and for hours I just sat on my bed flipping through all of the pages. Even though the story is still the same, Jemima somehow gives The Hobbit a different feel and it’s wonderful.
The LOTR movies have a very special place in my heart because they were my introduction to Middle-earth. I remember when I was in fourth or fifth grade I begged my mom to buy me The Making of the Movie Trilogy book for me and I brought it with me to school the next day to show off. Yeah, I thought I was really cool, haha.
The section of my collection with film books is still incomplete, I think there’s one or two that I’m missing for LOTR and a bunch that I’m missing for The Hobbit.
I keep all of my Middle-earth-related jewelry in my mini Minas Tirith including my One Ring Replica from Jens Hansen and Bilbo’s acorn necklace. I should probably organize them better because it looks like everything is tangled together.
Every year (and by every year I mean 2002-2004) my dad bought me a set of LOTR movie cards from Topps. The cards feature characters and all the scenes from the trilogy, nothing too special but they’re really important to me. The cards are another thing that have a lot of memories attached to them.
Ah yes, my Pringles container, it’s probably my most unusual item, haha. I vaguely remember finding it at my grocery, it’s a shame I didn’t pick up one of each, I think there were two other ones.
What are some collectibles that were really difficult to get your hands on?
One item was a Silmarillion comic created by Evan Palmer. I first saw the pages on his Tumblr, and when I looked on his Etsy to buy it, it was sold out. I ended up finding it at MoCCA Arts Festival last year, and I’m pretty sure I creeped him out a little with how fast I ran towards his booth and snatched up the comic.
Empire’s January 2015 issue was another item that was a pain to get. It was their “Farewell to Middle-earth” issue and there were five different covers to choose from, one for each army in Battle of the Five Armies. I went to my local Barnes & Noble multiple times over the course of two weeks to buy a copy but they took forever to stock it. Amanda and I ended up going to two Barnes & Noble stores together looking for them because she wanted the cover with Fili, Kili and Thorin (it was sold out at the first one we went to). I couldn’t decide between the one with Bilbo, Gandalf and the Eagles, and the one with Bard so I got both, haha.
The Smaug Funko Pop was also difficult to obtain. I don’t know what was up with all of The Hobbit merchandise and advertising, but it sucked. Just sucked. It seemed like when Funko came out with their second line of Hobbit Pops, they were almost impossible to find, especially the Smaug one. And buying it online was not an option because the prices were ridiculous! I ended up finding one at a comic store in Manhattan.
Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to buy a piece of your collection?
I haven’t! Haha, I don’t know how I would react if someone did approach me asking to buy something from my collection, I have a feeling I’d turn into Gollum and not let them near “my precious.”
Do you have any tips for other collectors (like where to find good deals, how to stay organized, etc)?
I do! Do your research, always look for the best deal possible! There are many sites on the internet that make collecting easier such as Amazon, Ebay, AbeBooks, BetterWorldBooks, and of course, good ol’ fashioned Google. Also find out where your local flea markets, thrift stores, and used book shops are because you never know what you might find!
As for organization, the best advice I could give is to find something that works for you. Some people like to organize based on size and some like to do it by color. There are a bunch of different ways to organize a collection. Play around with it until you get something you’re satisfied with.
Thank you so much for sharing your Tolkien Collection! Where can people find you online, if they want to see more?