Collectors rarely announce themselves. After all, being a collector requires you to amass ungodly amounts of unpractical stuff. And detailing your unreasonable attachments to earthly surroundings isn't going to get you far in most social settings.
Sure, certain varieties of the collector are less offensive than others. But they've all got their detractors. If you're into wine and art, you're not even a collector. You're just a snob. Music? You're probably a dude. If you aren't, you're weird. In either case, you likely need a shower and a shave.
But try telling your friends you've started collecting figurines. Better yet, tell them you've got an army of miniatures modeled after comic book characters.
I've been addicted to HeroClix (aka plastic crack) for probably two years now. And I can count the number of friends the habit has netted me on one hand. But I've got a closet filled with hundreds of dollars worth of these little guys. I keep them in tackle boxes organized by set and figure number. And, no, you may not touch them.
But my clix don't just sit there. They battle. Hardcore.
HeroClix is much more that a hobby. It's a game that, for some of the saddest of us male geeks, is the only test of our manhood. The most succinct description I've heard of HeroClix is that it's a mix of gambling and chess in a fanboy's wet dream. Basically, you can assemble teams of your favorite comic-book characters and field them against other players' teams. Games happen on a map with dice, and characters are given powers that mimic their superhuman abilities.
There are hard-to-find unique and limited-edition figures whose stats would make most players salivate, and whose price tag on eBay would make their wives seek the nearest lawyer. But if you're up to the challenge, have a few hours to kill, and don't mind thrusting yourself into bizarre surroundings, you can try winning those figs in tournaments played regularly (and irregularly) at local geek palaces like Comics Etc. (473-7150) and Millennium Games (427-2190). Just look for a bunch of strange, pale guys huddled over a table.
Take it from us: it's worth it. That limited-edition Hal Jordan Green Lantern I won at a tourney last year was fetching $50 on eBay last I checked. He also tastes like cherry when I stick him in my mouth. We call that "extracting the essence." Just joking!
Feel the flavor: www.hcrealms.com is the ultimate message board for clix-related geekiness; www.heroclix.com has all the basic product info, including rules, stats, and downloadable figure checklists; www.ugo.com/channels/features/ugolympics/herochix.asp includes video footage of (eeek!) hot chicks playing HeroClix. I guess you had to be there.