One unwritten rule of being a geek is you have to collect something different. Anyone can collect mainstream comics, trading cards, stamps, pogs, pokemon, etc., but it takes a special collection of obscure "they actually make that?" items to truly show one's geekiness. And 9 years after beginning my collection I have finally completed it...
As mentioned many times before, one of my favorite game series is Final Fantasy and my first game in that series was Final Fantasy 7. When Square released FF7 in 1997 the game was huge. As with any new installment in a hot franchise, soon Final Fantasy 7 merchandise of all sorts appeared in various outlets.
Chocobos (cho - co - bo) are essentially giant chickens used as mounts to travel the world. Like horses, in the mini-game you train your chocobo by racing it and feeding it special grains. Then you breed your trained chocobo with another chocobo with differing skills and, with a little luck, you hatch a different colored chocobo with a new set of stronger skills. Beginning with the generic yellow chocobo, you progressively train and breed your chocobos up the color ladder (green, blue, black) until you reach the ultimate color of gold chocobo. (There was also a fat chocobo that occasionally appeared but he wasn't raceable, he just sat on enemies to assist you).
As geeky as it is to collect plush animals of video game characters, that alone wasn't geeky enough to earn my geek cred (lots of movies and cartoons have plushes after all, just visit Disneyland). No, to make this collection truly geeky it needed more obscure qualities. And these chocobos fit the bill: a. they were only released in Japan (foreign); they were a limited release in 1997 (old and rare); and they could not be purchased in stores, they were only released in "ufo catcher" toy crane machines in arcades (hard to find). That's right: I collect colored chicken video game plushes only found inside rare toy crane machines from Japanese arcades in 1997. Bam, instant geek! Woohoo!
After discovering these plushes existed in 2000 I began my search for them online. Of course the only way to find them (at least in Arkansas) at the time was on Japanese auction sites. Within months I found and purchased my first one, blue chocobo, in 2001. Through the years I kept up the search (although it did go on hiatus once I started having children save for an occasional eBay search here and there) online and at anime conventions and would come across one for sale (some were fake/knock-offs, booooo...). This week my last plush, a real black chocobo to replace my fake one, arrived and my collection is now complete after 9 years of searching!