Articles, Interviews — April 1, 2014 11:48 am

CompleteSet: Enabling and Helping Collectors Everywhere

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Collectors rejoice—if you’re feeling overwhelmed or even underwhelmed (or maybe just whelmed?) by your collections, Cincinnati-based treasure map for collectors, CompleteSet has you covered.

Collectors not only catalog what they have, but also search for things they wish to add to their collection. The site makes it easy to find missing components from collections and even automatically connects members with reputable buyers or sellers.

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CompleteSet is also a nostalgia/collectors museum, with the eventual goal of documenting every collectible ever made. And it might be slightly dangerous for those just browsing for pop culture nostalgia purposes only to find an ever-growing “want” list.

The site launched September 2012 as an early prototype and the beta launched in May 2013. The site has grown to boast thousands of members from more than 30 countries that have catalogued 100,000+ unique collectibles. Hundreds of transactions have taken place on the site, including ones with users abroad.

Pop Rewind chatted with CompleteSet co-founder Gary Darna to give you the scoop on the helpful new service.

Pop Rewind: What inspired you to start CompleteSet?

Gary Darna: I’ve been a Star Wars collector since I was 10 years old. When I was 15, I taught myself how to design websites and started building them for my high school clubs. By 19, I co-founded my first company to build custom web-based applications for enterprise clients. CompleteSet is the culmination of years of experience in web development and my passion for collecting. The initial idea for CompleteSet came after seeing people sharing pictures of their collections on message boards. The problem was that most of these pictures didn’t really tell you very much about the collection or the brands that inspired them. I realized there had to be a better way to showcase a collection online, and the idea was born: with the help of collector-curators we’d catalog the items for fans and let them choose which ones they have and want. We do the work so our members can do the collecting.

GaryDarna.JohnnyCupcakes©PatrickMcCue2013.Darna and a portion of his Johnny Cupcakes collection. Photo by Patrick McCue.

PR: So, what do you collect?

Darna: Star Wars and Johnny Cupcakes. I’ve been collecting Star Wars for 19 years and Johnny Cupcakes since 2009. I have accumulated nearly 1,000 Star Wars collectibles and 274 Johnny Cupcakes T-Shirts.

PR: Has CompleteSet turned you on to other brands or items that you otherwise wouldn’t have found?

Darna: It hasn’t had this effect on me personally, mostly because there’s a limit to how many things one person can collect. Running a start-up limits how much disposable income I have, which ironically makes it difficult to be a collector. However, we’ve had many people tell us they found out about a new brand using CompleteSet which is always great to hear.

PR: Why did you decide on the brands listed?

Darna: Brands are selected in a few ways and we’re adding new ones all the time. The first brand featured was Johnny Cupcakes, but we have since added more than 50 brands. We started with Johnny Cupcakes because it has a very active international community of collectors. Plus, it’s one of the brands I collect. In general, we’ve tried to choose brands that we feel have a strong collecting community, but we’re not the only ones that make the decision. Collectors are also able to suggest new brands they’d like to see. If several members suggest a brand, we get the archive started for them and let them continue building it. You’re going to start seeing a ton of additions soon!

PR: Have you had any response from toy companies, especially from former Kenner employees being based out of Cincinnati?

Darna: The people we’ve met in the toy industry have all been very supportive of us. From retired Kenner employees to people who operate their own stores or brands, everyone has been thrilled when they hear what we’re doing with CompleteSet. The most rewarding feedback comes from fellow collectors though. It’s awesome to hear someone tell us we helped them find something they’ve wanted for years. That’s what it’s all about.

PR: How does the buying and selling side of the site work?

Darna: CompleteSet has its own marketplace. Members can buy and sell with each other without leaving our site. Not only is there no fee to list items for sale on CompleteSet, we also provide the majority of the information other marketplaces ask you to provide (item name, manufacturer, release date, etc.). Best of all, if you list something for sale that I want, I get notified immediately! Collectors can also use CompleteSet to automatically scan third-party marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.

PR: Can you tell me a bit more about the points system?

Darna: Absolutely! To earn points, a collector can contribute a collectible to the archive of any of the brands featured on CompleteSet. If the contribution is approved by one of our curators, the contributing member receives 1 XP plus an additional point for each have and want the item receives. We reward members for improving our archive of collectibles and allow them to be involved in the curation process.

PR: Anything else new for you guys?

Darna: Everyday is something new. We’re adding new items, curators, and members everyday. We improve or launch new features a few times a month. The best way to keep up with the growth and evolution of the CompleteSet community is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

PR: What’s in store for the future of CompleteSet?

The next big thing for us is our first iPhone application which we’re really excited to unveil. CompleteSet will be the digital archive of nostalgia. We want our members to feel like they’re opening a time capsule every time they login. The future of CompleteSet is the past.

Thanks to Gary for taking the time to chat with us!

While CompleteSet requires an invite, Pop Rewind readers can skip the waiting list, which typically takes a couple days. Visit www.completeset.com/join and enter code “poprewind”. Joining is free! If you do join, be sure to leave us a comment below and let us know what you think of the site.

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