Over the years many of us have seen this question asked over and over in the PlanetChristmas blow mold forum: “How many blow molds do you have?” It’s a funny thing, but it seems that a lot of enthusiasts/displayers/collectors cannot answer this simple question. I know I can’t.
Blow molds have a tendency to multiply over time. Ask any enthusiast on the forum. I recently saw a signature line that read “Blow molds are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” This is so true! Once the plastic bug bites you, it doesn’t like to let go. Before you know it, you are scratching your head and wondering “how many do I have and what do I have?”
Knowing this number is important to some people; to others it’s not. But as your blow mold collection multiplies and your investment grows, having detailed records or an inventory, complete with pictures of what you own, serves several very useful purposes.
First, you will know exactly what you have. This can be very important, especially when you go beyond the 150-200 mark. Often memories, no matter how good they are, can slip when it comes to our plastic friends. There is no guess work involved. You will not have to try to remember “Do I have those three Union elves with white boots for my theme? Or were there three with brown boots?” Which would you rather do? Plan ahead in the comfort of your den or run around at the last minute, frantically trying to buy, beg or borrow that ninth reindeer that you thought you had, but didn’t? An inventory will help the overall quality of your display because you can plan out details and placement ahead of time.
For instance, many blow molders create perimeter fencing with their blow molds. I know I do and always have. Over the years, I have used soldiers, snowmen, candy canes, candles, lollypops and combinations of each. When planning for this, you will need to know your desired spacing between molds ahead of time and how many of each mold you’ll need to achieve what you have in mind. There is nothing more disappointing than to hear a blow molder say that they did not have enough of certain type to create the look they were aiming for. Your inventory pictures become a valuable design tool. They can help decide what mold goes where, what groupings or themes you can create, and help you in deciding what to purchase to fill in the gaps. It’s far easier to look at a computer screen inventory or a spiral notebook than to dig through your molds during off-season planning.
Second, as with any Christmas display, electrical safety is paramount. Knowing your available amperage and how much power you will be drawing is always a concern. Blow molds that use a standard Edison base light kit can pull anywhere from 15 to 60 watts each when using incandescent bulbs and depending upon the type. CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) will lower the draw as will LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) and C7s. If you know ahead of time what type of lights each of your molds requires and how much power is available, there will be no shocking surprises when you turn on your display and blow the circuit breakers. That detailed inventory will help you prepare well in advance for how many blow molds you can safely use or can help you determine what types of bulbs to switch to in order to save energy.
Third, a detailed record is invaluable for insurance purposes. Several years ago, I created an inventory on the computer using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The inventory had columns for the name of the manufacturer, style numbers, description, the dimensions of the blow mold, type of light kit, amps, paint condition, color scheme or variation, cost, date acquired, damage, repair, and was intended to include pictures of the actual molds I owned, not stock photos. This inventory helps determine how much coverage I should have and creates a record to backup any claims for loss.
Lastly, if you use computer control and animate your molds, you will need to know exactly what you have and what you intend to use. I have a fairly large blow mold choir. One year it used 24 channels of Light-O-Rama controllers. I needed to know exactly which blow molds I was using, how many amps each tier of choir people and angels would pull, the total load on each channel, and the total draw for the controllers. There was only one way to do this: my records. When sequencing, I must have the information available when setting up my channel layout. My records also help me know how many cords I will need and the placement of the individual choir people. So far, I have never blown a controller board or overloaded a channel. My records helped me create the delighted smiles when the choir sings, the reindeer fly, and the gingerbread men dance.
Now, please notice I said “records” not inventory.
My records consist of a dog eared yellow legal pad. It’s water stained from being snowed on, written in long hand, the ink has smeared here and there are doodles on it. But the information it contains is very precise. It’s my bible when it comes to sequencing.
So what ever happened to my beautifully detailed and organized computer spreadsheet? Truth be told, it’s only partially filled. I lost track of my entire collection a long time ago. Our insurance agent is constantly on us for an update. I envy the collectors who have that detailed inventory. They know their actual numbers. I guess it’s time to practice what I preach, get it all together and finish that inventory so that when I’m asked the question “How many do you have?” I won’t have to say “Oh, around a thousand, give or take.”
This article was included in the November 2011 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.
By Carrie Polales Sansing