Singer Marc Bolan once asked "whatever happened to the teenage dream?. Well, the dream of T-Rex's 70's is alive in Canada and it comes in the form of Panini World Cup stickers!
Maybe I just don't remember it from four years ago or maybe it just says a lot about my twitter timeline and online social media friends, but the art of sticker collecting seems to have made a triumphant rebirth for this year's World Cup in Brazil.
And it is fantastic!
Phrases like "got, not got", "doublers", "swaps", "foil" and "hours of sticky fun" are prevelant in my timelines and they're not all coming from me. Well, ok, the last one was, but the rest aren't.
People are meeting strangers in parks to exchange their wares. Not an unfamiliar site in downtown Vancouver admittedly, but the only medical risk you have from this encounter is a paper cut.
And it's good to actually get out and get some fresh air because you can lose hours sitting at home opening packets of stickers, peeling off the backs and carefully sticking them in place. *insert Homer Simpson drool here*
Now, before we go too much further, for those of you reading this who don't know what I'm really going on about (can't be many!), here's a quick catch up guide (and brief breakdown of my insanity) from an article we wrote back in 2012.
The art of sticker collecting seems to be back. As are countless childhood memories for me.
It's attracting all ages, all sexes and I'm pretty sure all species and alien life forms too (let's build up the hyperbola here). And not, as my wife asked me over the weekend, "a bunch of other people going through a midlife crisis"!!
The 2014 Panini World Cup sticker album is a thing of beauty, and an improvement on the last couple of ones that I wasn't really too impressed with aesthetically speaking.
You'll need 642 stickers to complete the 80 page album this time around and the quality of the stickers seems to have improved from the 2010 one.
The foil ones in particular look much better and less tacky. There's 40 of them to collect this time around. The 32 team badges and 8 FIFA ones of mascots and logos.
The 12 stadiums come as two piece stickers once again, after making that switch in the 2010 album. Looking back on my old albums, they certainly do look a lot more majestic that way and the smaller, olde time ones look really crappy now in comparison.
Somewhat aptly, 29% of my stadium set currently remains uncompleted as we approach the first match of the tournament on June 12th.
Of course, switching to double stickers for the stadium means that other stuff has had to go or will likely never see the light of day again.
From flicking through my old albums going back to 1982, it's interesting to see just how old the previous ones actually look.
The Mexico 86 album is still my favourite. And not just because both Scotland and Canada were in it!
It's the first one I truly remember really getting in to and although I had others before it, they were binned but I kept this one.
The 1982 one I have I bought off ebay and likewise the 1994 one for the US World Cup which I never actually got round to buying because I'd headed over here for the tournament and didn't have the time. Not the same as knowing it was yours to begin with, but at least I can still engage in the ebay search to complete them over time.
But that Mexico 86 album had one of my favourite pages from all of the albums - posters from all the previous 12 World Cups. I don't know why, but they were the ones that always stuck in my head and I still love looking at them.
That album also had stickers for each city as well as stadium and to me is the classic Panini World Cup sticker album that others are held up to.
But I do really like the 2014 version (although I could have done without the three Johnson and Johnson sponsor stickers at the end, as cute as they are).
You can pick the 2014 album up for $2 from a number of retailers (Coles and London Drugs are two places in Vancouver that I know have them), whilst stickers cost $1 for a pack of 7.
Still pretty reasonable actually. Looking at my Mexico 86 album, that seemed to have cost me 20p - 49c in Canada.
Interestingly, non US and Canadian packs of stickers come in just packs of five, so it should be cheaper to complete your collection here. Well, in theory.
The last couple of World Cups I've gone about getting my stickers in different ways.
The 2002 one was the last time I actually went into shops and bought individual packets. For 2006, I bought a box off ebay and still never got round to grabbing the last 94 I needed to complete the album.
It felt a strange way of doing it but I still got to open the stickers and it just cut out the middle man.
For 2010, I decided that this time I'd actually complete an album so bought an empty album and a full set of opened loose stickers from ebay.
And I hated it! No enjoyment in that whatsoever.
I soon remembered that part of the joy of sticker collecting was to actually open the stickers yourself, so that's what I've done this time around. Ebay is still my friend, but this time I bought two unopened boxes. 100 packets and 700 stickery goodness awaited me.
Well, goodness and frustration.
Opening that first pack, I was like a kid again. Fred was my first sticker this time around, so obviously that means Brazil will be winning the whole shebang. Opening a pack and seeing my first foil, you can imagine my excitement. And when I got a two foil pack....
My wife was just shaking her head!
But then all the frustrations of my childhood came flooding back too. That first double. It took eight packs I think it was before I got it, but still, the disappointment. And by box two that disappointment kept increasing when I was lucky to have three or four newbies in a pack.
Then the frustration grew to cursing. Who the hell is Joao Rojas and why the hell do I now have five stickers of him?!
The stickers had arrived Friday and by the wee small hours of Monday morning, they were all opened and stuck in. I was actually dreaming of opening stickers and on Tuesday I found myself going to collect the mail and thinking to myself "man, I wish I had more packets of stickers to open". Addict!
Do I have a problem? Yes, I have a problem. And that problem is that despite buying 700 stickers for a 642 sticker album, I still need 203 of the bloody things to complete it!! And I still don't have one complete team set.
Bosnia. So close. Uruguay. What the hell happened to all their stickers?
So let the swapsies begin!
You can find my "Got, Not Got" spreadsheet HERE.
Do you have what I need? Can I fill your holes?! Hit me up!
Better still, I'm going to throw out a swap meet idea for this Friday evening. The Caps U23's are playing Victoria Highlanders at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium at 5pm on Friday evening. Let's turn that into a Juan De Fuca Plate/Panini Swapfest.
Bring your stickers with you. Meet us towards the right hand side of the seats and let the swapping games begin.
And for those of you not in Vancouver, leave your swaps links and contact details below.