I'm fairly new to the hobby, just two years in, with a very modest budget. Shortly after I got reacquainted with the VCS, I stumbled onto a few manuals. Once I had those few manuals, the carts in my collection without manuals seemed incomplete. That's how it began. Innocently enough. Since then, I've been collecting manuals along with carts (no boxes). But I'm beginning to wonder if I should get out of the manuals-game before I get any deeper.
There's a lot to like about manuals, obviously. But perhaps I'm in over my head. The following goes without saying but warrants emphasis: the decision to collect manuals doubles the number of collectables to target. Which not only drives the expense of the hobby waaay up, there's also the added challenge of organizing and storing all of those manuals -- which, I foolishly thought, would be simple. Until I discovered there are plenty of manuals out there that are just a tiny bit longer than my 5" x 7" photo sleeves fitted into D-ring binders. Still not sure how to address those.
To my mind, the biggest challenge comes with those rarer carts that one needs and encounters without a manual. How do you, AtariAge veterans, handle this scenario? I've got a couple of "rare" carts in my collection without the manual, a few fives on the Rarity Guide and a couple of sixes. Nothing more scarce than that. Combing eBay, I never see a manual -- by itself -- come up for these titles. They do however, come up semi-frequently together, cart and manual. And even more often CIB. So, what do you do? Do you buy the combo and then sell off what you don't need, or do you continue to wait in hopes a manual pops up a la carte someday down the road? Or do you buy it and just keep it all, amassing multiple carts, manuals, and boxes of every title?
I guess ultimately, if the goal is a complete collection of carts with their corresponding manual, the bigger question is can it even be done? Is there anybody on AtariAge with a complete set of official 2600 releases -- forget homebrews for a second -- with their corresponding manual, but without boxes? Has anybody done it? Hell, how many have a complete collection of just official carts alone? How many have even done THAT? And CIB? Well, I can't even imagine it.