This 32-year-old collects Tamagotchis and knits cases for them
Rachel’s entire collection costs around $6,000.
Back in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, in the era before smartphones were widely used and digital games had to be played through handheld devices, Tamagotchis were all the rage.
While most of us may have stopped keeping up with games and toys from our childhood days, 32-year-old Rachel Liew still collects Tamagotchi as her hobby today.
“Honestly, I don’t know how many Tamagotchis I currently have, but (as an) estimate maybe around a hundred or slightly more than that,” she says.
Rachel’s hobby began when she was in primary school when she spotted her school seniors playing with Tamagotchis. After finding out Tamagotchis were a form of digital pets, she begged her parents for one until her dad eventually bought her her first “pet”.
Over time, her obsession with Tamagotchis waned and she eventually moved on from playing with them.
However, in secondary school, she decided to get back into the hobby for nostalgia’s sake. From then, her interest for the toy rekindled.
“I continued playing with Tamagotchis in university… but I was kind of alone in the hobby, and I didn’t find a community for it,” she shares.
It was only after graduating from university that she discovered a Tamagotchi community on a Facebook group. There, she met many passionate Tamagotchi collectors who would keep her updated on new Tamagotchi models. Through the group, she was further encouraged and inspired by them to expand her collection.
When it comes to deciding which Tamagotchi models to collect, Rachel considers the design of the shell as well as the state of its condition. If there are visible scratches on the shell, she will pass on the purchase as she prefers her Tamagotchis to be in mint condition.
To Rachel, the satisfaction of collecting partially comes from the thrill of hunting for specific Tamagotchi designs or models in her wishlist. The joy of finally finding it or saving up enough money to afford it is irreplaceable.
Rather than solely collecting Tamagotchis for aesthetic or display purposes, Rachel also finds comfort in playing with them and taking care of her digital pets.
“I treat my Tamagotchi like a personal companion. You know how some people have an emotional support animal? Tamagotchi to me is like an emotional support that I can bring with me wherever I go, especially to the office where I often feel stressed,” Rachel shares.
Knowing that she has her digital companion with her inside her bag, it gives Rachel a sense of comfort and security even when she isn’t physically looking at or holding it.
However, the process of collecting can become an unhealthy habit when not done in moderation.
In late 2020, the Demon Slayer Tamagotchi was released based off the anime and manga franchise Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Despite the gameplay being the same across the Demon Slayer Tamagotchi series, Rachel bought all the designs in the entire series due to the unique shell designs.
She recalls: “I bought like 10 different designs… and I thought I was content because I had the full set. But when a second wave was released with even more designs, I realised it was going to be never-ending.”
Taking a step back to assess her spendings and the impracticality of splurging on so many Tamagotchis just for the shell design, Rachel began to set boundaries on her spendings and collecting habits.
“I realised that this is just going to suck my money up if I keep buying and buying. The gameplay is all the same, and I’m not going to play every single Tamagotchi anyway. So that was the challenge — telling myself when to stop,” Rachel confesses.
Besides the challenges of collecting, the gameplay can sometimes bring stress upon her too.
On days where Rachel is swamped with work, she would have little or no time to take care of her digital pets. When it gets to the point where the game begins to feel like a responsibility to her, stress hits.
“I feel like it’s not right to feel stressed about something that you’re passionate about. So when it reaches that point, I will just stop playing for a while, for maybe around a week or so. And then when I feel refreshed, I’ll come back to it,” she says.
Her overall love for Tamagotchis still stands unwavering.
While some collectors have the end goal of selling their collection when the market price increases, Rachel can’t bring herself to do so.
She admits: “There have been instances where I bought two of the same designs — one to play with and the other to keep in a box and maybe sell it for a very high price 10 years later. But every time I do that, I end up getting emotionally attached to it. And then I change my mind and just keep the spare for myself.”
To Rachel, the higher the value of the Tamagotchi, the more she wants to keep it for herself instead of selling it.
In order to spice up the look of her collection and also personalise the devices, Rachel got into making Tamagotchi cases. She first saw people sell self-made cases within the Tamagotchi Facebook community and it piqued her interest.
Rachel then did her own research, learned how to crochet and knit, and started making cases for herself.
Initially, Rachel only made the cases for her own use. But since she had some time on her hands, she decided to accept custom orders.
Her business then grew from there.
Rachel now works with a stay-home mother, who is also a Tamagotchi collector, to create and sell Tamagotchi cases online through her website.
In addition to selling Tamagotchi cases, Rachel also provides tamagotchi resources, guides, and downloads on her website for players who need help with navigating the devices.
“I’m kind of proud of myself because people have personally thanked me for my guide, saying that if not for it, they would have been so lost at the game. I’m very happy every time I receive these kinds of messages because I really feel like I’ve contributed to the community by sharing my love for tamagotchi with everyone,” Rachel says.
While Rachel’s family may not fully understand her obsession, her friends and family are still accepting and supportive of it. Her husband would show his support by celebrating with her when she finally finds a particular model on her wishlist.
For Rachel, the hobby of collecting and playing with Tamagotchis is something that gives her a sense of comfort and joy.
“Maybe it’s something I derived from when I was a kid and then carried it with me all the way till now. But that factor is the most important thing for me in this hobby.”