All I know for sure is that I still have a list that I made when I as about 13 of all the various Aquaman things I had, plus other things I knew about but hadn't acquired yet.
the actual list I made of stuff I had...circa 1980 or so
I suppose I must have seen some article about somebody who collected Superman or Batman, or maybe Mickey Mouse or Barbie. Somehow, it must have occurred to me from seeing something that I could collect things made out of Aquaman. Nobody else in my family collected anything that I remember...certainly not the same way that I ended up collecting Aquaman stuff! I probably saw something and that made me think that I could "handle" Aquaman; after all, unlike Superman or Batman who seem to have new stuff on sale every week, Aquaman only has so much devoted to him. I must have thought I could actually write up a list of stuff he had appeared in, and then go out and try to get them all!
The sad thing is that recently, with the ascendency of MARVEL, there is more junk for "minor" characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, and Thor than there ever was for Aquaman! The Sea King really needs a movie or TV tie-in to make him popular again.
One of the first things I had of Aquaman was the MEGO action figure from 1975. I had all of these dolls at one time, and kept most of the ones that didn't break until I was an adult. When I had a child of my own I made the difficult decision to trade these toys to an internet salesman for brand-new Star Trek dolls and an awesome Dragonheart dragon. To take the place of the actual toys I bought a few books about MEGO. So now I can look at the photos in them and think, "I had those toys!"
The oldest Aquaman item in my collection can be interpreted in one of two ways: the item that I have had in my possession the longest, or the item that is actually, chronologically oldest. I'll tell you about both of them.
The item that I have had the longest is the Big Little Book Aquaman Scourge of the Sea by Paul S. Newman. My parents bought a whole slew of these when my brother and I were little. I can still remember my father reading this or Batman, the Lone Ranger, Major Matt Mason, Daktari, or the Fantastic Four to me as bed-time stories. I have lost most of the other books we had in this series, but I managed to keep the Aquaman version. He got his own book because this came out in 1968, the time of the comic-book craze in general and the Superman-Aquaman cartoon series in particular.
The chronologically oldest item I have is a copy of Adventure Comics #269 cover-dated February 1960. I once had a dream to buy and own every comic that Aquaman appeared in, but as I got older I realized that these comics were only getting more expensive. Besides, reprint collections started printing the stories, so I didn't need the actual issues. Still, before I gave up I managed to pick up a copy of this comic. The lead story is Superboy and Krypto, but the back-up is "The Kid From Atlantis!' featuring art by the great Ramona Fradon. Yes, this is the debut of Aqualad!
Now that I'm older, instead of trying to collect "stuff," I'm more interested in collecting "stories." I go to a huge garage sale or auction house and find a DC Post-Card Book I had no idea even existed, so I buy it. Or I go to the bookstore to buy a new CD and happen to find a new storybook called I Am Aquaman. Or I go to comic-book conventions and try to meet the creative people behind these fabulous adventures. I have now met and chatted with such famous people as the afore-mentioned Ramona Fradon, Neal Adams, Paul Levitz, Art Baltazar, Peter Tomasi, John Workman, and the most-recent Aquaman artists Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis. It's been my pleasure to meet these people. For an Aquaman fan it doesn't get any better than this.
from her at last year's NYC comic-con