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15 Minutes of Fame: A rare and beautiful collection

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Among the ranks of in-game item collectors (would a goblin call those players "acquisitionists"?), you'll find plenty of hardcore vanity pet fans. You'll find mount collectors. You'll find those poor, inventory-challenged souls who collect armor and dungeon sets.

And then there is this collector, who's managed to collect all three -- and sweeps it together with a uniquely stylish twist.

Meet Michelle, aka Drrum of Stormrage (US-A). If you were to ask vanity pet connoisseur Brian of WarcraftPets (aka Breanni, immortalized as Dalaran's cutie-pie pet supplies vendor and previously profiled here on 15 Minutes of Fame) for the name of a player who exemplifies the spirit of in-game collecting, Drrum's name pops out without a moment's hesitation. Once you take a look at the incredible gallery below, featuring Drrum with her pets (augmented with Papa Hummel's Old Fashioned Pet Biscuits), wearing coordinating armor and clothing sets and posing in appropriate locales -- well, there's no doubt you'll want to join us after the break to hear how Drrum puts all these collections together.



Main character Drrum, level 80 human warrior
Guild <The Basin>, a casual guild including a few pet and mount collectors
Realm Stormrage (US-A)

15 Minutes of Fame: I'm curious how someone with such a massive collection gets rolling along that path. Let's start at the very, very beginning: How did you get started playing WoW?

Drrum: Before I played WoW, I had only played one other MMORPG, an old Mac game called Clan Lord. A few of my friends from that game started playing WoW. They really enjoyed it and eventually enticed me to play. I first started playing in 2005. I dabbled at quests, slowly leveled a couple of classes, but didn't really immerse myself into the game until a year or two later, when I started PvPing in battlegrounds and arenas with friends.

Have you always been a collector, or did your interest in collecting evolve over time?

It wasn't long after I started playing that my friend Michael gave me my first pet, a Crimson Whelpling. I didn't know this was a rare or valuable item, but I was instantly hooked and looking for more. I loved having a companion follow me everywhere.

Early on, there weren't many other pet collectors on Stormrage. It's not an RP server, so a lot of my friends considered non-combat pets "fluff content." I'd get teased for summoning my pets in battlegrounds, arenas or dungeons. Now it seems everyone collects pets and mounts, and it's not at all unusual to see nearly as many pets as players while raiding or PvPing. My early collection was small by today's standards, but I was proud to have a some uncommon pets. Back before the pets tab, collectors had to carefully choose favorites to collect and keep, since pack space was at a premium. But I was hooked. I started devoting more and more time to my collection, hunting rare drops and scanning the auction house for a good buy. Next thing I knew, my enthusiasm for collecting was embraced by my friends, who have spent countless hours over the years helping me acquire new additions for my collection.

What did you first focus on collecting?

After getting my first pet as a gift, my goal was to get my hands on more whelplings. The first one I set out to find was the Dark Whelpling. I spent so much time in the Badlands, I started seeing Scalding Whelps in my sleep. I was soon eagerly awaiting holidays just for a chance to add to my collection. The holiday events also sparked my interest in mount collecting.

How would you characterize your playstyle or main focus today?

I really love PvP and earned my Battlemaster and of the Alliance titles this summer. I also started raiding relatively recently. I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I have, but it's been a blast. I've been lucky to have some really great players introduce me to the joys of PvE. Did I mention there are some spectacular mounts and pets to earn from raiding? I also spend a good chunk of time just traveling around the lands, scouting for cool places to take screenshots of my growing collection.

Do you collect all on one character, or are your pets, mounts and armor sets spread out amongst various characters?

I collect only on my main character, Drrum.

Tell us a little about your favorite pets.

I'm sentimental, so a lot of my favorite pets are those that have special meaning to me. Those that remind me of good times and dear friends top the list. My first pet, the Crimson Whelpling, always cheers me up. I got my beloved Spectral Tiger Cub from my friend Tony (Hoopa on Stormrage), who often wins or scores rare loot cards playing the WoW TCG. My Phoenix Hatchling is not only spectacular, but a souvenir of countless runs to Magister's Terrace with my pal Chris (Theus on Stormrage). My buddy Megan (Ryoshi, Stormrage) and I had a blast participating in last year's arena tournament for Murkimus the Gladiator. My Ethereal Soul-Trader sees a lot of play time because he's an attention-getter and sells cool stuff only to me.

Outside the game, I've been crazy about bats since I visited Carlsbad Caverns as a kid. I have a collection of antique bat items, so naturally I love having bat pets in game. Another favorite is my Dragon Kite, which I was over the moon about winning in a contest at Warcraftpets.com. My Panda Cub came to me by way of a friend of a friend, who offered me a fantastic deal on the collector's editions because he admired my collection online. My Rocket Chicken is silly and gives me giggle fits. She was another TCG pet I got from my loot card supplier, Tony.

What about mounts? Which are your most prized?

My Blue Dragonhawk is my most prized flying mount. I was the first on Stormrage to get this rare beauty from the Mountain o' Mounts achievement. I absolutely adore my Raven Lord. I've coveted this mount for years, but would not ever have had a chance at it without help. I'd done an art project for my friend Tony, and in return he took me to summon Anzu every day in order to give me Raven Lord.

When the gorgeous Swift Zulian Tiger finally dropped after years of tiger- and raptor-hunting trips to Zul'Gurub with my friend Chris, he passed this mount to me. This tiger is a treasured reminder of the generosity of a friend, not to mention he's also my favorite color. When the Wrath expansion hit, I went a bit nuts saving up gold to buy one of the status multi-passenger mounts. By the time I could afford one, I still could not decide between the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth, and the Mekgineer's Chopper. I chose the Mammoth because it also had vendors, making it more useful but devastating my bank account. While the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth is not one of my favorite mounts, buying it is the reason my Mekgineer's Chopper is. My friend Michael had one made for me and surprised me with it the next day. I happily chauffeur him around on it in battlegrounds.

What pet or mount in your collection now proved the most difficult to acquire?

Some of the hardest pets and mounts to obtain were fishing rewards. Magical Crawdad and Snarly the crocolisk eluded me for ages. The Violet Proto-Drake mount was a reward for getting every world event achievement over the course of a year in What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been. The Razzashi Raptor is a mount that took the longest to obtain. He finally dropped recently after years of Zul'Gurub trips with my friend Chris. I had to defeat Baron Rivendare a mind-numbing 148 times before the reins to Baron's Deathcharger dropped. I have not returned to Stratholme since.

Traditionally, holiday dungeon pets and mounts were some of the toughest to obtain, but I actually miss spending so much time with friends dungeon diving during the holidays.

Are there any pets or mounts that have just locked you out and you've been unable to acquire?

Yes, quite a few. Murky and Mini Tyrael are event promotion pets which I'd dearly love to have but are exceedingly rare and out of my reach because they're cost-prohibitive. TCG rare loot card promotional mounts such as Spectral Tiger, Wooly Rhino, Nether Rocket and El Pollo Grande also fall into the category of cost-prohibitive collecting.

After the changes Blizzard made to the holiday dungeons, chances at collecting holiday dungeon pets and mounts dropped dramatically. Many avid collectors, including myself, were unlucky in our limited desperate attempts to get the Frigid Frostling. I also looked forward to adopting a Curious Wolvar Pup this year during Children's Week but learned he was not available to me because I had adopted an Oracle orphan last year.

As far as mounts available from raiding, there are quite a few that I have a remote chance to get. Raid rewards and rare boss drops such as Reins of the Onyxian Drake, Ashes of Al'ar, Mimiron's Head and Invincible are well out of my reach. The Palomino is a gorgeous and very rare land mount that always catches my eye but is no longer available. I could hardly contain my excitement over the Love Rocket, but it broke my heart when I realized it was astronomically rare and I'd never own one.

I also dream up Warcraft fantasy pets that don't actually exist. I've done some concept art for a couple that I'd love to add to my collection, such as a Raven Prince Hatchling and a Zulian Tiger Cub.

What are your targets set on right now? Any particular pets or mounts you're working diligently toward now?

I'm currently working on achievements toward an Ironbound Proto-Drake and a chance at the Crimson Deathcharger. I'm looking forward to the Cataclysm expansion and all the new pets and mounts that will be available.

Indeed, pets and mounts galore -- but you collect armor sets too, isn't that right?

I really like the look of some of the older armor sets and have always enjoyed matching outfits and armor with some of my favorite pets and mounts. When I set out to build a screenshot album of my entire pet collection, I had the idea to match each pet with a special outfit for the screenshots. I've collected full sets of most of the armor in the game, devoting a lot of time to finding and compiling full matching sets. As you can imagine, I struggle with inventory issues. I have as many inventory slots as I can afford to allocate to my armor, but sadly, it's not possible to keep the entire collection, so I now have to vendor an old set for every new set I put together.

What might we find in your bags and bank?

My bank and bags are crammed with my favorite outfits and armor sets, plus a large collection of tabards, toys, trinkets and prop weapons for my screenshots. I've got some cool items like an Ogre Piñata, an Arcanite Ripper, Thekal's and Arlokk's Grasps, and a fat stash of Papa Hummel's Biscuits to supersize my companion pets.

And you're an illustrator! Is that something you do professionally?

I am a professional illustrator. It probably won't come as a surprise that my favorite subjects are animals and my specialty is fantasy art. Warcraft companion pet and mount collecting is a bit of an obsession of mine, so much so that they're starting to escape their in-game boundaries. I happened to win the Blizzard Holiday Card Contest last year with an entry that featured what else but the Northrend Orphans.

Tell us a little bit behind the holiday card artwork. What was the inspiration for your submission?

I wanted to find a way to incorporate pets into my entry for the holiday card contest. I just loved the Oracle/Wolvar story and quest line, and since I got such a kick out of the bickering Northrend Orphans during Children's Week, I was inspired to use them as subjects.

Nice! Are you working on any new WoW-related art projects at the moment?

Nothing worth noting, really. I am currently working on some WoW-related fan artwork, but no idea when it will be completed. I missed the deadline for the Blizzcon Fan Art Contest, but I plan to eventually finish and submit it to the Blizzard gallery.

Here's hoping we'll see more of Drrum's artwork at World of WarCrafts! Visit her website for her collectibles FAQ, tips and tricks, and still more screenshots. Best wishes to Drrum on netting those last, elusive pets, mounts and armor drops.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wow.com.

Filed under: 15 Minutes of Fame, Arts and Crafts

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