retrieving buffer/display list/VBO's vertxacies

I know that one of the most tedious and developer-unfriendly actions is retrieving vertex (not color) data off the buffer to create ex:collision models.

I’m not sure what you mean here, but I suppose you are looking for transform feedback.

You know, when you were passing OpenGL that data, you could have just kept a copy yourself and stored it in your collision system. Nobody is forcing you to read back from a buffer object or something.