COLLECTOR INTERVIEW: Harsh Vardhan
Profession: Animator, Photographer, Filmmaker, Artist
What do you collect? How long have you been collecting? How did you get into it?
I collect ‘Toys’. Well my childhood was not so great, I was shy, an introvert, my only friends that I had were my Toys or u can say GIJoes (Yes that’s true.) So..I d say that I am mainly a GI Joe Collector, Anything related to GIJoe Vintage(3.75 inches not the 12 inch) line I collect. And the Hotwheels cars and Masters of the Universe toys too. The whole point of collecting toys, for me is the nostalgia. I again started collecting toys because of the fact that I need to have those toys again which I or which my friends had. I am a collector from my childhood I was that kind of kid who loves his toys, who doesn’t abuse or breaks them, I always took great care of them. And yes, not just toys, I collected stickers, tazos, watches, books too. I used to keep them in best possible condition (laughing).
And The other reason I collect is because of the movies or pop-culture I like. I am not a big comic book reader, the only comic book I read in my childhood was champak.HAHA!! So I collect because of the pop culture. Actually, I started collecting again because of the figure set of NECA Reservoir Dogs which I saw in a mall back in 2013.
Now I have stopped collecting GIjoes, Hot wheels, MOTU because I think I have way more than I ever wanted. (Though I still want some stuff which is on my list). These days I am collecting, Marvel Legends, DC collectibles, Mafex, NECA movie lines and the random stuff which I like.(That includes barbies too). I also enjoy making custom figurines or customizing existing action figures.
What is the holy grail of your collection? Or if you still looking for it then what it is?
In terms of value, I may have some holy grails. But for me, my Holy grails are those childhood GIJoes which I still have. I remember buying them, playing with them, making stories with them. I used to take them everywhere even in a bathroom (Laughing). They are really close to my heart.
What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
I have many collecting stories, believe me MANY, but I will share few. So… yeah . 2 or 3 years back Arup Biswas(Curious) sold me some gi joes through Indian Toy Collectors group on Facebook. He sold them at a very reasonable and cheap price. One of them was 1st release Funskool Clutch. After many years I came to know that that figure is really rare and one of the collectors offered me 8k for it. That was and still is Mental and Outrageous.(Evil Laugh)
And the other is that I bought a Funskool GIjoe Thunder machine Vehicle from a kabaadi wala (scrap dealer), for 30 bucks.
If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be? And why?
That will be those childhood GIJoes that I was talking abt. I may not be able to stick to just one of them.
If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
None. I don’t need anything from anybody’s collection.I am very much satisfied with mine. I love when I see other collectors collection, I feel proud.
How has the collecting scene changed in the last 5 years?. Do you like that or not?
Oh, Dude!! I have seen it grow. Big time. I remember when I made the Facebook Group ‘Indian toy collectors’, and it was the first of its kind, And at that time I had no hopes that I will find anyone who collects toys like me. But… to my surprise there were many. It Surpasses my expectations. These people are really crazy. And of course, I like it. But the thing which I don’t like is that we don’t have much toy shops and no Toys also, in India.
How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
I think the toy collection scene is changing and it is booming. When I started collecting toys, people used to ask me why I do it? Why am I wasting money? And so on…. So I took it seriously and made a Documentary on Toy collectors(Indian Toy Collectors, it’s on youtube) in which I documented some Toy collectors of Mumbai and Delhi and the journey of how I made my Toy Display. And it did change the thinking of people around me, my friends who are not even collectors, got really emotional after watching, they now respect us, they felt that there is a big reason behind it.There was a screening of it at my office, people were surprised that we exist. Yes, It’s getting really big. New collectors are coming day by day.
But, Problem is that I hope these toys should be more accessible here, I know that there are many toy sellers here too (which is awesome) or I can get them online from abroad also. But u know the amount of stress the buyer gets, shipping, customs. blah! Blah! But the feel of shopping from toy shops is another kind of experience. I recently went to Hongkong and I was so amazed to see the number of toy shops there, they sell everything. I lost my mind there. That feel of searching for a toy, hunting them is missing here in India, which I would really like to have.In terms of quality and quantity of toys in a toy shop in India, it’s getting worse than the 90’s.
What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Collect what you love, don’t collect what others are collecting.
– A Display is a Must!!!
– Don’t collect for the money, I mean don’t collect the toys just for the sake of selling them in future at double the price (I am not talking about the toy seller).
– Respect other collectors. Some guys sometimes disrespect others for what they are collecting. Don’t do that man! It’s a peaceful place, try to maintain it.Friendly nature is really important.
– Be patient and positive, you can get anything u want.
– And …Open your toys(Laughing) keep them out of the box, play with them and Enjoy.
P.S. – I would like to thank everyone who helped me a lot in Collecting toys. Friends like Sober, Achinto who has gifted me a lot of toys, Friends who brought toys for me from Abroad. And who supported me a lot. And to my Wife who understands(Laughing) PEACE!!