Profession: Copywriter in the digital advertising industry
What do you collect? How long have you been collecting? How did you get into it?
Wow, this isn’t an easy question to answer for me. With regards to comic books, novels, film DVDs/BluRays (when they were the rage) and the like, I’ve been collecting all my life, basically. I am the proud owner of Agatha Christie’s entire range of crime novels, painstakingly collected over 15 years. I have a 2000/2001 edition of The Lord of The Rings. The entire Tintin collection. So on and so forth.
When it comes to action figures/statues, I’ve had two spells of collecting, and a long, barren spell where I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to collect (because we couldn’t afford it/I was growing too old for it – parents’ reasons). The first spell was from the age of 6 to about 10 – those were some of the most fruitful years. I collected the ENTIRE vintage Masters of the Universe range – including Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain – that was one of my proudest moments. However, I was living in Nigeria back then, and when we were coming back to India for good, my parents decided to ‘donate it’ – I was growing too old for it and they couldn’t bring it back to India. I was 8 back then, and never realized what value it would hold later on. Naive is probably a better word to use. I didn’t collect for a good 18-20 years after that.
Then, like all good South Indian boys do, I got a job in 2008. In 2011, 3 years into my career, I came into contact with Ram (you may know him as Ramgopal Krishnan) and he had this beautiful 4-pack set of The Dark Knight Returns – that, and Nolan’s Batman trilogy were the catalysts I needed to get back to collecting action figures and statues. I immediately got into the groove and learned about the various toy companies/action-figure lines, and how I need to space my purchases. This time, there was no parental interference – after all, I was buying stuff with my own money.
Ironically, it was my MOTHER who got me into this whole geeky business – she would read out fairy tales to me, and buy me Spider-Man pop-up books as a kid. She introduced me to He-Man too.
What is the holy grail of your collection? Or if you still looking for it then what it is?
The holy grail of my collection – there are two actually. One’s a Hot Toys – The Batman Returns Michael Keaton Batman (MMS293). The other is an SH Figuarts Bruce Lee. It could be something else entirely tomorrow. But for now, it’s these two.
What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
Without sounding too narcissistic, I’d have to say mine – having the entire MOTU Vintage collection given away at the age of 8! Jokes aside, there’s a collector I know who collects vintage alcohol bottles – while it may not be outrageous, I think it’s very interesting. He was once telling me the story of a special edition Absolut Vodka bottle he has – it was a Titanic special, and it came with a glass ship. His maid accidentally dropped one-half of it while cleaning the shelf one day, and a little part of it shattered! He still has most of it intact, thankfully.
If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be? And why?
Just one? Seriously? You guys set worse questions than my 9th standard Maths teacher…
It would have to be the Hot Toys Michael Keaton Batman. There’s something about Hot Toys’s that makes it so collector-worthy. And it’s NOT just the price. It’s something you’d be proud to own.
If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
Again, the number here is ridiculous. I want them all! Haha! Mayank Khurana (a veteran collector) has a LOAD of Sideshow statues. He has a 1/5th scale Captain America Sideshow statue that I’d love to have in my collection.
How has the collecting scene changed in the last 5 years? Do you like that or not?
Abroad it’s always been great – there’s a lot of value placed on pop culture and geekery in general. I collected most of my original MOTU collection in Nigeria of all places! In India, things are very different – such hobbies are looked down upon because they’re too expensive/not considered an investment. My relatives still consider it wasteful. In the last 5 years, though with the Comic Cons picking up steam, pop culture has grown exponentially in India. There are a lot more collectors coming out now and while the situation is still far from ideal, there has been a change. I like the change. Funnily enough, my folks don’t see my collection of comic books in the same negative light – probably because of the word ‘books’.
How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years time?
Given the way time flies these days, 5 years is too short – but hopefully, we will see a richer, and possibly more organized pop culture sector. I look forward to the day India has a ‘free comic book day’ or statues are sold at reasonable prices. I also hope to see Indian superheroes making a comeback. Raj Comics has some really interesting characters. There’s an action figure maker in India – he goes by the name Prem Art – who makes customized figures of Indian superheroes from Raj Comics. He’s the kind of guy who can really change the scene in India.
What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Plan. You CAN buy the figure you want, even if it’s expensive if you plan well in advance. It’s like with anything else in life – a good plan is half the battle won. STICKING to the plan, however, is the other half of the battle. It’s very hard to not let instinct take over, and if you allow instinct to overtake prudence, you’re in for a lot of trouble. I’m a random collector – as in I don’t want to finish one particular line (unless it’s the current Filmation He-Man line). I mix and match – for instance, I have a Kotobukiya ArtFX+ Darth Vader statue, a Black Series Darth Maul and an SH Figuarts Kylo Ren – but if I posed them together, it makes for a great Sith diorama. So I pick and choose my toymakers carefully, and ensure that I don’t go overboard (as much as I can).
Nihal with his Collection
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