#365DaysOfWriting – Day Eighty-Five
A Facebook group I’m part of is running an activity.
It’s the Action Figure Fanatics India (AFFI) group. The admin, Ankush, my college senior and collector buddy, prepared a little questionnaire for us collectors. I shall proceed to fill it and share it with you all as part of my #365DaysOfWriting project.
Name: Nihal Gopinathan
Q: Since when have you been collecting toys?
A: For as long as I can remember! My first stint was between the ages of 5 and 10. For five years, I remember getting a LOT of toys. I even had Mattel’s entire Masters of the Universe collection – He-Man, for those of you who didn’t get it. There were also GI Joes, a Spider-Man, a Batman, a lot of cars – both Hot Wheels and remote controlled cars. Even mini Transformers – I had erasers you could put together to form Autobots and Decepticons! One toy I regret not getting in my childhood is Voltron. I remember a friend of mine had it, and I was jealous of him.
Then came a big turning point in my life.
My parents believed I was growing too old for these toys. And all of it was given away. I was naive at the time, I thought the right thing was being done back then. But ask me whether I missed my toys… if I say I didn’t, I’m lying. I didn’t collect any toys for about 14–15 years.
I got my second wind about 5 years ago, in 2011. It was thanks to Skinnyalley Collectibles, in particular Ramgopal Krishnan (and Ankush Chugh, a little later). By this time I was already working in advertising and earning a salary, so I figured I could make my own decisions. Actually, in 2010, I bought myself a couple of Transformers toys (from the Michael Bay line). But the real collecting started in 2011. I bought ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ box set of 4 figures (Batman, Robin, Joker and Superman, with a Crime Alley diorama) and I haven’t looked back since. I don’t intend to either. There are two other places I’ve bought toys from – www.superherotoystore.com and Curious. Their owners are Devesh Chhabria and Arup Biswas, respectively. I had also written about the opening of The Entertainment Store in Mumbai a few days back.
Q: Which is your favourite character?
This is a tough one, really. I started reading Spider-Man stories (pop-up books and the like) from the age of 5, so he’s been my favourite for a while. But then, I was introduced to Batman at the age of 8. Spider-Man was still my No. 1 though. At the age of 14, someone suggested Batman: Year One to me. That changed my life, forever. But before all this, there was Voltron and He-Man. He-Man has been with me for the longest time, so I’d have to say He-Man.
Q: Which is your favourite toy brand and toy line?
As far as brands go, I really like Kotobukiya. Especially their ArtFX+ statues. I own 4 – a Marvel NOW! Hulk, sculpted in the art of Adi Granov, and a Deadpool from the same line, the New 52 Flash and Darth Vader (this one’s really cool – it comes with a helmetless head and interchangeable hand poses).
In terms of toy lines, I’d have to say DC Collectibles Batman: The Animated Series line. It comes with a lot of childhood nostalgia and great memories – I think it is one of the most well-written TV shows ever. And who can forget the iconic Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker)? I own the Batmobile, Batman, Robin and Joker from this line. In the same vein, I also love Mattel’s new He-Man line, based on the Filmation TV series. I have He-Man and Skeletor from this line.
Q: You like to unbox your toys or keep them mint?
A: I’m a true believer of showing off your collection in all its glory. So unboxed it is! However there are a few figures I haven’t unboxed – my Hot Toys MMS 293 Batman Returns Batman (took it out once for a few pictures – it is the most expensive figure I own), the Alex Ross Justice League 6-pack (gifted to me by my sweet sister Divya Srivastava – I don’t have a place to display it yet) and a Marvel Select Gambit. Everything else is on display!
Q: Which is your favourite place to shop for toys? (Can be anywhere in this world)
A: I’ve already answered this question in the first question – Skinnyalley Collectibles, Superhero Toystore, Curious and Entertainment Store. I also like shopping from Hamley’s every now and then. I would love to go abroad and shop for toys sometime soon!
Q: How should a collector plan his purchases in today’s times, when a new toy is announced almost daily?
A: I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to this. You need to be practical – choose the toy that you REALLY must have in your collection, and save up for it until you have enough money to buy it. If you start buying everything you see, it’s a great formula for premature bankruptcy! I try very hard to follow my practical method, but a few times, impulse takes over.
Q: Are you aware about the system by which the customs levy duty on our imported toys? If yes, kindly explain with an example.
A: I’m pretty ashamed to confess that I’m completely unaware of the customs/duties levied on imported toys. I’ve always bought toys through someone, never ordered one directly.
Q: Kindly give a solid suggestion for our toy sellers across various e-commerce platforms?
A: If you’re looking to buy online, Amazon India is the most reliable (stay away from this seller called Headrush though – ridiculously overpriced stuff). Firstcry.com has a great delivery system, but beware of the description of the toys. Rely on the images.
Q: What does our group AFFI mean to you?
A: Family. That’s the best way to put it. AFFI gave me the reassurance that my hobby wasn’t frivolous. I feel great interacting with everyone in the group – it’s like I got a lost part of my life back. Thanks, everyone!
Q: Kindly also post a selfie with your favorite figure.
My favourite is actually the Hot Toys Michael Keaton Batman, but I’m not going to unbox that one anytime soon, so make do with my second-favourite!