Copywriter, Ad agency.
Nihal Gopinathan; a man that has a way with words and works in the digital advertising industry as a copywriter has been a collector all his life! Ranging from comic books, novels, film DVDs/Blu-ray (when they were the rage) and the like. He is the proud owner of Agatha Christie's entire range of crime novels, painstakingly collected over 15 years and 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, like a lot of adult collectors, Nihal has had two spells of collecting! A long, barren spell where he wasn't 'allowed' to collect (parents' reasons). The first spell was from the age of 6 to about 10 - his most fruitful years where collected the ENTIRE vintage Masters of the Universe range - including Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain - one of his proudest moments! However, he was living in Nigeria back then, and when they were coming back to India for good, his parents decided to 'donate it’ since he was growing too old for it and they couldn't bring it back to India.
In 2011, 3 years into his career, he came across this beautiful 4-pack set of The Dark Knight Returns - that, and Nolan's Batman trilogy were the catalysts he needed to get back to collecting action figures and statues. The young boy in him jumped up in joy and immediately got into the groove! He learnt about the various toy companies/action-figure lines, and the works and this time, there was no parental interference - after all, he was buying stuff with his own money!
Ironically, it was his MOTHER who got him into this whole geeky business - she would read out fairy tales and buy him Spider-Man pop-up books as a kid. She introduced him to He-Man too.
He identifies himself as 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).”
In his opinion, the collection scene abroad has always been great – with a lot of value placed on pop culture and geek-ery in general. In India, things are very different - such hobbies are looked down upon because they're too expensive/not considered an investment. He says his relatives still consider it wasteful. In the last 5 years or so, 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 and Nihal, like many others, likes the change.
” Funnily enough”, he says, “my folks don't see my collection of comic books in the same negative light - probably because of the word 'books' ”.
He hopes that in the next 5 years we will see a richer, and possibly more organised pop culture sector in the country! “I look forward to the day India has a 'free comic book day' or statues are sold at reasonable prices.”
He hasn’t forgotten his roots with the wave of western pop-culture and says,’’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 customised figures of Indian superheroes from Raj Comics. He's the kind of guy who can really change the scene in India.”
When it comes to the holy grail of his collection - It would have to be the Hot Toys Michael Keaton Batman.
“There's something about Hot Toys that makes it so collector-worthy. And it's NOT just the price. It's something you'd be proud to own.” He says.
For young and budding collectors, he says only one thing-
“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. “