Blogging certainly has its privileges (as I've mentioned four times before - last post HERE). I recently got interviewed for MANstuff magazine which is sold together with HOTstuff magazine and the interview / article is now out at the newstands.
Click on the pictures below to get a better view ;)
Excerpts from MS80 PLAYTIME – THE TOY COLLECTOR: A SIGHT TO BEHOLD
An avid toy collector since 1994, Alex Teo has turned his house into a mini toy museum of sorts, thanks to his massive collection of toys and collectibles that are all proudly displayed throughout the house.
Great to see you Alex. So lemme ask, Why toys? Or collectibles to be accurate?
Well, to tell you the truth, toys are like pieces of art to me. Some people collect paintings which are two dimensional, while I collect toys because they are like the three dimensional pieces of art to me and I prefer collecting something that I can physically feel in my hands. One MUST appreciate the art that goes into making them.
So how did your fascination with toys come about?
I’ve always enjoyed the visual arts and grew up reading comics, instead of books or novels. So when your comic book hero becomes something 3-D that you can hold and scrutinize from every angle, it became a must-have for me. Well, as you know, my collection began in 1994 and at that point in time, "Batman, The Animated Series" was showing on TV. The animation for the series was edgy and different from the rest of the cartoons that were being screened. Subsequently the toys based on the animated series were released and I started buying them as I became interested in the figures as they managed to capture the likeness of the animated characters. Or, you could say, that’s when the collecting bug first bit me. And now, with all the same comic heroes being made into movies and the associated merchandise that comes along with it, it just makes collecting even better.
Interesting. So what do you normally do with your toys after you get them? Do you play with them? Or do they go straight into the display cabinets?
[Laughs] Well, I don’t really play with them per se. It’s probably more like this – I collect them, rack them up, take pictures of them and then blog about them. It’s more of a photo review of each collectible. But, I guess in a way, you’re right. I do play with them. Because the nature of my work involves design and graphics, these collectibles became a natural extension of this fascination, and you know what they say about how good things have to be shared!
What was your first toy like then? And how does it compare to the toys and collectibles available now?
[Grins] My first toy was Catwoman from "Batman, The Animated Series." I've since moved on from carded figures. "Batman, The Animated Series" and other smaller figures are usually bubble wrapped on a card base, hence "carded", and is more valuable Mint on Card i.e. unopened. This takes away the pleasure of opening the toy and examining the details unless one buys two of everything, one to keep and one to open. On the other hand, 1/6 scale figures can be taken out of their boxes, and together with their fabric costumes/uniforms and accessories allow for more fine details and sculpting. Also, the art of making them has improved tremendously with more life-like head sculpts with realistic skin texture.
What drives the serious collector's passion in your mind?
It's really hard to fathom what goes on in any collector's mind. Most people generally purchase the collectible figures out of interest. For me, the real passion behind collecting these pieces of art is for the quality of the production and the limited numbers they come in. Of course, with limited numbers, the value behind it will be pushed up. However, the value of a collectible is never the main reason for me when it comes to collecting. I see it more like some sort of a bonus.
Could your please describe your collection for us?
Currently, my collection consists of mainly 1/6 scale military (from the ancient wars, World War I & II, Vietnam, 1991 Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom and the current conflict to movie-based War movies like Black Hawk Down, Dirty Dozen, Platoon, We were Soldiers, WindTalkers) and movie-based collectible figures (Aliens, Batman Begins and Batman Dark Knight, Die-Hard, Iron Man, James Bond 007, Judge Dredd, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Predator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rambo, Robocop, Rocketeer, Terminator, Star Wars, X-Files etc, as well as Japanese characters like Astro Boy, Kamen Riders and Ultraman of the Showa era). I also have some 1/6 vehicles (Willys Jeep and bikes) including a 1/6 scale Little Bird Attack Helicopter and the Bat Pod from Batman The Dark Knight. The 1/6 Power Loader with Ripley from the movie Aliens and 1/6 ED-209 (Enforcement Droid 109) from Robocop are equally impressive.
Any particular reason why such a great interest in military figures?
Well, it’s basically due to the history, uniforms, weapons and paraphernalia that come with military figures. Almost every boy growing up would have played cops and robbers, soldiers and the like because it's just so cool to play with guns, throw grenades and take cover! Collecting soldiers from different eras and different countries allow me to better appreciate the discipline these soldiers had and the sacrifices they made to make this world a better place. We also get to see the advancements made in weaponry and technology over time from when the first warriors carried nothing but a spear and shield into battle to the laser guided warriors of today.
You mentioned earlier that you’re focusing on 1/6 scale collectibles. Any particular reason why?
[Nods] Definitely. Why the 1/6 scale you say? Simple, in land-scarce Singapore, space is luxury that we don’t really have and collectibles at the 1/6 scale are still big enough to be appreciated for the details while being small enough to be displayed en masse. These 1/6 scale collectible figures also possess a fair bit of articulation that allows them to hold pretty much any pose a human can, unlike statues which only remain in a fixed position, cast in stone (pun intended). It has become the standard for manufacturers aiming for the collectibles' market. The 1/6 collectibles are not commonly found in the usual departmental stores but rather in specialty stores that carry them for a very niche market (mostly working professionals).
What do you normally consider when you choose a toy?
When choosing a collectible figure, you have to consider the quality of the product in terms of sculpting, outfit and accessories. Most important of all, does it appeal to me? If I'm not going to open the box the moment I have my hands on it, it's not worth having. Part of the fun is to open the package and examine the toy and admire the work that went into making it. Then there's the task of putting it together, especially for military figures.
Are there any specific plans for your upcoming purchase(s)?
Thing is, with the internet, you can preview a wide array of the upcoming figures and put in pre-orders before they are released. Things are much easier now so I’ve no specific plans for now.
What would you recommend to a new collector if they're interested?
If anyone is interested in Movie Masterpieces, they should look at the figures being produced by Hot Toys. They are the market leaders and everything they produce gets snapped up really fast. They have been collaborating with all the major movie makers and their collectible figures are really up there in terms of art. Military based figures are easier to get and the loose parts can easily be found at shops located at China Square Central. A good place to check out as well would be the flea market held on Sundays at China Square Central. A lot of collectors buy parts and bash together their own version of a World War II or modern Soldier. Or they can just buy the boxed figure and put it together. With figures being produced from the Second World War to the current conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the choices are endless.
Lastly, before I take my leave and if you don’t mind me asking, what does your family think of your hobby?
[Laughs] Thankfully, my family is very supportive of my hobby, and as you can see, we’ve managed to turn our home into a mini toy museum of sorts. We get a kick out of seeing the expression on the faces of people who pay us a visit for the very first time. One good example would be when we were trying to sell our previous place (because there wasn’t enough room for the growing collection), and when both the agent and potential buyer came to view the house, they ended up being overwhelmed by all the displays. I’m pretty thankful that my wife and kids all share the same passion for my collection.
If you notice, all pictures are provided by me from my blog and me thinks they look pretty good collectively - ha! ha! Well, that's all folks.