S: How and when did you start collecting?
GR: I’m a late starter and probably older than your typical collector! It all started with a trip to Disneyland Paris at the end of 2017 when my 10-year-old son bought a 12” Hulk from the Disney store as a Christmas present. I was jealous and also wanted one! When I got back to South Africa, I started doing some research and bought my first Hulk figure from Cosmic Comics. It was the Green Gallery Hulk. I think I also picked up the Thor Gladiator Gallery and Thanos Premier statues at the same time. I then discovered the DST Marvel Select action figure Hulks and started hunting them down. It took months of searching but I eventually managed to get all of them. At this stage I had also bought quite a few Thor and Thanos figures, two of my other favourites. Then I discovered the Bowen Hulks and once again had to have them all. Over a period of about 3 months I managed to get the Planet Hulk, Maestro, Retro Green and Grey, the Smackdown, Red Hulk, Savage, FixIt and Shifflet Hulks. I also managed to get a few of the Bowen Hulk busts. And as they say, the rest is history.
S: What do you collect? Does your collection have a theme, such as Star Wars, Batman, Marvel superheroes, Manga etc.?
GR: I like many of the characters across the Marvel and DC Universes, but as I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive and like complete sets, I pretty much only collect Hulk pieces at the moment. I like to have different versions of the Hulk. Since the 60’s the character has evolved, and many different writers and artists have interpreted him differently.
I started with the more cost-effective and smaller DST Gallery 1/8th PVC statues and DST Select 1/10 action pieces then migrated to the Bowen, 1/6th Kotobukiya Fine Arts and XM Hulks. I then moved into 1/6th custom pieces. These were challenging to find and to get built as they come in kit form. I bought 3 of these to start with. The one is a classic Keown Hulk by Ryan Trificana and the second one is by Troy McDevitt which was also inspired by Keown’s art – this is one of my favourites. It was beautifully painted by Joe Hudson in the States. The other custom I have is also a classic by McDevitt and is based on the art of Sal Buscema. At about the same time I discovered the world of private custom groups and bought the green, grey and red Madx 1/6th scale Hulk. These are awesome high-quality pieces sculpted by Andy Berkholtz, who also did the Sideshow OG Hulk and the Madx ¼ grail. The ES for the Green is only 85, 65 for the Grey and 50 for the Red. So they are quite difficult to find.
At this point I was going to stick to 1/6th scale statues but was convinced by some very bad guys on a WhatsApp group (you know who you are) to get into 1/4 scale statues. I then started researching what was available and discovered that there were many awesome custom pieces being made. It took months to find and get into some of these custom groups.
At this stage I have about 8 1/4 custom pieces. Then I started looking at the Sideshow pieces. I managed to find an original Sideshow Premium Format Hulk that had never been displayed before. It is one of the most sought-after Hulk pieces. I then managed to get hold of the new Sideshow PF Green Hulk Exclusive and the Grey Exclusive. And I’ve recently added the Sideshow Assemble Green and Grey Hulk to the collection.
S: What are your favourite or the most prized pieces in your collection? And why?
GR: My most prized licenced piece is the original Sideshow Premium Format Hulk. I just love the Kirby style face. Andy Bergholtz nailed the sculpt from the face to the pose. The piece is big and solid. It weighs about 23kg. The newer Premium Formats are half that. The paint app on it is also great for a factory paint. My most prized custom is a 1/4 scale Madx Maestro sculpted by Avi Ay. I just love the colours and museum pose. The base is a bit plain, but I plan to add some relics to it one day. Only 30 of these were made. It is also a solid high quality piece at around 20kg and stands about 65cm high. My favourite 1/6th scale is a toss-up between the Madx Hulk and the Mcdevitt Keown Hulks. And the Bowens, you have to put them in a different category, not quite 1/6th but are timeless and classic representations of the Hulk and in many mays paved the way for all the great statues we see today.
And then I have a 1/4 scale custom (green, grey & red version) on the way the way that I think will take top spot…
S: What do you love about XM?
GR: It must be the people and community built by Damian and the team. The “boys” have loads of fun discussing and sharing their collections. All collectors are treated with respect and treated like royalty. The XM brand is one of quality, luxury and exclusivity and the team adhere to these values in all their engagements with clients. Then, the product quality is superior to anything else out there. Just the packaging alone will blow your mind. The shipper boxes, art boxes, the foam, the prints that come with the statues are works of art in their own right. The concepts, design, sculpt and paint apps beat all other brands hands down. My favourite XM piece isn’t a Hulk but the Beta Ray Bill. There isn’t and probably won’t be a better one made.
S: What items are on your wishlist?
GR: The Symbiote Moducases are on my priority list. Most of my collection is in boxes or badly displayed. So that needs to be fixed. Most collectors would rather spend money on more statues than on display cases. But in order to really get the full value of what you have, you need to display them properly. There is nothing better than the Moducase. They are designed specifically for statue collectors. South African collectors are about the get spoilt when they arrive.
In terms of statues I’d like to get a Sideshow Premium Format Gladiator of King Hulk next. Then there are several new customs about to go on PO that look good. But there is some risk in ordering these and they are expensive. Of course, there is also the new XM Hulk Transformation and XM Red Hulk by Aaron Perez on the way. The collector’s nightmare – too much choice and too little money and space!
S: What do you think of the collecting community in SA?
GR: I think there is a huge pop culture community out there. But it seems quite fragmented. We don’t seem to have a very active online community. Most serious collectors seem to join the big international groups. So, it would be nice to see a big, active and engaged local Facebook group emerge. There are some WhatsApp groups that are really active and loads of fun. But they are very small and private. It seems as if all the geeks wait for Comic Con to come out of the woodwork! I think we are at a bit of a disadvantage down here as our currency is weak and shipping is very expensive. I know the Symbiote pricing takes this into account and you get the very best statues and good prices.
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