The toy story

The toy story

Unique hobby

The toy story

Most people visit fast food chains for their quick service and wallet-friendly prices. But Shravan Nagesh isn’t like most people. The 23-year-old mechanical engineer frequents these eateries for the complementary toys that accompany the meals.

He has a staggering collection of nearly 210 toys, from joints like McDonalds, KFC, Red Rooster and Hungry Jack. But there doesn’t end his collection. Coming from a family of passionate collectors and hoarders, he also has numerous soft toys and those that come with packed grocery, like cereals and chocolates.

“We, as a family, travel a lot because my father is into sales. He, alone, has travelled half the globe. So, every time he goes for a trip, he brings back toys from the flight. He’ll tell the flight attendants that he has small children back home, so they give him a toy,” he says. It didn’t take long for this to become contagious and get Shravan hooked. “I like to collect anything that is small actually. The smaller they are, the cuter and more adorable they become. When something is big, it loses its charm…like children!” Even to this day, his father gets him toys from his travels. This passion has now passed on to his mother and 16-year-old brother, who are overjoyed when a good toy enters the house. It didn’t, however, take long for Shravan’s collection, which includes a variety of toys, including yoyos, to become more specialised.

In 2003, he began fencing specifically for toys that came with fast food meals. “We were in Australia when I bought my first toy with a meal. Since then, I visited these joints almost once in two or three days. It was never about the meal. I’d buy the meal, keep the toy and give the food to my brother,” he laughs. But once he came back to Bengaluru, to finish his studies, his collection slowed down. “In Australia, every month there would be a new series of toys based on a popular movie or event. Here, I’ve found that stores give the same toys for three months. Also, they aren’t as creative.”

Currently, he has toys from over 10 countries, including India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China. “My favourite series is the Disney collection, which includes figures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Pluto. I got this somewhere in 2006-07. I wasn’t aware of the series initially; my father brought one back and I ended up collecting the whole set. There are also some limited edition ones commemorating the Sydney and Beijing Olympics. But my first was ‘The Incredibles’ – Dash, Violet and the others.” His other favourites include the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’, ‘Action Man’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ series. “The ‘Ben 10’ set was really good too because it glowed in the dark. And whenever I don’t like the toys for the month, I pick up just one and let the series go.”

Calling it a cost-effective that doesn’t require much time or effort on the collectors part, he adds, “If we calculate it in today’s currency rates, I must have spent about Rs 54,000 on the toys. Many of them have gotten lost over time, like my ‘The Simpsons’ collection.” Shravan had a special attachment to ‘The Simpsons’ set because, “You could say that the toys got me addicted and introduced me to the show. Now, my entire room, from the bedspread to clothes, clock and more, are of The Simpsons!”

      On why he prefers these toys over everything else, he says, “The toys that you get at stores aren’t special. If I were to go back to the store 10 years from now, I’d find the same toy there even then. But with these complementary ones, I know that they are unique. Once a series is over, they will never come back. Like the ‘Pokemon’ collection — it’s unique because it comes with the Poke-ball, which opens up on pressing a button!” In addition to the toys, he collects shampoo, conditioner and gel bottles. “Again, my family’s love for travelling initiated this hobby. Moreover, that each and every hotel or resort has their exclusive design, shape and colour for these bottles is something to be appreciated. But most of the bottles are lost now. When we were moving, they got misplaced,” he says, ruefully.