There was a time when being labelled a ‘nerd’ meant you were the laughing stock at your school or your workplace. But the term has taken on a new meaning in recent times, and is often used in relation to pop culture and ‘geekism’ in the modern era ‒ and being a nerd (or a geek) is now celebrated worldwide.
Sri Lanka is no exception – we have our own comic con complete with dedicated (and talented!) cosplayers, our very own comic books, merchandise collectors, video games, board games and whatnot. But it’s a given that when it comes to purchasing geeky merchandise, Sri Lanka lacks big time.
Collectors And Merchandise
A collector’s edition graphic novel series from DC Comics. Image courtesy eaglemoss.com
Geek merchandise can be defined as a number of products, such as comics, statues, video games, toys, posters, collectibles, figurines, and all the other various items that are produced after branded products by various artists, designers, and creators. Most of this merchandise can be found overseas and are widely available for purchase on the internet.
Collectors’ interests can vary, as do the wide array of merchandise that is available. There are comic book and graphic novel collectors, scale model collectors, and figurine and statue collectors. The best place to find them in Sri Lanka would be here.
Sri Lanka: An Untapped Market?
Avid collectors go through hell and back when trying to locate comic books and merchandise of their interests in Sri Lanka. Their only resort is, of course, purchasing them online (unless they, or somebody they know, is lucky enough to make a trip abroad), because the Sri Lankan market has not allocated enough space for the geeks.
Chicago Comics, one of the largest comic book stores in Chicago, USA. Image courtesy timeout.com/Emily Madigan
But even then, collectors have to face exorbitant shipping prices, clearance charges, service charges, hassle at the Sri Lanka Customs when clearing their products, and having to explain their unique interests to the local authorities. (Imagine having to explain your X-Men obsession that led to your purchase of a replica of Wolverine’s claws, to a suspicious Customs officer who sees the product as a weapon rather than a toy.)
Likewise, even though there were a few local bookstores that brought down several comic books and graphic novels in the past, it has diminished in recent times due to unknown reasons – some claim that it’s because there’s no proper market for it, and the imported books will only collect dust on the shelves, which will be a loss to the company.
However, since of late, several groups of like-minded individuals with a passion for all things geeky and nerdy have created a niche market in this island nation that cater to the needs of all collectors.
So, if you’re a collector – amateur or professional – or even someone who’s interested in starting their own collection, this list might just come in handy.
By far, the only physical location that engages customers is a store selling statues, toys, rare comic books and other collectibles. Collectique came into play rather recently, but was able to take the niche market of collectors by a storm, offering a wide variety of merchandise shipped straight from the US or other countries.
A Spider-Man statue displayed once upon a time at Collectique. Image courtesy Eternal Moments Studios.
Currently operating from Colombo 5, Collectique will open its brand new gallery in Kotte later this month, and hopes to provide a bigger service to collectors around the country. This writer would like to add a warning in here, however, as the merchandise Collectique has on offer is bound to empty out your wallet and create a significant dent in your bank account eventually; even if you’re not a collector but just an average joe who enjoys a comic book movie every now and then, you will find yourself irrevocably in love with some of the statues/figurines that are on display at the Collectique store. (We speak from personal experience).
Red Dot Geek
The Red Dot Geek is a bit of a nomad. You’re likely to find him and his stall at any geek festival/celebration or book-related event. Image courtesy writer
Red Dot Geek sells comic books that are ordered and shipped from overseas, delivered to your doorstep efficiently and at a relatively low fee.
They specialise in comic books, graphic novels – old, rare, or new – and the occasional statue, action figure, or toy. You can pre-order your choice on their website or drop them a message on Facebook. If not, you might be able to catch some of the people behind Red Dot Geek on the Free Comic Book Day event that they have organised for this May.
Big Boy Toys
In spite of its name, Big Boy Toys is very serious about their passion towards all things geek. Image courtesy Big Boy Toys
Big Boy Toys has been on somewhat of a hiatus lately, but it’s not for the lack of quality service.
Featuring a wide variety of merchandise and collectibles, Big Boy Toys is only a call away (or a message away, if you would prefer that) for you to order or pre-order your product and have it delivered to your doorstep at a reasonable price.
And the Age of Ultron continues… on a miniature scale. Image courtesy Kanagalingam Rishidaran
There aren’t many of those who have come across this mysterious trader, who, as the legend goes, is a one-man team dealing in your geeky needs. Action-Figures.lk specialises in importing Eagle Moss statuettes – which are basically pint-sized figurines of various characters from movies, television series, cartoons, and comic books.
However, Action-Figures.lk also caters to your needs if you’re not particularly interested in small figurines. The merchandise is imported directly from the USA and Canada. So just drop them a message and see what they have in store.
Funko’s Pop and Vinyl collection – the cute and adorable bobblehead-like series of figurines – took the geek merchandise industry by storm more recently, and the effects of it were seen even in Sri Lanka.
As a result, the inception of Funko SL was inevitable. Although not an official part of the Funko mothership, Funko SL brings down merchandise from the beloved collections of the US and Canada to Sri Lanka, depending on your orders.
Yamato One is all about the Japanese anime fans in Sri Lanka and fulfilling their wide-eyed needs about everything anime.
By exhibiting a wide collection of popular anime and manga such as Attack on Titan, Death Note, Pokemon and One Punch Man, Yamato One is one of the best places to buy anything anime and manga.
Alongside their collection, Yamato One also caters to video game fans, providing an array of merchandise from popular video games as well.
Is There A Collector In You?
If philately is something that you would consider “not-hip” for this day and age despite its immense popularity, collecting geek merchandise may be right up your alley. It’s true that it can be an expensive hobby, but one that adds variety to life ‒ and a little colour to your interior decor.
Hopefully, this article was able to tap into the collector in you ‒ and if you know of any other places that would help your fellow geeks out, do share them in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy: sideshow.com