The Enlightened Nerd: Angus Bungay, Action Figure and Toy Collector


The Enlightened Nerd is a column designed to enlighten the inner nerd in all of us through local whimsical and intellectual events, people, and places. Know a nerdy person, event, place, or thing in Vancouver? Send it in here or tweet it to @karolinathecat (#theenlightenednerd)

Angus Bungay and his collection. Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver
Angus Bungay and his collection. Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver

Collections really are like art, taking time, deliberation, intuition, and patience, and Angus Bungay’s collection of action figures and toys, is no exception. I had originally encountered Bungay’s work at the Museum of Vancouver’s exhibit All Together Now: Vancouver Collectors and Their Worlds. His collection stood at the forefront of the museum, one of Buzz Lightyear troops, Smurf packs, Mr. Potato Head families, and so much more. It was the type of collection that would make anyone’s inner child super giddy and jealous. Bungay is an avid and self-professed collector of action figures and toys but he’s also a multi-faceted figurative artist working with sculpture, photo, video, animation and illustration. I caught up with him to gain a little more insight into his fantastical collection and in hopes of inspiring other local artists and collectors.

Q: I didn’t know you were so talented – that’s amazing! Do you think collecting and being a multimedia artist go hand in hand?
A: I think most artists collect. Be it objects of influence or design elements, most if not all visual artists will have a collection of something. Myself, as a sculptor, the collecting is an integral part of my work, with the found object playing a primary role in my sculpture. As an illustrator, the action figure also served as a model for design projects. Often I would use a similar style figure to draw from or rotate to get an idea of perspective or design from different angles.

Q: What drew you to collecting figurines and toys specifically?
A: When I came to Canada and started working in the animation industry I saw that people working in the animation industry collected toy figures. So to fit in I started collecting toys. At first I said they were like my three-dimensional library, a source to draw from. But as the collecting progressed it quickly became more than a purposeful collection, and became an obsessive collector’s collection.

Q: Besides action figurines and toys, is there anything else you collect?
A: I am a collector. I do have active collections of stamps, coins, teaspoons and meteorites… I also have several other dormant collections. I don’t go actively looking for specific items, but when the opportunity arises for me to add to my collections I do. I also have a huge varied collection of ‘things’ for my sculptures. Mainly old, vintage, and used stuff. I have a lot of other people’s history in boxes in my basement.

A sneak peak into Angus Bungay’s sculpture studio

 Q: How on earth do you find all these toys and where do you keep your whole collection? How many items do you have in total do you think?
A: For the most part, the toys have come from garage sales, church sales, and thrift and charity shops. Part of collecting is the thrill of the find. When you find something you are looking for your brain gets a shot of dopamine, which makes you feel good. It’s a leftover remnant from our hunter-gatherer days. I have been able to display half of my collection in my home office (the rest are stored in the basement).

I believe at last count there was well over 5000 pieces.

Q: How were you able to turn your life-long passions/obsessions into a career?
A: It’s more like the chicken or the egg, what came first… collecting or the career? I think the collecting came from my carer. Either that or I subconsciously chose work that related to my collecting obsessions.

Q: What tips do you have for new collectors (of any kind)?
A: Start small. One piece at a time. And before you know it you’ll have a collection. Collecting can be a very expensive hobby or obsession. Research your prices. Something is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. There are two reasons to collect: as an investment or for the love of it. One requires money, the other heart.

Q: Besides your amazing artistic creations and flairs, is there anything else “nerdy” about you? Any favourite nerdy things to do around Vancouver that you’d like to share?
A: Are you suggesting that what I do is nerdy? Just kidding. I’m not too sure if it’s nerdy, but I love visiting the Anthropology Museum out at UBC. Now there’s a collection.

Check out Angus Bungay’s action figure and toy collection at the Museum of Vancouver until Sunday January 8th, 2017.