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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Some say that there is an inner child within all of us. Talal Tayeb, 43, chooses to embrace his — so much so that he established his own private toy museum.
Tayeb owns one of the biggest action figure and toy collections in Saudi Arabia with more than 3,000 pieces ranging from figurines, comics, movies and TV series, Legos, model kits, gaming consoles, limited-edition board games, posters and trading cards.
“I tried to stop collecting so many times, but Superman has kryptonite, and my kryptonite is ‘Grendizer’,” he told Arab News.
While his love for the UFO robot is unfaltering, Tayeb’s collection also features countless characters from the worlds of Marvel, DC, Disney, Treasure Island, Harry Potter, Pokemon, Scooby Doo, James Bond, The Jetsons, Flintstones, Pink Panther, WWE and more.
He keeps this prideful collection within the “Grendizer Base,” which is open to visitors. It holds pieces that date back to the 70s, such as the rare and vintage piece Grendizer Izenborg, accumulated through his travels across the globe or through auctions.
After work, you can usually find Tayeb lounging around the apartment-turned-museum, building new items via three of his 3D printers, or even cosplaying at events across the region.
I tried to stop collecting so many times, but Superman has kryptonite, and my kryptonite is ‘Grendizer.’
Talal Tayeb, Collector
He began professionally cosplaying in 2015, taking part in events in Saudi and the UAE. Tayeb regularly designs and executes his own costumes from scratch. He is known as the first Saudi to dress as the beloved Grendizer character, also known as Goldrake or Goldorak, and the second Saudi to cosplay Duke Fleed and Jumaro.
“I revived an icon that was missing for a long time — since it was removed from TV and videotapes. When I wore Grendizer before in Comic Con in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, everybody was surprised. Everybody has heroes, but this is an icon. So, I’m happy that I brought this icon back again.”
Tayeb’s efforts to build his legacy collection started as a young boy in the late 80s.
Like any normal child, Tayeb said, he collected action figures from Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Superman and Mickey Mouse. But throughout the years, moving from one house and city to another, he lost most of his childhood pieces. Yet, he managed to keep a few, his oldest surviving item being a small squishy football acquired in 1990.
Years later, his hobby has slowly rubbed off on his family. Tayeb’s eldest daughter also used to cosplay at events but is now his assistant at comic expos. His second daughter still dresses up alongside him, while his youngest son is more interested in video games.
He made a point of introducing his children to older anime shows and cartoons, including Grendizer, Heidi and some Disney films, growing their interest in the world of animation.
Through his collection, he aims to share the magic of older popular shows and characters with younger generations.
“The first thing we started to see in Saudi Arabia for my generation, the 80s generation, was ‘Grendizer’,” he said. “‘Grendizer’ for us was the biggest and most famous cartoon that we ever watched.”
But the Grendizer Base seems to only be the beginning for Tayeb’s inner child.
He hopes to one day organize an expo where fans can come to personally check out the action figures, read the magazines and start learning how to create their own pieces on 3D printers.
Tayeb also dreams of building a theme park with an extensive museum containing the childhood memories of many, including his collection within the Grendizer Base.
He wants the theme park to offer both indoor and outdoor activities including clubs for manga, cosplay, crafting and weekly competitions.
“Maybe one day I can do all of that … I hope that somebody can be a godfather for this idea and support me, and everybody can come up with a convention or a place that’s alive for everybody forever, not only for a short time.”
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