Hamburg, Nov 20 (DPA) Asterix, the world’s most famous Gaul just turned 50, bringing all of Europe into a fever about the comic book hero.
Well, all of Europe aside from Volker Pallapies of Minden, in northern Germany. He was way ahead of everyone else, he says, having collected Germany’s largest collection of figures related to Asterix.
The 43-year-old has a shrine to the bulb-nosed hero of the successful series of comic books that depict Asterix and his small community of Gauls fighting successfully for independence from Roman rule two thousand years ago, thanks to a magic formula for strength they discovered.
The collection includes shampoo bottles, snow globes and savings banks, all adorned with Asterix and his friends and enemies.
Pallapies began reading the books when he was a child. He only discovered the collecting bug about 10 years ago. Now the house is dominated by small figures, Gauls standing next to Romans, druids and bards.
It might all look the same to a layperson, but a true expert can see how small details can make some of the figures truly valuable. There are small nuances in the hair or skin colour. Sometimes it’s just the way the figure is holding its head.
Pallapies doesn’t collect just any Asterix figure. Metal and resin figures are taboo. “As a collector, you’ve got to set strict limits for yourself.”
His speciality is figures packaged as promotions with candy. His latest obsession hasn’t even hit the markets yet: a French anniversary figure that comes with a gift in its hand.
Pallapies doesn’t foresee an end to his Asterix passion, even if he’s reached the point where he has many duplicates that he now uses for trading.
“Collecting is a life’s work,” he says. He spends two hours a day with Asterix and the gang, checking the internet for figures for sale and possible trades. Other times he gets his family and friends into the act in his efforts to expand his collection. His wife and kids once had to eat jars of a chocolate spread to help Pallapies get at the Asterix stickers inside the jars.
His wife, Regina, seems to take it all in her stride. She even allowed Asterix figures on her wedding cake.
“People often make fun of me for my hobby, but you just have to move past that,” he says. To compensate for the mockery, he can take comfort in the high esteem with which he’s held in collector’s circles thanks to his collection. His hand-sized model of a menhir, the stone routinely carried by Asterix’s sidekick, Obelix, is routinely featured in collector’s catalogues.
Those catalogues are where Pallapies’ next great obsession lies: the 1967 Cleopatra figure. After all, without her, no collection is complete.