K. Narayanan's miniature animal figurines have won him a place in the Limca Book of National Records
K. Narayanan does not allow anyone to touch his miniature animal figurines: he does not even make an exception for a journalist interviewing him about this collection, which has made it to the Limca Book of National Records. A plaque from the organisation acknowledges that he has amassed over 1,500 miniature animal replicas. (As on June 12, 2011, his collection stands at 1,773 animal figurines; if his non-animal miniatures are reckoned, the collection is well past the 2,000 mark).
The majority of the animal replicas are from reputed collectors' model manufacturers: Schleich, Safari, AAA, Bullyland, Papo, Wild Republic, Science & Nature and Collecta. Intricately crafted, these models provide the sense of watching these animals in flesh and blood.
Narayanan enjoys this hobby because he admires the animal kingdom. “I take animal figurines regularly off the shelf and compare them with their descriptions on the Internet,” reveals Narayanan. As a result, he has knowledge about animals that is unusual for a layman: much of it pertains to rare creatures in the wild. Visitors leave his home enriched with facts about okapi (a giraffid found roaming around the Ituri rainforest in Congo), pukeko (the purple swamp-hen of New Zealand), nine-banded armadillo (found in the Americas), veiled chameleon, mandrill, warthog and other creaturesthey have no reasons to think about.
Narayanan — a homeopathic doctor and a professional singer who travels abroad for concerts — considers animals nobler than humans. “They are not capable of shenanigans that are so common among human beings,” explains the 36-year-old. He, however, admits that some animal figurines came his way because a few people unselfishly gave him their time and resources.
After learning about his hobby, Christophe from France gifted him Papo models of a Nile crocodile, a tigress with cubs and a puffin. Ramona Pariente of Safari sent him sample models of animals worth Rs. 30,000. Friends made through forums for animal replica collectors — such as ‘Laughing Giraffe' — regularly assist him sustain this offbeat and difficult hobby.