Batman collector
Mr Kua Way Hao’s entire collection has cost him more than $10,000 and he has set aside another $3,000 to buy merchandise from the new movie, including a 1.1m-tall statue of Batman. Photo: The Straits Times

To make room for his Batman figurines, Mr Kua Way Hao gave up sleeping on a double bed four years ago and now sleeps on a single mattress on the floor.

When a shipment of new figurines arrives by the end of this year, the 30-year-old will not be able to sleep in the room altogether – he intends to sleep on a couch in the living room.

Says the engineer in a printing company, who lives in a three-room HDB flat in Bedok with his parents: "If I sleep in my room, I'm afraid I might swing my arm in the middle of the night and topple a statue."

Says housewife Lim Ah Moi, 58, of her only child: "He can do what he wants with his room. But it's my place and I don't want Batman in the living room." Adds his father, carpenter Kua Chui Kia, 60: "He can sleep on the couch. I'm okay with it as long as the toys make him happy."

Batman merchandise has practically taken over Mr Kua's bedroom – collectibles include eight figurines of Batman and related characters such as Catwoman and Poison Ivy; a life-sized bust; 10 framed movie posters; and assorted items such as singlets, leggings, a Batarang and tissue box.

The bachelor also owns a life- sized costume of Harley Quinn, one of Batman's enemies, which he bought off a cosplayer for $200 in January. It is now displayed on a mannequin in the bedroom.

"If I have a girlfriend, I would want her to be as cool and crazy as Harley Quinn. I might even want her to wear the costume sometimes if we go for cosplay events."

Mr Kua's whole collection has cost him more than $10,000, and he has set aside another $3,000 to buy merchandise from the new movie, including a 1.1m-tall statue of the caped crusader. His figurines are displayed in glass cabinets under coloured lights. It is a set-up which took a whole month to "get right", he says.

He took pains to hide "unsightly" electrical wires and place sponge stripes around open corners of the cabinets to prevent dust from entering.

Once a week, he dusts the figurines. "I'm a perfectionist," he says. "I want everything to look presentable. It is worth the effort. Sometimes, I stand in my room, basking in the beauty of my toys and it feels like paradise."

During Christmas and Chinese New Year, he often shows his collection to friends. Every few months, a collector would also ask to view his collection. "They are usually impressed and it brings me a lot of satisfaction."

Not content with just owning Batman merchandise, his next step might be to cosplay as Batman. For the last four years, he has been going to the gym to work on his physique. One day, he intends to don an armoured Batman outfit at toy conventions and cosplay events.

He says with a laugh: "I have not bought the costume yet. I am getting the body first."

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.