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This Catwoman’s toy collection is pure purr-fection

By Kara Santos Published Mar 28, 2022 1:28 pm

The hobby of toy collecting has really boomed during the pandemic.

Amid the prolonged lockdown, many Filipinos stuck at home have spent the past two years amassing all the available toys and collectibles from their favorite fandoms.

But for many longtime collectors, it’s been a chance to fill in the gaps of what they already own, connect with the local toy community online, and work on their dream display rooms.

Art director Anna Gajudo recently shared her enviable toy collection online, showcasing an amazing array of Catwoman and ThunderCats figurines in her “Toy Room/Cat’s Lair 2022” with the help of her feline furbabies.

In an online interview, the collector shared some insights with PhilSTARLife on the inspiration behind her toy collection, how the pandemic has affected the community, and some helpful tips on how to build a dream "Cat Lair" for both cats and toys.

Cats rule

Browsing through the photos of her Facebook album, you can tell that Gajudo definiltely has an affinity for cats.


“My earliest memory of my very first action figure is Snarf from an ’80s cartoon called ThunderCats. My sister bought it for me when I was eight. The only other figure I have from that line is Mumm-Ra. Back then I would spend the whole day playing with just those two. When I got older, I had to buy all the ThunderCats heroes and villains I could find,” Gajudo said.

But her main collection is focused on Catwoman a.k.a Selina Kyle, most recently portrayed by Zoë Kravitz opposite Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne in The Batman, which is currently making waves globally at the box office.

“My main collection is Catwoman since I’ve always adored cats. I want her to always have a companion so I hunted and got her all the Batman counterparts I could find—figures, statues, dolls, comic books, and batmobiles so they would always have a ride. I fondly call them my BaCats and BruLinas (Bruce + Selina),” she said.


All things ’80s

Her collectibles aren’t limited to only cat-themed toys. The diverse collection would be the envy of any ’80s kid who grew up watching classic cartoons. The toys extend to the world of Voltron, Voltes V, Biker Mice from Mars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man, and Ghostbusters, to name a few.

Gajudo also collects dragons seen in classic films and series. 


“The first dragon I fell in love with was Falkor from The Never Ending Story. I have dragons from How to Train your Dragon, Shenron from Dragon Ball, and the flight of dragons from Game of Thrones,” she said.

I’m always looking to reconnect with the toys that defined my childhood playtime... it eases my insecurity and anxiety of losing a part of myself.

While other children dreamed of becoming a nurse or a doctor, Gajudo said she “wanted to become a ninja.” 

“That's why I have Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes figures from G.I. Joe. I also have toys and replicas from Doctor Who (10th and 11th Doctors), and Pacific Rim jaegers and kaijus. I have Gundams because they’re really fun to build,” she added.

As an avid reader of comic books, Gajudo also collects figures from her favorites, namely: Martian Manhunter, Flash, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Metal Men, Green Lanterns, Red Lanterns, White Lanterns, Saga, Gambit, Rogue, and many other DC and Marvel characters.

Childhood connection

According to Gajudo, nostalgia plays a big part in her toy collection. 

“I’m always looking to reconnect with the toys that defined my childhood playtime. It’s a period I feel strong about. I think it eases my insecurity and anxiety of losing a part of myself,” she said.

Aside from the dragons and robots from cartoons, Gajudo also has a soft spot for Baby Yoda, Sylvanian Families, Bratz, and Barbie dolls.

1985 edition Peaches 'n Cream Barbie

“I have a distinct memory of a special toy my mom got for me when I was seven. I had to goad her and cry for it until she finally got me that Peaches ‘n Cream Barbie doll. I remember playing with it all day every day and putting it back in the original box every night. Time passed and I lost her. That’s why when Mattel announced a reissue of the very same doll, I needed to have one," Gajudo recounted.

When I see my toys, it brings back fond memories of my childhood. It helps me relax and take my mind off the stressful things in life.

"So now, even if I have limited shelf space, she would always have a spot. Every time I look at her, I would always remember my mom and hold back my tears. Years later, I would work as a freelancer box designer of... Barbie (Richwell Phils.)! That led to building a nice enough portfolio which I think made all the difference when I applied as an art director in GMA. (To conclude, si Barbie lang ang sakalam),” she added.

While Gajudo can’t give an exact figure on the exact number of toys she’s accumulated over the years, she estimates a ballpark figure of around P2 million worth of toys, statues, and comic books.

“It is not about the money I spend, but about the satisfaction I get in return. When I see my toys, it brings back fond memories of my childhood. It helps me relax and take my mind off the stressful things in life,” Gajudo said.

The Pandemic effect

Gajudo said she’s been active in toy hunting since joining the ToyCon exhibit nine years ago, but has still held on to the OG ones (now considered collector’s items) which she’s played with since she was young.

“Most of my purchases are from Shoppesville, Greenhills, a haven for toy collectors. I try to acquire those that still have their complete accessories. Some from several toy groups here and abroad. Some gems are from toy conventions,” Gajudo said.

“Before the pandemic, this is where I met all kinds of collectors and found many valuable and rare additions to my collection. The last con I attended was Singapore Comic Con 2019 where I was lucky enough to meet lots of artists/creators and had my action figures and comic books signed,“ she continued.

Anna Gajudo with DC cover artist Carlo Pagulayan at an artist's signing.

However, since 2020, most of Gajudo’s purchases have been done via online shopping at Comic Odyssey and from fellow collectors in the online comic book community, “Working from home during the pandemic has given me ample time to sit with my toys, appreciate them, and notice the gaps. How do I have the Saga Lying Cat teal version, and not have the pink one, too?”

She found that many other collectors started looking and noticing their collection in detail, and decided to purge some items, which was how she was able to collect more. 

“We have several local toy groups in the Philippines who are very warm and welcoming. We share our lucky finds and congratulate each other. I once posted a pleather costume flaking problem with one of my Catwoman statues and in an instant, fellow collectors shared their restoration tips. I gained friends, and saved a lot because I didn’t have to pay for the restoration service. I really am pleased that toy communities here help each other out,” Gajudo said.

Dream Toy Room/Cat's Lair

For toy collectors, reorganizing and displaying items properly is a big part of what sparks joy.

“Collecting provides solace and structure. It doesn’t always mean buying a new piece. It can be as simple as researching your pieces or rearranging them, or just sitting and experiencing joy just by looking at them. That’s why it’s been my dream to have my very own Cat’s Lair where I can appreciate all the toys I’ve lovingly collected through the years. I wanted my toys to be the main attraction that’s why I had the interior, flooring, and shelves in white. I want it crisp and clean. I also invested in good lighting,” Gajudo said.

However, keeping toys free from dust and damage-free with multiple cats in the house posed another challenge.

Gajudo has four furbabies: Luna, Loki, and siblings Sophie and Yuri who just "love to groom, rest, play and do whatever they like in the toy room."


“I think my kitties believe that I am their pet. And I am just here to serve, clean up, provide for needs, and to keep company when they want that. Of course, they’ve already broken some of my toys. No remorse whatsoever. They even bite and scratch my precious toy boxes. So now, I can no longer refer to those as ‘mint condition,’” she added.

But Gajudo has managed to come up with an ideal space to house her toys and keep her babies happy, “The Cat’s Lair has a big window where the kitties love to relax, birdwatch, and sleep. I have to adjust to their wants, that's why I always have a portable vacuum ready. The bane of every collector’s existence is the constant dusting. To get around this tedious task, I encase my toys in glass shelves.”

I like the thrill of the quest and the excitement of the hunt... I think it creates a sense of accomplishment.

According to her, because of the tropical weather, “It’s best to store toys in a room with controlled temperature and dry space that is out of direct sunlight.”

Gajudo also makes sure her hands are clean and oil-free especially when handling art toys.

The joy of the hunt

Gajudo likens the hobby of toy collecting to a worthwhile quest that brings joy and comfort in these times of uncertainty.

“When you become an adult, your collection can be whatever you want it to be. There are no parents limiting your choices or purse strings. And I can finally follow that childish dream of getting everything I want. If I buy a hero, I need to buy a villain. Then maybe the vehicle, and the butler, and so on. I like the thrill of the quest and the excitement of the hunt for that rare toy for the best price. I think it creates a sense of accomplishment,” she explained.

“To a non-collector, it might seem extreme, but every action figure I have right now has a story of how it came to me, and brought me many moments of joy over the years. Amassing this toy collection has become a transcendent experience for me,” Gajudo said.