We've all marveled at the photos submitted to "Shelf Porn," the regular feature on ROBOT 6 showcasing frequently envy-inducing collections of comic books and related memorabilia that as often as not spill off of shelves and walls to consume entire rooms. Well, now meet 37-year-old Karen Bell of Ayrshire, Scotland, whose lifelong love of the Smurfs has led her to spend £20,000 (nearly $32,000) on Peyo's little blue creatures.
"It amazes me that I've spent around £20,000 on the collection," she tells the Daily Mail, "but to be honest, with the amount I have, I'm surprised it's not more."
The collection, which began at age 6 with a single toy, has grown to 4,482 items, including 930 two-inch PVC figures (she buys duplicates from other countries because of the differences in packaging), 70 buildings and playsets, 145 books, comics, videos and DVDs, 130 badges, and 50 bath and beauty products. It takes up an entire room in her house, and her husband has drawn the room there. Well, mostly.
"I don’t always understand Karen’s love of Smurfs but as long as her addiction doesn’t spread to the other rooms in the house then I can live with it," Brian Bell says. "The only Smurf memorabilia outside of the spare room I’ve agreed to is a Smurf feeding mat for the cats – and even that’s pushing it."
As large as Karen Bell's Smurf collection is, it's not the largest even in the United Kingdom -- because someone monitors those things, presumably for public safety. That honor goes to 45-year-old Stephen Parkes of Nottingham (you'll recognize him as the guy dressed as a Smurf, below) who entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2010 for his nearly 1,200-piece hoard. Guinness doesn't take into account duplicates, which may explain why Parkes comes out on top. Or maybe Guinness just hasn't waded through Bell's collection. (Germany's Andreas Süsser holds the world record with 3,173 different items as of 2011.)
In any case, we now have a good idea who police should talk to about that 7-Eleven incident ...