If you ever go to the Peer Learning Center, odds are you have probably met Randy Van Peursem.
Van Peursem is a support services professional and helps out at the PLC. While the bulk of his day revolves around science and academics, his free time is spent exploring the science fiction world as he gets lost in a galaxy far, far away.
His Star Wars collection first began in 1992 when he spotted some action figures at a flea market. He remembered that he got the first six original ones when they came out around the time of the first three Star Wars movies. He thought it would be fun to get the “original 12” and go from there. After that, the collecting bug bit.
Today, Randy has around 6,000 action figures, plus ships and playsets. However, not all 6,000 are from Star Wars. Van Peursem also collects figures from Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate and Lord of the Rings. He found all these figures by either hopping in the car to find the nearest Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, etc. that were selling the figures or looking on eBay.
The biggest collection he has is his Star Wars and Lord of the Rings collection. As he built more of his collection, he was able to create a diorama in his house with specific scenes from each show or movie.
The very first diorama was built in 2002 when he moved into his current home in Orange City. The theme of the diorama was the Grand Army of the Republic from “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.” The more he collected, the bigger his dioramas became.
Today, he has two notable themed dioramas. One of them is an updated version of the emperor’s arrival scene from Star Wars, and the other diorama is of the “Prologue Battle” that is present in the Lord of the Rings.
He puts many of his dioramas behind a polycarbonate sheet on a display rack to protect them from being knocked over or destroyed.
“I enjoy giving tours,” Van Peursem said. “I set up dioramas and display figures to share with others. What’s the point if you can’t share the fun and fantasy with others?”
One of the many vistors who has seen Van Peursem’s large home display is sophomore Conner Van Peursem, Randy’s second cousin. He saw them when he was younger and when he was interested in watching science fiction. When he saw all those figures for the first time, the only thought that came to mind was “wow.” He was amazed by all of the dioramas of battle scenes from the same locations that he loved.
Van Peursem also has a YouTube account, toycollectibles, where his dioramas can be seen.
Even with such a large collection, there are some rare figures that are still missing.
“There’s a couple of holy grails,” he said. “Every collection has a couple of holy grails, but sometimes, some of the most common figures are actually the coolest, too.”
Van Peursem doesn’t plan to stop collecting any time soon, but it has become a slower process with the gradual increase of prices. Even though his collecting has slowed down, his heart for collecting has not. His basement is the setting of a science fiction world, and his passion for collecting will continue to grow with every new discovery.