For Whitney Chavis Silent Hill is so much more than just a game. Chavis has been collecting since the game was released and really got into around 2004, her first big collectable was the James and Nurse statue from Silent Hill 2 and since then she has been unstoppable. Her collection has grown so much over the years that she now holds the title for 'World Biggest Silent Hill Collection', with no end in sight to her ever growing collection (and love for Silent Hill) I interviewed her to find out more about what attracted her to the game, her most loved items and everything in between.
If I discount the soundtracks and guides as well my first collectible would be my Studio Oxmox Silent Hill 2 James and Nurse Statue. Finding this statue made me realize that that there was a variety of merchandise for the series available outside of the games, guides and soundtracks. This purchase is what inspired me to look for more and start a collection.
What would you say is the most precious item in your collection and why?
Ah man that’s a really hard choice for me to make! I’m really fond of the Silent Hill 2006 and Revelation movie props as well as my Heather with the custom base but I guess if had to pick just one item it would have to be my Japanese Silent Hill Retail Banner. I love the design and it was one of the first stand-out items I added to my collection... plus it's one of the few items that consistently comes to mind whenever I'm asked to name a favorite over the years...so I'll go with that!
Obviously you’re a huge fan of Silent Hill but what is it about Silent Hill that got you hooked?
I got into the series way back when the first game was released in 1999. My interest was piqued when I read a short preview of the game accompanied by a screenshot of Harry standing over a dead dog in a bloodied alley in one of my brother’s random game magazines. I was really into playing survival horror titles and since Silent Hill was referred to as a "Resident Evil clone" at the time it was a give in I would at least give the game a try.
Once I actually played Silent Hill it became obvious to me that outside of play mechanics and being in the horror genre Silent Hill and Resident Evil were completely different experiences. After beating the game once I had so many questions left over that I knew replaying and getting all the endings was a must! Once I was done, the game’s unique music, atmosphere and stunning CGI still stuck with me months later and since then has been one of my most treasured and favored games. So I was hooked from day one pretty much and my passion for the series continued to build with each new installment!
You’re also a huge fan of Deadly Premonition and collect merchandise for that too. Do you collect things for anything else?
Ah... Deadly Premonition now there’s a game seriously lacking in some sweet, sweet official merchandise! (and to think I believed collecting for Silent Hill was hard all those years ago HAH!)
I’m not actively collecting for anything else at the moment but I always end up with collections of varying sizes for media I really like. For example, I’m a big Superman fan so I have a bunch of stuff - movies, comics, figures, etc for him. I also have a weakness for dolls and action figures from my favorite shows, games and movies so I have a quite a collection in that regard ranging from imported anime dolls from the 90’s, high end Hot Toys action figures, to collector Barbies and Funko Pops...though Silent Hill is definitely my largest and most active collection by far.
You run a hugely popular website and Facebook page for Silent Hill as well as an additional site and page for just your collection. Did you ever imagine them to be as big as they are? and what made you decide to set those up?
No way! I started silenthillcollection.com as a way to help me keep track of what I have but also as a resource for others to see just what kind of cool stuff there is for Silent Hill out there. When I published my first two collection videos on youtube years ago there were comments from people wishing to see more shots of an item or wanting to know where I purchased it so it seemed like making a website with more information to reference was just the next logical step. I knew there were people really into collecting for the series so I created the FB collector group as a fun way to share finds and make trades with others. Honestly, I’m amazed at how many people have joined over the years. I had no idea there were so many fellow SH collectors out there!
My “main” Silent Hill site, Silent Hill Historical Society, actually began as a site dedicated just to Shattered Memories formerly called “Always on my Mind” back in August 2009. The original 1999 game has always been my favorite installment so I was super excited about the re-imagining when it was announced in April that year. With the game’s original October release date fast approaching I was surprised that there wasn’t already a site dedicated to the game already. Sure all the websites dedicated to the entire Silent Hill series had some of the big news and screens but there was nothing like the fan run silenthillorigins.com or silenthill5.net which, in anticipation of Silent Hill Origins’ and Silent Hill Homecoming’s releases, were a central hub for the latest news, game information and screens. I figured since I was already scouring the web for any new information anyway why don’t I compile it all and take a stab at making my own fan site?
Then when Downpour was announced at e3 2010 I decided to expand the site to include Downpour news since I had so much fun gathering news on Shattered Memories. So I changed the name to "Silent Hill Historical Society", made a new layout, started a FB page and a general Silent Hill podcast and things just took off exponentially from there.
I never really expected SHHS become anything more than a small space for me to gush about my excitement over dumb upcoming Silent Hill things so for it to be considered one of the ‘big” SH sites out there is pretty fucking amazing...especially when there’s frankly better and more complete Silent Hill resource sites out there. It’s been a blast sharing all the excitement (and the disappointments) these past 6 years I’m truly grateful to everyone who has paid it a visit.
...I just wish we all still had a new installment to look forward to :(
You’ve conducted quite a number of interviews, podcasts and reviews over the years. Out of all of these which one stands out the most for you and why?
Definitely my podcast interview with Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington and director Michael J. Bassett. It was pretty surreal to get an (skype) interview with actual movie stars and a director! I was super nervous and was rather worried my questions would be lame given that I hadn’t seen the movie yet. Given that I live in California and they were all in New York for Comic Con when the actual interview happened 6:30am my time so recording a podcast that early was certainly a first. I was really worried I would sound groggy lol. Luckily I didn’t sound too bad plus they were all super nice even if I rambled a bit!
Being a World Record Holder is impressive and an amazing achievement. Did you set a goal towards this or was it more of a ‘I’ll apply and see what happens’ kind of thing?
It was more of a what that hell let’s try and apply kind of thing.
My friends would often state that I probably had the largest Silent Hill collection in the world. I didn't really think that was possible given how many other fans I know, yourself included, who are also passionate about collecting items for the series but thought it would be fun to see if such a record was ever attempted. I knew there were other series specific collections on record in the past like Pikabellachu's famous Pokemon/Pikachu collection world record in 2009 so I knew it could be possible. The big question was would mine, which was only in the hundreds and not thousands, even be considered worthy?
So I checked out the Guinness World Record website and looked to see what sort of collections they had on record and I saw that a few records actually had hundreds of items like Rob Hull's collection of Daleks (571) record set in 2011 and thought hey maybe my collection may actually have a chance.
I applied on the Guinness site for a "Largest Silent Hill Collection" category in January (shortly after I put my December 2013 collection video on youtube) and a week later I received a response saying they couldn't accept my proposed category and told me to try for the "Largest collection of videogame memorabilia" instead...which I knew I couldn't come close to given it was over 8 thousand items!
I figured that I would try again when my collection was closer to a thousand but to my surprise months later a representative from Guinness emailed and said they were interested in adding a new category for "Silent Hill only" and wanted to review my claim again. Not sure what changed their mind but shortly thereafter I was declared a world record holder!
It was a pretty exciting experience! I know there's bigger and more interesting world records out there but it's amazing Guinness thought my collection was worthy to record!
Luckily for me most of my collection is made up of small items so I can fit 90% of it in plastic bins in my closet. When I get a bigger place with a spare room I would love to display everything but at the moment the only time everything is out is strictly limited to when I want to make a video or take pictures showing my entire collection.
Over the years you’ve managed to add so many amazing additions to your collection but surely you’ve also missed out on a few as well?
Oh yes loads of times!
One big missed item is the Silent Hill Cold Heart pitch document that resides in your kick ass collection!
Shortly after scans of the document appeared online on Silent Hill Memories back in December 2014 the original owner reached out to me via facebook to see if I was interested in purchasing it. Well back then Facebook neglected to alert you if you have messages from people you aren’t friends with in your “other” folder so I didn’t see the offer for 4 days. By the time I saw the message and got back to the seller he had already sold it to you. It kills me how close I was to owning that document but hey at least it went to a friend’s awesome collection in the end :)
The Silent Hill Collectors group on Facebook is hugely popular and it’s seen so many new collectors showing off their collections, Can you offer any advice for anyone who wants to start their own?
To find rare and unique Silent Hill items be sure to check auction sites often! Most of my own collection was acquired through Ebay. Another great place to look is Yahoo Japan Auctions, it can be pricey since you’ll have to go through a third party like Rinkya.com which involves fees upon fees but it’s a great way to find many rare Japanese items!
Also try and talk with other Silent Hill collectors and see if any are interested in trading or selling items as well. It’s one of reasons the collector group is around afterall! I’ve made a lot of great acquisitions for my own collection by just asking! It never hurts to try :)
Most importantly: have fun collecting! It doesn’t matter if you only have the games, it is still a worthy collection to share. No matter how big someone else’s may be now just know it didn’t grow that way overnight... we all started with a single item afterall. :D
Out of everything in your collection, what was the hardest thing to get hold of?
Definitely the retailer incentive edition of Silent Hill: Dead/Alive #1. This particular comic has cover artwork by Loïc Zimmermann and is the rarest single issue of any of the Silent Hill comics printed to date.
According to Chris Ryall Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing this particular series didn't have huge orders so not many of these covers were shipped.
I found how rare it was myself trying to track one down for my collection after I contacted over 100 comic shops across the world with no luck. Most of the shops either didn't order enough to receive an incentive cover from IDW and those that did only managed to score one and sold it years before my search started. I really thought I would never find this particular issue but some friends of mine somehow found a copy and surprised me with it. I was so thrilled to check it off my want list!
And finally a few questions just for fun:
Who is your favourite Silent Hill character and why?
Heather. She’s a sassy badass.
Favourite Silent Hill game?
All about the original baby as it is the one that hooked me from day one! (BTW Silent Hill 2 is my next favourite followed by Downpour!)
And finally describe Silent Hill in 140 characters or less.
Your vacation destination for lost family, bizarre cults, & facing your inner demons w/ a 100% chance of fog and a 98% chance of death.
Why not check out Silent Hill Historical Society on Facebook and Whitney's Website. You can also see more pictures of her collection as well as more details for each item via her Collection Site and Facebook Page. A collector yourself? Join the collectors group too.