You don't really need a HTPC, just a player that can read files off attached storage. Ripping DVDs to HDD is seemingly the preferred method these days, so you're not the first to consider this issue.
Right now, HDDs are premium priced, and this is your main issue for now. 1200 DVDs could consume 6-8 TB of HDD space.
There are other methods, like converting the main movie to MPEG-4 (MKV) that will reduce the space needed by 50%, but this consumes easily 4x more time than a simple rip, 10x if you have a slow PC. A simple rip to ISO file is the fast, easy way but you need a device that can read ISO files. Ripping to folder structure is just as quick but support for folder structures is rare and you wind up only being able to play the VOB files.
Get a cheap DVD burner that can rip at 12-16x (some have a speed lock on video discs) and you can rip them pretty quick. But you can spread it out over a few months and just do a few at a time. It's not like there's a rush.
Also consider the obvious: Storing on HDDs is not secure unless you have 2 copies. Failing to back up your rips will eventually result in the loss of all that work. So now we're at 12-16 TB of space.
But HDDs are great to use. You can organize films by drive, then folders to make locating them easy. A $2 plastic drive case allows you to label them and stack on a shelf for storage. A HDD docking station can hold up to 4 drives at a time and make them all accessible to a player.
Food for thought.