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Like most things game-related, it all started with Super Mario.
But little did Brett Martin know that when his parents innocently bought him a Mario figure back in 1989, it would kick off what’s officially become a record-setting collection.
With a stunning 8,030 video game items crammed in his home, the 31-year-old web designer from Colorado has been crowned the king of video game memorabilia by Guinness in the Guinness World Records 2013: Gamers Edition.
Though technically his collection started with that little Mario figure, Martin didn’t start actively searching out game trinkets until 2001.
“I’ve always loved Nintendo, and once I discovered eBay I discovered there was a lot more out there than a small Mario figure,” Martin said. “I started finding sets overseas. Then I discovered Yahoo Japan Auctions and started importing stuff from Japan. Now, it’s about preserving and history. “
Nintendo mascots indeed dominate his collection, but Martin owns plenty of bits from other icons, like Namco’s Pac-Man and Capcom’s Mega Man. He’s also apparently gone out of his way to ensure that every item is an “official” piece of video game merchandise, which means weeding out the throngs of counterfeit pieces found on auction sites.
His favorite? That’s either his rare prototype video games or a giant sign from Super Mario Bros. 3, his favorite game. Though he’s never had it appraised, all told Martin estimates his collection is worth between $75,000 and $100,000.
So how does he decide what’s worth collecting? It’s all about love.
“I’ve tried to keep it contained to series that I really adore, rather than get everything,” he says. “Easier than it sounds, actually. I don’t really collect Pokemon or Animal Crossing stuff, even though they are Nintendo franchises, because I’m less interested in those two.”
Pokemon players will find that exceptionally ironic, but considering he’s been actively collecting stuff for a dozen years, you have to draw the line somewhere.
That line, as it turns out, also includes letting his family mess with his stuff.
“My boys love it, but I don’t let them around it much. We play with some of the toys, but several are mint in box or fragile…or vintage,” he says. “My wife watched it grow and continued to be overwhelmed by it. It used to fit on top of an entertainment center. Then some hung shelves. Then more hung shelves. Then bookcases. Now a room.”
The new edition of the Guinness gaming book is due out on Jan. 10.