Gamers the world over have been going mad over the past few months trying to buy a Sony PS5 or Microsoft Xbox Series X video console, while Nintendo players have been eagerly looking forward to upgrading their Nintendo Switch to a Nintendo Switch Pro.
However, the desire to score this top gaming hardware is nothing in comparison to the desire of Brett Martin of Colorado, USA, to own the world's biggest collection of video gaming memorabilia.
And, with around 20,000 items in his collection, as well as a certificate from the Guinness World Records proving that he has more video game collectibles than anyone else on Earth, Brett has well and truly achieved that feat.
The collection, which is valued at upward of $225,000 (approx. AU$295,000), has to be seen to be believed and can be done in the below video, which sees Brett guide viewers around his vast amount of gaming memorabilia.
Brett keeps his masses of video game paraphernalia – which he calls the Video Game Memorabilia Museum – in his basement, which acts as a shrine to his passion for video games.
“I have been a gamer since I could hold a controller,” he said. “My favorite game was Super Mario Brothers 3. I also really liked Mega Man games, so definitely a Nintendo fan from the start.”
His parents encouraged his love for Nintendo when they bought him his first Mario figure – a 1.6-inch 1989 figure of Mario holding a mushroom - when Brett was just eight years old.
In the 1990s, Brett discovered eBay which really launched his love of collecting into high gear as he started looking to complete the set of figures his parents had given him.
He said: “I remembered the card that came with the original figure my parents gave me had more figures on it, and when I went looking I found a couple of variants where he has all black hair, and one with blue overalls.
“While looking for the whole set of these figures, I found a ton more sets to collect and I'm still finding new sets today.”
Searching through eBay ignited Brett’s love of collecting, and he began to amass a trove of Nintendo memorabilia.
“I just kept finding stuff and finding stuff,” he said. “Then I outgrew eBay, went over to Yahoo Japan auctions where I was importing things directly from Japan and that's when it really blew up.”
His Nintendo fandom can clearly be seen in the current collection, which includes a “world of Nintendo” cabinet – home to some of Brett’s rarest items.
Among them are a prototype figure of Fox McCloud, hero of the Star Fox games, worth around $5,000 (approx. AU$6,500), and a Metal Mario prototype worth around $4,000 (approx. AU$5,200).
There’s also an incredibly rare flashlight modeled on the one used by Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion, as well as what Brett says is “the first Mario figure known to man.”
This vintage figure was released in 1981, the same year Brett was born and before the NES was even available.
The rare collectible is based on the model of Mario from the original Donkey Kong arcade game, back when the character was known as “Jumpman”.
Speaking about his love for Nintendo, Brett said: “Mario appealed to me from the start because it was more about the game play and how challenging it was.
“But also how different it was to what I was used to. Atari Games were like one button, shoot something most of the time, and really Mario was a completely different ballgame.
“Then, Legend of Zelda and Megaman and stuff like that was a different era of gaming than what came before.
“I think that's what saved video games. I grew up playing these games and the characters just sort of enamored me and they’re still a part of my life, and probably always will be.”
Brett’s diverse collection is testament to his love for these characters. Elsewhere in the basement is a four foot Mario statue which was used as a promotional in-store item, as well as a ‘Zelda’ corner which houses Zelda collectibles from the original game, the N64, and the GameCube games.
Brett said: “Some of the weirdest items I have in my collection include a Super Mario Brothers shower power shower-head – ages six and up.
“It’s Mario and Luigi holding up what looks like a pipe but it's just one of the weirdest items that I have – who thought of that?”
But the whole project isn’t just for Brett’s enjoyment. He shares his collecting adventures on his YouTube channel – ‘nightram56’ – and even his children are starting to appreciate their dad’s collection.
He said: “My 11-year-old is really enamored with it and asks me questions every time he comes down here. He loves it and I think they all really enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, Brett’s wife has been allowing her husband to pursue his passion without necessarily sharing his love for video games.
“My wife is tolerant of the collection,” he continued. “She's not a super big fan. She doesn't really play video games, which might astonish you.”
No doubt Brett’s wife’s “tolerance” has been helped by her husband sticking to a rigid budget and taking his time when buying new pieces.
“I really try to keep my budget to under $500 (AU$650) an item,” he said. “Some of the statues were around $800 (AU$1,050) but I don't really like to pay over $500 (AU$650) for anything.
“So I'm just going to miss out on some things now because some things are so inflated with how expensive they are.
“Everything's grown exponentially in price. Especially the Legend of Zelda items. Everything I bought I think is worth way more than I bought it at.”
Despite this increase in value, Brett isn’t eager to sell his treasured memorabilia any time soon.
He said: “If some guy walked up off the street and said I'll give you a million dollars for all of it I wouldn't hesitate. But the reality is that's not happening.
“I do think that at some point I'll try to sell a lot of it. There's some pieces I may always hold on to.
“But it is an interesting thing to me how much the collection's worth has grown over the years. I paid five bucks for something that's worth $1,000 (approx. AU$1,300) now that's just insane.
“It's hard to stop, I'll tell you that. But I'm almost out of room as it is. And there's stuff coming out every day.
“I don't know 20 years from now, maybe I'll set up a museum or something.”
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