Thursday, March 27, 2014

World’s Largest Video Game Collection

HAMBURG, NY—Most anyone familiar with Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history, and Billy and Benny McCrary, the world’s largest twins, grew up reading The Guinness Book of World Records, an annual reference volume that began in 1955 and is now published as Guinness World Records.

The Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, a concession to modernity that began in 2008, tracks such achievements as high scores, bestselling games, largest tournament, and longest winning streak. The 2011 release included a feature called “World’s Largest Videogame Collection,” a feat attributed to Richard Leece of Florida, a father of two who owns more than 8,000 games and also deals in rare coins.

Enter Michael Thomasson, a collector who believed—correctly—that he had a bigger collection than Leece. Recently, after doing an official count observed by several witnesses, including Jon-Paul Dyson, Director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, and Leonard Herman, author of Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames, Thomasson discovered that he owned 10,607 games.

Despite the fact that Thomasson trumped his accomplishment, Leece doesn’t view the New Yorker as a competitor or a rival. “My congratulations to a fellow collector,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s very impressive and I'm very happy for him. (Getting the record is) something I did for my own enjoyment. I applied for the Guinness book for my kids so that years from now they can look back and say, wow, my father was in the Guinness Book of World Records.”

In addition to amassing the world’s largest officially recognized video game collection, Thomasson is a GameStop employee, graphic designer, freelance writer, and adjunct professor of video game design and history at Cansius College, the largest private college in Western New York. Thomasson also owns Homebrew Heaven, an online video game retailer specializing in new titles produced by independent publishers for vintage consoles.

Thomasson’s first game was Cosmic Avenger for the ColecoVision, a then-cutting edge console that came out in 1982. “It’s my first love so it’s sentimental,” he said, referring to the ColecoVision. “(The games for the system) looked good, they played good. For the time they sounded good for the bleeps and blips of the ’80s.”

Carrying an estimated value of $700,000 to $800,000, Thomasson’s collection includes all the common stuff, of course, such as carts for the Atari 2600 (1977) and discs for the Xbox 360 (2005), plus he owns rare games for such obscure consoles as the Fairchild Channel F (1976) and the Japan-only Casio Loopy and Pippin, both released in 1995.

“I have games on cartridge, laser disc,” he said. “I have VHS-based games, cassette-based games.”

Thomasson also owns rare video game-related merchandise, such as a leather jacket from Don Bluth Studios that was worn by the team during the production of Dragon's Lair (1983) and Space Ace (1984) and hand-painted art cels from the early 1980’s Donkey Kong Jr. cereal commercials.

When considering Thomasson for a world record, the Guinness World Records officials adhered to a strict set of guidelines. Downloaded games, duplicates, and unreleased prototypes didn’t count, nor did computer games. The latter is why Syd Bolton, a computer museum curator who owns more than 15,000 games (as featured in the September, 9, 2013, issue of AntiqueWeek), would not be considered by Guinness as having more video games than Thomasson. Many of Bolton’s games are for computers, not consoles.

In the time since the official count took place, Thomasson, who is married and has a five-year-old daughter, has added hundreds of games to his collection, which now surpasses 11,000 titles. However, he has toyed around with the notion of liquidating the bulk of his inventory.

“I might be putting it up for sale,” he said during a recent interview with Steve Tripi of the 97 Rock Morning Show in Buffalo. “I can’t afford to insure it.”


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Greatness of High Def - Annie Hall & KISS

I'm a huge Woody Allen fan and have seen Annie Hall many times over the years. I watched it for the first time in high def tonight, and my wife spotted a KISS billboard in the background. The film was released in 1977 at the height of the band's popularity.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wizard World - Major Expansion

Wizard World, already the world’s largest pop culture convention series, is expanding to seven new cities in 2014, for a grand total of 15 events throughout the year.
First up is Sacramento, the capital of California. Taking place March 7-9 at the Sacramento Convention Center, Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con will “celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests, and more.”

This includes a huge vendor’s room, where you’ll find modern and vintage memorabilia for sale, and areas where you can meet, greet, get autographs from, and have your photo taken with celebrities and comic book creators.

“Our mantra has been, ‘Give the fans a great experience, give the celebrities and creators a great experience, take care of our exhibitors, and everyone will want to come back,’” said John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO and Chairman. “We've had such an overwhelmingly positive reaction to all our 2013 events, both first-year and existing shows, that it was obvious what the fans were telling us—‘We want more!’”

As if to tell fandom that the new Wizard World installments aren’t miniature versions of what has gone before, the Sacramento show will be teeming with famous guests, including Norman Reedus  and Jon Berenthal (The Walking Dead), William Shatner (Star Trek), Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness), Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), Julie Benz and James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), and many others.

Even Ralph “The Karate Kid” Macchio will be in attendance. Feel free to call him “Danielson” or to tell him to “Wax on, wax off,” but be forewarned that he’s probably heard these lines more times than he’s heard his own name.
 Stan Lee, co-creator of such iconic super-heroes as Spider-Man and the X-Men, headlines the group of comic book pros set to attend, followed by veteran writer Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-Men) and such accomplished artists as Neal Adams (Batman), Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern), Humberto Ramos (The Amazing Spider-Man), Greg Horn (The Avengers), and Michael Golden (The Micronauts).

Here’s a listing of the six other cities scheduled to host Wizard World for the first time: Louisville, KY (March 28-30, Kentucky International Convention Center); Minneapolis, MN (May 2-4, Minneapolis Convention Center); Atlanta, GA (May 30-June 1, Georgia World Congress Center); San Antonio, TX (Aug. 1-3, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center), Richmond, VA (Sept. 12-14, Greater Richmond Convention Center); and Tulsa, OK (Nov., 7-9, Cox Business Center).

Those attending any of the Wizard World cons throughout the country should keep one thing in mind: to set phasers on “fun.”