Collector's Corner: Interview with Tracey and Jason Tobin

PREVIEWSworld ToyChest proudly introduces Collector's Corner! Here, we'll highlight anyone and everyone with a love of toys and collectibles. Whether it's a hardcore collector with no room on their display case or a veteran sculptor who makes a living in the industry, we'll talk to anyone who lives and breathes toys! 

This week, we talked to Tracey and Jason Tobin. The husband and wife hail from Nova Scotia, Canada and are hosts of "Tracey's Basement", a popular YouTube channel where the show their love of pop culture, toys and collectibles. 

Tracey and Jason talk about their love of collecting and showed off some of their favorite pieces. 


WHEN DID YOU BOTH START COLLECTING?

We've both been “collectors” since childhood, even if our collections back then amounted to things like a handful of special toys, a small box of comics, or a spot on the DVD shelf just for anime. When we first began dating we each had a modest collection of figures that had followed us through our childhoods, video games we had refused to ever leave behind, and all-time favorite movies, but soon into our relationship we began to collect with a little more focus when we had the funds to do so. Our college years together saw Jason amass a number of horror movie VHS tapes and NECA figures, while I developed a great love of McFarlane's “Dragons” line. By the time we were married, with a house and a child, we'd spent many Christmases hunting down geeky items for each other, and our love of toys and collectibles has only grown. 

WHAT SPURRED YOU INTEREST IN TOY COLLECTING?

I think for both of us it was just the result of having a love for so many fandoms with amazing toy options to choose from. We both grew up during the years that anime such as Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon were transitioning to North America. Jason loved horror movies his entire life – particularly the classic “slashers” - and I discovered the wonder of Star Wars near the end of grade school. We were both the kind of kids who were into all kinds pop culture, and we grew into adults who are still very much into all kinds of pop culture, so collecting toys relating to our favorite pop culture icons was just a natural progression.

DO YOU COLLECT ANY SPECIFIC LINES OR FRANCHISES?

Our collection is extremely eclectic, as we have a great many fandoms between us, but we do tend to give more attention to certain much-loved franchises. Jason, for instance, puts a lot of focus on Godzilla and his favorite horror franchises, such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Meanwhile I flock to Deadpool and Sailor Moon, and I have a wide variety of Harley Quinn items. As a pair we are known to put a large portion of our focus into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dragon Ball, both franchises that neither of us ever stopped loving since childhood.

On a related note, while we've both fallen into the trap in the past, these days we make a point not to focus too obsessively on any particular brand or company. There are so many toy companies out there who make a vast number of amazing collectibles, and variety makes a collection so much more fun and interesting than focusing heavily on a specific style of figure.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PIECES?

That is a really difficult question for us! In fact, during our channel's anniversary in February we did a “Top Ten Pick-Ups of the Past Year” video and just that was so difficult that we had a number of runner-ups and honorable mentions. If we had to pick, however, both of us would definitely put our collection of 1/4-scale NECA Ninja Turtles at the top of the list. We have all four brothers prominently displayed on a shelf in the center of our videos' display, and I'm sure they'll never stop being something that we're head-over-heals in love with. .

There are, of course, also individual pieces that we put high up on our lists. Jason favors his Nintendo Virtual Boy as an amazing piece of video game history; the fact that it was an utter failure of a console only makes it a more awesome item in his eyes.

Also at the top of his list is a pair of items that are an incredible part of home video history. His late grandfather, knowing that Jason loves old, interesting electronics, gifted him a Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) player before he passed away, so the enormous, weighty, wood panel home video device has a special place in his heart. In addition to this, at a later Christmas I was able to hunt down a CED of Friday the 13th : The Final Chapter, which happens to be Jason's favorite film in the franchise, and he often states that it's one of the coolest things he owns.

For myself, one of my favorites definitely has to be my copy of Final Fantasy III (Japanese version VI) for the SNES. Games like that one used to be fairly difficult to find in my hometown, as we didn't have much more than a Zellers and a Canadian Tire when I was growing up. Regardless, my entirely non-geeky, non-gamer parents managed to track down a copy for me after noticing that I was spending a small fortune in allowance money renting it from a local shop.

In a more “these are the coolest things ever” way, I definitely have to give a mention to my three Black Series lightsabers – Darth Vader's, Luke's blue, and Luke's green – which Jason gave me one at a time on separate occasions. They are gorgeously made pieces, and no matter how old I get I don't think it will ever stop being a ton of fun to light them up, wave them around, and listen to those amazing integrated sound effects.

WHAT IS YOUR ‘HOLY GRAIL’ COLLECTIBLE? 

If money were absolutely no object, Jason would very much like to have a Nintendo World Cup gold cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System. As a huge gamer who grew up through all of Nintendo's home gaming stages, the Nintendo World Cup gold cart is one of those items that would be absolutely epic to be able to own.

For myself, this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows how much I love Supernatural and the Winchester brothers: I would love to own one of the '67 Chev Impalas from the shooting of the show. Not only is it a gorgeous car to begin with, but knowing it came from the set of one of my favorite shows of all time makes it extraordinarily coveted for me.

WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL?

I began the channel myself as a subscription box unboxing channel that was, I'll readily admit, fairly awkward as I'd never done anything like that before and have always had an anxiety problem that made it difficult for me to get used to speaking comfortably on camera. But eventually Jason began helping me with the more technical aspects – editing, thumbnails, etc – and together with the new setting of the collectible shelving we'd built in our basement we rebranded the entire channel as “Tracey's Basement”. Shortly afterwards Jason began joining me in the videos, and before we knew it we'd become a “toy channel”, still doing unboxings, but focusing more on toy hauls and reviews, as well as geek culture in general. We do our best to have fun, be honest, and be ourselves in our videos, because we feel strongly that when it comes to channels like ours, viewers come for the toys, but stay for the personalities. Plus, lets be straight, being fake and putting up a front is exhausting and absolutely no fun, and on the day the channel stops being fun is the day we'll no longer have any reason to continue with it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO TOY COLLECTORS?

One piece of advice that we often give our friends and viewers is to collect what you love, not what you expect to be worth something someday, or what the current trends are telling you to collect. If you collect pieces that you truly love, you'll always be happy with your collection, whereas those who collect for “value” and/or to be part of the current hype will inevitably find themselves bored, dissatisfied, and/or out a great deal of money with nothing to truly show for it. Collecting should be about making yourself happy, and showing your love for the subjects of your collection. Once you start collecting items only because they're “rare” or “valuable” or have a specific sticker on the box, you're just allowing yourself to fall into foolish marketing traps created by companies who only care about your money. Force yourself to see past all that, collect the items that genuinely make you smile, and you'll be much, much happier in the long run.

HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ONLINE?

Our YouTube Channel, “Tracey's Basement” can be found here. But we are also very active on social media. On Twitter, I am @TraceysBasement and Jason is @JasonfromTB. We can both be found on the Instagram account @TraceysBasement, and I am on SnapChat with the same username. We also manage a Facebook Fan Page here and the Basement Geeks Facebook Group here

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