Jeff Jimenez's Video Game Nostalgia

Categories: Collections
Video game collector Jeff Jimenez holds up rare Nintendo game cartridges.
Local video game arcades have nothing on Jeff Jimenez.

As a lifelong fan of video games, Jimenez probably has any game in any platform you can think of. His collection of video games includes around 2,500 titles, and he has all gaming systems dating back to Atari.

Jimenez, who works in gaming and merchandising at Best Buy, loved to play Atari and Nintendo games as a kid, with his favorites being Miner 2049er, The Legend of Zelda, and Ninja Gaiden.

These days, he works at maintaining his massive game collection, which has its own room at Jimenez's west side townhouse.

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Bob Hoag's Ambassador Hotel Relics

Categories: Collections
Bob Hoag with his beloved Ambassador Hotel collection.
Bob Hoag runs the Flying Blanket recording studio in Mesa (we featured him in our Hero Worship section of the Phoenix New Times 2010 Best of Phoenix).

He also has an obsession with vintage clothing. And he collects drum sets.But for this blog post, we're going to focus on Hoag's incredible collection of relics from the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

His collection includes a stack of post cards, hotel restaurant menus, scads of matchbooks, ashtrays, signs, statuettes, photographs and his pet cat.

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Kathleen Vanesian's Dia de los Muertos Collection

Categories: Collections
photos by Claire Lawton
Clockwise from upper left: papier maché winged skeleton, made in Mexico City, having an afterlife smoke; upper right: small sugar paste coffin with skeleton that pops in and out from Patzuaro, Michoacán; upper center: low-fired clay plate by Javier Ramos Lucano of Tlaquepaque, Jalisco features skeleton mariachi couple doing a spirited jarabe; lower right: a papier mache alebrije or fantasy figure that Vanesian is repairing for a collector; lower left corner: the Vanesian living room crammed with dance masks and Mexican folk art collected over almost 35 years.
"Oh hell, I don't have any idea," Kathleen Vanesian says, of the number of Dia de los Muertos pieces she has throughout her north Phoenix home. She places one of her small sugar skulls back on its shelf and curses the dust under her breath.

Vanesian's an art collector and a frequent arts writer for New Times. She moved to Phoenix in the early '90s and says growing up in San Diego and being exposed to Mexican culture throughout the years has always played a large role in her collections.

Her Dia de los Muertos pieces are part of her larger Mexican folk art collection, which she's been adding to for more than 35 years. More »

Elvis Knievel's Record Boxes and Inserts

Categories: Collections

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These display cases house a small part of Elvis Knievel's record insert collection.
Elvis Knievel stands in the kitchen of his northwest Phoenix home ("the Smithsonian of cool," he says), preparing his usual noontime tea. He's surrounded by pop culture memorabilia, including old toy models of Schwinn bicycles, autographed photos of rock stars, and 1960s rocket ship toys from Yugoslavia.

Knievel, a "40something" local artist who recently lost his job at Ski Pro after nine years, has collected many things throughout his life. He's recently sold various items on eBay, but one collection he keeps for himself is his assortment of record boxes and 45 rpm adapters, better known as "record inserts."

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Larry Ehrhardt's Vintage Bicycles

photos by Colin Lecher
Larry Ehrhardt has been in the bicycle business awhile -- since 1958 to be exact, when he was in the fifth grade and his father started Ehrhardt's Schwinn in Tempe.

After taking over his father's business, he started selling Schwinns, and now remembers one customer in particular: a man who bought a classic model decades ago for his four children to use.

Fast forward to the 2000s. The man returned with the same, now-vintage Schwinn and sold it back to Ehrhardt, adding another piece to his ever-growing collection of retro bikes and accessories. When Ehrhardt showcases some of those models today, built between 1949 to 1979, he swells with pride.

"This is the holy grail of paper boy specials," he says of an electric blue Schwinn from 1964, complete with original parts.

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Pin-Up Girl Glasses and Bakelite Galore: A de la Garza-Crouch Family Collection

Categories: Collections

Photos by Claire Lawton
True collectors rarely have one collection, and each member of the de la Garza-Crouch family is no exception. In fact, every time Gilda, Jeremy and their two daughters each thought they had landed on their favorites, they turned around.

Jeremy says he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't collecting something. And in the corner of the living room in a glass case is an assortment of pin-up girl memorabilia. Most of the items are from the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s -- "I don't like to collect anything that's made after '65," he says.

He spreads matchbooks, paperback novels, ashtrays and 12 ounce glasses on the counter. Gilda takes their daughters into the other room to work on a Japanese cartoon pinata for one of the girl's birthday party. (The Japanese cartoon thing is another collection.)

"I'm sure these glasses were gag gifts during their time," he says as he dusts each glass. The front side has an appliqué of a girl in a fashionably designed dress. The inside of the glass reveals the backside of the appliqué -- the same girl with a lot less clothing.

"It was a tease, a sign of the innocence of that time," Jeremy says. "I just think they're a lot of fun."

Oh yes, a whole lot of Bakelite is after the jump ...

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Carolyn Lavender and Brian Hughes' Found Superheroes

Categories: Collections

Photo by Claire Lawton
Brian Hughes rescues superheroes.

His wife, Carolyn Lavender, grabs the large bowl full of characters and spreads them out on the couple's patio.

Decapitated, one armed, one legged, non-functioning superheroes (and a few villains) somehow find their way into Brian Hughes' line of vision -- usually while he's driving around for his day job as a buildings inspector.

He snatches them up, (sometimes) dusts them off and brings them home. All the time. And as a result, his large bowl on the patio has become a rehab of sorts for these plastic figurines.

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Chef Walter Sterling's Cookbooks

Categories: Collections
Hannah E Williams
Chef Walter Sterling lugged nearly 20 cookbooks from his home office to where he spends most of his kitchen hours at Oakville Grocery Co. -- bringing his whole collection of more than 500 recipe books to show us would have been a little complicated.

"At 15, I think I stole my mom's Gourmet '86 and one about Mandarin Chinese Food," Sterling says of his collection's start. "I love to cook, so it's a natural extension to want to get your hands on whatever you can read."  (He's read almost all of his own.)

The books range from the 1926 edition of the White House Cookbook to the latest editions of The Best of Gourmet and Bon Appétit, with kitschy installments like the complete Time-life spiral-bound Foods of the World series, a signed Thomas Keller box set and a psychedelic deck of cards with classical French recipes on the back falling in between.More »

Arizona Popular Culture Museum's Massive Action Figure Collection Isn't Child's Play

Categories: Collections
Photos by E. Groves
Jason Hines (left) and John Edwards (right) are expanding the APCM.
The Arizona Pop Culture Museum is unlike anything else in the CityNorth shopping district. While the surrounding businesses offer gourmet yogurt, upscale dining, and brand name clothing, the APCM offers the largest collection of colorful plastic action figures we've ever seen.

There are more than 10,000 of them, spanning more than 40 years and covering every aspect of pop culture. The inside of the APCM looks like a sprawling toy warehouse, with rows upon rows of metal shelves packed with action figures of superheroes, athletes, movie characters, rock stars, and political figures.

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Mercedes O'Bannion's John Deere Affinity

Categories: Collections
Photo by Claire Lawton
Mercedes O'Bannion will admit her first name's a little funny for a girl whose mother collects bicycle knickknacks. Her grandfather actually collected Mercedes Benzes, but Mercedes' insists her mother named her after the small town of Mercedes, Texas.

She grew up in Poth (another small Texas town), watching VHS tapes of her uncle competing in tractor pulls. And that's when the John Deere obsession began. Her early tractor memories are still sprinkled throughout her house long after moving to Phoenix and attending ASU for Costume Design.
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