For Campbell resident, everyday is a toy story

A friend of the shops, Jasen Martinez was recently featured in the local paper for his love of toys.


Jasen likes guitars

By Linda Goldston
Posted: 03/04/2011 01:56:34 PM PST
Updated: 03/04/2011 01:56:34 PM PST

Jasen Martinez likes that feeling you get when you’re a kid and you get a new toy: “It’s like the greatest toy ever.”

He likes that feeling so much that he’s amassed a collection of thousands of toys and gets to relive the nostalgia of his youth all the time. He traces his passion for collecting them back to one memorable day when he was 9.

It was his birthday and his aunt in Hawaii sent him a huge box, three feet high and packed full with something he’d never seen before — Japanese robots and monsters.

“I already liked Frakenstein and monster movies about Godzilla, but these toys opened up a whole new world.” said the 44-year-old Campbell resident.

He started watching Japanese cartoons. He started collecting more toys. He majored in Japanese language in college and when he could afford it, he made eight trips to Japan, where he added to his collection and made friends among collectors.

Now he’s seeing signs of that collection fever in his son, Cameron Nelson, who’s 9.

“He’ll say, ‘I’m going to save the packaging for this one,”’ Martinez said.

His wife, Amy, is tolerant of his passion and serves as “my voice of reason: do you really need that?”

Martinez, who is a project manager in creative services at the video game company Ubisoft in San Francisco, has managed to confine his collection to the garage and shows off his favorites in eight neatly arranged glass display cases. They include model kits from Aurora for Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon.

For the Frankenstein kit, he has one he assembled and one unbuilt kit, which he treasures. He also has a Marx tin haunted house.

“It has little keys you push that make noise,” he said. “I always wanted one as a kid but wasn’t able to get it until I was an adult.”

His toy collection also has brought out the artist in Martinez. He will sculpt some of them and made a bust of Frankenstein.

“Some people pack their stuff in boxes and put them away,” he said. “I like to have them accessible. It’s like a very expensive photo album. You pick some thing up and remember when you were a kid.”

One of Martinez’s favorite days of the year is the San Jose Super Toy, Comic and Collectible Show, which will be held Saturday at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

He has a friend flying in from Japan to attend the show and buy toys to send back to his toy store in Japan.

Sponsored by Time Tunnel Toys in San Jose, the show will feature more than 240 tables of vintage to modern toys and collectibles and will be packed with a crowd that is overwhelming male, Martinez said.

The early bird hours for the show, when the pickings are best, are 9 a.m. to 10:59 a.m. Early bird admission is $15. General admission is $5 and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for children under 12 is $2.50.

“I like being able to go there and buy something in person, as opposed to ordering something on line,” Martinez said. “You can go there looking for one thing and find something different and fall in love with it.”

Then he gets that feeling: “it’ like the greatest toy ever.”