When he was a kid Mark Tetreault would happily blow his allowance at arcades and comic book stores.
These days, the Sarnia father of three has created a ‘mancave’ that his 10-year-old self would be proud of.
“I’m a second generation collector. I grew up raised in all this stuff,” Tetreault said of basement refuge filled with arcade games and pop culture memorabilia.
“My dad was a comic book collector… it’s just in my DNA.”
Tetreault and his father would spend hours each week seeking out rare comic books and action figures at Sarnia’s Future Pastimes.
When they found something they liked they’d buy two: one for Tetreault to play with and another to store untouched in its packaging.
Today, many of those original items are displayed in the mancave. Different editions of Batman and all his foes live on one wall, Luke Skywalker and his friends on another.
Tetreault has scoured the web and toy stores in Ontario and Michigan to amass hundreds of figurines. When he can’t get them in their original boxes he recreates the packaging by hand, as he did with a complete set of “Super Powers” DC comics characters.
“They’re all mint,” he said. “They’re really well cared for.”
Tetreault, who works in marketing, has three full-sized arcade cabinets: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mrs. Pacman.
“I grew up over on Maxwell (Street) and there was a laundry mat there that had a Mrs. Pacman,” he recalled. “My sister and I would play it all the time.”
He has located many arcade games over the years in various states of disrepair, and by adding new decals, screens and internal upgrades restored them to their former glory.
Another love is movies.
One shelf features the ring from “The Lord of the Rings” next to an original Dick Tracy watch and the business card of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
A hockey jersey from “The Mighty Ducks” graces one wall, and he has a scale replica of the game board from “Jumanji.” He didn’t buy it, though; he painstakingly made it by hand – a project that took more than a month.
Tetreault said he doesn’t seek out things because of their financial value, but rather for their nostalgic impact.
“Anything I’ve connected with as a kid I’ve gone back and rebought,” he explained, pointing to a pile of gift tokens from Sarnia’s Farley’s Funhouse.
Visitors to the mancave, young and old, often want to play with the items, which is welcomed, within reason. Sometimes he lets younger visitors pick out a keepsake to take home.
Asked to name his favourite item, Tetreault is suddenly at a loss.
“Hard to answer,” he said. “Almost every single thing here is a favourite toy or thing of mine.”