Where do you find room for your collection, Mike?
“That’s my Dark Icon Design office – it measures 12ft by 14ft and is packed with too many things! I used to buy everything I saw but now I have to be picky so they get a good spot in my office. My pieces are artwork to me, it’s really cool to look up from a difficult design project and see all the amazing colour combos and art around me.”
How did this collection start?
“I started off collecting Star Wars figures when I was little. I was old enough to see the first movies but they didn’t make enough figures to go around so I was always bummed I didn’t get my favourites. When I went to high school and I skateboarded all day, every day, I turned to keeping all my decks stacked up in my closet. When my parents moved house, I had to take so many of my things to thrift stores and people were salivating over the things I was leaving behind. It was the dumbest move ever and I got so traumatised leaving boards that would be worth $1,000 each today.”
How did you build the collection back up?
“Luckily, skateboard companies re-released boards from my ’85 to ’91 era but I told myself it’d get weird if I bought any. Sure enough, I bought three and all of a sudden they started reprinting my favourite decks and it snowballed. I have a few beaten-up vintage ones but I love a crisp deck with the plastic still on. The Powell Peralta Rodney Mullen chess deck I have is very rare and it cost me a pretty penny. I spent six years trying to get hold of one and only a couple of weeks after I bought it, they came out with a reprint.”
What’s the deal with the robots?
“I used to watch Shogun Warriors as a kid and when I first went to Japan in 2002, I found all my favourite characters in comic book shops for a quarter of the US prices. The Grendizer and Devilman artist Go Nagai is a huge inspiration to me so I went nuts in those shops every time we went to Japan. I took an empty case to pack full of stuff to take home!”
Got any band merch?
“I met Eerie Von from Samhain and he gave me the first ever produced Danzig shirt that they didn’t even put out – Eerie Von screen printed it himself. The Misfits shirt is hand-screened by Glenn Danzig, I believe it was the first one ever produced. It’s so cool that they took the time to screen-print their own merch back then. It’s very hardcore and DIY but you don’t get that anymore.”
How would 12-year-old Mike react if he saw your room now?
“He would either shit an entire house or pass out! This is everything I dreamed of as a kid. I’ve accepted I’m the crazy person that likes crazy stuff but I started finding other likeminded people and I’m not as weird as I thought!”
On a scale of 1-10, how metal is owning an obscure 80s collection?
“I think it’s at least a nine but I see it every day so it’s hard for me to tell. Judging by people’s reactions when they walk into my office, some people think it’s a 12. If I put my stuff out on a table at a convention, there’d be a lot of people checking it out. My stuff’s not for sale, though – this is the jealousy table!”
Incarnate is out now via Roadrunner
The search: “eBay is my best friend,” Mike says. Keep checking online auction sites regularly to get a better idea of the right price to pay for unusual items and hone your keyword search.”
The patience: Mike recommends practising self-control rather than buying every item in sight. “Going willy nilly like I did at first isn’t a great idea,” Mike says. “Sometimes it’s good to wait and find exactly what you want, otherwise you end up with an office full of crap… it’s all about patience, but I have zero.”
The network: Sometimes you can find the best exchange deals through friends you acquire on your travels and befriending staff in your favourite stores will keep you in the loop for new releases and variations to add to your collections.