Is this Australia’s best Nintendo collection?

man with Nintendo games

Danny Baggs

Posted May 04, 2022


Victorian resident Sam Crowther has one of the most impressive Nintendo collections in the world.

On surface level, Sam Crowther might seem like any other hard-working Victorian. By day, Sam works with Trust for Nature to protect and restore biodiversity on private land across Victoria. But after work, he goes home to a prized collection of over 2,000 Nintendo items.


The Nintendo collection begins

Sam has been collecting Nintendo games, consoles and merchandise from age 12.

“I would ride my BMX to the local trash and treasure market right through my teen years finding games to add to the collection or sell online,” Sam said. "I would obsessively search eBay each day and connect with other collectors online through local or international forums.”

He even had his own eBay account, linked to his mum’s credit card. “At first it was a secret between my Dad and I, with the assumption that I'd let him know if I'd make bids on anything. That agreement didn't last very long,” Sam admitted. Soon, five to ten parcels were arriving on the Crowther family’s doorstep every week.

Luckily, Sam didn’t get into too much trouble. “My family has been supportive - or maybe better put, patient and understanding - of my collecting obsessions over the years.”

 

Watch Sam Crowther talk about his stunning collection. Video: Matt Harvey


The Nintendo collection game

Nowadays, Sam has over 2,000 items in his Nintendo collection, ranging from '80s Nintendo merchandise through to obscure game releases like the Nintendo Virtual Boy (1995).

It’s difficult to calculate the total value of his collection, though Sam puts his estimate well into six figures. “Nostalgia has been commodified in recent times and Nintendo games, like everything from Pokémon cards through to vintage toys, have become more collectible than ever,” he explains. “Suffice to say, I'm glad I'm not trying to purchase the same games for my collection in today's market.”

 

man in front of Nintendo collection

A small portion of Sam's massive Nintendo collection. Image: Matt Harvey


 

One of Sam’s rarest pieces is the game Magexa 2 in 1: an unofficial release by an Australian company called Home Entertainment Suppliers. “This game has only surfaced twice and both copies remain in collector's hands,” Sam says.

But Sam’s pride and joy are his completed collections for the Australian releases of both Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Game Boy games, which were collected over the course of his teens and twenties. “It’s no small feat finding every game in its original box and manual,” Sam explains, although he ruefully acknowledges that “it’s probably not the sort of brag that gets you a free drink at the bar.”

 

Magexa 2 in 1

Sam's Magexa 2 in 1 game is one of his rarest pieces. Image: Matt Harvey


 

Rarity and value don’t always match up in the niche collecting game. For example, one’s of Sam’s most valuable pieces is a sealed Australian release of Super Mario Bros 3 on NES, even though it is one of the most popular and highest selling games of all time. Other games that demand a premium from collectors include Zelda, Super Mario, Kirby and Mario Party. Just like any collectible, condition is a main driver of an item’s lasting value. “All my games are now stored in individual plastic storage cases,” Sam says. “I'm a little pedantic about good condition games and keeping them that way. And of course, like all good collector nerds, I keep a catalogue of my collection in a detailed spreadsheet.”

 

A giant Mario figurine. Image: Matt Harvey
A few of Sam's favourite games. Image: Matt Harvey
An 8-bit style Mario figurine.
Sam's original Game Boy. Image: Matt Harvey
Sam still enjoys playing games, but collecting is his real passion. Image: Matt Harvey

Nintendo nostalgia

Some collectors continue to grow their hoard over their entire lifetime; others eventually decide that it’s time to move on. “A collection can become a burden through sheer size, and naturally, interest can wax or wane over time,” Sam says. “As I've gotten older, I've considered that perhaps some items may bring more joy to someone else at a point in the future.”

There are some games, however, that Sam will always treasure: Kirby’s Dreamland, Super Smash Bros., Battletoads, and Super International Cricket, to name a few. If he could only pick one Nintendo game to play for the rest of time, Sam would be playing Battletoads on NES (1991). “It's the perfect mix of nostalgia and gameplay that still stacks up today,” he enthuses. “There weren't many games this early on that offered co-op multiplayer, though it's as much about avoiding your bone-wielding partner as it is about supporting them.”

 

man wearing Nintendo Fanboy jacket

Sam wearing his prized Nintendo Fanboy jacket. Image: Matt Harvey


 

But for pure nostalgia, Sam’s favourite piece is his original Nintendo Game Boy for the sheer hours of Tetris poured into it. He’ll also never part with his Nintendo Fanboy jacket, given to him by Nintendo Australia in the early 2000s. “This only reaffirmed my Nintendo obsession at the time and fortunately still gets a wear on special occasions,” Sam says.

These days, you can find Sam sporadically adding niche items to his collection, like the occasional game and watch find or in-store signage. He’s also still on the lookout for the Game Boy Pocket Little Mermaid Limited Edition to complete his set of Australian release Game Boy and Game Boy Colour consoles.

 

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