Steve and I go way back. We first connected over 5 years ago when he started turning heads by uploading an insane vintage Star Wars t-shirt collection to the show section of the now-defunct, Defunkd Collective.
Ever since he’s been my go-to vintage Star Wars t-shirt expert. He also assisted me while I was working on (and continually updating) The Holy Grail of Vintage Star Wars tees article.
Then, recently, he revealed that he’s been slowly collecting Atari tees too. So I asked him if he would share it and answer some questions about his collections.
Where in the world are you? and what’s your day job?
I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and lived in SF up until recently. I now reside in Providence, Rhode Island with my wife. We both work in the healthcare field.
What got you into collecting Atari tees? Did you own a 2600? Favorite game?
I had picked up an Atari Return of the Jedi tee many years ago and wanted to pick up more promotional Atari examples but at the time I was hyper-focused on vintage era Industrial Light & Magic tees.
About two years ago I was at an estate sale of a former Atari employee and came across the “What…Me Work?” Atari crew shirt and that rekindled my interest in Atari gear. I have managed to pick up a few other pieces since then.
I did have an Atari 2600 and loved it. Adventure was my game. River Raid and Pitfall! were fun, too. My least favorite game was Combat.
What other tees do you collect?
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) crew shirts from the original trilogy and the prequels are my main focus. I chose to pursue the ILM shirts for a few reasons.
The designs and artwork on the crew shirts were very creative, fun, and cool. Additionally, some of the early examples were made in very small quantities so it was a fun challenge over the years to try to seek them out and in doing so I’ve met some awesome folks and have some great stories. Lastly, I was born and raised in the Bay Area so it was prime picking ground for the ILM campus was very close. I have found many ILM crew items in various thrift stores throughout San Francisco and even bought from the Lucasfilm store a few times.
I still am obtaining crew gear from the recent films (Rogue One, Solo, Episodes 7-8-9, Mandalorian) but they are a few years away from vintage. Some seriously amazing designs though.
(Another Defunkd post is in the works to showcase his collection!)
How many vintage tees do you own? Do you wear ’em or store ’em?
I do not have an exact count but I would say 250+. I do wear some vintage examples but most of the collection is kept in storage.
The one that got away: what tee do you regret selling, or not bidding enough on?
I sold a “Fear and Loathing in San Francisco” vintage tee about twenty years ago. It depicted a drugged-up Hunter and Oscar tearing through the streets of SF, similar to the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas book cover – been over two decades and that still hurts.
I’ve been outbid on a few rare ILM tees but I still have hopes of finding those examples one day.
Are you collecting other video game-related tees? Intellivision, Colecovision, or any 90s and beyond consoles?
Not really. Unless I see an employee-only example or rare promotional tee – Lucasfilm games for instance.
Aside from Atari and ILM, any other niches you collect?
I’m always looking out for other odd or interesting nostalgic tees. I recently picked up a 1990s brightly colored Mother’s Cookies Dinosaur Grrrahams promo shirt that is pretty cool.
Vintage Atari Return of the Jedi Ringer T-Shirt
Vintage Atari Pac-Man T-Shirt
Vintage Atari Raiders of the Lost Ark T-Shirt
Vintage Atari We’ve Brought the Computer Age Home T-Shirt
Vintage Atari Staff T-Shirt Alfred E Neuman “What…Me Work?” Tee
BONUS: Vintage Atari Athletic Gear, Hoodie, and Exercise Pants