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Massive Mickey Mouse collection evokes fond childhood memories for Hamilton man, Toronto Sun, mickey


Massive Mickey Mouse collection evokes fond childhood memories for Hamilton man

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Mickey mouse bedroom

Updated: July 29, 2017 5:15 PM EST

Massive Mickey Mouse collection evokes fond childhood memories for Hamilton man

HAMILTON Paul Bottos house is all mouse.

Well, the basement at least. And he s okay with that.

The 53 year-old has been collecting Mickey Mouse memorabilia for over 30 years since picking up his first well-worn plastic figure when he was 22 years old at a garage sale for twenty-five cents.

So I started collecting little plastic characters and then I started getting into card sets there were a lot of Mickey Mouse ones from the 30s and 40s, said Bottos in his living room where $400 worth of Mickey Mouse purchases from last week s D23 Expo (Disney s bi-annual convention) in Anaheim, CA, are displayed for the benefit of a visiting reporter and photographer.

And on the weekends it became this thing, he said. My wife passed away in 2002, my son was quite young, he was five at the time, and I started to do a little bit more. And he and I would go out and collect things. And so for the last 30 years the two of us have kind of done this together.

But it was always about the adventure in doing it, he added.

Bottos estimates he may now own as many as 10,000 pieces one of the largest collections in the world and spent as much as $60,000 over the years.

He s got silverware, books, films, comics, paper, toys, furniture, clothes, towels, bedding, prints, rugs, phones, lamps, posters, stuffed animals, books, snow globes, dishes, shoes, glasses, watches, street signs, cartoons, videos, movies and more stacked wall to wall and floor to ceiling in his basement.

Other than Gene Simmons of KISS, Mickey Mouse is probably the most copywrited material in the world I would think, said Bottos.

It may seem a little odd depending on your perspective but Bottos, who spent ages nine to 18 in three foster and two group homes and went to 17 different schools, said watching Mickey Mouse cartoons at the local cinema was his escape from age six onwards.

I came from a really rough background, he said. And so when you re older, you hang onto these things that you did as a kid in your mind. Especially the good things. And that was one of those powerful memories that made me feel good.

I knew going home probably was going to be something not great and so that escapism that you do when you go to the theatre is what I did. And it just happened to be that character (Mickey Mouse), he added.

Bottos day job for the last 27 years has been as a program coordinator for a children and youth mental health facility in Oakville.

It turns out, wearing a lot of Mickey Mouse T-shirts, ball caps, and having Mickey tattoos, came in handy.

A lot of the clients call me Mickey, just because of what I wear and the way I do things, said Bottos. I found, because I was already collecting Mickey Mouse at the time, that it just became hand in hand. And then through my work I m able to talk about things because a lot of kids will reflect with it cause they know what Mickey Mouse is.

And so it s an in sometimes with someone that s very difficult to get in with. They feel it makes me non-threatening when I have cartoon characters on me, he explained.

Despite the clear lack of space in his tiny, three-story townhouse, Bottos sees no end in sight for his Mickey collection.

One of the rules that (my son and I) made up is that I would keep to the basement, he said. I don t think I ll stop but I just brought back some prints (from D23) that I m probably going to have to put in my bedroom cause they re just so large.

I m trying to work with another person who owns a store and they want to put a big display on in Hamilton, Bottos said.

Some folks might think Paul Bottos is nuts for having about 10,000 pieces of Mickey Mouse memorabilia displayed in his basement.

But the house that mouse built, Disney, didn t think so after seeing a YouTube video featuring Disney s Head of Character Development Jeff Shelly making a Mickey Mouse drawing for Bottos from one of the Hamilton man s Disney-inspired arm tattoos at a Toronto Fan Expo in 2010.

Jeff said to me that was the first time that he had ever drawn from a tattoo, said Bottos, showing off his Mickey Mouse skintag from the Runaway Brain cartoon.

The drawing became Bottos prized possession in his overflowing basement of all things Mickey.

I ve spent 100 hours in that room so there s such an attachment to it and it s made me feel good inside and it doesn t happen a lot, said Bottos. So the Disney company wanted to find out about that.

Ultimately, from that YouTube clip, Disney found out about Bottos massive Mickey collection and flew him and his 19-year-old son Dakota to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, for a five-day trip in 2015 as part of their When Did It Start For You series and made a video about the emotionally charged visit.

At first I didn t think it was real. I thought it was a time share thing, said Bottos, who proudly shows off the video. I m kind of a tangible, seeing-is-believing kind of a person and I was like, Why would they pick me? So I still wasn t sure what that was about until I got there and 14 CEOs of the company were standing outside of the park waiting to meet me.

But nothing was like actually meeting Mickey. Or at least the person dressed up like him.

Mickey Mouse was, (Disney) thinks, in a sense, a bit of a saviour (for me), said Bottos.

So I focused on collecting and keeping myself out of trouble. So there s an emotional attachment to it, he explained. I know it s a cartoon character but I was able to go where he was formed (in 1928) and see how he was made and go to his house and meet him. And it s like meeting your idol to the point where it was so emotional.

I was in tears because it was very powerful, Bottos said.


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