Talk of the Town - Collector’s bug October 21 2004

Sandy Springs townhouse contains collections aplenty

Talena Velez, a proud hobbyist, has been voraciously collecting an array of memorabilia for years and, as she explained, the interest is one that tends to take up a lot of space. Her husband, Dean, and son, Christian, have also developed an eye and taste for hard to find knickknacks, trading cards, vintage toys and the like. But, while the family’s shared interest brings a sense of shared joy, three hobby-holics under one roof could easily be a setup for overcrowded living.

Their solution: live in a big home. Velez and her family reside in a three-story, 2,000-square-foot townhouse. Two balconies, an attached garage and two fireplaces provide abundant mantles, shelves and wall space on which to display some of their amazing finds. And while Velez acknowledges that finding a perfect home requires as much luck as finding a rare vintage collectable, knowing where to look certainly helps.

Velez: We were very lucky to get this apartment. There are only eight this size on the entire property, and they aren’t on the floor plan. You have to know to ask.

Creative Loafing: Was it difficult to move all your stuff here?

It wasn’t too difficult. Most of my collectibles were still boxed up, and I didn’t have as many at the time. What you see in my living room is a very small fraction of what’s in the garage.

The posters really cover a diverse range of movie monsters: Godzilla, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and a variety of Aliens. Are they collector’s items?

Well, most of the posters are reprints, but we do have a couple of originals. The 101 Dalmatians poster is an original. It’s hanging on the wall leading upstairs.

What about all the weapons? Where did they come from?

My brother made those for me.

Is that a morning star or a mace?

It’s a mace — a morning star doesn’t have a chain. In our old apartment, they were hanging on the walls leading into the basement. Guests would be walking downstairs and thinking, “What is she leading me to?”

Did you say you had a huge Incredible Hulk in the dining room?

There he is. (She points to the dining area where a hulking green movie stand-up guards the dinner table.). He’s pretty frickin’ huge.

Good Lord, I could fit in his hand.

The Hulk is 9 feet tall, and that is after I cut some off. We had to trim Hulk so we could transport him back here. I think he used to be 12 feet tall. And, it’s funny ... when someone sits at the far end of the dining table, and you’re sitting at the opposite end, you can see Hulk’s hand just over the other person’s head.