Collect – Steve Caballero


Steve Caballero

Walking into Steve Caballero’s Campbell, California home, it’s quite evident that he’s obsessive about collecting. Maybe the eBay headquarters I just passed across the street was some kind of foreshadowing. After all, that’s where many of Steve’s pieces have come from. But before that it was toy shows, garage sales, catalogs, magazines, and a network of friends who bask in the same things Steve does: surrounding themselves with the faces, toys, games, trinkets, figures, and characters that have made an impact on them through the years.

Making my way from Steve’s office to his great room, where most of his unstored collections are displayed in glass cases, it’s obvious that what remains is not just what’s been accumulated over the years, but what truly has been collected. I see Mego dolls, Planet Of The Apes, Ultraman, and Evel Knievel figurines, and more.

“Yeah, when I collect stuff, I go all out,” Steve says as I stand in awe. “These are the things I was into as a kid, the things I played with in the 70s. They bring me back to my childhood, some of the greatest times in my life.”

The things I don’t see span the 70s ’til now—the Spawn toys, PT Cruiser miniatures (I did see the real thing in the driveway), punk-rock 45s, Godzilla, Batman, X-Men, Coca-Cola, motorcycles, skateboards, guitars, vinyl, et cetera. But the one thing Steve doesn’t collect is sneakers. Well, except for first pro-model skate shoes. But I guess I shouldn’t tell him there’s an Ultraman Dunk. It could be over.—Eric Stricker

Opening caption:

While that Extreme 50 pit bike on the left is one of Steve’s most loved and more recent acquisitions, it didn’t come free of charge from American Honda like the CR125 behind it did.

Black Flag, Rip City, 1981

“The only reason I collected this board was because it was one of the first punk-rock skateboards—a band had made a skateboard. ‘Oh, that’s cool, a Black Flag board.’ Other than that, I knew nothing about the artist, Raymond Pettibon. I’ve seen other Black Flag boards, and other ones by Raymond Pettibon, but I’ve never seen this exact one.”

Claus Grabke, Powell Peralta, 1985

“I got this just because I ride for Powell and knew that they were making this exclusively for the European market, for Germany. I thought it would be a cool board because of that. It was never released here in the States, so I’m stoked that I have this in the collection. This is the only board Claus had on Powell before he quit to ride for Santa Cruz. I’ve only seen one other Claus Grabke Powell, and that’s in Titus’ collection.”

Duane Peters complete, Santa Cruz, 1981

“I just got this within the last year, and that was by surprise. I went to skate this park in Redwood City, and as soon as I got there, from far away I saw a kid with a brand-new Duane Peters complete. I skated over super fast just to see if it was a real one. I figured it was a reproduction. The kid told me he got the board at a garage sale as an Easter present from his dad. I asked him if he could sell it, but he said he couldn’t sell it because it was a present. I was like, ‘Do you want to call him? I really like this board and I’d be stoked to have it if you want to sell it to me.’ We called for about an hour, no answer.

I watched him skate the board for the next hour, thinking, ‘Oh man, this kid is going to ruin this board.’ Finally I had to leave, and I said, ‘I’m leaving, and I really would like to get that board. I’ll give you 50 bucks for it.’ He said, ‘Give me 60—and your board. And sign it.’ I ended up walking away with a pretty mint Duane Peters complete. I was pretty stoked on that deal.”

Tommy Guerrero’s first pro model, Powell Peralta, 1984

“At the time I started collecting all the decks of the other riders on Powell, Tommy’s was one of the few I held on to. I actually still have his second modeas well.”

Future Primitive mini, Powell Peralta, 1984

“I don’t know why they made this board. It was a spin-off of Lance’s deck, probably about 1984. I guess it was to help promote the Future Primitive video. They made these mini models with just one of the Future Primitive characters on there. They sold ’em, and I’ve never seen another one to this day. It’s a pretty rare board.”

Mark Gonzales, Vision, 1986

“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how I obtained this board. I think I might have gotten it from Mark, because at the time I had collected some of Rob Roskopp’s boards, too. It’s a misprint or a factory second of his first model, it’s only a two-color screen from 1986. It’s got the full-color screen on the top, but not on the bottom.”

Evel Knievel

“Back in the day, even before I got into skateboarding, Evel Knievel was an icon. He was a superhero, a celebrity, famous for jumping motorcycles. Everyone looked up to him because he was a daredevil. Before I skated, I would try to emulate him. I would practice jumping garbage cans on my bike, pretending I was on a motorcycle. It wasn’t ’til about 1993 that I started collecting his memorabilia. Through toy shows, toy magazines, and eBay I’ve picked up all different things all over the country. The original Stunt Cycle is my favorite.”

Approximate pieces: 120 plus, including the Evel Knievel pinball machine and the Hoffman bike.

Highest price paid for a piece: For the Japan-only released, scaled-down Stunt Cycle, 450 dollars.

Planet Of The Apes

“Back in the 70s all five Planet Of The Apes movies were very popular. I grew up watching them and was always into the whole underground culture of it all. The movies are super classic. I remember making my own Planet Of The Apes costume one time. I would collect all the monster magazines, and they would feature the special effects of how they would do the makeup, which was pretty revolutionary at the time. Then two years ago I actually bought the professional makeup kit off eBay and went as Cornelius for Halloween.”

Approximate pieces: 120 plus.

Highest price paid for a piece: 75 dollars for the lunch box.


Ultraman was a TV show I’d watch at 3:30 every day after school. He was a Japanese superhero. Back in the 70s, they never released the toys over here in the States—it was only in Japan. So as soon as I started traveling with skateboarding and had extra money, I started picking up toys. I’ve made several trips to Japan, and I always try to plan extra days to go shopping for Ultraman toys.”

Approximate pieces: 350 plus.

Highest price paid for a piece: 700 dollars.

Mego dolls

“When I was younger I played with G.I. Joes, Hot Wheels, Major Matt Mason, et cetera. Mego dolls were the other toys that were really popular at the time. I had an Ultraman, a Spider-Man, a Superman, a Batman and Robin, and a couple of the Planet Of The Apes Megos. Over the years they all got lost or sold in garage sales. One year I decided I wanted to collect the whole series, so I just went off. These were the dolls in the 70s that you played with.

Approximate pieces: 300 plus.

Highest price paid for a piece: 500 dollars for the Robin with the removable mask.

Punk-Rock 45s

“In 1980, when I first started getting into punk rock, I started collecting a lot of punk-rock records. These aren’t the albums, which are a lot more extensive, but here are about 75 45s.”

The Guitars

“The red Les Paul is one I actually played in the Faction back in 1985. The maple one I acquired when I started the band Soda in 1995. The acoustic bass I played in the band Shovelhead in the early 90s. The Musicman bass I played in Shovelhead as well. The Fender Strat, which is actually a Vans Warped Tour 2001 release, was made for giveaways. It was given to me by Steve Van Doren, and I’ve been playing that recently. The Fender acoustic is what I jam around home with, and I’ve been writing some new music on it currently.”

Fender Strat, which is actually a Vans Warped Tour 2001 release, was made for giveaways. It was given to me by Steve Van Doren, and I’ve been playing that recently. The Fender acoustic is what I jam around home with, and I’ve been writing some new music on it currently.”