When discussing Pokémon lore, one would be hard pressed to ignore the findings of Bird Keeper Toby. He is, effectively, what you’d get if someone were to breed Professor Oak and Bill Nye. What else would you call a person who takes a concept like Pokémon evolution and break it down into real-world, scientifically accurate, tangible bits of content? Granted, that was 5 years ago. Toby’s content has undergone something of an evolution itself, but what about the man behind the scenes we so fervently tune in to? Well, we got a chance to catch up with Bird Keeper Toby to get the inside scoop on where it all truly began and how his passionate relationship with Pokémon has transformed him into the trusted trainer we know today.
Original Stitch: How did you first become interested in Pokémon?
Bird Keeper Toby: I remember watching the first episode when I was a child. I like to imagine it was the first airing of Pokémon in the UK but I’m sure it wasn't. I remember watching Ash leave his hometown and getting attacked by a flock of Spearow. I was completely in love with this world. In my early years, I saw Pokémon cards and figurines on the playground and some of the older kids had Gameboys and would play the games. It wasn't until I was 6 and Pokémon Gold and Silver had released that I finally got a chance to get my own game, and I’ve not stopped catching Pokémon since.
Original Stitch: How did you integrate your love of Pokémon with making content that others would respond to? What was your first “piece of content” posted to your audience?
Bird Keeper Toby: My first proper video was a Theory on Steelix. It has Pokédex entries that talk about how its body is harder than a diamond. I remember thinking it would be fun to work out what kind of material Steelix’s body could be made from. I then looked at pictures of the recently revealed Mega Steelix which features large crystal-like protrusions as well as the mysterious Crystal Onix from the Pokémon animated series. I was able to connect these dots in a really fun way that just seems to resonate with people. Asking questions and solving mysteries about the Pokémon world has always been a lot of fun for me.
Original Stitch: Would you say that your interest in the Pokémon franchise shaped your personal style in any way?
Bird Keeper Toby: I definitely find I wear a lot of snap-back caps nowadays and I wonder how much of that is a throwback to Ash Ketchum spinning his cap around before a battle.
Original Stitch: What real animal reminds you most of Pokémon and why?
Bird Keeper Toby: While I never got to see one in real life I think of the electric eel as being very Pokémon-like. They are known for their bioelectrogenesis which is the science-y word for “they can zap people”. In the world of Pokémon, I assume this is what Pikachu and Eelektoss do.
Original Stitch: Where is the coolest place you’ve traveled in your quest to catch them all?
Bird Keeper Toby: I used to go on holiday with my parents to Cyprus when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of going into local shops and buying dozens of Pokémon figurines which I would play with by the poolside. One year we even found copies of Diamond and Pearl in a shop which was before its release in England, so while my parents reminded me that we were on holiday and I should enjoy Cyprus, I was busy heading up to Spear Pillar to catch Dialga!
Original Stitch: If you could travel to any Pokémon region, where would you go?
Bird Keeper Toby: I would love to travel to Johto. There is the perfect blend of big cities and shopping opportunities in cities like Goldenrod or Olivine. Also, areas with so much history like Ekurateak or the ruins of Alph. I love to study legendary Pokémon anyway and I don’t think there is a better region for that!
Original Stitch: What’s your go-to “chill out” style?
Bird Keeper Toby: I’m a real sucker for oversized jumpers. I like walking around in what is effectively a duvet so I can sleep anywhere like Snorlax.
Original Stitch: You recently got your first Original Stitch custom-made shirt. What are your thoughts on the fit and designing it? What pattern did you choose?
Bird Keeper Toby: I got myself a few original Stitch Pokémon shirts and I love so many of them, but the Noctowl design is so fantastic! It’s one of my favorite Pokémon and on a shirt, it looks incredibly smart. It’s just subtle enough that other Pokémon fans would know what it is but to everyone else it just looks like a really fancy shirt. They fit so well and I expect every future Pokémon event I am at I’ll be wearing them too.
Original Stitch: How has your style evolved over the years?
Bird Keeper Toby: I used to wear nothing but black and hated the texture of jeans so growing up my wardrobe was very plain and non-expressive. I was perfectly happy and comfortable but I’m not sure I looked very exciting. As I got older self-expression became very important to me, so much so that my hair has been green, blue, pink, purple, and red. Sometimes a few of those colors at once. I still like going big with colors, but I try to prioritize comfort over anything else.
Original Stitch: What’s one piece of advice you can give to young trainers or collectors who want to follow in your footsteps?
Bird Keeper Toby: There is no right or wrong way to enjoy Pokémon. But try training or collecting Pokémon you haven't really used before. My favorite thing that can happen on my journey is when you fall in love with a Pokémon that you haven't given much thought to. To me, a year or so ago, Gliscor was just “another Pokémon”. One that I hadn’t really used before. Then, I picked one up in a run-through of Pokémon Platinum and now I love it. It's gone on to be one of my all-time favorites. So, I try to make every Pokémon adventure different now in the hope I might find something new like that.
Original Stitch: Obvious question, who is your all-time favorite Pokémon?
Bird Keeper Toby: This is an impossible question. It changes every day. Today I think it might be Shaymin but that's only because I’m working on a video about Shaymin right now. As for tomorrow it could be Snorlax again, or Gliscor or a Pokémon I don't think about often, who knows?
Original Stitch: Any other interesting stories about where Pokémon has taken you?
Bird Keeper Toby: I’ll never forget being invited by the Pokémon Company to get to play Let’s go Pikachu early at their headquarters or visiting the Pokémon Bus last year! These occasions, where Pokémon staff reached out to me and wanted to work together, mean the world and as a fan, I can't help but get excited every time. I feel so welcomed into the Pokémon family. Everyone I’ve met from there has showered me with kindness and encouragement at every turn and I’m so unbelievably grateful and humbled by it all. As a fan of Pokémon, it just doesn’t get better than that!
If you’d like to have a go at catching them all, then follow Bird Keeper Toby on Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. There is no shortage of tips, tricks, and breaking news disseminated through his channels.