Thursday, September 20, 2007

Toy Roadshow Portland Part 1 of 3: Billy Galaxy!!!

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I was in Portland the other day and decided to hit all the toy stores I could in one afternoon. Unfortunately my main objective, Bwana Spoon's Grass Hut Corp. and Moshi Moshi were both closed on Tuesdays!! Ack!!

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The first store that was actually open was the iconic Billy Galaxy. Billy has been around the toy block. He's been doing this toy thing for twelve years. I've heard about him and checked out his vintage toy store on eBay many, many times. Walking into Billy Galaxy was another one of those time warp- back to childhood moments; not unlike the first time I bounced into Kimono My House.

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I immediately felt like I was about eight years old walking around some kind of crazy toy garage sale. Tons and tons of mostly american vintage toys and some vintage Japanese toys were behind these eccletic cases all over the store. One huge case had hundreds of Pez dispensers, another was filled with Star Wars toys, a big case with GI Joe in both 3.5 inch and old school 12 inch figures. Cabinets filled with Thundercats and Masters of the Universe, old lunch boxes hung from the rafters....all the toys you played with as a kid plus more were all here. It was a toy worm hole in time and space.

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Billy has been dealing toys for a long time and whereas the vintage toy market right now is down, the craze for "Designer Toys" is making up for it. A lot of money is being spent by Americans on both Western and Japanese Designer Toys. Probably one reason why he opened Moshi-Moshi. It's a store for Japanese and some American designer toys. He also just opened up a store in Japan. Although Billy is bullish on designer toys right now, he fears the peak may be coming and we will see a market correction in terms of interest. While interest in Vintage toys is slow, steady and even, interest in these so-called Designer Toys will drop eventually Billy thinks.

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He uses an interesting analogy that got me thinking. What if all this Secret Base, RealxHead, Gargamel stuff we collect is today's version of Spawn? We all collected Spawn back in the day. Hell, it was one of the toys that got me back into collecting toys as an adult. My jaw dropped as I thought about my once-coveted Spawn figures that are now in boxes. What if 3 years from now, I look at all these vinyl toys and shudder? It's hard to imagine now, but it was a sobering thought.

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Now that i've had a bit more time to ponder, I went back to my older stuff and realized that I actually have some Spawn stuff that I still like and wouldn't get rid of. My Silver Manga Spawn with Kanji on the sword being the primary example. I liked it years and years ago and I still dig it regardless of how worthless it is now. I still have it in a case and I wouldn't want to part with it. I saw other examples of somewhat older Macfarlane toys that I still like to look at like Metal Gear Solid figures, Trigun, Kaneda and Bike. The panic that I felt at Billy Galaxy thinking I would hate my Japanese vinyl collection years from now turned into warm relief and the realization that who cares about the market value of toys as long as no matter how much they are worth at any given point, you still like to look at them?

Thanks Billy for the trip down memory lane, for showing me all your rad vintage toys and especially for my new found appreciation for my toy collection past, present and future....

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Anonymous said...

great article and great pics! Billy galaxy has one of the best shops, and what he was saying about the fall of designer vinyl and SB becoming like spawn toys is fine with me, I collect them all so it'd be nice to get some SB stuff at spawn prices.If you buy what you like and not as investments for later,then you can never go wrong....good stuff toybot!

Unknown said...

that was an amazing post - and amazing images you captured. i saw a lot of memories there. i saw thundercats leader and all that gi joe and all that pez. great photos man!

and since I am here please take a minute to check out my custom vinyl toy I just launched at this year's COMIC CON (NY).

bye bye


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