A guide on where to buy geek toys and gadgets such as vintage comics, lava lamps, gamer shirts and action figures - locally and online.
Whether you are looking for the coolest geek gadgets or retro toys, there is an increasing number of places available that cater to geeks, nerds and otaku everywhere. This is just a brief introduction and guide to where to buy “all things geek”.
Shopping for Vintage Comics and Retro Toys Locally
Sometimes, you can stumble upon geek vintage at a flea market or a garage sale. However, if you are on the hunt for vintage comics or retro toys, there are several other places that could meet your geek shopping needs.
Comic stores, used book stores and some game stores sell new and used items. Perhaps the best place to find retro toys such as old Star Wars action figures, Super Nintendo® games and old comics is an antique store.Canadian collectors can find antique dealers in their area at Antiques Canada, while American collectors can search for antique shops on US Antique Dealer. Some antique dealers also participate in antique shows and toy expos.
Buying New and Retro Geek Toys at Comic & Toy Conventions
The Dealer Room Vendor Room is the place to go if shopping's your game. Vendors carefully select their treasure finds to match the clientele attending comic and toy expos. There, you can find vintage treasures, such as Snoopy lunch boxes, original GI Joe figures and old Superman comics. You can also find some of the latest geek toys, clothing and accessories, such as Pac-Man belt buckles, game shirts and geek badges.
Toy and comic shows in Canada are expanding yearly. Popular fairs include the The Edmonton Collectible Toy and Comic Show, The Red & White Calgary Comic & Toy Expo, Vancouver Comicon, Montreal ToyCon and the Canadian Collectible Toy Expo in Bulrington, Ontario.
Toy and comic fairs are alive and well south of the border as well. The Eckman’s Card, Comic and Toy Show is the longest continuously running show in the San Antonio area. Old Toyland Shows in Cleveland have been in operation since 1980. They specialize in old, obsolete, and collectible toys and models. Other annual comic and toy expos held in the US include the Sports Card, Comic, Toy & Collectibles Show in Pennsylvania, the CreatureCon Orlando Comic Book & Collectibles Show in Florida and the Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo.
Buying Geek Toys, Gifts and Gadgets and Geek Shirts at Online Toy Stores
In addition to shopping at Amazon or eBay, there are a growing number of online merchants selling various items to help you master the art of “geek chic”. This is a short list of reliable online stores:
- The Geek Chic (Canada): Founded in 2008, The Geek Chic Boutique offers a wide range of office toys, gadgets, games and geek apparel through their boutique in Fredericton, NB as well as on their online store. Popular items include the “It's not cartoons... it's anime” t-shirt, Nintendo® Zelda backpack, My Butterfly Jar and a USB MSN Missile Launcher.
- Play-Asia (Hong Kong): Founded in 2002, Play-Asia is a leading online retailer of video games, DVDs, music CDs, geek gadgets and toys. The company caters to customers in Asia but offer selected items to international customers. Popular items include Pokemon Black, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix and LittleBigPlanet 2.
- ThinkGeek (USA): Founded in 1995, ThinkGeek has mastered geek excellence. The company has earned an "A+" rating on the Better Business Bureau's website and received a Circle of Bizrate Excellence 2010 Award. Their human and canine employees list the following items as customer favorites on the company website: Bucky Balls Magnetic Building Spheres, Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter and Biofuel Gourmet Caffeinated Popcorn.
- Hobby Link Japan (Japan): A: Founded in 1995, HLJ sells anime and doll figures, scale models, anime items, toys, books, magazines and more to customers worldwide. Hot items include Sci-Fi Revoltech Mark VI (Iron Man), 1/72 Millennium Falcon and a DX Chogokin Macross Quarter.
Prior to shopping online, you should do your research. Read customer reviews, check the Better Business Bureau's reliability reports and read up on each retailer's terms, conditions and return policies.
Whether you want to buy a gift for your geeky friends, get your hands on the latest otaku plushies or track down your favorite retro toy, there are numerous places that can fulfill your geeky shopping needs. Antique shops, toy and comic expos and online toy stores offer a wide mix of gadgets, toys and clothing to suit geeks of all ages.
Originally published on Suite101.com on Jan 25, 2011. Updated June 23, 2013.