Adults in toyland
Don't put away your He-Man toys just because your friends make fun of you. Follow these tips and show off that collection with pride.
Stephan Endicott and Alison Lefkovitz, action figure and stuffed-animal collectors
Kirby Kerr, co-owner of Rotofugi (1953 W Chicago Ave, 312-491-9501)
Kevin Heisner, restaurant/bar interior designer (credits include Empire Liquors, Bake Shop, Violet Hour), also a collector of antique tools and Japanese “vinyl” toys
Karl Wirsum, artist, collector of metal toys, Javanese shadow puppets and more
Andy Cole, manager of Graham Crackers Comics (77 E Madison St, 312-629-1810)
Susan Kirkman, vice president of academics/dean of interior design at the Harrington College of Design
You’ve been spending a lot of time on eBay looking for a mint-condition Boba Fett, your mom just sent you a crate of Transformers and you’re running a four-digit tab at designer toy boutique Rotofugi. We know how it is.
Some folks might consider holding on to action figures, tennis trophies and “graphic novels” a bit juvenile. Maybe even pathetic. But that’s where smart home-decor decisions come in. The best way to prove ’em wrong and look like an adult is to properly display your treasures and transform your modest crib into a proper Pop Art gallery. We talked to some of the city’s most inventive interior designers, space creators, obsessive collectors, shop owners and interior-design educators for suggestions on what to do with various common collectibles. Now, if we could only find that toolbox full of Micronauts…
They used to sit forlorn at the end of your bed, piled on top of each other and staring at the bedroom door. But with the emergence of one-of-a-kind plush dolls, stuffed animals now deserve extra attention as works of Pop Art.
An ingenious solution for displaying plush dolls comes from Endicott, who, with his girlfriend Lefkovitz, collects Pock-it Palz (pockitpalz.blogspot.com), the one-of-a-kind works of 15-year-old local designer Luisa Castellanos that Rotofugi can barely keep in stock. The couple’s apartment is compact, but they’ve figured out a way to make plush toys look, well, plush: “I just recently bought those T-shape pins that you use in dissection or sewing, and basically just pinned our figures to the wall,” Endicott says. “It looks like cartoony taxidermy, and it’s a great way for us to display our stuffed-animal collection. It lets us treat it as if it’s a work of art, in some capacity.”
Interior designer Heisner suggests building a bench out of 2' x 8' wood pieces to sit at the end of the bed and support the furry friends—a more humane alternative to the pin method.
Serious comic collectors often don’t even display their prized possessions; they usually store their choice items away from the light, and buy larger framed art or posters to show their superhero allegiance.
For storing comics properly, Graham Crackers offers comic bags ($5.50 for 100) and backer boards proportioned for different comic book eras—“Golden,” for example, denotes pre-1962 sizes—and sells cardboard drawer boxes ($9.50–$12.99), which pull out to allow easy access to many volumes at once.
But if you want to use comics as decor, the Mill case ($18.99 for five at wizarduniverse.com) is a bit like a jewel case for a comic. It’s not incredibly durable, but with some Velcro tape mounted on the back, it’s wall-mountable and makes for a perfect instant frame to show off a cover. Graham Crackers’ Cole is also not against grown-ups repurposing artwork, torn-out covers or full pages from the dollar book bin. “I have a friend who did that in one of his kid’s rooms, bought a lot of Spider-Man and Superman and put it up on the wall like wallpaper,” he says.