On November 9th, Tomball, Texas, got to experience a heavy dose of nostalgia, as Comix Cafe held its first vintage toys show. Vendors from the area descended on the store and its parking lot to proudly display their collections. Anyone with enough desire to relive their childhood, and with enough cash, were given a prime opportunity to walk away with some new display pieces.

Darrin Stringfield, owner of Comix Cafe, said that he was approached in September by event organizer and owner of Toxic Toys, Ram Perez, about being the first in the area to bring a classic toy show to Tomball. “He stopped in, and he was looking around and didn’t find any vintage toys,” Darrin said. “So he brought the idea, said ‘hey, there’s never really been a vintage toy show up on the northwest side [of the Houston area].’ He felt like it could be a big hit… so we partnered up, and felt like we could make something happen.”

After a couple of months of planning and organizing, Perez gathered his group of vintage toy enthusiasts to set up shop for the day. “It’s a lot of local vendors from this area. They’re all sort of a traveling group that does these types of shows,” Stringfield added. “It’s actually a pretty tight-knit group of vendors. Then we have newcomers that saw our post of Facebook and asked how they can come set up.”

Voltron vehicle force toy complete in box
A Voltron vehicle force toy on display.

A business that’s also a hobby

David Glover of Tomball is one of the vendors that is trying toy reselling for the first time. “This is my rookie show, and this is all from my personal collection.” Glover sells mainly G.I. Joe figures and vehicles made from 1981-90. “When I was a kid, this is what I was into,” he continues. “I’m out here testing the waters. If it goes well, I’ll see about doing another one.”

Star Wars shadow box displays by Joshua Drew Designs at Comix Cafe's vintage toy show in Tomball
Star Wars Shadowboxes by Joshua Drew Designs.

Another vendor, Joshua Martin of Joshua Drew Design, takes a unique approach to the vintage toys he sells. He frames toys in shadowboxes and repurposes them as art pieces. Martin has been doing these shows for the past two years. His displays at the show are filled with Star Wars, Tech Deck, and canvas art pieces. “It all started with the Tech Decks… so I’m collecting these Tech Decks, and I’m like, ‘I gotta get them up somewhere, I’m running out of shelf space!’ So I started putting them in shadowboxes.”

He says the reception has been mixed, but mostly positive. “You’ve got the purists who obviously don’t want to put a 1983 Princess Leia on a wall in a shadowbox. But I’m actually very careful with all of it. It’s been pretty good though, I’ve sold quite a few of them.” Martin loves doing these types of events mainly because of the people involved, and for the love of the hobby. “I love toys. I love the people that collect the toys, and I love the people that sell the toys… It’s just the draw of it; it’s the culture. I love it. I’m just one of those guys that never grew up. I’m just like everybody here!”

An assortment of vintage toys still in their original packaging
A display of vintage toys in their original packaging.

Comix Cafe plans to have more of these shows in the future. If you’re into reliving your childhood, or in the market to add some great vintage toys to your collection, keep an eye on Comix Cafe’s Facebook page for the next event. If you’re not in the Tomball or greater Houston area, check around where you live and see if anyone is holding a similar event in your area. It’s fun to walk around and see what these vendors have to show off from their collections, or even buy a thing or two to display at home. Though I’d suggest not getting too carried away, lest your significant other or family gets upset. I guarantee the temptation will be strong when you see that G1 Optimus Prime in its complete, pristine glory sitting on a table.

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Jesse Curtis

Old nomad. Names his pets after Final Fantasy Characters.