The sheer glut of geek-friendly spots in New York City arguably dwarfs that of other locales with Kong-like enormity. After all, we’re talking about the real Gotham here. In fact, covering its offerings could rival the entire run of some comic books. So we went ahead and threw a net around several starter suggestions, a few ways to make an NYC vacay all the more nerdish.
3 Geeky Picks
Toy Tokyo (91 Second Ave., New York. 212-673-5424, toytokyo.com)
This East Village collectible toy store explodes with a sensory overload of pop culture plastic. These oft coveted objets d'art range from imports straight out of Japan and Hong Kong to popular and rare stateside action figures, statues, vehicles and more. Brands such as Funko, Hot Toys, Medicom and Kidrobot help provide the teeming inventory. Prepare to be hit with that warm and fuzzy blast of nostalgia with its offering of vintage goodies. A Marvel Secret Wars copter from the mid-1980s or a Mego Batcave playset from the ’70s may conjure up the ghosts of Christmas mornings past. Like many NYC retailers, Toy Toyko’s square footage may not be overly sprawling, but collectors and enthusiasts could easily lose more than an hour perusing its wares. But watch out. Splurges can break the bank. A 1/6-scale figure boasting a spot-on likeness of De Niro in “Taxi Driver” can set you back nearly 1K. A three-pack of those Beastie Boys 12-inch figs? Try 800 clams. But some mini figures and blind boxed toys can be had for pocket change. Squatty body Transformers figures from Goldie International run $3.99 each. But no matter what you spend, even if it’s nothing at all, a Toy Toyko visit remains mandatory. Make sure to see what’s happening at TT Underground, the Toy Toyko art gallery located on street level just below the shop. Artists including Gary Baseman, graffiti artist Crash and action figure sculptors The Four Horsemen have been known to display their work.
Modern Pinball (362 Third Ave., New York. 646-415-8440, modernpinballnyc.com)
In recent years NYC has been experiencing a pinball machine revival. And nowhere do the bells ring and lights flash like Modern Pinball. Steve Epstein, former owner of the legendary Broadway Arcade, opted for a two-player game of business with pinball badass Steve Zahler. Together they created Modern Pinball, a flashy wonderland for kids and lunch breaking suits alike. More than 30 new and restored pinball games typically make up what Epstein and Zahler refer to as an interactive showroom. A new game based on “The Walking Dead” and the super snazzy Wizard of Oz Emerald City Limited Edition share wall space with older school creations like Terminator 2, Addams Family and others. Players bang their heads and fingers while tapping the flipper buttons of the AC/DC Let There Be Rock machine. The owners keep the place devoid of food and libations, their gaze firmly on the games at hand. Don’t worry about juggling pockets full of quarters or tokens. Players pay a flat fee (12 for one hour; $19 for three or $29 for an all-day pass). It’s cheaper for kids, and they even offer step stools for smaller pinball-playing spawn. Guests get wristbands with in-and-out privileges, so it’s easy to recharge at a nearby restaurant or bar. The Mad Hatter, the eatery and watering hole next door, offers a 10-percent discount to all pinballers.
Forbidden Planet (832 Broadway, New York. 212-473-1576, fpnyc.com)
Sure, Midtown Comics and its multiple locations may be the giant robot of NYC comic book stores. However, you won’t find a shortage of Big Apple comic book retailers, each offering their own heroic experience. Check out Forbidden Planet in Union Square, which bills itself as “the science fiction megastore.” It proves to be a haven for new and back issue comics, graphic novels, nerd lit and more. Locals often gravitate to the back section of the store browsing and grabbing new releases. Newbies have been known to laud the staff’s helpfulness. They’re known for assisting customers sailing the geeky seas by suggesting titles and fielding questions no matter how basic. Looking for a “Star Wars” maquette or a Harley Quinn T-shirt to go with that latest issue of “Death Vigil”? Shelves and glass cases tempt shoppers with toys and collectibles. While some scour the selection of Magic cards, college kids search for the perfect poster to hang on that dorm room wall. You may even want to plan your visit around special events. Author and artist signings drop periodically.