Opelika Toy Store Owner Helps Figure Collectors Relive Their Childhood

JOHN WEST

Jim Broach still has the figurines he collected as a child. They are damaged like any child’s toy, but he is still proud of them. Now he has taken his collection to another level.

“I have every Star Wars Empire Strikes Back loose figure that I remember going to the movie and looking at,” Broach, 51, said. You see them, then you progress to more collection. By personal preference, I wanted mint. I wanted to leave mine in the box. I wanted to see it complete. Do not touch.

Today, Broach shares his collecting hobby with others. He is the owner of the Toy Bunker, a game and collectible toy store in Opelika. The walls of his store are filled with Star Wars, Transformers and He-Man action figures, as well as a host of other nostalgic items. It’s a place for collectors of all ages to pick up something new or old.

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“Collecting is in the eye of the beholder,” Broach said. “GI Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon, there’s a collector for everyone. It all depends on what and what you are looking for. »

Since opening in September 2021, the Toy Bunker has attracted customers from as far away as Texas. People come for Auburn football games and stop by his store. His website, thetoybunker.com, has nearly 8,000 articles.

“The collector is going to find the place of collectors,” Broach said. “No matter where they come from, they will go there. So we met a lot of people.

One of Broach’s favorite toys is the GI Joe HISS tank. He even has a stack of them right next to the front door of his shop.

“It’s just a toy that had a unique appearance, and if anyone’s ever seen GI Joe, or some variant of it, you’ll know exactly what a HISS tank is,” Broach said.

Since Broach started collecting 18 years ago, he has made many connections with like-minded people. One of them was with a British company called Deflector Display Cases, which makes plastic cases designed specifically to protect action figures and toys.

“Those who want to protect it new on card or new in box, that’s what we use,” Broach said. “And from there, if you’re going to have the protective case, you might as well have the action figure for the collector.”

Broach opened the Toy Bunker after Deflector Display Cases approached him to become the sole US distributor of his product.

“We take care of all of America, he takes care of Europe,” Broach said. “It’s a huge product line. Each figurine has a different size, a different shape.

It is also a product that many enthusiasts now benefit from.

“It’s a growing community,” Broach said. “It goes from 5 years to…we’ve had 85-year-olds who have come here to relive their childhood. … Every generation has something that you’re targeting, that you’re going towards, and we try to reach the generation of everybody.

Broach said his store fills a niche in the community.

“We no longer have Toys R Us, locally; we don’t have Hobby Town anymore,” Broach said. “There is nothing for a collector, a gamer. It’s either online or hopefully you’ll find it in a store. We are trying to fill this little hole.

The Toy Bunker is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Broach also plans to be open on Tuesdays starting in August.