Raoul Ramirez and Dahveed Kolodny-Nagy, business partners at Toy-Zilla, Alhambra’s new independent toy store, have been collecting toys since they were 10 and 7 years old, respectively.
They would share booths at different toy conventions, where they built up trust with each other and then decided to open a store in Alhambra last year.
“He told me about his dream when he was a kid and he would play with his toys in his room and pretend to run a store,” said Ramirez. “And he always had this hippo with him as an owner with him, and I was like, ‘I’m that hippo!'”
Joining Gallery Nucleus and the Comic Cellar, Toy-Zilla sells art and collectibles having everything to do with one’s childhood favorite comic, cartoon, fantasy movie or video game.
The goal of Toy-Zilla is to foster appreciation of collector toys, the type that people wouldn’t be able to get at a chain like Toys R Us, which is currently going out of business.
“There’s toys now here that you can get at any toy store and Target, but you can’t walk in to Target and find a 1970s Japanese Sentai Warrior,” said Ramirez. “You can’t walk into Little Tokyo and find that either.”
Toy-Zilla not only sells those Power Rangers from 1970s, but one-of-a-kind Transformers action figures and special edition Disney Princess figurines. “We really want to be the one coming up and have people realize, ‘Oh, these aren’t toys. These are nostalgia,'” said Ramirez.
Toy-Zilla also organizes video game and card tournaments, Transformers meet-ups and will host a signing with X-Men’s original voice actors and artists on April 2. Ramirez wants to attract local high school students for these events and other activities that the store wants to provide.
“Growing up in East L.A., there was a lot of hard challenges of going outside and just hanging out with people,” said Ramirez. “I want a safe environment for kids of the area to come and play games and relax and watch TV and hang out with their friends.”
Anybody who wants to partake in that should drop by Toy-Zilla.
Updated April 1, 2018 at 4:39 p.m.