The $175 vintage Star Wars guys behind the glass case at Crowemag Toys probably aren't the kind of toy a parent would buy their child to play with.
But the shop, inside a nondescript plaza off Lynn Road in north Raleigh, is a dream destination for any kid - and adult - who loves Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, superheroes, Matchbox cars and any number of other brands and characters that have made it to a toy shelf over the past several decades.
Here, owner Larry Crowe has built a collection of toys and comics books where kids and collectors could spend hours and parents will probably find a few toys from their own youth. (I'll admit to cradling a doll I had ages ago).
Crowemag Toys is on Shop Local Raleigh's Where's Waldo hunt, which involves finding the bespectacled character from the popular book series at local merchants across the city. That's how I learned about the shop, which actually has been around in various forms for the past 22 years.
Crowe took over the business in 2008. It includes a space at the N.C. State Fairgrounds Flea Market, which is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. In August, the store expanded to Lynwood Plaza in north Raleigh where it's open at 10 a.m., daily.
Transformers are Crowe's first love, but the shop has everything - from a G.I. Joe lunchbox to old Fisher Price toys to a Kermit the Frog phone to Barbie dolls from the 1960s to a Motley Crue-themed diecast car to boxes and boxes of comic books.
And, unlike the shelves at Target, where the Star Wars aisle always seems picked over, you'll find nearly an entire wall of figures from the blockbuster series, along with additional bins filled with R2D2, Chewbacca and other characters.
"Everybody has a story about what happened to their stuff," Crowe said. "Mom gave it away. Mom threw it away. Just left it behind."
Crowe loves helping people reconnect with the toys they loved as kids. He tells the story of one customer, in his mid-50s, who was looking for an original Johnny West cowboy action figure from the 1960s. The cowboy character was hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Crowe had what he was looking for. The customer bought it (after a little haggling with Crowe).
"He was like a kid at Christmas," Crowe remembers.
While Crowe works with collectors to buy, sell and trade items, the shop also is a fun place for parents and kids to explore. You can find items at all price points - $7 Star Wars guys and even some $3 figures in bins that you can sort through at the front of the store (and I imagine would be a perfect place to find some stocking stuffers in a few months).
To find exactly what you're looking for, you'll need to set aside some time to sort through the shop's massive collection. But the right kid - and collector - won't mind.