A Nerd Roadtrip: Amazing Heroes, Vortex Music, and More

In celebration of life and all of its infinite beauty, I’d like to invite the Internet on a roadtrip I took today to various nerd locations in the greater Seattle, Washington, area with a great friend of mine, Brenden.

Amazing Heroes
Our first stop was Amazing Heroes in Kirkland. If our fine digital establishment, A Nerd Occurrence, were in physical form, it could look very much like Amazing Heroes. Although I was remiss in taking photos inside of the store, I can tell you that it was a massive facility with items ranging from videogames to toys to comics to more obscure items, and a definite must-see if you’re within a 100 mile radius.

The first item that caught my fancy was this Star Wars toy of a Jawa and Gonk bot I had when I was a kid. It brings back positive memories, and isn’t that the whole point of owning things? I remember the Star Wars trilogy was briefly re-released in theaters at around this time, and had always liked the mysterious look of the Jawas.

Growing up, I clearly remember going to Toys-R-Us to buy a new toy. My parents had enough to support us and make sure we had a very enjoyable childhood, but there were the $3 GI Joe days and the $5 X-Men days. (I’m sure that’s the same with most kids, and we should all take the time to appreciate what our parents did for us, and if they couldn’t or wouldn’t, then remember to help as best you can those who are in need.) I still own all of my GI Joe and X-Men toys, except unfortunately, I had this creative side where I would use white-out and marker to paint over toys. This led to a rather unfortunate Silver Samurai with white-out all over his nose and mouth, for whatever reason, so it made sense to get a complete in box version. Plus, I had owned a number of the “off-brand” X-Men, the ones that were probably made just for toy sales, and they tended to fall apart fairly easily.

I had a number of favorite X-Men as a kid. Wolverine, of course, Rogue, Colossus, the Beast, Morph, and Nightcrawler, to name a few. I recently bought Nightcrawler through eBay because I clearly remember searching the toy stores of old high and low for Nightcrawler to complete my collection, only never to see him. This was to appease the child in me, and Rogue was on my short list of favorite X-Men, so I bought her along with the newer X-Men movie version of Rogue, because like the Silver Samurai, once you get locked into a serious toy collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

The Crazy Taxi toy is another example of buying the toy when it originally came out, opening it, playing with it, before packing it up for the eventual day when I can set up a nice display case to show all of my childhood toys. For collectors, owning the complete package – the toy, the accessories, the cardboard on the back, and even down to the plastic with glue still affixed to the cardboard – is important because we don’t actually intend to play with the toy. We don’t use our imagination to go on magical adventures where the Silver Samurai rides the Silver Surfer’s board and fights Gambit wielding the Buster Sword. Maybe we should. Instead, we enjoy how the toy looks, and the positive memories it brings back, and the satisfaction of having something that looks nice. Plus, my friend has this same toy also complete, so I didn’t want to be outdone.

I am not much of a fan of the Berserk series, but there is a certain inspiration in seeing a character fight through such adversity and thrive. We often complain of colds and mild discomfort in life. I recently heard someone say, “when will I feel better?” Attitude has a great deal to do with that. Life is full of trials and tribulations, pain and sorrow, ups and downs, so the best we can do is remain positive, and be inspired by characters like Guts that fight, and fight, and fight some more.

Returning back to the title image, the Magnavox Odyssey² holds a special place in our family as our first videogame console. My dad and brother played it before I was born, and they stored it in deep darkness to make way for the Super Nintendo, NES, and later consoles. Only years later did I find this family heirloom in an unassuming apple box, and honored this legacy by finding its older brother, a mint condition original Magnavox Odyssey, and now a complete Odyssey² with a box that is in excellent condition. Please excuse the sloppy photography of the box as I just wanted to give you, my trusted readers, a quick glance at the artwork and condition of the box.

There were quite a number of other things to see there as well. A small collection of Masters of the Universe toys, a few Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle blimps, plenty of other toys from obscure to common, comic books, videogames, and more. They had copies of rare games, including Sweet Home, a Vectrex, the Nintendo R.O.B., and their $500 copy of EarthBound is in beautiful condition, but as it is with money, there’s only so much of it, and we had more places to visit.

Vortex Music and Movies

Next up was, as I plugged in my last article, Vortex Music in neighboring Totem Lake. It is a small music shop that really is really a labor of love. I am still gathering together a collection of vinyl for my series on Vinyl vs CD/Digital, which will continue with two 100 level courses explaining the basic technologies behind both vinyl and CD. Our dads both had fairly extensive vinyl collections, so for someone such as myself that’s a newcomer, it’s great to see a passion for music that’s not online. I bought Abbey Road (again) and Who’s Next on vinyl, and Abbey Road (again) on CD. I told you it was my favorite album.

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store

After leaving Vortex Music, we drove around for a bit before finding ourselves in Bothell at the sort of store you’d only find in a first world country: a thrift store. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, and there is no better way to describe that than by shamelessly plugging my friends at Adjust Your Tracking (full disclosure: I’ve known some of these guys over five years, and am an executive producer). Dan and company are not just movie fans of the traditional sort, they also collect a certain type of movie: archaic VHS tapes. There are some movies that you just won’t find on DVD or Bluray, ranging from the Nintendo VHS tape advertisements from the N64 era, to weird and obscure anime, and there are some movies I’m surprised to see on VHS, like Waking Life. I’m not as firmly aware of the history of VHS as they are, but their documentary is in the works and should be an excellent dossier into a lost nerd genre. (Also, the Japanese wood doll is hopefully foreshadowing to another event I’d like to visit tomorrow.)

A Pawn Shop

Pawn shops are a dime a dozen around here. Brenden recommended this game, Mad World, and when you have great friends, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the game and don’t even own a Wii (awkward pause). What was more awkward was this guy who came in to the store to complain to the assistant manager not to buy a particular item from a particular person. He was very passionate about it, and wanted to make sure the pawn shop was not an accessory to theft. It’s reassuring to know that on the various levels of insanity, buying a videogame for a console you don’t own or buying toys as an adult isn’t that crazy.

Game Gurus

Just like Vortex Music, Game Gurus on Lake City Way is a smaller videogame store, and definitely not like Game Stop. I’d like to think there’s a greater market and demand for these types of stores like Pink Gorilla and Another Castle than a chain like Game Stop because you can really hang out and proudly wave your nerd flag. When we got into the store, a customer needed to watch all of the Harry Potter movies – and bad. He was on foot, so he couldn’t drive to, say, a movie store, but hey, videogames are close enough right? I poked around for a while, before we both settled on Mega Man E-Tank energy drinks. My friend bought Kameo: Elements of Power and I received a River City Ransom pin after he did the whole Facebook promotional liking thing. Verdict on the drinks: not bad. Blueberry, maybe? Either my body is starting to become like Wolverine, or energy drinks just don’t taste or make you feel as bad as they used to; then again, I am no Drankologist.

Turtles in Time and Wrap Up

Our roadtrip took us to familiar and new locations, and like any great roadtrip, left room for exploration. We ended on a great note, by playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time for the SNES. When life is hard, you have to make sure you remember the good times. Remember your friends, and remember the places and things that make you happy.

About Zombiepaper

My interests are very specific and sometimes esoteric: writing, videogames (EarthBound), movies (zombie, martial arts, and animated), music (listening and bass guitar), thrift stores, philosophy, and toys. Also, Cowabunga!

Posted on September 8, 2012, in Music, Nerd Culture, Occurrences, Toys, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The Japanese doll reference was to the Japanese festival Aki Matsuri that was going on this weekend. They have cool stuff for Japanese otaku nerds and more traditional Japanese stuff like martial arts shows, taiko drumming, traditional tea ceremonies, tanks and tanks of koi fish for sale and exhibition, a flea market that is supposedly traditional Japanese style but more like a regular flea market with Japanese stuff [CDs, videogames, books, and more home/electronic stuff], and more. I’ve gone about twice now, but had to pass this year due to health reasons, so next year I’ll try to write about it.

  2. This entire article is great.

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