The Evolution of a Toy Room – Part One

Starting today I’m going to be doing a little feature documenting the construction of my new toy room that’s happening along with the construction of my new house, scheduled to be complete this June.

Some posts will be more about my own history, some posts will just be a look at some images.

I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this, but I figured I’d take this opportunity to try and do something interesting and document the process of my toy room coming together.  Take it or leave it.  Check out Part 1 after the jump.

To give a proper frame of reference for this series I’ll be starting, I need to rewind about 17 or 18 years.  I was around 20 years old and in the midst of my college years, and my mom had purchased a pretty nice new house.  This new house gave me an entire top floor to myself as one huge bedroom of sorts.  Essentially I had carte blanche to go “toy crazy” on display.  And I kind of did.

During these days, G.I. Joe quietly exited from retail shelves and I was more into the Spawn and Toy Biz stuff. I worked full time at K-B Toys when I wasn’t in school, and I had all of the disposable income I wanted.  Back then there was no thought about student loans, car payments (mine was inherited from my grandmother), or rent.  I made some decent cash at the toy store, and my mom seemed content to have me around when I wasn’t in school, so life was good.

Fast forward about 3 years…  while living in this home I met a girl and we got along pretty well, in spite of an entire top floor full of children’s toys.  She was just graduating from college and about to head to law school, and we decided that I would go with her down to Springfield, Massachusetts.  Her student loans afforded us a “cost of living” allotment, so even though I was leaving a job I loved, we felt pretty good about things down there.  But of course, we were moving into a pretty small apartment.  I felt content to leave my Spawn, my Toy Biz, and even my Star Wars figures behind, really not feeling a deep emotional attachment to them at that very moment.

While in Springfield, my whole G.I. Joe identity changed, almost over night.  It probably sounds over-dramatic, but while living down in that area, I became intensely interested again in G.I. Joe, finding myself combing trough eBay listings over dial up and traveling back to my mother’s house to go through the attic-filled refuge and drool over the classic Joes contained within.  I have vivid memories of stopping by my small apartment right after my wedding in the summer of 2000 and looking at images of San Diego ComicCon on my small color monitor.  They had done it.  G.I. Joe was coming back to mainstream retail in the form of the Real American Hero Collection, and I left on my honeymoon, boring my wife with talk of a forest camouflaged Firefly and someone named General “Toma”hawk.  She must have forgiven me for talking about that stuff on our way to the Poconos, considering I sit here almost 12 years later and we’re still married.

Yes my toy attention was driven back towards G.I. Joe in a powerful way the rest of that year, but none moreso then when I made my normal stop at a local Toys “R” Us and found the new Real American Hero Collection figures on store shelves.  Here I sit, at least 65 miles from any real retail outlets now, but back in 2000, I was the first person nationally (at least in the relatively small internet community that was in place at that time) to find these G.I. Joe figures.  That fact motivated me to post the reviews (using a new fangled digital camera my wife and I had asked for as a wedding gift) and really kick-start my sweet Angelfire website at the time.

Fast forward again, and my wife has graduated Law School, and we’re back up here in bear country, renting the top floor of a house.  This top floor contained a very large 3-Season porch which was somewhat uninhabitable 6 months out of the year, so it became my decent sized toy room.  Finally, I had a place to store my precious G.I. Joe figures.  And I stored them.  And displayed them.  And went pretty nutty with it.  Shelves, cabinets, a little aircraft carrier.  Good times.

So, as time goes on, we decide the time has come where renting isn’t something we want to do long term, and we decide to buy a house.  It’s an okay house, nothing glamorous, but it has three bed rooms.  I immediately stake claim to one of them and again have a great display going on with shelves of my stuff, and even get some stuff leaking out into bedroom #3, which was more or less our office.  Life was still good.

Then came Megan.  Born in 2005, literally a week before Sigma 6 emerged (yes I really do measure my milestones by G.I. Joe events.  Please tell me that’s not pathetic).  We had cleared out that bedroom of my toys and moved many of them to the garage, but I still had bedroom #3, which became a Sigma 6 shrine.  Transformers and other toys ended up there as well, but primarily it was those 8″ beauties that encompassed all of my time in those years.

Then came Allison.  Born in 2009 (just a month after G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, yeah, yeah, I know, shaddup), it was now obvious that all of Daddy’s toys were going to be forever relegated to the garage.  The dirty garage.  The unheated garage. The bane of my collector existence…  the friggen GARAGE.

So now it’s late 2011.  Megan is 6 and Allie is 2.  They’re the highlights of my life, and I love them as I try desperately not to secretly resent their very existence because my toys are now in the damn garage.  It’s late 2011 as my wife and I sit, exhausted after long work days and look at the house, with kid’s toys spilling out of every nook and cranny of our living room, with no place to put them in either child’s bedroom, and the strong realization comes.  My wife looks over to me slowly and says those fateful words I’ve been waiting to hear for 2 years…

“We need a bigger house”.

I’m pretty sure trumpets actually played in the background, and I may have actually done handsprings across the living room floor, I’m not sure.  Regardless, the decision was made then and there.  A For Sale sign hit our front lawn a week later, and we were house hunting.  To say the process was painful would be a gross understatement.  We had our house sold in January, but the buyer’s financing fell through.  We had almost a dozen showings, half of them “very positive” but no sniffs.

Finally… FINALLY…in April, almost six months after listing the house, we got an offer we could live with.  The only problem?  We hadn’t found a house we liked.  So at this point the pressure was on a bit, and we continued our house hunting in more earnest.  When the listing came through of a house still under construction in a nearby town we were mildly interested.  It seemed to have everything we wanted.  Plenty of bedrooms, plenty of living space, a full fledged basement for storage…and an office.  A dedicated basement-level office space.  JUST FOR ME.  With no more kids on the way (barring some sort of surgical mishap) this room would be MINE DAMMIT ALL MINE.

Here’s the next problem.  It ain’t built yet.

So, me being the shameless attention whore that I am, I figured ‘hey!  I can use this!”  I know there is often a lot of interest among the online fandom to see other toy rooms, but how often to you actually get to see the creation of a toy room?  Not just assembled shelving, but the entire toy room itself, completely built, from cement to sheet rock?  That doesn’t happen very often.  Well, it’s going to happen now.

From here on I’ll be posting updates on a semi-regular basis, just reporting on the status of the new toy room.  Obviously at some stages of construction things will move along rapidly, while at other times there won’t be much to say.  But regardless, I thought this might be a fun exercise.

Now I do all this with the distinct possibility that I’ll be crushingly disappointed along the way.  While everything is pretty much finalized with both houses, we have not 100% closed on our existing house, and if anything goes wrong between now and then, the whole thing could fall apart.  But according to our realtor, we’ve jumped over all major hurdles.

So for the first entry, we have some pictures very early in the construction process.  It likely won’t make much sense, but I think it will still be cool to watch the whole thing come together.  Hopefully you agree.

And as far as using G.I. Joe events to measure major milestones… we close on the new house June 26th.  The day before I leave for JoeCon, 2012.

Aw, hell.

10 thoughts on “The Evolution of a Toy Room – Part One

  1. Plan, Draw, Measure, Measure again, Redraw, and don’t forget to leave room to expand. I’m excited to see this progress.

  2. While you should never abandon what brought you to the dance, which is to say while you should continue your news coverage and maintain what’s quickly become the most comprehensive G.I. Joe action figure review archive on the internet, I gotta say that I love pieces like this. I visit this place at least once a day, so I’m not taking away from the news and such, but at the end of the day, some other site could post the same news items; no one else could have written this.

    As a toy nerd, I like reading about my fellow toy nerds; how and why they collect, how they display, the extent to which Sigma 6 stands out on the timeline of their life more than the birth of their daughters.

    I started a new toy-themed weblog recently, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting a toy site that reviews MOTUC figures or whatever, so I decided to approach my whole site the way you approached this post; it may not be interesting to everyone, but at least it’s unique.

    Good luck with the toy room!

  3. Toy rooms are awsome only when you dont have to put a bed in there for mother-in-law when she visits!!!

  4. I just have to agree with everything Monte said. I discovered this site way back during the sgtsavage.com message board days 10 years ago and have more or less checked it every day since. It’s the only Joe site I check, in fact. And essays like the one written here are one of the reasons why I habitually return. I feel Justin is an extremely likeable guy and someone I would easily be friends with. In fact, I’ve been married almost as long and have two kids almost the same age — and I didn’t realize that until reading this essay, so thanks for sharing that.

    But I have to gloat just a bit… my kids are boys, and they love GI Joe. Nothing pleases me more than buying Joes or Star Wars toys for them (and even sharing some from my own collection). Just started watching Renegades with them after learning (on this site) that Netflix was streaming it.

    So Justin and Monte, thanks guys. I too am just another nerd with a life outside of toys. And Monte, I would love to check out your weblog.

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