The other day, I finally had a chance to sit down with Tony Workman, owner of the Classic Plastics Toy Store in Parkersburg, WV for our very first on-site interview. Listen in!!
This is a transcript of the conversation, cleaned up for your reading pleasure!
Rem: We’re here today with Tony Workman, owner and operator of the Classic Plastics Toy Store located in downtown Parkersburg, WV and progenitor of the Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo which is quickly approaching on March 4th and 5th at the Parkersburg Art Center. Tony, how are you doing?
Tony: Pretty good.
R: You ready for take two?
Both: *shared laughter*
R: So I may or may not have screwed up the last recording, and I really won’t know until I get it into the computer to find out. So we’re going to do it again and I’m going to make Tony suffer through it because he’s awesome like that!
Tony, what got you started in selling toys?
T: Pretty much my love of them. I’ve always had toys and I never really grew out of it, so I wanted to keep that going and so I turned a hobby into a business.
R; You started off by having a shop in a local flea market, what drove you to make the jump to having a retail space?
T: It came down to availability — with the flea market being [open] three days and me growing out of the space I was in. I kept getting a bigger and bigger space, and I just figured it was time to get a building.
R: Gotchya. What kind of toys and other items do you carry?
T: There is a little bit of everything. We started at the flea market with vintage used toys that people would bring in to us, and then when I moved here, I started getting into new toys from NECA and Funko — stuff like that.
R: So do you have any primo stuff for the fine dining toy collector?
T: Every now and then we’ll get stuff from collectors that we’ll bring in, like packages Ninja Turtles from the 80’s or stuff from NECA that is really highly detailed or articulated. Stuff that might be pricier, but worth the money.
R: I notice you also have vintage functional arcade machines. What inspired the decision to include those in your space?
T: I always loved going to the arcade when I was a kid. There was a movie theater that my parents would take my brothers and I to; and before every movie, we would sit there and play arcade games until it was time to go in and watch it. I’ve watched them all shut down all over the place, and I just wanted to try and bring that back.
R: Gotchya. Do you host any special extended hour events like arcade or Collectible Card Game tournaments?
T: We do with the arcade games. We have free arcade day once a month that we try to do toward the end of the month. It’s what it sounds like: just come in and play free arcades all day. (Going on right now! 2.25.17)
R: Awesome! So, as I said, you are the progenitor of the Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo coming up again March 4th and 5th. This will be the fourth year you’ve hosted the CPT&CE, the third year it will be taking place at the Parkersburg Art Center. What sparked the truly daunting task of organizing an expo?
T: My buddy, Todd Wines works for The Red Cross and they were looking for a fundraiser that would be in different age groups with different types of people that they don’t normally get any kind of support from, so he came to me and asked “Do you want to do a toy and comics expo?” – with him being a huge comic nerd – and of course, I said yes. *laughter*
R: Is it just you pulling the strings, or do you have a crew helping to get all the gears moving?
T: For the most part, it’s just me. Todd does help when he can, but with his job being in disaster relief, it’s just a matter of if there’s going to be a flood or something. So if that happens, he really has to focus on that which leaves me to be the only one. But I do have employees that I can pay to help me out as well.
R: This year you’re featuring nearly 100 vendors and guests. How well has the attendance grown over the past four years?
T: The first year was in a church on South Side [Parkersburg], and it had 300 people. Last year – our 3rd year – we had 1200 people. We’re hoping to get over 2000 people with it being the first two-day show, but it is just a kind of wait-and-see.
R: And as you said, this is the first multi-day event. Why was the decision made to extend the expo?
T: Last year there were so many people. The Art Center is a pretty decent-sized building, but there were so many people on the floor that it was hard to get through the aisles and see all the inventory and enjoy the show as much as people wanted. So we thought spreading it out over the two days would give people the opportunity to choose when and what day they wanted to come.
R: Awesome! Who can we expect to see this year, then?
T: This year we have Steve Cardenas, the second red ranger from Power Rangers — Rocky, the red ranger if anyone watches the show. Along with Tim Clark, an 80’s toy designer. He did stuff like Boglins and Sectaurs. He worked a little bit on Fraggle Rock. And then the local legend, Jordan Patton is back again this year from SyFy’s Face Off and does the show Deadnecks.
R: We have the expo, and then we have some external events that are happening as well. What are some of the events that are happening at the expo and outside of it that will really make for the first weekend of March to be a truly grand adventure for anyone coming to downtown Parkersburg?
T: Starting with the outside stuff first: It’s being done by Downtown PKB again. They did an event last year that they got really good reception from – Savor Saturday – that they’re going to be doing again this year. It’s going to include 12 different restaurants [in the downtown area] that you can walk around and get dollar samples from. So if you haven’t eaten at any of the downtown restaurants, it gives you a really good chance to try out some of what’s on their menu. There’s also going to be this guy, – I don’t even know his name – he came into the store one time and said “You let me into the show one day for free, and I’ll go around all the PokeStops downtown and put lures on them.” So that is going to be at noon — the same time as people are walking around for Savory Saturday. You can take advantage of a whole bunch of lures and sample a whole bunch of restaurants down here.
Inside, the Vienna Library is doing events like Lego Building and Story Time on Sunday. J&M Bookstore on South Side is doing board games and tabletop events both Saturday and Sunday; along with Rare Drops from Huntington doing video game tournaments. Both of these will be in the basement of the Art Center. Then there will be a cosplay contest and I’m probably forgetting something else. *laughter*
R: *laughter* It is hard to keep track of all of it, isn’t it?
T: It is!
R: So finally, do you have anything you’d like to add that I may have forgotten to cover?
T: I can’t remember if it was mentioned, but proceeds to the show go towards Downtown PKB and the Arts Center — they’ll be split in half. I do not get any profit from this. This is something that is done for the community and as a promotion for my store. In the past, it was done for the Red Cross, but we changed to Downtown PKB this year. So if you guys are really wanting to support your local area and your local businesses, coming to the expo is going to be really important.
Rem: Awesome! You can join us in the fun at the Classic Plastics Toy & Comic Expo, March 4th and 5th at the Parkersburg Art Center, located at 725 Market Street in Parkersburg West Virginia. Admission is $5 per person each day, or $8 for a two-day pass. Children 10 and under are free with paid adult admission. All proceeds go to the Parkersburg Art Center and Downtown PKB. More information about the expo can be found at classicplasticstoystore.com/classic-plastics-toy-show, link in the notes; or you can search Classic Plastics Toy & Comic Expo on Facebook for real-time updates on the event.
Thanks again, Tony, for having me down and wasting time with me! I really appreciate it!
Tony: Thanks for having me!
While he's not reminiscing fondly over his ill-gotten acorn collection, you can also catch him pretending to know anything at all about audio while trying to produce this train wreck they call a podcast in his "studio," which is nothing more than an multidimensional pocket shimmed between the fabric of space-time. That's where sasquatches live, you know.