Cuddly microbes and vinyl whimsy at Happy Panda Toys
Wed, Oct 26, 2011 (4:21 p.m.)
Photo: Sam Morris
Finally there’s a boutique in the Arts District where you can pick up a set of Lightsaber chopsticks when you need them. Add to that Kidrobot toys, plush Giant Microbes (stuffed syphilis, anyone?) and a copy of the book CBGB: Decades of Graffiti.
In September, Rich and Ilanit Moskal opened Happy Panda Toys inside the Arts Factory, stocking the place with vinyl and plastic toys, books and art.
- Happy Panda Toys
- Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 1-9 p.m. (by appointment Sunday and Monday).
- 107 E. Charleston Blvd., 105A, 516-3432.
- Beyond the Weekly
- Happy Panda Toys online
The Moskals, collectors who’ve shopped at stores in California and New York where vinyl toys are more part of the landscape, wanted to see some of that here. But when they set out to open a shop in 2009, retail spaces were too pricey, so they launched an online store and catered to locals by hand, delivering products or offering discounted shipping.
Eventually, rental rates dropped and they took a space in the Arts Factory, conveniently located next to comic book store HellPop! and just down the hall from Trifecta Gallery. Its inventory spans from single-edition collectibles to blind boxes (including South Park and Alyenz) to Frank Kozik’s cigarette-puffing hams, flower pots and Red Army elephants.
“I love this stuff,” Rich Moskal says. “I’m 90 million times happier being in the store, meeting and talking with people, than being behind a computer and selling these online.”
The Moskals also started manufacturing toys, accepting designs from artists and sharing the profits. They produced Yosiell Lorenzo’s figure, Poison Sweet, last November. On deck is work by Owen DeWitt of Iowa and Las Vegas artist Shan Michael Evans, whose painted works are already part of the inventory at Happy Panda.