About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 58-year-old Aspergic gardening CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

A is for And so to London - Forbidden Planet

After I'd visited Peter's workplace, which was an absolute Aladin's cave, but which I didn't think to photograph, I made my way back to Central London by ♫♪ London Transport, diesel-engined, ninety-seven horsepower omnibus! ♪♫, alighting at the top of Tottenham Court Road, to walk down into Charring Cross with a diversion off to the side to visit Forbidden Planet  in Shaftesbury Ave' on my way eventually - over the River.

Of course the first thing you see as a pedestrian in that part of the world is the famous/infamous (not a point of view; it is, and has been both, to most!) Centerpoint tower, the top of which is described by Old Bailey of Gaiman's Neverwhere as the one place in Central London where you don't have to look at it! But with the early autumn (second week of September), afternoon sun on it and a recent revamp, it was worth an arty shot!

And so to Forbidden Planet, which, to be frank - and you know I'm not backward at being forward - was a bit fucking shit!

I used to love Forbidden Planet; I discovered it decades ago, when it was round the corner in New Tottenham Court Road, a wood-floored warren of rooms and piles of boxes, mostly in the basement, run by a band of enthusiastic, aficionados (who probably took half their pay in musty tomes), with tens of thousands of old comics stacked tight in long, tatty cardboard boxed, imported graphic novels and sci-fi paperbacks in a mix of old 'brown-furniture' antique bookcases or splintery, pine warehouse shelving, with cartons, cages or flick-racks of posters, comic-art originals and other ephemera at the ends/corners of every isle/stack.

It was, not to put too fine a point on it; a nerdy bookworm's heaven and an early issue of Heavy Metal was a quid, or less, and I've watched it, slowly, over those decades turn into a monument to Mammon, supplying needy, pretentious Kidults with over-priced polymer shite of formulaic virtue, for signalling lifestyle choice to their acquaintances!

Gone are the old comics, gone are the old books; there's no paper on the top floor and in their place mountains of plastic most of which I wouldn't give house-room to if I was a millionaire! While downnstairs it's all new-issue and tame Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Titan.

The staff are friendly enough, and very helpful (I dealt with two), but they didn't have a clue what Heavy Metal was (it's not stocked anymore, despite still going), or it's role in ensuring they would still - or 'even' - have a job in 2022, and if I'd said Métal Hurlant, they would have assumed "The old geezer downstairs is having a seizure"! They are just employees, on shit money, with no emotional investment in the business they work for.

And, to add insult to injury, they didn't have Brian Heiler's Toy Ventures either; the wankers! Anyway, I took a few shots for Brian's Faceplant group, but realised the images were a bit shit too, some of them are a tad fuzzy or blurry, so I'm forcing them on you instead, with  few pithy remarks!

The only real bright spot was a couple of shelves of pop-culture books, among which were these three, I think I have the Tashen somewhere, and while I didn't buy either of the others, I will look for them going cheap on Amazon in about five years time, I bet I pick them up for less than six-quid each in a few years!

Pretty innocuous I suppose!

New generation of 'Micro Machine' stuff, now Hasbro
The only other bright spark!
I haven't got any for a while, I must check Basingrad - They'll be cheaper!

35 quid for plastic model kits? Madness!

26 fucking quid for a rubber fucking monkey!
You're 'avin' a laugh pal!

None of it's in-scale!

Urrruuh! Bleurgh! Ga-ga-ga-Wuurrrrp!
Take yer' Funko-pops and shove 'em where the sun don't shine!

Blind bags, blind boxes, blind packs, it's not fun, it's tedious and annoying and there's no central swap-hub, at least if you collect china shite you have the 'Bradford Plate Exchange' to help organise your over-priced idiocy and to get rid of it when the truth dawns!
Now, I can rant like a curmudgeon all I like, the fact is the core-customers (and - seemingly - the staff) love the place, and those of my generation who didn't 'put away childish things' are thin on the ground, and time moves on, one of the worst things about ageing is seeing your world disappear, first through cultural things like this, then the parents joining the grandparents in the hereafter, and eventually friends start dropping-off about the place, carelessly, it's the great tragedy of human existence - the inevitability of that existence ceasing to exist!

But come-on Forbidden Planet, you can carry Heavy Metal for fucks sake! And teach your staff what it means to the 'Hobby'!


tony said...

I couldn't agree more been shopping there since the early eighties,never once had a discount or been greeted by staff
Although some are helpful once approached.

Hugh Walter said...

I feel your pain Tony! But wasn't it fantastic when it was at New TCR, splintery floor and long-haired blokes in rock T-shirts and goth girls serving who knew the difference between Bilial, Corben, Druillet or Mobius, now - I didn't even see reprints! But they work with Funko on 'store exclusives', ugly little troll toys!


tony said...

Yes Hugh I can remember it
In Denmark street as well
It was a great place.Its the only place left now in central London to go to now and I'm very lucky to find anything remotely of interest.I started collecting the mego reissue figures as they touch base with my childhood tv affections
Star trek etc.

Terranova47 said...

I shopped at both London's Forbidden Planet and Dark They Were and Golden Eyed in the early 70's delighted to find I wasn't the only person over age 12 with an interest in comics and Science Fiction.

Just yesterday I walked past Forbidden Planet in NYC deciding not to enter as it's more a toy store than comics now. A year or so ago there was a reprint by Marvel of Dalek Stories. The salesperson was enthusiastic at the idea but they had no idea what they would be stocking from the UK. So not the informed business it used to be.

Hugh Walter said...

I heard of Dark They Were and Golden Eyed but never found it in time (It's my youth, you know - Heeheehee!), but yeah, a sad disappointment, I mean, if you like the whole Marvel/DC/Disney mass-produced spandex-suited superhero 'licensed property' shtick, it's still an Aladdin's cave, of sorts, but over-priced and lacking craft, class or love, it's all about life-style and box-ticking now!


EY said...

Hi Hugh,
The post was a great read. I ordered something from Forbidden Planet by mail many years ago, but never had the opportunity to visit. It's sad that all of the ramshackle mom & pop style stores are disappearing, but that's progress for you. BTW, I'm not a big fan of funkos either.

Hugh Walter said...

Cheers EY, the corporatisatio of the planet is awful! And it make you wonder, what toys do you find in the little stores in rural India, or up the Amazon? It must still be home-made stuff, cloth dolls, tin-toys made from food & drink cans, wood or clay stuff, because the Hasbro/Mattel shite is still only in the smart malls in Rio, Mumbai or Nairobi?