Toying Around in the East Village

September 6, 2009 9:24 pm

(No, not the adult-only kind, and no again, not the toddler-only kind.)


This wind-up tuna nigiri spins in circles before it jets off and spins again a foot away ($2.99; Toy Tokyo, in store only).

This wind-up tuna nigiri spins in circles before it jets off and spins again a foot away ($2.99; Toy Tokyo, in store only), by Tara for TKGO.


After Karina’s and my internships (and sublet) ended in mid-June, I found cheap accommodation in the East Village, on 9th Street near Avenue C. (On the corner is a great little Brazilian restaurant, Esperanto, with live music, outdoor seating, $6 caipirinhas and $10 weekend brunch. I sampled the brunch menu with a couple friends the Friday before I left the city, and the dinner menu is equally fantastic and economical. We loved the beef dishes; I ordered a killer beef stew, the special for the night.)

In my last few days in New York, I found myself wandering the streets of my ‘hood, a famously quirky area that houses a mix of artists, hipsters and Puerto Rican immigrants. And if there is a time to go into every curious-looking store you pass, it’s the last week of your six-month stint in the city. So when I passed a sign for “Toy Tokyo” pointing up the black rubber-covered stairs on Second Avenue near 7th Street, I climbed.

This is no Toys R Us. The two rooms at the top of the stairs can only be described as kitsch heaven. I am not a collector of action figures, nor do I worship anyone with a complete set of McDonald’s Smurf toys. But if you want to meet either of these types of people, or if you’d like to become one yourself, this place will quickly turn into a weekly pit stop on your way home from the office.

But just because I don’t recognize any of the alien-faced, army green-colored goons in the back room (reserved for the truly hardcore collectors) does not mean I had the willpower to leave empty-handed. I took home a wind-up piece of tuna nigiri ($2.99), a “surprise” box of mini plastic foods imported from Japan ($4.99, kind of like this one) and a Simpson’s keychain that reads “Where’s Maggie?” ($.99). And in honor of the store’s anniversary, the owner threw in a free “blind pack” with a skeleton warrior. Jackpot!

Find Toy Tokyo at 121 Second Ave 2F (near 7th Street), New York, NY 10003; 212-673-5450;

Tara for TKGO

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