Geeked Out

The 4 Nerdiest Items in Houston You Must Know About

The Holy Grail of Houston nerdery, and you don't even have to face any killer rabbits.

By Craig Hlavaty March 2, 2020 Published in the March 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Shops around Houston know how to separate collectors of all income brackets from their money. But some things are rarer, and more covetable, than others—with price tags to match, of course. Whether you want to own them yourself or just ogle them, here are four incredible objects tucked away around town that every self-respecting geek should know about.

Sealed LEGO Millennium Falcon at Third Planet

Many a good Houston nerd knows the torture of sitting on the Southwest Freeway feeder, staring at this famous purveyor of rare toys and comics, and longing to be inside. Owner TJ Johnson’s shop has been a gateway to infinite worlds for Houstonians for nearly 45 years, and he’s full of stories about the famous customers who’ve come through: Travis Scott, Yao Ming, the late Michael Jackson, and all manner of Houston pop culture dignitaries.

One of the most prized treasures at the store is the $6,000 sealed LEGO Millennium Falcon tucked away near the register. Released in 2007 for the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars series, the LEGO set contains nearly 5,200 pieces. Why the hefty price tag? According to Johnson, the LEGO people placed a solid gold C-3PO mini-figure in just a handful of special Star Wars–themed sets. Those figures could be worth $10,000 to the right collector—and this set is unopened. There could very well be gold in that there box. 

Bust of Rocky at Nan’s Games and Comics Too

Nestled along the Southwest Freeway feeder, this beloved comic book shop is perhaps best known as the spot where Bryan Taylor parks his famous Santa Claus art car when he’s on the clock. Other wonders, of course, lie within, and the knowledgeable staff is always happy to shepherd shoppers through its vast array of tabletop gaming pieces, new and used comics, trade paperbacks, and assorted toys and figurines.

Out of all the items inside Nan’s, the one we most desire is a somewhat life-size bust of Philadelphia’s own Rocky Balboa, sitting on a shelf with its hefty $600 price tag. He’s been there, standing guard over the board games, sweaty and bruised, for the past few years. It will be bittersweet the day the Italian boxing legend finds a forever home, unless that home is ... ours? We can see it now: On a tough day we’d look to Rocky and find that extra bit of fight inside. Heck, maybe we could even use him to fool the cameras in the HOV lane. 

The Infinity Gauntlet at The Magick Cauldron

Earthly Montrosians love to spend time inside this shop, perusing the potions, protection crystals, incense, voodoo dolls, and Santa Muerte statues. It’s on the back wall, among the broadswords and other decorative weapons, that you’ll find it: an Infinity Gauntlet like the one worn by Thanos in the final two Avengers films.

What is that, you ask? As the Cinematic Universe fan site explains, “a powerful Dwarven-made Uru glove that was designed to channel the power of all six Infinity Stones.” In one of the more memorable cinematic moments in recent years, it was used to snap half of the universe out of existence. The brassy, studio-approved replica is adorned with removable Infinity Stones for maximum cosplay fun. A little smaller than the one worn by Josh Brolin’s fearsome yet scarily sensible baddie, it’s yours for $300. 

European Optimus Prime at Super Happy Incredible Toys

Offering a treasure trove of nostalgia in the Heights, this shop with a thing for sneaky acronyms is the toy store of our ’90s fever dreams. If your big brother blew up your favorite Wolverine action figure with firecrackers in 1992, you can probably find a worthy replacement here.

Shop owner Paul Skrabanek—also a lawyer, and a big fan of American heroes with rocket launchers and tanks—keeps his personal G.I. Joe collection in his law office. He opened Super Happy at its current location in 2015. As he explains, there’s a thing called one’s dark ages that keeps the vintage-toy market robust. “You collect and love something as a kid,” he says, “and then you’re done with it. Then, down the line—in your twenties, thirties, or forties—you start back up, and whatever you missed during your dark ages, you feel compelled to go back and grab. It’s why LEGO stays so valuable.”

One of the most prized items on the shelf here? A vintage European version of Optimus Prime—how do you say “More than meets the eye” in French? The Transformer comes with a $250 price tag, but if it were still sealed, it would be worth much more. Oh well—at least old Prime got to experience his raison d’être, turning into a semi-truck in some long-ago kid’s bedroom.

Elsewhere in the shop there’s rare LEGO sets, a wide selection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even a handful of Chuck Norris action dolls. We had totally forgotten he had his own cartoon in the ’80s. Maybe there’s a reason for that... 


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