When toy stores in Burbank, California, were forced to close due to COVID-19, Brian Volk-Weiss wanted to document the struggles toy stores are experiencing. He took on a documentary-style series that visits toy stores from around the world, and Kokomo Toys & Collectibles is one of them.
The docuseries has 50 episodes which will showcase toy stores in the U.S., Netherlands, Canada, Taiwan, Japan and the United Kingdom, among others, and the challenges owners and employees face due to the pandemic. The show will air Friday on Amazon Prime, YouTube and “many other content platforms,” according to a press release.
“The show is a compelling look at the nostalgia-and-plastic world of each individual shop, the stores’ histories, the unique personalities that run them, the resurgence in the indie toy community, and how these stores are trying to survive while closed due to the pandemic,” according to the press release.
The show was created by Volk-Weiss, founder and CEO of The Nacelle Company, who also created and produced Netflix’s “The Toys That Made Us,” and “The Movies That Made Us.”
Kokomo Toys & Collectibles was chosen at the behest of the show’s executive producer, Rich Mayerik. Mayerik, a Los Angeles resident but an Indiana native, said in an email he first visited the store during a trip home four years ago.
”Needless to say, seeing the store in person blew away whatever expectations I had beforehand,” He said in an email. “It’s truly a destination location in every sense of the word for toy collectors. I spent probably a solid two hours there, carefully exploring every aisle, and left with an armload of treasures.”
Volk-Weiss said in an email he’s been “obsessed” with Kokomo Toys & Collectibles since Mayerik showed him the store’s Instagram page three years ago.
Kokomo Toys & Collectibles co-owner Todd Jordan said in an email that even though he and his wife, Amber, have been approached for other filming opportunities, this was the first one they chose. Jordan said it felt like a good fit. The team came to film on April 18.
“It was fun to do,” he said. “We enjoyed sharing how our store has become a tourist destination for people all over the Midwest, and them allowing us to focus on how amazing our community is for our episode.”
Jordan said he takes every opportunity to tell people about Kokomo, and appreciated that the series was focused on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The fact that they are focusing on how the virus has affected us and the community was something we thought was important,” he said. “Kokomo is home to a resilient and diverse community of amazing people. Any chance I can get people to visit Kokomo and to tell them about how they need to come see downtown, I take it. If that happens to be on the national level, even better.”
Kokomo Toys & Collectibles was built from the Jordans’ own hobby of collecting action figures. They moved into their location on “Geek Street” in downtown Kokomo in 2014. They carry both modern and vintage toys, and their inventory is extensive, with stock always changing. So much so that an exact number of items is nearly impossible to match.
“We have a ton of modern and vintage toys. Many people think ‘80s like Transformers, Star Wars and G.I.-Joe or even He-Man toys when they think of us, but we are also heavy into anything independent,” Jordan said in an email. “The stuff people have never seen or heard of. We love non-mainstream toy companies and do everything we can to help them. Seems like there is a new company doing something amazing every year. We are also heavy into designer vinyl and toy art.”
Mayerik said ever since he met the Jordans, he’s involved them in his work as much as he can.”Once we started work on ‘A Toy Store Near You’, they were among the first stores I reached out to,” he said in an email. “Todd and Amber, along with their friend Mike have been an absolute blast to collaborate with, and I’m so excited to watch their episode take shape. Really, being able to provide even more of a spotlight for them and their store is a reward in and of itself.