Back in the day – before The Big Bang Theory or the Nerdist podcast – being a nerd just meant you weren’t cool. It’s hard to remember now, with self-described nerds riding atop the Fortune 500, but sci-fi and comic book obsessions used to be a lonely business.
Monster Island Toys: The Godzilla Superstore harkens back to those olden days, before nerdery became acceptable to the masses. This old-school den of pop culture treasures holds a secret club charm (and funk) like only a small business can. With endless shelves of Japanese merchandise featuring the scaly green giant – plus many more TV, movie, and video game heroes and villains – it’s a hidden one-stop shop for those on your holiday list who love to geek out. And nowadays, everybody’s a nerd about something.
This shop deserves some company, so bring a nerdy friend or two and begin your afternoon of toy scouting at the storefront on 35th off of Halsted (it’s the one with the terrifying Godzilla sign). Inside, you’re hit with that unmistakable new-toy smell: the sweet plastic of a vintage ’90s, remote-controlled Godzilla with glowing blue fins, retro Batman cars, and talking Bruce Lee action figures. You squeeze by shelves of rare DVDs, lime-green walls littered with posters, and nooks dedicated to The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, Ghostbusters, and more. You’re in owner Loris Basso’s treasure trove, and his hoarder tendencies ensure that nobody leaves empty-handed.
Basso hosts a weekly lo-fi YouTube show covering new arrivals (did you know there’s a Space Godzilla?). Check out his DVD reviews voiced by none other than the Cookie Monster (Spoiler alert: It’s just Basso, not the real Cookie Monster). This is geekery at its finest – an ultra low-budget, rarely seen kind that makes you feel giddy. You want to be the guy’s friend. Fortunately, away from the city’s bustle in a tiny, green toy cave, nerds everywhere can join him in his happy home.