Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Store spotlight: Aura Model Shop

I walked past a fellow co-worker and otaku the other day and his eyes widened as he said “dude, you HAVE to check out this new toy store I found!” He had just been to the recently opened AMC Theatre at Toronto’s Dundas Square and there, at the top of the escalator, bathed in sunlight, was the “Aura Model Shop.”

Very few stores just happen to pop up in my neck of the woods that cater to otaku, so that very day – I could barely wait until 5 o’clock – I visited the shop that is mere minutes from my condo. It was like coming home.

Aura, although somewhat small, has a remarkably large selection for the model kit maker. There are hundreds and hundreds of Gundams and a good selection of models from other well known anime, like Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell. There are also cars and helicopters, but those interest me less. Pretty much every Revoltech is represented. But what impressed me most was the wall of model kit tools that included two different types of tweezers. I almost wept.

Of course, I did some shopping that very day. But I returned a few days later to chat with owner Brian, himself a very experienced model builder. He opened Aura in mid-May downtown because he feels that the anime industry is growing and becoming more mainstream and hopes he can tap into that interest with a central location. So far, he’s getting a broad range of shoppers from hardcore modelers coming in for special orders to first timers drawn by childhood memories of The Transformers and Robotech.

When I asked Brian how he decides what to stock he smiled and said “instinct.” He has gone to Japan to scope out new toys and regularly visits toy fairs in North America, but like us collectors, he uses the internet to find out what’s on the horizon. I also tried to convince him to start holding modeling workshops, but that’ll have to wait, he says.

As I left the store I thought about my own shopping habits. I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve bought almost all of my models and toys online. The prices are usually better and you can get them earlier than stores. I always buy modeling tools in shops, however, not to mention small impulse buys. But the thing that a shop like Aura has over the internet is the pure rush of excitement I get when I am surrounded by so much coloured plastic. My love for these things is rekindled every time I enter.