The relationship between comic books and toys is like that of peanut butter and jelly. For the unfortunate souls who may suffer from a peanut allergy: take two enjoyable concepts, and then add some honey wheat bread. Both novelties are equally enjoyable and share an eternal link in pop culture continuity.

The life of a comic book shop owner relies on the success comic books and toys respectively obtain with the current consumer market. Just about comic book shop sells them both. The first “action figures” were no doubt inspired by comic books. The movies and television shows inspired the original space explorers and Army Rangers with the “Kung-Fu Grip.” However, without the comic books printed long before a television lived inside every household, there wouldn’t be a Star Trek or G.I. Joe toy in existence. (They would be called something else.)

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Mike Phillips, co-owner of Acme Superstone in Longwood, FL, sets up a display of Superman toys. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

Central Florida acts as the hub of numerous comic book shops. In Longwood, one of the more impressive “superstores” welcomes visitors from all over the world. The Acme Superstore advertises that it houses 1,000,000 items. Between the store’s impressive comic book collection and the aisles and aisles of glass display cases protecting action figures and accessories from the past 50 years. The display cases are a sight to see.

Mike Phillips, co-owner of Acme Superstore, takes the responsibility of making sure the displays are unique. There is a case displaying a snapshot of Masters of the Universe characters battling in front Castle Greyskull and Snake Mountain. The scene depicts nearly all of the “Heroic Warriors” and “Evil Warriors.” A few aisles over a glass case shows off the store’s collection of Batman: Black & White statues, a popular series of many comic book toy and memorabilia collectors. Barbie lives another row down. Acme Superstore has it all.

“It’s about the customers,” Phillips says, “You want everything to look good. You want everything to look nice.” Visitors notice the care Phillips puts into building aisles of memories. They often make their appreciation known to the Acme staff. Despite the store’s location being about a 30-minute drive from Downtown Orlando, any vacationer or Central Floridian who invests in comic books and toys should stop by Acme and give Mike Phillips a shout. His work, as well the rest of the Acme staff, provide a nostalgic emporium that brings smiles to faces every day.

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