If you live in a city like Chicago or New York or Los Angeles, then the neighborhood comic shop is something you're probably familiar with. But when you live in the middle of nowhere like I do ... well, the neighborhood comic shop doesn't really exist. It's more of a "short-trip" comic shop, and for me, Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor, Mich., is one of the closest to me, a good 90 minutes north of where I live.
But Vault of Midnight is more than just comics: it's also home to one of the nearest places that I can go and find comic book collectibles, among other things. My friends in college always spoke well of the store on their trips up to Ann Arbor, but I never went there until this past weekend. Would I end up agreeing with everyone else? Hit the jump and check out what Vault of Midnight is all about!
Located on South Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor, just a few blocks west of the University of Michigan, Vault of Midnight sticks out not so much for the bright blue front of the building (there's another small gallery a few doors down with the exact same color) but for its big windows filled with all kinds of collectible goodies. If the front windows didn't give away what Vault of Midnight was all about, this little sign hanging out in front of the store should clue you in that, yes, you're in the right place.
From the outset, Vault of Midnight kind of looks like your usual comic book shop, albeit slightly larger than many of the comic book shops I've visited in my travels before. But it's the spaces in between the comic book racks that are packed with all kinds of awesome things.
Being a comic book store, you might have guessed correctly that they have plenty of comic book figures available. And that they sure do, with most of the major DC Universe recent releases available for purchase, including Flashpoint and Batman Incorporated figures. There's a few older ones I saw as well, but nothing more than about a year old, at least as far as I could tell.
And of course, along with figures comes an assortment of busts and statues. As far as comic book stores go, Vault of Midnight has a fairly decent selection for a store its size, and they've also got the Marvel and DC Bishoujos in stock at their store. That's a definite plus for me, as I've been looking for a place to pick them up that's close by because, honestly, the yen-to-dollar exchange rate is killing me.
But never fear, anime fans; Bishoujos weren't all they had in store for you. There were a number of other busts, figures and packaged action figures in the store to let your eyes wander over, including this lovely statue of Astro Boy that I would love to have bought if it weren't so expensive. They also had a large assortment of Shunya Yamashita figures (and yes, that includes some of the Bishoujos I mentioned earlier), which I don't think I was expecting. And there was one bigger surprise in store ...
I've never actually seen these two up close and in person, but these are Square Enix's 1/4-scale Gabranth and Cloud Masterpiece figures released in 2008. The ones that cost close to US$500 a piece and are probably worth every penny for the insane detail that these two had. But still, there was another surprise in store for me ...
Three little figure sets from Bandai that are ancient, by collector's standards. These Outlaw Star, Big O and Cowboy Bebop sets are more than a decade old, yet here they were, sitting in plain sight, unopened and mixed among other assorted figures. I really, really should have picked them up, but for some reason I didn't. Maybe I should call back and see if they're still there ...
Alright, alright, I'll get on with the vinyl stuff. Up at the front of the store is part of Vault of Midnight's vinyl offerings, with the rest sitting in the same area as their comic busts and statues are. There's actually more vinyl here than I've seen at some of the other comic shops I've visited before. Most of those usually only had one or two smaller display cases dedicated to designer vinyl, and half of that stuff was just blind-boxed Kidrobot figures like Dunnys or the Family Guy and Simpsons figures.
What really impressed me wasn't just the size of their designer vinyl offerings, but the variety as well. Crazylabel's Inspector Cumulus, Noferin's Pecanpals, ESC-Toy's Soopa Coin-Up Bros., Andrew Bell's The Giver, Sket One's Ripple and Munky King's Omi series were among the things I found there that most comic stores don't usually seem to have in their vinyl section. And as far as I know, most stores don't even have a monstrous Gary Baseman Bear Qee sitting on a shelf in their stores, either. Vault of Midnight does.
Plush fans shouldn't feel too left out here, either; there's a plentiful pick of plush, including Uglydolls, GIANTmicrobes and Mr. Toast plushes to check out.
Or, if those are two small, you might be more interested in this GIANT ICEBAT HOLY CRAP THAT IS HUGE. It's actually so big, you can see they have it tied to the wall by its wings so it won't fall over and crush small children under its weight.
Still, there was even more to the store, with a downstairs area to boot. Should I venture on down and see what's there? Of course! What kind of dumb question is that?!?!
Here is not only where Vault of Midnight's older comic book issues and their tabletop games are located, but a few things I wasn't quite expecting to see ...
Oh hey there, Gundams. How ya doin'? While being a smaller selection than you might find at a specialty retailer or some of the stores I've visited in New York City, you still have a pretty good pick of plastic model kits and giant robots here to choose from. and that Perfect Grade RX-78 they have on display is very, very cool to look at.
So, what do I think of the place? It's fairly impressive, if I must say. They've got a little bit of everything here, and everything is clean and in excellent condition. I'd recommend stopping by if you ever happen to find yourself in Ann Arbor and give the store a look. I know I'll be sure to be stopping by again sometime soon!
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