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ToTo’s Old Goods is a stark contrast to the artsy tourist joints that dominate most of Seoul’s Insadong area.

It’s dusty, filled with broken, mismatched displays, and the surly man working up front has more in common with a bouncer than a museum worker.

In short, it’s a cramped room filled with junk. And I never want to leave.

It sits on the second floor of a building along Insadong’s main drag, just over a clothing store.

On weekends, the bouncer guards the entrance demanding 1,000 won entry fee per person. Peering over his shoulder at the mass of crap piled up behind him, I think maybe I’ll keep my 90 cents. But pushed by my children, I pay the fee and enter the dream attic of my childhood.

What I found was enough geek fodder to put a "Star Trek" convention to shame.

Spider-Man figures dangle from the ceiling, swinging amidst a traffic jam of attack helicopters, spaceships and World War II-era fighter planes.

Freddy Kruger lurks next to an antique mail box, ready to get the drop on a TeleTubby who waves from the top of an old telephone. A life-sized Darth Maul hangs his head next to a parking meter, while a platoon of 12-inch soldiers, backed by a few oversized anime robots, sits ready for war.

Yes there’s girly stuff too — Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie etc. — but who can pay attention to that when there’s an overturned Predator about to get eaten by a herd of Godzilla monsters.

I wasn’t alone among those caught up in the wave of nostalgia as I looked at toys I’d loved as a 10-year-old.

I watched as children of the ‘70s and ‘80s explained the finer points of the Linda Carter Wonder Woman doll and TV mini-series "V" to children of the current century. The youngest visitors then educated their parents on the difference between Pokemon and Digimon.

The "bouncer," who declined to be named, said "the Boss," who he’s never seen, has been collecting junk for between 20 and 30 years.

The bouncer couldn’t say for sure how many items are on display — only that it’s "too much junk to count."

He said on weekdays the place stays mostly empty, but on weekends 200 to 300 people a day filter through ToTo’s narrow aisles to ogle the toys, books, posters, antiques and other oddities on display.

E-mail Jimmy Norris at: norrisj@pstripes.osd.mil

know & go

Getting there: Take a cab to Insadong. ToTo’s is located midway through the area’s main street. Entering from the Jongno side, ToTo’s will be on the left, one floor above a women’s clothing store. A picture of Linda Carter as Wonder Woman is prominently displayed in the window.

Getting in: Admission is 1,000 won (a little less than $1). Note: ToTo’s charges admission for everyone who enters, including infants and toddlers.


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