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L.A.’s Ten Best Novelty and Toy Shops To Bring Out Your Inner Pee-wee Herman

To help you bring some of Pee-wee's madcap and joyous spirit into your life, we've got a guide to the ten most fun shops he would (and sometimes did) love in L.A. to help.

2:43 PM PDT on July 31, 2023

via Pee-Wee Herman/Instagram

We're crushed to learn of the unexpected passing of Paul Reubens, the comedian, and actor who started his career in Los Angeles and went on to bring us endless frivolity and joy through his original character, Pee-wee Herman.

Along the way, Reubens gifted us with introductions to memorable characters and actors alike, including Phil Hartman, Large Marge, Larry Fishburne, John Paragon, Billy Baloney, Ms. Yvonne, Globey, Chairy, and Pterri.

We know Pee-wee wouldn't want us to be sad right now. And we will try and stay strong for the boy brave enough to probe the Alamo's deepest nooks.

To help bring some of Pee-wee's joyous, madcap spirit into your life, we've got a guide to the ten most fun shops he would (and sometimes did) love in L.A.

For if ever there's been a day to fight with your Mr. T cereal, don an oversized pair of plastic sunglasses, or send a pair of wind-up teeth chattering across the table, it's today.

Paging Mr. Herman...

photo: Soap Plant Wacko

Soap Plant Wacko ~ Hollywood

An L.A. legend one can only dream they may someday get locked into overnight, Wacko came of age on Melrose during the same time as Pee-wee's own rise. Herman was a regular on Melrose, as a member of the Groundlings theater, which maintains its Melrose address today. The space not only has enough toys, books, and art to make Francis Buxton green, but it embodies many funky, DIY, artistic spirit and vintage obsessions that spoke to Herman's heart and art. Now in Hollywood and fronting the incredible La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Wacko is the Costco of kitsch where bacon air fresheners, bags of plastic eyeballs, Captain Kirk Barbie dolls, flamingo-shaped plant pots, taxidermy gator heads, disco ball string lights, dashboard Jesuses, movie monster busts, switchblade combs, and tiki mugs are in abundant supply, treated as necessities more than novelties.

4633 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B Line - "Vermont/Sunset Station" or Bus Lines 180, 206 or 217 - “Hollywood/New Hampshire.”

photo: Lucha Junkie Super Store

Lucha Junkie Super Store ~ Whittier

A comic book shop with a dedicated lucha libre superstore in the back? We can already picture Pee-wee bouncing off the walls here, donning an El Santo mask with a copy of The Katzenjammer Kids flapping in his mitts, screaming, "Aaaaaaaaaaaa!"

2934 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90023. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 18 - “Whittier/Euclid.”

Time Travel Mart ~ Mar Vista/Echo Park

Thank goodness that people like Paul Reubens and Dave Eggers make something of themselves with spare change, so they can better our lives with absurdity. Time Travel Mart fronts the Eggers-co-founded 826 nonprofit creative writing workshop for kids. It's a gift shop from the future, selling weird, often made-up shite like Mammoth Chunks and cans of primordial soup, passports for time travelers and wormhole maps, Misfits-Mozart patches and Black Flag Bach shirts, and Kurt Vonnegut coffee mugs and barbarian repellent. And really, that's just skimming the tip of the post-modern/Pleistocene/Victorian iceberg.

1714 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 4 - “Sunset/Echo Park” or Bus Line 92 - "Glendale/Park."

12515 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 33 - “Venice/Centinela.”

Catalina Johnson via Unsplash

Olvera Street ~ Downtown

Reubens told L.A. Magazine about his love for Olvera Street in 2016, saying, "I’m all about Olvera Street. It’s one of the greatest things in our city... There’s not one thing I wouldn’t own there—or do already own in duplicate." We imagine this collection likely includes creepy sombrero-clad marionettes, $16 wooden guitars, packs of snapping gum, poo-shaped tamarindo candy, and smash-able, old-school ceramic piggy banks. But could conceivably extend to alebrijes, ceramic Selena trivets, or Mexica calendars.

845 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles, CA 90012. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A, B, D, and J (910/950) Lines - "Union Station" or Bus Lines 28, 33, 40, 70, 76, 78, or 106 - “Cesar E Chavez/Alameda.”

photo via The Dinosaur Farm

The Dinosaur Farm ~ Pasadena

This nearly 30-year-old shop is a Mecca for the county's dinowhores. Especially if you happen to be an actual dinosaur-obsessed child or a child-minded one, it's all about the terrible lizards up front, from the gift wrap, wall signs, and holiday ornaments to the plastic figurines and stuffed animals, which go from tiny to life-sized. No one-trick pony, there are also rooms devoted to science toys and games, infants, books, and more traditional playthings.

1510 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A Line - "South Pasadena Station" or Bus Lines 258 and 260 - “Fair Oaks/Mission.”

photo via Galco's/Facebook

Galco's Soda Pop Shop~ Highland Park

Pee-wee? Galco's? A match made in heaven, right? The Highland Park shop, whose roots go back to 1897, specializes in vintage sodas, snacks, vintage toys, and sweets from across the blue rock, featuring favorites from everyone's weird regional pasts, be it Brainwash Blue, something from Sangaria, Faygo, or Fentimans. Galco's will even help you express yourself through soda, allowing you to make your own creations. There's a sandwich here that boxing great Rocky Marciano and even, if you must soil this innocent little piece about Pee-Wee Herman and wanton dinosaur fetishes, booze.

5702 York Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90042. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 182 - “York/Avenue 57.”

photo: Revenge Of

Revenge of Comics and Pinball ~ Glassell Park

Mighty, mighty comic book shop up front over checkerboard floors. Heavy duty pinball arcade in the back with Dr. No, Ninja Turtles, and Ghostbusters machines. We refuse to write any more words.

3420 Eagle Rock Blvd. Ste. A Los Angeles, CA 90065. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 251 - “Eagle Rock/Avenue 35.”

photo: Jack's Candy

Jack's Candy ~ Downtown

If we had to guess, we'd pinpoint Pee-wee's legendary levels of energy on a superfood we call "candy." 44-year-old Jack's packs just about every candy invented into a 42,000-square-foot warehouse of whizzing colors and bright wrappers, along with the pinatas to fill them with, from those shaped like bottles of Fireball to ones in the forms of Thomas the Train and tacos. This is your north star should you need a palate of Nerds Rope, four pounds of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, movie theater-sized boxes of De La Rosa Mazapán, $153.00 in unicorn-horn lollipops, and/or a bottle of Tajin bigger than a baby's arm.

777 S. Central Ave Los Angeles, CA 90021. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 53 - “Central/8th” or Bus Lines 60 and 62 - "7th/Central."

Photo: Huzzah!

Huzzah! ~ Venice

"Don't Grow Up: It's a Trap," screams the entrance to Huzzah!, a sentiment embodied by every atom of Pee-wee Herman. This cute and extremely fun Venice toy shop bursts with gags, games, and playthings that buck the expected. Meaning there's noticeably scant Disney, Lego, LOL, or other massive corporate labels, much like in Herman's own playhouse. But you're at the right place if you want a copy of Slamwich, a Stomp Racer, or Inflatable Easel.

2122 Lincoln Blvd. Venice, CA 90291. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 33 - “Venice/Lincoln.”

photo: Kip's Toyland

Kip's Toyland ~ Fairfax Farmer's Market

One of L.A.'s oldest operating toy stores, established in 1945, Kip's shelves share space between today's popular IPs and more nostalgic diversions like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Robot Lilliputs, hobby horses, dress-up garb, and Etch-a-Sketch. Treasures abound as long as you can keep your brat away from The Bratz. The prices, as at similarly-spirited competitors like Brentwood's Toy Crazy, hew a little high. However, you can still have a great time inside even if window-shopping, aka touching all the stuff before getting your parking validated and going home.

6333 W. 3rd St. Ste 720 Los Angeles, CA 90036. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 217 or 218 - “3rd/Fairfax.”

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