VA Beach recs?

Discussion in 'Whatever' started by ungawa222, May 24, 2019.

  1. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    VA Beach recs?
    For vacation this year, fam and I got a wild hair to go to a beach destination we had never been to before, and we ended up picking Virginia Beach. I’ve been compiling a list of spots to check out… the aquarium, various state parks, Mt. Trashmore, The VA Beach Antique Mall, hell maybe even the Edgar Cayce Institute… and have a pretty good list of restaurants going as well. Figured I’d do my usual check-in here, though, in case anyone has good input. Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
  2. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    VA Beach recs?
    brainerfriends, here is a long-delayed post-trip report on VA Beach. We got back from our trip, I fucked up my shoulder, and have been doing the bare minimum of daily keyboarding I need to do (which is still quite a lot), while healing. Feeling better now, so I can finally share this long-read post.

    On VAB in gen’l: we had a great time. It was fantastic to take an ocean vacation after far, far too long away from it (never again will I go so long). Our daughter had a great time. The place we stayed was an older landmark hotel that definitely showed its age, but was clean, staffed with nice folks, and was beachfront. Partially because we did not know the area too well, and partly b/c we just thought it would be fun to stay in such a spot, we were in the thick of the touristy downtown area. It was fine, it was tolerable (the tourist season at the time we went (third week of June) was not yet in full swing), and it was fun for the kid, who’s 7, to have the experience of staying in such a spot.

    The biggest con of the beach, for me and my wife, was the supersonic flyovers every couple of hours. Yes, I well-knew about the nearby military bases… I just didn’t quite realize there would be maneuvers all the time, esp. during the workweek. It was clear as well that for many people vacationing there, this is an attraction. Not so much for us. I would entertain going to VAB again, but would stay further south… I’m told Sandbridge is a nice, quiet, far less touristy area.

    You: “BUT MIKE IS THERE ANYTHING TOY-RELATED TO REPORT??”
    Yes. Oh yes. Goddamn, is there ever.

    In rounding up a list of places to visit, pre-trip, I came across a few mentions of The Virginia Beach Antique Mall. Sounded very much up my alley, so I added it, and on a Wednesday outing to hit the local thrift shops and a cool coffee spot, we went.

    Huge, warehouse-type space in a strip mall in a sort of down-at-the-mouth section of the city. (I’ll also mention that once you start moving inland, VAB is a willy-nilly clusterfuck of stripmall sprawl… and I’m from NJ, so I know from willy-nilly clusterfucks of stripmall sprawl.) It’s one of these places where several different vendors have small, sectioned areas to host their wares. Here is a really rather lame, non-representative group of pics that captures only a small percentage of the magic of this massive, massive place... so many actual treasures intermingled with so much actual crap:
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    The real treat for me, though, was upstairs. When we got there, I saw a sign out front that said, "Largest collection of action figures in VA Beach". I was like, okay, that's gonna be a medium-to-large room with one surly Comic Shop Guy-type and a lot of overpriced vintage Star Wars figures and newer Star Wars figures of unwanted C-list characters.

    PEOPLE. I am telling you. My mind was not prepared. I have never seen anything like this place in my life. The entire top floor of the warehouse, nearly the same square footage as below, completely filled with new and vintage toys of every sort. Room after room of stuff, all in great shape, well-displayed and curated, color-grouped, in glass display cases, on pegs, on shelves. It was fucking insane. Again, I tried to take good pics, but just got way overwhelmed. (Quite sorry that I missed snapping a pic of the complete carded set of The Love Boat action figures.) Not a huge selection of Japanese stuff, but some nice (if beater-ish) pieces were there to represent:
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    Best day to wear the Coop shirt:
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    So, yeah… if you’re ever in the area, ya gotta go.

    One more vacay story I’d like to share here…

    On the way down to VAB, we took the lower DE/MD/VA route, and went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. An amazing ride for a few reasons. On the way back home, though, we took I-264 through VA, as I had arranged a surprise stop in the town of Croaker.

    In a field there, belonging to farmer Howard Hankins, stand 40 massive sculpted busts of U.S. presidents, all in various states of degradation. These were sculpted, starting in 1996, by accomplished Houston, TX sculptor David Adickes. He kept at it up until 2009, and even sculpted a smaller-scale bust of Obama (a proto for the eventual giant version), when the theme park he was sculpting them for went bankrupt. The busts needed to either be moved or destroyed, and the park's owners could offer no help. Howard Hankins heard about this situation, and got in touch w/ Adickes, saying that he would like to start a permanent attraction based around them in VA.

    So Adickes spent $50k of his own money to have them moved. Unfortunately, this necessarily involved placing giant holes in many of the heads, so that the crane being used to load them for transport could get purchase (each weighs about 5000 lbs). Adickes intended to patch/restore these later.

    Hankins opened an attraction featuring the heads up to the public... and no one came. He folded the operation of it up, and again the heads were moved, this time to a dirt lot section of his operation in Croaker. As this weird phenomenon of 40 closely placed, rotting presidentheads in a random field started to gain internet notoriety... then people started to come. In droves. At first it was tolerated, but it quickly turned into trespassing from every angle at all hours. It was disturbing the peace of the people who rent a private residence from Hankins at the same site. Eventually, frequent drone flyovers began, too. So Hankins clamped down, posting much signage and fences and prosecuting trespassers.

    I knew we had to get in to see them at some point on this trip to VA, so I found Hankins' phone number and called him a couple months ago to ask permission, explaining our family's special connection to the site.

    When she was waiting tables at a Houston Chili's in 1996, my wife would regularly wait on David Adickes. He came in nearly every day for his lunch of a tuna melt and one Budweiser. One day, he asked her if she might be interested in a studio assistant job that would last a few months. She said yes, and within a few days was working in the studio... doing hot-knife carving of the foam armatures for a new series of giant president heads Adickes was doing for a theme park.

    So Hankins said sure, come by when you can, just give some notice. He explained that to deal with the continued demand, he had finally arranged with a local photographer, John Plashal, to lead groups of people through the site at prearranged times, and that John might be there/have a group there when we went.

    We showed up to the site on a Saturday at about 1:10, and were greeted warmly by John. Hankins had given him a heads-up and he knew exactly who we were. My wife had no idea where we were or why until successfully guessing (I gave her the last-minute clue of, "There are things here- big things- that connect to your past") right before we got out of the car, so John is eagerly peppering her with questions while she's still trying to process what we're about to get into.

    John walks as back into the lot. It's Southern HOT as balls. He gives us all the latest details on the heads and the site, then says we can have as long as we want to walk around and take pics. Says to watch out for snakes. Says a tour group is coming at 2:00, so he's going to go back to the parking area and get ready.

    Below are the pics I managed to snap... again, the "pics don't do justice" caveat applies.
    If you ever happen to be down in this corner of VA, you must go.
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    President H.P. Lovecraft:
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    Accurate:
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    When we walked back out to the lot, sure enough, there was a group of about 40 people with John. I turned to my wife and quietly said, "Guess who's about to have to do some public speaking!" Sure enough, John spied us coming out and declared to the group, "And here she is!" :lol:
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
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  3. ---NT---

    ---NT--- Super Deformed

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    VA Beach recs?
    Ha! If I were your wife I woulda killed you!
    Great trip report and pics!
     
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  4. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    :lol:
    She's killed me before... it's not too bad.
     
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  5. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    VA Beach recs?
    Dang! That mall is one of my secret spots! Now you've spoiled it ;)
    Wish I would've see this original post, I lived down there for a minute years ago, and my bestie has lived there all her life.
    So cool about those busts! I must go one day...
     
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  6. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    HA! Sorry, man...

    I gotta say, when I knew we were going down to VA, I thought, "Would it be feasible to go to Richmond at some point? I'd love to hang w/ Rei for a minute..." But no, not feasible this trip... SOME DAY, though! ;)
     
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  7. toothaction

    toothaction Team Tsubu Staff Member

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    VA Beach recs?
    I remember this report from when you posted it, but I must have been skimming that day, as I missed...

    Accurate:
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    ...the most dryly hilarious comment here in ages.

    Hats off.
     
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  8. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    VA Beach recs?
    Yesss, come by anytime!
     
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  9. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    OUCH
     
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  10. frankalicious

    frankalicious Fresh Meat

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    VA Beach recs?
    I have always been fascinated by the Adickes busts and how they ended up in the Hankins field. Thank you! for the pics and envious of your wife and her experience!
    What I find even more interesting is the John O Schmidt sign in the second pic. Great uncle of mine. Just saw his wife (Lois) and (one) son the other day. I can still remember the 'storefront' of the business back in the 70's and early 80's just before it closed. The grocery store (from before the realty gig) he ran with his brother is only a stones throw from where I live today.
     
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  11. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    8)

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  12. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    NO WAY! :shock: That's amazing, frankalicious! What a crazy coincidence!! Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    Yeah, I love his basketball grip on that turtle! :lol:
    It's a really nice sculpture up close, especially the various sea animals on the base. There's an octopus that's super-cool.
     
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  14. Beantime

    Beantime Toy Prince

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    VA Beach recs?
    That’s awesome, thanks for sharing! Crazy fun selection of toys.

    Looks like I may be going for a visit now that I’m aware of this place when I go to North Carolina towards the end of next month..
     
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  15. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    VA Beach recs?
    Excellent report Mike, thanks for sharing. Sounds like it was a - deservedly - good trip for you guys. I am glad it was enjoyable for all. That antique mall looks great, and especially great snaps of some wonderful toys. So...many....Wolverines (of course). Blackstar! F$%k yes!! I see a lot of stuff that brings back memories, and a few more very intriguing figures. Like you, I tend to suspect the worst with these sorts of things, so actually discovering a nicely curated shop is a very pleasant surprise.

    I had never heard this story of the busts before, but it is fascinating. I am glad you guys were able to check it out, especially with the personal connection. Wonderful Mitch, time to start planning the next one. :)
     
  16. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    I forgot until I was down there just how close NC and VA are on the Eastern side. Hop, skip and a jump. If you get to go, would love to hear about your visit here, Bo!
     
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  17. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    Thanks, Steve!
    Yes, so much great stuff, and it's funny that you keyed in on Blackstar- my one pick-up was a Blackstar Tongo, accessory-less but in pretty good shape for $7.00. (When I was a kid, I was not into He-Man or any of its imitators... I liked my "guys" a little (a lot) less muscle-bound. I would play with the toys, though, whenever I visited my cousin Gary, who was hardcore into He-Man. I always loved Tongo, and he called out to me from the shelf at this place!) I should also mention that I found all the prices I looked at on various things to be better than fair... another big plus.

    Yes, already thinking about where we'll go to the ocean in 2020...
     
  18. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    Believe it or not...
    I acquired all of these well-loved beauts from that very mall (except the Tetsujin28, which was bagged).
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  19. ungawa222

    ungawa222 Mini Boss

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    ^Okay, damn. :shock: :thumbsup:
    (So sorry to blow up the spot on the joint, Rei! :oops::lol:)
     
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  20. toothaction

    toothaction Team Tsubu Staff Member

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    VA Beach recs?
    Mmmmm, soft vinyl vehicles...
     
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  21. rattanicus

    rattanicus S7 Royalty

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    Haha, no worries brother, haven't been in many months anyway!
     
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  22. 666doll

    666doll Mini Boss

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    VA Beach recs?
    Accurate:
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    LMFAO
     

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