Picking a local comic shop is tricky business, and it often comes down to the little things that set a store apart from the one down the road. I have yet to visit Rogues Gallery Comics & Gaming in Round Rock, TX, but there is one reason I would be go out of my way to visit this shop: action figure Jeopardy!
The villainous Jeopardy! game was not the first action figure display at Rogues Gallery, and it has since been dismantled and replaced with a new one. Longtime employee and store manager Nick Budd has been creating action figure displays for the past few years, and they have proven popular amongst customers and the Rogue’s staff. These are not mere dioramas; the displays are so detailed that if this whole comics retail thing doesn’t work out, the folks at Robot Chicken should be glad to have Nick on staff. It is clear that none of the props or characters have been carelessly included. Each gesture and interaction has been carefully chosen to craft narratives that no doubt delight customers. Nick’s most recent display, a massive wedding for Black Widow and Captain America, is endlessly entertaining because of the sheer number of character interactions on display. Nightwing looks forlorn as a cheery Green Arrow gives him a comforting pat on the back, while Luke Cage and a Red Skull Stormtrooper give each other dagger eyes. We can’t help but wondering – where is Superman? Was he snubbed or simply saving the day? This is fan fiction in 3D, a far more eloquent execution of your childhood games of action figure beat-em-up. We spoke with Nick about the history of his creations, and since many of our readers are outside of the Texas tri-state area and cannot see them firsthand, we have plenty of photos courtesy of Nick and the Rogues Gallery staff for you to enjoy.
How long have you been manager of Rogues Gallery Comics & Games? When did you first begin making the action figure displays?
I’ve been working for Rogues Gallery Comics and Games for almost 11 years. I’ve been a manager for the past 4 years. The displays all started with a Christmas display many years ago. We had an artificial tree that we wanted to decorate, which led me to create an “In Memorium” Tree. Basically I made ornaments for all of the fallen comic book characters of the year. Slightly morbid, I guess, but it went over quite well. After that, I would do a huge display for Christmas. A few years ago, (store owner) Randy Lander asked me to do a rotating display and gave it a dedicated space.
What inspired you to create them?
I’ve always loved action figures. As a kid I would have huge elaborate (basement sized) wars with several friends. That kind of thing sticks with you. I’ve just extrapolated the love I had for them as a kid and transformed it into a more focused thing. Creating scenes with characters makes me happy. And I love seeing people come in and get a kick out of them.
The level of detail is very impressive! How long does it take you to create one of these?
I’ve sort of upped the ante on the detail with each display, following the mantra of, “The devil’s in the details.” Also, “Go Big or Go Home” has been uttered a few times. My co-manager Dave Farabee likes to throw out challenges to me. Usually, I try to incorporate them. As for how long it takes… it depends. Some come together relatively quickly (a few weeks), and others I work on for a few months. I built an almost 8 foot replica of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers. It hangs over our Kid Section in the store. That took me almost 9 months (and it’s still not as complete as I want it to be).
How long do they stay up before you decide to create a new one?
I try to rotate the displays every 3 months.
Do the position of the figures imply a head cannon on your part or the staff?
The quick answer to that one is: sometimes. This wedding scene was a little special. It’s a small recreation of the actual place that I’m getting married. My fiance chose Black Widow to represent her, and since Captain America is my favorite superhero, he was a natural stand-in for me. Natural stories come out of the scenes though. I can actually imagine having Blue Beetle and Booster Gold as my groomsmen, and who wouldn’t want Wonder Woman as your Maid of Honor (a stand in for my fiance’s sister)?
The amount of time and effort Nick puts into these displays is probably a good indication of what kind of retail experience Rogues Gallery offers its customers. We are certain that Nick and the rest of the staff take as much pleasure in selling comics as they do celebrating them in this memorable way. To see these incredible displays for yourself, head to Rogues Gallery Comics & Gaming 1601 IH-35 in Round Rock, Texas, open seven days a week. If you don’t see yourself making the trip anytime soon, you can still see pictures of Nick’s displays at the Rogue Display blog, updated with photos as each new display comes to life.