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Tampa Bay collector opens store for 'toy geeks'

Since selling his software business, Scott Dias has been living the dream setting up a toy store for big boys.

The 34-year-old collector is molding a business from his passion for vinyl models of cheesy Japanese monsters, Saturday cartoon characters and gadget films like Star Wars and Tron.

"This will be heaven for toy geeks," he said.

We're not talking a $3.99 Godzilla mass-molded in China. This is a shop for fans who know a zig from a cammo Zag. The store will brim with hand-painted, hand-molded, limited-edition toy artist creations of the likes of Mothra and Mummy Boy that go for $50 to $300. Some featured works are from Tampa designers Kathie Olivas and Brandt Peters.

Center ring is Brian Flynn, a toy artist who grew up in Lutz but parlayed his Super7 magazine on the subject into an underground toy store in San Francisco. Flynn is slated for a 7 p.m. Saturday appearance at the opening with his wife, graphic designer Dora Drimalas.

Dias signed a deal with Flynn to put the second Super7 store at an obscure retail spot between the Old Northeast Tavern and a laundromat at 720 2nd St. N in St. Petersburg.

"It's close to our home and the rent's low," explained Dias, who figures toy nerds, many of whom are linked by Internet sites or his presence on toy auction sites, will beat a path there.

But in a concession to wife/co-owner Lauren Eichinger, Dias added mass appeal items like $9 Domo Kun plush and $19 Ugly Dolls to Flynn's themed T-shirts and wallpaper sporting all the dead bad guys from Star Wars.

Getting ready to open included seven trips to Japan and the San Diego Comic-Con convention.

Dias, who holds an art history degree from Florida State and studied at Harvard University and later the London School of Economics, two years ago sold his interest in Millennial Business Solutions, which maintains touch-screen register systems at many local restaurants.

Getting organized included seven trips to Japan to line up suppliers and the San Diego Comic-Con convention.

Dias thinks he’s got time for Super7 to get off the ground.

“If Millennial keeps growing, I’ll have enough residuals from the sale to last six years,” he said.

Tampa Bay collector opens store for 'toy geeks' 08/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:56pm]

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