Monday, October 09, 2006
From the Pauls Valley Democrat
Published: October 09, 2006 06:45 pm
Toy Museum heroic one year later
By Jeff Shultz
In one year Pauls Valley’s Toy and Action Figure Museum has transformed from a novelty museum to one of Oklahoma’s biggest and newest tourist attractions, gaining state wide and national attention as the world’s only action figure museum. And this coming weekend, October 14-15, the museum will mark it’s first anniversary with toy give aways, free admission to the museum and a fund raising dinner.
The museum has exceeded every expectation — surprising even those close to it — since officially opening its doors one year ago when over 2,000 people attended the grand opening ceremonies. Since then, the museum has welcomed well over 15,000 visitors from across the nation and several foreign countries.
“It was our goal to have 10,000 visitors when we hit our six-month anniversary,” said Kevin Stark, curator and co-creator of the museum. “We reached that mark two months before our six-month anniversary.” Stark said the museum is still getting inquiries from action figure enthusiasts from all over the world.
The museum has also garnered some prominent awards in the past year, including the prestigious 2006 Redbud Award as the Outstanding New Tourist Attraction from the Department of Tourism. Redbud Awards represent the highest honor given in the Oklahoma tourism industry. Entries are evaluated by out-of-state judges based on criteria including customer service, marketing effectiveness, media relations, variety of audiences reached, value, and overall creativity.
“All evening, before the awards were given out, people were coming up to me that knew me, or had heard of the museum, and wanted to talk about Pauls Valley and the museum,” said Stark.
At the heart of the museum is the astonishing collection of Stark’s action figure collection. The collection has become the delight of children and adults who have made the trek to Pauls Valley to see it. “I remember giving a tour of the museum to a group of people one weekend,” recalled Della Wilson, PV Chamber Director and former museum director. “There was a man from Tulsa with the group and when we walked into the cave housing Kevin’s Batman collection this man was amazed. He said to me, ‘I had heard about your Batman collection and decided I would come here to see how it compared to mine, which I thought was rather large. You have some items in this collection that I’ve never seen before.’” Wilson said that was a testimony to how special and grand the museum is.
First anniversary activities will begin Saturday, October 14, with free admission to the museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum will also offer free admission to visitors on Sunday, October 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. There will be free toy give-aways every hour on Saturday from the museum and local merchants. Various Oklahoma cartoonists will also be available for autographs at the museum.
The museum also is the home of the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, an accumulation of fine art and cartoons from artists with Oklahoma ties.
On Saturday evening the museum will host a fund raising dinner to commemorate its first anniversary. Two new toylines will be inducted into the Action Figure Hall of Fame as well as action figure sculptor of the year. David Toth, the museum’s volunteer manager, will present an award to the volunteer of the year.
Michael Vance, curator of the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, will be on hand to induct five Oklahomans into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees are Chester Gould, Bill Mauldin, Clarence Allen, Dick Locher, Ric Estrada, and R. A. Jones. (See related story and honoree bios on page 1B of this issue.)
The evening will end with an overview of the past year and a look at future plans for the museum.