Rogue Toys takes all grown-up kids on trip down memory lane
Mar 04, 2020 01:31PM
By Jordan Hafford
Store manager Luis A. Argueta with employee and expert curator Gabriel Slatten (Jordan Hafford/City Journals)
By Jordan Hafford | [email protected]
For some, the best memories of childhood lie in playtime with toys. For others, hailing back to that lost time of simplicity and youthful bliss has become a lifestyle.
And once these children of Gen-X, Millennials and Boomers alike grew up, they yearned for a community where they could still share in their enthusiasm for the iconic toys that made their childhoods.
Enter the hero to answer that call: Rogue Toys.
“I had taken a trip to Las Vegas with friends who are fellow toy collectors simply to visit all the stores that sold toys and catered to collectors,” said Rogue Toys store manager Luis A. Argueta. “One of those stores was Rogue Toys.”
Rogue Toys began in 2012 when owners Steve and Krystal Johnston decided to create a nostalgic place for toy collectors and enthusiasts in downtown Las Vegas.
Since then, they have opened two more locations in Vegas alone and a third in Portland, Oregon. West Jordan makes the fourth location to date, which just opened its doors last November.
On his trip to Vegas, Argueta had spoken with owner Krystal Johnston about the possibility of opening a location in Utah and managing it. Being retired, and a vintage toy enthusiast and collector himself, he decided it was the perfect gig.
The owners, Steve and Krystal, were a featured booth at the recent FanX convention in Salt Lake to promote their newest Utah location. And the rest is toy history!
From the beginning, the inventory of vintage toys in this chain has continued to grow, packing each location full of some of the rarest and oldest toys you could possibly find. They currently hold toys spanning the decades from the 1950s all the way up through today.
The West Jordan location hosts monthly “Trade Nights” to facilitate the gathering of like-minded individuals who perhaps feel like they’re alone in this niche hobby.
“Being an adult collector is sometimes viewed negatively by others, and we are at times left feeling ashamed to share our interests with anyone,” Argueta said. “It is seen as nerdy, when in fact, it’s actually a healthy hobby which allows us to relive our childhood through purchasing the toys we always wanted as kids with our adult wallets.”
A couple dozen individuals come to these nights every month to buy and swap toys of their own with other attending toy collectors. High positive energy abounds between enthusiasts as they eat pizza provided by Argueta, making trades and purchases.
“I’m here for the first time,” said local resident Sean Allan. “But I can see myself coming here more regularly with all the awesome Ninja Turtles merch.”
Along with the wide array of Ninja Turtles collectibles mentioned, the store also boasts collections from America’s greatest toy franchises, including Barbie, He-Man, Star Wars, GI Joe, Marvel, DC, Anime and many more.
While some of the playthings are original creations in themselves, such as Barbie, others are based on pop-culture franchises, like the Simpsons line.
Argueta loves supporting this hobby in the community and meeting new friends who are into the same “fandom” that he belongs to. He also said he learns a lot from the new fans that he meets since opening the store.
“I think this store is of great value to the community because we encourage a healthy hobby to a new generation,” Argueta said. “It gets these people into doing something cool and positive in a time when there are so many negative influences in the world.”
As the iconic TV series “The Wonder Years” poignantly recalled, “There are things about your childhood you hold onto, because they were so much a part of you. The places you went, the people you knew.” And the toys you played with.
So, if the drudgery of petty adult problems has got you down, hop the train back to yesteryear at Rogue to take another look at the toys that played such a fleeting but impactful role in our lives.