Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Games Stores: Brookhurst Hobbies

It's been a while since I wrote about my various game store visits. As a reminder, this series recaps my thoughts and reviews of various games stores that I've visited since I entered the hobby, back in 1982 or so. My intent was to write about my visits roughly in the order that I discovered each shop, but I've done a few out-of-order due to extenuating circumstances.

Today's entry is for Brookhurst Hobbies in Garden Grove, California. This was the second of two stores (the other being the Last Grenadier) that I had first heard about in a small classified ad in Dragon magazine, years before my family moved to Southern California. After we moved here in 1986, I didn't visit it, primarily because, living in eastern Los Angeles County, Garden Grove (in Orange County) may as well have been in another state, especially to someone like me who didn't have a car and was living in public transportation-starved Southern California.

My initial exposure to the hobby of "gaming" was via Dungeons and Dragons (both the Moldvay Basic Set and 1st Edition, almost simultaneously), and my gaming group did not use miniature figures for our games. We only used the rule books, modules (adventures), dice, and paper. Most of this stuff I could find at the various retail outlets that were available to me at the time, even if they weren't always all that well-stocked. The chances were that I could at least find the latest AD&D hardback or module at a Waldenbook's or Gemco.

Flash-forward a few years, and I discovered All Star Games in Diamond Bar, California, which is about as far south as you can get in Los Angeles County before crossing over into Orange County. Around this time, also, I had somewhat moved away from role-playing games and gotten into collectible card games and also miniature war games, specifically Warhammer 40k. During October of 1993, I had been laid-off from my very first advertising job after they lost a huge client. I was still living at home and I actually got a whopping two weeks' of severance pay (I'd only worked there for about six months) and I'd saved money during that six months because I had no rent or utilities to pay, or groceries to buy. Everything aside from my car payment was covered. My friend Mike got me into 40k, and we of course began to collect as much product as we could. All Star Games had a very good selection, and Games Workshop seemed to be coming out with new guides and figures almost every week, for different chapters of Space Marines, or Space Orks, or Eldar, or what have you. We bought tons of figures, books, paints, and brushes, and All Star Games was very well equipped and would even special order things for us.

However, after a while of assembling and painting scores of plastic and pewter 40k miniatures, we felt ready to begin experimenting. A Warhammer book about customizing miniatures had come out, and there were some really cool ideas in there that we really wanted to try. These were really advanced projects that involved steps such as sawing parts off of models and using drills and wires to assemble new designs of your own making. The 40k customizations were, to us, amazing, and we really wanted to start experimenting with some of those projects. However, All Star Games didn't carry any kind of modeling equipment beyond paints and brushes. No pin drills. No vices and saws. Nothing. And, we couldn't find another store in the area that carried anything like that, so we were stuck.

A short time later, my on-again, off-again girlfriend at the time (we were "off" at this time, but still hanging out... a lot...) mentioned that she had heard of a store in Orange County that carried that kind of stuff. I have no idea how she heard of it, because she was never into gaming (continually referring to my friends and me as "dorks" over our love of games, comics, Star Wars, and Monty Python style humor), but she mentioned it, and agreed to go with me to visit the store, about 30 minutes or so away. This is the same girl with whom I visited the Last Grenadier on my first visit.

She told me the name of the store, and I remembered having seen their ads back in Dragon. I was excited to visit another one of these "big game stores" from my youth, but I was a bit wary, as I recalled the last time I had visited a game store with this girl, she quickly became bored and we left after only about 15 minutes, despite having driven about 25 minutes one way to get there. We entered the store, and as I recall, it was almost divided into different sections, with one section being dedicated to modeling equipment. This was the only time I can recall visiting a game store and not making an immediate beeline toward the RPG section - instead I headed right toward the modeling display and loaded up with all of those things I needed for the fancy customization projects, including not only the pin drill, vice, and various saws, but also modeling clay and various new paints and brushes that my local store didn't carry. I do recall briefly glancing over toward the RGPs on my way out, but I didn't actually browse their inventory. I was fully into 40k and hadn't played an RPG at that point for probably four or five years. 

We unfortunately didn't stay very long (lesson learned - only took me two times to figure it out), but I do remember the staff being very friendly, and the store being very well laid-out and it being easy for me to find what I was looking for. I also remember that the store felt huge, even though I didn't explore the entire place.

That was the only time I visited Brookhurst Hobbies. I just checked, and they are still open for business! Their website lists a bunch of their offerings, which includes games, cards, hobby supplies, miniatures games, diecast, radio control, and tons of other things. It's making me very interested in going back for a visit.

Anybody in Southern California visit recently? Leave a comment to let me know about your experience!

Hanging: Home office
Drinking: 2015 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha
Listening: "Cut Chemist Suite" by Ozomatli

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