At just 8.4 square miles, the “not so ordinary small town” of Pauls Valley packs a big punch in its small space. As in, kapow! oof! sort of punch. The town boasts The Toy and Action Figure Museum – the only one in the world, in fact, and action figure fans young and old will get a kick out of the collection. Opened in 2005, it’s a quick one hour drive south from OKC and makes a fun road trip no matter where you are in the Sooner State- or even better, take the Heartland Flyer train from OKC to Pauls Valley and catch a movie and dinner downtown, too. March is Turtle Power Month so check it out over spring break.
To the immediate right is “The Military Action Figure Display,” which presents detailed dioramas of World War II battles. Similar in nature is a G.I. Joe exhibit toward the back, with skirmishes with Cobra by land and by sea, wallpapered with issues of the popular 1980s Marvel comic.
In the very back stands “The Back-Cave.” It’s devoted to all things Batman, from toys and games to books and posters … and even arcane items such as Batman-branded tortilla chips. There’s a coin-operated Batmobile ride for the kids, who also will want to visit Action City, where they can play with some figures, dress up in superhero costumes, or just kick back and watch cartoons.
Dotting other walls and shelves are a tribute to STAR WARS, a current look at WATCHMEN and lots of horror icons, from Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER to James O’Barr’s THE CROW. “From Art to Action Figure” demonstrates how the look of a character changes on the journey from page to three dimensions, making examples out of Alex Ross’ Superman and Batman, Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle, and others. Another display is dedicated to Thor, keying off a recent storyline that places the Norse god in Oklahoma.
Last but not least is “The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection,” featuring original sketches and other work from those comics artists and writers who, at one time or another, lived in the Sooner State. There are more than you might think, such as SHAZAM!‘s E. Nelson Bridwell and Smilin’ Jack‘s Zack Mosley. Not surprisingly, and completely deservingly, the bulk of the exhibit belongs to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy.