The new Meep Meepleton’s World of Fun is an eclectic, nerdy bunker of collectables.
Photo: A row of four Transformers figurines stand behind a row of small toy cars on a shelf at Meep Meepleton’s World of Fun.
This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.
One of my greatest regrets is not taking better care of my toys.
That’s not to say I was some sort of unhinged Sid-from-Toy Story-clone, committing war crimes against every Transformer and Ninja Turtle unlucky enough to cross my path. But I played hard with them, and many have since been broken, lost, or donated, scattered to god knows where. I never anticipated that I’d be sitting here at 30, pining over lost action figures.
While time travel is still out of the realm of possibility, newly-opened Meep Meepleton’s World of Fun on Williamson Street offers the next best thing. No matter what your preferred form of nostalgic pop culture is, it’s likely that owners Dave and Amanda Farrar have it somewhere on their chaotically curated shelves. And I mean chaotic; at Meep’s you can get everything from a vintage John Travolta doll to a packet of Harry And The Hendersons trading cards.
Dave Farrar has been collecting toys since he was a teenager and selling them on Instagram for the better part of the last decade. In fact, the vast majority of Meep’s stock is from Farrar’s personal collection. During that time he and his wife have amassed more than 37,000 followers, including geek-aligned rockstars like My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way and Guns N’ Roses’ Slash (who recently bought a set of Metalocalypse figurines from Farrar).
“When I started selling on Instagram, people were so excited that I was like, ‘this is awesome. This is fun,’” he explains. “I got more joy out of finding things for people and selling them than actually holding onto them myself.”
Farrar, a St. Louis native, relocated from Chicago to Madison about six years ago. Prior to opening the brick-and-mortar Meep’s, he was a firefighter and a corporate salesman who just sold toys online as a hobby. But after experiencing the luxury of increased family time due to the pandemic, the Farrars pivoted and opened their doors in June 2021. So far, they’ve been overwhelmed by the community response.
“We’ve been blown away,” he says. “We weren’t expecting the turnout—especially on the weekends—we’ve been getting, and the support from the community and our neighbors.”
It’s not hard to see why, at least personally. It’s a very pure sense of joy connecting with something at Meep’s: “I definitely don’t need this, but I must have it.” On my first trip to Meep’s, I brought home an old Bart Simpson doll, an unsettlingly realistic vinyl figure of Doctor Who star David Tennant, and a pin commemorating the home video release of the 1999 film The Mummy, among other things.
But more than just offering these treasures, Farrar seems to really connect with them, almost as if he’s selling a part of himself. Take for example the Mummy pin. It ended up being a conversation point for Farrar and I as we both longed to see star Brendan Fraser “rise like a phoenix” and headline blockbuster movies again. (And for you fellow Fraserheads, rejoice! The actor appears in Steven Soderbergh’s new film No Sudden Move.)
Speaking with Farrar, it’s clear that he really cares about each little niche item he sells, no matter how trivial it may seem. It’s a little surprising (at least to this admitted packrat) he’s able to part with some of it at all. But that begs the question: your passion for pop culture is this strong, certainly you have a toy version of “the one that got away.” So what’s the piece that leaves Farrar metaphorically tossing and turning at night?
“There are some monster things that I’ve sold over the years that are a lot harder to find. I’m talking things from the sixties and seventies, like Universal Monsters,” Farrar explains. “Like 25-30 years ago, it wasn’t that hard to find. But now it’s really hard, because everybody loves Halloween and monsters. So there’s some things from that era that I regret selling.”
Even so, I doubt Farrar is dwelling on it. After all, even when he loses something, it’s still a win.