Before Toki Underground’s chef-owner Erik Bruner-Yang knew that he was going to open a ramen shop, he took a trip back to his homeland of Taiwan. While he was visiting, he stopped in at the flagship store of vinyl toy company C.I. Boys. “They’re Taiwan’s equivalent of Kidrobot,” he explains.
The shop was having a massive sale on their colorful collectible figurines, so Bruner-Yang promptly bought nearly 2,000 of them. It ended up costing him more than $3,000, not including the giant suitcase he had to purchase to carry them all.
To return to the States, Bruner-Yang and his mother had to fly through Japan. As they were going through security, officials pulled him aside. They wanted to see inside his big bag. When they unzipped it, they were confronted with hundreds of small, unopened boxes.
Politely, but “super seriously,” they asked Bruner-Yang to take a seat, because they were going to have to open every single box. “If I was a toy collector, that would have been my freak out moment,” he says.