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Excalibur Comics

Posted by Joseph / Posted on February 21, 2008

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Opened in 1987, Excalibur Comics has survived the ups and downs of the comic book industry and remains in it's modest original location a half block West of Royal York subway station. Nestled under the extended wing of the marquee on the now closed Kingsway Cinema, I always thought it had to be one of the smallest stores in the city. Intimate and organized, the 20x20 interior of the store held my attention for hours as a kid and with fond memories I returned to review it's survival years later.

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Stepping back into Excalibur earlier this week was a rush of pleasant, geek-suppressed memories. I use to stop in every other week to pick up a new selection of comics when I was in high school. On the surface not much has changed in 12 years since I've been in the store, the same owner was behind the counter and the layout was pretty much exactly the same.

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Beneath the surface, of course, a lot had changed. Not only had an entire second floor had been added, increasing their size by approximately 600% (and so it's definitely not one of the smallest stores in the city any longer), but so had the comic book industry and his customers, impacting what he sells and at how much. Comics are now selling at US cover prices and collectable card games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! have kept him in business. I talked with owner Robert Chin about his store and the changes he has seen over the years.

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Robert described how comics were huge in the late 80s and early 90s when Excalibur Comics opened (1987). The industry's major players were printing over 2 million copies of their biggest titles and speculators were snapping up multiple copies of first edition issues in hopes of raising prices. Price guides affirmed the quick increase and comics were hot, both as an "investment" and, led by a new breed of writers and artists, as a medium.

Nowadays, even the most popular titles rarely print over 100,000 copies.

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Robert Chin notes that in the late 90s there was a dramatic decrease in disposable income and business really began to decline. He was going to shut down 8-10 years ago and only the appearance of Pokemon, Magic, and later, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards kept him from closing.

Excalibur Comics Toronto

In talking about comic books, Robert Chin explained, "Kids don't read the books anymore, the go right for the cards. I have a whole store of books and they won't even look at them, pick them up or flip through them."

Still, there is a core group of about 100 people pick up their comics every week he noted, older readers who've been fans of comics for years.

A store like Excalibur Comics thrives on community and a friendly owner. In the 30 minutes I was in the store a small handful of regulars came and engaged in the what is clearly weekly rituals of chatting, looking through books or cards and purchasing.

The small size does have it's draw backs as space for new titles is definitely limited and turning with a backpack can be challenging. Still, the main floor's huge window to Bloor St. keeps the stores atmosphere bright and cheerful, unlike the typical florescent-lighted dungeons of most comic stores (and not unlike the second floor at Excalibur).

Excalibur Comics Toronto

Discussion

50 Comments

Greg / June 30, 2008 at 11:44 am
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The best little comic shop in the world. Great service, great merchandise, great local and terrific owner.
Damien / July 26, 2008 at 08:18 am
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A great comic store, like the kind you grew up with - good quality merchandise and a friendly, knowledgable owner. Always worth a visit.
/ August 24, 2008 at 08:29 am
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love this place , as its been said "its like the kind of comic shop you grew up with",,,, wait a minute , i did grow up right beside it :), this place has kept my anime watching comic reading card playing self busy for a long time
Mike / October 24, 2008 at 09:25 pm
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Ive been goin here for years, and I have to say..out of all of the comic book places Ive been to..this is definitely up there with some of the best. Rob always has a good selection, and I always walk out of the store happy. Good stuff at great prices..awesome place.
Neil / May 12, 2009 at 11:22 pm
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OMG, that's my man Rob. I've been buying comics from him since he opened his shop twenty years ago. He's my comic book guy. He's a helluva lot friendlier than that guy on the Simpsons. Everything you love about comics, and love about shopping for comics, is in this store.
Dc / June 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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i was there when it first opened in '87 and '88. i was about 13 years old. i remember taking the subway there from my old home on kipling at etobicoke ....ah memories
Rick Ross / July 15, 2009 at 11:24 am
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Thank-you Robert. You are truly a good sumariton. If you had not come to my aid I might have been choked to death. The Kingsway Theatre on Bloor is now certainly in question.

http://www.kingswaytheatre.com

Rick
Ben / July 18, 2009 at 11:35 am
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Been going to Excalibur since I was a kid. Same great store and owner. Thanks for everything Rob
shooveAssonse / August 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm
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Mike / December 7, 2009 at 03:35 pm
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When I moved out of Toronto for a couple of years I still asked Rob to hold comics for me so I could get them from him rather than at my new locale. Nicest guy in the world. Donates stuff to worthy causes and is always friendly with my kids and I. I direct people to his shop whenever I can.
Lukas / December 9, 2009 at 08:05 pm
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Do they buy chaotic cards there. Please reply.
Rebecca / January 31, 2010 at 06:48 pm
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I have been shopping here since I was eight years old (I'm turning twenty this year). I love Rob, he's not just a guy who sells me stuff but a friend, too. I love this store and try to buy everything I can here (before I try looking somewhere else)
matthew / February 27, 2010 at 04:40 pm
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do u buy yugiho cards.. plz respond
matthew / February 27, 2010 at 04:40 pm
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do u buy yugiho cards.. plz respond
Old Guy / March 5, 2010 at 02:27 pm
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Lukas and Matthew: Excalibur's phone number can be found underneath the map and on the storefront photo. Call Rob yourselves.
Will / March 21, 2010 at 03:19 am
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Terrific store. Terrific prices and deals. Terrific owner. I stopped playing yugioh for two years, came back a few months ago to start up again and Rob recognized and helped me out as if I never left as a customer at all.

Even my grade 10 history teacher grew up going to Excalibur.
??????????? / March 25, 2010 at 04:05 pm
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Do they have the duelist yugi booster box?
??????????? / March 25, 2010 at 04:06 pm
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do they have the duelist yugi booster box
??????????? / March 25, 2010 at 04:07 pm
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Do they hav the duelist pack yugi booster box
Harper / March 25, 2010 at 08:02 pm
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Nice place to pick up goodies and chat with a really really stellar owner. A sweet spot to pick up collectable and sports cards in Toronto. Has tons of stock including hard to find rookie cards and relic cards upstairs.
A1L1 / March 26, 2010 at 02:30 pm
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This was my go to place to satisfy comic fix, and drop all my allowance. Every week waiting for the new Tues or Wednes arrivals. Digging for back issue treasure or opening card foil packs. And Rob's a great guy to talk to, always a smile on his face.
Justin / July 1, 2010 at 08:35 pm
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how do i get there by bus i live in queens and dufferin
Mike / September 12, 2010 at 08:41 pm
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The last person asked how to get there. It's right outside Royal York subway station on the north west block of Bloor and Royal York. It's nestled in the Kingsway theatre, so don't blink. However, better hurry to visit the nicest comic guy in the world, because he's closing shop in a few weeks and a part of my childhood is dying because of it! He has a sale currently and he's possibly going to do orders without a storefront. Go by and say hey.
Steven / October 6, 2010 at 05:01 pm
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I was there a few days ago and noticed the liquidation sale as well. To the commenter Mike above (or anyone else who knows), do you know why/when hes closing? Is it permanent? Is there going to be a new owner? Whats going to be in the location now? I was just surprised that I heard it was closing...go there if you can, amazing little store!
Mike / October 6, 2010 at 07:26 pm
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He's closing on October 30th apparently. Nobody is picking up the business and the close is apparently permanent. Like I said, he is willing to do orders without a storefront, working from the upstairs or something, so you can pick up your orders once a month or something (call and ask for details I guess). You have to order in advance and pay that way too, but call and ask for details, as I don't know if his plans for this change are small-scale and favours, or if he's willing to do it regularly for anyone. 416 236 3553
Mike / October 6, 2010 at 07:42 pm
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By the way, my wife wanted me to add that he's amazing and a truly special guy because he helps out in his community by donating toys at Christmas time and for such a small shop he gave very generously, putting many big companies to shame in comparison! He made a lot of kids very happy, in and out of his shop.
As for why he is closing, apparently the market has changed significantly and a lot of what he sells is now downloadable. Yesterday's hot cards are tomorrow's bargain bin item I guess, and comics really weren't his bread-winners anymore.
ALEX / November 1, 2010 at 04:36 pm
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Rob is the best to bad hes closing up... hes my childhood...
Stefan / December 29, 2010 at 02:20 pm
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I'm pretty sure hes not closing anymore, I think he shut down the second floor to downsize expenses, and is liquidating most of his merchandise to make more room. I think hes just downsizing. It would be really sad to lose this store, cause its a nice hidden gem, and Rob truly is a wonderful guy.
Guy replying to a comment from ??????????? / April 17, 2011 at 09:01 pm
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dude they have like every card pack their and no one really buys their yugioh packs anymore
Guy / April 17, 2011 at 09:04 pm
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Excalibur is such a cool place. I was introduced to excalibur by my friend then like every week on friday after school we run to excalibur and buy comcis and his figures and btw most of his stuff is 50% off youll get good deals but he might close down
Bill / May 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm
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I've been going to Rob's (that's what I call the place) for over 20 years and have spent literally thousands of hours in his store. Rob has become a very dear friend over the years. The place would not have lasted this long had it not been for his friendly nature. He has a big heart and is one of a kind.
He's been talking about closing the doors for a long time and I've always called his bluff. This time however, the end may actually be near. It would truly be a sad day if/when that becomes reality.
Alas, all good things come to an end. I know Rob and I know his situation and unfortunately, he's doing himself more harm than good by staying open.
mike / June 22, 2011 at 07:45 pm
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i have some comic books and sport cards which i would like to sell they r from 1960-1990 and in a very good shape. if u r interested send me mail please.

thank u
mike
Brandon / July 11, 2011 at 04:05 am
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I was sad to see this shop closed it's doors when I drove by last week.
Alex / July 19, 2011 at 11:28 am
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It's not closed
For good is it?
Mike / July 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm
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Rob is still open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. His shop is now only on the second floor of the building. Visit often and spend your money!!!
kid / July 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm
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do they sell individual pokemon cards?
Alex / July 24, 2011 at 05:11 pm
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Does anyone have classic batman comics for sale?
Alex / July 27, 2011 at 06:43 pm
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Whats robs number upstairs?
Alex / July 27, 2011 at 07:49 pm
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Sorry stupid question it's the same
As before
Alex / September 25, 2011 at 02:48 pm
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Ya they sell individual pokemon cards
Dave McG / February 14, 2012 at 02:40 pm
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I love excalibur. I always grab my stuff there because Rob is probably the friendliest and kindest owner/shopkeeper (of any store)that I have ever met. Unfortunately I am away at school for most of the year, but whenever I'm back home I make sure to visit Excalibur!
bob replying to a comment from Mike / May 1, 2012 at 01:07 am
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cool
Neil / September 19, 2012 at 11:42 pm
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OMG there's Rob! "Rob my man!" I always said when I entered the store. He was my comic book guy and I shopped there all through the lean years and stayed faithful to my fave place in all of Etobicoke.
Shawn / December 27, 2012 at 01:04 am
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Just like all the comments above, I used to go to this store when I was a kid in the early 90's. The owner is so nice and patient. I used to call his store like 10 times a week asking him for the price guide value of certain cards and comics that I owned. Any other owner would have gotten really annoyed, as I can see now as an adult, how annoying it must have been for him to constantly be answering my phone calls. But he never once got angry, really nice man!!
I live in Dubai now and will most certainly go visit the store and re-live my childhood memories on my next trip back to Toronto!!
Dylan / September 10, 2013 at 09:26 pm
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Rob has the best comics and cards i basically go there after school any chance I get thanks rob
Tim / September 30, 2013 at 05:56 pm
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I live in California but hope to someday visit this place! Heard what a great guy the owner is!
Alex / January 14, 2014 at 12:45 am
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I highly recommend going to Excalibur. Rob is easily the nicest comic retailer I've ever met and one of the nicest people in general. He's open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Check it out, you won't regret it.
Andrew Leung / January 20, 2014 at 03:17 pm
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The best place to buy your card collectibles and comic books. Rob is truly one of the kindest and most caring individuals in the business.

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