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Cartoon Culture

WB Studio Store blog


Remember how cool those Warner Bros. Studio Stores were – at least for the first ten years of their existence, before they went all Scooby Doo, Tweety and Taz, all the time?

Cartoonist Juan Ortiz (the man behind the brilliant retro Silver Comics line) was one of the staff artists creating the incredible merchandise sold in the Studio Stores of the 1990s. Ortiz has now started a new blog, The Warner Bros. Store Is Closed, with rare production artwork, product images and behind-the-scenes commentary.

(via Misce-Looney-ous)

  • I worked in the WB store in the Beverly Center in 99. It was a truly miserable experience. Not cuz of WB per se’, just cuz working in retail sucks. Still I’m not sorry the stores are gone.

  • I went to the WB stores in Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Omaha, plus I got the catalog fairly regularly.

    To be honest, the apparel I got from the WB stores was superior to the Disney Store…I bought a button down shirt with Looney Tunes characters on it that held up for several years, but the Disney store outfit I bought for my 2 year old niece shrank so bad that it fit her baby sister much better.

    I agree, though – the focus of the store changed and it wasn’t as much fun. You can only take so much Tweety.

  • Adam

    I still hate AOL for wiping out these stores in the blink of an eye.

  • Chappell

    The only thing I truly remember were the stations set up for kids, equipped with touch screens that allowed you to “paint” stills from WB cartoons. The kids went wild for it, but adults would sneak up whenever they could.

    That sort of interactivity was small, but certainly memorable. There was a recent article in the New York Times about the failure of stores to create engaging environments. Sometimes it’s simply those little things that keep people coming back.

  • Marc G.

    I had no idea these stores even existed. :(
    We only got the first Disney Store in the region around ten years ago, so I guess we’re out of the mainstream…

  • I actually got my start in animation thanks to a few years working at the Hanna-Barbera retail stores back in the day, so this definitely brings back some memories.

    Bonus points to anyone who actually ever saw one of the 3 H-B Stores.

  • George

    I adored this store, and miss is terribly. I worked for a company called eVoice when the stores were closing, and took more than a few long lunches to visit them one last time, and buy as much merchandise as I could (at some insane discounts!). The company eVoice was then bought out by AOL, and closed down, so as you can imagine, I dispise AOL, but who doesn’t anymore…

    I even worked at the WBSS in Pleasanton CA for one Holiday season, I believe it was 1998-99. I had to learn the name of every Pokemon, which was awful, but I was surrounded by Iron Giant merchandise, which was fantastic! I used to buy my watches exclusively from the WBSS, and still have many of them, including a Batman Animated Series one that I can’t bring myslef to wear, and a wallet that matches it.

    I’m excited that Juan is doing this blog, I enjoyed the Disney Store Blog very much (what are the details on that blog ending by the way?). I’m very much looking forward to posts about WB Store product, as they produced so much, I always missed something.

  • tom

    I emailed Juan about his Disney Store blog, and he said that he was hoping that it would come back in the next couple of weeks. If it didn’t by then it wasn’t going to come back at all. Blame the Disney suits for deciding that they had to approve all of his posts (that part was on his blog, not in the email). Yeah, you definitely need to keep a talented industrious creator from promoting your products. Idiots.

    Suits stink. Always the most expensive, most useless part of any institution.

  • Keith Bryant

    OHHHH!!!! How I miss the Warner Brothers stores!!!!!!!! We had a great one here in New Orleans as well as a few Disney Stores (when Disney Stores were still worth a damn!).

  • There used to be one in Roosevelt Field Mall here on Long Island. It was one of the “must stop stores” for me. It was cool at first, but after a while it deteriorated to nothing. It was a real shame to see it go the way it did.

    By the way, whatever happened to the Nickelodeon Store?

  • Chris S.

    Chris Battle, can you tell us more about the HB stores? Does the store attached to the Hanna-Barbera ride at Universal Studios in Orlando count as one of the 3?

  • Matthew Petersen

    WOW!! That picture looks like its of the WB store in Bayside Miami. I recognize the Sylvester in the Snorkel Gear from all the times I’d been there!

    I know I have seen people who grabbed those amazing sculptures of the Looney Tunes and DC Heroes after the stores closed, but I wonder how many were actually destroyed as per WBs request.

    I wanted the purchase the WILE E COYOTE sculpture at one of the stores down here but my friend who was a manager there said they had to break them. Oh well……

    I miss those stores!!

  • Stewie

    Gerald Levin and Steve Case, duo of business geniuses.

  • Jo

    Ahhh….the WBSS. Back when it had Animaniacs merchandise, I would literally spend hours there pawing through every shirt, ogling all the cels. I always wanted to visit the huge three-level one in New York where they had the Duck Dogers 3D experience, but I guess thats long gone by now.

  • Charlie

    Man, those stores were awesome. I was lucky to have one so close. I would have loved to visit the New York store…why? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?! WAHAHAHA!!! *snifffff* Am I allowed to cry on this blog?

  • J Maruyama

    I worked at the WB store for quite a few years. It was a great time – at the beginning. When the Hanna Barbera stuff started to trickle in it was the beginning of the end. Not that the merch. was bad. Some of it was quite good. But the philosophy of the stores, which were very expensive to run, started to change. But for a few good years they turned out some really nice stuff. Some of it I still have today.

  • Charlie,

    One of the coolest things about he New York store, which was the flagship store, was the second floor. suspended from the ceiling was a full scale Batwing! Every half hour or so, the lights would dim and the Batwing would lower, suspended by wires, and would sway from side to side while appearing to fly through the canyons of Gotham City, which was projected in front of it on a large screen. The Joker would then appear on the screen in that scene where the Batwing shoots at him. It was timed so that the guns on the suspended Batwing would appear to be actually shooting at the screen. Pretty cool, huh?

    If that wasn’t enough, the elevator had a Superman statue under it, and it would look like he was lifting the elevator, which you were able to see thanks to the see-through elevator shaft.

    A few years later, they added an actual working Bat-Signal that projected across the street on the side of Sacs 5th Avenue!

  • Maria

    When did the NY store close? I’m going to new york next month, with my little brother, and was so looking forward to showing him this store, and buying lots of powerpuff things for our sister, as I did last I was there. LOVED the WB store, when I lived in NY as au pair. My brother is pokemon fanatic, and had read all about the pokemon center in New York, but we found out, that that had just closed as well! :( -does anyone know if the nintendo store still have anything good??

  • the stores closed in 2001. sorry.

  • Andrew

    Every year I have to go to New York twice, I’ve been doing it since I was very young, and in my younger years one of the greatest things was going to the Warner Store on 5th. As a dude who adores DC I would just ride the elevator, imagining that Superman had my back. Often times in the holidays they had Gremlins set up in the escalators. I was also lucky enough to be there when they would decorate the stores for the release of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. They would go all out and have incredible displays in the windows. The more elaborate of the displays was by far Batman & Robin’s which included “frozen” people to reiterate that Mr. Freeze was in the film. There was also a ceiling painting of a sky scene and in the middle was very tiny, but brilliantly noticeable Superman. I miss this store like it were a part of me. I was disgusted when it closed and repulsed when it was turned into a louis vuitton. I still wonder whatever happened to that wonderful Superman Elevator sculpture.


    My wife worked part time at the Washington Square Portland Oregon WB store. She only earned about $200 there when they closed, but they let her take a full size Wile E Coyote, in a suit, sitting in a full size iron chair. He is collecting dust in the basement and I am wondering how to find the value of him to sell him.

    • jon

      did you ever find the value of the coyote in the chair

  • Tom Foiles

    The only thing I hate is Warner Bros. store closing. My wife and I loved to get Daffy Duck and Tazz merchandise.Now how can we? Plus the fun of visiting Warner Bros. store is over. Why can’t they come back? We would go there many times. Guess we should have bought all the Daffy Duck and Tazz merchandise the had before they closed. I vote to open a Warner Bros. store even if it is smaller then the big store.

  • Robert M.

    I have a Superman statue that they had on display at the store here in Orlando before they closed. Anyone know who made it or where I can get a price on it? It’s part of my collection and I just want to know the value of it.

  • I remember Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was at the Warner Bros. Studio Store when it was released to the movie theatres the same year Warner Bros. Studio Stores closed back in 2001. Also, the Warner Bros. Studio stores were closed due to cutbacks at that year.

  • ChazzytheArtist!

    I wish they reopened the store, so they can release more brands like Lord of the Rings, Cats & Dogs, New Batman, etc. And opening at new locations like Michigan, Japan, New York, California & Texas, And if the store still store as 2011 it will be it 20th Anniversary of the store. But until then let write a letter to WB of reopening the stores