Warner Bros Store, I Miss You

Yesterday, my last remnant of the amazing Warner Bros Stores was destroyed. 

In the late 90's, they were everywhere.  Malls in the US were rife with Warner Bros stores.  They were almost as ubiquitous and yet so much cooler than Spencer Gifts, as long as you weren't in the market for G-String based wall covering.  The best part for me, and most of you reading this, however, is that you could get so much DC hero based stuff there.  At a time when comics sales were uniformly sucking wind, I could go and buy a Kyle Rayner keychain.  They had museum prints of Alex Ross paintings, and original cell art from Batman the Animated series.  They had action figures and the simply wonderful DCU plushies.  They had all this stuff, not for reclusive nerds, but for any person who walked into the mall, and a million kids who were attracted to the blue and red of our favorite Kryptonian.  They had other stuff too, all about Warners' properties, like Looney Tunes and such, but we know what the actual draw was.  It was almost too good to be true.

Then again, as it turns out, it actually was.  In 2001, the Warner Bros. stores closed 150 locations, and laid off 3,800 employees, as well as abandoned the retail fantasies of thousands of DC fanboys. 

Of course, there were reasons.  For one thing, the market for Martian Manhunter plushies is exceedingly small.  For another thing, from the stores' opening in 1991, the prices were always relatively high.  The place banked on the notability of their properties, and a lot of people did a lot of browsing, but not so much actual buying.

But I bought stuff.  The best thing I ever got from the Warner Bros Store was a pair of pint glasses.  They were heavy, like real glasses.  They were something you would drink manly beer from, or whatever you wanted. But it was no chintsy piece of crap, like those Burger King Return of the Jedi glasses that didn't survive my childhood, no matter how good Lando might have looked on it. It was a good glass.  I had one with The Flash, and one with Green Lantern.  On one side, there was a simple classic logo, and on the other, a classic drawing. If the Green Lantern wasn't by Gil Kane, it was by one of his contemporaries.  The Flash was a Carmine Infantino.  It wasn't overloaded with graphics. It spoke of history and dignity, rather than the overblown rendering of comics from the 1990's.  They were as classy as DC hero pint glasses could be.

Six or seven years ago, my younger brother killed the Flash glass.  There was nothing to do about it.  When it was gone, it was gone. I still had Hal.  My good friend and partner Conor had a bigger collection than I did. Of all those, he's only got the Flash left.  That's because we used the glasses.  They were functional, begging to sipped from.

Actually, Conor loved that store.  The man keeps things.  He archives.  Those WB Stores were a wonderful place to him.  He's got a frame of us all from college in our dorky-as-shit superhero t-shirts all standing together, and the frame is laden with plastic versions of the DC animated heroes.  Then there was Ron's way-too-expensive-for-a-college-student Flash lithograph.  It was a good place is what I'm saying, and they had a lot of really cool things.


About a month ago, I lost my keys, and with them, the Kyle Rainer keychain I'd been carrying for over a decade.  The keys I had extras for, but the keychain was a real loss.  These things happen.  What can I do?

Then today, I heard a crash. It was a thundering shattering crash.  Seeing that my wife, baby, and dog were OK, my first words were, "That was Green Lantern wasn't it? It's OK, I'll clean it up."

I sent the picture out over Twitter, and there was an outpouring of solace and recognition. They knew.  They remembered.  Some even tried to help out with a replacement, like the garish and ugly things they make now, or even paying $60 for a collectible replacement.  Some said I shouldn't have used them.  But Hal Jordan was fearless, wasn't he?  You couldn't be trepidatious with his glass. It wouldn't be respectful.

The stores are gone, and their wonderful corporate merchandise with them, but I remember those days fondly.  I'd raise a glass to them, but obviously, that's not possible anymore. Mine broke.



  1. I feel for you Josh.  I had a bad-ass (or so it seemed for 15 yr old me) Superman pocketwatch I got from WB that did not survive the college experience.  Don’t think that I would use it any more, but I do miss having it….

  2. Man I loved the Warner Bros store, unfoutetly I never really got anything(I was like, 8 at the time….yeah I’m young) but I completely understand your feelings. the only example I can think of this happening to me was when my Groucho Marx bust(a small one, maybe the size of a fist) fell and split in two. I was able to fix it but you can still tell where the fissure is.

  3. Was it the Kyle Rayner six Flags key chain where he’s flying towards you? If so I have that keychain sir and I’m not attatched to it at all.

  4. Nope. But thanks.

  5. Is it lame that I got a little bit of a lump in my throat reading this?

  6. I remember loving that store as a kid, would love to go in one today.

  7. oh man i totally feel for you. I still have my 90s Michael Keaton era Batman logo mug from the WB store that is used several times a week for morning coffee. Talk about quality though, its survived 6 major moves! If anything ever happened to it…..bad times. 

    RIP to the WB store…that was a Mecca at my mall when i was a kid. I dreamed of making the big bucks so i could buy one of those Batman the Animated series cells.

    I still think they have some sort of WB type store on the Universal City Walk in LA but its not the same.  

  8. Oh nostalgia… in high school we spent a LOT of time at the Warner Bros store (mostly because it was next door to the Sharper Image, which we’d get kicked out of after 15 minutes). I vaguely remember a Wonder Woman pint glass that never made it home after my first year at college, and a pair of Gossomer (the big, red furry monster from Looney Tunes) slippers that are still in my closet.

  9. We lost our UK Warner Bros stores back around 2003. A great loss. 🙁

  10. I still have a giant Road Runner painting from the WB  store hanging in my bathroom. It is wicked.

  11. I remember when my mall got one as a kid.  The original cell art was amazing to me. Although, at the time, I wanted something with Gossamer just as much as Batman.  I loved him so.

    I didn’t even know they closed as I’m not much for malls, but oh how I could’ve used a j’onn j’onzz plushie during final crisis.

  12. I still have my Superman t shirt from the WB Studio Store from the Kenwood Mall.  It still gets worn regularly.

  13. Loved this article.

    That picture was perfect. Did you set it up at all or was that the true aftermath?

    You guys were talking the Marvel Mania store in Universal City California in the 250 podcast.

    I got a beer glass from there that is in a shape of some scientific container that I dont’ have the word for (a beaker?).

    I drink my Boddingtons from that glass.

  14. First and only time I got lost in the mall was at the WB store in Queens Center coming out of Marvin The Martian’s rocket on July 4th, 1997.  For a few, brief, glorious years there was a WB store and a KB Toys right next to each other across the street from my house.

  15. Ahh, how I remember the old WB store in Queens Center here in good old NYC and the many Looney Tunes cartoons they played on the big screen.  Picked up many Marvin the Martian dolls for my wife.  They indeed were very expensive though.

  16. I too have a cool Flash Lithograph my wife got me from teh WB store.  Where the hell could we get stuff like that now. It is not even as if Warners has a central Website with cool stuff : What a wasted market opportunity. Come on Geoff Johns: If you are all about SYNERGY and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, then bring back the Warner Bros Store online!


  17. Can I get a picture of Ron’s way too expensive for a college student flash lithograph?

  18. Man, do I miss that store. We bought a ton of DC stuff there. They had things nobody else has! I was so pissed when my then-3-year-old son kept taking the cold-cast Superman ornament off the Christmas tree and broke a foot off. I still have several of the ornaments, two JLA coffee cups, the plushies… Never could afford any of the artwork, which I regret to this day. Now I have the means but not the opportunity! (sounds like a murder trial) I used to flip through the art every time I was there. Crap.

    I shall pour some coffee from my JLA mug on the ground for my dead homie, the WB store.

  19. I don’t know what it was about the Flash glasses, but mine broke as well. I’ve still got Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Green Lantern to drink out of though. And my awesome Two-Face bookends. God, I miss that store.

  20. I shall wear a black (or green) armband in remembrance for your glass, sir.

  21. I still have a Batman coffee mug that I got there years ago. Not that I ever drink coffee though. Anyway, I also dearly miss the Warner Bros store, I loved going there unfortunately I was probably barely a teen when they closed up, I would imagine if they were around today I’d probably spending way too much money than I should on stuff from there.

  22. @Scorpion – Actual picture. No staging.

  23. Beautifully tragic.

  24. I still have my Buster Bunny I bought there and slept with for years.

  25. Ten years ago there were two WB stores in midtown Manhattan. One was two blocks from my job in Time Square and I spent many a lunch break there.

    At one point I had pint glasses for: Superman, Batman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, and The Flash. The only pint glass left is the only one too fast to break!

    I also had a Batman plushie. Totally disappeared. No idea what happened to it. One day it was just… gone. Also, I meant to get the Aquaman plushie to round out the Justice League set I was building. The day I went to buy it was the day I found out the big Times Square store was closed… for good.

  26. I too have a Green Lantern pint glass and one day i pulled it out of the dishwasher for some reason it had cracked. that was 3 years ago and its now a display piece. Last year my fiance(now ex) tried on more than one occasion to talk me into throwing it away because "its broken and what use is a broken glass?". Well she has moved on and gone but you know what? I still have my GL pint glass.

  27. Still have my Daffy Duck “I’m Rich!!!!” snowglobe sitting by my teevee. Wonderful craftsmanship.

  28. My only experience with one of these stores was walking one in the Casino in the middle of Melbourne and thinking "Hmm?" 

    As i was reading the article and thinking about any superhero stuff i own. i didn’t think i had that much but i do. Spiderman bed sheets are proberly the best thing. The LADIES love them…. i would imagine 

  29. I still have my triangular cloisonne Superman "S" symbol keychain that I got at a Warner Bros. store, and my main set of keys are on it.  The enamelwork fell out fairly quickly after I bagan using it, but the metal part endures.  I usually break keychains fairly quickly because the rings that hold the key ring usually break off, but my Superman keychain has a loop molded on to the tip of the symbol.

  30. you should try here…its definitely not the same, my friend, but its a small replacment. I do infact feel your pain. chin up.


  31. Man I loved that store! Every two weeks it was my first stop after work on payday. I’m happy to say I have almost every DCU plushie and concur to the indestructible nature of the Superman key chain. That damn metal must be from Krypton!

    My sweetie is a Tweety fan so I scored her a few nightgowns and panties. That was years ago. They’re all worn out now, and Irreplaceable. Same for my Man of Steel briefs.

    I was so upset the Times Square store closed, I did a little detective work. I figured that just because the stores closed, didn’t mean the merchandise was gone. After a few weeks of calls, I could tell the people at WB were tired of me. All of their leads led nowhere. Where’d all that stuff go? Shipped out of the country? Who knows?

    WBshop.com is OK, I guess. Got the Superman cufflinks by mail 3 months ago, but it’s not the same. *sniff*

  32. I do miss these stores. I just to get all kinds of Batman merch there. You could find anything Batman in there.

  33. Dude, the keychains from that store were amazing.  In highschool I bought a Superman one.  For our Photo class I took a black and white picture of it and the lines and shadows on it looked just majestic (yes, i am talking just a keychain, but it was awesome)

    Sadly I slipped in a puddle at a Toys R us several months after buying it and it must have broken off.  I just figured that he flew away to help someone in need.

     I tried for months to find that keychain again, and actually did find it on ebay after countless searches and dropped 25$ on it without a second thought.

     Sadly, again, I dropped my keys in about 12 inches of snow in the dead of night last winter and The Man Of Steel was gone again.  Countless ebay and google search have turned up nothing to this point.


    So bro….I feel your pain.