GIjOE fan and collector Bryan Tatum had just staked out a nice corner location in the Marriott Century Center hotel lobby for Joelanta 2012’s unofficial “Lobby Swap” event. Everything was neatly set up and he looked ready for some customers. As I approached, Bryan gave me a big smile and a friendly “Howzit, goin’?” greeting.
“Great,” I said. “How’re sales?”
“Oh, I just started, pretty good though,” he said.
Bryan, an elementary school guidance counselor, said he was mainly there to “enjoy the show with his friends” from the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club and that he hoped to sell off some of his “extras.” We talked for a few minutes while I carefully studied his Dragon Thunderbird Pilot, still new in the box. Our conversation went back and forth until it touched on the big “General” locomotive and other diorama displays due to be exhibited the next day.
“Hey, you need to meet Mike Gardner and Steve Bugg.” Tatum said. “They’re the guys who make the really big stuff.”
He crossed the lobby to find the two men and soon I was chatting with them as well. After a brief interview, I returned to Bryan’s “corner store” and purchased his Dragon Thunderbird pilot (have you SEEN the red flightsuit and helmet on that figure?). Suddenly, another question popped into my head. “I wonder what Mike and Steve do with those giant dioramas after the show? They’re too big to simply store in somebody’s garage.”
“Oh, I’ve got a warehouse. We store them in there. It’s over 5,000 square feet!” Tatum proudly declared.
“5,000 square feet? WOW. “That’s a lot of storage space,” I said. “Yup,” was his only reply.
“But what do you do with that much storage space?” I asked.
“Well, a couple of times each year, our club holds meetings out there and we’ll look around at all the dioramas and stuff, then we’ll make some burgers and just have fun!” Bryan answered.
I thought this was all so great. “What a relief,” I said, “to know that all those fantastic Gardner/Bugg dioramas are being stored in a secure facility. That is SO good to hear, seriously.”
“Yeah, our hope is that someday, we’ll be able to take out everything I’ve been storing and put it all in a museum honoring David Lane’s son, Cody. In fact, that’s the name we plan on using: The Cody Lane Memorial Toy and Diorama Museum.”
“Sounds like a winning plan, all around!” I said. Sincerely, our best wishes and thanks go out to Bryan and everyone in the Atlanta GIjOE club. We’re sure fans everywhere wholeheartedly support you in this worthwhile endeavour.