Ultra Pop! on Barret Avenue brings Monster Toys to the Ville!

Local Business Profile: For the last seven years, Paul LePree’s punk rock toy shop, Ultra Pop!, has provided monster fans with imported vinyl and classic monster toys, local lowbrow art and designer t-shirts.

Greetings from the chilling, thrilling bone cold of January in the Ville, my monster friends, it’s the Phantom of Ville coming to you from Ultra Pop! at 960 Barret Avenue in the Highlands. Originally opened in July 2007 on Bardstown Road, this super cool mini emporium of eclectic monster culture has moved recently to its new digs on Barret Avenue with plans to expand its selection of monster toys in the near future.

I braved the icy conditions of the frozen Louisville landscape this week to talk to owner/operator, Paul LePree, about his inspiration for Ultra Pop and his plans for the future at the new location. Once a retail marketing manager for White Wolf Publishing where he worked in the role playing and collectible card game business, LePree also spent 10 years as a district manager for the mall based Goth culture and collectibles shop, Hot Topic.

“Originally, I’m from Florida,” says LePree, “but I lived for a few years in Atlanta before a job offer brought me to Louisville.”

“I was the district manager for Hot Topic in the region,” he continues. “I was overseeing 8 to 10 stores, and even though I was technically living in Louisville, I spent most of that 10 years on the road. Eventually, I started to get a bit road weary and tired of the corporate culture involved in doing that job, so I started dreaming about the idea of settling down in Louisville and opening my own store.”

“During the years I worked for Hot Topic, I would travel to the corporate headquarters in L.A. four or five times a year, and while I was there I discovered a store called Giant Robot that sold Japanese imported toys, art and pop culture collectibles. I also discovered the La Luz De Jesus lowbrow art gallery which operated a similar collectibles shop called Wacko.”

“Ultimately, all of these ideas sort of came together in Ultra Pop,” says LePree. “It’s a home for all the things I’ve always loved; art books, art design and toys.”

Since opening in July of 2007, Ultra Pop has curated at least 60 art shows featuring the work of local and even international artists with themes as varied as Star Wars, Godzilla and custom toys. Every Halloween Ultra Pop hosts its annual Halloween Art Show and each Valentine’s Day brings their infamous XXX Art Show which will be Ultra Pop’s next show on February 8th from 7PM till 10PM.

“Since moving to the Baxter Avenue location last May, I’ve seen a big decline in the sale of art books,” says LePree, “but this Christmas saw a spike in the sale of toys. The big trend right now is the popularity of blind box toys, and I’m planning to bulk up on my toy inventory this year.”

Blind box toys, for the uninitiated, are a collection of toys packaged in boxes without windows so that the buyer has no idea which figure he’s getting. Collectors often trade back and forth with each other to complete their sets of figures, and everyone hopes to find one of the rare “chase” figures which can sometimes bring big money on the secondary market.

Just yesterday, Ultra Pop received a shipment of Funko Horror Classics vinyl blind box toys which includes Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy, Chucky, Ghostface from “Scream,” Ash from “The Evil Dead” series, Hannibal Lector, Sam from “Trick ‘r Treat,” Pennywise the Clown from “It” and Captain Spaulding from “House of 1,000 Corpses.”

They also just received a shipment of “AlienRe-Action figures from Funko and Super 7 Toys that are based on a series of action figures that were designed and brought to prototype by Kenner Toys in 1979, but were never actually mass produced for fear of parental backlash of a toy line based on an R-rated horror film. They are made to resemble the Kenner “Star Wars” action figures from the same time, including very similar packaging and the same 3 and ½ to 4 inch scale.

If you’re looking for something monstrous to add to the collection in your own dungeons or castle bedrooms, whether it be monster toys, horrific art by local artists or even designer t-shirts, stop by Ultra Pop! on Barret Avenue. Be sure to say hello to Freddy, LePree’s dog, who works at the shop almost every day. Freddy has become so popular that he now has his own Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Freddy/132373595617 .

Stay tuned to the Louisville Halloween website. We’ve got a lot of exciting news and reviews coming your way soon.

The Phantom of The Ville

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