Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very WhoNA Xmas

This past weekend my nephews and I paid a special visit to WhoNA in Indianapolis, Indiana.

WhoNA, which stands for Who North America, is an online store specializing (almost) exclusively in Doctor Who merchandise. How a store devoted to such a British institution popped up in the corn, basketball and meth capital of the world, I have no idea.

It's run by Keith and Jany Bradbury, who are two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Their customer service is amazing, especially in this day and age of surly clerks and uncaring companies. I've ordered many, many, MANY items from WhoNA and am consistently surprised at their level of customer service. I've never had any issues with them and my packages usually arrive within two days. Other online businesses could learn a lesson or two from them (I'm lookin' at you, Amazon and Mattel!). I know, I sound like a commercial, but it's a really cool place.

Because it's primarily an online store, they're normally not open to the public. However, if you call and ask nicely, they'll usually let you come in and shop in their warehouse. Now that's my kind of store: one where you have to make an appointment and are the only one there!

This past weekend WhoNA hosted their First Annual Customer Appreciation/Xmas Bash. It was a chance to visit the facility, meet up with other Doctor Who fans, eat some donuts and do some shopping.

I picked up my nephews Kyle and Aaron (who due to my subversion have become big Doctor Who fans) and with many a cry of "Allons-y" and "Geronimo" we headed for Indy.

Here we are outside of WhoNA. Who would ever guess that behind this unassuming store front in the middle of a nondescript industrial park lies a veritable Doctor Who Wonderland?

As we went inside, we were greeted by Jany, decked out in a bright red Xmas sweater. She asked my name and when I told her she nodded thoughtfully and said, "I recognize that name. We send a lot of packages to your house!" On the one hand I was flattered she remembered me. On the other hand, that's probably not good news for my poor old wallet.

We'd been to their old location about three years ago, but they've since moved to new and larger digs. The new location features the front lobby, a viewing room complete with a projection TV (which shows Doctor Who episodes, of course), a showroom featuring Keith's personal collection of Who memorabilia, a packing/shipping room, a gaming room, and of course the warehouse.

The centerpiece of the store may just be the full sized TARDIS. That's Aaron standing in front of it. Looks like he'd rather be anywhere else in the world, doesn't he? That's how he looks in every photo ever taken of him, regardless of how much fun he's having.

It's a pretty impressive replica of a TARDIS, complete with flashing light on top. It even played takeoff, landing and console sounds.

Here's a shot of Aaron and me in front of the TARDIS.

There were actually quite a few people in attendance there, many of them dressed as characters from the show. There were at least two Eleventh Doctors, a couple of Tenth Doctors and one Ninth Doctor. There was even a Captain Jack and an Amy Pond. We decided I had inadvertently dressed asRory Williams.

Here we are trying to break into the TARDIS, but unfortunately it was locked. You can't tell it here, but it's not really an actual four-sided prop. Keith built it a year or two ago to take to comic and gaming conventions. Two sides of it look like the TARDIS, while the back two sides are full of shelves and pegs to hold merchandise.

Here we are in our "action poses." I couldn't be more proud of this photo.

Here's Kyle in front of the TARDIS.

Kyle apparently forgot his TARDIS key.

And one more Rory action pose. I hope no prospective employers see this.

Here's some shots of the large warehouse at the back of the store. As you can see, the BBC is riding the Doctor Who gravy train pretty hard right now, pumping out an incredible and surprising amount of merchandise.

This may very well be the world's neatest, cleanest and most organized warehouse! Seriously, you could eat off of that floor!

Need a Dalek? They've got 'em. I was going to buy one of those black Cybermen there, but I couldn't remember if I already had one or not. That's generally a sign that you have too big a collection; when you can't remember what you have and haven't bought.

In addition to action figures, pretty much every Doctor Who DVD is available at WhoNA.

These masks were sitting around the top of the warehouse shelves. I think they're display pieces and not for sale. At the left is Davros, creator of the Daleks, and in the center is a Silurian.

 At left is a Zygon, then K-9, the Doctor's robot dog, and Davros again.

 The ball at left is an Ood orb (we think), then a Dalek.

This was an inflatable Dalek that you can actually ride around in (well, if you're a kid) and was for sale. Next to it is some kind of TARDIS vinyl playhouse deal (I think).

This is Aaron thoughtfully contemplating his purchase choices. He had 30 dollars to spend and was weighing his action figure options very carefully in order to get the most bang for his buck. That's my other nephew Kyle behind him, trying to lift his shopping basket.

Here's a piece of Cyberman wall art just outside the warehouse. I can't tell who's more emotionless, the metallic Cybermen or Aaron! Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I'm here all week!

Even the bathroom at WhoNA has a Doctor Who theme. The walls were adorned with autographed photos of various actors from the show.

Here's Kyle in the showroom. It appears that they've got one sample of everything they've ever sold in the store in here. It looks not unlike my own house.

Look at that! I don't know what he's pointing at, but Kyle wants to make sure I see it.

"Hmm. How can we break into this case without making any noise? Quick, Aaron, give me your glass cutter!"

In addition to new merchandise, the showroom also contains Keith's impressive collection of old school Doctor Who merchandise. Not for sale, of course!

The showroom also features an authentic Doctor Who pinball machine, which is a favorite of Aaron's. Who'd have thought a kid from his generation would be such a pinball wizard?

There's the Doctor's enemy The Master sneering at you on the bottom of the pinball game.

I love how the art on the pinball game tries to depict the various Doctors (up to #7) as kick-ass action heroes.

There's a crocheted Fifth Doctor hanging out in the showroom.

Along with a crocheted Master.

 You've got to watch your head at WhoNA.

I took some more shots of the TARDIS after the crowd thinned out a bit.

I figured the TARDIS' instruction sign was probably just a sticker but upon closer inspection I saw that it's a real metal plate, complete with engraved lettering. That was no doubt expensive!

Here's the other side of the TARDIS, which is actually a display case for merchandise.

We shopped the warehouse to within an inch of its life, paid for our stuff and headed for home. If you're a Doctor Who fan and are ever in the Indianapolis area, give WhoNA a call and arrange a visit. You'll be glad you did!


  1. wow, wicked cool, absolutly love the Dr Who pineball photes, spent many hours, too many, of my college years at Michigan State playing the one at Pinball Pete's in E Lansing...

  2. @Xandines: Wish you could go there too! France is probably a bit far away from Indiana for a road trip though!

    @Anonymous: I didn't know anyone ever made a Doctor Who pinball machine until I saw the one at WhoNA.

    @Joe B. Thanks!

  3. I had no idea there was so much awesome in the universe. I'll never make it to the warehouse -- but I'm going to put some serious orders on their website!

  4. I had no idea there was so much awesome in the universe. I'll never make it to the warehouse -- but I'm going to put some serious orders on their website!

  5. @Dr. OTR: It is indeed an awesome place! Like a Doctor Who theme park or museum.

  6. METH... come on, why sink to such a low-blow joke?


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