Elkhart, Indiana, located just west of the Indiana/Ohio border, has quite a few museums in it. One is the RV Hall of Fame, the other Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum. The RV Hall of Fame makes sense, Indiana has a strong connection to the automotive industry, and Elkhart is the RV Capital of the World (there was even a motorcycle made there, called the “Elk.”) The comic book industry did not have that connection to Elkhart. Elkhart is like many other Midwestern towns, quietly nestled off of a major expressway that weaves through the heartland, but with a little more industry. So why here?
|Captain America’s shield, from Captain America: The First Avenger.|
The connection is a lifelong comic book fan, Allen Stewart. A real estate agent by trade, his collection spans over 70 years and features everything from rare issue #1 comics to the Shelby Cobra Ironman landed on in the first Ironman movie, and the motorcycle from the first Ghost Rider movie. There is even an annual comic book convention there. One of the things that make this collection so impressive is that up until a few months ago, it was literally located in his backyard.
I got the chance to visit The Hall of Heroes last year when it was still behind Mr. Stewart’s house. After a quick call to confirm its location (it was in a small row of homes that could almost be considered countryside.) I pulled into his driveway. Less then a minute later, I was greeted by him as he left his house. Once inside, I was greeted by comic books for sale, both new and old, and Captain America’s shield from the movie Captain America: The First Avenger. The first room was organized into the Silver and Golden Age of comics. It was hard to imagine how much more could be put on the shelves, as the walls were filled with countless items on display. There was even a small “Batcave” that housed, among other things Adam West’s personal Batman suit he used for appearances in the 70s and 80s, and the actual boots used in the classic 1960’s tv show. The second floor was stacked full of things, as well. On one of the shelves was a 1930’s wooden Superman action figure. Near that is the impressive, life-size Iron Man armor. There is even an old X-Men arcade game.
After going back downstairs, I headed to the only part of the building that wasn’t packed with rare comics and collectibles. In there is the Shelby Cobra from Iron Man and the Hell Cycle from the movie Ghost Rider. The Shelby Cobra actually came from Gas Monkey Garage, the famous custom car shop that is the focus of the reality tv show “Fast & Loud”, along with its owner Richard Rawlings. For a small donation, I was able to sit on both of them. In the case of the Shelby Cobra, I got to do several poses, including the iconic crash-landing pose. For my picture on the Hell Cycle, Mr. Stewart even plugged it in, causing the engine to glow; this was used to generate the effect in the movie. I bought a comic book describing the journey of the museum and got it autographed by Mr. Stewart. There are always new things being added to the Museum. Now that he is at a new location, there is much more space for everything. You can check out the website at https://hallofheroesmuseum.com/ or experience it in person at its new site: 1915 Cassopolis Street, Elkhart, IN 46514.I’m looking forward to seeing how much it has grown.
|The Author with the Shelby Cobra used in the first Iron Man film.|
|The Author on the Hell Cycle from the movie Ghost Rider.|