MATT MURPHY, Owner of Hobby Bunker on Albion Street


WAKEFIELD—Anyone driving or walking past Hobby Bunker on Albion Street might think it is an ordinary business that sells ordinary products. But a peek inside the toy and hobby store reveals much more than that.

What the store’s owner and operator Matt Murphy sells is nothing short of extraordinary. Not only does he sell fantasy and historical games, model kits, toy soldiers and many other products, he keeps his store open late on Thursday nights for people who love to play games like Warhammer 40K and Magic the Gathering. Saturdays and Sundays also draw people in to play the games sold there.

It’s all in a day’s work or, in Murphy’s case, a day’s play.

In this season of uncertainty, it takes a lot of confidence and smarts to operate a business and stay ahead of the competition. Relocating a store can be a gargantuan task. But that’s exactly what Murphy did in March 2021 when he learned that the building in Malden where his store was previously located was going to be developed.

For more than 20 years, Murphy’s business had been a staple in Malden Square, but he knew his time there was limited. He looked for a new location in Malden and surrounding towns, but he said it was tough to find an affordable space that fit his needs since he not only sells products in-store but also by mail order.

Murphy said he had always wanted to own his own building and by 2008 he was ready to make a purchase. But then the economy crashed. In 2014, he was ready again, but family matters got in the way. Finally, in January 2021 he took the plunge and bought the building at 103 Albion St. Last March, he closed his Malden store to the public and shut down his mail order business for several days. Then, on April 3, he opened the Wakefield store. He now has 2,000 square feet of gaming tables available during business hours and several thousand feet of warehouse space filled with everything a hobbyist and gamer could ever want.

“It was quite a task and done in a short period of time,” said Murphy, adding that local businesses helped his relocation in significant ways, including Tarpey Insurance Group, Inc., Boardwalk Real Estate Corporation and A.P. Doyle Relocation, LLC Moving & Storage Company. “I try to use all local businesses for whatever I need,” he said.

Murphy’s father William “Bill” Murphy once owned Excalibur Hobbies, located first in Arlington and then Malden, and the younger Murphy followed in his father’s footsteps when he opened Hobby Bunker in 1998.

“I guess it (hobbies and games) was in my blood and I wanted to use my degree in business management from the University of Massachusetts,” he said. “Early on it was tough, but I slowly built it up to be a great business.”

His specialties include table-top miniatures for various games like Star Wars and others previously mentioned. He also sells collectible card games such as Pokemon, unassembled and unpainted kits, books and magazines, scenery and dioramas and much more.

As it is when purchasing a home, location is extremely important to a business’s success. Murphy’s new location on Albion Street is close to where Triple A Hobby Shop was once located, and this has helped boost sales. In addition to games, his vast array of products keep people coming in on a regular basis. His mail order business specializes in metal and plastic toy soldiers imported from all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and China.

Though his customers are mostly males from age 7 to 77, women who play games, paint miniatures and work on models also come to Hobby Bunker. Some collect intricately designed toy soldiers, just as Murphy himself has for the past 40 years.

“For the most part, models, games and toy soldiers have been around for decades and beyond,” he said. “They keep evolving. The detail, sculpting, painting and even the paints have gotten unreal. There really isn’t anything you can’t get these day. If you compare a miniature from now to five, 10 or 30 years ago, it’s really like night and day. Artists and makers just keep pushing each other to get better.”

Murphy stays ahead of the competition, which includes Walmart and E-Bay, by mining his creativity and keeping his nose to the grindstone. He also has an added quality that others might not—knowledge.

“People can place orders online, but can the online stores offer painting advice or help choose the best tools for a model?” he posited.

Murphy’s business acumen has resulted in brisk sales and many customers following him from Malden to Wakefield. Brand new customers have found their way to his Albion Street store, too.

“Last year was insane for a few months,” he said. “Mail order skyrocketed, and I never took one minute off. I was very happy with our December sales.” He advises hobbyists and gamers to read the Daily Item. “You never know when you may see a coupon for Hobby Bunker,” he said.

Matthew “Matt” Murphy, 47, grew up in Melrose near the Wakefield line. A Wakefield resident since 2008, he is a single father with three children. His daughter is a college student, and his two sons are students at Wakefield Memorial High School and the Galvin Middle School. He currently employs three full-time and a few part-time workers. Several volunteer retirees are also on hand to help out in the store. For more information, visit or call 781-321-8855.