My irrational love for the Presidential Monsters figures- another Raging Nerdgasm moment

(Just a friendly reminder of where you are)

It wasn’t too long ago when I showed off the set of Presidential Monster figures I ordered just before I broke my shoulder earlier this year. Since then, they have quickly become one of my more favorite possessions as of late. Which is saying a lot to be honest because I don’t normally dig newer toys. I think  part of the fact they stuck with me so much is because they are a specialty item only available through limited markets. With secondary market prices on the rise and a piece I read on strangekidsclub.com , the desire for a set of these figures became a dire need and superseded just about everything I was actively hunting down at that very moment. Through a course of fortunate events, mostly because eBay prices were creeping out of my price range, I met a man who led me to his website where he sold complete sets for retail prices. He also happened to be the proprietor of Heroes in Action , the main website for the Presidential Monsters line.

(man, just watching this makes my shoulder hurt again)

To be honest, there is plenty of reasons why this line really struck a cord with me. Mainly I was stuck at home for the better part of a month in a brace and unable to reach my collection and these were the only things I could see on a regular basis without bugging my wife. When I feel bad, I like to surround myself with things that make me happy as I’m sure a few readers do too. I bought them at first for the novelty and figured eventually I’d probably flip them for a decent return since the value of a complete set was constantly on the rise. But getting to sit and study them for a lengthy amount of time, I grew to really appreciate the detail behind each figure. From the patterns on the cloth used for each figure to the scales, fur and rotting skin sculpted on the faces and hands; these were something of an unsung masterpiece in the toy world. Why doesn’t anyone sing the praises of these marvelous toys?

(I guess there was no need for this photo but I like it anyways)

The first set, some still available here, was comprised of 7 Mego-style figures on colorful, character specific cards complete with original artwork. I’m a really appreciative fan when it comes to packaging featuring character specific artwork, it’s the small details that can make me love or hate a series of figures. Not because I’m an asshole (because I am, let’s not forget that fact) but I think a figure should be just as eye catching in the package as it is out of it.

Zom-Bush (George W. Bush)

Everyone’s favorite former head of state parodied for the sometimes dead look on his face during press conferences. The torn and tattered clothing along with the really awesome undead paint scheme really drive it home to be one of my favorites from the line. They were even so nice as to pack in a single sheet Zom-Bush poster which was promptly hung up in our room shortly after receiving our set. I wonder if Bush got one of these or was even aware of it? Next time I know he’s coming to my town I’ll get him to autograph mine, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

The Ronmy (Ronald Regan)

This was one that I wasn’t sold on when I was buying the set. To be honest, I was gauging whether it was worth just buying the ones I want or buying the set outright and parting out the figures I didn’t want. To get the 4 I wanted cost the same amount as it would have to bought the whole set and I’m a sucker for getting more toys for my money. All in all, Ronmy was actually a decent figure. I love the fact they used the classic Mad Monster pajama like bodysuit to pull off the mummy bandaging effect. It makes for a really nice throwback to the classic figure lines that inspired this set.

Wolf Bill (Bill Clinton)

Here’s one I was considering not buying in the first place. I’ve never been much of a Wolf man fan unless it was Lon Chaney. I’m more of a Dracula and Frankenstein fan that and I get the joke they were making but I guess I was hoping for more of a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde sex fiend. I guess I’d go more high brow or maybe I just make jokes no one gets (I’m fairly sure it’s the latter). But, so far there’s a theme with these lat 3 figures I’ve touched base on, none of them have shoes. I do like the sculpting of the fur and how they captured the mid transformation wolf and man hybrid, making him hairy enough for people to get the reference but human enough to recognize hound dog Bill Clinton.

Phantom of the White House (John F. Kennedy)

Our first figure with shoes! Here’s another one I was really sold on till I got it in hand. That’s the problem with online exclusives, I’ve not bought pieces from sets and then seriously regretted it at a toy show when I get it in hand and really get to admire it. Where this figure impresses is the outfit; cape, vest, shoes and pants are really great quality. Also, the sculpt is a dead ringer for JFK without obscuring it for the Phantom joke they were going with. They did give him a tan / peach colored (I’m bad with describing colors) demon mask. I was kind of hoping they would go for something closer to the Red Death mask from Phantom of the Opera but I’m not too disappointed.

Monster from Watergate Lagoon (Richard Nixon)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Gillman, Swamp Monster, Fish Man; no matter what you call him he’s probably my favorite of all the classic monsters. Richard Nixon, Dick Nix, Tricky Dicky; no matter what you call him he’s probably my 3rd favorite president. Two great tastes that taste great together ( that sounded better in my head than it does in print but I’m going to go with it). I really like the head sculpt on this, the bloated gill man head with the predominant nose sells the toy for me. The added touches of webbed hands (molded into the iconic “I am not a crook” victory signs) and feet make this figure one of my top 4 favorite figures from the line.

Baracula (Barack H. Obama)

There is no denying how cool and funny this figure is. Love the man or hate the man, they captured the current Commander and Chief’s likeness and gave you probably the best costume of the line. I’m not sure is the current president can take a joke or not but I’d love to show him this figure if I had a chance. This figure does go for more as a single figure outside of a complete set and most places won’t sell you a Baracula unless you buy the other 6 figures. Truly one of the crowning achievements of the line and I suggest if you buy one figure from this series to seek him out.

Lincolnstein (Abraham Lincoln)

In this series, Lincolnstein and Baracula are just about neck-and-neck my favorites from the line. What an awesome figure. Great costuming complete with top hat and the sculpting is by far the best of the line. Little details like stitches and neckbolts are not neglected, overall the entire run hasn’t skipped on detail and value. Yet again, this is another figure most sellers won’t let you have outside of a complete set so he is another, at least in my opinion, got to have figure.

My only gripe with the series, and I hope the powers that be at Heroes in Action are listening (well, reading), is that to enjoy the figure outside the package you have to destroy the packaging I admire so much. I love what Gentle Giant Toys did with the Jumbo Vintage Star Wars figures and I think more companies should follow suit. Make the package into a semi-clamshell that can be carefully disassembled to display the figure whenever the consumer wishes while also give the owner the ability to put it back in the package and hang it on a wall with ease. Either way I really like the line overall, more so than I ever thought I would. For anyone who thought these figures are as cool as I think they are, they are available in  limited quantities through Heroes in Action, famous online retailers and eBay. I suggest you act quickly, another round of Presidential Monster mash ups are heading to online retailers sometime this year with more amazing concepts as Van Palin: the vampire hunter, Romney the Robot, Teddy the Yeti, Martian Van Buren and Jacksferatu.

(Martian Van Buren)

 

(I really want to know what’s up with the Yeti variant)

 

(I really like this on many levels)

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A Raging Nerdgasm/Real Toy Hunting moment – my greatest wants acquired

Wants are one of the many plagues of being a toy hunter or toy collector. They keep you up late at night, searching eBay and online forums for the trinkets you desire. They get you up early in the morning, sitting in the parking lot of your favorite local store waiting for them to open or driving to whatever flea market or yard sale on the weekends hoping that one man’s trash is your desired treasure. Every collector has them, a list of wants.  Sometimes they’re short and expensive, sometimes they’re long and equally expensive but one fact remains the same; whether the piece is taller than a small child (or Korean prostitute) or smaller than a quarter, it must be acquired and acquired at a good price. My list of wants is always evolving and changing. Some items are found and marked off the list, some still haven’t been found after many years of intensely hunting and they get cycled off the list (or at least pushed further to the end) and some pieces lose their luster after finally being found (and not bought).

Over the years I’ve become a more casual collector, I still actively hunt and it’s mighty apparent in our regular videos and other social media broadcasts but the hunts are anything but list centric. I buy what comes my way, whether it’s filling a hole in my collection or picking up something for a friend or to add to my growing list of trade/sale bait,  I’ll pick it up. I’ve been fortunate enough in my hunts to cross quite a few of my wants off the list. Some I paid fair value for, some I got for a steal and some I paid market value for. When I buy it at market value it’s mostly because I know the value of what I’m picking up and I’m not afraid to spend a few dollars to get what I want when I see it. It’s helped me form friendships with vendors who remember I didn’t dick around over the price of a certain item and it’s helped me get better deals in the future. Forming friendships with people you see and buy stuff from regularly does come in handy when they have something you really want and may not have all the money they are asking for it.

This is a list of my greatest wants that I’ve found over the years.

Radioactive Duke Nukum from Captain Planet and the Planeteers

He’s our hero, going to …..blah blah blah. Anyways, Captain Planet was cool but I always rooted for the bad guys in every show and movie. I hoped and dreamed that they’d beat the protagonist in one episode, but I was wishing against all odds and hundreds of years worth of writing cliches. I digress, Captain Planet had some of the best early 90’s bad guys since TMNT started going off into tangents I won’t even touch on in this blog. Hoggish Greedly, Mal, Commander Clash, Looten Plunder (one of my gaming handles), Verminous Skumm, Sly Sludge, Argos Bleak, Dr. Blight (OK, her name kind of sucks but hang with me), Stalker Slaughter and (of course) Duke Nukum.

Duke Nukum, not to be confused with the very misogynistic “hero” of the video game franchise Duke Nukem (I like the game, don’t get me wrong.), was by far the best villain of the show. A bad guy composed of radioactive material, voiced by Dean Stockwell and was often seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt and swim trunks; what’s not to love. The first released figure sucked bad, it’s only saving grace was that it glowed in the dark and I’m a sucker for that shit. The line tanked pretty hard, the cartoon lasted 5 years but all we got over the last few years was the United Colors of Bennington/Captain Planet. For a while I was sure the ol’ Captain was trying to do the Batman thing and make as many damned variants of the main character as feasibly possible! Luckily the line finally died and we were saved but not before the world got All American Captain Planet.

I was a grown man before I found out that some foreign market Captain Planet figures even existed. One of these was the Duke Nukum figure I wanted as a child. The European market apparently loved the crap out of the ol’ Captain and a few other figures got released over there that never saw time in American stores. Not even KB Toys/KB Outlet/KB Liquidators got these gems and once I found out they existed, I had to have one. Here’s the bad news, not every European seller likes doing business with American sellers. I came across 3 in a five year span where the seller was fairly adamant about not doing business with “overseas” buyers. In 2010 I finally got one from an eBay seller in England, loose and incomplete but all the electronics worked. I paid $23 for it shipped and got it 3 weeks later. Luckily with my short term memory, getting it was an awesome surprise.

Mint in box G1 Megatron

This was one of those things that was on my list but I never really pursued due to the fact the price was way out of my reach. For the money I could spend on this one piece, I could purchase and cross off 4 or more items from my wants list. I had a loose on in poor condition from my childhood, it was in much better condition when I got it. Come to think of it, this was my first toy trade I did. I traded a Masters of the Universe Talon Fighter for him and I couldn’t have been happier. Not sure where all the pieces went over the years and I know he ended up in the pool a few times so that explains the faded/washed out stickers.

This was a hell of a find. My wife and I were flea market hunting one morning and came across “one of those” collectibles stores. You know the ones I’m talking about, take the average eBay prices and add 20% sort of places. When someone has to look up eBay prices before they tell me the price of their stuff, I walk away. This is a flea market, and I know it’s not a free market, but if I wanted to pay eBay prices I wouldn’t have gotten my ass up this morning and gotten sweaty to pay you a small fortune for your stuff (I could have gotten PayPal points staying home too.). We were playing a game I like to play where I see if I can get a deal by stacking up a bunch of stuff to buy and I won pretty hard. It was actually a really good score; 3 carded Super Powers figures, 2 carded Thundercats figures, 2 carded TMNT figures, 2 boxed Ren & Stimpy dolls from Japan and 1 mint boxed Megatron. In the end I paid $250 for everything, roughly $25 a piece across the board which I was more than comfortable with. Since then the owner of that shop and me have become great friends and I’m on his short list of people he calls when good stuff comes in because I’m not shy about throwing money when I want something.

mint in package AHI bendy Dracula

This was another case of my wife and I being good people worked out for us. My wife and I had befriended a local vendor at the local flea market after making a few purchases. My wife being the organization queen that she is, asked if she could restructure and reorganize his shop due to the fact he said he was having a bad slump in sales and noticeable theft. Over the course of a month she helped transform the store from a dark and uninviting booth to a more open and friendlier looking place with the ability to track sales and bring theft to absolute zero. I helped him price his stock and gave advice I had learned over the years selling toys and collectibles.

Around the same time I had really enjoyed going through the pages and pages over at plaidstallions.com . So many awesome memories of crazy old rack toys and other awesome licensed and unlicensed paraphernalia; everything from Star Trek to movie monsters I had grown up with watching Dr. Paul Bearer’s Saturday afternoon monster movie mash. While cleaning and organizing his shop we uncovered some real jewels; Godzilla and other Japanese model kits, carded Mego figures and the real find, a mint in package AHI bendy Dracula. The card was bright and brilliant and the bubble was solid, attached and crystal clear unlike others I had seen. The AHI monsters, both the Mego style and bendies, had become a new favorite thing for me to research. I admit my personal collection is evolving to more higher end pieces like Hot Toys and import toys from overseas and really obscure toys from the 70s to late 80s. This sort of showed up at the right time but it wasn’t the right price.

Building friendships has really helped me out. Most vendors get familiar with what I buy for myself and what I might buy to resell/trade. I end up getting really great deals on the stuff that’s staying in my personal collection and I ended up getting the AHI Dracula for like 75% off of what it was marked. It was a huge success for myself and my collection, I wasn’t looking to get it for free by any means and the significant price break that was made in my favor turned the piece from highly desireable to absolutely irresistible. There’s something really cool about holding a toy in a perfect package that’s older than yourself.

Giant Inflatable Darth Vader /BK only store display

I know I blogged about this before so I won’t go into agonizing details about wanting and acquiring it but I will say it’s an awesome feeling when you have a giant inflatable Darth Vader rooftop display sitting in your living room for about a week.

Dune Sandworm by LJN

This piece may not be considered too rare but it was a really cool  find that the least likely of people found for me one day. I grew up toy hunting in flea markets, antique stores and yard sales with my mom and grandma most of my juvenile life. My dad was never really into collecting much of anything; he enjoyed things like yard work, fishing and being outdoors but for the most part being around a bunch of old junk was not what he wanted to do on his weekends. He dabbled in a few collectibles (Hot Wheels and Disney’s Goofy) but never really bought much of anything. I always figured he was trying to find a way to connect with me by taking part in what I enjoyed and I applauded the effort made nonetheless, he’s a good guy and did more for me than most father’s I knew did for their kids.

One day he joined my mom and I at the flea market, which was kind of surreal because it wasn’t his thing. The means to the end was he was looking for a specific tool and wanted to sift through the 3 used tool shops for the specific piece he needed. Needless to say it was a very boring trip, my dad was a little more tight with money than my mom was so I saw things but wasn’t allowed to buy any of it. I was never the kind of kid to throw a fit or have a tantrum but it’s like going to the park and being told you can’t get on the swing set, it sucked bad. I also was a strange kid, my parents would ask me what I wanted for birthdays or Christmas and I wanted things that couldn’t be readily found. This was 10 or more years before eBay was someone’s pipe dream, mostly I was given a cash allowance and told when going to collectible shows this was “insert holiday here” gift money so spend it wisely. Anyways, this trip to the flea market I wasn’t a happy camper. I even remember telling mom that next time dad wants to come with us I’ll stay home because it was boring and painful. Maybe I was being a brat but I was 8 years old.

We walked the entire flea market, my mom and I got tired of waiting for my dad to find what he was looking for so we took a seat in the food court area. To be honest we weren’t even sure what it was he was looking for but we both figured he needed to stop being cheap and just go to Home Depot and buy it new. I’ve gone to the flea market and not found jack and been happier. My mom bought me an ice cream and we continued to wait. My dad finally appeared with a really happy look on his face, said he has found the tool he was looking for and wanted to go home and finish a project. On the ride home I was promising myself an evening of sitting in front of the TV and playing Nintendo games to make up for such a craptastic time at one of my favorite places. When we got home and I got out of the backseat my dad handed me the bag with the tools in it and said, “I got something for you.”. I openned the bag and staring back at me was the Dune Sandworm. Even at 8 years old I had missed the Dune figures in the stores, they had hit and went to clearance really quick in my area. I didn’t care much about the figures but the Sandworm was cool and I was a big fan of the movie Beetlejuice but they didn’t make a movie accurate version from that film so this would have to do for now. I thought it was really cool  of my dad to make a really bad day awesome again, best of all he bragged how it was just sitting in a box of tools and cost him a buck. So he was able to be a hero and thrifty at the same time, two of his favorite things.

mint in package Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit by LJN

Who Framed Roger Rabbit toys were another thing that kind of past me by even though I was a huge fan of the movie. I had a movie poster, a t-shirt and a giant puffy sticker on my backpack but no figures surprisingly. Hell, even to this day I have a full set of carded WFRR Flexies (bendies) but only Roger and Eddie figures because they came in a collection of Super Powers figures I bought. I had always admired the Benny the Cab toy for many reasons. Firstly, it was cool that for such a small line they made a car for the figures to fit in. Second, Benny was my favorite supporting character from the movie. Third (and most painful), Benny the cab wasn’t available in the United States. This was a regular thing in the 90s, lines would die here in United States and what was left and made it to production would be dumped in Canada, Europe and elsewhere. Rambo, Dick Tracy, Re-Boot, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and many other lines dumped their tail enders in foriegn markets.

I had seen them in collectibles shops, toy shows, flea markets and eBay several times but never bought it. The price was always far more expensive than I was willing to pay and I just passed on them. The first time my wife and I went to the Sanford Flea World just north of Orlando we found a booth full of video games that had a small section for toys in the rear. These are my favorite types of stores to see, two of my favorite things in one place. Like going to the Classic Gaming Expo’s sales floor, so much fun all in one place! This booth was full of lots of carded 90s toys and nestled on a top shelf was a case fresh Benny the Cab for $20. I automatically went from being a browser to a buyer, piling handfuls of toys on the front cabinet next to the owner. Three bags of toys and a handful of cash later we both parted ways and I became a regular customer when I’m in the area.

boxed Snake Mountain playset from Mattel

I will start out by saying thrift stores aren’t what they use to be. In the late 80s and most of the 90s, some of my greatest finds were located at the University Thrift store here in Tampa. Vintage Star Wars figures and vehicles, carded TMNT toys and tons of He-Man stuff over the course of a decade. Then, the internet created an overnight bum rush on thrift stores nationwide taking the best of what was donated and putting it on eBay or other in-house auction sites. While I don’t mind the organization making as much money as they can for the chairties they support but it put a real downer on the stuff I was finding. Shortly after this, I pretty much exclusively switch to just flea market hunting to get my fix of vintage toys.

Like I said before, my mom was the real driving force behind me being a toy collector. She encouraged me to join her going to flea markets and thrift stores to find cool, older toys. One summer, the thrift store I mentioned above went through a major remodel. A major remodel meant the store was closed for 2 months and they had a stockpile of donations in reserve just waiting for openning day. The grand reopenning was the kind of thing you expect for something major. Free hot dogs and soda, clowns, balloon animals, door prizes and a crowd that would rival the openning of a new Ikea. Anyways the doors openned and I, all of about 9, made a mad dash for the toy department. Diving through clothing racks in the womens department to circumvent the stampede heading to the rear of the store where they had relocated the toy department.

When I got there, on the floor was a boxed Snake Mountain playset with a $7 price tag on it. I didn’t even dig further, I grabbed the box and ran to find my mom. Being 1992, Masters of the Universe was kind of a thing of the past; the New Adventures of He-Man was playing on TV but all MOTU toys had long since been clearanced in my area for the better part of 2 years. This was an awesome find and even cooler was getting it home to realise that it was still factory sealed on the inside. Fresh white instruction pamplhets, sticker sheets unused and still sealed bags full of parts. I was a very happy camper and this will always be one of my favorite toy hunting finds from my childhood.

Galoob / Glassite Dinosaucers

Dinosaucers, to me at least, was always one of those great toy mysteries until about 10 years ago. I had seen a handful of resin prototypes of both a 9 inch and 3 inch line, complete with vehicles and playsets and lenticular stickers, but had always figured they never made it past prototype stages. These resin hard copies ran roughly $300 a piece for the 9 inch series but who wants a resin? I want the real deal, a legit retail version. Many called me mad, saying no such thing existed in the known universe. All I had was rumors of a south american company known as Glassite had gotten the molds from Galoob and produced 5 of the 8 production prototypes for the Brazilian market. That day 10 years ago, Tom Khayos became an international toy hunter.

Brazil, land of Thundercats fans, sun, sand, pretty ladies and obscure toys that never saw a general release. I first purchased Ghengis Rex off of eBay in a heated battle which would probably be known as one of the first Dinosaucers to be auctioned on the site. I paid hansomely for the piece, over $150 plus $30 shipping. International shipping is something I try to avoid at all costs, sometimes it’s so steep that it could be as much as half again the cost of whatever you just bought. Such is the life of toy hunting though, spending money for bragging rights and whatnot.

Dinosaucer toys are like Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. My second Dinosaucer I actually travelled to Brazil on a vacation to do some toy hunting and found in a collector’s personal collection. This time I threw money around like toy game Ted DiBase, getting a Bonehead from Dinosaucers for $200 and a handful of other bootleg toys for another $100. I bought the bootleg toys on speculation / resale purposes to recoup my plane ticket and cost for my Dinosaucer. In the end after I tabulated the sales, I went to Brazil for a week (including rooming and food / entertainment ) and came back with a Dinosaucer for $200, total cost out of pocket.

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