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Stuff I Consider Bullshit: The Toy Hunter show

I think all of my toy collecting and toy dealing career I’ve wanted to see a show revolving around my world. The characters, the interactions, the friendships, the enemies, the conventions and everything in between is a prime breeding ground for a hell of a show. Closest they got in the last 2 decades was Storage Wars and the assorted pawn shop shows, it’s relatable but not as close as I’d like. They made one step closer to making good on my wildest dreams with Comic Book Men, but I have to say it falls flat of being a viable show to keep my interests outside of a couple of random 10 minute viewings. I hate to say it but without Kevin Smith’s name attached to it the show would have fallen flat before the end of the first season. Then the light at the end of the tunnel, a show that would finally accomplish what other’s couldn’t (especially in this land of reality TV); Toy Hunter.

(and this is supposed to be the representative to my world?)

While at first I was excited to hear about it but certain things just didn’t bode well for the show. I will admit I might be a hard person to please but doing what I’ve done for as long as I’ve done it, I’m their hardest sell in the market. The host is the owner of Hollywood Heroes, Jordan Hemborough. Jordan is a travelling toy dealer who I hadn’t really heard of before 2008 and someone who should seriously put a little money into updating the company’s website. The premise revolved around him and his assistant collecting an assortment of toys and collectibles to sell at upcoming shows. The premise is dry and predictable, the buying scenarios are set ups which is fine because it’s not really reality TV and the finds (while they are astounding) are not really followed up by much of any background on the treasures he finds. So the show is barely a surface representation of what makes the hobby as interesting as it is. The star of the show I’ve met on two occasions, I can’t say much about him that would be fit to print; I’ll just say I’m not a fan of him on a personal or professional level and leave it at that.

(yeah, don’t handle them by the bubble you f*cking savage)

I could go into great detail on how I would improve the show or how I would pitch a show of my own for network TV but I’d hate to see my ideas used without credit. I’m a writer by trade and profession and have seen my work plagiarized enough in one lifetime. While the Toy Hunter show has a good skeleton but it could use a different flair. The hosts/stars are boring, there’s no explanation to the average “joe” why these treasures are so desirable, the buying / hunting scenarios are set ups (and not very good ones at that) and the constant chase for money (while it is a motivation to do what we do) makes the show just kind of dry. There’s no appreciation for the “how” and the “why”, it’s just assumed people know why it’s rare and how much it’s worth. I feel the money chasing aspect of the show alone has greatly damaged the fun of toy collecting.

(I now understand why Elvis shot his TV)

via Blogger http://ragingnerdgasm.blogspot.com/2013/12/stuff-i-consider-bullshit-toy-hunter.html

My irrational love for Count Duckula – A Raging Nerdgasm Moment

 

(a brand you can trust)

I have, what I will describe as, an irrational love for “things”. I get hung up on stupid things, it’s one of my admitted shortcomings. I make lists of these things; toys, cartoons, video games, restaurants, hamburgers, ways to prepare macaroni and cheese, costumed Disney characters, etc. These lists go on and on forever, I probably have some form of obsessive compulsive disorder if you analyze it hard enough. If I was to compile a list of cartoons I love irrationally, Count Duckula is probably near the top for sure. Granted, the cartoon doesn’t exactly hold up well against re-watching it now that I’m an adult but honestly which cartoons do? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is hard to watch (even harder to watch without making a few “gay” jokes to pass the time), Thundercats is pretty much a snore-fest (I swear the lady voicing Cheatara was smoking blunts in between takes) and C.O.P.S, (for as great a concept as it was) seems exceedingly childish when watching it as an adult. Believe me I know these cartoons are made for kids but they seemed so amazing when I was younger. So their mission was accomplished at least, they were entertaining. Not every cartoon can have the staying power of Batman: The Animated series, Pinky and the Brain, Gargoyles, Animaniacs or even Darkwing Duck/DuckTales (I count them as one continuity, but I’ll explain that in another blog). Without further lamenting over ancient cartoons, I give you my irrational love for Count Duckula.

(That is one epic intro)

Count Duckula was a British cartoon that made it’s way into American homes care of the fine folks at Nickelodeon. This was far before NickToons was established and the channel got a lot of it’s programming from secondary sources outside the USA (You Can’t Do That On Television was Canadian). The first time I saw it was when it debut on the channel back in the late 80s and I couldn’t have been more than 7 at the time. I was already a strange little kid, trading playtime outside with other kids on Saturday morning and afternoon for watching network TV cartoon programming blocks and Dr Paul Bearer’s Saturday afternoon Creature Feature or trading birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese for getting massive hauls of video games and toys instead (a $200 birthday party equals a lot of loot, especially when you get to do the shopping). A cartoon about an animated vampire duck was totally up my alley in a big way.

(that’s a hell of a family)

The cartoon starts off dark and eerie with a gloomy castle, a lightning storm, a pentagram and a deep voiced narrator. Oh yeah, it’s getting really good now. The explanation of the character thickens as they go on to saying that he’s been killed several times in the past and can only be resurrected once every 100 years while the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius. This is awesome for me because even as a little kid I knew the references they were making to the Hammer Horror films. Ketchup accidentally gets substituted for the blood needed for the incantation to go correct and out springs Count Duckula the 17th……the world’s first and only vegetarian vampire duck? Needless to say I was confused but still engaged and interested enough to keep watching.

(Duckula as seen on Danger Mouse)

The good count made his first appearance in the Danger Mouse cartoon as a reoccurring bad guy. They make a correlation between the appearances in the Count Duckula cartoon by having him wear Danger Mouse pajamas. It’s said that every time the count is resurrected he has no memory of his previous lives and no preset disposition (besides the blood sucking thing but CD the 17th breaks that mold). They compliment the character by giving him a stereotypical gothic butler who is rather disappointed in him not being a vampire and an oafish hulk of a nanny who’s certainly stronger than she is smarter. Even the antagonists give more throwbacks to classic horror such as Dr Von Goosewing, a send off to the classic vampire hunter Van Helsing. The Count also doesn’t suffer from the Dracula cliches like being deathly allergic to sunlight. I never count the whole steak to the heart thing because I haven’t met a person on this planet that can withstand that wound. The show is entertaining and does a decent job of spoofing classic Dracula lore and hit me at an influential time where that love for classic horror needed to be fed in a particular way.

(not the signed copy, it’s in storage at the moment)

As for feeding my irrational love for the cartoon, I have done well if I say so myself. I have a t-shirt with the cartoon logo on it and the entire series on DVD and digital download. I have the entire comic book run with 2 copies of the Geraldo Rivera issue, one signed by Geraldo himself about 4 years ago when I sent him two copies and graciously asked him to sign one in return. I’m fairly certain I can  recite the theme song from beginning to end (I’m less proud of that now that I’m reading it typed out). Recently, while trying to feed my need for another piece of Count Duckula memorabilia, I lost an auction for a bootleg articulated figure from Argentina made exclusively for the South American market. That was a sad day but there’s never just one of anything in the world. I set my sights on eBay but little did I know where my next fix for Count Duckula was coming from.

(the spoils of the hunt)

And my most recent addition to feed my addiction was licensed Count Duckula figurines from a defunct company called Star Toys of Spain. Star Toys made licensed toys for the European market like figurines for the likes of the WWF, they also made highly desirable 14 inch WWF figures with tons of accessories and rooted hair like a doll. I had seen the gamut of Count Duckula related merchandise and never been impressed enough to buy any of it. T-shirts I can make at home with iron on transfers, mousepads are silly keepsakes and I can’t bring myself to buy a Count Duckula costume; I’m way too fat to even attempt it as a joke. I knew that one day I’d come across something worth buying. And hopefully that day would come before I was forced by my irrational admiration for the series to buy something silly, forcing my hand in the name of fandom to spend money against my better judgement.

I’m glad my wife found these while hunting at the local flea market. Buying things online is tough when you aren’t familiar with the product. For all I know these could be complete garbage and not worth the time or money to import ( older European toys rarely show up at conventions or shops and worldwide shipping is the bane of my existence). My wife saw them in a flea market booth weeks ago hiding in a rotating jewelry case full of other figurines. 2 of the Count and 1 of Dr Von Goosewing, I normally don’t buy variants of main characters but with a great collection comes great responsibility to buy everything you see. Luckily the booth owner was someone we have bought things from in the past so she took pity on me and gave me a decent enough price break considering the rarity of the items in question.

The standing Count Duckula is probably my number one favorite out of the three I purchased. As for likeness he gets a strong A+. The paint job is a little chalky looking and at first I thought it was an eraser but it really does match the cell shaded, unremastered glory that is the original source material. It’s like both the figure and the cartoon gracefully aged together. I’d even consider using this as a birthday cake topper for myself in the near future I like it so much. Don’t question my logic here…….

 

The guitar playing Count Duckula is probably my least favorite of the three I purchased. He was the one where I reasoned with myself about already buying two figurines and even though it
was a variant of the main character, when would I see this again in my hand. Once again irrational love wins over logic and it cost me another $8.

 

Dr Von Goosewing was an excellent addition to the score. Totally my second favorite of all three, usually you see Igor the butler or Nanny online but I haven’t seen Goosewing while I’ve been hunting. The sculpt is great, they nailed everything from his spats to the crosshairs on his gun ( a blunderbuss!) . An exciting find and a total win for my collection. My wife has a very keen eye and without it I’d still have a need to add these to my collection.

 

via Blogger http://ragingnerdgasm.blogspot.com/2013/06/my-irrational-love-for-count-duckula.html

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.

via Blogger http://ragingnerdgasm.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-raging-nerdgasmreal-toy-hunting.html

A Raging Nerdgasm moment- Real Toy Hunting

As most everyone knows, we here at Raging Nerdgasm enjoy a hunt flea market hunt. We’ve spent untold fortunes buying some of the coolest stuff we’ve ever seen, and continue to do it every weekend. It’s a fun hobby, a source of entertainment and fairly decent excessive but our hunts come across a lot of the same items over and over again. It’s not a every so often coincidence, it’s an every week reminder that you have to dig through some worthless garbage to find gold. My wife and I were talking after one hunt about the toys we get tired of seeing at flea markets. The stuff that never sells and the vendors just don’t have the nerve to clearance them out. Because there’s only one thing worse than junk and that’s overpriced worthless junk. So I, Tom Khayos, bring you the top five things we get tired of seeing at flea markets and wish people would just get over it and donate them to charity or at least set them on fire.

Number five – Star Wars figures: Power of the Force circa 1996-1998 and anything to do with the prequels 1999-2006

Once upon a time, I was a huge Star Wars collector. Before I was 15 I had almost every vintage Kenner Star Wars figure and all the important vehicles. I hung Tie Fighters, X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, the Millennium Falcon and an Imperial Shuttle from my bedroom ceiling. Then came the resurgence of Star Wars figures starting with Hasbro’s Power of the Force figures in 1996 and sure, the likenesses were way off and the weapons were ridiculously out of scale, but I bought every one of them. I bought two of each to be perfectly honest, one to open and one to keep carded in hopes of them being worth something like the original figures. Those red and green cards decorated my walls and surely kept my virginity in tact for most of my middle school to early high school life. Long saber Lukes, half circle Boba Fetts and variants with and without the holographic sticker; I owned them all.

(Once upon a time, this was a king’s ransom in Star Wars figures, now it’s trash.)

I continued to collect and slowly but surely cycled the more unsightly figures into boxes under my bed to make way for the latest update of Han, Chewy, Luke and Leia. The carded POTF figures found their way into a comic book long box and into the bottom of my closet to make way for what I considered my of fame of rare variants and other hard to find figures. Many years later I collected all the prequel figures too, all with a buyer’s remorse that peaked the day Episode III figures hit the shelves. Waiting in line at Target, I had what drunks call “a moment of clarity” and abandoned my basket with roughly $300 worth of figures and vehicles. This prompted me to go home and painstakingly dismantle my modern Star Wars collection to a great degree.

First I got rid of the POTF figures, then swept through all the prequel figures and reissued ships and decided it was time to sell. I kept only a few aliens and fringe characters I really liked but the rest I spent what seemed like four years trying to sell. The carded ones just look like old junk in comparison to newer and sleeker Vintage Collection (VOC) figures and were the hardest to sell through. I noticed that while I couldn’t sell a carded figure for $1, I sold loose complete/near complete figures for $3 or 2 / $5. In the end I opened four dozen figures and put them in baggies and made even more money than I had hoped for but still in the end I still have some dregs that I literally can’t give away and I’ve tried. I also used the proofs of purchase to send off for the last couple of mail away figures and made decent money on those too.

Every one of our hunts, we come across the token box or two full of red and green carded POTF and prequel figures. While people may argue that there are still some figures that bring in good money still, those are few and far between and their ranks are dwindling fast. The popular price in the markets seem to be anywhere between $5 to $7 per figure, with various incentives to buy more and save. I find myself digging through these bins regardless, hoping for a treasure to be somewhere beneath the Boss Nass(es), Ric Olies and modern Yak Faces. I always come up empty handed, like a kid that goes Trick or Treating before sundown, but I still dig. The way people hang onto these figures is almost incomprehensible, they will never be worth what the original figures bring. Even if you hold onto them for another twenty years they won’t be worth anymore, not as long as they are still making new Star Wars figures. The original ones weren’t made in huge numbers, there was no such thing really as a secondary market and the line went dormant for 25 years. Hasbro has no intentions of mothballing Star Wars production, while it may be one of their most costly licenses to renew, it’s still their most recognisable and desired product they produce ( I know they make GI Joe and Transformers but Star Wars has outsold both of those lines consistently across several continents.).

(Not worth the paper it’s printed on)

Anyways, POTF and prequel Star Wars figures are something I wish I saw less of or at least if I saw it I wish they were way cheaper so they’d disappear permanently. If I ran a convention, I’d outlaw them from the sales floor or offer a bounty for them if you donated them to Toys for Tots, like free admission or a coupon for a hot dog or something.

Number four – Spawn figures: series one through nineteen

(This is like 1/60th of what I see every weekend.)

Todd McFarlane revolutionized the toy world and toy hunting. Before him, when did we use the words “chase figure” or “variant”? Also the level of detail committed to each piece was a thing of beauty, I know because I collected these too. My room growing up was predominantly Spawn and Star Wars; the rebellion and the empire on one side and serial killers and demonic creatures on the other. Each series made the previous one just a smidge more obsolete. And it was never ending, the figures became more and more over the top and better detailed every series that was released. But, just like the Star Wars incident, I came to my wits end with McFarlane Toys too. This all came to a head when I got series nineteen in hand.

These, in my opinion, were the top. Todd had outdone himself but I saw it as literally the beginning of the end. The sculpts on Spawn, Clown, Violator and Overtkill made everything previously made laughable and almost childish looking. Then starting with series twenty, they forwent the traditional action figures and went for the staction figure concept which allowed for better sculpts and figures that really looked better in the package than loose. A good portion of McFarlane Toys previous releases looked like the bastard child of H.R. Geiger and Stan Winston’s artwork. I don’t know why but when I look at older McFarlane Toys, all I can think of is zombie demonic robotic phallus.

(Heroin fueled robotic penis.)

Todd McFarlane’s creations litter the aisles of every flea market’s toy booth and the asking prices are just mind boggling. When a figure less than twenty years old and commands prices that are equal to my entire hunting budget, I’m expecting a real rarity and not something that once occupied the 3 / $5 bin at the now defunct KB TOYS. I can only think of five or six figures McFarlane made that sell for more than $12 to $15 bucks! The packages just never saved well, not sure how but no matter what you did the card back always curled and the bubble crinkled. I think the toys were just cursed to begin with. If POTF Star Wars toys look like old junk, old McFarlane Toys look like big old phallic lookin’ junk. And whatever you do, don’t buy it loose. McFarlane Toys were never the most durable and unless it came from  adult collector who opened just to display it, you’ll find super glued joints a plenty. I’m not sure where old Spawn / McFarlane toys belong, but I would have to say somewhere in the vicinity of the nearest dumpster.

Number three – Collectible Cups

(Awesome, used cups that someone else has mugged on! I just threw up in my mouth!)

Unless it’s sealed in the original wrapper or never removed from the packing case, throw these away. I can see if they are .25 to .50 cents and they make you happy somehow or something really old (and I mean like the 70s Star Wars Burger Chef cups or Marvel/DC cups from 7-11), but if I see the Episode I cups one more time for more than $1 I’m going to kick the table over….plain and simple. If it’s anything 24oz or higher, it should be thrown out. There’s no real novelty left in chugging your drink from some grossly over sized cup with the cast from the X-Men movie on it. I do have some collectible cups in my collection but they are old, significant and they were not used.  I have a few that I owned as a kid but I use them regularly and they are less than 12oz.

(Simple, clean and never used; a collectible.)

Number two – VHS Tapes

(They have no value. 7 copies of Independence Day, really?)

Every Tuesday, the list of movies not on DVD or BLU RAY is dwindling fast. These plastic bricks are relics of a forgotten time, deteriorating as we speak. Unless you are giving them away, and in that case you obviously don’t care too much for the person who’s receiving them, deposit them in the nearest trash can  and update your media collection. Please join the rest of us in this millennium, thank you.

(Not only are you embarrassing yourself, but everyone around you too.) 

Number one – Starting Line Up figures

(Behold, the horrors a real toy hunter encounters.)

When I think of the worst figures of all time, these are on the top of my list. They have all the likeness accuracy of civil war lead miniatures and belong in the garbage. I don’t know of a single one that’s worth more than $1 and even at $1 a piece I’ve sat on a box of them for 3 years. I got them in a collection by chance once and I did everything to get rid of them, I even tried giving them back to the owner and he flat out refused. In the end I donated them to Toys for Tots but even that made me feel horrible because they suck so much. I came back the next day with POTF figures because every little kid loves Star Wars, right?

Honorable mention – Beanie Babies

These plush toys, if clean and never used, are great to give to relatives kids you don’t like but feel compelled to bring something for. But when sitting outside in a flea market bin, soaking up sun and early morning dew, they are the most disgusting thing on this planet.

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