Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House?

I don't keep up on many "new" things these days, and action figures are no exception. There is one series, however, that I can't resist: Doctor Who.

I've been a fan for years and years. I used to stay up late on Saturday and catch the Fourth Doctor's merry scarf-clad adventures every week. I walked around my first year of college wearing a long coat and scarf and calling myself a time lord. On days I wasn't doing that, I wore a leather jacket and insulated cap, yelling to my friends "Hey! Smeghead!" because I was also obsessed with Red Dwarf. Can you believe I had no problem ever getting a date? In fact quite the opposite. Really. I'm not kidding. Anyway, I always wanted Doctor Who toys, but alas they were few and far between.

Fast forward to today, and the Doctor Who revival. Not only are there action figures of the new series (which is a lot of fun) but there are retro figures as well. Here's a quick snapshot of the ones I keep out on a shelf above the TV.

That's a mixture of 12" and regular figures, and the big Dalek and red Dalek are both radio controlled. I've got many, many more...nearly a complete set. Most of them are in a box that my daughter and I play with. She's a fan too. The Flight Control Tardis is one of the best toys ever. I nearly cried when I saw it. (ok, not really, but I thought to myself "this is really cool! I should totally cry now")

They're not exactly simple to find, but not hard either...especially online. My two rock-solid reliable sources are and Both have amazing fast service. I usually get my order in three days. My local Hastings (book/music/video chain) carries them too, so if you have one of those you might check it out. They're a little pricier there, but I suppose with shipping it probably all evens out. I thought they were expensive, but then I saw what Wal-Mart and Target charge for Star Wars action figures these day. Now they seem like a pretty good deal.

Still waiting for Red Dwarf toys......

More details to follow...I hope....I just wanted to put this out there and maybe spark some conversation with people. (DJdeTrainman, you out there?)

Friday, October 23, 2009

One More Thing...

I have never owned a Micronaut. I was born just late enough to barely miss them.

Today I hit the jackpot. I went to a strange little garage sale fundraiser event in a shopping mall. They had a bunch of Micronauts stuff used but in original boxes. Basically, for $15.50 I left with a trash bag full of Micronauts gear.

I have barely begun to sort it out...figures, vehicles,'s all new to me. Nothings is "perfect" as in mint and complete, but there's definitely the start of an awesome collection. Any fans out there?

A Year!?!? Really!?!?

I have not been on here in a year, more or less.

Why? Well let me tell you. I am a secret agent. I was on a secret mission, and I was captured. After I escaped, I wandered through the jungle for months. I lived off of what I could find...bugs, roots, the occasional rodent. It was a rough life, but I really feel like I found myself out there. I now know that I must dedicate my life to helping....oh, nevermind. That's all just stuff I made up. Really I've just been more interested in spending time with my family and doing other things besides sitting at a computer.

I started this as a Star Wars blog, but I got Star Wars burnout. I really only care about the OT and vintage collecting. The new stuff is fine, but not for me.

My action figure collecting got pushed aside in favor of spending time with my family.

Overall, I just haven't had anything to say.

Then came model trains.

Yep, trains. I love model trains. I always have. When I was very young, I pushed my Dad's junked Lionel around the garage floor. When I was older, I got into HO scale. I've never really felt like I could explore both my sci-fi, comic book, nerd side and my rural, railroad fan, backwoodsy side at the same time. As I get older, I start to appreciate it all. It's all good stuff. There's no reason it can't all work together.

I've been posting on model train sites a lot lately, and it's been a lot of fun. So now, as time allow, I'll add this to the plethora of topics I discuss here. Just think of it as yet another side to the complex individual that is me.

So let me say "hey" to Anthony, NoelCT, and my new friend DJdeTrainman, if he finds his way here. I'm still alive and well, just not as loud as I used to be.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Groovy Garage Sale Goodness, or Reasons to Wake Up on a Saturday Morning

After my last entry on the Sectaurs, I started thinking about all the good luck I've had over the last 5 years at garage sales. In fact, garage sales are second only to ebay in contributing to the growth of my collection. If you've never paid attention to them, try it sometime. Right now isn't the best time of the year (if you live in the Midwest, anyway) but once spring rolls around they'll be back in full force.

Anyway, I'm going to show off some of my best finds and tell how I found them. Maybe they will inspire you to go out and find some deals of your own!

These first pictures are what started it all. Back around the time of Attack of the Clones, I re-dedicated myself to collecting. One drizzly Saturday morning, I rolled up to a friend's garage sale only to find a box full of Star Wars goodies for only $20. Of course I thought he was crazy, but I didn't complain. I just gave him the twenty and went on my way. When I sorted it all out, there was a complete Imperial shuttle, B-Wing, Slave-1 and an incomplete Darth Vader TIE fighter. All vintage. There were also several very rough loose figures. This one find not only restarted my Star Wars collecting, but set me off on the endless garage sale trail for years to come.

This next picture shows a garage sale find that nearly knocked me off my feet. Seriously, my heart skipped a beat when I walked up and saw a Cobra Terror Drome sitting outside the garage. What makes it better? The price. 25 cents. No kidding. Sure, it's not complete, but for only a quarter? I'll take it!

You never know what you'll find and when. One afternoon my family was out doing some shopping at a nearby town, when we noticed some garage sale signs. It was after 1:30 (late by garage sale standards) and the sale was in a very new, modern subdivision. Usually those places have younger kids, and therefore no good toys. This one was the exception. At the back of the garage, in two plastic storage tubs, was this load of Eternian wonderfulness. Sure none of it is complete, but for $4 I got a great back-up MOTU collection for my daughter and I to play with.

This little jewel is another example of not knowing where or when you'll find something. After an unrewarding day at a small city-wide garage sale, I started digging through a trash bag partially full of small toys. It was an interesting mix of mostly 80's happy meal toys and other small "girly" stuff. Then all of the sudden, there he was: an original G1 Transformer Windcharger. I could hardly contain myself. I asked the owner how much, and he said 3 dollars. Not bad, so I went to pay. Then he said, "No, I meant for the whole bag." So for 3 bucks I got not only a nifty vintage Transformer, but some fun stuff for the kid's toybox.

These two came from the same sale. Here's what happened: I rolled up one Saturday morning on one of those sales where the garage is in back of the house. In other words, you can't drive by and get a good idea of what they have. Sometimes I get lazy and pass these up, but I stopped at this one. I'm glad I did! They had four tables of vintage 80's toys! Unfortunately, the sale had started on Friday. They had already sold an entire table full of Star Wars items. I did manage to pick up some Star Wars parts, an old "The force" lightsaber, a couple nice G.I Joes (Stinger driver!)and everything in the pictures above. The Transformers in the first picture are all original, but incomplete. The second picture shows the Boulder Hill playset from MASK...yeah, it's not put together right, but I was too lazy to look up the instructions for just this picture. I'm not sure how complete it is. I just keep it stored away for later restoration. I ended up making all these purchases over two trips. I ran out of cash and had to go back home. In the end I spent less than $30. Not bad for another random stop.

Anyone who reads my blog knows I love comics. I've never really had good luck getting comics at garage sales. The last sale I went to had an ad in the paper advertising comic books, so my family and I went. After getting lost a couple times, we finally found the the way, that Rand McNally guy needs to update his maps. As we pulled up to the place, I said to my wife, "I'll bet all they've got are some overpriced Archie comics." Guess what? That's exactly what they had. A big binder full of clear plastic sleeves containing beat-up, ragged Archie comics. The owners swore they were worth 30-60 dollars each. Unbelievable. No offense to Archie, but he's not high on my list. The examples above are the kind of things I like to find at garage sales...the old oversized digest style books. They're just fun. Like comics in general, they used to be widely available and cheap. Those were the good old days. These examples cost me only a buck each, so that makes things even better.

Readers of this blog may not now of my other collecting passion: records. I love vinyl. I try to buy everything I can on vinyl instead of CD. I like the sound, and it's more fun. Over the years, garage sales have yielded more records than I care to count. They're usually extremely cheap. Just last summer I picked up three sealed, unopened records: Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In, Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, and the Police's Greatest Hits. All 25 cents. In the picture there are three of my favorite purchases: Jimi Hendrix's Axis Bold As Love, The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, and the late great Buddy Miles' Them Changes.

Sometimes you truly can find treasure among trash. This find came from a really trashy garage sale. It looked like they had just tore through the house taking out all the old furniture and junk just to make a sale. Then, sitting on top of a flimsy table, I saw this: a Pioneer LDV-2000 LaserDisc player. They didn't know if it worked, but they only charged me 25 cents for it! I took it home and tried it out...success! It's not the best LD player in the world, but it works. A cheap universal remote will even control it. I've been watching some Robotech discs I got at a collector store on it lately.

Here's something completely random. Anybody remember the TV show Riptide? I barely do. Like so many classic 80's shows, it featured a unique vehicle. Apparently (like I said...I barely remember it) it was a large helicopter called the "Screaming Mimi." Here in all it's 25 cent glory is a die-cast Ertl replica. Why did I buy it? It's 80's, man! Little pieces of nostalgia like this brighten my day.

Finally, here are some Star Wars posters. This same sale had some great late 70's-early 80's sci-fi magazines and picture books. Cheap wall decorations and some great reading...that was good day.

So there you have it. Part one of what may be a continuing series. I see garage sales like a treasure hunt. Indiana Jones looks for ancient relics, I look for slightly newer items. Both are connections to a past long gone. I encourage any collectors to get out and see what's available in their cities and neighborhoods. Remember, the early bird catches the worm, so set your alarm clocks.

Before I go, let me say this: if you're at a good garage sale, and you see a big hairy guy with a Batman hat coming toward you, get out of the way. I treat garage sales like a competitive sport...and I'm not afraid to tackle.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Retro Toybox: Sectaurs--Warriors of Symbion

You asked for it! Today’s totally terrific topic is:

I was actually inspired to write this for bragging purposes, but more on that later. Here’s the scoop:

Sectaurs were one of the many exceptionally excellent and exciting action figure collections that appeared in that whirlwind of toy-goodness we like to call "the 80's." Officially, they are Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion, with Symbion being one of those mythical far-away planets that has technology well in advance of ours.

They were created by Coleco in 1984, and their basic story was that the inhabitants of Symbion were affected by genetic experimentation gone wrong. All the people were weird hybrids of insects and humans, and the regular insects were giants that could be ridden like horses. The toy line was accompanied by an animated mini-series (available on YouTube), a Marvel comics mini-series, and other story and activity books. There's more to the story, like some telepathic connective stuff and typical "bad guys trying to take the powerful weapon" storylines, but I'll leave that up to you the readers to discover. I'm going to focus on the toys.

The line was built around 7 inch (eight if you count he antennae) figures which were very sturdy and well articulated. There were the typical good guy/bad guy teams with unique characters. Dargon was leader of the "Shining Realm" and came with an awesome steed named Dragonflyer. Dragonflyer, like other creatures in the series, was half puppet and half electronic toy. The legs of the beast were a pointy black glove, and the slick translucent wings flapped noisily on two AA batteries. All in all, it was perfect. Dargon, and the other characters, could also be purchased with a smaller insect sidekick. There was something for every price range. The "Dark Domain" was led by General Spidrax, who also came with a flying insect steed named Spider-Flyer.

The real gem of the collection, however, was The Hyve. The Hyve was like Castle Greyskull's taller cousin. The giant mountain fortress had a trapdoor, swinging boulder, and puppets of a giant spider and a small rubbery insect.

Notably absent were toys of the female characters. The girls just never got any respect back in those days. I've read that there were female figures planned for the second wave, but unfortunately the line fell victim to the highly competitive toy market of the time.

Now time to show off. Guess what I got today. No really, guess. Guessed it yet? I got the Hyve!!!! It's not entirely complete, but it's in great shape and I paid...wait for it...THREE DOLLARS!!!! Yep, it pays to wake up on a Saturday and go to garage sales. I also have Dargon and Dragonflyer from back in the day. I vividly remember buying it on clearance at Best (anybody remember that place?) one cold winter day with a handful of birthday money. It's been a favorite ever since. A while back I found a bunch of others in a clearance bin at a collector's store for $1 each, in various conditions. They show up on ebay often and it's not too costly to start a decent collection. Well, except for the Hyve. That thing will empty your wallet.

Photo gallery

Here are a few pictures I took of the items in my collection. Sorry about the amateur photography skills.

The Hyve, front and back:

Back row left to right: Mantor w/ Raplor, Zak w/ Bitaur, Dargon, Skito w/ Toxcid. Pinsor w/ Battle Beetle is in front.

Dargon with Dragonflyer:

Well, that's it for now. More random goodness is on the way. Maybe with winter approaching I'll spend more time indoors working on this blog.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hey! I have a blog!

Yeah, I haven't really paid any attention to this thing lately. Too much other stuff going on. I know, I promised my readers (all three of you) great articles about interesting things. Oh well, I can't avoid the real world. But seriously, more good stuff will be here soon. No, really. I promise this time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

It's been a while since I posted. Sorry, I've been using my computer time to watch MST3K reruns online.

Anyway, about The Dark Knight. Every blogger and critic in the world has already commented on it. All I can say is this: I previously said that Iron Man was the best superhero movie ever. I was wrong. If you haven't seen The Dark Knight, then you need to get off the computer right now and go to the theater. Seriously. There is nothing more I can say. It's beautiful, disturbing, loud, meaningful...and a whole bunch of other adjectives. Just go see it.