Monday, October 27, 2008
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 place...by 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
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.
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
Sunday, July 20, 2008
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.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
MANTECH Robot Warriors was a toy line produced in 1984 by the famous Remco toy company, makers of many classics to be discussed later.
The basic idea behind MANTECH is a familiar one: humans augmented with technology. In a similar fashion to the more famous Centurions, MANTECH featured interchangeable parts and weapons. The difference is that all their parts were interchangable...theoretically...more on that later.
Research turns up surprisingly little about these forgotten plastic gems. There were vehicles, a comic book series, tv commercials, a standard good vs. evil storyline, but little else. Unfortunately, the line failed soon amidst the onslaught that was the 1980's toy market.
In my personal collection, I only have two figures. LaserTech (the blue good guy) is one of the few examples of a classic toy I have in the original packaging. I got a great deal on it from ebay last year. SolarTech (the red good guy) is the only one I originally had.
Notice that in none of the pictures above do SolarTech's upper legs detach from the body. Well, they're supposed to, but mine are glued on. Remember when I mentioned that all their parts were interchangeable? Well that's not exactly true. That's how they were advertised, but I found out the hard way that some of the parts are hard, brittle plastic that doesn't work well with the softer, more rubbery parts. I tried to plug the upper leg piece into a shoulder (why? why not? heck, I was a creative kid...) and the peg snapped. SolarTech spent the rest of the 80's with a masking tape pelvis cast--and in exile at the bottom of the toybox.
Each figure came with a comic book--similar to He-Man, Sectaurs, MASK, and about every other line at the time. The book wasn't really a masterpiece of epic literature, it really just gave a quick impression of the basic storyline and character roles (as well as advertise some of Remco's other products.)
So there they are...or were...MANTECH. I remember daydreaming about them and drooling over the commercials, but that goes for a hundred toys from the 80's. If you're looking to start a collection, they do turn up on ebay from time to time. Prices aren't usually too bad either.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for more cartoons, toys, and all the other goodness you've come to expect from this blog!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This is the first entry in a new series of articles spotlighting forgotten cartoons, primarily from the 70's and 80's...but there are really no limits.
Flash! Ah-AAAAhhhh....oh wait, it's not that Flash Gordon. Too bad, I love Queen.
To start off, I really must admit I don't remember this cartoon. According to Wikipedia, it aired from 1979-1980. That means it should have been on in the prime of my sleepy-eyed cereal crunching Saturday morning euphoria, but I missed it. Must have been on the same time as SuperFriends. I never missed SuperFriends. But I digress....
Although "Flash Gordon" is the actual title, it gets referred to as "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon" to avoid confusion. 32 episodes over two seasons was all they had. The first season was originally a TV movie that got cut up into chapters. All of this info is readily available on Wikipedia for those who are interested.
Now the opinion portion of the review. After all, isn't that what the internet is all about? People voicing meaningless opinions in the vain hope someone will listen? Anyway, here's my story: I've had my eye on this series since it was released on DVD, but I didn't want to pay for it. Jump ahead to last Saturday--I stopped by my favorite new and used book/movie/music bargain store, Half Price Books, and after picking up some cheap used vinyl and graphic novels, I noticed a shelf of DVDs. There it was: Flash Gordon, the complete series. Not even used...brand new! And best of all...it was only $6.48! Needless to say, I snatched it up.
So after viewing the first disc (yeah, I know, I should watch it all before reviewing...sue me...no wait, don't....I'm broke...) I have to say that I'm enjoying the show, but it is fairly limited. It's a familiar style Filmation project, so fans of Blackstar, Tarzan, Lone Ranger, etc. will know what to expect. The animation appeals to me, but some find it simple. It's an opinion thing...I'd rather watch this than any anime, but that's me. The story is decent and involves some subtle commentary on cooperation, racism, sexism, and general problem solving. My four-year old daughter thought it was great, so doesn't that say it all?
As with all great shows, there were action figures. They were very simple 3.75" figures that seem to be fairly easy to find on ebay, but not always cheap. I don't own any of them, so I can't really comment on them.
So there's the first quick review. Fans of this site (Fans...ha!...I crack myself up sometimes...) should look forward to future articles on cartoons, action figures, and whatever else crosses my mind. I should also mention that in addition to Flash, Half Price Books also had BlackStar, SpaceSentinels, and Defenders of the Earth available. I went to three locations, and all three had a different selection. Prices ranged from $6.48 to $9.98 for the different shows. I strongly encourage all classic cartoon fans to find a nearby location and check it out. No, I don't work for them...it's just one of my favorite stores.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
First of all, it's true enough to the comics for me. Now I was a Marvel fan for years, and I read Iron Man for years, but I'm not exactly an expert on the details of Iron Man's origin. But I do know enough to say this fits in as well--or better--with the original story than most comic book movie adaptations. The special effects are great. And by great I mean they're used just enough--at the right moments and in the right amount to be exciting but not silly.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly:
Good: Fast paced, exciting story. It clocks in right around 2 hours, but I was left wanting more. Wanting more in a good way, that is. It's like a trip to Chuck E. Cheese*...you never want to leave, but eventually you run out of tokens. Downey and Paltrow are excellent as well...great chemistry/tension and a believable interpretation of the characters. The suit looks fantastic. It's much like the "ultimate" version, which makes sense given the age of the original version. Overall, everything succeeds in being a modern interpretation of the classic story and characters.
I thought the actor playing Rhodey was...interesting, but he does the part well. Watch for subtle hints about "War Machine."
Be sure to stay all the way through to the end of the credits for an extra scene. I won't spoil it except to give a very "shielded" hint that if you miss it you'll be "furious."
Bad: Hmmm....hard to say....I could have watched about 2 more hours of it, so maybe I'll complain that it's too short. But that's just silly...it should leave me wanting more. I guess I'll use this space to say that the action figures are only so-so. Of course I went out and bought Iron Man and Iron Monger right after the show. They're okay, but not great. Iron Monger is the better of the two.
Ugly: Jeff Bridges. Of course the character is ugly, so it works, but man...he's just a nasty old man.
My favorite moments: the whole Mark I armor/escape the terrorist scene. You can hear the gears whirring and the whole thing looks very real. His first "mission" to liberate some people being harassed by the bad guys has some great moments as well...love the precision targeting from his shoulder guns.
*I know, Chuck E. Cheese is soooo not retro cool. But I thought it was more recognizable these days than Showbiz.
Monday, April 7, 2008
PlanetComicon 2008--or, "Sorry Chekov, I really wasn't trying to rip you off....now put down that phaser....no......wait.......aaaaaarrrrrrrghhhhh!"
As expected, it was well worth the time and money...well, maybe not the money, but more on that later. Here are the highlights, lowlights, pros and cons, details, points of interest, and other noteworthy details:
KENNY BAKER!!!! R2-D2 himself! He's just the second victim in my brush with Star Wars greatness, after having met Dave "the real Darth Vader" Prowse last year. Mr. Baker was very fun and seemed genuinely happy to be there. $20 bought an obligatory autographed photo. Now I just need an Anthony Daniels C3PO autograph to go next to it. Maybe next year!
Walter Koenig--First of all, I realize that the chance of him reading this is slimmer than Karen Carpenter's waistline (too soon?) but I've got to say it. I can't apologize enough for what happened: I NEARLY ROBBED CHEKOV! Actually it's not as dramatic as it sounds. We asked for an autographed picture, personalized for my daughter. We posed for a photo. I was trying to get a 3-year old to smile while standing next to a stranger. We took the pic, shook hands, and walked away. Next thing I now, I'm awakening from a heavy phaser stun in the back of an ambulance and my wallet is missing...no wait, that was another time...don't you hate it when you get phasered and robbed?.....okay, actually, I heard a heavily accented "Excuse me" and turned to see him approaching rapidly behind us. I realized immediately what had happened, and promptly handed over another $20. So now Chekov thinks I'm a crook. Great. I'll put that on a resume some day. I really do feel sorry for it all though, and want to apologize again. He didn't seem like he was enjoying the show. I think there was a lot of Star Wars support and virtually no Star Trek support. Being bi-sci-fi myself, I like them both.
Kurt Busiek!! Great writer. I think he summed up Countdown...or Countdown to Final Crisis...or Countdown to Mediocre Storytelling....or whatever we call it now better than anyone I've heard or read. He pointed out the problems without excess trash-talking. Can't wait for Trinity.
This is getting long, so here's the lightning round: Brinke Stevens: okay, whatever, not for me...Tony Moore: great artist, looked busy....Cheap comics: they were everywhere. good stuff....Star Wars costumes: neat, but I detected a distinct "locker room" odor around some of the stormtroopers...there is a lot more to say, but wandering around the convention center has left me exhausted. Time to kick back with a classic issue of Justice League (only 50 cents!) and relax for a while.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
In case you don't know, in addition to many other accomplishments, Dave Stevens created The Rocketeer.
It seems like there have been several comic book related deaths recently, but this one really bothers me. I love the Rocketeer. I have ever since I first saw him. The Rocketeer rose to popularity just as I was becoming seriously obsessed with comics and superheroes. I eagerly awaited the movie. I bought the souvenir magazine, the bendy figure, the pvc window stick-on figure, the trading cards, the comics, the Pizza Hut kid's meal....everything and anything with that classic gold helmet on it.
Later on in high school, we had a "dress like a Disney character" day. I hate Disney movies for the most part...and then I remembered The Rocketeer! It was a Disney production. So I tediously cut and painted a ridiculous amount of cardboard to recreate the helmet and jetpack. I found a shirt and pants that, while not matching the movie, were at least the same color. So with that, I was off. Of course all the other students in their Mickey Mouse and Little Mermaid costumes had no clue what I was, but I didn't care. (now that I look back I feel a little too similar to the "Tron guy" who keeps showing up on late night TV....hmmmm....maybe I should have kept the costume...)
As I type this, I realize I don't even have the Rocketeer DVD...I'll have to fix that.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Anyway, Toy Fair is a time for manufacturers to show off what they've got planned for the new year. If you really haven't heard about this, check it out at sites such as www.cooltoyreview.com.
In a nutshell....why do people say that? what nutshell? I'm not eating nuts right now, in fact I seldom do, especially the kind you have to crack yourself....uh...anyway in a nutshell, here's my take on the upcoming year:
AT-TE---whoa! Gotta have that.
Star Wars in general: gotta love the vehicles, we'll see about the rest...burned out lately.
DC Universe: I'm completely geeking out over this stuff. Especially the 3 3/4" DC line!
Indiana Jones: I love Indy, but I can already see the massive clearance section at Wal-Mart. This will be the overkill toy of the year that fights everything else for shelf space. It happens every summer with at least one toy line. (think Spidey.)
That's enough for now. Gotta get to work on that second job to pay for this stuff.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
As for JLU, still no sign of Hawkman. I was lucky enough to get Mr. Miracle recently, but I bought the only one I've ever seen. If I hadn't made it to Target that day, I'd be out of luck. Same for the Grodd 6-pack. Glad I went shopping that day.
I'm sure other people have the same problem. They have to...there's such a shortage of figures I don't see how anybody can collect anymore. And think of the kids...there's no way a kid can get all of these.
I've seen Galactica 1980 before, and I knew it was bad, but the dvd has made that clearer than ever before. It's a bad show when you watch one episode per day or week. It's a terrible show when you try to watch 4 hours of it all at once.
Honestly, someone should do a study to see if purchasers of the dvd have a higher suicide rate, or perhaps a higher incidence of depression. Heck, they probably have higher rates of substance abuse as well. You need something to get through more than 5 minutes of "The Super Scouts." (if you don't know what that means, consider yourself lucky)
I spent today catching up on V the series. Now that's good TV. It picks up right where the mini-series left off, with the same characters, and moves in a reasonably logical direction. Plus there's lots of 80's style action...you know...slick soldier-of-fortune type dudes running around with submachine guns in improbable yet eerily realistic plots. Kinda like the A-team with reptilian aliens.
The "Brand New Day" stories have been decent. I actually kind of enjoy them. Simple, old-school Spidey action. The problem, however, is that despite copious explanations from Joe Q. I still don't get the whole OMD thing. I still don't like it, either. So no matter how good the new stories are, they will always be tainted by OMD. Like many fans, I'm still unsure how this connects with the last 20ish years of continuity.
But maybe we're jumping the gun...maybe there's a "punch line" yet to be seen that will make it all better.
(But I kind of doubt it.)
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Graphic Novels: I've been on a real spree with these lately. My evening ritual has been to knock down a couple while listening to my favorite recent CD (more on that later.) My recent favorite GN's are: Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Fables. There are many others. Maybe I'll go into detail later.
Music: Radiohead. I loved Radiohead from the first time I heard "Creep" on the radio back in the 90's. Then I saw them play it on Conan O'Brien and was even more blown away. (Thom Yorke, seriously...sometimes it looks like it hurts to be him.) I've been a fan ever since. Like the best of musicians, they have evolved over the years. Their newest work "In Rainbows" has been in heavy rotation around here. I've often used their recent albums as background while reading comics, and I'm continuing that with this one. But, this new album goes beyond that and has a more versatile sound than recent efforts. I can't really put it into words, so check it out yourself.
Movies: Aside from Doctor Who, I haven't really watched anything lately.
Toys. DC Universe! Oh, DC brothers, where art thou? I think I would have an easier time finding the holy grail than finding all of these. So far after covering 4 Targets and a couple hundred miles, I've come up with two. Orion rules. Awesome. Classic, near-Kirby style...not over-buff like recent depictions. Batman is O.K....but not great. He seems top heavy, like his legs are too small.
So that's all until I get something to write about. Don't hold your breath! I won't be responsible for any deaths by suffocation.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
All I can say is what's going through my head.
Yes, that aging progressive rock band that unleashed both Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel on the world. (Which one has done more damage? Time will tell.) Anyway, the story left me in a "Land of Confusion" and thinking "there must be some Misunderstanding." Is Joe
Usually "I Know What I Like." But this time, I'm going to have to wait and see how things play out in the long run.