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.