08th Jul2011

Greatest Haul: Origins

by Will

In Greatest Haul: Prelude, you got a teaser of the spoils. Now, learn the fantastical origin of the treasures you merely glimpsed! I’d cap this off with a “True Believer”, but I don’t want my ass to get sued…

So, as many of my twitter followers can attest, I’ve developed a bit of a thrift store addiction as of late. We have a few really good ones in my area, so I’ve found myself swinging by a couple times a week. That said, like any gateway drug, thrift stores weren’t enough. I soon turned to Craigslist to satisfy my urges. It started out with me buying a couple of Mighty Muggs, and then it just got out of hand. Pretty soon, I found myself scouring the “toys & games” and “collectibles” categories several times a day. Eventually, I made a bigger leap: yard and garage sales.

I’ve been going to estate sales with my mom for the past 15 or so years, but they’re a different animal from yard sales. Estate sales tend to be where the stuff of old/dead folks is sold, so the selection follows accordingly. I got my golf clubs at an estate sale. I got old books at estate sales. You do not, however, tend to find toys at such places. In any case, I had come to look down on yard/garage sales, as estate sales were more “high-end”. A few of my twitter pals, however, have had quite a bit of luck with yard sales lately, and I didn’t want to be left out in the cold.

A few weeks ago I decided to wake up early that Saturday morning and get in on the yard sale action. I’d found a nearby sale that was touting “25 Years of Collectibles”. This was both intriguing and off putting. You see, when people sell what they believe to be “collectibles”, they tend to overcharge. They factor in all the time and money they put into acquiring the item, as well as what they feel it’s worth on the market. The result is typically an asking price that’s both foolish AND too rich for my blood. It was still intriguing, though, as a lot of good crap came out in the last 25 years.

Anyway, the next morning, I woke up earlier than I typically do for work (a part of me is somewhat ashamed of that), and set out on my quest. The ad said the garage door wouldn’t go up until 7, and I was there along with 2 older guys. Within 5 minutes, I knew this hadn’t been worth my time or lost sleep. He was selling loose Toy Biz Marvel figures for $10 each. Not the good Legends stuff, but the crappy Magneto with the magnet in his chest. Or a random VR Trooper. Who’s gonna pay $10 for a loose VR Trooper figure of a present-day soap star? I said my thanks, and went on my way.

Next on the list was a multifamily sale not too far away. I’d seen the listing, and I liked the idea of a multifamily sale, as I could hit several mini sales in one area. Apparently, the sales were along a block, so I could just work my way down the street. Or so I thought. Instead, I ended up spending the bulk of my time at the first house. Before we get to that, though, let’s back up a bit.

After that first “collectibles” sale was a bust, I considered going home. Sitting with my McDonald’s breakfast, I fired up my phone’s browser and decided to see if any new, more promising sales had been listed. At this point, I noticed one that touted “carded action figures”. Well, paint me green and call me Gumby! Plus, it turned out it was part of the multifamily sale that I was already planning to hit! The idea of carded action figures was too great to pass up. Little did I know how great of a find it would be.

So, it turns out that the woman hosting the sale used to work for American Entertainment. If you were collecting comics in the late 90s, then that name will be familiar to you. If you’ve never heard of it, American Entertainment was a mail order comic company that specialized in exclusive covers and products (if you’ve ever shopped at Entertainment Earth, it was a lot like that). If you have a comic from the 90s, there’s probably an AE ad in it. Eventually, they branched out into a few brick and mortar shops, but AE cranked out a TON of Image/Top Cow variants and Buffy exclusives, amongst other things. Now, since I worked at Diamond, I kinda have an idea of the sort of items that cross your desk in that industry. Just as in my situation, she didn’t sell anything while she was with the company, so she just accumulated it without really keeping track of what she had. She decided that she finally needed to clear out space, so she was getting rid of all the swag she’d acquired. And she wasn’t lying about carded figures. Buffy, Starting Lineup, Batman, WWF (yes, before they were forced to “get the F Out”), Toy Biz Marvel figures…and many were just $1-2 each! Most yard sales are just a “One man’s trash…” situation, but she actually had good stuff. It was just too much of it to try to price accordingly and sell, so it was like a collectible fire sale. I was expecting to wake up at any minute. When I call it “The Greatest Haul”, it’s not that I stumbled upon a particular holy grail – it’s that I got a lot of cool stuff for the low, low price! Toys, comics, and cards. So, what did I get? Well, you’ll just have to tune in next time!