27th Oct2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/27/17

by Will

Work is killing me right now, so I had to take a week off. As we return to our regularly scheduled program, I thought we’d take a closer look at what I’ve been up to in the world of pop culture.

Two weekends ago, my buddy @classickmateria and I journeyed up to Oaks, PA for Retro Con. I believe this was the 5th year of the show, and I’ve been to four of them. If you’ve never heard of Retro Con, they describe themselves as ” a pop culture and memorabilia show catering to anything considered ‘retro’, especially the 80’s! Transformers, Star Wars, GI Joe, Ghostbusters, He-man, classic video games, etc..”

After attending for 4 years, I have mixed feelings on the show itself. I’ve been to SDCC, so I’m a bit of a con snob. As a convention, it’s a shitty show. It has never really deserved to be a 2-day affair except for the fact that it’s located in the middle of nowhere, so you’ve got to find a way to justify the travel. On the other hand, it’s a great meetup spot for Twitter friends. I see more folks at Retro Con than I see in any other place throughout the year, and this year didn’t disappoint. At some point during the day, I spent time with @RD80s, @LamarRevenger, @Jordamus_Prime, @3BlackGeeks, and @DeeTheBlackGeek. These regional shows are great for putting faces to screennames, so that’s pretty much what I look forward to when I go.

The problem with Retro Con is that it’s not really a convention, but rather a toy show. If you’re wondering what the difference is, it’s that a convention is more of an experience. There are guests, and panels, and a certain sort of ambiance to the venue. A toy show is usually in a place that’s not too fancy, where dealers set up their WWE folding tables and pile them high with dusty old toys. The fact that the venue looks like a really big high school gymnasium, and the WWE tables runneth over, this was a toy show. Sure, they try to have panels and guests, but it’s nothing to really write home about. This year, the marquee guests were Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz from The A-Team. Meanwhile, they also had voice actors Rob Paulsen and the dude who played Destro on G.I. Joe. My friends checked out some of the Q&A sessions, but I really preferred to spend my time digging through the nostalgia.

Here’s my haul from the show. With the exception of one item, I didn’t pay more than $5 for anything, so I was pretty proud of myself. Let’s take a closer look at what I got, shall we?

I collect movie-based Marvel Legends…who am I kidding? It started at movie-based, and then I added X-Men, and then I added Spider-Man, and now I basically collect them all. Now, this J. Jonah Jameson isn’t technically a Legend, but he’s the right scale, and he does a little angry dance when you push the lever on his back. So, he had to come home with me. Next up is who I affectionately refer to as “Obama Superman”. Technically, he’s Earth-23 Superman, who’s Black and also happens to be the President of the United States, who happened to debut while Obama was in office. I always kinda wanted this figure, but never wanted to pay retail for him. Little did I realize he would continue to the Black Hero Shrine I was unwittingly constructing that day. Also in this batch is The Rookie from Mattel’s Ghostbusters line. If you’re a toy guy, and haven’t been hiding under a rock, you know that the original 4 Ghostbusters have started popping up at Five Below stores. These things were originally $20 a piece, and now you can buy the team for that price. Still, The Rookie is an interesting character to me because he’s from the video game, and he has gone on to star in the comics. With the exception of Louis and Janine, he’s the only additional Ghostbuster added to the team in over 30 years. To me, he’s a Must Have, so I didn’t mind paying $10 for him complete.

This Nightwing came from a 2 for $5 table. I still don’t know what the catch was, considering this figure still goes for about $30 online. It’s the precursor to Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line, so the articulation is slightly limited. I already have the figure, but I wasn’t about to leave it behind for $2.50, so I snatched him up immediately.

To round out that Nightwing purchase, I HAD to have this doll of Black Space Jesus himself, Commander Benjamin Sisko. I have always loved Deep Space Nine, and my recent rewatch of the show has made me appreciate Sisko so much more than I did in the past. My kids are gonna need some kind of characters in fiction to look to (#RepresentationMatters), so I might create a Black Hero Toy Shrine with him and Obama Superman and Winston from Ghostbusters as a modern-day Black Jesus presentation in the living room.

I always wanted this Alex Ross DC Mythology book, but never felt like dropping $75 on it when it was first out in stores. At $5, though? It wasn’t even a question!

Finally, I really wanted a last minute deal to close the show out on. After all, I swear by the fact that dealers don’t want to take that shit home, so Sunday afternoon is when you can strike the best deals. The show closed at 4, and folks were walking to their cars. Some dealers had already packed up and left hours earlier, but the folks who were there to make money stayed put. Jordan and I did another lap around the floor, and he told me about a Castle Grayskull he’d seen but didn’t have any room for. And the kicker? The guy was going to let him have it for $5! I HAD to have it. We found the dealer, and I thought he’d try to jack up the price on me, but he said he’d offered it to Jordan for $5 so he’d honor that deal for me. SOLD!

I’m not even a Masters of the Universe guy, but I know not to leave behind a 200X Castle Grayskull when it’s only gonna cost me one figure in cash. It needs to be cleaned up a little, and it’s missing some small parts, but the electronics still work and it’s a great display piece. I’ve already got it up on some local sale sites and apps, so hopefully I won’t even own it by the time you read this. What? I ain’t got no room for this thing!

In comic news, something interesting happened to me a few weeks back. You see, I was on Twitter talking smack, as I’m wont to do, about DC’s latest event, Dark Knights: Metal. I’ve been kinda anti-writer Scott Snyder because he blocked me on Twitter a few months back, and I was butthurt about it. I figured he had seen me talking trash about his Batman run at some point and time, and didn’t like what he read.

Anyway, later that night, I get an email from…Scott Snyder. Apparently he had been doing a Twitter search for folks talking about the series, and he had come across my Tweet (odd, seeing as how I’m blocked). He thanked me for taking a chance on the series even though I hadn’t been a fan of his Batman run. Well, I was so taken aback by this that I HAD to write him back. I won’t print the emails ’cause I didn’t ask his permission or anything, but basically I told him how I had been butthurt about the blocking, and that while I wasn’t exactly a “fan” of his run, I had still bought every issue of it. I also took the opportunity to tell him how I felt his Batman “danced between the raindrops of continuity”, so it never felt like he was moving the character forward.

In any case, it was a long, rambling response, but he wrote back and apologized for the block. He said that it had probably been an accident, as he would’ve tried talking to me instead of just outright blocking if he’d read I hadn’t liked his run. He said he’d have to digest the rest later. I never heard from him again, but I’m unblocked! Now to get Amy Schumer to do the same…

In TV news, I am officially retiring from the Heroes & Icons All Star Trek programming block. If you remember, I told you a few months back of how I’d discovered the digital subchannel Heroes & Icons, and how they showed all 5 Star Trek series every night. When I first started, The Next Generation and Voyager were in their 7th and final seasons. After watching their finales, I hung on for the end of Deep Space Nine, as it’s my favorite in the franchise. When that was over, I told myself I’d finish out Enterprise because my friend Brandon swore that it was better than I thought it would be. And he was right.

Sunday night was the airing of “These Are The Voyages…”, which is the series finale of Enterprise. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a HUGE slap in the face to the Enterprise cast and fans, as it’s framed as a holodeck sequence aboard The Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D during that whole Pegasus incident with Riker. So, technically, the Enterprise crew doesn’t even appear in the episode, but rather their holographic representations do. Enterprise‘s producers once said that they wanted to give a love letter to the fans, as they knew it would mark the end of Star Trek‘s continuous 17-year run on television. Over time, however, they’ve even come to realize their hearts might’ve been in the right place, but the execution was not. In the end, Enterprise was a much better series than people claim, and it was never treated well. Hell, it didn’t even get the requisite 2-hour series finale that all the other Trek spinoffs got. Nope, they crammed 4 years’ worth of character development into one hour and a senseless death.

Anyway, I don’t retire out of anger. Not entirely. I retire because I’ve done what I set out to do. I revisited old friends, and gained a new appreciation for new ones. I’ll still check in from time to time, but it’s no longer “destination television” for me, as I accomplished what I wanted to do. When I say it’s not entirely in anger, I refer to the motley crew of fans I met while livetweeting the show. You see, Heroes & Icons set up the #AllStarTrek hashtag to use while tweeting along with the show. While doing so, I was constantly reprimanded by fans who had co-opted the hashtag. “Don’t tweet spoilers!” Um, Deep Space Nine ended TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO. “Watch the language, as there might be children present.” It’s midnight! Put those little fuckers to bed! While there were a couple of nice people, I just came across a bunch of miserable folks who refer to themselves as “Captain” and other fake ranks I’m sure they don’t hold down at the gas company or wherever the fuck they work in real life. So, no, I won’t miss them. So, thanks for the memories, Heroes & Icons. It was nice to revisit the 24th (and 22nd) centuries for a bit, and I know where to find ya when I need ya. Oh, and new Trek ranking: DS9>TNG>Enterprise>Voyager>TOS. FIGHT ME!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • We got this amazing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reunion pic. Oh Lord, what happened to Leeta?
  • Netflix’s The Punisher will premiere November 17th – the same day that Justice League hits theaters. Marvel actually did DC a favor, because the only thing that’s gonna make Justice League look like a ray of sunshine is the goddamn Punisher…
  • Speaking of DC, they apparently want Gareth Evans to direct a Deathstroke movie.  Yup, the company that owns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and friggin’ Booster Gold, thinks the world is clamoring for a Deathstroke movie.
  • Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a second season on CBS All Access. I have to admit I was wrong because I swore a second season wouldn’t end up on that streaming service. That’s still not enough to get me to subscribe.
  • The Han Solo Star Wars movie will be called Solo. It has no “wow factor”, but it works.
  • We basically got our first cancellation of the fall TV season, as ABC’s Ten Days In The Valley will be given a Saturday night burn-off.
  • Ryan Potter of Supah Ninjas/Big Hero 6 fame has been cast as Beast Boy in the live action Titans series
  • Speaking of Big Hero 6, Big Hero 6 The Series will debut November 20th, with a one-hour TV “movie”, Baymax Returns, which will air simultaneously on Disney Channel and Disney XD
  • And speaking of Disney Channel, Andi Mack is a series where a teenage girl finds out her sister is actually her mom. Well, to keep pushing that envelope, the show will feature the coming out of one of her best friends.
  • A Magnum P.I. reboot is being developed at CBS. $20 says they change the character to a Latina in a wheelchair…
  • I thought America got its fill of Jane Lynch from Glee/Celebrity Game Night, but apparently a daytime talk show is being developed for her for Fall 2018. This will be the 21st century’s The Marsha Warfield Show.
  • The Night Shift, which was basically the RC Cola to ER‘s Coke, has been cancelled by NBC after 4 seasons.
  • The former Joan Rivers vehicle, Fashion Police, has been cancelled by E! after 22 years.
  • Somewhere, your great grandfather is really happy that CBS is looking into reviving Name That Tune.
  • Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea has been cancelled at Netflix, yet she’s spinning it as a personal decision so that she can become more educated about politics. OK, Chelsea.
  • The Loud House creator Chris Savino was fired by Nickelodeon after sexual harassment allegations. I kinda hated this show, but it hurt me to the core when the same thing happened to the creator of Clarence. Keep it in your pants, animation dudes!
  • Because America has a short memory, Justin Timberlake will be hosting the halftime show at Super Bowl LII. Of course everyone’s wondering if we’ll get an *NSYNC reunion, but I’m more curious to know if it’ll mark the return of Janet Jackson’s nipple.
  • Zoo was cancelled by CBS after 3 seasons. I’m really amazed it lasted that long.
  • I don’t know anyone who watches it, but Preacher has been renewed for season 3 at AMC
  • There’s a live action Dora the Explorer movie being developed, with Michael Bay producing. Dora will now be a 19 year old whose exotic dancing career takes her around the world.
  • The Goldbergs aired its 100th episode this week. Between besmirching Star Trek, and the fact that Adam basically looks 20 now, I think I’m over that show. It’s kinda like how I dropped Fresh Off the Boat when I remembered that Eddie Huang grows up to be an asshole.
  • Ben “Director Krennic” Mendelsohn is in talks to be the main villain in the Captain Marvel movie. Heh, I just realized it’s probably gonna be called Marvel’s Captain Marvel.
  • Fresh off having all her footage cut out of Justice League, Kiersey Clemons will be joining the cast of TBS’s Angie Tribeca next season.
  • Vincent D’Onofrio will return as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil season 3
  • Bill O’Reilly reportedly paid a $32 million settlement for sexual harassment allegations. Remember, kids – nobody ever dropped that kind of coin for something they didn’t do…
  • Hot off the cancellation of Being Mary Jane, it’s reported that Gabrielle Union will star in a TV spinoff of Bad Boys, reprising her character from the second movie. One day I’ll get around to watching those movies…
  • Sex and the City 3 won’t happen because of Kim Cattral, who admitted the women were never friends, but hopes that the movie will go ahead, with her character recast with a Black or Hispanic actress.

I haven’t really ever been a video game guy. I owned the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and later a Playstation, a Playstation 2, and an XBox 360. But I’d never call myself a “gamer”. Still, I understand that there’s no video game character more revered than Mario. That’s why it’s a big deal whenever a Mario game is released. Well, today saw the release of Super Mario Odyssey, and the review this game is getting are incredible. I don’t own a Nintendo Switch, but now I kinda want one. I love a good Mario game, and it seems like this might be one of the best. I haven’t been online as much lately, but whenever I’ve popped on, I’ve just seen folks overhyped for this game. Sure, Stranger Things season 2 comes out today, but I think this weekend will belong to Mario. It might be a bit early to tell, but I think Super Mario Odyssey is going to have the West Week Ever.

24th Oct2014

West Week Ever – 10/24/14

by Will

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It’s gonna be a light one this week, folks. The internet and cable went out at my place on Saturday night, and wasn’t fixed until Tuesday. So, I missed anything that would’ve aired during that time. This included the Black Dynamite premiere, the American Dad premiere, and the lack of internet prevented me from continuing my Arrow bingewatch. We finally got everything fixed Tuesday afternoon, but my car wouldn’t start in a random parking lot and, waiting for AAA, I ended up missing Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Forever. So, needless to say, it’s been a crappy week, and I have little to show for it.

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Walking home yesterday, I came across a Redbox that had recently been restocked, and I picked up 2 movies that I’d been wanting to see. I thought I was getting comedies, but the jury’s still out on that one! The first one was Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. In the movie, new parents Rogen and Rose Byrne are mortified to learn that a fraternity has moved into the house next door. The frat makes too much noise, which keeps Rogen’s newborn up at night. Rogen and Byrne want to confront the frat, but don’t want to seem like old fuddyduddies. You see, they’re still trying to cope with “Adulthood” and their newfound status as parents. They want to still be “cool”, even though they now have different priorities and responsibilities. After having the cops called on them, the frat retaliates by sparking off a prank war with Rogen and Byrne. Underneath all of the pranks, there’s a message about fear of growing up. Rogen fears he’s no longer the cool guy, while Efron is scared he won’t be the cool guy once college ends. By the end, they both seem to have come to terms with where they are in life. In all, it was a serviceable, yet pretty forgettable, movie. I’d say wait for it to come on TV, but I don’t know how they’ll air it with all the dildos and whatnot.

Sex Tape Poster

The next movie I watched was Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cameron Diaz’s ass and/or sideboob, this is the movie for you. The whole movie is basically given away in the trailer, but in case you never saw it, here we go: Segel and Diaz used to have sex all the time, but now they have kids and responsibilities and the spark seems to be gone. On a rare night alone, they decide to film themselves performing every move from The Joy of Sex in an effort to be wild and crazy. Well, Segel doesn’t delete the video like Diaz told him to, and it ends up being uploaded to a bunch of iPads that Segel has given to various people, including the mailman. Let’s take a break here and examine that little plothole: who the Hell just gives away iPads to random people? Do you know how much those things cost?! Before they can get all the iPads back, someone decides to blackmail them for $25,000 or else they’ll upload it to YouPorn. As you can imagine, “hilarity ensues” as they race around trying to track down every copy of the file. In the meantime, Segel almost kills a dog with a treadmill, Nat Faxon makes a cameo with his weird teeth, and Rob Lowe appears as a creepy cokehead. Let’s take another pause here: I’ve noticed that recreational coke use is all the rage in “edgy” comedies these days. It seems that white people are giving up on weed, and going straight to the cocaine. Is this true? Is it now as prevalent amongst the early 30s set as Hollywood has depicted lately? Anyway, the movie’s pretty predictable, although it journeys into the unbelievable near the end. At its heart, though, it’s a movie about how a relationship can break down to the point where the partners feel they need something like a sex tape to save things. That aspect was kinda heavy.

superbad

What I’m learning is that the whole Judd Apatow set is growing up with me. When I was in my 20s, they were in their 20s and had goofy movies like Superbad and Pineapple Express. Now that I’m in my 30s, they’re in their 30s, going through the same stuff I am. Right now, a lot of those movies are about how much it sucks to get old. This includes This Is 40, Neighbors, and Sex Tape. That’s sort of scary. I look to movies as an escape, but they’re just kinda adding to fears I already had. And the answers they provide aren’t very reassuring. Oh well, I guess that’s what we get when we look to Hollywood for answers. Anyone got any coke?

scottneitlich

It was a big week for toy folks to get their Underoos in a bunch. First off, Scott Neitlich, AKA “ToyGuru”, resigned from Mattel. This is a big deal, as he was basically the face of the company’s collector lines, such as Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics. As the face of the company, he also had a target on his head, and every questionable decision made by the company was squarely blamed on him. The message boards were on fire over the weekend, as people either wished him well at his new company or cursed the ground he walks on for ruining their childhoods.

BBFigure

Now, this next little piece of business. So, this chick in Florida, Susan Scrivjer felt that Breaking Bad figures had no place in Toys “R” Us, as they glorified the drug trade. So, she started a petition which reportedly got around 9,000 signatures. What did TRU do? They acquiesced and removed the toys. This enraged adult collectors, as it seemed like it was just an issue for a small minority (until the 9,000 signature petition), and it sets a precedent that nothing’s safe. It also seemed hypocritical, as they sell Mature-rated video games, but have a problem with simple, shittily-made (in my opinion) action figures. I’ve said my piece on Twitter, but I guess it bears repeating here. See, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I kinda don’t think those should be in TRU. I’m a bit of an old fogey, I know. I remember when those toys were comic shop only, and I was a bit surprised when I started seeing them at TRU. To be honest, I’m kinda surprised it took this long for there to be backlash. I never thought it would be the Breaking Bad toys, though. I kinda thought it would’ve happened with the HB Hellboy figures or the KA Kick Ass toys. I mean, if you can’t even put the name of the property ON the toy, then maybe you’re not selling in the correct marketplace. But now we’ve got a slippery slope going, because anything is fair game to pull and a precedent’s been set.

T2

 I think it’s more about industry clout than it is about subject matter. Terminator 2 toys came out because of Kenner, and TRU needed the revenue from other Kenner wares. Sure, T2 was an R-rated movie, but Kenner was a major player, so it’s not like TRU could say no. They pulled the Breaking Bad toys ’cause they were from Mezco. This never would’ve happened with Mattel or Hasbro; they need that money too much. Other decisions would hinge on it. Plus, those companies would never waste their time on “staction figures” based on a cable drama.  This was a slap to the little guy. Anyway, the toys have been put on an “indefinite sabbatical” according to a TRU statement, so Scrivjer and censorship won. At the end of the day, though, kids wouldn’t even know who Walter White was if it weren’t for shitty parenting. He’d just be a figure of “some old guy”.

awesomecassette

Next month, they’re releasing the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix on cassette. So, good luck finding a tape deck!

peyton

This week, Peyton Manning, of the Denver Broncos, made history as he broke Brett Favre’s 509 touchdown record. I’m not really a football guy, but Lindsay will kill me if I don’t mention it.

There was some good news this week: we found out the sex of the baby! Lord, give me strength…

Links I Loved

I watched WWE for the First Time in 15 Years and It Was Confusing as Hell – deathandtaxes

The Last Twisted ToyFare Theatre Ever – JustinAclin.com

Halloween Web – Holidaze – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

After These Messages….the Slow Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons – Raging Nerdgasm

Are we gonna even pretend that the Age of Ultron trailer didn’t have the West Week Ever? I mean, just look at it!

Yeah, the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer had the West Week Ever. ‘Nuff said.

07th May2014

Thrift Justice: YSE – FCBD Edition

by Will

thriftjYSE

We’re back! It’s been such a long time, but the yard sale season is finale upon us. While I was gone, the thrift stores dried up on me. I think there are several reasons for this, but the bottom line is that the gettin’ wasn’t good anymore. So, I had to wait around for the weather to get nicer, and for the garage doors to open on an early Saturday morning. I’ve actually been going to yard sales for the past three weeks or so, but it wasn’t until the other day that I finally hit pay dirt. My trusty partner, Special Forces, couldn’t make the journey, so I ended up charting an ambitious route down to Centreville, Virginia all the way to Olney, Maryland. There seemed to be community sales everywhere, and those are awesome, as you can just hop from house to house in the same neighborhood. There were so many sales, in fact, that I blew off the monthly Civitan Flea Market that I’ve written about in the past.

So, why Centreville, Virginia? Well, I was looking for local sales on Craigslist Friday night, and I was getting overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Just as I was about to close the browser, I saw an for someone saying they were selling superhero toys and graphic novels. DING DING DING DING DING! That’s exactly the kind of stuff I’m looking for when I’m out on the hunt, and even though this sale was almost an hour away, I HAD to see what he had to offer. So, I woke up at 6:30, got some gas, and sped down the Beltway to Centreville. When I got there, I wasn’t disappointed. He had quite a few graphic novels, but I had most of them. He also had TONS of DC Direct and Hellboy figures. They were actually reasonably priced at around $5 per figure, but I steer clear of DC Direct, as those things are just too fragile. Here’s what I did get:

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I actually have most of the stories in the collection, but it was such a beautiful leather-bound hardcover, and I got it for $5. Since this is an older book, it’s no longer the *complete* Frank Miller Batman, as it’s missing The Dark Knight Strikes Back, as well as All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, but I don’t really mind.

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I grabbed this guy when I was pretty sure that I already had him. I hadn’t bought DC Universe Classics/DC Superheroes in so long that I really do have trouble remembering which ones I’ve already bought. I knew I had a Steel figure, but I couldn’t remember if it had the metallic “S” that this figure had. So, for $5, I took the chance. When I got home, it turned out I did NOT have this version of the figure, so I’m very happy, as this variant wasn’t easy to find when it first came out.

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I was really happy to pick up for this figure, as these things originally retailed for $60-80. I always admired them in comic shops, but this wasn’t a scale I was interested in getting hooked on. Still, the guy was selling it for $20 and it was new, so I had to jump on it. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna keep it or flip it until I saw the prices it was commanding on Amazon. So, I went with “flip it”.

I paid a little more than typical “yard sale prices” at the Centreville sale, but I didn’t mind, as it was for a good cause: the guy was raising money for his upcoming wedding. If you’ve been following this site long enough, you’ll remember that’s why I started Will’s World of Wonder, so I was more than happy to help him reach his goal (for an update, I still have about $600 to go before that whole wedding’s paid off. Buy some stuff from me!).

2014-05-03 15_opt(3)Once I was done in VA, I traveled back to Maryland, and stumbled upon a school having a small sale. There were only about 6 tables, and I was about to leave when I saw this guy: The Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Deluxe SuperTrain Megazord. The guy manning the table was like, “Oh, everybody needs a Transformer!” I didn’t feel like correcting him, and simply asked how much it cost. “$4.00” I couldn’t believe my ears! This is a big honking robot, and it was COMPLETE. I couldn’t get four dollars out of my pocket quickly enough!

2014-05-03 15_opt(4)I made my way to another neighborhood sale, and found these guys: Movie Masters figures from The Dark Knight, and a Speed Racer Mach 6 Hot Wheels car. I already have the Movie Masters, but I figure I can flip them. After all, that Joker was only available as part of a 2-pack, and I’ve had success selling him in the past. The Mach 6 is for me, as I collect basic pop culture-related Hot Wheels cars. The kid selling the figures wanted a little more than I wanted to pay, but I wasn’t about to haggle with a kid. Luckily, the mom got involved and gave me a good deal. I got the Mach 6 for free. My sweetest haul, however, was yet to come.

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On the way to another sale, I stumbled upon a church sale on a corner. I don’t always have luck at church sales, as you never quite know if the denomination of the church will have issues with certain items being sold. That didn’t seem to be the case here, as I found this NERF arsenal under a table in a LEGO Store bag. The best part: it was ALL $10. I didn’t even stand there to investigate it. I grabbed the bag and headed for the cashier. When I got home, I discovered that it had everything you see in the pic. Needless to say, the lot’s already on Craigslist.

If you looked at the title, you’ll notice that I called this the “FCBD Edition”, as this adventure took place on Free Comic Book Day. In the past, I used to pay a visit to every comic shop within driving distance, as different shops have different books. In recent years, I’ve kind played it cool on FCBD, as it’s not really for me. I’m already a comic fan, so I don’t need to be converted. Back when I worked at Diamond, I helped organize FCBD for a couple of years, and the original intent was for it to bring in new comic audiences. Fortuitously, it tends to fall the day after a big comic book movie release, so the hope is that the movie crowd will want to check out the source material and seek out a comic shop. I can run all over creation trying to collect all of the different books, but I rarely ever read them, and I’d be taking them away from someone who might actually appreciate them. So, my current FCBD consists of stopping at one local shop that also holds a trivia contest. I enter the contest every year, and I’m always either a finalist or the winner (I’m not that good, but the questions aren’t that hard). Well, this year, I WON!!! And here’s my prize:

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The X-Men: Fall of the Mutants Omnibus. Interesting story about this book. When I got to the shop, I really wasn’t feeling trivia. I was happy enough with the spoils from my yard sale hunts, and I just wasn’t feeling very “comicy”. In fact, I was just about to walk out of trivia just as it started. I figured, “Well, I’m already here, so why not?” Now, the funny thing is that once the game started, I KNEW I was gonna win that book. I’m not sure why, but I could just feel it. It was almost like it was destiny. You see, when I first started actually collecting comics, my very first back issue was Uncanny X-Men #227 – the final issue of the “Fall of the Mutants” crossover. I remember I liked the cover and it seemed like a decent jumping on point (a rare occurrence when dealing with X-Men), so I took a chance. 20 years later, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading that storyline to put that issue into context. Now I finally have the chance to read the whole thing, and it’s all because I knew the name of Reed and Sue Richards’ daughter. See, I told you the questions weren’t that hard.

So, what have you all found in the wild lately?

25th Nov2013

Mail Call Monday – Facts & Figures

by Will

Welcome to the return of Mail Call Monday! I’ve been a bit of an eBay whore lately, so I’ve gotten quite a few packages. I wish I could say that these were holy grails or something, but they’re really just the result of boredom. Basically, I searched for auctions that were ending soon, and checked to see if any of them interested me. It’s a cheap tactic, but it yielded some pretty nice results. Let’s see what I got, shall we?

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I wish I could say that buying this figure was the result of some sort of racial obligation, but that’s just not true. I really just wanted him because he was rare, and he was the one Thor figure I never found at retail. Luckily, someone had him at retail price so I jumped on it. Sure, I know he probably turned up at Five Below of TJ Maxx (which I’m sure you’ll tell me in the comments), but I’m not disappointed. I also think there should be a metal band of all black guys called “Heimdall”.

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I really just got this to flip, as I already own it. I love this figure ’cause he’s really to scale with the rest of the Batman: The Animated Series/Justice League figures. This version of Tim Drake was much younger than Dick Grayson’s Robin, and the diminutive size of the figure shows that. Mattel has reused those BTAS molds time and again, but they haven’t done much with this one, so he’s still a bit harder to come by. As a strange coincidence, it turns out that this item came from Diamond – my former employer. Yup, they sold it through their Hakes Americana subsidiary. Small world…

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I got this from my dear friend @Ponderiss, as she accidentally ended up with two and knew that I’d love it. I think this may end up on my desk at work.

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“I’m The Juggernaut, bitch!” God, did that meme get old fast. And then Ratner made things even worse by putting that line in X-Men: The Last Stand. It wasn’t even in context with the scene and just came across as unnecessarily aggressive. Anyway, I collect 3 types of Marvel Legends: X-Men, Ultimate Marvel, and movie figures. This falls into 2 of those categories, and I only paid $5 for him so it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice.

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This X3 Colossus came from the same seller as Juggernaut up there. Again, he fulfilled 2 categories, and was another $5. The additional shipping to add him to Juggy was $1, so why not, right?

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This guy’s a longer story. $5 Figure Guy above had one of these for, you guessed it, $5. I bid on it but missed the email telling me that I’d been outbid. Turns out the winner beat me by $0.50. By this point, I’d already made up my mind that I wanted the figure, so I went looking for the next cheapest offering. I can’t say I got him doe $5, but I did OK – especially when I know that the seller lost money on shipping, based on the size of the box this came in.

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As I’ve written about in the past, I collect Toy Fair, industry-only catalogs from the major toy companies. I didn’t have any from Mattel, and this also happened to be a good year: 2003. In 2003, Mattel debuted the 6″ Batman line, which eventually led to the DC Universe Classics line. It was also in the middle of the Masters of the Universe toyline revival.Unlike most of the thin catalogs that I own, this one is pretty thick -basically the size of a modern IKEA catalog. Here are two of my favorite page spreads from the book:

 

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I also got a late 80s Kenner Toy Fair catalog – 1989, to be exact. While it was too late to have Super Powers, this was still a great year, as the book contains Police Academy, The Real Ghostbusters, Robocop, and Starting Lineup figures. Here are two of my favorite pics from that catalog:

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One day, I might get around to posting actual scans but that’s all you get for now.

So, that brings this edition of Mail Call Monday to a close. Expect another one soon, as I kinda went on a bender this weekend, including getting my first S.H. Figuarts Power Rangers figure. That was a can of worms I really tried not to open…

13th Nov2013

Thrift Justice – Fleas and Thank You, Xuxa

by Will

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Man, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Basically, there just hasn’t been a lot of awesome stuff out in these streets. The thrift stores have dried up, while the yard sales have yielded little. So, I’ve been forced to resort to the final frontier of thrifting: the flea market. It’s not my first choice, but it sometimes gets the job done. Here’s some stuff that I’ve found on recent visits.

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I’ve written about the Civitan Flea Market in the past, and while it hasn’t been as packed with goodies as it used to be, it still has a few conversation pieces. One of my current goals is to become the go-to American site for all Xuxa Google searches. This just helps me get one step closer to that goal. I got this baby for $1, but not without some resistance from the seller. He felt the need to tell me that it was odd seeing a man “buy a Barbie doll” and he wanted to know if it was for me. I corrected him that it was a Xuxa doll, but I told him it wasn’t for me. So I lied. I wasn’t getting shanked by some flea market bigot. Best to let him think it’s for my biracial daughter or some shit.

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On another trip, I managed to get this LEGO Hawkeye for $5. That might seem a bit steep, but it’s a lot better than having to buy the entire building set for him. Now, my LEGO Avengers consist of him, Cap, Iron Man, and Thor – all without having to buy some huge $60+ building set.

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The same vendor with Hawkeye also had these Marvel Universe Series III holograms. I don’t go into it much on the blog, mainly because they’re not as prevalent anymore, but I’m a sucker for some holograms. So, I had to have these.

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I actually already own this, but it was only a couple of bucks and I figure I can flip it on Amazon or something.

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Even though their rubsigns aren’t present, these Battle Beasts were a good acquisition for a couple of bucks. They probably would’ve cost more had the dealer known what they were. He waited until after I paid, and then asked, “What are those things called anyway?”

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When it came to DC Universe Classics, I’d made a conscious effort to avoid the “Lantern Corps” figures. I thought it was a dumb idea, and I didn’t feel like paying retail for a bunch of repaints. That said, he was only $3 and he’s so BLUE. I HAD to have him!

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I got these Joes at a booth where a woman was charging $0.50 each for them. This was a no-brainer, as that 25th anniversary Chuckles figure was only available in what has become a VERY expensive figure pack.

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After Civitan dried up, Special Forces told me about a flea market in nearby West Virginia. So, one Saturday morning, we made the trek to Harpers Ferry to see what we could find. This wasn’t really a “collectibles” environment, unless you’re into NASCAR and Hot Wheels. I did, however, find this guy:

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This Robin figure is from the Mego Corp, and he is PERFECT. And since his head is starting to turn blue, he even came with a better replacement head. I tried haggling with the dealer, but he wasn’t having it. Still, this was a pretty nice buy for $25. I found it odd that he wouldn’t give me the mailer box because it had his home address on it. Why didn’t he plan for that by scratching it off? Did he think I was gonna come rob him? Anyway, I ended up walking around, holding him for the rest of the morning, looking like a goober.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What have you guys found lately?

20th Apr2010

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

by Will

“They got all the right moves in all the right faces. So yeah, we’re going down.”

I’ve been told that I don’t blog enough on a personal level anymore. The Adventures West Coast posts are all well and good, but they don’t have the gravitas of the Lesbian Chase or Marion Barry Karaoke posts of years past (if you haven’t read my archives, they’re really quite good! I advise you to read them now, while they’re free. When I become famous, you’re only gonna get those in my book!). Anyway, something happened to me today that I felt should be shared.

I’ve long felt that some people don’t have the capacity to be bad. Sure, they wanna be cool like the next guy, and scheme and cut shady deals, but for every Zack Morris, there are about 150 Screeches. I am one such Screech. I tried to fight the giraffe, and the giraffe won. Let me wind it back, though.

For anyone who has never read this blog/known me, I love toys. I buy toys. I don’t usually play with them, but they typically reside in a glass case from Ikea (I highly recommend the DETOLF). In any case, my preferred toy line at the moment is DC Comics figures from Mattel. These either come in the form of DC Universe Classics (I tweet about these a LOT) or the Movie Masters figure line from The Dark Knight movie. This story concerns the latter.

The Movie Masters were released 2 years ago, when The Dark Knight actually hit theaters. They were hyperdetailed figures, with a good bit of articulation, and pretty decent likenesses of the characters. They weren’t all that popular after awhile, and they all went to clearance before the 3 series was released. Well, Mattel decided to make them an online-only collection, where they would release a new one on their MattyCollector.com website on a monthly basis. This idea sucked because they were charging, roughly $20 (not including shipping) per figure. The figures were nice, but not that nice. At San Diego Comic-Con last year, they announced that the figures would first be sold online, but would then make their way to Toys “R” Us stores exclusively. I figured I’d wait for the TRU release so that I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping, plus there was no way TRU was going to charge $20 for them. I watched as the Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent figures sold out online, but I was sticking to my plan. I was hoping that Mattel had put some stock aside for the TRU sales, so I wasn’t gonna order online. Then, I experienced a bit of a toy drought. A bout of ennui had inspired several toy hunts of epic proportion – all of which yielded NOTHING. At the same time, blog posts from Matty seemed to imply that the TRU deal was falling apart. So, if I wanted any of the figures I’d been waiting for, I’d probably need to just buy them online. Needing to get my toy fix, I crumbled and ordered Jail Cell Joker from the MattyCollector site. After shipping, that fucker cost $23! I didn’t care, though, as I finally had a new toy. That feeling subsided, however, when he arrived in the form of the most boring figure I’ve seen in some time. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good likeness, but it just sits there. No special features, and the articulation isn’t as great as that of others in the line.

Fast forward to last week. A Mattel blog post reported that the web-only Dark Knight figures would be showing up in TRU stores “in the near future”. This prompted blog comments from collectors reporting that they’d already seen them in their local TRU stores. Ya see, Mattel didn’t want to publicize this because they wanted to sell them for $23 before you realized you could get them in stores for about half that price. Those online collectors were reporting that TRU’s price for the figures was roughly $12.99 each. But the plot thickens: remember how I told you the first 2 series had gone to clearance after the movie hype passed? Well, the packaging of the new figures is exactly like that of the old. So, many lazy TRU employees had just thrown them up on the clearance pegs for $4.98, not realizing that this was different product. So, if you got to a register and it rang up as $12.99, you could just point out the sign and they’d adjust the price.

Here’s my thought on this: is the tactic wrong? Yes, because you know the real price. That said, if TRU isnt dilligent enough to catch this, it’s not the consumer’s fault. By law, if there are multiples on the peg, they have to honor that price. I feel like a TRU employee in the boys dept should notice something odd about them receiving product for a line that pretty much trickled off 2 years ago. I worked that department for 10 years, so it’s not like I’m speaking out of class. The products look the same, they’re hung on clearance pegs and, most importantly, there’s NO new peg tag reflecting the new price. If a different price is not indicated where they hang, how is the consumer to know?

So, how does this all apply to me? Well, yesterday, I went into a TRU and pulled off this trick. There were no pegs indicating a new price, and the price scanner system was down. So, I honestly didn’t know the price until I got to the register (after all, $12.99 was just the average price being reported online). I told them about the shelf pegs, and they did the price adjustment. So, I got 2 new figures for a total of about $11. The saddest thing is that they weren’t even figures I really wanted. It was a weird Scarecrow variant and a Batman with glow-in-the-dark eyes. I can make all kinds of excuses, but I basically wanted a deal and I was tired of being fucked over by The Man. I mean, Matty Collector put the same “Night Vision Batman” for sale on their site at noon yesterday for, you guessed it, $23 (including shipping). So, Mattel was trying to rip me off by charging twice retail, while TRU’s negligence allowed me to buy what is, really, a dead toy line, at a great price. My problem, though, is I got cocky. I didn’t listen to The Gambler, and I counted my money before the dealing was done.

You see, today, I had lunch with my friend “Special Forces” (we call him that because he was in charge of the storeroom at TRU, and when it was holiday season, he got to wear a special black uniform so customers wouldn’t ask him questions). He had acquired a DCUC Deadman figure for me, so I took him to lunch to thank him. When we were done, he informed me that TRU had gotten a truck last night, so there was a chance they might’ve gotten the Harvey Dent figure I’d been wanting.

We get to the store, and all they have are a shitload of the older figures, on clearance for $4.98. After looking all through the aisles, we stumbled upon 3 of the new figures. I had them all, but he needed 2 of them. Now, since my episode yesterday, I now know that these things scan as $12.99. That said (and I checked), there was NO shelf tag indicating the new figures. So, as far as TRU’s shelves were concerned, it was a $4.98 figure. So, SF is all nervous, ’cause he used to work at this particular store, plus he knew he probably couldn’t use his discount card because he’d have to identify himself as an employee, which would require a manager. To make matters worse, the manager on duty was actually a guy we both used to work for at another store. When I noticed this, I said “Crap, we can’t do it because Paul’s here.” Remember that. I didn’t yell it or anything. Just said it. It’s going to be important later.

Instead of going to customer service, we go to the R-Zone, which is the electronics dept. I ask the chick in there if she can ring us up, and she begrudgingly agrees. Since SF’s nervous, and I didn’t really care about $10 (yup, I’m a balla!), I told him I’d take care of it. She scans the figures, at which point I do the whole, “The sign said these were $4.98.” Of course, she returns with “Well, I’ll have to see the sign.” I follow with a “And I’ll be glad to show it to you.” We get to the aisle, and it’s not like she can find anything to the contrary, try as she might. I know how this works. I’ve been in her role before. Still, there’s nothing she can do. She goes back to the register and then decides she has to look up something. She runs over to customer service, while I’m running my mouth to SF about how you’ve got to take back from the system sometimes. The rantings of a failed revolutionary. So, she comes back, and it all falls apart.

First off, she says that the clearance price is just for Scarecrow. I say that it’s not, and that the signs make no indication of this. Then, she says, “You knew this, which is why you said ‘We can’t do it because Paul’s here.’ Yeah, you didn’t think I heard that. You also didn’t know that I’m a supervisor.” Well, bitch got me there. No, I didn’t know she was a supervisor. I still held on to the argument that it’s not my fault that they didn’t retag properly, and that they were hanging with all the others. She goes through the whole “somebody must’ve put them in the wrong place”, which still isn’t my fault, but I was still pretty much caught because she’d heard the Paul comment. So, I played it off and followed through with the transaction. However, what was originally gonna be an $11 transaction was now (and correctly so) a $27 transaction. FUCK! Sure, I could’ve walked away, but I was already guilty, so I paid the woman. Special Forces got his figures, so he was happy. What pissed me off most, however, was how she took her damn time ringing me up once she felt vindicated. OK, I suck at bamboozling you, but just get me out of here, OK? Nah, she milked it. When it was done, I went over to Customer Service to talk to Paul. I knew I’d avoided him in the beginning, but I still felt I could argue to my advantage, especially concerning the lack of shelf tags. If nothing else, maybe he’d dispatch someone to retag the shelves at once, and I’d feel vindicated or something. Unfortunately, Paul was gone. Yup, he was there one minute, and gone the next. I thought that meant he was hanging out around the corner, but he was nowhere to be found. So, I walked away, tail between my legs, $27 poorer.

This isn’t Consumerist, so I’m not going to try to say what I did was right. I was merely trying to exploit a loophole in the system. However, I let greed and cockiness get the best of me, and my luck ran out. So, now they’re probably gonna look at me funny whenever I go in that store ’cause I’m that “guy who thought he was slick”. I hate those looks. I used to give them to the guys who’d pulled this stuff on me. But I guess that’s what this is really all about: I worked for TRU for 10 years, and there were countless times I was on the other end of this. Unfortunately, the law is that they have to honor the price, so they got away scott free. I guess I just wanted my corner of the sky. But, as you’ve read, I’m just not cut out for deceit, even concerning something as lame as action figure collecting. The way I see it, TRU just got from me today the money that they should’ve gotten yesterday. Everything balances out in the end, and I can’t beat the system when I try.