15th Oct2012

Thrift Justice – Thrifting For Two

by Will

So, I got married last week.* I’ve got a post coming about that, but the main change is that this has affected my thrifting. You see, I used to sneak off to thrift stores, while the wife watched football or Chopped. Recently, however, she has been bitten by the crafting bug, so she wants to find all kinds of old stuff to upcycle and use for projects. This means that she now has a reason to frequent my stores. I have successfully infected her (and it doesn’t require penicillin)! With this in mind, we set out on Saturday and hit 3 of my usual spots. I’ve been having quite the streak of luck over the past week, and you’ll love what you see at the end of this post!

Let’s work backwards here. At the last stop, I found a grab bag filled with 3.75 figures. I only saw 25th anniversary G.I. Joe Mutt and I was sold. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how great of a find this was. I ended up with Mutt, Junkyard, 2 Crimson Guardsmen, 3 movie Vipers, an exclusive Duke, and a TRU exclusive Dialtone (Agent Helix repaint). The bag also contained a few of the G.I. Joe vs Cobra figures, as well as members of The Corps, but I already chucked those. I know I’m selling Mutt & Junkyard (already have ’em), so holla if interested.

Now, for a little life lesson. You see, folks, it’s not all fun & games in the world of thrifting. While your success ratio can be high, every now and then you’re gonna get burned. I saw this DVD set as I was standing in line at the register. The price tag said $2.90, so I jumped at it. I’m not really sure why, though. I think I was overcome by the fact that I know folks are nostalgiac for old Nick, even though this didn’t apply to me. You see, I didn’t have cable growing up, so I only knew of the shows from when we were in motels or I was at a friend’s house. Plus, I have a few friends who grew up with Melissa Joan Hart, and they all say she was a raging bitch. All that aside, I’ll buy the first season of ANYTHING if the price is right, and this price was Bob Barker right. So, imagine my surprise when I got home to find this:

THERE AIN’T NO DISCS IN THERE! This isn’t totally uncommon, but usually happens with CDs. It never fails: whenever I find a CD at a thrift store that I want, I open the case to find that the disc has already been “liberated”. I didn’t expect this, however, from a DVD box set. I guess I’m getting sloppy, as I picked up a Heathcliff set last week, and the first thing I did was check the discs in store. The thought never occurred to me here, however. Luckily, Lindsay checked the receipt and noticed it had been charged as a book, so I only lost $0.90 on the matter.

Now, I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about this: I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen the original Star Wars Trilogy. Before you throw stones, I’d like to point out my good pal over at Cool and Collected hadn’t seen any Star Trek until recently. It happens! I know I’ve seen drips and drabs, but none of the complete movies in the last 20 years. Face it: pop culture is constantly shoving Star Wars down your throat with jokes about The Force, Volkswagon commercials, and Family Guy parodies that I felt I’d gotten all I needed to know from that. Still, this set was $9, and I didn’t think I’d find a price better than that. No, it’s not the fancy schmancy Blu Ray, but it’s widescreen, so that should calm down some of the nerds. Anyone who knows me knows that it takes me forever to actually watch the DVDs I own, so I hope to get to this before retirement.

I tend not to talk a lot about my mom on here because most of you wouldn’t understand. I had an interesting upbringing, but it was a good one. I wasn’t allowed to have a lot of stuff that other kids had, like toy guns, but I got along fine without them. Sometimes I snuck stuff by her. For example, I was a huge Garbage Pail Kids fan when I was 4, and I used to stick them on the refrigerator. My mom initially thought they were Cabbage Patch Kids until she took a closer look. Let’s just say they don’t make stickers like they used to. Try as she might, she could not get those things off. So, she resorted to just covering them up with graded homework and calendars from the local real estate agent.

Another thing my mom didn’t like were M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. I’m not sure if it was because they were pink, but I also managed to get one that was particularly grotesque. Now, I tend to have the memory of an elephant, but there’s one occasion that slipped by me. You see, I happened to get a M.U.S.C.L.E. from a grocery store vending machine (which, upon looking back, means it was probably a knock off), and I was so proud because I didn’t have any of those toys. Well, one night, something compelled my mom to come into my room. She saw the toy on my dresser, and decided that it wouldn’t be spending another night at Casa West. As she tells it, she opened the front door, and threw it as far as she could. We had this bro named “Roland” who mowed the lawn, and she made sure not to tell me until after his next visit. The funny this is that I never really noticed it was gone. I always classified vending machine toys under the banner of “toys for poor kids” – like kids meal toys, they are a fleeting joy. They aren’t the kind of things you’ll have lifelong memories about. She eventually told me the story, and I couldn’t believe it. All these years later, I still can’t believe it, but it’s kinda funny to me. So, when I found these at the thrift store on Saturday, my first thought was “I can’t wait to show these to her.” All she could do was laugh. So, that was my long winded way of telling you that I acquired 75 Series 1 “flesh” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures for an AMAZING price. At the end of the day, this line meant nothing to me outside of a funny story, so make me a good offer and they’re yours!

Oh, and how did the wife fare? Well, she’s a pretty voracious reader, but slacked off during wedding prep. That all changed when we found a thrift store selling hardcover books for $0.90. So, she came home with a stack large enough to choke a crocodile! Because crocs..eat..books…just go with it, OK? Anyway, that’s it for this installment. Next time, I’ll tell you about my buddy Joe, who happens to wear a M.A.S.K.

*My photos suck because my former staging area is now the home of our brand new wine fridge.

28th Sep2012

Thrift Justice – Zords & Zorcery

by Will

Unless this is your first time at this site, you already know of my love for Power Rangers. Hell, even if this is your first time, you probably ended up here because of one of the Power Rangers images I “borrowed” from some other blog. Whatever the case, I’ve had a mad-on for Zord-commanding heroes ever since the first airing of “Day of the Dumpster” in 1993. Yes, I’m that old and still following this stuff. Anyway, ever since the thrifting shifted into high gear a few years back, I’ve been taking in “orphaned” zords. For those not “in the know”, Power Rangers control robots called “zords”, which can combine to form Mega and even Ultrazords. In toy form, most zords are sold as complete Megazords that break down into their composite parts. When purchased new, they cost anywhere from $30-60. When the show first hit, I made a point to get all the standard Megazords. 15 years ago, the amount of Megazord combinations per season would max out around 3. Then, Saban/Disney completely lost their shit. I swear Power Rangers Wild Force had about 87 zords. They were even introducing new zords in the series finale! Needless to say, I kinda gave up collecting around that time. They were introducing new toys that would only be seen onscreen ONCE. The last “new” Megazord I purchased at retail was the Turbo Megazord back in 1997. So, I’ve had quite a bit of catching up to do. Little did I know that I would take care of a big chunk of that gap in one week.

Everything you see here was acquired within the last seven days. Yeah, I don’t understand it, either. I just struck at the right time, I guess.

First up, we’ve got the Galactabeats from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. I’m not sure if they’ve done it since, but that was the first season they weren’t actually called “zords”. The premise was that they were sentient beings that could assume a mech form to allow them to combine. If you spend a lot of time thinking about it, it’ll weird you out. I mean, the Rangers were piloting living, breathing things that turned into robots. Anyway, I was at one of my usual thrift haunts, and noticed the Red Lion in a grab bag. Whenever this happens, my Spidey Sense goes off, as I know that people don’t tend to just donate ONE zord. So, there’s usually a good chance that there are more! I found the Blue Gorilla on the shelf, and eventually found the yellow and pink galactibeasts in other grab bags. I tore the place up looking for the green one, but to no avail. Regardless, I got 4/5 of a Megazord for $7. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found green sometime soon. Why? Read on.

While searching for the Green LG Galactibeast, I noticed another grab bag with a tiny ambulance in it. As I looked closely, I realized that it was the Pink zord from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. After searching a bit more, I found the blue zord from that same season. I already had red from an earlier trip, so now I have 3/5 of that Megazord combination.

A couple days after that last hunt, I found myself in another thrift store where I lucked out again. It was clear they’d just dumped a bunch of Rangers stock on the shelves, and I immediately found the black, and white Wild Force zords in a grab bag. As I moved down the aisle, I found the red and blue zords in another bag.

A COMPLETE Megazord for less than $5! The funny thing about this was that I was really only just looking for yellow. You see, I bought a huge box of zords/transformers at a thrift store about 6 months ago, which included every core WF zord except yellow, which forms the head.

Randomly, I also found the Black Bear zord from the series, which is an alternative arm.

When I first found the grab bags, I didn’t notice yellow in the pack, so I continued searching, and stumbled upon the Jungle Fury Jungle Master Megazord (which is comprised of the Gorilla, Antelope and Penguin Spirit Zords) . It’s missing a piece of the penguin zord on the foot, but the electronics still work and it was only $2. It was at this point that I reinspected the grab bag and noticed yellow had been inside the whole time! So, now I have almost 2 complete WF Megazords.

Friday, while searching yet another thrift store (yes, I have a problem), I came across part of the Super Samurai Clawzord.

Saturday, however, was when I made my favorite discovery. At, yes, a different thrift store, I was making a final pass down the toy aisle when I saw the Power Rangers in Space Astro Megaship. I already have a smaller, playset version, but I never had the deluxe version of the toy. It was odd that I didn’t buy this when it first came out, as I was still pretty into Power Rangers at the time. In any case, this zord was in GREAT condition, except it’s missing the NASADA shuttle that forms the head. So, it can’t form the Astro Megazord at this time, but I’m confident I’ll find the shuttle one day. Plus, it’s a lot better than the $40 the used toy store is charging for it in the exact same condition. Oh, and did I mention I only paid $2 for it? Here’s where fate comes into play: remember the Ranger lot that I bought during the Time Dig? If you remember, that lot included the Astro Megaship shield. Well, the Time Dig actually took place a few hours before I found this Megaship, yet both trips complemented each other, as I’m that much closer to a complete Astro Megazord. This just reaffirmed my commitment to “rescuing” zords, as you never know if the rest of the set is around the corner in some thrift store!

21st Sep2012

Thrift Justice – Operation: Time Dig Part 2

by Will

So, has everyone changed their underwear? Are you sure you’re ready to proceed? OK, so we left off with me posting some of the pics from the website promoting the sale. Now let’s get to my experience digging through TIME!

The sale was to start at 10:30, and I planned to be there as the doors opened, but familial issues prevented that. In any case, I broke the landspeed record to Ellicott City, and got there about 15 minutes after everything started. The booth is located on the 3rd floor of Taylor’s Antique Mall, yet I could hear the sound of shuffling plastic as I walked through the door. I couldn’t tell how many people were there, but I knew I’d have competition. I bounded the stairs to find about 10 people already fast at work in the giant tubs filled with everything. From the pics, I had an idea of the items I’d be looking for, but this was clearly no time for a plan. I jumped right in and started digging in a tub that wasn’t being fanboy molested at the time.

Let’s just say that the “parts sale” description was more than accurate. While you could find some figures here and there, this was Heaven for anyone looking to replace lost figure accessories or restore old Joe vehicles. Two tubs were just G.I. Joe vehicle husks, while one tub was vintage Joe figures and weapons. Everything else was a mix of MOTU parts, Marvel Legends stands, orphaned zords, and anything else you can think of. I came prepared with my own plastic bag, as I really wasn’t sure how things were being priced. The ad mentioned that everything would be “priced to sell/no eBay pricing”, so that was certainly promising. Once I saw other folks with bags, I whipped mine out and started filling it. Since I didn’t really know what the pricing would be, I got greedy. I snatched up anything that seemed semi complete, semi collectible, and, most importantly, wasn’t already claimed by someone else.

Now, here’s the part that I’m ashamed to tell you. Ya see, the original title for this saga was “How I Almost Got Super AIDS”. I guess I was so high on the discovery at hand that I lost a bit of self awareness. As I was digging through a particular tub, I noticed that my hand was wet, but I just kept digging. At one point, I pulled my hand out and noticed my finger was covered in blood. It was my blood. Honestly, I was bleeding pretty badly. At some point, while digging through 30 years of detritus, I managed to cut my finger above the cuticle, and it did not want to stop bleeding. Beside the point that I probably just contaminated the batch, I was also losing out on valuable digging time! I didn’t have a tissue or anything, and while I tried the elementary school first aid of “suck it til it stops”, I just ended up with a mouthful of blood. At that point, I remembered an old receipt that I had in my wallet. I wrapped it around the finger, and kept it moving.

The white stuff is where the receipt fused to the nail. Fun!

I struck up conversations with a few fellow diggers, A) to find out how they’d heard about the sale and B) to somewhat distract them. Yeah, I’m a stinker like that. Once I found out we were looking for different things, I actually helped them out when I ran across something on their list. One guy was looking for vintage Joes, while another had seen some Voltron in the pics and had dragged his little boy down to help him look.

I made sure to hit each tub at least twice, simply because my OCD wouldn’t allow me to leave until I was sure I hadn’t missed anything. Over the course of this time, I struck up a conversation with the booth owner, Todd. It turns out  he’d acquired all of this stuff over the years via various yard sales and whatnot. Instead of throwing away incomplete pieces, he’d just throw them in a tub. Eventually, he had several tubs and his wife wanted him to clear the space before he brought in more. He’s a really cool guy. We discussed Toy Hunter/Collection Intervention (turns out he’d seen neither), I told him about ecrater (he’s tired of eBay being a buyer’s market now), and we discussed the current offerings from LEGO. He also revealed some bad news to me: it turns out, while he was unloading the day before, a guy came up to him and bought 4 of the totes before they even made it inside. Remember all the Transformers stuff you saw in the pics from the last post? Yup, that guy bought basically all of the Transformers stuff, and who knows whatever else was in those totes. Even without the Transformers, I still found some cool stuff, that can be broken down into about six categories:

1) Power Rangers Zord Parts

I actually have a post lined up next week that goes into a bit more detail about why I got this stuff, but the long and short of it is that I tend to buy “orphaned” zords. It’s a pet project of mine to reassemble Megazords by acquiring pieces at a time, on the cheap. When it comes to earlier zords, it doesn’t get much more obscure than this. What you’re looking at it is:

-Thunder Power Turbo Transporter (Ninja Storm): It’s basically just a launching semi.
-Most of the Deluxe Centaurus Megazord (Lost Galaxy): this is one of the zords released when they started not even caring to identify the separate component zords. It debuted near the rushed end of Lost Galaxy and existed merely to be blowed up.

-fist from unknown zord

-Yellow Galactabeast (Lost Galaxy)

-Time Force Megazord micro playset (Time Force): I actually hate micro playsets, and I just grabbed this out of greed

-Senturian Synergizer (Turbo): this was the role play weapon for Ranger ally, The Blue Senturian. Yes, it was spelled that way. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he’s dead now.

-Head of the Red Dragon Thunderzord (MMPR season 2): this is one of those parts that was easily lost. You laugh at me now, but watch…

-Astro Megazord Shield (In Space): this is definitely going to come into play in an upcoming post!

-Galaxy Megazord Sword (Lost Galaxy): again, future post

-Firebird Thunderzord leg stand (MMPR season 20: like the Red Dragon head, it’s another easily lost part – especially since it’s removed to form the Thunder Megazord

2) Hasbro

Yeah, I know some of you are disappointed, but this is pretty much all that was left intact! If you were into restorations and picking up accessories, you’d have had a field day. I, on the other hand, just sold off all the G.I. Joe and Transformers stuff that was in my e-store, and I’m in no hurry to start any restorations at the moment. Plus, as far as my own collection, I’m over vintage and focusing mainly on the anniversary stuff. So, here’s what we have:

-OK, I kinda lied about the “not doing restoration” thing. I actually have a box of TF parts, and I recognized this gun when I grabbed it, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who it’s for. Have I ever told you that transformers are not my strong point? The research is the reason it takes me forever to list them on my site. Help me out, Bot fans!

-It looks like a Dollar General Duke, but I’m not convinced that’s what it is. I know it’s the newer body style that I collect, but since I’ve yet to actually see a DG Joe, I’m reserving judgment. What say you, internet?

-Of course you recognize vintage Deep Six! I never had him, but always wanted his immobile ass, so I fixed that. Dreams do come true!

-I honestly don’t care enough about those Transformers to insult you with incorrect info. They’re incomplete anyway. To the parts box!

3) Marvel Bases & Accessories

This pic points out something I’ve always found interesting about thrifting: one day’s finds may not actually “pay off” until down the road. I picked up a 10″ Toy Biz Silver Surfer about 2 months ago, and he’s just been sitting on my site. Besides the fact that the articulation sucks, I feel like he has sat there because I didn’t have his board. I mean, who wants Silver Surfer without his surfboard?! Well, lo and behold, while digging through this completely unrelated tub, I found the board! Not quite sure what I’m going to do with those figure bases yet…

Don’t worry – like we tell today’s youth, it gets better!

4) Playmobil

You can’t tell from the pic, but there’s a veritable shitload of Playmobil here. I have to admit that this stuff I got mainly for my site. When I see Playmobil, I hear cash registers and see dollar signs. Why is that? Well, it’s probably because Playmobil is the official toy of white upper middle-class parents who don’t want their children playing with licensed toys. “No, put down that Spider-Man and play with this shaggy-haired airport worker!” If it didn’t bring back warm memories of Kindergarten, I’d despite Playmobil much like I do anything by Melissa & Doug. Anyways, this stuff don’t come cheap, and these happened to be vintage pieces. One day, I might take better pics of the stuff, but the copyright date on most of the accessories is 1978. Also, I had no clue that Mattel was once the licensed reseller of Playmobil.

The best part of this acquisition, however, is that it allows me to show you the most racist, yet most hilarious Playmobil set I’ve ever seen:

This guy learned the hard way that you do NOT insult the loincloth of the king’s prized monkey!

5) Minicomics & Manuals

I’m a BIG fan of pack-in premiums from old toylines. I’m still collecting Kenner Action Toy Guides, so this stuff was right up my alley. Todd seemed to think these were the best items I’d found, so let’s see if you agree with him.

Yup, vintage Masters of the Universe minicomics. And yes, there are doubles, so I await your tribute.

Precursors to the Action Toy Guides, these are all Star Wars, all the time! Some of them were even woven together instead of stapled. I’m not sure if that’s how they came back then, or if they had been restored. Again, lots of duplicates.

And I couldn’t forget Hasbro, baby! In fact, I even scored a few vintage G.I. Joe blueprints amongst others below!

6) Pop Culturesplosion!

If you follow me on Instagram (and you totally should; williambrucewest), you’ve already seen a version of this picture. I needed a caption for it, so I said something like “My childhood, kicking you in the face!” Of course, the nerd police jumped on me because I have a 200x He-Man and a Sailor Moon in the pic. Haven’t you ever heard of “creative license”?! Anyway, it was really just an excuse to take a pic of everything that was left, yet didn’t really fit into one of the other categories. Yes, you see:

-Rock Lord

-James Bond Jr (who we all knew was one of Bond’s bastard children, even though they claimed he was a “nephew”)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Krang’s walker

M.A.S.K. Raven (that should get me some Underscoopfire traffic!)

-Mego Pocket Heroes Spider-Man (it’s funny to me that most figures in this line look like they’re masturbating. You can tell me it’s unintentional, but this was a company with a hot tub in the center of its headquarters. From the stories, Mego was like something out of Caligula!)

-Sailor Moon

-200x He-Man and Battle Cat

Knight Rider Key Car (put key into spring loaded hole and launch K.I.T.T.)

Justice League lenticular S-shield (I LOVE holograms and lenticular stuff!)

Stompers-esque truck with A-Team logo

A-Team Face figure

Bravestarr Laser-Fire Backpack

-Mr T trading card

Lazer Tag sensor (sadly, seeing this in the pic on the site was the sole reason I decided to check out the sale. Post to come on all that…)

Rambo bazooka and tripod

-General Lee friction car

So, that pretty much wraps it up. I brought home a lot of crap, but I use “crap” endearingly. I was pleased as punch with what I got, as it certainly beat the junk I probably would’ve found at a yard sale. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday morning, and it’s not every day that you get a chance to go back in time and put your hands on stuff that you’ve either only seen online OR you remember your mom throwing away. Sure, I’ll be out in the streets at yard sales this weekend, but I’m sure I’ll just find the usual Rescue Heroes and broken JAKKS WWE figures. This will probably make me depressed, and make me realize I’m wasting a lot of gas. At those moments, though, I’ll think back to the time dig. There’s more stuff out there, just like this, and it’s waiting to be found. It’s not always on the surface, and sometimes you have to dig for it. I’ll be there, and next time, I’ll wear gloves!

18th Sep2012

Thrift Justice – Operation: Time Dig Part 1

by Will

It was a typical Friday night, as I was combing Craigslist to plan out my yard sale route for the next morning. That’s when I found an ad about a “Toy Parts Sale” at an antique mall that I’ve visited in the past. If you’re in the Maryland area, you should visit Taylor’s Antique Mall in Ellicott City, especially this particular booth called Classic Plastic Toy Store. Anyway, the ad mentioned that there would be parts for a plethora of toylines, but that’s what was confusing: were they talking about weapons, accessories or limbs? Luckily, there was a link that led me to a website with more information. Apparently, the guy had a trailer filled with stuff! On that site, it didn’t emphasize the parts aspect, and focused on the lines that would be represented. Here’s what it said:

6″ by 12′ trailer full of:

He-Man, Gi Joe, Battle Beasts, Transformers, Power Rangers, Legos, Playmobil, Thundercats, MASK, Star Wars, Mad Balls, MUSCLE Men Hot Wheels, Mego, slot cars, Voltron, Marx, Buddy L, Slot Cars , Friction Toys ,Wind Up Toys , My little Pony, Smurfs, Micronauts, Battlestar Galactica, weebles , Fisher Price little people , playschool, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , Superheroes , Star Trek  DUNGEONS & DRAGONS , SUPER POWERS, Silverhawks , ZOIDS: ,INDIANA JONES, GHOSTBUSTERS , STOMPER’s , A-Team , Barbie Dolls, Battle Beasts, Beetlejuice Toys , California Raisins , Colecovision , Atari , Dukes of Hazard , Dune , Garbage Pail Kids, Intelevision, Lunch Boxes, Mr. T Action Figures, Sectaurs, Sega Genesis, Shogun Warriors, Silver Hawks, Starcom, stretch armstrong, WWF Wrestlers, 


Get me a towel, boys, ’cause I’m done. Everything you could ever want is listed in that word cloud. Let me tell ya, as nice as that read, it got better. THERE WERE PICTURES!!!! I didn’t have the patience to take pics when I got there, so these are all from the site, enticing me to make the journey. In case you couldn’t tell, this post is gonna be a 2-parter! (all pictures courtesy of classicplastictoystore.com)

This is how everything looked before the carnage

If you couldn’t tell by the pics, this wasn’t a sale for rookies. You’re not just gonna pick something off a folding table and ask “how much?” No, you were going to have to DIG. Not everyone gets down like that. Outside of myself, @PuppetDevall and his wife are the only ones I know of who enjoy a good treasure dig. This one’s for you, Devalls! This was no ordinary dig. No, this was a dig through time. A TIME DIG! So, how did I fare? Check back Thursday for all the dirty details.

14th Sep2012

LoEB Presents Thrift Justice: The Series!

by Will

My name’s Will, and I wish to be an extraordinary blogger. My pal Brian over at Coolandcollected.com came up with idea for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers a few months ago, and it has really taken off. Essentially, he lists a topic every week, and the members of the league run with it. I’ve never contributed, but I’ve lurked since the beginning, learning about a lot of great bloggers along the way. I’m not always the best team player, but when Brian suggested that we all present our ideas for a reality show starring ourselves, I had to jump on. I’m a bit narcissistic (williambrucewest.com, anyone), but not in the bad way. It’s not that I think highly of myself, but it’s that I’m always VERY self-aware. With that in mind, it’s not hard to spin that into how I would look in a reality show about myself.

So, recently I’ve been having discussions about the “reality” of reality shows in the comment sections of certain sites. To boil it down, folks are insisting that shows like Toy Hunter and Collection Intervention are staged, and that we’re fools for believing they’re not. I get this line of reasoning, but is it wrong to wish that they were real? I mean, there was a time, before the genre took hold, when what you saw was really something that had happened. No one looks back and says that Cops was fake. Was that not a reality show? Anyway, this got me to thinking about what my reality show would be about. They say that you should stick with what you know, but I decided to give it a TV twist. I give you Thrift Justice: The Series!

Archival set photo from unaired pilot

Here’s how Thrift Justice: The Series is structured. The premise is that I’m a lawman who hits thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets when he’s not hitting perps. Am I actually in law enforcement? No. Here’s what I’d do: I’d get in one of those programs where I’d become a sheriff’s deputy, but really only have to be on duty one weekend every six months. Remember how Shaq did that? Most of the time would be spent thrifting, but I’d still probably always have my taser and my Oakleys on me. The title has “The Series” appended on it to show that it’s a natural extension of the Thrift Justice segments that I already do on this site. Basically, I’d be creating cross-platform synergy, where the site feeds the show, and vice versa.

My cast of characters would include my common law wife Robyn, my thrifting pal “Special Forces” (not pictured, for his protection), and my mom, “Bruce” – who actually got me into the world of secondhand stuff, but now thinks I’m in too deep. Each episode would start with me coming off a bust (by framing it this way, it makes it look like I’m constantly bringing criminals to justice, though you’d rarely need to see them), and I’d stop by a thrift store or yard sale on the way home.

On location shot

I’d stick to my normal haunts, but sometimes there would coincidentally be a suspected criminal at these venues. I’d stumble upon something like a vintage Transformers Metroplex, and begin to educate the audience.

“Metroplex is one of the most sought-after Generation 1 Transformers. It’s rare to find him in such good condition. There’s even fan speculation that he was originally meant to be Optimus Prime’s father. (It’s good to throw in something false/outright lie to A: cause the fans to question my experience and B: it’ll fire up the message boards).

Watch the guy in the cowboy hat!

During my little soliloquy, out of the corner of my eye, I’d see someone notice me and they’d run. Innocent people don’t run. I’d have to run after him, catch him, AND hope that Metroplex is still on the shelf when I get back. Once the justice has been dished out, I’d return to my exposition:

“Manuel Garcia was wanted in 2 states for armed robbery. Based on the condition I left him in, he won’t be holding a gun for a long time. Anyway, I’m picking up this Metroplex for $5, but he easily goes for around $50 on the secondary market (note how I didn’t check anything to verify this price, plus I’m already suspect due to that incorrect nugget about him being Optimus’s father). That’s ten times my original investment, and I’ll take that kinda action any day of the week.”

My show would air on Spike or TruTV, as it would really appeal to the demographic that loves Bar Rescue and Lizard Lick Towing. In my mind, Thrift Justice will be Dog The Bounty Hunter meets American Pickers. I’d be followed on the schedule by Pegwarmers, starring my Twitter friend @Th0r4z1n3, a toy collector who runs a gentleman’s club. That’s actually a true story; follow him if you don’t already! The lineup would also include the following shows by fellow “extraordinary bloggers”:

What’s In The Box?: originally an adult program in the UK, the American version will be decidedly different.
Penny Hunter: during sweeps, they plan to have guest appearances by Kaley Cuoco, Cree Summer, AND Janet Jackson!
Mike’s Bunch of Crap: The #1 show amongst Yankees fandom!

10th May2012

Thrift Justice: The More Things Change…

by Will

So, when you read these posts, you probably think I’m all over the place in terms of what I buy. While that’s true to some extent, there are things that I’ve actually been collecting. Some of these things you already know about from previous posts, but a few of them might surprise you. Hell, they even surprised me!

We’ve already covered that I like to collect Power Rangers morphers. During the early years, I made it a priority to get the main morpher, the main Megazord, and the core team figures. Then, I went to college, Saban sold the franchise to Disney, and the toys seemed like less of a priority. Anyway, I’m on my Morpher Quest to reclaim all the morphers I missed, at a fraction of the original price! Since the last post, I’ve acquired the RPM Rev Morpher, RPM Cell Shift Morpher, Jungle Fury Wolf Morpher, Mystic Force Fury Edition Mystic Morpher, SPD Patrol Morpher, and the Mystic Force Mystic Morpher. At this point, I’ve made a nice dent in the Disney seasons, but I actually hate most phone-based morphers, as well as the stupid sunglasses morpher. I’ll have to get them eventually, though.

I’ve also been collecting cutesy versions of comic heroes. Whether it’s Spider-man & Friends or the original Fisher Price DC Super Friends line, I like anything comic related that comes in what I call the “Rescue Heroes scale”. Like any smart toy company, they released that same Batman in, like, 6 different paint schemes, so that’s where the blue and yellow came from. I also acquired Hulk, Thing, Spider-Girl, Iceman, and Hang Gliding Spidey. I did not get these all at once, but rather picked them up here and there on various thrift visits.

Now that we’ve covered the familiar stuff, here’s something new: 3M Bookshelf Games. I’m not really into games, as I was an only child, raised by senior citizens. I’ve never played Monopoly (outside of the McDonalds version), and I pretty much only know how to play chess and Stratego. That said, I’m not sure if it’s my love of Mad Men, but I’m drawn to these due to their aesthetic. Produced by the 3M Company (the Scotch tape guys) in the late 60s, these were board games that tucked into a nice slipcase that you can place on your bookshelf. To the untrained eye, visitors will assume you have a full library that smells of rich mahogany! Anyway, I’ve been grabbing these whenever I come across them, so let’s take a look at what I’ve found so far.

I LOVE this box cover! I imagine the dad asking, “So, Roger – how do you feel about the Negro Problem?” While this game looks like a familiar mass market game, I’m sure you’ll never see a break thru film starring Rihanna!

White dudes making mo-NAYY!! Stocks & Bonds is probably the most boring box of my collection. Sure, these games were marketed towards adults, but it looks like the Clone Saga starring Floyd the Barber.

This cover is so damn awesome! I like to think of it as “What if Hef ended up in Alice in Wonderland?” Dude in the smoking jacket is so frustrated, while the chick is taunting him from one of the cards in the distance. It’s like he’s muttering, “Why is this bitch making it so hard for me to fuck her?!” Foil either refers to what he’s trying to do to a plot OR it refers to the condom wrapper he plans to open. Wait, it’s the ’60s; condoms are only for sailors!

I really don’t have anything to say about High-Bid: The Auction Game. Yeah, I’m disappointed in me, too. Next!

THIS! Screw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as this is clearly the most badass lost Lincoln story EVER! I’m convinced that Alan Moore looked at the Facts In Five box and was inspired to write The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Based on the art alone, I can only assume that Abraham Lincoln teams up with a geisha girl and Joe Namath in order to save Charlie Chaplin, who’s been trapped in a painting. It’s a globe-spanning tale, involving knights, cosmonauts, and a test pattern color wheel! As an added bonus, when they make the movie, it’ll be called “Facts In 5ive”. I hear Paul Walker is in talks to play Lincoln.

Rich Mahogany!

Tune in next week, when I’ll…I don’t know what I’ll have for ya. I don’t plan these things out. Anyway, just be sure to come back!

03rd May2012

Thrift Justice: YSE – Box Office OY, Son!

by Will

Yeah, that title doesn’t really make sense, but I needed something. So, you know the drill. This is where I showcase things I’ve found on the road. The “YSE” means it’s a Yard Sale Edition, so these are things I found on an early Saturday morning. The yard sale season started up in full force about a month ago, which means that I don’t get to sleep in anymore. It’s cool, though, as there’s treasure to be found! I’ve had a month of great Saturdays, but I wanted to start with last week’s batch, just so I can file the stuff away.

Pretty late in the morning, I was running low on funds, plus I was pretty tired as I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep. In any case, there was one more sale on my list (yeah, I actually plot out sale routes; “Freestyling” just wastes gas and time. I’ll post about that another time). It turns out that this is a “community sale”, which is my ideal scenario lately. I get to hit multiple sales without having to move the car. That said, the problem with community sales is that it seems like everyone’s pressured to participate, so there’s a gap in the quality of items offered. One house might have a ton of video games and collectibles, while the house next door has an unattended card table with some used candles for sale on it.

Anyway, one particular house in this neighborhood had some hidden gems. You see, the homeowner owned a bunch of Blockbuster franchises. Sure, Blockbuster’s a joke now, and he’s left the business, but he owned them during the golden age of home video rentals. This meant that he had a few mementos from his time “in the industry”. We’re talking a table full of screener DVDs, he had press kits, posters, the works!  He had started out in the 80s, so that’s where most of these were from. He had a lot of the posters laid out on the lawn for display, and there weren’t any prices. I asked him how much they cost, and he said “Just put together a stack of stuff that you want, and I’ll make you a deal ya can’t refuse.” So, I got to stackin’! Here’s what I got:

I left behind a few, such as Flashdance and some more forgettable movies. As far as I was concerned, I had grabbed the best of the bunch. While I couldn’t necessarily refuse the price he quoted, given the age and condition of these guys, let’s say I paid more than I would have liked. So, if you see anything you want, let me know. I’m keeping a few (the Chuck Norris ones and Back to the Future), but everything else is fair game. These are larger than your stander 24 x 36 retail size, and sadly they’ve all been folded. Still, they’re awesome, so make me an offer. PLEASE!

07th Mar2012

Thrift Justice: The Hardest Thing I’ll Ever Have To Do…

by Will

Cue the 98 Degrees! So, in all my thrift trips, I come across things which I just can’t justify buying. Sure, they’d make great conversation pieces, but that’s also the road to life as a hoarder. It’s hard, though, leaving this stuff behind. How will I ever be the King of Kitsch if I don’t buy all this stuff?! Thanks to the miracle of camera phones, I can’t take a little bit of the item with me, without having to store it somewhere. This time around, I thought I’d share a few of those thought-provoking items with you!

This…this I actually bought. I didn’t mean to buy it. It just happened to be in an action figure grab bag that I bought. Yup, it’s The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, in scuba gear. In fact, if you take the mouthpiece out of his mouth, and remove his goggles, he has a horrified look on his face. No, this wasn’t made after his death as some sort of joke piece; this was made before his death. THIS FIGURE PREDICTED HIS DEATH! I just couldn’t have that in my chi, so back to the thrift store he went.

In case you can’t read it, the tagline is “Now the excitement of the Double Dare game show is in a book!” BULL and SHIT! If you’ve EVER seen Double Dare, you know that there’s no possible way to capture that in print form! Unless the pages are made from sheets of Gak, this book is full of lies. This sounds like the product of Marc Summers’s OCD: “Guys, isn’t there a…cleaner way we could do the show? How about a book? Yeah, where they’d only have to touch pages and there’d be no goo! I’ve gotta go count the fringe on my rug now.”

I’m not sure if it’s the result of new meds, but I had a dream yesterday where a panda bear fell in love with me. It knew English (no accent – very impressive) and had an unhealthy infatuation with me. It lived in a shopping mall, and my family thought it was the funniest situation. Because my family would find something fucked up like that to be funny. Anyway, I think this thing might have been messing with my brainwaves. Don’t look into its eyes!

Try not to pay attention to the dead baby legs in the bottom corner. No, you need to focus on the cover. Here’s a little backstory. This is actually on the cover to a “rainy day detective mystery book”. The selling point, however, is that the book provides “Hours and Hours of ‘By-Yourself Enjoyment'”. And get this – the “By-Yourself Enjoyment” has the little “rights reserved” R after it. So, not only does this sound like some kind of sketchy, masturbatory manual, but someone actually OWNS the phrase “By-Yourself Enjoyment”! Mind. Blown.

This would be the official timepiece of my Man Cave. I love everything about it! The 80s flair. The shoddy, “I made this in woodshop” nature of the clock; the brunette who looks like Kelly Kapowski after eating a well-needed sandwich. The wine glass stickers that had been affixed to give it a bit of a feminine touch.

I feel like I could’ve made this…ya know, if I hadn’t quit woodshop. Funny story, that. The one year I went to public school, I was all set to take woodshop, but my mom didn’t trust the kids in the class to not saw off my hand. So, I made the social faux pas of telling the teacher in the middle of class, “My mom’s not sure she wants me in this class”. From that day on, the supposedly sweet girl around the corner decided to call me “faggot” every day on the walk from the bus. Good times. Anyway, this clock reminds me of what might’ve been.

This couple has never seen a black person. Their eyes are just incapable of focusing on that spectrum. The same with poor people. The dude, however, looks like a character Will Arnett would play.

I love children’s programming, but I hated the FUCK out of Big Bad Beetleborgs (later Beetleborgs Metallix). It was your standard “pretty kids turn into Japanese heroes” show, but this seemed to cater to a younger age than Power Rangers. To drive this point home, the show’s “mascot” was Flabber, who’s pictured on the box. Flabber is what you’d get if Jay Leno were a Liberace impersonator and then you murdered him. He was this gaudy, ghostly fuck who was supposed to lend comic relief, but he was just annoying as all Hell. Plus, the show featured one of the TV tropes that I hate most: Grandma who doesn’t act her age. Get the fuck off those rollerblades, grandma! You want your fate to be at the hands of a death panel?!

Finally, we have this little gem. I’ve heard of “tough love”, but DAMN! Yes, I understand the purpose of the “For Dummies” brand, but didn’t anyone think about this one before they sent it to press? I can see the Amazon listing now “People who bought this also bought “Suicidal Thoughts for Asshats” and “A Very Fat-astic Paula Deen Christmas”

So, as you can see, I buy a lot of shit, but I don’t buy everything. Tune in next time, when I’ll show you some of the recent stuff I hid in my trunk until my fiancee fell asleep!

15th Feb2012

Thrift Justice: All’s Fair In Love and Toys

by Will

In the last post, I finally documented my time at the 2008 Toy Fair. It was a nice little coincidence that Toy Fair started last week, but I really needed to set the scene for this post. If you remember, I mentioned that there are a lot of industry-only things available at Toy Fair, and most 80s toy collectors would love to get their hands on that stuff. Well, wait’ll you get a load of these!

For those not in the know, @specialeteacher is from Denver, so I end up spending one of the family-centric holidays out there. In my travels, I’ve discovered an AMAZING antique store that I have to visit every time I’m out there. The funny thing is I still don’t know its name. I kinda know where it is, but I don’t know what it’s called, they don’t put their name on their receipt, nothing. A lot of the time, I wonder if it was just a hallucination. It’s manned by a dude with no legs, who has a cute dog that pees on the floor. CRAZY! But it’s real. I know it is.

On my last visit, I didn’t really find a lot that excited me. In fact, it seemed like the store hadn’t changed since my visit the previous year. So, I headed for the door, and that’s when I saw it – a box right next to the door with an 80s Mattel catalog in it. I immediately snatched it up, and noticed there were other catalogs in there. Coleco, Galoob, Hasbro – all industry-only, rarely seen by fans. The owner told me that they were brought in by a guy who used to be a toy exec, and he’d gotten them all from various toy fairs. It was like finding Hef’s own special stash of porn! We’re talking the rare, good stuff! Of course, I grabbed basically all of them. I didn’t care how much they cost. I didn’t care that you could find most of the info online. I just wanted to own these. I’ve always loved catalogs, and those were just the retail stores like BEST Co and Evans. This…this was something totally different. So, here’s what I got:





For toy aficionados, you’ll recognize Coleco as the folks who gave us the mass-market Cabbage Patch Doll, several licensed ride-on vehicles, and a lot of action figure lines, like Rambo, Sectaurs, and Starcom.


This is the Galoob catalog from 1988. The most notable lines from that era are Micro Machines and the first Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line.


Of course you all know Hasbro. This is from 1987, which featured a lot of Jem, Transformers, and G.I.Joe toys. In fact, it has the Defiant shuttle gracing the back cover!


Finally, we’ve got Hasbro from 1989. This one is surprisingly thin. I remember back when I read Toyland that this was a soft year for toy releases. Still, it’s got the Joe stuff you expect, as well as a few other lines.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I’ve got a plan. Over the course of this year (well, the 10 months that are left), I’m going to spotlight each catalog in a post. I’ll post scans of pages (no more of this phone pic mess), we’ll run down 5-10 of the coolest items in each. After all, I feel this is information that should be shared with other toy fans -at least in the digital sense. They’ll have to pry the actual catalogs out of my cold dead hands!

21st Dec2011

Thrift Justice – What You Leave Behind

by Will

It’s funny when people find out about my whole thrifting obsession. One of the first questions I get is “Where do you keep all of the stuff?” Well, it’s spread across the state of Maryland in various strongholds. Or am I lying? The point I wanted to make today is that, contrary to popular belief, I don’t buy every quirky little thing that I come across. In fact, there are a lot of items that I’m simply thrilled to see, and don’t really need to go through the trouble of lugging them home. There have been many items that caught my eye for various reasons, but I had to leave them where they were. I thought I’d share a few of those with you today.

If this isn’t your first time here, then you already know that I have an unhealthy affinity for boybands. It is what it is. That said, it was a lot worse when I was in high school. I bought more YM and Teen People than any heterosexual male should ever purchase. I couldn’t help it, though – every issue seemed to focus on some boyband du jour, and I LOVED the embarrassing stories letter columns. Those chicks were TOTALLY MORTIFIED!

Anyway, I just found the cover to this to be hilarious. 98 Degrees were in a weird place, as they actually came out prior to the boyband explosion, and then had to change their image to fit with the times. Just look at the nerdlinger in the middle. I STILL don’t know how he got in that group. Was he just a really old Make-A-Wish patient or something?

Once upon a time, Haim Saban gave birth to a really gifted child, known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Since Haim had a success on his hands, and he LOVED money, he decided to give birth to another child. This second child would take advantage of the world’s new fascination with the concept of “virtual reality”. He created VR Troopers, in which a bro, his black friend, and the chick who won’t let him bang, all have the ability to enter a VR world, where they fight a white businessman who hasn’t yet learned that the real fun is in foreclosures. Oh, and there’s also a talking dog. Anyway, Saban’s second child was seen as the retard of the dynasty, and we done away with after 2 seasons. What you’re seeing is a GIANT figure of main character Ryan Steele in his VR form. This thing is a good 15 inches, at least. It was made by Kenner, so it boasts minimal articulation. There was a part of me that felt it would make a quirky mantle piece, but I just didn’t want such a totem of failure messing up my chi. So, I had to leave Ryan behind.

OK, now this one is a real kicker. I was in an antique mall, and stumbled upon this little piece of history. You’re not going to be able to read the text, so let me spell it out for you. On the left is a letter written to James Earl Ray, who you might know from history class as Martin Luther King’s convicted assassin. I put the word “convicted” in there, as an article featured in the New Times magazine on the right implied that King’s death was part of a vast conspiracy. If you want to know more about that, there’s always Google and Wikipedia. No, the interesting part is on the left. It was a letter sent to Ray while he was in prision. The author of the letter was giving Ray his support, saying that the article had provided enough evidence that the case should be reopened. At the bottom of this letter, Ray actually wrote a reply, with prisoner number, signature, and all. It’s also funny that he writes “Ray” the same way it was written on the movie poster for the Ray Charles biopic. Now, THAT would be a conspiracy!

Before he became an internet meme and Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris was just a dude with a beard who starred in borderline shitty movies. He also had a actually shitty 80s cartoon, called Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos. Ya know, considering how many shows kept replacing “C” with “K” in their titles, it’s no wonder our generation can barely read. Hell, one of your friends might be reading this aloud to you as we speak! But I digress…The 80s were an odd time, what with deregulation and all, where you could have a 5-episode miniseries that’s rerun throughout an entire season and also spawns a toy line. FIVE EPISODES! But that’s exactly what happened here.

I got one of the figures when they first came out. Still have him. You can’t imagine the torture I inflicted on that thing. The one toy that I always wanted, however, was his car (or would that be “kar”?). Actually, its proper name is the “Karate Corvette.” I honestly can’t believe they didn’t go with “Korvette”; who was steering this ship?! Oddly enough, I’ve been having dreams about this toy lately. Don’t ask why – I couldn’t tell you myself. The dreams must have been an omen, however, that the Karate Corvette would soon enter my life. Ever since I started doing these thrift runs, I had a mental list of toys that I expected to see, and this car was always on it. Last week, my search was over, as it was right before my eyes. This car is 80s badassery cranked up to 11. Not only is it a Corvette, which was THE pussydrencher automobile of the decade, but it had fucking ninja blades that popped out of the sides and hood! It’s like a 4-wheeled assault on homeless guys who try to wash your windows at red lights! I always wanted this car, but this one wasn’t in the best shape, plus it’s almost the size of a Barbie Corvette. No, I would have to leave it behind. After all, Chuck can’t drive it in the World of Warcraft, anyway.

Back when I was 12, and before I learned that they showed boobs during Masterpiece Theatre, Ghostwriter was the coolest thing on PBS. Basically, it’s about a bunch of New York tweens who solve mysteries through the power of literacy. They were aided by Ghostwriter, who appeared like a karaoke ball and would rearrange available letters to send them messages. Sure, it sounds pretty dumb now, but it was pretty engrossing, especially when most story arcs were 4-5 episodes long – somewhat unheard of in children’s programming. None of those kids went anywhere, except for Spanish Kid #2 who ended up as Token Gay Guy on The Real World: Philadelphia. Nope, no room for this in my lair. Plus, I’m still kinda pissed off that they never got around to telling Ghostwriter’s origin!

Blue Collar Ninja! How awesome is that?! It’s like something out of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. I’m STILL kicking myself for leaving him behind. He would’ve looked GREAT on a shelf, but I was put off by his bootleg nature. He looked like the kind of thing that would just fall apart once I got him out of the bag. Blue collar ninja! He pays bills, drives a truck, and SILENTLY KILLS PEOPLE!

So, on that note, I think I’ll wrap this up. This is most likely the last Thrift Justice post of 2011, so I thank you all for joining me for the ride. Be sure to come back in 2012, when I’ll be another year older, yet hopefully just as funny. Until next time, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars!