07th Dec2011

Thrift Justice: YSE – Yard FAILS

by Will

So, you read all of these posts, and you simply MUST wonder at all of the luck that I seem to have. “Where does he get all those wonderful toys?” Well, my friends, it’s not all sunshine and sloppy joes over here at Casa West. You see I, like you, sometimes fail. I’ve been trying to put this post together for a while, but recent events seemed to dictate that now was the time. During my last real yard sale run, I decided to bring trooperlite along with me. Known as “Special Forces” from my TRU days, we both share a love of thrifting and Power Rangers. I figured it’d be fun to have a partner in crime, so off we went. And this was single-handedly the worst yard sale run I’ve ever experienced. He apologized for jinxing me – while I don’t blame him for my misfortune, it probably was his fault. I mean, when I’m alone, I’m UNSTOPPABLE! All kidding aside, though, I’ve found that “you can’t win ’em all”, and every trip is still a learning experience. I figured I’d let you in on a few of my biggest yard fails. NOTE: The pictures are crappy to hide my shame.


Transformers are proving to be my blind spot. I can’t pretend to know more about Transformers than Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and Megatron. I have the Transformers knowledge of a suburban soccer mom – “Ooh, look how cool and yellow this little guy is!” That said, I know that TF toys are highly collectible, so I find myself taking chances on things that I really shouldn’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s “stick with what you know”. I don’t yet have a TF expert in the fold, so this had led to quite a few disappointments. Mainly, I’ve learned that you’ll NEVER find a complete Transformer in a yard sale/thrift store capacity. That being said, for me the main criterion is “Can it still transform?” Basically, if it can still be changed from mode to mode, and isn’t missing important appendages, it’s good enough for me. Even worse is when dealing with Beast Wars/Beast Machines toys. About a month ago, I bought around 12 Beast Wars figures, and after sorting through them I could say that only 3 of them were anywhere near a “complete” state.  That’s why there are very few Transformers items coming to Will’s World of Wonder – I don’t want to pass off crap to people. If you see a TF toy on there, it’s been extensively researched to make sure it’s worthy of someone’s collection. *end of shameless plug*

ALWAYS check DVD packages! If it’s open, make sure the disc is in there! You see, a few months back, I discovered the USA show PSYCH, and fell in love. Where had this show been all my life? So, as luck would have it, the following week I ran across a yard sale near my house. This yard sale was a bit shady, based on the quality of items I saw. A recent trend I’ve noticed is that the popularity of Storage Wars has gotten more people into the storage auction game. Unfortunately for them, most units aren’t filled with rare artifacts, but rather the personal effects of some single mom as she left town under the cover of night. So, they win these lockers, and then host yard sales to make their money back. Everything is usually a dollar, because it’s dirty and/or there’s no guarantee that it works. That’s exactly the kind of sale that this was. However, I conveniently forgot all of this when I looked on his DVD table and saw PSYCH Season 1. I can experience this magical show from the beginning! And for a mere American dollar! God bless America! So, I snatched it up, along with some other things, and I paid the man. So, I got home, and threw it on the shelf with the rest of the unwatched DVDs. A few weeks later, I decided to check it out, and I noticed that there was a disc missing. Damn it! And not just any disc, but Disc ONE – with the pilot episode. Double Damn it! I wanted to see how it all began. If I wanted to see any random ass episode, I’d just watch ION late at night. So, I can’t sell it without a Disc 1, but it’d also be foolish to buy a new one just for one disc (which I almost did on Black Friday). Curse you, yard sale guy!!!!

You’d think I’d learned my lesson with that yard sale guy, right? Wrong. You see, he managed to approach me in such a way that I found myself visiting his weekly sale throughout the season. Here’s how he did it: I wanted some IKEA desk lamps that he had, but I wasn’t sure if they worked. I asked him about them, but he answered that he didn’t know. Great sales pitch, right? He, then, followed up with this pearl of wisdom: “Think of it like a scratch-off ticket. It’s only a dollar. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you’re only out a dollar.” The greasy prophet was RIGHT! And I LOVE scratch-off tickets! Seriously, my aunt started buying them for me when I was 8, and I’ve loved a good scratcher since then. In fact, it’s part of the reason that I don’t regularly carry cash – if I end up at a 7/11, I’m wasting that money on scratch-off tickets. I wouldn’t say I have a gambling addiction, as I’m not betting on the ponies, nor have I been to a casino. I will say that I’m addicted to “chance”. So, after that beautiful soliloquy, he had me as a loyal customer.

So, what did I end up foolishly buying? A used Super Nintendo. I never had one growing up, but I figured it would fit in nicely with the rest of my antiquated gaming systems, like my Sega Saturn and my Gamecube. Again, I asked him if it worked, and because it was higher than the $1 price, he guaranteed me that it worked. He even threw in some games, like Super Mario All-Stars and some other notable stuff. At the end of it all, I threw down $10. OK, audience: who knows what happened when I got home? Did the SNES work? OF COURSE IT DIDN’T! My dumb fault, I know. So, the next week, I went back to his sale (remember, these were a weekly occurrence) and told him how the system didn’t work. He feigned surprise, and was like, “Here, take some more games.” He grabbed all the SNES games he had left, and piled them up in my arms. Excellent customer service, right? Well, yeah, unless you realize one small tidbit: I DIDN’T HAVE A WORKING SYSTEM ON WHICH TO PLAY THEM! So, now I’ve got a shitload of SNES games that I can’t play, nor can I even test them to sell. I’ll tell you this, though: the minute yard sale season starts back up, I’ll be right back there at his sale. I’m a sucker.


So, based on the weather, the “yard sale season” is pretty much over. Even still, mixed in with various holiday and church bazaars, I’ve managed to find a few yard sales. Last week, I made somewhat of a dumb purchase. It’s not exactly a “fail”, but it’s hardly a success. Yes, I bought a Disney animation cell. It’s from Robin Hood, and on the back it’s signed by the voice actor for the character. Pretty nice, right? Except for 2 things: 1) they stored it in their attic, so it has sustained some sort of heat damage and 2) the autograph is made out to “the Levitts”. So, I spent money on a damaged item that was personalized for someone else. But it’s a Disney animation cell!!! I’ve spent $25 on worse, and at least I didn’t have to get tested afterwards!

So, the yard sale season may be over, but I’ve still got more stories you haven’t heard. Summer may be over, but Thrift Justice: YSE is just getting started!

18th Nov2011

Thrift Justice – Extreme Home Edition

by Will

Don’t worry, it’s not another spinoff. At least, I don’t think… Actually, come to think of it, that would be kinda cool. But I’m not committing to anything yet. After all, I’ve only done one Thrift Justice: YSE post, so it’d be a little audacious to come up with a second spinoff. It’s not like I’m Norman Lear.

Anyway, I tend to focus on toys and collectibles, but I thought I’d show a more practical application for thrifting. Sure a lot of people use thrifting to find collectibles and goods to resell, but others use it simply to survive. Their clothes, furnishings, etc come from thrifting, either because of financial constraints or the simple fact that they know a good deal when they see one. I like to think I’m a little of column A and a little of column B. So, I thought I’d show you a few of the ways that thrifting has added to my living space.

 First up, we have this full length mirror. I actually rescued this thing from next to the dumpster at my old apartment. I’m pretty sure that it was once part of a dresser or something, but this was all that I found. Now, I know that you can buy a full-length mirror from Target for about $9, but this thing is QUALITY. It’s solid wood and heavy as Hell, so it has lived on the floor most of the time that I’ve owned it. Seriously, I’ve had it almost 3 years, and we JUST hung it on the wall last month. Prior to that, you could only really see how you looked from the neck down.

Lindsay’s really into wine & wine decor, so we knew that my comic posters and figure displays would have to be balanced with something a bit…classier. Luckily, her stuff got banished to the kitchen! Everything you see in those pictures was thrifted. I got it all from yard sales and thrift stores, at different times. Basically, if I saw something wine-themed, I’d get it. It was only by chance and my keen eye that we were able to tie it all together into a configuration that makes sense.

This wine rack? Found in the trash room of Lindsay’s old apartment. Not IN the trash (I haven’t gotten to the dumpster diving level of thrifting…yet), but just in the room of stuff folks didn’t want anymore. Her old roommate, Dave, actually found it and thought I might want it. He thought right!

Speaking of Dave, he also gave us this bookshelf when Lindsay was moving out. He didn’t have room for it, and it was just heading for the aforementioned trash room. “One man’s trash…” So, it has now become the home of Lindsay’s Mighty Muggs collection. I may not have gotten her into comics, but I’ve found other ways to infect her with the collecting bug. Just the collecting bug, though. Honest! I got tested and everything.

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of our thrifted goods end up in the kitchen. It doesn’t get more “kitchen” than the kitchen table. So, a little backstory: my mom plays Bingo every week at the local McDonalds. Don’t laugh – she’s 73 and can do whatever the Hell she wants! Anyway, one of her Bingo buddies is a master thrifter. He drives around a weird unmarked van, filled with stuff he’s found and wants to share. Every now and then, he’ll invite her out to his van to choose stuff. Hey…wait a minute…this guy is gonna be my new daddy, isn’t he?!! But I digress, he always come across the best stuff. For instance, she got a refrigerator from him for $80, which was just really the cost of moving it. Now that I think of it, yup, he’s definitely trying to be my new daddy. I’m not gonna mention the fact  that the fridge didn’t really keep stuff cold, and food would grow mold within 7 days; that would just taint the magic of the tale. Anyway, Mommy’s Special Friend came across this table in a house that was being torn down. We were looking for a kitchen table, and the comparable IKEA model was about $170. This table: $25, and that included the chairs!

My mom actually got Lindsay this microwave when she moved into her first apartment a few years back. I believe she got it from an estate sale, for about $5. They don’t make ’em like this anymore! You could put a whole baby in there. And I’m not talking about some preemie – I’m talking about one as fat as that cigarette-smoking baby from the news! Mmmm….smoked baby.

OK, this one is a bit hard to make out, so you’ll probably need to do some clicky and make it biggie. I came across this in a new thrift store at the end of the summer. It really caught my eye, and I thought it was a steal at $7, just for the size alone. It takes up a good portion of the wall as you enter the apartment, and we’d been looking for something to put there. So, what is it? Well, it’s an American flag, although it has the words to Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech written in the white stripes. Also, the stars have been replaced with “Yes We Can”s. I’m not about to get all political on here, and that’s really not the point. It’s meaningful because Lindsay and I officially became a couple on Election Night 2008. We, as well as a good portion of the country, were swept up in Obama Fever, and regardless of thoughts on the 1%, Obamacare, or longform birth certificates, this piece of art constantly reminds me of where we started. *studio audience awwws*

Anyway, that’s this week’s TJ post. It wasn’t quite a look at the West Cave, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get it clean enough for pictures, anyway. I just wanted to show you that my thrifting isn’t all about toys and comics, and that I also use my powers for practical uses from time to time. OK, seriously, next TJ will be that YSE post I’ve been promising, where I go into a lot of my recent thrift FAILS.

08th Nov2011

Thrift Justice – Lois Lane Meets The TMNT

by Will

Last weekend saw the final Civitan Flea Market of the year. As I’ve written in the past, this neighborhood sale is GREAT for finding collectible treasures. This sale was no different, as I made some pretty sweet deals. Let’s take a closer look at some of the booty I scored.

Now, when I get to any sale, I try to pace myself but I have a lot of trouble with that whole process. Whether it’s a comic con or a yard sale, I tend to blow my wad too soon, and then end up spending more judiciously as the day goes on. The Civitan market takes place in a 5-level parking garage, and you enter from the top level. I didn’t know what wonders might lurk in the depths below, but before I could descend I immediately found myself rifling through a box of Silver Age comics.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I try not to buy old comics unless they’re just basically giving them away. Anything under $1 is fair game to me. After all, most folks think their stuff is worth way more than it is, and most of those stories have been retconned 3 times over by now. I do, however, have an affinity for Silver Age DC books. If you pick up Marvel stuff from that era, it’s just full of hyperbole and cave drawings, but old DC books were actually…fun. Due to a magnet set that we have on our refrigerator, I’ve gained an appreciation for Lois Lane comics. Honestly, I feel like DC writers sat around and wondered, “How can make Lois a huge bitch this month?” Those old bastards clearly had some run-ins with the wrong kind of women, and seemed to have an ax to grind. That series is CRAZY, whether she’s tricking Superman into a paternity suit or changing her race to be black for a day. I picked up a few some months back, and I found 13 more on this particular day. This batch even included the issue I mentioned where she’s black for a day! I actually already have a copy of that one, but I know I’ll probably end up gifting it to someone. I told the old lady manning the booth that the books would be going to a good home, for a little boy who loves comics (it’s secretly ME! Muhuhahaha!). She cut me a pretty good deal, as I paid $25 for these, as well as the comics you’ll see below.

These are some other silver age books I picked up. Back when I first got into comics, I used to buy these grab bags from my local shop that were just FULL of crap. I didn’t know any better then, but it would have comics for toylines, like Visionaries, as well as old All-Star Squadron and issues of canceled series. I remember getting issues of The Secret Society of Super Villains and Kobra, and loving them. So, I had to jump on the issues you see here. I probably already own that Brave and the Bold (I bought a bunch of them at a con a few months back that I still haven’t processed), but I’ll buy any cheap Batman comics.

Not quite “Silver Age”, these are some 80s era comics I got. Again, more cheap Batman. I believe that’s the final issue of Ted Kord’s series. It says “The Final Adventure”, but that could just be comic hyperbole. There was a time when you could always count on Superman to have dynamic covers, and this is a great example of that. He’s begging, in an alley! How can you pass that up? I probably have that issue of X-Men, but I’m a sucker for 80s Uncanny. The way I see it, the $25 was for the Lois Lane books, as $2 an issue was a great deal; the rest of this stuff was just a bonus.

The series that wouldn’t die! Fans brought this thing back to life more than I can remember, but that must say something about its quality. I’ve never read Spider-Girl, but I was always curious. Plus, it’ll give me more Adventures West Coast material. I’m not sure if this is the very first collected edition, but it does include issues 0-8. Plus, I got it for a dollar, so it’s not like I could shake a stick at that!

Let me clear something up – I am nowhere near a “gamer”. My newest system is the PS2, and I use it primarily as a DVD player. Lindsay and I had a Rock Band/Guitar Hero phase, but I don’t really get into games. I do, however, pick up games when I find them A) interesting and B) cheap as dirt. Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I’m in a relationship, so the concept of “downtime” doesn’t really exist anymore. Still, in my mind, I have this vision of playing video games all night, while drinking Smirnoff Ice. When I come across a cheap game, I think to myself, “Would I enjoy playing this game, while sipping on a cool malt beverage?” I didn’t even know this game existed, and it appears to be the precursor to the popular Red Dead Redemption. The guy sold it to me for about $3, so that was enough for me. I’ll probably never play it, but if I ever feel like reenacting a Western, at least I’ll have it.

I’ll admit that this was an impulse buy. While I collect Batmobiles, I’ve passed on this thing at many a thrift store. I found it at a booth that usually has a lot of great comic stuff. Remember the comic posters and Age of Apocalypse cover from the last flea market post? Yeah, that booth. Anyway, at that time, they’d assured me that they would have a ton of comic stuff at this sale, as it’s the last one of the year. I went just looking for them. I get there, and this is pretty much all they had. It had a sticker on the hood, guaranteeing me that “it works”. I can’t even verify that at this time, but it’s a big-ass, battery operated Batmobile monster truck. Yeah, I’m kind of ashamed, so let’s move on.

So, I’m wandering through the aisles, and I find myself at a dead end, with this TMNT Lair playset sitting on a table. I start looking at it, as I’ve never really seen one of these in person. I didn’t really pay much attention to TMNT, as that was the incarnation for kids of the ’00s. For me, I only deal in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Show some respect, and spell that shit out! Anyway, as I inspecting it, the seller comes by and asks, “Would you like that big thing?” I proceeded to tell her that my fiancee would kill me, but she keeps on pressing. She tells me that it wuld be 50% off. That’s when I see the price tag: $3.00. I ask her, “So, wait, you mean this would only be $1.50?!” She says that is correct. Well, now you understand why I currently own a Turtle Lair playset. Back when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Playset came out, my mom gave me a choice: I could either get it OR get the G.I.Joe General. I was more into our American heroes, so I chose the latter. The General’s sitting out in our shed, as I get to fill that void with this newer Turtle playset.

So, there ya have it. I’ll miss the Civitan Flea Market, but you better believe I’ll be there on the first Saturday of next April! Coming soon, I’ve got another installment of Thrift Justice:YSE, where we’ll talk about some of my greatest yard sale FAILS.

13th Oct2011

Introducing Thrift Justice: YSE!

by Will

What can I say? I love TV, I love branding, and I love spinoffs. So, I figured it’d be a good idea to separate my normal thrift store hauls from my yard sale hauls, especially since there are usually some pretty good stories from those yard sales. That gives us Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition, or Thrift Justice: YSE for the hip kids. Think of this just like the normal Thrift Justice you’ve come to know and love, only with a dose of Ice-T and Mariska Hargitay thrown into the mix. I’m typically the guy who doesn’t enjoy the party until it’s almost over, so it’s only fitting for me to start this little feature just as the yard sale season begins to wind down. In any case, there are quite a few items I haven’t shown you, and I hope I can remember the stories behind them. So, shall we get on with the show?

What you see here is a nice little collection of G.I.Joe vehicles that I acquired last weekend. You Joe collectors will recognize the following:

-Cobra WOLF


-Skystorm X-Wing Chopper


-Desert Fox 6WD

-Dreadnok Cycle

-Cobra Imp

-Action Force Missile Launcher

I tend to plan out my route on Friday nights (yes, some of us plan these things), and I noticed a listing just kinda snuck in the fact that there were be G.I.Joe vehicles. It was an odd blurb that read something like “Fine crystal, linens, G.I.Joe Vehicles, artwork”. Well, those are certainly strange bedfellows! The sale was slated to start at 7:30, so it went to the top of my list.

The next morning, I pulled up to her house and was somewhat shocked that nobody was there except an older lady who was having a conversation with the seller. I immediately thought that someone had beat me to the Joes! After all, the ads always say “No early birds!”, but that doesn’t mean someone didn’t swoop in just before I got there. I cautiously walked over to a large plastic storage unit, and my eyes filled with joy and wonder! There they were, in pretty nice condition given their age. The lady explained that they had belonged to her sons, but had just been sitting in the garage. She said they had kept their figures, but didn’t seem to want the vehicles anymore. So, their loss was my gain. We didn’t even have to haggle. 10 minutes later, I was driving off with a car full of 1987 treasures. Anyway, if you like anything you see, you should know how to find me by now…

One concept I’ve adopted over the course of my travels is the idea of of “thrift karma” – I tend to believe that something awesome is out there waiting for me, and when I do find it, I try not to be greedy. For instance, I hit paydirt at this first sale, so I should’ve called it quits and gone home with my wares. Instead, I ended up freestyling (I got that from American Pickers, thank you very much!) for another 4 hours, which just wasted gas and yielded nothing. Listen to Kenny Rogers, folks – know when to walk away!

Notes From The Road

(courtesy of vintagegameworld.com)

This is where I’ll share a few observations that I’ve made while racing from sale to sale. Over the weekend, I noticed that everyone is finally cashing in their Trivial Pursuit SNL Edition investments. Let’s take a trip back in time, to around 2006. Licensed versions of Trivial Pursuit were nothing new, but one of the most niche offerings was Trivial Pursuit SNL Edition. As KB Toys starting shutting down across the country, these games were some of the last items they had left, eventually marked down to around $7 or so in my area. Now, let’s fast forward to last weekend. A game I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years resurfaced at 3 separate yard sales, a few with the KB price tag scratched out on the box. That’s the danger of speculating – not everything’s gonna be a collector’s item, especially when your neighbor’s selling the same exact thing.

Anyway, I hope you liked the new series. Tune in next time, as I’ll share with you a few of my biggest yard sale failures!

11th Oct2011

Thrift Justice – Strapped For Cash

by Will

I’ve got a great haul from the weekend to share with you, but I’m still writing that up. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some great stuff I’ve picked up recently. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

First up, we’ve got these tabloid-sized specials, know as History of Comics Vols 1 & 2. These were created by fan favorite comic artist Jim Steranko, and they used to be advertised as mail-away items in old comics from the 70s (I guess they were also sold in book stores, but I don’t really know much about the 70s books tore scene). Anyway, from what I’ve ben able to find out, the versions I got are known as Volume 1B and Volume 2B, since they don’t have the title written on the cover. What makes this buy even more special, however, is the fact that my copy of Volume 1 is signed and numbered by renowned Italian filmmaker, Frederico Fellini. You see, he wrote the foreword to the series, as he had been a big fan of Steranko. Now, do I have a certificate of authenticity? No, but I don’t really care. If I need to, I can just take it to Gold & Silver Pawn and have Frankenstein Randy Travis do some handwriting analysis on the signature.


I love the Power Rangers. Now that we got that out of the way, I’ve been tracking down old morphers like it’s my job. I’m not even looking for them, but they keep popping up at thrift stores. I stopped buying most PR toys about 15 years ago (which was still too late in the minds of most people), but I used to really be into the Zords and morphers. Hands down, Power Rangers morphers were my favorite role playing toys. These used to retail anywhere from $10-15, but I’ve been finding these for roughly $1 each. Still operational and everything. To top it off, they’re models that came out after I stopped buying, so I’ve been able to restart my collections where I left off. What you see here, from left to right, is the Time Force Morpher, Ninja Storm Wind Morpher, some kinda bootleg Dino Thunder Morpher, and the Overdrive Tracker.

My love of Batman is pretty well-known. I thought I had stumbled upon something awesome with this lunch box, as the date on the decal is 1982. It certainly looked pre-Super Powers, which would place it before 1985. That said, the decal doesn’t jibe with the rest of the package. You see, the latch is incorrect. I stopped getting these lunch boxes in the very early 90s, at which point they were still using a metal latch. The latch on this one is completely plastic, placing it later in the decade. Still, aside from all that Pawn Stars babble you didn’t ask for, it was still a nice find for 99 cents!

This is Max Ray, from the 80s cartoon The Centurions. I’ve been on the lookout for these because, just like Radiohead albums, you never see them at yards sales and thrift stores. This figure was pretty incomplete, as he didn’t come with any of the accessories that fit into the holes situated all over his body. Despite all that, I’m still pretty happy to own this guy, as he always reminded me of Tony Stark.


I always told myself that if I ever won the lottery, I’d buy one of those replica wrestling belts that costs $300. I’d wear it to church, court, to the bathroom. Don’t care. Referred to as “The Strap” by the professionals, I’d always have it slung over my shoulder (no one ever wears it as an actual belt!). Well, I’ve yet to win the lottery, so I don’t have one of those belts. I never wanted to pay the $15 for the crappy kids version at retail, but I had no problem paying 99 cents for one! The belt that I chose was the Intercontinental Title, and I did so for a reason. You see, everybody wants to be The Champ. Everyone thinks they’re Triple H, or John Cena or The Rock. I’m honest with myself. If I joined the WWE tomorrow, I’d NEVER get a shot at the WWE Title. I could, however, get the Intercontinental belt. That was the belt you used to get for beating Goldust or The Mountie. That’s more my speed.

I hated leaving these guys behind, as I think I’m probably America’s biggest straight male boyband fan. That said, I didn’t want these at $10 apiece. I’m pretty sure they didn’t cost that much when they were originally offered by Best Buy (they were promo items), and ‘NSYNC merchandise isn’t really on the rise. So, I had to say bye bye bye to them. Yup, I just said that.


Thanks for tuning in, and come back on Thursday for a special Thrift Justice surprise!

06th Oct2011

Thrift Justice – The Case of the Three Jokers

by Will


So, last weekend the rain was too much of a nuisance for any of the local yard sales to take place, but I was still jonesing for a treasure hunt. That meant that I had to find someplace indoors, which led me to the Civitan Flea Market. Located in Arlington, VA, the Civitan Flea Market occurs on the first Saturday of each month, from the months of April to November. I checked it out for the first time a few months back, and I liked what I saw. Since it takes place in a multilevel parking garage, it’s open rain or shine. Basically, a vendor pays about $20 to set up in a parking space, and you’re left to just make the rounds. From what I could tell, vendors don’t seem to have “regular” spots, so I walked around to see if I noticed any of the good vendors from my first trip. But we know you’re not here for the words – you’re here for the haul!

Recently, I’ve been buying up all the cheap Calvin & Hobbes books I run across. Here’s a little confession: I really hated C&H up until about 2 months ago. I know most of my peers fondly look back on the series, but I just never “got” it. I think I had the misfortune of always tuning in when it was one of the, for lack of a better word, “preachier” strips, so I just always felt it was overrated. That said, as someone who had a myriad of imaginary friends, this series was pretty much right up my alley. So, I found a collection at a yard sale a few weeks back, which has led to the acquisition of 2 more collections.

As a fanboy, this is one of those things that I guess I’m expected to have read. I’d never really come across it, and it always seemed a little too much of a Sandman gateway book anyway. Since I’m neither a cutter, nor do I work at Hot Topic, I always shied away. Well, on this particular day, I guess I was kinda desperate to buy a comic, and this was the best I could do. The vendor wanted $3 for it, which I felt was kinda steep. Then, she told me that it was for her grandson’s college fund. I couldn’t let the guy suffer through student loans as I had. I forked over the three Georges. Then, I asked her where he was thinking of going for college. She replied, “Well, he’s only 16 months old right now.” Huh. All I could say was, “Well, I guess you’ve got a couple more sales ahead of you.”

I’d seen this book during one of the Borders liquidation sales, but couldn’t bring myself to pay what they were asking at 25% off. This, however, is not only an advance reader’s copy but it was also a quarter! I’m a sucker for preview and promo items, so this was just what the doctor ordered. The seller had placed a sticky note on it, saying it was “Perfect for fans of Family Guy and The Daily Show“. This might just be an oversell – kinda like how every comedy compared itself to The Hangover for a whole year.

If you dare claim there was a better game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, I will slap you in the face and kidnap your dog.

Stallone was supposed to be in Beverly Hills Cop. They decided they wanted to go in another, more comedic direction. He made this instead. And it was GLORIOUS. I love this movie for the odd product placement. Just imagine: Pepsi paid to have one of their soda fountains shot up in a standoff; a Christmas-themed Toys “R” Us commercial is playing in the background, as Stallone cleans his gun and eats cold pizza!

I wouldn’t buy season sets of this show, but I am sucker enough to fall for “The Mike Judge Collection”. Sure, it’s a best of collection, but it’s a multi-disc best of. Plus, I trust Mike Judge. The man went on to give us Office Space and King of the Hill. It’ll be worth it if “Teen Talk” is one of the episodes featured. “I’m Lolita, and this here’s Tanqueray. You boys wanna go back behind the bleachers and make out?”

And now we come to the reason for this post’s title. You may not be able to tell, but this is a deck of Batman Begins playing cards. It was purchased for three reasons:

1) I love Batman

2) I love shiny things/holograms

3) They were $0.25

Now, I knew what I was getting into. The seller told me that someone earlier in the day had counted the cards and that while the deck was missing an Ace, there were THREE Jokers. Now, I’m used to quirky merchandise, so I wondered if it was supposed to have 3 Jokers. I mean, “Joker” kinda means a little more in a Batman-themed card deck, so maybe that was the novelty. Still don’t know. I don’t even play cards!

This is Tri-Klops. He’s from He-Man. That is all.


This is Lothor – the “big bad” from Power Rangers Ninja Storm. While he was far from the most menacing villain, I always loved his aesthetic. It’s not everyday you see an evil alien ninja in a luchadore mask. The articulation sucks, like most Power Rangers villain figures, but he still looks cool standing around.

A Nightwing doll! How cool is that?! Yes, I’m calling it a “doll” because that’s basically what this is. Sure, his body is probably based on a G.I. Joe style body, but he’s got a cloth outfit and hard plastic head. He appears to have mustard or something on his chest, but I don’t care. Nightwing doll for $1!

I got this from my favorite vendor. Last time, she had some great Batman stuff, and this was just as cool. If you’re not a comic person, this is an unused cover from X-Men: Alpha, which kicked off The Age of Apocalypse. This event started just as I was getting into comics, and I haven’t experienced something that riveting since. A lot of comic crossovers are cyclical now, but this was actually a fresh idea. Anyway, this appeals to my love of comics, as well as my love of shiny thing/holograms. Oddly enough, I don’t remember this as having a holographic cover gimmick; it shipped with a foil cover gimmick, so I wonder if this was some sort of retailer exclusive.

These came from the same vendor as the X-Men cover. It may not be immediately apparent, but the “Vote DC” poster is actually a promotional item from the Marvel vs. DC event. You’ll notice Batman hiding Captain America’s shield in his cape, as Superman brandishes The Hulk’s pants. Below that is a poster for 1991’s X-Men #1. I collect comic promo items that are typically only available to retailers, so these 2 posters were great finds.

Well, that’s all she wrote for the flea market. Next month is the last one of the season, so I’m pretty sure I’ll go check it out one last time. In the meantime, I’ve got my hands full with the thrift stores. Tune in next time, where I’ll show ya some autographed stuff I came across!

28th Sep2011

Thrift Justice – I Didn’t Put Away Childish Things

by Will

So, the whole Thrift Justice thing started off strong. I told a cute story about a little kid, and I reminded everyone about Stranger Danger. Then, I dropped the ball. Fear not, true believers! I’m back with more words and more treasures. Here’s what I got during last night’s trip to the thrift store (forgive the pics; couldn’t find my camera, so I had to settle for the phone):

As you can see, it was a run of the mill toy haul. Still, let’s take a closer look at what I got:

First up, we’ve got Apocalypse from the Super Hero Squad toyline. Basically, he’s the same scale as the Spider-Man and Friends line – Marvel heroes in the Rescue Heroes scale for younger kids. These, along with Mattel’s Super Friends, came out while I was working at Toys “R” Us, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay retail for these things that were clearly made for preschoolers. I have no problem, however, paying $1 for them.

Isn’t he the cutest little genocidal maniac you ever saw? I think I want to give Apocalypse a hug!

Remember how I mentioned Super Friends? Of course you do – it was just a few inches higher on the page! Anyway, here’s Lex Luthor from that line.

And the Spider-Man and Friends line? Yeah, this is Spidey #3. I also have a quick-change Peter Parker and a shiny suit Spidey.

So clearly I’m addicted to “toys made for preschoolers”. This is a new low for me. You see all these guys? I’ve acquired them all over the course of the last month. Still, never paying more than $1 for any figure, I don’t feel too bad about it. Hell, they’re so cute that I’m even mixing universes, and I’m a staunch comic segregationist!

I’m always fascinated by the wear and damage that I find on some toys. While a lot of stuff is in pretty good condition, there are also many items that look like they’ve been to Hell and back. What the Hell did they do to Raphael’s foot? Were they reenacting Roots? Sure, he was a dick, but DAMN!

This, my friends, is a Nerf scope. As my twitter followers know, I’m slowly building a Nerf militia. Ya see, I wasn’t allowed to have toy guns when I was growing up. The closest things I had were the Nintendo Zapper and an old hair dryer that didn’t work. So, when I struck out on my own, as a man, one of the first things I bought was the Nerf Nite-Finder. That didn’t quench my foam lust, however. Luckily, my lovely girlfriend (Lindsay/@specialEteacher for y’all playing along at home), got me the Nerf Raider for Christmas last year. This was soon followed by the Maverick, Long Shot, and Recon. And another Long Shot. Basically, if I found one at a yard sale or thrift store, I bought it. They all had a tactical rail for adding scopes, but you can’t find them in stores or the Hasbro website any longer. So, imagine my joy when I spotted this baby sticking out of the stuffed animal bin at a thrift shop! Lawdy, lawdy I can see! Anyway, got this baby for 69 cents!

Well, that’s enough rambling from me. I took more pictures, but I’ll save those for the next post.

16th Aug2011

Thrift Justice: Ranger Danger

by Will

So, I had an experience last week that was cute yet troubling. While everything turned out OK in the end, I’ve still been thinking about it for the last few days. Let’s see what y’all think.

A few of the thrift stores I frequent have what you might call “grab bags” in the toy aisle. Standard plastic bags hanging from pegs, these bags contain anything from kids meal toys to actual retail action figures. Part of the fun is identifying all of the random stuff you might find inside. I’ve often wondered if there’s a system as to how the bags are packed, or if they’re weighed or something. It’s just odd to see a Looney Tunes/DC Comics McDonalds toy from ’91 in the bag with a Ron Weasley and a broken Megatron.

Anyway, on this particular day, I found a nice bag packed with Power Rangers. If you’ve read the site before, you’ll know that I hav a bit of a thing for the Rangers. Seeing as how I stopped buying the figures about 10 years ago, I’ve missed out on the more recent stuff. This bag, oddly enough, was filled with things I didn’t own. YOINK!

I walked around the rest of the store, clutching my conquest, trying to see if there was anything else of interest. Not paying much attention to the people around me, I walked right past a little boy who immediately noticed the bag in my hand. His face lit up, as my heart said “Oh, shiiit.” Every kid in that place might as well be an orphan, as they’ve all run off from their parents. True to form, his parents didn’t seem to be around, either.

I took a few steps, and the boy followed me. He caught up to me, pointed at the bag and said “I want that.” I replied, “It’s mine, though. I already got it.” Don’t judge me! I found it fair and square!

He said, “Yeah, but I want it.” I started wondering if this kid was gonna jump me for these toys, or if he’d make a scene. I’m already the grownup in the toy aisle, so Lord knows what people think anyway! I, once again, replied, “You can’t have them, though. I found them over there.” At this point, I gestured over in the general direction of the toy aisle.

“They have more?” he asked. I knew full well that they didn’t have anything quite like the bag I was holding, but I still said, “Yeah, there’s more.” I was hoping he’d run off and join the rest of the little El Salvadorean Oliver Twists running through the store. What he did next, however, broke my heart.

He reached up his little hand, and said “Come on!”. He wanted me to take him over to the toy aisle. I guess he wasn’t so independent after all. Now, at this point, I felt I’d been talking to this child way longer than a grown man should, and I was already hating being seen in discussion with this kid. Now, he wanted me to hold his hand, and walk him over to the toy aisle. Oh, HELL naw! Sweet gesture, but not a good idea.

I started to walk away, but he ran up, still reaching his little hand up for me to take it. So, this was his endgame, huh? Well played. I sighed, and put the bag of Rangers in his outstretched hand. After all, that’s what he wanted in the first place. I can be cold, but I’m not taking toys from a kid. I didn’t even really want the things, and he clearly did.

He smiled, and just turned the bag around in his hands, marveling at everything inside. I was just going to throw ’em in a box, while he was going to enjoy them. I’d made the right choice. So, as he was mesmerized, I got the Hell out of that aisle before he tried to enlist me to go help him look for more!

Now, here’s my issue: that kid needs to be warned about Stranger Danger. Luckily, he found me and I’m far from a threat, but he didn’t know that. He sees a guy with a bag of toys, and he’s all “Sign me up, cap’n!” That’s not cool. That could’ve ended really poorly for him. For me, the takeaway was that I’m not happy to know I’m not enough of a bastard to take toys away from a little kid, but the B-plot was definitely the fact that this kid, and many like him, could be subjected to danger without even thinking about it. If you’ve got kids, teach them the proper way to deal with strangers – especially at the thrift store.

15th Aug2011

Introducing Thrift Justice!

by Will

Welcome to my newest feature on the site: Tales From the Thrift! As some of you may know, I spend a LOT of time in thrift stores. I tend to wonder what to write about sometimes, and I realized it’s been in front of me the whole time: thrift store visits.

Crazy stuff tends to go down at the thrift store, so the thing practically writes itself. If I’ve got no “stories”, per se, I’ll just show you some of the latest stuff I’ve picked up. Unlike other columns on the site, I hope this doesn’t get dropped after 1 or 2 posts (I’m looking at you, Best of the West). If ya like what you’ve read, leave me a comment so I know it’s not falling on deaf ears.

So, why “Thrift Justice”? As you know, I’m a big proponent of branding, and I wanted a title with a ring to it. I started out with “Tales From the Thrift”, but some dude uses that to post YouTube videos. Then, I thought I’d go with “Thrift Wars”, but some hipster chick…uses it to post YouTube videos. So, the brain started working, and it came to me: “Thrift Justice”. Let it sink in, and you’ll learn to love it as much as I do. So, come back tomorrow for our first installment!