13th Dec2012

Thrift Justice – We’ll Never Know What Might’ve Been

by Will

So, if you were here yesterday, you know the drill. If not, WHERE WERE YOU?! We’re looking at stuff I found at the thrift store that, while conversation pieces, weren’t worthy of being brought back to Casa Oeste (That’s “West” in Spanish. I think). Let’s jump in!

It’s the Double Dragon Cruiser! When Billy and Jimmy Lee aren’t busy fighting Shadow Master, they tool around town in this monstrosity. Cue Xzibit: “Yo dawg, I heard you like dragons!”

You know why you never see Mexico in post apocalyptic movies? BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL DRIVING AROUND IN SHIT LIKE THIS!!! Nobody’s going to Mexico when the streets are filled with fucking Datsuns painted metallic red, with afterburners and gatling guns! And there’s no way that tint is street legal.

To the Clapmobile! I think this is a bootleg toy of the limo from Beverly Hills Teens. Ya know, a limo with a pool in the back. Sounds awesome, unless you’re the driver. I’ve seen Elimidate. I know what happens when you introduce a pool or hot tub to drunk people. I hope he’s got some rubber gloves.

One modified Walkman spelled the downfall of 2 white men. No, this isn’t a Dateline special. This was Home Alone 2 – ya know, the one before Home Alone: The Adventures in Child Protective Services. I always wanted one of these, mainly because I planned to use it as a Walkman, and then I’d be able to use it for spy shit, should the need arise. Alas, I think I decided I’d rather have G.I. Joe stuff that year, so no Talkboy. I was really tempted to get this, but then I wondered if I’d be able to find a blank cassette tape. And then I wondered if it would provide more than 30 minutes of fun. Then I weighed the resale potential. Then I left it on the shelf.

This is the kind of car you used to find in the grocery store. Usually, I’d classify this as “Toys For Poor Kids”, but that’s not the case. Ya see, this was a special designation: “Toys, Just Because”. Nobody ever really wanted these things, but grocery store toy selection was poor in the 80s. It was either this, a rubber ball, some play money, or those shitty handcuffs. At least with this, you could maybe fit a M.A.S.K. guy in it. It wasn’t really about payoff – you only asked for this to see if you could get it. Depending on how nice your mom was feeling that day, you had a good shot. A child’s first taste of power comes when he/she seemingly manipulates a parental unit into buying them something that they don’t even want. Wow, I got deep there, huh?

So, there ya have it. I had one more pic, but WordPress just didn’t wanna load it, so this is the end of the road. Hope you enjoyed it, tell your friends, and come back tomorrow for West Week Ever!

12th Dec2012

Thrift Justice – All Filler, No Thriller

by Will

How’s that for an attention-grabbing headline, huh? Well, just like all kids can’t be honor students (I noticed your naked bumper), not all posts can be winners. Bottom line is that I’ve got a lot of pics I need to offload, and a lack of creativity at the moment. Also, my last two hauls are gonna BLOW YOUR MOTHERFUCKING MINDS when I finally get around to posting about them. Anyway, in my travels, I see a lot of stuff that I have to leave behind. It’s hard, but I just can’t provide a home to everything. I’m already violating several fire codes. So, sit back and see what might’ve been (also press play on your Little Texas CD if you have one). Oh, and the new logo is courtesy of Brian over at Cool and Collected!

First up, we’ve got this knockoff that appears to have been created using the mold from the Kenner Batman Returns Laser Bat. The hinges are even in the same place, however this is painted gold, and they slapped a bird face on the front. Apparently, it is piloted by a robot swimming in gold up to its neck. Seriously, only the head was popping up.

How fitting that the last time I wrote one of these posts, I used a 98 Degrees lyric for the title, and here they are! My favorite part is that there’s a card specifically for the teacher. Back in my day, she got “I Choo Choo Choose You” just like the rest of the kids. I wonder if it was somehow more adult than the rest of the cards. Well, good for her. Ms. Robbins works hard and deserves the fantasy of some guy on guy on guy on girl lovin’!

This is a bit of a cheat, as I found this in Toys “R” Us. Most people couldn’t understand the Best Lock Stargate license, but I think THIS is the most baffling knockoff toy of the year. Even though I’m not a gamer, I immediately recognized the name of Resident Evil‘s Chris Redfield. Now, I KNOW TRU didn’t pay for the RE license, so I think they’re hoping that the poor (economically, not circumstantially) kids who buy the True Heroes line are too poor to have ever seen Resident Evil. On the flip side, the RE fans fortunate enough to have played the game have never noticed this aisle before.

I knew Aircraft Fighter back when he was known as the Thunder Megazord. Of course, he was bigger then. He has looked better. I see he’s fallen on hard times. He’s clearly renting, as none of the pictures in his place have him in them. I hope he gets his shit together one day.

Here’s a cultural lesson for ya: in the UK, a MILF is known as a “yummy mummy” (Thanks, LamarRevenger!). How cute is that? Hardly seems worthy of a full book, what being a three step process:

1. Be hot

2. Have baby

3. Maintain hotness

Where’s my book deal?!

What becomes of the broookenhearted?!

I leave you with this pic. This motherfucker right here. It’s like if Dolemite was a rabid Smurfs fan. I don’t even know where to begin. You see my sleeve because I really had to sneak this pic. I have no doubt he had a knife in his Stacy Adams.

Ya know what? That, like knowing, was only half the battle. And half the pics I need to blow through. So, check in tomorrow when I’ll have another post! Happy Hanukkah!

25th Nov2012

West Week Ever – Black Friday Recap Edition

by Will

Hey, better late than never, right?

-Black Friday was good this year, as we were foolish enough to brave Walmart and Gamestop after Thanksgiving dinner. Wemanaged to procure a TV we wanted from Walmart, and we went crazy on XBox games. I haven’t even hooked the thing up, yet I got about 6 games in 24 hours. At the moment, we’re the (somewhat) proud owners of Arkham City (GOTY Edition), Dreamworks Super Star Kartz, The Sims 3, Assassin’s Creed, Lego Batman 2, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Meanwhile, this is what we witnessed at Walmart:

I thought unstable molecules only existed in comics, but those leggings are defying all known physics. I’ve never seen a polyfiber work so hard. And she had the gall to go out in public like that!

 

-This is gonna come off as “racist” to some, so brace yourselves. Anyway, I think the shopper I hate MOST is Old Chinese Guy With Hands Behind His Back. Yeah, you’ve seen him. He’s usually wearing a cardigan, and he moves along at a snail’s pace, closely inspecting everything he encounters. He has no regard for those around him, as time holds no meaning in his world.

-I think the true testament of a boyband’s worth is how they handle ballads. I mean, really anyone can dance around to autotuned beats, but it’s the slow harmony that separates the boyz from the men. With that in mind, “Little Things” by One Direction proves that they’re nothing but shit. They are NOT the real deal. It sounds like someone listened to Howard Jones’s “No One Is To Blame”, but took out all the interesting parts. This saddens me, as I really thought this would be the boyband comeback. It was basically 10 years in the making, but this isn’t it. One Direction and The Wanted just aren’t strong enough to recreate the BSB/’NSYNC rivalry. Meanwhile, Big Time Rush is in the 98 Degrees slot: they were around first, but had to catch the boyband wave once others stepped up to the plate. Still, they haven’t really broken out as anything other than as a modern-day, poor excuse for The Monkees (mainly because of the TV show).

-What the Hell happened to OneRepublic? A group should grow with each release, but they become more and more a group that I despise. I think it’s because Ryan Tedder likes to rip off his own songs (Google the Halo vs Already Gone debacle). Their recent song, “Feel Again”, sounds like he listened to Florence + the Machine and said “Yeah, I can do that.” They already sucked on “Good Life”, which  became more unbearable once tourism bureaus and cruise lines started using it in ads. If you trace OneRepublic’s career from their debut with “Apologize” to what they’re doing now, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. They could’ve carved an interesting niche, but now it seems like they want to rest in the depressing cavern between Train and Coldplay.

This Week’s Posts:

Took An Arrow To The Knee

Let’s Talk About AvX, Baby

Don’t forget to check Will’s World of Wonder and this week’s eBay auctions!

17th Oct2012

Loot Crate – It’s a Box Full O’ Stuff!

by Will

No, that’s not their actual slogan, but it could be. Before we get there, let’s take a walk back in time, shall we? Back in the day, every quarter or so, Toys “R” Us used to give out something called an “R” Treat box. They used to make a big deal about it by putting it in the circular, and even included a coupon to make it seem like you couldn’t get the box without it (you totally could). When you’re a kid, you like free shit. It’s written in the Kidstitution. Since I’ve gotten older, I realize these things were really geared towards moms, but you’re dumb when you’re a kid. Usually, the “R” Treat Box was the size of an off-brand kids meal box, and was usually filled with samples. You’d get a small box of Grape Nuts, maybe some stickers, maybe some cookies, and some coupons. Sounds kinda boring now, but I used to lose my shit to get one of those free boxes of mom-centered samples! Like most things in life, it was all about the journey and NOT the destination. So, when I first stumbled upon the idea of Loot Crate over on Top Hat Sasquatch, I was flooded with memories of the “R” Treat box. Like most things when you grow up, I had to pay for the experience. Was it worth the price? Well, let’s see.

First off, is it wrong that I wanted the box to look like an actual crate? I wanted to experience the feeling of a pirate as he was about to open a chest of newfound loot. When I opened the box, the first thing I saw was this clever postcard. If I were an actual journalist, I’d tell you what that postcard was actually promoting. Anyway, I was greeted with another card, from Loot Crate, explaining that September’s theme was “8-Bit”. This was kinda cool, but I’ve never been the most hardcore gamer, so it didn’t excite me like it probably should have.

So, here’s everything I saw once I unpacked the box. Here were my initial thoughts on things

– Loot Crate sticker: who doesn’t love a sticker?

-Radium Energy Powder: I like that it’s in a vial, but I’ll never eat it because it’s blue. I’m still scarred from the Blue Raspberry craze from the 90s. Apparently, it’s caffeinated. So, it’s basically powder that gives you energy. I’m fairly certain that neither the FDA nor the DEA know about this.

-Pixel sunglasses: I wear glasses, so I’ll never get to use these. Plus, I ended up with hot pink. I say that in the same voice as Adam from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, when he said “I’m a frog.”

-Party Mustache: OH MY GOD! I HATE THIS HIPSTER GARBAGE!!!! ARRGHHH!! You don’t get it – I live not too far from Baltimore, where the whole hipster, ironic mustache thing has risen to new heights. It’s probably the 2nd worst thing about that city (next to Ray Lewis killing people). Then, I calmed down and realized that this was actually meant to stand in as Mario’s mustache. It does a poor job, but I give them credit for the effort.

Legend of Zelda Mints: nice presentation, but they’re the kind of thing you leave on a desk. If these were in your pocket, you’d walk around sounding like you’re smuggling maracas into the country.

-20-sided die: this was interesting, almost like an afterthought. I mean, the topic was “8-Bit”, yet this is decidedly analog and tabletop. Plus, there’s no real need for it. If they’d thrown in a starter RPG game or something, I’d get it, but this is just kinda like “Ya never know when you might need a 20-sided die. Just go with it.”

-Pikachu button: great if you like buttons and/or work at TGI Fridays. Pretty straight forward. Not too large. Basically the size of the promo buttons DC Comics gives out at conventions.

Super Mario Bros Power Up Energy Drink: Yeah, there’s no way I’m drinking this. I avoid all energy drinks because I have a premonition of my heart exploding. Hell, I avoid exercise for the exact same reason. I had 2 cans of Four Loko (the good stuff, with the caffeine) in my fridge for over a year without touching it. I’m a scaredy cat who’s afraid of anything with “energy” on it. I will, however, eat McDonalds three times a day. God bless America!

So, down to brass tacks: was it worth it? Well, I didn’t sound too kind above, but I didn’t hate anything. At the end of the day, I like getting mail. Always have. If they really try to shut down the post office, I might actually finally march for something. I will say that it’s kinda odd that I’m paying for it. It’s like paying for an escort – yeah, it’s great you’re getting banged and all, but it’d mean so much more if you hadn’t given someone your credit card information beforehand.

Loot Crate offers 3 types of subscriptions – one month for $13.37, three months for $55.11, or six months for $105.99 (all include $6/month for shipping and handling). I didn’t feel like one month would be long enough to get the full experience, but I couldn’t justify a six month subscription, sight unseen. So, I settled on the three month deal. My October crate should be shipping at the end of the week, so look for a follow up soon. At the moment, I’ll say that your mileage may vary, but for now I don’t think it was a bad decision. I’ve wasted more money on less, and I still love the anticipation aspect of it. Maybe the contents of October’s crate will be closer to my interests.

For another opinion on the Loot Crate, check here:

http://www.crookedninja.com/2012/09/lootcrate-unboxing.html

For more background on the “R” Treat Box, check here:

http://dinosaurdracula.com/features/toys-r-us-r-treat-box/

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, 

AND MORE!!!

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.

10th Sep2012

My 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con

by Will

Normally I’m excited about a comic convention, but that wasn’t the case here. Between the fact that my love affair with comics has hit a rough patch, I’ve been busy with a new job AND wedding planning, combined with the fact that I have a cold that took my voice, I was not looking forward to this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con. Still, I’m a big fan of streaks, and I haven’t missed a BCC since 2004. So, I took some meds, manned up and made the drive. One of the things that I look forward to is that the show allows me to see folks I don’t get to see often. It’s been an annual meeting with Twitter pal @sycobuny, last year I met Yo from @OAFE and I get to see old industry friends. This year, though, it seems that most of my friends didn’t realize it was con weekend until it was upon them. So, no meeting with sycobuny, Yo and I didn’t cross paths, and I didn’t get to meet any new Twitter pals.

So, the show. I’m getting conflicting impressions about how the show was going. I hope @dcuniverse blogs about his take on things, but the show seemed smaller than in the past. There were areas with a lot more walking room where there had previously been booths. I’m not sure if this was intended, or indicative of the economy. That said, there was high demand for entry. However, when I ran into con organizer Marc Nathan, I asked him if it was a good show, and replied that it was an “OK show”. Must not have met the day’s expectations. In the past, I’d wake up at 6 AM and stand in line to get in when the doors opened. Over time, however, I’ve come to realize that there’s really nothing to gain by doing that. I mean, we’re all going to the same place, and unless you know exactly where you’re planning to hit first, it’s a waste of time. So, I got there at about 2 PM, and there was STILL a LOOOONG line outside of people waiting to get in. There were separate lines for cash and credit, and of course cash ran more smoothly. I didn’t want to get in that line because I didn’t bring a ton of cash, and it would eat into what I could buy. I didn’t want to stand outside, though, so I did the cash line.

Once inside, I didn’t wander long before I ran into my sword brother, Keith Davidsen. He recently left Avatar Press, and he’s now cock of the walk as a bunch of publishers are interested in working with him. I’ve known him for 5 years, and I’ve never seen him that in demand. It was pretty impressive. So, I spent a good chunk of time looking taking pics of cosplay, as he chatted up the dude behind Gutters, Brian Pulido, the guys at Dynamite and more. We’ll get to the cosplay. I’m not done pontificating yet!

The con floor had the typical layout: pro booths, artist alley, and the dealer side. Due to some bad experiences in the past, combined with the fact that I’ve basically met everyone I want to meet, I avoided the pro booths. They were full of lines of people waiting to meet their favorite creators. God bless ’em, but they’re wasting good time in those lines. No, thanks! Artist Alley actually had some cool stuff, but my days as a buyer kinda make me an asshole. Ya see, the minute you make eye contact, they’ve got you and you may not want that. Still, I came into the show wanting to leave with unique things, and I knew that I’d find that there. Chris Flick from capesnbabes.com was doing caricatures of folks are their favorite heroes. I, of course, chose Batman. I think it came out well (notice that even the Batsignal has glasses)!

The dealer side also held little for me. I went into the show with a loose plan: I wanted to fill in holes in my Amazing Spider-Man and X-Factor runs. The problem, though, was that I’m not looking for vintage. I’m actually looking for books published within the last year. I haven’t purchased either of those series since last Christmas, since I find I enjoy them more in chunks than on a monthly basis BUT I don’t want them in trade form. Considering the amount of overships Marvel has done recently, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. I was wrong. I guess someone else had the same idea, as I came up empty on both. Toys were the same situation. I’ve reached a point where I don’t really have any more holy grails as far as Marvel and DC figures go. I’ve got about 75% of DC Universe Classics, and I’m not a huge Marvel toy guy. I did pick up this loose Gambit for $5, though, ’cause five bucks! I know he’s lame now, but I came up in the 90s when he was the coolest mofo in comics, so this is how I like to remember him.

 

One dealer had a DC Universe Classics figure I’ve wanted for years: Gentleman Ghost. Some backstory: DC Universe figures ship with pieces of a larger figure. Collect all the figures in a series and you can build a cool, big figure. Gentleman Ghost comes with one of the rarest pieces, and he was never really shipped evenly to stores. The dealer had $100 on it, but I offered $80. For you non-fanboys, you’re saying “$80 for a TOY?!” It’s worth it. Go check eBay. I’ll wait. Anyway, the dealer declined, as he said he bought the thing at the show at a premium, and didn’t even expect to sell it this weekend. Rather than budge, he feels he’s got a better shot selling it next month at New York Comic Con. My loss, I guess. Or I might just go to NYCC and offer him $80 again.

So, in the end, I ended up with a bunch of Series 4 LEGO minifigure packs (Lindsay & I started collecting at Series 6), DMZ Vols 11 and 12, Scalped Vol 7 (which I actually already had and didn’t know it), Gambit, the caricature, some art cards of Miles Morales Ultimate Spidey and Batman Beyond, Drafted: The Essential Edition, We3: The Definitive Edition, Batman: Earth One HC, The Boys Vol 11, and Batman & Robin #10. I didn’t go too overboard, and I only bought stuff that was either a good deal or unique.

Now, for the cosplay. I think the cosplayers brought it this year. I was impressed by a lot of what I saw. Let’s see if you agree with me.

April O’Neil! She even had little Turtles with her!

You remember what I said about Gambit. Loved this costume.

Booth Babe Rogue, handing out coupons for Collectors Corner

Um…I got nothin’

Tuxedo Mask! At Otakon, he would’ve been The Man. Not sure if people recognized him here, though

Dominican Wolverine! You can’t see it, but his “claws” were butter knives tapes together.

It’s either Nick Fury or my Uncle Leroy. Both were old black dudes with eyepatches…

Last year, I gave you GaBlactus. This year, I give you Blor.

PG’s boob veins were still adjusting to the New 52…

Ya know, “Zatanna” wouldn’t be too unusual a name for a black chick these days.

A lot of booth dealers were ogling their asses, but I run a classy joint over here!

ONE PUNCH!

Oh, Mista J!

Baltimore keeps the Spirit of Vengeance quite busy

“Stand back, old chum! Villainy and scalpers are afoot!”

This marks the first time any has paid attention to The New Mutants in years!

I’ve got a world exclusive: Bane & Jubilee meet up in the crossover of 2013!

As part of MarvelNOW, we’re getting Nicky & Tash – teenage Nick Fury and teenage Natasha Romanov fight international crime, while still making it to the homecoming dance.

Booth Babes helping out at the charity art auction

Such a badass costume. The pic doesn’t even do it justice.

I had nothing for him to sign, but I had to say hello to the father of A Real American Hero, Mr Larry Hama!

Well, that about wraps it up. Not the best convention, but I’m glad I went. When I got next year, I’ll be married, a year wiser, and hopefully sans cold. Tune in next time, when we get back to Thrift Justice!

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.

Epiloque

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!

22nd Nov2011

Off To See The Wizard…

by Will

So, in an effort to sort out my junk room, I decided that I could probably start with my longbox of Wizard publications. I quickly tired of being reminded of Wetworks and Vampirella books, so I decided to focus on my issues of Toyfare instead. For those not really “in the know”, Toyfare was a monthly magazine published by the fine folks who also gave the world Wizard: The Guide to Comics (which later rebranded itself as a “Men’s Pop Culture Magazine”, whatever that means). Anyway, Wizard used to highlight toys, but as the industry ramped up, there was too much to report than the meager 2 pages in Wizard allowed, so the toy focus was spun off into its own magazine. At its best, Toyfare gave an in-depth look at fan favorite toy lines. At its worst, it was a glorified toy catalog. To be honest, “glorified” doesn’t even fit, as regular toy catalogs at least listed prices – something Toyfare couldn’t be bothered to do in many cases. Anyway, while flipping through the pages, a few thoughts came to mind, and I figured I’d share them here.

-What happened to Palisades Toys? I was never a Muppets fan, but I could respect that they truly paid attention to detail in making those Muppets toys.

-Diamond Select should’ve been run out of business for those horrible Serenity figures. I’ve actually said this to DST staffers. They like to change the subject when that line is brought up. I’m no Serenity fan, but I know a slap in the face when I see it.

-Did Hasbro ever present a use for those Jedi Master points?

-Is bbi still around? I remember they used to make those awesomely detailed solider dolls. Sometimes they’d use a Hollywood likeness without ever really securing the rights. So, instead of a Saving Private Ryan doll, it’d be a “World War II Officer” with a Tom Hanks face or something.

-An issue from 2002 stated that we had a better shot of seeing a Thundercats revival before a true G.I. Joe renaissance. Huh.

-The book REALLY started to suck when they took a parody approach to the articles. It was cute for the April Fools issue, but for a good  3 years every article in the book was like a Robot Chicken skit. While Robot Chicken showed that approach could be funny, it just gets tired in print.

-I wonder how many of the toys previewed in Toyfare actually NEVER came to fruition. I know for a fact that King of the Hill Series 2 never came out. That was when everyone wanted to jump on the interactive soundchip playset bandwagon, but I guess Toycom realized they couldn’t swing it.

-When they started posting the Complete Photo Guides to toy lines, that made the magazine worth the price of admission.

-Near the end, they were just reprinting the movie articles from Wizard, seeing as how comic movies also tended to have toylines.

-I never realized how many 80s Toy Quizzes they published. That magazine survived an extra 3 years just by jerking off fans to fantasies of a M.A.S.K. revival.

Culling the ranks of the Toyfare stash didn’t take much time, so then I cam back around for the herculean task of weeding out the Wizards. After all, I had a complete run for about 10 years or so. Along the way, I noticed a few interesting things:

-Where is Christina Z these days? For those not in the know, she was the first woman to make Wizard’s Top 10 Writers List, and she used to write Witchblade back when it was all T&A. That way, whenever someone criticized it for being a T&A book, Top Cow could protest, “No, it’s written by a woman!” Her last publicized work was Jenna Jameson’s Shadow Hunter. I bet that wasn’t a T&A book at all…

-Paula Cole should sing “Where have all the CCGs gone?”

-I don’t want anything to do with J. Scott Campbell until he finishes Wildsiderz.

-Brandon Jerwa started his career on G.I. Joe with a fan submission

-I had no idea Fox has been using the “Animation Domination” name for its Sunday block since 2005!

-Broken Promises: Bryan Singer’s Ultimate X-Men arc

-Broken Promises: Jeff Loeb & J. Scott Campbell’s Spidey title

-Broken Promises: When Bendis left The Pulse, he said it would continue with another writer. This didn’t happen.

-Yay! Kubert’s on Batman. Surely, he’ll have a long run on this book!

-In ’03, J.Scott Campbell went exclusive with DC. Can anyone name what came from that? Anyone? No, because NOTHING came from that contract.

-Why did they stop making DC Minimates?

-There was actually an article called “Treasured Chests”, where they compared the cleavage of Talia Al Ghul, Power Girl, and some Wildstorm chick.

-Kia Asamiya. Yes, I get that everyone had Manga Fever, but WHO THE FUCK PUT HIM ON X-MEN?!!!

-Broken Promises: Loeb & Lee’s promised post-Hush 6-issue arc on Batman.

-Before they diversified their brand with Pilot Season, Top Cow was pretty much just, “Hey, kids! Tits!”

-After Chaos went under, Lady Death went to the Code 6 imprint at Crossgen. Now, she’s at Avatar, under the Boundless imprint. Lady Death: She Doesn’t Just LOOK Like The Village Bicycle!

-There was an Olympic ad in the March 2002 issue. Like, a real brand, and not some e-store or superhero-inspired motorcycle jackets. The actual Olympics, with the athletes and shit. SO out of place.

-Chaos allowed fans to serve as associte editors on books. They spun it as “interaction”, but it was really just cheap labor. They went under soon afterwards.

-Only in 2002 could Joe Mad make the Top 10 Most Influential Artists List. He ranked higher than Sienkiewicz!!!

-Broken Promises: Kevin Smith was supposed to take over Amazing Spider-Man, and JMS was to move over to a new book. Smith also said in interviews that he only agreed if they would allow him to reunite MJ and Peter.

-Broken Promises: Kevin Smith was also announced as the writer of a new iteration of Brave and the Bold just before signing an exclusive with Marvel.

-Based on the number of articles, Fathom “returned” about 12 times, but never actually finished.

-Top Cow has been streamlining its universe since 2001, with no end in sight. The first event, Universe, made Tomb Raider & Fathom part of TC canon…interesting, seeing as how both properties are no longer under the TC umbrella.

-Where is Devin Grayson? Did her career end at the same time as her relationship with Mark Waid?

-I think the best depiction of Rogue was the promo image to her Icons mini. She’s strong and athletic – believably 19 (which is the age she’s rumored to be), and not a busty, 30-something skunkhead.

-Alicia Witt would’ve been a MUCH better Mary Jane in the Spider-Man movies.

-Instead of rushing to reprint them, Bill Jemas put the Ultimate titles online, 12 pages at a time, to “reward the readers and retailers who jumped on the Ultimate bandwagon at the beginning, thus making those initial issues all the more valuable.” – 2001

-In 2001, Poison Elves creator Drew Hayes signed an unprecedented 50 year deal with Sirius Entertainment. While this was clearly a publicity stunt, Drew would pass away in 2007.

-Casting Call: Geoff Johns cast Heath Ledger as Wally West and Owen Wilson as Trickster.

-Issue #110’s letter column only featured mail sent by prisoners.

-They used to have a column called “oops…” where they made corrections to previous stories. This was phased out in later years, as the entire magazine became one giant collection of typos and mistakes.

-Broken Promises: Top Cow got the A-Team rights in 2000. Did nothing with them.

-Did America ever get Bandai’s handheld system, the WonderSwan Color?

-They were REALLY pushing for Brendan Fraser to be Superman, as they cast him in 3 different Casting Call articles over the years.

-Casting Call: Tom Selleck as Tony Stark, Kevin Sorbo as Thor, and Howie Long as Cap. This would’ve been fine…in 1990. They also cast Howie Long as Duke in G.I. Joe. Wizard really liked Howie Long.

-The same character was named “Venus”, “Sexbot”, and finally “Aphrodite IX”

-Finally, back when DC did the whole Superman Red/Blue thing, a few high profile artists were asked to redesign Superman’s iconic suit. One of those artists happened to be Jim Lee. Looks like he’s been married to that high-collar design for quite some time…

 

 

So, what were your favorite Toyfare/Wizard memories?

09th Nov2011

Back & Fourth: The One With The Beyblades

by Will

So, just when I was settling into a groove with the whole lunch duty thing, The Man threw a wrench into our plans. You see, the kids used to eat in their classroom, which sort of made them a captive audience. Now, the multipurpose room is being used as a cafeteria for EVERYONE, so now I’ve got to deal with 5th graders, a different class of 4th graders, and the 4th graders I actually like. Today, I was finally able to sit down and have a tete-a-tete with “my” kids.

First off, an observation: I’m noticing these kids REALLY hate their school lunch. Now, I know the whole general cultural belief is that kids are supposed to hate school lunches, but I’m not used to that experience. I went to private school and our shit was catered. Then, I went to a college that was the home of the #1 dining hall in the country. So, I guess you can say I’ve been spoiled. I’m not gloating, though; I’m fat, so I got what I had coming to me. Anyway, it just sucks to see all the food these kids throw away. I’m not even one of those “think of the starving kids in China” people. I mean, a lot of these kids are starving, yet, they STILL won’t eat it. That’s some bad food. When the fat kid throws it away? That’s some bad food. I know the stuff doesn’t look appetizing. I mean, half the time it looks like someone took a shit in a Kid Cuisine tray. I’ve eaten some of it, and some of it wasn’t that bad, but I can see why the look might turn folks away.

I’ve also wondered if the kids might hate it just because it’s more nutritious than they’re used to eating. I am FAR from a bastion of healthy eating, but one chick’s lunch was comprised of two glazed doughnuts and a popped bagged of microwave popcorn. Another kid’s lunch was about EIGHT Fruit Roll-Ups and some Goldfish. This is the shit that happens when kids have kids! Kinda hard to give your kid a nutritious lunch when you still do most of your shopping at Five Below. Where’s the First Lady now?! She fucks up the Happy Meal, but doesn’t get to the root of the problem, the food that kids pretty much have to eat – school lunches.

Anyway, I sat down with the kids and we shot the crap. The kids had brought their Beyblades, and I was at a loss. I sold the things for years, but never really knew how they worked. It’s like if Scarface had never tried the coke! So, when Mike asked, “Mr. West, do you wanna rip my Beyblade?”, I saw it as my chance to finally learn what the whole thing was all about. For you old folks out there, let me just break it down for ya: “Beyblades” is just a fancy marketing word that means “fancy tops”. Ya know the shit your great grandpa played with on the Titanic? Yeah, those things. I’m just kinda surprised their still this popular. Shouldn’t they have been unseated by Bakugan? Has the Era of the Bakus gone?

I wasn’t gonna settle for kids being excited about an almost 10 year old toyline! No, I decided to take it to the next level. You see, there’d been some Twitter discussion about what might be The Toy of the Holiday Season this year. There’s usually an Elmo, and some other thing soccer moms are willing to shank each other over. So, I decided to take it to the kids. They’re at the “one foot out of the door of toys, one foot into the world of console games” age, so they’re the perfect audience. I also told them that they couldn’t name video games, so no Arkham City, Modern Warfare, Uncharted, etc. So, what did they answer? Beyblades! All of them. Really?! I kept asking about Bakugan. Seriously, I’ve asked them about Bakugans so much that you’d think I worked for Bakugan marketing, but those kids simply don’t give a shit about balls that open up into weeblesque “beasts”. No, today’s kids love the shit out of fancy tops. Sharpen your shivs, moms!

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.