Every couple of months I do a post where I show off the latest and greatest crap I’ve collected over the last couple months. Today I’m showing off the stuff I found in the last gasps of flea market/yard sale season before the warm days finally gave way to chilly mornings and even a rare snow in October.
This past weekend I also went to the Greater York Toy Extravaganza, a massive toy collector show of over 800 tables filling an entire expo center in Pennsylvania. Taking place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the toy show has become my annual tradition, a way to cap off another year of collecting junk. Even though most of the dealers are overpriced and scary in a Pennsylvania way, I always find a few rough gems. As usual, I’m always looking for oddities and random unloved things. This year did not let me down.
I’ve also done posts on the toy show in previous years. In 2009, the wife/then-girlfriend came with me for the first and last time. This was back when we first began thinking about moving in together. She was still weighing whether or not she wanted to get seriously involved with a collector, as in, living with all of it. She walked around the toy show in horror saying things like, “If I move in with you, I’m going to have to live with this kind of stuff. What if we get married? This could be my life forever.”
Meanwhile, I was dealing with my own personal struggles. I was deciding whether or not to buy a half-used box of Ninja Turtle Band-aids. Surely if they had existed this long in the universe, didn’t it mean God intended them for me? But ultimately I passed on them to assuage the girlfriend’s existential meltdown over dating someone who bought unused Band-aids from the 1980s.
Whatever. The keyword is unused.
Then in 2010, the Ninja Turtle Band-Aids WERE STILL THERE. And once again, I struggled over whether or not to buy them. By now the girlfriend had said yes and agreed to marry me, so I felt secure enough to bring home Band-aids with Michaelangelo’s face on them. But we lived in a cramped, tiny apartment, so I had to be prudent. I purchased only necessary items this time around, like plush potato dolls.
So now, this year, I was all set to buy those Ninja Turtles Band-aids. I’ve got an entire basement to fill, which is my home office, writing space, and man cave. Except, here’s the heartbreaker, guys. The Band-aids weren’t there this year. But don’t feel too sorry for me. I was only being half serious about them. I think.
So let’s dive in and take a look at what I picked up at the toy show, as well as the flea market/yard sales before it got cold out.
Little Rubber Guys! I’ve been picking up MUSCLES and other little figures here and there ever since I started collecting them back in August when I scored a whole bunch of them for five bucks at the flea market. I started out with twenty and now I have like a hundred. I found a few more at the toy show including the guys in the far left row. The dealer wanted a buck each for them, but I knocked him down to fifty cents a piece. Does anyone know who they are specifically?
Trash Bag Bunch! A quarter a piece, yard sale find. These are the Trash Bag Bunch, a toy line produced by Galoob in 1991. This toyline had an earth-friendly theme about recycling and the environment. Each figure came packaged in a bag so you couldn’t tell which figure you’d receive. Figures included monsters, aliens, and robots, a hat trick of awesomeness. The bag would fizzle and dissolve in water, revealing the secret figure inside.
Digging around online shows the line of toys was surprisingly complex with droves of figures released and many more planned, including even a crane-like “grab and dip” playset and trash bags sold separately for re-bagging the figures. Yet, the concept flunked in America, somewhat ahead of its time in selling blind surprise packages, something that is all the rage now.
Batman Stuff! Free, flea market. Yeah, I actually got both the game and the flash light for FREE. The sellers at the flea market were packing up and yelling that everything was free for the taking, so I nabbed these items.
I’ve never really been a Batman or traditional superheros fan, but I love the colors, style, and fonts on these two items. I guess that’s weird, to feel nostalgia more for the font or color more than the character. Or that Kay Bee sticker.
Vintage toy store stickers are neat stuff. It takes me back to when I was a kid, standing in the aisles of the toy store feeling small and overwhelmed, full of bottomless want and hunger. I assumed Santa, like God, was omnipresent, so I’d walk down the aisles praying to Santa mentally, hoping he was listening and knowing he was. This is what I want. This. And this! This, too! Are you listening? Are you taking this down? Do you need a pen? You better have a pen. Soon we’d leave the store and the mall would swallow us again, and I’d want a soft pretzel. And a Coke. No, an Icee. Make it a blue one.
MUPPET BABIES LUNCHBOX! I typed that in all caps because a MUPPET BABIES LUNCHBOX should always be typed that way. And it’s tin. It is that awesome. Scored it for $1 at the flea market. I love the cartoon theme song. It’s so gorgeous and sublime. If you listen to it as a song, it has awesome harmonies, too.
Why the hell is Muppet Babies not even on DVD yet?
Totally Sick Ninja Turtles Collection! (Even Without the Band-Aids!) I’m no longer simply collecting Ninja Turtle stuff. I’m now amassing it. A friend gave us his childhood Rubbermaid bin of Ninja Turtle toys for our wedding gift. And by “us” and “our,” I really mean just me.
It was a totally worthy wedding gift, too, because the bin wasn’t like some crappy beat-up, old-ass Ninja Turtles. Oh no. It was PACKED with GOOD FIGURES and VEHICLES and had all of the original accessories. April even has her original microphone, briefcase, and video camera. INSANITY.
Like, not only did this kid get EVERY AWESOME NINJA TURTLE, but he also TOOK CARE of them. If my original childhood TMNT collection still existed, it would make a shameful gift—turtle arms missing, common figures that every kid had, not a cape or sword or sai among them.
The wife can treasure her new Kitchenaid blender and Calphalon omelette pans all she wants. This Ninja Turtle collection is likely going to end up one of the most valuable gifts we received. I’ve seen decent lots of TMNT figures sell for $200+ on eBay. Imagine what they’ll go for in 20-30 years.
My favorite thing is I have a COMPLETE KRANG with walker, arms, and ray gun:
I even have Krang’s Android Body, which I picked up at the toy show for three bucks:
And Now Here’s The Moment In Which I Admit I Even Have (And Display) A Rapidly-Deteriorating Raphael Birthday Candle:
Don’t judge me. It was in that wedding gift bin. It’s not like I could throw it out. Besides, he’s now stored in a cool, dry, smoke-free basement. Maybe it’ll even firm him up a bit. It’s not even the worst thing I own, nor is it the lowest point in my collection.
Because the lowest point in my collection and perhaps my entire life is the next thing I’m going to show you:
THE WORLD’S LAST EXISTING FREE WILLY FIGURE!
I really felt ashamed of myself for buying this at the toy show. But it was only a dollar. I felt like a sociologist discovering something new about humanity. I did it for history. I did it for you. You, the reader who is right now marveling that a Free Willy figure existed. That a bendable toy of Jesse, the boy from freaking Free Willy, was mass-produced and sold in toy stores.
Or perhaps you’re thinking nothing at all because you don’t even know what this is. Fine. Be that way.
Free Willy was a movie about the tender relationship between a boy and an Orca whale. While it feels like some obscure random thing that no one remembers now, I assure you that movie was ridiculously, massively popular in 1993. For a hot minute, every kid in fifth grade wanted to be a marine biologist because of this movie.
Let this mint-on-card boy-from-Free-Willy show that this movie was once deeply embedded in our collective psyche in ways that are just now being uncovered. Or perhaps I’m only speaking for myself and it’s only my psyche that I’m uncovering in purchasing this.
Wow. I own a figure of Jason James Richter. Dude, I am creepy and weird. I need a support group, sitting around in chairs clutching small Styrofoam cups of black coffee. I hope they have doughnuts. Or at least Pepperidge Farms cookies. At least.
Here’s another thing that makes me think wow: Free Willy spawned two sequels. Free Willy is a trilogy. Think about that one for a minute.
Vintage Star Wars Stuff! Five bucks for the lot, flea market. I never see Star Wars stuff at the flea market because I don’t mosey in there until about 9am. You see, the hardcore collectors and ebayers get there in the pitch blackness of 4am with flash lights looking for Star Wars, GI Joes, Legos, and Beatles records. But somehow, this small, humble lot of Star Wars stuff lasted until I got there. The whole lot is probably worth about $20-$30, so take that crazy flashlight people!
Boglins! $1, flea market. Here’s one the crazy flashlight people wouldn’t even know about. Boglins are bank on eBay, flashlight people, and I scored this guy just as it was reaching noon. Boglins were a line of rubbery, monstery hand puppets from the 1980s. At the time, they were viewed as a knock-off of stuff like Ghostbusters and Gremlins, but since then, they’ve achieved a mini-cult status among nostalgists and collectors.
Kongs! Fifty cents each, at the toy show. I have a thing for gorilla figures with special love bonus points if the eyes are mispainted on. Special love bonus points are very esteemed and reserved. The little guy has earned a million of ’em. Just look at him. He is nothing short of spectacular.
Random Bottom of the Bin Toys! Seriously, that wedding gift bin just kept on giving. These were scattered along the bottom underneath the piles of Ninja Turtles. I think they were actually my favorites of the whole lot. I love that dinosaur, that tomato thing, that red thing, that green thing, that little machete-wielding dinosaur, and that little dude. SO MANY SPECIAL LOVE BONUS POINTS TO GO AROUND. Some days, it’s just like that.
More Random Figures! Quarter a piece, yard sale. UM HELLO SLURPEE DRINKING HOT DOG. Screw this life. I want to live in that world. What about that Raisin wearing pink boots and carrying a matching pink boombox? Hot. A squatty little ET figure? Yes, please. Sugar Bear? Kool-Aid Man? Energizer Bunny? I’ll take them all.
Old School Video Game Stuff! Picked up both of these at the toy show. Board game was two bucks, the Pac Man Tomy game was seven. I love what these things represent more than anything, a time when everything was cross-merchandised to extremes. There was never just a video game. There was a cartoon, a comic book, a lunch box, a board game, bed sheets, a snack food, a cereal, a Happy Meal toy, a carnival prize, and a frozen pizza.
There’s something just so unique to the 1980s about board games based on video games, and really, board games based on any pop culture trend. If it was A Thing, a board game existed of it.
A close up of the Pac Man game:
This was made by Tomy, and I’ve always thought Tomy made some of the coolest toys to ever exist. Here is another Tomy find, Atomic Arcade Pin Ball:
Five bucks, at the flea market. I almost passed on it, too. I’m not sure why, because it’s awesome. But I was going to walk away until I took it out of the box and saw the minuature working scoreboard. Something about the scoreboard sold me completely.
Monsters! A buck each, at the toy show. Three of these are Tales From The Cryptkeeper, a cartoon based on the HBO show, Tales From the Crypt, which also had a comic book, a pinball machine, a line of POGS, and on and on. While I have no special love bonus points for them, I just dig monster action figures. However, I DO have special love bonus points for that monster bendy dude. Anyone know if he’s anything specifically? I’m assuming just some generic 70s/80s made-in-China bendy.
Thundercats! $19.99, Toys R Us. Did you know there is a new re-boot of the Thundercats cartoon? I don’t really care about it, but I do love the excuse to also reproduce some of the vintage Thundercats toys. There are a couple of smaller eight-inch vintage Thundercats in the stores, too, but I had to go with this “Mega Scale” Lion-O just so I could enjoy the mega-scale production of those fibrous cat man thighs. The 80s were a really weird time. I have a feeling I’ll be explaining that a lot to my children one day.
Finally, I’m capping off the post with a Toilet Pencil Sharpener!
About two weekends ago, we went to Gettysberg, PA. Even if you’re not a Civil War buff, it’s worth the trip for the neat little town and quirky gift shops. Me and the wife are like “neat little town” addicts. There’s all these strange Civil War exhibits and mini-museums, each worthy of their own posts. The one that stood out to me most was the Gettysberg Diorama, which advertised having the world’s largest military diorama. Since they had to specify “military,” I just hope there is a diorama of something else that is even larger. Please let it be dinosaurs. Please let it be dinosaurs.
The diorama is gorgeous in a creepy 1970s way. The thing about dioramas is, they seem to want to capture mundane, relateable things, even among the mini battlefield soldiers—soldiers looking out window, soldiers cooking food—things you could point to, and think, hey, look, dioramas are just like people! Just like us!
The diorama filled an entire, echoing hall. We were the only ones there that day, and we paid five dollars EACH to watch a THIRTY MINUTE program, alone in the room with the diorama. It was like being trapped in a time bubble, and well, like being trapped, period. THIRTY MINUTES OF THIS BUT WE PAID FOR IT SO WE HAVE TO STAY. The technology stopped somewhere in 1985. We watched a film strip and listened to a narration with a wicked electric grounding hum that made it difficult to hear. A few flickery strobe lights highlighted the action on the battlefield/diorama. It was awesome.
But even more awesome was the gift shop, which ought to advertise that they have the world’s largest selection of shot glasses and die-cast pencil sharpeners. Which is how I came to have a miniature die-cast toilet. I agonized over that decision for at least twenty minutes. I’d finally narrowed it down to the diver’s helmet, the 1980s television, and the toilet, but I knew I was going to pick the toilet the whole time. Still, it’s always good to choose runners up.
And you know what? Since there’s plenty to go around, special love bonus points awarded to the die-cast toilet. And to you.