Here’s the stuff I found this weekend during my yard sale/flea market/thrift store run:
Scored these for a quarter each. I’m only a little embarrassed that I will buy anything with the Ninja Turtles on it. Anything. Like random twenty year old school folders. And since the Bart Simpson one was right there underneath of it—I mean, like right there, two unused school folders huddled together like that in the wild, after all these years—it was something beautiful and maybe kind of sad. The two of them had traveled and clung together this long. I couldn’t just leave it behind.
You understand, right?
Paid: Fifty cents
Value: Fifty cents
Ninja Turtle Figures
Originally I had set out to collect only the early and cool Playmates Ninja Turtles figure line. All of the figures released between 1988 and 1990 are among the coolest and creative action figures ever produced. Figures like Ace Duck and Metalhead were just far out and even artful. I’ve heard a rumor that the people making the toys were on drugs at the time, which sounds like a school yard rumor, but I’m not above spreading it. I kind of want to believe these guys were designing trippy skateboarding gecko figures like Mondo Gecko while dropping acid.
So yeah, I feel no shame in collecting the 1988-1990 figures. Originally, that seemed like a nice, neat, healthy place to draw the line. After 1990, shit got weird. And not skateboarding-gecko-weird, but like desperation-weird, as in Ninja Turtles-playing-sports or old Wild West versions of the Turtles. At this point, it was obvious Playmates was just milking the cow for all it was worth, releasing multiple variations of the same figures over and over and over. It was lame and the creativity was lacking in the toys. And by the mid-90s, all of the innovation and acid was completely absent, with figures like Russ Troll versions of the Turtles being released.
But as you’ll notice, I’m collecting them all anyway. Like the caveman version of Michaelangelo figure that I bought. Or that transforming Leonardo/firetruck thing. A turtle transforming into a firetruck is stupid, and I feel completely reasonable saying that even if I defended World War II pilot ducks and skateboarding geckos above.
I’ve drawn a new, nice, neat healthy line at the 2003 reboot of the series and action figures. Even though I’m not going to say I don’t have some of them.
Paid: $1 each
Value: $14. The ’93-’99 Turtles are actually more rare and can be worth $7-15 a piece loose.
Star Wars Bend ‘Ems / Godzilla
I got the three of these for $3.50 total, which I think was kind of a steal. Bendy figures of C-3PO and R2-D2? Why not? Even if R2-D2 doesn’t look particularly bendy. But maybe he knows something under that plastic that I don’t know.
The Godzilla is a cheap knock-off of the Imperial Toys Godzilla, which is kind of weird to say because the Imperial Toy versions always feel a little cheap and knock-offy to begin with.
Value: $15. I’m somewhat shocked the Star Wars Bend ‘Ems don’t go for more than $2-5 a pop on eBay. I think the Godzilla is probably worth about that as well.
Power Pad / Games
At last, a lifelong dream has come true. I own Dance Aerobics for the Power Pad. And by “lifelong” I really mean the last five years, in a post-ironic sentimental sense of “dreaming.”
God, I have no idea what that means.
What I do know is I saw the Dance Aerobics for three bucks at the local Goodwill and I snapped it up with my heart skipping a beat or two. Someone had unloaded their entire old-school Nintendo collection at the Goodwill, including the NES with all controllers, light gun, and Power Pad, a SNES with controllers, and a dozen games for each. They could have easily gotten $100+ for it on eBay. So I also bought the Power Pad and a handful of games.
As you can see, I found Super Team Games for the Power Pad as well. Since I already own World Class Track Meet, I had 3 of the 6 Power Pad games. Confession time: Once I realized my other “lifelong” “dream” of owning all six Power Pad games was within reach, I went nutso and bought Street Cop, Short Order/Eggsplode, and Athletic World on eBay. Look for a comprehensive review of all six games and my candid thoughts on the Power Pad next week!
Value: I’m also sort of shocked the Power Pad goes as low as five bucks on eBay. I bet one packaged with all six games would go for $50-75 though.
More NES Games
These are the others I picked up at Goodwill for $3 a piece. Star Force and Xevious are very similar, both of them overhead-view flying/shooting games. Pinball was one of my absolute favorite to play as a kid, so I’ll be interested to find out if it can still hold my attention as an adult. And then there’s Pac-Man, my absolute nemesis of video games. I’m pretty sure I’ve never beaten the first level.
I couldn’t believe the seller was only asking fifteen bucks for a minty boxed Game Boy. This wasn’t even at my regular dirt-lot flea market, but instead an arty, urban, bougie flea market in Baltimore, where everyone was young and hip and had all of their teeth. The kind of place where half of the vendors were selling art made out of reclaimed wood. Surely this guy about my age had looked up boxed Game Boys on eBay and saw one recently sold for $175.
But instead he just shrugged and said fifteen bucks when I asked the price, and it seemed as though he felt guilty asking even that much for it. He then admitted it had sentimental value and he had only decided to part with it that morning. I handed over fifteen dollars without haggling. Then he even threw in a FREE vintage Star Wars Hoth Snow Trooper figure, which is also worth like ten bucks. I love you, didgeridoo-playing, reclaimed wood-selling, long-haired depressed Baltimore hipster.
Masters of the Universe Birthday Party Invitations
I’m going to file this one under “other things I ought to be embarrassed for buying,” but for fifty cents, I’m ashamed of nothing. And I’m either going to save these sealed forever or I’m going to open them and invite eight very distinguished friends to the most awesome, mind-blowing birthday party ever. It will be very competitive to make the IN list, so I’ll be expecting lavishing gifts and favors if you want to start sucking up to me.
Paid: Fifty cents
Value: $5-$15, believe it or not!
Introducing the Beatles
This is by far the most impressive find I’ve had in a long while. These aren’t super duper rare, but finding an authentic one “in the wild” is a feat. It’s a neat piece of history. In 1963, the Beatles were initially going to be released on a tiny label known as Vee Jay. But legal troubles caused the label to stumble and the release of Introducing was cancelled. Their priority wasn’t a band no one had heard of in America.
But soon “Please Please Me” was becoming a massive hit, and Capitol Records who had originally passed on releasing the Beatles’ first record in the US decided to do a full-scale promotion and release Meet the Beatles. Then Vee Jay, who was struggling to pay off debts, went ahead and released their version of the Beatles first record simultaneously. Court battles ensued over which label had the right to release the record, and by the time Introducing was yanked from the shelves, it had already sold 1.3 million mono copies and 41,000 stereo copies, making it an instant collector’s item.
Introducing the Beatles is the most counterfeited record of all time. If you find one, it’s probably a fake 90% of the time. But if you find an authentic one, it can be worth anywhere from $20 to $20,000. It’s sort of like buying a lottery ticket.
Mine’s not worth $20,000. It depends on a lot of factors including song order, label variations, condition, and whether it’s one of the super rare stereo copies. I think my copy is something closer to $20-$50. I paid $7 for it bundled with a stack of other Beatles records that I got altogether for $20. This was also at the bougie flea market where it was obviously my lucky day.
I haven’t had the thing authenticated by some Beatles expert, but it passes all the tests I’ve read about online. And look, I got my buddy to pull out his copy of the FIELD GUIDE to the Beatles. And that field guide is hardcore, man. If it passes the scrutinizing minutia of that freaking field guide, it’s legit.
Somehow this weekend has produced all the most embarrassing things in collecting. School folders. Firetruck Ninja Turtle. Dance Aerobics. He Man Birthday Party Invitations. And a pulling out of the Beatles field guide to see if the rainbow stripe on the label of the record between the red and purple has a “jagged line” in it under a magnifying glass.
Eh, it happens.