I haven’t done one of these posts in a whole month. Don’t worry, I’ve still found plenty of random stuff to display in my specimen lab. Or what I mean is my basement. Sometimes I feel like a paleontologist digging up old things, even though collecting toys is not like paleontology at all. But sometimes I want to pretend I’m a paleontologist. I even have a good hat I can wear.
Alright, let’s commence with the findings. I imagine paleontologists use fancy words like that. In the picture above is a bunch of random things. There’s that generic GI Joe figure case, known as the “Combat Collector’s Case.” Haha. It was a little banged up, but I couldn’t leave it behind for a dollar. Also here is a Rambo figure, a couple of California Raisins things, a set of the “baby” Ninja Turtles, a wind-up Madball, and some video games. They are: Super Glove Ball, Xexyz, Ghosts ‘N Goblins, and Double Dragon II.
Star Wars Candy Heads!
A few weeks ago, totally by chance, I drove past a yard sale sign that said “BIG TOY SALE” scrawled in marker. I followed the signs, my heart racing, even it was probably just going to be a bunch of baby toys. But as I pulled up to the person’s yard, I could see it was collectible stuff—all stuff I collected, toys from the 1970s and 1980s. And the guy was selling them for dirt cheap—a buck or two a piece.
It’s at this point that my wife interrupted the story when I told her and said, “yeah right, you’re making this up.”
“No, this is totally real. This guy had like everything. His entire front yard was filled with boxed toys from the 1980s that he was selling for a dollar each.”
“You must have dreamed this,” she said.
Folks, it was not a dream, but it did turn into a nightmare. I asked the guy if he had any Ninja Turtles stuff.
“Oh, I had two big boxes full, but someone just left with it, like two minutes before you got here.”
I felt sick to my stomach. Then I asked about Masters of the Universe and Transformers, the two other lines I’m hot on collecting right now.
“Same guy. Bought all that stuff. Really, it was like two minutes ago. Isn’t that funny?”
No, it’s not funny, and now I don’t even want to live on this planet anymore. I half-heartedly scrounged around the rest of the guy’s stuff, but now it just felt like picked over crap. Still, I found those Star Wars candy dispenser heads, and got them for a quarter a piece. They’re original from the early 1980s, and a few of them still have the thirty-year-old candy inside of them, which I briefly considered eating to kill myself.
I also managed to dig out these He-Man and Skeletor Bendy figures at the same yard sale, the Ninja Turtle Pizza Shooter vehicle, and Topspin, a G1 Transformer. All of it for three bucks. So there, guy two minutes before me. LOOKS LIKE YOU MISSED A FEW THINGS.
Something new I’m excited about collecting are the Street Sharks. The Street Sharks was an animated series that ran from 1994-1995 about four teenagers that mutated into crime-fighting sharks. It would be tempting to call it a thinly-veiled Ninja Turtles rip-off, but the Ninja Turtles were so over by 1994, and in fact, I’m going to go ahead and say the Street Sharks were cooler.
I mean, come on:
1) They were sharks. Duh.
2) JAWSOME is a better catchphrase than “cowabunga.”
3) They wore pants.
But the Street Sharks cartoon only lasted forty episodes, its accompanying comic book only lasted three measly issues, and Mattel only released a handful of action figures, many of which never made it past the prototype stage. But with all the shark week, shark memes, and shark love on the Internet, you’d think that the Street Sharks are due a sort of cultural revisiting.
Just look at these guys. The Street Sharks stuff is hard to find, but when you do, it’s dirt cheap because nobody knows what they are. I’ve had the leather-jacket-wearing guy for a while, but the Hammerhead and motorcycle-riding lobster are new additions. That’s right, I said MOTORCYCLE-RIDING LOBSTER. His name is Slobster and this is the SLOBSTER-ZOOKI. Every word I type is more awesome than the one before it.
The Street Sharks toys are really unique because they’re made with a soft rubber upper body. They’re large action figures with some weight to them. They’re made with a lot of care and attention to detail. They’re awesome. I mean, of course, JAWSOME.
Continuing in the trend of Ninja Turtle rip-offs, here are a couple of Toxic Crusaders figures, which I’ve also found recently. Except the Toxic Crusaders weren’t really a rip-off, either. The cartoon, which ran for just thirteen episodes, was about a group of pollution-fighting misfits who had been mutated by toxic sludge. It was loosely based on the Toxic Avenger films, a trilogy of violent B-movies that have since become cult classics. While the Avenger movies were typical midnight-movie gore, violence, and sex, the Crusaders cartoon was kid-friendly, law-abiding, and environmentally-conscious.
Playmates released an accompanying action figure line for the short-lived Toxic Crusaders cartoon, and the figures are remarkably similar to the Playmates Ninja Turtles figures that were being released at the same time. In fact, I originally bought these figures at a yard sale because I thought they were from the Ninja Turtles line.
The figures are made with the same mixture of 1980s wackiness with a bit of druggy edginess and surfer-dude aesthetic. A lot of people consider them to be a footnote or extension of the Ninja Turtles figure line. There are just nine figures in the series, and they seem like something that’s going to be worth some money in a few years when the 1990s nostalgia really kicks in.
ROBOT DUCK! I made the wife buy me this after she dragged me into an urban hipster store that sold soy candles, tables made from reclaimed wood, and coasters with wild bird names in cursive writing. And oh yeah, random rubber duckies. Like everything in the store, robot duck was marked up 150%. This is basically one of those ducks where you can buy a bulk bag of hundreds on a website like Oriental Trading, but here she paid two dollars for this single duck. But she deserved it for taking me into that place, and besides, Robot Duck is worth every penny.
Alright, this next thing is going to be less like paleontology and more like sociology. I’m talking some hardcore sociological findings, the kind of stuff that should make my blog famous and win me some kind of award in the scientific community. I should preface by saying I got this for free. So you can’t think I’m some kind nutcase for having it, because IT WAS FREE.
It was at the tail-end of the flea market when the sun was getting deadly in the sky and all the sellers were packing up. One guy was giving away everything at his table for free. Mostly it was a bunch of books. I ended up picking up an entire stack of books as well, but there was one thing sitting on the table that I simply could not leave behind.
At first I picked it up just because the artwork is so cool. But also because it represents an iconic piece of theme park history. The “Kongfrontation” attraction was one of the original rides to open in Universal Studios Florida, which was based on the equally iconic King Kong Encounter in Universal Studios Hollywood. Sadly, neither Kong attraction exists anymore, although the one in Hollywood was replaced by some wack 3D King Kong crap.
In Florida, the Kongfrontation ride featured many special effects which made it difficult to maintain, as well as maintaining two forty-foot-tall Kong animatronics with a fifty-four-long armspan. Together they weighed a combined twenty-one thousand pounds.
At the end of the tram-style ride, a Kodak booth was set up for visitors to take a photograph with King Kong:
HAHA. I don’t know why I find this picture so hilarious. I can’t believe I have this random stranger’s picture in my life, but I feel like I’m a better person because of it, and that the world is a better place because I’ve taken the time to share it. This guy could be somebody’s corny dad. He could be your corny dad. Or mine. Or he might not be anybody’s dad, and he might have gone to the park completely alone that day. Never knowing the full truth will always make me feel a little uncomfortable looking at this picture, but that’s what makes it special.
This picture captures something about 1990 in a way that no other picture can or ever will. And that’s why it’s sociologically significant, and if the media wants to request an interview with me, just let me know in advance so I can find a good sociologist’s hat to wear.
Finally, you might have noticed in the title of this blog the word “giveaway.”
I have an extra 1989 Batman movie Batmobile. Look at this thing. Hotwheels recently released a series of cars featuring the Batmobiles from all the different eras, from the 1966 TV version to the latest Batman Begins version. For me, it had to be the 1989 version all the way. I don’t even particularly care for Batman or Hot Wheels cars, but I LOVE the 1989 Batman logo.
So I bought two of them, and I want to give one TO YOU. But you have to WIN IT. How do you WIN IT? Leave a comment, and in the comment say who you think would win in a fight: the Ninja Turtles or the Street Sharks? Also include your email address in the corresponding field, but don’t worry, no one can see it but me. I’ll pick the winner at random on Monday and email them.
Alright, have at it. NINJA TURTLES OR STREET SHARKS?