Monday, April 30, 2012

The Lake City Toy Show - Pics & Stuff

Hey kids! I've been doing some blogging about some of the loot that I walked away with last weekend at the Lake City Toy Show which happens twice a year here in Seattle, and as I was scrolling though some pics on my phone, I came across a bunch of pics I took at the show and thought it would be fun to share them here.

Now, I know that a lot of you out there frequent some pretty big shows, so our little rinky-dink toy show would probably not be too impressive to most of you. But, it's our area's only toy show, so we take what we can get. However, just because it's small, doesn't mean it's not mighty, and the dealers we get at this show really bring the goods and I always walk away with some major deals.

The show takes place in a Lions Club community center, which I feel is where the vintage toy gods truly intended for toy shows to be.

Like most toy shows, there are tons of tables just packed chock-a-block full of toys both new and old. mostly old, which is what I like. And the prices vary wildly from table to table, subject to the whims of that particular dealer. I've seen rare Megos for $3 each (someone else snatched them up) and I've seen loose, dirty Power of the Force figure from 1995 priced at $100. So you just never know.

As you can tell from yesterday's post, I was on a mission to find movie & TV toy cars. So I spent a lot of time scanning Matchbox and Hotwheels cases.

Even the booths that may not have a lot of stuff I want are fun to look through because I always walk away having learned something about the hobby.

Oh, look what we have here... Every time I see these out somewhere, they're always sold out of Batman and Wonder Woman. For that matter, I was surprised to see this dealer had a skeleton left. Those little dudes fly off the shelves pretty fast, I hear. It's weird to see something you designed at a toy show.

I totally fell in love with this bike, but the guy wanted $275 for it. Way too much. I've seen minty Schwinn Apple Crates sell for $150. This bike was cool and all, but I had to walk away from it.

Looking back through my pics, I spotted this classic Super Powers Batmobile and am left scratching my head as to why I didn't buy it.

And finally, I was going to pick these up for Eric Stettmeier, but I figured he already had them...

Anyway, another fun toy show! I've been to about 5 of these shows now and can't wait for the next one in October! Hopefully that Batmobile will still be there.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vintage TV & Movie Toy Car Haul!

Welcome to another installment of Stuff I Got at the Toy Show Last Weekend.

I haven't talked much about this, but I have a gallery show coming up (and by gallery I mean coffee shop, and by show I mean they're letting me hang my art there for a month) made up of the 100 vehicles from movies and TV that I've been working on, all drawing in less that 15 minutes, which I'm calling VROOOM! (and which was previously called CARZ, but that was lame). You can see what I've posted in the past HERE, although I've stopped posting the newer ones because I want them to be fresh for the show in August, and also so that people who are interested in the series will get a few surprises when I release the prints that you'll be able to order online. (There may also be a book, we'll see.)

Anyway, the whole reason I'm even bringing this up is because I've had TV and movie vehicles on the brain lately. So when I went to the toy show, I was dead set on finding some 1:64 scale TV and movie toy cars to add to the collection I've built so far (which basically consists of the latest Hot Wheels offerings, like the 1966 Batmobile, the Ecto 1, the BTTF Delorean and KITT).

This reminds me; I got one hell of an awesome toy TV car from Jboy around Christmas, that I really need to blog about. I took pics and everything. Anyway, that's for another post. But I digress.

Anyhoo, at the show, I had hoped to grab at least a couple, but I ended up walking away with all of these...

Awwwww YEAH! The best thing about all of these is that they were almost all about $1 each! I tell ya, I love that toy show.

Let's take a closer look at the haul.

Here we have Austin Powers' car. I actually got this one for a quarter. I mean, that's insane!

The original ERTL Knight Rider car! This is the one I had as a kid. And now that I look at these close up shots, I realize that I really should have dusted them. Blerg.

Here we have a M*A*S*H jeep, which, even though I hate that show, a TV car is a TV car.

Here's Magnum PI's Ferrari, and this is the real licensed deal, too. It actually says Magnum PI on the trunk.

Here we have the Partridge Family bus. Another show that I hated, but the vehicle is legendary. I actually paid $5 for this one because it was still mint on card and the guy who sold it to me cringed when I told him I was going to open it. Too bad, it's my collection. Also, he sold me several of these other cars for $1 a piece, which I would have gladly paid $3 or more for each, so even at $5, this was a good deal.

Jinkies! It's the Mystery Machine! Well, this is actually just a random van painted to look like the Mystery Machine, but the paint job is done so well that I don't care. This is one of those cheap toy cars from Racing Champions, which are like the Frosted Fruit Rings to the Froot Loops of the toy vehicle world. Still, Scooby and the gang's faithful mode of transportation is one of my all-time favorite vehicles so this was a major find for me.

Next up is the Mach 5. Again, hated the cartoon, skipped the movie. But what a classic pop culture car.

And finally, here is the most beat-up, raggedy Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino I have ever seen. Seriously, this bad boy was played with in a major way. Missing its light, stripe decal almost completely gone. But, I didn't have one of these in the collection yet, so the $1 was worth it. 

So that's it for this haul report! I think I have just kicked off a new focus collection for myself in a major way.

Now I gotta go and roll these around the kitchen floor while making vroooom noises. See ya!

Friday, April 27, 2012

League of Extraordinary Bloggers Weekly Theme: When I was 12...

This week's topic: Grab Rufus and head to the phone booth, because this week, we’re going back in time! Dial up the year you turned 12, and revisit the last official year of your “childhood.”

Good grief. As soon as I read this week's topic description, I knew this was going to be a tough one for me.

You see, the 12th year of my life, from December 1984 to December 1985 has somehow managed to stand out in my memory as the most bittersweet year of my life. It had its ups, it had its downs. And unfortunately, when I look back on that year and do the math, it all adds up to a pretty unhappy year for me. I mostly remember it as a series of sad images of a boy being plucked from his home, taken away from his longtime childhood friends and set down in a horrible new place filled with terrible people where he would spend the next 17 years of his life feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Combine that with the fact that I was one of those kids who desperately fought against growing up, and suffering the slings and arrows of ridicule that such childish stubbornness brings with it, being 12 years old was very much, to me anyway, like living in a meat grinder, going in whole and coming out mangled.

In short, being 12 sucked.

However, not to be a total Debbie Downer about the whole thing, I decided to find something that I could focus on that brought nothing but happy memories from that year. I admit, it was tricky, but I did manage to find something. I thought back on a particular item that practically changed me for the rest of my life. From the moment I received this item, I was forever different than I was before. This was an item that would travel with me, rarely leaving my side for the next 3 years. With this item, I was just a little bit cooler. I was mobile. I was fast. And I was able to peacefully glide over the world or grind down upon it in a glorious display of freedom and rebellion.

Because when I was 12 years old, I got my first skateboard.

What you see above is an almost exact replica of my beloved Valterra Dragon. (All of these beautiful pictures were shamelessly swiped from eBay.)

In June of 1985, having just moved to what I believed was the armpit of America, I was trying to get along as best I could as the new kid in a neighborhood full of mean-spirited redneck children. I made a few friends, and I would use that term loosely, but in moments of desperation, a 12 year old will hang out with whoever is available.

It was during one of these monotonous afternoons when I met a kid from the same apartment complex as I came upon him in the otherwise empty tennis court. He was all by himself and doing something which to my eyes seemed truly bizarre. He was riding a skateboard. But he was riding it like The Silver Surfer rode the celestial skies, crouching low in his graceful turns, skimming his hand over the tennis court surface, then kicking upward into a burst of speed.

I had never seen anything like it. Sure, I'd seen skateboards before, but they were these crappy little plastic things with junky wheels, often molded in yellow and looking for all the world like flattened bananas. They were no fun. But what this kid was riding was like something from space. It was massive, like a surfboard, and encrusted with protective coverings on the nose and tail. I would later learn that this was the now-legendary Nash Executioner, a skateboard worthy of a place is skateboarding history.

I mustered up the energy to talk to him and he not only turned out to be a pretty cool kid, but he even let me take his skateboard for a spin. I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn't take long to find my balance.

That night, I wasted no time begging my parents for a new skateboard. I had to go through the usual hullabaloo about saving my allowance or waiting until Christmas, and eventually went to bed dejected. But the next day, I was once again reminded as to why my mother was hands-down the greatest mother in all of recorded history when we made a small detour before our usual weekly grocery shopping trip into the nearby local K-mart, which we walked into, headed straight for the sports and outdoors section, where my mom smiled down at me and, gesturing at the array of skateboards on the shelves, told me to pick one out.

The problem with being a 12 year old is that it comes with a wide emotional range that can do 760 degree spins like Tony Hawk, which at that particular moment sent me from jubilation about getting a skateboard to dismay at not finding a Nash Executioner in about 7.5 seconds. Eventually, in that way that only moms can, she managed to navigate the dramatic waters of a pre-teen making a major decision until I finally picked one out.

As you have already seen, I picked out the Valterra Draogn. I'd like to think that I picked it out due to its smooth bearings and high quality wheels.That I tested it out in the store and found the deck sturdy and the trucks strong yet pliable. But in reality, I picked it out because it had a dragon on it, just like the Nash Executioner.

That afternoon, heading down to the tennis court (where no one ever played tennis, thus making it our makeshift skate park), I would kick off what would come to be a life-long love for skateboarding. My new friend (who would sadly move away before the school year began, I told you my 12th year sucked) and I would skate every day that summer from early morning until well into the evening. Eventually, as the summer progressed, other kids in the neighborhood would also get skateboards and join in. Before long, we had a regular skateboard gang and skating would take over all of our waking hours, practicing new tricks and poring through the multitude of skate magazines that were just starting to show up in our local 7-11 news stands.

By the time the next summer had rolled around, I was uprooted once again and had to start all over in a new neighborhood and a new school. The upside was that just about every single kid in my new school skated, the downside was that we moved to a small blue-collar section within a school district packed with rich kids, which had the wonderful side effect of me instantly getting made fun of by the brand-minded kids for having a Valterra skateboard instead of an expensive Tony Hawk or Powell Peralta deck with brand new Slime Ball wheels.

This caused a brief period during my skating days when, out of the kind of skin-flaying embarrassment only a 13 year old can feel, I tried my best to hide my deck's lowly brand name with lots of stickers and new wheels. It worked a bit, but nothing worked better than making friends with a kid who had an even crappier no-name deck than me and then the both of us skating circles around those rich punks, thus laying down the new law that it doesn't matter what you ride, but how you ride it.

Eventually, when I was 15, and had earned my own money from my first job, my Valterra Dragon would be replaced by a Metallica Zorlac deck which I rode until I was 18.

It's odd to think that something as simple as a plank of wood and a set of wheels could change one's life so drastically, and how so much of your emotional development, courage and social status hinged on such a seemingly frivolous plaything. But then again, I came out of my childhood and into teendom at exactly the perfect time to be majorly influenced by the booming skateboard craze.

Yes, there were shameful times when I was embarrassed by my Valterra Dragon, but those were fleeting moments all too common in the lives of pre-teens. For the most part, whenever I think of that skateboard, my mind is immediately flushed with images of me constantly working on kick flips, or cruising like a low-flying bird, crouched low over the passing concrete. Or just sitting on my board, with my friends sitting on theirs, outside of the Circle K, drinking bright blue Slushies after a hot long day of jumping curbs and rail sliding on bus stop benches. Or the countless scraped knees or bolting on a new set of Rib Bones.

Like everything I used to own, my original Valterra Dragon is long gone, but thanks to eBay, I never let that stop me from reliving a great memory...

No, it's not the original that I owned. But yes, I have ridden it. These days I tend to prefer my longboard, but every now and then I do pick up this beauty and take it around the park by my house a couple of times. And if I really concentrate, and kick like there's no tomorrow, I can feel the familiar thrum of the passing asphalt under my vintage wheels and hear the creak of the ancient trucks and for just a second or two, I feel like I'm 12 years old again. And not the 12 year old who hated his new town or missed his old friends back in Michigan or felt the aching realization that his toy-playing days were ending, but the 12 year old who found a small slice of freedom on an empty tennis court on a pivotal hot summer day.

And then the kids at the skate park see me, a 39 year old aging thrasher from the old days go by, and they totally give me smack about my crappy board.

Some things never change.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vintage Garbage Pail Kids Giant Stickers!

This past Sunday, I headed out to my favorite bi-annual vintage toy show that takes place right here in scenic Seattle, Washington every April and October. I always come away with some cool stuff and this time around was especially epic in regards to my toy haul. So, expect to see several posts about all of my loot from this show for the next few days.

One of the finds that isn't exactly a toy, but simply radiates a warm miasma of nostalgia nonetheless are these absolutely pristine packs of Garbage Pail Kids Giant Stickers from 1986. These hail from a time when I, like all of my friends, we downright crazy about collecting Garbage Pail Kids stickers and I have a vivid memory of one of my best friends back then buying a couple of packs of these and him giving me one that had an image of a see-through kid that said It Takes Guts to be a Garbage Pail Kid, which I promptly unpeeled and slapped onto the dead-center front of my drawing folder (basically a Trapper Keeper folder with all of my loose sheets of artwork in it).

The guy I bought them from sold them to me for a whole buck a piece, and considering that they were that price in 1986, that's not a bad deal.

The stickers are basically postcard sized reproductions of some of their more popular artwork with added corny jokes. To be honest, most of these are total groaners and I think they should have just reprinted the cards as they were in the larger format and kids would have still been stoked.

By the way, anyone remember those GPK buttons? Man, I had like 6 of those on my backpack in 8th grade.

The are definitely cool and all, and totally worth the $2 I paid for both packs, but the one thing that made this purchase an epic score was when I was fanning through the second pack I opened to find this baby...

BOO-YA! Nostalgia BOMB!

Monday, April 23, 2012


And pose them every day! (Sung to the tune of Rock and Roll All Night)

You can practically hear Eric Stettmeier jumping up and down with glee as he prepares his dolly-hating onslaught of endless teasing over today's showcased collectibles. ;)

But today's selection of toys represent the bygone days of the late '70s when it was more about style over substance, and the rock-n-roll world was ruled by stadium-filling giants, and how the shadow that they cast covered every avenue of merchandising, from t-shirts to coffee mugs, from record players to silk-screened mirrors. And of course, to dolls with removable clothes.

Well, the those halcyon days are back with the new KISS 8" neo-mego action figures from the good folks at Figures Toy Co. (Really? That's their name?)

I spotted these a while back over at Classic TV Toys, and had sent the link to my friend since we share a common interest in both old-school Mego-style figures and the band KISS. My buddy wasted no time in ordering us a couple of sets and we couldn't wait to see them! Well, now they are here in the Nerdatorium, so I thought it would be fun to take a close-up gander at them.

But first, I want to tell you a bit about my few brief brushes with KISS fandom. First of all, I didn't actually know that KISS was a band until I was 8 or 9 years old. I mean, I knew they played music because my babysitter had their records, but to my way of thinking, so did The Archies. My first introduction to KISS was from their classic Marvel comic book (you remember, the one with their blood added to the red ink?), so I just thought they were some sort of weird looking superheroes. I would later watch KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park on TV, thus further driving home the fact that they more like pop-culture characters than actual musicians (an opinion with which, to this day, some may still attest).

Later I would hear the first few KISS albums and finally get it. Later still, I would walk away from them entirely once they took their makeup off and started telling me that I was "made for loving them". No thanks. Then, in high school, while finding an interest in '70s rock (like Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath), a few KISS albums would make their way into my cassette case.

But my desire to own the new reproduction figures stems primarily from the fact that one Christmas, I asked for the original KISS figures (the commercial for them was epic), but I guess that Santa thought a child of 6 years old didn't need that kind of influence.

Anyway, I've got them now!


These figures, according to the packaging, are all based on the band's Love Gun look (they would subtly change their look every album). On the whole, the packaging and figures look fantastic. In fact, for any KISS fan, I would strongly suggest just leaving them in the packages and displaying them, because once you open them, its all downhill from there.

The clamshell that they come in is a little weird. I suppose it was designed so you could open it up, play with the figures a bit, then put it all back together and it still look new. But they also added this sort of "seal" to the top of the clamshell to help the true mint collectors know if it had been opened or not.

Well, I circumvented that little security feature, by just opening up the side and sliding everything out.

The figures were held in with a couple of twisties, but I just cut them.

Also, each figure came with a "collectible album cover", which was basically a piece of paper with the Love Gun cover printed on it.

I took every figure out of their package and got a few shots. Standing them up was a total pain, because, in true Mego fashion, these figures were about as sure on their feet as Tara Reid at the American Reunion rap party.

Sadly, once I got these figures out, their coonless waned drastically. I mean, I still love them for what they are, but they have some issues.


I guess my biggest complaint is with the faces. The faces on the original Mego figures were just awesome. But these faces look like they had one sculptor make Gene's face (to small for his head), another sculptor make Pauls' face (and gave him tiny little pupils), they found the original Mego sculpt for Peter (the only one that looks good) and then just used whatever creepy porcelain babydoll face for Ace. 


A bit of a shame really, because the outfits on the figures are all great. In fact, with better faces, I think these figures would have been absolute homeruns, but instead they just come off as pretty cool as long as you don't look too closely at them.

Also,  and I know that this would have been impossible without making the production cost and retail price go up, but I would have loved it if they came with instruments. I know that a full drum set for Peter Criss is out of the question, but they could have at least given him a pair of sticks and the rest of the guys their guitars.

Luckily, I managed to find a guitar that I already had for Ace...

And I had an axe/bass for Gene from another Gene Simmons action figure produced my McFarlane Toys years ago...

So, not that I meant for this to be a review or anything, but I guess I'd give these figures a 7 out of 10. Pretty awesome in many ways, with some lame spots here and there.

But the point is, after all these years, I finally got my KISS Mego figures! Take that, Santa Claus!