Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toy Scum!

Greetings All!

Sorry for the paucity of posts lately. The month of May seems to have slipped by with only one post (two, if you count this one) from me. Sorry about that. Some fun things did happen to me in May, and I shall post about them eventually. They will be worth the wait believe me. I can't wait to tell you about the road trip Perfect Wifey and I took to visit my old "art" school. Hilarity and personal  insight will abound, believe me!

Today though, I wanted to share with you a couple of encounters I had that have nothing to do with cartooning or anything like that. Today, I want to tell you about my most recent "Adventures in Action Figure Collecting". 

Regular readers of this blog know I am addicted to little plastic replicas of my favorite pop culture characters. Call them "toys", "dolls" or what you will; I love action figures, and I get a lot of pleasure out of collecting them.

Unfortunately, a lot of other people do too. They, however, are not into collecting simply for the pleasure it brings them, they are into it for the profits it brings them. You see, there are a lot of action figure collectors out there. In fact there are so many, that sometimes certain popular characters are hard to get ahold of, since so many folks want them. This has led to the unpleasant situation of a bunch of people with plenty of free time, but a limited amount of scruples, scouring stores to buy up hard-to-get toys so they can resell them. 

Although I  have read and heard plenty of stories about this bunch, I hadn't really ever encountered any of them. Until this past week, that is.

One of the lines of Action Figures I really love is the line based on characters from the Star Wars films. I had quit buying them, but lately the manufacturer,  Hasbro™, has been producing figures that strike a cord in the geek in me, and I must have them all. One of the figures I really want is the Gamorrean Guard. The GG are the green pig guards at Jabba the Hutts' palace in the film, Return of the Jedi. Hasbro™ has made a dandy little replica of this  character, and I really want one. Badly. So do a lot of people. This toy is really hard to find, at least in stores at a reasonable price.

Imagine my surprise then, when during a trip to a local Wal-Mart (shudder!), I spotted THREE of these hard-to-find figures! Unfortunately, they were in the hand of a fellow consumer. The person in question was a text book "geek": a twenty-something unshaven/unbathed toad wearing a filthy Mr. Spock tee shirt. "Gee, any more Gamorrean Guards left?", I asked him. "No, I got 'em all!", he gleefully replied. "Damn, that's too bad. My son really wants one, and I was hoping to get him one for his birthday", I replied. I know this was a lie, and lies are  bad, but this guy had THREE of them, and I was hoping to appeal to his (non-existent as it turns out) sense of compassion. "Huh! I got lucky", he gloated, and shuffled away. What a scumbag! He couldn't even offer some lame lie/excuse as to why he was buying all of the available stock. He just took pleasure in the fact that he cleaned out the inventory of  a desirable character, and left some fictional kid (not that he knew the kid was fictional) with an empty birthday. 

This guy really cheesed me off, but he was nothing compared to my encounter a few days later.

I was at my local TARGET™, picking up  some necessity, and I decided to swing by the action figure section to see if there was anything worth picking up (FULL DISCLOSURE: Whatever I pretended I  was going to TARGET™ for, I was hoping to find a Gamorrean Guard). There , in the action figure  aisle, I saw a Dad with his son, a lad of about four or five years of age. The Dad had two of the same figure in his hand. It wasn't a figure I wanted, but still I wondered, why did he have two? His son asked the question for me: "Daddy, why  are you buying TWO of that?", he queried. "Ha! One's  fer me, and one's to sell on eBay and make some MONEY!", scummy Dad actually said, out loud! The fact that this guy  was not only a scalper-scum but was passing this behavior on to future generations reduced me to a foam-spitting maniac and I honestly don't recall the rest of my shopping trip.

I know in the grand scheme of things, toy scalpers/hoarders aren't really that big a deal. I just hate that opportunists and selfish people have to make trying to enjoy a hobby such a stressful experience. If there is any point to this post, it is this: Don't but anything from eBay that you can buy in a store,  no badly how bad you want/need it. You will just be financing the lifestyle of the most wretched hive of scum and villainy you would ever meet.

Unless you wanna buy me a Gamorrean Guard, of course...

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Blogger MikeH said...

Ever come across those little model replicas of classic autos that came free with a Big Mac @ Mcd's back when I was 9? Just askin'.

May 31, 2011 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Newt said...

Kudos for even asking the first guy about the GG. Of course, he probably knew you were lying because no kid wants a GG. They either want a Ben 10 or some Clone Wars guy. ;-)

I never talk to other collectors in the store.

When the GI Joe 25th stuff was first hitting, I became obsessed with getting most of the figures. I had a local Target that was within walking distance and would make a dash over there every morning. That's where I had my most encounters with the collector/scalper types.

Several guys who'd come in every morining, running to the toy aisle and trying to get every valuable figure. Pissed me off. Thankfully, for the most part they avoided my Joes. Although one of them did comment once that "GI Joes? That's like collecting Barbie dolls!", which I assume means he hadn't seen a Joe since the 80's.

But he had a handful of Hot Wheels, and I was just like, "Uh, says the guy toy cars."

Some of those people can be jerks.

June 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Bill White said...

MikeH- No, I try to limit my geek obsessions to characters, not their modes of transport. Except for the Star Wars line, of course!

Newt_ Perfect Wife pointed out that the geek in question may have suspected I was lying since I was wearing a Doctor Who shirt at the time. My bad.

The two instances I have written about have convinced me that you MUST confront geeks/collectors in the store! Since the majority of them lack even the most basic of social skills, it might be possible to brow-beat them into wresting a wanted figure from their sweaty paws!

For the record, although I don't collect 'em, I think the modern G.I. Joes are pretty cool, and someday I want to add a classic Cobra Commander to my shelf. Love that silver mask and Nazi helmet look!

June 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please stop confronting me in the toy aisles.

action figures are the only friends i have.


June 1, 2011 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger SNeelyArt said...

I knew a nerd who got a part time job at Toys R Us in the late 90s and when they dropped off the new boxes of toys he would take a box of figures and put it away for himself and get an employee discount as well. Hence they never made it to the floor for sale. That happened a lot and so Walmart and Target became THE places to get toys.

The problem with any of the stuff out right now is that no one wants it from a collectible standpoint. The Star Wars figures that were released in 1996 from Kenner are still only worth $5 since every nimrod bought two or three of each one thinking it would make them millions later on. This isn't 1977 and if you had a DeLorean time machine you could go back and get stuff that is more valuable. I collect very few toys anymore as most are in storage and lack of room prevents it though there is some cool stuff out there.

June 2, 2011 at 2:55 AM  
Blogger Bill White said...

eeteed- Some of them are my only friends too!

Scott- The legends of geeks working as stockboys at various retailers in order to secure hard-to-get items are ones I am all too familiar with. It's really amazing to think that people would stoop to such a pathetic level!

You also point out an obvious flaw in their long term scheme- If EVERYONE is collecting stuff, than NONE of it is valuable. Did we learn NOTHING from Beanie Babies?

June 2, 2011 at 11:25 AM  

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