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New Pop Vinyl ’90s X-Characters

I’ve recently gone against my better judgment and bought a couple of Marvel characters in their Pop! vinyl format.

I phrase it this way, because I loathe the bobble-head format. I means that otherwise-solid, otherwise-sturdy, otherwise-quality figures are rendered EXTREMELY fragile and breakable in a way that is NOT repairable with simply a bit of glue or such. And since they’re gonna be "just on display" and not "played with" the way an action figure would…I do NOT get the "appeal" or "reasoning" from Funko TO do the figures this way–it actually killed my interest in the line for awhile and has (and continues) to leave be extremely DISINTERESTED in their Marvel range of characters.

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But there’s a certain nostalgia factor for me that overrode that. First, in coming across Archangel after a friend had shown her figure off some weeks back.

Then over the weekend, I came across Cable in this classic ’90s getup and realized he’d look really cool "with" Archangel. Of course, now the added frustration of ’90s Cyclops and ’90s Xavier being long "out of print" and far too ridiculously-priced to try to acquire, along with an even-MORE-ridiculously-priced Wolverine.

But at least I have these two!

They add "character" to my X-shelf for now, and will likely remain such a presence for awhile!

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More Inconsistent, Baffling Pricing at HPB

It’s amazing to me the seeming “randomness” of books’ pricing at Half-Price Booksespecially on graphic novels/comics!

Take two different copies of the first printing of 1993’s The Death of Superman.

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Two copies, neither in great condition. One is–as would be EXPECTED for a place calling itself Half-Price Books–half of the $5 cover price. It’s actually a “newsstand” edition, given the bar code (as opposed to the Direct Market edition that had the “bleeding S”). Yet the newsstand one is in better condition at less than half the price of the more battered copy!

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The date on the price stickers suggests that at least these were bought a couple weeks apart…though that also suggests to me (given the condition and these BOTH being First Printing editions) that two different people may have handled the pricing. (That, or it goes to show how ridiculously INCONSISTENT they are!)

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I’d gotten the two reversed to hold and better show the damage to the more expensive copy–a bent spine/corner in particular.

Two different copies of the same book–one that’s not particularly “rare,” as I often see at least one (if not multiple or several multiples) at any HPB I go to. The book has been “in print” in one format or another for nearly a quarter-century–it eventually went from $4.95 cover price a $9.95/9 edition where they changed to the more iconic image lifted from Superman #75 itself. That one (I believe) went through a couple editions, and then just last year, the entire Death/Return saga was repackaged into a 5-volume set (including post-saga Doomsday stuff).

I’m even more flabbergasted at the pricing given the condition of the books. It’s one thing if something is in pristine/new condition…but when it’s old, beaten/battered, obviously seen better days…something MIGHT BE a “First Edition” or first print, but what, exactly, about that qualifies it as an exception?

I overheard at a an HPB location on the day of their 50%-off-one-item coupon day an employee commenting in response to a customer remarking on the crowd that a lot of folks were in getting “collectible” stuff that’s sat around for MONTHS.

Or, in my interpretation…stuff’s priced too high for folks to justify, but cut that price in half, and they’ll flock to the store!

As I’ve said numerous times in the past…if they want to be a boutique specialty shop, fine…but I wish they would at LEAST separate out their precious “out of print” and “collectible” stock and KEEP to their name for the general everyday stock.

End rant.

Flashing Back Friday: Super-Powers Robin Classic

The other day, once I realized that comics weren’t in the cards for me (so to speak), I browsed the rest of the comic shop I was in, seeking something to "justify" my otherwise wasted trip.

Even the bargain tables didn’t really have anything of particular appeal for the price points and condition (I finally saw a Dragons of Autumn Twilight hardcover I would’ve been all over for the price, had the interior not been noticeably separated from the cover!).

Then I spotted something in a box under the table, and with one price crossed out, I picked it up to examine a bit more closely.

Some sort of "ArtFX+" statue(ette) of Robin.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_01_front

Apparently normally $30, but the $29.99 was crossed out with a $10 sticker. Given my disappointment regarding comics and the significant discount (coupled with Robin [albeit Tim Drake] being one of my favorite characters) this seemed like an excellent object for its price…and I certainly dug the packaging, having had several of the original Super Powers action figures back in the day.

The front of the box is made up to look like a vintage figure’s front, with the figure in a bubble on a cardboard sheet.

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Then the side of the box is made to look like the package is a stack of three of the figure…

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…both sides of the box. The "figure"’s pose is a bit awkward (more on that below). But it’s definitely a nifty element to the packaging…including the "distressed box" look adding to the sense of age to this, like it’s a figure or figures "found" somewhere and actually some vintage object.

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The back continues the effect with typical elements of toy-card design–the line logo, the specific figure logo, other figures available, bar code, other info and warnings, something about this specific figure…

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Being #1 a Superman guy, I’d love to track down that figure. And of course, now having Robin, the Batman would be great. And I’m a developing Flash fan…and a lapsed Green Lantern fan…

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This being the Robin figure, we get the sketchy image encouraging this figure’s display along with the other "revealed" figures…

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And here we have the description of what’s actually in the box, and what this whole thing actually IS.

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The "statue"/figure had its lower 3/4 in a loose plastic baggie, and the whole thing was in this packaging to keep it centered within the box and avoid basic crushing; the hole allows an un-altered view of the figure itself with no distortion from plastic between you and it…also the ability to touch the cape and confirm that it is indeed fabric and not just some semi-rigid plastic.

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And here’s the unwrapped figure/statue standing on the box. As to its detailing to look like a vintage action figure, even though I consciously knew this was a "statue," I still tried to move the arms or legs! It just has that look to it!

There’s also that pose it is in…not as apparent in the above photo, but it’s posed in such a way as to look like Robin is attempting to show off the front of his shorts–legs and back/shoulders back, shorts thrust forward.

More than a little "awkward," to say the least.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_10_figure3

Still, as an "inaction" figure, the pose seems solid, and the thing is easily stood on a flat surface without any real worry of it tipping over to knock anything else over.

This Robin may be Dick Grayson (where pretty much all my other Robin figures are Tim Drake), but it fits nicely in the display case…and as a nice bit of contrast to the Tims.

For $10, absolutely "worth" it. Right now where I’m at in life, I would be hard-pressed to justify a $30 thing to just stick on a shelf, but the $10 works moreso, and is a nice addition to my collection.

And perhaps before too terribly long, I’ll have a new job where I can "fly my geek flag" with Robins at work, again…

Blast From the (TMNT) Past: Krang’s Android Body

While I included in a post back in September 2014 about Krang and the Kraang, I didn’t focus much on Krang’s Android Body there in any singular fashion, and what I was able to focus on was the toy itself.

Little did I realize that a couple years later, I would come across the original box it came in while cleaning out the attic at my parents’ house!

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Unfortunately, the pink brain-part–Krang himself, the character, is a “new” 2014 edition, part of the Classic Collection series of re-issued TMNT figures. But he still fits, still “completes” the otherwise genuinely-vintage piece!

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This is one of the few “accessories” or “vehicles” that I felt was truly worthwhile and fitting…and given what I recall of my obsession with the figures themselves (to the exclusion of vehicles/etc), that’s definitely saying something. And particularly with the new live-action/CGI film about to hit, it’s kinda fitting to find this “original” given how much “more” recognizable this piece becomes.

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Here’s the front of the box…”typical” from the line, and its time, with exaggerated art, ridiculous interpretations of the turtles, and just a small image of the actual product (since this was not a window-box). While this body was an “accessory” piece, it did have the “bonus” of the pink brain part of the figure (minus the walking contraption of the “standard figure” release) to make for a fully complete toy in and of itself.

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Not much new from the top you don’t get from the front, but it certainly helped cover the bases, making sure that whatever part of the box you looked at, you certainly know what it is!

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Same for the side–and they certainly don’t want you to miss that it included Krang himself, rather than you having to purchase the body and then go buy a separate additional figure just to play with it.

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Given this “figure”‘s size, the back sticks with that motif rather than showing off a bunch of other smaller figures (or even vehicles). More on that below…

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A closer look at the back, and the amazing alliteration that totally fits my present-day sensibility and is something I appreciate far more at present than I ever did as a kid!

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Interesting copy-text to “sell” one on the piece…

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And it points out various “features” of the thing, only about half of which I found important or relevant at the time back when I first got this, and the sentiments hold true in 2016.

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I’d mostly forgotten about them, but along with the “regular” figures and vehicles, Playmates had at one point had a line of $20 figures that stood about a foot tall–these oversized giant editions of the basic figures. $20 for one figure?!? What ridiculous nonsense! (Nowadays with $14 3.75″ figures, these would probably be $60+ apiece!)

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Then there were those Pizza Point things you could clip and save. I don’t think I ever learned what/where/how one could “redeem” them, or if I did, I don’t recall deeming anything “worthwhile” enough to be bothered to do anything about it. So hey, I still have at least 4 of the points available to me. Anything good still available?

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The box even has the remnants of the original price sticker, and confirming that I got this from Hills (and not Children’s Palace or Toys R Us or Kmart) (This was pre-Walmart/pre-Target!) (At least for me)

What an expensive thing then, and what a bargain that price would be, now, for such a figure/accessory of this significance and such.

And what novelty to find this original box after all these years, something that it never would’ve occurred to me that I’d saved for any reason! Truly a blast from the past, and a weird sort of “link” to the past, a tangible piece of ephemera in a world of stark contrasts these days–you either find something “mint in box” for HUNDREDS of dollars, or something “loose” for mixed pricing. And here I have originals of the opened box and the loose figure(s).

Remember Early-’90s Speculation on Image Comics?

Remember when Image was so brand-new it was a company having its comics published by another (Malibu)?

Remember when those #1s were supposed to be so “hot” and “valuable” in the future?

Remember how $1.95 was quite a hefty price next to DC and Marvel‘s $1.25(-ish) cover prices of the time?

Remember that supposed notion that a comic’s “value” could only go up?

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These 16 copies of WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams cost me a whopping $4. Basically the cover price of two copies of the issue…at its original, August 1992 cover price. With the bound-in card thingie still intact/present.

Maybe these aren’t “mint” and wouldn’t get anything close to a “9.8” if I “slabbed” them (shelling out far more than any copy is “worth” for the price of getting ANY “graded”)…but for a guy who collects for completion and story…the chance to read the entire story (or as MUCH of it as I’m able to get access to)…25 cents is not at all a bad price for this #1 issue.

It’s actually the later issues that would be more of a problem to find. “Everyone” has #1. How many people followed the series itself? How many followed for more than just the first year? Or after the cartoon didn’t last? Or…whatever else. How many saw the bright flash in the pan mature into something with any staying power?

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Toys as a driving force for cartoons???

sameoldfigs_smallI read an article on Bleeding Cool the other day about how the lack of toy sales seems to have killed off the Green Lantern animated series. I’m not sure I want to get into the stuff about how the (lack of) toys affect the continuation of a series.

But I’ve had some observations, where I myself wonder at factors that make or break a toyline…at least for me.

#1 – If there are only a few figures constantly on the pegs with no true assortment (i.e. only 2 figures out of a 6-figure wave and the other 4 are never present), that would suggest TO ME that the stores would see that as a line not selling. Maybe those other 4 figures fly off the pegs…but especially if stock is automated, the sale of whatever instances of the other 4 figures may not be enough to trigger a reorder…and the lack of sales on the 2 most common figures everyone that wants ’em already has might suggest no one is interested (when it’s actually that no one is interested IN THE PEG-WARMERS).

#2 – Ten years ago, I was buying the 6″ Marvel Legends–large, hyper-articulated figures with cool packaging including a comic book–for $6-$8 apiece. I know prices go up, the cost of materials has gone up, etc. But $9.99 for a 3.75″ figure nowadays? HARDLY appealing, especially for the vast majority of the figures out there. I know I personally would prefer less articulation for cheaper figures. The Marvel Universe line, Avengers movie tie-in figures, Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in figures, and I think the Iron Man 3 figures run $9.99 or so. These days I’d rather pay a couple dollars more for a Lego set with a mini-figure and something to build (and some of the $10 Lego sets are about the same SIZE or bigger than these 3.75″ figures).

#3 – I don’t want six different costumes for Spider-Man, or 11 different costumes for Batman or 17 different armors for Iron Man. Yeah, the hero’s name is in the films’ titles…but darnit, I’m NOT looking for umpteen variations on the hero. I want more variation in there being a bunch of different characters that are available.

#4 – I don’t want to have to “chase” “basic” figures. Take a character and their standard costume, make the costume a different color and pack that as a “ratioed variant” if you must. But don’t make the CHARACTER itself a “chase figure.” Don’t short-pack certain characters likely to be popular while over-packing other characters. If there are 6 figures in the wave, pack them equally.

#5 – Well, when I started typing I had more than 4 points. Perhaps a follow-up post will finish things off when they come back to me.

Final for now – When a store is obviously over-stocked on what seems to be massive quantities of the same figure and “clearance” is less than 15% “off” (less than 50, even)…I’m probably still not gonna buy, where 50% off I might give in.

sameoldfigs

Valiant Beer – a Darque Brew

While I tend to collect a lot of things–comics, books, toys–typically it’s mass-market stuff. But tonight I acquired what seems to me to be a very unique object:

An unopened bottle of Valiant “Darque Brew” beer from the 1990s.

Valiant Beer (Darque Brew)
It even still has the original card and shipping container from Acclaim.

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