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The Weekly Haul – Week of October 18, 2017

A game I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now finally arrived! Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. This is basically an adaptation of the Betrayal at House on the Hill, with Dungeons & Dragons elements. Given I quite enjoy both, this was a definite one for me to pick up!

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Of course, the next challenge is getting to actually play the game.

On to this week’s comics

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Hard to believe it’s been over a year and a half now of the "weekly" Superman stuff again, and not liking the "skip weeks" because those are weeks without a new issue of Superman or Action Comics.

Also hard to believe that just between #s 225 and 227, I’ve acquired Savage Dragon 1-101 and assorted mini-series, specials, one-shots, etc.

Quite enjoying the Metal books, story and foil covers! Since the things would be $3.99 anyway, why not have some fun with the foil and such? If ever there was a series that "deserved" the metallic/foil covers, it’s this!

Sadly, the Marvel Legacy stuff is virtually dead on arrival for me. Yet, much as I did this past spring, I’m doing a small sampling to at least (grudgingly) give things a chance. I’m down enough on contemporary Marvel stuff, but if I flat-out never buy anything from them, well, I hardly have room to complain then, right? And at least with these, along with the jacked-up pricing, we get "fancy covers." Unfortunately, these are utterly craptastic quality covers compared to DC‘s. Looking basically head-on, they’re blurry with glare, and neither image truly comes through clearly! More on that matter in another post (or posts) later sometime.

Rounding out the week, trying a randomish Image #1 in Maestros. No clue what it’s supposed to be about, but figured I’d check it out. Wonder Woman/Conan‘s here because I got the 1st issue, and don’t want to have to "hunt" this later. Ditto on Dead of Winter. And I very definitely want to support Alterna and their "newsprint comics," even to being happy to buy an issue multiple times, as even 2 copies of an issue are still cheaper than any one single issue of a Marvel series.

All in all an interesting week with a mix of stuff. Though it definitely pales next to an order I’m expecting by the weekend (that I’ll almost certainly document here once it arrives).

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Winston World and the Weekend Haul: Weekend of March 17-19

winston_world_weekend_haul_blogtrailer1While this weekend was Wizard World in Cleveland, I never had any intention of attending that. I’d attended a Wizard World convention in Columbus a few years back, and decided that it’s not a convention "brand" I care to deal with (long story’s another post someday; short story is that it’s too expensive for too little comic-content, and it seems unlikely that the brand can possibly ever get back to the Chicago edition of the con I attended in 2007).

Fortunately, Carol & John’s opted to hold a sale for those #NotAtComicCon: Winston World!

Along with that, Half-Price Books had a week of coupons beginning last Monday, with two days of 20% off your most expensive item; two days of 30%; two days of 40%, and culminating in the final day’s 50% off your most expensive item. While 20% didn’t mean much to me, I jumped in, taking advantage at the 30% and snagged a few things, as I showed off in last week’s Weekly Haul post for Wednesday and Thursday.

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My primary interest in the Winston World stuff was the 75%-off graphic novel bins. There’d been several books I’d had my eye on that weren’t quite justifiable to me even at 50% off (and/or just didn’t have room in the "budget" weeks I was there) that would certainly be more than worthwhile at 75% off!

While one of the main books I was interested in was no longer there, I did find the three above that I couldn’t quite talk myself into passing up for the price. (Namely, each was cheaper than 3 current Marvel single issues!)

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The Ultimate Comics: Divided We Fall, United We Stand was still there, so I snagged it. Then I started poking through back issues, and snagged the Peter David Supergirl #1, which puts me one issue closer to a complete run on that.

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The 50% off back issues brought the cost of these issues to around or under half the cost of a current DC issue, so I snagged the three Superman Specials and the actual Superman issue that had Superman meeting Destiny for the first time (and reprinted in the DC Retroactive – Superman: The ’80s).

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I also picked up several Batman issues post-Death in the Family/pre-Lonely Place of Dying that I’m missing (or pretty certain I’m missing). A bit more expensive than I’d’ve preferred, but they’re issues I don’t tend to see in quarter-bins, and for 50% off, it brought them into the price-realm of "no worse than buying a current comic." And kept me well under $10 an issue!

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For convenience’s sake, snagged most of the The Day of the Krypton Man arc, likely to join with Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite as nostalgia reading in the near future. Unfortunately, they did not have the second Adventures of Superman issue (Chapter V) but I was pretty sure I’d be able to snag that without much problem later.

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Along with the Winston World/St. Patrick’s Day edition of the shop’s sticker that was being given away with any purchase, I also opted to buy one of the regular ones. I haven’t decided yet where to actually stick them, but I’ll try to remember to post a photo here or on Facebook once I do!

All in all, I got out for around the cost of 12 current Marvel issues!

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I then ducked into Half-Price Books to use a 40% coupon. Despite the spine damage (which I’m hoping I can at least somewhat repair with some glue) I opted to snag the Five Years Later Omnibus, as I can’t imagine finding a copy anywhere near this price elsewhere/when. This completes my "set" of New 52 "event-Omnibus" volumes (already having the #0 issues volume from 2012’s "event" and the 2013 Villains volume).

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A friend visited over the weekend, and while we were out and about, we stopped in at a vintage toys store in the Cleveland area–Big Fun Toys. Loads of great toys new and old to see, plenty of classic games and books, too. While I have my eye on some figures that were in a display case and thus more expensive…I picked up these four TMNT figures at the excellent price of $3 each or 4/$10! I was going to get three, but on learning of the 4/$10, I went back to the bin and grabbed the Fugitoid figure! I’d had a Fugitoid back in the day, but it disappeared over the years, so this one will (for now) serve as replacement. Genghis Frog, Groundchuck, and Scumbug are new-to-me characters that I’d never owned.

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At HPB again, using the second day’s 40% coupon, I snagged the Dungeons & Dragons boardgame Tyrants of the Underdark. Way above my price range at full price…but far more reasonable at 40% off! Not quite as cool as a couple of the other D&D games, but still a worthy addition to the games shelf!

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Sunday, I drove out to a third HPB location, hoping to snag a hardcover I’d seen some weeks back. Unfortunately, it was no longer there…someone apparently was more determined than me to get it, taking advantage either of opportunity, the week’s coupons, or both.

On my way back, I swung by Comic Heaven and found that Adventures of Superman issue I wanted! Also snagged some card boxes to use for shelf displays, having found them to be excellent, cheap "risers"!

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I stopped back into the closest HPB, determined to go ahead and use the 50% off coupon. I hadn’t seen/"left" anything at the one I bought the D&D game at, so went back into this thinking of getting the Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years that I’d been eyeing. While it would have made for an excellent purchase…I figured it’s a sort of "anthology" volume, I’ve no clue my likelihood of getting other _____: A Celebration of __ Years editions beyond the Superman and Lois Lane ones I already have, and it seemed a shame to use 50%-off on such a low-priced item that’s well worth its marked price.

So, since they still had it, I opted for the "set" of Impulse #s 1-89 plus Annuals 1 & 2.

With the coupon, they became 25-cent books…these 91 comics cost me the same as what SIX current Marvel issues would.

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All in all, a VERY expensive weekend (compared to usual). But, no money out of pocket solely for the privilege of walking around and then giving dealers cash for product. No significant lines, no major miles or gas costs, no lodging, etc. Yet the weekend’s "haul" is certainly on-par with a solid convention’s haul…but without the general hassles OF a convention.

Now I’m really counting on the upcoming "new comics day" being a small one!

Back to Old Gaming Stuff (With a Little New)

Over the holiday weekend, I had a chance to dig out some dice, pull my old Players Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons off its shelf, and for the first time in 13-15 years, play D&D.

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I’d bought this volume when it was brand-new, back whenever that was (early 2000s!), and shortly after also bought the Dungeon Master’s Guide…though I never really got around to being able to use them. (It would be several more years before I snagged the Monster Manual after 3.5 had hit and it was "on sale" as an outdated edition.)

I was unable to actually find my old dicebag (having recently moved, and it being so long since I’d had need of the thing, I haven’t a clue where it’s wound up!)…so I scrounged up another bag from some USB multi-piece set, and managed to pull together a small assortment of dice from several different gaming bins (Heroclix, Shadowrun: Duels, D&D Miniatures). But then, not satisfied with that, I hit a comic/game shop and snagged a cheap set of 7 dice and then a number of random misc. dice to beef up my now-current collection.

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In rummaging through everything looking for the old dice, I found two large card boxes that proved to hold a number of stand-out Magic: the Gathering cards I remember.

Above: two "dual lands" from the Revised Edition. I’d at one point had a third, but I’d traded that to someone for a couple other cards I was more interested in. That was before these become such incredibly expensive cards. I obviously stuck them into card protectors, and for the moment, they can stay there.

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A couple more "fun" cards–the hydras! The Balduvian Hydra is from the Ice Age expansion, while the Rock Hydra is from the Revised Edition, I believe. I quite enjoyed using both, being a fan of the token-creatures and stuff, and just the rarity and air about ’em (the Ice Age card being the "new" or "poor man’s" Rock Hydra).

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Similar to the Balduvian Hydra, the Polar Kraken was–to me–a neat creature that seemed like a new version of an older one–and fun to use as one of the largest (if not THE largest) creatures in the game at the time, the Leviathan. I believe I traded or bought the two Leviathan cards from the The Dark set, and "inherited" the Fourth Edition one from a friend when he got out of the game.

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And then there’s my favorite subset of cards from the game: the Elder Dragons! (The Nicol Bolas pictured here is out of its case for the group photo…it was in the case in a photo shared several weeks ago.)

Chromium was by far my favorite of the five, if only for the art and concept, but probably also for its inclusion in some of the early comics. Nicol Bolas has come to be a favorite as well thanks to use of the character in the books (Time Spiral in particular) and for getting a toy made!

While probably not at all powerful nowadays, some 65 sets and 12,000+ cards later, considering I got into the game in early 1995 or so (the game had not yet been out for 2 years!), these were great at the time, and truly the stuff of legends.

Though they’re obviously not comic books, I may start "showing off" some of my old favorites as I come across them, sorting through all these old cards that I hadn’t realized were not in with what I’d thought was my entire collection (oops!).

Time will tell, though!

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#HPBHaul or #HPBFail? Not All OOP are Equal

While not actually a comic or graphic novel, I was looking for a copy of a D&D volume, and basically the only one the HPB I was at had was the (3.0, I believe) Players Handbook II. For $35. Because (gasp! shock! awe!) it’s out of print.

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$34.95 cover price, but hey, let’s add 4 cents and call it a day. But I did notice more than other times–there’s a date on the sticker…06-06-16. So I believe this means the book has sat there unsold for three months at that price. Makes me wonder if I could "make an offer" on it–would they rather move the book, or let it sit there as a potential sale?

And as I’ve mentioned before: they have a whole separate section for rare/out of print/"collectable" volumes. I REALLY wish they would NOT shelve full-price/OOP-priced stuff with "everything else"!

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Huntress volume. Half-Price Books wants $24.99 for it. Not half price.

Heck, this one’s not even full price.

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Seemingly JUST because it is "out of print," they’ve tacked on an additional 25% to the cover price. And with the date on the sticker, the thing’s been there nearly three months. This is at LEAST the SECOND time it’s caught MY eye before I (re)realized the price.

TWO times at least that I would have bought this–at $10. But it’s not something I’m willing to pay $19.99 for…and sure as heck not willing to pay a marked-up price for it just because it’s out of print!

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Particularly maddening on the pricing is finding this volume.

Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage. This looked like an "original edition," from the early/mid-1990s (when collected volumes at all were a relatively rare thing!). Sure, the book is pretty beat-up: white edges, bends/folds in the covers, torn spine, etc. But it’s an original edition! (or close enough to it–there have been at least 2 editions AFTER this one that I am personally aware of!) But since when does damage matter to HPB if it’s out of print?!?

I mean, honestly…I am really, truly curious: why is this one priced so cheaply for being vintage and long out of print (and I’m pretty sure even any newer edition is now also OUT OF PRINT) while other out of print stuff is marked up?

Where’s the consistency?!?

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I actually bought the All*Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder volume. It was at a different HPB, but was half off the cover price. Yet even this one is confounding–this is an out of print edition, I don’t even think the collection has an in-print edition right now.

9 issues’ content for $10 and it includes the infamous Batcave fold-out? For something that–if only for the notion that Miller considers it as canonical with Dark Knight Returns–I do want to read.

And where I’ve mentioned their having a full-priced Age of Apocalypse Omnibus listed as "out of print," I did finally ask about it–whether it was "the 2012 edition or the 2016 edition." It is the 2012 (original) edition, that at one point DID go out of print. But as there’s a new 2016 edition, and omnibii are expensive enough as it is, with an in-print newer printing, I can’t imagine many would care that much about an older printing if they just want the book itself. I’m not aware of any visually-distinctive differences.

Some Negativity in the Form of Questions

I don’t like being negative, nor causing random (negative) ripples or fights on the internet; I don’t like flame wars, I don’t like raining on others’ parade, etc. (That’s part of why I have this blog–I can simply put MY thoughts “out there,” but I’m not inserting them into discussion forums or other places in some consciously disruptive fashion). But for now I want to vent a bit, with several questions that have arisen and that I’ve wound up with photos to illustrate said questions (in the course of prepping photos for other blog posts).

Who in their right mind is going to buy multiple copies of a reference book like The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide?!?

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I mean, I am long used to their having multiple covers, but those usually seem (to me, in my memory) to be singular covers, just different artists and even focus on different publishers in subject-matter of the cover. Pick your favorite, so you’re not locked into a cover you despise, for a book you may be utilizing frequently for a year or more. That I can be ok with.

What I’m not ok with is something like this, where on a freaking REFERENCE BOOK they’re taking a singular image and splitting it in half. Not even doing a wrap-around cover type thing, or some insert, or whatever. If you want the WHOLE of the SINGLE IMAGE, you have to have TWO COPIES of the exact-same, not-supposed-to-be-“collectible”-itself book.

And of course, I’m pretty sure they already do multiple editions, with the volume available in hardback and paperback. I myself several years ago bought a year-or-two-old edition to have for reference of a bunch of ’90s stuff–not for the so-called “prices” or “values” listed, but as a resource to determine relatively authoritatively exactly how long various series lasted. (How many issues were there of X-O Manowar vol. 1? Instead of trying to corroborate stuff online and do a lot of Googling, just flip to the listing in Overstreet and see what the final issue listed is.)

Needless to say, I won’t even be tempted to pick up this year’s edition as a replacement or “update,” and I’d be truly curious at the effect of this “diptych” cover stunt on sales (probably not much, since I’m just one person, and grumpy at that, and it seems very few people feel so strongly on stuff as I do).

Why must there be umpteen to half a hundred variant covers rather than some sort of “art-gallery” special issue to “celebrate” a series/issue/milestone?

Valiant is just digging its hole even deeper…this totally, completely turns me OFF to even the contemplation of randomly buying X-O Manowar #50 as a new issue!

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Are there REALLY so many Valiant collectors that will truly be interested in and hunt down FIFTY COPIES of the same exact issue JUST for some covers? IF you want to celebrate the character, let other artists “weigh in on” the character, you want “bonus sales” without commissioning/contracting a whole extra story to publish…

What ever happened to the “art gallery” issues? Publish some 50-page “issue” that’s nothing but cover images (with or without cover text/logos) as something like X-O Manowar: A Celebration of 50 Issues or such. Sell it as a poster book. something.

How many people are totally turned off anymore to the constant glut of VARIANT covers? I would honestly be willing to argue that the last several years and present are far worse in terms of “variant covers” than the “Collector’s Age” of the 1990s ever was with variant/”enhanced edition” comics, with the “newsstand” and “direct market” covers.

Yet another thing that will leave me willing to not even buy new issues, but go and be fairly content to drop twice the cost of a “new” issue on a random late-Bronze-Age comic from a back-issue bin.

Why do book designs have to be ruined by “branding” on something that has had dozens to hundreds of books published in its course of existence?

While I might otherwise have some interest in purchasing new Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms books; Elminster specific volumes or something with Drizzt…I flat out refuse to buy any such mass-market paperback with that ugly D&D “swish” on the spine.

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Frankly, I don’t “get” it–does anyone specifically read Dragonlance or  Forgotten Realms books because they’re a sub-brand of D&D/Dungeons & Dragons? Speaking for myself–I sure do not. I’m interested in either property for the property itself, and I truly feel like these are marred by that “swish” on the spine.

I can appreciate the “branding,” of wanting to promote D&D over an individual setting, but I absolutely do not have to like it. Nor, in that regard, do I have to buy any of the newer editions thus marred by the branding.

What, exactly, is the POINT of the extra half-inch or whatever to have “oversized” mass-market paperbacks???

I absolutely loathe the things and refuse to buy them…and they can even put me “off” from a whole series of books if I’m not “chomping at the bit” TO read them.

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I’m trying to track down the hardcover edition of The President’s Shadow, having only just recently finally finished The Fifth Assassin. I’ve been getting Meltzer‘s books in hardcover since/including The Zero Game back in 2004 or so, so I don’t have much interest in the MMPB (I’ll get the e-book first, honestly). But even if I was interested in the MMPB, seeing it on the shelf like this, next two a couple of the earlier books simply reminds me that even if I switched to paperback, it’s impossible for me to have a complete set of his books that actually go together on the shelf, without at least a couple of the more recent/”middle” ones sticking out like glowingly-red sore thumbs, having been released in the “oversized” format.

And despite that, now they’re back to the “regular” paperback size…so there doesn’t even seem to be any commitment to one or the other, thus there isn’t even consistency to the books, whatever format, regardless of my liking them or not.

In a time when buying a movie shortly after initial release costs a premium and it seems fairly routine for prices to drop within a few months until it’s on the bargain racks within a year…does Disney truly sell more keeping the higher price, or would people who’d buy it at a lower price continue–like me–to pass on stuff?

Loosely, conceptually, I’m very interested in this Descendants property. I love “legacy” characters, seeing a universe expanded on, digging deeper into stuff I’ve already enjoyed…and thus, I was originally looking forward to the home-media release of Descendants last year or whenever it was.

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But the thing was not “on sale” for the “week of release” if I noticed it then, and I have been unwilling to pay the whopping $18 for a 90-minute “tv movie” that I know darned well is gonna be cheesey and hokey and more of a “guilty pleasure” than much else.

And month after month after month, I have never seen the thing on sale such that I’d be willing to purchase it. I think it might have once been “on sale” for $16.99, but $17 vs $18 is negligible for me compared to $15 or $13 or even $10. $15 would be seriously pushing its luck, $13 a bit more reasonable, and at this point, $10 ($9.99) would be ideal.

And this is at Target and Walmart, to say nothing of other retailers and such.

To me, the $17.99 is an odd price–more expensive than the $10-15 many movies cost, but not quite the “premium” $19.99+ units. Yet, this definitely is not something I would ever pay $20 for…and negligible as it may be if one’s got the money available to spend on something like this, I’m not paying the extra $3 just on principle, beyond the $15 or $14.99 I’d otherwise have been willing to pay.

And with this stuff outta the way, back to the usual content, most likely.

I continue to “find my comic book joy” in 1990s 25-cent issues, and increasingly in the notion of actually hunting down late Bronze Age comics. Contemporary comics–at $3.99 and increasingly $4.99; characters and properties being driven into holes into which I’m uninterested or unwilling to follow; variant covers in general…as publishers strive for some mythical “new readers” audience and increased month-over-month year-over-year and other buzzwords sales in a modern market…they just keep putting me off entirely to their product(s).

Last Week’s Mega-Haul – Week of December 09, 2015

last_weeks_haul_1209fIn the wake of a seeming random 50% off sale that rolled into a “Black Friday Week” sale at the local comic shop (that saw stuff go from 50 to 60 to 70 to 80 to 90% off on successive days, the remnants wound up as “Dollar Table” items.

And as is usually the case, for the price, I was more than willing to buy a few extra things beyond “just” my usual comics for the week…

And consequently, I more than doubled my library of RPG supplement books, while making the “regular” new comics seem prohibitively expensive by comparison, certainly an extremely poor value compared to the bargain table stuff.

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Along with a randomish-ly purchased Munchkin issue (reviewed the other day) and the latest Constantine: The Hellblazer issue, I got a couple other X-Men volumes at cover price…and largely cleared out the gaming books from the bargain table.

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Considering Lensman had a steep sticker price…and was here for “only” $1…absolutely worth checking out. The FantasyCraft volume also looked interesting, and for $1…and its sheer size and being a hardcover? Certainly worth getting. And the D&D book…ditto. Then, of course, would be a shame to pass on the Civil War volume for $1, if I’d ever wind up with the main volume. And for $1 apiece, the Smallville books were a no-brainer…particularly my being on a relative Superman kick of late.

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And then because they were there, and it’s D&D and only $1 so why not?…cleared out the D&D supplement volumes.

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I definitely remembered seeing the Dragon Magazine Annual volume a couple weeks earlier and being mildly curious…an Annual for a magzine, published to fit right in with other supplemental volumes…definitely cool! (I’m a fan of such things!)

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And Eberron is a name I’m familiar with from sometime down the years… and then Menzoberranzan and Dark Sun are both names I’m QUITE familiar with from the Spellfire game from TSR back in the early days of collectible/trading card games.

All told, including the NEW comics, and tax, I paid slightly less than what any ONE of these hardcover supplement volumes would have cost at cover price. This spoils me, though, on the notion of buying additional volumes…but certainly “weights” things toward D&D Fourth Edition over any of the others!

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