Sunday, December 21, 2014

Flea Market Finds: Cars, Cards & Comics

Back to brag!

I've returned to show off all the goods I scored this morning at the flea market, well before revealing the stuff I promised to share several weeks ago. That's just how we roll here, I guess, with the false promises and always pulling swerves. It is probably a good thing that no one cares about anything going on here. Not even me.

Here's some things, non-existent readers.

One of the booths that I've been passing by for years belongs to an older gentleman and it consists entirely of "vintage" sports-cards and various long-boxes of comic books. I usually skip on flipping through bins of comics at the flea market, mostly because I have my local comic shops with their dollar-bins to peruse on a regular basis. However, my collecting has transitioned lately to completing runs of titles, something I've never been concerned with before, so now I have a reason to dig through any boxes of books I stumble upon.

Of course, only a handful of the dollar books that I picked up today add to the particular runs that I'm aiming to finish off. The rest were a series of single issues that caught my eye with their bizarre subject matter. Most notable, and my personal favorite find, is DC Special #27, dated May 1977, which features characters like Captain Comet and Tommy Tomorrow battling both traditional dinosaurs and oddly-dressed dino-men hybrids.

Also, dig that Archie Meets The Punisher.

I don't really have much to say about these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wax-packs. I have a fondness for anything TMNT, and my love and adoration for trading cards is well-documented.


What hasn't been mentioned here before on the blog is ReBoot, one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons from the mid-'90s. A Canadian-produced series, it was the first to feature entirely computer-generated animation, and was the result of over a decade's worth of hard-work and dedication from Mainframe Entertainment. It originally aired on ABC starting in 1994 and ran for four seasons.

I was nearly a teen when the show first started, so the idea of collecting action-figures based on it was far from an appealing one. Of course, here we are, two decades later, and I have zero reservations when it comes to picking them up now. In fact, I was pretty psyched when I discovered Bob and Megabyte sitting in a box surrounded by various other loose figures. There was no way that I was going to leave them behind, especially where they were only a couple bucks each.

Here's a few more of their box-mates that I rescued.

I'm not ashamed to admit that all three of these items are duplicate purchases; I own or did own every single one of these guys at some point. I've actually picked up Panda Khan six times over the course of my life, though nearly all of them have found other homes. This one is no exception. He'll be going out in a package shortly, part of the prize for a contest I'm running over on Instagram [@itstrashculture].

Weed-Killer is staying with me, since he's a replacement for his duplicate "older brother" that I had before. My original was gifted to Brian from Awake Oh Sleeper, one of my favorite artists/bloggers, and a genuinely friendly and extremely generous dude. Go check out his site [if you don't already] and admire his unique and totally rad aesthetic sensibilities. Seriously, I am always in awe and envious of his work.

And no, your eyes do not deceive you, that third item is a McDonalds Happy Meal toy from Batman: The Animated Series. I am not going to reveal which one, though, because it is also part of my prize-pack giveaway and I don't want to risk ruining the surprise should the winner read this.

Even though I can almost guarantee that he/she will not.

The same vendor that I scored those loose figures from also had a set of Ertl Dick Tracy collectible cars. They were released back in 1990, the same time as the feature-film, and there were four different vehicles to choose from. The only one of the quartet that I cared about was Dick Tracy's patrol-car, but here I am several hours later and I'm starting to regret leaving behind Itchy's car.

I can't reenact a chase-scene with only one car, can I..?

This was the big score, the main reason that I walked away with anything from the seller's booth. I can't recall the last time I ran across a sealed box of Marvel Universe trading cards, never mind the several that this particular vendor was offering. Series one through three were available, so naturally I split the difference and picked up 1991's Series II.

I was already a dedicated Marvel Zombie when these cards were originally released, and discovering the more obscure characters featured in this set was the real draw for me. Instead of the pages of their comics, it was Marvel trading cards that first introduced me to characters like Death's Head, Sleepwalker and The Grim Reaper. My friends and I must have spent hours pouring over and trading this particular series, trying to be the first of our group to put together a complete set, including the much-desired Limited Edition Holograms.

I plan on taking my time opening the thirty-six packs within. Some I'll tear into later today, sure, but the rest I'll leave for days that I need a nostalgic pick-me-up to chase away a grey or lonely day. And it will probably be a few years before I work up the nerve to open the last one.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Journey Into Mystery Boxes

Remember when I would occasionally blog about comic books?

Remember when I would occasionally blog..?

I promised to show off some of the goods I picked up at JC's Things a few weeks back, but before I get to bragging about decades-old crayons and Dolly Parton Christmas albums [spoilers], I wanna gab a bit about one of my many weaknesses. There are a number of Kryptonites in my life, but none as enticing and dangerous-to-my-wallet as the comic book grab-box. My local comic shop never has a shortage of them, and it seems like I fall victim to their siren song more often than not.

Let's see you try and resist 50 different comics for a mere $11.99, though.

I've mentioned before that I'm a total sucker for mystery packs and grab-bags, blind-box toys and random packs of trading cards. The idea of opening a package, not entirely knowing what treasures could lurk within, is so appealing to me. There's the risk of discovering nothing worthwhile, the contents within could all be a total wash. It's a gamble, I know, but that thrill of anticipation and uncertainty before digging in is what always draws me back.

Enough yammering on, it's time to get to the comics.


Titles and publishers always vary in these grab-boxes, and so does the initial release-date for books. I've picked up several that featured books from the '70s and '80s, but this particular one didn't date back quite that far. The earliest issue included is cover-dated November 1993, and a majority of the books included are from the last several years.

Marvel Comics made up the bulk of the box, one single issue over half its contents, at twenty-six books. DC was a distant second at sixteen, and the remainder was comprised of several small publishers, including Dynamite, Dark Horse and Valiant. That's about par for the course with the boxes I've purchased in the past.

The real risk is acquiring duplicate copies, books I'd picked up in the past either as monthly purchases or something dug out during my frequent dollar-bin splurges. It's unlikely that I'd ever find a box that didn't contain at least a couple dupes included, and this one was no exception. Of the fifty books lurking inside, I already owned seventeen of them. Not the best turn-out, but the extras make for good trade fodder or little extras in my giveaways.


My definition of best is pretty unique, because I doubt most collectors would consider mid-'90s DC titles like Extreme Justice or The Book of Fate as great finds. I would never argue that these were top-quality books, but that particular era of comics was when I really started getting into them, so I have a total nostalgic fondness for anything released at that time. Bonus points if they featured C- or D-list characters like Maxima, Guy Gardner or Speedball.

I've not-so-secretly admired third-tier heroes more than their ultra-popular contemporaries since I was a kid, and it's a trend I don't see bucking any time soon. Further evidence of this can be found at my long defunct Tumblr account -- Grade-Z Heroes.


Sovereign Seven issue number one, dated April 1995, wins this superlative with ease.

Somehow, in some strange turn of events, I've already owned several copies of this particular comic, despite having no strong positive feelings for the works of Chris Claremont. I can appreciate, and even enjoy at times, his work on Marvel's The Uncanny X-Men title for so many years, but there's almost nothing else in his body of work that I admire. One of the few creator-owned books to sorta' reside in the proper DC Universe, it featured a team of original characters and a very unique interpretation of Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips and one of the most powerful villains in comic history.

I'm not sure what compelled me to pick it up fresh off the stands when it was originally released, but we'll chalk it up to the wildly fluctuating hormones and moods of a recently teenaged Trash Man. I mean, seriously, look how hot their team-leader, Cascade, is.

Ignore the part where her code-name is a brand of detergent.


It certainly wasn't the best grab-box I could have scored, but it contained enough small gems and old favorites to justify pissing away twelve-bucks. There were a handful of really solid books, the type of stuff I'm looking forward to reading and sorting away into my collection. A few to throw in with a large stack of trade-in material, and a few that I'm hoping to share with friends sometime in the New Year.