Dinosaur Dracula!

“Join the Nintendo Fun Club today!”

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By now, I suppose most folks know that Doc Louis wasn’t kidding: The Nintendo Fun Club was a real, actual thing that happened.

Here’s the proof, and yes, I was a member:

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The Nintendo Fun Club — founded in 1987 — is chiefly remembered for Nintendo Fun Club News, a tip-filled magazine that both predated Nintendo Power and directly led to its formation.

The Fun Club was free to join (at the beginning, at least), and anyone who did found instant camaraderie with all other subscribers. In grade school, those of us with Fun Club subscriptions formed a sort of secondary club of our own. We’d carry the magazines to school and wave them around during recess, as if to say, “Look, look! I’m cool for another month!”

(And we were.) Read More…

My latest flea market finds…

Once again, bad weather almost ruined the flea market. I love storms, but I really wish they’d stop focusing their efforts on Saturday mornings. Mother Nature just has no regard for me needing old Ninja Turtles.

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Still, even a bad flea market will give milk if you keep squeezing its teats. The rain kept all but 20% of Englishtown’s usual vendors at home, but I wasn’t giving up until I’d filled at least four old ShopRite bags with dirty nonsense.

By the time I present my finds to you, all they really amount to are “things.” You always miss the best part. You miss the hunt.

The hunt is why I keep doing this. Well, that and the fact that there’s nothing easier to write about than flea market finds. I’m essentially a catalog copywriter, but instead of L.L. Bean jackets, I’m hocking broken action figures and the occasional Popple.

Really though, it’s all about the hunt, and that special groinal stir every time I make a successful one. Whenever I find something worth buying, it’s akin to a paleontologist digging up a tyrannosaur toe. There are worthless haystacks everywhere, but once you find that needle, hello touchdown dance.

Anyway, I got some good stuff:

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Real Ghostbusters Collector’s Case!
Price: $5

SWEET, and cheap to boot! The Real Ghostbusters Collector’s Case was allegedly capable of housing one dozen RGB figures, but that was only true if you had Ray, Peter, Winston and then 9 Egons. The ghost figures — particularly those from the first wave — were far too bulky to fit right.

On the other hand, that wasn’t such a big deal. Most kids tossed the plastic trays and just jammed in as many figures as they could, sardine-style. Alternatively, we’d use them as briefcases, carting around useless piles of construction paper and swearing they were private.

Love the artwork on this one, which evokes everything from Ecto-Plazm to a parallel universe wherein Ray Stantz is sunburned and dressed like a banana. Read More…

Flea Market Finds, Volume KL-27A.

After missing a week due to other obligations, I couldn’t wait to get back to the flea market — no matter how severe the weather forecast.

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Unfortunately, the rumored storms shooed away most of the outside vendors, forcing us to make do with the indoor booths. I’d been avoiding these all season long, as experience has taught me that the indoor sellers want far too much for far too little.

As things turned out, the indoor vendors weren’t so bad. Well, some were — like the guy who wanted $20 for loose Spawn figures that he identified as being “from the 1970s.” Still, with enough hunting, we were able to find a few dealers with great stuff at yard sale prices.

Check out my scores, down below!

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G.I. Joe: The Movie VHS!
Price: $1!

Since I love G.I. Joe: The Movie almost as much as I love stale Red Vines, buying this was a no-brainer. Some fans are hard on the film, which “re-imagined” Cobra as having been founded by creepy monsters, and arguably dove too far into sci-fi territory for a franchise had always been — however loosely — rooted in reality.

But me? I didn’t care. Cobra Commander being spitefully transformed into a literal snake by an even bigger baddie? Incredible. The movie was weird, yes, but it was so good at being weird. Read More…

Nine Gnarly Horror Wikis.

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If you’ve ever looked something up on Wikipedia and wanted more information than its editors would allow, the good news is that there are dedicated wikis for practically everything these days. These wikis often lack the speed and crowd-edited finesse of Wikipedia, but they make up for it where it counts: Superfluous entries on inconsequential nonsense!

For proof, look no further than the horror genre. Every major franchise has its own wiki. Even franchises than only ten people care about have them. If you’re the type of horror-loving trivia-gobbler who likes to keep reading until unconsciousness happens organically, these wikis are a positively blessed find.

I’ve collected nine of my favorites below — but please note that this barely scratches the surface!

All of these wikis are hosted on Wikia, a site that lets anyone build an online encyclopedia for free. The trade-off is that the pages are covered in resource-draining ads. Before you start browsing, I’d suggest creating an account on Wikia. Logging in seems to limit the ads somewhat, and you’ll only need one login for all of the wikis featured below!

The next time you’re wide awake on a stormy night with an emptied DVR and no one to talk to, give one of these a try.

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a-1#1: Friday the 13th Wiki!

Description: A celebration of All Things Friday the 13th, with the strongest emphasis (obviously) on the films. While the pages on each movie are really no more thorough than what you can already find on Wikipedia, the Friday the 13th Wiki shines in its extracurriculars: There are entries on every major character (and minor) character, not to mention pages for the semi-canonical novels and comics.

Size: Currently over 430 pages, so even considering the many “stubs,” there’s a lot to read.

Appearance: White text on a gray background may kill your eyes after a few hours, but it does set the mood. Uses cool F13 images liberally.

Thoughts: Though missing some neat bits — there are no pages for the various toys, for example — the wiki is still so packed that even super devoted F13 fans are sure to learn something new. Many horror wikis are left abandoned after only a few days’ worth of work, but this one is still regularly updated.

Notable Pages: Learn about Roy Burns, who pretended to be Jason Voorhees so he could kill people more freely. Read a summary of the Friday the 13th Part 2 novelization, which believe it or not actually exists. Get the scoop on Jason’s appearance in Mortal Kombat, which pieces together every hint of inspiration to explain why he looks… the way he looks. Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 19!

In this edition of Five Random Action Figures, I’m standing up for the little guy.

Smaller figures just had so many plusses! Because they were sold in multipacks and were individually cheaper than “regular” action figures, it was easier to build armies, and very easy to convince ourselves that we had to collect all of them. In effect, we treated little figures much in the same way we did trading cards: Quality was nice, but quantity was better.

In 2015, there are several popular toy lines banking big on their dwarfishness, from Squinkies to The Trash Pack. All of those lines owe a huge thanks to the ones featured here. These older weirdos were the pioneers!

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The Claw!
M.U.S.C.L.E., 1985

To me, M.U.S.C.L.E. will always be the gold standard for “little figures,” forever imitated but never duplicated. I’ve written about my fondness for M.U.S.C.L.E. before, but stopped short of naming my favorite figure in the set.

It’s this guy. It’s gotta be this guy. Before anyone chimes in with Claw’s real name from his Japanese Kinnikuman origins, I’ll remind you that kids in the States largely had no idea about that stuff. Most of us named the wrestlers as we went, and accepted their visual personas at face value. If one of them was a claw with a face, that’s all he was.

Every M.U.S.C.L.E. figure was weird by our standards, but Claw was weird even by M.U.S.C.L.E. standards. He was literally just a sentient hand, one whose methods of locomotion must’ve been similar to that of a banana slug.

Only serious M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are aware of the super rare (and often even stranger) figures. For the rest of us, Claw seems way in the lead as the fan favorite. Read More…