I took a break from the yard sales this week, wanting to try my luck at a flea market at least once before summer was over. I begged Jay to tag along so I wouldn’t have to haggle alone, and off we went to Englishtown, New Jersey.
I’ve written about the Englishtown flea market before. It’s a crapshoot. You’ll see plenty of desirable things there; the issue is finding something desirable and reasonably priced.
Like, you might come upon a seller with several bins filled with action figures, all lined up on the ground outside. But then you’ll notice that most of those bins are stuffed with fast food toys and generic army men. And then you’ll find out that the seller wants two dollars per figure, regardless of how destroyed it is.
There’s a lot of that in Englishtown.
The flea market is so large that you’d need to devote an entire day to seeing it all. Since it was 550 degrees on Sunday, we only allowed ourselves an hour. Here’s what I was able to dig up…
1988 Mothra Video!
Okay, cards on the table. I blew it on this one. A Mothra video in a mangled box isn’t worth two dollars by any objective measure. I found it early and was worried that I wouldn’t find anything better, and with Englishtown being so big, it’s not like I could’ve easily relocated the seller later. I guess I panicked.
I’ll try defend my decision, though. For one thing, this Mothra video was on a table otherwise occupied with nothing but well-worn tools. Rusted hammers, half-complete wrench sets, and for some reason, there was Mothra. I wanted the tape, sure, but I mainly wanted to rescue it. Mothra didn’t belong with wrenches and hammers.
The other, more tangible reason is its box. Most old monster movies have had several video releases. I cheerfully ignore their rotating special features and differences in picture quality, but I can always be swayed by the right box art. I simply can’t imagine that Mothra videos have ever been sold in boxes more beautiful than this.
Ice Hockey NES Game!
After a month’s worth of yard sales delivered not one single Nintendo game, I was determined to find some in Englishtown.
Actually, I found plenty, and most of the others would’ve been nicer to go home with. With my mind on my money, I settled on Ice Hockey. Two dollars was reasonable, but only barely. The game often goes without bids on eBay, even when the seller only wants a buck.
On the bright side, this is a great game. I used to play it at my friends’ houses all the time. My favorite part was deciding how many “skinny,” “medium” and “fat” players I wanted on my team. (Those were our terms for them as kids. The “skinny” players moved the fastest, but the “fat” ones were the strongest. In the end, everyone just used teams exclusively composed of speedy, skinny guys.)
1996 Wheaties Sample Set!
Price: 50 cents
Easily my best find of the weekend, even if most of you will think I’m nuts for buying it. It’s a sealed three-pack of sample-sized Wheaties boxes… from 1996. Of the three cereals, two of them are no longer in production. Which means that I may be the only person alive with ready access to Crispy Wheaties ‘n Raisins. It’s true that this isn’t an honor many people would strive for, but if our roles were reversed, I’d be hella jealous of you.
The seller looked at me cross-eyed when I walked up to him with this, apparently unaware that it was buried deep in his “50 cent box.” He didn’t ask me why I was buying it, and I appreciate that, because even after spending six hours envisioning a scenario where he was more inquisitive, I can’t come up with one good bullshit answer.
“I love the Cowboys?”
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Game Gear!
For whatever reason, Englishtown had tons of Game Gear games. Like, way more for that than for any other old system. I only bought one so I’d have an excuse to tell you my Game Gear story.
When everyone started getting Game Gears in the early ‘90s, I was one of the last kids to join the party. I spent a combination of gift certificates and my own money on it, and had just enough to get the system and the Mortal Kombat cartridge.
You remember how it was when you got something this extravagant, right? For the first little while, you’d treat it like a newborn baby. Every touch was gentle. The scratches would come because the scratches always came, but for at least the first few days, you’d do everything in your power to keep your toy looking brand new.
Well, somehow, only hours after opening it, a dust particle managed to get under the screen. Had I let you play my Game Gear, you never would’ve noticed it. It was as small as something visible to the eye could be, but it was there, and it drove me CRAZY.
Anytime I turned it on, my eyes darted toward that speck. I was losing every round in Mortal Kombat, too focused on the that piece of dust to block my opponents’ kicks. It got to the point where I could barely stand to look at my Game Gear at all. Of all the systems I’ve owned, Game Gear is by far the one I played the least. All because of a single dust grain.
I confess things like this because it’s nice to learn that I wasn’t alone in my various madnesses. I hope this turns out to be one of those times, and I’m not met only with feedback of the “you idiot” variety.
So yes, I bought Sonic 2 just so I could tell you about the time a speck of dust ruined my week.
Monster Mash Video!
Price: 50 cents
Last but not least, Monster Mash: The Movie… starring Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein and Candace F’n Cameron.
From 1995, I’m not sure if this was made for TV or went directly to video, but from all I’ve read, it was worth every penny. It’s a musical starring monsters and DJ Tanner. COME ON.
Best of all, this is a special screener copy. I guess it was a freebie for video store owners, meant to solicit sales. As was the case with the decades-old Wheaties, most of my yard sale and flea market purchases rely solely on my inability to imagine a situation where I’d get another chance to buy “Product X.” And I seriously doubt I’ll ever find another screener copy of Monster Mash: The Movie.
Among the back of the box’s many talk-ups is an ominous warning: “Frankenstein sings!”
Yeah, I think it’s time for me to stop hunting down videos, and start hooking up my old VCR. Ain’t gonna top a duet with Candace Cameron and Frankenstein. No way, no how.
Total spent: $6. (Well, more if you count the stuff I’m not featuring here, but whatever.) I guess I didn’t strike gold in Englishtown, but at least now I can watch Monster Mash while eating the exact spinoff varieties of Wheaties that were available in its time. And then I’ll die, because that cereal is old and poisonous.