Toys I owned on 5/27/98.

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May 27th, 1998.

I was an absolute mess!

It was my first year in college, and I was Big Time Tanking. The friends I was closest with in high school all went to different colleges, and I made exactly zero new ones at mine. The ones I had left were few and far between. My list of vices was long enough to require multiple pages. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I have journals from that year that are so filled with misery that they honestly read like parodies.

Even then, I’m sugarcoating things. If I was totally honest with you about this, I could never face you again. And, who knows, tomorrow I might want to review a new Doritos flavor.

But it’s important to give you some idea of who I was and where my head was at, because it’ll help you understand why I clung so dearly to this:

1

My old toy room.

May 27th, 1998.

I’ve been writing about old toys since April of 2000, and even from the start, it was more with a “remembered” passion than an existing one. By 2000, I wasn’t a collector — at least not by the definition we usually mean. Enthusiast, dabbler and cherry-picker, sure, but not a collector.

Back in 1998, I was definitely a collector. I’d been a collector for years by then, but you know how it is when you’re a careless kid and everything else goes to shit. You focus on your happy hobbies and pretend it’s okay to ignore everything else. In 1998, I was in DEEP.

I didn’t recognize it as an “escape” at the time, but I sure do in retrospect. And boy, I threw myself into it. I’d just gotten my first only-for-me computer, and I spent almost all of my free time wheeling and dealing on message boards and newsgroups. There was a pretty big group of toy traders online, back before eBay made things too easy, and back before the USPS priced us out of our hobby.

I was really good at it, too. Good and lucky. I can still remember dozens of my best deals, but two stand taller than the rest:

1) A seller had an immense collection of vintage Star Wars figures and vehicles. Something like 60 complete figures in near-mint condition, and over 25 different vehicles and playsets, all with their boxes. He charged me $2 for each figure, which was way cheap, but his prices on the vehicles and playsets were even more insane. I didn’t realize until later that he’d looked at the ancient price stickers and charged me half of their original retail cost. So I was buying shit like the Imperial Shuttle, complete-in-box with the instruction manual and everything, for 14 bucks.

2) About a week after I decided to collect G1 Transformers figures, a trader got in touch with me. He said he’d obtained tons of them, but didn’t have the patience to figure out who was who and what was what. He wanted a simple “package trade” deal. I put together a box that couldn’t have had more than a hundred bucks’ worth of stuff in it, pulling from various lines that he’d expressed interest in. I agreed to send before he did, and he was happy with the contents.

And then he sent MY boxes.

I’ll never forget that day. Six or seven absolutely enormous packages arrived all at once. Boxes that once housed things like TV sets and major appliances. I was nearly in tears after opening them. It was almost the entire collection of G1 Transformers, all complete, some still in boxes, and some still in SEALED boxes. Many in doubles. Many in triples. Even in 1998, the collection had to be worth over ten grand.

Most of my scores weren’t nearly as noteworthy. One figure here, one figure there. I’d send this, they’d send that. I’d get five or six packages a day, and send out just as many. I almost never bought things, and only sold enough to cover my constant shipping expenses. 90% of what I had was through trades.

Now let’s get back to that toy room…

1
(Click the photo to see it HUGE!)

2
(Click the photo to see it HUGE!)

I could only find these two photos, which sucks, because they don’t show even a tenth of what was in there. By comparison to the rest of the room, these were the barest shelves.

The ENTIRE ROOM was covered in shelves. It’d previously been my father’s home office; I pleaded for it after he retired. The only thing in there besides my toys was a small table for my computer. If I had nothing to wake up for the next morning, I’d be online all night long, making trades. It just never ended.

I can see now that this was all just a big distraction for me, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was such a blast. That room was my sanctuary. I loved it more than anything else in the world. Anything I could add to my collection got me through another day.

And yet, it was all such a private thing. Maybe I’m not painting a picture that suggests this, but I did have friends. When they’d come over, we’d be in my bedroom. Never in the toy room. They were aware of it, and aware of my silly hobby, but it wasn’t something we discussed, and never anything they’d understand, anyway. It was just this thing I did, with maddening obsessiveness, totally on my own.

So what happened to the toy room, and my collection? I guess it boiled down to me finding new distractions. Suddenly I was less interested in getting more toys, and more interested in having money for various summer trips. I sold almost everything off in horrible firesales. I made nowhere near what I would have with time and patience, but I sure made enough to go Wildwood three weekends in a row.

I still have some of these toys. In fact, if you look closely enough, you’ll spot several figures/games/things that have turned up on X-E or Dino Drac over the years. Most of it is gone, though. All I really have left of the experience is an empty Imperial Shuttle box (no idea what I did with the vehicle) and these two blurry photos.

It’s so weird to look at my life’s trajectory. I had a room full of toys for a year or two, and that’s no big deal… except for the fact that if I didn’t, almost everything else about me would be so much different. Without that room and the passion it took to fill it, there wouldn’t have been an X-E, and if there wasn’t an X-E, I wouldn’t have found my “in” for my real world career. And since those two events had tentacles that reached into virtually every other facet I could name… yeah, fifteen years’ worth of good — and some bad — all started with this stupid room full of Autobots and Decepticons.

Strange, huh?

Basically, I loved that room to death, and I kind of love it even more now. It was me at my realest, for better and for worse.

Course, at this precise moment, all I can think about is how stupid I was to sell this stuff so haphazardly. Had I only known that I was about to spend thirteen years writing about old junk, I never would’ve been so careless.

Here’s a closer look at ten toys from those two photos. Remember, this was barely a tenth of my whole collection!

prime

Optimus Prime, mint in box. I had two. One was sealed. God damn, how did I let TWO boxed Primes get away from me?

cantina

The vintage Star Wars Creature Cantina. I didn’t have one as a child, and it was one of the first big scores of my trading days. The Creature Cantina taught me that this hobby was only partly about rediscovering your childhood. The rest was about filling in its gaps.

rodimus

Rodimus Prime, one of my all-time favorite Transformers figures. It wasn’t the best of them and I certainly had many that were worth more, but since I’d so often played with Rodimus as a child, I had a special connection to that figure. (Even though his legs didn’t move, and even though his face looked like a glob of Blu-Tack.)

batmobile

A beat-up Corgi Batmobile. One of the oldest things in my collection. A few years prior, my brother brought me to a comic book show at a nearby hotel. I bought a few pieces of junk because I could only afford a few pieces of junk, and then he dropped me off back home.

A few hours later, we got a call. Turned out, my brother had won the door prize: A $100 shopping spree at the show. He was off in Jersey somewhere, but I had his ticket. I agreed to buy him fifty bucks’ worth of Star Trek junk, and I’d get the rest. My parents took me back to the hotel, and after spending an hour carefully considering what to blow my free money on, most of it went towards that beat-up Batmobile. It looked like it’d been left to rot in someone’s backyard for twenty years.

(I still have it.)

slaughter

Sgt. Slaughter, one of the few G.I. Joe figures I had out on display. Most were in a long, shallow box, protected in individual baggies.

I like how he’s hanging out with a bunch of Rock Lords and a purple Barney Rubble. I want to write a story starring exactly those characters.

dinobots

THE DINOBOTS! I had so many of them. The full set in doubles, and many in triples. At least one of those sets was 100% complete, down to every last gun and missile. I still have a Slag (the triceratops) around here somewhere, but sadly, no Grimlocks. I know I needed the money, but I can’t believe that I didn’t keep one lousy Grimlock.

robotech

Hah, the Robotech Master figure. This one actually survived my childhood years; it wasn’t collected during the “toy room era.”

I never knew anything about Robotech, nor did I have much interest in a character that looked like a less impressive Palpatine. But Kay Bee kept these guys at a 49-cent clearance price for almost five years. Ultimately, I couldn’t resist such a cheap action figure. Even if he looked like Lazy Grandpa.

sectaurs

Damn, I wish this one was more in-frame. Spidrax was the lead villain in the Sectaurs line, who rode on the battery-operated Spider-Flyer — which was basically a big, monstrous hand puppet with flapping wings. To this day, I still count Sectaurs among the most underappreciated toy lines ever.

viewmaster

Transformers View-Master reels, still sealed. Nowadays, I’m more prone to collect things like this. After all, most action figures are readily available to anyone with the money, but you never know when we’ll hit another five-year dry-spell on Transformers View-Master reels. I prefer going for the things I might never see again.

leia

Naked Princess Leia. She was part of the original Star Wars 12” line. Some of those figures were affordable, but most were very expensive. Expensive enough to let a naked Princess Leia remain a prized piece.

…and when I go back to the photos, man, I could go on forever. Megatron! Blaster! That giant-sized “Angela” figure from the Spawn collection! The Star Wars Burger King glasses!

Wait, the Star Wars Burger King glasses?

glasses

I still have all of those, too. No boxed Optimus Primes, no Droid Factories and no Grimlocks, but if you ever need a damn Star Wars Burger King glass, I have the whole set.

I don’t miss the life I had in 1998, but viewed through a powerful microscope that zooms past all of the bad shit, it seems pretty okay.

I mean, it had to be at least partially okay. I had a MISB Wheeljack!


72 Responses to Toys I owned on 5/27/98.

  1. Seething jealousy over here!

    That room is unbelievable. It will be my life’s purpose to create a time machine for the sole purpose of being your friend in the 90′s.

  2. Awesome post! It’s great to hear about how this collection ended up becoming so much more. I was in my last year of high school in 98, and I remember how those early internet message boards became such a great place for people pursuing these kinds of nostalgic items. I doubt anyone imagined, though, how this would all take off in the next decade. Nowadays you can find any old show you ever wanted on Netflix, when back then you’d have had to order crummy VHS copies from shady dealers. Someone who knew this was coming could have really cleaned up by buying this merchandise.

    I’m especially glad to see the Robotech stuff. I see you had a Battlepod, and an Invid Shock Trooper as well. I wasn’t into Robotech as a kid, but in High School I started reading the books, and went back and found old copies of the show. It was kind of my gateway into anime, and I would have loved to have had some of the old toys.

  3. @Sticky Bandit: We could’ve watched wrestling together.

    @Carnacki: IIRC correctly, the Robotech stuff actually came with that same Transformers batch I mentioned. Then, the same as now, I had no idea what any of it was.

  4. Oh, the loss of a sealed Optimus Prime breaks my heart.

    My current toy room looks like this right now. Maybe later I’ll snap some pics.

  5. Wow, nice Robotech battlepod. (lower left in first pic)

  6. If it makes you feel better, I had a similar Blue Period, but in my case it was collecting, restoring, and selling My Little Ponies that helped me keep my sanity when a lot of important things in my life had let me down. Still have all the ponies and there is still a bowl of beheaded and de-bodied ponies in the kitchen in restoration stasis. Like you, I amassed one hell of a bitching collection like it was my business and scoured thrift stores and eBay for ponies to restore and sell. It honestly gave me something to look forward to and focus on when I was really wondering if everything I had focused on before had been worth it or not (it was, and now I have my business). I felt a lot of deja vu reading this post!

  7. Great post :). You may not have the toys anymore but at least you still have a few pictures of them which is just as good. Memory wise at least. I have a picture from 98 of my old room that is focused completely on my video game setup and it brings back so many memories of that stereo cabinet crammed full of crap and the fake tree beside it that made it look “classy”. My favorite detail though has to be the little orange tupperware thats sitting on the desk. It was full of beef stroganaff the night before and probably had a serious funk coming from it when i snapped the picture. Memories like that are worth keeping always.

  8. That top row with Pac-Man next to a transforming McDonald’s cheeseburger next to a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure next to a Dreadknok could very well be my room circa 2000.

  9. That’s epic! My first year of college in 2004 was a disaster, which is probably why I’m a 3 time dropout. I was roomies with my best friend from High School and we just goofed off constantly. Also, that’s when I discovered XE and started getting nostalgic for all the toys and shit I had stupidly sold off at garage sales as a kid. I used your site to remember so much I had forgotten and started spending my student loan money on eBay buying TMNT figures and Power Gloves and Talk Boys. Finding XE literally got me started on the road to being a web developer too, so thanks for that! :)

  10. Sheesh, I’ve worked basically my whole life to piece together just a meager G1 collection (still, I’m not yet 30 and have plenty of other stuff). I hear sometimes about people finding big lots like that and then I literally have dreams about them.

    But I’m sure I can’t fault you for selling it off. For some people the collection is truly more of a burden than a joy. There’s a fine line.

  11. Matt, I’ll make sure to come back in time on a Monday Night with a case of Mt. Dew Pitch Black.

  12. Thank you, Tommy!

    @Zycrow: Honestly, shedding this collection, especially in the way that I did, is one of my biggest regrets. No exaggeration. It’s not like anyone was funding this. To build this collection (which was so much larger than what’s in these two photos) took so much meticulous “up-trading” — just endlessly turning one pile of crap into a bigger and better pile of crap.

    I was so careful and deliberate about everything for a few years, and then I tanked almost all of it over a month or two. The biggest reason I never bothered to collect in a serious way after that is because you could only do it once. It was like saving up for a Corvette and crashing it with no insurance. You’d probably not get another one after that. ;)

    My worst offense during this firesale was selling my Transformers loose without their accessories, even though I had them all. Then I sold an enormous Ziploc filled with their weapons separately. SO BAD.

    And that’s why even at the start of X-E — which wasn’t long after these photos, really — you’d often see toys, but rarely personal photos of such high-end figures. I still have fucktons of junk today, but it’s different junk.

  13. I had a brief lapse in collecting toys like this. From say 1991-1999, I was in deep. Then from 2000-2006, I was out of the game. Now its sorta consumed my life.

  14. It’s a purple Barney Rubble. I had it too.

  15. Man, I relate to this so hard, but mostly with current toy lines. The living room of my apartment is chock full of Monster High, Novi Stars, and My Little Ponies – pretty much every gen you can think of, from ones that came out before I was born to ones that are still available in stores. I don’t know – there’s kind of a comfort in it, and the freedom I have now to pick and choose the things I want as opposed to things I was just gifted is part of the fun. I’ve always been a collector of sorts, but having control over what I want almost makes up for staying up past midnight last night stalking an Ebay auction.

    @Tommy – 2004 was both the year I started college as well as the year I discovered X-E (thanks to DerDavenWarrior, no less!) and it has definitely kept me entertained and sane through the ridiculousness of undergrad, grad school, and well into the working world.

  16. I’m totally with you on the Sectaurs toy line being way underappreciated. Those things were INCREDIBLE in their detail compared to most other 1980s action figures!

  17. I don’t know who Sgt. Slaughter and Rock Lords are, but now I want to read that story with Fred Flintstone! I like your character stories. I know how much of a time suck the Advent Calendar turned into, but even the shorter one-offs were some of my favorite things on X-E. Spiderman explaining crayons…classic.

  18. Oh man, I would give my left nut to get my Rock-Lords back someday. And I never owned a Grimlock either, but I’d kill to have one now.

    I’m sort of IN my collecting-room/haven-from-the-world phase right now… and I just don’t know if I’ll be able to outgrow it at this point. Just scored a near-but-not-quite-complete Castle Grayskull and a pile of He-Man figures and a vehicle at Goodwill just a while back for 6 bucks total. It was like the best rush of adrenaline I have ever experienced.

  19. This is amazing. Mr. Donna would cut a bitch for the Robotech Master. He still has a bag filled with Gen 1 Transformers he has managed to cling to all these years.

    I, personally, would die for the Star Wars toys. All mine were purged in the great move of 1994. Settle in for story time: I lived all my life with my grandparents. In 1994, the linchpin to our family, my Pop, died. So my grandmother and mom decided to sell the house. I was 19 and in college and having a very similar time to you. I was severely depressed and sick and not of right mind. My basement was FILLED with every fantastic toy from the 80s. Our attic was filled with 1950s and 60s vintage clothing, furniture, fiesta wear dishes and what not. My room had my collection of Metal Edge and Rip magazines, saved over 6 years. When we moved, I had no desire to go through anything and decided to chuck it all. Every last Star Wars, TMNT, Ghostbuster, Cabbage Patch Kid, Holly Hobbie, Stretch Armstrong’s Weird Octopus Friend, Mickey Mouse Turn over Choo Choo, even my Super Nintendo and Atari…all of it. To this day I actively have anger over the fact that not only are the toys gone but the vintage clothing and furniture all trashed, too. It should have been saved and it should have been gone through. I have very few regrets, but THAT is a HUGE one.

  20. @ Matt: DinoDrac keeps one-upping itself! This has to be one of my favorite things you’ve written EVER. This post is real, deep, mysterious and awesome all in one.

    I wasn’t crazy into toys when I was a kid, but as I got older and times got tougher, I lost myself in toyland, too. I haven’t found my place yet, but I guess this article gives me hope or at least a different perspective to think about.

    On a lighter note, I will trade you for your Barney Rubble eraser if you still have it. I’ve had the Fred and Dino erasers since I was a kid, and I’d love to have the set! Kidding :)

    @ a2stylee: I was a brony before being a brony was even a thing! I amassed an army of about 40 or more ponies from thrift stores and yard sales over the course of a year or two. I felt so guilty about my hobby I re-donated them all to a thrift store. I regret it so much!

    I began collecting all over again, but it just wasn’t the same. Afterwards, MLP: FIM came out and ponies became accepted. It was bittersweet because there was cool new ponies, but I missed my old collection. I miss my Firefly (movie version) and Molasses the most :(

  21. @Matt – That accessory thing hurts me right in the collector!

    You ever wonder where some of those toys ended up? I suppose it’s possible that I have one of them in my collection.

    BTW I hope you still have that Hyve you wrote about a long time ago :)

  22. Great post. I have actually always maintained a tradition of taking pictures of all sections of my room since I was a teenager every time before I move. The first one is from like 2000 I would love to share it with you. I bet there are some gems there…my room used to be so cluttered with stuff.

    Also, the second pic of your collection as a whole doesn’t seem to be clickable as the caption says it is. Just a heads up!

  23. I love how your link to youtube for the Star Wars Glasses is to some asshole who stole your original video from x-e

  24. Ahh yes the late 90s. EBay was still young, and garage and tag sales were chock full of grandparents selling off their children’s collections for pennies on the dollar. How I miss those days.

  25. That was a wonderful post, Matt. I think most collectors have these moments of reflection. Looking at where we are in life, where our passions (and at times, obsessions) take us and what it all means. It was nice to have your reflections shared with the rest of us. It’s reassuring.

    Beyond that, it was a blast getting a glimpse at the toy collection. I always love to seeing others collections.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work on Dino Drac.

    -Matt from Omaha

  26. My mother got rid of most of our childhood toys by the mid-90s. My brother was a boy, my youngest sister wasn’t into them, and they took up space in various houses (we moved a lot) that had to fit six people and their stuff. Even with all that, I managed to retain some things, including a couple of stuffed animals, my collectible hard plastic Effanbee dolls, and most of my 80s Star Wars action figures. I still have the Chewbacca in the Cantina set-up, and have since I was 4. Have the R2 in the scene as well. The Princess-Leia-in-forest-dress and Wicket in the set hanging on the wall to the left were part of my brother’s collection that he gave to me about six years ago, when he finally grew out of them.

    I wouldn’t have a really rough time of it until I got out of college and realized how hard it was to live on your own on the salary of a part-time grocery store cashier. In college, I mainly lived at school and rented a room from my parents when I was at home. Though I did have toys at college, I wouldn’t truly start collecting again until years after college ended and I had the room to amass an office’s worth of toys.

  27. Great post! So much great stuff. My favorites include:
    - KISS figures! I had all these, are you a fan of the band?
    - X-Men Weapon X figure. Soooo great. Essential figure from that line!
    - Fearsome Flush! Holy shit haven’t seen him in years although I am partial to Granny Gross
    - Muscle Figure. Everyone had a few of these around. It’s a rule.

  28. There is STILL a STAR WARS room at my parents house (although I have begun to sell it off).
    I have rubbermaid containers full of Simpsons, Star Wars, etc. at my house.

    What killed it for me (besides the obvious money and lack of space) was that I had my own kids. Tripping over and picking up their toys will cure ANY desire for a collection.

    But to me, the story is not the toys, it’s the part about how the 1998 toy room made the 2013 Matt possible. This idea needs to be developed/explored/expanded (yes, I am a teacher for those who forgot).

  29. What’s the brown and red car sitting directly in front of Gene Simmons? I had that as a kid and have tried for years to remember where it came from.

  30. @David: That would be Chromedome.

    Also, thanks all for reading and for the feedback. I could’ve gone on for hours about this room, and the “life” that came with it. It was a bright spot in a bad time, but man, I really did have fun with this back then.

    The constant trading is also how I came to learn so much about so many different lines. Not just the big ones. Something from almost every line seemed to pass in and out of there, right down to those little pewter Warhammer figures. I wish I had more photos, because this barely scratches the surface.

  31. Seems like everyone has this kind of period in their lives. Mine was early 2004. I was essentially friendless, living at home with my mother while my dad was overseas, and working at my miserable first job.
    My crutch at the time was that I’d finally hooked my xbox up to the internet and got my hands on Phantasy Star Online. Every night was spent slaying space monsters with strangers in an attempt at distracting myself from just about everything around me.
    Like you though I came out of it a better person. By the end of that year I’d gotten back out to the real world, had some new friends and goals, the whole shebang.
    Very glad ya shared this story. It’s always good to remember around new years that those lackluster times in life weren’t necessarily a waste, just preparation for something we haven’t figured out.
    Ugh, that’s enough serious stuff. Your burger king glasses remined me that I should write about my Star Trek III taco glasses someday.

  32. This collection was mind-blowing. On one hand, it’s saddening to know that all of this awesome stuff is no longer contained in a single room, but I wonder what X-E / Dino Drac would be like if Matt were still a hard core collector?

    I imagine it may have taken a different tone. A collector wants to catalog and accumulate, so perhaps X-E / Dino Drac would have lost some of that magical tone of honest appreciation of toys and junk food and nostalgia. Just speculating here.

    And oh man, Epoch Dracula’s in that picture. I love that freakin’ thing.

  33. Ha, Chromedome! Thanks. He was my favorite toy.

    I too had a similar collection. Mine started with Spawn, branched out into lots of the different McFarlane lines. The Gundam robots. Then lots and lots of WWF toys.
    So many WWF toys I had to box up my other toys because every available surface was covered with wrestlers.

  34. Excellent post

  35. Like some others, I can relate to this. I have a modest collection of action figures and other toys, and I’ve definitely gone to the trouble of reacquiring certain treasured possessions from my youth from time to time. What really bothers me is the video games I no longer have that I once did (or could have had for cheap). Had I known that the video game collecting market would skyrocket the way it has in recent years, I could have had such a fantastic collection.

    When I was buying NES, SNES, and to a certain extent Game Boy games, nobody cared about them. Everyone was playing the N64 and PS1 at the time, and so was I, but I also played the older games… and sold them for money to buy new games… some of which are themselves rare and valuable today. Of course, I sold, lost, or accidentally damaged most of them as well.

    I still go through periods of collecting video games, but only when I can get a deal. I have gotten a few recently, including a pretty rare and sought-after PS1 game that I used to have. I’m only a couple of extras that came with it away from doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling my investment.

  36. It’s so great that you have this photographic time capsule. You’ve perfectly conveyed the bittersweet lamentation of a past that is not all good or bad, but a mix of the two. Well put. Also, the melancholy tone and your mention of vices makes me think of the book The Toy Collector by Janes Gunn.

  37. One of the worst times of my life was 2001-2004. Right after I graduated high school, my life went to shit. That was the time when I was completely nocturnal and all I did was internet. I obsessively collected MP3s because they were free and I was broke. If I’d had money, I probably would have obsessively collected toys or something similar.

    Later on, during another difficult period, I went through a phase where I combed through thrift stores for any cool toy from the 80s I could find. It didn’t matter if I’d owned one as a child or not, but it was even better if it was a toy that had been lost to time. I also collected anything old and quirky that caught my eye.

    My collection isn’t large, but things have changed, and I don’t have room for it anymore. And yet, I don’t want to part with it. The thrill of the hunt. Unabashedly exclaiming aloud when I unearthed a treasure from the pile of dusty plush. Arranging them on the shelf with pride. It was a wonderful distraction.

    P.S. I would cut a bitch for those Star Wars glasses.

  38. That G1 Transformers lot you had is the stuff of legends. Transformers were my thing as a kid and still today. I had entertained the thought of selling the ones I still have off but after reading this post I’m going to think harder about that. Sure it would be awesome to still have all that stuff but don’t lament so hard about the loss of your collection, for what you gained career wise from it is worth more than its dollar amount.

  39. Fantastic article Matt. For a guy who denounces KISS – you sure had the McFarlane KISS collection displayed proudly! Not complaining, commending!

  40. Another great feature.

    I’m sometimes feeling guilty about the toys I didn’t keep hold of.

    Most went because my parents thought I was too old for them, & at the time I wasn’t nostalgic enough.

    Also my parents have had some clearouts over the years where somethings went without them even letting my know.

  41. Absolutely one of my favorite posts from 2013. Way to wrap up the year with a bang. Kinda sad you were going through such a rough time back then, though.

    I remember 98. I was on my first deployment to Bosnia and lived in a mud pit for six months straight. I think we share like misery from the late 90′s.

  42. @dedalusdedalus: Interesting observation! And I think you made sense. The flavor over the years would have been different if I had that kind of collectible arsenal at my disposal. Since the “seal” was already broken by the time I started X-E, I’d already dropped the impulse to treat these things like baubles, literally and psychologically. Which is good in a way, otherwise I’d have never done things like bust open a MISB MOTU Slime Pit.

    Really, doing the site(s) helped curbed those appetites, too. I’ve been saying for a while now… I don’t mind trashing my stuff so long as it gets “immortalized” in a review. If I still had my old collector mentality running at top strength, I could never bring myself to pop straws into Ecto-Cooler boxes or tear apart MOC figures that were worth 10x more before I did. :)

  43. The room I’m sitting in is something like Matt’s toy room, but with fewer Transformers and a lot more Power Rangers robots, He-Man guys, and Monster High dollies. It’s totally a toy room, but I still insist on calling it an “office.” (Come to think of it, there’s a distinct lack of He-Man in those pics! Maybe they were all packed away?)

    I pretty much did a direct transition from “kid” to “collector”, but I was by far at my worst from 2005 to 2007, when I was an assistant manager at KB. Because I had easy access and a sweet discount, I bought all kinds of crap that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Marvel Legends were the hot thing, and at one time I had every single Marvel figure that came out during that period, despite always having preferred DC. Even the ones that were objectively terrible, like Scarlet Witch. Hey, she was shortpacked!

  44. I didn’t get to this level, but I definitely was doing the same thing back then, mostly regarding Star Wars, which was experiencing a new revival in the mid-90s. I did something pretty dumb as a kid that really forced my obsession into collecting – I sold off a TON of my childhood toys at a garage sale, just to make some quick money for God knows what. I lost about 90% of my pretty massive Star Wars and GI Joe stuff, along with a ton of other great stuff. I did make a lot of money (though I was defintely underpricing stuff), and it seemed at the time that I was doing something very “grown up” and shedding my childhood vices, but as the money was spent and the shine of the great sale wore off, it turned to regret pretty fast.

    When the new Kenner SW line started in 1995, I was all over it, and it just went on for years and years. My engagement in that collecting community is actually what first connected me to X-E. Really, I think it was all just a mode of ablution for my childhood toy sins. I did enjoy it, but once I started taking stock of the fact that I was buying and displaying my tenth or eleventh variation on the farmboy Luke Skywalker figure, and once they started focusing so much on the prequel stuff (no thanks), I backed off. I’m pretty much just down to a full set of the original vintage figures, which I adore.

    All this in saying, I totally get the regret and the obsession cycle, Matt. I’m glad it’s all led you to where you are now.

  45. @Donna, What a sad story.
    @Annette, LOL on the “cut a bitch”
    Great story, Matt. In my collecting days I was going to Tech School for electronics and working full time as a security guard, which by the way is the most boring job in the world.
    It worked out so that I had weekends free and me and a buddy would cruise every out of the way drugstore and hardware store to sift through their meager toy selection. Most of it ended up in my parents basement where I was living at the time. The same friend would come over on Friday and Saturday nights and we would play primitive (by todays standards) computer games and watch an old B&W tv. And I’m pretty sure there was beer involved.
    Looking back it was a good time in my life though I didn’t realize it so much then. I guess that’s usually the case.

  46. Ironically my wife has more and better old toys than I do since she seemed to never lose any of the little parts and accessories.

    She showed me her set of “Dinobots and told me that they were were “not real” Dinobots and had weird accessories like little little men who fit inside. I had to roll my eyes at that point and tell her that that meant they were from the original Japanese microman? series and probably worth more than the American ones.

    Tip, if you have a girlfriend who owns a complete set of star wars monsters… well that’s marriage material.

    Happy new year Everyone

  47. @Seerauber Jenny – Oh man, those Marvel Legends figures – were those like the ones that came with the pieces so that you could put together Sentinel? A few of my college buddies tried so hard to get those, but they just wanted to put the larger figurines together. So I ended up with Omega Red and Black Panther and someone else that I can’t remember, and they’re in storage…somewhere. Unless they were sold at my last yard sale, in which case I’ll be really sad.

    Oh god. The Black Panther MIB figures are going for like $70 on Amazon. I’ll go cry in the corner now…

  48. I really like this personal looking-back stuff.

  49. Seems like you made a lot of collectors happy by getting rid of those boxed ones. So not all is lost!

  50. I love these candid looks into the life of Matt.

    Also, for fuck’s sake, while I would KILL for those boxed Transformers, Star Wars Burger King glasses are the gift that keeps on giving.

  51. This was an interesting look into the mind of Matt. It also makes me think of and regret losing all of my childhood toys. I could be selling them on Amazon and Ebay right now. I had trash cans, yes trash cans full of toys, from every line you could think of. All kinds from the 80s and 90s. The trash can were plastic, and never used for garbage, not even once. So it wasn’t nasty or anything lol. I moved when I became an adult, in age anyway, and I lost all of those childhood treasures. Dang! I’ll always have the memories, but man, do I REALLY wish I still had em to sell. They were all loose figures,play sets, etc.. many missing accessories , but still, they would’ve fetched a good price. *sigh* Oh well.

  52. Monster In My Pocket? I loved that line! Happy New Years gang!

  53. I’ve been in a funk tonight for one reason or another, so I came here to lift my spirits. And I really enjoyed reading this, Matt. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your past with us. It’s a shame there aren’t more pictures showing the sheer majesty of the collection you must have had.

    The only thing I see in those pictures that I had was Optimus Prime. I didn’t have a lot of Transformers. In fact, I think I only had two: Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. My grandmother gave me Bumblebee when I graduated from kindergarten. I wish I still had him. A few years ago, some friends gave me a Bumblebee keychain that looks pretty close to the Bumblebee I remember having, it just has a keychain thing coming out of the bumper. But it transforms and everything and I love it. But my main “collections” as a kid were G.I. Joe, He Man, and Ninja Turtles. I have no idea what happened to them, but man, do I wish I had those toys again! As an adult, I had a pretty nice collection of Simpsons figures, McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs, and Clerks inaction figures. I lost all of those in a way that is too painful to talk about and talking about it would just make me bitter and angry, so nevermind.

    Anyway, happy new year!

  54. As a kid, I used to buy those cheap Robotech toys at Kay-Bee to fill in as added characters when I played with my Voltron toys. I also knew nothing about Robotech (and still don’t).

    But some of the larger Robotech figures made much better Robeasts to “do battle” with Voltron than the pitifully small Robeast figures.

  55. Wow… glorious. Man, I wish I’d been part of the toy trading scene back in the 90s.

    And the entire collection of Transformers? Man, I’m still just trying to get a Fortress Maximus…

  56. I have a few items from 90s yet like two bootleg The Lost World figures and a Mighty Ducks action figure, but most of the stuff is gone, mostly donated. I wish I could keep my stuff with me during more time than 20 years!

  57. I had one of those Barney Rubbles! Mine was red. I don’t even know where he came from. Were they cereal prizes?

  58. Fantastic article! I first discovered the original X-E site back in 2005 accidentally, while google searching for ‘Crash Dummies’ and his article popped up. I was enamored with this blog filled with toy reviews, expired food, and my favorite, the feature articles about his crazy road trips. My favorite article to this day is still “the house” in upstate NY.
    While I never had (not yet) any great period of toy collecting, I did have a 9 month odyssey of “treasure hunting” while I lived in Nagoya, Japan in 2009. I lived in a micro apartment, with my only window facing a concrete wall. I found making friends with the other Japanese students quite hard, and my language skills were poor at the best of times, so I had the joy of a lot of quiet alone evenings after classes. It was quite depressing to be on the other side of the world with nothing to do and no one to talk to in person, and I came close to leaving after two months. Then, the apartment manager offered to help me hook up internet in my room, allowing me at least some sanity when I wasnt at school (and allowed me to keep in contact back home besides just waiting for a free computer at our student center to send emails). I went back to X-E’s archives reading the articles and posts from 2002-09 for something to do, and I was inspired to start living out some of the adventures I read about.

    X-E helped me realize that I needed to make my own adventure while I had the golden ticket of being in a new country with excellent public transportation, and where being a foreigner means that all your awkward faults get ignored by the general population. So whenever I didnt have classes, I would do my research into nearby shops, stores, parks, and general interest areas. Saturdays were my days. I would get up in the a.m., buy a 690yen subway pass good for all day unlimited use, and ride the rails to various parts of the city visiting all the shops and stores that I found online. What a time! I found everything that you can imagine and more. Toys, games, action figures, comics, manga, food, even a Pokemon themed superstore. I would visit them all and have a hell of a time just seeing what Id discover.

    There were great chain stores called ‘Book-Off’ that sold tons of used manga for $1. I must’ve bought 400 volumes by the time I came home. My favorite store though was a place called ‘Treasure Bomb’ which was a 20 minute walk from my apartment building. If they didnt have it, it didnt exist within the confines of Japan. I bought numerous action figures, gashapon, games and more from that place. Hell I think I became quite a regular face (at least I shouldve considering how much business I did at that place).

    It made such a shitty experience turn around and be one of the most treasured times of my life. When I left to return to America, I made one final stop in Tokyo for an evening of toy hunting in Akihabara’s Den Den Town. Christ I filled up my entire backpack with various trinkets and figures. I tried in vain to replicate the experience here in the States, but it was a futile effort. Living in a small population area where the nearest city is 2.5 hours away, makes it hard to find great places like the ones I found in Japan. Ive been asked many times if Id ever go back. Ive always said “yes” but not to see any particular person, itd be for the “treasure hunt.”

    I owe a debt of gratitude to Matt for his tireless efforts with X-E, and now Dinosaur Dracula. It got me through some trying times.

    P.S. I believe I am in possession of the worlds smallest Bulbasaur figure.

  59. Wow, just wow. Awesome stuff there Matt. I can’t say that I have much left of toys from my childhood (a few Snake Eyes figures I couldn’t part with and a couple custom Tiger Force vehicles I painted with my brother). I do still have almost my entire collection of original Playmates Star Trek TNG figures and some re-release He-Man and Transformers figures (including Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime). Most of my collection now focuses on a select few comic characters and a lot of statues, busts and comic books. Thanks for sharing Matt, a truly great post.

  60. Love it. Love it. Love it!

    I too had many of the original 12″ Star Wars figures, (or 6″ if you include R2-D2 & the Jawa). I even had not one but 2 of the ridiculously hard to find IG-88s, (there was a Toys R Us and an Alexanders – yes ALEXANDERS, 5 minutes from my parent’s co-op in Little Neck/Douglaston so every chance I had, I begged & pleaded to go…and who can resist a crying 7 year old.

    The good news is that I still have all of these figures today. The bad news is that as a 7 year old, I smashed, banged & destroyed the shit out of them, even recreating “damages” from the movies. Pulling Chewbacca’s arms out of its socket, (damn flimsy rubber band – yes a rubber band kept the arms in place – Vader’s figure suffered the same fate too), breaking 3PO’s leg so it matched the near-final scene in ESB when he’s bickering with R2 about the hyperdrive in the Falcon. Even IG-88 & Boba Fett, (which was without a doubt THE coolest figure ever made with about a million different removable weapons), lost arms, had helmets cracked and many pieces chipped because of a violently imaginative kid surrounded by a lot of hard concrete outside his parent’s co-op.

    I loved playing, (destroying), them back then but now would love the thousands of dollars even more had they never been opened, (the IG-88′s alone go for $400-500 on ebay). I recently asked my mom why she didn’t buy a few of these & locked them away in a closet. She told me that she would never deprive me of something I enjoyed so much & who knew back then that the original figures unopened would be worth the equivalent of a villa in Tahiti 35 years later?

  61. My toys in 1998,WWF figures and wcw figures…literally over 100 of them…all the way from LJN to Hasbro to jakks pacific.

    Also,may 98 was when I started collecting beanie babies….I was a mad rabid freak for ‘em. I’d schmooze to find out when shipments arrived…paid 10x’s the market value for special ones…yep…they were gonna buy me a mansion some day! 6 years later, I sold all 600 for 75 dollars.

    Later that year, I got a PS one, and also started my vintage game collection, which landed me, with a free n64, ps2 and gameboy advance…to this day games are my vice and trading and selling them, one of my most profitable past times to date.

    Games and toys led me to come bursting out of my shell, and I have friendships online, going for nearly decades.

  62. My husband’s buff has insane amounts of ‘trek and star wars..can you say mint on card Mego figures? Signed by each cast member also? Yeah…pretty much hate him. JK, he’s a great buddy to talk shop with…and the guy who bailed Dottie out of doggie jail when she ran away, and when we picked her up,he played the imperial march on his stereo.

  63. Wow. Add me to the jealously column :)
    That’s a killer collection and a couple of great scores on the Star Wars and Transformers toys.
    I know all too well the lure of the collection as a distraction from life – hence my collection of mid-90s Star Wars merchandise, from the CCG cards to spin-off novels to technical manuals (the ‘Guide to Weapons and Technology’ is sitting on my office shelf as I type this) which, along with constant replays of old Super NES RPGs and Magic The Gathering, helped numb the sting of life in Grade 10. I can’t believe I was able to finance all that with money from mowing my neighbours lawns and/or shovelling their driveways.
    I’ll probably hang onto all of the Star Wars stuff forever (maybe not the CCG cards), but the SNES games are going up for sale, especially considering what complete copies of old Squaresoft games can fetch :)

  64. Been away for a bit — Happy New Year everyone.

    I loved how one of the 12″ Stormtrooper figures has turned all yellow. That’s exactly what happened to mine. I had the Boba Fett too. When I opened him on Christmas morning, I chucked the Wookie scalps thinking they were part of the packaging!

    I go through phases with collecting and, when a phase is coming to an end, I like to do something cool with what I’ve collected. Back in the day, I had a bunch of Star Wars fanclub magazines. There were classifieds in the back where people would request things. Some girl in Australia was missing a few issues of the magazine to complete her collection, so I sent her my entire, complete set at random.

    I also used to collect every article and magazine regarding the Smiths that I could find. A few years back, I was about to toss it all and thought, “Who could I send this to?” I packed it up and sent it to a writer at “Q” magazine, whose music reviews I really respected. He was so appreciative when he got it that he sent me a copy of his latest book “Mozipedia.”

    Like many here, I started collecting the new run of Kenner Star Wars figures in the late-90′s. I had a heap of them, mint on card. One day, I put them all in several garbage bags at Christmas time and gave them to the soup kitchen in my home town. They didn’t give out toys normally, but they said they’d give out figures to every family that came in with young kids. Awesome!

    It’s fun to brighten somebody’s day this way when you’ve gotten what you needed / wanted from your collection.

    And it was very touching to read about this period of your life, Matt. I actually feel like I’m in a similar funk RIGHT NOW. Everything’s just gone wrong in the past year and I’m trying to claw my way back out. An “Empire Strikes Back” period, for sure.

  65. I really wish you had more pictures. From reading past articles on X-E, I always knew that you had an epic collection at one time. Some of the stuff I have or that’s on my want list, are from what I’m reminded of in your writing. I know ypu probably have some pretty cool pieces in your collection, and I(as well as man others), would love to see atour of your office! Great post, man! :)

  66. *many others* oops.

  67. Great post, it is one of my dreams to have the complete Transformers G1 series one day. It’s a slow process right now, but I enjoy finding them and getting back pieces of the ones I had and lost or broke.

  68. Man, it seems you really hit a nerve here…this article seriously resonated with me, being a guy with a toy room and college troubles of his own, and after reading the comments I see I’m not the only one. My toy room didn’t have nearly the gems in it yours had but I still have every piece of my collection to this day. My dad hates that there’s still a six foot naboo fighter hanging in his garage nearly ten years after I moved out

  69. My mom swears it was my idea, but she gave all of my toys to my cousin when I went to college.

    My son is going to be pissed when I tell him what he’ll never see…

  70. Most of us went through the ‘awesome childhood toys that later went away.’ But Matt seems to have gone through that *twice*, first when he was a kid, and then again, with this toy room. (That collection BTW is mind blowing. I had that transformer Ratchet when I was a kid…but you have ‘em in the freakin’ box!)

    I also went through a similar thing in my life where everything was shit but this little corner I’d carved out for myself. My particular happy place was scale models, and the unmade kits sat all together on the top shelf in my closet. So when things were really dark, I could look up there and think “It’s a good thing I’m still alive, I have to finish building that (esoteric airplane/tiny tank.) All that stuff still is a happy place for me.

    My childhood transformers were played with till destruction, and usually past that. I still have two bits of my childhood safely stored away in my Parient’s basement, though. I have a fair bit of Startech (not sure if that’s the right name; it was those guys with the magnetic boots and the mechanical spring toys in space.) The other is the Cobra Nightraven, which still has all of its missiles, though I’ve misplaced the tail (I think it’s in the Robotech stuff.) Otherwise, it is still awesome.

  71. This makes me want to take up the hobby, and I’ve got boxes of toys from my childhood that I never even look at anymore(pretty much everything I want to keep is displayed at this point). Are there still any worthwhile online toy trading groups? I’m not interested in trading cash, just old-school, swap meet style

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