Okay, so there’s this huge indoor/outdoor flea market in Englishtown that I’ve been going to for like, twenty years now. It’d been a long time since my previous visit, so yesterday afternoon, we drove out to see what treasures awaited.
Turned out, not many treasures awaited. It’s the off season, and we arrived too close to closing time. Most of the outside vendors had already packed up and gone home. The remaning wares were limited. All I remember seeing were screen protectors for iPads in nonexistent sizes, and bootleg Power Ranger figures with nonfunctioning buttons on their groins.
The inside vendors were pretty hit or miss, too. It’s hard to explain, but picture a bunch of horse stables, filled with tiny shops instead of horses. They’re kind of like mini-malls, and the flea market has a bunch of them. We appreciated the heat, but most of the shops were already closed.
Then, just when hope seemed lost, we found this:
The Toy Room. I wasn’t terribly excited at first, because these sorts of shops typically take eBay’s dregs and present them as high value antiques. But, HOLY SHIT, this SO wasn’t that kind of place. It was the most amazing “old toy store” I’ve ever seen, with wares that pushed every single nostalgia button I have. Even the Captain Power button!
You name it, they had it. Star Wars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles were only the tip of the iceberg. It’d be a stretch to say that they had every old toy that ever meant anything to me, but goddamn, they came close.
Here, see for yourselves:
Since you may be the type of reader who skims, I feel that a big bold statement is in order. THE ABOVE IMAGE ISN’T JUST ONE IMAGE. IT’S A SLIDESHOW. CLICK THE ARROWS.
I spoke to the owner for a few minutes, mostly to gush about his collection. Hey, I’ve been down this road before. You don’t amass this much stuff without serious work and passion. Pound for pound, it was as awesome a toy collection as I’ve ever seen. Keep in mind, I only took photos of a fraction of the stuff.
Best of all, the guy’s prices were fair. I’m used to brick and mortar collectible shops overcharging by miles. I’m not saying that his stuff was cheap, but the prices were akin to what I’d expect to see on eBay. The difference here is that I wasn’t just salivating over a never-ending webpage. All of the good stuff was right there in front of me.
I wasn’t really looking to spend money. As a general rule, I only splurge on old toys when I think there’s a fair chance that I’ll never find the particular item elsewhere. Other than that, I’m looking for steals and deals, and as fair as this place was, you don’t go into a collectibles shop looking for steals and deals.
…on the other hand, after taking pictures of the guy’s collection for thirty minutes, it seemed a bit rude to leave without buying something.
So, I did.
The store had these spinning racks full of loose, bagged action figures, from various lines and in various conditions. The figures ranged between 3-5 bucks, and while I wouldn’t call that “yard sale cheap,” I can’t see a Sectaurs figure in a Ziploc bag and not buy it.
Plus, it seemed like a good opportunity to make a sequel to that Five Random ‘80s Action Figures post. Here are my five finds!
Masters of the Universe, 1985
One of Skeletor’s minions, Stinkor was mutant skunk who sought to defeat He-Man by smelling bad. Seriously. The figure was “baked” with the scent of patchouli, and though this old toy lost its odor to the sands of time, I’ll never forget those long ago afternoons spent with a still-stinking Stinkor. I’d waste hours sniffing him, swearing that he smelled pretty good!
Oh, and remember that Beach Fair post I did last August? Remember my regrets about going home without Stinkor? Now things are better, and I can once again sleep without turning.
Bootleg M.U.S.C.L.E. Guys
Parts Unknown, 1980-Something
Technically, the fact that there are three of them means that this is really a review of seven random ‘80s figures. But you’d have to be a real jerk to point that out.
Three bucks seemed steep for a bag of three little M.U.S.C.L.E. figures… until I noticed that they were actually bootleg versions, which are far more rare and valuable. They’re the right sort of pink, but made from a much more pliable rubber. I’m not sure if they’re copies of actual M.U.S.C.L.E. characters or “unique” concepts, but someone with dedication and Google can likely determine this. (I only have Google.)
UPDATE: I got a second wind. After comparing them against this great guide, it seems that they are indeed unique characters! If I’m wrong, never tell me.
I’ve written about Sectaurs in the past, but it bears repeating: That may very well be the most criminally undervalued toy line in history.
The shortest primer I can give you is that they were “warring factions of bug people.” A longer primer might detail the toys’ amazing TV commercials, or how the figures came with giant, battery-operated bug puppets with wings that flapped at hummingbird speeds.
The toys just broke the mold in every conceivable way. The gimmickry, scale and presentation were just so much different from any other line.
General Spidrax was the lead villain. He looks fantastic even without his zillion accessories. Snarling and spider-eyed, he’s ten pounds away from being able to kick anyone’s ass. Also, if I was a mutant warrior with toned legs, that is the exact singlet I would wear.
Star Wars, 1978
Ah, frig. I goofed. This guy was actually released in 1978, so my post title is all wrong. I still feel okay about including him, because Tusken Raider figures were being produced well into the ‘80s. Loophole, baby.
Among the first Star Wars figures ever made (an honor in itself, considering how many there are today), this Tusken Raider is missing his cape and gaffi stick. On the upside, he still has what so many other loose Tuskens lack: The four head spikes.
There are certain things that children will always chew, even if they’re not supposed to. Stuff like pen caps, and pencils, and the waxy shells that keep Babybel cheese so silky soft. I count the Tusken Raider’s head spikes among those things. Maybe it’s just me, but growing up, I ate my way through at least three of these figures.
The Real Ghostbusters, 1988
What begins as a boring football player ends up as this. Whatever this is. Part of the “Haunted Humans” branch of Real Ghostbusters figures, Tombstone Tackle is, uh, some kind of carnivorous ghost plant? With a monstrous football serving as the pharyngeal jaw?
Tombstone Tackle borders perilously close to obscene, and is probably the scariest ghost in the entire Ghostbusters universe. Scarier than Gozer, scarier than Samhain. I’ll fight Hell’s most vicious demons before voting on the football player who does whatever this guy is doing.
I’m very happy to have found that toy store. It brought me nice figures, and it energized my most ridiculous, go-nowhere interests. It also taught me that rubber Godzillas come in orange, too.
Ugh. Why didn’t I buy the orange Godzilla? Pricey, but paradise. I have so many mixed emotions. Lyrics from Real McCoy songs suddenly make sense. I swear, I never thought they would.