2016 Flea Market Finds, Part 3!

We arrived at the Englishtown flea market late on Saturday afternoon, so there was no time to waste. Over half of the sellers had already packed up, and of those who remained, many were clearly ready to throw in the towel.

I found jussst enough to consider the trip a success, and got reacquainted with the one positive thing about being late to a flea market: Those sellers will do anything to make a last minute sale. “Did I say five dollars? I MEANT I’LL PAY YOU. Not really but TURN AROUND, WE CAN WORK THIS OUT, MY NAME’S HANK WHAT’S YOURS?”

This week’s scores:


Vintage Hot Wheels Cars! ($5)

I try to steer clear of loose Hot Wheels, because they’re often dud investments, and the sellers usually want waaaay more than is reasonable. Luckily, one seller kept his prices in check, and he had some of my most beloved Hot Wheels cars of all time.

As a kid, whenever a Hot Wheels car didn’t actually look like a car, I was interested. I preferred the ones that doubled as robots, monsters or menacing animals. This lot includes several of my favorites, from that Autobot-esque motherfucker to the gnarly white rat-car, which once served as my rolling pet back before Mom & Dad let me have hamsters.


Cracked #291! ($1)

I already had a copy of this, but $1 was a-okay for a double of my all-time favorite issue of Cracked. At the very least, it’s my favorite cover.

From the summer of ‘94, issue #291 featured a spoof on Mortal Kombat, which gave John Severin the excuse to draw a Goro that looked more Goro-like than real Goros. If the previous sentence makes it in, you can take it as evidence that I did not proofread.

I know Cracked (and Mad) have a lot of fans, but if I’m being honest, I only ever bought them because I liked the covers. Half of the time, I never read them. Part of it was that I liked my humor served on the sly, but a bigger part was that I was so deathly afraid of the exaggerated faces inside. Every celeb that they goofed on looked like the people-version of a California Raisin. I had my limits, and they were two steps that way.


The Pictorial History of Wrestling! (50 cents)

This old wrestling book looks awesome. Well, maybe not literally so, since the cover is in horrible shape, and I can’t rule out the possibility that someone once used it to diaper their pet monkey. I might need to trash it.

Fortunately, once you get past the cover, the pages are fine. The Pictorial History of Wrestling was published in 1984, and it didn’t owe special allegiance to any of the time’s wrestling promotions. Its authors were free to write a little dirtier, and make wrestling sound a little scarier. (The book’s photos are especially brutal, and a fair portion of them are downright gory.)

As a kid, I watched WWE (then the WWF) exclusively, so books like this were one way to sample other promotions. Not realizing that the authors were cherry-picking photos from only the most violent events, I just assumed that in any federation that wasn’t WWE, wrestlers won matches by outright killing each other.


Defaced WWF Wrestlers! ($1 each)

Another wrestling score. I should probably put score in quotations.

Given their condition, these LJN WWF Superstars figures have no monetary value. 9 times out of 10, you can’t even give stuff like this away. No matter how good the price, most people would liken the acceptance of these to actively encouraging indoor roach colonies to triple their numbers. I feel like that analogy works if you squint and take lots of drugs.

This’ll sound like bullshit, but it isn’t: I bought them because I found them artful. There’s a sort of occult charm in the way the artist used that Wite-Out, and I feel like if I left these under my enemy’s bed, he’d wake up with frog feet and MacGregor’s Syndrome. Good.

In case you can’t recognize them in their Death Cult fatigues, that’s Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and the Iron Sheik. They’ve since been rechristened as Zal Hawa the Checker God and Nick Nipples. The ceremony was intense and no cameras were allowed.


King Kong vs. Godzilla VHS! ($1)

I should’ve skipped this one, but I just have this irresistible attraction to clamshell videocassette cases. I always treat them with such reverence, and I always trick myself into believing that any video housed in one is worth tons of money. They never are.

What’s worse, they’re so hard to fit on my video shelves. They make all of the tapes in the regular cardboard sleeves seem less significant, and since I imagine my videos as little rectangular people, I worry that I’m brewing a needless civil war. By the end of the night, I’m bottle-feeding videocassettes and wondering if that third copy of King Kong vs. Godzilla was really worth the fuss. Elsewhere, Nick Nipples radiates with dark energy.

My thing with clamshell cases is probably rooted in childhood, back when every Disney and/or WWF video I rented came in them. Or maybe I just like the word “clamshell,” and consider one dollar a fair price for the excuse to say it six times. TBH, it’s more that than the other thing.


Rubber Monsters! ($5 for the pair)

One seller had a huge, glorious tub filled with Imperial-style monster and animal figures, and it KILLED me to not go home with more of them. He even offered the whole tub for 40 bucks, but the thought of carting that shit to the car and only then finding out that there were live tarantulas among the rubber ones was more than my brain would stamp.

I settled on two. First is a double-headed dragon with crab claw hands, which is just one Simpsons shirt away from my #1 favorite head-to-toe ensemble.

Second is a sperm whale, impressive mostly because it’s a sperm whale, and the few companies that still make crude rubber animal figures never go for the sperm whale. (Of course, this could just as easily be a Misshapen Blue Whale with Inaccurate Teeth, which I’m writing in title case to illustrate just how nice it’d work as a band name.)

Total spent: $13.50. It was this or a pizza.