I bought a box of toys from eBay.

Back in March, I paid tribute to eBay’s action figure mixed lots — those being auctions for “bunches” of toys that sellers have neither the time nor interest to list individually. Even with the bazillion eyes perpetually scanning eBay, there are some great deals hiding in those listings.

Only rarely am I compelled to bid, but one recent auction really grabbed my attention:


That one. With a $5 starting bid and no competition, I won it with ease. Now sure, the hefty shipping rate raised the total price to $20, but even that was a fair price for such an incredible assortment of absolute crap.

Almost every mixed lot is 80% junk, and this one was no different. The trick is to single out the few items that do have some value, and see if they’re enough to justify the total price. In this case, it was.


The toys arrived today, rather fittingly shipped in a stained box that appears to have once held loads of mailable fruit.

Let’s see what’s inside!


WOW. The photo on eBay didn’t do it justice at all. This was a LOT of stuff. Even better, most of it is as old as I’d hoped for. The toys are mostly from the ‘80s and early ‘90s, with the only recent exceptions being a few fast food prizes that I quickly tossed into the “donate” pile.


My strategy was to cherry-pick the few things I wanted to keep, sell enough to make back what I spent, and donate the rest to whatever facility accepts boxes of ratty old toys. As far as I can tell, that won’t be hard to do.

Of course, for the moment, everything shown here is still mine, and I’m free to act like I went to a really great yard sale and just bought everything. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot the stuff I was most interested in, but the real thrill was in how many lost memories these toys sparked.

Growing up, I had tons of these things. I got them from toy stores, restaurants, cereal boxes and beyond. Looking at this spread is like looking at my bedroom floor from 1991. There’s just as much dog hair on everything, too.

Here are the highlights:


These Real Ghostbusters figures acted as my failsafe, since I could make most of what I spent back on them alone. Interestingly, the lot included exactly two Rays and exactly two Winstons.

I got each character both in their original and “Power Pack Heroes” outfits, the latter of which looking oddly like the opening credits to Saved by the Bell.


Hey, it’s one of those Batman Cereal banks! If you’re old enough, you had one. They came attached to boxes of Batman Cereal, and as far as cereal prizes went, they were utterly extravagant.

Given that the promise of free monkey stickers was enough to make us try even the most boring cereal, you can just imagine what a fuss we made over Batman banks.


A disproportionate amount of fast food toys is one of the typical perils of these mixed lots, but this time, the fast food toys are at least good ones. Here we have a set of four Knuckles figures, from the 1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Happy Meal. How someone ended up with four of these will be the inspiration for my next short story.


A vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gum container, sans gum. Is it just me, or is Leonardo holding a breakfast sandwich in his left hand?


Heeeere’s Mekaneck, one of the earliest Masters of the Universe figures, and easily among the most memorable. When you twist his waist, Mekaneck’s neck extends to giraffe-level heights, giving him the power to… I don’t know… peer over tall rocks?

Well-worn and missing every accessory, Mekaneck is nearly worthless in this condition. That’s fine with me. He was on the “keep” list, anyway.


I wouldn’t normally make special mention of Flintstones Happy Meal toys, but I’m in love with that stand-in for Toys “R” Us. Was that in the movie? I’m going to be so pissed if I’ve spent the last twenty years passing on a film that had a prehistoric bootleg Toys “R” Us in it.


A metric ton of California Raisins figures, in many styles and sizes. The figures were made of an impossibly magnetic rubber that exclusively used its powers to attract dirt and filth. If I’m suddenly ankle-deep in bed bugs, these figures will be to blame.

Still worth it, because now I have an anthropomorphic raisin using matchsticks to play the drums.


Yet more Happy Meal toys, from some of my favorite sets. The DuckTales jet ski is an obvious win, but I’m especially fond of that skateboarding Garfield. What an outfit! I love how he wears wristwatches as ankle bracelets.


Shown above are only a few of the lot’s many old Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, and much to my surprise, some of them are actually worth a decent amount of cash! Or at least, they would be, if they weren’t so completely beat up.

If we studied old Hot Wheel commercials frame-by-frame, I’m sure we’d find subliminal messages instructing kids to leave the cars buried outside for 20 years.

Keeping in mind that the toys featured above barely account for 20% of the entire lot, I think I made a Wise Business Decision. By default, any time you can summarize a series of transactions with “I got two free Winstons” marks a Wise Business Decision.

Interested in trying your luck? Here are some tips!

1) You can simply search the term “mixed lot,” but eBay also has a category dedicated to that very subject.

2) ALWAYS factor in the shipping costs prior to bidding. Sometimes the shipping will be as much as 40 bucks, so if you see a really great lot sliding by without one bid, that’s probably why.

3) Snipe. Many bidders wait until the last day, but the most effective bidders wait until the final moments of an auction. It’s okay to put a low bid down as a self-reminder, but don’t throw your highest bid up until the auction’s nearly finished. You’re just going to end up paying more.

Good luck!