Thursday, September 4, 2014

Toy Hunter and Comic Book Men... Why can't reality be this easy?


    Toy Hunter is a Travel channel show about a guy named Jordan Hembrough who travels around the country and finds awesome collectible toys. Collectors invite him into their house and allow him to cherry pick the good stuff for generally a fair price. My description of the show might be a little harsh though because I'm actually pretty jealous that it's not me. Yes, I'm certain that Jordan has paid his dues and built a reputation for himself over the years which has parlayed into a successful cable show. On the other hand I believe there is a team of producers dedicated to sourcing good collections that will make for good TV. They do a nice job of showing a balance of lesser priced toys vs higher value prized toys. I also appreciate that Toy Hunter doesn't fully exaggerate what the actual retail value of a toy is after they make a good purchase. If Jordan finds a toy with a $80 value then he will likely pay up to $40 for it. If you compare this to the outrageous estimated prices in Storage Wars then Jordan is a fucking saint!

    On AMC we have another fun show with a similar nerd vibe. This show is called Comic Book Men and it follows the shenanigans around a crew of people that run a comic shop called The Secret Stash. The Secret Stash is actually a comic book store owned by Kevin Smith and managed by his life long friend Walt Flanagan. This show follows the Pawn Stars formula of having 2 or 3 people enter the store every episode and either be selling stuff to the The Stash or buying stuff. Meanwhile the cast of the show does goofy shit for the remainder of the episode. Comic Book Men has a built in mechanism for uncovering cool collectible nerd stuff just like Toy Hunter. I assume that Comic Book Men also has a team of producers bringing in cool stuff that makes for good TV.

    Ok, we have 2 good TV shows that cover the kind of stuff I like. It's too bad these shows don't portray what real life is like. When was the last time you randomly went to a garage sale and found some nice vintage Mego figures, a rare Frankenstein bobblehead, and a stack of vintage Superman comics? This *randomly* happened to the Comic Book Men crew as they happened to have their entire film crew filming the cast find this great stuff at a garage sale. Toy Hunter is a bit more believable because Jordan is actually leaving his shop to uncover stuff in collections. It doesn't paint a true picture though because the Travel channel brings in awesome leads for him and they focus on the most interesting finds. The reality is that the common collector is not going to be invited into a stranger's house and sell him their prized possessions for much lower than retail. Another reality is that the common toy dealer doesn't not do the same amount of business as Jordan Hembrough or The Secret Stash. It becomes a novelty to go to a store like The Secret Stash just to buy something from the Comic Book Men. Or to buy a toy directly from Jordan Hembrough at a big toy show. The average Joe dealer needs to hustle to make a living in this business. Not everybody has had the lucky breaks in this industry like Jordan or The Secret Stash. I'm sure happy that I have a great day job because I could never make it at this full time.

    Now I need to catch up on Comic Book Men and Toy Hunter. See ya later!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rifts RPG Collection from Craigslist

Garage sales and swap meets are non existent during the winter months. Yes there are a few garage or estate sales on the weekends and yes there is the Capitol Flea Market in San Jose and the Solano Swap Meet in Concord but they get old at times. Craigslist makes it possible to acquire some nice nerdy stuff for a great price with little effort from the comfort of your own home. I look for small collections of stuff that I can easily sell or trade for other stuff. Collections can typically be found for discounted prices on Craigslist by people that are just trying to downsize. There is a fair amount of people trying to sell stuff at retail prices on the site but you can easily identify and avoid them. Some of my favorite stuff to hoard from Craigslist are RPG books and games.

I recently found a gentleman who had a lot of 50 Rifts books. Rifts is an RPG system developed by Palladium Books in the 1990's. Many Rift books have been published by Palladium in the years since. It's not the most popular RPG system anymore but I'm still happy to buy the books since they can be found for a low price and turned around for a decent profit if you have enough of them. There is some pretty fierce competition on Craigslist when it comes to RPG stuff so I quickly emailed this gentleman as soon as I saw his posting. Luckily I was the first person to respond and so I drove out to his place and picked up these 50 books. It turns out that it was the first 40 issues of Rifter magazine and then another 10 or so other Rifts books. Heroes Unlimited, Robotech, and a couple others.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Model Kits, Board Games and Other Random Nerd Loot

I have a fairly broad collection of fandoms that I enjoy spending my time with. Some of these include Transformers, Star Wars, GI Joe, Battlestar Galactica, Alien, video games, board games, long cancelled TV shows, baseball, going to sci-fi/fantasy conventions, movies, electronic gadgets, kickstarters, etc... None of this comes cheap and so I'm always on the lookout for stuff to turn a profit on. You don't need to be an expert in all fandoms in order to recognize a good find at the swap meet or garage sale. Chances are that you have solid knowledge over your own interests and can carry that over to other things. I don't love The Walking Dead but I would stop dead in my tracks if I saw one of the early first printing comics out in the wild for a low price. It's just the kind of general knowledge that a collector of nerdy stuff knows. We know about fandoms outside our own and we can all potentially profit from it.
Bashki Lord Of The Rings Recall Game

A couple weeks ago on my Saturday garage sale trip I found a few items that appeal to some collectors but not necessarily me. I've learned over time that model kits are still highly sought after by collectors. Some of the vintage models are really hard to find nowadays. I picked up this Egyptian Pharoah's Palace model kit, some Greek minis, and the Peterbilt Wrecker kit at an estate sale. This same estate sale also got me a 1970's era Lord of the Rings Recall Game by Milton Bradley. The Lord of the Rings game goes directly into my personal collection of LOTR stuff but the models will go on Ebay and hopefully pay for one night at a Dragoncon host hotel.

I love board games but strategy war games aren't my thing. My fairly basic knowledge of board games has taught me that the old Avalon Hill and SPI strategy war games are sought after. I found this New World game at a garage sale for a couple bucks and now I'll try to flip it.

Finally I like RPG video games but the fighter games like Street Fighter don't appeal much to me. I know that some people love the fighter games and so I recognized this Street Fighter IV themed game stick as a thing and picked it up from an estate sale for 20 bucks. I plan to resell it hopefully for twice the price.

I'm just trying to say that you shouldn't overlook the treasures you might otherwise glance over because they aren't your thing. They might be someone else's thing and you can profit from general nerd collecting knowledge. Then you can go buy yourself something fun!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bringing Home the Soup

The @femmeoffandom and I attended Convolution 2013 in November. The guest of honor were Brian Froud, Wendy Froud, and Toby Froud. Brian Froud is famous for being the conceptual artist of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Wendy Froud is best known for creating Yoda and other creatures for Jim Henson. Toby Froud might be best known as the baby from Labyrinth in the striped red pajamas surrounded by goblins and David Bowie's cod piece. Brian and Wendy are married and Toby is their son who is also now a puppet creator.

Most cons have a charity auction where you can pick up some nice stuff for a decent price depending on your bidding competition. I lost the bid on a 1:1 scale Darth Maul bust to my friend Angelo but he needed it more than me. I was the winning bidder on a Brian Froud print called "Bringing Home the Soup". This print is framed, signed, and numbered 5 of 90 and is now currently hanging in my house. I imagine this will eventually be hung in the library once I actually have a library.

Another fun item I won in the charity auction are a set of the door knockers from Labyrinth. These are also now hanging on my wall.

The less learned from Convolution is that I will always go to the charity auction of every con from this day forward!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Modern Day Transformers Really Do Suck

How the hell do you transform Metroplex?
In the early 80's I was all about Star Wars. I had the Vader case filled with action figures from all 3 movies. I would play Star Wars with my big sister and it pretty much encompassed my entire being. It all changed one day when I came home from school one day and saw a TV show with robots transforming into cars, jets, cassette players, and hand guns. The Transformers immediately grabbed my attention along with the amazing commercials for the actual transforming toys.  I remember the first time I saw an actual Transformer at Toys R Us. I entered the store and naturally bolted towards the boy's toys aisle near the back of the store. There was the small display for The Transformers!! My mom bought me the first toy I grabbed into my little 4th grader hands and then Star Wars toys became history.

That first Transformer that I ever owned was called Bluestreak and he was the best thing I'd ever seen. He was a blueish/silverish Datsun made of mostly die-cast metal, some plastic, and rubber tires. I was hooked and needed more! My friends and I collected Transformers for the next 3 years or so. The NES ultimately replaced The Transformers in my life but I still have Bluestreak along with the rest of my Transformers collection. It's not a huge collection but there are probably around 50 different Transformers that I've been carrying around with me through life.

Smokescreen vs Smokescreen
Fast forward to present day and look at The Transformers section at the toy store. Do you like what you see? Hell no you don't like what you see. Modern day Transformers are poorly constructed and look like shit. Not all of them do but most of the figures released to retail in the last 10 years are an abomination. There have been re-issues and and masterpiece collections which do a nice job of celebrating G1 but that's not what kids see at Walmart anymore.

G1 Smokescreen Wins
Today I went to a little yard sale at an Elementary school down the street from my house and found a box full of modern day Transformers. The first Transformer I pulled out was Cybertron Primus. This is actually a pretty awesome toy made of mostly plastic with some die-cast.  The next was a Metroplex figure from the mid 2000's. He's a nice looking figure made of sturdy plastic. Next I found a Red Alert figure from the mid 2000's which is also nice looking and made of sturdy plastic. These were the good figures in the box and all shared the common trait that they were made before 2005. Next I found an overly cartoonish looking Starscream that's made of flimsy plastic, a Snarl from 2005 which looks and feels like complete crap,  a Bludgeon tank from the Transformers movie, and a bulky Smokescreen from the movie.

Post 2005 Transformers
Pre 2005 Transformers
What do all 7 of these figures have in common? They all require some accessory in order for them to function or look right. Naturally I didn't find any of the accessories because that's always how it is. Cybertron Primus is missing a special key to unlock pieces for clean transformation, Red Alert is missing a major piece to make it actually look like a fire truck, Metroplex is missing a major piece for it's transformation, Snarl is missing his tail, Bludgeon has a piece broken off, and Starscream is missing his missiles.  Why do all modern age Transformers either break really easily or require accessories in order for them to look right in one of their transformation forms? Because they are crap, that's why! Cybertron Primus would be awesome if it had all of his pieces and so would Metroplex and Red Alert. The others would all suck even with their accessories. So why did I buy them all for $10? Because I like Transformers and can maybe buy a nice Transformer with the profits from these. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lowrider Magazine Collection

First issue from January 1977
May 1979

I'm always on the lookout for awesome collections. A couple weeks ago I found a post on Craigslist for a collection of Lowrider magazines going back to the 80's until the 2000's. I'm not a car guy but I recognize that Lowrider magazine is really a history book documenting the lowrider scene from the 70's into modern day. Some of the early issues from the 70's and early 80's bring in a big price in the collectible market, much higher prices than I would expect. I've done some reading on this and think some of the reason is that people literally want to see pictures of their old cars and their friends cars.

1979 Issues look like they just came from the newsstand
Yesterday I met up with the guy with the collection. It turns out that he's been buying Lowrider since the 70's and is missing only a few issues. The books are in amazing condition. In fact, they look like they could have been bought from a newsstand just yesterday! I'm now the proud of owner of around 150 pounds of Lowrider magazine and I couldn't be more pleased. I've found a few things in my life that I simply can't part with. It might not be stuff that directly relates to my interests but sometimes it's just so outstanding that I can't let it go. I'm afraid the first few years of Lowrider will fall into the 'Not for Sale' category in my collection. I'll part with 1991 - 2013 though. That's 100 extra pounds that I don't need to be carrying around with me.

Bum Fodder / Fire Kindling

Monday, March 17, 2014

Take me back to 70's so I can buy some stuff from Starlog Magazine

We must read the historical documents
Some of the best stuff I've found has been from Craigslist. My love for Craigslist was validated again 3 weeks ago when an awesome box of 60's, 70's, and 80's science fiction and horror magazines entered my life.

The actual ad stated that this was a box of 50ish Starlog Magazines from the 70's to 80's for $25. That alone should be enough to get the blood of any nerd boiling. Starlog was an amazing science fiction magazine that started in the 70's and ended it's run just a few years ago. It was written for real fans of the sci-fi genre and I was raised on it in the 80's. I remember lusting after some of the junk you could buy from the advertisements in Starlog magazine. Do you remember the Yoda ears baseball cap? Or the USCSS Nostromo cap from Alien? Yep, you could order all that crap from Starlog magazine!

Anyway, I met the guy at his car and did the quick exchange. He stated that he bought the box from somebody else on Craigslist who had misrepresented it as a box of Star Trek comic books. I suggested that Starlog is much better than Star Trek comics but he disagreed and we parted ways. Now I have this box of stuff and start looking through it. I found some amazing 70's magazines that weren't Starlog at all but a random selection of stuff. This is a great collection of books that will enter my personal collection and never leave it. Some of the titles included:

Fantastic Films
Star Warp
Science & Fantasy Film Classics
Super Star Heroes
Future Life
Famous Monsters of Filmland
Future Fantasy
TV Sci-Fi Monthly
Star Trek 75
Trek The Magazine for Star Trek Fans
Castle of Frankenstein (I love this issue. It was printed when Star Trek was still on the air and Spock was considered a monster??)

Matthew Star Letter from Starlog Issue 55

Remember this show? The Powers of Matthew Star was a fun Friday night show that followed Night Rider but never survived past a single season. It was doomed from the start according to this letter which explains so much!

Oh and by the way, did you know you can read the entire Starlog catalog on the Internet Archive?
Starlog Magazine on Internet Archive

Spock is a monster in a 1967 issue of Castle of Frankenstein

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kidrobot at the Goodwill and other random thrift store finds

I stopped by my favorite Goodwill and thrift store today on my way home from work and found some interesting stuff. At the thrift store I found a vintage J.K. Straus wooden puzzle from the 50's or 60's for $2. The pieces of this puzzle are very high quality and I think I'll turn a nice profit on it. I also picked up a 12 inch tall Newcastle beer schooner. It's just a display piece but I like it because BEER. The Newcastle glass was $4 and hopefully this will bring in a good profit. Yes neither of these items are particularly nerdtastic but they will bring in some extra cash to help pay for a night at a Dragoncon host hotel over Labor Day :)

Next I stopped by the Goodwill. They had a big stack of sealed Kidrobot boxes. It turns out that these are sealed cases of Fatcap Series 3 figures. Each case has 20 random figures individually wrapped in it's own box and in a foil wrapper so you can't see what you're gonna get. Naturally there are chase figures in the set that are much rarer than others in the set. Each case was $25 which is actually an incredibly high price for anything at the Goodwill. I can't remember the last time I bought something marked this high in my life. Any way I bought 3 cases just for the heck of it. They retail for much higher so we'll see how it goes on Ebay. I've setup a 3 day auction for them and if it sells then I might go back for more!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Need to sell the 1st generation Oculus Rift to pay for the next gen

Unless you've lived in a box for the last year you would know all about the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset from Oculus VR. The first generation Rift headset was released around this time last year which makes it outdated by at least 6 months. Oculus VR recently announced that they are no longer selling the first generation dev kit but will instead focus on the next generation Crystal Cove head set.  The first gen headset was only a dev kit and succeeded in giving me a headache 10 minutes after putting it on. I'm not a game developer but rather a VR enthusiast so I absolutely had to own it. I ordered mine in April 2013 and was immediately put on a 4 month waiting list. The Rift was nearly impossible to get at the time unless you wanted to pay $900 on ebay. The device finally arrived in August and I proceeded to spend the next hour playing with it until I got a massive headache and had to stop. It's been collecting dust on a shelf in my garage for the last six months.

The Oculus Rift originally sold for $300 which was a fairly high price just to experience a few minutes of VR. Since the device is no longer available to buy, then now might be a good time to sell or trade it. If I can get my initial investment back then I'll be able to buy the 2nd generation when it is announced. This is a solid plan right? Tonight I'm going to offer it on Craigslist as a trade for hopefully something of more value. If that doesn't work then it will be on Ebay by next week. I'll let you know how it goes :)

Update 1:
I received 1 offer to rent the Rift for 3 days, 1 offer to buy it, 1 offer to trade it for some vintage computer systems, and 1 offer to trade it for a Samsung S4. I've decided that a trade just isn't gonna work out and now I'm selling it on Ebay. This week is the GDC conference and there will likely be new VR hardware announced. Maybe now is the right time to flip this on Ebay with all the GDC hype.

Update 2:
I've given up on finding a good trade on craigslist. Nobody has the obscure crap that I like for trade. Instead I posted this to Ebay last night and sold it first thing this morning. Now I have the cash for Sony's Project Morpheus once that sees the light of day. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The tapes are free but the box is 10 bucks

I went out on my weekly garage sale crawl a couple weeks ago and found a guy selling a big box of old cassette tapes. Some of them were used blank tapes but most of them were all original store bought tapes featuring popular Rock bands of the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. From experience I recognize that some blank tapes (regardless of if they are used or not) can command good money in the after market. It's a matter of tape quality and if it's metal or not. I honestly don't know the secret to what makes a blank tape desirable but I'm always willing to take the risk. I also know that the original store bought tapes can bring in some money as well if you have enough of them and if rock or metal. Ok, I like this stuff and I'm willing to take it home with me for the right price. Here is how the negotiation went:

Me: How much are the tapes?

Seller: The tapes are free but the box is 10 bucks.

Me: Let me understand what you're saying... you're saying that I can go to my car and get some bags to dump these tapes into and I can take them home for free?

Seller: Yes but the price of the box just went down to 5 bucks.

Me: OK here's 5 bucks.

Flash forward to a couple hours later as I bring the box home. I tell my wife I bought a box of tapes and she laughs at me as I expected. Then she looks at the box and says it's nice and she wants us to keep it. It turns out the box is an old wooden beer crate for Moosehead Beer. It's actually a pretty sweet box now that I think about it!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Star Wars Stuff!

I went to a garage sale and the guy was selling some fun Star Wars statues. These were 1/7 scale ArtFX models by Kotobukiya. All 3 models were still in their original boxes. The first was a Sandtrooper, the second was a Snowtrooper, and the third was a Clone Trooper SDCC exclusive from a few years ago. I think the combined price I payed for all 3 was $45. My original intent was to hawk all 3 on ebay for a couple hundred bucks and buy something else but the Sandtrooper and Snowtrooper were calling to me. I ended up keeping those 2 and setting them up on my desk at work and then selling the Clone Trooper at a swap meet for a few bucks more than I paid for it. I would call this a win win!


Monday, March 3, 2014

House of Cards Against Humanity

Sometimes I don't need to leave the house for a sweet find. On Feburary 14th Netflix and Cards Against Humanity sponsored a short lived 30 minute free giveaway for a 25 card deck of House of Cards Against Humanity. This free giveaway sold out within 30 minutes but I was one of the lucky ones that got the free deck. Now I see that these are selling on Ebay for upwards of $80. Do I keep the deck because I love Cards Against Humanity, or do I sell it to pay for all 4 expansion decks and the bigger blacker box? Decisions!!


Welcome to my new Nerd Trader blog. I have many years of experience collecting/hoarding nerd related stuff and this blog is about those things. My typical weekend involves getting into the car by 8AM and scouring the neighborhoods for garage sales and estate sales. It might sound extreme but it's what I love.