Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Days of the Dead Atlanta Part 4: The Terrible Toys of Professor Plunder

This is it, people! The home stretch. The last official part of my Days of the Dead Atlanta 2012 recap. It’s entirely possible I’ll have the review of Dear God No! up tomorrow, but I’m not sure. I really need to bank some toy reviews, so I may not have time.
There’s not all that much to talk about for the last Day of the Dead. I’m not sure I’ll even hit 1000 words on this one. Well, I will; I’m just not sure how much I’m going to have to stretch it out.

Check out was at 11 AM. Normally this would not be a big deal, but that stupid aberration known as Daylight Savings Time went into effect on Sunday, meaning the time was technically 10 AM. We lost an hour of sleep/recovery time. But we managed to get up in plenty of time to shower and pack and whatever else. Once we had the car loaded we went back in to make one last sweep of the con. We didn’t want to take too long, though, because if it got to be too late we’d get roped into helping Monkey pack up. I may be a good friend, but I’m not a great friend.
I think both of us were just kind of done with the con, which is usually what happens on the morning of the last day. Well, for me anyway. For Mrs. Troublemaker it’s usually around the evening of the first day, so as far as she is concerned Days of the Dead has to be considered a success. For my wife to be entertained for three days is nothing short of astonishing, although a lot of the credit goes to the folks we were hanging out with. Everybody was cool and nobody was a jackass. Well, other than me. Nah – I think I even behaved for the most part.
There was a panel with Sid Haig and Bill Moseley at noon, but I just couldn’t muster up the excitement to go. Nothing that happened at that panel was going to be cooler than actually meeting those guys and then getting that picture of them in the restaurant.
We stopped by Monkey’s booth one last time to say goodbye and then went over to the secondary Dealer Room. The one with the single best dealer I have ever seen at a con in my life. That’s right. It is now finally time to discuss
Galaxy of Junk!
We first stopped by this place on Friday. I had passed it while just wandering around and saw the USS Flagg. I didn’t go in because the rooms were not technically open yet and even though I was helping a dealer I didn’t want to overstep my bounds. Later on Monkey told me he had gone in there and the place had a ton of old, loose toys for cheap. He also said they had a bunch of Power of the Jedi figures for cheap. This was good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) because Lil’ Troublemaker is transitioning into larger Star Wars figures, but doesn’t care about sculpt and articulation and stuff (yet). He just has his list of characters he wants.
After me and the missus toured the first Dealer Room we went across the hall to the one where Galaxy of Junk was located. The first dealer in there was a guy with a ton of reasonably priced posters. I actually meant to buy a couple of things from him – the Van Gogh exploding TARDIS and a Batman/Joker one – but never got around to it.
And then there was Galaxy of Junk. Much like Billy’sToys, this place was pure crack for a toy collector. Let me start with the best thing about this place: everything was priced. Never mind that it was all priced fairly - some stuff was even a steal. But the fact that every single item either had a price or was in a bin with a price on the front was outstanding. I am so tired of dealers who don’t price anything and try to gauge your (or worse, your child’s) interest in order to quote you a price. Those people are scum and I hate dealing with them. I don’t unless it happens to be something I really, really want. I know that’s a pretty lame stance, but man – when you find a 1968 Marx Gillman you buy that fucking Gillman (I’m not sure that’s an actual toy, I just couldn’t come up with a really good example).
Sometime soon I’ll write up the Joelanta convention we just went to. Everybody at that things was one of those dealers. Seriously – you had to ask about every damn item there. As a matter of fact – not to get too far off topic – there was this one douche at Joelanta with a bin full of loose Star Wars figures. Naturally Lil’ Troublemaker went over and started digging through them. Mrs. Troublemaker asked the guy standing there how much the figures in the bin were. The guy goes, “Oh, they’re all different. Just ask me.” And before I could say, “That’s ridiculous, we’re not buying anything from this guy,” my wife told our son to come on, that we weren’t going to be buying anything there.
Side note: I totally forgot a minor anecdote from Friday night. I was in the public restroom by the bar area – the first and last time I went in there – and there was an awful lot of sniffing going on. I’m pretty sure somebody was busy doing a line of Staying Awake. I even posted something on Twitter about it. Anyway, I stopped to wash my hands before I left and this other guy that was walking out complimented me on it. He said I must be some kind of great person because I was washing my hands. And he meant it. Nice.
So Galaxy of Junk was rad.
That Flagg was the first thing I saw, but the second thing; the thing that could well be considered the most significant toy find of my life, was this:
No, not the He-Man tray, thought that is pretty awesome (I would have bought it if that little shit, Orko wasn’t on it). I’m talking about the Star Fortress.
The fucking Star Fortress.
That thing has haunted my dreams for years, man. Let me tell you something, Phantomaniacs – seeing that vinyl and cardboard polygon sitting on top of the shelf made my heart skip a beat. It is the single most exciting toy find I’ve made. And I didn’t even buy it.
Before I get too much further, let me explain. I know toys fairly well. I’m pretty good with identifying things (from my lifetime) off the top of my head, and with a little research I can figure out almost any toy. But I had this one thing from my childhood that I remembered with crystal clarity. It was a vinyl and cardboard Mego-style playset with a little door in the front. It was about the right size for 3 ¾” figures. I took it everywhere because it doubled as a storage case and a vehicle. I could picture all the graphics on it and describe it in detail, but nobody ever knew what it was. The closest I got (until Friday at the con) was talking to one dealer and figuring out it was probably a Sears or JC Penny exclusive item. There were all kinds of department store exclusives that were Star Wars knockoffs in the late 70’s and early 80’s and it was likely one of those.
It turned out we were right. It was part of the Star Fortress. What you see in the picture up there is the outer case. It folds out into a sort of moon base diorama. The smaller capsule – the part I remembered – snapped onto a pad at the end of a moon road. The set also came with a number of cut-and-fold cardboard props. Amazingly, the set that Galaxy of Junk had still had those pieces. The thing was pretty darn pristine.
As soon as I saw it I knew what it was and remembered the thing as a whole. The guy that was there shared my enthusiasm for the curious item. He pulled it down and opened it so I could check it out. I really wanted to take pictures, but I felt like I shouldn’t do that if I wasn’t going to buy it.
And no – I had no intentions of buying the Star Fortress. The price was a steal as far as I was concerned, but I just don’t need the thing. Much less have anywhere to put it. It was enough finally finding out what it was. The guy explained that it was, indeed, a Sears exclusive and that he had had a heck of a time figuring out just what the heck it was. It’s really a beautiful toy and one that I’d be happy to own if I were a more serious or vintage collector.
But the magic of Galaxy of Junk hardly stopped with the Star Fortress. Those guys had an absolutely amazing selection of loose 80’s toys in conditions that ranged from fair to great. They had Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, Shogun Warriors, M.A.S.K., and even a couple of Centurions. And of course, a good selection of Masters of the Universe and Princess of Power. There were two items from those lines that held particular interest for me.
I saw the first one on Friday. It was a Castle Grayskull playset from the original line and it appeared to be in very good condition. There were some little specks of dirt sort of speckled all over it, but other than that it looked nice. The drawbridge was intact and there was no major paint scuffing. More out of curiosity than any real intent to purchase I reached up and flipped the price tag over and couldn’t believe what I saw: $30. That seemed crazy to me. Mrs. Troublemaker had found a Snake Mountain playset in the box for sixty a few months earlier, but I couldn’t justify that for something that would essentially be a backdrop for my MOTUC collection. Especially a fairly inaccurate secondary location. But thirty bucks for the iconic centerpiece of Eternian lore? Probably.
I asked one of the guys there if I could take it down and look at it and he enthusiastically urged me to take it down and open it up. I moved all of the figures that were posed around the playset and brought it down to the floor, almost giddy. I have never actually seen a Castle Grayskull in person. It was a big deal to be handling one, let alone contemplating a purchase. I opened it up and all the latches were tight and intact. The drawbridge functioned well. There were a couple of bags of parts inside that seemed to comprise most of the accessories – even a couple of weapons and the weapons rack. The trapdoor was there but didn’t catch and the throne didn’t seem to do whatever it was supposed to do. But for my purposes there was more than enough Castle Grayskull here. I was already envisioning it on the shelf behind my MOTUC figures, opened up with the exterior displayed. I’d have to pull out the floor inside anyway in order to push it up against the wall. Done. I bought it on the spot.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Troublemaker was picking out Star Wars figures for our son. I’m not gonna lie – Lil’ Troublemaker is pretty spoiled. Having a couple of toy enthusiasts as parents means that we are both all over current toys and any sort of want list he may have. I am actually pretty good about saving stuff for later – Christmas, birthday, whatever – but my wife has no patience. If I’m not there she’ll just dump everything she buys right on him at once.
So Galaxy of Junk had a ton of carded Power of the Force figures priced at 4 for $10 and 10 for $20. On Friday alone the best mommy in the world picked out twenty Star Wars figures for our son. She insisted we go ahead and give him a young Boba Fett because he really wanted that one and I swiped a reclining Chewbacca to go in my Millennium Falcon (I have a new project where I’m trying to crew the Falcon. It makes me sad for it to be just sitting there empty). The rest I convinced her we need to save for later.
Oh, and the other item of interest I mentioned above is this monstrosity:
That is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. It looks like She-Ra and her friends captured this winged giant, hollowed out her back like a fucking living canoe, and made a flying boat out of her. It’s just plain sick.
Galaxy of Junk was just overwhelming. We spent a lot of time and money there over the course of the weekend. Later on I got a 12” Boba Fett from 1979 with an eye scope like the Six Million Dollar Man figure. It was awesome. When we went back on Sunday I asked if they minded me taking pictures for a write-up. As I was taking them I told Mrs. Troublemaker it was going to be a real bummer when I went back and looked at the pictures and noticed things I had missed, and I was right.
Here’s a few things that I didn’t even see while we were there:
  • Hasbro WWF figures
  • The Slime Pit
  • American Maid from The Tick
Not too bad, but there’s probably more. There was a whole wire spinner rack with hundreds of bagged figures that I never got around to examining.
On our way out we ran into Wilson, Virginia Ham, and Lumpy. I wish we could have stayed and hung out but we were just done by then. Besides, I don’t think I could have handled the raw sexual tension that apparently occurred between Virginia Ham and Laurence Harvey.
I also stopped to speak to Professor Morte on the way to the lobby. He once again extended the offer for me to be part of MCW and I once again had to say I couldn’t really do much. I want very badly to do anything I can with Monstrosity Championship Wrestling, but I just have too much going on as it is and my work schedule just isn’t at all flexible. There’s no way I can commit to something like that.
Come back tomorrow, though, and I’ll tell you all about something I did end up committing to. It’s a big fucking deal and it’s all about Doctor Who. Maybe I’ll get around to Dear God No! on Friday.

-Phantom

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