Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It's A Kind Of Magic

Now that things have finally settled in my move and I have my toy room all set up it's time to get back into some photos.

In this Blogger's personal opinion, he was the lead singer of the greatest band of all time.

Their albums span twenty-two years, starting with their self titled debut and ending with a posthumous album - A tribute to their lead singer.

Though Freddie Mercury tragically died of AIDS in 1991, he remains a legacy.

I had my eyes on NECA's Freddie Mercury figure for the longest time, but didn't pick one up until just recently. However, as the figure was in transit from the seller to me I had this thought in my head. I wanted to pose the figure with a piano. Something which would not be achievable in a very display friendly way with NECA's all but statue version. As such, when it arrived I decided to keep it in the package and continue my search.

That's when I found a fantastic version from Bandai / SH Figurarts. This thing boasted a ton of articulation from head to toe and I knew it would work perfectly - Which are the loose photos shown here today.

This figure has articulation in the neck, breast bone, shoulder, bicep, elbow, wrists, stomach, waist, knees, ankles and even toes. In short, if you can think of a pose, you can get this figure into it.

If that wasn't enough, it also features several interchangeable heads and hands as well as two microphones - One on a stand and one without. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this. While the heads easily change out, the hands are a tad more difficult. It took me about five to ten minutes to get the two on that I wanted for posing which is why you won't see any other photos beyond the one above showing the various hands. I didn't dare bother fighting with them to change them around again.

For those of you unfamiliar with Queen, this particular version of Freddie is based on the 1986 Magic Tour which is most notably remembered for its Wembley Stadium venue - A great concert in its own right. It shows the group at their height of popularity and unfortunately their last concert series due to Freddie's illness.

As I mentioned above, I wanted Freddie to be displayed with a piano. The problem was I didn't know where to find one. At first I looked at wooden doll furniture versions, but these were going to cost me two to three times more than I paid for the figure. So, those were quickly out of the question. I then looked at a Barbie piano from 1984, but knowing Barbie was ten to twelve inches tall knew this too probably wasn't the best solution for this figure.

Then I stumbled upon this purple piece...

This piano came packed in with Chelsea, Barbie's younger sister. Okay, this was a start in the right direction, but would it be compatible with Freddie? A quick Google search answered that question. Chelsea stands five and a half inches high - The exact same height as this figure. A match made in plastic heaven.

When I initially purchased it I thought I would at least paint it to match a real piano. However, I have to be honest and say the purple color with Freddie's yellow and white clothing really work great together. So, I decided to leave it as is.

The perfect backdrop for this figure to be displayed with is a fantastic record I recently scored; Queen's Sheer Heart Attack...

...Autographed by the band (hopefully). This one is on my list to get PSA certified and I have to be honest and say at a glance it looks pretty legit. I've been able to find signatures on other memorabilia which looks dead on to the ones on this record. The seller also didn't bat an eye when I told him I was going to get it PSA certified. In fact, he took it a step further and said, "You should look into a more reputable autograph authenticator (not a real word apparently). PSA is all opinion based while people who specialize in this field do a handwriting analysis." He also provided a thorough write up of how the autograph was obtained and by who. Typically when you mention getting something authenticated to someone selling fakes they pull the plug and cancel the sale on the spot.

Here's a closer look at those beautiful signatures;

What do you think? Legit?

I'll let everyone know what the verdict is.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Game Watch (Nelsonic)

Game Watch
1981 - 1999

Nelsonic began producing wrist watch games as early as 1981, and during its existence dominated the market with pop-culture themed wrist watches marketed towards children and young adults. Though their first watches only incorporated features such as LCD screens, calculators and alarms, the company quickly saw the value of video games. This led to the idea of incorporating simply games into their wrist watches. The combination proved lucrative, and Nelsonic became the first company in the United States to produce video game based watches.

With success in their pockets, and a product with high demand, Nelsonic was able to get the attention of video game developers as well as big name toy franchises. This led to the licensing and development of game watches based on Pac-Man (1982), Frogger (1983), Q*Bert (1983), G.I. Joe (1990) , Barbie and more - Some of which were not based on any brand, but more so just generic themes such as baseball, black jack and racecar.

Kids of all ages loved the idea of not only having a wrist watch, but one that also played video games on it. We can only imagine many watches made their way to school, and in a lot of cases quickly got confiscated by teachers for causing a disruption to class.

In 1989, Nelsonic made a deal with Nintendo to produce game watches based on two of their most popular franchises for the Nintendo Entertainment System - Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.

Knowing that boys and girls of all ages were big into gaming, Nelsonic had the forsite to market these all new game watches to everyone via multiple colors. Each plastic game watch was available in black, white, pink or red. This ensured there was a watch for just about anyone.

 In 1990 Nelsonic was purchased by watch-making giant M.Z. Berger. Under their tutelage, Nelsonic continued to produce game watches based on Nintendo products - Their most popular being the versions of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Tetris. Much like the prior watches, these too were produced in multiple colors.

 The company followed up by producing watches based on properties such as Donkey Kong and Star Fox - Which were both major successes for the Super Nintendo console. This time however, Nelsonic did away with the multi color theme, and simply produced black plastic watches.

Handheld gaming became more and more popular with gamers as industry giants such as Nintendo and Sega introduced their own handheld "consoles". This led to a rapid advancement in technology for the devices. Unfortunately for Nelsonics, they were not able to compete with their simplistic designs. The end result was a wain in popularity for the "primitive" game watch. This ultimately led to the company being closed in 1999.

Per the nature of all things pop-culture, when children of the 80's grew up they longed for the things of the past. This brought about the resurgence of popularity in Nelsonics game watches - Not that the company started producing new ones, but rather that these children now adults started seeking out the older ones. This in turn spiked a major price boom on secondary markets. Some of the watches can set collectors back as much as $500.00 for a loose one in working condition. Needless-to-say, if you're looking for any of these you're going to need to come to the party with a bag of cash.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Toys, Toys, Toys....And CD's....Mostly CD's

Typically Dave Hart doesn't hold a toy show in Timonium, Maryland during March. Rather, the norm is one in July and another in December. So, when I heard about this oddball March event I naturally had to plan to be there.

As usual I started my visit at Mr. CD Guy - Obviously not his real name, and nabbed up several CD's. This time I was even smart enough to bring my own box to pack them in. I'll admit it. I'm not proud of everything I grabbed today...


In fact, in hind site, I can honestly say a good 50% - 60% of what I actually brought home with me could have stayed at the show and I would have had zero remorse of leaving it behind. But, when dollar CD's come calling I grab, grab, grab...And again, end up with things like the above.

Well okay, that may be the least desirable (to me) in what I came home with. However, the other items ranged from great to decent to listenable.

Of course you know I went for all things 80's. Unfortunately, I have so many 80's CD's that at this point I'm scraping the bottom of barrels in what I'm finding. Don't get me wrong, it's good (or decent) stuff. However, it's not the classics - Because I already own all of that stuff.

I know none of the songs on the ABC, Cure, Bonham or Yaz albums. I picked up the majority of them because they are bands from the era I know of. The only exception was Bonham which I had never heard of.

Fine Young Cannibals is actually an album I owned already, but it was so scratched up it doesn't play very well - That's what you get for a quarter at the thrift shop. I was happy to replace it for just a buck with all the great songs on it.

Bad English is the album with When I See You Smile and the Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam album actually has a couple good songs on it - Head to Toe and Lost in Emotion.

Since I'm running out of 80's music to buy, I've been looking a little into 90's stuff. I know a fair amount of it having been in high school during the early 90's. However, while I tolerate it, I really don't care for much of it.

Still, I thought maybe there are some gems out there I don't know about from the bands I'd heard of and listed to here and there. With this thought in mind I grabbed a few things to see if they pique my interest.

That moment you get when you realize you have a handful of Counting Crows CD's in your hand, but really wanted Black Crowes. Oops. Because I knew the guy would cut me a deal (as he always does) when I was done I didn't bother correcting this mistake. Instead, I just grabbed the Black Crowes CD's and threw them into the pile too. Besides, Counting Crows has a couple good songs I know. Around Here and Mr. Jones come to mind.

I ended up with a fair mix of bands; Black Crowes (obviously), Bush, Coldplay (honestly don't know who these guys are...Probably some whiny emos), Counting Crows (unfortunately), Marilyn Manson (actually one of my favorites), No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jon Secada (I want to say I know who this is for a specific song, but I can't remember), Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots and for some odd reason, Wilson Phillips.

I also ended up with a fair amount of albums from singers / bands I kept up with in the 80's but who fell off my radar in the 90's and beyond. Much like my last trip to Timonium, I've been making it a point to check out some of these folks later stuff to see if it's any good. I also nabbed a couple classics missing from my collection.

Janet Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, They Might Be Giants, Phil Collins and The B-52's were a part of this selection (just to name a few).

I didn't even know Paula Abdul had more than two albums. I'm going to take a giant leap here and guess her 1995 entry, Head Over Heels is just as awful as her prior stuff. Don't get me wrong. She had hits back in the day. They just haven't aged well.

Then of course there were some finds of the true icons such as Aerosmith, The Doors, Eagles, Pink Floyd and a few others.

I don't often dabble in the 60's and 70's stuff, but I can appreciate a classic hit or two here and there. Heck, I'll even go as far back as the 40's and 50's - Such as the Buddy Holly album seen in the photo. If I'm in the right mood I can listen to that kind of stuff all day.

Of course you know I'm not grabbing a bunch of CD's and leaving the soundtracks untouched. I honestly wish I could have done better in this department, but I'm not sad with what I walked away with. My hope was to at the least find several more Disney soundtracks for the animated classics, but unfortunately I only found one - Brother Bear.

I love how the Chariots of Fire soundtrack has an explicit lyrics sticker on it. Clearly it's not the original case, but it's too funny. I'm definitely keeping the sticker on there. For those of you who aren't aware, Chariots of Fire's soundtrack is all instrumental. There are no words in it - Let alone explicit ones.

I'm not big on rap music, and yes I know many of you who are will crucifying me for even considering these CD's I'm about to show you as such, but I do like a few hippity hop style stuff from the 90's. You know - White boy stuff like MC Hammer, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, C & C Music Factory and Technotronic.

Please don't throw rocks at me.

I don't know what a Blackstreet (the CD in the back left of the above photo) is and I suppose it wouldn't help my case if I said honestly that I thought it said Back Street when first grabbing it. As in Back Street Boys (see my shame all the way at the top of this post).

Okay, seriously, I don't even know any Back Street Boys or Brittany Spears songs. I do know that they were all the rage a while ago and that's why I picked them up. I figured there had to be something to them.

Speaking of throwing rocks at me...

Look, I won't condone or condemn the accusations against Bill Cosby right now, but I will say this. The Bill Cosby I know growing up was hysterical. So yeah, I picked up the two CD's of his I found.

Guess what? They're still funny.

Going back to my comments above about high school and 90's music, one of the things that was beaten into my eardrums by my mother during this time was Garth Brooks. Every weekend, Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks.

The end result of this brutal punishment was that I actually know and some what like some of his music. When I saw a handful of his CD's sitting there I went ahead and picked them up. I'm actually surprised to find I am missing five additional studio CD's from him. I didn't realize he made that many albums.

The last bit of CD's I nabbed up were more so geared towards my sister who continues to pilfer music from me. She is big into Broadway tunes so I figured, why not. I'll grab all the ones I find and see if they suit her fancy.

I can't honestly say that I know all of these shows.

That wraps up my CD haul from Timonium, but it certainly wasn't the end of my day. Remember, that was the first table I went to.

Toy wise, I was looking for quite a few things. Blaster and Soundwave from Hasbro's Transformer's line, am original Rambo from Coleco, Kitt and Michael Knight from Kenner, a couple Buck Roger's Mego figures (the 3 3/4 line), 30 / 30 from Bravestarr, McDonald's Changeables, any Karate Kid figures from the final waves, Batman and Superman from Kenner's Super Powers (thanks to Bill) and of course another batch of G.I. Joe figures...Well, Cobra figures from the G.I. Joe line.

There were three specific Cobra figures I was looking for. Crimson Guard, Zartan and Firefly. I lucked out on two of the three.

 Crimson Guard


Since I couldn't find Zartan I went ahead and grabbed a few more that were in the back of my mind.

 Major Bludd


 Cobra Commander (Silver Suit)

Snow Serpent

Not a bad haul of Cobras, huh? For now, I've definitely decided on focusing on Cobras and skipping on the good guys. Sure, there are a fair amount of Joes I'm interested in, but the Cobra characters are just so much cooler.

While I was able to find a Soundwave, it was missing the missile launcher. Because of this I passed on it. Fortunately the table across from where I found this had Blaster - 100% complete.

I wanted to get some of the cassette Transformers to put inside the tape deck and pose around him, but I wasn't going to pay $20.00 a piece for them. Not when Blaster was only $40.00.

While I was looking through all the CD's, my better half wandered around looking for McDonald's Happy Meal toys in hopes of finding me some Changeables. She was able to find about eight of them, but at $3.00 a piece with no wiggle room from the seller I wasn't about to buy the ones that weren't sealed in bags / unplayed with. As such I was only able to nab three of them.

Side note - She also ran into Brian from Cool and Collected, but sadly he and I never seemed to cross paths during the show.

Still, with these three on top of the ones I found at the DC Big Flea I'm two shy of completing the Dinosaur set. 

The set is coming along nicely, huh?

I have to say I like these far better in their McDonald's products form and really appreciate them for what they are. They represent a great nostalgic era when McDonalds actually had specific packages for each of its items vs. the very generic paper and cardboard boxes they now use.

I walked away with a ton of great stuff today, but sadly didn't get to put that big of a dent in my actual list. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ecstatic with what I got. Okay, sure, there are some CD's noted above which could have been left behind, but hey, they have a good home now and will be taken care of.

Rambo almost made his way home with me, but I simply wasn't willing to pay $40.00 for a carded figure I was going to rip open when I got home. It didn't help that when I made mention of this to the dealer that his response was, "Well that's not really my problem, now is it?" Jerk.

I do think I'm going to skip the next Dave Hart show though. I saw a lot of the same stuff the vendors were trying to sell off in December and I think they need some time to disperse and replenish in order to really make the show pack a punch.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Perfect Example Of Why I Won't Go Digital

You want to see a perfect reason why I won't go digital?
This photo here is why I won't.

"But this is just four random CD's," you say.

Correction. This is four random CD's I paid twenty-five cents each for at a local thrift shop. Why buy digital when you can own the physical media for such a cheap price (and then transfer to digital media yourself)?

Let's break this down even further. Okay, sure I get it. There are probably only one in 100,000 people (if even) who would actually want the soundtrack from the television series Dinosaurs. But, guess what? You can't get it on iTunes. So right there my quarter was well spent.

Chris Isaak and the two soundtracks probably have a broader audience who would want them. Again though - Twenty five cents for Chris Isaak's Heart Shaped World on CD or $9.99 on iTunes. Tarzan on iTunes? $7.99. Charlie's Angel soundtrack on iTunes? Another $9.99.

Sorry, but if I am going to pay those kinds of prices for digital media, then I'll take the real deal all the time. $1.06 (tax of six cents) for four CD's vs. $27.97 for digital versions - And again, coudn't even get one of the four albums via digital distribution. Seems like a no brainer to me. Physical media for the win.

Let's not forget the obvious caveat to all of this as well - I actually own these albums now and am not just renting them.

"But storage," you argue.

My CD rack is two feet long by two feet wide and five and a half feet high and holds about 1,500 CD's. Trust me, that two feet area it sits isn't taking up that much space - and it looks a whole lot more appealing than a list of digital files on a screen.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

A Farewell To Toys R' Us

The final blow has been struck against Toys R' Us and every location will soon be closing across the globe. As the corporate office scrambled to restructure the company, the damage was already done and the final nails already hammered into the coffin.

It's true the heydays of Toys R' Us have long since been lost in the past. Toy isles today simply aren't what they used to be. The magic of going to the store has long since been gone - At least for this Blogger.

I remember going to Toys R' Us in the 1980's and finding a treasure trove of toys - Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, Silver Hawks, Go-Bots, M.A.S.K., Cops n' Crooks, Nintendo cartridges, Bravestarr, Madballs, M.U.S.C.L.E.S., WWF, Barnyard Commandos, Food Fighters, Police Academy, Cowboys of Moo-Mesa, Inhuminoids, Sectaurs, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (just to name a few) and more! It was magical, it was fun and it was exciting all at the same time. Back in those days it was awful to hear those dreaded words from your parents, "Pick one." How could they think this was even possible when every toy isle was filled to the brim with figures, vehicles and playsets?

However, these days I can easily walk in and out of a Toys R' Us in under ten minutes confident there was nothing at all worth buying. In fact, I dare say it's more so a chore to go and certainly not fun. What was once an experience of excited squeals of, "What will I find today?" became a bored, "Is there anything worth buying?" The isles were never stocked, the stores generally a mess and peg warmers a plenty strewn about with all the desirable stuff long gone by local scalpers.

The further downward spiral of this is what will happen to companies such as Hasbro, Mattel and to a lesser extent Funko, NECA and McFarlane Toys (as well as all the rest)? Who will sell their toys now? With the loss of Toys R' Us, these companies lose their biggest customer in the industry. Target and Walmart have very limited space for toys and make it a point to only stock popular items guaranteed to sell.

So what's the option? Amazon? No way. As a collector I can tell you I will absolutely not buy any collectible via mail order unless it's through ebay with thorough photos of every side of the box - Even if I intend on opening it. The last thing I want is a figure that looks like someone curb stomped it before sending it off.

Personally, I see this as a great opportunity for the return of the mom and pop store. All of these toy producers are in a bad spot which leaves a perfect opportunity for negotiated prices to potential dealers. If companies like Hasbro and Mattel were smart, they would start embracing this option sooner rather than later.

In a way there is also another good side to this. It forces said toy producers to focus on good quality toys which are all but guaranteed to sell. They can't produce three hundred thousand random peg warmers and only one hundred thousand of the popular character everyone wants. Those who would be willing to stock their toys would shut that nonsense down quickly when faced with a ton of merchandise they can't sell. Like I said, all the negotiation power is in the hands of the few retailers who can dictate the future of toys and will hopefully do so for the positive.

Is it sad to see Toys R' Us go? Honestly, not really. For me the store has been dead and gone for quite a few years at this point. I can't tell you the last thing I bought from them or even when. For me I've already been visiting a grave site for years. Now I'm to the point where it's time to stop going by and simply move on to bigger better things.

If you're someone who has a Toys R' Us gift card, use it now. The store is only accepting them through mid April 2018.

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