CT's Road Trip, part 2: Escape from the Action Figure Armpit of America

Some men like to fish. I've never understood it really. I've gone fishing before. Not my thing. Or maybe it is and I'm only now realizing it.

I have long enjoyed going out for toy runs. Hitting the Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us action figure aisles can be a blast. There's nothing quite like turning the corner and seeing that the aisle has been reset and there are new figures hanging from the pegs. Still, during my time in central Illinois all those years ago, I remember being incredibly frustrated knowing that new product had hit California or some other area, but it had not worked its way into the Midwest.

When we moved to Tallahassee, I was in the middle of my brief time where I had given up collecting action figures, but that didn't ever stop me from looking. Once I began collecting again, my toy runs returned, and I was disappointed to discover that things had not improved for me. Upon returning to Illinois for this visit, I wanted to go on toy runs again and found that Tallahassee is quite possibly the worst area an action figure collector could live. There are waves of G.I. Joe figures that our stores have never received that were warming the pegs in multitudes at the various stores in Champaign-Urbana. I don't really get why action figure distribution is so broken. I want to be able to buy these things at reasonable prices within my own area. Sadly, that might be too much to ask and contributed to my leaving the collecting scene before and may eventually do so again.

That aside, I figured I'd share my loot. I was able to pick up two G.I. Joes that I had not seen and did not have. First was a Cobra Shock Trooper. I almost picked up two of these guys and in retrospect, kind of wish I did. He comes with a tremendous amount of gear, enough that you could probably pick up several and make them all look somewhat different.

I also picked up Shadow Tracker who is a new character for this line. I haven't been getting too many newer characters, focusing mainly on the characters from my childhood. However, this guy is very reminiscent of the Predator and came in a wave that was very much inspired by that movie. Of course, Predator is the greatest G.I. Joe movie ever made. If the G.I. Joe movie had been half as good as just the stuff with those guys, then it would have been a really good movie. I'd like to think that Predator and G.I. Joe each owe a bit of inspiration to each other, but that may be fanboy wishful thinking.

I wasn't the only one to get some new action figures. We have been picking up these stylized super hero action figures for my son. He recently lost his Superman and has been asking for a Wonder Woman. While on the trip, we saw the new wave that contained a two pack with Superman and Wonder Woman. Also picked up a Batman and Deathstroke.

He has quite a collection of these guys now including several of the Marvel versions. It does look like Marvel is changing their figures from this line. We saw the new ones while in Illinois as well.

Also, for the first time, I saw several DC action figures. This line is very cool and appeals to me because of its homage to the Super Powers line, but at $16+ per figure, I am not going to collect.

I am thinking about picking up the Young Justice line though. The smaller figures are priced at $10 or so and each figure comes with a piece of a "Hall of Justice" backdrop. I would love this backdrop and would sell the figures themselves and keep the Hall pieces. This is a project for a later time as only 4 of the 12 figures are out and there is no telling when all will be out.

I also revisited the closet in my old bedroom and brought back a majority of the pieces from my G.I. Joe Headquarters. This thing is very cool and the newer style Joes fit in it just fine. I hope I just forgot the missing pieces and can one day fully assemble this again.

Finally, while there, I was given a handful of vintage Joe and Star Wars toys that had once belonged to someone I knew a few years back that has since passed away. At some point, I plan to clean these up and figure out a way to sell them. Then I'll donate the money to a diabetes organization of some kind since that was the ultimate cause of this guy's death. If anyone has interest in these vehicles, let me know. I'd love to avoid selling them on ebay since they take such a huge cut of the profit.

All in all, a very fun trip for the toy hunt. I even saw a fellow collector that I knew out doing his own toy hunt. I might have to give him a list of things I'm looking for since I know he's in a better place as far as action figures are concerned.

On Monday, I'll be talking about one specific aspect of my trip...my soda from Jimmy Johns.


Jack said...

I initially thought I couldn't contribute anything to a post about collecting action figures, but maybe I can offer a word about the fishing expedition. From an early age, I built models, first airplanes, then moved through ships, cars, and tanks. Half the joy was in the search. I'd get my allowance, hop on my bike, and start hitting the hobby shops. I had no idea what I was going to get; the oooohs and aaaahs came when I saw what they had to offer. Now I collect music, books, movies, and TV shows. I haven't been to a store for any of this stuff in years. Just type in amazon.com, and there it is, a hundred of the rarest thing you could look for, arranged by price and condition. It makes it all very easy. What I miss is telling my friends what I had to go through to get the latest, greatest acquisition. The internet has taken much of the thrill out of collecting. The scavenger hunt is yet another thing that modern youth has been robbed of by the technology. Sure, if you're rich enough, you can try to acquire the one-of-a-kind things of the world, but the ordinary people among us have lost access to a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Now, if you show a GI Joe to your fellow collector, and tell him you went to Illinois to get it, he's going to look at you like you're the village idiot, and say "What the hell for? Don't you know what a computer is?" Seems to be an axiom: You can't gain something without giving up something. I'm just not sure that what we gave up in this case was worth it...

Christian said...

I'm just glad you're not one of these "keep em' in the packaging" collector guys. You buy because you love and I can appreciate that.

As far as the "stylised" figures go. I really like how they look but I am disappointed in their lack of articulation for playtime. The Marvel Superhero Squad and the Star Wars Galaxy heroes share the same amount of posability. I don't like it. But of course what do I know as my son thinks they're fantastic. Bah!

CT said...

Jack, you make a good point. The internet has made it possible to obtain product from around the nation or even world. It does seem silly to do these toy hunts or check out stores 900 miles away when I can get on ebay and order what I want. I guess the main thing is that I often find myself at Walmart and Target anyway so it's worth hitting the toy aisle while I'm there because their $8/figure price is better than the $15 or more per figure price I'll likely have to spend online, especially considering shipping. When it comes to action figures, even Amazon doesn't have all the answers yet. And there's only one thing more frustrating than buying something online for a bunch of money and then seeing it in the store for half that the next day. (The thing worse than that being seeing something in the store, passing on it, later noticing it's going for tons of money on ebay, deciding you want it, going back for it, and finding it is no longer there.)

Christian, I'm definitely an opener. I went through a brief time a few years back where I kept my figures in the package, but I'd much rather open and display these guys. I love the character choices on these little DC and Marvel figures. My two-year-old already knows the names of several obscure characters. He's building up some solid nerd DNA right now.