Monday, August 28, 2006

Octopunk's JLU collection is looking to kick your ass

On my way home from Wine Country this weekend, I swung by the usual haunts and found the TRU exclusive 3-pack with J-Lord Hawkgirl -- and since they also had one J-Lord 3-pack with Wonder Woman I decided to just eat it and buy the lot. The back of the Hawkgirl blister card has pics of all the combos I posted below, and also Huntress, available with Batman and the Atom (annoying).

And as if that weren't enough for the weekend, last night I scored this gray Amazo fig off eBay for only 10 bucks with shipping. Score!

So the old figures I still need are...

Booster Gold
Black Canary, except she kinda sucks

Friday, August 25, 2006

New JLU 3-packs to delight and enrage you

I was poking around eBay today and found a bunch of new JLU figures I've never seen in real life. From the exorbitant prices they were offering, I'd say these are still pretty new. Of course there is a big burn, which is the Justice Lords Hawkgirl, who comes in a TRU exclusive 3-pack with THE SAME TWO figures as the first Justice Lords 3-pack. So in order to get both the J-Lords Wonder Woman and the J-Lords Hawkgirl, you'll have to double up on J-Lord Supes and Bats. Which is especially discouraging because moments before I discovered this I decided I needed to get that original 3-pack. After looking at the J-Lord Flash, GL and Manhunter I bet you'll feel the same. I want the whole evil League., from which I pulled most of these images, also offered pre-orders for the Etrigan 3-pack and the 3-pack containing the Ray, both of which ship in October. Toywiz's markups are far to high to consider.

Still no sign of Vigilante.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New stuff to check out! Ben 10

Imagine my surprise during my toy hunt on Friday when I found a whole new action figure line that was worth my attention. The cartoon is called Ben 10, and seems to be about this kid who can turn into any one of ten different aliens. The toys came in a couple formats: six-inch figures, six-inch figures with vehicles, and four-inch figures. The four-inch series was called “the Alien Series,” which includes all ten alien variations. I went for these because the six-inchers had discouraging action features that overdominated the look of the toys themselves. It also helped that the smaller ones were only $4.99 each. I picked up the two pictured here. Both are solid, well-jointed and stand up quite well, even when their big hands are raised in front of them (I suspect the drawing style of the toon favors big hands, a number of the characters got ‘em). I especially recommend Greymatter (above) because he comes with a tiny PVC that’s a baby version of himself.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Which way does the wind blow for hot collectibles?

By John Waggoner, USA TODAY
Next time you're poking around Grandpa's barn for anti-ques, try looking on the roof instead. Antique weather vanes are some of the hottest collectibles on the market.
But you don't need a weather vane to know which way the wind is blowing in the collectibles market these days. Baseball bats, psychedelic posters and even Transformers toys are all hot items. Can't afford a Babe Ruth game bat? Consider stashing away a few items that are popular today, in hopes that they'll be hot in 2026. We have one (hyphenated) word for you: Spider-Man.

PHOTO GALLERY: Collectible weather vanes

Tapping a vane

Interest in collectibles, from antique furniture to baseball cards, has been soaring, thanks in large part to Internet exchanges like eBay. But even though you can sell just about anything online, keep in mind that just because something is old doesn't mean it's valuable. Grandpa's stuffed blowfish isn't going to sell, unless you package it with something more attractive.

So what makes a collectible collectible?

•Origin. You could sell a stuffed blowfish if Elvis kept it on his nightstand. It will certainly sell if Elvis signed it.

•Condition. Collectibles are worth more if they're in pristine condition. Toys, for example, should be in unopened boxes, preferably with shrink-wrap still on the boxes. Scratches, dents or ham-fisted repairs slash the value of antique furniture. And you should never clean an old coin or tape an old letter.

•Popularity. A few years ago, people could finance a trip to space by trading Beanie Babies. Though there's still a lively market in the stuffed toys, Beanie Baby prices are teenier now.

Of course, some collectibles never go out of style. Chippendale or Queen Anne furniture, for example, are the equivalents of blue-chip stocks, says Sotheby's expert Leslie Keno. "People battle it out for these pieces," Keno says. A 1755 Queen Anne armchair, for example, is expected to fetch $500,000 to $1 million at auction Oct. 7.

But Americana isn't just furniture. Consider weather vanes. A weather vane in the shape of a locomotive sold for $1.2 million in Manchester, N.H., this month. (It had adorned the top of a Rhode Island train station.) Another in the shape of the goddess of Liberty sold for about $1 million in January.

Weather vanes appeal to collectors because they hearken back to a simpler time, says Nancy Druckman, senior vice president for the American Folk Art Department at Sotheby's. Even though many were mass-produced, they were made from hand-carved models or templates. The best ones are works of art in their own right.

"They were made to be seen from a great distance and are very powerful visually," Druckman says.

Similarly, memorabilia from baseball's golden age tends to hold appeal even though not too many people alive today ever saw Babe Ruth hold a bat.

"Babe Ruth cards or Willie Mays bats aren't growing on trees anymore," says Joe Orlando, president of PSA/DNA Authentication Services, which verifies authenticity of collectibles.

"The market for that kind of material has never been better."

That '70s stuff

If you can't afford a weather vane or a Queen Anne chair, you still have a whole world of collectibles available to you. Look for items that recall the more immediate past.

Harry Rinker, host of Whatcha Got?, a syndicated call-in radio show about anti-ques and collectibles, says many collectibles, particularly toys, become valuable two or three decades after they're made. After 20 years or so, Rinker says, the people who grew up with those toys become nostalgic for their youth — and by then they have the money to spend on collectibles.

For the baby boomers, born 1946 to 1964, it's space toys, says Karen O'Brien, editor of O'Brien's Collecting Toys. Consider the mechanized robot toy inspired by the 1956 science-fiction classic Forbidden Planet. A battery-operated robot, sometimes called Robby the Robot, from TN Co. of Japan is worth $4,500 or more, O'Brien says.

Generation X-ers wax nostalgic for Transformers, robots that change from mechanized animals to mechanized battle-bots and later combine to form large mechanized battle-bots.

Transformers were launched in 1984.

"They were expensive toys then, and it's hard to find one still in the box," O'Brien says.

Kids got them and ripped them right out of the box. A 1987 boxed set of five Transformers — Lightspeed, Nosecone, Scattershot, Afterburner and Strafe — is worth about $550, she says. A Transformers movie, due out next year, could combine to make Transformer memorabilia even bigger.

Appliances from the 1970s are hot, too, Rinker says. "It's all about avocado, autumn harvest, rust — all those god-awful colors," he says.

Sports fans are bidding up prices of 1970s-era baseball players. Fans from the 1970s are looking for cards and memorabilia from such players as George Brett and Pete Rose, Orlando says.

Slightly older boomers are bidding up prices for posters from San Francisco's Fillmore Ballroom into the thousands.

"They're through the roof," Rinker says.

Nostalgia isn't just for U.S. investors. Thanks to a rising economy, Russian collectors are bidding up old Russian gold coins, says Tom Michael, market analyst for the Standard Catalog of World Coins. In fact, prices have gotten out hand, he says.

"They have to come down," Michael says. "I can't see them as sustainable now."

Tomorrow's anti-ques

Let's say you don't have the budget for a $500,000 weather vane. And you really hate toasters with daisies on them. What can you put away now that will be collectible later?

Check out what kids are playing with now. Bratz dolls, for example, are replacing Barbies as icons of plastic pulchritude. If you buy one for your niece, consider tucking one away for yourself.

Or consider going with an old favorite: Spider-Man. Thanks to the recent Spider-Man movies, the web-slinger is popular with kids once again, Rinker says.

O'Brien says Superman toys also endure. The Man of Steel made his debut in 1938, so many people alive today have grown up with him, she says. The TV series Smallville has brought Superman to a new generation as a teen hero.

Another potentially hot collectible: The Most Wanted card deck that the U.S. produced shortly after the invasion of Iraq, says Michael, who is also co-editor of Coins and Currencies of the Middle East. Look for the ones originally issued to soldiers. Eventually, they could be worth $50 or $60 apiece, up from about $10 now.

Anything you buy now for investment later is purely speculative, Rinker notes.

People may wax nostalgic for Lost in Space, but if you collected Mr. Ed memorabilia, they were probably best left in the barn. But if you have a barn, take good care of the weather vane.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Skinny Puppy - Assimilate

Wow, check out Skinny Puppy performing "Assimilate". It never occured to me that they performed live.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006



X-Wing has a new hat, er, I mean swamp mess

Hmmmm, the swamp creature is interesting...

Lego Scoop

No pictures available yet, but they're coming.

Droids Battle Pack (7654) - EUR 12.99
Clone Troopers Battle Pack (7655) - EUR 12.99
General Grievous’ Starfighter (7656) - EUR 25.99
AT-ST (7657) - EUR 24.99
Y-wing Fighter (7658) - EUR 45.99
Imperial Landing Craft (7659) - EUR 64.99

Woo Hoo! Octopunk's last box arrives

I mailed four boxes to myself when I was in RI last month; the first three arrived the following week and the fourth one took three weeks to get here. And the gorillas managed to break the casing on my Cuisinart, dammit! And I don't care how gay that sounds.

The good news is my toys all arrived safely, including the glorious Thunder Cab pictured above (pic snagged from eBay since I don't have a camera anymore). The rest of the box was filled with my action figures that don't belong to vast categories like Star Wars or Marvel. This endears them to me in a special way, because I think it's the strange nooks and crannies of a collection that really reflect the collector.

Whatever, I'm glad they're here. The only action figures left in my East Coast storage space are the handful of Disneys, all the Alien related ones (in a box with the Alien Queen Playset), and some others I threw in the Alien box because they had antennae atop their heads and that box had lots of room at the top. No squishy antennae! Basically it's a few Antz figs and NM-E, guys like that.

Of even more note, the bulk of the figs' accessories still languish in the dark. It's amazing how many figures just don't cut the same slice of cool without their stuff. You can bet your ass I won't use the Post Office for that haul.

Coldplay/Kraftwerk? You decide

Coldplay - Talk

So I was in this store and the new Coldplay song was playing. It thought it was pretty good and then I realized why - they TOTALLY ripped off Kraftwerk's Computer Love!!! Give it a listen. The video is actually kind of cool, but still...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kraftwerk rocks

Kraftwerk - The Robots

This video is just adorable! At this point in their career Kraftwerk clearly had their fingers on the pulse of the future, they just lacked money to realize it. Check out this video and look how hard they try.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Damn you Bernadette and your mystical arms

Zoom Season 2 Intro

Speaking of watching each other's backs...

For a huge chunk of time my after-school routine was Ray Clark coming to my house with his Star Wars figures and we'd "build a base." Every time the base involved the same pair of TV trays and my father's set of Life Science Library books. Usually we'd spend the whole time building it and he'd have to go home before we actually played anything, but that was fine.

Ray was the only person I knew who also had the now-coveted Blue Snaggletooth. So, some time after we'd ceased our usual routine I wandered over to his house and asked if I could have his, since I had a friend who only had the little red one, the poor sap. I'd correctly surmised that Ray didn't care for those figures anymore; he said yes and I handed the figure over to JPX, probably saving him over a hundred bucks at some distant future time.

Ray went on to marry one of my sister Julie's high school friends, and I saw him at her wedding a few weeks ago. We reminisced about making bases and such, and Ray mentioned that his daughter liked to play with his Star Wars figure collection. "I told her they were really valuable," he said enthusiastically, "I kept them all."

"Uhh..." I said in a low voice, "all but one."

My biggest currently unresolved toy-related "D'oh!"

You know what I’m talking about. The toy that you left at your cousin’s house and never saw again. Or your brother broke it. Or, if you’re JPX, your mother threw it away. Thanks to eBay we no longer need to wait for good luck to right those terrible wrongs. Here’s some that I’ve corrected in recent years:

I replaced my Dinky Eagle after I, myself, threw away the middle section during a big room clean.

I replaced my Doctor Fate and Green Arrow, both of whom disappeared after being informally absorbed into my brother’s G.I. Joe collection. (Dr. Fate’s severed forearm did show up.)

I finally purchased an American-produced Super Powers Cyborg, after I’d bought two unimpressive knock-offs and accidentally thrown one of them away (or so I presume, a container of things I wanted to make molds of vanished from beneath my desk at Deathmatch; my best theory is that it tipped into the waste basket).

Also from that mysterious vanishing, I replaced the Alpha Series Cloud Car. As a result I have three regular Action Fleet Cloud Cars, which isn’t a toy worth having even two of, let alone three.

When I was in NYC I snagged a loose Captain Kirk in his spacesuit and lost the helmet that same day, which naturally drove me nuts. I replaced that during a particularly jobless and moneyless month during my early days of living in San Francisco.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, some time back JPX was visiting me in New York, and when I spotted an exclusive glow-in-the-dark Radioactive Homer at St. Mark’s Comics for 25 bucks, JPX said:

“Nah, don’t buy it for that. They’ve got one at my store in Massachusetts for only 20. And if it isn’t there, you can have my glow-in-the-dark Radioactive Homer.”

Pretty convincing, right? I figured I’d have one in my mitts either way.

BUT, very shortly afterwards that figure turned out to be extremely rare and sought-after – before today I’ve never seen one listed for less than 100 bucks.

Today, however, there’s a loose one on eBay and I threw down for it. I don’t know if I’m going to win; I’m the high bidder right now at 51 bucks and I shouldn’t even be spending that much this week. The auction ends on Sunday.

I don’t blame you, JPX, for needing to hold on to the one you have once you realized its value. But you were the certainly the frontman in this particular “D’oh!” If you advise me not to go for this one, I probably won't listen to you.

Update: I had to let this one go, I'm too broke this week. It sold for 68 bucks, and I definitely would've gone higher. Ah well.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Indiana Jones is lonely

Indiana Jones Kenner TV Commercial

All the shadows and fog can't disguise the fact that there are no other Indiana Jones characters in this toy line. For crying out loud, where's Belloq? Cairo Swordsman? Nazi? Sure the first thing every kid did was roll a ball after him, but then what? I guess you could pair him up with Chewie so they could defeat Darth...oh never mind. Lame.

Comic-Con nerd teases us about upcoming Justice League Unlimited figures

Just got back from the San Diego Comic-Con and let me tell you, the Justice League Unlimited line is about to explode with new figures, I went to the special toy question pannel that Mattel set-up, plus what they showed and displayed now come to about 30 brand new characters from now until 2007, with some figures still being underwraps. The are as follows
-The Huntress,-Big barda,-Vigialnte,-Shinning Knight,-Star Girl,-Kyle Rayner,-Katma Tui,-Etrigan,-Arkis Chummuck,-Zatanna,-Obsidian,-The Ray,-Sand,-Nemesis,-Ligh Ray,-Shayera Hol,-Doomsday(target exclusive),-The Shade,-Star Sapphire,-Parasite,-Volcana,-Justice Lords: GL, Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Hawk Girl(target exclusive), Plus the coolest surprise was that Hawkgirl will be packaged with redecoed Justice Lord Batman and Superman to make them look like the Brainithor Clones. There were hints also to one more Green Lantern 3 pack, Some unique exclusives that will be only geared toward collectors, and somemore female figures leading up until the end of 07, when asked if the line may be discontinued after that, the Mattel representative stated that no talks about any Mattel figure line has gone past 07 yet, so we should not have to worry right now.

Again with the X-wing