Sunday, 30 August 2020

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Medway Toy Fair and Collector's Market Edition!


I went to the Pentagon. Don’t worry America, your national security is safe, the Pentagon I went to was in Chatham (which isn’t in America – well, there might be one in America, they have a Birmingham so all bets are off really). I went to this other Pentagon – it’s a shopping centre – to attend Medway Vintage Toy Fair and Collector’s Market. It was only about 10-12 stalls large but holy shit was it productive:

Look at all this cool shit! Now I did buy the Doctor Who set in Chatham’s B&M Bargains and Flower in a charity shop, but even still this is as good a haul as I get from some large-scale conventions and I spent as much here as I do in some of those too because there was just so much good stuff, the only thing in this photo that isn’t on in the ‘essential to own’ category in my ABSOLULTEY OBJECTIVELY CORRECT opinion is that weird Madball but, well, it’s a weird Madball so you could argue that simply by being a weird Madball it should make the list on concept alone.

You bet I’m gonna wring some paragraphs out of this!


Panther Man!

£2 ($2.67)

Did you look at that picture up there and think ‘why is there a weird Playmobil Wolverine’? No? Well tough we’re going to go forward pretending that you did. This weird Wolvermobil toy is something I thought I’d never own, it’s one of Airgam’s Super Fantastics. Airgam was basically Spanish knock-off Playmobil which had different themes similar to Lego, their Space and Terror lines are particularly classy, this is from their Airgam Comics theme which pitted horribly derivate heroes the Super Fantastics against the actually pretty creative villains the Super Diabolics. Weirdo Toys covered the first wave in depth here [] and you can view the entire theme at []. Despite being just simply awesome, looking like something crossing the airbrushed artwork from your local funfair with the knock-off toys in your local pound shop, two of them – Captain Laser and Panther Man here – are based on X-Men so of course I need them but I didn’t think I’d actually own them, they’re Spanish, they’re not cheap and they’re certainly not the sort of thing I’d expect to find in a little toy fair for two quid. He’s awesome, the paint on his head is a little thin but he feels good quality and is way bigger than I’d imagined - he’s missing his shoulder pads but what do you want for £2? Also, here’s a picture of him falling over:


Playmobil and carpets never work well together.


Scale Tail!

£25 ($33. 38)

So, I think that getting a new character from Playmates vintage TMNT line is still as exciting as it was in 1992. This is pathetically sad you may say, but I’d only reply ‘your face is pathetically sad’ so its probably not worth your time. But it kinda still is, that ‘oh my god new Mutanimal’ feeling apparently doesn’t diminish, at least if you’re me. Mind you, if you’re me then you buy Warriors of Virtue mini figures so…

Anyway, Scale Tail! Latecomer Foot Clan mutant. It’s like whoever designed this (It looks like Mike Dooney’s work?) decided that there had been so many snake action figures before this they decided to just make the snakiest snake in snakeville. Look at all the snakiness on this fucker: he is a giant snake growing more snakes with snakes wrapped around him, he’s what King Hiss sees when he masturbates, and he’s armed. No sod that, he’s not armed, he has either naturally grown a tongue that’s in fact guns or has replaced his forked tongue with forked guns and either way ‘armed’ does not do such a creative choice justice. Scale Tail is why people say, with complete seriousness, toys were cooler when they were a kid.


Twenty Pounds of Pure Nostalgia!

£20 ($26.70)

I’m know I’ve talked about this before but to re-iterate: sometimes you not only forget about something from your childhood but somehow erase all lingering vestiges of it from your mind – until one day it’s in a cardboard box under someone’s stall and you can’t believe you forgot. The result is a rush of in-depth memory and a wave of nostalgia that utterly justified the Manic Street Preachers writing two songs about the seductiveness of the feeling on The Holy Bible. Because nostalgia can be dangerous, it can make you do, think and say silly things, it can make you miss out on today while yearning for an idealistic and completely inaccurate yesterday and make you look like a twat, it also can make you spend a tenner on Tom wearing a shell suit and Axel Rose’s favourite trainers and be fine with that.

Obviously I had these when I was a kid and completely forgot about this until I found them in Chatham, they actually had the entire wave (the other two were Spike and Tyke) but not only would that have been £40 worth of recapturing-my-childhood-impulse buying which is a bit too much even for me but I really don’t think I need more than two beloved cartoon characters dressed like they’re going to play squash in 1989.


Harry Bend-Em!

£20 ($26.70)

I dunno. I’m just so excited to finally have one after years of looking that I wanted to spotlight it but now I can’t think what to say, I think I just got carried away when taking the pictures because ‘OHGODYESHARRYBENDEM’, let me think for a second…

If you never saw Harry and the Hendersons it was a bit like Alf, but boring and not created by a man who could be best be summed up as ‘bat shit bonkers’. Anyway JustToy’s Bend-ems and shit American television that used to be on Sky were both low key but actually surprisingly major parts of my childhood. I mean so low key that even my mum wouldn’t associate things like Married… With Children, Harry and the Hendersons, Baywatch, Alf, Saved by the Bell or even The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air with little me (my mum has a terrific memory for things I was into as a child *shrugs*) but they were on so much – usually just left on while my nan and grandad did something in the garden or whatever – and I saw them so often that for me they’re inseparable with me being a kid. If my childhood would as a town they’d be landmarks not much smaller that things that my mum would associate with little me (Biker Mice or Bucky O’Hare or whatnot), of course they’d all be landmarks in the crap part of town where the council estate is because I’m not saying I liked them, I don’t think I even liked them then, most of them were so rotten they became almost quizzical to five year old me but I don’t/didn’t like Burger King either and I will impulse buy anything Burger King Kids Club related. So if Neca ever make Reel Toys from these franchises I WILL buy them (I know Married… With Children got POPs recently but I wasn’t that impressed with em, I might still get Peggy) because, y’know, what is collecting toys for if not taking you back to the happier times before puberty? And more so, getting the toys from things your parents wouldn’t buy from – no one in my family would have bought me a Harry Henderson, even though he was absolutely one of the nicest people to ever be on telly.


Amy A. Allen!

£30 ($40.05)

40 bucks is a lot for a single, unboxed, old figure in played-with condition missing their accessories who isn’t even that old (Galoob’s magnificent A-Team line came out in 1984), hell she’s not even an official part of the A-Team. This should be a case of me being caught in the excitement of all the toys everywhere, caught up in the act of accepting ‘con prices’ and in the mood to spend and now I should be siting here feeling utterly ashamed and guilty, I mean, it’s the woman from the A-Team, most people forget she was in the bloody show!

But you’re not taking into account two things

1)        I’ve been looking for this figure since I was a teenager, when I got my set of four A-Team members and found out that I was still one short. The fact that I haven’t come across one in the wild in over half my life should tell you how rarely these things come up

2)        It’s 2020.

It’s not an original sentiment but: fuck 2020, fuck it and all it stands for, because it stands for death, disease, murder, riots, abuse of power and the loss of the Black Panther – the need for any therapy, even retail therapy, and the need to get out and feel anything other than loneliness, misery, fear and anxiety that our toilet roll supply would run out would justify me not feeling guilt, I could have done a grand and still been covered by ‘this year has been shit’. And I wasn’t going anywhere (we were shielding before the mandatory lock-down in the UK) and if I did there would have been nowhere to go; everything was cancelled; even Disneyland was shut; I didn’t even post on this blog for pretty much the whole of lockdown because I couldn’t, it would have reminded me of the outside world and I wouldn’t have been able to do the time. So I sat in front of Disney+ as my bank account grew and grew through the simple act of me not having anywhere to spend it, so wasting this amount on Melinda Culea was actually so within my budget that it didn’t notice. Look, so little good has come out of this year that I have to take it where I can find it, even if it is justification to waste money on toys.

This isn’t just me venting. Alright, it mostly is, but it’s a nice look at buyer’s remorse and how things other than price and perceived value can affect it and indeed how a very specific set of (horrible) circumstances can come together and have bizarre effects on tangentially related things. There, it’s deep now, see?


Pop-Up Books!

£10 ($13.35)

Something nice to end on, because these are made of delightful. They’re from 1980 and a company called Piccolo books and…and…and Hulk and Spider-Man pop up books! There is a tab that allows you to change Bruce Banner into the Hulk! There’s a tab that allows you make the Hulk jump high and Spider-Man web-swing! Whoever made these not only got the audience but the characters and their iconography as well. Well, kinda. The Spider-Man book sees him taking Mary-Jane on a date to the funfair only to fight the Green Goblin in an immense pop-up page but Hulk’s book is about him fighting Firebrand. Who the blue fuck is Firebrand? He’s an Iron Man villain who’s only noteworthy thing is that he was one of the nobodies who was killed by Scourge at the Bar With No Name in Captain America, yes the only noteworthy thing about him is that he was so unnoteworthy he was killed off. But he makes fire and this is about Hulk fighting a fire in a building which makes cool pop up pages, of course why they didn’t use Pyro (I mean it’s not like they need a fire-based Hulk villain) I have no idea… hang on, am I really critiquing a pop-up book like this? What the hell is wrong with me? It’s a pop-up book with the Incredible Hulk in it! Who cares? It’s awesome!

 In conclusion? It was so nice to get out and go to anything resembling a convention, to just go spend time with (socially distanced) people you’ve got things in common with, blow some cash and not be in 2020 for a few hours. I can be flippant about terrible things that happen, I do it to cope, but this year has been fucking horrendous so far and I’ve not had it as bad as many - I’ve not been risking my life just to do something as simple as nurse the sick or stock shelves (or peacefully protest) for instance - but I have had death and isolation, fear for family and friends and a thoroughly exacerbated set of mental health issues so even a small toy fair (and Medway was a proof absolute of the cliché ‘good things come in small packages’) felt like something if not normal then regular, a little bit of any year other than 2020 and that was just really nice - I even got to go on a boat! So cheers to my mate Bill for taking us and sorting out how to get there and to his Annie who found the leaflet.