I go to work everyday and sit in a shop consumed with comic books, action figures, statues, games, t-shirts, graphic novels, and all other sorts of nerdy ass novelty items. I have always been enamored with this world, ever since I was a little booger eater so this stuff is just second nature to me. I absolutely have a collector’s mindset and throughout the years have had my hands in a ton of different pots. I’ll tell ya about some of the garbage that I collected throughout the years….some cool and some absolutely embarrassing. Then, I would like to hear from you guys!
So I will start with one of the embarrassing ones…
When I was in Elementary School, I along with some of my douchebag friends collected…smelly stickers. Yup, you read that correct. I am talking about the little round stickers that teachers gave out to students for a job well done or for not being a stupid dick in class. You would scratch em and go “Oh cool…it smells kinda sorta like apples!”. Now I will say that pretty much all of the teachers in my Elementary School participated in this practice. Some of the “lame” teachers used to give out basic ones…those were cool for newbs but the hardcore and experienced smelly sticker collectors strived for greatness. I am talking about the odd and strange ones like “Fresh Cut Lawn”, “Spearmint”, “Peach Pie”, and “Skunk”…not your basic “Bubblegum” type of shit.
There were so many different types of these that existed back in the day. I truly wish I still had them. Not that they would still have a scent after 25 plus years, but it would be cool to show off here so you all could laugh at my stupidity. We would all trade just as if they were hot baseball cards. Oh…by the way, your sticker was completely useless and didn’t count if it was peeled off the waxy coated backing. Better not run up to us with a Pepperoni Pizza sticker stuck to your test that you cheated off Ryan with. Does. Not. Count. We ridiculed those fuckin idiots hardcore…
What counted was having it unpeeled and on the backing. They would usually come in sheets of 12 or 18, and the teacher would cut em up into squares so that the delicious circle of smelly joy looked at ya all centered. We did not fuck around…but some of us did “cheat”. I remember going to the Woodbridge Mall with my mom, where there was a school supply store called JL Hammett. Inside, my tiny little nerd boner would disappointingly rise to the isle devoted to smelly stickers. Occasionally when I would save up enough coin, I would buy a pack or two of “yet to be distributed” goodness. I would be the talk of the classroom and during recess, would swap those puppies…often two of theirs for one of mine as they were hot commodities. Eventually, I believe some others caught on. I am glad I used to go to the mall with my mom as she never really questioned it. I probably would have been beaten by my pops if he saw his stupid son get sick shoveling snow for 8 hours just to save enough money to buy cotton candy scented stickers to swap with his equally embarrassing friends.
HEROES IN A HALFSHELL
I always loved action figures. I collected Transformers, Thundercats, GI Joe, Masters of the Universe, Marvel Super Heroes, and so many more…but as a kid I was always super hardcore about my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. I still have all of them as I saw them in dufflebags when we moved into the new house last year. I am unsure of where I placed them at the moment but they are still hanging around in some shitty crevice of this dump.
Even at that young age, the “collector in me wanted to get em all. But I struggled with one specific figure in the line. I am talking about the elusive April O’Neal figure. I guess she was the short packed figure in that initial wave. I mean think about it, what little boy is going to want an Apr…oh…this kid…
I used to walk with my buddy Pete who was a few years older than I, down to the Toys R Us and Bradlees a few blocks away, always coming up empty handed. I had every other figure and could not locate an April. How was I to broadcast the news of the Turtles defeating Bebop & Rocksteady once again to my imaginary audience?!? What the fuck was I to do?!? I’ll tell ya what I was to do…bother my neighbor Tommy who went by the nickname “Bones”. Ya see…Bones worked at that shitty Bradlees and I pestered him about it for god knows how long. I am surprised he did not beat my ass for being “that kid”, but he didn’t. Instead, he eventually got me my April figure and I still have it to this day…thanks Bones.
I collected these figures for years but eventually I just gave up. Not because I lost interest but because Playmates (the manufacturer) drove shit into the ground as most toy companies did back then. Space Suit Leo, Rockstar Donatello, Hoops Shootin Mike, Deep Sea Dive Ralph. That kinda shit…I will show off one of my favorites from the line. Once again, not my pic as mine is loose, but I remember getting this guy at a mall in Orlando while on vacation with the family. His outfit changed color when you got him wet. That was amazing to me at 9 years old.
This is one of the few hobbies that the family participated. While my sports card collection is currently worth more burning it for the use of heat, I got a ton of enjoyment out of it. Besides me, we had my brother Pat, and my 2 sisters Marcia & Michele that also partook in this nonsense. My dad even dabbled a bit and I cherish going to sports card shows with him. That eventually led to us going to Yankee’s games which I am sure led me to be the big fan I am today.
I remember dad getting all of us all sealed boxes of 1988 Donruss for Christmas. We were so happy and tore those open. He bought a sealed case which had a ton of sealed boxes….the problem is that this specific year sucked. To be honest, most of the years we collected blew donkey dick. It was just a time of mass produced garbage. 1987 Topps with the ugly ass wood grain border? Yuk…
I still have a lot of my cards although I sold a bunch ages ago. I am sure if I dumped them all at once to a dealer, that I would not even get $20 bucks. Eh…the memories are what is important. Right?!? We used to play a game called “STANDS” that involved cards. It involved the entire neighborhood and made lots of us tons of money, but I will save that for it’s own separate post in the near future as I think it’s deserving.
These were and still are some of my favorite collectibles…especially the early years. I had some of the first series on my own but not the complete set. I 100% yanked my brother Pat’s set as I wanted it for myself. To this day he still brings this fact up to me and one day, I will buy both us a complete set as I have no idea where his/my set ended up.
If you aren’t familiar with Garbage Pail Kids, then I feel sorry for ya. You absolutely missed out on a fantastic nostalgic piece of collecting history. They were cards/stickers that came in packs just like any other trading cards. Gum was also included in the earlier waves. There was a A and a B card featuring the same art, but a different name. Always a crude and gross concept, I truly feel as though they were ahead of their time.
I was a maniac and was pretty hardcore. This is actually one of the “when I am rich, I’ll buy these back” types of situations. Series 1 sets fetch around $500 bucks!!! They will always hold a near and dear place in my heart. I remember my Uncle Tommy would take me to Woolworth’s and buy me a few packs before going to grab a bite at some dirty shitty pub somewhere. He was always good to me and I acquired a bunch of what I had through him. Thanks Uncle Tommy!!!
Comic books are by far the collectible that I have stuck with the longest. I started when I was around 9 years old I believe although the first comic I ever bought came out in 1987. Gi Joe and the Transformers #4. I don’t remember why I picked that one but it was definitely the first comic that I bought. I still have a copy although I am not sure if it’s “the” copy.
I collected all sorts of crap and I was totally a guilty party of buying the Hot books that Wizard Magazine advised me to buy. I was also a sucker for all the flashy gimmicky covers. If it had any of the following…I bought it…
- Die Cut
- Glow in the Dark
Any of that crap…I gobbled it up. I also bought a ton of awesome stuff as well. I immediately got hooked into Todd McFarlane & David Michelinie’s run on Amazing Spider-Man. It’s still one of my favorites to this day and I have multiple sets of this specific run. Actually one thing I am totally proud of is my run of Amazing Spider-Man. It is a collection I have been working on for almost 30 years and I am just a mere 16 issues away from having a complete run dating back to the early 60’s. It has since taken a backseat in the past year or so as I am chucking any spare available funds into tasty delicious Steem to Power Up my account, but I will eventually get back to chipping away at those 16 soon enough.
My current business partner and long time friend Pete and I used to race down to the Hobby Shack where we would hang with Mike. To this day I don’t know how Mike did not murder us. He is a saint and I will be sure to tag him on Facebook when I post this there for him to see. Mike was a ton of fun and made collecting a blast at that early age. I am not sure I would have had that passion early on if he didn’t put up with us and let us absorb all the nonsense that the comic world provided back in the day.
After Hobby Shack closed up, Clockwork Comics took over and is still there to this day. My buddy Scott owns it and I ended up working there for several years in my teens. I learned a lot about the business through him and I am grateful for that opportunity which helped me forge my own path in this corner of the world. He would say he taught me everything I know but he also eats like a picky 6 year old boy and wears 20 year old pit stained tight ass t-shirts…so take his words with a grain of salt. Just kidding bud…you know I love ya!
While I have sold off bits and pieces of my collection here and there, I still have a stupid crazy personal collection. I am not talking about the stuff at my shop, just my own nonsense. Easily, I have a couple hundred long boxes full which I would actually like to thin down a bunch in the coming years. I want to narrow it down to maybe a manageable 50 boxes or less. Maybe even 25. I dunno…still battling with that.
Carved In Stone
Okay…so these things aren’t made of stone…more likely resin, and they aren’t carved but more cast…but you get the picture. I’m talking about statues and busts here folks! I bought my first bust in 2003 and it opened the floodgates for me. It was the Bowe Designs Mysterio bust and I believe it cost me $40 clams!!!
Shortly after this, I attended the 2003 San Diego Comic Con and fell down the rabbit hole with a company called Gentle Giant. They were doing amazing Star Wars pieces and I picked up multiples of their SDCC Exclusive Blue Clone Trooper Bust along with the newly released Boba Fett bust. These would prove to be smart buys as I sold off the extras I snagged at the con and invested it back into the hobby. I funded a lot of my early collection this way and quickly acquired the ability to spot “hot” pieces before they were even released. I was the fuckin master and within a year, had hundreds of statues and busts from a variety of manufacturers.
I still have a stupid inventory that once again is separate from the over 1250 different pieces we have in our shop. It has thinned a ton in recent years through me selling some off here and there and I still plan to slim it down even further, but I will keep a few of my favorites which I will eventually display in my basement so I can nerd out and get a pudge from just looking at them.
In recent years, I have delved a bit into original comic book art. I completely missed the boat on a lot of this and really wish I would have paid it a bit more attention throughout the years as my business partner had done. He is obsessed with an amazing artist named Arthur Adams and has tons of original cover and interior pages by him. That along with a fantastic commission that he had done a few years back. I am highly jealous of his collection and one day hope to be able to display a fantastic gallery of pieces in my nerd area.
Currently I only have a few pieces to brag about. I don’t have them in front of me at the moment but they include a beautiful Harley Quinn by Joe Linsner, and will soon include all 10 pages to a backup story in the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Humberto Ramos. They not only feature my favorite villain in Mysterio but they feature a brand new villain who it looks could be a major problem for Spidey down the road. I initially wrote about it last year if you want to check out those pages. I hope to have them by the end of the month as I have just one and a half more payments left to make! See that here!
There are tons of other stupid things I collected as I slowly creep closer to croaking and I am sure I am not done discovering new things. It’s just kinda in my blood. So how about you?!? What kind of nonsense do you collect? Or what’s your hobby? Maybe it’s not so much collecting something but more of a passion for something? Let me know the weird shit that makes you tic below!!!
Thanks so much for reading this long one.