April 21, 2009

Pictures from the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale

Filed under: Toys, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 12:39 am

So I have a successful sale at Saturday evenings Ottawa Munny show and I quickly turn around and put some of the proceeds back into collectibles and supplies at the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale (which I had neglected to remember starting on Saturday and which, despite being basically a junk sale, can be a great place to find parts, some comics, records, and the occasional surprise.) Here is a summary of events.

Let’s Get to the Good Stuff!

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Walking in the door to the event, I always follow the same pattern. Turn hard right and quickly browse until I find a colourful table. In my experience, if I am going to find some interesting toys, it’s around this first bend and today was no disappointment.

Pretty much the first table included old toys. But it was also one of the reasons I hate this kind of sale. Thanks to eBay, everyone thinks their kinds stuff is gold, and seem surprised when you don’t agree. So while I love checking out nostalgia from my childhood like reasonably well-loved and dusty 30 year old Fisher Price accessories, I really don’t care to be told that the jet I was putting back because $10 was too much on yet another unnecessary modification whim (Cobra raptor in my head) was well worth the price because it was an original.

Lady, I can not only read but find the manufacturers date. I know the age of this item probably better than you. And I still don’t want it.

The Three Types of Yard Sale Dealers

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

Actually, in my experience at these kinds of events there are exactly three types of people. The first type are the closers. They are the ones who are cleaning out an attic or a basement and just want to be rid of the stuff. They may or may not have prices on things, but are eager to get rid of whatever might hold your interest for half a minute, and so will meet your gaze with a mark-down. The promptness of the markdown increases as the event wears on and s/he is faced with the prospect of returning the items to whence they came. They can be somewhat insistent and may chase after you if you don’t pull away fast enough, but if they have good stuff, you can get it for a song.

The second type are the chuckles. They are often somewhere between type one and type three, and are more likely to be seen at a free event or a yard sale. They’re the type that, seeing a community event or receiving an invitation from a friend, went through the basement to find a few (or many) things for sale. They really don’t care either way. If they sell the item at the price they want, they’re happy. And though they might make you a deal, they’re just as likely to turn around and figure it’s worth at least that much in their own basement gathering dust. I like the chuckles. They are usually quite reasonable people and usually good for a story about how they came to have a particular item. Frequently come with homemade cookies and kids selling their toys.

Galidor and Disney McDonald's toys for 50 cents each. They'll soon be part of the munny.

Galidor and Disney McDonald

The last group is the eBay pirates. Thanks to the power of the internet, they believe every piece of crap in their garage is unique, no matter the age, wear or condition, and they want top dollar as a result. They are more than willing to hold onto these pieces, but not before berating you, the customer, for not knowing what a grand deal you are passing up. I’ve been in situations where I’m literally beat over the head by the pirate over an item that I’ve clearly taken a pass on for whatever reason, because clearly I don’t get the value, only to walk across the street and get the same item from a chuckle with a shrug and a smile. The trouble of course is that most of the time they don’t know themselves, which causes no end of trouble when the pirate actually HAS something of interest. Nothing worse than the pirate with an interesting but worthless piece of nostalgia but who is convinced it is worth a fortune. Frequently selling badly worn common back issue comics books for $2 each.

Clearly I was in pirate bay.

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

If the woman in question had been reasonable in her tone, I might have considered bartering. I can be a sucker for nostalgia when I find the right things, and I really liked the jet which was in impeccable loose condition and perfect for the GIJoe shelf. They had other items too, notably an old bulldozer with real treads that I once had and used, when the plow broke, as the first Cobra tank in the days before the H.I.S.S. (and frankly should have picked up in hindsight at $5 for the rubber treads for possible frankenFormers.) But that attitude drives me crazy.

Anyway, she did have some GIJoes, many of whom were again in surprising good condition, including a H.I.S.S. driver that is in perfect condition for modification (i.e., not-so-worn-as-to-be-broken-but-worn-enough-that-guilt-does-not-set-in) for a H.I.S.S. that I hope to finally get to working on. But like a pirate, she didn’t know what she had. Looking at an original Grunt backpack, a Dial-Tone rifle, and what could either be Stalker’s rifle or the equivalent that came with the Tactical Battle Platform (Joe fans can tell by the shade of grey… seriously…), lying loose in the shoe box, I simply did what any self-respecting toy person would.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

I put the accessories on the figures I wanted, got my price quote, paid politely and tucked everything away.

It was in the tucking though that things almost got interesting. You see, I have an original Star Wars Dewback. Loose, no saddle, decent shape and one of the few original toys of which I am interested (Stormtrooper Carrier, Death Star, At-At and Snowspeeder being the others). It would be cool to have a Stormtrooper but $3 cool, not $5 cool, particularly from a pirate. Her reaction can be expected: “well, Stormtroopers are so hard to find.”

So is three bucks lady. Mine is walking away.

Transaction for Joes complete, she deals out the money among her mom and dad for whom she is pirating, and doesn’t see me put the Stormtrooper back where I found it. Leaving, she stopped me on the way out of the area. “Did you,” she said uncertain as to what to say next and what my reaction might be, “did you… um… accidently put the Stormtrooper… in with the other figures in your bag.”

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

First badgered and now practically accused of shoplifting a thirty year old fair condition Stormtrooper. Oh, the humanity. If I had any dignity I might be offended. But I am a thirty something adult male in a Transformers jacket leaving with 25 year old GIJoe figures. Really, her discomfort and uncertainty makes her feel worse than I.

I simply and politely point to the Star Wars figure tray, indicate it was returned to its original spot, and casually go along my way. The good corner is coming.

The Good Corner

The Good Corner ™ is simply the end of the second row, which, because of my pattern, I deliberately hit quickly. Two women, one of whom is taken by Kinder eggs surprises, have a table there for each event. More closers than chuckles, they seem to have picked up a bunch of stuff somehow and are happy for a sale. And midway through day two, you can get a deal if they have something.

Can't have too many Guardians!

Can't have too many Guardians!

I have a soft spot for the Kinder lady, since the first time I stopped at her table and, upon finding a box of assorted Beast Wars bits, sold me the entire contents for $7. She was nice about it, I was happy for it (occasionally using them for parts and trades) and it was a good find (pat. pend.) As such I always feel bad leaving empty handed. It was here that Hello Kitty, Calidor and the Disney former (whom I contemplated getting as recently as the day before at $2 at ValueVillage for use as a Silverbolt munny) were had for fifty cents each. The lego and a few other little things came from here too.

And the Rest

The Ottawa Spring Garage Sale should not be confused with the Columbus, Ohio, Toy Show. That event has lots of newish toys, relatively clean

One of these days I'll open one with the actual ball inside...

One of these days I actually open one of these and find the ball they are suppose to fire...

surroundings and would seriously hurt my wallet. This is really a glorified flea market that always makes me feel dusty and question my dedication to toys and parts that I can get more readily online. But I like flea markets, in spite of myself, and a sale I can bicycle to is a winner.

At this point though, having hit the best bets for finds though, the rest of the place is hit and miss. There are usually some toy areas along the last row, and sometimes a fellow who sells all the comics he reads for a buck a pop (recent comics and willing to make a deal). But he wasn’t here, although the rest of the selection wasn’t bad. Among the overpriced and badly worn Transformers and piles of Turtles, there were horses for modifying, a Policeman Pete for my Junior Gobots collection, a classic fisher-price camera for my niece (worth it for the expression on her parents’ faces alone!). There were the things I think I can sell (Galoob Tasha Yar, a Skeletor minion) and stuff to mod (a MegaBlock magnetic elephant that reminds me of Baron Karza, and a couple Sigma Sixes). And even drill bits (18 for $5), which though I don’t need, came with super big bits that I don’t have and which can use to make bigger, more perfect holes in my upcoming projects.

Look at THAT bitty bit!

Look at THAT bitty bit!

And a belt for $5 and Kirilaw socks for $3 for a pair.

I figure I spent about $45 in total, which isn’t terrible consider the Joes were a third of the cost. My backpack is full and I’ve seen the outdoors. I have stories to tell and crap for projects that will take me into 2187.

Really, what more could I ask for out of a hour of my Sunday?


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