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September 17, 2011

Sometimes it takes a while for the show to turn itself around

Filed under: Toys, nostalgia — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 11:52 pm

So today was the latest (and rumoured final) of the Landsdown Flea Markets (owing to the unfair takeover of public land by a private consortium that managed to bully and sweet talk the city of Ottawa just right). And I’ll be sad to see the end of what has been a consistently good source of finds over the past number of years.

Today’s adventure started slow though. Following my standard pattern of attack (walk in, turn right, loop left for second row, loop right for third row and circle around to get the other half of the first row missed in the initial assault), I first stopped at the table that brought me a Great Mazinga only last spring. There were a few junior talking Animated Transformers that I passed on at $5, although I was tempted by the Mego-style K-9 unit at $15. Then onto the Lego table which is sometimes good for Transformers or other items, but, other than a $10 Optimal Optimus on which I passed, nothing of note at this point. Second row was a strike-out, as was the third, aside from an Energon Scorponok on whom I passed at $10.

Maybe I’m getting too picky in my old age.

Anyway, I was already writing off the show in my head when I return to where my standard trajectory forced me right, intent on finishing the first row. In this area, there’s always a toy table staffed by a couple who know their toys and whom I speak to at every show. Their prices are reasonable and sometime I find something to repaint or round out a line, but at the same time, it’s not a great table for “oh my god” kind of finds because they know what they are doing. So I’m poking through the Transformers box and opted to buy a Leader class Animated Megatron (for kitbashing purposes, perhaps) at $6 and a white 3″ titanium movie Ratchet repaint TRU exclusive I’d been eying for awhile (but reluctant to buy at full cost) at a buck.

And then lady luck shined on me for the first time.

Some time ago, back in the days of the Alternators, there was an odd little Transformer who hit the market called Swerve (and known in the community as Chevrolet Swerve). He was the oddest of Transformers: an official product produced by Hasbro, never distributed at retail and never repainted or retooled, and only available a giveaway through GM / Chevrolet dealers in Europe around 2008. He could be categorized as a price point below the standard alternator, owing to his size (so a deluxe compared to a voyager), but a real treat owing to his original form and difficult to obtain. At the time, there was a way to order Swerve from one of GM’s european websites, but the cost of shipping made him prohibitively expensive and out of price range at the time. Eventually, the European sighting fell off, the website link went dormant, and Swerve became an eBay only-Buy It Now at the $100 range.

Fast forward to 2009. Somehow, for some unexplained reason, Swerve showed up in Canada, in the Greater Toronto Area at least, at Chevrolet dealers for a limited time. Again, he was a giveaway. And despite my efforts to track him down short of driving to Toronto myself to get him, he eluded my grasp. Now the folks at TFCon were not as unlucky and managed to get a number of the toys, which they used as giveaways and door prizes at their Botcon booths. This is how I ended up getting my very own Swerve, for $40, at Botcon 2011, one of the last of this collection.

So a pretty hard toy to find, and not one you expect to find sitting in a miscellaneous Transformer box with a sticker that say $6…

Yes. Six dollars.

Swerve suffers a bit because, despite his full formed head and unique robot mold, he resembles a certain shelfwarmer Transformers Swindle in vehicle mold. I presume what happens is that these folks, finding him in car mold and having somewhat less than a complete encyclopedic knowledge of the Transformers, presumed he was Swindle and priced him at a fair price for such a toy. And so I scooped him up, none the wiser, a little disappointed that I’d dropped major quid on the one at Botcon, but nonetheless pleased that my toy eye remains as sharp as ever.

So clearly the show was worth attending to this point, and I round the corner to find a new table populated by cheap DVDs and video games (aside: I always wonder, when I’m looking at bargain basement priced DVDs if I am looking at stolen merchandise…) What drew me to this table, the kind of which I usually avoid, were some Real Ghostbuster toys in their sealed boxes. Not a line I collect (and in fact one that I am trying to unload for a friend), but a sign. If there are boxed vintage toys, there might be toys to my interest.

And lo, lady luck shines for the second time.

Under the table are a number of boxes. In the boxes are a lot of Star Wars (both vintage and new) and other toys. Including, I am pleased to report. Transformers. A lot of them. Bagged in assortments at $10 a piece, I found the following bags (all G1 unless noted):

  • Point Blank and Ultra Magnus white cab (with rubber wheels, good chrome and one white fist)
  • Punch/Counterpunch, RiD Mega-Octane, Top Spin, and (blue) Energon Strong-Arm (missing one arm)
  • Micromasters Tailspin, Stormcloud, and the Hot Rod Patrol (Greaser, Hubs, Trip-Up and Big Daddy)
  • Micromasters Tailspin, Powertrain, Barrage, Slide, Blazemaster (no propellor) and Tread Bolt
  • Costco Bendy Prime (cab only at $5)

Total price. $45. Even better? Another collector found a bag of Transformers in the box (likely one of the few bags that I left behind because it either didn’t have Transformers I wanted or ones I thought I could sell) and asked the vendor if he had any more. The vendor, from whom I’d yet to buy the toys, said he did but had seen someone going through the box ahead of him. Which means I outwitted a fellow collector. Sweet!

Satisfied the day had been worthwhile I set about getting ready to go and made one more pass through the show, and returned to the Lego table to find a small box of G1s (Scourge @ $75, Sandstorm @ $25, and Wreck-Gar @ $40). Not bad prices but not steals for sure for toys I had. Anyway, what caught my eye was a decent looking Slag for $10. Chewed at the tail and at least one arm, with broken horns, Slag would have been unremarkable except he was the red faced, white legged variant. I’d never seen him before, and didn’t actually know he existed. In fact I was so certain he was a fake I had to consult TFU.info and search out the Takara-Tomy imprint.

But sure enough, I had a variant in my hand. And still I balked. The teeth marks and broken tips really made me question the purchase. And I still don’t actually know if he is all that valuable (particularly in that condition). But then lady luck appeared for a third and final time, and I got talking to the woman who runs the table, and gave her some advice on the G1s (basically confirming her prices were fine and she should put them on eBay if they didn’t sell, but that she should also be willing to be $10-$20 flexible on price for Scourge, but not $50 flexible). Anyway, she ended up giving Slag to me, which is awesome. I’m still unsure if he is valuable in this condition, and whether or not I should simply get another G1 Slag and do some part swapping. But I know he’s a fun variant for the collection, so valuable or not, he’s going on the shelf.

And that was how I spent the possibly last Landsdown Flea Market. On a high.

1 Comment »

  1. Transformers aren’t my thing but I always enjoy reading about a successful hunt. Now, I have to keep an eye out for one of those Chevrolet Swerves. ;)

    Comment by Brian (Cool and Collected) — September 21, 2011 @ 9:24 am

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