My Top 5 Toys Of The Year

Hello and welcome to Poptastic Plastic. Whether you follow me on Facebook or you found this blog through Northwest Film Forum, thanks for checking out my top 5 list! We're almost at the end of 2017 and I've had a pretty good run this year when it comes to finding toys. The rules of this list are pretty simple, as long as I bought it in 2017, it can be considered one of my top 5 toys of the year. Read on to see my favorite finds!

#5 Ace Duck

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I had a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures as a kid...hell I still have a lot of them, but until now I never had Ace Duck. Ace is one of those characters that started off as a toy then eventually was written into cartoons and comics. If you search for "Weird Ninja Turtle Toys" you'll also see he's regularly thought to be one of the strangest figures in the series. That's saying a lot when compared to guys like Muckman and Pizza face (search those too). I've been around the TMNT for so long I don't even bat an eye at the idea of an anthropomorphic crime fighting duck dressed like a WWII pilot. 

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This figure is missing his accessories, he should have wings, a hat and egg bombs, but I think I found him for Fifty Cents at a yard sale, so I'll take it. He looks great next to Mikey too. Makes you wish he had more than just a cameo in the original series.

Does this image make you want to watch an episode of the cartoon? Then I'm doing something right

Does this image make you want to watch an episode of the cartoon? Then I'm doing something right

#4 Star-Lord

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When Guardians of the Galaxy was released I hadn't gotten back into collecting yet so i completely missed the first wave of figures. Luckily I got my second chance when the sequel hit theaters this summer. I'm a big fan of the Marvel Legends line and this is an awesome entry into the series. He comes with an interchangeable head but with a mask like that, why bother? It's perfect. Now excuse me while I throw on the soundtrack as I finish this list.

#3 Super Mario Bros. 3 Happy Meal Set

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Similar to the TMNT, It's hard for me to think of a time when I didn't like Super Mario. I've been playing the games since I was about four years old and I still play them from time to time. I had all of these as a kid but have no idea what happened to my original set. I'm happy to replace them with these guys. I'm still missing Luigi but that just leaves me something to keep an eye out for during the toy show hunts. Poor Luigi, always left out.

#2 Expressions Pack Batman

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Figures from Batman: The Animated Series that look like they jumped right off the screen have been coming out for a couple of years now but this past summer I found the first of the expressions packs. These figures come with a ton of accessories and seven different heads. Batman of course comes first but I hear Joker and Harley Quinn packs will be out soon. 

With all the money and technology at Batman's disposal I love that a simple baseball bat is included

With all the money and technology at Batman's disposal I love that a simple baseball bat is included

You must be thinking, "expressions pack? That's the same face with just a little blood painted on his face. Ripoff". While some of them do look similar my absolute favorite is undeniably unique.

"They're making another Suicide Squad?!?!?!"

"They're making another Suicide Squad?!?!?!"

#1 Billy Baloney

"Hello, ladies"

"Hello, ladies"

While I loved Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure I never had the toys. I've come across a lot of different Playhouse Gang figures over the years, including the pull string Pee-Wee doll, but until two months ago I had no idea they made a Billy Baloney puppet. Don't remember Billy?

Once I saw it I knew I had to have it. The seller gave me a great deal, considering what they go for on eBay, and even included his original box. The discovery combined with the deal makes Billy Baloney my favorite find of 2017!

The Billy Baloney Story, coming soon to Northwest Film Forum

The Billy Baloney Story, coming soon to Northwest Film Forum

I hope you enjoyed my list. I am going to try to get at least one more article out before the end of the year so if you like what you see please check back soon. Thanks for reading, everyone!

When We Last Left Our Hero...

I didn't mean to take another long break from the blog but things got crazy in my life and I had a hard time getting back into the habit of writing. The stuff that went down isn't happy or toy-related so I won't get into it here, but let's just say I hope you never have to sue anybody!

After I published my last article in May I had an idea for the next one. I was going to go to Toys "R" us and write about the experience of going there as an adult to shop for myself. I went to the store, took some pictures and wrote some notes but before I could start writing the post the shit hit the fan. Now that life has mostly gone back to normal I plan on finishing that post. I also got a chance to do some traveling and visit some vintage toy stores so I'd like to share my pictures and reviews. look for those posts soon!

Toy Shack, Las Vegas

Toy Shack, Las Vegas

Billy Galaxy, Portland

Billy Galaxy, Portland

Lake City Toy Show, Round 2!

Lake City Toy Show, Round 2!

Before that I'll be writing a top 5 post. Everyone in my office wants to bring back an old tradition of writing a top 5 blog and the list can be about anything. When I asked if I could just make it about toys they said that'd be great! The perfect reason to get back to blogging! Look for that post Thursday, 12/14! 

Thanks for reading. Good to be back!

Lake City Toy Show

While walking around the Fremont Outdoor Market I cam across a couple of tables filled with toys. I wasn't planning on shopping for figures that day but I couldn't resist the opportunity to look for some gold. There was a Casey Jones figure but it didn't have any accessories and other than that I didn't see anything I had to have, not even the Ernest doll. I asked the guy behind the table if he had any other Ninja Turtles and he told me he might but he was saving most of his collection in big tubs he was planning on taking to the Lake City Toy Show. I had never heard of it and knew I had to immediately mark it on my calendar.

Hey Vern, help me get down to the Toy Show!

Hey Vern, help me get down to the Toy Show!

So off I went on a Sunday morning to dig for some deals and hopefully find some good stuff for the blog. I entered the first room of the community center knew I was going to be there all day. From new in box to clearly loved and played with throughout the years all kinds of toys were for sale.

Big Bucket of Bart

Big Bucket of Bart

The rare Frosted Tips Han among the Bossks and some Tusken Raiders

The rare Frosted Tips Han among the Bossks and some Tusken Raiders

In addition to toys that first room had vendors selling anything that was collectable, from lunchboxes to VHS tapes to Ninja Turtles and Star Wars bedsheets. I was looking through the tub of Star Wars toys when my wife and I heard a little girl asking her family to keep an eye out for Gremlins. A few tables over my wife spotted a Gizmo doll and asked the little girl if she'd noticed it. The girl, right on the line of smart-ass and innocent child, looked back and said, "...that's a Mogwai.." We all had to bite our lips not to laugh out loud as her dad quickly jumped in to tell the girl my wife was very nice to point that and to say thanks.

Once we finished looking around the first room we went into the main hall. I didn't know where to begin. I told myself I was going to have to do a loop around the building before buying anything because I probably could have spent my whole budget within the first five minutes.

Who wouldn't want a Conan O'Brien finger puppet?

Who wouldn't want a Conan O'Brien finger puppet?

While I loved Pee Wee's Playhouse I don't remember having the toys. Seeing them at the show made me tempted to hunt down the collection.

While I loved Pee Wee's Playhouse I don't remember having the toys. Seeing them at the show made me tempted to hunt down the collection.

Instead of ringing it sings Yub Nub

Instead of ringing it sings Yub Nub

While I'd love to consider myself an expert in all things action figure, there were plenty I'd never heard of. These Super Naturals figures for example were completely new to me. Holographic mummy and snake warriors from, where else, the late 80's. Being a toy designer in the 80's must have been the best job ever.

Inhumanoids and Silver Hawks? never heard of them either.

Inhumanoids and Silver Hawks? never heard of them either.

I wish I could have picked up so much more than I did but I had a lot of fun looking around. Everyone was very cool about me taking pictures too!

The Power of the Force line and Micro Machines are two of my biggest collections. I was so excited to find these I didn't even notice that pink-haired anime girl with a tail until now.

The Power of the Force line and Micro Machines are two of my biggest collections. I was so excited to find these I didn't even notice that pink-haired anime girl with a tail until now.

"Hulk been in plastic bin for over decade! Please take Hulk home!"

"Hulk been in plastic bin for over decade! Please take Hulk home!"

I wonder if someone actually got paid to sculpt this monstrosity

I wonder if someone actually got paid to sculpt this monstrosity

"Wakey wakey yousa little Jedi! Itsa time to AAAGH Wowee Patooey, Meesa being strangled!"

"Wakey wakey yousa little Jedi! Itsa time to AAAGH Wowee Patooey, Meesa being strangled!"

Though it was mostly old toys there were some vendors with current figures you could find at a store like Target. I thought it was interesting seeing how far the X-Men line has come, especially since I recently wrote about tracking down the Marvel Legends.

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There was also the fun of being reminded of shows and characters I hadn't thought of in years. I forgot Urkel was so popular he had his own doll. I also forgot about that crappy remake of Land of the Lost I saw on Saturday mornings as a kid. I didn't even know that show was big enough to get a line of toys.

It kind of looks like GWAR with pickaxes is stalking a family harboring baby Godzilla.

It kind of looks like GWAR with pickaxes is stalking a family harboring baby Godzilla.

The last thing I really enjoyed seeing in person was just how ridiculous the original Ninja Turtles line of figures became. I don't think I ever owned a figure that came with a cigarette, especially one that was hand rolled. The folks at Playmates did their best to fix that with this Cowboy Donatello.

Michael Jordan Donatello looks like he gave himself a hernia while running down the court

Michael Jordan Donatello looks like he gave himself a hernia while running down the court

His trunk is in the way, I should have gotten a picture from another angle to see if they actually gave him a nipple ring like he has on the card.

His trunk is in the way, I should have gotten a picture from another angle to see if they actually gave him a nipple ring like he has on the card.

I couldn't remember an episode with Doctor El so I looked him up. Enjoy the classic commercial I found!

After seeing all that I made my decisions and went home with a great haul. My first purchase wasn't even a toy.

Ninja Turtle Cake Pan - $5

Ninja Turtle Cake Pan - $5

I mentioned there were tons of collectables besides toys and I had never seen anything like this. I couldn't pass it up. I know what my cakes will look like for the rest of my life. Now I just have to find some good recipes. I'll of course have to try making a Michelangelo shaped pizza at some point as well.

Mystery Mini Raph and Casey - $5

Mystery Mini Raph and Casey - $5

I picked up a couple of Mystery Minis when I first saw them and got Leo and Shredder. I've been hesitant to buy more because I don't want to end up with duplicates and I don't want to wind up with one half of a duo. What good is Bebop without Rocksteady? These had been opened so I knew exactly what I was getting and to get the pair for $5 total when they each go for $7 in the box was a no-brainer.

A Dilophosaurus and Muldoon - $2

A Dilophosaurus and Muldoon - $2

When I was a kid I loved my Jurassic Park toys. I still have a bunch of them too. The compound center, the jeep and of course a bunch of the dinosaurs. I had Muldoon but, much like the character in the movie, it met a grizzly fate. Though mine was eaten by a terrier rather than a velociraptor. I'm happy to replace it at such a low price. I have a dilophosaurus too but this one spits. It's the kind of toy you put under water and squeeze. The one I had growing up was electronic and roared when you pulled its leg. It's probably still in my parent's garage. I'm very lucky my parents never made me throw any of my old stuff out. Next time I'm home I'll take a bunch of pictures and have Throwback Thursday posts for a year.

Justice League batman - $2

Justice League batman - $2

You can never have too many Batman figures. This one is based off the Justice League cartoon from the early 2000's. It'll look great along with the other figures from the animated series.

Five packs of trading cards - $8

Five packs of trading cards - $8

I debated making the Toy Show and the loot separate posts specifically because of these cards. There's a lot to say about everything here but I decided not to go into the history of these things because one quick Google search showed me it's been done. I'm shocked that until I came across the trading card booth I had never heard of Fright Flicks though. I've been a horror fan for about 16 years now and I'd never come across them. My pack was Fright Night heavy and my sticker is amazing.

What's worse, someone getting paid to sculpt that G.I. Joe/Troll abomination up above or someone getting paid to write that joke?

What's worse, someone getting paid to sculpt that G.I. Joe/Troll abomination up above or someone getting paid to write that joke?

Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

I'm realizing I had pretty good luck with all of the stickers now that I'm going through them.

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Damn gum, messed up my Batmobile sticker

Damn gum, messed up my Batmobile sticker

In terms of a budget, pretty good so far. Nothing more than a few bucks, until I spotted the subject of my last blog

Deadpool - $26

Deadpool - $26

So, it does exist outside of Comic-Con. I was starting to think I imagined the whole thing. The guy selling it was easy-going about having it too. I asked how much and he said I could make him an offer. I asked if he would take $20 and he shook his head no and said he needed to make at least a buck off of it. He pointed to some of the Jurassic Park toys he had still in their boxes behind the table and said something like that he's not letting go for a bargain since you can't find them anywhere else. Something like Deadpool on the other hand, you could find out on the shelves right now (Ha! I tried that) and so he wasn't about to double the price saying he felt bad ripping people off like that. He paid $25 for it so at least needed $26. I pulled out $26 and my hunt for the X-Men Legends line came to an end. I still never found Deadpool at retail price but at least I avoided eBay prices.

The Lake City Toy Show is bi-annual event so I will definitely be back. Now that I know toy specific shows are around I'll also be keeping an eye out for others.

Thanks for reading my longest post yet!

Marvel Legends X-Men

Last Summer at Comic-Con I noticed the Marvel Legends X-Men line being sold for about $80 a piece. I asked why so much and the man selling them said it was because those were advanced figures, they wouldn't be heading out to stores until August. I thought it was stupid to pay so much for a figure that you could find for $20 if you just waited a few weeks so I kept walking and added them to my ever growing list of things I want but don't need. About a month later I came across this video about the figures. 

I hadn't been toy hunting the way Rob Liefeld describes it in a long time, not since I was in High School and I was really into The Simpsons World of Springfield series. So, off I went. I took his advice and hit up the stores in my area on a daily basis. He wasn't kidding, the X-Men pegs he mentions really were empty at all the Targets I searched. It only took a couple days of searching before I had any luck finding one and it wasn't at Target or Walmart, it was Walgreens.

Finding Rogue first, ain't that just peachy!

Finding Rogue first, ain't that just peachy!

Success! At least one of these X-Men figures could be found at retail price if you looked hard enough. In case you're wondering why one of Rogue's accessories is a severed limb, these each come with a piece of Juggernaut. Buy seven (all of them except Deadpool) and build a new figure!

My wife and I were traveling through the suburbs when she mentioned she'd be okay with stopping at all the Walgreen's on the way home to look for X-Men. I hadn't expected her to be cool with it but of course I took her up on it. Sure enough we found a bunch of them.

There are three packages in this picture!

There are three packages in this picture!

Here we had Cable, Kitty Pryde, and Havok, the most I'd found at one time at that point. Four down, four to go. I regret waiting so long to write this because I don't exactly remember how much time there was in between finding the next figures. I ran into the empty pegs for while until stopping into a Target on a weekday morning (one of the benefits of working a second shift job). Phoenix was the next figure to be found, along with Juggernaut's headless and limbless torso. 

That same day I went to the mall across the street. They had a collector's toy store, an FYE, and a Gamestop. They had to have the rest there, right? Not at all. The mall was a complete bust. I didn't even find duplicates of the other figures. As if I was walking around in the aftermath of House Of M, there were no mutants left.

Soon after that I was at a Walgreen's coming up empty when an employee asked me if I needed any help. I told her what I was up to and how I had been looking for Wolverine and Deadpool for weeks at this point and she sympathized. Apparently she was a big Superman fan and understood how far some people are willing to go for their collections. She offered to exchange numbers, as she was the stock person at three different stores, and she'd let me know once she found either figure. I thought that was so nice of her and sure enough received a few texts throughout the week saying, "couldn't find them but I'll keep looking." The geek community is awesome for this reason. It reminded me to check with the stock-boys like the video mentions and I remembered I had a friend who worked at Target downtown. I got in touch with him and he said he'd keep an eye out for me. 

A few weeks later I was back at it and while I was in the toy aisle I heard a familiar voice say, "Have I got a story for you." When I turned around the Walgreen's woman had a big smile on her face and she was trying not to laugh too hard at herself after what she'd done. When she took my number she forgot to add my name to her contacts. She was going through her contacts texting "You still looking for Wolverine?" when she got a reply from someone saying, "I thought you didn't want to hear from me anymore." She had accidentally texted someone she just broke up with about X-Men toys...She played dumb and said she was someone else with a new number and dropped it but I felt so bad for this woman. I thanked her for going through all that trouble and she told me the reason she was trying to get back in touch with me was because she found Wolverine. 

Thanks, Walgreens stock lady! If I see you again I'll add your picture to this post

Thanks, Walgreens stock lady! If I see you again I'll add your picture to this post

After about two months of searching I was down to the last two. I looked at the list of characters and laughed. Deadpool I understand but I didn't think it was going to be so hard to track down Iceman. Well once again it wasn't a big toy store where I found him, it was Walgreeens.

This picture reminds me, I was tearing up the city looking for X-Men and would more often than not come up empty. I'd say at EVERY store I went to that sold Marvel Legends figures I found multiple Daredevil and Ant-Man toys. I almost bought The Man Without Fear out of pity since he's one of my favorite characters.

Yellow suit Daredevil, anyone?

Yellow suit Daredevil, anyone?

So now we're in late October, I've been looking for two months, and I've found them all except Deadpool. Even with two people working stock rooms and searching on my behalf there is no sign of this toy outside of eBay. He's like Cameron Hodge, hiding in the shadows. Soon enough November comes around and I start seeing the Dr. Strange Lineup. I missed it. My chance at finding the Deadpool figure at retail price had come and gone, dammit! Makes me mad enough to punch Cyclops.

Here we are in April and I had just about forgotten about the X-Men lineup and the writeup about the hunt. I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and when passing the toy aisle I saw something surprising. The entire collection was just sitting there right next to Punisher, Ant-Man, and Kylo Ren. Every figure, except Deadpool and Wolverine, of course.

I'll keep an eye out but at this point it looks like my luck ran out. Seven out of Eight isn't bad, though. I'll just have to hope someone missed him and Deadpool's hiding on a bottom shelf somewhere out there.

Finally, I did confirm that your big box retailers are more often than not empty of the good stuff. I also realized the suburbs usually have a better selection as well. Next time a hunt begins it'll be good to start around a perimeter made up of offbeat stores and work my way back into the city. Because just like Mutants, when it comes to toys the most extraordinary things can be found in the most ordinary of places.

Back From The Dead

I let the blog sit for far too long. My last post was in December! I missed covering Christmas, Toy fair in NY,  as well as a few toy shows and conventions in the area. That's Horrible! A lot has happened since December so let me explain what's been going on.

First, when I started the blog I had intended it to be all about the hunt. I was having fun driving around town and looking for the Marvel Legends X-Men series but once I took a break from it to shop for others (it was Christmas and all) I realized I didn't have the money to keep it up. I also only have a few toy departments in my area, not even full toy stores, so I was just going to the same places over and over. I don't think that's really sustainable for the long run in terms of content. So, while I wanted to try to focus on new releases I think I'm going to include toys of all kinds from now on. Retro toys and collectables as well as the new stuff when I have time to hunt.

I need to figure out how to walk a fine line in that regard because I don't want to ripoff my main source of inspiration. Last year my friend showed me Dinosaur Dracula and I was immediately hooked. I find the blog hilarious and I love the mix of content. Most of the articles are about action figures from the 80's and 90's so I want to be sure I don't subconsciously steal anything. Though I've been SO worried about that I've forgotten to write anything at all. Time to get over that, especially since I recently found a bunch of old VHS tapes of Saturday morning cartoons with the commercials included. I promise I'll stick to toy related blogs. I'll stay away from writing about junk food, even when it is shaped like a ninja turtle.

In these times you have to be on social media to promote yourself. A funny thing happened when I bought my domain name. I didn't think to check Facebook. So, I got the name Pursuit of Plastic and was so happy with such a clever title. When I tried to crate a Facebook page I found that there was already a podcast called Pursuit of Plastic. Damn! I thought I might be able to get away with keeping my name but their podcast is the exact same idea I had, going out hunting for toys and talking about the pursuit. Great minds think alike, I suppose. So a name change was in the cards fairly early on in my blogging time. Oh well, that's not the end of the world. It's not like the country was about to be ruled by a former reality TV show host.

Yes, I know, politics probably don't have a place in an action figure blog but I'd be doing a disservice to myself if I finished this post without mentioning the last setback and cause for the drought of content. When Trump Inauguration day happened I wasn't very happy with myself. People have their opinions and, here in Seattle, most of them were able to speak intelligently when explaining or defending their political views. I could have been using my time to educate myself the same way they had but instead I had buried myself in pop culture. When I looked in the mirror I saw a grown man, and person of color, who was using his time to look for, buy, and write about collectables. I felt like an idiot. I struggled with this feeling for a few months. I couldn't focus solely on political news because it's just too damn depressing. On the other hand, I felt ignorant when I didn't pay any attention to it and spent my time searching for Batman figures. Recently I've found a balance and have come to understand it does not have to be all or nothing. I also don't feel any kind of guilt at this point about collecting or writing about figures. Writing definitely makes me feel better so I can use it to help take my mind off the dismal news and I'm also happy to put out a source of entertainment that you enjoy and hopefully find fun.

"It's okay, Mikey. I'm angry too"

"It's okay, Mikey. I'm angry too"

So, back to it! I promise it won't be another three months until the next entry.

South Park Special Edition Loot Crate

South Park has been my favorite show since I saw my first episode. I was in sixth grade and the show was just finishing season 1. I was way too young to be watching it but I had seen a few episodes before my mom realized what it was and the damage had been done. I was obsessed. I could not get enough of it and I drove everyone around me crazy impersonating the funny voices on the show...poorly. South Park was my introduction to satire and the early philosophy of the show, "Either everything is okay to make fun of or none of it is" made total sense to me and helped shape my sense of humor. I unknowingly introduced myself to binge-watching as I taped every episode and watched them the way most people watch Netflix nowadays. I suppose I'm a binge-watching hipster, I did it before it was cool.  Over the course of the next few years I had watched so much of it I could find a way to connect whatever was happening in my life to something I'd seen on the show. Have you ever been around someone with a one-track mind and they get annoying and kind of kill their subject of choice for you because they just keep bringing it back there? Throughout school I was that guy with South Park. Sorry. I'm pretty sure some former classmate to this day flips channels, sees Cartman, shakes his head and says, "Fuckin' Louie..."

Though I've learned to pump the brakes on the references, South Park is still my favorite show. So when Loot Crate announced a special edition crate I didn't think twice about the price. I had to have one. It's arrived right in time for the end of season 20! Let's take a look.

#1. Randy Marsh with Swinging Balls Pin

#1. Randy Marsh with Swinging Balls Pin

Every Loot Crate comes with a pin and this Special Edition does not disappoint. Randy is one of the best characters on the show and I'm glad he's represented. I think the only way they could have improved on it is if they had made his eyelids half shut so he looked high. That's not a problem though, I will definitely wear this. For those of you who haven't seen the episode this is referencing, in season 14 Randy finds a medical marijuana dispensary but is told he can't get a card unless he has a serious condition, like cancer. 

#2. Safe Space Caution Tape

#2. Safe Space Caution Tape

This Safe Space tape is the one item in the crate I don't see myself using or displaying. I understand wanting to include something from a recent season but I think this is a miss. I'm not going to put it up around my place. Maybe at a Halloween party? I still don't see it. I have a friend who works at a college. Maybe she can give it to one of the students and we can see if today's freshman get the reference or if they think it's an actual product. There are a lot of characters and events I would have rather seen represented: a goth kids notebook for depressing poetry, a menu from City Wok, the Terrance and Philip poster seen in the boy's bedrooms, a Casa Bonita County Jail picture frame...I could go on.

#3 is  an item I might display, a South Park coin. I think it looks cool but the detail is so small I couldn't get a decent picture of it with my camera. One side features the classic boys at the bus stop scene and the other has the season 20 logo. I like it, but I'm not a coin collector. I don't see myself heading out to a coin shop to find a display case for it. I wouldn't necessarily call it a miss. I guess I'm just not as excited about it as the rest of the crate. Here, watch a bus stop clip. It's funnier than the coin.

#4. Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls Silicone Mold

#4. Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls Silicone Mold

I laughed out loud when I realized what this was. When I opened the package the image of Chef wasn't facing up so I saw the divots of the mold first. Some of the lyrics to the song from the episode are printed on the side of the banner I saw first so once I read the first line I knew that I was holding a mold for Chef's salty chocolate balls. I will definitely use this one. I wish they would have included some kind of recipe. Oh well, I guess I'll have to try the recipe from the full version of the song!

#5. Cartman Print

#5. Cartman Print

There were two Cartman items included in the crate. I have a lot of art and prints from my favorite shows and this 8x10 is definitely something I can see framing and hanging up next to the rest of my South Park collection. It includes all of the best costumes Cartman has worn over the years. It's hard to pick a favorite, between Fatbeard, A.W.E.S.O.M-O, The Coon, and the 25 other variations featured. I'm glad it's part of the crate!

#6. Clyde Frog

#6. Clyde Frog

I've always been a fan of merchandise that's modeled after an item the character from the show would want, like Terrance and Philip dolls or Cheesy Poofs so I was surprised in the best way by this item. Cartman's favorite doll, Clyde Frog, has been brought to life exclusively for this Loot Crate. I can see Clyde frog sitting on the shelf next to a Cartman figure, for sure. This is a solid addition that was cleverly spoiled by the holiday window in Barneys New York this year. I would have never guessed Clyde Frog would be a part of the crate but I'm happy to have it.

#7. Kenny/Mysterion Hoodie

#7. Kenny/Mysterion Hoodie

I've saved my two favorite items for last. Coincidentally, they're both relevant to the upcoming video game the Fractured But Whole (say it out loud, hehehe). I'm normally not a fan of costume hoodies but this is one is pretty sweet. We have a reversible Kenny/Mysterion hoodie that fooled me at first. I saw the orange hood and assumed it was going to have some blood stains or visible broken bones like the dead Kennys of the first few seasons but I held it up and saw I was wrong. Then I tried it on and  saw the question mark on top of the inside of the hood. Nicely done, Loot Crate! I picture myself wearing the Kenny side more often than Mysterion. It's subtle. Most people will probably just assume I'm wearing a regular orange hoodie but hopefully diehard fans will notice the brown cuffs on the sleeves and the line straight down the middle. It'll be nice to have the Mysterion option though, especially if I wait until the last minute next time I'm headed to a costume party.

#8. Kidrobot Professor Chaos Figure

#8. Kidrobot Professor Chaos Figure

My other favorite item is, of course, a vinyl figure! This exclusive glow in the dark Professor Chaos is perfect. Kidrobot recently released 7" figures based on The Coon, Mysterion, and Professor Chaos that are worth a post of their own and I'm so glad a variant of one of them was included in the crate. I would have loved getting any of these figures but seeing Butters' super villain identity was the one included made an awesome crate that much better.

 The packaging Kidrobot has designed is almost as great as the figure too! The comic book art on the sides looks like it might be just as nice to display. I can't wait to collect the others and complete the set. 

I almost forgot. Loot Crate packages can be turned inside out and folded into artwork to display. This one is pretty big.  You can unfold it and use the stickers included to make your own South Park Elementary bus! Like what you see? I think Loot Crate still has some of these in stock. As a longtime fan I think this is definitely worth it. Get on down to South Park before they're gone!

Deadpool fandom in 2016

In 2009 I was watching my friend play a video game when I saw a Marvel character I had never heard of. Though I was an on again off again comic book reader I considered myself knowledgable enough, and was actually sort of bothered I had no idea who this guy was. He seemed deadly, with his katanas and all, but once he started talking he spit out lines that made me laugh out loud with their absurdity. My friend said I should look into him, he's named Deadpool.

I don't want to admit how long it took me to realize he was breaking the fourth wall

Soon after I checked out a comic shop and found some Deadpool comics written by Daniel Way. I realized very quickly my first impression of this character was spot-on, deadly but funny, and as a fan of dark comedy I couldn't get enough. Deadpool was the kind of character to say, "Knock knock" and before you could say, "Who's there?" he'd pull a gun and shoot you in the face. It was fun seeing him interact with other Marvel characters too. I loved it when he begged to join the X-Men or when he followed Spider-Man around New York and annoyed him the whole time. When the Deadpool Classic series was released the man behind the counter at the comic shop saw my interest and suggested I read the issues written by Joe Kelly. I was devouring everything I could find with this character so I of course took him up on that suggestion and with volume three I found my favorite comic. In Deadpool #11 his teleporter breaks and he, along with Blind Al, is transported into an issue of Spider-Man from the 60's. It's like Deadpool plays Mystery Science Theater with the Marvel Universe and it still makes me laugh every time I read it. 

Since then I've found it in single issue and had it signed by Kelly and Woods!

Since then I've found it in single issue and had it signed by Kelly and Woods!

That issue made me the fanatic I am today and at this point I had to ask myself, where can I get an action figure of this guy? I've always loved decorating my shelves with my favorite characters and I knew I had to put Deadpool next to his pal Spider-Man as soon as I could find one. At this point it's late 2011 and I couldn't find anything around my local comic shops. The same guy who had recommended the classic series to me also let me know that, with the exception of the occasional statue, Deadpool didn't really have much in the realm of collectables. There was the old Toy Biz figure from the 90's and there was a Marvel Legends figure too but they had been out of print for years and I wasn't sure they were worth the prices I saw on eBay. I had just missed the Deadpool/Taskmaster 2-pack as well. There was also this guy but let's not get into that right now. So I kept my eyes peeled at the next convention I went to and found a few interesting things. First, the Diamond Select figure was widely available and was just what I was looking for. At $25 it was the perfect blend of cool looking display figure and reasonable price. A new collection began. The second thing I noticed that year at Emerald City Comic Con, 2012, was the artists and fellow collectors I met were surprised, almost relieved, to meet a fellow Deadpool fan. From what I understand, at that point he was still considered a character with a small but extremely devoted fanbase. It was fun being in on the joke and I got a big kick out of quoting my favorite issues with my new friends. Shortly after con season I was browsing a discount bin when I came across this guy.

Finding Deadpool in a discount bin...those were the days!

Finding Deadpool in a discount bin...those were the days!

I thought it was a little strange Deadpool was being marketed to young kids but didn't care because I thought the figure looked funny. Sold! I didn't see much through the rest of the year in terms of toys but there was an awesome statue from Sideshow that also premiered that year. Outside of collectables 2012 was a big year for the merc with a mouth. Daniel Way finished his run on the comics, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn were about to start their awesome Dead Presidents story and Deadpool himself announced his own video game at SDCC that summer. The next year at ECCC he was everywhere. You couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone cosplaying him. I assumed people were seeing the same things I did in the comics and his popularity was growing due to the hilariously absurd comedy, which I thought was rare in comics. I was kind of right. Something else happened in 2012 that completely went over my head because I wasn't paying attention to YouTube.

The cosplayer D-Piddy started taking off around this time and a lot of people discovered the character through his YouTube channel. The combination of the comics, video games, and viral videos launched Deadpool into convention superstardom. The moments where you'd meet someone who was surprised to meet another Deadpool fan were gone. Everyone at conventions knew who he was, and everyone loved him. No more being in on some kind of inside joke. Vendors took note and prices for action figures and statues reflected the new popularity. That same Diamond Select figure I mentioned earlier was now going for $45 and the Toy Biz and Legends figures that were out of print cost a small fortune. The Sideshow statue was $700 when I saw it on the show floor and eBay prices were even higher. As a collector, I was pissed off. I only had one year where I found some badass figures that didn't break the bank. Was it still cool to collect Deadpool? Did I want to start spending that kind of money on figures? For a second I had my doubts.

I quickly realized this was a snobbish, ugly attitude to have. It's a great thing when one of your favorite characters gains popularity for many different reasons. First of all, you shouldn't look at the bandwagon with disdain, look at them as a bunch of potential new friends. You know you have at least one thing in common. At the very least you have someone to talk to, and something to talk about, while you're in one of the many lines conventions are now known for. In regards to the bandwagon, who was I to judge? I found out about Deadpool in 2009. He was created in 1991. Remember, I discovered him in a video game. I wish I was reading his comics from the beginning but that's not the case. So who cares if you find a character outside of their original medium? Whether people find Deadpool through comics, games, YouTube videos, or movies, I'm just happy they find him. Is it cool to be a fan? I think so. Is it cool to be the biggest fan? No. Stop that. That's obnoxious.

Another reason to be happy about the popularity, the artists and writers who have been creating the dark comedies we know and love get to keep doing just that, and more of it. More comics, more cartoons, and of course, the movie (I'll get there in a second). It's deceptively easy for some people to forget a character doesn't belong to them. It's also easy to not see how much work went into developing the character we know today. I've read that during Kelly's run on the book it was almost cancelled on a monthly basis. I'm glad they gave us what we have so far and I look forward to more. 

Finally, and most relevant to this blog, we should be happy because more popularity means more merch! Since 2013 Funko released bobbleheads, plush dolls, and figurines. You were lucky if you got the taco truck from SDCC that year too. Deadpool continued to gain a lot of momentum and in 2014 when the test footage leaked and was met with an overwhelming response we fans finally got word the movie was coming!

So here we are in 2016. The movie shattered expectations. Deadpool is now arguably a household name and with the continuously rising popularity collecting has never been easier. There's so much of it. You don't even have to wait for a convention or head to a comic shop. I've seen the toys at Target, Barnes & Noble, and for a while there Hot Topic was plastered with black and red. I'm thrilled to be a Deadpool collector right now. As much as there is at the moment it might be fair to say the best is yet to come! I think the most recent figure to be released is the one from the X-Men Legends series. I want to see if I can find it in person before resorting to eBay. The results of the hunt will be saved for a future post. Wish me luck!