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.
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.
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.
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.
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.