Monday, June 3, 2024

Inside the Mind of a Toy Addict Part 3 – The (Marvel) Legends Build

In spite of various six inch scale acquisitions, I wasn’t planning on building an actual Marvel collection.
At least not yet. 
Addicts never do.
The series of decisions made in short succession indicates that “not planning on an actual collection” concept wouldn’t last for long.
With “room” on the book shelves now that all the little figures were away, I had been debating on beginning to collect Marvel Legends in earnest, based on comic book ads and inserts for some upcoming lines having characters I cared about due for release. I was mostly looking at characters from my main Marvel reading years- members of Daredevil’s world (which I will call "Marvel Knights" to annoy those who know better) and appropriately timed Avengers, like the Iron Man Silver Centurion and other members of the West Coast team
Aside- I could SWEAR I saw that armor listed as “Silver Sphinx” when it was first coming out. And yet I cannot find any evidence of this being accurate. Even the oldest stuff I have calls it “Silver Centurion.” Can one generate a personal Mandala Effect? 
Maybe I blew a fuse in my brain.

However, I was debating between starting down that comic book-based path, or starting to collect Eighties era professional wrestling figures. Yes, I had begun an equally focused path down the rabbit hole of renewing an obsession in that world.
I decided to let it come down to what I would find in a store together first. After much comparison shopping, I was unable to locate a Rowdy Roddy Piper and a Junkyard Dog in the same location. However, I did locate a Sabretooth and Colossus (2003), which I knew would go well with the brown costume Wolverine (2004) due out shortly.
Astute individuals may notice that those Marvel figures are clearly X-Men related, a group which is connected to neither of the two I had listed in my collection plan. Clearly, both my weakness for “big and cool looking” figures and my addiction about to fly off the rails were both in evidence early on. This trend has increased exponentially as the days when both the pre-Legends Thor and Beta Ray Bill were replaced due to sun damage have long passed. 
Don't worry, they received appropriate Viking Funerals.
As should be crystal clear by now, I do have a problem.
But that foresight early on allowed me to recreate a famous moment from the first X-Men comic I ever read. The first individual X-Men comic I ever owned was 1987’s Annual 11, leading me to be a lifelong Alan Davis fan and to collecting Excalibur. (Which is why I’m annoyed Meggan was finally released, (2024) but in a three pack with no sign of dropping in price. Not that I'm bitter.) However, the first one I read came out back in 1984- issue 183. I read it in the Best of Marvel Comics red leather-bound hardcover. (1987) It was connected to where all my collecting started, Secret Wars.

Kitty was crushed (figuratively) by being dumped by Colossus after he returned to Earth obsessed with the alien healer Zsaji, who had sacrificed herself for him and the other heroes. (Hey kids! Comics!) Wolverine took him out to a bar to beat the tar out of the kid. Nightcrawler came along so Logan wouldn’t kill him, but a chance meeting with the Juggernaut (2004) did Wolverine’s job for him. (Ah, the good old days where a normal priced figure could be this big (practically bursting out of the packaging) with a fancy base AND a comic book! Then again, the shelves are full enough now that almost all the bases are in storage or the background. 

Sadly, I could not mock up a pub setting or a fully stocked bar for Cain to crush (literally) Piotr with.
As for the wrestling figures. While Marvel Legends prices continue to skyrocket, AND availability of figures here in New Jersey, the armpit of the collecting world, got more and more sparse, I have always seen low priced figures of my favorite wrestlers easily findable on store pegs in the twenty or so years since this decision was made. It is as if they are mocking me. At least I found a great video game that simulates owning old school wrestling action figures. The release of the embarrassingly bad Miss Elizabeth figure (2017) about a half dozen years after my decision was made cemented that I had made the correct one.

Like most addictions, mine started cheap and easy with the Toy Biz lines of figures. There weren’t online listings and pre orders, just inserts with other figures and advertisements in comic books showing upcoming waves. Most stores' list prices were around seven bucks. A couple were less, and some, like K-mart charged above ten! 
Exorbitant excess! 
If only I knew then how badly Hasbro would inflate the prices, I would have picked up every single figure off of those “overpriced” K-mart racks.
As can be seen from my initial purchases, my starting goal of “Avengers and Marvel Knights from the comics era I read,” expanded rapidly. Yes, those initial goal groups do have a continued hold on two of the “core shelves.”

However, there are two other “core shelves” that populated just as quickly: 
the X-Men and the Bad Guys' locations.

As should be crystal clear by now, I do have a problem.
The addiction went in a fairly easygoing manner at first. It was a heady time. Not only were the figures cheap and easy to find, but they came with a free comic book and either large, decorated display bases or accessories. The Danny Ketch Ghost Rider (2002) with his motorcycle fit every “NEED” category and was an immediate acquisition.

These early days of goodness lasted for a while until two things happened that initiated the transition to where we are today- 

An example of where we are today: The release of the same size Danny Ketch Ghost Rider with motorcycle was just announced by Hasbro. He has far less articulation (with two alternate hands instead of poseable ones) a slightly less impressive sculpt, no comic book and a cost over SEVEN TIMES what I paid for my figure. My Mother-In-Law didn't have to pay that much when she bought me the over sized version (2007) that we use as a dining room centerpiece.
As should be crystal clear by now, the whole family enables my problem.

The first of the two things in mentioned (before my "where we are now" rant) was when the waves with the West Coast Avengers started to get released, scarcity premiered. I could tell stores had gotten the waves in based on what figures were left on the shelves, but key individuals were missing. I ended up getting the required Hawkeye and Vision (2004) from a direct sales comic store at almost double what the price should have been. Eventually the temporary panic let up in Target one day. 
It was the motherlode. It was glorious...
It was one side of an ENTIRE AISLE FILLED with Marvel Legends. 
All the waves that had been due out over the last year and more were fully represented. I scooped up all the figures I had been looking for…
And a bunch of others in my excitement, to be honest, increasing the two initially “non planned” core shelves significantly.
As should be crystal clear by now, I do have a problem.
The second transitional item was the release of the first build a figure wave. (2005) The wave was a mix of “NEED” figures and others that I would have normally considered “nice to have” at best. The concept of getting a figure mainly to complete the “bonus” character was born. 
This was a truly dangerous addition to the addiction.

The toy pushers wanted to make sure the drive to collect grew by offering massive build a figures at first. Gigantic and shiny Galactus was the original. He was followed up by equally huge Sentinel and Apocalypse waves. (Both also 2005, t'was a good year.) Being completely naïve about how much the base price figures would increase, I foolishly talked myself out of completing these two just to save on getting some figures that didn’t "match" my sets.
I even congratulated myself on saving money by finding the other parallel brand “X-Men Classics” Archangel (2004) on sale for five bucks, meaning I didn’t need the standard Angel that had a Sentinel part.
What a fool I was.

I had half each of the enormous Sentinel and Apocalypse figures, and the correct ones, I surmised, to make a cool looking hybrid. The evil masters of Toy Biz were a step ahead of me, however. The joint connection points of the two figures were not compatible. They became the first in what ended up as an ever growing "super person second hand market body parts" pile.

One final Toy Biz wave (Legendary Riders, again 2005- see?) without a build a figure came with some of the ugliest character designs in history. I did end up buying the Scarlet Witch on sale at a later date, as there was no way to know if or when a character would be repeated back then. She was later replaced by a present from my very patient wife with a immensely improved Hasbro version. That original one was burned to save others, therefore there is no image to haunt anyone's dreams.
There was also an “Ultron” from that wave that I bought for the same reason, designed by someone who had clearly never seen the evil robot, but must have had a great deal of experience with rabbits. Luckily, the slightly larger Marvel Select line (2012) came out with a comic accurate version shortly thereafter. (Ultron's been drawn so many difference sizes an inch here or there didn't matter.) A birthday present allowed me to leave the “Bunny Rendition” of the killer AI in the background.

Click to continue to Part 4

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