I love toy shows and flea markets. They are a collector’s dream because you feel like Indiana Jones when you happen to come across that one piece you have been hoping to “someday” add to your collection. As soon as the Spring 2022 Inland Northwest Toy Show Classic’s date was announced it went on my calendar.
As the day drew closer I was having reservations about going. I’m in the middle of working 17 out of 19 day at my “9-5” job. That is averaging out to over ten hours of overtime per week. The opportunity to get caught up on sleep and spend time with my family was outweighing the virtues of the show. My wife convinced me that the show started late enough that no sleep would be lost. As a bonus, she told me that she and the kids would join me on this adventure.
I’m glad she talked me into going. I felt myself getting more excited on the drive there. When we arrived the parking area was packed. That told me two things. There were a lot of vendors and there were a lot of people in attendance. While we had skipped getting there early and paying a little extra for the privilege of getting an hour’s jump start a lot of people took advantage of the opportunity.
When we walked the cacophony from all the chatter was incredible. It was a huge marketplace for geeks and toy enthusiasts alike. Friends that hadn’t seen one another in years were catching up. Guests were taking a stroll down memory lane and explaining all of the features on vintage toys to their children. Negotiations were going on left and right about the costs of various items. The building was alive with energy.
I had been in the facility less than a minute when I found my first treasure of the day. Time Bomb Collectibles had a vintage Hordak figure from the Masters of the Universe. I’d been wanting to replace the one that I sold at a yard sale in my childhood for some time. The prices on eBay were a little beyond what I was willing to pay. Time Bomb hooked me up with a great deal.
After visiting Time Bomb’s booth I wandered around the floor to get an idea of which vendors had items that I would be interested in, not really focusing on any one thing. There were a few other familiar faces. Travis Naught had a booth filled with toys and a couple of long boxes of comics. We talked about Gem State Comic-Con for a few minutes and I gave him my latest requests of collectibles I’m looking for and picked up a few comics from his buck box.
After chatting with my friends I got down to business and started hunting for some of the other treasures on my wish list. Travis told me about a booth that had nothing but Transformers figures. I made a note to check it out. Transformers are good; but they weren’t the priority.
The number one item on my want list was a 1987 William “The Fridge” Perry G.I. Joe. This figure was an exclusive mail away promotional deal. If you sent in the UPC code from the package of three figures and the promotional flyer that came with a figure in, along with postage and handling, you could get this figure. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. In 1987 my allowance was $2.00 a week. A G.I. Joe figure cost about $2.25.. By the time I got the three UPC codes and saved up enough money to cover the shipping and handling the promotion had ended. Since then it has always been on my list for “someday”.
I wandered the floor. The booth Travis told me about had several impressive looking Transformers, including a Starscream that would fit nicely with my collection. Starscream had a triple digit price tag. I didn’t want to be tapped out on cash 15 minutes into the show so I decided to see if anything else rated higher before coming back to it.
As I meandered through the aisles I saw Star Wars memorabilia from the original movie to “The Mandalorian”. There were He-Man figures, various generations of G.I. Joe figures, toy cars, trains, Barbie dolls, ninja turtles, and “Ghostbusters” memorabilia. Any booth that had a box of comic books had my undivided attention. Going through the boxes at one booth I found some issues of “Mad Magazine” for a dollar a piece. Cheap!
There was a booth selling a variety of toys. This particular booth’s proprietor was wearing an incredible Cobra Commander mask. I wanted to buy something from him just on principle. Unfortunately, he didn’t have anything that was of interest that I didn’t already have.
One booth had a buck box filled with comics stashed under a table. As I was going through the books I saw a lot of stuff that didn’t belong in a buck box. I told the vendor that there were some higher end books in that box. Their reply was they were trying to free up space so the books were getting blown out at bargain basement prices. That’s when it happened. I came across “Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen” #134.
From the appearance of the cover you could tell this book had been well loved at some point. I didn’t care. It contained the first appearance of Darkseid. It was only a dollar. It’s a classic book with a great story about how it came to be in my possession. It’s going to look great on my wall!
Right after that my family caught up with me. Minion and Munchkin were grinning from ear to ear. They had found Pokémon cards, Mario toys, a Nerf gun, and a board game. Minion was most proud of another toy he’d found. During his adventures he had come across a green and purple Transformers figure.
He snatched it up because he thought it was one of the Constructicons that form Devastator and I would love it. He was right and wrong. It has an Autobot emblem on it so it can’t be a Constructicon or Devastator. I have a new favorite figure in my collection because he bought it though.
Minion and I did one last walkthrough to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We talked about how much he was liking the show. He told me he was enjoying it. As we walked by a booth that seemed to be dedicated to G.I. Joe figures I saw a figure of “The Fridge” in the corner of a display case. He was complete with his weapon and file card. After a couple minutes of negotiations I had the figures I’ve wanted for 35 years in my bag.
This was the highpoint of my day. There would be no topping it. Sensing my weakness the children managed to hit me up for a video game each as we walked out the door after a couple hours of bliss.
Random Thoughts and Observations from the Inland Northwest Toy Show Classic
- This isn’t the only toy show like this in the nation. If you attend the one in your area you have the possibility of finding the treasures you want without pay eBay prices.
- Toy shows are very similar to Comic-Con. The big differences being the lack of comic book creators, entertainment personalities, and price of admission. These are a great way to go shopping for geeky goodness.
- Building a rapport with the local vendors is crucial to your success in the hunt. If a vendor knows you are in search of a particular piece they’ll keep you in mind when they see it. Case in point, Travis telling me about the Transformers in the booth near his.
- This show had an early bird special. For an extra $6.00 you could get in an hour early. I suspect this happens at other shows as well. I’ve never been one to partake in this. I prefer to play with fate. If the item is still there when I get to it it was meant to be.
- Beware of the impulsive purchase. Just because you can have that item in hand that day it doesn’t guarantee you will be getting a good deal. Have a rough idea of how much you should be paying before you pick it up. If a vendor sees you price checking on your phone they may be less willing to negotiate.
- Take your children with you to toy shows. It’s a great opportunity to bond over some of the cool things you may come across. My son and I saw an 18 inch tall Iron Man Hulkbuster that was exquisitely done. We didn’t buy it; but it created a memory.