I went out
yesterday a few days ago (and then again on Sunday) intending to hit up maybe 3 stores, but when 5 o’clock started rearing its head, I decided to stay out in the city and hit up a few more stops rather than inching my way home in rush hour traffic. As usual, some stops were a total bust while others were a total surprise. You’ll probably see me go on about some of these items or groups a little more in depth later on, but for now, here a few quick pics and a general rundown of Friday’s “exciting” moments.
I should probably point out that this probably wasn’t 100% by accident. A lot of retailers restock – especially toys – late Thursday night or Friday to account for Saturdays and Sundays. Now I don’t have the stocking habits of all my surrounding stores down to a science, but Friday afternoons and evenings can be a sweet time for hitting miniature jackpots. Not all stores restock all items every week…for example, this Friday a Walmart might get in a few cases of Star Wars Character Cars but no Marvel. Next Friday, we might see the exact opposite and so on.
Walmart – Wake Forest
This is pretty much my go-to store. It’s close, it’s open all night, and they typically keep up with Hot Wheels pretty good. I’m probably not the only collector who hits it up regularly, because they often run out their neatest stuff by the end of the weekend. They didn’t have any new or exciting Character Cars, but they did have the Women of Marvel Pop Culture set! I’m not necessarily a die-hard fan of the Pop Culture sets – for instance I passed on the recent Beatles release and I totally skipped over all those Batmans and Supermans that filled shelves for a while. I kinda dug the theme though, so I picked up all 5.
The card backs are absolutely beautiful and it kinda makes me not want to open them. I am sortta confused why they went with van-like vehicles for the females though…Quick D-Livery and Combat Medic are a bit overused in my opinion. Hell, I think I have a Black Widow Combat Medic from the set that was out last spring/summer! I’m also a little bittersweet about the tribute to Scarlet Witch, mostly because I spent last summer and fall fucking convinced that she would be made into a character car any day…especially after Black Panther, Vision, and Winter Solider dropped, not to mention the Civil War-branded editions of Ant Man, Iron Man, Captain American, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. We had 12 main players in Civil War – 6 per team – and we have Character Cars of all of them sans Scarlet Witch. What the fuck!? She even had a more important part in the story than most, like actually being a member of the new iteration of The Avengers, unlike several characters who’s appearance was just a notch up from “cameo” (Spider-Man, Ant-Man, War Machine, etc.). I’m still pretty fucking pissed about the issue.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the gals and move along, before it takes me 3 days to write this.
- Black Widow – Bread Box
- Scarlet Witch – Combat Medic
- She-Hulk – Custom ’77 Dodge Van
- Spider-Woman – Quick D-Livery
- Wasp – Volkswagen T1 Panel
K-mart – Raleigh (Six Forks)
K-marts can be weird places sometimes. Sometimes I can walk into one and feel like I’m back in 1990. I’m not sure if this was a nationwide occurrence or just a regional alteration, but it doesn’t help that they’ve whittled away their electronics sections down to almost nothing, removing video games and most higher-end devices in favor of budget-conscious appliances courtesy of Sears. A trip to K-mart used to be the bright spot of a kid’s day. You could grab a slice of Little Caesar’s and feel like a king eating it in that little dine-in area, grab an ICEE to wash it down with, find a contemporary toy in that $5 to $15 range to be perfectly satisfied with, and mom or dad could even milk a little something out of the trip by picking up a pack of Spider-Man briefs or some Batman sneakers that you were in such desperate need of at that age of wear and tear and growth.
Nowadays, K-marts are repositories for unwanted and outdated toys, not to mention the surplus of budget-friendly no-name break-in-a-heartbeat plastic masquerading as toys. The air is somehow yellow and…sad. Walmart employees may be unhelpful and tactless idiots, but the ones at K-mart just feel like hollow shells. Rows and rows of untouched merchandise gather dust within this time warp, and you instantly begin to realize why – a $5 towel is $2 at Walmart…a $4 greeting card is $1.50…a $10 candle is $4…it’s dollars and “sense.” It’s still a little sad though..remember Roses? K-mart is going that same direction, albeit a bit slower.
What’s so damn weird is that somehow they end up restocking with rare, interesting, and worthwhile stuff. For example, I’ve only ever seen 2 Sabin Wren Character Cars in the wild, and they were both at this K-mart. When the Carships line began, this was the first place to have ’em, beating out mainstream competitors by a week or so in the area. It was also a good place to pick up Super Mario Character Cars after their heyday had passed in order for me to flip ’em on eBay. And I swear they still get some regular mainline Hot Wheels in exclusive colors.
Anyway, before I prattle on too long (I ramble like this IRL as well, though most of the time my audience either thinks it’s entertaining or I’m able to read the room enough to know when to move on…I think there’s some borderline Asperger’s somewhere in there), the point of including this stop was to talk about this random pile of Hot Wheels Star Wars Starships K-mart had lying around. They weren’t on a shelf or neatly laid out or in any discernible order. I probably should mention that around the time Force Awakens merch became ubiquitous in retail, K-mart had this big island thingy devoted to it that was all nice and orderly. By the time Rogue One merch was in full swing, the island had shrunk a bit, but it still had distinct sections and remained relatively orderly. As the Rogue One scene began winding down, this area devolved into a heap of plastic lightsabers, so many K-mart-exclusive Black Series figures that it was almost pathetic, and a few little cars and ships on hangers. Well, last Friday, there was no Star Wars island. I don’t even know where the rest of that shit went, but apparently they took all the car-sized stuff and just dumped it under the regular Hot Wheels section.
The cool part is what I actually found though: a freakin’ N-1 Starfighter (I stumbled across 1 at the mall and my kid found another when he was out with my mom one day), a damn Vulture Droid (never seen these as a single – only in those giant packs at Target where I already have everything else), and wouldn’t you know it – TWO Imperial Cargo Shuttles – you know, the thing that the Rebels commandeered in Rogue One. They actually took off in one for the final mission and control was all like, “you can’t drive that shit” and Bodhi was like, “we Rogue One muthafucka!!!!” and they all took off Suicide Squad style.
Maybe you’re not as impressed as I am, but that’s ok. The Cargo Shuttle was a big “whoa” because I’ve only seen that on the web. Still no word on the Hovertank though. Does anyone have any idea why some of these Starships were produced in such limited quantities? I mean its easier now (well maybe not since some stores are clearing stock, but in general) to grab stuff like the TIE Striker and the AT-ST and so on, but these new Starships have remained crazy elusive, and all most people get to see is dozens of Ghosts, various forms of TIE Fighters, Kylo’s Shuttle, etc. And you can tell the older ones – like N-1 and Vulture Droid – were re-released because the ones I just bought feature the flat base, which replaced the little finger-flight-navigator stand. I’m still missing 2 different versions of the Jedi Starfighter, Jabba’s Sail Barge or Khetanna as it’s now known, Jango’s “version” of the Slave I, the TIE Interceptor, and the Hovertank if and when it ever manifests. There are also some I already have that I’d like to have more of though, like I wouldn’t mind having a total of 4 ARC Fighters and 4 Vulture Droids.
I’m on the fence about keeping the second Imperial Cargo Shuttle. I mean I know I could make probably at least 5 or 6 times what I paid for it, but I’d really like to get in the midst of a trading community and use this stuff to get other stuff without all that money in between!
Holy shit, speaking of money I almost forgot the best part! When I got the register, the Starships weren’t ringing up right. Now Starships are usually $4.99; maybe Walmart has ’em at $3.99 occasionally, and honestly I wouldn’t have been shocked if they were $5.99 at K-mart. Anyway, the lady asked me if I knew how much they were, so I said, “$4.99” and she punched shit in or whatever. She told me my total but I already had my card in the machine and honestly didn’t pay much attention. I’d picked up a couple of Hot Wheels too, and as I walked out did some quick math – should be something like $23 – but I know she didn’t say that… I look down at the receipt and I’d spent a whopping $9.64! She got the 3 Hot Wheels alright, but then she rang up the Starships as an even $2.00 each, and then only rang up 3 of them! Schweet!
Walmart – Brier Creek
This one isn’t quite as personally exciting as the rest, but I did want to mention it since it’s the first time I’ve seen these in a store. Looks like these guys were the first in the area to get a hold of the very newest DC Character Cars – I spotted The Riddler, Harley Quinn (the “regular” Harley based on her comic book appearance), and Wonder Woman, the version with the Wonder Woman film logo on the card. Still no single Ares, though this shouldn’t be any different that what we got in the 2-pack recently.
If you are interested in turning a profit, take this advice for the next day or two – possibly the next week or two depending on how fast this assortment travels. Get that Harley car. Get as many as you can. Don’t take less than $20 for it and if someone is willing to go up to $35 go ahead and sell it and don’t push it further. Remember, this is good advice right now. As soon as these things break that supply/demand threshold, it’s hard to predict what will happen. I mean right now there are so many Character Cars coming out and a single store simply will not have all or even most of what’s out there. It’s a weird marketing strategy. What it leads to is some cars saturating the market – like Scarif Stormtrooper or that new Aquaman – and you’ll be lucky to sell it for $6, or it appears, drops it value, and then disappears – like poor Ezra! – only to shoot up in price (again).
Toys R Us – Raleigh (& Cary)
I’ll only touch on this briefly since I already wrote an entire article on it, but this is where I made a fun discovery. I just happened to be perusing and spotted a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Character Car 2-pack featuring Groot Go-Kart and an Exclusive Rocket Raccoon. The “exclusivity” comes from some slight wear and tear integrated into the paint job to give him a battle-damaged appearance. Yeah yeah, it ain’t like, totally different, but it’s something Hot Wheels does and likely will continue to do (Stormtrooper, First Order Flametrooper, Death Trooper, Ezra, Carships (U-Wing, Millennium Falcon, X-Wing, & TIE Fighter), Starships (X-Wing, TIE Striker, probably others), War Machine, Captain America…that MIGHT be everyone…).
Earlier today / yesterday I was at the Toys R Us in Cary and can confirm that they are also carrying multiple Rocket / Groot 2-packs.
Barnes & Noble – Cary
B&N isn’t really a good steady source for collecting unless you’re at the beginning of your hoard but they do contain occasional surprises. Technically this happened yesterday evening (Sunday) but I thought I’d include it anyway. There, on the end of an aisle somewhat detached from the proper toy area, were Guardians 2 related stuff, and to my surprise, an unmistakable Groot Hauler! Fortunately some other kid or collector will get the chance to enjoy this one – I got one a couple of months ago and it’s a little big with not enough margin for me to worry about flipping.
This thing is so cool…definitely planning on doing a piece dedicated to this one soon!
What I don’t understand is why scalpers on eBay were asking $40 to $60 for these things when they were all over Amazon for $25-ish. It’s amazing how little the 2 markets really know about each other, especially when they’re 2 of the most liquid (if not the 2 most liquid) markets in the world. Anyway, B&N had a $24.95 price tag on him and I paid something like $25.11 when all was said and done at Amazon. And I got dat 2-dei shippin’.
Roses – Cary
ROSES…ahh…so much to say…but not today. I’ve been casually tracking down the TOONED subset of the Hot Wheels 2017 Mainline. Two or three weeks ago the green ’69 Camaro Z28 started showing up. I knew it had a companion from browsing the Hot Wheels site, and then there at Roses of all places, there’s not 1 but 2 yellow ’69 Camaro Z28’s! Yeah I know, not exactly the Holy Grail, but a cool find in an unlikely place nonetheless.
Target – Cary (Crossroads)
Also on a Sunday and the last find on today’s list. This might’ve been the most unexpected and neither my son nor myself were previously aware: Imaginext Blind Bag Series 8! Now don’t get these confused with the DC Super Friends bags. These are just random-ass Imaginext figures, though there’s usually some sort of pattern to the mix: there’s a “monster” (like horror classics – vampire, zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster, ghost, and so on), something with a sci-fi flavor (robot, alien, etc.), something with a fantasy or folkloric flavor (like a cyclops or a genie or a gnome), a player of some sport, a type of historical trope (ninja, knight, pirate, etc.), and maybe a contemporary city worker – construction worker, fireman, that kinda thing. None of them follow a set pattern mind you, but there are some similarities. You can probably expect on entry on these at some point soon too, but for right now, we’re missing one the figures!
One of the reasons it was so exciting to see Series 8 is because the previous series’ have had such erratic releases. I don’t ever remember seeing 1 or 2 on shelves; most of those we had to order online. I remember Series 3 being on shelves and I remember Series 4 following it an acceptable amount of time later. After that though, it was like BAM 5 BAM 6 and BAM 7. And then what, a year goes by? Imaginext has such weird time tables, but at least they aren’t as bad as Hasbro’s PlaySkool, which are similarly sized and articulated figures. (Imaginext covers DC, while PlaySkool has Marvel and Star Wars, and although the figures aren’t 100% identical across brands, they are damn close.) I won’t harp on too much, but it wasn’t until like, last Easter before you could find Kylo and Finn and Rey (Episode 7 stuff) reliably on shelves (even longer for vehicles like First Order Snowspeeder and Poe’s X-Wing) – made a killing off that shit on eBay for a while. They did a few more pairs recently, like BB-8 and Poe, and Boba and Han-in-Carbonite, but these disappeared fast. In the last 6 or 8 months they’ve done squat except for 2 Star Wars guys and 2 Marvel guys with this weird arm-swap mechanic that looks a lot cooler than it actually is. Doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any Rogue One stuff from PlaySkool. Lotsa Rogue One merch is already entering clearance status and we’ll start seeing Episode VIII stuff in 3 or 4 months; certainly the first wave will be underway by Halloween.
And that does it! Just a few of my most memorable sights and purchases over the past few days! I’d definitely love to do this kinda thing on a regular basis but I’ma have to figure out to do it faster!