Odd eBay #2:Die Odder

Greetings everyone!  It has been a while, far too long in fact, but I have returned with more of the unusual, the goofy, and the downright bizarre from the world of eBay!  When you peruse the world's largest auction website you are bound to find some really unusual things.  And so once again I bring you a fresh batch of just such curiosities. 

Starting with this installment, all auctions currently running as of press time will have titles in green while those that are closed but can still be viewed for now are in red.

Exhibit A: Future Writer of Slash Fiction
How much would you pay for a pair of underpants?  Andrew Christian trunks command as much as $27 a pair, so by comparison the $44.99 opening bid price for both underwear and a shirt is a bargain!  Especially considering the vintage of these particular undergarments.  And their pedigree.  We are talking Star Trek The Motion Picture here! 

Okay, so that was not the best outing for the Enterprise crew and the costumes were a bit understated and overly "fashion of the future".  Especially that one poor fellow who had to wear the Starfleet regulation short skirt thing.  What the Hell was that all about?!  Even the melty-faced aliens got to wear long pants after all!  But then perhaps that was the inspiration for this set of awkwardly named "Fundy Undies" from the late 70s.  They certainly put you in the mind of that hapless crewman in his go-go dress.  And while I do not wish to cast aspersions, there seems to be an frightening undertone to the overall design of the packaging.  From the playful rainbow motif to the upper right to the lustful gaze that the boy in the illustration has longingly set upon Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.  One can only imagine what stories of interstellar adventures and late night explorations the vivid imagination of this gazelle-legged youngster is conjuring.

Undobutedly the garment manufacturer who marketed Fundy Undies was trying to tap into the lucritive Underoos market.  While the latter brand enjoyed success with licensed underwear ensambles well into the 80s (we can only lament that the line ended before they could market the planned Jabba the Hutt style for huskier kids), this particular variety fell into relative obscurity.  With a name that sounds like something you would find in a Victoria's Secret catalog and graphics that would give parents pause and children life-long trauma, it is likely that any Fundy Undies purchased during their unsucessful release were returned to retail stores as soon after being presented to horrified children as was humanly possible.

I applaud this and other eBay sellers for giving Fundy Undies at least a chance at collectibles viability.

Exhibit B: My, But You Are Wearing a Lot of Rings!
There was a time in this country when there was no internet.  Yes, I know it is hard for you kids to believe, but it is true.  In fact this country has been around a whole Hell of a lot longer than the internet.  But that is not what is at issue here.  In the days before information on nearly everything imaginable was but a few keystrokes away, people had to rely on other resources to get timely information.  And so it was that in those ghastly days before the Information Super Highway was virtually constructed an abundance of magazines on nearly every subject imaginable littered the newsstands of America.  It was in these halcion days that the market was ripe to support a periodical on the subject of Muppets.  Yes, it is true, the Muppets once had their own quarterly magazine!  Take that Dog Fancy!

What strikes me about this particular issue of Muppet Magazine (Fall 1984) is the cover image.  Naturally the seller of this auction (which sold for $12.75, more than 6.5 times its original cover price) only shows the cover to illustrate the listing, so one can impart a few of the featured stories and determine if it is a nice fit for their collection.  Mr. T, who's star was rising back in 1984, took the cover honors for this issue, but one would expect no less.  Even I would pitty the foolish editor who would not grace the cover of Muppet Magazine with the stern visage of one Laurence Tureaud!  That Mr. T is on the cover and with Electric Mayhem drummer Animal immitating his neclace laden, mohawk sporting style do not so much as raise an eyebrow.  That the breakaway star of The A-Team donned a smart looking sweater for his photo shoot does not leave one thinking that this magazine's cover qualifies for Odd eBay.  No, it is not something so overt as that, or indeed even that parody recording artist Weird Al takes second billing as a cover story (but he is in good company with Gonzo on that score, however).  The curiosity here arises in the looks on Animal and Kermit's faces coupled with the fact that you do not see where Mr. T's hands are situated in the cover photo.

These are, at the end of the day, puppets.  Granted some of the most famous puppets in the world.  Kukla, Topo Gigio, and Lambchop only dreampt of this level of handpuppet stardom.  But puppets none the less.  So it is an easy leap of logic to imagine that, in order to save time and money during the photo shoot, Mr. T took on the role of puppeteer as well as model.  This hypothosis is supported by the obvious discomfort writ upon Kermit's felt face and the peculiar and unreadable emotions that Animal displays.  As for the feature celebrity of this particular issue of the magazine, the whole experience seems to be just a little off-putting.  But being the unflappable tough guy that he is, Mr. T carries it well, barely imparting his discomfort.

Exhibit C: How Could This Not Garner $5?!
Every once in a great while an eBay auction comes along that has what can only be described as "universal appeal".  Some sellers just have a knack for putting out auctions that are garunteed sellers.  And given the nature of this particular auction it is rather shocking that the $4.95 opening bid was not achieved, not to mention the kind of bidding war it should have enjoyed!  The Muppet Magazine backissue went for nearly $13 after all!  Just look at the image below and behold what could have been yours had you been able to bid while this auction was still active! 

While it is sad that the 3.5" square photo (the back of which forever commemorates Fox Photo, a company name that has not been known to consumers in a decade) did not sell I prefer to imagine that this was due to the Christmas holidays consuming much of would-be bidders' time and resources.  It is not that this photo is unsellable, it is that the auction was simply poorly timed.  This is the season of giving after all.  It woudl be downright selfish to spend even a scant fiver on a stunning vintage photograph of an unknown actor in an unknown role of an unknown production of a bygone era.  Downright selfish I tell you!

Honestly, who could possibly resist the siren's call of a listing that read, "1970s PHOTO! Shirtless  Actor Man GREEN MAKEUP FACE & DINOSAUR NOSE! Funny!"?  I sincerely hope this gets relisted in January. 

Exhibit D: Look!  Up In the Sky!  WTF?!
At first glance this figurine from Mexico gives the impression that an Olympic swimmer mistook a vat of blue paint for a training pool, much to his chagrin.  Luckily the auction title and description come to our rescue and assure us that instead this is an unlicensed knock-off toy of the Man of Steel.  Superman has seen better days to be sure.  Even Doomsday did not do as much damage to the Last Son of Krypton as this vintage toy does to his reputation in the super hero community if not to his physical self.  It must be assumed that some kind of cloth cape, which would have served to make identification far simpler was long ago lost in the history of this particular specimen.

While the trademark red trunks and yellow belt do help sell the concept that this was meant to be Superman, the lack of so much as a hint that his familiar chest symbol ever adorned this plastic figure suggests that some form of packaging had to have been used to make it at least somewhat appealing to potential buyers.  But then it is not uncommon to find poorly realized toys that fly in the face of copyright law in various countries around the world.  The poor quality of the figure is only exaggerated by the poor quality of the seller's description.  At first described as "measured 6.00 inches" (tall), it is almost immediately called "4.00 inches".  Furthermore there are conflicting reports on the subject of articulation.  The photo suggests there is no articulation yet it is described both with and without such a feature.  Finally, the descriptions "based on the Superman films of 1978 by Christopher Reeve" and "has detail paint" add further to the questionable nature of such a collectible. 

The most curious aspect of this figure, however, have to be the outstretched hands.  While undoubtedly meant to invoke a sense of Supes about to take flight, closer inspection reveals a hole in each palm.  Was this once some kind of parachuting figure with some kind of eye hooks set into the hands for the parachute strings?  Or were these holes the product of a child who had no respect for his toys?  Either way one is left with the impresesion of Superman sporting stigmata.  Not something you really want to think about too much if at all.  But then that may be why the seller declares that this figure "is unique to the ebay community"!

Exhibit E: It's All in the Name!
Marketing is an all important part of any money making endeavor.  No matter how small.  And one of the prevailing tenets of marketing is to have a name that is pleasing to see and hear to identify the product you are bringing to market.  While fanzines, or 'zines, exist on the fringes of periodicals publication, their producers undoubtedly would still like to take in a few bucks on their sale to help insure the next issue will see the light of day.  Most fanzines tend to be based on science fiction properties, however the Diff'rent Strokes genere is up and coming these days.  Some of the earliest fanzines I had ever seen were Star Trek based so it stands to reason that Star Wars would inspire much the same venues for aspiring writers and artists to espouse their love of the Saga.

There are some fairly clever titles for these ongoing fan endeavors like Who's Scruffy Lookin'? or Bright Center of the Universe.  Others choose to take thier own path and create original titles that invoke the Star Wars univerese but are not derived from actual movie lines.  Some of the better examples include Far Realms, Bloodstripe, Imperium, and Never Say Die.  But for every Kessel Run or Skywalker you get a few titles that illustrate a profound lack of forethought when it came to coming up with an appealing title.  From the Dark Side of fanzine names I give you...

That a fanzine with the awkward title of I Don't Care What You Smell could last at least eleven issues is certainly something to applaud.  Perhaps the creator of this periodcal took the same approach as Leonard Nimoy back in 1975.  When his publisher initially rejected the title of his autobiography I Am Not Spock due to the notion that people do not buy books with negative titles, Nimoy simply said, "What about Gone With the Wind?"  Needless to say, his original title was maintained as a result of that conversation.  The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don't have to justify anything to anyone.  Not even yourself.

According to the description of this auction this is a massive 283 page photocopied GBC bound collection of "Star Wars stories by fans, for fans".  Fifteen such stories are included from a variety of authors with illustrations by no less than eight artists!  The $10 opening bid seems a bargain for that volume of fan produced work.  Especially given that this tome is five years old.  All of that is indeed quite compelling, however this fanzine suffers still from that title.  Add to that the choice of cover art and I Don't Care What You Smell #11 is even a little less appealing.  Perhaps this is just an invitation for fans to conjure up their own fiction using the cover illustration and title as a template.  Consider this a kind of impromptu Cosmopolitan quiz, "Just How Dirty is Your Mind?"  The answer can be found in the story you create from looking at this eBay offering.

But hey!  A least it is not the winner of the Worst Star Wars Fanzine Title Ever award.  No, that honor goes solely to Wookie Commode!

Odd eBay #1: Monkeying Around With the Hulk!

Welcome to the first installment of Odd eBay. 

Have you ever been searching for some cool collectible on eBay and found some crazy and unexpected stuff in the process?  I thought it would be fun to share a few such discoveries that I stumbled upon during my own searches for things I was seeking or things I was curious about.  You never know what you might find on America's favorite auction site so I am going to do what I can to bring a few of the oddest things to your attention.

Whenever possible the auctions featured will be active at the time I post this article.  Naturally they will time out depending on their end date, but if you hurry you may be able to get in the running to own something really strange that is offered by an eBay seller.  Simply click on the description (titled "Exhibits") to link to the actual auctions in question.

Also please feel free to write to me if you stumble on a worthy auction and if I can I will include it in the next available installment of this series.

I was curious about what Mego Planet of the Apes figures might be going for these days.  From time to time I seek out potential new denizens for my Desk of Time Wasting Distractions.  What my search brought to my attention was the genesis of this very feature!  In fact I found not one, but two great auctions that helped inspire Odd eBay!

Exhibit A: So Why Exactly Do You Need the Rifle?
Let's start Odd eBay off with the auction that inspired this series, shall we?  What I love about this particular offering is the tenacity of the seller.  Have a few miss-matched odd and ends laying around that you can't find a home for?  Put them all together in a single auction and see if someone bites!  The fact that the But It Now price has been reduced from $12.95 to $10.36 is certainly testament to this.  I was riding the fence on this auction, but the savings of $2.59 really swayed my decision to go for it! 

So lets examine the contents of this most curious lot.  We have a crudely made (or rather well worn) hooded jacket that appears to be for the larger scale G.I. Joe figures of old.  It's wool-like texture would suggest a warm wrap for the Zira figure who is otherwise surrounded only by her primate shame.  The figure is Zira from Planet of the Apes, the Mego action figure from the 70's to be exact.  Mego tended to utilize one of about four or five male and a single female body for all of their action figures.  The heads, clothes, and accessories were what made them who they were.  Zira here has only her head to distinguish her from Wonder Woman or the all-mighty Isis.  But laid bare in her nakedness we see that all of the Mego women have on distinct physical feature in common.  Perfect child-bearing hips!  It is a shame that like their male counterparts of any body configuration they are sorely lacking in reproductive organs. 

As previously mentioned the coat that comes with this figure would at least offer the famous veterinarian and free thinker the opportunity to recover some shred of dignity, but why the curiously oversized rifle?  Were she a Rob Leifield creation she would be right at home with such cumbersome ordnance.  In fact it would be required that she bear some kind of firearms that were a minimum of five times their normal size.  This is sharp contrast to the feet of the artist's characters which are five times smaller than those of normal humans.  Perhaps it is simply a show of superiority better suited to a male figure in a similar predicament.  The rifle is a means to an end, dignity restored at the point of a gun!  Especially considering that our hapless future monkey-woman appears to have run afoul of Kevin from Sin City.  You may have noticed that she is lacking in the left hand department.

Exhibit B: Monkey Strip Poker
If you thought the previous auction was awkward, you are in for quite the surprise!  Planet of the Apes and Mego were very good to the birth of this series.  From the generous birthing hips of Zira above to a clear illustration of what happens when apes drink too much nectar and begin to ignore the teachings of the Law Giver. 

Check out Zira's go-go boots!

Up for auction we have a veritable dumping ground of incomplete vintage Mego Planet of the Apes figures.  That in and of itself would not be be all that unusual.  What sets this lot apart is the fact that each one of the figures is in a different state of undress.  If you ever wondered what was going on with the apes of the future Earth (oh, was that a spoiler?) before Taylor and his fellow ill-fated astronauts arrived this may fill in some of the blanks.  Successfully evolving out of the dung-throwing stage of their ancestry, the proud civilization that the apes held in such regard had a dark underbelly similar to that of the former masters of the globe.  While the intellectual caste of the orangutans sought to suppress knowledge of the recklessness of man they no less turned a blind eye to their own society as it traveled headlong down the same crooked path.

The seeming class-by-species order that prevailed on the planet, a kind of natural selection version of A Brave New World, is illustrated perfectly with this auction.  Participants in a harmless game among friends close enough to see each other au naturale and still maintain personal and professional dignity, Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, his mate Zira, and General Ursus (these were happier times after all) find themselves at the end of the deck in the simian version of strip poker.  Zaius, in typically intellectual orangutan fashion, has managed to survive nearly the entire game without losing a stitch of clothing.  The lesser chimpanzees have done fairly well for themselves and are almost equally matched in their skill at card playing as evidenced by their current state of dress.  Ursus however, true to his caste, has no head for games of skill and forethought.  He is a soldier first and foremost.  And in a world largely devoid of conventional warfare, a soldier's life is defined by how many lousy humans one can kill or capture.  And judging from what his nakedness reveals about his manhood, he is as unlucky at love as he has proved at cards.

It is important to point out that Dr. Zaius, in addition to being a prominent figure in the High Council, is also an avid fisherman.  That he elected to wear his waders to the evening's festivities is a testament to not only his passion as an angler, but also the natural confidence in his own intellect that insured after quick donning of his galoshes he will be out casting flies and bagging some delicious trout shortly after this party wraps!

Exhibit C: Super...Awkward!
Some things go together well.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Peas and carrots.  Romeo and Juliet.  Then there are things that were never meant to be combined under any circumstances.  Such is the case with super-heroes and Stretch Armstrong technology.  That goes together like waffles and motor oil! 

What we've got ahold of here is the ad proof for an advertising spot that ran in comic books way back in 1979.  It was a toy line from Mego called Elastic Super Heroes.  Since they had licensing for characters from both Marvel and DC Comics they produced figures of both publisher's characters at the time.  Did they choose the obvious characters that were most likely to display a kinship to ol' Mr. Armstrong?  HELL NO!  Do you really think that Plastic Man, Mr. Fantastic, or Elongated Man are all that marketable?  Mego was in business to sell toys to kids, not make leaps of logic.  This is certainly illustrated in the choices of characters to produce in such a malleable format.  From the Marvel camp they went with Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk (yes, it's true) and as you have seen they gave the same treatment to Superman and Batman from DC.

The decision to create versions of these super-heroes that could be stretched to a good couple of feet and contorted in inhuman ways is silly at best and down right frightening at worst.  It is the ad campaign illustrated above that takes it to the latter.  On the right we have the Man of Steel made a man of rubber doing his best rendition of "Potsie" Weber in the photo booth shot used in the intro to Happy Days.  The old "reaching around yourself with your back turned to make it look like you're making out trick" is a classic.  Hell, even James Bond resorted to it in Diamonds Are Forever!  It seems like the Last Son of Krypton has taken a nip of Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad serum (or was it exposure to an alien virus that made the bow-tie wearing photographer into the red-headed stepchild of Reed Richards?) and is trying out some new abilities that were not in his former catalog of powers.

The Dark Knight Detective on the other hand has always had to rely on being the pinnacle of human achievement both mentally and physically.  I doubt that such prowess ever included being able to unhinge his skeletal system in such a way that would result in the extreme lotus position occurring above.  That makes being pressed into a postage stamp of titanic proportions by the maniacal Colonel Gumm seem comfortable, even relaxing, by comparison.  One is left imagining that this ad might once have been seen by David Carradine leaving him thinking, "If only...". 

Exhibit D: Smashing No More
Mego it seems was hell-bent to make unusual decisions when it came to their super-hero toys.  The Pocket Super Heroes line was not immune to this process.  This toy series featured DC and Marvel characters in a compact 3.75" format that must have seemed ideally suited to couple with rehashed Micronauts vehicles as evidenced by the Hulk Explorer seen below!

The Incredible Hulk seems incredibly happy to be darting about the town in his green and yellow conveyance.  Part Rascal, part go-cart, and part Jack Kirby creation it seems a rather curious vehicle for the Jade Giant.  Captain Kirk posited the question, "What does God need with a starship?!", in the god-awful Star Trek V: The Undiscovered Country.  Similarly we are left to ask, "What does Hulk need with an Explorer?"  Throughout his decades-long history the Green Goliath has simply bunched up his calf muscles and sent himself hurdling skyward in a reckless game of leap-frog whenever the travelin' jones was upon him.  Unlike Batman or even Hulk's own contemporary Spider-Man who once had a vertical surface-gripping dune buggy (it's true folks), the original "Hulkster" never owned a motor vehicle.

The answer to this compelling question (should you be allowing it to compel you thusly) is a simple one actually.  Easily 20 years in advance of its publication, Mego foresaw the arrival of storylines that would bring us the so-called "Smart Hulk".  Since this was the inevitable progression from a gray Frankenstein's monster-looking brute to an avocado hued powerhouse of pent-up rage to something better still, Mego understood and addressed children's need to play out this scenario.  Absent the necessity to lash out at a world peopled by "puny humans" to sate his unquenchable thirst for destruction, the stronger, more loving Hulk would want to turn his attentions to the cerebral pursuits of his gentler side, that of the pacifistic Bruce Banner. 

Now a man of science, albeit a yard wide and rippling with enough potential energy to stun a rampagin herd of elephants, the new Hulk turned his attentions to scientific disciplines and the pursuit of knowledge.  When traveling from a research laboratory to an archaeological dig and then to a meeting of Nobel laureates once does not wish to inadvertently cause destruction simply by arriving on the scene and leaving size 48 footprints irreparably stamped into the pavement.  So utilizing his newly found mental capacity Hulk opted to drive around in a retrofitted (and vastly enlarged) vehicle from the Microverse (complete with puffy missile launcher) that was previously owned by none other than Acroyer himself!

Exhibit E: Why is MJ Packing Heat?
You have to love toy customizers.  They take something that is already there and make it into something that is not.  And may never be otherwise.  In some cases the work is exquisite, almost indistinguishable from something mass produced.  In some cases it could not be more obviously the work of a ham-fisted toy maker wannabe.  And in some cases the work seems solid enough, but the choice of base figure leaves a bit you wondering if perhaps some other figure might have been a better choice.

This customized Super Hero Squad figurine of Mary Jane Watson, a.k.a. Spidey's Squeeze, is a prime example of this kind of scenario.  I don't know how much re-work went into this particular customization job, but I suspect it was just a matter of some minor repainting to perhaps change the costume color scheme and get the "drapes" the right color.  However, whatever character this was in its former life before it was taken off the card and retrofitted as if it was the original Star Wars trilogy in the hands of a mad George Lucas of more recent years had a distinguishing feature that was decidedly not one for which the future wife (maybe or maybe not depending on recons) of Peter Parker was known.  She is brandishing a huge pistol! 

Perhaps there were no female Marvel characters who have received the cherubic Super Hero Squad treatment that were sufficiently generic to take on the role of a supporting character.  Certainly MJ with web-wings (Spider-Woman) or a sword wielding sextet of arms (Spiral) would have been even less marketable than this custom job.  But if you want to command a $12.95 price tag for your hard work, perhaps you should chose a character that better fits the look of the figurine you have in hand before grabbing the old paint pots and going to town.  Just a word of advice from JediCole!

The next two auctions will have closed by the time this feature goes live.  Such is the nature of the beast it would seem. 

Exhibit F: Congratulations You Two...I Think
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Star Wars saga has nearly been flattered to death over the years!

With flattery like this who needs disdain?  That is certainly a question that the folks over at the Skywalker Ranch were posing when this monstrosity was first produced.  Everyone wants to drink deep from the wellspring of success that was the Star Wars franchise.  And since it was not a public spring most had to elsewhere and lap what they could out of similar and less lucrative sources.  This figural coin bank illustrates that principle perfectly.  Looking like the hideous love child of Darth Vader and R2-D2 it had to have been intended, in its day, to catch the wave of consumer enthusiasm that made George Lucas' star-spanning saga a cultural phenomenon and a personal empire-building success.

That the seller got the $5.99 opening bid was something of a surprise I must say!

Exhibit G: It's LIKE Star Wars
Far be it from Avon to miss out on a potential cash cow.  Their independent representatives could always use an unexpected bonus in the form of a little something that appeals to the children of their clientele.  Or at least to the parents of those kids who just don't know any better.

Back in the 70's Donny and Marie Osmond were famous for being "a little bit country" and "a little bit rock n' roll".  This "Galactic Robot" necklace from 1979 is a little bit R5-D4 (the droid with the bad motivator in Star Wars) and a little bit work drone from Silent Running.  Such mash-up look-alikes were not uncommon in the late 70's.  everyone wanted to cash in on Star Wars (as seen above).  What sets this piece apart, if the auction post is to be believed, is that this particular piece of dubious jewelry was offered by Avon!  I suspect this was the case as they commonly sprinkled non-cosmetic consumables amidst their beauty product offerings each month.  I guess it had not occurred to anyone back then to simply seek a proper Star Wars license and really get a new cash cow.  Or cash bantha as the case may be.

Action Figure FAIL! #1
This is a special sub-feature to the Odd eBay segment which will be included only when something that fits the category perfectly crosses my path on eBay.  The title and concept were suggested by Mrs. JediCole when I first told her about this feature.  As luck would have it I stumbled upon something that seemed to fit the bill.

Essentially Action Figure FAIL! will showcase a toy or action figure auction that fails miserably in some way.  The core concept was to illustrate how wrong many sellers get the products they are selling - touting Buck Rogers figures as "rare Star Wars toys" or coupling He-Man with a pile of accessories from G.I. Joe and BraveStarr.  In this case it is not the seller's offering so much as the way in which a silk hat is put on a pig AND it is entered into the Miss America pageant!

Ladies and Gentlemen!  The Thing as Michigan J. Frog!

Okay, so you have your rip-off Mexican bootleg figurine of the Thing.  You know that it is not a classic vintage figurine but a more modern remake that is completely unlicensed and (technically) illegally marketed.  What do you do?  You OWN that!  Not only does this seller freely admit the origins (for which I give him a tip of the hat for his honesty and sincerity) he staunchly defends this particular piece for its uncharacteristic workmanship!  He accurately points out that such knockoffs are generally poorly made with terrible materials and no attempt being made to clean up any excess plastic from the molding process.  It is the fact that such flowery phrases as "shows off the great sculpting" and "rather nice in and of himself considering who made him and where".  This is a bit of what is known as "polishing the turd".  Only Leni Riefenstahl could have done a better job of packaging something terrible in an a form that makes it seem somewhat appealing!

This one is a fail in that the figure being offered is not only a knockoff but also looks like Benjamin J. Grimm is not only now the Ever-Lovin' Yellow-Eyed Thing, he has also joined Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the whole Loony Tunes gang in their opening song and dance number!  That and the arbitrary $34.99 opening bid price.