Years ago, more than 10 now, a group of friends of mine went out to all of the local self owned video game shops. In the St. Louis area alone, then we had five or six different shops that were not chains. I am sure most are gone by now, but it was great to go and check the places out. My friends were looking for vintage, hard to find NES games, foreign imports, mods for different systems and other things I cannot even imagine. They called that a “Dork Gest”.
Later in the year, this had to be 2003, one of the guys who went on the Dork Fest and I met another friend. It was me(Rayzor), Edgar and Deefuzz and we went looking for figures. We hit all the Toys r Us stores in the area, not to mention every Wal-mart and Target. I almost forgot, Kay B toys was around then and Sam Goody had figures back then. So yeah, we met around 8 am and got to work. We live near St. Louis as I said and we would start on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and then hit the Missouri stores and grab lunch. It was usually night by time we were finished and we would usually would have had a haul for the ages. Oh to haul, I will explain hauls in a second. We hit 4 Toys R Us stores, 3 Targets, 6 Walmarts and 3 or 4 Sam Goodies. We had a chicken mcnugget lunch and scored a lot of great figures. Deefuzz actually scored the variant nugget. Oh yes, the days of hard to find variant figures…the good old days.
So what is a haul?
Well when your out on the hunt and you buy figures, it could be 2 or 3, it could be 50. The point is, what ever the treasure it is called a haul. To have haul is a good feeling.
Let’s talk about the “Grail Haul”.
What is a Grail Haul?
Ask yourself about the Holy Grail, it is kinda like that, the ultimate hunt. The problem with using this term, it gets thrown around too much, just kids and the word love. Of course you pick your grail haul and if you ask me, it should only be one. To me, I have never found my grail.
For the record I should probably go ahead and explain variant figures.
What is a variant figure?
Well, when an action figure gets mass produced the company sometimes releases a short packed figure based off a certain figure in a set. This happened very often during the hay day of the Mcfarlane sports craze. If the made a Albert Pujols in the home uniform and that was the regular, they main short pack a variant in the away uniform. Sometimes it would be throw back, like an old team. Mattel started doing this with the DC Universe Classic line, like Sinestro wearing his classic costume and the variant was his Sinestro Corp costume. Toybiz did this a lot in the successful Marvel Legends line.
The preset and the future
Collecting at one time was a great hobby, but as we grow old and friends grow further apart, collecting seems to fade away. But I will never, ever forget the times we would geekfest from sun up to sun down. It was a great era in my life 2003 – 2009, which could be the golden age of collecting action figures, well at the retail level. Now days it seems to be about the stupid expensive Hot Toys figures, they are cool but grossly over priced. My collecting days are for sure behind me and it is sad. Good thing we documented everything with pictures and have them stored in places other than social media sites.
The preset, I dabble, anymore I find things here and there and debate. I have a son now who has taken some of my open pieces, but most of my collection is still intact. In the future, it will probably be the same, I thought about getting into the higher end, Hot Toys type, but as nice as they are, I feel they are over priced. So I will just by things now and again, mostly Batman or Star Wars related.
Deefuzz, at the present he seems to be into the Hot Toys and still seems to pick up some Transformer stuff. But he is balls deep in the Lego world and why not. Lego can get expensive, but they are so much fun. His future seems to be more of the same.
Edgar is presently trying to sell a lot of his older stuff on Ebay, seriously I have to help. But he picks up a Hot Toy that really matters to him, but mostly is out of the collecting game. With the expense of video gaming and comics, I see this to remain for him.
Collecting with these two was the best time of my collecting career, I miss it. It will never happen again, because retailers carry crap. But at least we had that time.