So, I don’t go to yard sales but…

By Shawn Robare

this week’s League topic is all about that one great yard sale or flea market find.  Though I do enjoy perusing the aisles of antique stores and the occasional flea market, it’s super rare that I ever find anything I really want to plunk some hard earned money down on the counter to own, let alone something I’ve been actively searching for.  Maybe my focus is too narrow (I want some pretty damn specific stuff) or my cheapness keeps the purchasing in check (I’m super unwilling to buy that specific stuff if it means spending more than $10-20 bucks!)  Either way, I don’t really have a great “wow, lookit that, how much, screw it I’ll pay it…” kind of story.  Yes, I loved finding a bootleg double-logo Spiderman.  Sure, it was rad finding an in-box Robo Force Enemy toy and a carded Starriors Hot Shot.  And yes, it was pretty damn cool to spot this bottle of G.I. Joe Bazooka shampoo/bubble bath while hanging out with the amazing Jaime Hood the first time we met in person (though I didn’t pull the trigger on buying the little guy.)

bazooka clean

No, the only item that I have in my collection that gives me that “holy crap I can’t believe I found this” feeling has to be my almost complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids.  I didn’t buy them; they were given to me by a super awesome co-worker out of the blue who didn’t know or really care what they had (not that they’re even worth much in their condition), but all the same it evokes that feeling.  That one big score, that awesome relic I’d been looking for for almost 30 years, the Holy “Crap I Found This” Grail.  I wrote about this incident shortly after it happened back in June of 2010, and honestly, I’m still pretty proud of what I wrote.  So I’m going to lay it our for you again because it’s still my favorite “I found that” moment (collecting junk-wise that is…)

“I’ve talked a lot about collecting here at Branded, and on a few occasions I’ve discussed how the hobby leads to certain unobtainable “holy grail” items. The hobby is, by nature, goal driven; when you find one thing, one object that you desired and enjoyed, as a collector you’ll inevitably seek out another item linked to the first and so on. It’s these goals that keep you going, looking for the next piece to acquire, and the beauty of most collections is that there is usually one item that is really hard to obtain. Personally, though it’s frustrating during the hunt, this unobtainability is what keeps the fire stoked; it’s what keeps it interesting.

dirty gpk

Though I’d consider myself a collector, I’ve always been hampered by my own frugality. As much as I’ve wanted certain expensive things over the years I’ve found that I have a hard time paying much more than bargain prices. If I can’t find it cheap, then it can wait. So even though some of my “holy grail” items are available, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever add ’em to the collection based on crazy high collector’s prices. I’d resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much I wanted a set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers, it just wasn’t going to happen. The set runs upwards of $300 on eBay, which is roughly $280 more than I’d ever be willing to pay for 82 sticker cards. But the hunt kept me searching. About seven months ago I stumbled across a single 1st series card, 36a Wrapin’ Ruth, in a comic shop. I was so stoked because I’d never seen one up close, and it was only a buck. I snatched it up and put it proudly at the beginning of my collection, just waiting for the other 81 stickers to eventually join it. I wasn’t holding my breath.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a co-worker came in with a big bag of miscellaneous Garbage Pail Kids cards. Her son had just gotten into the newer series and one of her friends had given her a bunch of their old stickers to pass on to him. Since they were older and because she knew that I collected them myself, she gave me first crack at them considering that her son would be more interested in using them as stickers than collecting them. This has happened before, people have given me a stack of cards to rifle through, either to help them find anything “worth some money” or to add to my collection. Typically there isn’t anything of value, and usually the cards are in pretty bad shape. This stack was no different as you can see in the 1st picture above…

Some of the cards looked like they’d been dipped in beef stew, while others suffered from the normal issues; checklists had been ticked off and there was a fair share of cards that were either written on or were missing borders. But as I started sorting the stickers into piles (beef stew, border-less, doubles of stuff I already had), I found a pocket of cards that were stuck together. As I carefully pried them apart I realized that they were 1st series cards, and they were in pretty good condition. Well, they were actually pretty bad in that they all had a thick line of residual tape glue on the backs where they’d been taped into a picture album, but none of them looked like they’d been dipped in stew.

I decided to take my lunch so that I could concentrate on the stickers, and a half an hour later I was staring at a sight that I honestly never expected to see, a near complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers! I kept muttering, “Holy crap…” under my breath as I was sorting and I found more and more of the set.

All told, the set was only 14 stickers short (including my Wrappin’ Ruth), and whoever had collected these as a kid had managed to at least get at least one of each of the A&B stickers except for one set. So even though the set isn’t complete, all but one of the John Pound paintings are accounted for, as well as most of the Tom Bunk illustrated certificate backings.

After spending a good four hours rubbing off the residual tape glue, and putting them into card pages that evening I was finally looking at something I never thought I’d have. Granted, the cards aren’t in the best condition, but who cares!

Not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I was a little bummed that there wasn’t a Potty Scotty sticker. Growing up, though I never managed to see any of these stickers firsthand, I was aware of a handful of the cards based on other GPK merchandising. In my eyes there were six main cards that sort of defined the series and Garbage Pail Kids as a whole, Adam Bomb, Dead Ted, Nasty Nick, Bony Joanie, Brainy Janie, and Potty Scotty. In fact, any GPK that featured a toilet was sort of like the equivalent to Boba Fett or Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars Universe. I’m glad I snagged a Jason Basin though…

This is kind of a silly thing to admit, but for years I used to have this reoccurring dream where I was in an orchard of trees that had GPKs instead of leaves. It was perpetually Fall and the stickers where falling to the ground in big heaps and I’d spend the whole dream raking up the cards and sorting them by series. I’d always get so depressed after waking up and realizing that the big pile of 1st series GPKs weren’t real. The past two weeks have felt like that dream. I guess in some way, as glad as I am to have finally scored these stickers, it’s sort of anticlimactic in a way. The hunt is mostly over. Sure, I can pick up the missing 14 stickers over time (if I can find the damn things cheap enough), but I almost don’t want to.

I did decide to go ahead and order one sticker, 35b Rockin’ Robert. Seemed like a shame to be missing the one John Pound painting. I think I’m going to have to consider Potty Scotty as the new holy grail for my GPK collection…”

As a post script to this story, over the past three years I’ve manged to plug a few of those missing card holes in the set.  Of the original 13 missing cards I actually found 9 of them during an antique market trip.  I’m still missing 4 cards (12b, 25a, 27b, and the all important 14a, Potty Scotty.)  I’m not trying too hard to get them, keeping the hunt alive and all, and as much as I would absolutely love to have him, I’ve seriously considered specifically not getting the Potty Scotty card.  I have one of the over-sized ones framed at Branded HQ, and I can always look at his twin, Jason Basin, and well, pretend.  That way I’ll always have my GPK holy “crap I don’t have that” grail.

So, if you enjoyed reading this tale of the ultimate rad vintage score, why not check out some of the other League members to see what they found on their hunts…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, doesn’t do yard sales either, but if she did she’s be on the hunt for some electronic radness

Eric, Toyriffic, shares his epic Masters of the Universe haul

Patrick, Nerd Out with Me, found an amazing Sith Lord that can hold up his pants

James, James Abels dot net, uncovered some rad top secret NES passwords

Grey, Achievements in Gaming, found an amazing deal on the rare Dark Tower game, he then in a very classy move, gave to a friend


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  • That certainly was good of your co-worker to reroute those GPKs from her son to you. Truly, a person who understands that youth is wasted on the young. This post is inspiring me to dig out my old GPKs and put them in sleeves to see what I have. if I happen to have a Potty Scotty double, it’s yours.

    Checking out the link to your previous Robo Force post unearthed some long forgotten memories. I had that very same hug-o-matic villain but had forgotten all about it. Such an odd toy, but I think that’s what I love about it. The hunt is on!

    • Yeah, those Robo Force toys are so cool. I only had one as a kid, and even that was a toy I found abandoned out in the woods by my house, but I loved the bendy straw arms and their bulkiness. Since finding Enemy I’ve started collecting them again.

      Oh, and a friend on twitter, John Kent, bought the rights to Robo Force and is releasing a new toy line this fall! There are going to be comics in the launch with art by the super rad Jerzy Drozd!

      • Retromash

        Really? That’s awesome news! Robo Force was a cool brand, but it’s amazing that someone you know has bought the rights, and it’s great that Jerzy is doing the art. He is indeed super rad!

        • Yeah John Kent is totally revamping the line. Taking the heart of the toys and bringing them into the modern indie toy world. He’s teaming up with the folks at Onell Design to make the new Robo Force toys Glyos compatible!

  • I find myself haunted by the same frugality and orchard dreams (although mine involve garage sale and video games). I see all these rad things at swap meets and yard sales but rarely pull the trigger due to price. I find patience and frugality go hand in hand. I strive to run a ‘balance collection’ where if I find something I really want, I sell off something else. It keeps the collection small, but doesn’t break my wallet.

    • I’m a lot like that. I tend to collect something and then sell off that collection to fund the next. GPK will always stay in the collection though…

  • I really wish I hadn’t used the stickers on mine as a kid and kept them in nice condition. My haunted dream is that my adult self travels back in time to prevent my younger self from doing stupid things to wonderful items for a future collection. I enjoyed reading this though! These cards are truly something else. And that GPK book is amazing! I remember you wrote about it and owning that book has been the best. So glad they made that. Hope all is well!

    • Thanks and same to you Miss M! Yeah, what I wouldn’t give to have three days back in say 1985 to buy up all the stuff I want now from Toys R Us. With my luck, when time travel is invented, it’ll totally be like Terminator where you can’t take anything with you, so it’d be moot anyway… ;)

      • Yeah, those darn issues with time travel. lol There is just a laundry list of things I would scoop up. Oh well. Luckily for us there were older more wiser people back then that held onto stuff and are now selling it off to us grown dorky kids. lol

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    Whattup Shawn, I have been a while. I recently got hold of a piece of my Grail called PUNCH pastillas that I have been chasing for over 20 years. It turned out to be a Mini packet that was half crumpled and the candy had turned to mould Dust, ( it was 30 yr old candy ) I payed $34 for it including postage from Argentina. The larger pack used to sell for 10c here in the early 90s. So my first Stop in a Time Machine is a Milk Bar with Punch candy. So my search continues, I also found a GPK card recently among my cards, It was Spikey Mikey 159a which is now a fridge magnet.

    • I remember you saying you were looking for those Punch pastillas. Cool, the snake charmer, nail bed guy. Love the 4th series cards…


    I meant to say it has been a while. And it seems the way to a Mans heart is through a My pet Monster.

    • It really is (the way to a dude’s heart.) ;)


    Correction the Spikey Mikey card I have is 155a not 159a.

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