Category Archives: Personal

One of the few non-candy treats I could really sink my teeth into!

So, confession time.  I was a, er, late trick-or-treater quitter, or how ever you phrase that concept.  I had a hard time giving up the costumes and pillowcases when I got into middle school, and even the first couple years of high school.  I was never one to “do what I was told”, and lets be honest, going door to door in your local neighborhoods at night dressed up like a monster getting free candy?  How in the hell does one just quit that?  That’s like quitting smoking (I hear) or heroin (a closer comparison I would have to guess.)  Anyway, I had a very hard time giving up the ghost (costume), and found myself going door to door with a small group of like-minded geeky friends back in 1991.  My costume?  I was Riff Raff from Rocky Horror.  But I didn’t have moolah in the costume budget for a fake bald cap or wig, so I wore an old fireman’s helmet my ex-EMT uncle gave me.  My concept?  Riff Raff was a volunteer fireman on the weekends.  Everyone needs a hobby.

Halloween 1991

So, when I wasn’t awkwardly telling folks to give me treats, smell my feet and all that junk, I was pretty big into collecting comics, and more specifically, at the time Marvel trading cards printed by Impel.  I had a huge collection of the 1st-3rd series cards, and even though I was a die-hard Topps kid, Impel really impressed me with their card quality.  So, where am I going with this?  Well, in addition to my rather large candy haul that year (king-size pillowcases were the way to go), there were some surprises mixed in that had me way more excited than the eventual chocolate-induced stomach aches that awaited.  When I got home that night and dumped the bag of candy out on the floor I saw a very familiar logo at the bottom of a pack of trading cards I didn’t even realize made it into my loot…

impel

That’s right, in 1991 Impel marketed a tiny set of Universal Monster Trading Card Treats that folks could buy and give out instead of candy.  Though I’d normally frown on this sort of non-candy treat heresy, I was actually really excited to see these.  Not only was I a pretty big fan of trading cards, I was also a budding monster fanatic too.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the wherewithal to archive these cards (or any of the tons of Universal Monster merch that littered the shelves that year), and I have no idea what ever became of the specific ones I scored that night.  But as luck would have it, on my first trip up to Bel Air Maryland to meet Jaime from Shezcrafti.com, we stumbled into a local antique store that just happened to have a few packs in stock for super cheap.

Universal Monster Trading Card Treats 1 600

As far as I know the set consists of six cards featuring the main stable of the Universal Monsters including Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature, and Frankenstein’s monster and his Bride.  Now I’m not calling the Bride “Yoko” or anything, but seriously, remove her photo-bombing behind from that card art and you’d have a mean Monster Squad rogue’s gallery.  Just saying…

Universal Monster Trading Card Treats 2 600

I do like that someone (either the artist or someone in the design department at Impel) decided to stick the Bride and the monster on the same single card.  I’m sure Impel wanted these to be six to a pack for some reason.  Anyway, I like that you get a nice range of portraits and group shots on these cards, and I’m so glad the Creature get’s his own featured card considering he tends to get overlooked on a lot of merchandise…

Universal Monster Trading Card Treats 3 600

So the Wolfman gets kind of screwed on the cardbacks.  His synopsis story is eschewed in favor of a “Night Safety” hint.  Also, nice job on the monster movie release date brain teaser Impel, I mean the answers are printed right under the question and they’re not even tiny or upside down!

Thinking about these cards and organizing the monster-themed GPK stickers for my main countdown this year has me wondering, why hasn’t Topps put out a Halloween themed set of Garbage Pail Kids in time for the holiday (you know, for treats?)  I would literally go broke buying boxes of spooky gross stickers.  Topps, get on that.

False Nostalgia…

Nostalgia and memories are the closest thing to a time machine that we have, that we’ll ever have.  The power that images of old toy and food packaging can have over an individual is astounding, transporting them instantly to a day when they were a child in a store, staring up at a coveted item or watching as their parent handed over that week’s groceries to a cashier to be rung up.  Holding an Atari joystick will remind you what that orange shag carpeting felt like between your toes when you were trying desperately to figure out how to find all the pieces of E.T.’s makeshift radio transmitter.  For me, just the sight of a Little Orphan Orange Otter Pop instantly makes me remember sitting on one of those ground mounted transformer units, those big green metal power boxes that pepper the landscape of most suburbs.  I can feel the thing burning my butt and thighs through my long surf shorts as I sucked on that pop and chatted about skateboarding with a friend.  It’s an intense feeling, like a drug sometimes.  There have been moments where I stumble across something that I completely forgot about and literally doubled over as if I were punched in the gut.  The disbelief that I had forgotten, or more accurately neglected some cherished thing and memory is such a strong and weird feeling.  Running a site like Branded, well I’ve made a hobby out of recalling those memories and doing my best to inspire them in others.

So it was weird this past week when I found an advertisement in an old issue of People magazine that both punched me in and gut with remembering, but also made me realize that I’ve had nostalgic feelings for something I actually never had or experienced.  How many folks out there associate the 80s with wearing Lacoste kid’s polo shirts?  I know I did.  I could care less about clothes brands at the time, and I didn’t even know the Lacoste or Izod names, but I thought it was pretty darn cool that a bunch of my shirts had little alligator patches on them!  Part of this was growing up in Florida and seeing gator imagery everywhere, so it was also pretty cool to see those little patches on shirts.  It played into this sense that I had at the time that Florida was the center of the country, the center of cool (later on, when I moved up north for awhile, I was astounded when most of the kids didn’t even know what surfing was!)  I mean, even if you never had one, who doesn’t remember this little guy?

Lacoste

It’s not like I only wore Lacoste shirts, or I have an intense nostalgic love for the rad little gator patch, but it is an aspect of my childhood that I remembered fondly.  Well, at least I thought I did until I saw the following 1981 Sears advertisement that jogged my memory enough to make me realize I never had any little gator patch shirts!

Braggin Dragon Ad Small

As I flipped to this page in that old People magazine my jaw dropped at the sight of that little Dragon patch.  Braggin’ Dragon branded polos.  It was the fire coming out of its mouth, that little burst of flame that I remembered on my own shirts as a kid.  I instantly was transported back to a time as a kid when I thought my shirt was cooler than a friends because mine had a reptile that could BREATH FREAKING FIRE.  Top that.  So stumbling on this ad was sort of bittersweet with the reconnection to something I had as a kid and the realization that for the past 15 years I’ve been fondly remembering the Lacoste gator for no good reason.  Misplaced, misremembered nostalgia.  False.  It’s a lesson about how easy one can jumble memories, how idealized thoughts of the past can become.  It’s also another shining example of why I love ephemera so much.  These old mom magazines full of old advertisements and photoshoots are a version of the truth that’s set in stone.  They’re a Rosetta Stone that can unlock the past in ways that our own minds alone are often times incapable of processing.

Braggin Dragon Logo

Now, do I get this little guy tattooed above my heart on my chest? ;)

Shaking the Pillars of Heaven…

So, the start of a new week, and it’s already been a rather crazy roller coaster of ups and downs here at Branded HQ.  Live in or around Jacksonville, FL area?  Did you feel the ground quake around noon on Saturday?  Did it rain frogs for a bit and mess up your outdoor lunch festivities?  Did your rose bushes suddenly burst into very fragrant flames?  Well that was probably partly my fault as I made a day trip down to the area to meet some folks in person that I’ve been talking with online for years.  That’s right, I finally got a chance to meet Paxton Holley of the amazing Cavalcade of Awesome, and in the process uniting 2/3rds of the Cult Film Club in person for the first time (no worries, I brought Jaime along in spirit, or rather with a bit of her soul that was captured on film and then printed out at Kinko’s.)  I’m pretty sure there’s some old testament prophecy about some pretty crazy stuff happening if all three of us were to gather in person in the same location at the same time…

Cult Film Club Polaroid small

So what was I doing in that neck of the woods?  Well, when not talking about rad cult films, Pax’s main podcasting gig is as a co-host of the Nerd Lunch show (which I’ve been on a time or two, or ten actually), and they’ve been planning an IRL meet-up for awhile.  Carlin, Paxton, Robert (from the cool To the Escape Hatch site) and myself all converged on Jacksonville for some great food (at 4 Rivers Smokehouse), some great conversation (there should be a podcast released soon), and just some good times in general.

Nerd Lunch Live small

In addition to the above conversation and merriment I was also introduced to the concept of a Doritos encrusted Mountain Dew flavored cupcake.  Yeah, read that last bit slowly and mull on that idea as you take a look at this monstrosity…

Mtn Dew Cupcake

It was pretty insane.  Not as Dew-y as I’d hoped, but still pretty darn tasty and crazy.

In other news, my beloved DVD player of the last 10 years has passed on to that electronic junk pile in the sky (which I imagine is actually the planet Junkion from Transformers the Movie.)  I’ve watched a metric ton of films and TV on that player and was pretty sad to see it go.  I mean, I wore thumb and finger grooves in the remote.  Sigh.  Well, the last movie to play on it was an 80s flick I’d neglected to watch until last night, the John Hughes written/produced romantic comedy Some Kind of Wonderful.  So if it was going to die, at least it, A, let me watch this flick, and B, picked a pretty rad movie to spin as it’s last screening. I’m glad it didn’t sputter out any sooner as I was able to see a very young and super precocious Candace Cameron playing with her collection of Garbage Pail Kids!  Harkening back to The Monster Squad post, it looks like Eugene wasn’t the only collector on the silver screen…

SKoW 2 small

SKoW 4 small

SKoW 1 small

In a move that was almost too cute to bear, Hughes, director Howard Deutch, or maybe even Cameron herself decided to have the GPKs fighting against each other.  My head almost exploded by the sheer amount of adorable nostalgia on the screen.

SKoW 3 small

I also love that she had both a collection on the backing in a cigar box as well as a bunch of stickers that were applied in a photo album.  Too cool.  I don’t remember ever seeing sticker collection in a flick like this before (though I’m sure I’m forgetting a movie or two…)

So, now I have to decide.  Do I finally get a Blu-Ray player and an HD TV?

 

A Good Thing About Moving…

So I recently moved house, which is part of what’s been keeping me so silent on the internet these past few months, but in the process I found some treasures I didn’t even realize I had!  A little while after my sister passed away I took charge of all the family photos so that I could organize and scan them all so we’d have an easy to share set of digital snapshots.  My main focus was getting to all the pictures of my sister, but I kept a stack of photos of myself as a kid that I haven’t had a chance to look through until this past month.  One of the awesome side effects of a move (seriously, you have to try and look on the bright side right?) is that it forces you to take stock of everything you own.  It all has to be packed up, moved and unpacked, so you get a couple chances to find things that have been lost or discover things you never realized you had.

One of laments about my childhood is that by the time I came along my parents had lost a lot of the zest for taking pictures that they had with my sister.  So I don’t have any Halloween photos, or all that many Christmas morning shots.  Well, apparently my parents had been sitting on some pictures that are exactly the kind of things I’ve been dying to post on Branded but thought didn’t exist.  There weren’t a ton, but there were a few really cool snapshots, like this one of me and my friend Timmy playing with his Millennium Falcon sometime in 1982…

Shawn Star Wars small

Man, how I remember coveting that thing!  I had some really cool Star Wars junk as a kid (a couple of At-Ats, an X-Wing, Snow Speeder, and a Y-Wing), but isn’t it always the case that the stuff you didn’t have always seemed cooler than the stuff you did?  Well, at least I got a chance to play with it and wasn’t just drooling over the pages in the Sears or JC Penny Catalogs…

Where do you let King Kong Sleep When He Visits?

So recently Brian over at Cool & Collected got the idea to start up a new community toy project called the King Kong World Tour.  Basically Brian has sent one of his Kong Imperial action figures on an extended vacation traveling around the world.  I took part in a similar project with a Spock Mego figure a few years ago and had a blast hosting him, so I thought it would also be fun to show Kong the sites in Atlanta and at Branded in the 80s HQ.  Here are some of the highlights…

kingkongworldtourlogo

First off, no visit to Branded HQ would be complete without taking a gander at the action figure wall.  Kong really wanted to join the ranks of the Joe team, but Cobra always ended up picking him first…

Joe Kong

Kong also Mumm-Ra.  You think the two would pal around, but that ancient spirit of evil is kind of a nutty fruitcake…

KongderCats

I had to show Kong my framed Crestwood Monsters book as it’s sort of like a high school yearbook for him…

Crestwood Kong

Now as far as Atlanta goes, I took him to some of my current favorite spots, and it wasn’t until I was processing the roll of film that I realized I apparently love places that start with the letter “V”.  Case in point…

Vortex

…the Vortex (my favorite Atlanta building and a great place for Fried Pickles)…

Varsity

…the Varsity (great hot dog place)…

Videodrome

…and Videodrome (one of the last surviving mom & pop video rental places in the southeast)!

Anyway, head on over to Cool and Collected to check out more pictures from Kong’s stop in Atlanta as well as the other stops on the tour so far!

Saving Branded…

I wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I’m not like dead or anything. There’s just a lot of life junk going on in the background that’s kept me from Branded lately. That being said, and you may or may not have already noticed, but Branded recently had a sort of makeover. Actually, to be honest, the site was sort of on life support with the host I was using for the past seven years. When I first started this project it was as a podcast and thus I did my homework and found the best podcasting/website hosting option available for my needs and at the time Libsyn was the answer. But slowly the urge to solo-podcast diminished and the need to write increased. So I did my best with my limited html skills to almost literally take a hammer to the code and I banged the site into a shape that I was happy with. But if there is one thing that Libsyn is not known for, it’s their blogging platform. Pretty much, well, it sucked. The comment system sucked, the archive platform blew chunks, and it was seriously buggy as all hell. But I kept dealing with it year after year because as the site grew it became increasingly harder and harder to think about moving it. Besides, I did enjoy the freedom of having unlimited bandwidth for my audio files.

Recently though I sort of came to an impasse with the shittyness of the platform, the comments were almost totally broken, and honestly I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to save the site. Enter two supremely awesome folks, Ben Rollier and Jaime Hood. Having a twitter conversation with them one day about my lame comments section issues Ben suggested a way that I could port all of my posts pretty easily into a WordPress environment. Playing off of that Jaime took it upon herself to basically save Branded in the 80s from the trash bin. Over the last couple of months she’s been working tirelessly in her free time to rebuild my site from the ground up and has made it a fully functional big boy’s website where I can, like, work with a platform that makes sense and a comment system that’s actually geared towards conversations. Pretty much everything I always wanted out of the site. The site might look largely the same (by design), but it’s way cooler in the functionality department, and to be honest it sort of has me pretty darn stoked to be writing again. If only I can get past this speed bump in the real world.

Anyway, huge shout out to Ben, and especially Jaime who channeled all of her Ninja Turtle inspired craftiness to save my damn website. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out her site, do it. It’s one of my favorite places on the internet to hang out and learn about pretty damn awesome movies, music, and all the other stuff that runs through her mind.

This Chick Saved My Site

Reunited with an Uncanny piece of my past…

Been a lot of personal “behind-the-scenes” stuff going on at Branded this year, but I’m doing my best to bounce back and get to some more regular posting soon. In the meantime I wanted to tackle this week’s League assignment as it touches on the very subject I’ve been meaning to write about for the past couple months, comic books. Remember when I talked about the awesome gift, my original Atari 2600 game system and original eight games, a long time friend (D) gave me recently? Well, not only was he gracious enough to restore one huge chunk of my childhood, but he also returned another important part of my past that’s been MIA for over 18 years, my run of Uncanny X-Men comics that I traded him out of desperation in high school.

X-Men 1

At the end of my sophomore year of high school my Dad was laid off from his position as a salesmen for a large semiconductor and telecommunications company. I’ll be honest, he made some pretty decent dough back in the day and throughout all of my life to that point we lived very comfortably. It wasn’t lavish by any means, but we weren’t hurting and there was always a decent allowance that I used to keep myself in toys and comics. When he lost his job though, we were in sort of a pretty tough situation as his company had moved my family across the country twice in the space of two years, so they had fronted my Father a large portion of the down payment on the house we’d been living in. After they laid him off they wanted that money back and it forced us to regroup as a family, cut costs as much as possible and move into a small two bedroom apartment. None of this really mattered to me, but I did lose the bucks that I needed to keep me in comics, so I started to cannibalize my collection, selling off whatever I could to get the money to buy new comics. As any collector knows, this can be very dangerous and usually leads to losing everything, which is basically what happened in my case. There were a few runs that I held off on, stuff that was really personal to me, books like The Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine, and X-Factor. As I started to chip away at the “money” books in these runs my friend “D” made me an offer on my collection of Uncanny X-Men books that I couldn’t refuse so I traded him my run, issues 196-281.

At the time I was sort of relieved because those books were the cornerstone of my collection, the stuff that got me into the hobby, and by parting with them I felt the need to collect comics sort of die. It’s not that I wanted to stop collecting and reading, but it’s an expensive habit and at the time I kind of wanted to just take a break. Well, over the years I’ve drifted back into collecting, though nowhere near as fiercely as I did during that time between 1988 and 1995, and big reason for this is that without those original X-Men comics I sort of feel disconnected from the hobby. More importantly, sort of like Scrooge McDuck has his Number One Dime, the most important piece of currency in his fortune, I had my own lucky book, Uncanny X-Men issue 242. This was the first comic I bought back in 1988, and it’s always been the center of my collection. I’ve picked up copies of the book over the years, but not having the actual copy that I purchased from a grocery store spinner rack back in the day has always been a little pin prick of loss and remorse when it comes to my comic collecting.

x-men 2

That all changed earlier in the year when “D” regifted those books to me along with my long lost Atari. There aren’t even words for how happy I was to reunite with this stuff. Again, I don’t have a ton of surviving stuff from my childhood and so this pile of comics is just beyond amazing. There was a time when I felt like the stories that Chris Claremont wrote in these issues defined me. Like a lot of kids I heavy related to the characters, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Longshot, Dazzler, Colossus, Psylocke, and Havok. These were “my X-men”. Later, I fell in love with Gambit, got acquainted with Polaris and Forge, was only mildly annoyed by Jubilee, and dreamed of what it would be like to step through the Siege Perilous. I did a quick tally to see what these books retailed for, not because I give a damn what they’re worth monetarily (they’re priceless artifacts as far as I’m concerned), but I was curious what my friend potentially gave up to reunite me with these books. Let’s just say that at market value was about a month’s rent, and I know that he knows that. Egads, can’t thank “D” enough.

Like what you read here?  Why not visit some of the other League members to see what they had to say about this week’s comic books topic!

Big J talks about the Desert Peach

Eric talks about Plastic Man

Rich talks about Superman

Yelinna talks about a bunch of comics and toys

Tim talks about bird poop and Iceman

Cult Film club Stickers Now Available for Purchase!

So, the stickers I’ve been so excited about making for the Cult Film Club?  Well they’re now available for purchase!  Included in the CFC “No Tipping” Sticker Pack are 4 die-cut stickers, measuring between 2.4″x2.4″ and 3.4″x2.4″, featuring the CFC Logo, Official Membership Badge, our mascot the Phantom Ticket Taker, and the one, the only Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi)!

Stickers 1

The Cult Film Club is totally siding with Mr. Pink when it comes to the idea of “No Tipping”, at least receiving them that is. We’d love your support in helping to cover our costs, but instead of holding out our grubby hands for a tip or donation we’ve got these rad stickers to sell instead.  All profit goes directly into paying our podcast hosting and equipment fees.  I’d really like to sell through the 40 packs we have by the end of the month, and I’ll be honest, I’m going to need your help to do it.  Right now we’re almost half way to that goal, which is awesome, but we still have a little ways to go.

Plaster these on your car, Trapper Keeper, or your favorite pet!  In addition, if you leave a comment below letting me know you put in an order, I’ll include a Branded in the 80s Logo sticker for free!

Stickers

Thanks in advance for supporting this project, and especially to those who have already picked up a pack or two.  And thanks always for stopping by Branded and reading my silly thoughts!

Click to be whisked away to the Cult Film Club sticker store!

Visiting my bedroom circa 1995…

So I am totally going to steal an idea from Jaime over at Shezcrafti today because I am terribly jealous of the fact that she has a snapshot of her room from when she was a kid. My parents never had the presence of mind to immortalize any of my childhood room set-ups, and the only picture that I have that even remotely counts is this one below of me sleeping when I was three or four. Did they get my Castle Greyskull or At-At in the picture? Nope. Just me hanging off the bed like a goon (this was how they found me pretty much each morning, by the by, apparently I’m a restless sleeper…) At least I can scope my Amazing Spider-man comforter and my Disney sheets. Oh, and footie pjs FTW.

My Room 4

I do however have a couple of pictures that I took of my room during high school, circa 1995 that I can take a look at.  Granted, it’s not the 80s, but it’s basically been 20 years, so it’s still nostalgic and junk.  Looking back I guess I was going through my “dark” phase where I wore a ton of black, made my own goofy Punisher T-shirts, and took selfie photos with my dad’s Pentax 1000 manual camera that I stole so that I could take photojournalism as an elective in school.  I wonder how long I f-ed with my hair until I was happy with this picture at the time (sigh, what a retard I was.)  Also, note the X-Men keychain I turned into a necklace pendant (hanging near the Punisher skull nose area), as that’s a clue to an upcoming post, the second part of this Atari post from a couple weeks ago…

My Room 3

Anyway, now that you’ve had a look at my dumb ass, here’s what my room looked like…

My Room 1

This was is just a smidgen of the cacophony of posters, clippings and miscellaneous crap that I had plastered on almost every square inch of area in that room.  By the time I was done I had the entire ceiling, all four walls, the doors, door frames, bookshelves and dresser covered in stuff.  Wish I had some more shots other than the two in this post.  That being said, lets take a look at some of the junk in that photo above.  First off there’s an awesome Aliens poster that I totally forgot I had.  The two mobiles hanging down from the ceiling are the dissection worksheets of an earthworm and a crayfish that I swiped from biology the year before.  I was full swing into horror movies and I thought they were cool.  Lets see, there’s also at least three Vampire the Masquerade promo posters up (including the two on the top right, and one of a vampire chick coming through a doorway off to the left), as well as a Werewolf the Apocalypse calendar (just to the right of the hanging lamp at the top left of the photo), and a Wraith the Ascension poster all the way to the left.  I was pretty big into the White Wolf role playing games even though I had a tough time finding people to play with (my friends played Werewolf, but Vampire was too weird for them.)  In that same vein (ha, punny) I put up a Red Cross Give Blood sign I nabbed from a local grocery store to go with the Vampire theme.  There’s an image from James O’Barr’s The Crow up at the top.  That was cut from one of the free swag bags at Dragon Con that year.  Speaking of Dragon Con, there’s a flyer for my first show up underneath the one Masquerade poster.   There’s also a chunk of one of Casper’s brothers from the Casper the Ghost movie that came out that year.  I’m pretty sure that came from a cardboard standee that I got from my local Home Video rental store.  On the ceiling you can see the corner of a Star Wars Trilogy poster, as well as a comic book page I drew for my Senior Independent Study class (I was so proud of that class as I was the only student having convinced the school to let me have it as an additional elective.)  Last, but not least there’s a fireman’s helmet, a gift from my uncle Dale who worked for a time as an EMT, and my high school diploma…

My Room 2

In this final photo (taken with a roll of black and white film left over from my photojournalism class) there’s a bit more of the wall to the right of the original photo.  In addition to some Atari ads I cut out of comics (Kool-Aid and Mario Bros.) there are a couple of my favorite Saturday Morning cartoon ads (this one featuring Pryor’s Place and this one with It’s Punky Brewster, Kidd Video and the Smurfs.) There’s also a Highlander the Final Dimension cardboard standee poster and some snapshots of friends from our graduation.

I never realized just who emo and faux-goth I must have seemed at the time.  Le sigh…

Collecting Deconstructed

I made an admission recently about how small my actual personal vintage 80s collection is, and I wanted to expand upon that a bit.  Though it mostly pertained to my collection of things that I actually had from when I was a kid to now, surviving personal pop culture relics, I think sometimes I might give off the wrong impression as to how large my actual vintage collection of stuff really is.  By that I mean it’s kind of small, at least in terms of what I think someone who runs an 80s nostalgia site might, and probably usually owns.  Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a ridiculously large collection of animation cels, specifically monsters, spooks and creeps from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, and I still have a pretty big collection of sticker cards (Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc), stuff that I’ve featured in the Peel Here column over the years, but outside of that so much of the stuff I’ve amassed over the last couple decades spent pining after my youth has been more modern tchotchkes.  Take my collection of G.I. Joe 2th anniversary figures.  I have around 50 of those adoring the walls of Branded HQ alongside some vintage style Star Wars figures (emphasis on “style”.)  I have a bunch of mini movie posters printed at the local Kinko’s self-serve copier when the attendants weren’t looking, as well as a scary amount of 80s cartoons on DVD.  But a lot of this stuff is more representational of my nostalgia and not directly linked to it.

Again, there are other things that I have that are more personal, my framed 1977 Halloween Horrors LP, or my sister’s collection of 80s era LPs, but these things by no means make up the bulk of my collection.  So, why am I bringing this up?  Well, I’ve been thinking a lot of what collections and collecting means to me over the last year and I’ve come to the conclusion that the desire to be a completist, or to focus on only vintage items is, for me personally, a fruitless compulsion.  That’s not to say that I’m giving up on collecting, or that I’m only buying a bunch of modern junk, it’s more of a realization that so much of the joy is not in possessing these coveted items, it’s simply the actual desire to own them.  It’s the hunt, not the trophy.  The trophy, if not the specific, actual item I possessed as a kid, is merely a representation, no more real than a memory of that same item held as a child, or a picture scavenged off of Google image search (for me at least.)  So many of the things that I desire to have back, those specific relics from my childhood, are way beyond my ability to ever secure them.  They are gone.  In a landfill most likely. That’s why the Atari system my friend re-gifted to me recently is so sacred to me.

GPKs

Part of what drew me to this conclusion was another amazing acquisition I wrote about awhile back, the near complete set of vintage 1st series Garbage Pail Kids that I lucked into for free.  When sorting the cards that were given to me, and realizing that so many of them were 1st series my heart was a lump in my throat.  After I was done and I noticed that there were about 20 stickers missing, 2 of which were A&B sister cards (meaning there was one image missing from the set of John Pound paintings) I was sort of heart broken.  I’d been searching for an affordable set of 1st series GPKs all of my life and here was one given to me for free and it took me exactly 25 minutes to go from elated beyond belief to deflated and full of grief.  To my stupid credit, it only took me another half an hour to come to the realization that I was given two gifts that day.  One, the set of coveted sticker cards, and two, because it was an incomplete set, I was also re-gifted the hunt.  That desire to keep looking.  If that was totally stripped I fear that the urge to “collect” GPKs would diminish, and I’m not sure I’m ready to ever let go of that desire.

Boxsome pack

The other thing that really knocked home this idea of redefining what collecting means to me was when the absurdly cool Tommy Day of Top Hat Sasquatch decided to launch a new project recently called Boxsome.  In a nutshell, Boxsome is a site where you can purchase little packages of nostalgia in the form of 80s and 90s era trading card packs.  Each Nostalgia pack contains two wax packs of your choice from their inventory, and it comes shipped with a bunch of extra goodies including pogs, stickers, and little designer goodies that I believe will be rotating in and out.  At first blush one might think, what is the point?  Why would I want only two packs of Howard the Duck trading cards?  I can buy the whole set off of eBay for the same price!  But that’s just it, if I’m right, Boxsome isn’t about owning all the Howard the Duck cards (complete with a neatly folded wrapper and a set of the sticker card sub set.)  It’s about revisiting what it was like when you went to the store or gas station and you were only allowed to spend a dollar or two and you could only afford to pick up a few packs here and there.  How many kids ever completed their sets of Topps cards?  Sure, I know some of us did.  I mean I managed to complete the entire 700+ card run of the 1987 Topps Baseball card set.  But I also know that that experience is a lot rarer than we might think.  We might have a full run of a set or two, but most of us only had a handful of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, or Dark Crystal cards.  And you know what?  Maybe that’s all we really need.  Just a handful of vintage cards to remind us how neat these sets were, reminding us how it felt to collect them as a kid, and keeping the “hunt” alive by only buying a pack here and there.

boxsome logo

Money buys a lot of things.  Hell, it can buy you all of the things.  But it doesn’t make one a collector, and the act of buying all there is to buy, that feeling of the purchase, will never feel as good as just the simple desire to own that stuff.  That desire, the hunt, that’s what’s worth preserving.  If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go stare at my collection of 19 Dark Crystal cards I’ve amassed.  And I’m going to dream about one day owning the rest…

For those interested, Tommy was kind enough to offer Branded readers a special offer of 20% off your purchase until April 16th! Just go to Boxsome and use coupon code “BRANDED”. Tell him I sent ya!