Posts tagged ‘80s toys’

Nostalgiathon 2009 #1: Thrift Store Finds

I’ve mentioned before that here in Norman, finding cool 80s stuff is kind of difficult. Today, I went and hit a couple of thrift stores, not really expecting to find anything, but I did!

First, I went to the local Salvation Army store. Toys rarely turn up here; I don’t know if they even accept them anymore. They mostly have a lot of clothes, random knick-knacks and especially 1970s furniture, which is kind of neat in its own way, but it’s difficult to collect furniture. (However, I did buy my dinette set there!)

A while back, I did find something cool here, but I couldn’t buy it because I didn’t have 20 bucks at the time– a Betamax machine! It was huge and hefty, a real relic. I wanted it just for the novelty of owning one, but even if I’d had the 20 dollars, I doubt that I actually would have purchased it, since I have become something of a practical person. I only have so much space, and I only have one Beta tape anyway (which I also bought simply for the novelty factor). Still, it’s kind of sad that I couldn’t get it.

Anyway. After leaving there empty-handed, I decided to go hit another store on the other side of town: Outreach Thrift Store. I used to go there frequently to look for clothes, dishes, sheet sets, stuff like that, but I hadn’t gone there for quite some time. It’s a nice place and things are generally pretty clean and organized. Until today, I had never scored any old stuff there except for maybe a couple of children’s books.

I went through some clothes, didn’t really find anything that caught my eye, so I went over to the books, and didn’t see anything there either. Then I spied a big pile of plushies and stuffed animals. I didn’t expect to find anything, so I was only halfway looking at them. I found a cute stuffed rabbit, so I picked it up to look it over and in doing so, unearthed a treasure: ANOTHER VINTAGE CARE BEAR!

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It’s Cheer Bear, which I also own a non-vintage version of. She’s in very nice shape and cost me two dollars– a teensy bit pricey for this sort of thing but definitely not unreasonable. I tucked her under my arm and went over to the little room near the back of the store where they keep the housewares.

I don’t really remember what I was looking for in here; I think I was just browsing for the sake of browsing and enjoying the air conditioning. Then it jumped out at me: a glass Garfield mug!

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McDonald’s sold these in the 80s, and I found one a few years back, but the shop wanted too much money for it. I wasn’t going to pass up this sucker, because they were selling it for 29 fucking cents! 29 cents barely gets you anything of value anymore, but today, it got me a damned Garfield mug! I looked to see if there were any more; sadly, there were not. But still, what a great find!

I also bought an old blender. Yeah, I know, not my usual fare. It’s an Osterizer Galaxie, one of those things that used to be in everyone’s kitchen back in the 70s and 80s.

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I needed a blender, and they said this one works fine, so I figured, what the hell?

After killing about an hour searching the web for info about these babies, I decided to try it out by tossing in some ice cubes and water. The results? Not bad for an appliance that’s probably older than I am. The thing certainly isn’t quiet, but it blends, and it even kinda smashed up the ice cubes. Plus, it has vintage charm, and best of all, it only cost me six dollars. I call it a win.

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Blah Blah, Barbie, Blah Blah.

I know, I said I was going to write about that other anime movie, but…well, in order to subtitle something, you have to time the subtitles first, and guess whose job that is? I have very little tolerance for tedious tasks, so…it might be a while before I get it done. 😐

Anyway, do any of you girls still keep up with Barbie these days? Yeah, me neither (bitch never returns my phone calls or texts). In fact, walking down the Barbie aisle tends to send me into a conniption fit and I go off on a rant about how awful her face and clothes are and how they’re trying to make her like those awful Bratz things and I don’t shut up for like 20 minutes.

I try to deny it, but– sigh –I loved Barbie when I was a kid. At first I thought she was lame and at the ripe old age of six, I told myself I didn’t need no steenking plastic girly Barbies. However, peer pressure is a powerful thing when you’re six. Before long, I asked for one of those My First Barbies and found myself liking her. Then came the 1990 Happy Meal Barbies, which I loved to death:

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Later came the Soda Shoppe:

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…and the rollerblading Barbie whose skates made sparks, a Southwestern-themed Jeep done tacky early 90s style for her and Skipper to drive while wearing their tacky early 90s “Western” clothes, Happy Meal Stacie, and all kinds of bullshit like that. (Where the hell did my parents get the money for this stuff?)

Then I grew up and forgot how much I used to love Barbie. That is, until I went to Walmart the other day and saw the new My Favorite Barbie line, part of Barbie’s 50th birthday celebration. This is a series of reproduced vintage dolls and I daresay they are really cool. You can look at the whole line here. These babies almost make me forget that Barbie really pisses me off!

They come with the doll, a repro outfit from the same time period, and repro booklet (which, honestly, is one of my favorite parts about the whole thing). They sell for around 40 dollars, which is entirely too much for me. My favorites are the 1977 Superstar Barbie and the 1962 Brunette Bubble Cut Barbie.

1977 Barbie comes with two really nice dresses and has that nice, friendly 70s face.

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1962 Barbie wears a red swimsuit in the box, but the pink dress she comes with is fantastic. Very glamorous.

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I bet you thought I was going to say that I wanted the 1986 Barbie and the Rockers one, huh? Well, I certainly wouldn’t mind having it, since it’s like a little 1980s time capsule, but based purely on the aesthetic value, the 1977 and 1962 dolls win. Let’s face it: 80s fashion was pretty damn bad, and rocker Barbie is a shining example of it, and hopefully she will remind people that real people almost never look good in pink spandex and shoulder pads.

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I Got Mad Retro Lootz

So I went to my dad’s place the weekend before Christmas to visit my other sister that I hadn’t seen in several years. Since Dad’s a big junk hunter just like me, and there was nothing better to do, we all went and checked out some of the junk shops/antique stores in the small town where he lives. And boy, am I glad I did!

The first place we went didn’t have much that I was interested in, honestly. However, at the place across the street, I scored:

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It’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms II for the NES! Actually, I didn’t buy this for myself. It’s for my husband, who is a huge fan of video games in general, and he likes old games, AND he’s a very loyal follower of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. So when I saw this for two dollars, I couldn’t resist. I’ve just done a quick eBay search, and this game typically goes for at least twenty bucks!

This place also had a couple of Barbies from the 80s, complete with triangular neon earrings and crimped hair, but I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted, and if something doesn’t make me say “HOLY SHIT” aloud and snatch it off the shelf, I typically don’t go for it. So Barbie will just have to wait.

Next, we went to the downtown area, which has certainly seen better days. There was an antique shop there, and the place was a damn goldmine. I could’ve easily spent a hundred dollars in there if I’d had it to spare. They had toys, they had pretty things, they had mugs and jewelry and art and lots of other great stuff. But, of course, I stuck to the 80s memorabilia, which they had plenty of.

I ran around like a kid in a candy store for a while before I finally decided to go with a Gloworm (which still works!), a vintage My Little Pony, and a Garfield mug. 😀

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Among the things I wanted to get but couldn’t afford were various old character glasses. You know, the ones that places like McDonald’s and Burger King used to sell. They had Return of the Jedi, Great Muppet Caper, Care Bears, and a few other ones. They were marked at about three dollars a piece, which is pretty reasonable compared to what most eBayers are charging. I would have bought every single one of these if my funds weren’t so limited. So with a heavy heart, I left them all behind. If they’re still there the next time I’m in Sulphur, Oklahoma, I’m gonna go snag a couple.

A Vintage Stock store recently opened near me, so I went to check it out. They sell lots of cool junk, like old video games, action figures, DVDs, comic books, and VHS tapes. There were actually quite a few NES games that I wanted to pick up just for the hell of it, but again, none of them jumped out and said “HEY HEY BUY ME”, so I left them for now.

What I was really interested in was the huge collection of VHS tapes. I went over it with a fine-toothed comb, with a few specific titles in mind. I didn’t find any of the ones I was looking for, but I did find something that I was definitely not expecting to find!

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It’s a VHS of the first two episodes of the Rainbow Brite cartoon! With the original clamshell case, even! Admittedly, the case is in poor shape, and it’s an ex-rental, which is usually risky, but I popped the tape in the VCR today and it plays like a charm. The picture’s not even particularly deteriorated like you’d expect from a 20-year-old tape.

The cartoon itself, of course, is pure unrealized potential. By that, I mean to say that it wasn’t all that great, but I had a good time with it and I’m ecstatic that I was able to add it to my collection.

I also picked up another tape: the first volume of a short early 90s anime called Detonator Orgun. My husband is really into mecha series, new and old alike, and even though he’s already seen this rather obscure offering, I thought it might amuse him to actually own this tape. If only they’d had the second volume, too!

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A few months back, when we were getting ready to move, we took some stuff we didn’t need anymore down to the Goodwill. When we got there, I saw these guys in the window:

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I don’t know why Garfield would dress in a football jersey or a fisherman’s outfit, but do you really think I, of all people, would pass these things up? Like hell I would! They’re now on my shelf with the rest of the plushies.

As much as I love this old stuff, I don’t think I’ll be buying any more for a while. Two reasons: number one being that I need to stop spending money, and number two being that I’m running out of places to put it!

The NJ Variety Pak.

…Also known as “I kinda feel like writing a post but I don’t have enough material on any one topic that I am currently inspired to write about”. Also also known as, “damn, since the end of the Nostalgiathon my hits have gone way down and I want more pageviews.”

Ahem. Yes. I have a few things to say, so I’m gonna say ’em.

Read more…

Nostalgiathon #6: Transformers!

When I was little, I always thought the theme song lyrics were “robots in the skies”, not “robots in disguise”. True story. Oh, and every time I say “Transformers”, I always have the urge to sing the word as it’s sung in the theme song, and in an 80s rock-star voice to boot. Transformaaaahs!

Anyway, I apologize if this post turns out to be less-than-awesome. I just decided about five minutes ago that I was going to do Transformers. The inspiration struck me to write about that instead of the other stuff I had planned. I’m also going to go ahead and split this into two posts, because I’m firing on all cylinders right now and I might as well use some of that energy for my seventh and final post of the Nostalgiathon. So there. (Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I can’t find any decent ones!)

So…I like Transformers. However, this is a fairly recent development and I’m hardly a hardcore fan. I enjoy the characters, and the animated movie, and some of the toys. But until last year, I was barely familiar with the franchise at all. I knew the theme song and who Optimus Prime and Megatron were (who the hell didn’t?) and that’s where it ended.

See, contrary to what you might think, I was and am a girl, and in the 80s I was more interested in Rainbow Brite and Teddy Ruxpin than robots (which should be pretty obvious if you’ve been reading this blog at all). Also, I sort of missed out on the heyday of Transformers not just because I was a little girl, but because I was about three years old when the movie came out, and after the movie, the popularity apparently took a big nosedive.

How’d I come to like Transformers when the odds say that I should hate it or at least be indifferent to it? Well, it all started with the animated movie. My fiance has fond memories of it, so I decided to watch it with him sometime last year. I also felt obligated to do so because it’s an 80s cult classic.

Needless to say, I enjoyed it immensely even though I didn’t know who the hell anybody was. I’ve been considering writing a full-fledged review of it, but I think a (relatively) brief one will suffice.

Reasons to Love Transformers: The Movie

1. The animation. It’s really good. Probably some of the best animation to come out of the 1980s. It’s flashy, colorful, and stunning at times. Everyone’s favorite characters are looking better than ever (well, before they get killed off, that is).

2. The music. The soundtrack to this movie is one of my favorite animation soundtracks ever, possibly one of my favorites period. Yes, some of the vocal songs are cheesy 80s rock tunes– okay, they’re ALL cheesy 80s rock tunes –but the score itself is not to be missed, especially if you love synth music. It fits with the movie so well and really adds a lot of atmosphere. Even a couple of the vocal songs are nice– mostly just The Touch and Dare, though. The others I could take or leave, though they do fit into the movie well enough.

3. The dialogue. This movie has better one-liners than it has any right to, being an 80s animated film based on a 30-minute toy commercial– er, I mean television show. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody; if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

4. The characters! I’m going to take some heat for this one from fans, probably, but I happen to like Hot Rod, Kup, and Springer a whole lot. (Note that I said Hot Rod and not Rodimus Prime.) However, Wheelie is on my shitlist same as he is on everyone else’s. He’s the Jar Jar Binks of Transformers.

Anyway, the chemistry between Hot Rod and Kup is so much fun. But I tend to like that whole “old codger versus young punk” thing. They both seemed to have so much more depth to them than some of the original guys. Not that I don’t like those guys, but you gotta admit they aren’t exactly well-rounded characters. Also, remember that when I saw the movie, I had no idea who Ratchet, Wheeljack, Ironhide or any of the other guys were, so even when they snuffed it, I was like, “Uh, okay. That sucks, I guess.” So I have a pretty different perspective than most.

5. They took this movie seriously. Aside from the silly songs and the one-liners and dumb stuff like Wheelie, this movie is serious business! They don’t pull any punches. You see Autobots and Decepticons alike get destroyed. There’s lots of darkness and danger. There are a couple of swear words. Hell, they even had the balls to kill off a beloved hero and icon. Maybe this is why it was a box-office failure– it was too far ahead of its time. Only recently has America been making animation that even comes close to being “adult”. The look and feel of it are more like what’s typical of Japanese anime than American animation.

Phew, that went on longer than I thought it would.

Stay tuned for more Transformers ramblings, coming soon!

Nostalgiathon #4: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Toys

Hmm, today was another good day! WordPress ends the day at 7PM my time, which is kinda irritating, but from 7PM yesterday to 7PM today (it’s currently 7:39), I got 74 views, and have had six since then, so that’s pretty damn good! Thank you all once again.

Anyway, enough about that. This is another post written without prior planning, so I’m not sure how this one’ll turn out either. I’m gonna try to keep it short. Because…well, I don’t feel like writing a 1500-word diatribe about toys at the moment, haha. But we’ll see.

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JoshC suggested that I write about Pound Puppies. I did indeed have a Pound Puppy as a kid, and I even found a little tan one at a thrift store a couple years ago.

However, I had more of the other merchandise than I did of the actual plushies, including this read-along book and tape set that I loved to death for some reason. If I remember correctly, it was based on the characters from the cartoon show and was about the wonders of reading books or something like that.

Another Pound Puppies item in my collection was a tape full of doggy Christmas songs, complete with really cheesy barking and whatnot, which was also listened to many, many times. Kids are so indiscriminate when it comes to entertainment.

I also had a couple of knockoff Pound Puppies that I loved just as much, but I don’t remember what they were called. There’s a picture of me with them, and if I wasn’t such a lazy bitch I’d scan it in. Hey, you’re lucky you’re gettin’ two posts in one day!

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DC suggested Popples. Unfortunately…I ain’t got much to say about Popples because I never had one. They’re…interesting. Apparently, they were created by the same people responsible for Care Bears. I think if I had to choose between the two, I’d take Care Bears. But if I found a Popple in a thrift store, I’d probably buy it.

Hmm, more toys…

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Ah, The Get Along Gang. This franchise was a vague, early memory for me, since the show ended when I was about two years old. Once in the early 90s, I was at a thrift store with my mother and found one of the toys. Even at that young age, I wanted to buy that toy because it was from the 80s. Didn’t get a chance to though.

I can’t agree with the themes of this show, though. It encourages conformity and I kinda don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing to teach kids. Conforming is fine in some situations, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting along with others, but you’ve got to have a mind and identity of your own.

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Strawberry Shortcake! I only had one of the dolls, but I loved it. I also seem to remember having a big, “baby” version of her, but maybe I just dreamed that. Not sure. Here’s a commercial for it, featuring Heather O’Rourke, AKA Carol Anne from Poltergeist.

Strawberry Shortcake has been revived since the 80s, but now she looks like this:

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Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I hate that new design. For one thing, it doesn’t look timeless like the old one. It looks…well, frankly it looks 90s! The big hat, the jacket tied around the waist, the striped top– I don’t know about anybody else, but that looks ridiculously mid-90s to me. It’ll certainly be dated in a few years. Not that that really matters, I guess, but meh. I think they should’ve just left well enough alone.

Okay, well, after searching around some more, it looks like they changed the design again, and it’s better, but I still prefer the old ones. Maybe I just don’t like my toys looking “hip” or something. Also, most of the old characters are gone. And Huckleberry Pie looks ridiculously generic. Check it out if you’re bored enough.

And after doing even MORE Googling, I found this, YET ANOTHER re-launch for Strawberry, this time by Hasbro. I like the character design better, as it’s more reminiscent of the 80s design. But I’m sure the animated show isn’t going to be to my liking– which is fine, because I’m not a four-year-old growing up in 2008. I’m just rambling.

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. Any thoughts?

ETA: Oh yeah, NJ has a new look! I was sick of looking at the blue, so I picked something where I could customize the colors. I decided to go with an orangey-browny thing, because that reminds me of the 80s. Unfortunately, this layout doesn’t support a custom header, so the NJ logo I made is retired for now. Still, I’m happy with the colors. What do you guys think?

Nostalgiathon #1: More Thrift Store Adventures

It’s the first day of the Nostalgiathon! It snuck up on me pretty fast, since my life has actually been busy for once. But we’re right on schedule. However, tomorrow’s post might be late…I have a funeral to go to. (More about that later this week.) I’ll try real hard to write it today so I can just post it tomorrow when I get a chance, but that’s not carved in stone.

I was debating whether or not I should give you guys an itinerary or something, but…I’ve decided to keep it mostly a surprise. Kinda like not knowing what toy you’re gonna get in your Happy Meal.

Also, some of you guys offered up suggestions. As a token of my gratitude, I’m going to do my best to incorporate most of them into the Nostalgiathon. But I make no promises as to how well I’ll be able to incorporate them. I’ve never really done this before, you know!

I made a couple more thrift store trips in the past week. If you haven’t seen my first post chronicling my thrift store adventures, go check it out when you get a minute, since this is sort of like a continuation of that.

Anyway, I discovered another thrift store in a different part of town than the other ones I went to. It’s called Uptown Bargains, and I’ve actually been to their other huge store on the southside, but that was a couple of years ago. (I may have to go there again soon when I get a chance.)

One thing that’s cool about this place is everything is marked with a colored tag (green, gray, blue, yellow and orange I think). And certain colors get 50% off. I think it rotates but I’m not sure. The last time I went, gray and blue tags were 50% off, which really worked to my advantage.

Anyway, if you didn’t read the first post, these are the things I’m typically looking for when I go to these places:

– Toys
– Unique VHS tapes
– Kids’ books
– Anything old and quirky

In the old and quirky category, this thrift store fares pretty well, actually. The reason why I haven’t bought any of that stuff is because most of the old and quirky things are retro T-shirts and TVs, and they’re more expensive. They even had a top-loading VCR, but it looked like it might have been dropped and I think it was like ten dollars. They also had an old TV that actually kinda looked more like an old computer monitor. Very interesting.

VHS tapes? Well…they have a lot of them, and there are some good titles, but none of them are rare enough to justify buying. There also weren’t any home-recorded ones at all– I’m thinking they probably don’t accept them, which is a shame.

And now, the toy department.

The first time I went to this store, I scored pretty big. I went wandering around looking for the toys and from a distance an 18″ Red Butler doll shone out to me like a beacon. As usual, I said, “OH MY GOD” out loud and made a fool of myself as I rushed over to check it out.

Red Butler is one of the Color Kids from Rainbow Brite, only one of the two that’s male. That’s him over there on the right:

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Upon closer inspection, I saw that this doll was in extremely good condition. Upon even closer inspection, I found that it’s not vintage, but it’s one of the toys from the 2003 line. (The new line of toys all have orange tags with the Rainbow Brite logo on them. Dead giveaway.) But I didn’t give a shit, it was still Red fucking Butler. Here’s what the doll looks like.

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I haven’t figured out if it’s a reproduction of an old doll or what, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. The only ones I’ve seen that I’m sure are vintage are the smaller dolls. Some of the big ones are listed on eBay as vintage when they’re actually the 2003 doll, so who knows. And like I said, I don’t really care too much. He’s still a great find.

And right next to him was a bonus. A huge, soft Rainbow Brite. It’s from the 2003 line, not just because of the orange tag but because I’m pretty sure they never made a Rainbow Brite like this in the 80s:

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When I say “huge”, I mean she’s about 27″ tall. Compared to the majority of my other toys, that’s like fucking King Kong or something. Except King Kong was never this cuddly. It’s neat to have a cuddly Rainbow Brite, because the old-school 18″ doll has one of those big plastic heads that aren’t exactly great for snuggling up to sleep with.

Needless to say, I tucked both of them under my arm and kept on looking. I also found a plush manatee and snatched that up because it was damn cute and it could be friends with the plush walrus I have. God I’m a dork.

Anyway, the next find was a shocking one. Remember how I found VINTAGE CARE BEAR at one of those other thrift stores? Well, VINTAGE CARE BEAR now has a friend. Yes, I found ANOTHER VINTAGE FUCKING CARE BEAR. Why do I always capitalize it? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. And with this one, I didn’t have to buy a bunch of other toys I didn’t really want! Even better.

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It’s Love a Lot Bear! And mine’s in fantastic shape, too, considering how old it is. Honestly, it looks like it hasn’t been played with much at all. The tag isn’t even faded. Sometimes I wonder how these things end up in thrift stores. VINTAGE CAAARE BEEAAARS

And the price for all this great stuff? Eight bucks. Yes.

My second visit was just a few days ago. I didn’t get nearly as much loot as I did the first time I went there, but that’s because I also had significantly less money (only four dollars). That doesn’t mean I didn’t find a couple of cool things, though.

They had two 80s Cabbage Patch Kids. The girl’s hair was sort of disheveled, but she had her original dress (I know this because it has a patch on it that says “Cabbage Patch Kids”) and was in good shape otherwise. There was a boy too, who had his original shirt but had no pants. Both of them were 2.99, so it was one or the other. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept digging around, hoping to unearth something worth writing about.

You guys remember The Wuzzles? (No? Maybe this will jog your memory.) Well, I found a Wuzzles plushie! At first I wasn’t sure what I had just freed from the bottom of the pile, but when I realized it was Butterbear I was like, holy crap, I have to buy this thing. Because I had never seen a Wuzzles plushie before. I had some of the cartoon episodes on tape and I had one of the read-along book and tape things, though.

Here’s what she looks like:

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So now I was torn in two. I only had four dollars, so I couldn’t afford a Wuzzle and a Cabbage Patch Kid. I decided to go with Butterbear, because if I really wanted to, I could probably find another Cabbage Patch Kid pretty easily. Probably not for three bucks, though, so I kinda regret that I had to leave them behind.

Anyway, the plushie is in great condition. If you didn’t already know, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was 23 years old. Especially since the tag has been cut off.

I almost forgot to mention the selection of books at this place. The first time I went, I didn’t really look, but this time I decided to go through it thoroughly.

They have some real relics, like Highlights books from the early 70s. There are a lot of old kids’ books, but I didn’t find too many that I really wanted.

While I was looking, I remembered a book that I used to love as a kid and was one of the first ones I ever read: a Little Golden Book called Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree. And I thought, you know, it would be kickass if they had that book.

I looked them over one more time, and right before I was going to give up, I found a gold spine that I’d missed before. I pulled it out and said to myself, “Well, I’ll be damned.” It was Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree! The cover was sort of faded, but the pages were in good shape for a 26-year-old book (there’s an inscription inside that’s dated 1982), and it was only 50 cents. Needless to say, I didn’t have to argue with myself much over that purchase.

I’ll definitely be going back to this place sometime when I get some more money to blow, though I’m kind of afraid that I already bought all the really cool stuff they had. We’ll see.