Monday, November 28, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - There's A Sale At Penneys!





This week's Pop Culture League Challenge is an odd one. There's a sale at Penneys. What was one of your greatest deals? Penneys? As in JC Penny? Do people even shop there anymore? I mean, I'm looking at my calendar, and it definitely doesn't say 1982 on it.

So for this challenge I'm going to need to get a little creative. Let's assume that Penny is a person, and not a place. Let's also assume that Penny was the name of the guy I bought something from way back in the day at a local comic book show.

If we're going with that hypothetical route, then the best deal I got from Penny was his entire run of Topps Star Wars trading cards for $60.00 with the binder and sleeves. Mind you, when I say entire run, I mean all five series of Star Wars, all three of The Empire Strikes Back, and both of the Return of the Jedi ones. Additionally, each set contained all of their stickers.

This was right around 1992. Star Wars was relatively dead to the general population, and dealers were  lucky if they weren't giving away Star Wars related merchandise just to offload it. Coincidentally, I turned down a fantastic deal for the time from a local comic shop. I was offered every carded Star Wars figure for just $1,200.00, and passed because I would have had to spend every dime in my savings account to get them. Oops. Live and learn I suppose.

While the Topps cards I picked up certainly wouldn't have offered the early retirement that the figures would have, I still got a fantastic deal considering you'll spend three to four times that price to get the full run these days. Added bonus - I still have them to this day, so it wasn't just an impulse buy of something I didn't want.

Let's be honest too. If I had bought the carded Star Wars figures, they would have been long gone by now, and so would I - To some cheap Island in the middle of nowhere to live out the rest of my days as a king.

So that's my story of the great deal I got from "Penny".

As of this posting nobody had chimed in with their responses, so sadly I have no links to share at this time. However, this could be because Brian's site is telling everyone that their links are spam. You can check out the main page for any updates that come in.


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Super Queens (Ideal)



Super Queens
Ideal
1967 - 1968

During the 1960's and 70's, Ideal was one of the largest doll-makers in the United States. With familiar characters such as Evil Knievel, Captain Action and Dorothy Hamil (to name just a few), the company was well poised to sell dolls to children of all ages, boy or girl.

In 1967 Ideal produced an all new line - Super Queens. This four doll set featured some of the most popular female heroine's of DC Comics, and even Krypto the Superdog in the case of Supergirl. The overall design of the dolls were in the style of another Ideal line, Posin' Misty. Much like the Misty doll, each Super Queen stood 11.5 inches, and featured rooted hair. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without the signature side-glancing eyes.

What makes these dolls extra special to collectors is that they were the first examples of dolls for these particular characters. It wouldn't be until the 70's that Mego introduced its line of eight inch dolls / action figures based on some of these DC characters.

 Supergirl

 Batgirl

 Wonder Woman

Mera

In general these dolls are not common, nor easy to find. One pops up here and there, but typically it is Batgirl or Supergirl. Wonder Woman and Mera remain far more scarce.

Due to the fragile nature of the packaging these are prone to crushing / bowing on the sides. Because of this, there are very few dolls known to exist in the box in true mint condition. With that said, even the worst of condition one will set you back considerably.

Loose dolls sell at a starting price of $500.00, and mint in the box ones can sell for several thousands. This is certainly no line for the faint of heart, or frugal budgeted collector.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Pop Culture Leage Challenge - Gee, Thanks!



This week's Pop Culture Challenge is a good one. Gee, Thanks! It's the season to be thankful. That it is.

So, here goes.

I'm thankful for the many good pop culture and toy blogger sites out there such as Green Plastic Squirt Gun, 20 Years Before 2000, Mr. Smith's Plastic Bubble, Action Figure Barbecue, Cool and Collected, Alexis' Universe, The Sewer Den, AFB, 2 Minute Toy Break, The Harvey Mercheum, Cassie's Library, D.I. Treasures, and the many, many others of you I may have missed.

Though we don't all know each other in person, we have forged a bond across the internet through our love of toys, comic books, and many other infinite collectibles. May all of you have a happy holiday season!

Here's to the tail end of wrapping up another successful year of blogging for all of us, and a hope that we'll all be around for many more to come!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Hasbro)



Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Hasbro
2015 - 2016

Ah, Star Wars. How you rose to the top, only to fall into a deep slumber, then be awoken...Ha...Puns. Technically though, to be as accurate as possible it would either be the Power of the Force II Awakens or the Thrawn Trilogy Awakens. Those were the start of new life being breathed into the lungs of Star Wars.

We have a love / hate relationship with Star Wars toys. By that we mean that we love there are still Star Wars toys being produced today, but we hate the majority of them. We'll go into details during our whining session below.

With Rogue One right around the corner, we thought we'd take a look at last year's hype machine, The Force Awakens. Though the movie was well received by the general population, there were of course many people who scorned the film for being nothing short of a retelling of A New Hope. Admittedly there is some merit to that argument.

After the reception that was the George Lucas Prequel Trilogy, Disney definitely played it safe with the first entry in their Sequel Trilogy. By that we mean they seemed to fear stepping anywhere outside the box of the Original Trilogy so much to the point that they did indeed mirror A New Hope almost to a "T".




We're sure this topic could be debated ad nauseam by Star Wars fans on both sides of the fence. So, we're going to go ahead and shift the attention now to the toys themselves in attempts to sidestep that argument.

Hasbro has produced hundreds, if not thousands of Star Wars figures since acquiring Tonka / Kenner in mid 1991. Though it was public knowledge, the Hasbro brand didn't appear on the front of Star Wars figure packages until the Flashback Series of the Power of the Force II line which was released in 1998. Many figure collectors of course remember the entire PotFII line as both a joy and nightmare at the same time for its ever leaching effects on wallets as well as a breath of life in Star Wars returning to toy isles back in 1995.




Since then, Hasbro has launched and ended numerous Star Wars related lines coinciding with the 3 3/4 inch scale figures. They not only covered all three of the Prequels; The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones (known in the toy isle as Star Wars Saga) and Revenge of the Sith, but also the various television series; Clone Wars, The Clone Wars and the recent Rebels iteration. They even produced a throwback to the vintage line with their highly popular Vintage Collection series. These of course are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lines as there were many others.

It was inevitable that 2015 to 2016 would be The Force Awakens' turn. Though there were many figures released, the series as a whole seems incomplete. Where is Leia, Luke, Lor San Tekka and the various creatures seen in Maz's "palace"? Heck, you can't even get Maz Kanata if you don't buy a multipack. Meanwhile, characters that weren't even part of the film got thrown into the mix to "flesh out" the line. Overall, it just seems like a missed opportunity on Hasbro's part, but then again, they've been missing the mark on Star Wars lines for quite some time now (more on that below).




With that said, we get it. Hasbro has shifted their production to gear it more towards children as opposed to collectors. They created the six inch Black Series for the collectors, and essentially said, "This will suffice you because that's all you're getting." Since then they have cut back on articulation and in general the quality of their 3 3/4 inch line. Oddly enough, the prices still remain the same in toy isles, if not a little higher at this point.

Rather than focus on solid figures and vehicles that carried the various Star Wars lines through success for years, Hasbro has resorted to gimmicks - Such as this line's "Armor Up" collection - AKA big bulky accessories that are irrelevant to the character, but add eye candy to the package for children, and additional dollars to the parent's buying price. Even some of the basic figures seem encumbered with large accessories that serve no purpose - Why does Captain Phasma come with a large green bladed unicycle?




In all seriousness, we do know why. See, that's Hasbro's other gimmick. Each basic figure comes packed with an accessory to create an even larger irrelevant accessory when combined. Man do we miss the days of "Build A Droid" - You know, when each figure came packed with a piece of a droid that when combined at least made for an awesome figure to add to your collection.

With all this "hate" for the line, it makes you wonder if there was anything good that came out of it. Short answer - Yes.

As someone once said, "Hate leads to suffering." Which oddly enough is what many fans of Star Wars who hate what has become of the toys, but still buy them, are doing.




The line isn't terrible. It's just disappointing in terms of what characters got left out. Still, if you're looking for the main cast of new faces, you will find that here. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren are all here - The majority in multiple iterations. Furthermore, you can find them all in the basic packs, so you're not having to buy the bulky deluxe editions if you don't want to.

Even then, it's not like you have to utilize the packed in accessories from either the basic or deluxe versions. Heck, if it bothers you that much, you can just throw them away - Though we don't know why you would buy them if you were just going to throw pieces out.




Hasbro released three waves of basic figures, each comprising of twelve figures. A unique twist they came up with was to split each wave in half, designating one half to the Desert / Snow theme, and the other half to the Forest / Space theme. This theme carried over to the deluxe, or "Armor Up" series, which includes a figure from each theme in each of its two waves. Well, to correct that statement, it would have, but it appears that the Forest Gear figure from wave 2 was cancelled.

Toys R' Us released two "Armor Up" exclusive packs. The first pack contained a Desert and Space themed set of figures, and the second pack covered the Snow and Forest themed ones.



Speaking of store exclusives - Though there weren't many multipacks produces for The Force Awakens line, two of the three were exclusive to specific retailers. Amazon got the First Order Legion - A pack that contains pretty much every form of First Order Stormtrooper you can think of (seven figures in total). Kohls on the other hand received a pack refereed to simply as Kohl's Exclusive Set. It contained four figures in a Forest theme.

The series was rounded off with numerous vehicles. Much as the standard of any Star Wars line these days, the vehicles are separated into one of three classes; I, II and III.




There were eleven vehicles in total produced - five from Class I, Three from Class II and three from Class III. The Class I vehicles contained an exclusive walker which could only be purchased from Entertainment Earth.

The most expensive vehicle to come from the series was the Battle Action Millennium Falcon - AKA a Transformer. Really the only "neat" thing to come from this toy (for us) was the new radar dish. With that said, we can definitely see why kids would get excited about it. Sure, it's not screen accurate, but look at that massive cannon that pops out! Fun times indeed! It's always great when toys incorporate projectiles or sound effects, or (mind blown) both!


For us, and yes, this is totally a personal opinion - Hasbro has been missing the mark on their Star Wars toys for quite some time now. In general there doesn't seem like too much care goes into a Star Wars line these days. It's as if they don't listen to the fans anymore. Remember when there used to be a yearly poll for a "Fan's Choice" figure? Where is that these days?

Hasbro wants so desperately to cater their toys to kids, and has for many years now. It seems so obvious with all the silly gimmicks and pack-ins they're focusing on. The problem with this is that they seem to have forgotten that it was collectors that took them from 1995 to present. Grown up fans of the Original Trilogy were the ones clambering over each other in the 90's to get to the newest figures, not children. We're not saying that kids didn't want these figures, but let's be real about it. The majority of Star Wars toy buyers back then were in the age range of 20 - 40.

Don't get us wrong. We don't hate the idea that a toy line is being geared towards children. We suppose that this is how it should be. However, in the past Hasbro seemed to have been on a path where there was still somewhat of a balance. Main characters were the focal point for those young and old, but then Hasbro would throw in a gem here and there strictly for collectors. Those days seem gone.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Future Collectibles



Future Collectibles is the name of the game for this week's League Challenge. What will people be collecting in 2046?

While I'm sure the average person will continue to collect dust - As will their vast majority of "crap" they have around their house, I've decided to have a bit more fun with today's challenge.

The year is 2020, and the world as we know it no longer exists. The great General Mills debate saw the ultimate end to all nations as under the guise of President Boo Berry the world was brought together as one. That was until Vice President Count Chocula tired of living in the shadows. Destined to become the once great leader he was, CC seceded from the newly formed World Alliance, taking with him the weak minded Franken Berry who too had been cast aside like yesterdays nostalgic cereal.

War was inevitable.

The battle was gruesome at first as soldiers on both sides sacrificed their lives on behalf of their leader. However, ground was still not gained for either side - At least not enough to determine a victor. As a result, desperate matters called for desperate measures. Nuclear warfare followed.

Rockets launched from both sides of the battlefield decimated the Earth, taking with it homes, cars, (gasp) toy collections. As a result, the aftermath left a world with no collectibles to obtain in 2046. Instead, children and nostalgic hunters had to re-create their collectibles from the ashes of the past.

Thus was born the re-visioning of the collectible. Nostalgia was back at its finest with things such as...

...Kick the Can!

Due to the over production of Selfie Sticks which took the world by storm in earlier decades, despite nuclear holocaust conditions, these annoying things remained. With the lack of trees, but overabundance of Selfie Sticks, Kick the Can was reborn. Of course, with no cans readily available either, children improvised by finding (hopefully) dud grenades littered around the streets. A simple game could turn into an explosive good time!


Then there was the Hula Hoop!

Home protection is vital in 2046 because the world has fallen into such chaos that robbery and vandalism are commonplace. The revision of the Hula Hoop is home protection, game and collectible all in one! Put it around your waist, and gyrate to safety!


Of course, you can't have a nuclear holocaust and not have cockroaches surviving the matter. 2046's cockroach are the government sanctioned, Funko produced Mystery Box! Because people still love throwing gobs of money away on blind crap. Hey, 1 in 5000 boxes contain a food ration stamp! Now you can justify throwing your cash away because eventually you'll get to eat as well!

Naturally since you never will find anything worth while inside, collector's have dubbed the boxes by their own name - The Misery Box. Because there's nothing more miserable than blind buying, and ending up with something you didn't want.


Yes, 2046 will not be a fun time for collectors. Long gone are all of your classic plastic treasures. No more He-Man, G.I. Joe or Star Wars. All of this thanks to the rivalry of cereal mascots left unchecked after an election that turned out to be nothing short of a farce.

I'm a bit late to this week's challenge, so I may at this point be the last person to chime in. Head over to these blogger's pages to see their post on the year 2046!


Of course if others chime in, you can find them at the main page.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Robot Chicken (Jazwares)



Robot Chicken
Jazwares
2009 - 2010

Robot Chicken is kind of like Saturday Night Live. Some skits can be incredibly funny, while others are so dull you just wish they would hurry up and end. Though it is skit based, many characters are used in reoccurring roles, and sometimes even cross over to other skits to make appearances.


The biggest draw for many to the show is its use of vintage action figures and stop motion animation to create comedic scenarios that are often times over the top to the point of parodying the source material - Think Twisted ToyFare Theater, but on television as opposed to in printed pages - P.S. Twisted ToyFare Theater is better.


Jazwares is a company that is known for producing toys based on animated series, and that's rightly so - They do it well. Their entry into the Robot Chicken universe is nothing short of spot on to their television counterparts, and even include iconic accessories as seen in the show.


Because a lot of the characters in the show aren't owned by the developers, this would explain why the series is so limited in terms of what it's offering. You'll only find characters that were created specifically for the series that don't infringe on the copyrights of other toy companies - Not that we really need a Cobra Commander from Robot Chicken anyway as it's nothing short of the vintage Hasbro version.


The end result was only a handful of figures, one of which was limited to a San Diego Comic Con release. The series includes; Mad Scientist and Robot Chicken, Robot and Washing Machine,Candy Bear and Convention Exclusive Nerd.

The last piece developed for the series was the large lights and sounds Robot Chicken. By far this is the hardest item to come by if you're collecting the toys. Not only is it difficult to find, but it's challenging to find one in good condition boxes. The packaging is prone to crushing and bulging - Most likely caused by poor storage from the owners.


Overall this isn't a bad series - Especially if you're a fan of the show. The look in the sculpting is definitely there, leaving no question as to which characters they represent. 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Nintendo Classic Edition - Commercial Success, Public Failure (and The Continued Deterioration of Humanity)



In a turn of events that is shocking to nobody, Nintendo has once again botched the release of one of their consoles. However, unlike the Wii U, which was released seemingly overnight to an audience unaware of what it actually was, the Nintendo  Classic Edition was a highly anticipated piece of hardware that fans had been asking about pre-ordering since the day it was announced.

With such high demand, retailers actually ended up going in the opposite direction, denying pre-order sales for fear they wouldn't be able to accommodate the many purchases that would have been made in advance - That fear turned out to be justified.

Stores across the US and Japan were selling out of the console within ten minutes (or less) of opening their doors on the day of release - Friday, November 11, 2016. The problem was one Nintendo should have seen coming a mile away.

Retailers such as Target, Toys R' Us, Best Buy, Walmart and even GameStop had less than twenty consoles to distribute per store. If this weren't bad enough, they didn't even have enough extra controllers to sell alongside the systems. Stores were lucky if they had received two controllers - With several reports of many getting one or none.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure Nintendo is pleased with their sales numbers as of this morning. I'm sure that in some board room somewhere, somebody is getting a massive pat on the back for their ingenious idea to release a Classic Edition. I'm sure as they count the cash in hand that their smiles are growing wider and wider with each stack. Yes, Nintendo can claim their NES Classic Edition a commercial success.

HOWEVER...

A commercial success doesn't mean a public one. If you were to ask me, I'd claim the NES Classic Edition to be a massive public failure.

Why?

Because Nintendo couldn't meet with supply and demand, and there was no reason for this beyond Nintendo's ever growing incompetence to determine the amount of product needed for a public launch. Here's a perfect example;

I arrived at my local Target at 6:45 AM for an 8:00 AM opening. There were just two people in line already. By 7:30 AM, there were forty people. This line continued to grow. At 7:55 AM, the manager of the store came out, and asked, "Is anyone in this line NOT here for a Nintendo?" Only one hand went up, and we'll go into that person later in this article. The manager then announced, "We have only fifteen Nintendo consoles."

Disappointment obviously began to be audible at this point. He then said, "When we open, it's going to be first come, first serve. You may not hold one to shop for further items. You need to pay for it at the counter, and if your card is declined, you will forfeit your purchase. This line will move in an orderly fashion in the order of individuals as you are now, and it is limited to one per customer."

He then asked if anyone had any questions. I did. I asked, "How many extra controllers do you have?" One was the response. Fifteen consoles...and one extra controller. Well, I was third in line, so I was not getting an extra controller.

During our time in line, I met several people. Many of them had attempted to go to Walmart at midnight to get the console, but were told that it would go on sale at 7:00 AM. Shortly after the midnight hour, someone at Walmart tired of being asked about the console, and decided to sell them. In other words, by 7:00 AM, the whopping six that they had received were long gone.

The local GameStop received ten consoles, and two controllers. Best Buy got twenty consoles with no controllers, and Toys R' Us got nothing.

What does all of this mean? It means that for every one person that got the Nintendo the second the doors opened (because remember, they sold out everywhere), about five or more people were turned away. So if GameStop got ten consoles, theoretically, they turned fifty people away before an hour had even passed from the time the store opened.

Now let's take a step back to my personal experience at Target. I want to mention how scalpers just really tick me off. As I said, I was third in line. Ahead of me was a guy with his girlfriend. Behind me was a family of four. The guy's girlfriend was letting everyone know that she was going to buy a Nintendo too because she could, "Get $300 for it on ebay." She didn't want one. She just wanted to sell it. The family of four behind me - Yeah, they each wanted one for the same reason. Right there that's five consoles going in the hands of scalpers.

Now let's take a step even further back, and revisit that one lady that was in line for something other than a Nintendo. She wanted a Hatchimal, which the manager announced that they had two of. She was the only person in line that wanted this item, and she was number 12 or so back. The people in front of and behind me all asked, "What's a Hatchimal?"

While these people had no clue what it was, their greed instantly kicked in as they fired up their cell phones, and saw the asking price on ebay. The girlfriend, and one of the guys in the family bought the two Hatchimals that this one woman had gotten in line for. That's terrible. It's so awful and wrong that I'm sputtering over words because I just can't come up with something to describe how despicably greedy and...just wrong...that it was for these people to buy this item.

Has society gotten so greedy that we've chosen to forgo the simplest bit of courtesy for our fellow human beings? I guess I just don't understand how making a couple bucks off of something is more important than the joy an item will bring to someone else. For all we know, that person was in line for her daughter who was home in bed with some ailing disease, and she was just trying to bring a momentary smile to her face. Sure, that's an extreme example, and probably not the case, but do you see my point? People don't take two seconds to consider the person standing twenty feet behind them.

I'm truly sorry that this woman didn't get what she was there for. In hind sight, I wish I would have bought the last Hatchimal so I could turn around in line and hand it to the woman, and say, "I hope you enjoy it!" With my luck...She would have probably turned out to be a scalper too.

All of this comes back on the companies producing these items. Their incompetence to properly provide product to a public that clearly wants to hand them their money is unfathomable. For as long as I have been a collector, I've never understood why companies want to hand third party groups (ahem, scalpers) money that they could be putting in their own pockets. The solution is simple - Meet supply vs. demand.

The perfect example of all of this is the NES Classic. You have two million people (hypothetically) that want to give you their money to buy an NES Classic, yet you only produce one million consoles (hypothetically). You just passed on $60,000,000.00 because you couldn't be bothered to provide your product to those people. Either Nintendo is truly being run by incompetent people, or they simply don't care about their potential customers. Whichever option it is, neither of them are good business practices.

Even as someone who got an NES Classic Edition this morning, I can't help but feel angry about how this was handled. It angers me that as of this post there are over 3,000 consoles on ebay - clearly purchased by scalpers. It infuriates me that I had to stand in line with said people on a cold sidewalk as they talked openly about their intentions as if to scoff at those who would be "forced" to buy from them or one of their unknown cronies if they wanted one. To an extent, this also makes me angry at the people who support this type of behavior by buying from scalpers.

Additionally, it saddens me that for as many people who got one, there were numerous others told, "Sorry. Better luck next time." I'll even admit that part of the reason I'm bent out of shape is because I couldn't follow through with my initial plan, and purchase two more as Christmas gifts for my siblings because due to (lack of) supply everyone was limited one, and who knows when anymore will be available.

Thanks, Nintendo. Thanks for screwing up yet another highly anticipated release.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Red State / Blue State



Today's Pop Culture League Challenge is Red State / Blue State.

Since I'm rather out of commission recovering from surgery, I can't really move around all that much to snap a photo of something red or blue, but I didn't want that to stop me from joining in on the League fun.

Quite honestly, the choice was a no brainer for me - Something blue? Gotta be The Smurfs. Though, technically this one could qualify has red too - As could many Smurf related products - Smurfberry Crunch anyone? Great cereal!

Smurfs merchandise has come and gone in pretty much every format one could think of - Clothing, dinnerware (Personal favorite are the Hardees glasses), toys, jewelry, and the list goes on and on.

In 1982, Mattel Preschool produced the awesome Magic Talk series of toys. Much as we've said before, the real only disappointing aspect here is how few toys they produced. Only three were released in the line. However, the beauty of the line is that one could incorporate the many (and I mean many) Smurf figures that were produced over the years.

As a bit of a big eater, I've always been a fan of Greedy Smurf. He's the OG of foodies. So any toy set that includes a Greedy Smurf figure is dynamite in my book.


On a side note, this also qualifies as red and blue - The patten pending Count Franken Boo that I'm so addicted to.


I swear this stuff is made from crack cocaine. If you look closely, the cereal itself also determines the winner from the last League question, Cast Your Ballot. As you can see, when all three cereals are mixed together, Boo Berry's cereal milk still comes through as the winner with its blueish hue. So there you have it. Not only a post from this week's League question, but also a throw back, and the results from last weeks. Hot times! I guess with that said, I also meet the criteria for this week's post by taking a photo.

Don't forget to check out the other League member's posts;

AFB brings a collage of numerous red figures. See if you can name them all!
Mr. Smith's Plastic Bubble brings us a combo of red and blue Transformers.
Green Plastic Squirt Gun hosts a variety of photos each showcasing a specific character or line.

As of now, that's all who have chimed in, so make sure you check the main page for any late comers.

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