Friday, September 30, 2016

Grail Mail

Everyone who collects has their own "Holy Grail," the ONE item that's either rare or special that you search for years to find and you won't feel like your collection is complete without one. Ususally the term "holy grail" means that it's the rarest thing a collector can get, like a one-of-a-kind prototype or a rare issue of a comic book that was made 70 years ago or an autograph from a celebrity that died before you were born. These days, the term "grail" seems to have lost that meaning, now it's just something you really, REALLY want to get, but it keeps escaping your grasp. Spamalot illustrated this perfectly.

The past few months I've actually been getting lucky and managed to snag a few of my own.

This is my most recent acquisition. If you don't already know, I like to collect guidemaps from amusement parks. This is my personal grail of that kind: an authentic 1971 souvenir map of the Magic Kingdom, its opening year. Disney maps are pretty easy to come by...except early Magic Kingdom maps, especially a 1971. They're on eBay every once in a while, usually for an outrageous price. I managed to snag this one for $40. Sure, lots of people will claim to have one, but early maps lack two attractions: Space Mountain (opened in 1975) and the Swan Boats (1973). If your map has those, it's not from before then. Sorry. 

I got the urge to get it after seeing this one at New York Comic Con a few years back:

According to the guy running booth that had it, this was a 1971, complete with a spiffy frame. It cost $1000. "How much for just the map?" I asked. The guy laughed. Well, I showed him. For one, it's not even a 1971, due to seeing Space Mountain on there clear as day. I'm really glad I saved my money.

And now for another good one, my personal Transformers G1 grail, Reflector. For those not in the know, Reflector was a special mail-away Transformers figure, back when you had to send in a few proofs of purchase to get it. This was a three pack, where all three robots combined into a camera. Cumbersome, yes, but it was the only "big" G1 figure I didn't have. I was born after G1's heyday but in my time I already had a Soundwave, a Megatron, an Optimus Prime, a Shockwave, a Jetfire, but not Reflector. I also have an affinity for the Transformers that turned into the odd things, like the guns or the microscope (that was Perceptor, which I also have), and a weird looking camera was at the top of my list of gets.

Much like the William "the Refridgerator" Perry GI Joe figure, you couldn't get it in stores and they're not easy to come by, and the few you see on eBay were going for, yes, crazy amounts. I bought this one at NYCC last year after searching for a set that was as mint condition as possible. It didn't come with a box, so finding it in the original styrofoam is definitely the next best thing. Wasn't expecting that at all, and by god, this was as good as I was ever going to find it. It sey me back $120, but it now sits proudly on my shelf, collecting dust. My dust.

And if you've been reading these past few months, you know that I've been collecting those stupid Funko Pop figures. I've actually been slowing down on buying them, but then they keep making more to suck me back in. Case in point, I didn't buy this Conan O'Brien figure, I won it from a contest his show was running back during San Diego's Comic Con. I was just as surprised as you folks were when I found this in the mail. I entered that contest last year and came up empty, but this year it seemed like EVERYONE won at least one of these things. And I'm gonna make a confession: This is not the one I won. I actually won this one:

The Stormtrooper. Thankfully, the Funko fandom is large and diverse and I was able to find someone who wanted to unload a Ghostbuster on some poor schmoe that had the Stormtrooper.

My OTHER Funko Pop grails are any of these:

I'm a sucker for mascots, folks, especially the old Monster Cereals from General Mills. Now they made Dorbz, weird little chibi figures that look dumb but oh my god they made a two pack of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy.

I needs them. Bad.

This is not exactly a grail, but something cool that I have. An authentic cel from Ren & Stimpy, specifically from "Stimpy's Invention," not only one of the best episodes of the series, but in my book it's one of the best cartoons EVER. I bought this at, yep, NYCC last year from Bob Camp, one of the animators and producers on the show. The guy had loads of cels, mostly from "A Visit to Anthony," an episode where Ren & Stimpy meet their biggest fan (and his giant lout of a father). But this was the only one he had of Ren in the iconic Happy Helmet, and I went with that one over, say, one with both Ren and Stimpy on it.

My dream is a cel from the Simpsons, but I haven't found a good one that I want yet. 

So folks, do YOU have any grails?