by Eric J Berry

Last Thursday I had taken off work as I was planning to take a lengthy drive that would be 3 hours long round trip. I invited a friend along who had off work on Thursdays since it would be boring to go alone. Long story short, the errand was not able to happen which left us with an entire day and nothing to do. I had a return to make at Gamestop so we headed out not knowing that this day was going to be a toy run of epic proportions.

On our way to Gamestop, there is a Toys R Us and a Target. We hit both and it was mostly the usual fair we’ve been staring at for the last year or so. Anyone need to army build the 6” Zuvio? How about the TFA 3.75” Goss Towers or Resistance Trooper? No? I didn’t think so. There was a Walmart across from Gamestop but I’m at that store a lot and their piss poor distribution rivals that of some far away place… like Antarctica or something. Screw that store.

At Gamestop we were pleasantly surprised to find out that in a month they will be splitting the store into 50/50 a Gamestop and a Think Geek store. Awesome news. Oddly enough Gamestop has become a good place to check for Star Wars figures. The limited space means they are forced to rotate product through quickly and clearance often.

Upon leaving we had a choice to make; which Target do we hit next? East or west? Heading east meant horrible traffic so west it was!  About a 20 minute drive found us at another Target and another Walmart. As any listener to our show knows, I’m not a fan of the 5 POA figures and have only bought the few I have as a last resort and at discount. There was a Krennic marked down to $4 and I got the Baze/Sandtrooper two pack for $7. Not bad. Baze will be getting some super articulation mods and I’m sure Matt will want to get his hands on the Sandtrooper. Has he mentioned how much he loves that sculpt? Yes. Yes he has.

The day started out having gone to crap but now I have some figures in hand and I’m feeling good. Maybe the reveals from San Diego Comic Con helped get me excited for collecting again and now that I have Baze…. I need a Chirrut to mod as well. A discounted one! Don’t sign me up as a sucker for 5 POA.

My buddy reminds me about a toy vendor he’s bought Marvel figures from at a few cons. The guy was semi local and had a toy store. We’d never been there cause he’s closed weekends and in an area that’s quite far out of the way. An hour away? We got nothing better to do! Let’s go.

On the way I spot another Target. What’ve they got? A 6” Death Squad Commander.  That’s makes a total of 4 characters I’ve found from the 40th Anniversary wave! Good thing I’m not collecting those cause distribution is almost non-existent. A 5 POA TFA Han and resistance Rey were there too. I think my first time seeing both on pegs but 5 POA means an easy pass.

So we finally get to “the store” called A2Z Toys in Hanover, PA. It’s one of those little old town stores right off the sidewalk. This little placed was packed!  Floor to ceiling. It’s wonderful to walk into a store like this never knowing what you’ll find. I’m a loose figure collector so I love being able to pick them up at these kind of shops. There were plenty of in-box items and carded figures but most of those were a pass and I was most interested in the piles of loose figures in a couple of glass cases. The lighting wasn’t the best but they had a flashlight to give me for just this kind of thing. I went over the loose stuff making note of things I might come back to. First thing to catch my eye was a Clone Wars Admiral Yularen with holo table for $5. Didn’t want the figure and I was able to get just the table for $2. I love this accessory! As we weaved through the claustrophobic aisles, we’d constantly be spotting new things, tucked away in every nook and cranny. Look high and look low. No flat surface was left un-piled-upon!  I’m sure that things could be arranged better but when a location gets this crammed full, there’s just nothing you could do but empty everything out, sort, and start from scratch. A monumental undertaking. As most little mom and pop shops like this there was of course the “room in the back”. This is the overflow room used for storage that is never accessible to the public but is the final thing that makes your head explode imagining that there could possibly be any more stuff in the building… and yet slightly frustrating that there’s more you can’t look through.

After a reasonably thorough search I went back to the loose figures to make my final selection. Glad I took a second look as I was on the hunt for an IG88 for a project and didn’t catch him my first time. Next was a POTF2 Thrawn. I have the comic pack Thrawn but always felt he had a weird Dracula hair do. I much preferred the older head sculpt and wanted to try a head swap but once he was brought into the new canon, the old POTF2 version jumped in price. In many cases higher than I’d spend when I only needed the head. I found an OTC vintage subline Han and every time I’ve seen one for a decent price, I’ve grabbed him. I still feel this is the best ANH Han they’ve ever given us. I also got Leesub Sirln for possible fodder. I had a hard time finding the two Leesubs I had used as bases for my Tonnika sister customs. She was previously a peg warmer but usually commands a hefty price on the secondary market. I was more than happy to get her for what I did. Finally I picked up a loose 501st Stormtrooper exclusive that came with the little 501st banner. I already have one and its one of the few figures I am keeping on card. I’ve been hoping to find a loose one for a good price and while not a steal, I was in a buying mood and willing to pay the average.

This one store made the whole day worth it. Retail therapy. The owner, Tom, was fun to talk with. We had attended many of the same conventions and shows, both as attendees and vendors. After talking a bit after making my purchases, my stomach told me I needed food. Little did we realize we had spent two hours in this little slice of heaven! I’m sure another two would have been required to really find every hidden corner.

On the way back home, we hit another Toys R Us, Target, and Walmart. No discounted Chirrut but can’t complain. The most exciting part was over. When I arrived home, I found a package in my mailbox. Four Rebels figures I had bought with the hopes of using for custom fodder to make some super articulated versions. What a day. What a haul.