Greetings everyone! It has been a while, far too long in fact, but I have returned with more of the unusual, the goofy, and the downright bizarre from the world of eBay! When you peruse the world's largest auction website you are bound to find some really unusual things. And so once again I bring you a fresh batch of just such curiosities.
Starting with this installment, all auctions currently running as of press time will have titles in green while those that are closed but can still be viewed for now are in red.
Exhibit A: Future Writer of Slash Fiction
How much would you pay for a pair of underpants? Andrew Christian trunks command as much as $27 a pair, so by comparison the $44.99 opening bid price for both underwear and a shirt is a bargain! Especially considering the vintage of these particular undergarments. And their pedigree. We are talking Star Trek The Motion Picture here!
Okay, so that was not the best outing for the Enterprise crew and the costumes were a bit understated and overly "fashion of the future". Especially that one poor fellow who had to wear the Starfleet regulation short skirt thing. What the Hell was that all about?! Even the melty-faced aliens got to wear long pants after all! But then perhaps that was the inspiration for this set of awkwardly named "Fundy Undies" from the late 70s. They certainly put you in the mind of that hapless crewman in his go-go dress. And while I do not wish to cast aspersions, there seems to be an frightening undertone to the overall design of the packaging. From the playful rainbow motif to the upper right to the lustful gaze that the boy in the illustration has longingly set upon Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. One can only imagine what stories of interstellar adventures and late night explorations the vivid imagination of this gazelle-legged youngster is conjuring.
Undobutedly the garment manufacturer who marketed Fundy Undies was trying to tap into the lucritive Underoos market. While the latter brand enjoyed success with licensed underwear ensambles well into the 80s (we can only lament that the line ended before they could market the planned Jabba the Hutt style for huskier kids), this particular variety fell into relative obscurity. With a name that sounds like something you would find in a Victoria's Secret catalog and graphics that would give parents pause and children life-long trauma, it is likely that any Fundy Undies purchased during their unsucessful release were returned to retail stores as soon after being presented to horrified children as was humanly possible.
I applaud this and other eBay sellers for giving Fundy Undies at least a chance at collectibles viability.
Exhibit B: My, But You Are Wearing a Lot of Rings!
There was a time in this country when there was no internet. Yes, I know it is hard for you kids to believe, but it is true. In fact this country has been around a whole Hell of a lot longer than the internet. But that is not what is at issue here. In the days before information on nearly everything imaginable was but a few keystrokes away, people had to rely on other resources to get timely information. And so it was that in those ghastly days before the Information Super Highway was virtually constructed an abundance of magazines on nearly every subject imaginable littered the newsstands of America. It was in these halcion days that the market was ripe to support a periodical on the subject of Muppets. Yes, it is true, the Muppets once had their own quarterly magazine! Take that Dog Fancy!
What strikes me about this particular issue of Muppet Magazine (Fall 1984) is the cover image. Naturally the seller of this auction (which sold for $12.75, more than 6.5 times its original cover price) only shows the cover to illustrate the listing, so one can impart a few of the featured stories and determine if it is a nice fit for their collection. Mr. T, who's star was rising back in 1984, took the cover honors for this issue, but one would expect no less. Even I would pitty the foolish editor who would not grace the cover of Muppet Magazine with the stern visage of one Laurence Tureaud! That Mr. T is on the cover and with Electric Mayhem drummer Animal immitating his neclace laden, mohawk sporting style do not so much as raise an eyebrow. That the breakaway star of The A-Team donned a smart looking sweater for his photo shoot does not leave one thinking that this magazine's cover qualifies for Odd eBay. No, it is not something so overt as that, or indeed even that parody recording artist Weird Al takes second billing as a cover story (but he is in good company with Gonzo on that score, however). The curiosity here arises in the looks on Animal and Kermit's faces coupled with the fact that you do not see where Mr. T's hands are situated in the cover photo.
These are, at the end of the day, puppets. Granted some of the most famous puppets in the world. Kukla, Topo Gigio, and Lambchop only dreampt of this level of handpuppet stardom. But puppets none the less. So it is an easy leap of logic to imagine that, in order to save time and money during the photo shoot, Mr. T took on the role of puppeteer as well as model. This hypothosis is supported by the obvious discomfort writ upon Kermit's felt face and the peculiar and unreadable emotions that Animal displays. As for the feature celebrity of this particular issue of the magazine, the whole experience seems to be just a little off-putting. But being the unflappable tough guy that he is, Mr. T carries it well, barely imparting his discomfort.
Exhibit C: How Could This Not Garner $5?!
Every once in a great while an eBay auction comes along that has what can only be described as "universal appeal". Some sellers just have a knack for putting out auctions that are garunteed sellers. And given the nature of this particular auction it is rather shocking that the $4.95 opening bid was not achieved, not to mention the kind of bidding war it should have enjoyed! The Muppet Magazine backissue went for nearly $13 after all! Just look at the image below and behold what could have been yours had you been able to bid while this auction was still active!
While it is sad that the 3.5" square photo (the back of which forever commemorates Fox Photo, a company name that has not been known to consumers in a decade) did not sell I prefer to imagine that this was due to the Christmas holidays consuming much of would-be bidders' time and resources. It is not that this photo is unsellable, it is that the auction was simply poorly timed. This is the season of giving after all. It woudl be downright selfish to spend even a scant fiver on a stunning vintage photograph of an unknown actor in an unknown role of an unknown production of a bygone era. Downright selfish I tell you!
Honestly, who could possibly resist the siren's call of a listing that read, "1970s PHOTO! Shirtless Actor Man GREEN MAKEUP FACE & DINOSAUR NOSE! Funny!"? I sincerely hope this gets relisted in January.
Exhibit D: Look! Up In the Sky! WTF?!
At first glance this figurine from Mexico gives the impression that an Olympic swimmer mistook a vat of blue paint for a training pool, much to his chagrin. Luckily the auction title and description come to our rescue and assure us that instead this is an unlicensed knock-off toy of the Man of Steel. Superman has seen better days to be sure. Even Doomsday did not do as much damage to the Last Son of Krypton as this vintage toy does to his reputation in the super hero community if not to his physical self. It must be assumed that some kind of cloth cape, which would have served to make identification far simpler was long ago lost in the history of this particular specimen.
While the trademark red trunks and yellow belt do help sell the concept that this was meant to be Superman, the lack of so much as a hint that his familiar chest symbol ever adorned this plastic figure suggests that some form of packaging had to have been used to make it at least somewhat appealing to potential buyers. But then it is not uncommon to find poorly realized toys that fly in the face of copyright law in various countries around the world. The poor quality of the figure is only exaggerated by the poor quality of the seller's description. At first described as "measured 6.00 inches" (tall), it is almost immediately called "4.00 inches". Furthermore there are conflicting reports on the subject of articulation. The photo suggests there is no articulation yet it is described both with and without such a feature. Finally, the descriptions "based on the Superman films of 1978 by Christopher Reeve" and "has detail paint" add further to the questionable nature of such a collectible.
The most curious aspect of this figure, however, have to be the outstretched hands. While undoubtedly meant to invoke a sense of Supes about to take flight, closer inspection reveals a hole in each palm. Was this once some kind of parachuting figure with some kind of eye hooks set into the hands for the parachute strings? Or were these holes the product of a child who had no respect for his toys? Either way one is left with the impresesion of Superman sporting stigmata. Not something you really want to think about too much if at all. But then that may be why the seller declares that this figure "is unique to the ebay community"!
Exhibit E: It's All in the Name!
Marketing is an all important part of any money making endeavor. No matter how small. And one of the prevailing tenets of marketing is to have a name that is pleasing to see and hear to identify the product you are bringing to market. While fanzines, or 'zines, exist on the fringes of periodicals publication, their producers undoubtedly would still like to take in a few bucks on their sale to help insure the next issue will see the light of day. Most fanzines tend to be based on science fiction properties, however the Diff'rent Strokes genere is up and coming these days. Some of the earliest fanzines I had ever seen were Star Trek based so it stands to reason that Star Wars would inspire much the same venues for aspiring writers and artists to espouse their love of the Saga.
There are some fairly clever titles for these ongoing fan endeavors like Who's Scruffy Lookin'? or Bright Center of the Universe. Others choose to take thier own path and create original titles that invoke the Star Wars univerese but are not derived from actual movie lines. Some of the better examples include Far Realms, Bloodstripe, Imperium, and Never Say Die. But for every Kessel Run or Skywalker you get a few titles that illustrate a profound lack of forethought when it came to coming up with an appealing title. From the Dark Side of fanzine names I give you...
That a fanzine with the awkward title of I Don't Care What You Smell could last at least eleven issues is certainly something to applaud. Perhaps the creator of this periodcal took the same approach as Leonard Nimoy back in 1975. When his publisher initially rejected the title of his autobiography I Am Not Spock due to the notion that people do not buy books with negative titles, Nimoy simply said, "What about Gone With the Wind?" Needless to say, his original title was maintained as a result of that conversation. The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don't have to justify anything to anyone. Not even yourself.
According to the description of this auction this is a massive 283 page photocopied GBC bound collection of "Star Wars stories by fans, for fans". Fifteen such stories are included from a variety of authors with illustrations by no less than eight artists! The $10 opening bid seems a bargain for that volume of fan produced work. Especially given that this tome is five years old. All of that is indeed quite compelling, however this fanzine suffers still from that title. Add to that the choice of cover art and I Don't Care What You Smell #11 is even a little less appealing. Perhaps this is just an invitation for fans to conjure up their own fiction using the cover illustration and title as a template. Consider this a kind of impromptu Cosmopolitan quiz, "Just How Dirty is Your Mind?" The answer can be found in the story you create from looking at this eBay offering.
But hey! A least it is not the winner of the Worst Star Wars Fanzine Title Ever award. No, that honor goes solely to Wookie Commode!