Tuesday 23 June 2020

Conversion of Assets VI

During the recent inventorying of a collection of ‘Magic: The Gathering’ cards a number of rare and valuable items were discovered. After much discussion, the decision was made that two of these items should be put on the auction block with the intent of raising funds for diversify the collection. The first card selected was Enlightened Tutor, a powerful Tutor from the Mirage expansion set released in 1997 that included Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, and Worldy Tutor. The second card selected was Force of Will from Alliances, an expansion released in 1996 as the second set in the ‘Ice Age’ block. Commentators have argued that Force of Will may be the best counter-spell ever printed with its ability to be cast even with all the player’s mana tapped. The Enlightened Tutor was able to net a total of $35.51 CAD, and the Force of Will $101.91 CAD, for a combined sale of $137.42!
Those funds were immediately used to procure a 1/25 ounce 99.99% pure gold coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. This coin, though a mere 13.92mm in diameter, is intricately-engraved and displays the famous fishing schooner, the Bluenose, Canada’s quintessential symbol of speed and grace on the open sea. This is the same vessel depicted on Canada’s 10-cent circulation coin since 1935. The gold ‘Bluenose’ comes accompanied by a serialized certificate, and is encapsulated and presented in a maroon flock-lined clamshell case. The Royal Canadian Mint is a Canadian Crown Corporation that produces all of Canada's circulation coins. They are renowned for their high purity bullion coins as the Mint operates refineries to melt, assay and refine gold, silver and other precious metals. The total cost of this purchase was $135.50 CAD, with the remaining $1.92 from the sale of the cards spent on a celebratory coffee!

Saturday 16 May 2020

‘Magic: The Gathering’ Cards

During a recent inventory a forgotten box was brought to light, and inside an old collection of ‘Magic: The Gathering’ cards was discovered. ‘Magic: The Gathering’ is a collectible card game created by Richard Garfield, and first released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. In each game of ‘Magic’ the players represent a battle between wizards who cast spells, use artifacts, and summon creatures as depicted on individual cards in order to defeat their opponents. The success of the initial edition prompted a reissue later in 1993, along with expansions to the game. Arabian Nights was the first expansion set released in December 1993, and new expansions and revisions of the base game have since been released on a semi-regular basis. By the end of 1994, the game had printed over a billion cards.

There is an active secondary market in individual cards among players and game shops. The secondary market started with comic book stores, and hobby shops displaying and selling cards, with the cards' values determined somewhat arbitrarily by the employees of the store. Today, uncommon cards and weak rare cards typically sell from 10¢ up to $1, with more expensive cards typically priced between $1 and $25. A few of the older cards, however, due to smaller printing runs and limited distribution, are highly valued and rare. Some, such as the Lion’s Eye Diamond from the Mirage expansion, which happened to be amongst the cards uncovered and is featured in the photograph above, can retail in excess of $100. Today, the secondary market is so large and complex, it has become an area of study for consumer research. 

Sunday 17 December 2017

Skeezix at the Military Acacemy Big Little Book

The Big Little Books were small, compact books designed with an illustration opposite each page of text. First published during 1932 by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, Big Little Books were typically 3⅝″ wide and 4½″ high, and approximately of 1½″ thick. The interior book design usually displayed full-page black-and-white captioned illustrations on the right-hand page, facing the pages of text on the left. The first Big Little Books, The Adventures of Dick Tracy, came off the presses just before Christmas in 1932 and preceded the first true comic book by a year. Rapid sales of the books through the five-and-dime chains led to the quick creation of other titles. The books were produced at a rate of about six titles per month. Initially priced at 10¢ each, Big Little Books were related to radio programs, children's books, novels, movies, and, as is the case with the example shown above, comic strips. Subsequent Big Little Books production spanned more than a half century.

Gasoline Alley, a comic strip created by Frank King, was first published November 24, 1918. The strip received critical accolades for its influential innovations, inventive color and page design concepts, and the introduction of real-time continuity to comic strips. One notable example of this was the arrival of baby Skeezix on February 14, 1921, when main character Walt Wallet found a baby abandoned on his doorstep. That was the day Gasoline Alley entered history as the first comic strip in which the characters aged normally. As such, when this Big Little Book was published in 1938 by Whitman Publishing, “baby” Skeezix was now old enough to attend the military academy! Mid-1938 brought an end to the “golden Age” of Big Little Books, with Whitman changing their copyrighted logos to Better Little Books, so this edition would have been one of the last, true “Big Little Books”.

Friday 10 March 2017

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective ~ Part 7

In 2002, in time for the seventh and final season, Dart Flipcards Inc. produced a line of Mini Lunch Boxes (8.25cm x 5cm x 2.5cm) filled with chewing gum, and with licensed images on them. Although the images were not directly tied to the final season, they still demonstrate how Buffy firmly remained on the pop culture radar.  

That same year, in a release that truly indicated how Buffy the Vampire Slayer was able to transcend the limitations usually associated with a TV series, Rounder Records released a Soundtrack CD for the episode ‘Once More with Feeling’ from season six. Chief executive of Rounder, John Virant, told the Los Angeles Times, "I remember watching the episode when it aired last October, and after it was over, I said to my wife, 'That's the best hour of TV I've ever seen. Someone should put that [soundtrack] out.' With a gorgeous cover by noted comic book artist Adam Hughes, copious liner notes by Joss Whedon, lyrics, and various pictures from the episode, Rounder Records succeeded in producing a first class product.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, as Entertainment Weekly pointed out in their March 7, 2003, issue. By now, the quirky little mid-season replacement was a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, able to command the entire cover of a major magazine. And though the televised adventures of Buffy Summers and her ‘Scooby Gang’ went off the air May 20, 2003, the ensuing fourteen years have not shown any decrease in the number of collectibles being released. Perhaps we all want to own a small piece of something we so loved? Regardless, in honour of that fateful night twenty years ago when Buffy Summers was first introduced to the small screen, let’s all dust off our DVD players, drop in "Welcome to the Hellmouth", and press play…


Thursday 9 March 2017

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective ~ Part 6

Season five (September 26, 2000 - May 22, 2001) was a momentous one for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: it was the final season to be broadcast by the WB before Buffy moved to UPN, and the season finale also happened to be the 100th episode! Needless to say, to have survived as a mid-season replacement was amazing enough, but to reach 100 episodes was almost unprecedented. In honour, the Hollywood Reporter magazine ran a special issue in celebration of this feat.

After the move to UPN Buffy continued to push creative boundaries. One of the most notable of these episodes was the genre-blending ‘Once More with Feeling’, aka ‘the musical episode’ (November 6, 2001). Writers agree that the episode was risky and could have failed spectacularly. Critic Jonathan Bernstein writes "What could have been, at best, an eccentric diversion and, at worst, a shuddering embarrassment, succeeded on every level”. This large promotional poster demonstrates UPN believed, as well, that the episode was noteworthy. In 2009 TV Guide ranked the episode #14 on its list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".

The switch of networks didn’t affect the enthusiasm of Dark Horse Comics, either, who continued to find creative ways to bring Buffy to the masses. In 2001 they released Pop-out People: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Consisting of nine perforated figures of Season five's cast printed on heavy card-stock, and a two sided background, the set came (as was the norm for Dark Horse) with either photo or artwork characters.


Coming up next: Lunch boxes, CDs, and more!!

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective ~ Part 5

By the year 2000, Buffy merchandise entered a bold new era with the release of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer video game for the Game Boy Color handheld game console. It was the first video game based on the franchise to be released, and the only Buffy game to be rated 'E' by the ESRB. Although the game itself is generally poorly reviewed on game websites, it is still a historic piece of Buffy memorabilia. 

Buffy related confectioneries also entered a bold new era in 2000 when True Confections debuted their chocolate bars based on characters from the series. Their thematic recipes included dark chocolate and raspberry crème (Buffy) and chocolate & crispies (Spike), among others.

As season four continued, with Buffy now enrolled in college at UC Sunnydale, in the year 2000 we see the first collectibles appear with images of Riley Finn, soldier of the Initiative and erstwhile Buffy love interest. This year we also see a growing iconography associated with Buffy, the animated-style image emblazoned on this t-shirt far removed from an image more easily associated with the TV show, like those being produced only a few years previous.


Coming up next: 100th episode, UPN, and more!!

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective ~ Part 4

Although Buffy the Vampire Slayer was not the highest rated program on TV, both it and the WB Network did a very effective job reaching a youthful demographic. Often advertisers have difficulty trying to reach this elusive group, and one of the cleverest campaigns to capitalize on this popularity was the Barq’s Root beer ‘Barq’s Has Bite’ tie-in. 

Coinciding with the start of season four in the autumn of 1999, not only did Barq’s release a collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer root beer cans, but the whole promotion culminated in the ‘Barq’s Halloween Bash’ as advertised on point-of-sale displays and t-shirts (I wonder who won the trip to Hollywood to party with “members of the cast”?).

1999 was a banner year for Buffy the Vampire Slayer related merchandise, and saw the release of a variety of items by several manufacturers. Dark Horse Comics continued with creative promotions, such as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1/2, a limited edition comic book presented in conjunction with Wizard Magazine, complete with a certificate of authenticity. Varner Studios released a series of 9" collectible figures, and even body art was represented with Temporary Tattoos distributed by Mehndi Body Art of California. 


Coming up next: Game BoyRiley Finn, and more!!