Monday, October 19, 2015

Board Games, Stinkor And Cookie Monster: What I Want From Thrift Shops

In the time since I cranked out my last blog post, on the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine, I've heard from many friends who've told me they too once owned it and wish they could make one more slushie with Charlie Brown and the gang, for old time's sake.

The feedback warmed my heart. It's hard to explain, but when you can connect with another person over a toy from your childhood, like a plastic doghouse that can manufacture a frozen drink of subpar quality, that's a special bond.

Interestingly, two friends wrote to me on Facebook that they asked for the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine when they were young, but their parents refused to buy it for them. That surprised me, and struck me as unusual.

Why would parents have concerns over the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine? Was it because the slushie-making process was a little sloppy? Was it because of the sugar rush the slushies provided? Was it because they were worried their children would hurt themselves turning the crank? I didn't ask my friends what the reasons were. I prefer to speculate.

The best response to the blog entry came from a pal who, coincidentally, found an original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine at a Goodwill store just one week after I published the post. I couldn't believe it. I've been searching for it for years at the several thrift shops located in my neighborhood, and a friend stumbles upon it without even trying. Good grief.

As I mentioned in the post, I have a checklist of items I'm hoping to find and purchase at a thrift shop one day. The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine is one of them, obviously. Here are a few other high-priority products on the list:

* Board Games Based On 1990s TV Shows: As much as I'd like to buy the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack (with the compact disc included inside the jewel case), it would be an even greater thrill to find this Beverly Hills, 90210 board game. In the "Survey Game," players must guess how teens responded to polls based on "actual 90210 situations." I've never played it, but I'm imagining it's similar to Family Feud. How cool would it be to bond with Mom and Dad, plus other assorted relatives, by consulting them on questions regarding Donna Martin's virginity, or Brandon Walsh's gambling problem, or Dylan McKay's father faking his demise in a limousine blow-up? Fun for all ages!

Did you happen to notice the price for the "Survey Game" on the Amazon listing I linked to above? $110. $110! If you want to play a game based on Beverly Hills, you need to have as much disposable income as someone who lives in Beverly Hills.

"The Survey Game" is far from the only 1990s TV show-inspired board game I'm on the lookout for. There's also the Saved by the Bell board game, the Full House board game, and the Do the Urkel! board game, among others.

* Trading Cards Based On 1990s TV Shows: I was rummaging through a toy stand at a flea market last winter when I spotted trading cards for ALF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, Back to the Future Part II, and other classic TV shows and movies. There were even cards dedicated to Desert Storm.

As a former collector of '90s trading cards, and as a current hoarder of '90s trading cards, I was very excited. The wax packs were overpriced, in my opinion -- the cheapest were $2 per pack -- so I decided to buy only one.

I settled on a pack of Saved by the Bell cards. To my dismay, only five cards were inside. But each one was glorious. Here's a picture of three of them:

The second card features the single greatest photo I've ever seen. I want to bring it to a photo store, have it blown up, and hang it framed in my home. Would that be weird?

If the other cards in the set are half as good as the ones I received in my pack, then I'm interested in acquiring them. Very interested.

* CDs I Owned Back In The 1990s: Every CD I've purchased in the past three years has come from a thrift shop. And every single one of them is an album I owned when I was a teenager, but eventually grew tired of and discarded. Examples:  The Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse, Bush's Sixteen Stone, and Informer's 12 Inches of Snow.

Yet I'm happy when I rediscover these albums. They're a throwback to a simpler time, when I was young, carefree, and listening to CDs. So, I buy them, play them a few times, and then ignore them. Brings back so many memories.

* Stinkor: For those of you unfamiliar with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Stinkor was a skunk-like villain, who, as his name strongly implies, stunk. The action figure of Stinkor really did smell -- badly. According to Internet speculation, the "stench of evil" (as the comic that came with the figure referred to it) was achieved by mixing patchouli oil with the plastic.
"Hi, I'm Stinkor, but you can call me the 'Stench of Evil.'"

I had a Stinkor figure as a kid. He was fun to play with for about 10 seconds before I needed to take a break from him. I felt a little guilty for ditching him for such a superficial reason, but to be fair, anyone who nicknames himself the "Evil Master of Odors" is willfully choosing to not mix much with others.

In a strange way, though, Stinkor was one of my favorite He-Man figures. He was unique. He was compelling. He really was a master of odors.

It's so rare to come across a master of odors nowadays. That's what stinks.

* The Cookie Monster That Ate My Cookies: I have a personal issue with Cookie Monster -- or, rather, the Cookie Monster doll that ate my cookies when I was 5.

When I was first given the doll, I loved it. It was a warm and furry puppet of my favorite Sesame Street character. I would feed it cookies because, what else would you do when you're hanging out with Cookie Monster? You have to be polite and offer him something to eat. At the least, the oatmeal raisin cookies in the house I didn't want.

Funny thing, though: When I opened his mouth, inserted a cookie, and closed the mouth shut, the snack would disappear. I'd widen his mouth, and it would be gone. I tried this with two, three, four, five cookies. Same result each time.

Not what I expected. I was just trying to be cute by sharing cookies with my puppet. I didn't expect it to actually swallow the cookies.

I became angry with it. "Why is my doll stealing my cookies from me?" I cried. It really was a monster.

I don't know what became of that Cookie Monster puppet. But mark my words: If I ever run into it in a thrift shop, I will confront it and reclaim what's mine: my cookies.