Nov 10, 2022

Flea Market Sunday: Part One

Warehouse Shoppes
Wyoming Ave - Exeter, PA
There were two flea markets in Northeast PA that we used to go when I was in college.  One was the Sixth Street Flea Market which has since closed down.  The other was the Warehouse Shoppes behind the Kurlancheek Furniture Store.  Kurlancheek have moved to Forty Fort, but the flea market in the back of the building is still there, and with their competition on Sixth Street out of commission, they're bigger today than they've ever been.  We've got a little more free time on the weekends since the drive-in closed down for the winter, so we decided to see what strange and unusual vintage goodies they have for sale.

If you'd like to relive the fun and excitement of Operation Desert Storm and you have an old Macintosh desktop laying around, the first vendor we stopped at has just the thing for you.  It may seem strange to have a commemorative Time Magazine CD-Rom for a military operation, but when you consider that there were several lines of trading cards that were sold in stores while the war was still ongoing, this was par for the course in the 90's.

These WCW Nitro Streetrods were originally sold in stores in 1999.  They're off-brand Hot Wheels in a fancy box that had a dubious "limited edition" banner.  Each car is designed to represent one of the wrestlers on the WCW roster.  I don't remember which cars were in the box on the bottom, but the one on top had cars for Disco Inferno and Brian Adams (better known as Crush in the WWF).

You can always count on finding at least one Atari 2600 console when you visit pretty much any flea market.  This one is from the third hardware revision in 1980 that reduced the number of front switches from six to four.  It looked to be in good shape, but I already have a working console.  I was tempted to ask if they'd sell the Quick Shot joystick by itself, but the vendor who runs this shop wasn't there and I really don't need it, so I passed on the opportunity.

Are you looking to upgrade your Windows 95 machine to Windows 98?  If so, this shop has just the thing you're looking for.  You can even keep the kids occupied during the installation process with an electronic race track (with optional twin peaks overpass) while you kick back with an ice cold fruit smoothie.

The VCR Co-Pilot is an interesting technological artifact from the mid 90's.  For those of you who weren't around during the glory days of VHS and have no idea what this thing is, here's what you need to know:  The DVR hadn't been invented yet, so if you wanted to record a show when you weren't home, you had to put in a blank tape and set the timer of your VCR.  It really wasn't that difficult to do this.  I managed to figure it out when I was seven years old and it wasn't much more complicated than setting the clock.  However, this was one of those things that people would complain about in the 80's and 90's as if this was the hardest challenge they've ever faced in their lives.  They'd either forget to turn the power off on the VCR when they were done (if you didn't, it wouldn't record), or they'd set the wrong channel or time, or the clock on their VCR was wrong so it recorded the wrong time, or some other simple user error, and as a result, the show that they wanted to watch did not record.  Naturally, it couldn't be their fault... the VCR must be broken.

Several options were developed over the years to help the technologically-challenged to set the VCR to record their favorite shows.  The most popular of these was called VCR Plus, which was a six digit code for each show that was published in TV Guide.  All you had to do with this is enter the code and your VCR would automatically record the show.  I'm not really sure how it worked, but you can find the algorithms online if you search for them.

Another solution was a third party device like the VCR Co-Pilot that you can see in this photo.  This was basically just a universal remote control with two large dials and an LCD clock.  To use this, you'd just have to set the clock on the remote, then turn the top dial to the time that you wanted to start the recording and the bottom dial to the time that you wanted it to stop, then position the remote control somewhere in front of your VCR, and it would send the same signal to the VCR that it would send if you were sitting with the remote in your hand and hit the record button.  Frankly, I think this is far more complicated than just setting the timer in your VCR, and it limits you to recording just one show.  Even the oldest VCRs had timers that let you record four different shows as long as those shows weren't on at the same time.  That might explain why there are so many new old stock devices like this that are still available.  If you search on Amazon or eBay, you can find a brand new one for sale at pretty much the same price they sold for in the 90's.

There are way too many toys here to go through each of them, but the Cox Remote Control Star Wars Landspeeder on the top shelf caught my eye.  They did a good job with the box because it looks like the kind of merchandise that was available in the late 70's after the release of the first film, but this is from 1998 and was in stores shortly after the theatrical release of the Special Edition versions of the original trilogy.

The photo on the right has a lot of pretty cool vintage toys that are still in their original packaging, including Hot Wheels and action figures from X-Men 2099, Final Fantasy VIII, and a few WWF Wrestling figures from the Attitude Era of the late 90's, including Jeff Jarrett and Sable

On the left, you can see the Hershey Bar mascot character from Hersheypark, but the thing that really got my attention from this photo is the large Crossfire board game that is standing next to it.  If you were a kid in the 90's and you hear the word "crossfire", there's a pretty good chance that a certain commercial will immediately come to mind.

If you lived in the United States during the 1990's, you have probably seen this commercial about a thousand times.  It aired for quite a few years.  I remember seeing it on television before I had even become a teenager, and it was still being aired when I graduated from high school.

I had always just assumed that Crossfire was from the 90's until I saw it at the flea market on Sunday, but it's quite a bit older than I thought. As it turns out, it was introduced by Ideal in 1971.  At some point, the rights to the board game were acquired by Milton Bradley, who redesigned and promoted the heck out of it.

This vendor had a bunch of Star Wars toys from the 80's and 90's.  My favorite of these was the Return Of The Jedi Battle At Sarlacc's Pit board game from 1983.  I never had this game and I never remember ever seeing it before, but it looks like the kind of game that I would have loved when I was a kid.

The big purple thing in the center of this photo was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid - Snake Mountain.  I can't even begin to guess the number of hours I spent playing with this thing!  It's the home base of Skeletor from the Masters Of The Universe toy line that was sold by Mattel in the mid 80's.  It was so damn cool!  When you opened it up and put together all of the pieces, it had bridges, ladders, a big net to capture the good guys, and chains and shackles that you could use to keep them prisoner.  Best of all though was the big snake microphone that made your voice echo like a demon when you spoke into it.  You can see the top of this microphone in the picture above.  It's the little grey snake head above and diagonally to the right of the large purple snake face.

This WCW Monday Nitro action figure of The Giant was produced in 1997 by a company called The Original San Francisco Toymakers.  I never had any of these toys, but I was a big fan of WCW in the late 90's and I always thought that this wrestler's run in the mid to late 90's was his most entertaining run.  He would go on to the WWF/E where he wrestled as The Big Show off an on for over twenty years, but it never felt like they knew what to do with him.  These days, he works as a commentator and part-time wrestler for AEW, and I'm always happy to watch a show that he's a part of.  He's very entertaining, and he seems like a genuinely good dude.

The Mummies Alive toy in the center is exactly the kind of thing that I would have loved when I was a kid.  This also came out in 1997, which is quite a few years after I stopped playing with action figures, but I would have been all over this if it was released ten years earlier.  The toy is based on a cartoon of the same name from the late 90's, but I can't say that I've ever seen it.

On the right is a bag of plastic Cowboys and Indians.  This was never a toy that I asked for when I was a kid, but I had a bunch of them that I inherited from the friends of my parents who cleaned out their attic and said "hey, do you think your son would like these?".  I played with them once in a while when I was a kid, but my imagination never really took me down the path that the creators of this toys intended.  It usually involved a lot of plastic dinosaurs that would eat the cowboys.

The Cabbage Patch Kid in the Dodgers uniform on the left looks a little like Steve Garvey.  They were selling it for a hundred bucks, which is actually a pretty good price compared to what they're selling for online, but this isn't for me (we've got a Phillies one at home 😅 ).

The CD Stomper on the right is a blast from the past.  When CD burners first became affordable, I went hog wild making mixtapes and making backup discs for comic books, magazines, video game strategy guides, funny pictures, and just about anything else that caught my interest and could be downloaded with a dial-up connection.  The one thing I could never get the hang of was putting a label on the disc.  I tried to at first, but an air bubble would usually get caught underneath.  The CD Stomper was meant to prevent that from happening, and I'm pretty sure that I had one at some point in the mid to late 90's.  Eventually, I learned that the glue from these labels could potentially be harmful to the disc, so I stopped using them altogether.

This little Christmas tin was another personal blast from the past.  My grandmother gave me one exactly like this when I was a kid.  There was a black candy inside that I guess was supposed to look like coal, but I'm not sure if it was sold that way or if it was an empty tin that she bought candy to put inside.  It's probably still in the attic with our Christmas decorations, which means if I do still have it, there's a good chance that I'll find it later this month.

There's nothing in particular here that gives me any sort of warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling, but you can never have too many shrimp-based puns on a coffee cup in your life.

I was a big fan of the 1990 Dick Tracy movie.  I saw the movie in theaters with my grandfather and again last year at the drive-in.  I collected the Topps cards, and played the McDonalds game, and even had the t-shirt.  However, I never knew that they sold a Barbie sized doll of Madonna as Breathless Mahoney.  I didn't buy anything in any of these pictures, but this was the thing that came the closest to coming home with me.

I love quirky toys like this chunky police car with chat looks like a combination of a bazooka and a kaleidoscope mounded on the roof.  If there isn't already a coffee table book with photos of hundreds of things like this, there really should be.

Maybe it's just me, but that Cricket doll look like the kind of thing that could come to life and attack everyone in the house.  Also, if you said the words GoBots Thruster to me without showing me this toy, I would have had a much more disturbing mental picture.

Last but not least, there was a quarter machine filled with sticky hands toys.  I can't explain why, but I loved these damn things when I was a kid!  They'd usually get covered with dust and fuzz after about ten minutes, but it was ten minutes of pretending that you were Indiana Jones whipping everything in sight.