Out of the Package – Wave One: The Birthday Bargain Shopper

In this episode of Out of the Package by Joe Gardner, the birthday boy shares an (almost mis)adventure in bargain bin toys shopping.

This past weekend I celebrated another birthday. My 43rd, to be exact. And with it I added more toys and collectibles to my ever-growing collections. But the way I came about these additions made me realize something that I already knew, but never really admitted outside of my head. I am a bargain shopper. There, I said it. Whew! I feel so much better. If this were a text, this is where I’d insert a “wink” emoji, as I jest. Let me give you the events of the last week or so.

Going into the weekend, the family and I planned on taking a little road trip up to Kokomo, IN to check out a toy store we’d wanted to visit, Kokomo Toys and Collectibles. We’d seen ads for their rather sizeable selection of Funko POPS and were immediately interested. This would have been a little under an hour-and-a-half drive from where we live in Plainfield. In addition, I thought I’d chronicle our little trip and it would be a great subject for my next column.

But alas, our daughter Madison awoke Friday morning feeling less than great, staying home from school. First strike against our road trip. As the day wore on, I decided to research Kokomo Toys and found that, aside from the selection of Funko, they deal primarily in vintage toys. Not that I have no interest in vintage, it’s just not what I’m collecting right now. Mostly because I don’t have the money to pay the prices that the G.I. Joes and Transformers of my younger years fetch nowadays. And also because I get depressed when I see the modern day markup prices that the Joes and Transformers of my younger years (this may, or may not, be addressed in a future column). Second strike against our road trip.

As I made my way home from work, I stopped at the local Barnes and Noble to pick up a gift for my little nephew, who celebrated his 1st birthday this past weekend, and something caught my eye. Star Wars ArtFX figures in the clearance section. At half price! But how could I convince my wife, Tina, to let me purchase one? Or all of them? Oh, I would have my ArtFX! Third strike against our road trip.


A neat little gesture my employer does for our birthday is to send us a check in the amount of our age. And I returned home to find it in the mail. Forty-three bucks to blow on something! Inside, Madison was feeling much better than earlier and Tina was nearly finished with work, so we began to discuss what we would do for the weekend. I explained my findings on Kokomo Toys and we decided that we would eventually visit, just not this weekend. Then I shared, with great excitement in my voice, my findings at Barnes and Noble. We concluded that we would not make the trip Saturday and instead Tina would go to select one of the clearance ArtFX as her and Madison’s birthday gift for me. Then I would use my money for whatever I wished.


Late Saturday morning, my wonderful wife left and returned with the ArtFX Droids three pack. This included C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, all presented as they appeared in The Force Awakens. Now it was my turn. My first stop was Hot Topic, where I found a POP of my beloved Mera. The clerk reminded me of their regular deal of buy one, get one 30% off. So, I grabbed an Aquaman POP I didn’t already have. I mean, I can’t have too many figures of Aquaman! Then, lo and behold, because it was my birthday, I had a $5 credit on my Hot Topic rewards! Score! Next stop was Wal-Mart, for more goodies. And groceries. Here I found the Dorbz Ride of Beast and the X-Men’s Blackbird priced at $9, down from $25. Another bargain! The remainder went to a copy of the newest Kong movie on Blu-ray. Add to this the gift card amount I had from using the chain’s Savings Catcher feature, which saved me more money. If you regularly shop Wal-Mart and don’t use Savings Catcher, you are really missing out.

20170807_152919~2What all this, all those words up there that I can’t believe I wrote, made me realize is that I really don’t like to pay full price on these collectibles I love. Seriously, we rarely have the extra cash for me to splurge very often. I don’t have too much trouble spending $10 or less on something. But a $20 Rey action figure? Nope. A $20 Rey figure cut to under $10? Heck yeah! Even the ArtFX figures, which average $50-60, carry a price I will likely balk at. And forget those beautiful Mezco and Hot Toys collectibles that run $100 or more. In the end, if I can find a code, credit, clearance, or discount, you can bet I’m going to make full use of it.

I think I’ve exhausted my allowance of words for the week. Until next time, you’ll find me in the toy aisle.

Joe Gardner
Joe Gardner

Gentleman Joe is a geek. ‘Nuff said. Maybe a couple more tidbits? M’kay: his hair growth rivals Wolverine’s. Oh, and he has quite the mancrush on Aquaman. 

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