I started collecting GIJoe in 1990. At the time there were three primary ways to find GI Joe Adventure Team figures--Toy shows, ads in toy magazines and the dreaded phone auctions.
Hakes used to run a monthly toy auction. You could subscribe to their catalog and on the auction date you would call in and bid on the item(s) you wanted. To find out if your bid had been topped, you would call back in and check on the price. In other words, to bid on an item, you made a lot of calls.
My "favorite" part was how the auction would end. Bidding would close thirty minutes after the last bid. That was a huge handicap if you live on the east coast like I do. You see when they were still bidding at midnight in California, it was three AM here in North Carolina. You don't win a lot of auctions that way. I never got much out of the Hake's auctions. To put it mildly, Hakes sucked.
Toy shows were the most fun, even if they were unpredictable. The best hunting at toy shows occurred just after the doors opened. Walking up to a dealer table to find that Black Talking Commander or mint Fight for Survival was pure magic. I found a lot of great items at toy shows including a Capture Copter, a boxed Devil of the Deep and a complete set of carded AT adventure outfits. My best ever find was the Black Talking Commander. I found him at a toy show in Columbia, South Carolina. Within two minutes of walking through the door I spotted him on a shelf behind a dealer table. He was even priced less than a hundred bucks, an unheard of price.
Fifteen years ago the best toy show in the area was in Greensboro, North Carolina. So if I wanted to search for toys I had to drive ninety minutes north to Greensboro.
All of this changed with a little web auction site called eBay. Almost overnight everything you found advertised in the toy magazines or on the tables at toy shows went to eBay.
Collecting vintage toys actually became easy. Prices went up, but the ability to find rare toys went up also. Just type in what you were searching for and "poof", up popped a listing of items matching the description. You could even create searches and have emails sent to you when items matching your want list were listed.
Initially collectibles were the driving force behind eBay. For the first couple of years a significant part of the eBay income was derived from Beanie Baby auctions.
But it didn't stop there. Before long people were selling cars and homes. Businesses were springing up based entirely on goods sold via eBay.
Of all the web businesses to spring up in the last ten years, including such giants as Amazon and Google, eBay may be the most amazing.
It put America's garages and attics on the web for everyone to view and who hasn't at least heard of ebay? I know people that shop eBay first for everything--clothing, furniture, used cars--they buy it all via eBay auctions.
I miss the toy shows but ...
Where else can you buy a grilled cheese sandwich for twenty eight thousand dollars?
Keep the Adventure Alive,