There was a time, not too long ago and I'm sure most of us can still recall, if you wanted to track down an out of print item or a classic toy or figure or other trinket, you'd have to get up off your butt and pull out the phone book, make some calls and journey from used book store to resale shop, far and near, seeking your treasured item.
Walking into these musty and dusty shops, you were overwhelmed with the sense of glorious hidden treasures lining the shelves and crammed into every nook. You had but to seek and you would find. And if you didn't find what you were originally seeking, you'd most likely, surprisingly find something you weren't quite expecting. Just ask James from The Underdark Gazette.
Sure, there was a bit more leg work involved but when you found that first printing of Ian Fleming's Thunderball or happened upon a wall filled with vintage pulp paper-backs from the 50's and 60's or perhaps a box full of Weird Tales, the thrill and excitement and the sense of digging up that obscure lost buried chest of gold is something that you didn't soon forget. And don't even get me started on the bargains you got with these items.
Now with the internet and sites like eBay you can pretty easily track down just about any odd, obscure item your crafty mind can desire. But really, where's the fun in that. Now you're just competing just for who can pay the most for something. Case in point.
Now, I'm not knocking any method of obtaining a cherished item. Hell, I've bought and sold my treasures many a time.
I bring this up because of one thing. I never owned the original boxed set of D&D. I remember seeing it on the hobby store selves next to Holmes Basic, the monochrome Steading of the Hill Giant Chief module and Traveller . Now I never bought those Little Brown Books as I was having enough trouble figuring out how to play this "role-playing game".
Last fall, I was determined to track down the original D&D box set and pay as little for it as possible. And by little, I mean around $10. Crazy you say? Impossible? You must think me mad? Perhaps.
So, I thought, hey, I'll start hitting up antique stores, yard sales etc. Nothing too revolutionary. But what are the odds, with eBay and all, of finding that item for that little?
Never tell me the odds.
So my first trek out, I headed to an antique fair just outside of Tucson where I now live. Middle of the desert. Odds seem pretty stacked against me, I'd say. But I'm going there for one thing.
So I take a glance around and see a lot of south western style antiques. Not surprising. But then I notice a table, right at the entrance, with some interesting items; toys, some comic books and other rusted trinkets from the 50's 60's and 70's. Some old cowboy sitting in the shade minding the table. I walk up and lo', I see the the famous Erol Otus Basic box cover. Well, interesting but I have those rules so no big deal. But upon opening the box, what do I find?
Yes, that's right. A bunch of 'classic' TSR adventure modules. Obviously, not first printing or anything but a surprising find nonetheless. And the best part is what I paid for them. $5. And no shipping fees! Not bad on my first day out - and in the middle of the frickin' desert no less.
Ah, the glory, indeed!
So, since then, I've always kept a casual eye out for this Holy Grail, my King Kong so to speak. And recently, I found my second clue.
A little obscure plastic box at a yard sale this past weekend. And inside? About 50 lead minis from '78 and '79 and for only $5. Some awesome dragons, some great Dungeon Delvers, even some of those Grenadier Hirelings. Just as random as a dice roll! Oh yeah, there were dice in there as well.
Now, those 3 LBB are yet elusive, but I feel that I am on the trail. The footprints becoming a bit clearer, the trail more recent.
After all, it's not bagging the beast, but the thrill of the hunt.