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ItsAllTrue.Net Toy Run #2: Clearance Toys Are Our Undoing

You know the drill. You get up and you think you could get lucky today. You get ready and put on some nice clothes so you can at least feel presentable if you happen to get checked out. You hop in the car and travel to whichever place you’ve deemed best to satisfy your desires. You arrive with giddy anticipation. It’s now or never, you tell yourself as you round that last corner. What awaits? Will it be great joy or intense dissatisfaction?

Anything can happen on a Toy Run…

Traditionally, January is not a great month for a toy run. A lot of stores are working on inventory or getting rid of the previous year’s stock and most toy companies don’t ship new product as a result. But this year, we have Mattel dropping DCUC12, Public Enemies Wave 2, and their new Wrestling product on stores. And while we’ve been keeping an eye out for most of that stuff (and the TRU exclusive Animated Arcee), this toy run isn’t about that. It’s about that stuff from last year. The kryptonite to our toy budgets. Clearance.

I think most toy collectors know it well. We can resolve to buy on a budget. We can agree with our spouses that we only collect this or that toy line. We can work up the willpower to pass up a cool toy when it is full price. But there is something about clearance. Is it that we’re getting a deal? Is that we finally see the lower price point as fair? I don’t know. But I do know this – I used to be a sucker for a good sale. I’ve gotten better as the years have gone on, but there’s still a certain thrill to a clearance toy run. Maybe you’ll find something you wanted, but cheaper. Maybe you’ll find something you didn’t know you wanted, but at a price too good to pass up. Maybe it’s just fun to hunt when you’re not hunting for something specific. I don’t know.

The last week of January is one of the best times to hit up the local Wal-Marts for clearance. That’s when they start making deeper cuts on most of their markdowns. If something you weren’t sure about buying is still there, you might return to find yourself all the more tempted by the lower price of round two. For most of our stores, we saw that happen on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. This time, we didn’t hit up Wal-Mart #1 (the craptastic one) that we covered in our first toy run aritcle, but here’s what we found at our other stores…

Wal-Mart #2 – The Reliable One


As we said before, clearance product can be killer on the toy budget. If you passed on it once, you don’t need it, right? That’s sound advice, of course, but sometimes it’s hard to follow.

In particular, I’ve had a difficult time swearing off Animated Transformers. It’s not something I wanted to start, but I was unable to resist a few times and picked up a couple. I grabbed Blurr and Grimlock when they were released and while I liked them both, I didn’t think I needed to get deeper into the line. Then, they showed Rodimus Minor (Hot Rod!) and Arcee at SDCC. That was a blow to my resolve – I have to have those two. Then, I started finding some TFAs on clearance the last few weeks and spent some money. So far, I’ve found Ultra Magnus for $20 and Shockwave & Sentinel Prime for $7. On this particular toy run, I ran across a $9 Skywarp. Now, I’ve made the decision to try and stick with just the movie transformers (Wreck-Gar, Arcee, and Rodimus) going forward, but Skywarp was a good price. I decided to leave it behind. There are a few Voyager class figures I might want that weren’t “movie” ones, but Skywarp isn’t one of them.

It’s not just Animated Transformers that I find intriguing either. There’s been some movie and universe product that I’ve wanted to buy too, but Transformers toydom is just too immense for me. I don’t know where to jump in some times and I applaud anyone that can keep up with it. Despite my trying to stay away, there always seems to be a tempting Transformer when I go to the store. One toy that both Vault and I kinda want is Fearswoop from the ROTF line. I know it’s just a tiger-striped jet that that turns into a cyclops with skimpy legs, but there is something we both like about him. He looks fun and sometimes it’s nice to pick up a ‘toy’ now and again in the age of ‘adult collectibles’. Still, we passed on him at $24, and again at $12. Now, he’s at $6 and the temptation might be at its peak.* I think I’m going to make it without picking up this guy, but I’m curious to see what happens to poor Vault the next time he hits up this particular Wal-Mart.

* – Especially when he comes packaged with two stupid mini-transformers. Are there kids who like to get big packs of multi-scale stuff? When I was a kid, I hated that Tracks and Tailgate weren’t in-scale as cars. Did anyone not mind that? Do kids today not mind that?

Another fun thing we found on our latest visit to old reliable, the Gotham City 5pk! Not one Wal-Mart for at least 75 miles carried this thing last year, but now we have it local (and full price) just a few months too late! We found it in the clearance aisle on our initial run, but since then it’s migrated to a regular spot in the aisle just under a mountain of Power Girl figures. We’re counting the days until all six of these make it out the door at the full $55.

Wal-Mart #3 – The Old, Weird One

This Wal-Mart isn’t particularly noteworthy at first glance. Its layout is fairly normal and it’s toy section usually isn’t much to write home about. But this Wal-Mart gets in strange things some times. Last year, none of our local Wal-Mart made space for DC Classics. But this store got in one case of wave 6 early on, sold through, and then didn’t receive another case until the fall reset. Earlier this year, they put out a case of Sentinel series Marvel Legends. Let me say that again, Sentinel series. That’s the kind of Wal-Mart it is.

Now, we don’t get surprises every time we go, but this time we ran across some weird stuff. I don’t remember ever seeing this Prince Caspian castle there before I found it in the clearance section, but it’s pretty cool (at least on the outside of the box). I was tempted to grab it at $20 for use with Indiana Jones, Hellboy, or Cobra figures. I even felt bad passing on it, as I probably won’t have a second chance. It would have been great for some photo-shoots, but it would have surely been in storage more than it was ever in use.

Then, there was the little gems below. I didn’t even know about these. Granted, I don’t keep up on the latest Marvel Universe news, but I didn’t know anything about Wal-Mart exclusive Wolverine: Origins figures until I saw these. And look! They have removable jackets! Amazing. I don’t know where these came from, but they were the only two, leaving me to wonder if they possibly arrived to the store via return. I happily left these bad boys, and their jackets, at the store.

Wal-Mart #4 – The Next Closest One

To be honest, the next closest Wal-Mart is kinda of a misnomer. But “The Next Closest Wal-Mart that doesn’t suck” is too long a title. The nearest one after the three “local” ones has a toy section about six aisles total with only about 16-20ft of it going to action figure product. They don’t carry any comic-based action figures whatsoever and hardly ever have anything to clearance. Simply put, we don’t really go there. If we absolutely had to, it’d be “Wal-Mart #10 – The One You Hit When You’re Desperate & Don’t Want to Travel to Wal-Mart’s #11-20.” Guess the first name wasn’t too long after all… Anyway, we did find Buzz Off and Man-E-Faces at that Wal-Mart back in 2003 and that was the last thing we found there. Ever.

Wal-Mart #4 is about fifteen-twenty minutes from the house by highway. It doesn’t pay off as often as old reliable, or do anything strange like the weird one, but it’s been better to us than most. They usually house their clearance out-of-the-way in the garden section, so we headed for that entrance*.

* – Do you ever feel like the people at the Garden entrance are more skeptical of your intentions? Particularly when you walk out with nothing? Or is that just me? I’m not paranoid. No, really…

The first thing I found sitting out in the freezing cold were some funny Brave & the Bold figures. This is the first DC toy line in a long time that I don’t even have one of. I’ve felt the temptation now and again, particularly on some of the Plastic Man variants, but I’ve been a good boy. Here, for $4 a piece we found some Brave & the Bold Batmen that were new to me: Crusher Cuff, Blade Whip, and my favorite, Bataraxe Batman. I did some research online and these might have come in the assortment with Gold. If that’s the case, we all got lucky – a $4 Gold with “Super Attack Starro”? I’d have bought it and then be complaining to you about how I shouldn’t have right now.

Since I have my aforementioned TFA weakness, my last Wal-Mart of the day had to tempt me. They had the Leader Class Bulkhead w/ the Headmaster, the Roadbuster Ultra Magnus, and Shadow Blade Megatron. Luckily, this Wal-Mart hadn’t gone through a round two of clearance yet and these were all still $20. On a normal day, I might have caved for the 50% off, but I hold out hope they’ll be reduced. There was plenty of each except for Roadbuster Ultra Magnus, but I don’t really need him anyway. Even though Bulkhead wasn’t in the Transformers Movie, I am partial to him and can see grabbing him if his price drops. Sadly, they didn’t have any Voyager class on sale after I found that initial Skywarp. I would’ve liked to have found a Blitzwing or a Wreck-Gar, but it wasn’t to be that day. This Wal-Mart did have some excellent sales on Lego sets, but I stayed strong and resisted those too.*

* – I’m still kicking myself over the Lego City Garage (#7642). It was $50 off!! Last year, I walked on another $100 set and still regret it. I just don’t want to spend that much on Lego’s right now, but damn! Stupid Wal-Mart.

All in all, I survived a clearance toy run without having to open my wallet.* On the one hand, I’m excited that I didn’t pick up a bunch of junk I didn’t need. I didn’t end up with a whole collection of Animated Transformers, a cool playset that I don’t have room for, or figures with removable jackets. I didn’t find anything all that amazing either, so maybe I got off easy. I could go either way on that. Maybe I’ve been good enough in limiting my interests this year and buying less while sticking to lines like DCUC that aren’t likely candidates to end up the clearance section. I don’t know, but clearance toys didn’t win today. We did! And we had a good time on our road to victory too. Heck, that last Wal-Mart even coughed up a case of wave eleven for us. Now, everyone at IAT was already hooked up via BBTS or Matty, so we left them there for the next collector / kid / grandparent. You have to spread the toy run success around after all…

* – I did find some Throwback Mountain Dew and Heritage Dr. Pepper, but that hardly counts!

38 comments to ItsAllTrue.Net Toy Run #2: Clearance Toys Are Our Undoing

  • Nik

    Holy crap heritage Dr Pepper????

    I’ve been buying pepsi throwback just because it was my only option. Keep hoping for a coke version to come out.. but OMG DR PEPPER IS MY WEAKNESS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???

    Oh, right. Toys.

    My walmart has a stocked full clearance section. But non of it is marked down. WTF.

    • LOL. I wish Coke would do a retro version, but I was happy to find DrPepper. The bad thing is I try not to drink too much regular soda, but man it’s good…

      We have about 20 WMs and they all do weird things during clearance time. We’ve been wanting to make a trip to Wal-Mart #13 The Awesome Clearance one, but the snow has been keeping us stuck up here.

  • Mr. T

    I never even saw the Roadbuster repaint and there it is for half-price. You suck!!!

    J/k. But Walmart sucks. Did any of these stores have and/or markdown the masterpiece skywarp yet?

  • Ah, the Question! He still hasn’t been seen in my neck of the woods, but I had a ton of clearance fun this weekend: a camo Punisher from Wal-Mart for $1.63; ML FF Thing and Silver Surfer to finally complete Ronan, and 3 Hydra agents ($2.39 each!) Danger, DCD Geo-Force and Billy Batson from the Comic Shop!

    • You have a good clearance WM too! Our one for that is about fifty minutes away and the deals go fast! I built a Holocaust there for $35!

      • Brainlock

        Sullivan is my little oasis for some stuff. Found a few Holocaust wave last fall for $8, including Tigra.

        I should have told my aunt to stop at Owensville on way back from Belle last week. At the very least, we wouldn’t have gotten rear-ended by girl following us from WM at 28/50! @_@
        (One of us is jinxed, that’s all I’m saying!)

        Hopefully, I can find some good deals now that I have “new” wheels and missed the whole Xma$ shopping season (and get released by Dr tomorrow). got on a custom kick and am now wanting some of those Punishers for fodder, esp camo, so I don’t have to repaint bottom half.

  • andy Bentley

    Anyone seen the Masterpiece Skywarp actually on clearance? I see him on the clearance shelf, but he consistently rings up @ $60

  • Ebonhorn

    First that wolverine and sabretooth where originally 15 dollars….INSANE!

    As for the garden section, yes I worried, so I’m proactively super friendly and nice when I go through them now.

    • That’s crazy! Aren’t the regulars $9 or so? Ouch.

      Good to know I’m not the only person getting eyed suspiciously by the old ladies in green vests…

      • Ebonhorn

        Yeah the regulars are 9, crazy pricing for the win.

        Sometimes I’ll even stop in the garden section and look at like the miracle grow or something, pull out my phone like I have a call. I will have a pretend conversation and leave. Making sure to tell the garden people that my wife, girlfriend, brother, or other random person had picked up what I was looking for already.

  • Lay Ze-Man

    I was *this close* to grabbing a TFA Ultra Magnus.

    Then I pushed the TRY ME! button and he said: “You haven’t even seen my show. My hammer is sweet, but I don’t think you’d keep me long term.”

    And I was like “You’re no Bob Stack, but you’re alright. Thanks, buddy!” and walked off.

  • Nicholai

    I’m jealous at seeing wave 11 on pegs. My local stores (3 Targets and 2 Walmarts) have been exceedingly useless for DCUC. I should have bought on Matty, but hoped it’d last until January 15th so I could combine shipping with Beast Man which of course backfired on me and they sold out on Matty several days before that.

    • Sorry to be a tease!

      Our Target hasn’t been good for anything new last Spring. They overloaded on wave 6/7 and just recently unclogged with that $8 sale.

      • Nicholai

        My local Targets just put on that sale too. The only thing I wonder is if people are going to buy those poor Cyborgs even for $8.

  • Sadie

    That castle is a great playset for ANY 4″ figures. My kids love it!

  • Jonesy

    I buy a ton of clearance stuff. I don’t really care about the characters and backstories, I just like to find cool toys and add them in. Clearance finds are the best.

  • AllMindsAboutEverything

    I try to avoid clearance aisles whenever possible. If I want something, I buy it when I find it. I don’t buy stuff because the price is lower.

    And, yes, I do hate walking in in the garden doors. Those are some mean old ladies.

    • That’s good policy.

      As for mean old ladies, this woman at Target the other day was trying to kill me with her piercing gaze when her little scanner said what I wanted was in the back.

  • DrNightmare

    TFA Skywarp for $9… *whimpers* I hate all stores within a 50 mile range of me. They all suck. All of them.

    Multi-scale, it makes sense to me, a Scion shouldn’t be as big as a jet-fighter. How the hell do the Autobots keep winning by the way? They’re little cars and trucks and then you have the Decepticons which are all giant tanks and bombers and submarines and frikkin’ spaceships!

  • RegalCollector

    So $50 for the Lego Garage? And you didn’t buy it?? You fool!!!

    J/K – Which one did you pass on last year? The Wal-Marts near me don’t do anything like this. I’ve been lucky getting some clearances off their website (you have to be quick), but it’s near impossible to see Lego clearanced in a store.

  • Blair

    I loves me some Throwback Mountain Dew.

  • Tom Waits

    Is that new DCUCs I see hanging on pegs? Is that a mirage or a trickery of photoshop??

  • PrfktTear

    I picked up TFA Leader Bulkhead for $10.00!!! I nearly picked him up before Christmas for a full twenty dollars, I’m certainly glad I waited! They also had Ultra Magnus for $10 as well, but I bought him when he first came out. I also nearly became sick to my stomach when I found TF Universe Classics Ultra Class Onslaught and Powerglide for SIX FREAKIN’ DOLLARS each!!! I, of course, paid the full amt when they came out. They have the green Onslaught repaint, but its only marked $15, which isn’t bad, but I’m holding out for a deeper clearance.

    Seeing all that DCUC Wave 11 on the shelf makes me cry. I just picked up John Stewart and The Question (the only ones from the wave I want) for twenty each at a comic store. Wave 11 and 12 is starting to show up around me, one WM had Cyborg Supes and another had Spectre (another one which I paid $20 for at LCS), and finally another WM had Dr. Mid-Nite which I scooped up quickly.

    I find it ironic that every WM I go to has at least a dozen MP Skywarps around, and of course they haven’t clearanced them yet. If they get knocked down to say, $20, I’d think about it, until then I’n not interested. I find it amusing though, since MP Starscream barely sat on the shelves at all, and now here we have these ones warming our pegs. I guess what goes around comes around. Just like the DCU 5-packs and the myriad of Power Girls…

    -x

    • Yeah! See, $10 is what I’m waiting for! But at the same time, I won’t cry if I miss out – so that makes me think I don’t need them all that much.

      I’ve seen the geen Onslaught for $15, but I don’t think I need him really. I like his shield though.

      Skywarp for $30 might be my breaking point, but he might never get there. Our WMs never clearanced the mountain of 25th Primes.

      • PrfktTear

        I’ve been sorta on a Transformers haitus, and with the TFA series over my interest has waned a bit, but I still love the figures. At $20 for Bulkhead, I couldn’t justify it, no matter how much I told myself I wanted him, but $10 for a Leader figure… I could not refuse him!

        I don’t really need the green Onslaught (Hardhead) either, thats why I really did’t jump on him. While I thought Onslaught was cool I wasn’t really in love with it, I don’t regret buying him, just seeing him for $6 now… makes me feel a little ill. That said, $6 for Hardhead would be pretty cool, he reminds me of Bulkhead. I can display the two of them together. I suppose I could be a Toy Aisle Troll and just switch packages… but I don’t want to be a cheater. Or would it really be Trolling for switching the same toy with just a different paint scheme?

        My breaking point for MP Skywarp is stuck at $20. I’m on the fence about TFA Skywarp, he’s not clearanced in my area, and I’d almost rather have TFA over MP if that makes any sense.

      • PrfktTear

        So I checked out my local WM last night and they had MP Skywarp marked down to $30. I’m still holding out for $20 or less. Though, I suspect it’ll be a while. Like you said, I won’t cry if I don’t get him though. If he goes under $20, I might even consider picking up two, one to try my hand at customizing and make him into Thundercracker.

        Hardhead (green Onslaught) was still there for $15, however the Onslaught and Powerglides marked to $6 were gone. If he gets marked down to $10 I might consider picking him up to display with Leader Bulkhead.

        -x