Show & Tell > Eleven Best Finds at Church Fairs

Every year starting mid-November to early December local churches and synagogues start having their annual holiday fairs. These bazaars are usually quite the spectacle, drawing people from all over. As a child I had fond memories of going to these fairs and I decided I wanted to try and capture that feeling once again by hitting up a few — but what started as something innocent turned into a full-blown obsession.

It doesn’t matter whether you go to the fair at St. Joe’s, St. Michael’s or Temple Beth Emunah, all the fairs all seem to follow the same formula. When you first walk in there’s going to be a strong aura consisting of baked goods, pine needles , old people, and chicken pot pie, but don’t worry — the nausea usually quickly subsides. You’re almost always guaranteed to find the same things at these fairs; bake sales, raffles, hand-made items, and vendors hawking Avon or Tupperware products.

Then there are the White Elephant sales. Basically a yard sale of donated crap, which truly gives meaning to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Some of them are called “Grandma’s Attic” and others “Attic Treasures”, but almost always some variation of “Grandma” and “Attic”. These sales mostly operate the same way, members or friends of the church donate their junk and then they’re sold dirt cheap to raise money. But I found that rummaging through these sales was much like being an archaeologist searching for treasure you never knew what you were going to find.

Terminator 3 T-800 Terminator Head Knocker Bobble Head by Neca

This Terminator bobble head was the first thing I laid eyes on at the First Church Christmas Fair. At first I thought “how awful!” but somehow I knew I would not be leaving that building without it. I have unintentionally amassed a small, but growing bobble head collection that this is now a part of. Its broken, there’s supposed to be a small turret on the gun, but for a whopping fifty cents, I don’t care.

VHS Bootleg of Kevin Smith’s film, Dogma

I was rummaging through a box of old VHS tapes and amidst such classics as Titanic and Lethal Weapon I laid eyes on this gem. Its a bootleg of Kevin Smith’s movie Dogma. It looks like a fairly high quality bootleg too, they even designed their own cover jacke, there’s a picture of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck poorly photoshopped onto the heads of angels. I couldn’t resist the irony of this movie being sold at a church holiday fair. For fifty cents I decided it would be a great story to tell.

Rubik’s Cube

You can’t go wrong with a Rubik’s cube. It seems like something every geek should own, and this one looked practically brand new. I’m curious how many people buy these or receive them as gifts and then eventually toss them because they are unable to solve it. I’ll admit, I didn’t solve this myself — I ended up finding a web site that lets you enter the square pattern and then gave you the solution. Even though I took the easy way out I did learn something about how to solve these — the middle squares never change, so to solve the cube puzzle you must match all of the outside squares to the middle one. Not a bad find for fifty cents.


Before Words with Friends, there was Scrabble. I’ve always enjoyed playing, but I’ve never owned a board of my own. I’ve never really had a reason to, but for fifty cents, I couldn’t pass up this like-new 1999 edition of the classic game.

Rocky III – Beta

Much like the recent Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format wars, the now obsolete VHS pitted against Beta Max. Much like many kids today will never know what a cassette tape is, I have never even as much seen a Beta Max tape. While rummaging through the same pile of videos that I found the Dogma bootleg in, I found this gem. Its a copy of Rocky III on Beta. I only really wanted it for the novelty factor, its not like I own a Beta player. What made this find such a gem is that on the inside there is an invoice/receipt from Underground Electronics dated 7/16/1983. The former owner paid $70.00 for Rocky III. I don’t know what’s worse… the fact that he paid seventy bucks for a single film or the fact that he paid seventy bucks for Rocky III. To put this in perspective, if you factor in inflation, what cost $70 in 1983 would now cost $151.20 in 2011. Wow! I paid fifty cents, I think I got the better deal.


I have to admit that I do not know how to play chess. That didn’t stop me from picking up this nice glass chess and checkers set. Hopefully some day I’ll learn how to and when I do I’ll have this set to learn how to play on. A great find for a dollar.

“Crime Attack” Batman by Kenner

Comicazi, a store in Somerville, MA that sells comics, toys, and collectibles (often mentioned here on the blog by Poe) threw a “Badass Bazaar” which was a mixture of everything including vendors selling crafts, artists, and dealers. It was quite an interesting mix. There wasn’t much in the way of toys though, except for the Comicazi table where I found this Batman based on Tim Burton’s 1989 film. He’s from Kenner’s Dark Knight Collection, and if my research is correct he’s technically “Crime Attack” Batman. Sold loose with his Batarang/grappling hook accessory, I picked this guy up for three bucks.


I like to read. I like to read books. Why not buy books? I read the first Artemis Fowl book a few years back in a Fantasy Lit class and I always meant to read more in the series, it was light, fun entertainment. I also picked up some movie trivia books for light reading. All total I think I spent about two bucks on these. Also, (not pictured) at another fair I picked up The Watchmen graphic novel for less than a buck, I just sort of had a handful of stuff and the lady said she’d give it to me all for a dollar.

Golden Book Video Masters of the Universe Volume 2


Back in the eighties, Golden Book published quite a few Masters of the Universe and Princess of Power books. Some were hardcover and others were books on tape. They also released a series of VHS tapes featuring many of the same stories adapted using “Picturemation” — which is a mix of rudimentary animation combined with panning and zooming effects across the images contained in the books. The voiceacting tries to replicate the voices from the Filmation series, which range from the laughable to actual decent imitations. This volume features The Caverns of Fear, In the Land of Shadows, The Sword of Knowledge, and The Eye of Eternia. Not a bad little find for fifty cents.

Jungle Tree Display

This one was a great find. I was pouring through bags of stuff in the toy section of one particular fair and found this large plastic zipper bag with various lions, tigers, and zebras. Upon closer inspection I found that it also contained a gorgeous looking tree with a display base. Of course I instantly thought it would look fantastic up on my shelf with some figures. The tree itself turns out to have some greenish leafy tops (which you can see there are pegs for) but I prefer to display it without as it looks much more creepy and menacing. So far I’ve displayed some of my new 4″ Thundercats and MOTUC under it, so it works with various scales of figures. I got the whole bag for two bucks and I gave all the jungle figures to a friend of mine for his son.

Transformers Generation 1 Kup

One of the reasons I got addicted to these fairs was that I never knew what I was going to find. While rummaging through a box filled with plastic baggies full of toys I found G1 Kup lumped in with some Matchbox cars and other assorted toys. I paid a whopping twenty five cents for the whole bag.  He isn’t complete and needs some TLC, but this is definitely a diamond in the rough. As of right now a loose Kup can fetch about 10-$15 on eBay, but he’s a keeper!

Overall I had a lot of fun treasure hunting at these fairs. I spent far too much money on raffle tickets, for which I did not win a single thing. I bought, and ate far too many Christmas cookies, but it was all in good fun. A lot of the money raised from these fairs goes towards various charities and programs that help people so its sort of like getting some bonus good karma points or something. I’m already looking forward to next year’s holiday fairs and hopefully will find even more cool junk!

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  1. toyman

    Awesome post! You got a good haul on the cheap. Makes me want to go back to the flea market they have every third weekend here. This one guy who was there every time had mountains of vintage Kenner Star Wars stuff. I'm talking the Falcon MIB, loose/complete figures, and misc. junk like lunchboxes and "lightsabers" too. Ahhh, memories.

    And by the way….Rocky III RULES. 2nd only to the original. =)

  2. Reverend Ender

    Rocky III is the best one, by the way

  3. AmericanHyena

    That tree diorama is actually really bad ass.

  4. Eric

    Best I got was a big bag of Warhammer LOTR figurines for $2 at a thrift store. I've sold a couple of the figures at mass discount for over $60 so far, but I'm kind of stuck now due to the fact most of the rest of the figurines are made of plastic and are fragile.

    I also got a bunch of Godzilla stuff from that same store for pretty cheap.

  5. As far as I am concerned, whatever you paid for everything pictured here was worth it just for the receipt that accompanied your copy of Rocky III. Nice anthropological find.

    I remember when Top Gun and Splash first hit video. They were $80 or so. (VHS). Hell, as recently as 1991 Oliver Stone's The Doors would have cost me $90 or so. A few years later it was $10.

    I only ever saw one Beta cassette. It was in San Francisco circa 1994. A music shop had a Black Flag video, and I was about to buy it when I noticed it was Beta. I later found out my high school had a Beta player, which is weird since it was the '90s. I wished I'd bought the Black Flag concert, but it was of course too late. If memory serves, my consolation prize was a VHS copy of Perry Farrell's film, The Gift.

    Also, that tree is badass, and I just read the first Artemis Fowl last spring. It quickly loses momentum in my opinion, but the protagonist is certainly intriguing.

    • Thanks! When I pulled it out I was like "no way!". The slip even smelled old. Electronics Underground is now long gone out of business, but before Best Buy and other big box stores that was the only way to get your videos…

  6. The_Fun_has_been_Doubled

    Duude! I have/(had) that MotU video!! Sadly I wore it out to death… 24+ years of watching it may do that!

    • I had a couple myself, they were a lot of fun. One of the She-Ra ones used to scare the crap out of me.

  7. Matt K

    Interesting stuff. I don't think I've ever seen a church fair here in San Diego.

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