Poe’s Point > Did Storage Wars Stage a Big Action Figure Find?

Dr. Mrs. Ghostal and I got into the A&E show Storage Wars a few weeks ago. I’ve never been one for these reality shows – I’ve never watched Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars or American Pickers and hell, even that one Toy Hunters episode has been sitting on my DVR, unwatched, since January or whenever it aired. But after a comment from Power Pal Ben Leach, I decided to watch a few eps of SW and got hooked.

Of course, like many such shows, you can find no shortage of Internet commentary claiming it’s entirely staged – particularly an episode in which some buyers, Jarrod and his wife Brandi, discover an extremely valuable cache of vintage Mego Super Heroes. There’s a thread about it at the Mego Museum and the consensus is that it was entirely staged; one fellow claims to know the collector who “donated” the figures to the show.

Now, every single person in that thread is a stranger to me, so believing what these anonymous posters write is as naïve as believing what one sees on the show. I’m sure many would be quicker to believe the posters, as I think people have a tendency to equate cynicism with truth; it’s easier to believe the worst than the best of people. But I’ve seen the Mego episode cited in many places online as proof of the show’s being staged, which seems like a classic case of hearsay being treated as fact.

I am not saying Storage Wars isn’t staged – I think a lot of it, perhaps most of it, probably is. Which is disappointing, and definitely hurts one’s enjoyment of the show. It requires you to sort of watch it less as a reality show and more like The Office, enjoying it for the characters and drama rather than any semblance of real-life stakes.

But I’m also not saying the Mego incident was staged. I simply don’t know what the truth is. I’m not going to take the word of either the show or some posted text on the Internet.* But I thought this was interesting enough for a post. Feel free to correct me on that, or to discuss the topic further.

*But I’m also not going to start making phone calls to try to track down what actually happened; I don’t have the time or resources to do so, and I don’t really want to anyway – I’m not an official journalist and I don’t write this blog for a living. I write it for fun.


Toy Aisle Trolls > Transformers Crime


Pic of the Day > Chet by ridureyu


  1. I'm with you on that. Rule 34 on Brandi.

  2. dayraven

    i only watch storage wars for brandi's boobs… and they never disappoint.

  3. doctorkent

    The show is definitely "scripted" to some degree. Because we would hate the Pickers if we saw them getting something for a nickel that they appraise at $1000.
    But as Ben said, there are things on Pickers I take at face value. Every town has some guy with mounds and mounds of old junk laying around his property. Sure, maybe the production crew moves the good stuff to a good location for filming, but I don't get the idea that they are planting items on that show. Unlike Comic Book Men, where I notice someone I know every so often bringing in an item I know damn well they know the value of.

    • mark

      I watched only one show of Comic Book Men and recognized three of the four people who were supossed to have strolled in off the street with "finds" to sell.

      One guy runs a collector show in the area that the show is filmed in (and has a major collection of the item he was selling) and the second owns another shop in southern NJ. After that I couldn't watch another, but I thought maybe this was done as a pilot episode to sell to AMC, but I didn't stick it out to find out.

      As for Pawn Stars it is clearly staged, but I still found it fun for a while. The show I found to be the most realistic of the fake reality shows is Storage War Texas. Most of the rare items don't seem to be "planted" items, but just are items rare enough and odd enough that someone did not know their real value was , 2) thought it was junk, or 3) possibly forgot it was in there when they didn't pay for their unit.

  4. Oh, sure, sure, blame me for the addictive nature of these shows!

    Obviously, this gets into the whole "reality as entertainment" debate. These production companies have to crank out these shows at a fevered pace, and they can't afford to shoot hundreds or thousands of hours of footage before finding anything serviceable. The thing about "American Pickers" is that while some of the transactions might be staged and scouts find the properties before Danielle sets things up or they go "freestyling," you can't make up the collections that these people have immersed. Likewise, there's a lot of junk these people find in abandoned storage units that you cannot possibly make up.

    I covered the Antiques Roadshow for a local newspaper when it came to town, and while that is truly reality television (there were staged appraisals a number of years ago, and the appraisers responsible – Russ Pritchard and George Juno – not only got kicked off but have been accused of fraud since), they have to set aside one giant convention hall in each city and wade through 12,000 or more items per stop to find about 50-60 worth filming. The show is popular, so they know they're going to get quality items into the taping every time, but you cannot possibly have that string of luck with storage units, overlooked properties, or pawn shops.

    Heck, I've done fabulous lately finding stuff at shops and shows, but if a crew were to follow me around, there would be months on end where I wouldn't find anything interesting.

    If it bothers you, don't watch it. If you're entertained and want to go to a storage unit auction to see if you can have the same kind of luck, go for it, but be educated first and know that it isn't likely to happen.

  5. carl

    As someone who works in the reality tv industry for my day job… its staged. 100%. Very little on any show is live or real; maybe 5,10 years ago, but certainly not now. Although I have made finds like this when i was a “picker”(ugh) for a ebay store many years ago, this is almost definetly staged. Storage Wars and Pawn Stars are pretty famous for the setups…

  6. GalvaTRION

    This is what irks me about 'reality' shows. The two reasons that reality TV has become 90% of anything on TV is 1- a lot of people seem to think they're actually watching real people doing real things, and 2- they're produced dirt cheap because union rules don't have a standard pay rate for writers and actors on those shows. They're a way to get around the expense of having to pay those damn money-grubbing professionals.
    and http://www.wga.org/content/default.aspx?id=2630

  7. Monte

    I haven't watched television regularly since 1999, and as such I have no frame of reference for this show, but while the who-cares-if-it's-real? argument makes sense, and while I was recently baffled to find that a colleague disliked a book because it was a novel and she felt it had "tricked" her into thinking it was non-fiction, I gotta side with Poe on this one.

    Here's my thinking:

    If I saw that episode, I would assume that it was real, and I'd want to tell a friend, "Yeah, they found all this vintage Mego swag. What a score, eh?"

    If it's staged… what am I meant to get out of it? That's one problem I have always had with reality TV: if you're gonna stage it, just do fiction.

    I'm all over the place with this reply. Off to bed with me.

  8. I got hooked on Storage Wars when I started watching it on NetFlix. Same with American Pickers (which I highly recommend you check out).__When it comes to "reality" tv, I know about 90% of it is fabricated, whether its done on scene or in the editing bay. I rarely enjoy these things at their face value. I take it for what it is and nothing more.

  9. Everyone knows it's staged to some degree, but if it is as fake as having people bring in collections to put in a fake unit then there should be a disclaimer at the start of the show.

  10. Yeah, it's staged; but it's like wrestling: if you don't suspend your disbelief, you'll suck all the fun out of it. I've watched the show maybe twice; but what would you really find in one of those abandoned storage units? Moody old paperbacks, VCR tapes, crappy old clothes, the occasional corpse…

  11. Jack Static

    Real or staged doesnt’t bother me. I’ve seen the show and i am always amused by it. Plus its cool to learn the history of random and obscure objects. Its also not like i have a personal stake in their “findings” if it is real, nor do i lose anything financially if “staged”. Of course the 2 points have already been mentioned, ur not going to belief random internet posts over the tv show, nor are you going to take the tv shows word as truth either. If staged, the show has alot to lose if they reveal it as such, and the internet is full of people who like to lie just for laughs.

    If its a show you like then keep watchin it is what i say!

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