On Saturday, May 6, 2023, there was a trading card show in my area, there was a toy show, and it was also Free Comic Book Day. It was like a nerd Christmas!
The toughest decision for me was to decide what to go to first but quickly I settled on the inaugural Novi Toy Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan. The Novi Toy Show was advertising over 225 tables of just about every kind of toy imaginable and when you’re a wrestling collector you know that professional wrestling action figures typically constitute a pretty significant portion of most toy shows, along with other popular toys like Star Wars, GI Joes, and Legos. So, I hopped in my car and headed to Novi.
Upon entering the Novi Toy Show, I almost immediately noticed several vendors with stacks of wrestling figures on their tables. Most of them were pretty evenly split between WWE Mattel Elites and AEW Jazwares figures and I took this as a very good sign. One of the first vendors I saw was a familiar face. It was Time Blaster Toys, from Westland, Michigan. I’ve visited Time Blaster Toys on several occasions. They have a great store with an impressive selection of wrestling figures and cards, and Ethan Page recently filmed two Toyhunt Vlogs at their store, but I didn’t spend much time at their table, since I can go to their local store anytime I like.
The first table that really caught my eye had a far more sparse selection than most other vendors but what they had was high quality, vintage stuff and it was almost all wrestling toys. The centerpiece of their table was a Superfly Jimmy Snuka LJN, sealed in the box. This thing was in mint condition and it was gorgeous. They were also selling the complete fifth series of WWF Hasbros, loose but sold as a lot, with the Legion of Doom thrown in as an added bonus. In addition to this, they had a mail-a-way Hulk Hogan Hasbro, still in the bag. My first purchase of the day came from this table but I went with a more modern and more economical toy, a 2020 Mattel Masters of the WWE Universe Macho Man Randy Savage.
It wasn’t long before another table grabbed my attention. This vendor had piles of assorted wrestling figures. He had modern boxed WWE and AEW figures, as well as bins of loose mixed modern and vintage wrestling figures. He commented that he would have sold me the same Masters of the WWE Universe Savage for half of what I paid at the last vendor’s table but his was a loose figure while mine was still in the box, a must for me for modern toys. Around this time, a mother approached the table with her young son, who was picking out multiple wrestling figures. I overheard her say to her son, “We already spent $200” on other wrestling figures, which warmed my heart but also admittedly made me a little jealous. It was great to see a kid so enthusiastic about wrestling figures and he seemed to be equally enthralled with WWE and AEW, especially Darby Allin. This vendor had several of the AEW figures that came packaged with a pack of the rarer, yellow parallel 2021 Upper Deck AEW trading cards and he was only selling them for $20 per figure. So, I claimed an Eddie Kingston (yellow parallel pack included), and moved along to the next table.
It was a while before I made another purchase, but along the way, I enjoyed browsing the tables of assorted toys. There was no shortage of wrestling toys but there was nothing that I needed so I was content to window shop. I eventually came upon a vendor who I’d seen at multiple card and toy shows before. He didn’t have as many toys as he did trading cards and other ephemera but what caught my eye was his selection of prism vending machine stickers. In addition to wrestling cards, one of my nostalgic sweet spots is vending machine stickers, especially prisms and he had a nice little selection of 1990s WCW prism stickers, which are rather plentiful, and hence not very valuable but still look great. I already own quite a few of the prism stickers he had at his table but one that I didn’t have was a rather ridiculous sticker that said “Hollywood Hogan 4 President.” I simply couldn’t resist and at only one dollar a piece I bought both of the stickers he had.
With so many wrestling toys to see and choose from, the vendors who had a little more of a varied selection of wrestling memorabilia were the vendors who stood out the most to me, and that’s what drew me to a table that had piles of wrestling books, autographed photographs, programs, and newsletters, as well as toys. I love wrestling toys, but as for what I collect, I’m always more interested in wrestling cards and things related to writing about wrestling, so this vendor’s selection of books and newsletters immediately grabbed me. As I began to flip through his binders of programs and newsletters, the vendor and I began to make conversation, and I learned this vendor was Grand Rapids, Michigan-based wrestling photographer and fellow Slam contributor Leonard Brand. Brand seemed like a genuinely nice and extremely knowledgeable man and we talked for nearly an hour before I picked a few items from his table, two of Tom Burke’s Global Wrestling News Service newsletters from 1989 and 1990 and a Toronto Wrestling History newsletter/zine by Wes Maidment that promotes Slam’s own Greg Oliver and his Wrestling Report on the back cover page. Brand possesses a wealth of Michigan wrestling knowledge. I could’ve spent all day picking his brain, and I hope to do so sometime in the future, so we exchanged information, and I let him get back to working his table, while I continued on to the rest of the Novi Toy Show.
Aside from a couple non-wrestling related purchases I made for my family (an MF DOOM vinyl record for my son and a Lassie coloring book for my partner), I didn’t spend much more money for the remainder of the Novi Toy Show but there was one more vendor who seemed to have more wrestling toys than anything else. He also had an impressive selection of MMA toys, including both UFC and Pride fighters, which was not as common to see as wrestling figures. In addition to this, he had a box of various mystery packs of trading cards, divided by sport, including wrestling cards, and I can never pass up a good, cheap mystery pack. These were only $2 for each mystery pack, or three for $5, so I picked out the three wrestling packs that I felt had the best visible cards to choose from, and called it a day.
All in all, I thought the first ever Novi Toy Show was a success. I can’t speak for the vendors but having a toy show in a somewhat larger venue such as this, rather than another Knights of Columbus, allowed for a wider variety of vendors, with ample room to move and browse and while a lack of special guests may have resulted in a smaller crowd it meant the people in attendance were there, first and foremost, to shop for toys, rather than stand in line for autographs. It may have hurt the event’s attendance that there were so many other things going on that same day, and that the Motor City Comic Con would take place in the same space in less than a couple weeks, but it was great to see that wrestling was so well represented, and I was very pleased with my haul of wrestling toys, stickers, cards, and newsletters, just a sampling of the vast array of collectibles available when you’re a fan of professional wrestling.