I thought this would be an easy post to construct. It was not.
I guess it could be easy. If I didn’t really care, then the post would be: “This cool dude sent me one of the Final 10.” It feels much bigger than that, but I can’t articulate those feelings. I’m writing a post and it doesn’t quite feel right. I keep searching for the write word. I keep re-reading and editing. Everything feels just out of reach and not quite right.
Let me start with some facts. That’s easier.Auction Watch #202 featured a Purple #107 that I needed. As I said in that post, I did not think the seller was important. That statement was wrong. But that’s an entirely different topic and post.
One of the people that contacted me about the Purple #107 auction was Chuck (Zero on LRG). He had previously contacted me when he won another auction from the boingelbes seller. Chuck discovered that the seller was Alex Forbes, the infamous arforbes, and was concerned he wouldn’t get his stuff. I assured him, regardless of Alex’s past, he would receive the items he purchased on eBay without any problem. He did.
Chuck contacted me again. He believed he should have won the Purple #107. He believed he had fallen victim to shill bidding. Based on the evidence I had received from Chuck, and others, it certainly looked to be true. Then Chuck shared a message with me from Alex (boingelbes/arforbes):
I wanted to contact you about the muscle lot of 24 that you bid on yesterday. It looks like you and the high bidder bid near the end and it went for a very high amount of money, something that I was not expecting. I think the high bidder was not expecting either because he has not paid and does not look like he is going to. I want to offer the item to you for your bid as a second chance offer if you were interested. Let me know your thoughts, I would just like to sell this to someone who really wants it without the drama of a super high auction end price, which I feel is what is going on here since it ended so high. I am going to also send this message to the other runner ups in the auction bid history so please let me know as soon as possible, thank you!
Again, the details of the ugliness are for a separate post. Chuck asked me for advice as he communicated with Alex. I shared my advice, said the final decision rested with him, and closed with:
Again, good luck. You’re being sucked into one of Alex’s classic shady situations.
I didn’t hear anything for a few days and reached out to Chuck. He said a price had been agreed on and that Alex had listed it as a BIN listing. He was just waiting to get the figure.
Then he sent me this message:
Okay I got the figure.
What’s your email? I’ll send you all the info.
And…what’s your address. It is for you.
What? You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t accept that generous of a gift.
You can email the info to firstname.lastname@example.org
We went back and forth. Him offering and me resisting. I started to believe that he was serious. Even when I sent him my address there was a cynical part of my brain saying it was a joke. The box would arrive and it would contain a note that read, “Are you fucking high? Here’s $5. Go buy a clue and fuck off.”
That didn’t happen. There was a single Purple #107 in the box. I still didn’t believe it. My first thought was, “This is the greatest fake I’ve ever seen.”
Here’s where my words really start to fail. I still can’t describe the feeling. There weren’t any words that felt appropriate as I tried to thank Chuck.
His response was simply, “9 to go!”
That’s when I started to feel like I was floating. I couldn’t wait to share the story with my boys. I always talk to them about being one of the good guys. That they have to be the people that change things. I steal the quote and routinely tell them, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I guess I say it a lot because I believe it.
Now I had an example they could understand. I retold the story to them and their little minds were blown. They were excited that Dad had a new figure he needed, but they couldn’t grasp someone just sending it to me.
I think Chuck said it best:
Really, you don’t owe me a thing. There are millions of these creatures everywhere!
My hope is that Chuck is the guy that changes the hobby. That he influences other people to just enjoy these silly little toys. The M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby is tiny. That’s why a few bad apples can have such profound impact on the hobby. But that’s also the reason that we can turn it around. A few people acting more like Chuck could completely shift the hobby.
I tried, and failed, to introduce this idea in 2009 when I gave some Class A figures to Enio (meatcutta). (This is the best public proof. I can’t find our emails.) John tried help M.U.S.C.L.E. karma in 2013, but we didn’t see much of a shift. I feel like Chuck’s story might change the hobby because it was so public in a new and different way. I hope other people want to be that positive change too.
I asked Chuck if he wanted to add any statement or comment. He sent me this:
As far as a statement goes, I found Boingelbes (Alex) to be prompt with shipment, replies, and courteous. I am not trying to malign anyone. I did find a few things about the entire transaction to be questionable at best. I realize that in any transaction, buyer beware. I am comfortable with how the eventual outcome of the sale transpired. I believe these figures found the right homes.
If I had anything to contribute to the hobby, I would like to see a M.U.S.C.L.E. trade-a-base created. I think using a platform like Google spreadsheets, the community could easily document what figures are needed for whose collections. Trades could be made on a point sharing basis, perhaps 1 figure traded = 1 point. You could easily see who is freely trading and choose who you would like to trade with based on these numbers. I believe this could save our tiny hobby quite a bit of money from competing within itself on ebay. It might generate more honesty, discussion and participation between ourselves. If there is any interest in this at all, maybe we could all hash it out and make it happen. Maybe the hobby is too far along for that, but I know that even the most seasoned of us are still looking for some figures, Purple #107 for example. I have a positive attitude that something like this could work. Maybe it is already out there and I am unaware.
I also would like to thank you, Chad for your weekly M.U.S.C.L.E University updates. It is a great source of entertainment and information for me. It takes a good bit of work and perseverance to stick with something like that for as long as you have.
What a great guy. He wrote a perfect ending.
I’m going to try and help bring Chuck’s contribution to life. I own muscledb.com (the old M.U.S.C.L.E. Database url address) and was never quite sure how to relaunch it. I think this sounds like a great idea.
I will always be thankful to Chuck for the figure. But I’m even more thankful for him giving me a badly needed dose of hope for the M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby. It’s easy to point out times that the hobby went bad. I hope this is the time we point to when it started to get better.
There are just no words if that turns out to be true.