originally published August 21, 2012
I have waited a long time for this day.
No online catalog of kitsch, from the Franklin Mint to the R2D2 replicas on Skymall, comes close to the sheer volume of quirky miscellany as the Bradford Exchange. Indeed, this may be the first topic I re-visit, as they continue to update their supply of unfathomable oddities.
Founded in 1973 as a way for collectors to swap trinkets and doodads with one another, the Bradford people had a look at the crap that people felt was worthy of storing and displaying in expectation of an eventual increase in value, and decided they could supply the stuff directly.
I’m no antiques expert, as this article will no doubt prove. But I’m pretty sure that no guitar-shaped collector plate featuring three bald eagles soaring through a canyon is going to recoup its $59.99 price tag, let alone double in value over the next century. Unless that plate was verifiably delivered to you by a bald eagle. Even then, the eagle would have to have belonged to someone famous, like Ted Nugent or something. He seems like the kind of guy who would own an eagle.
And no, I’m not making that item up. It’s a real thing:
I’m not judging anyone for wanting to own this stuff. Maybe it fits with your décor, maybe it inspires you, maybe you need it to inspire you to get some new – preferably less tacky – décor.
Let’s have a look at some of the other gems available to you at the Bradford Exchange.
This collection of John Deere belt buckles (a $79 value for only $59? Count me in!) will proclaim to the world that you love tractors. It also says that you prefer to keep you belt buckles up on a wall where you can gaze upon them with you own eyes, as opposed to tucking them above your crotch where the only ones who’ll see it are the ladies (and you know they’re looking).
Actually, what makes this collection such an astounding value is that each of these buckles are fully functional, so you can pop one down out of the display and slide it onto your belt. This is a great seduction technique. When you invite that special lady back to your place and she inevitably inquires about the buckle missing from your display, you can slyly indicate that the buckle in question is presently employed. Now she’s looking at your junk. Hope you brought protection, because women can’t resist heavy machinery on a belt buckle. Bonus points if it’s some kind of plow.
The holidays are fast approaching, and you’ve probably got someone on your list who would love this. This 10-inch figurine by beloved artist Thomas Kinkade depicts that special night when Golden Santa delivered Baby Jesus along with a sack full of trinkets and a giant feather to… to the poor or something, I don’t know. If this hodge-podge of mixed Christmas messages isn’t enough to warm your heart, a flick of the switch lights up the figurine and plays a pre-recorded message by Mr. Kinkade himself.
Specifically the parts that light up are Jesus (because we all know Jesus possesses the same power as Michael Jackson in the “Billie Jean” video), the lantern, the nativity scene, and the Star of the East engraved right over Santa’s ‘money-shot’, if you will. As for the pre-recorded message, I don’t know the specifics, but it’s probably something about how the three wise men taught Scrooge that the meaning of Christmas is wrapped in a goose, and that whenever a bell rings an angel gets a tree, and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, so yippe-kay-yay, motherfucker. A steal at $149.
For only $30 a glass, you can party like it’s 2010. That’s the year Elvis would have turned 75, and that’s when the nifty folks at the Bradford Exchange let loose with these two memorial wine glasses, made from actual glass.
You’ll marvel at the fine attention to detail: the stunning replication of Elvis’ signature, the hand-painted stems and bases, the genuine simulated platinum border around both of these photographic recreations. Each glass holds a whopping ten ounces, so when you’re ready to bring them out for a romantic evening of “loving her tender” or getting your “jailhouse rocks” off, it should only take about three glasses of your favorite box-wine to forget how much paid for these things.
This is the gift that just keeps on giving. Gather up those family photographs you have stupidly scattered upon your china cabinet and make room for the Poker Dragons “Hold ‘Em Or Fold ‘Em” collection.
You’ll start out with Holdin’ Harry. After that you’ll receive the genuine felt-topped poker table. After that, Harry’s friends will drop by, one by one. The webpage claims this will be “the ultimate poker night conversation piece.” I’d go a step further. I’d suggest playing online poker and making a photo of this your personal avatar. If anyone comes over and doesn’t comment on it, I’d ask them to leave and never come back.
The dragons are smoking cigars, which solves the riddle of how dragons became extinct. I think. Honestly, this entire piece has me confused.
Officially licensed by Lucasfilm (and you know they won’t authorize any release that might be seen as defecating upon the greatest movie trilogy of all time), you can own an entire Star Wars Galactic Village collection. Your village includes a Mos Eisley issue, a Hoth scene and the shield bunker from Endor. I’m not certain how many additional buildings are available, or how much each figurine will cost (each scene only comes with one freebie), but for a true fan, money should not be an issue.
I plan on purchasing all three, hopefully with additional units to follow (Anakin & Padme rolling around on Naboo, complete with life-like audience gagging noises; the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, featuring realistic dead younglings; maybe Jar-Jar Binks in the rowboat scene from the end of Godfather Part II).
Oh, and each piece lights up, because why would it not? I suggest clearing off the dining room table for this miniature village, maybe plunking Golden Santa + Glowing Jesus right in the middle. Either that or you can save yourself a lot of money and just buy a bunch of Hasbro toys and action figures.
Thank you, Wikipedia, for steering my wayward ship to the Bradford Exchange today. And thank you, Bradford Exchange, for never failing to meet my standards of exquisite cheese.