I hate to say it, but I think Darryl Sheets is starting to grow on me. Sure, maybe it’s more like a rash that crops up after a few weeks of roughing it in the rain forest, but nonetheless, I think “The Gambler” has quickly become my favorite “Storage Wars” personality.
In a recent episode, Sheets lived up to his name and gambled on a few storage lockers, totaling $3,000. In one of them, he discovered a box of vintage PEZ containers and allegedly turned a huge profit; Around $20,000 huge, on the three lockers overall, anyway.
A RAP SHEET ON DARREL SHEETS
- Secretly Savvy: He can be idiotic, but he’s a genuine idiot who secretly knows a lot about merchandise. So, an idiot savant.
- Amusing/Traditional: Lately, his feisty relationship with his smooth-talking son, Brandon, has been carrying the amusement factor of the show for me. Not only that, it is nice to see the traditional, inherited trade element depicted in the show, because that’s how it was in the “picking” community years before the shows made the concept viral.
- Genuine: He doesn’t play it up to the camera. He gets irritated and shows his frustrations, because attending storage auctions is his life.
- Surprising Wit: All though Barry is an amusing pun-master, Sheets directs his own surprising wit towards hilarious put downs of his competitors (like calling Barry a "checkered pumpkin" after he shows up in an absurdly mismatched outfit). He may have the sense of humor of your weirdest uncle, but that's what makes him genuine.
Having said all of that, it’s about time that “The Gambler” (whom for a while we may have re-nicknamed “The Complainer”) had his day in the sun. The PEZ dispenser collections were only a chunk of his big pay day, but it sure got me thinking about how such a cheap, retractable piece of plastic could be worth so much money.
Let’s learn a few things about PEZ and get you excited about starting a collection of your own. After all, they are the quintessence of the storage auction slogan, “buy low, sell high.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PEZ
PEZ. An Austrian candy and dispenser whose genesis dates back to the 1930’s. Short for “peppermint” in the German language, they were marketed as one of the earliest smoking cessation tools. They didn’t make their way to the United States until the 1970’s, when a PEZ factory was built in Orange, Connecticut. This era marks the beginning of the American PEZ character series, some of which Sheets must have found in his storage locker a week ago. Early dispenser characters included Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, and other recognizable American figures.
WHY THEY’RE WORTH MONEY
The collectability of PEZ has never been about the candy as it has about the dispenser. Since the 1920’s, roughly 1,500+ unique characters have created, often to commemorate famous real life individuals, fictional movie personas, and appealing cartoons. It is there sheer trendiness, combined with their ease of accessibility and cheapness, which has made them peculiarly collectible. Furthermore, since PEZ gained a foothold in the hearts of Americans (forgive the mixed metaphor), they have purposefully begun only releasing limited edition copies and gift sets of their dispensers on purpose to force the issue of their rarity.
Ironically as always, all American PEZ figures are crafted in China and Austria.
Here’s a great article that pontificates on various eras, types, and characters of PEZ heads and their worth on the market today. Also outlined is how to spot an authentic “no feet” dispenser from a popular remake. Extremely valuable dispensers include Jimminy Cricket ($400) and various, vintage monster heads like Vampire, Zombie, and Scarewolf (about $200 apiece).
A PER-PEZ-TUAL PROCESS
I know what you’re thinking: “I missed the boat. I tossed out all of my Batman PEZ’s from the 1990’s and now I’ll have to go digging on eBay to start collecting, or get crazy lucky, like Darrel Sheets.” Don’t you fret. PEZ is still alive, well, and releasing new, collectable dispensers every year. From Dale Earnhart to Bilbo Baggins, highly iconic dispensers are being marketed for every instant-classic film release, so it’s time to start keeping your eyes peeled.
Perhaps "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" will yield a new set of rare, bobbleheadish candy machines.
So, if you have any idea where any of your old PEZ dispensers are from your childhood, go pilfer through your stuff and get those big heads to a cool, dry place, preferably sealed. Or, if you managed to hold onto any PEZ containers from the 1990’s, by all means, do the same thing.
Maybe we should float the idea of “Storage Wars” PEZ dispensers to A&E so we can we can reenact our favorite episodes of Storage Wars with ridiculous little plastic toys.