Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Whoever Has The Most Toys Wins - A Guest Post from C.J. West

My Lorado Martin Mystery Series is loosely based on the life of my brother, who lives in two very different worlds. The first world is junk. Yard sales. Estate sales. Stuff people leave on the side of the road. You name it. If it has value, my brother can spot it at thirty miles per hour. And he brings it all home.

Each book in the series will include several valuable things he’s found while I’m writing. I incorporate his treasures into the story and tell you a little about what they are, why they are valuable, and how you can find similar valuables yourself. If you’re an eBay junkie, or can’t help stopping at yard sales, you’ll enjoy the antiques and collectibles mentioned in the books.

Today’s topic is something for the kids.

While I was writing Dinner At Deadman’s, my brother was offered a collection of toys that would make any ten year old boy lose sleep for a month. Someone had been saving Matchbox army vehicles and plastic figures for years and decided it was time to get rid of them.

When he told me how many pieces he bought I was amazed. There were 8 large bins brimming full of cars and army men. The pieces and Lorado’s real life reaction to the collection is included within the novel.

In July I visited some good friends who also happen to read my books. One of the boys was having a birthday, so I decided to combine the parents’ love of books with the boy’s birthday present and give him something straight out of Dinner At Deadman’s. Here is the collection I assembled.

The 2,000 men and dozens of vehicles didn’t make a dent in my brother’s collection. But it took over an hour for us (yes I had some help!) to set the pieces up for these photos.

Playing with these guys brought back memories for me. When I first saw the collection I was in awe of the sheer numbers of pieces. The shiny helicopters, all in mint condition, grabbed my attention first. When you are a kid, you get a helicopter, maybe two. This collection held fifty identical helicopters in one bin! What kid wouldn’t want them for his airbase?

My brother spent days with these toys, but he wasn’t excited about the pieces he had fifty or a hundred of. He spent his time researching rare models. The thing I’ve learned about buying large lots is that there are a few pieces mixed in that are valuable. In this case, one vehicle paid for the entire lot of 50,000 pieces. The trick was finding that one piece and a few more like it.

When you read Dinner At Deadman’s, you’ll learn about finding the treasure mixed in the chaos. I hope you’ll join me and dig in.

So, did you play with toys like these? Or were you a Barbie girl?

C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin andVengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor). C.J. blogs at You can also find him at or at

1 comment:

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I used to decorate my Barbie townhouse every other week, coloring "wallpaper" and changing the furniture arrangement. It was more fun than playing pool party with Barbie and her friends. I did, however, really love the Corvette.

The scene in the pictures reminds me of my kids and the elaborate battles that broke out around our house.

I guess I am lucky that way--I got to experience the best of both worlds.

Best of luck with your novel.