On this day I was considering getting back into the SNES scene. I was making my daily gaming board rounds when I saw an intriguing topic at the DigitPress forum
The topic was titled "Super Play Magazine! Who read it? Who misses it?"
I love awesome retro mags. When I found out about SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE in 2001, I went on a long hunt before striking gold in late 2003. This Super Play topic, created by DP member theMot, couldn't have been posted at a better time! I was still on the fence about buying a Super Nintendo, but the topic made me think "OK, if I DO come back, I'll definitely look for that magazine"
And of course, I did come back. January 17, 2006 is the official comeback date for yours truly. And so I began actively pursuing a complete Super Play set from that day forth
The following journey I took is simply unbelievable. I always had confidence I would one day own Super Play, but I had no idea it'd be anything like this....
HAVE CONTACTS, WILL TRAVEL
In my history of online-gaming-related activities I learned one very important thing as a collector-gamer, the more you network the better off you are. If people know what you're looking for, you can find it easier. I'm not saying go post an ad so the whole world can see what you want, but you need to do some legwork if you want to attain something that is valuable and hard to come by. Having great contacts can help a lot
And I had that in a guy located in the UK named James
James and I had traded several times over the years from 2001-2004, during my Saturn days. Back in the day he helped me get five Sega Saturn Magazines, after I had won a set of 29 off eBay. In addition to random PAL-only Saturn games, etc. over the years
He didn't post often at this Sega board, but I sent him a Private Message. It began an extremely LONG PM discussion between he and I.....
DANGLING PSYCHIC ASSASSIN TAROMARU
-FEBRUARY 23, 2006-
I sent James the first PM on this day
I told him if he knew any collectors who had a (close-to) complete set of SUPER PLAY, I would be willing to trade that person my TAROMARU copy. I also asked him if the magazine was like the Sega Saturn Magazine equivalent for the Super Nintendo
You are correct - Super Play was indeed pretty much the equivalent of SSM but for SNES. Loads of good import coverage, lots of technical features, amazing artwork on every issue (provided by Wil Overton). Hard to find but a great mag. Will see what I can do on that front if you like. Would appreciate Issue 200 of EGM if you can get it for me
So while James scoured the UK for Super Play, I scoured the States for EGM #200
-MARCH 1, 2006-
Less than a week later, he had already found a potential match! I recall thinking to myself "JAMES IS DA MAN!"
I may have a lead for you for the Super Play mags. I'll need about a week but I know a guy that I think has a complete collection of Super Play mags and I know he is into his Saturn stuff so I may be able to work something out for you guys. I'm not entirely sure how many Super Play mags there were - I think it was around 37 or 38, maybe 40. I'm certain he has at least 1 to 35 and maybe some of the last issues too
THE WHEELS WERE SET IN MOTION
-MARCH 18, 2006-
It had been close to 3 weeks since James and I last communicated. I was busy buying US SNES games left and right, continually looking for issue #200 and I knew I was in good hands because of our track record. There was nothing to worry about...
On this day James PM'ed me he'll be meeting his collector friend over brunch to discuss Taromaru for the Super Play mags, and find out exactly what condition and issue numbers they were
His message made my day. The wheels were set in motion. Knowing James, I figured it was only a matter of time..........
-APRIL 24, 2006-
More than a month passed since I last heard from him. Finally he sent me this:
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Been unbelievably busy and had some problems with my PC.
I've met the collector guy. He has the following issues:
Let me know your thoughts. I will continue to ask around for the few missing issues. All issues are in good condition
I didn't mind the month-plus delay after reading the good news. YES! That's exactly what I was hoping to hear -- that the collector guy had a large majority of the issues, and not something like 1, 5-7, 11-14, 17, 19, 20-28, 31, 33-35
"Let me know your thoughts" ??? My thoughts were HELL YEAH!
NOT SO FAST...
-MAY 2, 2006-
About a week later, James emailed me pictures of the collector's set as I had requested. I was more than satisfied with how everything looked. I replied to James, essentially, "LET'S DO THIS"
I was in, right? Not so fast.........
25 DAYS OF SILENCE
-MAY 27, 2006-
This was unlike James. In the past he was always so quick on replies. But hey, he had great news when he finally broke the silence on this day:
Sorry for the delay but I can also get Issues 39, 40, 41, 43 and 44 of Super Play for you in addition to the ones listed before
Everything looks good to go. The trade was Taromaru+EGM #200 (which I found) in exchange for the Super Play lot
The long on-going PM discussion, which started over three months ago on February 23, was going to finally conclude...
But as with most things in life... things don't always go as you plan....
TWO MONTH ABSENCE
-JULY 31, 2006-
For over two months, James mysteriously vanished. He didn't answer my PM's or emails. I was worried. I DIDN'T SEND TAROMARU YET. Let me tell you the kind of guy James is. He always shipped first and said he would ship first in this transaction too. That's the kind of guy he was -- he always wanted me to get the item first and see if I was satisfied with it
So when he disappeared without a trace for two months, I was worried not just for our trade, but for his well-being in general
In late July, I made a topic at the Sega board asking if anyone there had talked to him since late May
I didn't want to "air the laundry" like that, but I had to do it
48 to 72 hours after I made the topic, James PM'ed me for the first time in over two months
I'm really sorry mate I've had some things going on over the last couple of months and the whole trade thing was sadly at the bottom of a huge pile of other things.
I have always had fantastic trades with you and am very happy to continue with this trade
I was just glad to hear from him. The fact that the trade was officially back on was only the cherry atop the cake! I PM'ed him back joking "WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!"
24 hours later he replied
Haha, nice reference! ;-)
Have packaged up the mags and will get them posted asap. Will confirm when they are on the way to you and provide a Tracking Number etc if I get given one (depends on the postal method I guess)
Apologies once again for the ridiculous delay - will be good to see this trade through
NOW I WAS OFFICIALLY IN, RIGHT?
... Keep reading....
ONLY A MATTER OF TIME...
-AUGUST 6, 2006-
Not one week later, I received an update:
Just to keep you updated. The magazines are all packed up (currently in two separate boxes) and ready for posting.
However after going to the Post Office to send them via the usual method is going to be way expensive and also means they won't be insured. So I'm going to look at Courier options which means they should be delivered in around 3-4 days after they are sent, and they will be insured and it should work out cheaper to send. The thing is that I am away with work until next weekend so it will likely be next weekend that I actually send them.
Just letting you know that I am working on this and you will get the mags (eventually)
Just got to work out the details with the Couriers
I was disappointed, since I figured they were already on the way. No matter, I've been waiting over six months now... what's one more gonna hurt??
I told myself I needed to keep my eyes peeled, keep my options open. So I started searching for the mags on eBay... hoping I'd find a complete set on offer which I could snipe. JUUUUUUST in case James somehow doesn't come through...
FIVE DAYS LATER -- GOLD
-AUGUST 11, 2006-
In an amazing stroke of luck, I punched in SUPER PLAY MAGAZINE on eBay and expected yet another empty search
However, on this day there it was!
Super Play Issues 1-45 (missing # 9) plus 3 official Super Play Binders. Also includes Super Play Gold 1993 SNES Guide
It was ALMOST the entire set, only missing issues number 9, 46 and 47 -- WOW!
I put it on my watch list. It would end in six days.... August 17, 2006
By the way, have you read my guide Art of eBay: How To Snipe ? If you did, you know what I was going to do. One bid, one only, max, placed in the last 3 seconds. That's how you do it, baby! Alas, there was one tiny problem...
The auction was ending at 9:57 AM
What was the problem? At this time, I had to resort to use the library for my online duties. You see, my brother temporarily took our computer to his work place to get fixed and whatnot
The library doesn't open til 10 AM
If you read my eBay guide, you'll know when all else fails, AuctionStealer prevails!
So I entered my max on AuctionStealer, and prayed for the best.......
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH ARRIVES
-AUGUST 17, 2006-
I was in no rush to get to the library and see if I had won or not. Oddly, I kind of put the whole thing to the back of my mind. One part of me felt "My max was so high, there's no doubt I won" and another part felt "Don't get your hopes up, some crazier fanatic came by with four seconds and sniped you"
When I got to the library it was roughly 5 PM. I went to my email. Here we go.....
GOD BLESS AUCTIONSTEALER
I won! No one placed a bid in the last minute. UNBELIEVABLE!
Best of all, I won it for real cheap too! My bid didn't reach the seller's reserve, but she decided to sell it to me for a bit more than my winning bid
Thursday, August 17, 2006 -- within seven months, I procured my HOLY GRAIL. Not bad, considering it took me over two YEARS to get my hands on Sega Saturn Magazine
Here are some auction stats...
I was the 13th bid of the auction
The guy I beat out, his maximum was GBP 48.79
My winning bid did not meet her reserve, but she sold it to me for GBP 55
GBP 55 equated, at the time, to roughly US $104.32
My max was GBP 88.88 .... or US $168.11
The 3rd highest bidder had a ridiculously low GBP 24.50 max
Why is the last one important? Had the GBP 48.79 guy NOT come along, I would have won at around GBP 25.50. If that were the case, would the seller have agreed to sell it for GBP 30? Doubt it. Maybe when she saw I won at 50 GBP, instead of relisting it she said "What the hell" and gave it to me for55
In other words, if it weren't for the 2nd high bidder, who knows what would have happen with the reserve thing and all? She might have relisted it and I'd have to play the whole game again! Then maybe the bidders I outbidded would re-adjust their bidding strategy, etc. Lots of crazy scenario's that I'm glad is a moot point!
MORE AUCTION TID-BITS
There were four different bidders in all, me included
13 total bids
Auction went into the last day with zero bids
The 3 guys bidded multiple times in the last 15 hours or so, each outbidding the other
Lucky for me, they didn't understand the power of smart sniping
12 bids between 3 guys before AuctionStealer input my bid -- the 13th bid of the auction
AuctionStealer helped me snipe it with 11 seconds to go, my 1st and only bid
It's ruthless, but that's eBay for ya
I paid Rachel $183.19 the very next day. Shipping surprisingly didn't come out to cost an arm and leg -- she only charged me 40 GBP. 183 dollars for 45 issues, including the hard-to-find 1993 GOLD issue? Not bad at all! Considering I paid $225 for 29 Sega Saturn Mags in late 2003, this was a real bargain! It came out about four dollars an issue!
FINAL AUCTION CRAZINESS
Probably the most important thing why the auction ended so cheaply... her auction title was:
SUPER PLAY MAGAZINES ISSUE 1-45 (MISSING ISSUE 9)
I owe lots of thanks to issue 9. Had she own that issue, maybe her title would have been:
SUPER PLAY MAGAZINES ISSUE 1-45 SNES
The "SNES" part would definitely would have led to more auction views and "Hmmm wow I didn't know such a thing existed! I'll bid and try to win it!" type of an attitude. Instead, it was left only to those who were actively typing in "Super Play Magazine" on eBay. So, thank you issue number nine ;-)
Last but not least... after I shared this story on a message board, one guy actually told me this:
WOW! Believe it or not, I actually had that auction on my watch list, and I was going to bid an INSANE amount of money on it. It could have gotten UGLY. However, I simply forgot what time it was ending, and I missed out! Though, after reading your incredible tale, I must say I'm glad you won 'em :)
Wow! I got so incredibly lucky with this whole she-bang that I can't believe it...
48 HOURS AFTER THE AUCTION WIN
-AUGUST 19, 2006-
Ironically, James informed me some "bad news" on this day. Reading his message, I was smiling, knowing my willingness to think outside the box made his bad news a moot point!
I've got some bad news buddy. I've been talking to various couriers (4 different ones up until now) and it is just too expensive to ship these mags to you.
The cheapest I can get quoted is £150 which is over $280 dollars and that doesn't even include insurance!
Even shipping the slowest method (6 to 8 weeks without insurance) is $250.
I just don't have that sort of money spare at the moment and it is just too much. I've tried every combination of normal shipping/by sea/by air/by specialist courier. I've even tried breaking it down to 5 magazine bundles but no joy.
I'm not sure what to do though as I feel bad about this (especially with your patience over this prolonged trade).
Let me know your thoughts. I'm really sorry about this
Imagine had I lost the auction! Imagine if I was complacent and never bothered to look for them on eBay! Let this be a lesson to all: BE PROACTIVE! Take matters into your own hands rather than sitting idly by
I excitedly replied to James telling him about my win. This also cancelled our trade... I now had Taromaru to auction! (And if you read Rendering Ranger: R2 you'll know I made $147 off it and $90 of that went to fund R2)
Yet I still wanted to do a trade with James. After all, I had EGM #200 and he had Super Play #9 (the auction was 1-45, but #9 missing). How nicely did that work out! Super Play 9 arrived in late August. It was my first experience of the magazine, and it blew me away. It was the SSM of SNES!
MEANWHILE... TROUBLE BACK ON THE FARM
I hadn't heard back from Rachel yet.... eventually she emailed me, "Sorry I didn't ship the mags til September 2nd"
I was a bit peeved. I paid 8/18, she didn't send til 9/2 and didn't tell me earlier!? It'll be here sooner or later, I thought. But I recalled while her feedback was 100%... the number was only 19.... gotta think positive, though....
ONE MONTH LATER -- NOTHING TO SHOW FOR
-SEPTEMBER 19, 2006-
Sent her an email. Never got a reply. Another unanswered email, and another, and another. I was starting to fear the worst
-SEPTEMBER 24, 2006-
I emailed telling her in advance I'd file a dispute with Paypal on 9/30... the last day for me to do so (45-day window from August 17). I told her it was nothing personal, but only wise for anyone in my shoes to do so
-SEPTEMBER 26, 2006-
She emailed back and understood my position. Said she'll check with her post office to confirm when the package was shipped. It had been only her 2nd email, and I felt better after this. All I ask for is keeping an open line of communication
-SEPTEMBER 30, 2006-
No mags yet, so I filed the dispute. By October 20 if they do not arrive, I'd be forced to escalate the dispute to a claim, due to the 20 day window period. Silence on Rachel's end
ALMOST TWO MONTHS AND NO MAGS STILL...
-OCTOBER 13, 2006-
I finally hear back from her on this day:
Hi, I have been to the post office and had them look at the records.
They say because of an admin issue the mags did not leave there post office until the 19th of sept.
I have gone mad at them and have asked what can be done.They say that nothing can be done becasue I did not have it tracked.
I have asked them what sort of time are we looking at and they have said 4 to 5 weeks from the sent date which is now the 19th of sept.
So we are looking at the 16th/17th of October which I am very sorry about, as I said I did have a right go at them for this but all they could do was say sorry.
Once again I am so sorry about the delay.
Please let me know on the 16th/17th if you have had the mags.
Thanks in advance
I was very upset. No tracking number, admin issue, etc. It all spelled doom to me
Being proactive again I PM'ed James to update him, asking if he'd be willing to send me his friend's issues, provided I pay the insane $300 something shipping. He said he'd look into it. At this point, I was so desperate to get my hands on a SUPER PLAY set I didn't care HOW!
DISPUTE ESCALATED TO A CLAIM
-OCTOBER 20, 2006-
Still no mags. On this day I was forced to escalate the dispute into a claim so PayPal could look into it and hopefully refund me $183
At this point I wasn't surprised, just frustrated. Though I wanted my money back if worst came to worst -- I rammed the fact home with Rachel that I rather have the magazines. "Should they arrive in November or later this month I'd gladly refund you whatever PayPal decides to give me back" I've always told her
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE -- WINNING ISSUES 46 AND 47
Also on this day I won off eBay Super Play issues number 46 and 47 -- keeping hope alive that Rachel would come through and that I would have a complete set 1-47 including the spinoff Super Play Gold 1993 SNES Guide issue
What took place four days later... was one for the ages...
AT LONG LAST....
-TUESDAY OCTOBER 24 2006-
I was filling out an application to graduate studies when I heard the mail truck rumbling. I peered out the window. The mail lady got out and went to the back of the truck. I wasn't expecting ANY OTHER PACKAGE, so I knew THIS HAD TO BE IT!
She rung the door bell
"Can you help me carry this big box? It's too heavy and I have a bad back," she said
It was then and there I knew that the moment... which I waited about nine months for, with so many twists, turns and heartbreaks... had finally come
Of course, there still had to be a little drama
It'd only be fitting, you see
"RECEIVED IN DAMAGED CONDITION"
..... was stamped on the box. My heart stopped...
"Wait, it came in damaged condition?" I asked "I'm sorry, it did. The box was split open. They had to tape it back up, as you can see" "Everything is intact right?" "Oh sure. We can't take anything..."Her voice trailed off
And here I'm thinking "Oh right sure lady! I've heard of the horror stories you don't gotta play me for a fool!"
But I kept my cool, signed the pink slip and brought the box inside for inspection How bad was it? I was almost scared to find out...
Amazingly, everything was intact and in better condition than I thought. The mags were MINT! No missing pages, no cut-out's; probably the hardest thing to find with retro mags, since so many people take bad care of 'em. I was lucky, much like with SSM, that the previous owner kept them in immaculate condition
I went to Paypal and happily cancelled the claim. Rachel was honest after all. The box stated it was shipped September 19, and not the 2nd
The nine-plus months of agony had a very happy ending
Super Play is an awesome mag. I love retro mags -- the whole archive thing I dig plenty. It's truly a diehard SNES fan's companion. Not only is it well written but it focused a ton on the Japanese side of things. They highlighted plenty of Japanese-only games and reviewed even the obscure ones like Syonen Ashibe!
ON THE HOUSE????
The funny thing is, people ask me when the box arrived what did the postage state. The reason they asked was they didn't understand how Rachel charged 40 GBP when James claimed it would be far too expensive to ship, at around US $280... so a few folks mentioned "It doesn't add up"
She charged me only 40 GBP for shipping, so 55 (winning bid) plus 40 (S&H on her terms) was 95 GBP total, or about $183.19 US at the time. Well.... I checked the box after people asked me what the shipping really was... it was....
So I guess she only made 9 GBP profit? Wow. She never asked me to repay her or even brought it up. I guess after all the drama I went through, it was on the house
I'm a proud owner of the complete SUPER PLAY legacy. I consider this a Holy Grail, yes. I cannot believe what this blasted publication made me endure, but honestly, in the end it was all worth it. It's an incredible magazine I'm lucky enough to have acquired for so cheap and in such mint condition. Being a diehard SNES fan, this is easily the crowned jewel. I love my game collection, sure, but man, there's nothing quite like SUPER PLAY
As for James, we haven't spoke since late October '06. Recently, the Sega board we used to post at went under some changes and I don't think he even re-registered. He was slipping away toward the end of the old board anyways. The last word he had with me, he congratulated me on finally receiving the mags. Wherever he is, I hope he's doing well
As for Rachel, after I cancelled the claim I left her positive feedback. Likewise. She apologized and told me the mags belonged to her husband of many years
Finally, to those out there who are hunting a complete set of Super Play I only have one thing to say....