-JANUARY 8, 2006-
On this day I was considering getting back into the SNES scene after having been gone since the mid-late ’90s. I was making my daily gaming board rounds when I saw an intriguing topic over at the DigitPress forum.
“Super Play Magazine! Who read it? Who misses it?”
I love awesome retro gaming magazines. 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 is a chronicle of my nine month odyssey. It’s a journey that’s simply unbelievable. I always had confidence I would one day own Super Play, but I had no idea it’d be anything like what it turned out to be…
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. He was always my go-to bloke. My brother from another mother. I could always count on King 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 hooking me up with random PAL-only Saturn games over the years
He didn’t post often at this one Sega board, but I sent him a Private Message. It began an extremely LONG PM discussion between us…
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 complete set of SUPER PLAY that I would be willing to trade that person my TAROMARU copy. Psychic Assassin Taromaru is one of the rarest and most expensive Sega Saturn imports. Enjoyed it as I did, I was willing to part with it for a (near) full set of Super Play Magazine. 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.
Once again, James had come through for me. Right?
WHEELS 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 magazines, 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 I received the following message.
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:
1 – 7 inclusive
9 – 28 inclusive
30 – 38 inclusive
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, 25-28, 31, 33-35. You know, large gaps. It’s always nice to get nearly all of a set in one fell swoop.
“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, “LET’S DO THIS.” Note: if it were years later and say 2013 I would probably have said “TAKE MY MONEY” or rather, “TAKE MY TAROMARU” but you get the point.
I was good to go, 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 massive Super Play lot.
The long ongoing 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…
-JULY 31, 2006-
For over two months, James mysteriously vanished. He didn’t answer my PMs 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 in the past with me and said he would ship first in this transaction as well. That’s the kind of guy he was — he always wanted me to get the item first to 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. I mean, it was completely unlike him to go off the radar like that for so long and without a heads up.
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 he left me no other choice.
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 and know that he was OK. 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 Super Play 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. HOLY CRAP! What were the odds, and what is happening here?! It sounds corny but it really, truly did feel like fate.
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. Even back in 2006, I had developed a special eBay bidding tactic that I was using since 2002. Tired of multiple bids only to be sniped at the end, I knew what I was going to do. One bid, maximum bid, punched in with about 3 seconds to go. Only way to do it on eBay, playa!
Alas, there was one tiny problem…
The auction was ending at 9:57 AM.
What was the problem? At the 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 it fixed. And smart phones didn’t exist back in August 2006. Nor did I have a laptop at that time.
The library doesn’t open until 10 AM. On the surface, a bad stroke of luck, for sure.
But… when all else fails, AuctionStealer prevails! Note: AuctionStealer is a free site that automatically inputs your max bid without you having to manually do it. The catch, however, is that it inputs that bid with about 11 seconds to go… giving the competition plenty of time to outdo your bid. Therefore, it’s a nice bonus but only a last resort kind of tool.
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” while another part felt “Don’t get your hopes up, some crazier fanatic came by in the last four seconds…”
When I got to the library that day 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. The whole ordeal was nothing short of incredible. Something I can genuinely call “once in a lifetime.”
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 for 55.
In other words, if it weren’t for the 2nd highest 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 scenarios 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 Magazine issues in late 2003, this was a real bargain. It came out to be only 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 mentality. Instead, it was left only to those who were actively typing in “Super Play Magazine” on eBay. Back in 2006, Super Play wasn’t nearly as popular as it would become years later within diehard SNES circles. So, thank you issue number nine
Last but not least… after I shared this story on a message board, one guy actually told me the following…
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 shebang that I can’t believe it. It only drives the point home that there are certain “scores” in one’s collecting life that truly stand out, and stand the test of time. For me, the Super Play snag is definitely 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, air, 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! I made $147 off it (the manual was missing the cover thus why it went for so “cheap”). $90 of that went to fund the incredibly rare and expensive Super Famicom import, Rendering Render: 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 Sega Saturn Magazine equivalent for the SNES. And I could hardly wait to read the rest.
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. While her feedback was 100%… the number was only 19. Not exactly the most comforting number in the world. Gotta think positive, though, I kept telling myself.
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. Maybe this whole thing was simply too good to be true.
-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 Super Play 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 NOTHING
-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 because 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 that I didn’t care HOW!
DISPUTE ESCALATED TO A CLAIM
-OCTOBER 20, 2006-
Still no Super Play. 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 the final two issues of Super Play. Number 46 and 47 — keeping hope alive that Rachel would come through and that I would have a complete set numbers 1-47 including the spinoff Super Play Gold 1993 SNES Guide issue.
What took place four days later… was one for the ages…
-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. I opened the door faster than a 5-year-old ripping into a present on Christmas morning.
“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’m sorry, it did. The box was split open. They had to tape it back up, as you can see.”
“Everything is intact, though, right?”
“Oh sure. We can’t take anything…” Her voice trailed off.
And here I’m thinking, “Oh right, sure lady! I’ve heard 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 too scared to find out…
Amazingly, everything was intact and in better condition than I thought. The magazines were MINT! No missing pages, no cut-outs; that’s probably the hardest thing to find with old magazines since so many people take such bad care of them. I was lucky, much like with Sega Saturn Magazine, 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, as she stated earlier, and not the 2nd.
The nine-plus months of agony had a very happy ending.
Super Play is an awesome magazine. I love retro magazines — I dig the whole archive thing. 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. At that time (October 2006) I recently started an “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” thread that was quickly picking up steam and growing in popularity. I thought I was doing something not many before me did — shining the spotlight on all these lesser known Super Famicom imports. So it blew my mind to see Super Play had done it 13 years before (1993).
LIFE IS ALL ABOUT TIMING…
After sharing my story on a gaming forum, one guy posted he was watching the same auction. He was going to bid an astronomical amount but he simply forgot what time it ended! Had he remembered, this “Holy Grail” might not even be in my collection today, or at the very least, I would have paid a LOT more. It made me appreciate my Super Play win even more. So much of life is being in the right place at the right time!
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 quite 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 personal Holy Grail in many ways. I can’t 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 of my collection. I love my game collection, sure, but man, there’s nothing quite like SUPER PLAY. One of my favorite things to do is to pick a game off my shelf, play it for the very first time, form my own impressions and THEN check out what the ole Super Play boys thought of said game. I love comparing my thoughts to that of theirs — it’s all part of the fun.
As for James, we haven’t spoke since late October 2006. In 2007, 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 anyway. The last word he had with me, he congratulated me on finally receiving the magazines. Wherever he is out there, 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 magazines belonged to her husband of many years. He obviously took very excellent care of them which I greatly appreciate.
It blows my mind that I’m coming up on the 10 year anniversary since these issues arrived — October 24, 2016. I look back with a real deep fondness. I remember reading all 48 Super Play issues cover to cover from Halloween through Christmas that year of 2006. It was a truly glorious time and I’m very nostalgic looking back at that time. It also coincided with my ongoing Obscure Super Famicom Impressions topic that I posted at several gaming boards, which led to the birth or RVGFanatic.com in January of 2007. It’s nuts to think it’s almost been 10 bloody years. Super Play Magazine has obviously grown in popularity and stature since 2006. It’s no longer obscure like it once was, and as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder to find these vintage issues for a relatively good price and in solid condition. It makes me all the more grateful for such an epic eBay win nearly 10 years ago.
10 years later and I still occasionally read Super Play from time to time. I especially like to read them in the late Fall and early Winter seasons, as it takes me right back to late 2006 each and every single time. Shoot, all this talk of Super Play makes me want to delve right back in. Excuse me — I’ve got some reading to do now…