25 things I have obtained during 2014 to try to keep me sane...
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It's been a really rough couple of years for me, and this one has been particularly hard for me and my family. On paper we have a lot of things to be thankful for, but ill health and other pressures have been a real strain for us. To try to keep me from going over the edge, I've been picking up some fun things to raise my morale. Some are nostalgia items that I've wanted for years, and some are newer purchases (some are even board games).

So here's a personal journey through some of my acquired grail items (and new discoveries) that I've found this year.
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1. Video Game: Animal Crossing: New Leaf [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:491]
Video Game: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
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Nintendo 3DS XL with Animal Crossing

Price : £195

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I'm mostly a retro gamer, and the last console I bought new was a PlayStation (before they had numbers). After getting a second hand cheap GameCube a few years ago, the first game I felt was a "must own" was Animal Crossing. I spent hours on that game, despite its limitations. So when a new and improved portable version appeared on a console with a nice big screen, it seemed a "must buy". Within a few months the novelty soon wore off and my love for Animal Crossing wore thin.

Was it worth it?
No - an overpriced and clunky console with a deeply dull and unoriginal catalogue of games. I've since sold it to buy boring household stuff.
 
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2. Video Game: Run in Crowd [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
Video Game: Run in Crowd
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The IT Crowd: Special Edition DVD box set

Price : £36

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One of my favourite shows, and I've watched it over and over. There's so much comedy gold here and the cast are awesome. I wanted the Special Edition for ages because it includes the IT Crowd board game.

Was it worth it?
No - the "extras" are crap. A cardboard sleeve and a few bits of card masquerading as a "game". Amazing must-have DVDs, but not worth paying double the price for this version.
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3. Video Game: PowerSlave (Console) [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
Video Game: PowerSlave (Console)
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Powerslam Magazine

Price : £3 each

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I remembered reading Powerslam way back in around 1994 and was amazed that not only did they describe the industry in a realistic way, but also acknowledged the existence of wrestling outside of the WWF. I rediscovered it in a local newsagents for the February issue (233), and discovered the world of Puroreso, which led to some great youtube videos. Unfortunately, this stupid economy had buried a 20-year old magazine a mere 4 issues later, with the above issue 237 being the final issue.

Was it worth it?
Yes - It was fun while is lasted
 
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4. Video Game: WWE: Legends of WrestleMania [Average Rating:4.43 Overall Rank:7397]
Video Game: WWE: Legends of WrestleMania
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Building up my wrestling DVD collection

Price : £2-10 each

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Whether I'm watching my favourite PPVs from my youth such as Wrestlemania V or Survivor Series 88, or newer modern classics, it's always fun to watch a really well done match. But the DVDs that really shine are the documentaries, especially when they include a chronology of significant matches. Some of my absolute favourites have been:
The Unreal Story of Pro Wrestling, The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s, The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA, Legends of Mid-South Wrestling, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, Wrestling with Shadows, Beyond the Mat, The Monday Night War, The Rise and Fall of ECW, Forever Hardcore, ECW One Night Stand (2005), The Rise and Fall of ECW, Starrcade: The Essential Collection, Heroes of World Class, The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling, 20 Years Too Soon: The Billy Graham Story, Shawn Michaels: Heartbreak & Triumph, The Wrestler (film with Mickey Rourke), Batista: I Walk Alone, CM Punk: The Best in the World, Card Subject to Change & The Legends of Wrestling series


Was it worth it?
Yes - They are so cheap and fun to go back to. I tend to order the Region 1 copies 2nd hand from Amazon because they're usually under £5 (which includes postage from the US) whereas in the UK you'd be lucky to get them for under £10.
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5. Video Game: Fire Pro Wrestling Returns [Average Rating:8.60 Overall Rank:2189]
Video Game: Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
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Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for Playstation 2

Price : £48

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I've always been a wrestling fan, and would have said that WWF: No Mercy for the N64 was the best wrestling game ever. Then I discovered all the love this game was getting. I finally paid nearly £50 for this on eBay (it's much rarer in Europe than in the US) and struggled for a week to "get" the gameplay. Once it clicked with me, I thought the game was amazing. Combining it with an Action Replay MAX and the amazing fan-created wrestlers available online allows literally any wrestler combinations imaginable.

Was it worth it?
YES - this game has so much going for it and unbelievable customisation ability that it has become my favourite videogame ever. I'd easily pay double the price I did for a replacement if I needed one.
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6. Video Game: Scalextric [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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Scalextric Ultimate Guide 7th Edition

Price : £20 approx

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I never had much Scalextric as a kid, just a few beaten up hand me down bits for a while. But I spent hours drooling through catalogues dreaming of 4-lane super circuits. This book sounded like a great history trip through all things Scalextric, and it did cover a lot of ground. What I wanted was a complete catalogue of all the sets ever, and it doesn't seem to cover everything.

Was it worth it?
No - it's an interesting book, but twice as expensive as it should be in my opinion.
 
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7. Board Game: Marvel Heroes [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2286]
Board Game: Marvel Heroes
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Secret Wars (& Pink Panther) jigsaw

Price : £8 approx

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Two of my favourite childhood jigsaws which my parents "misplaced". I managed to find them both for sale at the same time from the same seller on eBay. My kids enjoyed making them once, but they've sat on a shelf since.

Was it worth it?
Maybe - they weren't expensive, but they're not great.
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8. Board Game: Isis [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
Board Game: Isis
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The Secrets of Isis: The Complete Series DVD box set

Price : £50 approx

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I'm too young to remember this the first time round, and I don't think it got much if any air time on UK TV. I discovered this through my love for all things Captain Marvel, plus the Filmation studios classics like He-Man. Despite the name being sullied lately by Jihadist monsters, this show is one of the purest, most uplifting series I've ever seen. The morals may seem quaint now, but I think that modern cynicism doesn't devalue the great messages in all these stories. Also, JoAnna Cameron is probably the most beautiful woman who has ever lived.

Was it worth it?
Yes - It's a shame that I had to pay such a high price, but there are loads of great extras, and the episodes are such a joy each and every time.
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9. Board Game: Shazamm! [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:4857]
Board Game: Shazamm!
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Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies

Price : £50 approx

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I love the whole idea of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. The early DC Archive books only contain the early 1940s stories where The Big Red Cheese was still finding his feet, and newer books contain a lot of modern stories that don't do the characters any favours.
This book contains almost every significant story and first appearances of major characters in the Marvel Family's main era (late 40s and early 50s). There's just a whole load of innocent fun in this collection from a bygone age. I wish it were all full colour, but the black & white drawings do help to showcase C C Beck's classic art.

Was it worth it?
Yes - I cannot imagine there ever being another compilation of Captain Marvel stories that can compare with this. His time has come and gone, and his innocence is unwelcome in the modern world.
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10. Video Game Hardware: Xbox 360
Video Game Hardware: Xbox 360
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XBox 360

Price : £92

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Ever since seeing my friend's XBox 360 playing Dead Rising back when it was brand new I was determined that it would be my next retro console. When it comes to gaming, I have a patience that must drive the industry mad. I've also managed to pick up a load of cheap games for only a couple of quid each. Unfortunately most of the games are 18 rated which means I never get to play them because of the kids. However, it's been great for playing little games like Peggle and Trials Evolution and watching Youtube on the big TV.

Was it worth it?
Yes - but not for the reasons I thought.
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11. Video Game Hardware: PSP
Video Game Hardware: PSP
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Sony PSP 1000

Price : £25

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I don't think I'll ever bother buying any games for this system. However, with the use of custom firmware, I have emulators for Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance & Capcom arcade machines on it! It also has about 20 of my favourite films, 100s of my favourite MP3s and 100s of photos of my family. Playing Shadowrun (SNES) on the move is a dream I've had for years!

Was it worth it?
YES - the versatility of this system once the custom firmware has been installed is amazing. It's my favourite gizmo - who needs stupid phones and tablets?
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Family: Game: Tannhäuser
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Buying up loads of Tannhauser stuff before it goes OOP

Price : £100+

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I love the theme, I love the game, but I may be going into OCD collector mode here.

Was it worth it?
Not sure - I've spent a fortune, but I do enjoy this game. It'll probably get expensive once it totally OOP, but will I get my money's worth out of it? I'm not sure
 
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13. Video Game: Darksiders [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:646]
Video Game: Darksiders
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Garth Marenghi's Darkplace DVD

Price : £1

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This series had been on my radar for a while, so I when I finally found it at a boot sale for only £1 I snapped it up. Over two days I watched the whole series twice, all the extras and the episodes with commentaries. I can't remember the last time I was this keen on a DVD. It's such a fun and wacky series, and nowhere near as dark as the name suggests.

Was it worth it?
Yes - possibly the best £1 I've ever spent.
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14. Board Game: Budapest '45 [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:9321]
Board Game: Budapest '45
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Completing my Wes Anderson DVD collection

Price : £20 approx

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I now own every feature film Wes Anderson has ever directed (but not the funky looking Criterion ones shown above). The man is a genius, and THE auteur director of the 21st Century. My current rankings are:

1.The Royal Tenenbaums
2.The Life Aquatic
3.The Grand Budapest Hotel
4.Moonrise Kingdom
5.Fantastic Mr. Fox
6.Rushmore
7.Darjeeling Limited
8.Bottle Rocket

Was it worth it?
Yes - Wes Anderson's films are a pure joy to watch, and a treasure to own.
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15. Board Game: Hogwarts: House Cup Challenge [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:9601]
Board Game: Hogwarts: House Cup Challenge
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Hogwarts: House Cup Challenge

Price : £20 approx

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It's been out of print for ages, and usually asks about £100 on eBay, so I was really excited when I got a copy posted from Canada for around £20. I kept the miniatures for the Duelling Club game to use here and they really add to the look (especially when I've repainted an extra Hermione figure to make Parvati Patil, enabling 5 player games). I've enjoyed a couple of games with my wife so far, and think it would make a great gateway game, especially for fans of the series.

Was it worth it?
Yes - a fun game that looks great and will probably play even better with more players.
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16. Board Game: Turtle Recall [Average Rating:5.17 Unranked]
Board Game: Turtle Recall
Steve
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Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire
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Gamera Legacy Collection DVD box set

Price : £6

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A complete collection (apart from the last reboot film) of every film starring the second most popular giant monster in Japan. The early films are great fun to watch with the kids, and the 90s trilogy is the most sophisticated and intelligent giant monster franchise ever made.

Was it worth it?
Yes - Some of them aren't great, but a lot of them are, and Guardian of the Universe is the best kaiju film I've ever seen. Not only that, but we're talking 11 films in Widescreen with original Japanese language and subtitles, for about 50p each!
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17. Board Game: Superman [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Superman
Steve
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ToyBiz Superman figure with Kryptonite Ring

Price : £5 (technically)

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My family didn't have much money when I was growing up, and when I did get toys, they generally had to be educational and/or functional. So getting a Superman action figure wasn't likely. I saw this in a local toy shop (along with the other DC figures, many of whom were mostly unheard of in the UK) and thought it looked amazing. Plus the idea of wearing a "kryptonite" ring to knock Superman down gave me a bizarre desire for power.
I'd been looking for one for years on eBay, but they were either loose with the ring missing, or sealed and very expensive. Fortunately I found a set of 5 of these loose (Superman, along with Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern & Aquaman) all with their original weapons etc. for £25, which works out at £5 each. Initially I liked them all, but I think I'll just keep Superman and sell off the rest.

Was it worth it?
Yes - £5 is hardly a lot of money, and I can just about fit the ring on my little finger. Gosh, anyone would think these things are made for kids.
 
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18. Board Game: The Mr. Men [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Mr. Men
Steve
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Pembrokeshire
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The Mr. Men Cookbook

Price : £20

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I loved this book as a kid, and remember spending ages looking through it, despite never seeming to make any of the recipes included. When I scoured my old childhood book collection in my parents' basement, I was gutted to find it had mysteriously disappeared. I was even more gutted to find copies selling in excess of £50 in the second hand marketplace. When I finally found a copy for just under £20 I was chuffed. The recipes are simple and great, and my daughter loves making them with me.

Was it worth it?
Yes - the price is steep because it's the OOP and as old as me, but it's a great book to own.
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19. Board Game: Spawn: The Game [Average Rating:4.22 Overall Rank:18023]
Board Game: Spawn: The Game
Steve
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Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire
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Spawn: Angela deluxe action figure (unopened)

Price : £7

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There were 2 reasons why I decided to buy this action figure, and neither of them was nostalgic. I have the first 19 issues of Spawn in my comic collection, which includes the first appearance of Angela, but I didn't get them until around 2003. The first reason I wanted this figure was because my wife is called Angela, and it amused me (and her) to own "her" action figure. In light of the first reason, the second reason is even funnier...
http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008/08/the_12_sexiest_action_fi...

Was it worth it?
Yes - It was only £7 and it was still sealed (and it is "Party" Angela)
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20. Board Game: Carry On Camping Trivia Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Carry On Camping Trivia Game
Steve
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Pembrokeshire
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Carry On: The Ultimate Collection DVD box set

Price : £25

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They don't make 'em like this any more.

Was it worth it?
Yes - there are some weak films here, but most of them are at least fun, and many are fantastic. Amazing value for the price.
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21. Video Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:26] [Average Rating:8.40 Unranked]
Video Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Steve
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XCOM: Enemy Unknown for XBox 360

Price : £6

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After a friend of mine convinced me to get on Steam, I found this game available for free. I got totally hooked and played it all weekend (until I discovered it was only free for the weekend). Instead of playing it again on my laptop I decided to get the XBox 360 version to play on the big screen. The highlight for my family is letting them choose the name and look of my team. My most decorated team members at present are a black guy from Argentina with blonde hair and a mustache called Fred Cool, and an Indian guy with bright red hair and a beard called Sausage Cupcake.

Was it worth it?
YES - I love the theme and the gameplay and it feels like the game has a lot of mileage, and even when I finish it I can imagine wanting to do it all again with a new team.
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22. Video Game: Pokémon Gold and Silver [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:135] [Average Rating:8.05 Unranked]
Video Game: Pokémon Gold and Silver
Steve
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Pokemon SoulSilver Version

Price : £1 (+ £25 for a Nintendo DS Lite)

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Playing Pokemon FireRed all those years ago was an amazing experience, and I finally learned why Pokemon is such a huge phenomenon - the game(s) is simply awesome. So when I found a copy of SoulSilver (being a flashier remake of the 2nd game) in a charity shop for only £1, I jumped on it. After a job lot on eBay provided me with my own DS Lite (replacing my previously discard 3DS XL), I also managed to give some more games and accessories to my daughters. I now have a cheaper, more portable DS that can also play my GBA games.

Was it worth it?
Yes - FireRed was an amazing reimplementation of the original game, so getting the same treatment for the sequel is great!
 
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23. Video Game: Minecraft [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:112] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
From gallery of Ph0n1k
Steve
United Kingdom
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Pembrokeshire
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Minecraft XBox 360 version & Beginner's Guide

Price : £17

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I've had a quick few plays of this game before but it's never clicked with me. But my wife has said that is a videogame that she will try. That's so unprecedented that I thought I'd have to get a copy. I'm hoping that the design aspect of the game will allow us to be creative during the winter evenings when the kids are all in bed.

Was it worth it?
YES - Hours and hours of fun was limitless potential for ideas and build designs. Still really early days for me, but I'm loving it!
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24. Board Game: LEGO Builder Xtreme [Average Rating:5.38 Unranked]
Board Game: LEGO Builder Xtreme
Steve
United Kingdom
Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire
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Lego Winter Village: Market & Santa's Workshop

Price : £140

External image

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Over the last few years we've picked up the Lego Winter Village series Toy Shop and Bakery, plus a few other bits. They look absolutely great on the side through the Christmas season (and often don't get taken down until Spring). I went looking for this year's model, Santa's Workhop and found that ordering it directly from Lego was only £60 (at least £15 cheaper than anywhere else), and with free postage I had to throw in last year's Market set that I liked the look of. It should be a cracking little layout this year.

Was it worth it?
No - they're fun at first, at the novelty soon wears off and they collect dust. The prices are insane too.
 
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25. Board Game: Wrestling Superstars Game [Average Rating:5.17 Unranked]
Board Game: Wrestling Superstars Game
Steve
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Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire
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Hasbro WWF Series 1: Randy Savage

Price: £8


I considered re-obtaining my old WWF figures, but decided not to go mad, but just get one. So who else, but the most notorious omission from the WWE Hall of Fame, "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

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Was it worth it?
Yes - A little pricey, but "Oh Yeah!"
 
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