POLKcast: Episode 2
MF: Madison Fantozzi
LB: Leah Bartholomay
MT: Melvin Thompson
MT: [Singing] I don’t want to grow up.
LB: [Singing] I’m a Toys “R” Us kid!
MT: [Makes weird noise]
LB: And Melvin arrived.
MF: Welcome back to POLKcast. Polk State’s podcast. I’m your host Maddison Fantozzi.
LB: And I’m your Co-host Leah Bartholomay!
[Chair rolls away]
[Distant laughing throughout]
[MF & LB Laughs]
LB: [Laughs] Why couldn’t you have record your laughing! Melvin has his hand—his face in his hand and he’s laughing at me!
[Melvin laughing out of breath]
MF: Okay, so as you can tell we have Melvin Thompson here with us today! And he maybe one of our guests, that Polk State students know the best! He is the Director of the Student Activities and leadership Office, better known as SALO. And he is dedicated to providing students with the full college experience coordinating various clubs and organizations, leadership opportunities and more for our students. Some may know that Melvin is a traveling karaoke DJ and enjoyed some reality TV fame when he was set up on a blind date on the Steve Harvey show. But others may not know that he’s a avid ‘80s toy collector and Melvin joins us today to talk about his collection and if you stick around he may even give us the inside scoop on what really happen on the episode of the Steve Harvey show. So, welcome! Thanks for joining us today Melvin!
MT: Hello! How are you?
MT: I feel like I’m in the movie Hustler with all these egg crates everywhere!
[MF & LB Laugh]
LB: We’re-we’re really good with sound!
MF: So, tell us a little bit about this collection of yours?
MT: Well, it’s not really a collection, like I’m just a hoarder.
LB: [Laughs] It’s fine laughing.
MT: [Laughs] I’ve been collecting since—I was child. Like when I got my first He-man toy for Christmas. And ever since then, I’ve been stuck—like, I have like piles and closets full of just toys—in a non-creepy way. [Laughs]
MF: [Laughs] How big would you say your collection is?
MT: Oooh—It’s at least—I have three boxes in my parent’s garage and I have—like two—C-3PO—from the ‘80s. They have these little—big toy chest. Where you can just put all your toys. So, I have like two of those full of action-figures, cause I collect actions-figures.
MT: So, like He-man, G.I. Joe, Transformers—Voltron—Thundercat—like, I’m that guy. I’m like a reject 40-year-old virgin. [Laughs]
MF: [Laughs] So, these are strictly from ‘80s or—
MT: Strictly from the ‘80s—mid-late ‘80s, early ‘90s, but mostly ‘80s. I grew up watching ‘80s cartoons.
MT: So, it’s kind of like my nostalgia time machine. So, like—I just go back to like, when I use to sit on the floor, big bowl of cereal. Cinnamon Toast Crunch shout out!
MF: [Laughs] Shout out
MT: And just watch cartoons for hours in the morning or run home from school, grab my toys and make a little circle around me. I’m talking about when I was a child, not now. [Laughs]
MF: Are you sure about that?
MT: [Whispers] Well, you know.
MT: And just play with my toys and watch cartoons.
MF: So, what do you do with them now? Are they—are they still in their boxes in pristine condition? Or are these all the toys that you used when you were a kid.
MT: Most of them—are not in pristine—condition at all, like I can’t sell them a couple of years from now and retire out at Bora Bora.
LB: Cause they got Cinnamon Toast Crunch or—
MT: Toast Crunch and dried milk.
LB: Dried milk and crusty fingers on kid toys.
MT: Yes, and dried dirt from ‘88.
LB: Yep! [Laughs]
MT: I got a couple that are still in the box, but mostly, they’ve all been played with or—some of them I even have in my office in the Lakeland campus. But I have maybe—seven or eight—that are considered pristine, but most of them I get from like flea markets, thrift stores, novelty stores. Rest in peace Toys “R” Us. They used to have an aisle—well a section, in the action figure section. Where they had old toys and they were remakes, reproduction, they weren’t the originals.
LB: Oh cool!
MF: And so, I use to go there, and I use to get, like really good remakes of these toys. And it’s a funny story, cause I was in Atlanta last week in little five points, cause they have all those little crazy stores. And they had this Michael knight from Knight Rider, the car and the action figures and it wasn’t in pristine—it wasn’t in a box, he was selling it for $120. I got that same toy, and I don’t know if that was a reproduction for $39 from Toys “R” Us. And for everyone, make sure you pour our a little for my boy Geoffrey from Toys “R” Us, he’s no longer with us.
LB: Lets have a moment of silence.
MT: [Whispers] Okay. [Laughs]
MF: So, where do you go find toys now?
MT: Umm Garage sales.
MT: Flea markets are real big. Flea market—
MT: Believe it or not, if you go to some of the run-down malls. They have these like old vintage toy stores, toy shops and they have some pretty good ones. They’re not for the collectable. So, if you are trying to collect them, sell them and make money. These are not the places. But if you just—want an old He-man toy that’s missing a leg. Like—
LB: Chewed up by the dog.
MT: Yes, chewed up by the dog. You willing to pay $8.00 or $20 for it—but yeah.
LB: So, are those the only—toys that you collect, are sort of like, the action-figures? Like Teddy Ruxpin, anything like that? Like from the ‘80s are you—like big name ‘80s toys? Are you into any of those or just—
MT: Just the action-figures—that I look for. Now in my toy chest, I have a couple of old Gameboys, I have the view—the little view where you put the slide—in—
MF: Love those.
MT: I have one of those—two of those! I have—the—oh I forgot what it’s called—it’s kind of like a—what you call it—like a dodge ball and it has a circle ring around it and you use to stand on it and bounce around.
LB: Oh, I love those—
MT: Okay, it’s flat, I can’t do it now.
LB: Never had one—
[MF & MT Laugh]
LB: But I always wanted one.
MT: I have one of those. I mean its—I think those are it for the most part, because I have to go check, because my parents like to evict—my stuff.
LB: Yeah, I was going to ask—
MT: Yeah, its—
LB: Have they called you and been like “Get these three toy boxes out of here!”
MT: Yeah, it’s—every time I go over there it’s like, it’s getting less and less.
MT: Okay, so I don’t know why. It’s not like they’re going to have any more kids or—
MT: Like what are you going to do? Like—
LB: I was going through the same thing. My parents were like—you know, “We gave all of your toys.” I had all of my old toys collected and they were like—you know—my memories.
LB: All the dolls and like G.I. Joe and like cool things that I had, and my parents donated it to—like you know—kids.
MT: Well, that’s what you should do.
MT: I told mine (parents) next time you donate some stuff, I’m going to donate you to the nursing home.
[MF & LB Laugh]
MF: Oh, man.
LB: Very great.
MT: Yes! You have to put your foot down.
LB: [Laughs] Well, you better go get those boxes before your toys are gone!
MT: [Laughs] [Whispers] They’re probably already gone.
LB: Do you have—do you have shelves and stuff like when you walk into your house can you tell?
MT: In my old bedroom I do.
MT: Okay, so—my favorite ones are on the shelves. The ones—that I’ve just kept, or I just found for like a dollar somewhere at a swap meet or something I just throw it in a box or—the chest, because you never know like maybe 10 years from now—maybe people will buy them if there not in a wrapping or pristine.
LB: And this is how hording starts.
[MF & MT Laugh]
MF: Well, what would you say is the rarest item in your collection?
MT: The rarest, and it’s not even a toy—cause I’m into Goofy—
MT: I love the character. There’s a movie—it’s called Mickey and the Beanstalk—and I have a film still—it’s number 48 out of a 150. So, I guess they made a 150 of them—of a scene where Goofy, Mickey and Donald are looking up—the Beanstalk and they see the Giant. So, that’s hanging up.
MF: Really cool.
MT: So, that’s my—where—I’m proud of that, because I bought that with my allowance money.
MT: And like I saved up.
MF: When you were how old?
MT: Oooh, I think I probably was like 12.
MF: Oh, wow!
MT: 11 or 12, because I know I saved up for a year. I don’t remember how much it cost. I have never appraised it, but that was like my first big—I’m an adult-preteen purchase.
LB: You don’t know how much it was? How long did it take for a 12-year-old to save?
MT: It took, because—
LB: Was it like a hundred dollars? Was it more than that?
MT: It was more than a hundred, because I had too—my parents made me, cause this is how they teach me how to save. So, they said. “How much you save, well match.”
MT: Okay, so I—saved then of course I ask [Whispers] people for money.
[MF & LB Laugh]
MT: The grandmas and aunts and uncles. And I’m like, “It’s a good return on your investment, because what ever you give me it doubles!”
LB: [Laughs] Great.
MT: Okay, and I’m not going to buy like nine liters or sodas. I’m going to go buy this great piece of art.
LB: And so that’s still in your house?
MT: Still in my house.
LB: In your living room?
LB: In your bedroom?
MT: Old bedroom.
MF: Is that your favorite piece in your collection or is there another—is there a toy that is your favorite?
MT: My favorite toy. Oooh—I think it’s between two. My [Laughs] my He-man Castle Grey-skull and—this going to sound real dumb—a rock—it’s a gold rock that transformed into a little robot. I don’t know why it’s my favorite, cause it’s just—it’s really—it’s a rock.
LB: That’s awesome!
MT: It’s just a—it’s just a rock, and that is the only thing—every time I go over to my parent’s house, that’s the one that I always just pick up and just tinkle with a little bit. Everything else I just look at. But that one and the Castle Grey-skull.
LB: That’s awesome!
MT: I’m still I think—cause late at night or—during the summers when it’s slow, I’m one of those guys that go on YouTube and just watch old cartoons, old ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons. And for people who are like, “Who is this crazy guy with these crazy collector’s thing?” You need to watch this show—on Netflix, it’s called the Toys That Made Us. It is a great show and it will explain why people are so into old cartoons and old toys, and it’s real funny, it’s a documentary style, but it’s made really fun.
LB: Yeah, that is an awesome show.
LB: I saw it too and it’s like—it-it sucks, cause—I kind of put it on for like background noise and then I got sucked in, and it’s like interesting. It talks about the history—
LB: You know, World War Two and people coming out of a very sad depressing time and the joy that toys bring you, and creation and imagination.
LB: So, that kind of—probably what happens with you, when you look at your toys. It brings you back to your childhood and that joy is like—
LB: You don’t have to pay bills.
LB: You don’t have to be an adult—
LB: Just sort of a creative imagination—place.
MT: A flashback of happier times.
MT: Well, I’m happy now but—more happier times.
LB: Yeah, Simpler—
LB: Simpler times.
MF: So, are there any toys that hold a special sentimental value to you then?
MT: Hmmm, I have a—Goofy phone—telephone and it’s probably about a foot tall, and it’s a cord—a cord phone. My grandmother gave it to me—I think—my freshman year of high school. By then it I didn’t use it—It’s Goofy. But she gave it to me, cause she was like, “I know how goofy you are and know how you like to talk on the phone.” But it has an off-switch. So, make sure you turn it off, because you don’t want to flunk high school.
MT: I was like “Okay.” I mean she was simple about it.
MT: Like that’s what she really meant, but I looked at it as—graduate.
LB: That’s sweet!
MT: So, that one was simple, and that was the last one—that was the last gift she got me—ever since then she gave me gift cards and money, because you know, too old for toys, but that was the last—you know it wasn’t kind of a toy, but it was kind of a toy—toy-phone. Last toy gift—that might have been that last toy gift I got from anyone.
MT: As like a child. Like I still get little things—
MT: That people give me now, but also like the last child gift.
MF: Have any of your students giving you something for your collection?
MT: This may be an exclusive, because I don’t think they know, that I collect ‘80s toys.
MF: But you said there are some toys in your office. Did they ever—
MT: They’re not—I don’t think they know I collect them.
MT: Because, if you walk into my office I have those pop-toys—of different action-figures. I have a couple scattered around on book-shelves. Like I have old WWF, not the WWE now—wrestling toys hanging from book-shelves that kind of thing. I have a Mr. Potato-head.
MT: And I have a Mr. Potato-head, Mrs. Potato-head and a kid Potato-head. Students gave me those, the Potato family. Students gave me that.
MT: And when they come into my office, I think it’s kind of like a culture shock, cause their leaving a professors office with all the bright lights and paper and books everywhere. And when they walk into my office and the lights are dim, and I have these toys scattered everywhere and candy. Their like—squirrel, squirrel, candy, candy, toy—
LB: [Laughs] Yeah.
MT: And they just pick them up and start playing with them. So, it’s kind of like a stress relief for them. But yeah, I have some kids give me a Potato family and ones that stick out—and the pops. Those are the ones they usually—they haven’t gotten me anything ‘80s.
MT: But they get me like the little pop action-figures.
MT: And they collect—oh, and how can I forget this—in the corner of my office I have—probably this is I should say this is one of my favorite toys too. It’s not an original ‘80s it’s a reproduction. You remember that big piano from Big (the movie).
MT: I have that in my office.
LB: That’s cool!
LB: How come I’ve never seen that?
MT: It’s in a hiding-corner place.
LB: You must roll it up when I come by.
MT: You got to go in and go to the right.
LB: So, have you gotten good?
MT: I’ve gotten real good.
LB: Real good?
LB: We’ll have to have a debut.
MT: It’s about—it’s not full scale of course. It’s about four-feet long.
MT: Mm-hmm, and I picked it up—in New York at the—the toy store, that was from the movie.
LB: FAO Schwarz?
MT: A little bit.
LB: Probably had to save a whole year for that too.
MT: Actually, it wasn’t that much expensive!
MT: It was $120.
MT: It wasn’t that much.
LB: We’ll have to do a duet.
MF: [Laughs] Well, where can students find you? How can they get involved in SALO?
MT: Buy me anything ‘80s.
[MF & LB Laugh]
MT: Bribery always works. But I am located on the second floor of the student center in the Lakeland campus. I drop in on the Winter Haven campus and Lake Wales sometimes. They can get involved with SALO just by—they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or coming to visit us. We have close to I think like 47 clubs now, and if we don’t have one that you want to join, we have a process that you can create your own club. And it can be if you want to watch paint dry, if you want a skateboarding club—
MT: If you want to sit and just look at grass grow, we have money for you, and as long as it’s not illegal, we got your back.
[MF & LB Laughs]
MF: And SALO—SALO is celebrating 10 years this year, right?
MT: Yes! It is are 10-year anniversary, that match greatness, because Marvel Studios is also 10 years.
LB: Wow! Hand in hand.
MT: We’re kind of linked at the hip. When you think of Marvel, think of SALO.
LB: Right, we will.
MT: We are a billion-dollar industry.
MT: Yes, it’s 10 years.
LB: Now, how long have you been a Polk State.
MT: I’ve been a Polk State 12—13 years.
MT: 13 years, and SALO was my ELITE (Exceptional Leaders with Innovative Talents and Excellence) project.
LB: Excellent, that’s really cool!
MT: Yes, I am the—that’s my child.
LB: You’re the founder.
MT: I am the founder.
LB: That’s awesome.
MF: And we can’t let you go without you telling us a little bit about your experience on the Steve Harvey Show.
MF: I’ve seen the video!
MT: Oh, that’s—that’s must have been like two years ago—two years ago. I was on Mac—Listen! True story—true story. I was on Match, and one of the Associate Producers emailed me on Match. And I was like, “You’re not really my type.”
[LB & MT Laughs]
MT: So, I didn’t respond, and then she sent another email, like okay—so, I looked at it—like, “Hi, I am the Producer of the Steve Harvey Show. Would you be interested in coming on the show?” So, I thought I was getting punk’d or—
MT: Pranked or something.
MT: This can’t be real. Like this is not how they pick guest. Just—
LB: Via Match.
MT: Via Match! So, I looked her up, as like she was real! She was legit!
MT: So, I was like “Oh!” So, I called and left a message. She called right back, and I had to do a—audition over the phone and it was for a Data Boss episode.
MT: Where it’s a—female—who’s a boss, and she has trouble dating, because she’s so bossy and demanding etc-etc. And I was like, “Sure!” And they were like, “It’s a free trip to Chicago.” Blah, blah, blah, the routine. Alright, so I went and told Reggie, well the Vice President that I need to take some couple of days off personally, because I’m about to be a celebrity.
[MF & LB Laughs]
MF: Of course!
MT: And he didn’t believe me, “Show me the proof! Show me the Proof!”
MT: So, I forward the email to him, and he was like—he started laughing—
MT: He was like, “Okay!” And I was going around telling people that, “You need to enjoy me, while you can. Because I’m getting ready to retire, because I found a boss who’s rich!”
[MF & LB Laughs]
MT: “And I’m going to marry her—Well, woo her, marry her, and I am going to retire. So, enjoy me now!”
MT: “Cause, I am off to fame and fortune.”
LB: [Laughs] Yes!
MT: And it was a great experience! The funny thing was that she wasn’t a boss.
MT: Okay—she was on the show to learn how to start a business, but they figured she would be better on a Date a Boss episode. And she—about 80 percent of it was true. Like—she really was demanding, and a little touched. Not going to say her name, she lives in Florida. But—we talked like twice after that—episode, and I was like—no.
MT: No. So, I’m waiting on the reunion show.
MT: Or a follow up to How to find a Boss. Where I can be searching for that boss lady.
[MF & LB Laughs]
MT: So, I can retire and step my ‘80s collection up with still an authentic still in the wrapping toys.
MT: So, yeah.
LB: Step it up man!
LB: Gotta find a boss.
MT: Gotta find a boss. Hashtag Boss ‘80s guy DJ HellNaw (#Boss’80sguydjhellnaw)
[MF & LB Laughs]
MF: Well, there you have it folks, and thank you Melvin for coming on an episode of POLKcast.
MT: Thanks for having!
LB: One step below the Steve Harvey Show.
MF: Just one!
MT: Just one?
MF: Just one!
MT: Naw, I think you’re about on par.
MT: I think I’m going to listen to more podcasts, then I’m going to watch the Steve Harvey show in coming weeks and months.
LB: Especially POLKcast.
MT: Especially POLKcast.
[LB & MT Laughs]
LB: Great, well thank you for coming on!
MT: Thanks for having me! Mm-hmm.
LB: Thank your mother for that.