Q&A: Greg Mason, vintage toy “picker” and contestant on 'Picked Off'

A vintage toy “picker,” GregMason will appear on the Aug. 1 episode of Picked Off on the History Channel. His teammate is his brother Jim, a comic collector. The two will compete in elimination challenges.

How’d you get the show’s attention?

I had a friend who is a publisher up in Canada and when some producers at Cineflix, the same as American Pickers, came up with the competition show, they asked if he knew a good picker of toys.

Where did you tape the show?

We’re not allowed to say where we were at or anything about the show until it airs. But we had a blast.

Do people try to get you to say if you won?

They try to trick us, like asking when I go buy something, “Are you spending your prize money on that?” It’s funny. If you know how the show works, most of it deals in antiques, furniture and vases, stuff like that. For them to put a team on the show dealing with vintage toys and comics was kind of a twist. I’m really hoping they have future plans for me.

How’d you start toy picking?

I was in college and I took my little brother to a Star Trek convention, a hole-in-the-wall one here in Knoxville. There was this guy selling old action figures, and I had some like them; my mother never did throw anything away. I went home—it was about a 30 minute drive—and brought back $60-$70 worth of action figures. I thought I was rich. That was 22 years ago.

Do you remember what you sold?

It was two Star Trek aliens and a Conan the Barbarian figure and a Green Goblin. I still had a bunch stuff, and he came over the next week and bought $300 of it. After that, any of my friends who had stuff I started hitting up with my earnings; I always tried to double my money.

Did anything funny happen during the taping?

Yes. But I don’t know if they left it in; I haven’t seen the show. I will be watching with everyone else Aug. 1. I have these pop-ups from my sinus surgery, and it snuck up on me real quick. If they put that on the show I’d be shocked, but it would be funny.

Do you have a day job?

I used to, until I did the show. I quit when I started all this—I was in flooring sales for Broadway Carpets.

What’s the best buy you ever made?

A woman had listed a couple of old action figures online, and I asked, “Do you have anything else?” She had a carded Batman and Robin—a card is what toy collectors attach figures to. They were Mego, and had never been opened, and this was an older lady who was frustrated about how to put them online. She said, “Can you give me $25 apiece?” I knew they were worth $75. Then they turned out to be from Kresge, an old store back in the day, their first card. I sold the Batman for $3,500 and Robin brought $8,500.

Do you ever regret missing a deal?

Yes, there are several instances. One was a Six Million Dollar Man store display, and someone offered it to me for $1,500. I thought it was a little too much. Come to find out he put it online and it went for $8,000. It was like giving money away. But, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

For more information: vintagetoypicker.com

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