People have become hooked on watching other people do incredibly stupid things to get on television with the hopes of winning money, getting married, or just for their 15 minutes of fame. And what passes for "reality" television these days is horrible.
Last night, I suffered through Discovery Channel's latest "reality" show, Combat Cash. I figured that someone, like myself, who is into militaria and World War II reenacting would enjoy a show about others who have the same interests and perhaps I might learn a thing or two. I learned something alright....I learned that these guys are idiots.
Let's go back a bit for those who aren't personally familiar with who I am and what I do. When I'm not working disasters with a certain governmental agency, I run an online military surplus retail store (you can find the website in my profile information). Husband and I have collected, bought, sold, and traded military items from almost every major conflict and most of the major players in them. We specialize in items from World War I to the Vietnam Conflict (although, every veteran and civilian I've ever met that was in Vietnam at that time said it sounded more like a war than a "conflict"). Our main speciality is World War II GI (American) Military Police and the 35th Infantry Division. We even attend World War II reenactments where, yes, we as fully-grown adults dress-up in uniforms (mostly reproductions since originals are hard to come by these days) and play "good-guy/bad-guy" with others dressed as Germans. We attend as either US 35th Division MPs if it's a Western Front event and as USSR NKVD if it's an Eastern Front event. Many of our friends portray British, Italian, German, GI, partisan, and Soviet and we have a good time running in the woods shooting blanks at each other just like kids used to do when playing "Cowboys and Indians" with their old cap guns and toy bow-and-arrow sets. It's pretty much the same, actually....except that the "guns" are actual military surplus and cost a LOT more than your average plastic six-shooter but the amount of squabbling over who did and didn't get "killed" is still pretty much the same.
So, it's pretty safe to say that we know what our items are and what they aren't. We've had to become adept at detecting the faked items from the real thing -- and these days it's getting harder and harder to do. There are companies that not only make almost perfect copies of WWII German medals/awards, they even have reproduced the boxes in which they were originally presented!! That's one reason I won't buy German militaria unless I can absolutely, without-a-doubt prove that it's original. Too many fakes out there for my wallet. Sure, it's great to buy reproduction items when you're on a budget and need something for a collection to hold a place until you can get an authentic item or if you plan to run around in the woods and don't want to take your incredibly expensive originals out to play. But if you're buying and selling items to make a profit and you don't have a clue as to what is and isn't real and how the fakes are fooling many, then you're in big trouble.
I grudgingly sat down with Husband to watch the premiere episode of Combat Cash last night and laughed about how we'd been contacted months ago by "producers" saying that they worked with Discovery, TLC, and other big cable networks who wanted to do a reality show about military surplus collectors/dealers and if we would be interested. First of all, this "request" came by email from someone I had no idea and couldn't find information about who they were. Secondly, why would I want to show where I purchase my inventory or how I get awesome deals on it?? It's like announcing to the world, "Here's how it's done, so be sure to get there before I do because I don't have the desire to actually make money anymore. Oh, and while you're at it, here's where we live/work so you can see our collection and steal it from us. M'kay?"
The first episode was awful. Pure and simple -- just awful. As a matter of fact, I started live-posting on Facebook about it when I wasn't either laughing myself silly or having a fit over something stupid said or done on the show. I posted on my profile and our business' page. Here's a sample:
"Watching the premiere episode of Discovery Channel's 'Combat Cash.' OMG!! These guys are idiots! They say they know everyone in military collecting -- well, we've never heard of them! Getting ready to watch the episode that includes WWII reenactors. This should be a fiasco!"You get the idea. And the show also featured them going to the annual Conneaut, Ohio D-Day reenactment. Now, I've never had the opportunity to attend that even but I've heard it's pretty awesome. The last D-Day invasion I participated in was the 50th anniversary reenactment at Ft. Story, Virginia. That was AWESOME! But, I digress....
"Watching Discovery Channel's new show 'Combat Cash." The premiere episode was incredibly stupid. Watching the second episode which is supposed to feature WWII reenactors. They just said that 'not many people have this kind of firepower (i.e. M1 Garands, MP40s, MG34s, etc.).' No....not in southern California where they are they don't! They're using the firearms to record sound effects for a WWII videogame that has dinosaurs as Hitler's mechanized weapons. We'll maybe they at least won't have someone yelling 'Take your hit!' like Medal of Honor: Underground had. That is, if they don't kill themselves -- range safety seems nonexistent!"
"Okay....just to let everyone know, we saw the 'Combat Cash' guys sell an "original" M1 steel pot painted with medic insignia for $1250. No, there's not a decimal point missing out of that -- they sold it for twelve hundred fifty dollars!! Now everyone will believe ANY painted "WWII" helmet is worth at least that. And they didn't even prove that it was "original" (stamps, seams, etc.) that people who actually know their stuff would be sure to look for. I feel sorry for the guys who bought it 'cause now their names are all over national TV!"
These yahoos they call "hosts" of the show started walking through the vendor area and were talking about how "Midwestern prices" are insanely low and how they could go in, buy a lot of stuff, and sell it for twice or three times what they paid to customers in California. Oh, goody!! They're not only incompetent at identifying items or putting reasonable values on them, but now they're insulting us who live/work in the Midwest by basically typecasting us as ignorant rednecks and hillbillies who are too stupid to know what things are "really" worth.
In the show, they make a point of saying that they're very busy finding new items for their store and that the store is open by appointment only. Who can make a living operating that way? And they charged the videogame dudes $5000 to record sounds of weapons when they could have easily flown themselves to Knob Creek, Kentucky for one of their Machine Gun Shoots and gotten all the effects they needed for a lot less than that! The final straw for me was watching these goobers argue over whether or not to purchase a BSA paratrooper bicycle and watching the seller get really irritated at their squabbling. It was finally decided that if one of the guys jumped out of a plane that they would buy it. Huh??? It wasn't even the seller offering to take the guy skydiving!! Why would you settle a purchase argument by spending more money???
I hope this show either (1) goes off the air soon so that reputable militaria collectors/vendors like myself and many other companies we affiliate with will be able to continue selling items before the general public starts ranting "But on Combat Cash they offered a guy more!" or (2) that they find someone who actually knows what he/she is doing to educate these people that the whole militaria collecting world doesn't revolve around what's done in southern California.
But, I did notice one of the guys lost a rear sight on the M1 Carbine he borrowed for the D-Day battle. I've got an original WWII one for sale!! Maybe I'll inflate my price on it, just so they'll feel more comfortable!!