The flea market was back at the Cross County Mall last weekend, which got me thinking. You’d think that if there was anything I’d be able to locate in our archives, it would be a good picture from the 1980s TV series “Knight Rider.” And yet, all I was able to find were things like this, from the July 15, 1983, Journal Gazette, a promotional photo of David Hasselhoff with that week's guest star, Wendy Fulton, who according to the internet pulled off the hat-trick of '80s TV shows, starring in not only “Knots Landing,” but both “Dallas” and “Matlock,” before closing out her TV career with a guest appearance on “Jake and the Fatman.”

And because I just had to get a picture the show’s famous car, my only option was this tiny coupon from a Ben Franklin ad from the April 6, 1985, Journal Gazette featuring a talking KITT toy for your kids, along with some other weird and unidentified vehicle. And if it’s taking you this long to wonder just what in the world 'Knight Rider' has to do with the flea market, as always, bear with me.

Because it’s always been my belief that folks in the community just love knowing who we at the JG-TC are, why don’t I skip the long-winded musings about flea markets, mostly because I think I’ve “mused” about them already, and just give you a recap about what I saw and what I bought at the flea market.

First of all, I felt bad for the sellers whose booths were set up in the old Sam Goody/On Cue storefront. For one, it was like all the foot traffic was totally ignoring them and it was roughly the humidity level of the bottom of your clothes hamper in there. Just imagine spending your entire weekend at your booth, staring at your own unsold knick-knacks while you try your best to pass the time trying to assign names to the numerous stains on the carpet.

There were lots of tubs of old action figures for sale. I don’t know why but I always feel compelled to rifle through those a little bit, which is weird because I never was that much of an action figure guy. Maybe because I know there’s always a chance I’ll run across something cool like a “Power Lord”, a “Starrior” or maybe even a member of “Max Steele’s Robo Force.” Didn’t happen this time, but then again, I didn’t dig that far.

I also found two board games: a copy of Connect Four, and the 1972 “Dealer’s Choice” used-car board game from the folks at Parker Brothers. I didn’t buy the former because it was (I’m not kidding) missing directions, and I didn’t buy the latter because, well, even by my standards, a board game involving Kelly Blue Book prices is pushing it.

There was a box of comic books, weirdly enough, all The Flash. Who in the world only bought Flash comics? There was one lone beat up issue of “Weird War Tales” I wanted but the seller was insistent on selling the whole box for 20 dollars, and I didn’t feel like asking him to price out just one comic.

And sure I bought 10 shrink-wrapped starter decks for the Star Trek Collectible card game I couldn’t afford back in the mid-90s, but the bigger story at that booth was that I found the moo-moo dairy creamer I guilted JG-TC reporter Rob Stroud into buying, and a collectible figure of “Ambassador Delenn” from Babylon 5 that I tried to convince copy editor Ken Trevarthan into buying, although he told me Monday the box was too beat up.

And then finally I ended up at the vintage video game booth, where I purchased “Mach Rider” a post-apocalyptic motorcycle game that I wanted so bad as a kid that I had an actual dream where I had it in my hand only to wake up to the soul-crushing reality that was getting up in the morning to catch the freezing cold Bluebird Bus at the start of its Cooks Mills route.

So flush was I with finally being able to right that particular wrong in my life that, as an impulse, I bought, yes, the 1988 “Knight Rider” video game, a game released about a good two years after the show had gone off the air. Which doesn’t seem long, but folks, remember how quickly shows from the ‘80s dropped off our radars once they were gone?

The last time I tried watching "Knight Rider," a show I positively loved as a kid, was when I bought the first season on DVD and was astounded at just how little thought the writers put into the program beyond, “hey, let’s give this handsome guy a talking car.” Seriously, I’m supposed to believe that KITT had a hull durable enough to crash through cement walls, but, as was the case in one episode, couldn’t simply tow a car somewhere because doing so would damage its “master circuit”. Oh, and there was the episode that concluded with the car pretending to be a bullfighter by driving circles around a bull, using its car door as a cape, and shouting “Toro.”

None of those shenanigans in the “Knight Rider” video game though, where KITT is armed with machine guns, lasers, missiles, and that patented “Turbo Boost” , all so I can tackle that most basic of video game tasks: drive really fast and shoot the red cars that are shooting at you. Heck if the game didn’t even throw in “Bonnie,” the super cute technician who reminds me in-between levels that I can purchase upgrades and that I’ve only got one continue left.

So needless to say, that "Knight Rider" game proved to be five dollars well spent, given how much I’ve played it this week. So yeah, another successful trip to the Mattoon Flea Market; but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been kicking myself for not buying the “Airwolf” video game too.

"The Throwback Machine" is a weekly feature taking a look back at items of interest found in the JG-TC online archives. Contact Walker at cwalker@jg-tc.com.

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