Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Discovery’s “Combat Cash” is crap!

Reality TV is stupid.  It’s beyond stupid.  And it’s certainly not any reality I’m familiar with — actual or imaginary.

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!”

“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!”

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….

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!!

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19 thoughts on “Discovery’s “Combat Cash” is crap!

  1. Sounds like your a little bitter….

    • Actually, I’m not bitter at all! Cynical might be a better word to describe my opinions since I’ve had good and bad relations with the media while I’ve been a historian and militaria collector. I’m glad my business isn’t being “exploited” and I can still buy and sell militaria without everyone finding out my “secret places” to locate it, how much I pay for it, or where my big collection is so that others can come and steal it. Even the person in the first episode who sold them the tank said that he wasn’t the owner and that the actual owner wanted to remain anonymous. Of course he would — otherwise, being a military vehicle collector with probably a LOT more items in the collection, he’d basically be advertising “Look at what I have and when it’s dark outside or I’m away at an event, here’s where you can strip-down my stuff for the parts you need but can’t afford to buy!” But thanks for the comment!

  2. I am not at all going to argue about anything you said. But to be fair- The guys have very little say in what actually airs. As in most unreality shows by the time the segment is shot, the director/producer/editor can pretty much make them say or do anything they want. Yes I know, pulling out a helmet from a plastic grocery bag and selling for 1200 bucks going “gee, I guess it looks right” IS silly and does the viewers a dis-service in educating them, but then the producer wants “cool” and entertainment is the prime directive not education.

    My own real peeve is the emphasis all these shows put on the “cold hard cash.” There’s no real care for the history or anything, just how much someone can make off it. I also wish they would do a better job with the haggling. I mean no ” look, its got a little ding here, you are taking money from the mouth of my children, this color looks a little bit off…. Its always the same. I want 2 grand. I’ll give you 1,000, OK we’ll settle at $1500. Done.

    So I think, in all fairness, it a bit much to say the guys are idiots. Are they PORTRAYED as idiots? That’s a totally different story.

    And no. I do not know them. I know of ONE of them… slightly.

    • True, in all fairness, I’ve had my issues with the media and they love trying to make sure everything is “ratings-capturing-riveting” when they go to edit. Even in print media, for which I was an editor for a while, we had the mindset of “If it bleeds, it leads.” So I do understand and agree that the producers are doing a big disservice to the audience by not ensuring that facts are checked, etc. — especially since this is on Discovery Channel. They’re becoming almost as bad as History Channel where I rarely ever see historical shows produced anymore, but that’s for another rant.

      I did go look-up the website for the guys and I wasn’t much impressed there, either. They mentioned their “showrooms” but if you looked carefully you could see that they were basically taking pictures from different angles in the same room. And some of the descriptions for their items weren’t completely spot-on either. Of course, people have looked at my website and said, “What idiots run this?” Sometimes, we take that as a compliment.

      And by reading your user name, if you’re the same Jon Gawne that wrote all of the awesome historic books, “GI Journal,” and edited “Militaria Magazine” (the English version), then I’m gonna go sit in the corner and squeal with delight for a bit because someone very learned in this subject read my blog!

    • Jon – I highly respect the learned work and research you have presented in your books. But you have to remember the days are long gone of History Channel shows delving deep into specific subjects and having an hour to explain the history. For better of worse (I work in TV), it has changed or rather the audience has changed. They now expect information to be quick, slick and entertaining, hence ‘reality’. I am saddened to hear so much critisism and negativity coming from a few ignorant voices – How about say good job guys, you put a really cool reenactment on the map and told some pretty interesting stories we hadn’t seen before. Is there another show on TV that does more for militaria collectors? NO. Be thankful for small victories…..

      • Okay….this is my blog, not Jon’s, so please keep public comments directed towards me. Also, you say we’re a “few ignorant voices” and refer that to the Conneaut, Ohio D-Day reenactment. NOWHERE in this blog was Conneaut described as a bad reenactment. I even posted “I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome” in my article. And as for “ignorant voices,” Husband and I have been buying/selling/collecting militaria and reenacting for over 50 combined years (Husband started reenacting back in the early 1980s). I certainly don’t believe we’re “ignorant.” It sounds more like you are a bitter TV producer/director/whatever who perhaps works on this show and is upset that all militaria collectors aren’t singing its praises. Today at a Battle of the Bulge reenactment at Camp Clark, Missouri, I heard MANY reenactors asking if we’d seen the “awful thing Discovery calls a reality show about military collecting” (their words, not mine). I would say that this conversation is now closed and while I do appreciate the feedback, I’m done talking about it in these comments. (Besides, when your username is “Smarter than you are.” and your web address is “shuttheferkup.us,” you’re lucky I went against my initial urge to keep your messages in my SPAM folder.)

      • I am one of those awful people who believes that if you are going to do something, you should try and do the best you can. And that if everyone wins a trophy for whatever they do, nothing will ever get better. If you don’t point out some honest criticism, then nothing’s going to get better. There were A LOT of places int he show where a very small change could have made it more educational without any loss of coolness, and removed some of the “groan” factor from old die hards. Example: 2 or 3 lines about WHY that helmet was worth so much.

        I have heard people call those poor guys on the show idiots. I am quite to point out that all we see are what the producer wants us to see. So maybe state such an opinion as ” they LOOK like idiots on the show.” But like it or not they are now major ambassadors of people who like this stuff, and I’d like to hope as the show goes on they start paying a little more attention to some of the small things that would greatly improve it.

        I think, in the long run, that the general public will watch and enjoy something done to a higher standard. Cable networks have been proving that for years. The thing is, the dirty little secret is that it does cost more to do so, so no one’s going to spent the money unless they hear there is a demand for it.

        But please, do I have to hear “This bad Boy is worth a pile of cold hard cash” every week?

        Oh, and thanks for the kind words for me.

  3. Being out in California, we are familar with these guys. Most of us understand that it is a show. A show which for is weaknesses, will still intoduce people who may not otherwise be familar or know anything about World War II Reenacting. So the exposure alone will benefit all of us.

    What is your website?

    • Oh….I thought for sure it would show up in my profile information. Gonna have to check on that. My website is http://www.cheapcrapyoudontneedenterprises.com.

      And I agree that exposure will help the WWII reenacting hobby — but it’s better to have good exposure rather than something that makes people cringe. Heck, I remember working in Pennsylvania back in 2004 with my “government” job and people being fascinated that I’m a WWII reenactor but they’d never heard of the hobby even when one of the biggest annual events — Battle of the Bulge at Ft. Indiantown Gap — takes place in their state!

      • 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…. >>>>>> Hey why not slow down on the negativity and bad mouthing if the last D-Day re-enactment you attended was in 1984! And I don’t for one minute believe that the producers contacted you – You are just a bitter, angry wannabe.

      • Ummm….the 50th anniversary of D-Day was 1994, not 1984. And I was not saying anything negative at all about the annual Conneaut, Ohio event. I only mentioned that I’ve not had the opportunity to attend (please note the “but I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome” that was quoted above). And if you don’t believe me, that’s fine. You’ve obviously not read the Rules for my blog and that’s fine too. Maybe sometime I’ll dig-up the old email — haven’t cleaned the deleted box in ages. Regardless, how about dialing-back the negativity and criticism if you’re not gonna get your facts straight. Thanks for the reply!

  4. I thought it was awful also. I would place a wager we’ve seen the last episode of Combat Cash. It’s merely an American Picker for military stuff, and the market is not big enough to support a specialty picker show.

  5. peter on said:

    about 15 years ago u could buy and im sure today a tape with each sound of ww2 weapons on it , cost 10 dollars , i saw a episode where they had a fold up ww2 bike , i was trying to get 400 dollars for one and no one wanted it they bought one from 4000 or so from memory , watching all these shows have u noticed apart from everyone has a beard ! looks like they get them all from a gay bar that most of them are pommys ( English ) as they are filmed in the USA i would thing most people would be Americans not pommys with slum accents , that’s from my Australian perspective maybe america is full of pommy migrant losers , ive not been there to know

    • It’s not hard to find sound effects of WWII weaponry anymore. There have been so many movies, TV series & videogames that have used them. Plus, we’re still allowed to privately own firearms (I have many WWII weapons) in America so making your own tape is pretty easy if you have the firepower. Folding bikes are neat and I’ve seen a few at WWII Reenactments, though not many as they’re becoming rarer over the years. As for everyone on the show having a beard, I’ve never bothered to look but I do know that those who do WWII Reenacting (the “target audience” it seemed for this series) don’t wear beards unless their impression calls for one (Cossack, Partisan, Etc.). And in regards to the people being pommys, that’s just your opinion and you’re certainly welcome to it. However, do come over to America when you get the chance and see for yourself before making such a serious judgement call.

      • peter on said:

        no need to own firearms as i said this tape has the sound of every weapon on it , with matching numbers to bring up the sound you want , you can privately own firearms here as well and many people have the weapons shown in the show but buy the tape and save 4900 dollars if you need them for a game , if you watch pawn stars every expert has a beard and if you watch storage wars every expert with a shop is a pommy which is at least better than the bog irish galoot on combat cash , no matter which of these shows you watch , if they have a sling shot or a machine gun they must somehow fire it off including antique weapons which in real life would be put on display , no one would risk or want to fire them anyway , the need to paw and fire them suggests a deep sexual problem with the “”actors”” and the watchers ,overall these shows suggest the immigration problem which is as bad in the USA as it is here ,pauper immigration from Europe and the British isles seems as bad there as it was in the 19th century

  6. I like the show,The guys are likeable and its entertaining. sometimes thats more than having some know it all boring jackass putting people down. more people watch them than read your blog. I was actually looking the show up on here to watch episodes online when i came across your insulting blog.

  7. I had kind of forgotten this, but I ran into it again so i figured I would Close it out by mentioning that the guys essentially quit the show as they did not like the way things were being faked, and refused to get into fake arguments for the sake of ‘drama.’ If so, kudos to them.

  8. Whoevencares? on said:

    I talked to Owen right after the show was cancelled , they were dropped because of production personnel problems/Ownership rights , Owen and Bob never quit the show , maybe that is their story now , but that is not what Owen said to me in person originally.

  9. I always wished their stoe had a website i was interrested in the vietnam mitchell pat pants

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