The Difference Between a Vampire Killing Kit and a Box of Junk
Buyer Beware: When it comes to purchasing a Vampire Killing kit, you have a choice – between a realistic, beautiful work of art that has been carefully researched and built to evoke a sense of mysticism and awe, and a box of junk.
What do I mean by a box of junk? Well, really, about 90% of the “vampire killing kits” on sale today are pretty much just that, a box, filled with junk, and called a vamp kit. It’s really annoying, not only to buyers who have a limited market to choose from, but to me – CRYSTOBAL – who actually takes the time to make every kit unique, artistic, practical, and above all else, something any collector would be proud to own.
Let’s get back to the boxes of junk. I’m not going to call out any sellers here, or post pictures of junk. I won’t give them the benefit of free publicity. Instead, I’ll tell you what to look for when selecting a Vampire Slayer Kit for your collection or decor.
- Is the box overflowing with so much stuff it looks like a kid’s toy chest? I’ve seen some really awful “kits” out there that are so obviously just thrown together, and what makes it obvious is the overabundance of items. One “kit” I saw had SEVEN crucifixes. SEVEN! There’s no reason to have seven (unmatched, mind you) crosses in a kit unless you plan to just throw them at the vampire and hope they hit him. The same kit had TWO pistols…also unmatched, for no apparent reason other than to fill up space in the box. The topper was that the kit had THIRTY TWO assorted bottles and vials, again unmarked and for no apparent reason. Some poor sap paid a lot of money for that kit, too. If the kit you’re looking has TOO MUCH junk in it, it’s definitely junk.
- Does the box look like an antique tool box or silverware box? I’ve seen unscrupulous sellers try to pass off old cutlery boxes as REAL, 19th century kits. They put in some actual era-specific antiques that usually include stuff that has no place in a Slayer Kit, like a magnifying glass, scissors, spectacles, you know…stuff that’s easy to find at antique shops…and tell the public it’s an “original” kit. Beware! Ask yourself, why would a vampire hunter need a pair of scissors? In case there’s a thread hanging from the vamp’s cape? Come on.
- Kits with Guns: Do they just have an old gun? Something that many people who may be into Vampire Lore but not into antique firearms don’t know: Old guns were complicated. Up until the mid to late 19th century, pistols didn’t shoot modern bullets (aka cartridges) like today’s guns. They were “ball and cap” or flintlocks, meaning they required several items to make a shot. That included gunpowder that was kept in a special powder flask or powder horn, metal “caps” or primers, a lead (or for our purposes silver) ball or shot, wadding, and in most cases cleaning supplies. If the “kit” you’re looking at has a pre-1890’s gun and none of the accoutrements that go with it, it’s not only a phony, it’s a poorly done phony. And if it’s being sold as a replica, what exactly is it replicating? If it ain’t got the stuff to go with it, it’s just a “fancy” gun case. Pass.
- Kits with Fancy, Lathe-Turned Stakes: Ok, if you want something that looks like an artisan spent hours creating a ceremonial stake, that’s fine…just make sure you are getting something that LOOKS LIKE AN ARTISAN SPENT HOURS CREATING A CEREMONIAL STAKE. Most of the “hand turned” stakes I’ve seen…that were turned on an electric lathe so not really very authentic…look like pointy table legs. Ugh. If you want a pointy table leg, go to Goodwill, get a cheap table, cut the legs off and sharpen them down yourself. It literally takes about 5 minutes to “hand turn” a stake on a lathe. PASS.
- Kits that have junk in them that’s not era-appropriate: This one drives me nuts. Years ago I saw some yahoo trying to sell an “authentic 1860’s” vamp kit. They were literally located in Romania, and were trying to use that as some kind of credentials as to the authenticity of the kit. Here’s the thing: It had six, airline-booze sized bottles in it for holy water, and…wait for it…the bottles had screw caps. Now, the funny thing about actually doing a little RESEARCH, like I do, is that you can look up anything. Screw caps weren’t invented until after 1900, around 1912 actually. Those airline-sized holy water bottles were ACTUALLY airline booze bottles, probably from the 1970s by the looks of them! (Brown glass, metal screw cap, probably held Canadian Club). Besides that, the rest of the box was, of course, filled with nonsense…a German 1850’s bible (why German?), some stakes using a torch to lightly burn the wood (another call-back to the 1970s), an old knife, a rosary that may or may not have been an antique…they were asking like $3k for it. Some poor sucker probably paid it.
- Kits that Have Junk In Them That Doesn’t Belong: Like I said, if there’s junk in the kit that doesn’t belong, it’s junk. The basics of a Vampire Killing Kit are the tools you need and a few things to help you along the way. Stakes, a mirror, Holy water, a crucifix, and rosary are generally the basics. Things like a knife, sliver chain, rock salt and consecrated earth can be useful. Items to help you hunt like candles and matches, a compass, spyglass or binoculars, maps, a sundial or pocket watch, hammer and coffin nails all add flair to the kit. Taxidermy bats, wolf teeth, pliers, bone saws, assorted carpentry tools, hypodermic needles (really?), first aid supplies, sewing stuff, and any other off-brand nonsense just makes the kit too heavy to be of any use. Consider what the kit is actually for: Killing, and possibly hunting, vampires. Someone hunting vampires in 1880 wouldn’t need first aid supplies in the kit, because they would probably know they would either kill the vamp or die trying. They wouldn’t take a dead bat along because…why in the hell would they???
- On the Same Subject: The Bible is a staple in the Vampire Killing Kit. Why? Is there a special passage that is useful against vampires? No. It’s really just for show. It’s assumed the Vampire Hunter of the antiquity would have been a devout Christian, because that’s what the lore says. So he/she would have a bible, and who knows, maybe if they read from it, it would keep lesser vamps away. It’s always nice to have a real antique bible in the kit. But they can be pricey, so it’s fine to have a new one in there, as long as it LOOKS like it belongs. You know how many times I’ve seen cheap, crappy kits with brand new dollar-store bibles in them, looking like dollar-store bibles? Does anyone really think they had dollar stores 150 years ago? And if they did, do you think that thing would still look brand new 150 years later? COME ON!
- The Box: Does the Stuff Fit Neatly Into The Box, as if The Box Was Made for the Items? Or is it just thrown in there like a bunch of junk? Referring back to Point One, a Vampire Killing Kit is not supposed to be a box of junk. It should have very specific, practical items in it, and every item should have an exact place. If you open the box and it looks like your ex’s trunk after a summer of partying, then it’s junk. If there’s stuff piled up on top of each other so you can’t see it right, it’s junk. If there’s a bunch of stuff sloppily tied with string or pieces of leather strap to the inside lid, so it looks like something your sister’s kids would do…yep, junk. Literally a box of junk. The real Vampire Killing Kits of old were carefully made to hold each item. My kits are made a little differently…they are not made to look like the Victorian kits you see at Ripley’s, which employed that Victorian-era OCD that was prevalent in Victorian-era decor. My kits are made to look as if someone from the village asked the guy who was good at making things to make a Vampire Killing Kit so they could have it to actually fight off Vampires. Care is taken, but without the luxury of weeks and the budget of a Duke. And everything fits where it’s supposed to.
- Beware of Copy Cats: One last thing, I’ve said this before, the style that my kits are made in are 100% my own; I literally invented this style of Vampire Killing Kit, which I refer to as “primitive” or “handmade”. I’ve been building these kits (and other items with similar designs) for decades. I put my first kit on Ebay around 2000 or so, and when I did, NO ONE ELSE had anything like it for sale. No Vampire Killing Kits at all, really. That was until around 2005, after I’d sold maybe ten or twelve kits online, I started seeing copies of my designs…POOR, CRAPPY COPIES…and the copyright infringers were asking as much as DOUBLE what I’d been selling mine for (I remember at least one was on sale for almost two years until the creep finally brought the price down. I sold multiple kits in the same time span). It really irks me beyond belief that people have the audacity to steal someone else’s ideas, and hope they rot in hell…or get bitten by a Vampire, which is likely, since their kits are such crap there’s no way they would be effective against one. As for the few people out there who actually DID create their own designs, or made very realistic replicas of the Ripley style kits, I applaud you.
I hope this little lesson helps you when you go to buy a kit. Please don’t do spending good money on junk. I try to make at least four or five new kits every year for sale, and sell them through this Etsy store. Please be patient and wait for quality. Buying the cheap knock-offs makes it difficult for the real artists of the world, and you don’t want to be a part of that, do you?
Thanks for reading, good luck buying!
- by Crystobal Artiste di Vampyre
- posted at 10:22 pm
- February 1, 2022