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Auction Hunters follows two storage unit buyers from southern California. Allen Haff, a second generation antiques dealer, and Clinton "Ton" Jones, a Jack of All Trades and gun and safe expert travel to storage unit auctions in Southern California and occasionally, other parts of the United States. Once the units are bought, they then attempt to sell the contents, appraising the bigger finds and often making deals with the appraisers. As the Opening Narration explains, only units with the rarest and most valuable finds are shown on air.
Currently, Auction Hunters is shown on Spike TV.
This show contains examples of:
- Awesome Yet Practical: Functional firearms can sell for a lot of money, and usually allow Ton a chance to test them out on the firing range.
- To a great extent, most (if not all) of their "featured" finds could fall under this category. At least, from the Hunters' point of view.
- Badass Beard: Ton has one of these.
- Badass Grandpa: Blaze, one of Ton and Allen's most frequent buyers of gun related merchandise. He also owns a gun club where he knows how to fire them.
- Bald of Awesome: Ton, hands down. Extra points for having tattoos on the top and back of his head.
- Batman Gambit: Ton and Allen will sometimes trick the other bidders into thinking that they've given up on a locker only to turn around and hit them with a Whammy Bid.
- A few times, Allen and Ton have bid on a unit they weren't really interested in, in order to run up the price, or to bait a person into bidding on a less-than-promising room. They call this "dropping the room" on a buyer.
- Bidder Of The Week: The guys usually run across a bidder with deep pockets (also known as a "whale" or a "heavy hitter") that will usually challenge them for the lockers.
- Boring but Practical: Furniture, tools and other assorted household objects that are mundane but can and will bring in decent money at swap meets.
- An alternative form of this happens with certain high-value items for which the Auction Hunters already know the value with a high degree of certainty (e.g. the crystal in northern Texas or the gold coins in Washington, D.C.). The negotiations for these aren't particularly interesting, so they take place offscreen.
- Bullet Time: Any time firearms are used. Strangely enough, this trope can be seen at numerous other times for purely dramatic effect while dealing with non-high speed events.
- Butt Monkey: Allen is the physical example (He's the target when they tested the MILES gear, he gets stuffed in the magician's box, his battlebot gets totally humiliated twice). Ton is the Butt Monkey of Allen's jokes.
- Celebrity Resemblance: One of their competitors in northern Texas bore an uncanny resemblance to George W. Bush. Heavily lampshaded throughout the episode.
- Chewing the Scenery: Allen has his moments of hamming it up, usually on the way to an auction (at the beginning of an episode). He also tends to have the louder reactions upon finding something good in a unit.
- Cool Shades: Ton's transition lenses in the sun.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both Ton and Allen, but mainly Allen.
- Description Porn: There's usually at least one item per episode that has enough history or detail to inspire the duo to excitedly ramble off facts about it; This can also occur when they take an item to an expert (Be it a Gun, Boating Equipment, Cameras, etc.,) to get the item in question appraised and the expert interested in buying.
- Dueling Shows: With Storage Wars on A&E.
- Evil Laugh: Ton let loose with one of these after blasting some old, broken-down television sets with a shotgun in one episode.
- Gun Nut: Ton. He's usually the first to fire any guns they find, all with a big grin on his face.
Allen (regarding a unit with mostly military gear): This unit was MADE for you.
- Hustling the Mark: The guys pull this on a game table aficionado in a pool game on a Ford Mustang-shaped pool table. They trick him into thinking Ton doesn't know anything about pool. Turns out he's been playing most of his life and the guys get an extra grand for said pool table after Ton wins.
- Incredibly Lame Pun / Visual Pun: Once, Ton shouted out "bingo!"...and when we see him, he's holding up a bingo game. Another time, he shouts out "payday!"...and he's holding the game Pay Day. Both times, Allen is not impressed.
- Jerkass: At times, during the appraisal and the sell, the duo sometimes will come off as jerks to their potential buyers, sometimes to the point of bullying in order to get a better price. In one example, Allen threatens to "release" a rare duck decoy into a nearby body of water unless the appraiser/buyer agrees to the price laid out by Allen and Ton.
- YMMV on this one. Yeah, some of the negotiations can appear heated, but given how much the tensions go down after all is said and done, it can be inferred that it's a case of "nothing personal, just business."
- In addition, Allen and Ton run into more than a few bidders who like to be assholes around the auction.
- Not to mention while in Alaska the guys run into an AUCTIONEER who has it out for them because he doesn't like any "non-locals" getting units.
- Know When to Fold'Em: One of the most important skills for an auction hunter is knowing when to walk away from a unit. Allen and Ton have dropped out of multiple auctions when a unit starts to cost more money than they think it's worth.
- Also, a few items ended up being worth less than the Hunters had initially hoped because of critical damage they hadn't noticed before (e.g. the shark cage). Generally, in these cases, the Hunters will take an offer just to make some money from it.
- Large Ham: Allen and Ton both have their moments. Ton especially when weaponry, or just things that go boom, are involved. Allen excites pretty easily if they find anything that's worth alot. Heck, even during the openings before the auction Allen likes to get revved up.
- Los Angeles: Allen and Ton are based in the greater L.A. area, and most of the auctions they attend are in the same general area.
- Mock Guffin / Grail in the Garbage: Can be played separately OR together depending on the locker, such as if what drew a buyer to a locker turned out to be trash, but something ELSE previously unseen in the locker turned out to be valuable instead.
- Even the trash itself can sometimes be valuable. One locker was full of metal carts that Allen and Ton sold to a scrap dealer for $500.
- Motor Mouth: Many, but not all of, the auctioneers at the auctions. A few take this Up to Eleven by demonstrating this while announcing the rules for each auction, sometimes prompting Allen to ask how much coffee they had that morning.
- Nerd Glasses: Schmedley from the Ventura County episode.
- Oh Crap: Allen and Ton's reaction to finding a Victorian casket in one unit. As Allen explains in a cutaway, a dead body in an auctioned-off unit is one of three ways to lose a unit after you've bought it (the other two being drugs and illegal weapons). Fortunately, the casket turns out to be empty - it was a temporary holding casket for dead bodies before they were buried in the ground.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Inverted in that we usually only see Allen and Ton's most successful finds. They've mentioned that 80% of their profit comes from 20% of the units they buy, and so only the most profitable units are actually filmed for the show.
Ton: 80% of the units we buy are a bust. We don't even make our money back.
- We do see a few "bust" units, though. The Hollywood episode has the duo purchase two units, and the first unit they check is basically worthless. Also, nine of the eleven containers purchased in the northern Texas episode are similarly worthless. (In all cases, though, the remaining units more than make up for the busts.)
- Recurring Character: Blaze. Also, a couple of the auctioneers for the California-based episodes.
- Retraux: Several shots in the Hollywood episode used effects and filters to make it look more like an old-style movie.
- Rogues Gallery: Allen and Ton have encountered the same rival bidders at multiple auctions. They frequently give the audience a brief explanation of the rival buyer's techniques and their history with him.
- Shaggy Search Technique: Ton has stumbled on a couple of good finds by accident, including an emergency life raft.
- Stout Strength: Ton may be fat, but he's also as strong as a bull. He's usually the one to lift or drag really heavy items out of a unit.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: Literally in one case. In the Henderson, Nevada episode, the Hunters encountered a locked safe with a broken handle and keypad. Using a borescope, they examined the contents, and found a key. They used a magnet at the end of the borescope to retrieve it, then used it to open the safe properly.
- We Buy Anything: Whether or not they sell everything or throw it away is a different story.
- They have said on several occasions that they donate some of the stuff they find. The most prominent example was the San Diego episode, they found a working Jaws of Life which they donated to the fireman that appraised it.
- We Sell Everything: Allen and Ton have found and sold all sorts of bizarre things in the units they buy. They've found and sold everything from batting cages to bowling pin setting systems to carts designed to retrieve golf balls.
- What an Idiot!: Many of the less-experienced bidders (aka "newbies") will pay way too much for units, much to the annoyance of Allen and Ton. They can also work this in their favor, since newbies are also likely to pay less for good units if they don't know what to look for, which they don't.