Monday, November 11, 2013

A Ninja Turtles observation...

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a team, I realise: all four of them. Leonardo, Michelangelo (Michaelangelo once upon a time...), Donatello and Raphael. For many of us, there are rules about them. For one thing, the order in which I listed them is not coincidental; it corresponds with their cabinet number on the old arcade games. Is it true in today's console games? I dare not check. I only pray it is the same. If not, then I also assume that cats chase dogs through the streets, and the number one single is not the newest track from M People. P-shaw!

In pecking order, we realise that Leonardo is of course the leader. Should he be missing (or should Raph go batshit crazy), Raphael is second in command. Due to his intelligence, Donatello would next be thrust into the role of commander, and Michelangelo is perfectly content to always follow his brothers' command. The subordinance of the latter two was fantastically illustrated in the first movie; as the dutiful Leonardo and brash Raphael butt heads, Donny and Mikey focus on more important things.

And as an aside (to an entry that's admittedly an aside), why did the Turtles wear face masks in the first place? Some may say that their colours help differentiate the turtles, who were otherwise identical in most mediums. To this I cry foul: in the original iterations all four turtles wore red, for one thing, and furthermore, if we're operating on the basis of reality, all of the Turtles know who is who, so the face masks are more of a matter of vanity than anything else. I mean, honestly; the masks aren't particularly concealing their identity: once you see an enormous bipedal Turtle brandishing Japanese weapons and 80s wit, you've pretty much narrowed it down.

Anyhow, my observation (as diluted as it has become) is based originally on my belief that the natural pairing of the Ninja Turtles becomes Leonardo and Raphael, and Michelangelo and Donatello. Your prime example is in the previous video; because of Raphael's volatile personality and Leonardo's perceived sense of responsibility, the interaction between the two is frequent and often volatile.

Because of their passive nature, Mike and Don seem a natural duo, and neither particularly challenges for any leadership role (aside from one episode in the 2003 series titled 'Same As It Never Was' where Donatello travels to an alternate dimension where his absence causes the dissension of the Turtles, who have drifted apart, etc. etc. [fantastic episode, watch it when you can]).

There is little diversion from this teaming, other than one episode in the 80s series where a training session pitted an invention-wielding Donatello and Leonardo against Raphael and a disinterested Michelangelo. Should you be trying to team them up, this would seem the second-most natural choice, with the outgoing nature of the latter two (charismatic in the sense of the sarcastic 80s Raph, outspoken in any other iteration) compared to the quiet, virtuous nature of the Leo/Don pairing.

The other, most curious combination sees Leo and Mike, and Don and Raph. To me, this is chalk and cheese; these brothers seem to have very little one-on-one correspondence, having neither similar personality traits or significant airtime. Pairing Don with Raph in particular seems bizarre as fuck to me - it's like combining Z-era Krillin with Yamcha. Sure, they're on the same team, but there's a noticeable disconnect between the two that renders them fairly at odds with one another.

I welcome any opinion on this matter, but I also understand that this conversational piece is obscure at best, dated and fucking irrelevant at worst. I would try to assure you that there are other, toy-related entries fast upcoming, but I'm drunk right now and I dare not make any promises I may not remember by tomorrow morning...

Monday, September 9, 2013

#0075: Pogs/Tazos/Dizks

I don't claim to be an educator of any sort, but I don't think I'm out of line when I make the assumption that teachers worldwide hate collectible toys with a passion. Because it's so fucking important for kids to gather as many as possible, and if anyone fucks with your collection, there will be hell to pay.

I remember when I was in year 7, and a bunch of year 10s looked through my Pokemon cards. When I came home that day, I realised that several were missing. My mom had sent over some of the new Jungle series cards that hadn't yet reached Australia; Jigglypuff, Meowth and the like, and those motherfuckers stole them. What a bunch of heinous ball sacks! They had no interest in the cards, they probably just wanted to sell them for a couple of bucks. I hope they've since died of botulism. Seriously, fuck those assholes.

It's no wonder the various collectible series are soon banned from the schoolyard. We feel slighted as kids, because we weren't doing any harm, and true enough, we weren't; it was those soulless little shitballs that ruined it for everyone. Fortunately, I didn't go through that kind of distress back in my early collecting days. Because back then, I didn't go to school in the shitty western suburbs of Melbourne. I had a most delightful time gathering Pogs. Then Tazos. Then Dizks. Then spores, moulds and fungus.

Oh, Pogs, you crazy little pieces of cardboard. They were veritable schoolyard currency twenty-some years ago, and I remember that no Pog was to be left behind. At a school event with various games and activities, one of the stands gave out Pogs as a prize. So long were the lines, they eventually had to implement a three-game limit. We were being told we'd had enough Pogs, man.

Here's the family. As you can see, I had a whole bunch of Lion King Pogs. The lion's share, if you will. One of my less proud moments was when someone threw away their Power Rangers Pog, and I frantically chased it down. Who in the flying fuck is Aisha? Who cares, she was a Pog - she was a GOD. And I know you're all super jealous of my slammers and my limited edition 'secret weapon' Pog. Although I'm fairly sure they just put the limited edition line on there for shits and giggles, and it held no actual bearing on the rarity of the Pog.

In case you're wondering, no, I never played the actual game of Pogs. Especially not for keepsies - are you crazy? They were far too important for such frivolity!! From my Nickelodeon Gak Pog to my magic 8-ball hatching from an egg Pog, from my Ren & Stimpy Pog to my piece of styrofoam Pog depicting some kind of robotic foot.

Nowadays, Pogs are a relic of a time long gone. Most kids would have no idea what you were talking about, and anyone brave enough to explore are led to the disappointment that is the Perth Obstetrics Gynaecology Specialists. That's no fun. I want to study Pogs, not vaginas.

Much bigger in Australia was the Pog equivalent, Tazos. As you can see, I entered the game far too late, and didn't really garner much of a collection. I like to think I got the most important ones, though, representing Space Jam and the significance of Duff beer.

Eventually however, they grew wise to the morning viewing habits of kids around the country. What happened next would boost the sales of chip packets by some astronomical percent. Possibly over 9,000...!

Meet the Dragon Ball Z Dizks. These sons of bitches were (figuratively) huge, and kids bought snacks in bulk not for their daily intake of potato, but for the chance to increase their collection of Dizks. As you can see, they were separated into three categories: the red good guys, the black villains, and the yellow 'super characters'. Unveiling a mighty Super Saiyan Goku or Super Namek Piccolo was cause for celebration, as you triumphantly thrust that silly little yellow circle into the air. You were cooler than cool! You were the hip happenin' thing, baby. Do a boogaloo shuffle!

In case you were wondering, yes, I collected all 40 of them. It has led to a better life for me and my children. But sadly, even the most complete collection is waiting to be dwarfed. While we thought the yellow Dizks were top of the pops, we later discovered glorious Dizks with bright orange backgrounds. We knew these were irregular, and hence, more important. As you can see, I only had three. And beyond that, there were even rarer gold ones that I only once ever saw in person - walking through a forest in the rocky mountains one day. I tried to snap a photo, but alas, it was gone.

Later on, they introduced newer characters in fascinating new shapes, as well as branching on to other shitty animes like Beyblades, but the magic was gone. We had already invested enough time, energy and cholesterol into the fine art of Dizk collecting. In my youth, they told me that I had had enough Pogs. All those years later, I was able to tell the distant Pog relative... 'nah, bro - I've had enough of you.'

Friday, August 2, 2013

#0074: GeoSafari

Keeping with the theme of old electronics, now we find ourselves face to face with the GeoSafari. This son of a whatnot was a Christmas gift, and it is an educational toy like most no other. It features a slew of cards depicting numbered illustrations, and a list of the names of these things on each side. What you'd do, see, is punch the unique card number into the GeoSafari, and one of the fourteen lights next to the words would illuminate. As you can see, the card I've got in the machine at the moment is of our solar system, and it appropriately features the planets of aforementioned system. This was back when Pluto was a planet, mind you, possibly rendering it as incorrect information in the folds of time. Kind of like a medical card depicting removal of toes with a hammer and chisel, or every single illness being solved with leeches.

Anyhow, say that the top left light (the one labelled Mercury) were to light up: you would then have to punch in the number for Mercury as quickly as possible in order to attain the highest score. If memory serves, that number would be 8. I actually haven't looked at the solar system for many years, because as you can appreciate, it doesn't fall into my daily list of required activities (a list that includes playing my 3DS and watching MasterChef).

At the end, the GeoSafari would tally your score. Hurrah! You were proven smart by a machine! Or perchance, boo! You achieved a miserable score of 3. If this toy were created today, it would contain online leader boards, a forum to discuss your favourite cards, and would exist in the form of freeware on your iPhone. Let's be honest here.

This device was so celebrated at the time, though, that even Mike Rowe wanted to tell you all about it. Mike fucking Rowe.

I'd love to give it a try and test my knowledge of Canadian landforms and waterways, but tragically, like most electronic toys of its time, it was powered by D batteries. Oh, D batteries, how I hate you so. Not as compact and versatile as AAs, and not nearly as much fun to draw as 9-volts. Obscene batteries have become the bane of my existence over the last few entries, and as such, I will not educate myself this sad winter evening. How D-sappointed you must be by this D-sgusting D-velopment.

That being said however, there is another distinct reason that it will not be in use tonight, and it comes down to the fact that my GeoSafari is not exactly in perfect operating condition. In case you were wondering, no, it does not typically come equipped with dusty buttons and built in grime, and I fear that opening the battery compartment would unleash an army of mice into my room, like a modern day Trojan horse.

Oh sure, it seems okay now, but look at how it was when I found it...

Back in the early 90s, it was worth endorsement from Mike Rowe. Now, playing it would be more akin to a Dirty Job. Also take note of the nearby Dinosaur FouFou. It may become relevant at some point in life.

If you fancy a demonstration of your own, it's readily available on Youtube, in one particular instance being operated by a sassy Spanish man, who describes it as being '¿Te gustó?'. Frankly, watching it in action is exactly how you'd expect from reading it in words, though I have to say, I dig that funky light cycling music. It's certainly aged better than the recently departed Speak & Read, which sounded eerily similar to the computer from Electric Dreams.

So sadly, the GeoSafari will find a new home in the garbage bin. Don't lament its fate too much however, because the cards will go on to good use, implemented in my fiancé's classroom. I mean, I haven't pitched the idea to her yet, but I will effectively force it upon her, even if it means appearing during recess and teaching the children myself.

...This is probably why I'm not allowed within thirty feet of playgrounds anymore. Which sucks, because I love monkey bars.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#0073: Speak & Read

Just as a precursor, I am currently unable to access my camera, so this entry will be briefly featured without any photographs. So if you're reading this and wondering what's with the lack of imagery, there's your answer. If you're reading this at a later date, and there are indeed pictures, then might I say, that is the most fantastic photo of the Speak & Read that I have ever seen. Practically orgasmic.

Though they're now better known for calculators, in the late 70s Texas Instruments hit a home run when they came up with the Speak & Spell device. Effectively an electronic tool that taught kids how to say some shit, it was a major revolution for its time, back when using technology as a learning tool was still a novel concept, and not completely and utterly crucial and necessary in every facet in life and kids know how to operate iPads before they even know how to wipe their own ass and what the fuck is up with that and this sentence is over now.

So significant was the Speak & Spell, it was referenced frequently in popular culture, most significantly in E.T. as a means of intergalactic communication, and in Toy Story as a key contributor to the toy society. So far, I haven't been able to use the Speak & Read to contact Mars or to help make plastic corrosion awareness meetings run smoothly, but in all fairness, maybe such features were only available to the Spell model. My loss, I guess.

Supposedly, the Speak & Read helps kids aged 4 to 8 increase their vocabulary, possessing a small army of 250 words. Unfortunately, I lack the four C batteries (or the ability to give a shit) necessary to power this thing, so I can't confirm which of your favourite rude words are included. It's probably for the best, because I don't know how productive spending six minutes shouting 'fuck' at this thing and waiting for its response would be.

It also has six different game modes; Word Zapper, Word Maker, Read It, Picture Read, Letter Stumper and Hear It. Of course, these games mean nothing to me, because other than their titles and the images on the corresponding keys (Letter Stumper appears to have Phanto from Super Mario Bros. 2), I know nothing about what each one consists of. Let's assume Read It lets you read words, Word Maker has you make up bullshit words like Kwyjibo, and Word Zapper forcibly removes words from your memory. That last one isn't very popular, because frequent play has limited the amount of words I currently have at my disposal. I honestly had a really good word I wanted to use today, but I can't remember what it is. So instead, I will use the word 'qualm'.

Want to see the thing in action? I kind of do. Like I said, I'm not going to bother chucking batteries in there, but fortunately the venerable sbdivemaster has the patience, the batteries, and the lovely looking towel to undertake such a task.

Oh wow, that's annoying as shit, isn't it? I had forgotten what these old talking devices sound like. I mean, I shouldn't be too harsh, this thing premiered in 1980, but those tones and buzzes are taxing to my ears. With the amount of knowledge I sucked out of this thing, it also explains why to this day I often talk like the Intellivoice. Damn you, Texas Instruments. Come back to me in twenty-five years when I'm failing math class because I'm too busy playing 'snake' on my calculator to learn anything about bivariate data and box and whisker plots.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

#0072: Thomas and Friends

My fiancé asked me a question recently: it was, plain and simply, why our spare room is being cluttered with a bag of old Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Though I tried to state the honest truth; that once I had blogged about them, they were going to go off to charity, she countered with an argument that proved most damning to my cause. These trains are dirty, worn, and in some cases, chewed on by my dog, or possibly a small infant in the garage I was unaware of.

I had nothing. So sadly, I sit here today, a veritable executioner about to give the last rites before sending my dear old friend Thomas off to the train graveyard. There, he will hopefully take solace in the fact that he can collect 3 hi-potions and an echo screen. ...Mildly obscure reference.

Once upon a time, I lavished upon you a tale about Duck the Great Western Engine. In all truth, Duck was actually perched right atop the pile whereupon his compatriots were resting, but somehow he came out of the whole thing a little bit less worse for wear. After a bit of a wash, he was good to go, as long as your standards weren't lofty. Today's guests weren't so lucky. Let's take a squiz at the worst of the lot...

Dear God... why do you hate my trains? The titular Thomas and perennial asshole Gordon are truly on the threshold of death, their once shining blue hulls now encrusted with filth, and years of abuse at the hands of a ruthless Jack Russell rendering their chassises warped and useless. Frankly, Gordon had it coming, but poor Thomas? He deserved better than this. He's one of my oldest, dearest friends, he should have aged with dignity. But alas, we can't have everything. I at least pray they proved tasty?

Elsewhere at the station, my pair of Henry twins are, by comparison, not too bad. Why I owned two Henrys is a mystery to us all (in the hopes of increasing productivity, perhaps), but more curiously, these Henrys, 3 years apart in their creation, feature two similar yet different shades of green. True Thomas historians may declare this to have been a by-product of some sort of 'green paint scandal' running rampant at the time, but to me, it's a riddle. I like the lighter shade, personally. It's more festive. I like my trains to be festive, after all.

Donald and Douglas, trains who appeared in the second season, therefore I don't give a shit about, are dirty, but otherwise in great nick. Strangely enough, the troublesome truck is in absolutely perfect condition, not even a little bit dusty, and James is a little bit banged around, but still has that million dollar smile, and


I don't even know who this is, but he looks fucking evil. Familiar faces Percy and Toby are nowhere to be seen, and instead I'm left with this sinister prick. I think he was a diesel engine. I should probably Google it, but it's actually kind of fun just assigning him whatever identity I choose. So henceforth, his name is Howard Bachman, he's the local drug peddler, and his passengers are 300 illegal eastern European prostitutes. ...I must confess, I now like him even better than James (who only carries a modest 75).

I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed with how little care I've given my Thomas toys over the years. I mean, had they not stayed in the garage, they would have been fine, but I had about sixteen years to retrieve them, so the fault is mine and mine alone. Could Thomas live on in some fashion, long after his haggard body has been tossed away like (Superted narrator voice) a piece of rubbish?

Maybe the answer is yes. Maybe the answer is no. I'm not sure at this point, but hopefully... someday... we'll find a way.

Oh wait fuck that, the answer is a resounding YES.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A reminder...

Both children's programming and popular music were vastly superior back in my day. I would totally love to break this out at a Halloween party, but I fear that it would be awkward for both of my guests.

Monday, May 27, 2013

#0071: Bugs Bunny Limo

It's rare these days that you're able to tear me away from my 3DS long enough for me to make a blog entry, but I'll try my best not to get distracted... Though I must confess, there's a noise outside my window right now that was actually distracting me throughout the duration of that opening sentence. I might take a look, and bring my 3DS with me, just in case.

So many of the curios I share with you are devoid of any sort of backstory, and we find ourselves in that familiar territory today, as I unveil to you the sheer majesty of the Bugs Bunny Limo. It is fantastically bizarre, and I'm already struggling to piece together the words necessary to describe its splendour. The first three words that spring to mind, however, are 'what the fuck?'

What we have here, clearly, is Bugs Bunny in a limo. He sports a bow tie, and clutches a carrot closely to his chest, as if it were some kind of trophy. Yosemite Sam is the driver of this limo, and his expression is one of pure fury and hatred. I don't know why Sam is so vexed, whether it's because his nemesis has claimed this prestigious carrot award, or simply due to being stuck in traffic, but whoa nelly, Sam be pissed. He reminds me a little bit of Dr. Robotnik, but that's neither here nor there.

Thorough Googling (or Yahooing if you sleep with your sister) comes up with bupkis. There is another 'Bugs Bunny limo' out there; most appropriately a Happy Meal toy from 1993, but it is not what we see here. This fine automobile, circa 1990, definitely didn't come complete with a cheeseburger and fries.

I think it might actually be a pull-back car, since it makes the appropriate clicks when put in reverse, but it refuses to launch forward afterwards, leading me to believe that it's broken. Possibly another reason for Sam's fury. Due to this, its major function is now to roll in 3 centimetre increments, and to bemuse. It does one of these things much better than the other.

Beyond that, I've got nothing. It's got nothing, frankly, so don't blame me for not coming up with a more verbose way of describing it. So instead, I thought I'd point out an odd coincidence I noticed recently: my favourite Looney Tunes things both have to do with basketball. I loved Space Jam to bits (we all did, I know), and Looney Tunes B-Ball is a great game that would have gotten more attention, had it come out earlier in the SNES' tenure. Its main theme is splendid, and when blasted out of your speakers, makes even the Bugs Bunny limo look fucking PIMP.

Friday, May 17, 2013

#0070: Animals!!

Et voila! A post, as promised. In the early 90s, Northern Getaway was one of my favourite stores in the world. It had this awesome rainforest theme, and was stacked to the brim with neat shit, like sand lizards and sweaters depicting kung-foo frogs with the headline 'Marsh-all Arts'. It was also the site where I first learnt about anti-theft barriers. No, I wasn't a roguish thief or a miniature kleptomaniac, I just wanted to show my dad the cool toy I had found, and he happened to be standing outside the store at the time. I remember being so confused by how I was getting in trouble for nothing, but no blood was spilt that day. Crisis averted.

Also, what in the fuck are those anti-theft barriers actually called? I'm sure I know, but the words are escaping me right now. I typically just call them the 'beepy motherfuckers', a versatile phrase that I've also used to define cars and the Bee Gees.

One of the most frequent causes of expenditure at Northern Getaway came in the form of these delightful animals. Aye, a more specific phrase would be preferable, but Googling for 'animal figurines' just opens the floodgates to eleventy billion unrelated products, most of which belong to the Sylvanian Families. And unless these figures are just going through a nude, four legged phase in which they forego tea parties and quaint cottages, I'm quite positive they aren't Sylvanian.

Before I proceed, I thought I'd express that it was an utter pain in the balls to try and get all of these little things to stand for the photo. These motherfuckers are clearly drunk, and yet another reminder to never work with children or animals. At the front of said photo is the very first one I got, the little golden brown kitty I named Chester. According to the underside of his body, Chester is a somali cat. I don't know if I ever realised that at the time, because it was frankly much easier to just call him a tabby. Everything was a tabby back in them days, whether they were a somali, an abyssinian or a corgi. Made things easier for us simple folk.

I took Chester all over the house (most memorably to the supper table, where I insisted my parents refer to him as 'our dinner guest'), and of course, it led to me wanting every single one of the cats we could find, even the ones that looked incredibly similar, and especially the ones that were just differently coloured versions of the same species.

Hey look! Siamese twins.

After we had exhausted the bevy of feline figurines, we moved onto dogs. I didn't get as many dogs for some reason, either because I was obsessed with cats as a kid or the range of mutts was smaller. Can't remember which. Among the collection is an Alsatian I have recently named Baldrick.

All up, I collected at least 26 of these figurines. I might have had more, but these were the ones I could find. Much like an old southern hoarder, I may have twelve more cats and dogs lurking about the house somewhere. I'll be sure to update you if I ever do find any more, and if you ever do happen to care.

They're bound to prove useful in some educational capacity, so hopefully my fiancé will find a role for them in her classroom. I wouldn't be surprised if at least half of them go missing, because the more I look at them, the more I realise that these things are some really steal-able figurines. Christ, I want to put them in my pocket, and I already own them. Isn't it circuitous that the toys from the store I almost accidentally burglarised are strong candidates for petty theft? I like it. I mean, I like the symbolism, I don't like the idea that some little shit's gonna steal my schnauzer.

I also have other animals, not necessarily from the same series (maybe they are? I can neither prove nor disprove this), but with the same concept: animal figurines with their specific genus printed on their belly. These range from five-lined skink juvenile to dimetrodon to epipedobates tricolor to GIANT FUCKING TURTLE.

It was a veritable jungle in my bedroom. And I don't mean that in a sexual way. In that sense, it was more of an abandoned cave: lonely and damp.

At the very least, these things all did an excellent job of filling out my toy chest. You know how sometimes you had toys that you liked, but never necessarily played with? These were the quintessential also-rans, and I loved them for it. Other than Chester, of course, whose major claim to fame was joining my luncheons.

My new favourite, however, isn't the beloved old somali tabby. It is in fact an unrelated animal figurine that I have decided to include in this entry, because this is as close as I'll ever get to finding a relevant entry to slip him in.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for you to meet the hideous bleeding lion.

Is it a haggard Simba after things had turned south in the pride lands? Or is it a battered Aslan, fresh off a most impolite shanking from the White Witch? It's hard to say, but anything is possible. Discuss amongst yourselves. Don't look at his bad eye.

When all else fails, blame the Vaike

I'm sorry, friends. All because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I don't still love you guys. The main reason for my absence lately can be traced almost directly to the 67 hours I have spent playing Fire Emblem Awakening. Oh my god, I love it so. Any scarce fragment of spare time I have, simply has to be dedicated towards playing it and buffing up my paladins. I even ranked the units over on my other blog, if you fancy a peek.

I do however have a bag of toys at my disposal that I have been feeling an itch to dispose of. So bear with me, there will be action (figures). To bide you over, here is my current collection of POP! Vinyls. They represent everything that is important to me, from Canadian superheroes to sea witches to Michael Keaton.

Friday, March 29, 2013

#0069: Jab

When you're a kid growing up, you have your heroes. For a lot of young'uns, that immediately translates to comic book supeheroes: your Batmans, your Spidermans, your Supermans (proper nouns, ergo correct grammar. Doncha be givin' me no grief!), and in my case, I was no different. As I have alluded to ever so frequently, my childhood heroes were, most significantly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, comic book heroes all the same.

I won't repeat myself, as I'm wanton to do, about how marketers worked furiously at recapturing the lightning in a bottle that was Turtlemania, though I will confess that the Street Sharks were my favourite of the many, many attempts. Whether Biker Mice from Mars were too edgy for my tastes, whether Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa were too irreverent and western (I never dug westerns), none of them seemed to catch my attention.

But Street Sharks somehow succeeded, and from the time of its inception in 1994 to the time of its death in 1996, I wanted me some sharks! Because not only were they cool and badass lookin', but importantly, they were very 90s.

Being an artefact of the 90s is a double-edged sword. Because although it holds nostalgic value, it also feels completely flippant now. Whether it's the tie-died wackiness of the early 90s, or the bubblegum pop and inflatable furniture preceding the millennium, it's not just dated, it's practically groan-worthy.

I mean, shit, I still love it to bits, but I can see why others wouldn't. As an aside, I have no idea who half of those characters are. I didn't know there was a pre-Mario Lopez era, and frankly, I don't like it.

And while we're at it, those lyrics really don't check out, do they? What kind of teacher fails to hand test papers to a student, simply because they were hiding in their chair? Are we to assume that this student is 8 centimetres tall?

But I digress once more. In the case of the Street Sharks, they're simply 'Jawesome'. Had radical, funky, gnarly or tubular been translatable to shark related puns, they'd have been all of those things, too.

So here we have Jab. My memory of Street Sharks lore is obviously waning, because I had him pegged as the brains of the operation, the resident 'Donatello', if you will, but apparently his defining characteristic was that he was lazy. It doesn't exactly grab you as being one of your archetypical roles: the uncertain leader, the rebellious cool guy, the virtuous peacekeeper and the lazy fuck, but hey, at least modern Tony can associate with Jab.

As you may have noted, Jab is a hammerhead shark, which means he's capable of doing neat shit like extending his eyeballs forward. A definite plus on the battlefield, as it allows you to stare at your opposition three inches closer, and could also be a means of showing surprise.

He's definitely a menacing figure, as one of his fists is permanently closed and raised at you in a very threatening gesture, which seems out of character for someone supposedly laidback, but we shan't split hairs. Really, if you're looking for something to complain about, you're more likely to point out the fact that he's a very shiny shade of silver, whilst the source material clearly had him as brown.

I don't know what he's holding in that picture. I just assume he's going to eat it.

His body is made of a fascinating rubbery material, and for the record, this meant that he retained water like a motherfucker. If you were like me, and assumed that shark figures would work well in the water, well then you were a damned fool, because he would then have to sit there for a week as he dripped all over the bathroom shelf.

This choice of material wasn't without cause, however. Because like all of the Boltons (excluding Michael), his trademark feature is his mighty jawline, and pressing down on his fin allows him to open his mouth and to feast upon his enemies! It's... not really that exciting, but if you were the really patient sort, you could actually make it look like he's talking.

I'm almost 100% certain I lifted that line from episode 3.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#0068: Pokemon Silver Version

In April of 2011, I decided to do an odd thing. I scavenged about the closet, unearthed my Game Boy Advance, and popped in my old Pokemon games. Did I intend to play them, seeking a surge of nostalgia? No, not exactly. After all, the first two generations have since been faithfully recreated, and I'm actually still in the middle of my Heart Gold run-through. In actuality, I kind of wanted to look through my legions of old Pokemon, just for shits and giggles.

I'd sunk about 200 hours into Pokemon Silver Version, and boy, what a time I'd had. Back in the days when Pokemon was still the exciting thing, the second edition certainly delivered on all fronts: new Pokemon, new abilities, the revelation that your darling little princess Clefable may actually have a wang... It was all terribly exciting, wasn't it?

And so, I fondly surveyed the contents of my PC boxes. My Typhlosion, the starter Pokemon who would join me as I trekked through this uncharted new region... Reddy, the cleverly named shiny crimson Gyarados... and of course, my Quagsire was in there somewhere. I adored that Quagsire. She was dopey as fuck, with this great big grin on her face; a veritable Brad Garrett of Pokemon.

But where in the hell was she? She wasn't among my party. She wasn't sitting in the Water or Ground-type boxes. She wasn't even on a vacation over on my Crystal version. She was nowhere. ...My Quagsire... was dead. In my misery, I wrote her a touching eulogy.

Pokemon Silver claimed my Quagsire far before her time. She was going to be celebrating her eleventh birthday this year. She was so beautiful. She loved to Rollout. So young, so innocent.

In memory of Nautica the Quagsire

Fast forward to today, and I thought I'd pay the Johto region another visit. But it would seem as though the cruel hand of fate has plagued this once pristine part of the world, and claimed another victim. And this time, that victim was the Johto champion, ANTHONY, trainer #15939.

Yes, it would seem as though the entire save file has disappeared, and with it, the Typhlosion, the Umbreon, the Crobat... Every last one, gone. Professor Oak approaches, but he's practically unrecognisable. He once lived an existence of great joy and unbridled passion, reviewing the progress ANTHONY had made on his Pokedex. But now, he is a shadow of his former self. He asks you for your name. He mutters something about the world of Pokemon. He hands you the ghastly corpse of a Chikorita. Then he shuffles off into the dark recesses of his dilapidated laboratory.

The world that once looked so vivid seems to only contain 56 colours, all of them melancholy. New Bark Town has only a few scattered inhabitants, who are all wandering back and forth aimlessly, their eyes glassy and pixelated. Strangely, though, people seem to be going about their day in much the same way they had back at the turn of the millennium.

They tell you about recently discovered Pokemon like Marill and Natu. They talk about the exciting new technology of the Poke Gear. They're listening to Sisqó as if he were relevant. However, mentioning the name ANTHONY only receives confusion and indifference. Why, it's as if you've jumped back in time to a perverse version of the past, one where ANTHONY never received that Cyndaquil, never bested Lance at the Pokemon League, and never prevented the uprising of Team Rocket.

He's been erased from the memory of everyone in the world! ...Which is odd, considering that he's also the champion of Kanto, Hoenn and Unova. He would have been the Sinnoh region champion as well, but I decided to name him MR. BUTTS instead. Hahaha! Butts.

I shan't dally for long. Clearly, my very presence here, with my fancy new iPod and Terrence Ross Raptors jersey, is causing suspicion. I'm a practical paradox, and my Game Boy Advance isn't backlit, so I can't make out a damn thing anyway. Tears in my eyes, I take out my Poke Ball, and release my Swellow, ready for it to fly me away from this horrible place.

Unfortunately, Swellow doesn't exist yet. The save file is now corrupted, and New Bark Town is renamed HW!%RRR!PWWW. Fuck.

I hope you're out there somewhere, ANTHONY. Still farming those Charmanders. Still giving those Pokemon the horrible movesets you thought were so tactful as a twelve year old. Still nicknaming Hoothoot as Lugia, and trading it to unsuspecting children. You old dick, you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

#0067: Snoopy World Tour

Fast food toys are a mixed bag, in all honesty. Occasionally, you'll go through droughts where the prizes are uninspiring: generic cars for the boys, generic miniature dolls for the girls. Most of the time, they're modelled after whatever television show or movie is hot at the time, and even then, it's hit or miss: for every fantastic Sonic the Hedgehog, there's about three auxiliary characters with lesser intrigue. I was six years old, I didn't want Robotnik! He was a fat, bald man, and I had been conditioned to hate him.

To this day, I can still remember the two most thrilling toy offers from my youth: McDonald's Teenie Beanies, and Burger King's Pokemon plushes. Seriously, if you want kids to gobble shit up, make it a plush item. This applies to all range of toy exchange, really: in gaming arcades, plush toys go off like nobody's business. Whether it's as a redemption item, or a claw machine prize, stick it in there. I don't know why I'm informing you of this as though you're likely to make these decisions.

One of my favourite range of prizes, plush hysteria notwithstanding, were these charming Snoopy World Tour figurines that did the rounds of McDonald's in 1998 and 1999. The premise is simple: each week, four new international Snoopy's would be released. The sheer collectibility of these little gaffers made people go crazy. Apparently they became a hot commodity, which is hilarious when you consider the apathetic expression of the Snoopy's themselves: the population of Hong Kong is ripping each other apart for a small plastic toy. Snoopy don't give a shit.

In two series, a whole slew of nations were represented, ranging from a Norwegian viking to a Canadian Mountie. Personally for the latter I would have just had a despondent looking Snoopy crying into his beer like a Leafs fan.

It would have been hilarious if they had gone with a Peanuts character other than Snoopy. Imagine how much less hype there would have been if they had made it Pigpen's World Tour? In fact, just jettison the Peanuts license entirely for a moment, and make it someone completely random. ...No, more random than that!

...What about Margaret Thatcher's World Tour? I love it! The English one would be totally easy, it would just be Margaret Thatcher, I guess. The Libyan one would be brandishing a bomb in a sort of self-destructive omen of things to come. The Jamaican one is still being workshopped.

I myself didn't manage to assemble that many Snoopy's, (and by that, I mean my poor dad who had to fork out the dosh for something that would ultimately be shoved into a drawer within the month), or (m)any Margaret Thatcher's, for that matter, but I'm rather fond of the little sampling I do have.

#1 is the United States of America. Here, Snoopy is adorned in traditional American garb: like all Yanks, he struts his shit about while dressed like the Statue of Liberty. I'm being facetious of course, though now that I think of it, I did see at least three people dressed up like that in New York City. No, I'm not including the Statue itself.

He's supposed to be holding the Declaration of Independence in his left hand, but it's much smaller than I would have imagined. He might just be holding Tuesdays with Morrie.

Next up is local boy Australia, or if you want to say it like the locals, 'Straya'. He originally came with a detachable slouch hat, but unfortunately in typical Tony fashion it is lost and will never again be tachable, leaving uninformed tourists to assume that it's Australian tradition to have just been assaulted by the Driller Killer. He's still got that fantastic stereotypical bandanna that Aussies are always associated with, though I've never actually seen being worn in real life, and not one but two boomerangs. It would be entirely impractical to try and dual-wield boomerangs, but fuck it, let's suspend our disbelief: Snoopy makes it possible.

The laidback chum on the right is Hawai'i, leaving excluded nations frowning that there were two American entries. In their defence however, Hawai'i is one of the greatest places on Earth, and Snoopy's fairly generic surfer attire could be applied to your nation, if you really wanted it to. I'm sure there's a big surfing scene in Kazakhstan.

Now we enter Fiji: a tiny collection of islands that I vaguely remember as being very rocky. My sister stepped on a shellfish in Fiji, and I think we tried to touch some kind of venomous reptile before being deterred by a local. Christ, Fiji seems really dangerous the more I think about it in retrospect. Despite the many hazards, the Fijian Snoopy seems cheery all the same, tappin' his toe and sporting a grass frock, just 'cause he can. I can't think of many more things to say about Fiji, but apparently the most popular sports are rugby, boat racing and varieties of wrestling. And I suppose the Fijian Snoopy looks about ready to rassle, so that holds true enough.

The last one is the Swedish Snoopy. He's dressed like a traditional Swedish leprechaun, holding a Swedish pot of gold, and appears to be as drunken and loutish as your typical Swede. But I kid, simply because I wanted to make this paragraph bigger. This is obviously the Irish Snoopy, and when it's all said and done, he's likely my favourite. It's probably the pointy shoes that do it for me.

Overall, I'd rate these Snoopy toys fairly highly in the echelons of Happy Meal toys. They certainly did the job (of making money), and allowed cultures from around the world to have their own personalised little beagle. Hopefully they'll resurface someday with even more nations, and fresh new takes on existing models. After all, Aussies are also occasionally known to disguise ourselves as other nationalities...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some old friends...

Whether it's reasonable justification, or pure and simple hypocrisy, my progress in letting things go is compounded by a mad obsession with surrounding myself with things I enjoy, or if we're being honest, toys of a new era.

For some reason (other than the fact that I'm a hoarder, and there's possibly eight dead cats strewn about the garbage in my room), I want to wear my heart on my sleeve, to show off things that I like. I never want to get rid of my favourite video games. Whether or not I ever play them anymore, I want to hold onto them, to show everyone out there... 'Hey! I played Sonic & Knuckles! It's part of who I am!!'

In a similar fashion, I chose to collect two of my favourite athletes of all time, Steve McNair and Eddie George and proudly brandish them atop a bookshelf that is in our spare room, and few people ever actually see. And funnily enough, I have no buyer's remorse whatsoever. Someday, in my great big billion dollar mansion with rooms the size of airports and stairways that lead to nowhere, the figures will stand tall in a man cave to be proud of.

But really, I've given this far more thought than I probably needed to. In short, I got some more toyz. Online shopping sprees, they're dangerous things.

We commence with this handsome Jose Bautista bust, slugger of Toronto Blue Jays fame. Despite the Blue Jays being the very first team I was ever a fan of, primarily because dad had a Jays sweater I enjoyed looking at, I'd say there are fewer Jays in the all-time echelons of my favourite athletes than in my other teams. Nearly all of them played during the glorious years of back-to-back pennants, save a few obvious exceptions: Stieb, Delgado, Halladay et al.

In Jose Bautista, the Jays have had a true superstar, garnering the rare adulation that Toronto-based athletes often deserve but often miss out on. He's our modern-day Joe Carter, only with a better OBP, keener defensive abilities, and at least 99% more Dominican conversations.

Hacking through his plastic enclosure to yank him open feels mildly perverse, like bulldozing a rainforest, or performing a really unpleasant Caesarean section. Frankly, it doesn't feel like he wants to come out to play: he's held in place with a cable tie, and then, shockingly, his right leg is held in place by a hole in the plastic. I don't know why, but it's no wonder he was injured so much last year. That's dangerous, man!

Eventually however, he's freed from his transparent hub. In the process, I manage to do minor damage to his bat, as I didn't realise it was held in with a layer of tape, and came into two pieces. It's supposed to detach, apparently, but not so violently. I'll pretend it was wear and tear caused by dingers. Or, if I were at bat, a pop fly that lands harmlessly in the glove of the pitcher.

As is to be expected, he's a striking young figure (no pun intended, unless it was funny), obviously thicker than his more lithe cohorts of other sports, and with a more intense glare. Personally, I would have made the figure sporting Joey Bat's awesome reflective sunglasses, but I guess sacrifices have to be made. He probably would have looked a little bit nonchalant with them on, like he was just chilling at the beach, wearing entirely inappropriate beach wear.

At first, getting his bat in his hand felt so difficult, I almost contemplated leaving it out. Without it, he's just doing the cha-cha, or launching a Kamehameha. I'm cool with that. I really don't want to snap his arm off and ruin the whole figure, when suddenly...

The arm wretches aside! What is this? His arms are... movable? What a shocking revelation! After years of just accepting that these fellas were locked into their respective positions, but Jose chooses to freely flail his arms about in the interest of making that perfect batting stance. Unfortunately, it now means I have two unwilling hands to force that bat through rather than one, but I'll live with it. Whether he will remains to be seen.

Our next subject is Chris Bosh, formerly of the Toronto Raptors. Rather amusingly, he comes packaged without legs.

Despite this, he's still better than anyone currently on the Raptors roster. Also, it means that I could recreate the scene from Robocop 2 where Murphy gets dismantled, if I wanted to. ...I don't think I want to.

The first thing that strikes me upon unleashing the Boshtrich is that... wow, he's really tall! I mean, it's to be expected when your subject matter stands at 6-10, but beyond that, the box reveals that this model happens to be 11½ inches tall, or exactly four inches taller than Muggsy Bogues.

One of the things I like about the McFarlane figures is that, whenever a player moves to a new team, their model is rereleased with an updated look. Sometimes, it's with a new pose and whatnot, but in the case of Mr. Bosh, it was in the exact same pose, only sporting a Miami jersey and a shaved head, as is his current look. If they were being truly accurate, the new Heat model of Bosh would come complete without the ball in his hand.

Oh, I kid. I kid because I love. As Scott Carefoot once pointed out, and yes, I realise I'm heavy-handed with the links today, Chris Bosh cops a lot of shit from fans, primarily because of how awkward he is. The other guys around him, LeBron and D-Wade, they're pretty cool, y'know? Pretty slick (like LeBron's forehead). But our boy Bosh? He's just this lanky dude who sometimes looks like a lizard. No reason to hate on that. Indeed, all the more reason to cheer for him. He'll always be a Raptor to me, perhaps primarily because he so resembles one.

Once I've finally gotten his legs on (one fell off onto my lap at one point. It was horrifying), I perch him upon his stand, and good lord, this thing really is huge!!

As you can see, Bosh towers over the once-hulking Jose Bautista, ready to dunk all up in the face of Felix Baumgartner. In fact, Jose looks like Joe Pesci, about to crack the kneecaps of this enormous beast. Truly, I fear for Bosh's safety up there: he's held in place by a sturdy little piece of metal, but he still wiggles when I touch him. It's actually really fun to poke him and watch him bob back and forth, but I surmise that it's not the best way to maintain the figure.

...Just one more poke. Hehe!

Now we meet Ryan Kesler. His box is dustier than the others, which makes me feel as though I am the only one who is buying Ryan Kesler. If I know my countrymen as well as I think I do, I figure a great deal of this is due to his being American. What do fellow Vancouver Canucks Kevin Bieksa, Roberto Luongo and Maxim Lapierre all have in common? They are all Canadian, and as such, they will always have that homegrown love. What else do they have in common? None of them are very good goalies.

I'll stop now. Because I have a near-legitimate fear that everyone I've talked smack about (Bosh, Luongo and the entirety of the 2013 Toronto Raptors) will come and get me. Which would be really cool for a photo opportunity, but ultimately dangerous to my person and my personal belongings. They might even poke my Bosh figure. Dangerous!

Ryan Kesler comes with a removable hockey stick, a tiny little puck I think I'll lose by the end of this sentence, and a shocked expression on his face. Maybe he's shocked that he's responsible for that tiny little puck, wherever it went. His pose is quite amazing, because he's leaning over so far he looks like he'll fall at any second, and it makes me really appreciate the grace and athleticism of hockey players. I mean, imagine being in that position on a field or a court, you'd lose your balance, right? Then imagine doing that on the ice, while being chased by many men with few teeth. Now I understand the look of alarm on Kesler's mug.

And finally, last but not least, the coup de grâce, the mack daddy, the man who garners more animosity from the Toronto faithful than perhaps anyone else (though really, that hatred should be directed at Hedo Turkoglu)...

Vince Carter.

For years, I bemoaned his name. The former Raptors' superstar, one of the biggest names in the league, who brought excitement to the young franchise with his sheer athletic prowess and bevy of amazing dunks. Then, after six years, things went south. Vince was traded for peanuts to New Jersey, and the divorce was less than amicable. It took me almost a decade to get over it, and now, I look back fondly on who he was for us, and what he did for us, rather than how it all ended.

And now, he's in my house. This particular figure is modelled after one of Vince's finest moments, his triumphant performance in the 2000 Dunk Contest, with a series of jams that many consider to be the best of all time. Perhaps it's appropriate that I got this figure in a year when Terrence Ross became the second Raptor of all time to win the contest? Perhaps it's fate? Perhaps it's coincidence? Perhaps I was just shit scared that if I waited much longer, the Vince figure would no longer be available in Raptors garb? ...Yeah, that was it.

Just like Chris Bosh, Vince is in mid-flight, but unlike his crimson ally, Vince tragically has the metal jutting right into his knee. Which frankly, you'd think would hurt his ability to jump. It might be my misty-eyed nostalgia, but I think this one is my favourite. It represents one of the highlights of my tragic tenure as a sport fan (bested only by Sidney Crosby's golden goal and the day that Joe Carter touched 'em all), and it will be forever immortalised upon my mantle, at least until one of several things happen (theft, earthquake, or angry fiancé furious that I spent all this money on toys).

And so, my set is complete, for now. There are other athletes who hold a place close to my heart, and inevitably there will be many more on the horizon. I look forward to watching this collection grow (as long as it doesn't become obsessive, which it most likely will), because there's always room for winners in my home.

...Fingers crossed, the next one is Andrew Wiggins after he leads Toronto to an NBA title.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#0066: A box of Lego

I know, I'm a terrible caretaker. Not only have I been more missing in action than Julia Gillard's capability to run a country (political snipe! Hardly relevant), but I did in fact miss INAKA's second birthday. It's hard to believe that I've been parading out toys like animated corpses for two years now. It's easy to believe that I've managed less than three a month.

But regardless, we press on. Because occasionally, I'm put in a situation where somebody actually needs one of those lonely old toys/books/games/embryos, and I dutifully offer it for service. Inevitably, it always remains my fiancé needing items for her classroom, and having already sunk thousands of dollars into materials that most people wouldn't even notice. Seriously, being a teacher is expensive. Especially when you have to support my burgeoning drug addiction.

So today, like the faithful servant I am, I present to the class of 2013 a box of Lego. I intend to get it back someday, because it was a Christmas present, and damned if I don't intend to construct some very important Lego structures in the near future. Phallic ones, mostly.

Did you have Lego as a kid? I hope so, because it's fantastic for imaginative play. No preconceived story lines or marketing demands, just creating tiny little people who suddenly have lives to go about, before you inevitably grow tired of them and just dismantle every single piece. Kind of like Satan in the Mysterious Stranger, only less traumatic to small children and aforementioned tiny little people.

Fucking terrifying. Though it makes me want to conjure up some grapes.

My first goal when playing with Lego was always to create a house. I don't know why I always stuck with that theme, but I dare not stray from it today. So away I went, constructing my house. To call it garish would frankly be an insult to garish things the world over, because this house is simply hideous. I blame it entirely on a lack of red Lego blocks, the only sensible colour with which to construct a Lego house.

Then, I attempt to furnish the abode. Due to a limited amount of options, and a shocking realisation that half of the materials I've used to build the house were actually meant to be used on some sort of flying device, I keep it simple. There is a table with a clock on it. It is the pièce de résistance.

I also add a tree, some flowers, and a lake, because I can never find an alternative use for those circular blue blocks. I'm using the same cheap tricks I used nineteen years ago, and for that I'm sorry. I swear, next time I'll make it be a gigantic blue Smartie.

Finally, I must populate the residence. There is only one appropriately sized man included in my set, so I go with him.

And Jesus Christ, he looks just like me.

So at long last, I have completed my house. The more pedantic version of me from the past would have also used up all of the remaining blocks until the walls were sky high, but I'll pass on that today. For one thing, I have to knock this all down before someone comes home and sees me playing with Lego. I do have a job, I swear I do.

Miniature Tony lives his life alone in this house. He has no friends, mostly due to his dreadful choice in architectural ambience, and he also has no arms. But that's okay, because underneath that Lego shirt he has thirteen legs, so he does just fine, thank you very much!

But one day, local thug Raoul Sepulveda comes rolling up on his discount segway, pounding upon Tony's door and demanding his presence.

"Open up!" Sepulveda snarls in a thick Montenegrin accent, "I know you're in there, for you have very short walls and I can see you perfectly!"

Well, shit, that photo looks much more indecent than I had intended.

Anyway, Tony answers the door (he does this by climbing atop it, because apparently the lovely black path I made blocks the door from opening), and meekly asks why Sepulveda is there. He knows that Sepulveda is a violent man, and his very presence has made a nearby tree collapse.

"My clock, you rapscallion!" Sepulveda replies, flailing one arm wildly in an effort to intimidate Tony, and also as a means of not falling over, "I demand you return it at once!"

"This clock?!" Tony says with a gasp, hovering over the clock because I just found an unused propellor piece and have now decided that Tony should be able to fly, "This was a present from my dear aunt Duplo! You cannot have it! Cannot, I say!!"

Things are getting pretty tense, when out of nowhere, an angel appears. Its soft, soothing voice puts the gentlemen at ease, and they stand in awe of its impressive structure. Jesus did not have wheels, but our angel certainly does. It comes offering a solution to end all of their strife and suffering.

"Dear, sweet angel!" Tony says graciously, tears welling in his eyes, "Please! We accept whatever help you may bestow upon us... But pray tell, what is your name, benevolent one?"


No one knows what was spared and what was destroyed during that time...
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