Thursday, March 7, 2019

#0104: Pride Rock


They say the lion is calling Dad
Say uhm a lion

As the lions go, they are
We say uhhmm a lion
Lion

It's Victorious
Lion
The lion and the leopard

The above may not seem awe-inspiring by any stretch of the imagination (it actually sounds borderline schizophrenic), but return it to its original Zulu, and kids around the world are belting it out with passion and shameless cultural appropriation.

Indeed, these are the opening lyrics to the Circle of Life from The Lion King, and they paint the perfect picture of the Pride Lands where our story is to be told. Because indeed, the lion is calling, and all of the animals are hurriedly gathering to catch a brief glimpse of the newborn prince.

Not sure what's up with the fucking leopard, though, and why he gets top billing. Must have been a contractual thing.

Today's entry will be a little bit weird, even by my standards, because I'm struggling to assemble the suitable toys nowadays for a vaguely coherent post. What we have here, obviously, is Pride Rock, a legendary monument that represents the strength of the kingdom. It also sounds like a really cool place to host your next LGBTQ function.

However, I can't for the life of me find any Lion King toys to adorn it with. The long departed Scar would have been right at home here. Maybe even a couple of the appropriate Pogs scattered about. I certainly wouldn't bother with Timon and Pumbaa's Jungle Games, though, because that game is fucking woeful.

I will persevere, because I'm sure that a fraction of my readers are foaming at the mouth with anticipation to see what this proud rock is all about. Considering only one person reads this, that would make it a fraction of 1. Does that mean I get to use the √ symbol? I like it because it looks like a tick, and I'm always desperate for approval.


Here we see the reverse of Pride Rock (also known as Shameful Rectum), and the eager peasants fused into the stone wall forevermore. How this tragic fate befell them is anyone's guess, but it could have something to do with the fact that I can't find my Simba figurine, and as a result they've had to wait there for twenty-five years.

They could do a lot worse, as far as prisons go, because they have the pleasure of a perpetual sunrise peeking over the horizon, and that's all very nice as long as they're wearing sunscreen and drinking lots of water.

But the true adventure lies inside, for Pride Rock opens to reveal a whimsical tapestry of storytelling and mirth. It's like a popup book and a playset all at once, and it is the most exciting thing to happen in all of 2019. I'm so keen, I'm dripping with sweat from every pore. I should stop delaying and crack it open once and for all, or at the very least, get out of the oven.

Again, a precursor: I'm absent the Lion King toys necessary to construct a Lion King chronicle, but I'll make do with the knick knacks I have lying around. I'll try not to incorporate the cocaine, unless it happens to flow with the narrative.


We open in the elephant graveyard. Wait, what? Why in the fuck did we open here? This shouldn't come until the latter half of the first act, we haven't even enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the savanna! It would be like going to a friend's house to watch the big fight and getting assaulted by Mike Tyson upon arrival.

Remember: if he winks at you, that's your cue to start swinging. Either your fists, or sexually, because that could be fun, too.

Anyway, the elephant graveyard is not a place to be trifled with, evident from the tiny purple hyenas lurking in the background. Sonic the Hedgehog was feeling brave enough to test his limits, but was quickly dismembered by a bombastic white stallion that proceeded to feast on his tasty brain tissue.

Nearby, I intended for Mike Wazowski to be trapped within the cage of bones, but he didn't fit particularly well and his smug demeanour doesn't really allude to an imprisoned man. Instead, we will simply assume that he is the Elephant Graveyard Overlord, and he watches the carnage with a sick satisfaction.

"Look, little Mikey!" he coos to his beloved teddy bear, "He bleeds like all of the rest!"

I know what you're thinking... this mirrors the actual events of The Lion King a little too closely, right? My apologies.


It's much calmer on the other side of the wall, however, because it is set in the jungle during the fun scene where Simba declares about how he 'just can't wait to be king' and attempts to murder his butler.

The fact that, chronologically, this should come before the elephant graveyard leads me to believe that this toy was supposed to be used from right to left like a manga. Could it be repurposed as a hentai, maybe? I don't have a lot of sexy toys, unless you get off on Yakko Warner and the Muppet Babies.

In any event, we have found a Simba facsimile in the form of this delightful kitty Koosh who will henceforth be known as Archibald. He watches on with glee as Michael Jordan performs a festive jig that he calls the 'triple threat position'.

Over in the far distance (read: the left hand side), is the tree of life, where there is nary a soul to be seen, but the faintest sound of rustling can be heard in the branches...

Oh my! What's this?


Why, Rafiki was there the whole time, after all. He was touching himself while he watched from the shadows. What fun!

Overall, it seems to have been a wonderful journey around the Pride Lands. We got to see a truly special dance from an NBA legend, a chilling feast with an equine foe, and even Rafiki's engorged genitals. I'd call that a pretty successful Saturday, all up.

But now, it's time to leave Pride Rock and move onto greener pastures. We'll head out the back way, so as not to attract attention from the paparazzi...


Macho Man: "Ohhhhh yeeeaaahhhh! I've got the sweetest of the sweets at my disposal, unquestionably envied across this GREAT NATION of Africa. The only question... ohh yeah... the only question remaining is whether you possess the GUMPTION to partake of this most LEGENDARY bounty?"

Big Boss Man: "I'm very clearly a cop."

Macho Man: "Nothing means nothing!!" *spins in a 360 degree circle*

Sunday, March 3, 2019

#0103: Zeddy Bear


Despite the fact that I have spent the last two decades down south in Straya, fragments of my childhood in Canada occasionally bubble to the surface in weird ways, like a rash that only seems to appear during summer.

So let me throw it out there, right now. Do you remember Zellers?

Unless you're a Canadian, American or have a queer fascination with defunct department stores, you're probably shaking your head in bewilderment. Hopefully not literally, because this is a blog, dammit, and I cannot see your frequent gesticulations. That thing that you're doing with your junk, though? I totally see that. Save it for the playground, pervert.

For almost eighty years, Zellers was a Canadian staple, offering affordable toys, homewares and other such wonderful goods, and never really bothering anyone. As is so often the case, however, those damned Yanks invaded the border, and in time, competition from Sears, Walmart and others choked the life out of humble Zellers.

By 2013, Zellers was all but wiped off the map, leaving only a couple of stores scattered around like the last of the Jedi, or the final shreds of Activision Blizzard's dignity. Topical? Hardly, but I'm trying. Actually, I almost misspelled that as 'toypical', which I may repurpose for my own nefarious gain at a later date.

Any good store needs a good mascot, and in the case of Zellers, there was Zeddy Bear. I don't remember much about him, but just looking into those big, vacant eyes, I don't think he remembers much, either.


A quick scan of the Internet — because we all want to know if he's HTF, dammit — reveals that this is a much less commonly found plush, with his gaudier redesign flooding eBay in mass quantities. One such listing claims that the plush will prove to be 'highly collectable'. If, in that sense, they mean that you can collect a veritable shitload of them because everyone is hawking the fucking thing, then there's a modicum of truth to that statement.

Meanwhile, this much more understated variation only pops up here and there. Tragically, that hasn't really increased his value, and I think if you account for inflation, the asking prices are actually selling at a loss compared to his late 80s/early 90s $19.95 RRP. I guess people are really sick of Zeddy clogging up their closets, his outstretched paw eternally waving as he hopes to find a new friend, but receives only apathy and disdain.

Jesus, that's fucking morose.

Especially when you consider the optimism that Zeddy came into this world with. His tag proclaims in big, bold letters, "HI! I'M ZEDDY BEAR", before going on to explain that "I'm looking after all my friends. We can take care of each other! LET'S BE BEST FRIENDS!"

Alright, let's break things down for a moment. First off, I don't quite get how he's looking after all his friends. Theoretically, he was just sitting there on the shelf, awaiting sale among fifty other identical plushes. Were those his friends that he was looking after? Were they part of a support group? Was his departure the catalyst that caused all of Zellers to go under?

It surely can't be that important, because he seems to be pretty chill about the concept of joining you, instead. You're his new best friend, everyone he's left behind is dead to him. He was also on sale at the time of purchase for $9.95, which I think is an absolute steal. The best kind of irresponsible, fickle teddy bear is a thrifty one!

Over on the other side, the tag targets the parents instead, just in case they weren't sold on this sentient bear forming an eternal bond with their child.

"Zeddy Bear is the 'spokesbear' for Zellers' Colour Me Careful Children's Safety Program.

Zeddy's funny, furry face will be popping up everywhere on products for children at Zellers. The kids are going to love him and learn from him, too.

Best of all, you can trust the Zeddy logo to represent top quality and style."

Well, that seems legit. I've never seen a toy that felt the need to justify itself so hastily, but it did a pretty good job of it. Needless to say, there's also a tag in French, just in case Quebecois families refused to believe the credibility of a non-Francophone stuffed toy.

We actually have two Zeddy Bears, which is an excellent haul, however the other one is sans tag and, more interestingly, sans shirt. It looks even more disheveled and broken, leading me to assume that this one is the sub of the relationship.


That photo probably didn't need to happen.

In all seriousness, if anyone who reads this blog happens to actually care about the quality of my toys, you'll be pleased to know that Zeddy is a really fantastic plush. His fur is soft, he's got his name embroidered into his hand, and he has this warm, peaceful smile on his face that belies the chaos that would befall his homeland.

He's got a little hang-tag adorning his noggin, though it seems a fairly odd proposition to hang a plush this large and heavy from the wall. I can picture him causing an entire panel to collapse, spreading plaster and good will all over the living room.

Looking at Zeddy, I can't help but feel melancholy. In my thirty years on this earth, I have seen many beloved memories from my childhood go up in smoke, longtime chains that we thought would be around forever. Zeddy sits somewhere among the clouds now alongside Geoffrey the Giraffe and the Blockbuster mascot, who I choose to assume is a giant VHS cassette with arms, legs and attitude.

I know that the 90s is never coming back, but that won't stop me from stubbornly detesting everything modern, spouting phrases like 'back in my day' and 'you kids ain't seen nothin' yet'. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch some Netflix on my laptop while sipping a nice, tall glass of hypocrisy.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

#0102: Mario Kart Yoshi


'Welcome to Mario Kart', declares Tony, grandly entering the room with all of the levity of a six-year-old's birthday party. He has a hollow grin plastered on his face, and half-empty bowls of candy balanced haphazardly on each palm. Your first instinct is to scream at him, but you're far too shocked by his brazen disregard for your feelings.

You waited several months, again, for him to return, and he doesn't have the common decency to address his absence? Or the fact that he missed yet another anniversary for his poor, unloved blog?

Of course not! Because he's done that no less than four times already, and that shit is overplayed. So just enjoy the frivolity, baby, and look forward to the next blog entry, due sometime in mid-2020.

For today, you have a Mario Kart Yoshi to deal with. Ugh, another mouth to feed Tony, you fucking cad.

What do you expect? Once a hoarder, always a hoarder. And in my advanced years, I've been trying less to jettison old toys, and focusing more on my floundering career. Ostensibly, I'm a journalist. Literally, I'm a fucking dropkick. But that doesn't mean I can't pull an entry out of my ass every now and then like an old man with a startling disregard for his hemorrhoids.

There is no segue that could possibly recover that last paragraph, so instead, we'll just jump right into the fray. Whoa, nelly! There's a dinosaur driving a car! I haven't seen that in weeks.

Over the years, there have been a few different variations of remote controlled Yoshi toys. The most recent offering, based on the anti-gravity mechanics found in Mario Kart 8, is capable of literally driving up walls using what I can only assume is some kind of voodoo magic.



But back in my day, we weren't quite so lucky. Indeed, my history with remote controlled cars is rather dubious as a whole. I recall having one when I was about seven or eight. I drove it out on the driveway on the first day, and it just upped and died. Right there on the spot, it said 'no more of your shit, Anthony' and broke down, never to operate again.

I never did get a replacement, and it's probably part of the reason why I still don't drive to this very day. Too many haunting memories, you see.

It wasn't until some time circa 2006 that I dared try my luck again on the RC front, this time entrusting my fate with a spaced out lizard who is actually incapable of putting his hands on the wheel. I sure hope he's insured.

Purportedly, this series of toys was released in 2004 by NKOK, though it seems a bit odd to me that, based on the packaging, they would be modeled after Mario Kart 64, as opposed to the more recent Double Dash, or even Mario Kart Advance, for that matter. MK64 was old news by that point, with its successor, the flawed but amiable GameCube, well into its lifespan.

64 was probably the most iconic title, however, and lord knows that they weren't about to go to the effort of sticking Wario's fat ass on the back of a kart, so this is what we ended up with.


Despite Yoshi's apathetic driving style caused by his inexplicably movable arms, the model actually looks pretty spot on. Granted, it's hard to mess up a design as simple as Yoshi, but other than its dead-eyed stare, everything else is as it should be. You can practically hear it make that famous sneezing sound it used to do before Yoshi's Story ruined the character forevermore.

That's a discussion in and of itself, by the way. Feel free to message me if you'd like me elaborate, and/or text me some nudes.

What doesn't look quite as kosher, however, is the remote itself. There's no dials, wheels or knobs for you to fiddle with, instead featuring a mere two button system. As you may have gleaned from the arrows on said buttons, Yoshi is capable of going forward, or backwards while veering off to the right.

That's it. No hairpin turns. No loop-de-loops. He literally has the functionality of someone who is trying to parallel park.

With that in mind, it kind of makes sense why he doesn't have his hands on the wheel. After all, he's not planning on turning at any time, instead opting to barrel forward recklessly until he meets his demise like Thelma and Louise. It's among the most mind-boggling design choices I've ever seen in a toy, and it may even claim the top spot overall.

It's not so much remote controlled as just remote prompted. That sounds a lot less fun. And vaguely reminiscent of a mistranslation.

But hey, maybe in practice, it's actually quite amusing? Perhaps we can get him up to a sufficient speed to make it rather death defying? If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.



Wait, what? I can't quite even work out what happened just now. Despite my thumb being pressed firmly on the forward button — a button which, by its very name, is intended for the sole purpose of moving forward — Yoshi decides to swing a right and take the off-ramp to Sacramento.

His tomfoolery is soon foiled when he hits a patch of grass and gets completely bogged. It was just as uninspiring as I had envisaged, albeit far more bewildering. Like going to a $5 stripper, and halfway through, she decides to stop and just eat her lunch instead.

I suppose it's only appropriate that all this time later, remote controlled toys are still finding a way to disappoint me. In turn, I shall continue to disappoint friends and family around me, keeping the perpetual cycle going forevermore.

...That wasn't meant to sound as sad as it did. If I wanted to put out a cry for help, I'd choose a lot less of an obscure format than a toy blog, to be honest.
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