Showing posts with label toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toys. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Verbot never worked

I didn't notice last night, but even in the damn commercial, Verbot doesn't follow instructions. It happens around the 8 second mark.

Also, if memory serves, my dog HATED Verbot. Poor Puff.

I really grew to resent that robot.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wishbook For

My folks were not unwise. I recall many-a-conversation when they would ask "are you sure this is what you want?"

1 and 2) Dingbot and Verbot

You may remember the line of Robot toys from Tomy that hit stores in the mid-80's.

The four main toys were Dingbot, Verbot, OmniBot and OmniBot 2000.

Based on the commercials, I had high hopes for what these robots would do. I had visions of a robot buddy, a sort of Robot Friday that was going to be a bit of robot butler, side-kick and confidante. Seriously, look at this thing:

My folks, privy to my high-minded visions of how I believed the robots would work, talked me down to the lowest tier robot, DingBot. DingBot had no programmable features, but it sounded okay.

Here's a video of DingBot in action.

As you can imagine, the whole Butler/ Buddy thing didn't work out quite as I'd envisioned. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy turning that thing on and watching it whack into walls, but I knew I'd just picked the wrong robot. My NEXT attempt would go better.

After all, the commercial for Verbot made it clear THIS was a robot that was going to listen to me:

Verbot never really worked correctly from Day 1. And, hey, funny thing. Every time you turned Verbot off and back on again, you had to reprogram the @#$%ing thing. Also, it didn't seem to particularly like my voice, so I spent a lot of time cursing at Verbot.

By 8th grade, I remember getting curious about what was actually inside Verbot, and taking him apart and putting him back together, at which point, ol' Verbot quit working at all. Wouldn't even turn on.

3) In 4th Grade, I got a Cabbage Patch Kid.

His name is Rhett Delbert, and I have no idea if he's in a box somewhere in my parent's house, or if he's been gifted via Salvation Army to some much-more worthy kid.

The Cabbage Patch craze sort of peaked when I was in 3rd grade, and in that way kids and readers of "Us" magazine do, I had to have an object because everyone else had that object. It was almost a check mark at the time more than any desire to have one. And, as a family we were often late to the party on this hip stuff, we sort of waited until the dust and tramplings cleared until I was a little too old for... dolls.

My grandparents had apparently secured the doll, and my folks made sure I knew they'd put themselves out to get this thing (and keep in mind, this is when people were literally getting killed wrestling for these dolls). So I knew I had to be extra appreciative.

So, yeah, there are some goofy pictures of me in these awful tan pajamas on Christmas,morning circa 1984 with this doll. The pictures themselves are doubly creepy to me because (a) I was really a big kid for my age. I was frequently mistaken for someone 2-3 years older than my age (these days, everyone assumes I'm in my 40's). So it looks like this pudgy 7th grader who is way, way too happy to have just received a doll. (b) I also was just getting to the point where I didn't really play with toys, per se, anymore. And I think I knew it when I opened that package, but the look of fulfilled avarice on that kid's face... anyway. I sort of hate that kid.

But I'd asked for this thing for two years, my grandparents had bought it, and I felt that I sort of needed to get my money out of the thing.

Nothing about the awkwardness of the situation was helped by having an older brother who made sure to point out I had a doll, or by the fact that a new kid who'd moved to town who I played with was really into his Cabbage Patch Kid. Which, in the end, was sort of helpful.

When I look at the thing, I remember with stunning clarity having the realization by sort of watching my friend that I really, really was past this particular part of my childhood. Because my folks have that "we built all this from nothing" work ethic, giving gifts was happily done, but we understood that we weren't one of the families that was getting new bikes every Christmas. Even then, I couldn't tell anyone that I had no idea what to do with a Cabbage Patch Kid once I had it. And I sure as @#$ couldn't ever let Jason know I, too, in my more lucid moments, thought this was a pretty dumb thing for a ten year old kid who didn't want to get his ass kicked to have in his possession.

The odd thing is, I am sure I found some way to play with that damn doll, but I have no idea what I did with it.

And so, after a while, poor 'ol Rhett Delbert, who never did nothing to nobody, got stuck in the back of my closet, right along with a whole lot of embarrassment.

#4) Laser Tag

It did not occur to me until AFTER Christmas morning that it was a very good thing that my friends had also asked for a system that you need at least two people to play. Sure, there were games that you could play by yourself, but they all were about as interesting as seeing if you could hit a spot on the wall with a flashlight.

Once again, the commercials looked totally awesome:

I had never been to "Photon" in Dallas, but I'd heard about how cool it was. That same Christmas that we all got Laser Tag, the Photon franchise released their own home-game version of their equipment which had the added bonus of noting that the only target on a person is rarely a red disc about the size of a coaster, and because it came witha helmet that registered shots from any direction, it also suggested (unlike Lazer Tag) that one could be shot from any direction.

Because we all had the same Lazer Tag equipment, in theory it was a level playing field. However, being 12 or so, the first thing we all set out to do was cheat, either by turning off our receptors immediately after the game started, or covering them or by changing the width of our beams (yeah, the guns were oddly sophisticated).

In the end, gameplay turned into all of us eying one another with suspicion and nobody trusting one another enough to NOT cheat the minute they were out of site.

In addition, to make Laser Tag half as cool as Photon, you had to start buying the multitude of accessories, and if everyone didn't have the same accessories, it immediately changed the playing field. And, while our folks could afford the starter kit, nobody's folks were going to shell out an extra lump of cash for the helmet, rifle, etc...

Photon, by the way, just looked cool.

Looked cool, that is, unless you were a kid in a helmet designed for adults. When all the rest of us got Laser Tag, this kid Dave got Photon, and he looked sort of like a crazy person with all the wires and gear hanging off of him. Especially when he was playing with his 7 year old sister.

That not too specific language in the Photon commercial was their way of saying "dummy, if you buy Lazer Tag, you have to buy all the peripheral crap, and none of it is synched like our system". Nonetheless, both more or less failed.

But we atill have a place called "Blazer Tag" very near Jamie's dialysis clinic that I always threaten to take her to.


The Rebel Transport toy from Kenner
? Was totally awesome.

yes, it was usually used in scenes of role-played cowardice as I evacuated Rebel bases, but it was fun.

Also fun?

My blue Team Murray BMX bike I got in, I think, 2nd grade.

I was officially too old for Teddy Ruxpin when the talking bear debuted, but that didn't mean I didn't want to see how one worked. I was sad to see that Teddy Ruxpin's moving animatronic parts took the cues from electronic tones on the audio tapes. However, a more cheaply made competitor, the Cricket doll, simply responded to whatever sounds were on the tape. Once my friend Todd and I discovered this, we spent hours finding ways to make Cricket insist to Todd's sister that she was possessed by Satan, and that one dark night, she would choke the life out of her and turn her into a doll.

Ah, good times.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I bought this toy

Not just because its Ryan Choi, The Atom. But because he's got a weapon that hits people with PROTONS.

I like my Atom with more science than whatever the last run was (or most runs, meaning I kind of like The Atom as utility science guy). Science-ish fiction.

Nice to have a toy based maybe something on the LHC.

His little widget/rod thing is kind of a mace. Maybe a mini-LHC. And, of course, the LHC "is intended to play exceptionally violent and scientific games of sub-atomic curveball billiards, in which protons will barrel round corners and smack into one another at close to light speed. This will cause them to explode, hurling various kinds of mysterious sub-subatomic gubbins in all directions." Just about what you'd expect The Atom to be doing in the comics, really.

So, basically, he's smacking people with protons, as if their face were yet another proton. And that is awesome.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

DCU Online Preview with Doomsday

DC is working with Sony Online entertainment to create a massive multi-player game, similar to World of Warcraft.

I'm very excited about the game despite the fact that playing means I will need either a new computer or a PS3. It looks like everything I was hoping City of Heroes would be, but because it didn't employ DC (or Marvel) characters or storylines, I just never got all that into CoH in the 6 months or so I played.

The latest out of the DCU Online dispatches is a trailer for a scenario in the game in which Luthor's team tries to liberate Doomsday from STAR Labs. I'm no gamer, so don't go buying the thing on my say-so, but it's neat to look at.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Robot Friend

I DVR every episode of the WB cartoon of Superman from Disney's sugar-fueled kid's cartoon network, Jetix. One of the oddities of networks like Jetix and Cartoon Network is that toy companies are pretty clearly buying up vast swaths of ad-time on these networks and aren't very discriminating about which shows their ads get folded into. Especially the late night ads for toys when you kind of hope the target market is off with dreams of sugar plums in their heads.

It being a month before Christmas, they're really going for the hard sell on all kinds of toys. Expensive toys. Stuff I am sure that, as a kid, would have flipped my gourd and caused some awkward discussions between me and KareBear as to why Santa couldn't bring me The Very Expensive Toy.

If you have any doubt that kid's toys are far more complex, if not far cooler than what we had growing up, I would point you to this year's line-up of interactive pals your kid can enjoy. We've moved beyond Teddy Ruxpin and his rudimentary/ creepy mouth movements.

Apparently... these semi-lifesized toys will respond to touch, sound, etc...

Here's Kota the Triceratops who will let your tyke sit astride his back, eat a leaf, make sounds, roll his head around...

Jason will frequently point out that as a kid, I was usually more interested in the potential of a toy than the actual toy, and would often wind up disappointed. If they sold a kid's microscope, I was ready to set up a crime lab. So part of me figures these toys aren't as cool as I think they are, but I also have as of yet to see one out of the box.

For people who want the magic of a child and a dog, but also want to not worry about the kid becoming too attached, or learning to love... there's Biscuit, the Fur-Real dog.

Or, for the parent who doesn't have the dough to pay for riding lessons, stabling fees, horse whisperers, etc... but can afford D Batteries, there's S'mores, the Fur-Real Pony.

There are also interactive dinosaurs, lizards, lion cubs, what-have-you out there. And the technology seems to be getting marginally better every year.

All of this reminds me, of course, of Kubrick/ Spielberg's AI. I don't know how sorry I felt for Haley Joel Osmont's eternal boy, but I did worry about his little, stuffed robotic pal, the Teddy bear. Which, by the way, they did try to market to kids. (Nobody seemed to notice the horrible fate the movie states robots are doomed to as humans look at robots as they would any other consumer electronic, despite rudimentary awareness... which... yeah, that's what you want to tuck your kid in with at night).

You have to sort of wonder, as the technology improves and kids are expected to abandon their toys, isn't it a little creepy to begin a societal trend toward creating emotive, responsive objects that can be thrown into the waste? Moreover, I know as a kid I would have read a heck of a lot into my robot dog's responses and been horrified at the idea of tossing it in the dump if it broke. How will we deal with our AI's as they become outmoded, break-down, etc...?

People are pretty wretched with their pets to begin with, so I'm not sure if (as technology improves and these toys begin to actually demonstrate AI) we're reinforcing bad behavior to begin with by teaching kids to shove responsive objects into a corner or expect it to turn off with the flick of a switch. That, in no way, has anything to do with actually owning or caring for a pet. Pets do not simply turn off. Sometimes they wait until you've just fallen into a deep sleep to begin meowing as loudly as possible for no discernable reason. Other pets stick their nose in your eye because they feel you've slept too late and it is time to play with the puppy. And simply "turning them off" is called animal cruelty (no matter how right it seems when the puppy jumps on you on Saturday morning).

Yes, I know... the robot dog is supposed to be a toy, but...

The other part that makes me lose some sleep is what AI and emotional responses we choose to bestow upon our creations. Especially as I consider the work of Dr. Cynthia Breazeal and her emotive robots. She seems to be leading the way for becoming her own Dr. Susan Calvin, building robots which can currently respond to certain stimuli, mimicking what we recognize as an emotive response. The leap hasn't been made yet to actually make a robot feel bad when its chastised, but how far down the road can a matrix of emotional responses actually be? And if we attach that response to an ability to learn, what are we building?

I see no reason to believe we won't see AI's in my lifetime. Or rudimentary robot pets. I don't know if they'll have a capacity to learn, adapt, or merely perform routines based upon certain stimulus or commands. Right now roboticists like Dr. Breazeal seem poised to teach robots to learn. Which, of course, loops me right back to the sad, doomed little teddy bear of A.I., thrown to the junk heap, and still functional.

Oh, and, yes... the MIT labs are working on a robotic teddy bear.

Robots will have no legal rights, its safe to assume. No matter what traits we embue them with, will they ever be a part of the family as many people treat their pets?

Right now Biscuit the Robot Dog is little more than a mass of wires, plastic and fake fur that performs simple functions based upon certain stimulus. I hate to break it to you, but we're basically bags of meat and bone that respond to stimulus, too. Sure, we respond in infinitely more complex ways, but that's basically our deal. We just have a few billions years of leaping from single-celled flagellates to avid fans of "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" behind us rather than 100 years of useable electricity and 50 years of computer engineering.

All I know is that when our robots turn on us, I won't be at all surprised. Especially if their vanguard is comprised of a legion of disposed of Teddy Bears, Fur-Real puppies, and fuzzy triceratops. And if I have to go, I hope its at the hands of an enraged teddy bear.

All that said, if you are looking for a robot for under my tree:

If you have to face down a machine that will turn on you and kill you, it might as well be Summer Glau

Saturday, October 04, 2008


You know what I miss? Legos.

Technically, plural for Lego is still Lego, but in 33 years of my life, I think I've pulled that off, maybe, five times. So, we shall refer to lots of Lego as Legos.

The Admiral made a comment to me not too long ago that I played with Legos right up through high school, and I was all "oh, that's crazy, no I didn't."

But, everytime KareBear had kids in the house, she'd haul out my Legos, and I'd find myself sitting on the ground assembling Legos into space ships right through graduation.

I understand there are adult collectors of Legos who make magnificent Lego sculptures, but I find them sort of cost-prohibitive, and I threw in with Action Figures v. Legos long ago (I have shelves and shelves of Super Friends, for those of you who don't know). And moving Legos is a total pain. But I sort of miss sitting on the floor and trying to build an intergalactic star cruiser.

We never had Legos like some other families who would roll out these amazing piles of pieces, but we had a pretty good set up. I would make whatever the kit suggested once or twice, and then make my own stuff. That always seemed the point to me... to follow the basic instructions so you could understand how it fit together, and then go off and do your own thing with the parts.

With Star Wars, Batman and Indiana Jones Legos out there these days, I bet kids have a field day. Add in the standard moon-scapes, rockets ships, airports, etc... Well, it's a slippery slope before you're living in a house constructed on tiny pieces of plastic.

And some of the other options... I mean, look... Build the Taj Mahal from Lego. How cool is that? Or the Death Star?

This set called "Star Justice" is pretty close to the kind of stuff I liked as a kid. But, look how totally expensive that is... Man, I feel for you parents trying to properly outfit your kids with Legos. No wonder The Admiral and KareBear were always working so hard... to keep us knee deep in Legos, it seems.

Anyway, no Legos for me. I don't think Jamie wants a million plastic pieces scattered everywhere. But whenever I see ads in print or on TV, I do start thinking of what you could build with the pieces to the new sets...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

a TTSNB special: If I had a million dollars!

I may be jobless, but if I had me a million dollars, I know what I'd buy.

First, I'd get this, this and this. Then this. And then, improbably, this.

But after that...

Is an original Barris Batmobile too much to wish for? If so, I will take this.

The great thing about this $100 lawn ornament (2 feet tall) is that when Jamie would complain about it, I could tell her she was crazy for believing in Bigfoot Lawn Ornaments. I could pat her hand and tell her that maybe she'd seen a bear lawn ornament or something.

I found this in the SkyMall catalog while flying to Costa Rica, and its been on my mind ever since. But to dwell on the items of the SkyMall catalog is to invite madness.

"Suffering from head-weight exhaustion? Seeking better neck health? Noted Phrenologist Professor Poppycock's amazing new Spine-o-Extractor has already led to rejuvenation for others. Why not you? Only Professor Poppycock's Spine-o-Extractor provides the proper amount of lifting power necessary for the correct separation of vertebrae of the human backbone, which allows the nerve clusters to oxygenate. Enjoy better neck and head health! Professor Poppycock's Amazing Spine-o-Extractor is to the skull-support area what Cod liver Oil is for the humors of the human food-tract!"
Yes, I found this in SkyMall, too. $55 before S&H.

This really isn't that expensive if you have a job, but I don't. When it come to Trek, I'm Trek Classic all the way. And while I think phasers and communicators are cool, Tricorders are simply awesome. Buy me a tricorder here. And, yes, i would walk around with it in the background on all of your away missions.

This things is, like, 7 feet high. And costs $2500. Here's a link, if you want to buy it for me. I think it would look awesome in the corner where Jamie keeps the piano.

I have a Wii. Jason has an Xbox. There is no GTAIV for Wii.
I want to rob people and take their cars and go on shady missions around Liberty City.
But I, otherwise, really am happy with the Wii. But if I had a million dollars...

Mattel does a tip of the hat to Hitchock and Hedren. It's kind of weird, but... you know, if you're going to have really random crap in your millionaire mansion, why not this? Buy here.

Also, this Wonder Woman Barbie. No, seriously. I want a Barbie for the first time in my life.

While the arm in the photo in no way resembles The League's own guns, why not the Hammer of Thor?

You don't actually need to be worthy to lift this hammer, but you're going to need about $450, plus S&H.

Yes, truly I would impress all in an interview when they would ask for one of my strengths, and I would hold Mjolnir aloft and call the thunder down upon their brow.

While, of course, wearing my official Thor helmet.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

TTSNB: Balrog Wall Mount

Hey, Jamie. You know how we've been trying to figure out what to do with that one wall in the bedroom...? Well, have I got something for YOU.

Fresh from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, it's The Balrog Wallmount.

That's right, a "to scale" Balrog head. You, too, can enjoy the basilisk stare of the hellish beast from the time-before-time cast upon you while you're putting on your socks, folding laundry, and saying your vespers.

You can sleep tight knowing the unfathomable face of rage and destruction is gazing upon you

It's 48" long, 40" high, and 26" deep. And only $1800 before S&H. And it features the to-scale likeness of the only movie monster since I saw John Carpenter's The Thing in college to genuinely give me the heebie-jeebies. So why WOULDN'T I want this in my house?

I make fun, but if I owned a club, this would totally hang right over the bar. Also, it would give me an opportunity to shout "You shall not pass!" whenever I felt like it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Toys That Should Not Be: Rocket Fishing Rod

I'm mostly linking to this toy because the ad which plays when you click over (and it starts without a warning, so be prepared if you click on the link to get some loud audio) reminds me of an SNL ad for a horrible kids' toy. The commercial just never makes that sharp left turn to show you any particular ways in which you can injure yourself or others with the Rocket Fishing Rod, but I can think of about three.

You know what I like about fishing? Sure, the time with family on a boat without much but to worry about but how much sunblock you're wearing is great. But its also quiet, peaceful and relaxing to just sort of sit there casting and reeling in.

It seems like today's kids, fed on a steady diet of hyper-active animation and video games that allow them to do everything from blow up 40' aliens to cruise for hookers may not feel (how do I say it?) fulfilled by dropping a lure and hook in the water and hoping something will eventually catch on the line. No matter how snazzy the rod.

Well, the makers of the Rocket Fishing Rod, apparently, believed that fishing should be more X-TREME. Now, don't get me wrong, I find the Rocket Fishing Rod a great idea. Pull a trigger, and... POW! You're fishing, suckah!

And, really, that's what they're selling. A fish gun. Alas, fishing is not a sport of instant gratification.

Really, if you're trying to teach Junior and Sally that fishing is Daddy's quiet beer-drinking time, this toy seems like the one to kill any interest they might ever have in again tagging along on another fishing expedition.

Now, I'm not really sure what the shooting device (if it works) means as per teaching a kid how to actually cast, and I don't know how loud this thing is as it launches the bait through the air. My suspicion is that even if its not loud enough to scare the fish, the repeated launch sequence of the thing would be enough to make you want to chuck little Sally or Junior from the boat. Or, heck, just push them into the drink from the end of the dock.

I suspect the dirty little secret of the Rocket Fishing Rod is that its more actual work than a regular old Zebco. After all, it seems like you have to reset this thing every time you reel it in, and if the line gets tangled... hoo-boy.

As I mentioned above, fishing is about patience. Guns and whatnot are sort of the opposite of patience. So while the Rocket Fishing Rod might hurl that bobber out there... Junior, you have a wait on your hands. I don't care what sort of futuristic weaponry your little toy fishing rod looks like in your mind's eye. The fish will come when the fish darned well feel like it.

But, hey, again... I may not want to pay $40 plus S&H to find out if this thing is fun, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to monkey around with this doo-hickey before Jamie's dad tossed me off the side of the boat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yes, Virginia... There is a GI Joe Movie

and here is Snake Eyes.

They got the tattoo right. Only it's on the inside of his right forearm, not on the shoulder of his ninja suit.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

TTSNB: Playmobil at Orange Alert


I used to like my Playmobil stuff when I was little. They had a great Old West sort of collection you could buy in smaller pieces. I had a Sheriff who came with a shotgun and rocking chair, which, at the time, made perfect sense.

This particular set-up... I just sort of think any parent who believes their child is going to really expand their imagination by make believing their one little figure is wanding the other... In a way, its kind of awesome. I don't know. Maybe this is what kids like to play with these days. I can see a five year old Ryan working this playset into some of his playtime. Maybe Batman and Princess Leia would have to swing through security before getting on the Fisher Price shark reef patrol boat and finding Godzilla. I dunno.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TTSNB: Gene Simmons Plush Doll

Break out the disinfectant!

Indeed, a Toy That Should Not Be.

Now, the man that you would never want to be anywhere near your daughter comes in adorable plush doll form! KISS lead rocker, Gene Simmons, can still sell out a stadium in a heartbeat, but why not expand into an line of increasingly bewildering product?

Hopefully Carla will do the right thing and get one of these for young Xander.

Gene Simmons plush doll

Monday, January 07, 2008

How Much is that Robosaurus in the Window?


Robosaurus is on the auction block.

For the first time, I know exactly what I want to do with my life.

Read here.

Thanks to Randy for sending the link.

The object of my affection...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Toys That Should Not Be: Welcome to 2008

I'm not even sure what to say about this one.

It's Cathy the Cowgirl... a topless, bovine, humanoid... I'm wearing myself out thinking about this.

I warn you, this is just weird and wrong. Here's Cathy the Cowgirl.

It says one thing about tis English fellow who designed Cathy the Cowgirl. It says something completely different about you if you feel you need Cathy the Cowgirl added to your home decor.

Somehow I am just waiting to hear Mr. Harms' opinion on this one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas 2008

I know you're already done buying and sending me presents for Christmas 2007, but if you're looking to get a jump on next year:

Hal Jordan/ Sinestro bookends. Only $300.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marvel DCU

It's probably not a good omen for the new online effort from Marvel, but they've named it Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, aka: Marvel DCU. Keep in mind, DCU is also how DC Comics (Marvel's prime competition) refers to its entire line of comics: The DC Comics Universe. Sadly, I doubt anyone at DC ever thought to copyright "DCU", or else they couldn't. Apparently DCU is also the stock ticker for Dry Clean USA.


In addition, Marvel hasn't made it clear what you're actually buying if you sign up for their annual subscription service. It's a $60.00 investment for a year, which... when comics are going for $3.00 a pop, that's not a bad price for access to thousands of comics. Especially when you know it's less than $5.00 a month.

The problem is that I'm not sure which comics they're making available. I'm certainly not interested if Marvel is placing all of their failed series online, but only a few issues of a series I want to read. If they're placing a bunch of their content online and planning on keeping it there, that's great (think Netflix comics).

Right now the entire first 100 issues of FF, Spidey and X-Men are online. Buying collections, that might set you back over $100. But what about newer stuff? What if I want to read all of Annihilation online?

It seems almost as if Marvel is using the online effort as more of a marketing effort than a new way to approach comics. They seem interested in providing back stories, etc... but they seem overly concerned with treading on the toes of their current distribution model (ie: 32 page comics followed by trade collections).

Marvel isn't going to want to step on the toes of their distributors. It doesn't behoove them to lower the number of folks walking into comic shops and killing the golden goose, so it more or less makes sense that they aren't putting new comics out online. The fact is, had Marvel or DC gone online in the 90's or early 2000's, they probably wouldn't be as worried about cutting into the comic-buying/ paper collecting audience. However, with an audience that only ever expands to about 150,000 for a best-selling comic (and down to about 20,000 before it faces cancellation) losing any sales from comic shops is a major problem. Especially at $5.00 a month.

Whether Marvel learns to offer their newer comics online at a premium rate remains to be seen. It certainly seems like a possibility.

Despite the better arguments of Scott McCloud for how comics were going to go online and change the world, comics don't work terribly well online. clicking to reach the next panel doesn't necessarily jive with the composition and gestalt of the comic page (and I am not limiting comics to the usual folded tabloid size here). There's no flow between panels as a passive experience when you have to engage the page.

That said:

Either a very good sign or very bad sign, the site has been so busy that Marvel hasn't actually made this work. In two days, I have yet to see an online comic. Not exactly awe-inspiring from a technical standpoint. I can understand the problems in the first few hours, but...

For collectors like myself, I'd like to not have a house full of comics or graphic novels I've read once, and I'd like the option of not dropping $20 to read reprints I may not find I enjoy. But mostly, I am sure Jamie would like it if I found a way to NOT bring more collections and comics into the house. I think that's easily worth a handful of shekels per year.

I'm still pondering the Marvel subscription. I'm never a first adopter, and this is one more case where I'm waiting to hear more before I jump on board. That said, if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas... a Marvel Digital Comics subscription would be swell...


I finally got on to try a sample. I did find their interface to be straightforward and easy to use. I'm still not sure all of what is available to the subscriber, but any fears I had about how the pages would be formatted is no longer a concern. You just need a decent sized monitor set to a decent sized resolution. I guess buyer beware on that count.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nerd Mailing List Catalog

Apparently my nerdiness caught up with me. Someone bought some nerd mailing list I was on, and this catalog recently showed up at my house: The Pyramid Collection

It's not nu-agey stuff. It's sort of a weird mix of Ren Fest wear, pixie costumes, fantasy-novel themed lingerie, and other good ideas.

My favorite item: Dragon Commode Lid

This item screams out to be found by the Admiral under the tree on Christmas morning

Don't worry, Judy! There's one for you, too.

I can't really make fun. Anyone whose ever been to League HQ knows what it means to commit to a particular geeky lifestyle.

One of the things I find bizarre about wallpaper stores, etc... are how all of the stuff looks pretty much the same. Inoffensive patterns on inoffensive earth-tone colors, so your house can look pretty much exactly how everybody else's house looks.

I don't really understand people who don't have a pursuit or two, so certainly that plays into my thinking on the subject. And while our doors are always open to whomever wants to pop by, it's still where I live, and if I can't use that space to suit my needs, what space am I supposed to use?

I do understand needing to compromise with your spouse on home decorating, our house seemingly not a good point to that fact. But sometimes you find particular stuff interesting and you go with it.

That isn't to say that people without lots of knick-knacks all over their houses haven't found something that works for them, or that home decoration isn't a passion of theirs to begin with. But I think when you cross a line from "this would look cool and people would like it" to worrying about what other people will think if they see your house and it somehow makes them itchy. That said, somethings are just bad ideas.

As much as I want everyone to be able to do whatever they want, there are some rules about what's in your house versus your choice of wardrobe. You can STILL go out and look like an everyday schmuck on the street. You don't need to dress up as Superman just because you like the character (although, you know... would it be totally crazy to do so...? Jamie says yes, but I don't know...).

The Pyramid catalog is full of all kinds of ideas, but you might want to save those for your special times. or LARPing.

Some ideas are just more socially acceptable, whether we like it or not. After all, Jason loves his music, live and recorded. Nobody bats an eye at his music festival posters or guitars strewn about his house, but you get one Monster Commode Seat (this one's for Mom!), and everyone thinks you're crazy.

So, if you're into your fantasy novels, why not decorate with the dragon lamp?

The weird one is sports. Into football? Wear a jersey like you're the fat guy who got cut and nobody cares. However, you can't paint your living room Viking purple and gold. And your child, at that, even though you have to look at them anyway.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why for is an iPod not cheaper...?

So Steve Jobs came down from the mountain on Wednesday to announce the latest in Apple's line of i-Devices, an iPod which pretty much is the iPhone, but without a calling plan and a lot less memory.

Those who have seen the interface on the iPhone know its pretty jazzy, and like the Xerox iconographic interface, is probably the watershed for the future of interfaces, especially in the era of the computer that fits into your pocket.

That said, anyone who actually buys the new iPod Touch is a chump.

The thing has a fraction of the memory of the "iPod Classic", and while you can get Wi-Fi on it, it's still pretty darn expensive for something that will be outdated by January. Really, if you already have a calling plan and an iPod and don't need to spend your time at the grocery aisle blogging, there's not a lot of compelling reasons not to wait to see what comes next.

That, and the cost issue we'll get to shortly.

This is not to say there are not compelling reasons to WANT the new iPod... just... wait. Do not give in to the crushing desire to show all your friends how the screen stays level when you turn the iPod around.

What I find particularly irksome is that the lower memory (ie: cheaper iPods) are now disappearing from the line up, or becoming Nanos (ie: the iPod to small for my mitts). Perhaps a Nano is what's in my future.

But, add in the fact that they reduced the cost of the iPhone by $200 (more than the cost of most phones to begin with) within a few months of the initial offering, and... holy cow. Bad form, Apple. Why not just slap a "sucker" sticker on the forehead of your most faithful? I don't know if the iPhone isn't meeting expectations for sales or what, but it doesn't make me want to run out and drop $250 on an 80 GB iPod if its going to be $150 by April.

And that's kind of what's so vexing... When is the right time to get onboard with a new iPod? I don't know.

All I know is that a few years ago they released all those tests you could take to find out if you were an early adopter, cutting edge adopter, or whatever, and I always sort of thought that the folks who buy new technology of any kind when it first hits have either far more enthusiasm or money than me. I like to wait to see if the technology is going to get wide release (remember the mini-cd's we were all supposed to use circa 1996? No? Well, my point... But you could find albums in the format for a while). And, of course, after watching the PS3 just drop its cost, you kind of wonder exactly what the profit margin is on some of these doo-hickeys.

I'm not knocking the iPod. Fer chrissake, I'd love to have a new one. I just sort of question what, exactly, I'm buying from them, and if I shouldn't start looking at my options with other MP3 players. Mostly, I'd be fine with a 60 or 30 GB iPod, so must I carry a Nano?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More stuff I don't need but want

DC Direct has decided to put out figures of the New Gods in classic Kirby style.


I will buy them. I will also hope they add a Kirby Jimmy Olsen, Barda, Black Racer, Detective Turpin, and the Forever People, complete with a Super-Cycle.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Dear Mr. Jobs,

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

Today I got my hands on an iPhone. You know, Steve (can I call you Steve?), I was more than a little skeptical about the iPhone.

Now, you know... if you want to send me one...

Anyway, let's just say that I'll be your spokesmonkey for quite a while if one were to find it's way into my mailbox.

Your admiring friend,

The League