Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Great Pumpkin! .... and The Christmas Pumpkin!

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Quick update! This is my pumpkin that I carved for this year. Before you ask... I have no idea how the background of that photo turned out blue like that. Trust me, I couldn't do that again if I tried. I'm sort of "meh" on this years Halloween Pumpkin. While I enjoy the nose, I think the eyes could have been done a little bit better and that nose needed to be smaller. I drew it smaller but when I cut it out it ended up larger than what I wanted. I have another pumpkin but I'm saving  that one for Christmas. It's a tradition. Here take a look at a couple of my years past designs!

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This was the first year of The Christmas Pumpkin! It's a funny sort of thing. I didn't set out to make a tradition out of this. As a matter of fact this pumpkin wasn't even one of mine. I found it in the front lawn about a week into November. I'm assuming some kids stole and tried to smash it but for some reason it didn't break and ended up in my lawn. Sort of as a joke, I picked it up and put it on the front deck half expecting it to rot out. Only pretty soon it was Thanksgiving and the pumpkin still lived. As a matter of fact, it was fine. It was at this point that I realized if it hadn't started to decay by now... it would probably make it into the month of December. So I kept it outside on the front deck and pretty soon.... it was December 20th and that damn pumpkin was still alive. Not only that but I was the only house in town who still had a fresh Halloween Pumpkin. Since it was a small one, I decided not to carve it but instead write "Merry Christmas" across its front and it set under that tree until New Year when it finally developed a soft spot and started to leak stuff out on the floor. So I put it out on the back deck, in the cold and snow and the damn thing slowly started to rot and ended up lasting like midway through January!

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The following year a full on tradition was born and I decided to save one of my own pumpkins. A large one that could be carved into a full on Jack O'Lantern on Christmas Eve! I quickly discovered a valuable lesson this year. If you plan on keeping a larger pumpkin you must keep it someplace cool. I simply put mine in the basement on the floor but if you happened to have space in an old deep freezer that would work even better.

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As you can (sort of) see there is no point in having a Christmas Pumpkin if you're not going to share it with the world! After all you are the ONLY house in town with a freshly carved Halloween Pumpkin ... on Christmas Eve! So I always fix a green light and Santa Hat and put mine right outside front and center with the rest of the Christmas Lights. I get a lot of comments on it every year that I do it. I sort of wondered if people would think I was crazy but I do put on such a huge Halloween display every year I think people sort of expect to see a mix of both kinds of decorations at my house.

So make sure you guys save at least one pumpkin. Keep it someplace cool. And let's all carve one together on Christmas Eve. Especially if you have kids. It'll be something they'll talk about for years!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Return of Cranberry Splash and Halloween Oreos

 Its funny how these things work out... just a couple of days after I make a post about how the end of October always feels like an odd blend of the Halloween and Christmas seasons... we get the return of Cranberry Splash! The holiday flavor of Siera Mist that typically goes on sale at the beginning of November through the New Years.

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The package has gone through a bit of an overhaul. Embracing the Christmas Spirit through and through they have forgone the "classic" green package and went for an all white attire. The berries have been arranged in a way that they resemble bulbs hanging from a tree. These are all welcome changes and they really do help to push Cranberry Splash from simply being a drink sold around Christmas time to a Christmas Flavored Drink. Its all about the little details. Packaging aside, the taste of Cranberry Splash remains completely unaltered. If you've never given this version of Siera Mist a shot you definitely owe it to yourself to go to the store and pick some up. Remember you've only got a couple of months to enjoy Cranberry Splash before its gone until next year!

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Changing gears from Christmas flavored soda we have Halloween Themed Oreo Cookies! Now I don't know about you guys but I look forward to these babies each and every year. While the flavor doesn't actually change (but really... who would want an altered flavored Oreo???) the packaging gets a complete overhaul as well as the cookies themselves. The normally white filling gets converted to orange and the cookie tops now sport up to five different ghostly images! You guys know the routine, these cookies aren't really anything new but that still doesn't stop them from being flat out awesome! Who can really resist a package with a gigantic pumpkin and that awesome Haunted House in the top right corner? Not me!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nightmare Before Christmas Figures

If there is one store who always brings it during Halloween that store would have to be Target! These guys are clearly down with the devil and for that I would like to thank them. Every year it seems that places like Wal-Mart care less and less about Halloween, to the point that I hardly even looking through there sections anymore. I don't know why bit it seems that as the years go by Halloween is becoming less and less of its own Holiday and more and more of an introduction to Christmas. As we reach the tail end of the month, its no surprise to see most stores trading out there vampire bats and severed heads for reindeer and abominable snow men ... not that I have any sort of prejudice towards snow men and as much as I love the Christmas season, what can I say I'm old fashion! I like my October to be Halloween and my December to be about Christmas. There is too much of this miss-mash of Mid October turning into half one Holiday and half another and I don't know if I should be putting up gravestones or gravestones with flashing red and green lights on them anymore!

However there are times when Halloween and Christmas can come together with splendid results. My annual Christmas Pumpkin comes to mind (more on that guy later!) But probably the most prolific example of this is obviously The Nightmare Before Christmas! This cult classic is just as much a Halloween Tradition as it is a Christmas Tradition. And not a season goes by that I don't watch the Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving Charlie Brown specials and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

This has all been a long winded introduction for a set of six "Trading Figures" that I picked up at Target for $3.99. Series one includes Jack, Sally, Lock, Shock, Barrel, Zero, Dr. Finklestein, and Oogie Boogie. See what I've done here 8-)

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Packages! Boxes! Bags! ... well, no bags but you get the idea.
Sorry for the crappy photo but sadly this was the best I could accomplish with my crappy digital camera. Other than the hellish reflective cardboard the boxes themselves are really pretty cool. If your into that sort of thing. Which I am. Every box is identical but thankfully the each tell you which figure you're going to be purchasing. Plus one point for not making me buy four hundred different toys and ending up with three hundred and ninety nine "Sock and Zero" sets and one Jack Skellington. The folks at JUN Planning (the guys who make these toys) know that nobody really sets out to purchase a set of six pint sized Nightmare Before Christmas figures and thus nobody is definitely making return trips to complete the set. When your selling impulse figures for $3.99 its the little details like these that matter most. So I bought the whole set!

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This is how action figures are born!
This is what Jack looks like out of the box. Fuck. You have to assemble the figures by yourself. I have an entire line of Marvel figures of the exact same concept and I remember how well those went together. After about three hours, a hot glue gun, and a small extracto knife ... I finally had Dr. Octopus's bottom right tentacle attached to his body and still had roughly six trillion tiny plastic pieces left to assemble. Fortunately for me, though, this Nightmare line doesn't quite put you through that much stress. As a matter of fact a couple of the figures hardly have anything to snap together at all! Score one for us lazy folk.

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Jack! The Pumpkin King!
As you can see there are directions included but if you can't figure out the difference between Jack's left arm and right leg this probably isn't the type of thing you should be purchasing in the first place. I was actually quite surprised as to how detailed these figures really are. Take a look at Jack here, for a figure your spending four bucks on he looks really good. They even managed to put the stripes in his tux without completely mucking everything up! He's also really solid, which is much more than I can say for other figures of the "put together" variety. He doesn't have much play value... but he'll certainly set on your desk and won't fall apart if you accidentally sneeze the wrong direction.

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Look at all this work in front of me. I'll never get them put together!
The rest of the figures all come in varying degrees of difficulty in terms of what it takes to assemble them. Honestly, it was a wise decision by the JUN Planning people. I mean really we're talking about cheap impulse figures... I'm willing to spend maybe three minutes putting together Jack Skellington or Oogie Boogie. But Dr. Finklestein? Zero? These characters, while important to have in the collection, do not warrant any more than thirty seconds worth of effort. Which is fine by me because honestly... its not about putting these things together its about the final product. So the lesser the characters the more put together they are. Finklestein only actually had one part that you snapped onto him (the top of his head) and Zero came completely put together. Zero also very interestingly came packaged with Shock. Which seems odd at first until you realize what they've actually created... a very nice marketing trick. Lock and Barrel are sold together BUT they have this giant cut out that Shock sits into. Then when you purchase Shock, she comes with Zero who fits on the side of the Jack Skellington figure and you can't really do anything with Zero without having the Jack figure. Do you see where this is going? By the time its all said and done you end up with the entire set of figures. Clever clever marketing!

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One big happy family... sitting in front of my DVD collection.

This is the entire set of "Series 1" Nightmare Before Christmas figures. No, I didn't use the directions but I think I properly assembled them all! Its a really good first entry into the series. You got pretty much every main character covered. I'm honestly kinda surprised that they didn't split them all up and have Jack be the "highlight" of Series 1 and throw in five other filler characters. So major points for giving us everyone you could pretty much want in one shot. Though, I do wonder who'll be in Series 2? If there even IS a Series 2.

Oogie Boogie is the clear cut victor of the bunch. He has the most "heft" to him thus giving him the most "playability" of the bunch. The rest, while durable, would easily loose limbs if used for anything more than decoration. I also would like to mention that Oogie also the most interesting to put together. His head is split into two pieces and upper and lower half. The lower jaw was attached to to the rest of the body and you had to snap the upper half in place. Only thing is it defied pretty much every law of physics known to man as the "snaps" where inset down so far that it was impossible to make the connection without the usage of a screwdriver. But they for only four bucks you can't expect them to obey every physical law now can you?

If you'd like a set of these for yourself go check out your local Target and I'd suggest doing so quickly. Any day now there entire Halloween section will be converted red and green. Who knows maybe Series 2 will come out with Santa Jack and Sandy Claws? I should also mention that there are not one but two websites listed on the back of the box and neither of them do anything. Though honestly does this surprise anyone from a company whose name sort of sounds like a Wedding Planning Agency? HOWEVER if you would really, really like to own yourself some and have a vendetta against Target you can purchase the exact same figures on Amazon for dirt cheap. So now there is no reason not to own yourself some!