Post July 4th Shopping Extravaganza !

I hope everyone had a Happy July 4th weekend. Overall I did not have much planned, as a matter of fact I actually worked most the day on Monday. I did get a chance to go out and watch some fireworks but that was mostly an excuse to test the video functions on my new digital camera. I operate under the theory that if you have seen one three thousand year old Chinese based firework, you have pretty much seen them all. Personally I am glad that the holiday is over as this means we have crossed the last big hurtle before moving onto the end half of the years bigger and better holidays. If you do not believe me just take a look at the countdown clocks over on the right hand side of the page. We are creeping ever closer to the illusive 99 day mark for Halloween. Once we hit that point, it will be here before you can blink.

As for the rest of my Independence Day plans I did have a small shopping trip planned for July 5th. Nothing spectacular or crazy... Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, and a Dollar Tree are the would be destinations. But it did bring about some pretty cool pretty interesting items that I wanted to share with everyone. Today we are going to take a look at everything from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to generic GI Joe army men. Bizarre leftover Halloween "Decorations" and discounted Nintendo Wii games.
Okami for the Nintendo Wii is a port of an old Playstation 2 game of the same title. In it you play as a wolf incarnation of the Japanese sun god Amaterasu in which you use your divine powers of a mighty celestial paintbrush to restore beauty and order to a bleak world overrun by evil. In other words its one of those weird games that impossible to fully explain but is really fun to play. The original Okami on the PS2 gained a sort of cult following and I am definitely looking forward to experiencing this one on the Nintendo Wii! It's sounds like one of those rare examples of a title in which motion control actually makes since, instead of being a tacked on feature. The only thing that I am worried about is starting Okami and then not having the time to finish it due to the literal onslaught of titles that are coming out this holiday. Things like this must be finished before The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim launches later on this fall, otherwise they will not be completed at all. If nothing else I got the game so cheap, I wouldn't feel bad about letting it sit on the shelf for a couple of moths before giving it a play through.

The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut for only $20.00 on Blu-Ray was a great deal that I simply could not pass up. 'The Scariest Film of All Time' actually is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen and ranks within my own personal two or three movies of all time. With that said, I was initially a little hesitant to pick it up on Blu-Ray. Not because I did not want to own a copy of the film but because it is starting to become one of those things where I have already purchased this movie two times prior. The original theatrical cut and the 2000 extended directors cut are both sitting side by side in my DVD collection. So was it really worth spending the cash for the Blu-Ray version of the film? Yes. For starters there is an awesome three part documentary showcasing a bunch of never before seen behind the scenes footage of the film, as well as a nice comparison and explanation of the original theatrical cut verses the new extended cut of the film. Above all else it is the nicest I have ever seen the film look and sound. The new HD transfer was taken directly from the films original negative so the picture quality is outstanding, as well as the films newly remastered soundtrack. I have seen this film probably twenty five times and was hearing new sounds effects for the first time because we are now finally able to master the audio the way it was originally intended to be heard. If you are an Exorcist fan this is hands down the version of the movie to own.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 1 was on sale at Target for only $5.00 !!! I would have easily spent up to twenty bucks to own this awesome cartoon series but for five dollars, I am half surprised that I did not purchased a backup in case this copy gets scratched or stolen. What you get is all twenty original episodes that made up the first season of Masters of the Universe. I initially wondered why the set only cost $5.00 and it turns out it's because this is the strangest DVD case I have ever seen. It does not have that little plastic center ring that the discs snap into. Instead they slip into these black plastic sleeves that just sort of lay on the inside of the case. Oh well, beggars cannot be choosy... it's still old He-Man cartoons for only five bucks. I have not had a chance to watch any of them yet so while I cannot speak of the picture or sound quality I will say that for such a low price there is no possible way to go wrong with this boxed set. As for the overall cheapness of the package, I sort of get that. I am twenty four years old and am barely old enough to remember watching re-runs of this show on TV. As much as I hate to admit it the market for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is probably pretty small. I am willing to take whatever package they are willing to ship it in if it means being able to own legitimate copies of one of my favorite cartoons of all time.

Slinky Jr. was picked up from the Target Dollar Spot, a place so awesome I will probably one day write an entire article about. In the mean time I will just say that it is a hoarders dream. A whole bunch of useless novelty items sold for only a buck? I love it! Anytime you can fill an entire shopping cart with junk and somehow manage to stay under the fifteen dollar mark you know you are in the right place. My entire rational for purchasing Slinky Jr. was that it would look cool sitting on my desk. I'm looking at it right now, sitting there between some Star Wars figures and old Marvel character models that I put together a long time ago and I must say that it was a correct decision to purchase one. I love Slinky's in general as they are one of my favorite "simple toys" from my childhood. I do not know how popular these things are anymore and I would assume not very. I don't know many kids who would rather play with metal springs over the latest Call of Duty title but I sort of wish they would. The Slinky harps back to simpler times when kids would go out and use there imaginations and play instead of letting some electronic device do all the thinking for you. At least this Slinky gets to sit around on my computer desk from now until the end of time, knowing that I think its better than Call of Duty. That my friends, has to count for something.

Hawaiian Punch Freezer Bars and  Stauffer's Whale Crackers were not really purchased because I thought they would make interesting things to write about. I bought the Whale Crackers at the Dollar Tree because I like them and wanted to eat an entire box in one sitting. If you have never had them, it's off-brand Goldfish Crackers. They taste just the same and as a matter of fact maybe a little bit better. Whale Crackers have definitely earned my seal of approval, and yes I ate the entire box. Hawaiian Punch Freezer Bars come from the Target Dollar Spot and initially there may have been some sort of notion that they would be interesting to write about. Turns out there really isn't. These freezer bars (or pops as I have always called them) are a pretty big staple of the summer months, especially July. So I kind of feel bad for not having anything more to say about them, especially since I have been making a big deal about it being "summer" outside. Does anyone know if these things are actually seasonal or are they sold year round? I would almost imagine that you could purchase some whenever you choose but then again  I question the individual who would select Hawaiian Punch Freezer Bars over Christmas Tree Cakes in late December. Let's move on.

Soldier Playset is the final item from the Target Dollar Spot and probably my favorite thing born from that area. I was initially drawn to the package, as I love the way the logo's color scheme and overall design is close enough to the Toy Story logo that you look at it initially think that its officially licensed. It's not until closer inspection that you realize that it's actually not but by this point you've already got it in your shopping cart. Returning a package of green army men to the dollar section at Target is not acceptable social behavior, so you buy it anyway. Thankfully though, it is an awesome product and you should probably make a return trip to buy additional packages of said army men. That is acceptable social behavior. See the difference?

As for the actual soldiers themselves, they are exactly like what you would come to expect from these little green army men. They don't stand worth a darn, there is a million repeat characters, most of their little gun barrels are crooked, and there is lots of little extra "kibble" sticking off around their edges from when they initially came out of the press. This is what makes Soldier Playset and every other green army man in existence awesome. There is no such thing as "high quality" army men and if there is... I do not want them. I love these toys because of the flawed cheap quality in which they all hold. I love the way the package wants to be related to Toy Story but cannot quite get there. I like the way you get 36 of them for only a single dollar. It's value very rarely seen these days, especially when you compare them to the 'real' toy section where you can find officially licensed Toy Story green army men for something like twenty dollars per bucket. Why? They probably came off the exact same press line as these guys and these army men have far more character for a much cheaper price! I think I need an extra package... or two.

 Creepy Classic's came from the Dollar Tree and are clearly leftover from last years Halloween, as proof by the fact that they have been discounted clear down to only fifty cents a piece. I am confident that I must have looked at them last year, as there is very little Halloween related that slips past me, but for some reason I never purchased them. Probably because in amongst all the other Halloween merchandise they just didn't stand out enough to warrant spending a buck on. But here in July and for what amounts to basically a two for one deal, I will take anything if it vaguely resembles the month of October.

Now I am not trying to be extra funny here when I say this but I legitimately do not know what these things even are. Upon closer inspection each Creepy Classic has a hole in the bottom of them, leading me to believe that they are supposed to be pencil toppers, which I would be OK with except that the hole is far to large for any normal pen or pencil. They would fall right off. Therefore they cannot be pencil toppers. I do not know what they are.

In all likelihood they are not supposed to be anything. It almost seems like the company that made them found some strange way around whatever copyright laws exist on that poster arts and decided to bank the buck that people would buy anything if it had the old Frankenstein or Dracula poster on the package. It's kind of a brilliant move by whoever made them, as they removed the stars name from the posters. On the Dracula poster, for example, if you look in the spot where it should say 'BELA LUGOSI' they very cleverly removed his name. Still, I have a feeling that if Universal Studios knew that these things existed there would be some sort of lawsuit. Oh and every monster on here appears to be holding a baseball bat. Why Godzilla, the King of Monsters, would be attacking things with a baseball bat... I have no idea. It's  just another testimate to how strange of an item Creepy Classic's really are.

 Marvel Mystery Figures came deep from the strange depths of Wal-Marts really crowded toy section. Seriously it was like looking through someones garage sale. Stuff was just sort of strewn about haphazardly, then again they just got done converting my Wal-Mart into one of those super mega centers so that may have something to do with it. I actually missed Marvel Mystery Figures on my first pass through the aisle and it was not until a closer secondary inspection that I discovered the big blue box that housed them. Marvel Mystery Figures are a really cool concept but as it turns out one that may have been lifted from another, more popular brand which we will get to here in a second. There is a total of eight figures that make up the first series of figures and they are sold in entirely blacked out packages so you don't know which one you are getting when you pick one off from the shelf.

I took a chance on five different figures and I ended up with four characters and only one repeat. I got Spider-Man, Iron Man, War Machine, Armored Spider-Man and a duplicate Iron Man figure, which you can see in his none-assembled state in the provided photo. Pretty good, I was expecting to end up with four of the same figure. I did the whole "feel around the package" trick to try and figure out which ones where which. I like these figures quite a bit, even if Armored Spider-man is a pretty cheap re-painted version of the other Spidy figure in the set. We'll let them pass because of how cheap ($2.50 each) they were and how easily it was to pick five random bags and end up with pretty much the entire set.

 Lego Mini Figures are the final item of the day and are clearly the coolest thing I picked up while shopping. These are sold in the exact same manor as the Marvel Mystery Figures but since the Lego ones are already up on Series 4 ... I'm going to guess that the fine folks over at Mega Bloks (makers of the Marvel figures and horribly bad spellers of the word "block") copied this concept from Lego. What we have here is a series of sixteen wacky Lego figures also sold in black out packages for dirt cheap. Only these figures are all kinds of awesome, featuring everything from Frankenstein, Wolfman, a guy in an orange Biohazard outfit, and many more. With the only real "dud" figure of the set being the ice skater. When given the option of ice skater or Frankenstein... I know which one I'd rather have sitting on my computer desk. I was only able to purchase two of these figures, which is a shame because I would have purchased an entire display worth of them to get the whole set. Let's take a look at the two I found:

 This guy is number six in the series. Lego does not provide any names for the figures, so let's call him Victor the Viking in honor of the Minnesota Vikings mascot. I really like Lego Victor, initially he looks like a tough warrior but I bet he's actually a bit of a cluts. Still,  would not want to be on the wrong end of his shield and axe! As for the figures themselves well they just scream awesome, also coming with this nifty little base to stand your figure on. Proving that while they may be sold as a kids toy... they are really meant to be stuck in an office or on a shelf someplace.

My second figure was actually figure number one in the series. When I was initially taking him out of the box I seen the red shirt and white beard and thought I scored a Lego Santa Clause, which really would have made a fantastic end to this piece and lead in to the Holiday season. Sadly, that was not the case as upon putting the figure together I have a Lego Lawn Gnome instead. Old Gnomie looks like one of the wiser figures of the bunch, a town elder if you will. He's been around for decades oftentimes recites magical stories of old to the younger Lego figures. Don't you dare call him a "filler" figure for Lawn Gnomes are rumored to have all sorts of mysterious powers!

This, my friends brings us to the conclusion of this post. While I'm sure there will be greater "hauls" of items to write about come Christmas time, I think for just kind of randomly going around to a few select stores I did pretty good for myself. I also managed to keep everything within a relatively low budget thanks to a lot of these items being pulled directly from discount bins or dollar zones. Proof that while you can spend a lot of money on one or two really cool things... you can also spend the same amount on a lot of smaller cool things. I would almost rather have a whole basket full of Lego Figures, Freezer Pops, knockoff Toy Story army men than something more extravagant like a Nintendo 3DS. But that is just me.