Monday, November 28, 2011

Mills Fleet Farm 2011 Toy Catalog!

Click for Larger Image!
Believe it or not the 2011 Christmas Countdown is not as random as it may seem. A lot of the times there is some sort of meaning as to why I write about the things I... write... about.

Let me start over again. It is a universal holiday tradition amongst all the children of the world to make a Christmas List to give to there parents. And umm... blahh this isn't coming out right either.

Basically what I am getting at here is every kid gives there parents a list of shit that they want for Christmas. Working under the theory that if mom or dad go out and shop blindly you'll end up with a bunch of retarded junk that ends up on next summers garage sale. Nobody wants that. So you make a list of everything you want in hopes that at least one or two of the items end up under your tree. At the very least it should give them a general understanding that no you do not want the train set and yes you would rather have the replica Castle Grayskull fortress for your He-Man figures.

I don't really know how kids do these here in 2011, I would imagine the little bastards just create an Amazon wishlist. Back in my day, everything was hand written. I would keep a notebook beside me while watching TV and anytime a cool toy commercial would come on it would get added to The List. This was a great way to get things wrote down but also a fairly difficult task. You didn't always have your notebook. And if you did, TV commercials are short and you could easily miss the name of a product. This is why I and every other kid from my generation would wait for those seasonal toy catalogs to come in the mail. That is were the good stuff was at!

Mail, in and upon itself this an awesome yet completely foreign concept. We didn't really know why it came or where it came from. Some days it arrived and our parents hated it yet others they would sit around wanting it to come. Why? It defies all logic to an eight year old. All that we really understood is that we never got any. If we were lucky sometimes your parents would give us a piece they defined as "junk". Junk my ass! This stuff was fantastic. And even better than the occasional piece of hand-me-down junk mail was the catalogs. Especially the toy catalogs.

In the pre-internet days of my youth, other than television commercials this was the only way you seen what cool items were on the market. Catalogs provided visual aids that you could look at for extended amounts of time, text that you could ponder at over and over again. You could really make up your mind with a catalog. My Christmas Liststststststs had plenty of written items and carefully selected catalog selections that I cut out and taped onto the page. Even as a kid, I understood the power of photographs. Today we are going to take a look at ten of the best items from the 2011 Mills Fleet Farm Catalog! Keeping in mind that these are not ten items that I personally would want, but what I think are the ten best toys of the bunch. These are the ones that are undoubtedly making some kids List someplace in the world! That is if kids still make hand written lists. I've already over-used that word and we are just making it past the introduction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rose Art Color Blank Figures!

Click for Larger Image!
Craft projects. If there is one re-occuring theme around this place it is that craft projects seem to never quite work out the way they should. When I seen these Rose Art Color Blanks Figures on display at Target for only $9.99, I knew I had to have the set. My mind ran wild with the prospect of an interactive entry for the 2011 Christmas Countdown. Indeed, this was a very spur of the moment decision. It was not until much later when I got the set home and started photographing and unpacking everything in the box that I realized I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew....

Click for Larger Image!
This is the full set. Now can you see why I was so excited when I found these in the store. They just scream to be wrote about and are exactly the kind of material that I like to use to break up the sometimes monotony of the "easier" / "shorter" articles. It was at some point about seventeen photos in when I had all the material spread out in front of me and I was staring at the blank canvas of a miniaturized reindeer that I realized I had to decorate these things. Remembering how this worked out the last time I tackled something like this. I sort of had a mini panic attack. There was no conceivable way that I could use the included twenty two stickers and six magic markers to transform these Color Blanks into anything that resembled presentable.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winter Oreo's !

Christmas miracles come in many different shapes and sizes. Today I have found a whole bag of little round ones with red frosting lurking on the inside. Winter Oreo's have returned and that Snowman on the front of the package is all the persuasion I need to purchase a box. I am going to spare you guys the time of sitting through a multi-paragraph write up on these. Not because I do not think they are not worthy, they are, but because this is technically the fourth time I have wrote about Oreo's. We covered the Halloween ones here and here some baseball themed ones even snuck up in the middle of this entry. At this point I feel like you guys get it and not much more really needs to be said.

Click for Larger Image!
After-all they are Oreo's. There is not a person alive who has not ate them and conversely there is not a person alive who does not enjoy them. These are the Christmas ones, despite the package trying to convince us that they are "holiday" or winter in nature. It is a lie. Do not listen to them, Mr. Snowman is on the front, the filling is red, and all of the imprinted shapes point towards Christmas. This is a trick that a lot of companies try to pull this time of year, not wanting to outright label something Christmas for fear that they will offend someone of a different religion. I get that. I really do. But it still drives me nuts all the same.

Regardless these Oreo's make for a very seamless transition into the Christmas season. Cookies are already a natural fit this time of year. If you cannot score some homemade ones, well then these are the next best thing on the market.  Unless of course you have managed to keep some Girl Scout Cookies in the freezer for this long, in which case you are my new best friend. I love Girl Scout Cookies, they are one of the few products that I really associate with those warm summer months. But enough with that, we are just beginning the 2011 Christmas Countdown and I will have no talk of 80 degree sunny days around here! This is Christmas time and Winter Christmas Oreo's are something that you would be a fool to pass up on!

Friday, November 11, 2011

McRib is McBack!

Click for Large Image!
Today, we are going to talk about the McDonalds McRib sandwich. Yes, this has to do with Christmas. Ehh... sort of, technically, but maybe not really? I am actually not really sure but since I took the time to photograph my lunch surrounded with Christmas lights we might as well talk about it. You have no idea how strange of a feeling that was.

McDonalds, despite the fact that I enjoy writing about some of the wacky things they have done over the years, I don't eat McDonalds. I am no health nut or anything I just really do not care all that much for the selection of items they have. If I am in a hurry I can go for one of there cheap cheeseburgers every now and then but beyond that, I will pass. There are really only two items that get me excited and they are both seasonal. Shamrock Shakes are amazing and if you do not know what those are... well just you wait until St. Patricks time, you can bet that those will be getting a full blown entry. The second seasonal McDonalds selection is obviously the one we are talking about today, the McRibb.

Click for Larger Image!

The McRib dates all the way back to 1981 - 1985, where it was removed from the menu due to poor overall sales. Like all good canceled items it came back in 1994 as a promotional item for the live action Flintstones movie. How awesome is that? The sandwich had a second run from '94 until 2005. It was then that McDonalds decided to cancel the McRib sandwich, again, but not before giving it a "farewell tour" across the United States. Basically it was released in limited form at different parts of the country, sort of like how a band tours across country. As it turns out the whole farewell tour thing was just a giant publicity stunt and marketing ploy, because who has ever heard of giving a sandwich a farewell tour. This marketing stunt continued from 2005 all the way through 2011 ... only they stopped calling it a farewell tour a couple years ago and just started releasing it "for a limited time".

Click for Larger Image!
While the McRib has never been packaged or sold as such, many of us define it as a seasonal Christmas item. Since 2005 its limited releases have all been in early November and lasted until the first couple of weeks of December. This is enough to make it feel like a Christmas related item, even though it was never meant to be. Christmas has the power to take over things that were never meant to be related to it and suddenly make them seem oh so Christmas-asy. A word I just made up that sounded better when I said it out loud than how it looks typed up on the screen. As for the McRib, you probably should go out and purchase one. McDonalds is actually surprisingly strict with how limited they release these suckers. If you don't snag one within the next couple of weeks you are libel to have to wait until next year to taste the McRib's saucy goodness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Russell Stover 1,000,000,000 Chocolate Bar!

Click for Larger Image!
The beauty of running this Christmas Countdown is that there are literally thousands of items that get released every year that somehow, someway tie into the season. Lots of them are small little "one off" items such as these. I like this junk, I don't have to spend fifty thousand words explaining why its awesome to you. I feel like everyone can look at it and just sort of get it. Here we have a chocolate bar whose package is made up to look like a one billion dollar bill, with none other than Santa himself in the middle of the frame.

This bar, made by Russell Stover for those keeping score at home, is one of those perfect stocking stuffer items that nobody asks for yet when you get it goes a long way in making the holiday all the more special. You ask for things like video games and toys but nobody complains when they end up with video games, toys, and billion dollar Santa Clause candy bars. Christmas simply would not be Christmas without items like these and that is why I think they are important enough to get a little mini-entry during the 2011 Christmas Countdown!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Vacation Boxed Set!

Click for Larger Image!
Christmas has a ton of classic holiday movies. My favorite holiday movie of all time is easily National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation. No matter how many times I see this film, I always laugh at all the appropriate times. Usually finding some new way to interpret a joke or delivery of a line. Besides, I can see Cousin Eddie say "shitters full" time and time again and it will still crack me up.

So when I seen a massive Christmas Vacation Blu-Ray boxed set, there was no way I could pass it up. And unlike most other boxed sets who promise lots of cool little trinkets and extras this one actually delivers on every front. For starters check out the metal tin that everything comes in. This is home to the sets four hundred included items and makes a great place to store everything when your not playing with it. On top of all of that, the tin manages to look really cool sitting out amongst the rest of your DVD collection. Usually these gigantic collectors editions are a double edged sword, they tend to look interesting but often times the allotted space needed for one far outweighs the contents of the box. As you will soon see, this is not the case here. The included items really are worthy of that much realastate and the metal tin is totally worthy of display in and upon itself. Now, just you guys wait and see what is lurking inside...

Click for Larger Image!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nightmare Before Christmas Hallmark Ornament!

Click for Larger Image!
I wanted to get this entry out of the way early. Writing about The Nightmare Before Christmas always seems more appropriate fodder for late October and early November. During those strange couple of weeks were Halloween and Christmas collide and do a little strange dance on the floor of retail chains around the world.

And while this is indeed a Christmas decoration the time to give it its proper dues is now, with Halloween still fresh in all of our minds. For those of you who choose not to step foot in a Hallmark store, I understand. For most of us this place is not "our thing". Most of the year it is the kind of place your grandmother shops, purchasing little ceramic birds and picture frames. Cut little trinkets that serve no purpose. This is what Hallmark is most of the time.

During the winter months, the store does a little Optimus Prime transformation and turns into Christmas central. I love Hallmarks selection of Christmas ornaments, because unlike the cheap and often times generic ones sold at most other locations, Hallmark specializes in characters. Characters that you will recognize from popular TV shows, movies, games, even sports athletes. They all make some slightly overpriced appearance.

Hallmark has an ongoing trend of releasing a new Nightmare Before Christmas decoration every year. I am a late comer to this whole ornament game, but what I have seen so far I enjoy. Here we have Jack Skellington dressed as a snowman. You may remember this from the .5 seconds of screen time he spent looking like this in the film and may question why they decided to release this specific version of him. To this I say you are missing the point. Snowman Jack makes for a fine decoration and while this may not be the iconic pose of Mr. Skellington as soon as you see it, you recognize it from the film. In the end, isn't that all that matters?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christmas Tree Cakes Return!

Click for Larger Image!
Folks, we have arrived. Take a look around the website and you will notice that Halloween is gone and there will be nary a mention of it for the next couple of months. In place of ghosts and goblins we have snowflakes and gingerbread men. I am excited. Welcome to the 2011 Christmas Countdown! For the next two months we are going to take a look at some of the biggest and brightest things that relate to the season. Toys, Games, Food and Drink will all be covered and someplace in the middle of this holiday mayhem lies Thanksgiving. I want to do something for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade but I do not quite know what. But I figure since most tend to lump November and December into one gigantic holiday season, it will be alright to cover Thanksgiving during the Christmas Countdown.

Now, on with the show as they say. I could not think of a more fitting first entry into the 2011 Christmas Countdown than the smashing return of Christmas Tree Cakes! I write about a lot of seasonal food products but Christmas Tree Cakes are hands down my favorite of the bunch, with Halloween Oreo's coming in a close second place. They have that rare hard to define quality were there is just something about them that makes them feel special. Over the course of a year we see lots of attempts to create products that taste the same, look the same, and heck realistically aren't most of these Little Debbie snacks basically the same? Yet for some reason these Christmas Tree's stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christmas Jukebox's 2011 Debut!

I planned on waiting at least one week before I converted everything into its holiday theme. But... well, its rainy with a little bit of snow mixed in outside. I've purchased and wrapped my first Christmas present. And I have gotten a bunch of cool items to cover for the 2011 Christmas Countdown. Even though it is only the 2nd day in November, I cannot really deny it any longer... Christmas has arrived! And with that comes the holiday theme to the site!

One of my favorite aspects of this website that I am not even really sure if anyone actually uses are the jukeboxes that I have posted down at the bottom of the page. Thus far we have a Summer Jukebox and a Halloween Jukebox. The summer one exists only as some sort of strange concept that even to my own admission, needs a little work (but I have to save something for 2012 and those long, boring summer months). But it was the Halloween one that I became especially proud of. I spent quite a bit of time coming up with that track listing and I would put it up against just about any other Halloween playlist out there on the internet. I love that Halloween Jukebox and listen to it all the time.

So it is only fitting that a Christmas Jukebox comes up next. I really like this Christmas playlist as well. It was a much easier task to create this one. Halloween doesn't really have "music" created for it. Outside of the two or three obvious choices, you really have to put on your thinking cap and do some research to get a proper list of stuff. Christmas on the other hand, this was almost to easy. Doing a Google search for "Christmas Music" will give you thousands upon thousands of results. Really only becoming limited to how many different versions of Jingle Bells you want to have on there.

Hopefully at least a couple of you will take the time to float through this list. I have included all of my favorite holiday tracks and tried to sprinkle in a couple that you might not have heard. If you are still stuck in the swing of all things Halloween, one listen to this playlist is almost guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Halloween Recap!

Every year I always like to sit down and type up a little reflection piece the day after Halloween. For me it is a fun way to wrap everything up and a great way to bring a conclusion to the holiday. I have plenty to say about the 2011 Halloween Season and I will get to all of that here in just a minute but first I have one last surprise in store for everyone!

If you look up towards the front of the page you will see a new tab entitled "Halloween Town!" I put a lot of work into this countdown and the very nature of running a blog / website hybrid like this is that newer articles push older articles down the page and eventually end up buried in internet obscurity. Unless you where sort of here periodically checking the blog throughout September and October there is a good chance you will miss these older articles. I decided to change that. Halloween Town is an archive of sorts that will be active year round and will feature every article that I covered. That way new readers can easily locate everything Halloween related in one quick and convenient location. Next year I will update it with all the 2012 Halloween Season articles and so on and so fourth. So no matter what time of year it is, you will always have something spooky to read about! Now onto the rest of the 2011 Halloween Recap post.