Friday, November 30, 2012

M.A.R.S. Heroes!

I've been unsuccessfully trying to write an article about various Christmas Candies for the past few days now. The items are all great and well worth covering but for whatever reason I just don't feel like writing about novelty food. This is Christmas. I want to write about random toy lines nobody has ever heard of instead.

Generic Transformers
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Enter M.A.R.S. Heroes, a line of kick-ass robots with interchangeable parts. For only five bucks you gain access to a package of three robots. My set includes Tanker, the green guy in the bottom left. Coma, the blue one adjacent to him and Martian who resides at the very top of the box.

The rest of the set is rounded off by a pure white robot named Frosty, who would have been the most obvious bot to cover for this article but alas I've never been able to locate him.

Blaster, a dark purple robot who sort of reminds me of War Machine and an all black figure, Darkbeat who appears to have dual rockets mounted on his shoulders. For those interested you can see what those guys look like in this photo right here. Clearly Frosty and Darkbeat are the figures to own in this set and the ones that kids will salivate over the most.

Folks, I am confident that if I was given a pad and pen with the explicit instructions to create whatever toy line I wanted... I would come up with M.A.R.S. Heroes. This set is everything I love all wrapped up in one.

Robots from outer space? Check! Awesome character names? Check! The ability to take things apart, mix and match pieces. Hell Yea! Separately sold death vehicles? It has those too! The ability to connect the robot pieces with said death vehicles. Holy shit, you can totally do that! I've seen name brand toy lines that have less going for them and retail for three times the price of what M.A.R.S. Heroes will cost you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pac-Man & Operation Adhesive Bandages!

Happy Thanksgiving! I sure hope that everyone has a blessed holiday filled with plenty of stuffed turkey, parades, and football. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that means many different things to many different people. For most, it serves as a lead into Christmas. For me, it is an opportunity to write about 1980's themed adhesive bandages.

Pac-Man and Operation adhesive bandages to be exact. Sterile ones too. If you are wondering what possible correlation I could make between bandages and Thanksgiving I'm here to tell you... it's absolutely nothing.

These are just a couple items that I found at the Target Dollar Spot that I simply could not live without. They are not really Christmas, not really Thanksgiving, but hot damn are they ever worth talking about.

I'm proof positive that Target has been selling these themed bandages every Christmas season since roughly the new millennium. So I won't even attempt to trick anybody into thinking they are something new for 2012.

Doesn't matter. I don't care when they came out or how many times you've seen them in the store and waltzed right on by. If you've only got eight quarters to your name and have to spend them all at once you'd best be choosing these boxes of band-aids.

As a collector of junk, these are right up my ally. I don't even care about the bandages inside. It's the boxes that sell me on these. Reminding me vaguely of cigarette packages, I cannot think of some strange alternative universe in which Pac-Man has officially licensed tobacco products being produced on his behalf.

That's not a universe I would like to live in but I sure as shit would like to visit it on occasion. Imagine how great the souvenirs from that place would be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Force is Strong with Holiday Yoda!

With only a few days until Thanksgiving it is easy to lore oneself into a false sense of holiday security. Christmas is a full month away. I'll listen to Burl Ives tomorrow, watch Rudolph later, catch up with the Griswold's in a few weeks.

Star Wars Christmas
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Before long it's December 24th and you'll realize you've done none of that and have to make up for it by cramming every holiday activity imaginable into one massive event.
If you take nothing else away from reading this blog, it should be this: Slow down. Enjoy the season day by day. Little pieces at a time. You'll find that Christmas is a lot less chaotic and a whole bunch more enjoyable when you look at all the individual gears and cogs that make it turn.

Today's cog is Yoda. Holiday Yoda. Dressed up as Santa Claus. He's not new (this toy line debuted in 2010) but anytime you get a chance to write about bobble head Star Wars figure dressed up in holiday clothing, you jump on said opportunity.

Strangely enough, this is not the first time I've wrote about Yoda dressed as Santa before. Back in July I did a countdown of the 2011 Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar, the final gift for that set was a little Lego Yoda decked out in all sorts of holiday cheer. It was hands down the best part of that Advent Calendar and well worth the price of admission.

This Yoda is roughly five trillion times better than his Lego counterpart. And it all starts with the back of the package. Usually when I rant and rave about packages and boxes I figure at best most will skim over top those paragraphs. This is not one of those times you should skim.

Star Wars Christmas
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What we have here can best be described as artwork. Artwork that has been clearly inspired by the old school puppet Yoda from the original Star Wars trilogy and not the newfangled CGI Yoda from Episodes 1-3. Folks, this is a big deal.

Everyone agrees that original puppet Yoda was superior in every imaginable way to his newer counterpart and here we get to witness him dressed as Santa Claus. And he looks pissed off about it.

You can tell by the expression on his face that he'd rather be doing anything other than lugging around an over-sized sack of toys to a bunch of dipshit, ungrateful children. Hence the trail of junk falling out behind him. Yoda does not care. He just wants this holiday to be over.

Star Wars Christmas
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Bobblehead Yoda, the one lurking around on the inside of the package, seems to be in a much cheerier mood than his cardboard counterpart. The plastic is a little on the cheap side and the paint job is a tad bit messier than I would have expected from an officially licensed Star Wars item but you know what, none of that matters. None.

Right now. At this specific moment in time. It is easily my favorite Christmas decoration that I own. Like I mentioned at the start of this article, it is so very easy to get caught up in all the holiday madness that a person can forget this time of year is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

With Bobblehead Yoda sitting out on my computer desk, its almost impossible to look at him and not want to bust out a Nat King Cole record and throw on Charlie Brown's Christmas special quietly in the background. Thus making it the perfect holiday item.

When you are out partaking in all the Black Friday sales that will soon be going on, remember to take a minute and focus on some of the smaller things for sale this holiday season. You'll find much more joy in a cheap $5.00 Yoda figure than arguing with strangers over who gets the last over-sized television set.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coca-Cola's 2012 Christmas Mistake

We must have been naughty this year. Coca-Cola has release its holiday can design for 2012 and they are basically the exact same thing as last year. Hmph. I'm pissed and ready to put my Halloween decorations back up in protest of Coke's most recent holiday disaster.

Coke Holiday Can
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A bit of back story is in place. Every year Coke release a different holiday themed can, most of the time they feature Santa Claus but on occasion the Coca-Cola polar bear will make an appearance.

For 2011 Coke went crazy and released a pure white can to go along with a new 'Save the Polar Bear' marketing campaign. Needless to say people flipped the fuck out over Coke in a white can. Some got confused, thinking that it was Diet Coke only to realize that it was regular Coca-Cola ... presumably minutes before going into a diabetic frenzy. Others went so far as to claim that the new white cans altered the taste of Coca-Cola. Because hey, if you are going to have a crazy Coca-Cola related conspiracy you might as well go all out with it.

After about a month of this nonsense, the white cans got pulled and an alternative red and silver color scheme was introduced and all was right in the universe.

I assumed that for 2012 Coke would want to distance itself as far from the white 2011 cans as possible. That they would return with a classic red can with Santa Claus on the side and 'Holiday 2012' in big bold yellow text on the other.

Nope. They just re-released the alternative red polar bear cans from 2011. It's official. The Coca Cola corporation has ruined Christmas. If they wanted to continue on with saving polar bears, I would happily accept that. But at least give us soda collectors a new Santa Claus can to ogle at.

I am at a complete loss for why they would simply re-release a variation of a soda can that basically nobody liked. It's not even that good of a design. The white can was interesting because holy shit, its traditional Coke in an all white can. The red design was simply invented because people are stupid. It was a stop-gap solution that fixed last seasons slight misstep. Not something worthy a re-issue.

Coke Holiday Can
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The main problem that I have is largely the same as last year. It just doesn't feel like a true holiday can. No Santa. No mention of the holidays. Just stupid looking polar bears with dumb expressions.

It was one of those things that I could sort of look past in 2011 with the all white cans but a year later, with the exact same design save for a color swap... it just strikes me as lazy. I can think of no valid reason why they should re-visit last years design and have my fingers crossed that hopefully we will see a return to the classic Coca Cola Christmas cans in 2013.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

China Makes Crappy Army Men

The inherent beauty of the Christmas season is the pure volume of junk that gets released every year. And I'm not even talking about the obvious shit, the lights and decorations or the limited edition candies and other seasonal items with Santa shoved on the label.

Someplace beyond all that hullabaloo you'll find all the really interesting items. The ones tucked slightly out of sight, perhaps near the end of the Christmas isle and shoved haphazardly together on a dusty old shelf. I'm talking of course about those dirt cheap items we refer to as Stocking Stuffers!

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Do you know what the best thing about Stocking Stuffers are? Zero Expectations. It doesn't matter what is inside of them, so long as it is something. When I was a kid half of my stocking were filled with peanuts and it didn't even matter. I looked forward to those peanuts every single year.

Throughout November and December we are going to take a look at how brilliantly bad most of these mass released Stocking Stuffers are. You'd scoff at them any other time of the year but somehow, someway... they'll get a pass thanks to Christmas's watchful eye.

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Up first is a three piece set of generic looking Army Men that I picked up for the low price of $1.00. I wanted to start with these guys first because despite being absolutely the worst action figures I've seen in years, I for some reason cannot get enough of them.

What precisely is wrong with them? Well outside of the paint flaking off, the general inability to stand, the miss proportioned limbs, poor construction, and the fact that I sort of feel like I have lead poisoning after spending fifteen minutes photographing them, then I would say not much else is wrong...

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... other than the random holes in the back of each figures head and the fact that they didn't even attempt to cover up the screws that hold the body segments together. I am pretty sure that I've seen birthday cake decorations that are of a higher build quality than these generic Army Men.

And you know what, that is why I simply cannot get enough of these horrible toys. You can be so much more creative with a set of three random ass Army Men then you ever could be with licensed toys. Optimus Prime will always be just that, Optimus Prime... leader of the Autobots.

These guys can be absolutely anything you want them to be, and the poor construction quality gives each figure an added extra dimension that, while not intended, gives them all a hilariously bad back-story. Behold:

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I've named this figure Private Skin Cancer because look at his arm and come up with some other rational explanation for just what the hell is wrong with it. And those marks on his face? Exactly how it came out of the package. It looks like a three year old with parkinson's disease tried to paint on the eyes and kept missing the target.

But with a little creativity those suckers could be cybernetic implants designed to give Private Skin Cancer awesome heat seeking Predator vision. Perhaps those cybernetics are the reason why he developed skin cancer in the first place, as sort of an unforeseen side effect.

The plot just thickened, my friends!

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Lieutenant Goggles is kind of like a poor mans Robocop. But even a poor mans Robocop is still a pretty badass dude. If the guy with skin cancer has cybernetic eye enhancements then clearly the guy with the huge Robocop visor must have something even more badass behind it.

Or hes simply a huge LaDainian Tomlinson fan.

But for the sake of argument, I will imagine that he has some sort of Robocop / Iron Man HUD display going on behind all of that. You see that weird gray thing on the front of his chest? Clearly that is some sort of futuristic ray gun and the visor is the targeting system.

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Finally we have White Dwayne Johnson, he's just like the professional wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson .. only incredibly white. Doesn't matter though, because White Dwayne Johnson has the ability to raise the People's Eyebrow and potentially lay the smack down on some alien candy ass!

Clearly, this is our comic relief of the trio but I wouldn't bet on him making it out of many battles alive. Being a white version of The Rock will only get you out of so many situations before reality catches up to you in the form of a bullet in the ass.

Do these toys suck? Absolutely. I almost broke one of them while writing this article. But in the end, you've got to have something to strap fireworks to come July 4th. And cheaply made Chinese Army Men are perfect for doing just that!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2012 Christmas Activity List!

Towards the beginning of the Halloween Countdown I wrote an article encouraging everyone to create their very own Halloween Mood Table. A single spot in your house filled to the brim with as many Halloween related items and activities as you can cram into it.

The whole point of the mood table is to have a spot that reminds you to celebrate Halloween during those down times when you might otherwise forget. This year I wanted to take the concept of the Halloween Mood Table and give it a bit of a Christmas twist.

However having an actual physical table overflowed with Christmas decorations didn't seem like the correct way to tackle this issue. Unlike Halloween, nobody really needs a spot in your house dedicated to reminding you that its Christmas. That's sort of the point of decorating a tree.

Besides you probably put up enough Christmas decorations without having to find a spot for even more of them. Having to much Christmas could quickly result in holiday burnout and that is the exact opposite effect of what we are trying to accomplish here today

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The solution that I came up with was the 2012 Christmas Activity List! It's basically the Halloween Mood Table without the physical table. I've created a list of 30 different Christmas (and a few Thanksgiving) related activities that I want to get accomplished before the end of December.

I really tried to create a mix of many different activities. Some of them are as simple as "Watching Elf on DVD" ... others are sort of gimme spaces like "First Snow Fall" and a few are oddball things that I've always wanted to try but never have. Variety is the key ingredient but above all else they should be things that you want to do this holiday season.

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Each time an activity is finished, I'll be taking one of these stickers and placing it over top the square. Sort of like a bingo board, only I guess there is no real "prize" at the end... other than the joy of having completed another holiday activity.

It may seem like a silly idea to some, but in my book... this Christmas Activity List is exactly the sort of thing that I need to keep myself on track this holiday season. The older we all get the easier it becomes to put off things until the very last minute and suddenly, its two days before Christmas and at that point everything seems like a chore instead of relaxing and fun.

Besides for me personally... this season, I really want to accomplish everything holiday related before December 25th ... instead of sitting around in March wishing the clock could be rolled back to where we are at right now.

I really hope that at least some of you will consider creating a Christmas Activity List of your own. I've had mine up for a couple days now and just recently checked off one of the boxes (Purchase Christmas Tree Cakes) and it is beyond satisfying glancing up at my list and seeing one square filled in.

If anyone does make a list of your own, let me know in the comments section down below. I am really quite interested in seeing what everyone else comes up with.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Christmas Tree Cakes!

Welcome everybody to the 2012 Christmas Countdown! I would like to take a brief minute to thank each and every one of you for being apart of this seasons Halloween festivities. If you enjoyed the style of articles that I wrote during September and October I'm positive that you'll enjoy what I have in store for the months of November and December.

I wanted to start off the 2012 season with Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes for a variety of reasons. Chief among them, consistency. It is important that I maintain my own little Christmas traditions, no matter how big or how small they are. And this is one of my important small holiday traditions.

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Its no secret that the holiday season is my favorite time of year and that I look forward to it arriving each and every November. Like clockwork, Christmas Tree Cakes are there right along with it.

I've wrote about these things a handful of times in the past and really honestly don't have anything new to say about them. You know why I like them. I know why you like them. But at this point its sort of my civic duty to inform everybody that Christmas Tree Cakes have arrived and with them... the official start of the 2012 Holiday Season!

Christmas Tree Cakes are just the tip of the ice berg for what I've got in store for the rest of the holiday countdown. Without giving away anything, you can expect everything from toys to holiday specials, some Thanksgiving articles, and whatever else pops up from now until December 25th.

I have things to cook, things to grow, items that need to be colored, and even one item that involves living organisms.

So stay tuned and get ready to have a holly jolly fucking Christmas!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Christmas Theme!

I'm working on converting the website over to the Christmas theme, so if anything looks off... just assume that I know about it and will get it corrected here shortly!