I`m a recent addition to the NSU forums and subscriber, and today, it is `Open-a-Box Day`, in which we open a box and detail on what we have found in them. Now, being a collector of mainly japanese Saint Seiya cards (both `regular` Trading Cards and Collectible Card Game Cards), I don`t *do* Trading Cards in the normal way, but rather search the net for boxed sets on the cheap, and then crack them open and try to trade or sell the cards in order to fund my exotic collection. Which with over 1300 cards to go still requires quite some additions.
But this concept intrigued me, and after reading the reports of the 2013 entries, I decided to make the plunge this year, and be `one of the guys` in opening and detailing my box.
The set I picked was the 2003 Topps card series of the Incredible Hulk. The box had costed me around 15 USD, and contains 24 packs of 7 cards each.
Possible inserts are a set of 10 Gamma Foil cards (1:6 ratio), a set of 5 Crystal Clear cards (ratio 1:12) and possibly one of the 4 Custom Cover Cards at an overall ratio of 1:346 (these of course are the big money cards, and if I could pull one of them, I could have a full crate of Saint Seiya boosters come over). The Base Set itself is 72 cards, so a full one should normally be possible.
The cards themselves have some nice artwork:
After going through the opening of the 24 packs, I was perfectly on the ratio for inserts: 4 Gamma Foils, and 2 Crystal Clear cards
And a lot of basic cards
Which resulted in 2 full base sets and 20 left over loose doubles.
Not to bad a haul, but let`s do the math. Taking the NSU price guide to hand, I started adding and calculating the values of the cards, and see if I `ripped my pants` (no pun intended) or have the possible chance of a small profit in Nominal Trade Value.
So in essence I pulled open 48.4 USD in worth. Of course, they haven`t been traded or sold, but it is a good box in terms of value vs purchase cost, and now the part I love in my hobby starts... to try and exchange them in order to get my private collection closer to total completion!
Open a Box has been a fun little experience for me, and I`ll definitly be joining up again next year, maybe even if I can contain myself saving up a box of Saint Seiya by then to crack open on the exact day and report on that one ;-)
Though I doubt I could have them at the side closed for longer then an hour after arrival hehe.
Over a week ago, I shared the list of the Minifigures series 12 line, and now over on Eurobricks I bumped into the first image taken in Japan.
This series is going to be having a lot of additions to my personal collection it seems...
Judging by what is known, this picture contains left to right
Space Miner - not intrested
Wizard - 1 of those
not sure, but I think the Dino Hunter judging by the syringe and `Hawkeye` bow - not intrested
Battle Godess - Lego Athena???? YES PLEASE!!!
Swashbuckler - not intrested
Video Game Guy - definitly one for one my desk
So far, intrest levels make 3 out of 6 for me, thought the munchkin is going to want a copy of each as usual, I am really thinking to just buy a full display when they come out...
I deleted the objective of obtaining the Pacific Rim master set for this year.
Why? Not out of a financial point of view, because the limited `niche` from that film probably won`t push the prices through the roof.
No, it is more going to be the lack of challenge. The more I read about the current Trading Card market, the more it has put me off to collect the series... there just is no challenge anymore in getting `full base sets`, and the sets are riddled with a gazillion chase cards like parallel`s, which are basically the same as the base set but harder to get from your box, and the autograph and prop cards at ratios either to easy or to difficult.
It has nothing to do with Pacific Rim per se, but more with the hobby as a whole. This is how the companies produce their sets these days, and the chase cards are really a lot of chasing *not*. Most traders have them by the heaps once a set releases, so it is more a shopping spree then a pure buy a box and hope when you pull stuff out kind of thing.
With on the other hand still over 1300 Saint Seiya cards to collect now that I got most series checklists... and then still lack a few as I have cards I haven`t seen showing up in any of them in my possession, as well as the various spanish languaged ones still to even start searching for checklists, I rather spend my time on those.
As well as my card funds.
But there is more to this post then just that little notification and the why of it. Today it is the `one year anniversary` since I decided to throw around all my hobbies and select on which ones to focus, and which ones to let go quietly. It did take some months to set it all seriously in motion after that, but a year ago (I can remember because it is a holiday date) my nephews started their first steps in painting a miniature, and have become the inheritors of my collection, the last 4 boxes (okay, so there will be bits and bobs showing up in the coming months occasionally) of material transferred to their hobby room.
That also means it has been now a year since I `celebrated` the decision with some (very poor) MoC attempts, basically by plating up some smaller sets which have now disappeared in the brick sorted boxes or have already found a `home` in newer builds of my own making.
So what is the status of my activities these days then, or `geeky hobbies`? Well, Saint Seiya for one remains my undisputed dada, and after 28 years of fandom, this is never going to change. I went through the dark era where it had as good as no support (between Poseidon and Hades arcs was a 15 year gap) and even though the past years have been good with Lost Canvas and Omega, we can now count down the days (literally) to the movie.
And perhaps Next Dimension, Shantia Sho or Episode G will see anime adaption. Or please, they might finish the Lost Canvas, though due to studio issues and license rights that might be very unlikely to happen.
Steaming along secondly and strongly is of course my LEGO. I have `evolved` over the past 2 years from `getting a set and helping out the kid` to an amateur MOC builder and LUG member who will be attending his third convention this year not as a visitor, but as an exposant. Yes, my builds will be at the event, part integrated in the club large lay out (like the pirate table of last year), and part in the Guilds of Historica table.
That table that was responsible for me joining Eurobricks after last years convention in the first place...
Magic then... I started playing again, and will be doing so more the coming months. School is dwindling down (no idea though of the possible new work hours will integrate with the schedule) so I have some time, and the GF has recuperated and is back at work since february, and now that she is getting back in the weekend shift rotation, I can spend those days chucking down cards.
Playstation wise, it is still the occassional game with the kid, but I haven`t thrown myself at it again as during the PS Challenge. I`m back to the gaming speed of before, on and off pushing some buttons at a very relaxed rate. So this doesn`t count as an activity, more as a time killer and munchkin `quality time`.
He *almost* defeated me even on FIFA 11 yesterday at last. He had Barcelona and scored the 1-0, I had `the Robins` Cheltenham Town (english lower divisions, we do have to keep a challenge), but then he made a home goal, gained two red cards and in the final moments I could finally pass his defenders for the 1-2. HA!
And the Nemesis has admitted he is far more addicted to WoW, so the GF isn`t complaining to much anymore when I run around in Azeroth...
Talking changes and hobby, even the GF has one `sort off`. Bayala elfin statuettes, I`m just glad she loves them without fanatically collecting them, now at least I can buy some small gifts now and then to tell her I love her and show some affection...
So yes, in a year a lot can happen, and a year from now, a lot will have happened probably, but that will be a post for in 12 months!
Yesterday I received from Archonia the 7th volume of the Next Dimension - Le Mythe d`Hades french translated tome.
And of course, I devoured it almost on the spot. I took the time to sit down, but that was basically it.
Next Dimension is the official follow up to Saint Seiya, taking place immediatly after the fight in Elysion with a wounded Seiya. One by one, the saints are travelling back in time to help their comrade and his previous incarnation Tenma.
This era takes place at the same time of the excellent The Lost Canvas, which basically makes that one non-canonnical, but heck. The series focusses on the Twelve Houses... but in this volume, a shocking revelation is made.
Even though the first part focusses mainly on Hyoga trying to convince Shiryu (who know has an adopted orphan son, Shoryu, making it hard to get Omega into the main canon as well know where he had a kid of his own called Ryohu) to join him back in time, something he only agrees to after facing the angel Toma (who, for a mighty angel, is swiftly defeated by Hyoga actually... by pointing a single finger he gets held up and the two saints enter the timewell).
Shiryu reappears at his master`s house, the Libra saint Dohko, and after some brawling acknowledges him as a true Libra student.
Tenma`s master, Crateris Suikyo, now the Garuda spectre, is caught in the house of Virgo (with Virgo Shijima himself caught with baby Athena in the Pope`s palace), and saved by Athena`s cosmo from death, but sends a petal message to her stating just `13`... remember that revelation?
In the current time, Shaina has been plagued by headaches and strange attractions. She ascends the houses to a part between Scorpion and Sagitarrius, followed by Marin. Here she starts digging, and finds the ruins of another House of the Zodiac. The Demonic House, there are legends of a true evil gold saint of the far past, the Ophiuchus GOLD saint (he hails from the debate that Ophiuchus is the semi official 13th Zodiac sign since a few years). And Suikyo knows he is returning...
It has been a while, but since I`m still waiting for a BrickLink parcel to finish off my Avalonian category B, and am as good as through sorting bricks, I`ve build a new entry to the Age of Mitgardia MoC freebuild line.
Even though currently there are some tensions between Mitgardia and
Kaliphim over a pirate incident, the hill and mountain passes in the
southern part have walls between rocksides. Though these serve mostly
to mark regional borders and often have open gateways, they do have some
armed guards to check the passing travellers for unthrustworthy
In times of war or even all out
invasion, these gates are not only easier to protect as you need less
warriors and force the enemies into bottlenecks, they can also be
barricaded for added defensive value and closing off the inner lands. In these warmer southern regions, these often consist of the vicious and fearless BEARDLESS warrior women of Mitgardia.
on a normal day, you can just see a lot of odd figures passing through,
like Northern Wolfmen and Kaliphim tradesmen, all going about their
This build is my second one in the Walls line of building defences...
The one grand prix in a season that often contains a suprise in the results. The one GP where sheer engine power, the big benefit of the Mercedes engine, is negated. The one GP where you end up in the wall if you place the car 1 inch of it`s line...
But the qualifiers didn`t yield to many suprises though, Rosberg on pole before Hamilton, then Ricciardo before Vettel (beating him 4 out of 6 now) and then both Ferrari`s.
Raikonnen shoots of as a rocket, zooming past Alonso and Ricciardo and after Vettel who also had a good start. On the other hand of the spectrum, Maldonado never got of the grid during the warm up lap and has already retired, but the field gets through the first tricky corner without problems.
It is in corner 5 that Perez receives a bump and the Safety Car is already deployed before the first lap is over...
Lap 4: and we`re off again, but soon Vettel gets a serious problem as his Renault engine starts dying on him, and even though he is pitting, he goes back on track and effectively becoming a driving chicane. It turns out he can`t get out of his first gear anymore, and in lap 8 the team ends his suffering.
Lap 12: perhaps the best illustration of the not so necessary engine power in the princedom, is the fact that a Sauber is battling it out with the Williams`es. In the meantime, Kvyat is forced to the pits and retires.
Lap 19: Stop and Go 5 second penalties are declared for Chilton, Gutteriez and Chilton for not being lined up in position at the start. Kobayashi is in 13th spot now!
Lap 21: As Rosberg leads before Hamilton and Raikonnen, Magnussen has sneaked to 6th, putting in some good hope for the struggling McLaren team.
Lap 23: Both Mercedes are now lapping curent backrunners Grosjean and Ericsson. Compared to other GP`s so far, Monaco only yields them half a second a lap instead of a full one...
Lap 25: Sutil, until then driving great and agressively, makes a breaking error at the exit of the tunnel and puts the Sauber in the wall and resulting in the second safety car, just at a moment teams might get in for tires. During these, Vergne is released straight in front of Magnussen, nearly colliding both cars inside the pit lane. This will be penalised for sure.
Lap 29: Just as the field gets ready to start, Raikonnen has to pit for rubber, putting him in last position. Kobayashi is now in 12th, Tora Tora Tora Kamui!!!
Lap 31: the pack is released again, with Massa currently running 5th as he hasn`t pitted yet.
Lap 38: Drive through for Vergne for an unsafe release that nearly put him into the side of Magnussen. Kobayashi seems to have brake issues (again) as he nearly slided Raikonnen of the track, and starts dropping places to 15th.
Lap 46: As they start lapping again, Hamilton creeps under the wing of Rosberg.
Lap 52: Vergne sees his Renault engine go up in smoke and is yet again forced to retire due to the mechanical parts letting him down.
Lap 57: Bottas Mercedes engine goes up in smoke, putting Bianchi in 11th and very close to points, but almost unnoticed, Hulkenberg has yet again slipped to the top points positions with a 5th place.
Lap 60: Bianchi is under investigation for having done his 5 second penalty under the Safety Car.
Lap 61: Gutteriez, at that time inside the points, puts his nose in the wall and loses a good opportunity to score much needed points for Sauber.
Lap 65: Ricciardo is unleashing his demons, putting down the fastest lap and starting to chase Hamilton. When told about this, Hamilton replies that Ricciardo doesn`t intrest him, he wants to know what Rosberg`s status of his car is. Here is a new Senna and Prost 1988 rivalry seriously in the making, give it one or two more GP`s and the situation is going to explode.
Lap 74: Magnussen gets passed by his teammate Button, just as Ricciardo gets under the wing of Hamilton. However, Raikonnen blocks out Magnussen and both slide in the rail, but can continue their way. But all this tangling means Bianchi is on 8 and Ericsson on 11, let there please be one more retirement in the midfield...
Lap 78: but it is not to be, as Rosberg takes the win before Hamilton and a very close on him Ricciardo. Bianchi gets flagged as 8th, but with the penalty of 5 seconds added to his racetime for the safety car issue, gets classified 9th. Still, after 5 struggling years, these are the first points ever for one of the smaller back teams, and I fear Marussia has nailed it now for sure this season versus Caterham, unless a miracle happens in Singapore... I fear a bit for the future of the Boys in Green, and I think Fernandes is going to indeed pull the plug after the season :-(
1. Rosberg - Mercedes
2. Hamilton - Mercedes
3. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault
4. Alonso - Ferrari
5. Hulkenberg - Force India Mercedes
6. Buton - McLaren Mercedes
7. Massa - Williams Mercedes
8. Grosjean - Lotus Renault
9. Bianchi - Marussia Ferrari
10. Magnussen - McLaren Mercedes
11. Ericsson - Caterham Renault
12. Raikonnen - Ferrari
13. Kobayashi - Caterham Renault
14. Chilton - Marussia Ferrari
Well, Monaco delivered. Sure we have the usual suspects on 1 and 2, it was closer then before due to the special circuit Monaco is, it had a lot of actions (and dare I say, overtakes!) and indeed some unexpected results, mainly of course Bianchi!
Man of the Race
Bianchi. Really, there are people going to say that a lot of cars didn`t finsih, but reliabilty and driving correct is a skill as well. And the Marussia`s, even though slow, are reliable, because if you exclude Mercedes, they currently have a highest place of getting cars to the finish!
Team of the Race
Who else: Mercedes. Even on a slow circuit like Monaco, they still dominated, just by a smaller margin then in other races.
The Cult of Chilton
Yep, Max did it again!
Next stop, Canada, but this time I won`t be reporting, as I`m seemingly expected for a BBQ on the other side of the country. Unless it rains cats and dogs, then I`m not putting a foot outside, not to mention I have to turn in my end paper that monday...
Another as good as WoW-less week, as I only did a single tour on Tol Barad (good for some fishes and critters to the tally, but to few to notice), a non-Midnight drop Kara sprint, and completed at last the Jade Temple cooking quest so I can start on the Noodle Cart chain.
In other words, not worth the mention...
So here are some more bubs this week, all of Blood Elf cosplay this time.
I promise I`ll be playing some this week, as The Lego Movie has platted in the meantime on the Vita... and my bricks are as good as sorted... and the GF has late shifts the coming weekend...
It`s been a quiet week, sorting through my bricks (and now nearing the finish line), and not been busy that much in completing my collections (though a big one for cards is under way), but I did manage to find some nice little items for my Lego.
And I discovered Amazon in the process...
In the previous years, I used the site like once, to order the Perry McCarthy formula 1 book. Now I discovered the medium in full (and learned that if you order seperatly from UK and US, you don`t have an oversight in one place like eBay, tat unhandy) and have shortlisted a lot of Lego books, including a therapeutic one which I pre-ordered working around ASS and Lego.
Yes, if it proves solid, I might start a mini-club for the munchkin around this
But the book I scored on the cheap (13 GBP incl shipping, all new and including the minifig Toy Soldier collectible) the complete Mini Figure Character Encyclopedia, detailing all the characters from Series 1 to 10.
Sorry munchkin, you can look in the book all you want, but it is in english...
The second addition was the Legolas promo bag. It was for now one of the only small sets I lacked (okay, still need to get the Bilbo from the PS3 The Hobbit game) and it actually is pretty, but not as good as the Mirkwood Elf set imho.
I really should get Bag`s End, I swear, when I make my next pilgrimage to the Lego Store, I`m hauling home the little Hobbit`s house, before it cycles out and becomes hard to find in Belgium (like the Black Pearl and the munchkin`s Harry Potter sets...).
Now I`m off to do s quick treasure hunt over the flea market in the street next door, then off to the zoo for a family day.
Put a heap of adult builders in a room and soon the discussion will come to a point where the clone brands are mentioned like Kre-o, Megabloks and the likes. Opinions here are differentiated between `purists`, `in the middlers` and `je-m`en foutists` and the level of how far they are going to sponsor the competition.
But what is that competition? Is there even competition? Lego is a very strong brand, and a few years ago their CEO stated in an interview that it is not those clone brands they worry about. Lego is in the big leagues, their true competition is Nintendo, Sony, PC`s... they try to get kids be creative with bricks instead of playing videogames...
So what constitutes an actual `clone brand`? These are other building toys using a system similar to lego with studs and everything, and they look like, but aren`t exactly the same. Lego did sue some of them in the past, most notable a chinese company that even copied their box art only to have completely looking sets inside, and most of the lawsuits where about the patent of the studs and tube system by Lego.
The biggest difference lies mostly in the characters though. They are often bulkier then the iconic Minifig of Lego and not really suitable for mix and matching, but some make nice shelf ornament figures. I particularly have that with the Kre-O Transformer Kreons, I try and have some Autobots on a shelf...
But in recent years, some companies have been on the rise, not nearly rivaling the Lego juggernaut, but they do have some very intresting licenses.
Probably the one company, based in Canada, that comes closest to the Lego model. They have retail exposure, a wide range of franchises including World of Warcraft, Halo, Need for Speed, Call of Duty, the Smurfs, Skylanders and Hello Kitty. They also sell tubs of `just bricks`.
A small word of advice, if you can find the Halo boxes on the cheap at flea markets and so, grab them all, those are worth a nice penny in the secondary market, just have a look at eBay for instance.
The branch I perhaps have the most clone sets off. From Hasbro, they are the follow up on the Build to Rule line, and have nice series in their range like Transformers and Star Trek, and their `Kreons` minifigures. Yes, I will buy that Enterprise one day...
Build to Rule
The older Hasbro line, including actual Transforming transformers (though not very solid mind you!) and most of the series the current day Kre-O line flies, like GI Joe etc. Compatible with both Lego and Kre-O, but now for obvious reasons no longer in production.
A british company, they have the Stargate and Terminator franchises amongst others like World War 2 sets and such. I don`t have any of them, and the comments about it left or right aren`t that great, but that Daedalus...
A more educational orientated company, they do produce a series of Lego like sets under the Character Builder flag. Popular in the UK and surroundings mostly for one franchise: Doctor Who.
A Japanese company that produces Nanoblock, they have a (pretty) architecture line, and it is a quit popular brand in the land of the rising sun, as often Gundam fans use those for building their models. The bricks are generally flatter with longer studs and not really compatible though.
So those are about the most popular clone brands out there. But where do I stand on them?
I`m definitly not a purist. As you can note from the above listing, I`m not above buying some of the sets, though mostly for display purposes. I have almost all the Kre-O Autobots on a shelf, I have a WoW Blood Elf mini set standing between `regular` lego on a shelf (it IS medieval fantasy mind you), I`m totally crazy about the Enterprise, and often eye some other sets.
But do I use them in builds? Yes and No. I have a few of the Mega Bloks tubes of regular bricks, and yes, I dare incorporate them in some builds. Where they are not seen.
With that I mean, considering how cheap those bricks are (I once bought a whole tub on a flea market, unopened, for 3 euros. The owner`s kid didn`t want it because it wasn`t real lego) I tend to use them to fill up `closed scenery`. For example, the rock of the Wizard`s Tower you can find on my MOC page here, has been filled up with some pillars of those cheap clone bricks to prevent it imploding. The bricks can`t be seen, and if I didn`t tell it here, no-one would know.
Is that wrong? Not for me, for me it is all about building creative things and enjoying myself, and if I can shave off one or two euros on a `build cost` for filler bricks that no one can see anyways, I`m not above that. It`s like those artists that glue their bricks in my mind...
And since I don`t enter things like builder competitions and such, I`m harming no-one after all.