Monday, December 14, 2009

Fourth Doctor Collectibles - Figures and Cards

In my introduction to my Doctor Who Reviews I mentioned that I'd try to work in the collecting aspect with each review, and in only my second review I already forgot about that. So here's a quick article to make up for that fact, focusing on the some of the Tom Baker collectibles still available.

Because Tom Baker is the most recognized Doctor in the U.S. there are quite a few collectibles out there with his mug on them. More than a couple of certified autographs have been issued in various trading card series, here are a couple from a set called "Strictly Ink"

Of course it wouldn't be a science fiction show without Action Figures now would it? The earliest Fourth Doctor figures come from Denys Fisher in the 8-9" Mego style of the 70's. These figures are HIGHLY collectible and rare these days. With many of the Mego style figures of the 70's, the plastic has deteriorated and either become discolored or brittle and these weren't really imported to the United States, though they were available in other parts of the world. If you do happen to see them, expect prices to be very, very high.

The Italian version of the Denys Fisher Doctor figure.

In 1989 Dapol issued their second series of 3 & 3/4" figures and included the 4th Doctor.

You'll notice that he's sans scarf and hat, many collectors customize their figures. In fact I'm thinking about bidding on one on eBay that comes with a custom scarf. The quality of the sculpting looks about as good as you were going to get during the 80's, though articulation is on par with figures from the 70's. Since they're just now over 2 decades old you can still find specimens MOC (mint on card), and they're even usually reasonably priced. There's also an extensive line of other figures in the same scale, including Daleks, which is fodder for a later post.

More recently Character Options has been issuing new series and classic Doctor Who figures in the 5" scale with increasingly better articulation and spot on sculpting. They also had the foresight to include both his scarf and a head with and without a hat. Plus there's a sonic screwdriver accessory. SO nifty. You might still be able to find these at retail in good comic-book or specialty toy stores. You can definitely get them online, and you shouldn't have to pay more than $20 for one MOC.

There are also several exclusive repaints of the figure, but they're all just about the same sculpt, just different paint. The best part about this figure is that the Character Options line of figures is quite extensive by now, featuring over 100 different figures with MOST of the incarnations of the doctor produced already (I think the 7th and 8th doctor are still missing).

I can't find any figures of a young Sarah Jane Smith, or poor Harry Sullivan. Sarah Jane is available in plastic form from her current show "The Sarah Jane Adventures", but if you want the 27 year old version, you're out of luck.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doctor Who Review - Story 76 - 4B "The Ark in Space"

Last time the Doctor had just regenerated from Jon Pertwee into Tom Baker, and he and his companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) defeated a bunch of fascist scientists who wanted to use a special robot to take over the world. After dispatching the bad guys they enticed Doctor/Lieutenant Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) into the TARDIS and off they went on another adventure.

They materialize inside of a space ship after Harry messes with the controls, thus the Doctor doesn't know exactly where or when they are. Turns out they're on Space Station Nerva an Earth satellite constructed in the 30th Century. They discover a number of people in suspended animation and the Doctor susses out that they are the remnants of the Human Race, as the Earth had become uninhabitable due to solar flares some thousands of years previously. They were scheduled to be awoken when the Earth was inhabitable again and would re-populate the planet by flying their space ship the Ark, down to Earth. But something tampered with their "alarm clock" and they failed to wake up.

Space Station Nerva and the Ark

As our travellers investigate they sleepers start to wake, first is Vira a medical-technician who assists the others. Her commander is "Noah" who explains that the sleepers were the "best' of the human race and that there must be no dilution of the species, so the Doctor and his companions must die. But before he can dispatch our heroes the Doctor discovers that they are not alone on the station. Helps that they had found a six foot tall space fly earlier.

The space flies, dubbed the Wirrn, want to use the space station and the Ark (two separate entities by the way) as a hosting and birthing chamber for their young. Of course it's not quite that easy, the Wirrn's larval form actually takes over a human host and Noah is the first to be subsumed. The Doctor outwits his enemies, saves most of the Ark inhabitants, and the sleepers are free to return to Earth via a Trans-Mat beam, except that the beam isn't working correctly, so the Doctor offers to beam down to Earth to fix the receptors, and the story ends on a cliff-hanger.

Although story wise this serial is not at all very original nor all that interesting, there are several components which must be addressed. On the positive side, Space Station Nerva and the Ark look pretty darn good on the inside, and the models used for the exterior shots aren't badly made. The design of the sleeper chambers is especially pleasing, as it's obviously done on a budge (the 'cut outs' for the sleepers are clearly styrofoam, but the canopies that cover them are really cool looking vacu-formed plastic). Unfortunately space vessels do look a bit dated, and in fact have been updated in the early 2000's DVD release with CGI exteriors. The costumes that the sleepers and later Sarah Jane wear are also quite nicely designed and look especially good on the actors who are, after all, playing the best that humanity has to offer.

The interior of the Ark

As with most Doctor Who serials there is a bit of social commentary on the negative aspects of social eugenics, and also a bit on the rights of all beings to survive. Unfortunately there is also a couple of six foot tall Space Flies which are obviously men in badly designed fly suits.

A Wirrn, aka "Guy in Fly-Suit"

Both Harry and the Doctor treat Sarah like a foolish school girl yet again, and don't even seem to be concerned all that much when she goes missing in an early sequence. The Wirrn, while not necessarily 'villains' in the strictest sense of the word (they're only trying to kill the humans because humans had killed off most of their race) aren't really all that dangerous, except at the end when they 'swarm.' I also got the strange feeling that Ridley Scott had seen this episode while he was working on Alien because several of the sequences and plot devices seemed awfully familiar, especially the sequence where Sarah Jane crawls through a maintenance duct.

On the whole, not a bad episode, and it generally improves on the previous story, but not by a whole lot. Seems to me like the Fourth Doctor stories were a bit weak in the beginning and would take a few go-rounds before they would gel into classics.

Next Time: The Attack of Mister Potato Head

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Doctor Who Review - Story 75 - 4A "Robot"

I suppose if you've never seen Doctor Who at all a small amount of introduction is necessary. First thing you need to know is that the main character is never actually referred to as "Doctor Who", he's simply "The Doctor." He does have a name, but we've never actually heard it and he only tells it to people he really, really cares about. Second thing you need to know is that the Doctor is an alien, from the planet Gallifrey, and he's a member of a race called "The Time Lords." Time Lords are extremely long-lived as every time they "die" they simply regenerate into a new body, thus avoiding those silly negotiations when it's time for the actor's contract to be renewed. "Oh don't like the small raise you're getting, well, I guess it's time for your next incarnation."

The first three Doctors from the serial entitled "The Three Doctors"

The Doctor spends most of his time flitting about the universe in his time travelling space ship called the TARDIS, which is stuck in the shape of a 1950's era London Police Box. It's also bigger on the inside. The TARDIS is so iconic that the BBC, which wholly owns Doctor Who, took out a trademark on the design of the box, and when the Police actually objected and took them to court, the court sided on the side of the BBC since the Bobbies don't use that box style anymore.

On his adventures the Doctor typically allows one or two humans (or aliens) to tag along, obstensibly because he likes to teach (the original concept of the show was an education programme for children), but mostly I think because he's lonely. Most of the time his companions follow him around for a few episodes and disappear, to be seen again in spin-off media. SOMETIMES the companions are so freaking popular that they get their own shows thirty years after their initial appearances.

That leads us to Tom Baker, the fourth incarnation of the Doctor. The first Doctor was a kindly elderly gentleman portrayed by William Hartnell, who had to retire due to health issues (in fact, he passed away shortly after his final appearance as the Doctor). He regenerated into Patrick Troughton who then gave way to Jon Pertwee. Twelve series into the show Pertwee gave way to the longest lived Doctor and the most popular to date, Tom Baker.

At age 40 Baker was much younger than his three previous predecessors and his casting seemed to be an attempt to appeal to a younger audience. His early biography reads like that of a super-hero; his absentee father was a sailor, he served two years in the Royal Army Medical Corp, spent six years living as a monk, and worked construction in between acting gigs, His Doctor was much less a stodgy stick in the mud and much more of an enigma as we'll come to see.

"Robot" was first aired in December of 1974 and opens immediately following the end of the previous story entitled "Planet of Spiders." At this point, Doctor Who was a weekly half-hour serial, each "Story" comprising multiple episodes, usually four to six, though some would be shorter and a few longer. The previous incarnation of the Doctor had contracted radiation poisoning on planet Metebelis Three, and succumbed to the disease upon his return to Earth at UNIT headquarters. I suppose UNIT needs some explaining also: basically it's a "secret" organization that combats all sorts of weirdness in the world under the auspices of the United Nations. The Doctor had been associating with them for quite some time as he needed a terrestial base of operations after being exiled to Earth and unable to travel through time for a bit.

So anyway, the story starts with Jon Pertwee giving way to Tom Baker, which leads to some hilarious moments as the new incarnation of the Doctor appraises his new body. This type of scene would be revisited several times over (and should be once again sometime in 2010 as current Doctor David Tennant will be giving way to the new VERY YOUNG Matt Smith). The new Doctor makes a comment about his ears that would be reflected once again in the first Story of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccelston), and it's a funny moment. Soon the Doctor's companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) appears to assist the Doctor in his transition, but suddenly some thing breaks into the UNIT compound where the action is taking place.

As typical of Doctor Who the details of the story are intricate and plodding in order to pad out four half hour episodes. If you watch all of the episodes in order you'll notice several artificially created cliff-hangers utilized to tantalize the audience for a week, but they really aren't all that scary, especially when you know that Sarah Jane lasts well into the 21st Century (she got her own show a couple of years ago). Turns out that the thief is a very large, very goofy looking robot who is under the control of some fascist scientists who want to eradicate most of humanity leaving them in charge. The leader of the group is atypically a crazy woman scientist, which I suppose in the early 70's was the BBCs attempt at placating the Women's Liberation movement. Of course that forward thinking is brought back down by having the Doctor's other companion, military doctor Harry Sullivan call Sarah Jane "old girl" and treating her like a second-class citizen for the entire story, even though it's clear he's smitten with her. The Doctor himself is fairly dismissive of Sarah too, and she's not given a whole lot to do in the story other than get into trouble and have to be rescued. Today there are groups that would call that the "woman in the refrigerator" syndrome, but I digress.

The titular "Robot" - named "K1"

In the end UNIT and the Doctor conquer the Rogue Robot who for a time has self-identity and self-control issues. At the end he's accidentally enlarged to several stories tall, which leads to some unintentionally hilarious special effects sequences. In all, it's not a bad story line, but it certainly doesn't excite the audience and leave them waiting for the next story.

As with most of the pre 21st Century episodes of Doctor Who this story features low-budget production values. It also has the hallmark of 20th Century BBC television productions, indoor sequences shot on video-tape and exteriors shot on film. The interior sets are obviously sound-stages, while exteriors are obviously locations close to the production offices. The Robot himself looks like it was made from recycled aluminum (pronounced al-u-min-ee-um) and cardboard with some flashing lights. Pay special attention to the claws, which are just inconceivably goofy. At one point UNIT brings in a tank to try to destroy (not kill of course, they never mention the word "kill") the robot, and it's quite clear that the tank is an off-the-shelf model kit super-imposed on a background plate. The sequences with the giant-version of the robot are just too funny to take seriously as well. It's odd that a show that was produced several years AFTER NBC aired Star Trek would have special effects that are no better than 1930's Hollywood Serials, but the production money on early Doctor Who was all spent on the actors and the script, and rightfully so, because as bad as the effects are, the dialogue and acting is superb.

The story even brings up some salient issues that are still being wrestled over today. The K1 Robot is conflicted over his programming at one point, bringing to mind the conflicts that the HAL-9000 described years later in 2010. The evil society of fascist scientists call forth the question of who should be leading people; briliant but ammoral laboratory types, or leaders that come from the people. IN any case, there's never any easy answers.

In my introduction I mentioned that I'd throw some collecting aspects into each review. Several versions of Doctor Who action figures exist to date, including a current series of 5" scale figures from the UK company "Character Options". The K1 Robot was their first classic "collect a figure" in which a single piece of the figure would be included with each figure in a specific wave, so in order to put the figure together completely you had to purchase every figure. This tactic has been used by toy companies for a few years to both spur sales of "peg warmer" figures and also to produce larger figures on a more limited budget. This type of collection has been done in many toy lines thus far, best executed by Toy Biz and Mattel in their BAF collections for Marvel and DC comic figures respectively.

Some trivia to consider:
This story features one of the last appearances of the "Whomobile", a yellow souped-up roadster, used previously by the Third Doctor during his exile. It wouldn't be seen again until the 7th Doctor's stories. It also features the last major appearance of UNIT for quite a while. The organization would appear again, but the Doctor ceases working for them in this series.

Next Time on Doctor Who Review: The Ark in Space

Monday, December 7, 2009

Classic Doctor Who Reviews - Introduction

Welcome to my first ongoing series of entries based on a single topic, reviews of Classic Doctor Who episodes from my unique snarky perspective. What makes these reviews different from the myriad of other Doctor Who episodes out on the intraweb tunnels? Well, not much other than I'm the one writing them, oh and also while I've always been AWARE of the classic Who series, I never really watched a whole lot of it, so 99% of these episodes will be entirely new to me. I've been watching the revamped series for quite some time, and when they bring up classic characters (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, etc) I usually do a bit of research on their back stories. This lead me to come to the conclusion that I really, really needed to beef up my first-hand knowledge of the classic episodes. So that said, I've been acquiring all of the Fourth Doctor stories and my wife and I have just begun to watch them in order.

Now why did we decide to start with the Tom Baker Fourth Doctor episodes? Well, really it was a capricious decision on my part as there are still several "lost" episodes during the tenures of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, the first two Doctors. I dislike intensely not being able to experience a work in it's entirety, so while at some point I'd like to go back and review the first three doctors stories, I don't think that they're essential in understanding the character as he is today. Plus, the Fourth Doctor episodes were aired when I was a wee-lad beginning when I was four in 1975. He's the Doctor that most audiences prior to the 2005 revival were familiar with, having the longest run of any of the Doctors. He's also consistently the most popular Doctor in viewers polls, though the current (and outgoing Doctor David Tennant is also incredibly popular).

We'll be watching the as-broadcast versions of these episodes, NOT the DVD releases, so please keep that in mind. Also as always I'll try to include some sort of collecting aspect for each story, and I'll try to include not only my opinions of the story, but also my wife's thoughts, as she hasn't seen any of this stuff, ever.

New Directions, Obsessions & Updates

When I started this blog it was a blatant attempt to gain popularity in the sports card world. As I realized that I honestly don't collect enough sports cards I started writing about other subjects and removed the "sports card" from the blog title, now we're just "The Budget Collector". We're no longer focusing entirely on sports, but all of collecting, and how to do so on a budget, since let's face it, we're all broker than we'd like to be. Going forward I'm going to feature more collectibles that aren't necessarily sports related, PLUS I'm announcing an entirely new series of entries at the end of the entry, so stay tuned, and no scrolling down eh?


- or things my wife would prefer I pay less attention to than her.

Some of the things that I've collected over the almost 4 decades I've been on this planet include (listed in order of importance at the moment)

    Active Collection Categories
  • Disney 3" Vinylmations (
  • Angels Baseball Cards
  • UCLA Bruins Basketball Cards
  • Books by John Irving, Robert Crais & Jim Butcher
  • 25th Anniversary/Rise of Cobra GI Joes
  • Cool Doctor Who items
  • Anything I can afford related to Joss Whedon's "Firefly/Serenity"
  • LEGO
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Movies & Movie Books
  • Gundam Books & Toys (Universal Century & 00 stuff)
  • 3 3/4" Action Figures that I like

    Inactive Collections
  • Non-Sports Sets (Mostly movie/tv oriented)
  • 6000+ Comic Books & related companion books
  • Original Comic Book Sketches
  • Defunct Trading Card Games (FPG's Guardians, WotC's Harry Potter, WotC's WCW Nitro)
  • Vintage Star Wars Figures
  • Wrestling Stuff (Magazines, books, toys)
  • Hockey Cards
  • Microman & Micronauts Figures
  • San Diego Chargers Football Cards (Autographed from Practices)
  • Various mini-collections of things like Starting Lineups, action figures, etc.

    Retired/Sold Collections
  • Star Wars Power of the Force 2
  • Vintage RAH GI Joes
  • 20,000 Football Cards

I've honestly NEVER been able to focus my collecting attention for more than a few months at a time. My personality is such that my attention span always wavers and something shiny and new always takes precedence. At the moment I'm obsessed with Disney Vinylmations, Doctor Who and 25th Anniversary GI Joes.

Current Obsession: Vinylmations

Vinylmations are a relatively new addition to the obsession list, as they were first released only a year ago, and are just now gaining momentum in the Disneyana collecting world. I currently own 23 of them at about $10 a pop. They are a cash-grab from Disney based in the relatively recent "urban vinyl" movement, but they are executed so well and definitely have the Disney flavor, plus I was able to get in on the "ground floor" so to speak, as I have a couple vinyls from the very first series, which have now skyrocketed in value.

What is a Vinylmation? Simple, it's a three inch tall Mickey Mouse figurine that is decorated by urban artists and sold in blind boxes (there's also a 9" line, but they're far too expensive for me to collect). They are released in series of 11 standard figures and 1 chaser in a case of 24 figures (2 complete sets, 1 chaser, 1 'triple'). So far they have released 7 different themed series of 12 figures, plus a number of special non-blind boxed one-off pieces in tins. They are very, very cool and look awesome when displayed (I'll post pictures of my collecting when I find my camera).

Each series is produced in limited production runs, and originally they were ONLY available at Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida. They are now seeing released at Disneyland Paris, and have recently been sold online. Of course there is a healthy secondary market and even trading, as these are blind-boxed you have no idea which one you're going to get! The first couple of series, Park Series One and Urban Series One have shot up in value as they have been sold out from Disney for MONTHS. Park Series One sold out particularly quickly, released in late December, 2008, ALL of them were gone by February.

These two are from "Park Series One" and are the only ones from this series that I currently own. Fireworks is a particular favorite of mine.

Last time I checked Monorail Red was going for between $30 and $35, but I expect that to rise as the "Monorail" series is very popular with Disney collectors, AND the second piece "Monorail Blue" was just released in the Park Series 3 collection.

Fireworks sells for between $20 and $30 right now.

And this is Kermit, the one that continues to elude me and gain in price. For a figure that originally retailed for $10 it now sells for between $55 and $70! It was photos of this figure that intrigued me to no end, and forced my hand to start hunting these bad-boys down.

This one figure proved so popular that the Muppets are getting their own series supposedly in February of 2010.

If you'd like to see more Vinylmations featured, please leave me feedback, as I have tons of interest in this line and would love to discuss it with you. I'm also fairly active on, the biggest fan-community for the line. Disney's own Vinylmation site has just been nicely updated too, so make sure you check that out too.


Here's a shock, I've yet to mail out any of my ends of trades. Excuses excuses. They'll go out before Christmas, that's all I'm promising at this point. I suck I know, but if it makes it any better, I'll probably throw in some nice goodies to make the wait worth while. I did buy a new printer ink cartridge (and got a great deal too, $12.60 including tax for a Lexmark 28 Black ink that is normally around 20 bucks!).

Feature Announcement

My wife and I have just started watching, in order, all of the Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) episodes of the long-running BBC Science-Fiction show "Doctor Who". Seeing is that I've not seen MOST of these episodes for decades, and my wife has NEVER seen them, I thought it might make a cool series if I reviewed each storyline in order with my unique, snarky perspective. The first installment should be posted within a day or so, or as soon as I write the darn thing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Doctor Who Alien Armies "Trading Card Game"

There I was at the Barnes & Noble, trying to get my daughter to calm down after seeing so many books that she absolutely had to have. After choosing "Max's ABC's" by Rosemary Wells I wandered over to the magazine stands to look at the newest issues of various things. I always tend to look at the toy mags just to see high res pictures of toys I'll never be able to afford, but this time I migrated right back to the film & TV section where Doctor Who Magazine was lurking, waiting for me to spot it, which wasn't easy as it wasn't faced and all I could see of it was the wrapper and the banner heading "Four Free Packs..." peaking above the other mags in the rack. I greedily snatched the magazine and discovered yes, FOUR free packs of the new Doctor Who Alien Armies TCG were included, along with a special foil 10th Doctor Limited Edition. I didn't even hesitate for a moment, knowing our bank account is tiny and that I have about a dozen card packages to send out, because I've been a good boy lately, eschewing all forms of instant gratification that wasn't a lottery scratcher over the last several weeks.

IN fact the ONLY splurge that I've managed to get my wife to agree to lately was the Target deluxe Star Trek DVD that came with a model of the new Enterprise that holds the DVDs in the saucer section. I can't even remember the last pack of Baseball cards that I purchased (oh wait, yes I can, a 99 cent 2009 Topps cello with Torii Hunter on the front, mostly for the gum). We're so strapped for cash at the moment that yes, the budget collector has absolutely no budget. Though my collector genes have been satisfied by receiving so many cool packs of Angels cards in the mail, and even though I've been selling comics on evilBay, those funds have been diverted right back into the household to appease my aforementioned wife.

So now I'm totally hooked on these new Dr. Who cards, and I think you'll see why. While I'm not a "new" Whovian, as I used to watch the old shows during the 70's and 80's, I didn't become a full-on Who junkie until BBC Wales revived the series with Christoper Eccleston as the 9th Doctor, and even then I didn't watch the first season of the revival until it was already in it's third season. As a full-on Sci-Fi junkie I've always been aware of Who and had nominal feelings about the show, but was more hooked by shows like Blake's Seven, the Michael Praed Robin Hood and the comedies Black Adder and Red Dwarf. British television programming has always been better quality than our yankee counterparts, and as many know some of our best Sit-coms had their origins as BBC shows (I'm thinking of Sanford and Son and Three's Company here).

Just this weekend I printed out the Tardis Paper-Craft from Iron Cow Productions (hint, click the link you'll be taken right there), and I actually put the damn thing together this weekend with my meager paper craft skills. (Note to self: Next time print it on matte photo paper or card stock.) While I would LOVE to amass a huge collection of Character Options five inch figures, they aren't the right size for me anymore (I'm exclusively collecting 3 3/4" figures now, so while I COULD techically get a CHristopher Eccleston Doctor figure, I can't afford it as it's a San Diego Comic Con Exclusive GI Joe Destro 2-pack).

All of this is to say that I love Dr. Who and can't afford or find Who universe collectibles out here on the West Coast much anymore. There's so much cool stuff availble in the UK, including several series of Top Trumps cards (a more complicated version of War), Battles in Time cards (an even MORE complicated version of War), and even a collectible miniatures game, NONE of which typically gets imported to the US at a reasonable price. Toys R Us is now selling SOME of the Character Options figures, and even has a US Exclusive of the 6th Doctor in the 5th Doctor's clothing right after regeneration.

Boy this post is rambling. I've been waiting for the computer to install the scanner software as I wiped the hard drive on this baby the other day and had forgotten to reinstall certain key pieces of software.

SO now that is done, and here's what I have to show off:

The set is actually reasonably priced if you're in the UK. Packs of 6 cards are only 50 pence, which is about 85 cents! A starter deck with play mat is 4 pounds 99 pence, or about $8.50. There's also a binder and tins, all of which include limited-edition foil cards available only in certain stores in the UK. Chase cards are inserted at VERY reasonable levels, from 1:2 to 1:8 and boxes have 100 packs in them. Wow.

Here's the breakdown:

180 Standard Cards
20 Foil Embossed (1:8 even though the pack says 1:4)
20 Foil (1:4)
40 Glitter (1:2)
20 "Limited Edition" not in packs.

So I suppose that if i want to really collect this set I'll have to purchase off of eBay, which isn't going to happen, or hope that some mad collector in the UK wants to help out.

The fronts are very clean in design, though the game aspect (which again looks to me like a complicated version of "War") forces designers to clutter up the photo with strange icons and numbers. The backs are generic in scope, with only the card type being different (there's Equipment, Ally, Villain, Doctor and "Children in Time" cards). The old logos are being used for this set, which is fine by me, as I'm not sold on the new DW logo yet.

This first set focuses ALMOST exclusively on the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and his run from the last three or so years. The most recent specials aren't featured at all, but virtually every other episode and character are. The foil-embossed set features cards of ALL of the incarnations of the Doctor himself, and companions/villains.

I have no idea how to play the stinking game though, as no rules were inserted in my magazine (as they usually are for an introduction product like this), and there's NOTHING online that says how to play. Sadly. And believe me, I've looked today. So far I've probably spent a good two hours researching this product from Panini UK.

I seriously doubt this set will ever see release on this side of the pond, but you never know. I'll be calling Panini America in Texas tomorrow to find out for sure.

In the mean time if you want some for yourself, go to a good book store that has a good magazine section, and look for Doctor Who Magazine #414. It's $8.99 for a copy, but it's well worth it, as the foil 10th Doctor card is ONLY found in that mag.

And if you have extras of this and want to trade for something else (as I have NO dupes yet) I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Comment Spammers

Hey spammers - I'm a lot smarter than you are. If you persist in spamming up my comment section I'll just turn on comment moderation on EVERY post, and you'll never get your stupid ads posted. This includes you the Japanese spammers and you the PS3 spammer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trading Update

A few more packages have come in; FanofReds, yours got here today (damn son, Priority Mail?) and I'll be featuring my faves as soon as I scan them. I got a nice white bubble envelope with two small stacks that I think was from Daniel C, please verify with me - my daughter grabbed the envelope off my desk and I have no idea where it was. One of the key cards was a 1970 Angels Rookie Stars.

My end has still not been sent out, I am a sad, sad panda. However, I have eBay auctions ending this Friday, so I'll be doing a massive trip to the post office either Saturday or Monday, and then I will be mailing out EVERYTHING.

Thanks for bearing with me. Over the next month I'll be posting up more strange items to trade or sell, I've got to start getting rid of this stuff and STOP buying so much darn wax!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mail Day!

Oh boy oh boy, don't you just LOVE getting cards in the mail? I sure do. As I previously stated I've gotten three packages, thus far in this round of trading, but unfortunately I've lost track of who sent what. So my apologies for that. In the mean time I did figure out what was causing my photos not to upload to Blogger from my laptop - turns out my permissions for my network are all messed up. That's fine though because what I really need to do is wipe the hard drive on the network machine and start fresh, I just have to make sure that there's nothing on here I need.

Oh well.

Here's some kick arse cards that I've gotten recently:

Here's a 1997 Pacific of Darin Erstad, one of my favorite former Halos. You can't tell from the front, but this card is bilingual, the back is primarily in Spanish with an English translation. You also can't tell but the bottom photo is actually an acetate cutout that you can see through on both sides. Pacific sure didn't make very collectible cards in the 90's, but they sure made some nifty gimmicky ones.

Here I've got the front and back of a 1992 Donruss "Spirit of the Game" insert featuring...err...I can't really tell. It might be Gary Pettis, but I can't make out a jersey number at all. (I looked it up, it's Luis Polonia and Wade Boggs). I like the interactive feature of this card, and I'm sure someone has looked up whether or not Polonia was actually safe. I could, but I'm way too lazy to go all the way back to a 1991 game between the Halos and the Sox.

A couple of nice Upper Deck X cards from the last two years. I wasn't a huge fan of the sets in packs, but for some reason the singles really speak to me. I love the die-cuts too, and the shiny Vladdy doesn't suck. It's numbered X4-VG, and I know there were several levels of Xponentials, not that I care one iota about that, I just like the shiny.

Wally World makes a return to my blog pages in the form of this lovely 1990 Leaf. Back in the day I bought maybe a pack or two of this stuff, not really being into baseball at the time - I spent the 90's collecting Football and Hockey for some reason. Hey at least I don't have a ton of junk wax from the overproduction era, I got rid of my entire Football collection in 1998 when I moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. Wow, what a tangent. In any case, I have a special affinity for First Basemen, being that's what I played in Little League my last two years, and I was pretty good at it I have to say. I even modeled my swing after Rod Carew, the Halos PREVIOUS All-Star at first. I learned something too by reading the back of this card, Wally went to BYU, and I can only ASSume that he's a practicing member of the LDS church (as are my in-laws). SO that's kind of cool I guess. Next time I'm in Utah, maybe I can look him up and grab an autograph.

From 2007 We have this retro 1972 Gary Matthews Jr. card. I always loved the 72 design, with it's garish color scheme and it looks even better on today's stock. I can see where they were trying to go with this doozy, 1972 was Gary's papa's first season, but alas, his RC is in the 1973 set, and it's one of those old multi-player cards. Probably a small detail that no one at Topps caught.

The 2009 Halos Fab-Four...err...well Fab Three and a Half? I dunno, sure it's a great card of four of the Halos studs, but considering that two of the four will probably be gone before the next season starts, this card is kind of bitter-sweet. Plus Kendrick didn't do a whole lot this season. What could have been, what could have been. I do simply love these Goudy 4-in-1s, but I have no idea how they did the numbering. I guess I could look it up on Upper Deck's site, but again, I'm pretty lazy these days.


As I was typing up this blog post the mail arrived, and I got yet another package, this time from Greg in NY. Greg sent a nice stack of Halos, from all eras, and I couldn't be happier. Here's a few choice samples:

This would be my first ever "ticket stub" card, and while I'm really pleased that it's a card that actually features a Halo who ACTUALLY PITCHED on the game in question, I'm a bit miffed that Topps doesn't make any mention of the outcome of the game on the back. Sure it talks about some of Big John's other good performances, but it doesn't say anywhere on the card that the Halos won the 32nd Athletics home game in 2008, nor does the stub have the date of the game on it either. Lets face it, we all have tons of ticket stubs from games we've been to, or we throw them away. Unless the game is majorly important, like a playoff or championship, stubs are mementos of our PERSONAL experience in the game. Why I would want a stub from an A's game from 2008 is beyond me. BUT, it's a cool card and I'm happy to have it. I just wish that the colors on the card and the stub itself were from an ANGELS home game, but I guess that's too much to ask. Hell the sample shot they have on their website is of Evan Longoria and the stub on his card is an Angel game so go figure.

Oh and there's also a little legal text on the back that says "FOR TRACKING INFO, PLEASE SEE WWW.TOPPS.COM CODE #00003142". I always check that stuff out and I could find NOTHING that has anything to do with this set. Not only that but on the site this particular card is supposed to be numbered /125, and the actual card is numbered /110. Not that I'm complaining about that.

Rodney Cline Carew is probably my all-time favorite Angel. I was 8 when he was signed by the team, and I remember my parents taking me to an early season game where he scored a run in the first inning and from that moment on he was my hero. Like many of my boyhood heroes (CF Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) from the era, Rod wasn't always the media's darling but who cares when you put up the numbers he did on the field. Sure he wasn't a power hitter, and it seems that the days of the spray hitting infielders are long gone, but I still have a soft-spot in my heart for the Panamanian born Carew. Since his playing days he's been a coach for both the Halos and the Brewers, and his daughter Michelle tragically succumbed to leukemia in 1996. I would think that the Halos would like to employ Rod for some great PR these days; as I see he's still involved in the periphery of the game. And hey, dig that crazy headband!

Hey, it's another crazy Pacific Die-Cut card, this time from their 1999 Crown Royale Collection. I still have a TON of the Hockey version of this set in storage, and even more of their successor Hockey die-cuts - as I really liked the one version that was a die-cut of the team logo. No other commentary here, other than I sure do like die-cuts don't I?

At first glance this appears to be a "broder" or unlicensed/bootleg card. However, turning the thing over I see that it's actually a Pacific card from 1989! But wait,is it really? It's part of a set called "Baseball's Best Four", and there were other sets numbered one through three. The Pacific Cards though is not our former friends in Washington state, nope, it's from Pacific Cards & Comics, Los Angeles, CA. Now I didn't live in LA in 1989, but I did visit a lot, and I can tell you that it was most likely a store set issued by a now-defunct card/comic retail shop. It's typical of the era too, no stats on the back, blurry picture on the front and thin paper stock. Looks like it was made at Kinko's to be honest. How fun!

Both Mario over at Wax Heaven and Dinged Corners have featured Fleer/Skybox's Metal card sets before, and I have to say I didn't much care for them when they hit the market. See, I'm a comic collector first, and back in the 90's we were bombarded with trading card sets based on comics, as comic shop owners tried everything they could to fleece their clientele of their hard earned cash. One of them was a Marvel set from Fleer way back in 1995, the progenitor of the brand. While that set did have a KICK ARSE full Metal promo card (which I do remember acquiring at some point only to sell it or trade it away) I thought the cards were way too busy and too "comic booky". You know what, I still think that about Fleer Metal Universe, and I'm glad that no one is endangered of having to buy a 21st Century version of those sets. But I'm always about the shiny, so here you go.

1979 was the first set of Topps that I remember getting a whole lot of. My father at the time was working as a L.A. Times delivery driver and I guess each morning during his run he'd stop at some donut shop on Santa Monica and Bundy and get some donuts, smoke some cigs and buy me a couple packs of 1979 Topps. Before I threw the lot of them out sometime in the 80's (they were beat all to hell at that point) I think I had about half the set. Memories...misty water color memories. Hey check the porn stache! This would be Aase's first Angel card, but not his RC.

Team Trading - Update & Housekeeping

Team trades have started to arrive. Thus far I've gotten three packages, one from Ed, one from DayF and one from Andy. My packages to you WILL be going out this week, I promise. Between the toddler's unwillingness to potty-train, her constant constipation (yes, we're going through all the tried and true solutions), and a mini-financial crisis I've fallen a bit behind. Rest assured though, I have never failed to come through on a trade and I won't start doing so now.

THIS is a full listing of all the singles I have left to trade

2009 Topps Heritage Chrome Parallels

C29 Rick Ankiel Refractor #197/560

2008 Topps Heritage Chrome Parallels

C169 Adam Jones Refractor #063/559
C167 Brett Myers #0722/1959
C287 Greg Dobbs #203/1959

2009 Topps Chrome

78 Joe Crede refractor

2008 Topps Chrome

Copper Refractor
186 Paul Maholm #108/550

35 Mike Cameron
154 Brian Bannister

75 CC Sabathia
79 Paul Konerko
119 Cameron Maybin
145 Francisco Liriano
163 Greg Maddux
181 Matt Kemp
218 Burke Badenhop

50th Anniversary Rookies
ARC13 Matt Holiday

Retro Inserts
TCCP16 Jacoby Ellsbury
TCCP 7 Chin-Lung Hu

Trading Card History Chromes
TCHC27 Manny Ramirez
TCHC42 Jake Peavy
TCHC44 Matt Holiday
TCHC46 Troy Tulowitzki

Mantle Series

2007 Bowman Chrome

154 Chris Young Refractor

Various Singles

2008 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Preview Set #UD-51 Babe Ruth
2008 Upper Deck 97-BS Ben Sheets Jersey (White swatch)
2008 Upper Deck 98-MB Mark Bueherle Jersey (White w/Pinstripe)
2009 Upper Deck GCP -1 Joe Dimaggio Goodwin Champions Preview

Team Lots - between 25 and 80 cards apiece

All MLB teams available EXCEPT:

Red Sox


I know it's sort of a tradition when trading on blogs to go ahead and post the cards you get in a trade, and I fully intend on doing so. In fact, I've even got scans of 8 cards that I can't wait to post. HOWEVER, apparently Blogger isn't accepting the photos right now which are housed currently on my network drive. I want to get this posted though, so I'll try to get those up later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Team Trading Update - Arrivals & Departures + Destinations Needed

Happy Thursday everyone. I hope you all had a good Veteran's Day and honored the armed forces of our country appropriately.

I received my first package of Angels cards today, and am very pleased. I'm just about ready to send off my end for pretty much everyone, however, I find that I need some if you've claimed a team lot, please make sure I have your address so that I can get these packages ready to go.

    The Following Readers Have Claimed Teams, but I don't have your address:

  • Wickedortega - Marlins & two singles
  • Jackplumstead - Red Sox
  • Jason C. - Reds
  • Collective Troll - Rays & Orioles
  • Brian - Rangers
  • Dayf - Braves

Ah, and HERE are the Topps Chrome/Heritage Chrome that I have available. I'll be listing these in two posts, first up the GOOD stuff - and yes I know they're not all that spectacular. I'm looking for 1 for 1 or better deals here; Angels only of course. You can see my favorite players on the main page, always like Vladdies, Torii's, etc. Also love Reggie Jacksons, Rod Carews and older players. American Heritage chromes/inserts (especially the space flight ones) are also high on my want list.

2009 Topps Heritage Chrome Parallels

C29 Rick Ankiel Refractor #197/560
C55 Russell Martin #1792/1960
C25 Scott Kazmir #1530/1960
C64 Yadier Molina #1570/1960

2008 Topps Heritage Chrome Parallels

C169 Adam Jones Refractor #063/559
C167 Brett Myers #0722/1959
C287 Greg Dobbs #203/1959

2009 Topps Chrome

78 Joe Crede refractor

2008 Topps Chrome

Copper Refractor
186 Paul Maholm #108/550

Blue Refractors
24 Ivan Rodriguez
92 Adam Dunn
132 Chipper Jones

35 Mike Cameron
116 Josh Hamilton
154 Brian Bannister

75 CC Sabathia
79 Paul Konerko
119 Cameron Maybin
145 Francisco Liriano
163 Greg Maddux
181 Matt Kemp
218 Burke Badenhop

50th Anniversary Rookies
ARC2 Ivan Rodriguez
ARC13 Matt Holiday
ARC19 Nick Markakis - Blue Refractor #191/200

Retro Inserts
TCCP16 Jacoby Ellsbury
TCCP 7 Chin-Lung Hu

Trading Card History Chromes
TCHC27 Manny Ramirez
TCHC29 Ivan Rodriguez
TCHC42 Jake Peavy
TCHC44 Matt Holiday
TCHC46 Troy Tulowitzki

Mantle Series

2007 Bowman Chrome

154 Chris Young Refractor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Team Trading Update

The following teams have been claimed:

Red Sox

Everyone else is still available.

Will be posting the Topps Chrome, Bowman Chrome and Topps Heritage Chrome inserts that I have available sooner than later.

Just When You Think You're Out, They Pull You Right Back In

You know, you go for months in between posts, you barely post at all, and you think that no one is reading your blog at all. THEN you post something so innocuous as a trade list and all of a sudden you get half-a-dozen requests! Kudos to those of you who got your teams in early. I can't believe the Tigers are that popular!

In any case, these are the teams that are NO LONGER available:

Red Sox

Also these singles are spoken for:

2008 Topps HR-BU B.J. Upton Game Worn Jersey (white swatch w/sweat stains)
2008 Upper Deck UDJ-WI Dontrelle Willis Jersey (Black)
2009 Topps #595 Robin Yount Variation

I'll be mailing out later this week, as I have an eBay item ending soon too. I'll also be digging through the cards in the house and posting much more in the next couple of weeks, it's high time to trade this stuff and get MORE Angels.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Team Trading - Update - Plus Singles & Non-Sports Wants

Wow, it's only been a couple of hours, and already I've got one team down - The Detroit Tigers are now spoken for.

AH, but I have some nice additions to the trade list, this time, we have some singles that I'm going to offer for trade here first before I put them on evilBay. I'm doing this because while I know I could probably sell each of these, I'd rather they get into the hands of those who would really appreciate them. If you want scans of the cards, let me know and I'll do my best to get those up before too long. I may also already have scans of some of them.

I'm also going to be posting my wants from 2008's American Heritage, and the Topps Obama card set as well. I'm still collecting Last years' Indiana Jones Masterpiece set from Topps and of course this year's American Heritage, but I need far too many of both those sets to bother making a list. However, if you have doubles and want to send them to me, I'd be happy to have them. I have doubles of all these sets too, but for some reason I can't find my American Heritage doubles.

Also, I forgot to mention, if you've traded with me before and still have my address please note: My Address Has Changed. I'm no longer on Hamel Road, so please don't send me anything there, though I think the post office will still forward it to me for a few more months.


SO here's the singles I'm looking to trade away:

  • 2007 Turkey Red #40 Chipper Jones Turkey Red Back
  • 2008 Topps HR-BU B.J. Upton Game Worn Jersey (white swatch w/sweat stains)
  • 2008 Bowman SC-DO Dan Ontiveros Scout Autograph Redemption (not yet redeemed, expires 5-31-2010)
  • 2008 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Preview Set #UD-51 Babe Ruth
  • 2008 Upper Deck 97-BS Ben Sheets Jersey (White swatch)
  • 2008 Upper Deck 98-MB Mark Bueherle Jersey (White w/Pinstripe)
  • 2008 Upper Deck UDJ-WI Dontrelle Willis Jersey (Black)
  • 2009 Topps #595 Robin Yount Variation
  • 2009 Upper Deck GCP -1 Joe Dimaggio Goodwin Champions Preview

That's not even getting into the chrome and refractors that I'll be going through in the next few days as well.

Topps Obama 2009 Needs

Foil Stickers

Regular Stickers

Regular Set Needs

Doubles To Trade :
9 x2
18 x2
24 x2
26 x2
44 x2
45 x2
47 x2
48 x2

Sticker Doubles
16 x3

Topps American Heritage 2008 Needs


Short Prints
Need All Except:

Need All Except:

Topps American Heritage 2009

Spaceflight Subset
Need All Except

Back from the Dead - I'm READY to do Team Trading Again

If you look on the right side of the blog page there you'll see a link for "team trading." I have FINALLY put together all of my doubles/cards I'm not putting in a set and sorted them by team. The lots run anywhere between 30 and 80+ cards apiece, and all I ask for in return is some Angels cards. Yes, that's right, I'll trade you lots of your favorite team for my favorite team, the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim.

I only have a few caveats:

  • NO 2006 Topps (The Black Bordered ones) - I have several team sets of this already, including at LEAST 9 Vladdies.
  • NO 2008 Upper Deck - Again have tons of the Angels from this set too.
  • You don't have to match the amount I send you, I don't really care. Send more, send less, it doesn't matter, as long as you send something cool. If you want to wait to send me Angels until you get your team, that's fine with me too.
  • I won't divulge your personal info (Name, location), in a blog entry, unless you tell me it's OK.
  • The Super-Stars are in lots, so if you want the Yankees, you'll get a few Jeters, a couple A-Rods, etc.
  • Please no cards of current Angels in other team's uniforms (unless they're RC's).
  • The BUDGET COLLECTOR has a very tight budget. I promise I will mail out as quickly as I can, but please understand if there's a slight delay due to lack of funds.
  • There may be a small amount of "junk wax" in your lots, like 89 Topps, 80's/90's Donruss/Fleer, etc. That's only because I buy junk wax on occasion. In fact, I love Junk Wax. If you want to send me unopened junk wax, I'll open it for a blog post.
  • Right Now I have lots for EVERY MLB team with the exception of the Angels, and actually I have some 2000 Topps Angels that I don't need either. As trades are made I'll update which teams are no longer available.

So that's the truth, rooth. I'm located on the West Coast, specifically Los Angeles, CA. I have no problems sending overseas either, but please make the trade worth my while to do so.

Thanks for reading, and let's start trading!

If you want to trade, feel free to email me at wmnoe at yahoo dot com, or leave a comment here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Angels in the ALCS - 2009 Edition

I realize that I haven't blogged about my beloved Angels since...err...June, but don't think that I haven't been watching, because well, I have been. I thought that if I remained a bit quieter this season that perhaps they would have better luck in the Post-Season, and thus far, my plan has worked to perfection. However, I just came into possession of the Official ALCS Program, thanks to the kindness of my upstairs neighbor Wanda who went to the game yesterday.

In our storage unit I have a ton of old sports programs, a good quarter of them are from games that I didn't attend, but knew someone who was going, so I asked them to get me a program. I don't know what my fascination is with programs to be honest, other than they permanently capture a moment in time in both the game and the culture of the city that the game is being played. I realize that I'm not the biggest collector of programs and have no real expertise on their collecting, so I can't offer any tips other than try to keep your programs in the best condition possible, during and after the game. This sometimes can be tough, especially if you don't like to carry any baggage with you during the games. In my circumstance though I almost always have some sort of bag with me, either a backpack or diaper bag. You can get plastic portfolios from any major office store for a buck or two, and they protect programs quite nicely and aren't too heavy to carry. A really savvy collector would also have a stash of sharpies at their disposal in order to gather athelete autographs.

The oldest game programs that I actually remember obtaining at a game are from the 1979 Angels season, their first in the playoffs in club history. That year I think I went to two games with my folks, at least I remember I have two programs. The older of the two was from earlier in the year, and I forgot who was on the cover. The second has Jim Fregosi, though it took me all morning to remember that. Here's a nice shot of Rod Carew, who the Angels had acquired in the off-season as a free-agent.

My personal mantra is that for every live event I attend I make an attempt to buy a program. I really don't know why, I just do. This isn't exclusive to sports either, though I have programs from a San Diego Gulls minor league hockey games, a Las Vegas Stars minor league baseball game, a couple of UCLA/Cal basketball games that I attended in the bay area, and a bunch of others. Mostly I have Angels, Padres and Kings game programs. I also own about a season's worth of USC Football Programs from the year I had season tix to the Trojans. I've got a half-dozen or so Super-Bowl commemoratives too, both from the years that San Diego hosted, and from when the Chargers were playing (1995). I have yet to attend a Super-Bowl though, I just either knew someone who was going, or managed to snag a retail copy. My obsession with programs extends to the theater and live concerts as well. Given that most of the publications are one-time-only affairs, they can become quite valuable. I have concert programs from 10,000 Maniacs, Pink Floyd, The Who and The Cult. I had to buy outrageously priced programs at the two Cirque Du Soleil shows we saw in Vegas, as well as the National Tour of Wicked at the Pantages. My mother still has her programs from the Beatles two Hollywood Bowl concerts in 1964 and 65.

I also collect media-guides, if I can get them. The LA Kings sell theirs at retail, though quite often they can be difficult to find at Staples. At one point I was buying them off eBay, but that was about a decade ago. UCLA also sells their Football and Basketball programs at retail, and they're relatively easy to find. Again, media guides are a great resource during the season, though now most of the info is available online as well. In fact, UCLA's media guide is posted in it's entirety online. Someday I'll be able to gather all the programs that I own and give them their own bookshelf. But then someday I'll also frame all the tickets from every live event I've ever been to as well...but that's another post.

As for the games themselves, so far I haven't been impressed by either team. I think the Halos gave away both of the first two games, which were easily winnable. Sure, we can blame the weather for the errors, but these guys are pros and they should have played better. Yesterday afternoon's tilt was a bit better, though again the Angels blew more than one opportunity to put away the hated ones in pin-stripes. Scott Kazmir takes the mound this afternoon and I really am hoping that this will be his break-out game in the post-season. He's had one bad start this post-season, though the Angels came back and won that one. He's had middling success against the Yankees in his career going 6-5 in 14 starts with a 2.67 ERA. The Angel bats looked like they finally came to life last game, I'd love to see Kazmir get some run support today.

Last Night was actually pretty busy in SO-Cal sports, with the Angels playoff game going to 11 innings, the Chargers blowing a half-time lead to the Broncos, the Dodgers getting creamed in Philly, and the Kings dominating the Dallas Stars in Dallas. It's a rare thing when three of the four major sports are running concurrently, and even rarer that all four will be going, but that's exactly what will happen on October 27 when the NBA starts. It used to be that Baseball would be over before the beginning of the NBA, but if the World Series goes seven games it will end on November 5, almost nine days into the NBA schedule.

Oh and UCLA Basketball practice has begun, our first game: November 4 against Concordia. We're playing in the 76 Classic tournament in Anaheim beginning November 26, and the Wooden Classic is on December 12. It's a good time to be a sports fan!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Budget Movie Review - Tinkerbell & The Lost Treasure

My mother, wife and I just took our 3-year old daughter to her first movie, and since she loved the first Tinker Bell DVD so much, we couldn't have chosen a better first than the sequel. We are fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles and have been to a couple of El Capitan screenings; if you ever get the opportunity it's an experience not-to-be missed. At $11 for the adults and $10 for children it's not especially cheap, especially considering that the DVD will hit stores on October 27 with a list price of less than the price of two adult tickets. However, the movie is playing at exactly ONE theater in the entire U.S. and for a week only. Disney did the same thing last year with the release of the first Tinkerbell movie.

As always once you're seated you're treated to a pre-show performance by Rob Richards on the theater's beautiful organ. The show's only just started though, when screening time comes an elaborate screen/miniature set plays some great animation reminiscent of the grand film palaces of the past. With every movie at the theater there's also a live-movie specific pre-show, for Tink it's just a single actress playing the titular hero who does a quick Irish jig similar to "Riverdance".

Previews: Toy Story 3, A Christmas Carol, Princess & The Frog. The first two were in 3-D with glasses provided. I hadn't seen any of Disney Digital's previous films, but I'll be darned if I don't want to see both of the upcoming 3D features, and I'm not a huge Jim Carrey fan! The preview for the most recent Disney Princess movie also contained a promotion for the exclusive 2-week engagement at the Disney Studios in Burbank

My daughter has just about worn out our copy of the first film in the Disney Fairies series, so we figured that she'd enjoy this one too, and she did, but being a 3-year old she was more afraid of the dark than anything else. The film itself is as good, if not better than the first one. We don't need any clunky origin story in this film, and thankfully there's no recap of the first movie either. The characters are all reintroduced, even if most of the familiar faces have little more than extended cameos. This is definitely Tink's adventure, shared with Terrence the Dust Keeper.

After the obligatory plot exposition beginning we get a few scenes of Tink and Terrence working on the big project, which of course ends badly. Tink then sets off in search of the Lost Treasure of the title in a home-made "balloon". There are some great action sequences and some minor thrills, but nothing too scary. No big villains either, some comical trolls and some nasty looking red-eyed rats are about as scary as you get. The end sequence is a beautifully animated celebration that was just about the best eye-candy that I've seen in a "kiddie" movie, and certainly was enhanced by the big-screen presentation.

The voice acting is all very well performed, if not exceptional. As I previous said most of the major characters from the first film don't really have a lot of scenes in this one. Each of Tink's friends get one or two standout moments, and they all get costume re-designs reflecting the colder weather of Fall. Rosetta's new outfit was especially pleasing to me, as I loved her original outfit but was really surprised at how much I liked her new top. Have I spent too much time watching the first movie? Yes, I have. As I said, my 3-year old has just about worn out our DVD. I've seen the first movie easily over 100 times in the last year.

I would have to say that my biggest gripe is that the film, when blown up on the big-screen, made some of the characters look like little more than animate dolls. It's especially noticeable in two-shots with Tink and another character (usually Terrence). The animation and production design of this film is really top-notch, every outdoor sequence looked fantastic and was filled with detail that you will miss when it's translated to your home TV. The backgrounds are simply sumptous, and the fly-overs (of which there are many) are pure glamor-shots that don't disappoint. There's also a ton of homages and in-jokes to Peter Pan and the rest of the Disney ouevre. A feast for the eyes is not understatement here.

A few random notes:

  • America Ferrera does not return as the voice of Fawn.
  • While Vidia (Pamela Adlon) appears, I don't actually recall her having any lines. I could be mistaken though.
  • The voice of the Minister of Autumn, is John DiMaggio, better known as Bender from Futurama
  • Queen Clarion's skirt is really something to behold.

Sometimes when you go see a film at the El Cap sometimes there's even more extra perks. Today Rob Paulsen and Jeff Bennett the voices of Bobble & Clank, as well as the trolls, were doing a free signing at the Soda Fountain next door. Since Rob Paulsen is also better known as "Pinky" and "Yakko Warner" from Animaniacs/Pinky & The Brain it was a real treat for me to get his signature. I had hoped to bring our Animaniacs Season 1 DVD, but sadly forgot it. I did make my wife's Cell Phone ring, since her ring-tone is "I'm Cute" from the show. Rob sang along with us, and it was a magical moment. I've now met both Pinky and the Brain, as I met Maurice LeMarche aka The Brain, many years ago at a SDCC.

Not only that, but all kids in attendance got a nifty little Tinkerbell Coin Purse too. The service was fairly standard Disney quality, which when compared to most other major amusements is better than average. A spendid time was had by the entire Noetling clan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dinged Corners: An interview with two daughters of baseball.

Make sure you check this great interview out, a really nice behind-the-scenes look at what life with a Big League dad is like.

Dinged Corners: An interview with two daughters of baseball.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Budget Notes

The Budget Collector has been entranced with Upper Deck's O-Pee-Chee set, possibly because I know it's going to be a one-off set, but also probably because the set is autograph friendly, and CHEAP! At a retail of $1.59 per pack at Target, and only slightly more elsewhere, it's a steal. Sure there's only 6 cards, but you can't have everything.

Also, with the release of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra most of my collecting dollars have been spent on small articulated hunks of plastic lately. Unfortunately I missed the Toys R Us super-sale, where you could get two Joes for $10, and if you bought four you could have also gotten a $10 gift card. I have purchased four of the new single carded Joes so far (Scarlett in Black Suit, Snake-Eyes Paris Pursuit, Unhooded Storm Shadow and Destro) plus two of the Target exclusive figure/vehicle deluxe packs, which are a STEAL at $9.99. That's my favorite price-point for a small vehicle and figure pack. Can't wait for wave two which will feature the SNAKE armor from way back when in a heretofore unreleased color.

Fantasy Football My keeper league has 8 owners, and I'd like to get a couple more at least. If you're interested in a competitive league with a lot of smack talking, leave me a comment and I'll send you an invite. It's a free Yahoo league. The draft is next Saturday.

Are you looking for display cases for your action figures or other small toys? Look no further than the Container Store which has awesome cases for just EIGHT BUCKS! They also have simple plexiglass cases for balls, bats, pucks, and whatever other memorabilia you want to keep in good condition. Believe it or not, I need a cereal box display for my still unopened box of "Pirates of the Caribbean" Cereal.

The Budget Collector is now broke for the week after dropping over $100 on routine automobile maintenance.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Upper Deck Baseball - Not Dead Yet

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that Topps is now the exclusive license-holder for Major League Baseball. What this means is that Topps is the only company that can print and distribute any Baseball cards with Major League Logos and trademarks.

HOWEVER, that does not mean that the other former license holder, Upper Deck, is left entirely out of the loop. Recently UD signed an extension of their agreement with the MLB Players' Association, which means that they can produce products with the players' names and likenesses on them, BUT without MLB Logos and trademarks. This is not the first time this has happened in Baseball, in fact, many of the sets that Topps produced in the 70's and 80's were unlicensed by MLB and carried no logos (you can see them airbrushed out, famously in the 1981 Topps set).

So while fellow bloggers are decrying exclusivity and a lack of Upper Deck Baseball Cards next season, it ain't gonna happen. In fact, I just received this press release:


Upper Deck Sets the Record Straight on the Future of the Baseball Card Market

Carlsbad, CA (August 7, 2009) – On July 2, 2009, The Upper Deck Company and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced their renewed partnership to produce baseball trading cards for the upcoming 2010 season, building on the successes of recent years in rebuilding the trading card category through strengthened distribution, consumer-friendly pricing, dynamic products and interactive promotions designed to attract kids to the excitement of baseball cards. This license provides Upper Deck with the rights to feature current Major League Baseball Players on their trading cards, including the game’s most collectible and sought-after superstars.

“Looking ahead to 2010, we are 100% committed to building the highest quality and most innovative baseball cards in the industry,” said Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam. “We look forward to announcing more details on our product portfolio in the coming weeks.”

Since its inception in 1989, Upper Deck has been the market leader for both its ability to create top-quality super premium products and to develop innovative programs that promote baseball cards to kids. In the past four years alone, Upper Deck has committed more than $21 million dollars to increase kids’ interest in baseball cards. Through annual television advertising campaigns, numerous retail promotions and online initiatives such as Upper Deck’s Kids Rewards and the current virtual world, Upper Deck has led the way in dramatically increasing household penetration of kids collecting sports cards from 8% in 2005 to a reported 44% in 2008.

The MLBPA license agreement provides access to more than 1,200 current Major League Baseball players, including all of its stars. Fans can look forward to finding cards featuring autographs and pieces of game-used equipment from the biggest names in baseball including Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey Jr., and hundreds more. "Great cards of great players will continue to be the cornerstone of all Upper Deck products,” added McWilliam.

The license agreement between Upper Deck and the MLBPA ensures the company's continued commitment to its existing consumer base, while at the same time building on its extensive investments to stimulate even greater interest among new users and kids.

“We’re looking forward to continuing the partnership with Upper Deck, a licensee that is clearly focused on the long-term growth of the trading card category," said Judy Heeter, MLBPA Director of Business Affairs & Licensing. "We believe strong competition is generally good for consumers, and expect that our ongoing relationships with both Topps and Upper Deck will ensure consumer choices that lead to category growth."


UD cards will still be published next season, albeit with no Logos, and perhaps no team names either (I guess that means that the Angels will be called Los Angeles (AL)).

I also don't see this as a permanent situation, in fact Will's crystal ball will predict that the exclusivity will lead to a proliferation of licensees once Topps completely drops the ball, which we all know they will. ESPECIALLY with Topps owner Michael Eisner, who spent much of the last three decades desicrating Walt Disney's company, saying he wants to bring Trading Cards back to their intended market, children.

Uh...hey Mike, it's not 1983 anymore. Kids don't buy Baseball cards anymore. They'd rather buy video games, or certain TCGs, or even Bakugan. Trading Cards are not even a 20th Century collectible when you think about it, they're rooted deeply in the past of the 19th Century. Kids don't buy nostalgia, adults do.

While the budget collector is happy that Topps has continued it's flagship brand as a budget collectible, and has produced a quality product year in and year out, I don't see how this new focus on kids is going to help the hobby. Not one iota.

Meanwhile, Upper Deck can feel free to focus their marketing efforts on those who TRULY drive the hobby, the obsessed fanatic collectors who still have disposable income. Talk about different worlds, we're in different solar systems. For the budget collector, it's all about packs these days, because you can virtually always justify a few dollars here and there, but even a $20 blaster is getting too rich for most budget collectors.

Over the last few years Topps had made great inroads into revitalizing the Hobby direct market, with their hobby exclusive giveaway cards, HTA program, and hobby only product. Now that the focus is on kids, and kids increasingly don't bother with hobby stores these days, will Topps start caring more about retail, where the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world are actually selling more product than at Hobby? for thought.

In many ways, the trading card market needs to take a page from the Toy collecting market. After a great many years, toy manufacturers finally discovered that a good segment of their market was adult collectors who will pay more for what they want, if they can find it. Mattel and Hasbro, the two major Action Figure toy companies both have their own exclusive online-stores, and also have other products that go exclusively to online retailers. While both Topps and Upper Deck both have online stores, neither have products that are exclusive to the online world, unless you count e-Topps, and most people wouldn't.

With technology driving our world faster and faster, trading cards are ultimately a dying breed of collectible. Much like cassette tapes, 8-tracks, and eventually CDs, the medium itself is now meaningless. Is it any wonder that the two most popular card types these days are relics and certified autos? Is that because virtually days after release, every single card in a set has been scanned and posted online?

Will the simple act of sorting your collection become nothing more than a click of a computer button?

Will Topps take their exclusive contract and run with it, or drop the ball? My bet is on a colossal tank job, but I'm also a bit hopeful that this actually could be in a move in the right direction. Already in this down economy we've seen far fewer sets than last year or the year before. The real question is can Topps and Upper Deck continue to roll with the economic punches, or will trading cards finally go the way of the dodo?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dreaming of San Diego

I lived in San Diego from the time I was 10 years old, leaving in 1998 at age 27. I attended my first San Diego Comic Con in 1985, when it was still at Golden Hall, and between 1985 and 1997 I went to 10 conventions. In 1989 and 1990 I worked for the Con as the "assistant editor" of the Japanese Animation Convention Guide (I typed/edited most of the synopses). In 1995 I worked for Decipher giving demos of their Star Trek TNG CCG game, which was by far one of the more fun experiences. I haven't PAID to get into SDCC since 1988, I've either had a comp badge, a pro-badge or worked for the show. The prices they're asking now seem to me to be outrageous, though a good value these days I suppose.

The BEST collectibles that I obtained at the cons didn't cost me a thing, for the most part. After a few years of attending I realized that a ton of people carried around blank sketchbooks and would get sketches done by their favorite artists. I did the same and for about five years I amassed a collection of sketches that, while not museum worthy, means a ton to me.

Stuff like:

  • A Harvey Kurtzman original.
  • A two-piece "theme" of Batman by Jerry Ordway and Superman by Dan Jurgens
  • A beautiful Dinosaur (and me I think) by Geoff Darrow
  • A portrait of 'Rain' from the House of Secrets Vertigo series by Teddy Kristiansen (who had already done a Grendel for me in a previous year), that was actually the SECOND piece he did that day, asking if I could tear out and trash the first one he did because he didn't like it!
  • No less than three different Matt Wagner sketches, and several Grendel pieces by other related artists, such as Tim Sale and the aforementioned Teddy K.
  • A rockhopper by Tom Luth, that he HAND Water-colored
  • Several different Usagi Yojimbo sketches by Stan Sakai
  • A couple of Anime girls by the creator of Sailor Moon
  • Several characters by Ben Dunn, Harrison Fong and Barry Blair, all 'underground' artists at the time.
  • A Jim Lee Wolverine head
  • A Kevin Eastman Donatello head
  • A rare Hellblazer sketch by GRANT FREAKING MORRISON
  • A beautiful Swamp Thing sketch that took over an hour by Rick Veitch

and the list could go on and on.

Yes, convention only editions of comics are nice, because they're exclusive, but very few of them are actually worth the added price you pay. Convention toys are obviously your best bang for your buck, especially if you turn them on eBay right away (speaking of which, anyone want to pick me up a GI Joe Destro 2 pack?).

For my money though, the best thing at any convention is the interaction with your favorite creators, who are all there at Con. I have stories about Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Michael Moorcock, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Steve Rude, and so many more.

I wish I could be in San Diego this weekend, but it's bittersweet for me too. I'd love to see old friends, but I can't afford to spend the money I'd really like to spend there.

Maybe next year.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Angels now 1/2 Game Back!

I don't know if anyone's been watching lately, but the Halos are now only 1/2 game back of the West Leader Texas Rangers. Just got finished watching the great come-from-behind win that the Angels gutted out over our cross-town rivals, which was cause for joy. The Halos have been beating up on National League teams for the last week sweeping both the Padres and the Giants, combined with tonight's victory over the Bums means their Interleague record is a League best 9-1. In the last 7 games the Angels are unbeaten, while the Rangers have gone 3-4 in the same span.

Unfortunately Manager Mike Sciosia, who is the longest tenured manager in the AL, has had some pretty bad injuries to deal with this season, not the least of which was Vladdy playing in less than two dozen games at this point. Not to mention the early season tragedy that took the life of Nick Adenhart, which has clearly had an effect on the team.

These Angels are resiliant though. They will come through in the end and win the West for a third straight time, and eight over all.

By the way, tomorrow's game against the Dodgers features Jeff Weaver versus brother Jared Weaver for the first time. I really, really hope it will be a great game, and I get to see it.

Fantasy Football 2009! Already?

It's only June, but Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are now I started my annual league already. I invited back all the owners from last season, but I'd love to have a HUGE league, so if you'd like to play with us, please leave me a comment with your email and I'll send you the password.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Am I Alive? Of course I am

To my dedicated readers, I humbly apologize for no updates recently. I have a myriad of excuses for not writing, but more than anything, I just haven't had anything to say about the world of collecting right now.

Not that there isn't anything going on, there is. Razor, a newish company that specializes in unlicensed prospect sets has been alleged to be funded and run by Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam! The Baseball season is well underway, and while my beloved Angels haven't come out of the starting gate on fire like they had been the last couple of years, the Halos are making advances in the AL West (despite being swept by the Rangers this weekend!). The seemingingly unending NBA playoffs are in their conference finals with the Orlando Magic taking on King LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers, and the upstart Denver Nuggets playing the beloved LA Lakers beginning this week. The NHL seems to be winding down as well, their unending playoffs are also in the conference finals if I'm not mistaken, and apparently the series between the Washington Ovetchkins and the Pittsburgh Crosbys was exciting. Oh and I saw Star Trek over the weekend, so it's not like I have a lack of topics to cover. I could (and kind of plan to actually) do a piece on Trek collectibles that are out there for this new movie, and which ones are worth hunting down and which ones need to be given a wide berth (for the record, the Burger King Glasses are a must buy, the kids' meal toys - not so much, though they are fun).

There are two major reasons why I haven't blogged lately: 1) Nick Adenhart's death affected me much more that I could have imagined and 2) I've been going through a family crisis over the last couple of weeks.

My immediate family is quite fine; I got a call from Good Samaritan hospital two weeks ago, saying that my paternal Uncle had been treated and was ready for discharge, and that he needed to be picked up. He has no other kin, I'm his entire family at this point, and while I don't want to rehash what's been going on, he's been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and is now in the process of being placed in a permanent assisted living home because he can no longer care for himself at age 58. So that's been a huge weight on my mind, and I've really not been able to focus on much of anything beyond this situation for the last couple of weeks, and I doubt that until he's actually in the home that I'll have any energy for new posts.

On the plus side, I now have a three Mac network in my home, and at last have a workstation where I can do computer work without using my laptop (say what you want, but sometimes you need a full-size keyboard).

I wish that I could be like a number of other bloggers who update daily, or multiple times a day, but I'm not that guy. I like to think that you would value quality over quantity, but I've let you all down on both fronts lately. I can't actually promise to do better either, but I'll give it the good old college try. At some point anyway.