Monday, March 31, 2014

Changing of the Seasons - MLB Opening Day & NCAA Tournament Thoughts

When I reminded my wife that today was opening day for the Angels she said to me "Of course it is, didn't basketball just end?"  Yes, yes it did.

I suppose I should just get this out there and out of the way.  Once my team is out of the playoffs I GENERALLY don't care about who wins the rest of the thing.  It's Monday afternoon and other than Florida and Kentucky I don't know who the other two in the Final Four are.  I should check.  Hunh, UConn and Wisconsin.  I actually picked Uflop and the Badgers in my pool, and I have the floppers winning the big game.  Not that I really care mind you.  Again, I don't.  I watched maybe five minutes of the tournament after UCLA lost on Thursday.

So yes, for me Basketball is over.  I don't care what happens in the NBA other than for the draft because I am curious as to where Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine end up.  Kyle might have played himself into the top 5, whereas Zach may go late first round or early second.  That's what I read anyway.

Neither appear to have any trading cards available, but they will, and soon.

2014 is the second year in a row that I've not bought any Baseball cards prior to opening day, and since I didn't break a single pack of 2013 product I'm pretty sure I'm not going to suddenly get the itch to buy the same stuff only with a new date on the front.

I have to say I'm no longer optimistic that Mike Scioscia can bring another championship to Los Angeles.  Yes, I know they play in Anaheim.  I wish they didn't.  Though I still have to say I'd rather go to a game at the Big A than Dodger Stadium.  You know I haven't been back to Chavez since before I was married.  That says something I think.

Some of the names on the projected opening day lineup are unfamiliar to me.  Kole Calhoun?  Doesn't matter, it's still opening day and everyone still has a chance to win it all!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Topps Bunt is Back for 2014

The fusion of online trading cards and fantasy baseball that Topps introduced in 2012 is back for another season, and Angel Favorite Mike Trout is their official spokesman this year, which means his mug is all over the app.  Not that it's a bad thing mind you.

The bad thing about BUNT is that your previous cards won't gain you points this year, so you'll have to spend a bunch of coins on new cards, or trade off your 2013 for 2014.  However, since today is the first day, the market for 2013 and previous cards not just went soft, but it melted into a mush.

So this year we're able to do 9 for 9 trades or 9 for 1 or any combo that would allow.  SO that's better than the 3 previously.  We're now only allowed ONE account per device, which I think is great to get rid of scammers.  Sadly scammers will still try to scam, and Topps won't be able to do much about it, just as in previous years.

We do get a new "rate your trader" functionality, but since you can make a rating on a declined trade, I'm not sure how that's going to work out.  We'll have to wait and see on that.

Oh and the players themselves score points way differently this season.  Now it looks like each player has 5 tiers of cards from Commons worth 1x points to Super Rares, which I guess are worth 5x or something.  Not really too sure on that.  The other rarity levels are each worth more now too, uncommons are green and worth 2x, rares are red and worth 3x and scarce are silver and worth 4x.

I'm back playing this year, my user name is WILDWILL (same as in Huddle too).  Hit me up as a friend and send me your Angels cards.  All I care about is collecting the Angels Team Set.  If you tell me you read my blog in a trade offer I will give you a free DOUBLE 2013 rare from my collection.

AND hit me up on this Bunt/Huddle/Kick fan forum where I'm also WILDWILL

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Madness - Bracket Challenge

My Yahoo Group join up and make your picks by tomorrow.

3D Printing for Dummies - Or How I Learned How to Order on Shapeways

Blue Neo-Ego
This is about all I can
get him to do.
I'm a sucker for technology, I love following the latest and greatest gadgets and tech.  3D Printing is something that I've been following for a long, long time, and I'm please to say I finally dropped a dime and ordered my own 3D prints of existing models from Shapeways, the biggest 3D printing company in the world.

I had lurked on their forums long enough and seen all the really cool things that Shapeways can do for an intrepid CAD modeler.  I have ZERO CAD skills whatsoever, and no inclination to start learning, but what I do have is an endless fascination with miniatures and toys, and Shapeways is a place to satisfy that fascination.

Mr. Red Neo-Ego can pose
For my first foray I went ahead and ordered two different versions of a miniature articulated figure, not unlike a Lego Mini-Fig.  The first was this one: Cool Ego and Neo-Ego.  These babies aren't cheap, they run between $6-8 per figure, and shipping is a flat $6.30 per order.  I decided to order four figures to minimize shipping costs.  After a couple of weeks I got two of my four figures, the Cool Ego was not printed and cancelled.  The Neo-Egos printed fine and after a bit of difficulty I got them put together.

Or just stand there
The Neo-Ego is not great, I have to say.  The articulation isn't quite as nice as I'd hope (though it's still better than Lego) and the tightness of the figures fit is very hit and miss.  The red figure is pretty stiff and will hold a pose, while the blue figure is completely loose and can't pose for beans.

Needless to say I wasn't that thrilled with the fact that they cancelled half of my order and my shipping discount was basically blown.  I actually decided to call Shapeways and ask about the shipping once the creator of the Cool Ego figures rejiggered his model to print properly.  They actually gave me a credit for the shipping and even though the remodeled figures were slightly more expensive, I made a second order.

Ms. Blue Cool-Ego
Ms. Red Cool-Ego, though
you can't tell she has a face
Cool Ego is light years ahead of the Neo Ego.  There's two head-sculpts included, and the portrait is actually quite nice.  The articulation is really well done and the pieces fit together tightly and hold their pose.  The only difficulty is that putting it together can be a real drag.  The plastic that is printed is not "smooth and polished" like they advertise on the site. It's quite rough, though the roughness makes the small details really pop up close.  I do believe the heads can hold standard Lego head-gear and the hands are standard Lego clips.  The Cool-Ego has wrist swivels, while the Neo-Ego does not.

I haven't tried any of the other plastics available but I'd like to do so in the near future.  I bet a clear version of these guys would be really cool looking.  I'd love to get a full sized 1/18th scale figure printed but I don't see any viable candidates at the moment.
Blue Cool-Ego, Vintage Lego Mini-Fig, Red Neo-Ego

They fit in a golf-ball cube
Looking Good There Guys

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adventures in eBay - Lego From My Childhood Edition

If you grew up in the time period roughly from the mid 1960's to today you probably played with Lego Bricks at one point or another.  The Lego company traces their existence back to 1916, and their brick toys to 1947.  Suffice to say the growth of Lego toys seriously impacted virtually every kid at one point or another.  Lego seems to be a toy that grows with kids, and kids never really grow out of them.  I stopped buying Lego kits sometime in my teens, but as soon as I moved out of my parents house and had a job of my own I started buying them again with a vengeance, and I never really threw away my Lego.  I still have most of my bricks and instructions, if not the boxes themselves.  Over the course of time I've been trying to reacquire a few sets from my youth that I didn't keep intact.

My first Lego sets were the Universal Building Sets, which now are simply tubs of bricks.  These were the sets that had no real models to build, just whatever you wanted, and the best thing was that they came with large base plates you just don't see much anymore.

I do recall my first large set, that would be #585-1 Police Headquarters which was one of the last few sets BEFORE real mini-figs came out in 1978.  I know for a fact I still have some pieces left from that set.  My second major set was #6929 Star Fleet Voyager and I remember getting that for Christmas somewhere in the early 80's.  While I don't reasonably expect to ever repurchase a Police Headquarters, and with the static old-school proto-mini-figs I really am not sure I'd want one.  But I do check out eBay and other places for the Star Fleet Voyager on a regular basis.

The last of my three original kits that I desired to repurchase was the smallest: the simply elegant 6648-2 Town Dump-Truck, and thanks to a recent eBay purchase, I now have one.  I paid $6.99 plus $5.95 shipping.  Considering it's a vintage kit, with instructions, I think I did OK.  I recall that the original price my Grandparents paid was about $5-10 but that was at the Los Angeles Children's Museum, which isn't there anymore, and it was over 30 years ago.

The vehicle is all of 41 pieces, most of them yellow or black and all pretty much standard.  The only real "specialized" pieces here are the rollbar, the windshield, the truck bed and the hinge piece that lets the truck bed dump out.  It's a really simple build that took all of about two minutes to complete.  It is a thing of beauty.  Lego just doesn't do small vehicles quite the same way.  Now the cabs are all one piece and the wheels are tiny.

My original set wasn't kept as a truck very long.  I loved the bed with six wheels and the tilting rear, so I designed a small airplane using most of the same parts with forklift type sleds in the front to make it look cool.  It flew off the back hinge as a launch ramp.  This one though, it's staying on my desk.  Without being put together with the Kragle...because hey, the driver does kind of look like Emmit from the movie doesn't he?

By the way, the pictures were all taken in my new light tent, nifty hunh?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Adventures in Economics and 2x Rack Pack of 2013-14 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

I knew it was out because every time I look for Martin Jones cards I keep seeing his Young Guns Series 2 card on eBay, so I wasn't that surprised that I found brand new packs and boxes at Target this afternoon.  What I was surprised about were the prices and the configuration.  Let's see if this makes any sense shall we?

Retail Packs = 8 cards for $2.99 or $0.374 per card.
Rack Packs = 32 cards for $4.99 or $.0156 per card.
Retail Box of 10 12 packs of 5 cards = 70 cards at $19.99 or $.0286 per card.

If you're buying on a per card basis CLEARLY Rack Packs are the way to go.  However, UD is not being as generous with their insert cards in Racks as they have been in the past, I bought TWO of them this afternoon and pulled one insert, a Young Guns, whereas in years past a Rack would usually hold at least two if not more inserts.  Heck Topps usually gives you about five.

Here's what I got:

2 x 2013-14 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey 32 cards per pack

Base: 62 - 1 double
Young Guns 1:4 - 467 Philipp Graubauer

That's it.  Oh and two Kings - Justin Williams and Ben Scrivens.  Oops I meant one King and someone we traded away.

At least the Young Guns is a goalie who's got some value I suppose.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Big Day in Los Angeles Sports - - The Los Angeles Kings versus The UCLA Bruins?

Today marks the 15th time that the Los Angeles Kings and the UCLA Bruins Mens Basketball have played on the same day this season.  My two favorite teams have both won their games five times so far.   Three of those games that the Bruins won were in 2013 when the games don't really matter and UCLA is playing exhibition games or cupcakes.  Out of the 14 games played on the same day the Kings have an 8-6 record.  The Bruins are 10-4.

Today the Kings are taking on the hated Lame Ducks of Anaheim at Staples starting at 7:30 PM. Kings Captain Dustin Brown is a scratch because of illness.  US Olympic Starting Goalie Jonathan Quick is questionable, meaning most likely Martin Jones, super-rookie, will be starting in net.  The game is being televised on both Fox Sports West (The Kings flagship) and Fox Sports Prime Ticket (The Ducks flagship).
Drew Doughty congratulates Martin Jones back in December
Harry How/Getty Images

The quackers are tied for first place in the Pacific Division with a line of 44-16-7 for 95 points.   The Kings are firmly ensconced in third place with a line of 38-23-6 for 82 points, 9 points ahead of Phoenix in 4th.  This year the NHL realigned to four divisions in two conferences.  The top 3 teams in each division get a playoff birth, with the final 2 spots going to the two next best teams.  If the playoffs started today the Kings would get the #6 seed and play San Jose in the first round.  It's going to be tough to climb up since Chicago has the #5 seed and 8 more points than the Kings, and there's only 15 games left in the season.

Every game at this point is a big game in the NHL.  Not quite as big as the games on the hardwood though.  While hockey clubs are jockeying for position for the Stanley Cup playoffs, hoopsters around the nation are getting ready for the BIG dance.  The 68 team tournament kicks off next week and if you want to join my BRACKET CHALLENGE at YAHOO Click Here.

Today marks the SIXTH time that the Bruins have played in the Pac-12 (Pac-10) Championship game.  So far we're 3-2 beating Wazzu in 87, Cal in '06 and Stanford in '08.  We lost to 'Zona in '90 and Oregon last year.  Arizona at 15-3 was the outright Pac-12 Champion this season and is ranked #4 in the nation, the Bruins squeaked to a 12-6 conference record good enough for #2.  No other Pac-12 team is ranked in the Top 25 right now, IF the Bruins managed a win they will most likely move up and get a decent seed.

That's basically what the Bruins are playing for at this point, a decent seed.  Arizona win or lose will most likely get a very high seed in the West, which will be played in Anaheim this year.  IF the Bruins win you can expect anything from a 3 to an 8 most likely in the West as well.  If they lose, well, look for a 6-12 anywhere but the West.  Though currently ESPN's Bracketology has them a #6 in the West.

The Bruins are an enigma this season, their first under new coach Steve Alford.  Our "wonderful" AD Dan Guerrero has made a number of questionable hires INCLUDING Alford, and while we Bruins are happy with the direction of the Football program, we are a BASKETBALL school with the pedigree of JOHN R. WOODEN to live up to.  Most years in FB we're happy if we beat U$C and have a good bowl game.  With Basketball anything LESS than a National Championship is a bad season.  That's what happens when you have 11.

So while I'm willing to cut Alford some slack for being a new coach and everything, he's going to have to take his lumps, especially since the same day he was hired his son Bryce committed to the team and he gets significant minutes despite being a less than average player.  This year's version of the Bruins has a Jekyll and Hyde identity, playing great in games against #21 Colorado on my birthday and then promptly losing to Utah two days later WHILE being ranked #25.  The win against the Buffs represents their lone victory against a ranked team this season.

Kyle Anderson's MONSTER DUNK against Oregon from Thursday
IN fact, the biggest knock agains these Bruins is that they can't win the second game in a weekend series.  In addition to the Colorado/Utah trip, they pulled the same stuff in Oregon beating the Ducks in Eugene and losing to the Beavers later that weekend in Corvallis.  IN February up in the Bay Area they continued the trend by beating Cal and losing to Stanford 3 days later.  The next weekend they came home and reversed the trend losing to Oregon and beating OSU, but the very next weekend the trend came back with UCLA winning against Washington and losing against lowly WSU.  Fully four of their six losses in conference play came on the back half of the series.

This team won't bring back many players next season either.  The Wear Twins are graduating finally after it seems like they've been at UCLA forever.  At least one of the two Super Sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson are likely to jump to the draft (Anderson is sure to go, Adams, is a maybe).  SO that means that three, possibly four of the starters for today's game will be gone next year.  Good thing there's some real blue chippers coming to Westwood, we've had a great recruiting season, capped with the commitment by Aaron Holiday, Jrue's little bro who will be coming to UCLA in 2015.  Incoming Freshmen for next year include two power forwards in Kevon Looney and Jonah Bolden and two Centers Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman.

As to who wins today's games?  Well, obviously I'm hoping for a sweep by the LA teams.  I think though it's far more likely that the Kings win and the Bruins lose.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Enter This Contest

Monday, March 10, 2014

2013-14 Upper Deck SPx Hockey 4 Pack Break

A few weeks ago I won a contest on Upper Deck's Blog simply by submitting a funny caption for an old Upper Deck card of Sidney Crosby.  My prize was 4 packs of Upper Deck SPx Hockey from this year, and they just arrived about 30 minutes ago!

Considering that these have a price of about $100 for a box of 12 packs, I'm going to say these are running probably $10-15 apiece in stores, which pretty much prices me out of Hobby packs.  Maybe if they hit retail I'll buy a few more, you never know.  In any case, I was really happy to get between $40 and $60 worth of packs of cards.

I don't keep these pack by pack, sorry.

Base: 13 including Datsyuk, Getzlaf & Patrick Sharp

Rookies 1:2.5 #104 Jacob Trouba
Rookies SP 1:10 #150 Charlie Coyle

SPx Rookie SP 1:30 #46 Tomas Hertl

Rookie Jersey/Auto 1:12 #193 Hampus Lindholm

In terms of beating the odds, I'd say I did really well.  I got the major advertised box hit, even if it is a bit underwhelming.  I mean Lindholm was the #6 pick in the draft, but he's a defenseman who 61 games into this season has 5 goals, 17 assists and 28 PIM.  Oh and he's a Duck.  You know I can't stand the Ducks.  I also didn't pull ANY Kings, and that seems to be a recurring theme with my Hockey cards lately.  The last several times I've bought any quantity of cards I haven't gotten any Kings.  IN fact the last King I can recall pulling was a Gretzky from a very old Collector's Choice pack.

Strangely the longest odds were for the Hertl card, which when you handle it is rather flimsy.  Seems like the card is just a bit thinner than the rest.  Oh and one other thing you'll notice, I got 17 cards instead of 16!  The first pack which had the Lindholm jersey/auto had five cards, which is funny because usually they have less than the stated number of cards when there's a big jersey.

I have to say these cards are awfully nice looking and a great throwback to the premium sets of the 90's.  I love the retro die-cuts, and I'd really like to get the Kings versions.  In fact I may chase a Kings team set or at least as many Kings as I can get.  To that end, I'm putting all the hits and maybe a few of the base on eBay as fixed items with offers, like the rest of my cards.  I've gone to a no-auction format because it's easier and seems to be more effective.

IF you win one of my auctions (and remember I offer FREE SHIPPING to the United States) and you mention that you read my blog in the comments when you pay I'll throw in something extra.

Check out ALL my auctions here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


So IO9 came out this week with 30 Cult Movies That Absolutely Everyone Must See that got reblogged and commented upon.

I agree with MOST of these films - here they are BTW:

30 Zardoz
29 Tremors
28 The Warriors
27 Lost Boys
26 Born in Flames
25 Sharktopus
24 Tales From the Hood
23 Death Race 2000
22 The HUnger
21 Plan 9 From Outer Space
20 Dark Star
19 Slither
18 Buckaroo Banzai
17 Time Bandits
16 Evil Dead 2
15 Night of the Living Dead
14 Brother from Another PLanet
13 Cherry 2000
12 Altered States
11 Repo Man
10 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
9 They Live
8 Primer
7 Naked Lunch
6 The Man Who Fell To Earth
5 Re-Animator
4 Big Trouble in Little China
3 Eraserhead
2 Donny Darko
1 Rocky Horror.

As I mentioned on Facebook when the list was published I had seen 25 out of 30, I subsequently watched Death Race 2000 yesterday after I read the list.  The others I HAVE NOT seen are #26, 25, 19, & 8.

For the most part I agree, though I think there's some that don't belong here and some that aren't here that should be.

SO here's what I propose - either in Comments here or on your own blog, post what movies you think should be removed and what should be added.

I'll say this:

I'd get rid of 8, 13, 19, 24, 25 & 26 that gives me 6 to add...

A Boy and His Dog
Blue Velvet

Now, I would also REPLACE a couple of these items with similar films either by the same director or in the same series.  For example, Evil Dead 2 is a great cult film, but Army of Darkness is better.  I *LIKE* Tales From The Hood, but there's better anthologies, in fact the best is probably Twilight Zone the Movie despite all it's flaws.

SO what are YOUR thoughts?

Monday, March 3, 2014

I bought a light-tent

Something that I think every blogger worth his or her salt should do (besides dumping such stock cliche' phrases as "with no further adieu [sic]) is buy themselves a light tent for halfway decent photos.  I finally pulled the trigger on one myself, this one to be exact:

I do not own a digital SLR though, I pretty much stick to my iPhone camera.  Which works for me.  I suppose I should get a DSLR soon though.  Maybe Christmas?  Hey someone want to send me one for review?

These are my FIRST shots with the box, the velvet background did not come with the kit, my wife had that in her fabric storage.

I've been working on this "set" for a while now, it's 25th Anniversary versions of the Original 12 GI JOES (plus Cobras) in a vintage case.   Missing Grunt, Zap and Short Fuze.  

Bought this almost complete case on eBay a couple of months ago, along with a much more battered brother.  Just need to find the weapons locker lid, which is really tough to find.

These are the remnants of my vintage Micronauts collection.  I'm pretty sure that I obtained all three from my buddy Tom way back in the 80's when I bought two very large boxes of Micronauts from him.  I have a lot more Palisades and newer Microman figures, but these are vintage beauts.
So I notice that I need to learn how to light better and to focus on the details better, but I'm sure practice will make perfect.

For $33 total (gotta love Amazon Prime) I'm really happy with this setup.  The lights work perfectly, the Camera Stand is tight and easy to use, and the box itself is easy to setup and take down, and everything stores really easily which is paramount because we just don't have enough room.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Oscar Picks 2014

I made them here:

For the record, I scored 15 out of 24.  I missed Best Actor, Actress, Costume Design, Directing, Documentary Feature, Production Design, both Short Films and original Screenplay.  Better than last year.

I built a model kit sort of from my youth. DORVACK Powered Armor

Something happened in the early 80's that really changed my collecting habits and ultimately my life.  Toy Stores started carrying Japanese model kits.  I know it sounds a bit odd, but let me continue.

I'm your standard 70's era card-carrying geek.  I was 6 years old when Star Wars was released and yes, it changed my life too.  But even before then I was watching Planet of the Apes and Star Trek.  My Mom actually acknowledges that she was a Trekkie during the original run of the show when she was a teen-ager, so I have that going.  My television cartoon diet was dominated by the likes of Speed Racer, Giant Robot, Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets and then much later Voltron, Robotech and the rest of the second generation anime imports.

My Dad was a history buff, and while he merely tolerated my appreciation of sci-fi toys (I did get the Space 1999 Eagle for Christmas 1977 because they couldn't find the Star Wars Early Bird Sets) he really instilled a love of model kit building in me.  I can still remember the first kit I was allowed to build with glue, a navy training airplane that was cast in yellow.

Imagine then my fascination when the local toy stores started carrying Japanese kits in the early 80's.  Even though I had never seen the shows these models came from I knew I loved the designs, and unlike American model kits which were usually a make and display type item, a lot of these kits were designed to be PLAYED with!  It wasn't until I joined CF/O (Cartoon Fantasy Organization) in San Diego in 1985 that I would even discover that there were shows attached to a lot of my favorite models, and that led me to attending my first San Diego Comic Con in 1985, and from then to 1997 I went to 10 conventions, making many friends and having tons of exciting experiences that I have a hard time recalling now.

In my 40's I still want to have my old toys back.  One of the cool models I ever made was a Dorvack Powered Armor Nove Laser.  I never did see Dorvack, which from what I understand wasn't that good of an anime.  But I liked the design aesthetic and the completed figure was just about the right size to play with 1/18th scale figures, even though the model itself was billed at 1/24th.  My original Nove Laser is long gone.  But for the last several years I've been looking for cheap kits on eBay just for fun.  I finally pulled the trigger on one a few weeks ago and my Doldian was on it's way!

Yes, it's very different in terms of coloring and armament, but it's close enough to the one I had as a youth to make me happy.
I paid $10 plus shipping so about $15 all together.  Shipping was great and fast, and I got the kit within a week.  It was imported by Testors and sold in the US originally.  There's some wear on the box, but that didn't bother me at all.  The sprues were still sealed in the original plastic and the packet of glue originally included was still there, along with the decals and the pvc grommits, which have held up very well.  This kit is over 30 years old after all.

I took my time building and painting, all together spending about two days to finish.  I'm still not the best modeler, but I'm happy with the results.  I wasn't going for screen accuracy, as again, I've never seen the show, but I did follow one of the paint guides as closely as I felt like doing.  I also used some paint sharpies.  I need some Gundam Markers, I wish they weren't so expensive.