Reflecting on April A-to-Z

The extra rules I set for myself definitely made the challenge a bit more challenging, but I liked taxing myself a bit to come up with something fun for those letters that were a bit harder to deal with.

The one real negative is that I had to do last minute replacements on a couple of letters. 😦  For “E” I wanted to do “Eren Jaeger” and finally open my Eren Figma.  Or rather, I wanted to let Mikasa finally rescue him.  Because when I bought him I decided that I wasn’t going to open the box, but that Mikasa was going to save him from his predicament.  (My Mikasa Figma, I mean, of course.)  With me taking photos, naturally. 😛  Only my house is so cluttered that I have no good place to take such pictures, and my backyard is out of the question because I have too many nosy neighbors.  I was hoping to use my brother’s place, but then he started preparing to move and so there was extra clutter everywhere, and…ugh.  I am gonna get those pictures taken eventually!  Even if I have to go into his place after he’s moved out and do it then!

Ahem.  Anyway, the other one I had to change was “H,” because I had planned on doing “The Hobbit” for H, using my Funko Pop! Invisible Bilbo and Smaug for a photo shoot…only then I loaned them to my brother when he was going to check out his copy of the Extended Battle of Five Armies and I couldn’t think of a good excuse to ask for them back before he was done with them.  *sigh*

But a few little detours aside, I think it turned out very well, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Unfortunately, due to my work load for class and for my other blog, I didn’t have time to fully take part in the April A-to-Z by visiting everyone else’s blogs.  But I’m going to do that over the next month or so!  Once my final paper gets turned in on Thursday, I’ll be done with class for the semester, and I can go around the A-to-Z linky and see what everyone else did for theirs.  Better late than never, right?  Of course, before I go to the linky, I’m going to start by checking out everyone’s blogs who left a comment here! 😀

Hmm.  Not much of a “reflections” post, is it?  Not sure how much else there is to say, though…

I should probably put a list of my posts here, but…I don’t have much time before I have to go to work (pre-writing this on Saturday morning), so I’ll just leave a link to the posts tagged for the A-to-Z challenge, so you can scroll through the alphabet backwards. 😛  Or you could click this link and go to the gallery where every single photo taken for this year’s A-to-Z is stored!  But they’re not in any kind of order — apart from chronological — and there’s no info on them, and there’s over 250 of them, so don’t click on it unless you’ve got some time to kill. 😛

Zootopia

If you’ve been following my blog long, I’m sure you already knew that Z would be for Zootopia. 😀

Zootopia 1

A gazelle isn’t quite a deer, but…I’d have wanted to add her to my collection anyway, ’cause just look at her!  (No, btw, I have never tried the “try me” singing function.  And there’s a little on-off switch, so…ooh, I need to remember to remove the batteries!  If I leave them in there indefinitely they could corrode.)  Oh, wait, it’s not so easy to see her in the box…

Zootopia 5

So here she is out of the box…and it’s still pretty hard to see her.  Gazelle is a very hard doll to photograph.  😦  Anyway, as you can see — or not see — her shoes are just glittery paint (heaven forfend the Disney Store sell a doll without glitter!) but her skirt and shirt are actual clothes…though I guess the picture makes her shirt look like more glitter paint.

Zootopia 10

She has elbow and knee joints, but the extreme thinness of her arms (forelegs?) makes the elbow joints a little bit tenuous, and every time I try to move them I feel like I’m going to break her.  (Though I’m sure it would actually be quite difficult to do so; the Disney Store usually releases pretty sturdy products.)  Oh, and yes, that is a Pullip stand.  With such flimsy limbs, I figured there was absolutely no way I was ever going to get Gazelle to stand up on her own, and I had this spare Pullip stand handy, so…wait, why do I have a spare Pullip stand?  That’s weird.  Most of my seated Pullips were samples who didn’t have them, so…oh, wait, maybe it belongs to — oh, crap.  It’s not a spare stand; it’s Selina’s stand.  Well, I guess Gazelle will have to get a new stand once I get Selina put back together again.

Zootopia 9

There’s one problem with the hand that holds her microphone, however.  (Aside from the fact that no matter how they evolved, gazelles should never have fingers.  But I’ll let that slide, ’cause the movie was awesome. 😀 )  As you can see here, when you bend her elbow up to bring the microphone towards her face, it’s facing away from her.  *ahem*  The elbow turns in its socket, which I didn’t notice until it came time to actually write this.  Because I am, apparently, an utter moron.  I’m pre-writing this on the 26th, so if I have time I’ll get another photo of her holding her microphone up the right way…but given everything going on around here, I likely won’t have the time.

Zootopia new

EDIT — Okay, I didn’t get it up anywhere near in time for the original post, but just in case anyone reads this post belatedly, here’s a new photo of Gazelle holding her microphone the right way.  Though that’s about as close to her face as I could get it.

Zootopia 11

So, one last attempt to get a good shot of her face.  Like Manny Taur, it’s really hard to get a decent photograph of her face.  Though at least Gazelle isn’t trapped in a box. 😛  (Once again, the strong shadow makes it look like she’s in a ’50s horror movie…)

Anyway, let’s move on!  There’s someone I’d like you to meet.  He’s one of the nicest folk on the river…

Zootopia 12

So, Zootopia featured a lot of character designs that were…how do I put this?  To call them “homages” to earlier movies seems to be understating it.  Well, whatever you want to call it, a lot of the character designs seemed to be updating and 3Difying the character designs of earlier Disney anthropomorphic animal characters, particularly ones from Robin Hood and the animated section of Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  (Which was, of course, the reason why the lion mayor was named Lionheart, ’cause he was based on the design for King Richard.)  I’m not sure if this was just tribute to the earlier movies, or if it was to make Zootopia fit more neatly into the Disney visual aesthetic, or what.  Probably the former, really.  Anyway, regardless of that, I imagine that at some point there was a production meeting discussing these character designs, and the subject of the weasel came up, and a conversation along the following lines took place:

“You know what I’d like the weasel to look like?  I mean, it’s not one of ours, but remember those weasels in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”?”
“Yeah, the ones who looked like that weasel from the Riverbottom Nightmare Band?”
“Dude!  That’s it!  We have GOT to name our otter Emmett!”

Lol, okay, yeah, that’s probably not how it happened.

Zootopia 13

But it can’t be a coincidence that Mr. Otterton’s name is Emmett.  Not since Disney now owns all the Muppet properties.  Besides, look at his shirt here.  It’s totally saying “Kermit”.  (It didn’t in the movie because it was a sweater vest.  But when it’s all made out of this felt-like cloth?  Then it becomes pure Kermit.)  Anyway, even though he doesn’t really look much like Emmett Otter, I just had to get this when I saw it. 😀  So far, I’ve been resisting the lure of the sloth…but I totally want that one, too.  😛

Zootopia 14

I could not, however, resist getting a few Tsum Tsums. 😛  This stacking is pretty wrong, I know, but…seriously, that hair!  She can’t go on the bottom.

"I am a real cop. I am a real cop."
“I am a real cop. I am a real cop.”

So cute!  Though her ears won’t behave…

"It's called a hustle, sweetheart."
“It’s called a hustle, sweetheart.”

The first time I saw the movie, I had to fight not to laugh in the scene where he brings out his “son” to convince the elephant to let him buy the jumbo pop.  But I didn’t want to allow myself to laugh, because I couldn’t be sure everyone else in the audience knew a fennec fox when they saw one…

"Us little guys have to stick together."
“Us little guys have to stick together.”

Normally, I wouldn’t get merchandise of a character like Bellweather, but…this was just too darned cute to pass up!  I gotta say, when I saw the movie the second time, I was really struck by how amazing her wool looked.  All the fur textures were amazing, of course, but her wool and Lionheart’s mane were the two that really stood out to me.  The amount of time and effort that had to have gone in to making the textures and the algorithms to make the fur move properly…it must be staggering, but the end result was incredible, so I’m sure the people who worked on it felt it was worth all the time they put into it.

Okay, well, that’s all I have for you today.  If you want to see the gallery for this post, it’s here.

And that makes the successful conclusion to April A-to-Z!  Yay! 😀

Yvonne

I came across Yvonne rather inadvertently.  I was searching on Kickstarter to see if there were any dolls or toys being Kickstarted, and found a line of action figures that didn’t entirely interest me, but I was curious what else the manufacturers (Zica Toys) had made.  That led to going to the Web site, where I found a picture of Yvonne, but they were out of stock in their own store.  But I was able to follow a link in the comments to another site that still had some in stock.  I bookmarked the site and said “maybe at some point” because she looked pretty interesting, but I didn’t feel the need right that second.

Obviously, I did eventually order her, though. 😛

This is what she looked like when she arrived:

Yvonne 1

No fancy packaging here! 😛 Continue reading

Xenosaga, Episode I

Yup, another video game themed post.  But no screen shots this time. 😛

Xenosaga 1

I’ve been wanting to pick up some KOS-MOS merchandise ever since I found out there was such merchandise, but it’s hard to find any that I find appealing.  Because the visual aesthetic in Xenosaga Episode I was entirely different from the aesthetic in the other two games.  And since the first one is the one that’s actually good, I wanted one that matched the original, more anime-like aesthetic.  (Okay, to be fair, Episode II is still a pretty decent game.  Not great, like Episode I, but decent.  It’s Episode III that’s horrible.  Seriously, having both played the game given the subtitle Also Sprach Zarathustra and read the original book by Nietzsche, I can without question say that you will absolutely be served better to read the book.  Sure, it won’t tell you how the story of the first two games ends, but you can make something up that’ll be better than what Namco came up with.  (It really shows that they fired the series creator during Episode II…)  More importantly, the book is actually entertaining, and it will take far less time.)  The one exception to my “only Episode I merchandise” policy for KOS-MOS is that I would totally love to have the Dollfie Dream of her, even though that’s from the horrible Episode III.  (But I’d still rather have the Dollfie Dream of Miku…though any talk of Dollfie Dreams is just idle, because I cannot afford to spend roughly a thousand dollars on a single doll.)

Xenosaga 2

Here’s the back of the package, which helpfully shows how you can use/attach some of the pieces she comes with.  I call this “helpful” because it lets me know what it would look like, as I don’t intend to open her. 😛  Anyway, interesting thing about this figure:  as far as I could tell from the Mandarake page (of course that’s where I got her! 😛 ) she would seem to have been a pre-order bonus for the original game.  I am so jealous of that!  You know what I got for pre-ordering the first game?

Nothing.

There was a pre-order bonus for the second game, though:

Xenosaga 4

That’s a DVD containing all the CG cutscenes from the first episode.  With the wonderful-yet-unfair feature of being able to select the original Japanese language.  “Unfair,” of course, because the games themselves don’t have that option.  So if you watch the DVD in the original, and get used to what the characters are supposed to sound like, then you’re crushed by returning to the game and being forced back into the English voices.  (Though, honestly, the dub isn’t that bad.  It’s…okay, actually, I haven’t revisited any of the games since being disgusted by the final one (first major RPG I ever sold back immediately on completing it) but I recall it being serviceable.  Certainly there were no characters whose voices made me want to stab myself in the eardrums, and I can’t say that about all dubbed games…)

Ahem.

Okay, this post seems to have devolved into me soap-boxing my views on certain subjects, when it’s supposed to be about the figure.  So I’ll just shut up now, and present one last photo:

Xenosaga 3

Not the greatest sculpt in the world, but I’ve seen worse.  (Okay, yes, I know I said I’d shut up!)

BTW, if you’d like to see the gallery — though the only additional photo in it is a shot with the game’s soundtrack in front of the package — it’s here.

World Travel Dolls

One of the most interesting things about working at a toy museum is seeing all the dolls that donors brought back as souvenirs from their world travels.  (Though I’ve learned that some of them actually were not souvenirs, but came from Kimport, which was a very unique kind of doll club.)  I’m rather envious of the variety this gave their collections, and if I ever manage to do the traveling I want to in the future, I absolutely intend to bring back dolls from every place I visit.

In the mean time, I have a few of that type of doll, though very few of them are currently from my own personal travels.  I’ll be going in roughly the order of acquisition, because otherwise I’d never figure out how to go about this.  (Though I’m not entirely sure the order is right.)

World 12

This little wooden doll is a genuine travel souvenir, but I’m not the one who did the traveling.  Some relation or other (some sort of cousin, I think, but since I don’t remember who it was, I can’t be sure) went to China, and brought this back with them.  They gave it to my parents (or just my mother?) as a souvenir, and somehow it ended up with me.  Possibly I’m the one who broke it, and that’s when it ended up as “mine.”  It used to have something on the top of its head, but it’s been broken so long that I no longer remember what it was.  It may have been a little wooden bun or topknot.

World 5

think this pair of cloth Navajo dolls was bought when my whole family went on a driving trip to Arizona, but I’m not entirely sure.  (I’ve been to the Four Corners region of the Southwest probably about five times, so it’s hard to remember what happened on which visit.)

World 1

My father brought me this as a souvenir when he went on a business trip to Venezuela.  I’m not sure I appreciated her at the time, but I think she’s pretty neat now.

World 4

This Navajo doll is also a clothespin doll.  I’m not actually in the least sure when I got her, but I know I bought her out west, so it had to be quite some time ago.  I’m thinking it was probably on my second-to-last trip there.

World 11

My high school had an annual fund raiser that was, essentially, a giant garage sale for anything that the students’ parents didn’t want.  And it was a private school mostly full of rich kids (unlike middle class me) so there were sometimes some pretty cool things on sale there.  These two Thai dancers came from that garage sale.

World 13

This doll also came from one of those garage sales.  She’s kind of in sorry shape, though.  All those ornaments in her hair were probably originally painted gold.  The little tag by her feet says “Snow Queen,” so she’s probably supposed to be a yuki-onna, or at least performing in a Noh play about a yuki-onna.

World 6

I have a number of kachinas — which aren’t, strictly speaking, dolls in the usual sense — and I have no idea exactly when I got them.  Some of them came from my trips out west, and some of them were bought here.

World 7

Those cute little clay figures (which I probably should have moved off the shelf before taking the picture) were bought at a local art show, though the artist isn’t local.  (I think she was living in Oregon or Montana or someplace else northwesterly like that.  But from her accent — and the Baba Yaga hut tea light holder I also got from her — she was originally from somewhere in Eastern Europe.  Given that I’m showing pictures of some of her work, I feel like I really ought to give her credit by name, but I don’t know what her name is, so I can’t.)

World 8

I know this little kachina under the dome was the last one I got.  I think I got it in college, on my last trip to Arizona (where my aunt was living at the time, so I was more visiting her than the place), but I’m not 100% sure of that.  I apparently have a memory like a…like a…like a thing with holes in.

World 14

This one came from a local antique mall.  I’m afraid my attempt to clean the dust off her stand wrecked up the hair trailing off the helmet she’s carrying. 😦

World 9

Strangely, this too came from an antique mall, even though she’s made by a modern (Native American) artist.  Again, not strictly a doll, but…I just wanted a chance to show her off. 😀

World 10

Yay!  Finally a world travel doll that represents my own travels outside the country of my birth! 😀  I bought her in Lima; there were a number of people dressed in traditional Andean garb selling various things in what I guess you’d call an informal market in a small plaza, and while everyone else in my group was looking at the woven bags and clothes and such, I was looking at all the handmade dolls like this one.  I feel pretty badly about it, though:  the woman was trying to get me to buy two by offering me a bit of a discount if I did, but since this was the only one I really liked, I only bought the one.  I really should have bought two and given the other to this one cousin of mine, who was still fairly young at the time.  After all, that woman probably really needed the money, and I didn’t, so…what do you call that?  Not-buyer’s remorse?  (The worst part about that is that like all the souvenirs I got in Peru, they were actually really cheap when you convert back to US money.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of the price of a soda at a movie theater.  So it not only was money I didn’t really need, it was an inconsequential amount of it.)

Anyway, if you’d like to see the gallery for this post, it’s here.  But the only things in there that aren’t in the post are a couple of other shots of the Venezuelan doll.

VW Bug

Quite some time ago, I was at a Chinese restaurant that I really like, and at the end of the meal, my fortune cookie had a message that said something like “Something on four wheels will be a fun investment for you in the near future.”

I chuckled at it — I’d just gotten a new car a few months earlier, so there was no fear of me needing another one! — but stashed it away in my sunglasses case as being amusingly interesting.  I certainly didn’t plan on buying anything with four wheels…

VW 1

But then I saw this at the grocery store about a month later.  It’s five inches long, and the doors open.  And it was really cheap. 😛  More importantly, it’s a pink, classic VW bug, covered with hippie stickers!  How could I resist?!

VW 2

About a month or so later, the grocery store had this one on that same little shelf of goodness-only-knows-why-they’re-selling-these-here toy cars.  It’s not as cute as the bug, and only the door to the back seat opens, but…well, I did mention that they’re cheap, right?  (Seriously, the two of them combined were less than most Monster High dolls.)

Of course, I really have to fault these cars on one thing:  their editors missed a major error in the text.  The correct way to say that is…actually, can you help me out with this, Vash?

VW 5

Thank you, Mr. the Stampede.

Anyway, on a (kind of?) related note…

VW 4

Yup.  A hippie Breyer horse.  I couldn’t resist this, either.  (Yeah, part of me was really meant to have lived in the 1960s….but the rest of me is probably glad I didn’t, since I do kind of like me my high-tech toys. 😛  I’d enjoy visiting them, though.  If only that were possible…)

Y’know, I probably could have done this post for “H” and picked something else for “V”…

Ursula

Meet Ursula, one of my childhood dolls:

Ursula 1

I’m not sure where that staining on her face came from. 😦  She’s constructed in a really interesting manner:  inside her head, as far as I can tell, is a large styrofoam sphere, just covered over with cloth.  The rest of her body is a standard cloth doll, of course. 😛

Ursula 2

A second angle so you can see her eyelashes. 😀  It’s funny, though:  I always thought she and the two others like her I have (one of which was technically originally my mother’s) were local in some way, hand-made dolls exclusive to the shop in which we bought them.  Turns out she was made by Applause.  That’s actually pretty disappointing.  (The odd thing is that her tag identified her by some name that utterly didn’t fit her, like “Milicent” or something.  If I saw that tag at the time, I was wise to re-name her.  I checked my other doll, Gretchen, but she didn’t have a tag (as far as I could tell) so I can’t be sure if I even knew they came with names, or if I’d just named them because they were dolls and so they needed names.

???  Is something wrong?

Oh, I’m sorry.  Were you expecting something more like this?

Ursula 3

You know, I thought about using Ursula the Sea Witch for April A-to-Z last year.  (But then I went with something awesome I’d just gotten at an anime convention instead. 😀  )  I had even taken the photos of the supremely, incredibly cool collector’s Ursula doll that Mattel put out…uh…somewhere in the late 1990s?  (Wow, my recall is so complete!)  And then I put a link to a gallery including all my unused April A-to-Z shots at the end of the A-to-Z last year, so I’m assuming that means they’re all off limits by my ludicrous set of personal rules for this year. 😛  So that means I can’t put a picture of that doll in this post.

Ursula 4

Ugh, what was Ursula doing that caused her to smear her lipstick all over the plastic?  Trying to eat her way out of the package?!  (Between that and the horrible residue left by the Tuesday Mornings price tag, there’s not much point to leaving these dolls in the package…except to protect them from the rampant dust in this house.)

Ursula 5

A different angle so you can see more of her face and less of the smeared paint.

BTW, am I the only who thinks the Disney Store should do those cute little toddler dolls of their villainesses as well as their heroines?  (Just in the tiny Kelly-sized versions, though.  The super-sized ones aren’t as cute.)  A chibi baby Ursula would be adorable.  Or maybe that’s just me?  (And a baby Queen of Hearts?  It’s like “just take my money already” just thinking about it!)

Well, that got a bit weird there….but here we are at “U is for Ursula,” which means that April A-to-Z is almost finished!

That means I’ll be back to my own devices again soon.  I’ll hardly know what to post about…er, no, actually, that’s more true on my main blog than it is here. 😛