Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
June 27, 2019
NECA Toys: Some (dis)Assembly Required.
Category: Toys

Don't get me wrong -- NECA makes gorgeous action figures. They're pumping out spectacular-looking releases from properties near and dear to my heart: TMNT, Terminator, Alien/Predator, and Godzilla among them. Heck, I often pick up NECA's pieces even when I'm not familiar with a property. The toys just look that damned good, and I love adding new NECA figures to my collection.

But I really don't understand how anyone but fairly competent customizers (or collectors who never open their figures) can be satisfied with NECA products, since it seems like 8/10 figures require significant attention to fix some problem. Like, even beyond the typical heating of joints required to get a given NECA release moving. (Which, btw, is a thing I can't ever recall having to do with a Playmates TMNT figure. Just saying.) For example, the 1962 Godzilla I recently bought had one of his hip balls glued stuck -- even though it was clearly intended as a point of articulation -- and so I spent a good deal of time prying apart that joint and sanding away the excess glue within and lubricating the joint to ensure smooth motion and then reassembling the figure, all to get it to move how it should have moved right out of the box. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:33 pm | Comments (0)
June 21, 2019
Brief thoughts on the Kashuv controversy
Category: Current Events … Linkage … Serious

So I'd linked the Vox article and included the accompanying text in a couple of places on social media, but I wanted to make sure I had a record of it here in my own space as well. (While I don't expect I have any regular readers these days who'd be inclined to weigh in, feel free to comment if you come across this whenever and have thoughts!) So here's the link to the Vox piece, and here's a Huffington Post article containing screencaps of the comments that have landed him in hot water. My post intended to initiate discussion and/or opinion sharing is below:

I'm curious to hear folks' thoughts on the Kyle Kashuv controversy. (I've included the Vox link because it gives a fairly comprehensive overview of the situation and includes abundant links to further information and assessments, not because of the particular viewpoint expressed here -- though I am in agreement with the author's sentiments about identity politics.)

For my part, I don't have a strong opinion about Harvard's decision -- I wouldn't have been outraged had Kashuv retained his admission, nor am I pleased that his admission was rescinded. Still, I acknowledge the difficult position in which the university was placed and I can imagine why rejecting Kashuv ultimately seemed like the better option. (Among other things -- and barring some demonstrated growth and insight that I haven't gleaned from reading several months of the kid's Twitter feed -- I don't know how favorably his peers would have responded to him on campus. I imagine at best he would have been a decidedly polarizing figure, and I'm not sure a student like that is a positive addition to a campus community.)

In any case, I'm sure Kashuv will be fine in the long run, and I hope that his stated contention to do better wasn't contingent upon the Harvard situation's resolving in his favor.

-posted by Wes | 6:04 am | Comments (0)
June 12, 2019
Turning off Bill Maher

So, not a novel gripe, but I continue to be annoyed with people who decry the rise of "identity politics" when they really mean that they're frustrated at being made to consider issues involving people who are not them.

Another not-novel sentiment: I'm really sick of Bill Maher. I admit that I used to kinda like the dude, and in any case I found his show worthwhile -- I mostly could've done without the "comedy" bits (some did land), but his New Rules weren't entirely lacking in insight and the panel discussions were generally informative exchanges. What I especially liked about Maher there, though, is that he often seemed aware that he was the least informed participant in those conversations and therefore served less as an active interlocutor than a moderator whose goal was to prevent the content from getting too esoteric. He'd say something like, "Whoa, this is a comedy show! A little context for the viewers at home," and then the panel members would explain what they were talking about so that the conversation was more accessible to someone who wasn't a policy wonk or a political insider. Since I was really watching the show for those exchanges -- and since during those moments I sometimes found myself confused (and I generally try to keep abreast of political news) -- I appreciated Maher's input there all the more. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:32 pm | Comments (0)
June 11, 2019
Black Mirror S5 Review

Just my thoughts on the three episodes in Black Mirror Series 5.

E1, "Striking Vipers"

Easily the best episode of the season, and layered enough that continuing to ponder the episode continues to yield further insights. That might in part be that I found the episode particularly relatable in that, when I was an adolescent, my primary activity with my friends was playing video games -- and almost exclusively fighting games, as depicted in this episode. And... that was mostly it. We didn't much talk about anything else and weren't particularly close in terms of our real lives (so in a way it's not terribly surprising that my friends abandoned me so easily when our lives grew to include components besides school and video games), but we'd sit shoulder-to-shoulder going head-to-head in Super Street Fighter II or TMNT Tournament Fighters or Mortal Kombat II or One Must Fall 2097 or Battle Arena Toshinden for hours on end. And it was good. Really good. Like, once you get into a groove with an opponent whose skill effectively mirrors your own -- and whom you've fought enough times to "read" in particular ways, and vice versa -- it's a kind of mutually gratifying contest where every feint and thrust and moan heightens the intensity and brings you closer and to win is to win and to lose is also to win. And while admittedly I haven't had tons of experience with sex -- and at that time I was hardly interested -- I don't think it's an inappropriate metaphor for a really great match between two players who've thoroughly experienced the ins and outs of each other's technique. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 6:46 pm | Comments (0)
June 9, 2019
You keep your cartoon Casey Jones :P
Category: Miscellany … Toys

Time for a random weird complaint post! No, I'm not going to gripe about people calling Raphael "Ralph." ;P

So I spend a lot of time on toy forums where people frequently voice their opinions about the characters they'd like to see made next in various action figure lines... and one of the things that bugs me is the amount of people who so desperately want Casey Jones in NECA's 1987 TMNT cartoon subline. Like, it'd make sense to me for the movie or comic lines -- Casey was hella important in those. It'd make sense to me if they wanted him in a line that took its cues from the vintage toys, since he was among the early releases. It'd make sense to me if they wanted him in a video game line, since he did feature prominently in 2/3 versions of TMNT Tournament Fighters (though he was reduced to a background sprite in the very best version). It'd even make sense if people wanted the 'toon Casey as a stand-in for one of his other incarnations... but that doesn't seem to be the case.

No, it really seems like these collectors legitimately want the cartoon Casey, who showed up in a handful of episodes and (IMHO, obviously) was kinda dumb. They want him more than April or Splinter or Baxter or the Rat King or the Neutrinos or Traag or the Punk Frogs or any of the other characters who featured in more episodes and who were arguably more integral to the TMNT universe (like Irma, Vernon, Burne... even Zach) than the nutjob outlaw hero. So I can't help but groan every time someone expresses a passionate desire for a Casey Jones figure in the Fred Wolf assortment. It's like ugh... did you even watch the cartoon???

Obviously this isn't remotely important, and obviously I'm not seriously angry about it -- it's just toys, and NECA's gonna do what NECA's gonna do (though admittedly I will be even more peeved if these misguided not-fanboys convince NECA to release Casey before April). But I wanted to gripe about it somewhere and I thought y'all might understand. Thanks for reading. XD

-posted by Wes | 4:38 pm | Comments (0)
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