Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Loot Day: Good Smile Misaka Mikoto & Nintendo Game & Watch Octopus

Today's new arrivals: a debatably 1/8 scale figure of Misaka Mikoto from To Aru Kagaku no Railgun and a new Game & Watch: Octopus!

Let's start with Misaka Misaka, shall we? Now, supposedly this figure is 1/8 scale, and I know that Biribiri isn't exactly a big girl, but this figure is small. But I can forgive this due to the fact that she is on par with the Good Smile level of quality we've all come to expect. She's well-detailed, shaded well with definition and details in the right places. She's got a really cool (static) pose and the expression on her face definitely reflects her personality from the anime/manga.
Even in the closeups I did, I couldn't find seams or mistakes - Misaka is well-crafted. She also comes with an extra arm that can hold the "iron sand sword" that is included. (Apparently this is in the anime, I have yet to see this episode, I've only seen a few eps of Railgun so far)

Octopus is one of Nintendo's earlier Game & Watches. Part of the Wide Screen Series, it has the same gold body as the other Wide Screen games. This was an eBay purchase, complete with box & instructions. The instructions are in great shape, but the box is beat to hell. (which, I could really care less about, I like the games, I'll take the box/instructions if I can get them, but a game in good shape is always more important to me)

The premise of Octopus is, you're in control of 3 divers (your number of lives) in a boat diving for treasure with a giant octopus (get it?!) in your way. The tentacles of said octopus move back and forth and you have to guide your divers between the ascending & descending tentacles to loot the treasure chest below. You go back and forth, dodging tentacles, getting treasure, heading back to the boat to offload your booty, rinse, repeat. A simplistic game, typical of the early series. (See Also: Ball, Vermin, Fire)

As for the game itself, the condition is pretty good. A scratch here & there, but overall in nice shape.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ridiculousness At Auction

Earlier in the day I swore I wasn't going to talk about this and I was going to put it completely out of my head. How quickly my resolve weakened. I tend to dwell on things, so I was trying not to with this matter - and this matter was a fairly large one to come along in a while for me.

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, (all 2 of you, lol) you know that I use eBay, but I'm definitely no fan of eBay. If I could obtain Game & Watches anywhere else easily, or sell things to a large audience with greater ease, I would. But for right now, there's no real alternative. Paypal pretty much sucks, too. Their "umbrella" of security isn't bad, but their policies - and greed - are ridiculous.

My hobbies work in cycles, I get (back) into something, get bored, move on to something else I'm interested in, etc. Gaming to anime to Game & Watches/LCD games to cute mascot goods to quirky gadgets, etc. This is horrible when you collect things, because then you tend to run out of space quickly, due to the sheer number of different things you collect. (Which is why it took me 2+ years to gut my gaming inventory) Sometime in the last 2 months or so I wound up getting back into Game & Watch collecting, eventually buying more in a short period of time than I ever had before.

I won't bore with the details, but suffice it to say that since I collected in fits & starts - and when ebay had a much smaller user base which meant less auctions overall - I think I had a misconception of what was "rare" and what was not. So that meant that this time I jumped on a few games I thought were rare that kinda weren't. Seeing the Crystal Screen Series of games on eBay for the longest time, priced at $500-$2000 a piece, usually new, seeing one unboxed (used) & therefore, cheaper, I wanted to jump on the chance to get one without taking out a loan.

Though the auction was listed as being in Hong Kong & the seller in Singapore raised some red flags, they were a "registered business seller", had over 2000 positive feedback, published their address on the page, etc. Moreover, the pictures weren't generic stock photos, they looked genuine, taken just for that item and the description wasn't in horrid English, i.e. - it had no earmarks of a scam/bootleg/whatever, auction. Which, was the biggest selling point, "This game would be nearly impossible (and not financially feasible) to bootleg or counterfeit, so why the hell not bid on it?"

So I bid on this auction and won. I was fairly excited, I snagged a Crystal Screen Game & Watch for only $135! I paid immediately, and just as soon afterward I received an e-mail with the tracking number that was in the system about 48 hours later, just like any other package I'd tracked before. I had no real reason to be suspicious. Except, a few days later, while cruising the same search I always do, I found the exact same pictures and description for the same auction, by the same seller - only this one had a Buy It Now price $100 higher than the one I had bought. Then I noticed something else, the tracking number ended with a 'CN', indicating China being the originating post, not Hong Kong. All sorts of red flags were now popping up. I could just see in my head either an empty package, something broken or something completely different showing up in the mail.

My suspicion was that either a) the seller never had the Game & Watch in their possession to begin with & just took a picture of someone else's or something to scam online or b) they didn't get what they wanted, neglected to put a reserve price on it & decided they didn't want to "be out" $100 or more, whatever they expected to get out of this, and sent the wrong thing intentionally, like "oops, sorry."

At any rate, it took almost a month for me to receive my package and I finally got the slip to come pick it up at the post office, in the mail. Upon picking it up, I noticed the package was fairly round and cushy. (which, if you've ever ordered anything from HK is insane because those sellers usually wrap whatever in paper, without bubble wrap or packing material of any sort, and send it off "bare". If they could get away with writing directly on the item, they would.) So I sign for it, get to the car, and my curiosity overwhelms me & I open it. I neglected to look at the customs tag before doing so, and after looking inside and seeing not what I had paid for, notice a declaration for "$10 Shorts". And sure enough, what was inside were 2 pairs of the ugliest briefs I've ever seen that I would never wear even if I had nothing else to wear in my life.

So now what to do? Naturally, most people would go screaming to Paypal to get their money back. I was trying to consider my options before I did this. "Why", you ask? I know Paypal's/eBay's game very well at this point, and the core of it is what pisses me off. They come off on this pretense that, "The community makes us what we are, without the community, we'd have nothing," which is fairly amazing because they treat that community like crap by way of fee hikes the MORE business they do and abide scammers because scammers add to their bottom line! Who cares if you or I got a $10 pair of cheap Chinese knockoff knickers instead of the $150 game we paid for? eBay got their cut, Paypal got theirs, and what's better is that they got the fees on $150! Woo! It's xmas everyday for them! In fact, scammers generally make MORE money for them, because chances are they're doing more volume tricking people into buying bootleg products. If you've spent any amount of time on eBay, you've probably noticed that every Hong Kong/Chinese seller has about 20000 feedback.

And, if I want my money back now, I have to return the item, because this smart scammer had the foresight to force "Registration" on me, so it's tracked & recorded that I received something in the mail. Even filing a 'SNAD' (significantly not as described) complaint with Paypal in what amounts to - under scrutiny - almost obvious fraud, I still have to play nice with the scammer. Which is incomprehensible to me.

The thing that really frosts my ass - as well as why I'm writing this - is because I have had multiple claims by liars and scammers that have had to send back nothing, because they claimed they received nothing (and every time it was remarked that they had, "tried to message seller multiple times!" when I had not received word one from them. If they lie, then I can only assume that they're scamming by filing a false report). So not only did I pay for their item, I paid to SEND them their item as well. So now I've officially been scammed on both ends of the spectrum, and I have to pay this pile of human garbage approximately $20 to get my money back. And on top of it all, I have to wait until the item reaches them, which will probably be another 20-25 days. Aaaaaaand another who-knows-how-many for Paypal to give me my money back.

Conversely, in the approximately 3 years I've been dealing with Yahoo Japan Auctions, I've never even had someone say so much as a rude word to me. I've had exactly one problem that was a mistake by the seller, they readily admitted it & sent me the one missing capsule figure with their apologies. (Mind you, this was a 1000yen transaction. I didn't get so much as a, "sorry" over a $150 transaction and an item worth less than 10% of what I paid for the item I didn't receive)

So, lesson learned. I will, from now on, buy only from first world countries and stick with just buying from Japan, as far as Asia is concerned.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory!

My first Game & Watch back when I was like 5 or 6 was Mario's Cement Factory, and ever since I can remember I've had an interest in LCD games. I don't know what it was, I just found them to be very neat, the form factor & designs were always such a draw for me. Moreso than the gameplay, anyway. For whatever reason, despite owning a Game & Watch back in the day, (showing that I had some interest in them back then) I never really got that into them, at least not like I am now. I think that might've had something to do with the fact that I was a fickle kid, like most kids, & my interests changed weekly. But more than that, I didn't have quite the spending power I do now, at the ripe old age of 6, lol. Plus, I got an NES Control Deck when I was 7, so, having "real" games kinda made my head turn - because, let's face it - in 1987, something like The Legend of Zelda was effing mind-blowing!

Apparently Nintendo caught on early as to the "traditional" occupations of Italians, because this time around, Mario owns a front for the mob that buries bodies in bridges cement company. It was a simple little game, and along with titles like Rain Shower and Tropical Fish, one of the stranger G&W titles to come down the pike.

You, as Mario (maybe still Jumpman at this point in Nintendo's history), apparently spent all of your money on a cement factory, and that's why you don't have any money to hire anyone to help you run it. Gameplay consists of running back and forth to hoppers full of cement, which are inexplicably 2 tiers, with 2 perpetual lifts running in opposite directions, trying to empty them into waiting bottomless cement trucks below with seemingly angry drivers that never drive anywhere. It's basically an OSHA nightmare, but makes for a cute - if not insipidly monotonous - game. But I buy these games for their aesthetic appeal & design, not for the games themselves, for the most part.

The Tabletop version of Mario's Cement Factory is exactly the same as the New Wide Screen version that I still have nearly 25 years later. The only difference is that the game is in color & is housed in a mini-arcade cabinet-like shell with a mirror/light catcher. These are also the two reasons why I wanted the Tabletop version. The mini-arcade cabinet form factor, to me, is really awesome, and it's a total conversation piece. (All G&Ws are conversation pieces, but these particular versions are instantly recognizable to most, looking like a tiny arcade machine)

The color part is also really neat. Typically, LCD games are black figures on a printed, almost reflective background (like a calculator or watch). The color versions of these games are exactly the opposite. They're static white figures carved in a black background, and then the colors are overlaid so that when the image is reflected in the mirror, through the translucent part in the top of the unit that lets light shine through, the images appear colored. If you look at the top of the shell where the image is generated from, you can see the colors over the images. That's also why you can see little bits of white and overlap on the screen when you're playing. ^^; I think it adds a certain charm to the color versions of the games.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Kidrobot Futurama Collection

I recently got nearly every Kidrobot Futurama figure that I wanted. I started collecting these a month or two ago and I think they were released last year. As with all "art toys" they purposefully have an offset ratio, where a few figures are 1/16 (16 being the number in a case), some that most consider "undesirable" are 2/16 and then there are the "chase figures" which are Sal & Slurms MacKenzie. And then there's the 1/96 Robot Devil going for around $100 on ebay.

I wound up buying 8 blind boxes and amazingly only got one double (2 Nibblers) out of them. But I cheated - after getting the majority of the characters I wanted, as well as the ones I didn't really want so much, I decided to resort to ebay for Dr. Zoidberg (who is supposedly 1/16 ratio, but I, all of my friends and my friend's office never got a-one) and Lrrr. I figured it was more prudent to pay twice the price of a blind box (Zoidberg was $23US & Lrrr was like $17US) to be sure I got the figures I wanted. Plus it balanced out because I got the chase figure I wanted while buying the blind boxes - Slurms. (I actually had to look up who Sal was - even though I had an idea - and I have no idea why they didn't make Hermes or the Professor a figure in lieu of Sal. Really, Sal?!)

Anyway, so here's my lineup. I was going to buy Leela, but I didn't like the sculpt of her face, so I think my collection is complete as it stands, unless someone decides to gift me a Leela. (or Robot Devil =P) I'd say my two luckiest random gets were Slurms and Bender.