Like the Shrikebats of Dromedon

Kup in robot mode

Have you ever listened to a military veteran tell stories of a war? Have you ever heard them recount how much the Battle of WhateverTheHeck relates to the current situation? Meet Kup; he’s that guy. On top of that, he’s still an incredibly effective soldier for the Autobot cause, can wrangle Hot Rod, Grimlock, and Wheelie during emergency situations, and still has his Cybertronian alt mode.

Kup in Cybertronian truck mode

Kup taught us all about the Universal Greeting – Bah weep grah nah weep ninibong. He helps the Autobots make it through Optimus Prime’s death, and helps Hod Rod on his journey to becoming Rodimus Prime. Yes, he did it through nagging and war stories, but he did it!

Maybe I should write something about the toy.

Both the Cybertronian truck mode and the robot mode are incredibly accurate to the 1986 Transformers movie. The joints are tight enough to keep a pose, but loose enough to be posed in the first place. The toy comes with both Kup’s gun and the energon dispenser that he uses in combination with the Universal Greeting.

I was quite happy to add this Studio Series Kup to my collection, and doubly impressed with the continued accuracy of the Studio Series figues.

Animated Soundwave

Animated Soundwave in robot mode

There is a Transformers series that is set in a futuristic Detroit, and that series is Transformers: Animated. The art style is less realistic than many, and the story is definitely targeted to a younger audience. The human friend of the Autobots, Sari, is actually both competent and relatable to the target audience. I really enjoyed the Easter eggs and one-shot callback characters that appear throughout.

Unlike in most of the Transformers timelines, in this one, Soundwave doesn’t begin as a Decepticon. He begins as a robot toy of Sari’s, and begins to develop into a full-fledged transformer after coming into contact with a shard of the Allspark. This sort of process can be seen in later shows and movies, like the first Bayverse live-action movie.

Animated Soundwave in vehicle mode

As per usual, Soundwave is accompanied by his mini-con/drone/whatever, Laserbeak. And this time around, Soundwave turns into something akin to a Scion xB, while Laserbeak turns into a flying V electric guitar. There’s also an “electrostatic” version of the toy, with a dark gray and red color scheme rather than blue, and Ratbat as a keytar rather than Laserbeak. In the secondary market, this version is much harder to come by, despite any and all whining I may have done.

This is the second iteration of this toy that I’ve owned, and both have had extremely loose knees (much like me). That makes posing a lot more difficult than it could be, but not impossible. I’m very happy to have this one back in my collection, and am now on the lookout for a copy of the Animated series to add to my DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

Satisfaction guaranteed. Or your money back!

Junkheap in motorcycle mode

While Wreck-Gar is the most well-known of the Junkions, he is most certainly not the only one. Meet Junkheap, also known as Junkyard. You can see him (actually several of him) following Wreck-Gar into battle in the 1986 film. In some of the later episodes of the G1 show, he is a merchant and trader. But, Skippy, you might ask, why did you purchase a Studio Series figure for a character that barely gets any screen time in the movie?

Junkheap in robot mode

Is it because the Planet of Junk and its inhabitants are the pinnacle of re-use? Nope. It’s because I needed a motorcycle for Wreck-Gar to ride. One of the coolest parts of the Junkions’ transformations is that they are designed to ride each other, rather than being designed for much smaller creatures, like humans. And so, Wreck-Gar wouldn’t REALLY be complete without something… er… someone to ride. It is worth noting that Junkheap is not just a repaint. The toy keeps to the idea that the Junkions are made of random, but similar, junk. Every piece of him is different than Wreck-Gar, despite their very similar general construction and vehicle modes. Getting the motorcycle mode to clip together just right is a bit finicky, though. Definitely a bit more difficult to transform than his compatriot.

Akira pose wreck-gar among his friends

I mentioned all of this to MonkeyLinkMega, and he suggested – no, he demanded – that I pose him like the motorcycle pose in Akira. Well, I couldn’t very well deny such a brilliant request, could I? So here you have it. Wreck-Gar, riding Junkheap, in the same pose as Kaneda and his bike. They’re surrounded by Studio Series ’86 Kup and Perceptor.

Rhinox, Maximize!

Rhinox in robot mode

Studio Series Beast Wars? That’s a joke, right? There’s no way they’d actually attempt show-accurate toys after the travesty that was…

Well hot damn, they did. Aside from Optimus Primal, Rhinox was my favorite Beast Wars character. He’s stocky. He moves with purpose and consideration of what’s around him, because of his size and weight. He’s a tinkerer, an engineer, and prefers to consider his options, in contrast to some of his hot-headed compatriots. But once he’s pushed to action? Watch out! Those twin chain guns come out and before you know it, pieces of Predacon are everywhere.

The first thing that I noticed was that in order to have both a show-accurate robot mode AND a show-accurate rhino mode, they had to sacrifice a show-accurate transformation. The rhino’s jaw does not open wide and fold down over his chest and back. The proportions just don’t work without extra CGI magic. The transformation is pretty complex, but the instructions are just clear enough to get me through.

Rhinox in rhino mode

The rhino mode is accurate, but limited in poseability. I mean, it’s a rhino. I wasn’t expecting anything else. On the other hand, the robot mode really impressed me. I expected all sorts of bits of shell to restrict movement, but there isn’t any.

Take that, Big Convoy!

I do wish the chain guns were a more show-accurate size, but I’m thankful that they got the look spot-on from the front. I would probably have bought this at full price, but I picked it up on sale with Kup and Perceptor. Overall, this figure is a win!

Animated Wallpaper on Linux Mint 21.1

The one thing Monkey, my youngest son, wanted from his move from Windows to Linux was animated wallpaper. I’m not quite sure how that idea came about, but I told him that I’d try.

The thing is, he knows what kind of time scale I work on. So, armed with a fresh Linux install, he decided to try and add this functionality himself. He successfully installed Komorebi from the command line (hell yes!), but it ended up being buggy and not playing well with Cinnamon. I was able to manually uninstall it, and went back to searching.

After a while of coming up with nothing, I tried Komorebi again, this time from a .deb package. Unfortunately, though I was able to get a little bit farther in configuring it this time around, it still had the same problems as before. Back to the drawing board.

I stumbled across a notice that the newest version of KDE supported animated backgrounds. I did a little research and discovered that this would work on the newest version of Ubuntu, which Linux Mint is based on. Great, let’s do this! There were a few hoops to jump through, but I got KDE installed and running. I’d have to re-work a bunch of the WINE stuff that let him play games, but that was doable. Right-click in the desktop, select change desktop background and… no support for gifs or movs or anything else?

I checked the KDE version, and it was one behind. That didn’t make sense, unless… yup, Linux Mint 21.1 is based on one Ubuntu version back, which does not support the newest version of KDE.

There was some head-desking here. Just some. And then back, once again, to the drawing board.

Eventually, EVENTUALLY, I came upon wallset. It’s command-line only, and it’s all manually configured. Not a problem. Monkey can handle the CLI, especially once I show him how. (Wallset’s github page has very straightforward instructions on usage.) The only drawback is that it doesn’t start on boot. I was using a guide at, which said to do this:

Remember that when you boot into your desktop next time, the live wallpaper will get replaced with your old one. To fix this, you need to configure wallset to run automatically at boot. You can use crontab to do so.

Open the crontab file by typing:

crontab -e

Add the following line at the end of the file, then save and exit:

@reboot env DISPLAY=:0 DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=unix:path=/run/user/1000/bus /usr/local/bin/wallset -V /complete/path/to/video.mp4

While this does work, unfortunately it also re-adds the specific video to Wallset’s queue list. So, rather than just starting it on boot, you’re starting it on boot AND adding to a movie playlist every single time you boot. Instead, I changed the crontab line to this:

@reboot env DISPLAY=:0 DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=unix:path=/run/user/1000/bus /usr/local/bin/wallset -I 1

This will load the first video already in the list. Of course, you can change the 1 to whichever video in the list that you’d like to load. This worked flawlessly. My only caution is that this will tax your video card, so make sure that you have a decent one, and have the proper drivers loaded for it.

I hope this post has been useful!

Myst Online on Linux Mint 21.1

I’ve now installed Myst Online: URU Live on a couple of machines running Linux Mint 21.1. It wasn’t as straightforward as I would have hoped. The below steps worked for me, and I hope they’ll work for you!

Relto Island
  • Open Software Manager, and install Lutris
    • Install the Flatpack version, rather than the Linux Mint package. The latter halts when it tries to run Wine.
  • Confirm via the Software Manager that Wine is installed.
  • Open Lutris
    • Here you will be tempted to use Lutris’ config/installer for the game. Don’t do that. It’ll install, and even launch the game, but the installer hangs before completing, so it never adds the game to the list.
  • Download the game installer from Myst Online’s site.
  • Click on the + button in Lutris to add a game.
    • Select “Install a Windows game from media”
    • Enter the game’s name and click Continue
    • Click Install
    • Make with the clicky on the options you want, then click Install
    • Click the Browse button and navigate to the installation file that you downloaded.
    • Click Continue
  • You will now be kicked into the Windows installer for Myst Online: URU Live. Do the same things you’d do in Windows.
  • When the installation finishes, it will ask you if you want to launch the game. Tell it the same thing you tell those phone calls asking about your car’s extended warranty. Just say no.
  • The installation should complete, and you should now have the game listed in Lutris.
  • Launch the game from Lutris. It will go through all of the updating that is normal during a first launch.
  • Enjoy the 20-year-old MMO!

Google Nest Battery Doorbell screws

Nest Doorbell box

I had a really hard time finding a replacement doorbell wire screw for my new Nest Battery doorbell (Pro edition?) that was installed by ADT. In attempting to get my ancient mechanical doorbell to function with it, I ended up dropping the screw into the landscaping. And since the screw wasn’t magnetic, I knew it was gone forever.

Internet searches led me in a bunch of different directions, because the screws have changed since Google/Alphabet purchased Nest. None of what I found worked. In the end, my leftover computer screws saved the day.

Close-up of back of Nest Doorbell

M.2/NVME stand-offs have a very small screw that goes inside, to lock the M.2 card into place. That screw (NOT the stand-off screw) fit perfectly, and held the wire adapters in place snugly, as shown in the photo.

I hope that someone can use this information, and doesn’t have to go searching and scrounging like I did! Good luck!


Perceptor toy in microscope mode

I’m not sure if you all know this, but I’ve always been a big nerd. Always. School was pretty easy for me, I was always in advanced or accelerated classes, and teachers constantly chose me for leadership positions amongst my peers. Surprisingly, I didn’t really want for friends growing up, either.

In any case, when my favorite cartoon introduced a character who was smart, analytical, and mostly pacifist, I felt seen, as they say. I felt like Perceptor GOT me… despite being a fictional transforming and mass-shifting robot from outer space. You know, the usual.

Perceptor toy in robot mode

When the Studio Series ’86 toy line came out with a Perceptor toy, and it went on sale, I jumped on it. After transforming it a few times, and playing with it a little, I have NOT been disappointed. The only joints that are a little loose are the mid-thigh joints for the microscope mode, and it’s nothing that a little pose adjustment can’t fix.

The toy comes with a pretty generic blaster, but one that can peg into his microscope mode for storage. There’s nearly no kibble, just like the original toy. The microscope’s light/mirror doesn’t move separately from the tray any more, but I remember that being – at least on my toy – a serious loose joint.

So, let’s sum up. Scientist character that I can relate to? Check. Nostalgia button? Pressed. Increased overall pose-ability and detail from the original toy? Definitely. Still true to the original? Without a doubt.