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.
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.
Let’s be honest here, my primary motivation to change cell carriers was to save money. I’ve been paying T-Mobile a LOT of money for many, many years. I’ve gotten advertisements for CREDO mobile in the past, and I’ve looked into GoogleFi and Ting. At the time, I was still part of a big family plan, and the other members of the family were not interested in trying out new carriers.
Now, with the divorce coming down the pipe, switching carriers provides both for an easy billing split and an opportunity for me to try something new. Enter Mint Mobile, and their $15 per month plan. It seemed entirely too good to be true, so I did some research.
They’re on T-Mobile’s network. They use pre-paid plans, and after the introductory period (3 months), you need to sign up for a year at a time to get the $15 per month rate. There’s no contract. There’s no brick-and-mortar store. Ryan Reynolds is one of the owners. (I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t cool.) If you want to bring your current phone to their network, they have a compatibility checker so you can know ahead of time if it’ll work. In fact, they encourage it. Mine was fully compatible, despite its age.
So, how is the service, really? I can’t comment on their 5G service or coverage, because my phone doesn’t support it. Their 4G LTE service, on the other hand, is just as stable as T-Mobile was. That’s unsurprising, I guess, because Mint uses T-Mobile’s network. The app they use to make the switch, to track data usage, and to make changes to your plan, is simple, straightforward, and a pleasure to use. Did you hear that? An app! That’s a pleasure for this old guy to use! I might be overstating, but IT IS A MIRACLE! EXCLAMATION POINT!
I’ve nearly completed my first month of service, and I can say that the biggest drain on my data usage is using my phone as a hotspot. When the kids want to DJ from a tablet on a car ride, or when I’m outside the laundromat, the data gets drained pretty quickly. I’m not sure what exceptions were going on with my T-Mobile plan that allowed me to get away with less usage before, but I know they had a few labyrinthine “what actually counts as data usage” rules in place.
Would I recommend this service? Yes, if you’re trying to save money, I definitely recommend it. BUT, be knowledgeable about how much data you’re using beforehand, so you don’t get any surprises. Would I mind upgrading to the next plan up for more data? Not at all, as I’d still be saving a ridiculous amount of money every month in comparison with T-Mobile.
It’s been pretty easy not buying new Transformers lately. I’d like to say that it was an example of willpower, or a flexing of my massive self-control. Or, maybe, I’d diverted my desire to buy toys into a selfless focus on my children. Yeah, I’d like to say all that.
I can’t, though. There simply haven’t been any interesting ones on the shelves lately. Like everything else, it’s likely been impacted by the supply chain difficulties and labor shortage across the board. (And when I say labor shortage, what I mean is that as of today, 718,681 Americans have died of COVID-19 in the past two years. This isn’t politics, this is a fact.) So, when I saw a whole new shipment of toys in my local Meijer, I let myself get a little bit hopeful.
Lo and behold, there were racks of new Transformers on the shelves! Now, we’ve already established that I am pretty picky when it comes to which bits of plastic and die-cast metal I’ll spend my greenbacks on. But when I saw three Studio Series 1986 boxes on the top shelf, I may have startled my kids with and excited squee. MAY HAVE. You can’t prove anything. Meijer had two Sweeps… and a Wreck-Gar.
Cue a second startling of the kids, and an intense debate on whether or not I should spend money on the ONE copy of the figure that I was most excited for in the entire Studio Series line. So, yes, I bought it.
This toy does not disappoint. Its transformation is intuitive enough that I was able to transform from vehicle to robot modes and back without using the instructions the second time around. The detail is amazing. The tires are slightly different sizes, there is a speedometer and tachometer, the handlebars look like handlebars, the gas tank and saddlebags are convincing enough. His spinny axe has a place to stow in vehicle mode, and he’s even got a kickstand that is hidden away perfectly in robot mode. To quote my youngest son, “Dad, there’s no kibble. Like, NONE.”
Joints are plentiful and tight, except for one of the 360 degree waist joints, which is a little too loose. The wheels and the axe fit snugly in all of the places that they’re supposed to. Transformation is smooth, and there are no moments when I feel like I need to break the toy just to get it to do the thing. The wheels roll over carpet and upholstery just fine, though don’t on wood floors and desks. (I, mean, c’mon, off-roading nubs!) Best of all, it’s designed so that if you have two of them, one in robot mode can ride one in motorcycle mode, just like the movie!
I have always been in awe of the Junkions‘ ability to repair themselves and others with nothing but the junk on their planet. As an adult, I’ve definitely come to prefer used things to new, and prefer repairing to replacing. I can’t say that it was directly inspired by Wreck-Gar and his friends, but with the number of times I’ve re-watched that movie, I can’t rule it out, either.
So, right down to the nipple guns, this figure hits all of the nostalgia points, in alphabetical order. It’s a toy of good make and significantly more detail than I’m used to for its price point. I highly recommend it!
I’m not trying to establish my nerd cred here. This is not an assertion of my Transformers Fan Superiority. If it has that effect, fine, I won’t complain. What I’m trying to do here is communicate my ages-old fan status of the Decepticon that was always just a little bit different from his fellow Cybertronians.
This toy, the Cyberverse Deluxe Class Soundwave, met all my nit-picks. It’s well articulated. It’s not top heavy or picky about how the feet are aligned or posed. It looks good in both robot and vehicle modes. There is no overwhelming kibble when in robot mode, and there’s no obvious robot bits in vehicle mode. Laserbeak is not only included, but can still transform into a cartridge (engine?) and fit into Soundwave’s chest. Both modes can be played with!
And let’s not forget, this is a Deluxe class. That’s a $20 USD price point. Not sixty bucks, or even forty. Twenty bucks. It’s pretty dang small, but it’s better than most Soundwave toys that have come out in the last thirty years.
If you find this one in your local store, or online, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re a Soundwave fan.
I haven’t bought any Transformers for about four years. Ultra Magnus was the last, four or so years ago. I’ve resisted, even with some REALLY good figures that have come out. My enthusiasm has been dampened ever since I sold off my entire collection for rent and utility money.
And then this Christmas happened.
This is Shockwave from the Transformers Cyberverse – Battle for Cybertron toy line. It also came with the left leg and foot of a Build-a-Figure for Maccadam, a mysterious bar owner on Cybertron, who features heavily. My kids and their mom bought Shockwave for me for XMas and Yule; they saw it, and immediately thought of how much I’d like it. And I do! The robot mode is definitely my favorite. For such a small figure, it has many points of articulation, and poses very well. The Shockwave look that’s been developed from G1 to now is present, especially in his robot mode. Also, the gun arm is removable, so you can play before the injury, or after, or on whichever arm you want. Also a laser blast that you can attach onto the end of either gun! I’ve never had that before!
I was uncertain about this spider-tank (quad-tank?) mode at first, but it is definitely growing on me. Once the knees and elbows are bent properly, it looks less like a robot doing the crab walk, and more like an actual futuristic walker. And, to be perfectly honest, the laser last looks even better in this mode.
Overall, I’m impressed with the detail, articulation points and angles, paint job, and detail molded right into the plastic. This small USD $20 toy beats out so many past attempts, many of them a lot more expensive, with ease. I am thoroughly impressed.
Thank you to my kids and their mom for this thoughtful and fantastic gift!
Do you have a fictional world that you can always come back to? Something that no matter what, you can re-read, or know that the next book set there will be comforting and like coming home, at the very least.
That’s what the Shannara books are to me. I’ve re-read the first few trilogies several times, and I keep picking up more when I hit the bookstore. I wait to read until I have a complete trilogy or quartet, because when I get going, I don’t want to stop until I’ve digested the whole story.
Believe you me, Terry Brooks is prolific enough for me to be able to do that without worrying if it’ll stop the next one from coming out.
Those are the ones that made the Four Lands feel like home.
I’m on pause now. Don’t give me the side-eye, I’m looking for two more to finish out the quartet. And then, dear reader, AND THEN? I’ll make a trip back to this world and devour that story, and I will be happy.
Hob is my favorite game. It’s a puzzle/action/adventure game with absolutely zero dialogue. That’s right, no text, no voice over, no nothin’. The few characters in the game do communicate, but you’re not let in on it. You explore the world, and you discover that it’s your job to put it back together. To fix the world.
This powerful idea spoke to me immediately. I signed up for the newsletter and eagerly awaited the game’s release. I didn’t even think that as someone who played games on YouTube and Twitch that I could’ve signed up for a free copy. I’m still facepalming over that one. In any case, I immediately purchased the game on release. When Runic Games shuttered weeks later, I picked up as much Hob merch as they offered, in case it disappeared off the face of the net. I streamed it from start to finish, and every time, I bemoaned that my next streaming schedule had the gall to be a whole week away. Oh, how I griped.
Have I convinced you that I love this game? Because I do. It’s a powerful, amazing story that I was immersed in, and invested in. I cared about the main character (I still don’t know if Hob is his name), and about the robot who gave its arm and its guidance.
The end was… problematic. An alien creature had landed on their world, and wanted to become part of it. At being excluded from having representation, it became enraged and sent the entire world into disarray. That’s not the problem. The natives of Hob’s world, including the ruling council, seem to be all male. The alien presence, and the warrior that fights for it, is decidedly female. The difference was obvious and emphasized.
In the end of the game, we discover that the all-male ruling council of this world discriminated against the female alien, who was just as smart and as capable as they were. In response to this injustice, the game creators have this world’s embodiment of femininity throw a giant fit and decide that if she can’t have it, no one can.
To add insult to injury, there are two endings to choose from. You can side with the ruling council, or you can side with the alien. If you side with the council, you destroy the alien, and return the world to its status quo, allowing all of the other (male) citizens of the world to come out of hiding. If you side with the alien, in response to her being the victim of discrimination, you see your robot friend open up another bunker, and the story starts all over.
This ending perpetuates the myth that women are overly emotional. It sets the status quo of an all-male government as the good ending, and the rejection of that as a world-destroying apocalypse. That’s not exaggeration, the main character is putting the world back together from exactly that.
I wish that Runic Games hadn’t closed, so I could ask them why they chose to do that.
Am I going to abandon my love for the game because of a problematic ending? Nope.
Am I going to stop telling people how amazing this game is? Nope.
Am I going to warn them that the ending comes across as anti-woman? You bet I am.
I really should let you know that I own Fringe, in its entirety, on DVD. So… context.
The series starts out with a fairly straight-laced government agent stumbling into/being assigned to some Weird Shit. No, not Dana Scully. Weirder Shit. Turn the dial to seven or so, right off the bat.
Don’t get comfy, though. You remember all that crazy philosophy and pseudo-science you used to dream up with your friends while under the influence of one intoxicant or another? Not only is it real, viable, and provable, it’s vanilla. Try harder. Go deeper. That’s all real too, and not only is the government agent going to subject herself to it to solve this case, but she was subjected to all of it before, as a child. Turn that dial to 11.
We’re not talking Chosen One, but we’re not far off.
Or is the swindler son of the scientist the one that two universes have been waiting for? Is it both? Neither? Or, wait, was my first working theory right after all?
Then, there’s the last season. Not only are all bets off, but there may not have ever been any bets in the first place, because the bets were tallied and paid out ages ago. Just tear the dial off, throw it in the street, and run it over with a car. It was like watching Akira, but harder to make sense of. I want to, though, I want to.
I recommend this show to anyone who doesn’t run screaming the instant I open my mouth about it. WATCH IT.