Random Thoughts IX

I am old and the mind wanders when it gets old. Thus, this is the post in which I write about various random things.

The Amiami Hostage Situation
I have a bad tendency to procrastinate, which got me in a great deal of trouble when I was in school. It continues to do me no favors because I often waffle for a while before ordering figures, and sometimes preorders close before I make a decision. So it was with several recently-released figures, which I waffled on, and when I decided to get them, they were sold out at Hobby Search. I ordered them from Amiami instead, and I was happy to see that three figures that I ordered were released this month. However, they mysteriously combined my order for Kotobukiya’s Blanc Neige with my order for Alphamax’s Senhime, which I didn’t ask them to do. Last week, Amazon JP listed Senhime as an October release, so I e-mailed Amiami asking them to combine my orders for the three in-stock figures and ship them together. They did so, and they also added Senhime to that order, which means my three in-stock figures are being held hostage from shipping by this figure that I don’t even really want anymore. I’m hoping they read my next request to ship the in-stock items with a bit more attention to what I am actually asking, and I think I’m going to stick to Hobby Search for figure orders. They charge a little more but at least getting orders recombined isn’t a hassle.

Breaking the Miku moratorium

I am tired of seeing Miku. This doesn’t explain why I’ve preordered Miku Append. And it also doesn’t explain why I’m thinking of ordering this figure. I had no intention of even considering Good Smile Company’s Love Is War version of the little green-haired computer program but I’ve reconsidered. The figure looks nice; Miku’s standard design is straightforward generic moe but this version features a more mature look, which I appreciate. And the less-elaborate version is pretty cheap. Now what I’m really thinking about is the base that comes with that one Real Art Project figure. I’ve been thinking of constructing something similar, but I was not sure if any of the figures I’ve ordered would be a good match for it. And now here we have Miku, arms flailing around. Bent over and ass out, mouth wide open, screaming. I think a plan presents itself. I hope that megaphone is removable.

Jeebus bless the Chinese
No, not for the recently-unveiled Martin Luther King, Jr. statue, which reminds me of some of those Soviet-era statues of Lenin and Stalin, if you ask me. What’s great about the Chinese is all the cheap stuff they sell, particularly camera stuff. Camera accessories can be quite expensive but there are all sorts of cheap things on eBay – sync cords, shutter releases, flashes, modifiers, adapters, and so on. I recently picked up some stuff from some Chinese sellers, including these microfiber cleaning cloths.

The “Super Cloth” is a great product, but I admit to having some doubts that it can clean “dead electricity” off the front elements of my lenses. I also like the suggested product usage; the first picture shows eyeglasses, which is certainly appropriate, since I do use this cloth to wipe my glasses. They also show a notebook computer and camera, and I can believe one could use the Super Cloth to clean off their screens. Then the last picture is of a BMW. Somehow I find it very difficult to believe anybody’s going to be wiping down an automobile with this product.

Football season is almost here
I’m barely out of basketball mode. I’m not ready at all for my fantasy draft – I pick eighth out of twelve teams and I have no clue who I should take. I’m also certain my school is going to get blown away by a I-AA team this weekend; after all, they kicked our ass two years ago, and none of the seniors on the team have ever beaten Duke. In football. God, we’re pathetic. It’s so depressing to know your team is doomed before the season even begins.

I was hoping Yamato would restock vmf50 Type D body parts so I could buy an extra torso to pierce Simone’s nipples and give her a nipple chain, but sadly, they have not done so.

Yes, I bought a new camera. What did I get? A 5D Mark II? An M9? Nope, I bought this:

Uhh … this is a camera?

Yep, this is a camera! It’s a Polaroid SX-70. Back when I was a kid, some of my relatives from Hawaii visited my family and brought along a Polaroid camera. I thought it was one of the coolest things ever (I was a really dumb kid; I thought Nintendo’s Power Pad was pretty cool, too). Since everybody shoots digital these days, Polaroid cameras aren’t too expensive on eBay. Unfortunately, film is extremely expensive since Polaroid doesn’t make it anymore. I bought a few packs of film from The Impossible Project and I have mixed feelings about it. If you don’t know their story, some Polaroid employees purchased Polaroid’s factory and machinery and re-engineered the film. It takes a great deal of ambition and conviction to attempt something like this, being that a famous international corporation like Polaroid couldn’t pull it off (and went bankrupt twice in recent times). On the other hand, the film quality isn’t very good and at about $25 for eight shots, it’s really, really expensive.

So I’m not sure how much I’m going to use this camera, since I have to carefully ration my film. What I’m thinking now is I might just look for a cheap 35mm film camera and see if it’s any fun to use. Yeah, I know it’s a dumb idea. Hey, I’ve shot off a lot of digital photographs over the last few years, so I think it’s okay if I pursue dumb ideas.

From the Five-Years-Late-Department

I picked up Oblivion a few weeks back, which explains why I have no figure review prepared. I bought it when it was released on the Xbox 360 but couldn’t play it because it made me terribly ill. I’m not sure what it is with Bethesda’s games, but all their games from Battlespire to Oblivion have given me motion sickness. However, I was happy to learn that Oblivion isn’t too debilitating if I play it in first-person mode. So I’m playing through it now and it’s a lot of fun. Here’s what my character looks like:

I’m not really digging the advancement system much. Whenever a level system requires you to minimize your major skill usage to prevent uncontrolled leveling, you know your system is not thought out very well. I ran around the countryside doing side quests before I began the main quest at level 21, and then got slaughtered by a horde of angry demons. I suppose it’s just as well. Back to doing figure pictures, then.

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12 Responses to Random Thoughts IX

  1. Shashin says:

    Interesting bit of thoughts, so the Amiami situation is particularly weird. My best guess is as you put, I imagine they have a lot of people who preorder a figure and don’t pay when it comes time to do so, so they’ll try to pack it in with in stock figure you purchase, if they can. It really does amount to hostage taking and is basically “follow through with this or you’re not getting these figures you can’t find elsewhere.” Hopefully they’ll be able to ship your stuff out sooner than later, though.

    Will definitely be interested to see what you end up doing with the Miku figure. I might order it myself, though I’ve been holding off on figures for the most part. I was going to order it from E2046, but was really put off by the crappy base; the promotional shots they had were definitely the highlight of it and the base was definitely a part of the figure. The only figure I have on preorder now is the Alter purple haired girl with the hammer; she has such a cute butt.

    On an unrelated note, I’m a little peeved with SMJ right now. I had several invoices I needed to pay off that amounted to a fairly decent sum of money. A couple of them were due, with the others having between a 7-10 days before they were due. I emailed them asking to pay off the two that were due and they charged the full amount of all my invoices; came fairly close to hitting my credit limit. Oh well, I guess I’ll be able to request shipment all the sooner, but it still pisses me off.

    And on Oblivion, that’s another major thing I forgot about. The enemies scale with your level until about 25, I want to say. So you’ll always be faced with a “challenge” and downright screwed if you decided to take a worthless skill that’s easy to powerlevel but doesn’t offer any combat advantages. I much prefer a system that has a relatively linear (a little bit of scaling wouldn’t bother me) progression; if you enter this cave at level 1, you can expect to get your ass kicked in.

    • Tier says:

      Happily Amiami has responded to my (second) request to ship my in-stock stuff today, so at least I’ll get my figures soon. It’s sort of annoying that they didn’t spin off Senhime into her own order though since I knew she was going to get delayed last week, but I guess I should just be happy that the exchange rate hasn’t fluctuated much in that time. I’m kinda expecting it to crash through 70 yen to the dollar any week now.

      Speaking of Amiami, I’m happy to see that they are selling the Seikon no Qwaser dakimakura covers that I think were sold at C80. I preordered the Teresa Beria one; it’s a shame nobody of significance is making Qwaser figures.

      Yeah, the Samurai Girls figure is really cute. I did not watch the show long enough to learn anything about Naoe, though I vaguely remember that she appeared in a tentacle-themed episode. I’m gonna order the figure from Hobby Search.

      Yikes, I guess that’s one reason for me to be happy that I still pay off my SMJ stuff by Paypal (though if I bought enough stuff to max out my card, I’d be dangerously close to blowing my savings). I paid off the Carnelian pillowcase and it’s on its way to their US warehouse, so I’m glad that that auction went without a hitch. In retrospect, I do not know if that pillowcase was worth the money, but then again, there’s nearly nothing in my collection that could be justified as worth the money.

      Mildly funny story about Oblivion today; so I think I’m level 24 or so and I decide to wrap up the Arena fights. I had a great deal of difficulty fighting the three Yellow Team fighters in the championship match (basically they kicked my ass without me doing much damage to even one of their fighters) but I wanted to see how strong they were. So the fight starts and the boar Porkchop basically goes to town on all of them while I run laps around the arena like a coward. I think he killed two of them pretty much by himself while I got beat on and spammed heals on myself.

  2. Fabienne says:

    Tier, your figma posing is cool, the first picture made me laugh XD
    Well and I was surprised that you own these characters, the small Nozomi is so cute

    Oh that shipping misunderstanding must have sucked, but I’ve read its already solved,
    I never combine figure orders because of the annoying customs fees here in germany.

    This Miku figure looks like punk rock, but after I heard the Love Is War song on youtube, I had to laugh about the squeaky voice ^^ I don’t get the popularity of these vocaloid songs.
    Anyway Im looking forward to see your “machine of joy”, you have some time before her release date šŸ˜‰

    The polaroid camera looks neat like a small robot. Can you adjust some settings with it?
    I tried to use an analog 35 mm minolta camera 2 years ago but after I already failed at inserting the film correctly *lol* and destroyed my first pictures as well, I sold it in the end. Albeit it was nice that there werre many nice lenses for a cheap price šŸ˜‰

    • Tier says:

      I picked them up sort of on a whim when they were on sale at Hobby Search; I actually wanted Izumi more because I liked your review of her but she wasn’t on sale and I forgot to add her to my cart. It’s all good though because I’ll just get her PVC figure later on.

      Haha, yeah, I don’t really like the Vocaloid voices all that much. I love the idea and the creativity, effort, and ingenuity people put into making the songs and videos themselves, but it doesn’t seem like the voice synthesis software is up to par yet. I’m looking forward to hearing what people make a few years down the line though, since I assume it’ll keep getting better.

      Machine of joy! That is a great name for it. I’m going to have to sketch out some ideas. Maybe hit up Google Images for inspiration, too.

      There’s only a couple of settings on the SX-70; you have a small amount of exposure compensation via a dial that is marked black or white, and you also focus manually. I really like the split-screen prism in the viewfinder; I wish I could drop one in my camera but it isn’t easy to drop replacement screens into my camera.

      That was pretty much my experience with film as a kid XD My dad loaned me his 35mm camera (some kind of Canon point-and-shoot, I think) back when I went on school or Boy Scout camping trips and I was always deathly afraid of changing film, since I think I accidentally exposed a roll of used film before. So I always rationed out my shots so I wouldn’t have to change film. Hopefully my next experience with film is better XD

  3. Asa says:

    As far as I’ve experienced (I buy all of my figures from Ami) they either ship individually, or combine an entire month’s releases together. Delays can result in huge (and expensive) boxes.

    CM’s Horo I ordered came out really early in August, but my other August order came out on the 31st, so I was sitting twiddling my thumbs waiting all month for them. Woe is me. But at least they’re paid for and shipped now. I’m tempted to go back to individual shipping just so I get my figures ASAP, and I’m not entirely sure it’s actually that much cheaper, given combined fees of late. I’m just going to wait out the rest of the year, as I’m cutting back on figure spending after my current preorder list is cleared.

    Oh, and I loved polaroids in my youth. Even back then the film was relatively expensive, it’d be dreadful now it’s rare and unusual. The polaroid camera was also one of Stephen Fry’s top 100 gadgets (a recent “documentary” worth watching for any geeky person). It brought back a lot of memories, but honestly I’m much happier with digital cameras in the modern age. ^^;

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, the shipping fee on the three figures I ordered from Amiami was around 5,000 yen. If they shipped individually, I would guess two would’ve cost maybe 1,800 or 2,400 yen to ship each, as they were small 1/8 scale figures, and the third probably would’ve cost 3,200 yen. So I guess I saved 3,000 yen, which is certainly worthwhile, but not an enormous amount. I’m actually thinking I might be ordering more stuff from US retailers, particularly Kotobukiya figures, since some of them are pretty cheap.

      Polaroid cameras are tons of fun and I remember thinking it was magical when I was a kid. It still seems magical, but now I’m also thinking that each shot is costing me nearly four bucks, and that deflates my enthusiasm a lot.

      Yeah, I have the feeling that my experimentation with film is going to be very short-lived. It’s kinda like me and manual-focus lenses; every shot on this site before around March 2010 was taken using manual focus, so I don’t mind having to do it, but in the end, autofocus is a helluva lot more convenient. I rented a Zeiss 35mm lens the other year just to see what it was like, and while it was a nice lens, the lack of autofocus was too big of a problem to ignore. In the end, I liked the aesthetic of manual focus rather than manual focus in actual practice.

  4. Chag says:

    Fun with figmas! It’s good to see you messing about with those. Speaking of which, have you given more thought to the Choo idea you had a while back? Seeing Aya chasing down the green-haired chick reminded me of that. A lot of fun can be had with blindfolds and swords.

    Oh LiW Miku — even with a megaphone, no one is going to hear your scream in Tier’s dungeon.

    • Tier says:

      I did, and I don’t think I’m going to do it unless I can get the Figma for cheap. When the exchange rate fell through 80 yen to the dollar, it triggered this psychological thing where I’m more cautious about the frivolous stuff I buy (and yeah, I would agree that one could argue all the stuff I buy is frivolous). Forty bucks is a lot of money to spend on something that I’d really only use for one shot. Though I do check Mandarake every now and then just to see if it’s up there for cheap <.< God, I'm liking this idea more and more. Who would've thought that two Miku Hatsune figures would be among the figures I am anticipating the most now?

  5. BioToxic says:

    Glad to hear you got your order sorted out with Amiami. I’ve only had them combine my order once, and that was not long after they first opened their English store. Although I have had them ask for payment of 3 orders in 1 day. Would have been nice to combine them for me no xD?

    The core leveling mechanics of Oblivion are severely flawed I’d say. It’s not until you fully understand the leveling system that the game feels balanced, which by then it’s too late. My first playthrough involved Summon Monster -> go Invisible -> repeat. I reckon Bethesda fixed it somewhat for Fallout 3, although it’s still far from perfect. You go from balanced to over-powered in that game, but at least you don’t have to worry about missing stats. Despite it’s flaws though Oblivion is an awesome game that I still enjoy playing it to date. Can’t wait for Skyrim.

    Oddly enough I’ve found myself playing loads more games recently that I usually do. Maybe it’s because I’m watching less anime. Borderlands is probably the one consuming most of my time at the moment.

    • Tier says:

      It would have! I did have a couple orders with Hobby Search that shipped just a couple of days apart, and I guess that’s one instance where Amiami’s unsolicited order recombination would’ve been pretty helpful, since I think the shipping cost was like 3,200 yen for each order.

      Yeah, that’s pretty much the experience I am having. My character felt absurdly weak at the lower levels (I didn’t know what I was doing when I created her so I picked the hardcoded Nightblade class), so much so that I played it like I played EverQuest; I’d try to isolate one monster, kill it before getting killed myself, and then stand around for a while regenerating magicka before looking for the next mob. Then I figured out how the advancement system worked, and then I found out that custom drain health spells combined with weakness spells are really, really overpowered, and now the game feels too easy. It’s still a ton of fun, though; the game design needed some additional thought but the amount of content in the game is incredible – particularly for the $30 price tag I paid.

  6. Cantan says:

    Random thought…
    do you think figure makers will be tending towards more articulated and posable figures a bit like Figmas and your favourite Nendroids?

    Got Megahouse’s Liliana last week and with a choice of 2 heads, 2 weapons, 8 arms, removable jacket, bustier and skirt and replacement nipple covers, it may be the start of a new trend… just as long as they don’t have Figma style joints!

    Incidentally, I’ve never had issues with Amiami in terms of them despatching goods (have got at least a dozen figures from them). Just wish they would adopt Otacute’s custom declaration policy – reduces my costs significantly!

    • Tier says:

      I am not certain; I had thought GSC would go that way but they’ve done a ton of really nice PVC figures this year, and they have quite a few more on tap. Alter’s KOS-MOS action figure seems to have gotten a tepid response. Kaiyodo seems to be the only maker I know of that’s dumped their scale-size stuff for action figures. The curious trend I’ve noted is that it’s gotten very easy to predict which series will get a ton of figures. It’s not too surprising – from what I understand, merchandise licensing is a significant money-maker for anime studios – but it’s kinda regrettable, since you used to see Alter and GSC make a bunch of figures from random h-games that you’d never heard of. Nowadays, you can pretty much predict that Alter’s going to be making more Strike Witches and swimsuit Nanoha stuff and Good Smile Company will be making more Vocaloid and BRS stuff.

      That’s actually one of the things that scares me off from buying MegaHouse’s Queen’s Blade figures. I got Aldra and I couldn’t figure out how the heck to disassemble her to remove all her plastic wrap. It took me a while to figure it out and I lost a bunch of her parts over time, so she’s probably not going to be getting reviewed any time soon. I don’t know if I even added her to my collection list on Tsuki-board and I usually try to keep that accurate.

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