Year Four Retrospective

Tentacle Armada is four years old today. That’s 232 figure and doll reviews, 38 dakimakura cover reviews, and one tentacle stand review. I’m pretty amazed that this site is still around, and that I’ve managed to stick to a fairly consistent posting pattern (six posts per month for the last twelve months). As I provide every 23rd of February, here is the usual anniversary wrapup post where I write about my thoughts regarding the past year and what my plans are going forward.

About the website
The website hasn’t changed too much over the last couple of years; I’m pretty happy with the layout, apart from the way the header image sometimes makes text difficult to read. One thing I did add, and I’m pretty sure nobody cared, was a Google +1 button at the end of posts; I mainly added it because Google Webmaster Tools used to keep track of how many +1s you got, and I’m a shameless whore when it comes to site statistics. (Of course, a week or two after I added the button – and it took me fully half a day of fiddling with the layout to arrive at a design I was happy with – Google pulled that stat out of Webmaster Tools. They said they moved it into Analytics but I’m not sure where it is now.)

The main thing I want to do for the next year is to focus more on providing photography tutorials; I think I’m at a point where I feel comfortable writing about the process of making pictures, and I’ve had some ideas kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years now that I hope to bring to fruition. It’ll also give me something to replace the Eroge Reviews section up on the main menu bar at the top of the page. It’s a barren section of the site; I had hoped to do more of them but I don’t play many ero games and I don’t really think there’s a great way to evaluate visual novels, particularly the ones I would want to play, which tend to focus less on captivating storylines and more on captivating … well, other things.

During this past year, this site received 649,778 visits from 389,848 unique visitors who viewed 3,026,803 pages. Total site stats look like this:

About taking pictures
In previous years, I think the thing that most pleased me about my pictures was the improvement I showed over time. However, I don’t think my pictures improved all that much over this past year, and there aren’t very many that I am truly pleased with. Part of that is due to a lack of ambition, and also, oddly enough, too much ambition – that is, I’ve had a lot of ideas for figures that haven’t yet been implemented just because I’m not sure if I can pull them off, and I’m also not sure whether they would be worth the time. Part of me wants to give full effort to each figure that I photograph, but another part of me thinks that it’d be better to go with a less complicated background to just get the posts done already.

Another thing I don’t do as much of as I used to is experiment with different styles, techniques, and backgrounds. There was a stretch back in 2010 (starting with Senhime and ending with Asuka) where I really did a lot of different experimentation, and that was really important in learning not just about photography, but also the photographic style that I wanted to pursue. I don’t do as much of that now – I haven’t done a lot of messing around with white balance and colored gels as of late, I haven’t put the Lensbaby on my camera in years, and I haven’t done wacky things with postprocessing filters (granted, that last one is something I’ve never had much interest in; for example, you will never, ever see a selectively-colored picture on this site. Unless I decide to do one.). I sort of miss that stuff but on the other hand, one of the things I’m working towards is a greater sense of consistency within my posts. Previously, one could see wildly varying backgrounds and lighting styles in a single post, and it was glaringly obvious that I was just chucking stuff against the proverbial wall hoping to find something that would stick. I much prefer to have a better sense of unity in my pictures, and I think that’s become more apparent over this last year.

One thing I’m not too happy with is the way the picture count has shot up in my reviews. Posts from the early months of this site typically had no more than a dozen or so images, but it’s now typical for each of my posts to have thirty shots or more. This is mainly due to the nominal purpose of this site – I’m ostensibly reviewing figures and that means including certain things that I don’t otherwise care to do, like a series of 360-degree photos to show off the full figure. Typically, I’m hoping to get three good pictures from a shoot: the header, the closer, and the shot that goes above the final summary paragraph. Every photo after that weakens the impact of those shots. However, this site is still a review site, so I don’t see any good way to cut down the shot count. Rather, what I hope to do is to make a series of posts that are oriented around photographic themes rather than evaluating a single figure. I’ve been pretty lazy about this, but I do have ideas. (Man, do I have ideas. It sucks that it’s so hard to bring ideas to life.)

About writing
After writing a couple hundred figure reviews, one would think that I should have this down to a routine. Actually, writing reviews feels like it’s becoming harder; there’ve been a lot of times where I’ve been tempted to simply write, “I know none y’all are gonna read this so just look at the pictures.” Part of this is my own fault; I typically write about what I like in a figure (being that I buy all of my figures myself, I obviously try not to buy figures that I dislike) but there are some times where I buy a figure for completionist purposes or because I liked it at one point but am no longer as fond of it, and thus writing about it feels desultory. Nuance and subtext tend to not come across too well in writing, particularly on the Internet, where attention spans last no longer than the time needed to click a mouse button, but I have the sense that it’s easy to tell when I’m more enthusiastic about a figure just by observing how much I write.

Going forward
Aside from writing more about figure photography in general, I don’t think I plan on changing too much. Indeed, I’m pretty busy just keeping up with reviews, which is mostly a hopeless affair, but I’m trying anyway. Four years is a pretty long time to keep up with anything, particularly a website, being that most figure websites seem to fizzle out after a year or two, and while I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this one going, I’m still having a lot of fun with it and I have no plan to stop anytime soon.

This entry was posted in Random Thoughts and tagged .

65 Responses to Year Four Retrospective

  1. Asa says:

    Well, firstly, happy birthday TA, once again. It’s been a good year, I think.

    And of what you said, I am most inclined to comment about your writing; I read your reviews, because of your unique writing style, and your outlook on things. I don’t like reviews that are just all photos, with maybe a few “technical” comments. All bland and clinical is dull. I enjoy the way you write, particularly giving information on the background of the character/source and why you chose this particular figure of them.

    That said, I would certainly appreciate more technique posts, as I have liked all of your past ones. Definitely need more of those. But please do keep writing. If you can’t do as many posts as you want to, that doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about schedules, post good content, what you want to do, when you can. That’s the main thing.

    Thanks for another great year of wonderful shots, and generally amusing and intelligent commentary.

    • Tier says:

      That is good to hear; I sometimes wonder if I spend more time on the writing than I should, but it sounds like I should keep doing things the way that I do them.

      There will definitely be more technical posts; in fact, there ought to be a few coming up really shortly. I sometimes get some questions about how to get started with taking pictures and I’m planning on writing some posts addressing that topic, since just getting past the point of being clueless is one of the toughest things to do. I know it took me months, probably twelve or sixteen months, actually, just to feel like I was getting someplace. Hopefully these upcoming posts will help people get past that intro stage a little more quickly.

  2. Afreet220 says:

    “I’m still having a lot of fun with it and I have no plan to stop anytime soon.”

    So great to hear that. And I’m proud to say when I type t in my url address Tantacle Armada is the very first to pops up on all my computing devices in these three years.

  3. Kyzel says:

    Congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment to keep up 4 years of blogging! That said, remember to take a break or two when you feel it’s not just a hobby anymore, otherwise, it just becomes a stressful project. While I’ve only lurked around for less than 2 years, I do like the way you write and review your stuff, so much so that I’ve been convinced a few times to buy that subject-in-review (bad for wallet)! So keep up the good work Tier, definitely enjoyable reads and… pretty pictures!

    • Tier says:

      Indeed! I’ve mentioned a few times in the comments here that I started playing Warcraft again a few months ago, and while playing any MMO is generally a huge waste of time, I think it’s actually beneficial to me because it gives me something else to obsess over. Previous to that, I was obsessing over this website to such a degree that I think burnout was definitely on the horizon. Now, I’m sure I will burn out on the MMO at some point and I will thus refocus on this website, refreshed and reinvigorated.

  4. Wieselhead says:

    The 4th year, hey! Congratulations πŸ™‚

    I look up to you (in general ^^) for staying that long as ambitious figure reviewer, I acually was quite fed up with blogging as it became REEEALLY onesided and lonely in one period last year. Well, now it’s more or less back to normal, which is good ^^

    Mhh I changed to google analytics in the end of december, The jetpack statcounter and statpress were a lot nicer to me, but thx to certain plugin conflicts I can’t use any of them anymore. I think I did no measuring for about 2 months because of these conflicts, which is bad. Well, it now feels like starting over again, the difference is so hard man!
    at least I wrote down the old stats, even though they appear wrong now *lol*

    Haha in the end it seems we write these long text mainly for ourselfs, but it seems a few people still read everything. Well, I can’t just write 4 sentences with it’s a great figure at the end and kissing the manufacturers ass in between, I wouldn’t be satisfied with that.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I gotta admit, I don’t really keep up with figure websites that much now, since so many of them aren’t updated too often now. I think half the links list here is pretty much dead. It’s sorta funny how there are so many social media networking methods out there and it seems kinda like there’s not too many people for me to talk to about figures, besides the comments section here.

      Haha, yeah, Google Analytics has the lowest stat count for me; I also have a Statcounter account since it has realtime stat tracking, and its visitor count is always a lot higher. And the WordPress stat plugin was always way higher than Google, too; like 20% higher, if I remember right. I don’t use it anymore, though, since I thought it was impacting site performance (though in truth, the biggest cause of site lag is probably the fact that I use the cheapest web hosting that I can get).

      True indeed; there was this Warcraft blog (of all things) which provided a lot of the initial advice I followed when I started this site. One of the things that blogger advised was “Write for yourself” and that’s pretty much the main idea I try to follow; this site got almost no visits and no comments for the first couple of months of its existence, but I was as happy with it then as I am now.

  5. NegativeZero says:

    Congratulations! I’m not sure how long I have been coming here but it has definitely become one of my daily views, just to see if you’ve given us anything new. Love the quality of your work and your POTUS doll. I myself haven’t blogged in a long time but I’m still collecting, so hopefully you’ll inspire me to log back in one day and share my opinions. Thank you TA.

    • Tier says:

      Haha, thanks; I’ve got a couple more ideas for the president doll, and hopefully I’ll get working on them soon. I’ve even got a new outfit for him, to keep him thematically appropriate for one of those ideas.

  6. Look at those pageviews!! People love your tentacle stand!!!

    In all seriousness though, well done on reaching this landmark, though it has reminded me that I’ve actually been in the game longer than yourself! This year will be my 6th anniversary! But my stuff don’t get anywhere near as many visitors due to their more specific nature.

    I wonder how many bloggers have come and gone since we set up shop? I’ve only been following a small number so I don’t know who has entered and left the blogosphere. Used to be more on the ball about this kind of stuff. Must be getting old…

    • Tier says:

      They do! It brings all the girls to the yard. And preliminary congrats on being in the game for six years; I remember the exact first time I went to your website (it was your review of Amane Shiratori, of all things). Man, that was some time back. I remember thinking it was pretty cool you were reviewing an ero figure since people seem to get squeamish when it comes to anything like that. Can’t imagine why.

      It seems like a whole lot; I remember I started this site right around the same time some other people kicked off figure websites. Wolfheinrich still has a site but he moved into Dollfie Dream stuff; meronpan just stopped one day, I think; and I really wonder what happened to the foo-bar-baz guy. Even his Twitter feed went dormant, which is an odd thing. It’s pretty depressing to look at his website and just see robot posts every day, given how often I visited it during the first couple of years of this site’s existence.

      • Ah yes, Amane Shiratori. She still pulls in some hits now and again!!
        But I like a sort of “high school of the dead” feel to my risque figures. I like my figures to be teases rather than full blown ero, which is where many of them fall down. Either they’re just boring poses with a cast off feature to show boobs or are way too far down the ero path for me, even if I do like the design somewhat. The further they push the envelope without crossing it, the better. That’s why I’m rather curious about the releases from lechery. If their quality is good, they could be a great source for stuff like that! (also, Amane did have some quality issues, which made me a little more wary about those kind of figure releases)

        Meronpan seems to be happy throwing out videos of him licking his figures these days. Unlike Jessica Chobot though, that didn’t land him a job! Q is still posting fairly regularly, Lightningsaber has gone the doll route and Radiant is more active on his facebook pages and groups than his own website but he’s still around.

        • Tier says:

          The ER Nurse figure was pretty good; it seems like Lechery is where Kaitendoh is putting figures like that, so I’m guessing that’s about the level of quality one might expect. I was kinda interested in one of their flight attendant figures; I’m not sure if it’s out yet but I might take another look at it.

          There are a couple of Meronpans it seems, or rather, there’s a Melonpan, the German (or Austrian or Swiss or something) guy known for carrying Nia with him, and Meronpan, the guy over somewhere in the San Francisco area known for playing Touhou. I kinda got the feeling a lot of people are doing the Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr thing instead of doing their own sites now.

          • That’s true. Tumblr especially, but I was never a fan of that. Lots of sharing pics but you can’t do much else. The other platforms feel too restrictive for me as my posts tend to go quite long to cover many angles and really get my point across. If you just want a bitesized post frequently, then I guess it’s OK.

            I have started using Twitter for very quick, one-off WIP pics on my projects tho, but finished works deserve more!

  7. Adam says:

    Congratulations on not only making it to four years, but doing it with such dedication. Maintaining anywhere near six posts per month of what is pretty much purely original content is all but unheard of for a figure blog. Factor in the fact that you consistently put out high quality work on both sides of the ball–photography and writing–and you’ve achieved something pretty amazing. It’ll be a sad day when you do finally step away from this site.

    Your commentary on the interplay between creative ambition and a practical sense of GTD speaks to a balance I think a lot of us are cognizant of. All too often I can visualize a theme that I think would be great for a given figure only to realize that I lack some critical combination of skills, knowledge, and/or resources to actually execute it, which is frustrating. And there have certainly been times where I basically had to cut my losses on a given figure shoot and settle for whatever I had at that point. You could spend forever trying to find the perfect theme for each figure, but at some point it’s just not worth it and you have to move on to the next one.

    • Tier says:

      I was surprised when I looked back and found that the longest period between posts was eight days; I’ve been running this site for four years and haven’t really taken any breaks from running this site. It’s probably a good sign that I hadn’t noticed that, since it suggests that I don’t really need to take any extended breaks; the minute running this site feels like work, it’s probably time for me to step away.

      Yeah, that’s very much what I’m thinking. It’s particularly true when I don’t think a figure is particularly worthy of that much effort; there are a lot of figures where I wanted to go all-out on doing something special (even for figures that weren’t otherwise too popular, like Satsuki Shinonome, whom I’m sure is still stuck in HLJ’s bargain bin) but there are a lot more (like Neptunia, Panty, Ms. Marvel, and Aegis) where I like the figure, but I don’t think it’s special enough to merit something that might take me weeks to plan and construct. (And then there’s figures where I really want to do something special but am not really sure what I can do with them. Bike Saber is the main one in this category; her size and required setting place some big restrictions on what’s possible with her.)

  8. banana says:

    I enlarged the picture hoping you had snuck some hint of tentacles on there :p

    • Tier says:

      I was working on the picture in Lightroom and then I thought, “Dang, I should’ve stuck the tentacle stand back there.” The picture was very much an ad hoc job; I usually use a picture of a blueberry muffin with the appropriate number of candles, but while I remembered to buy the muffins, I couldn’t find my candles, so I had to go with something else in a very short period of time.

  9. here-and-faraway says:

    Happy anniversary. I always enjoy looking at your pictures AND reading your articles. Here’s to many more.

  10. TomTheCat says:

    Congrats, Tier!

    I’m also relatively new to both figure collecting and this site (a bit more than a year), but I really enjoy what you are giving us. The layout of this site is perfect IMHO. No distracting banners or ads, I like that.

    Personally, I’m afraid that photo tutorials will be not very interesting to me. But I’m sure many other people will like them.

    I also like your writing, it’s perfectly complementing your photos. English is not my first language, and I always enjoy reading proper English. Funnily enough, this even seems to influence your commentors. Most of them are pretty good, too. I’m visiting two or three other English sites/forums regularly, and I’m flabbergasted how much typos and bad grammar can be found there. I would have guessed if I’m not perfect in English, at least the English-speaking folks would be. So please do not only keep up this site, but keep on writing, too!

    Should the schedule ever become too demanding, just slow down a little. I’d be sad if you went quiet for good, and I assume I’d not be the only one. But you say that you’re still having fun doing this. I think that’s great and I hope that our feedback encourages you to keep on.

    • Tier says:

      Dang, so you wouldn’t like it if I put up a whole bunch of J-List ads, huh? XD I gotta admit, I think about putting up ads every now and then but I’m pretty sure the income would not make up for my irritation regarding the intrusion on the layout. I already have a really obsessive sort of personality (in the OCD sense) and thinking about how much I dislike the site with a banner ad splashed across the top would drive me nuts.

      That’s definitely something I appreciate a lot from you and the people who comment here, is that the comments tend to be written well and aren’t of the one-sentence type (you can sort of tell who is just looking for backlinks or reciprocal comments on their own website or something). And another thing I appreciate is that there isn’t much usage of internet/text message abbreviations. Back when I started this site, I had planned to ban every commenter who used “ur” or “LOL” in a comment. Then I decided that would be a bad policy since there would be nobody commenting on this site in short order.

  11. Lykaios says:

    Congrats on four years. I am hoping that there will be at least that many, if not more, to come. I forget how I even stumbled across this site, but I am glad I did.

    I wouldn’t worry to much over your writing. I, for one, read all of your reviews. I like how you provide additional links and other information in some reviews – it is exactly how I learn about new sites and things. I personally enjoy your reviews, even if my opinion differs sometimes.

    I also wouldn’t worry much about picture count too much. I like seeing the figures from as many angles as possible. I have bought figures because of what I have seen on this site. Keep up the great work!

    I also cannot wait to read these tutorials you have planned. I plan on taking pictures of my figures to better understand photography in general. A better basic understanding of photography will help me use my Poloroid more effectively too.

    Thanks again Tier….

    • Tier says:

      Ah, thanks very much for that; people do actually read the posts! That is very gratifying to hear – moreso because, I have to admit, when I go to other figure websites, I don’t always read all the text myself XD

      I don’t remember when things started clicking for me, but I very much remember that there was a long period where I really had no idea what I was doing. More problematically, I didn’t even know that I was doing things wrong (for one thing, I thought that shadows were bad and so when I started, I was blasting figures with light). Hopefully I can help some people get started on the right foot.

  12. icelava says:

    Very nice. As a photographer myself I can understand the self dissatisfaction with one’s own photos, but that is what drives us to improve and hopefully suck less with each snap. You know you have improved when you can look at last year’s photos and feel disgusted. Keep up the effort, and yield even greater pictures.

    You are right that most folks expect a great deal of pictures to provide perspective and details of figures they may want to buy. Indeed that goes against the photographer’s artistic tendency for quality over quantity. What I think can be done is provide the artistic angles in the main article page, and offer a gallery of supplementary pics for technical coverage.

    • Lykaios says:

      EXACTLY. This is actually the unofficial direction I thought the reviews were headed concerning pictures.

      • Tier says:

        Yeah, pretty much; the 360-degree view shots are all clustered at the bottom of the review now. It does make shot selection a little more complicated for me, since I don’t want to show the same picture twice so I don’t like using a full-body shot before that group of photos, even if it would make contextual sense to be placed higher up.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, that’s something I might consider; in my own experience, though, I know I seldom visit the extra gallery. There’s this other website … ahh, the guy never updates so I’ll just throw out his name, I went over to one of Aka’s reviews over on Tailgrab a couple of years back and I read through it and thought it looked incomplete. I mentioned that to him and he told me the rest was on page 2. I was like, “Uhh, there was a second page?” I looked at his post again and was like, “Oh hey, there’s a link to page 2 at the bottom here.” But I still didn’t click it. Clicking on links is too much work (only a slight exaggeration; that’s why I try to make the figure reviews here easily accessible from either the sidebar manufacturer-specific links or the figure gallery).

      • icelava says:

        Don’t have to fashion it as a text link; a composite photo or collection of smaller thumbnails provide a better visual roadmap for visitors.

  13. Titan says:

    Congrats! Love your site, come here all the time.
    Just have to say this:
    “I’ve been tempted to simply write, β€œI know none y’all are gonna read this so just look at the pictures.””
    Totally not true. (See, I read that line) If it a figure that appeals to me, I read every single word, what’s so good about, what’s so bad about it. Sometimes I even come back to read it again if I’m considering buying. You have already convinced me on a few figures. And my wallet hates you for that.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks a lot for reading XD I’ll keep doing what I’m doing then, though if I ever do write about a heavily-hyped, review-proof figure like GSC’s goddess Madoka or something, I may simply write my review as a single haiku and leave it at that.

      • Titan says:

        Heh, but I’m sure you’d find some ecchi slant to some of the heavily hyped, review proof figures and I’ll read it for that. :p

  14. Dvalinn says:

    Congratulations. Though I didn’t find this site until a year ago (when I started seriously collecting) I always enjoy reading your reviews – I remember the first one I read was for Koto’s Makise Kurisu, which became my first big pre-order. Besides the fact that the pictures are often creative, I also like how you provide background for the origins of your figures as well as your general observations. Not to mention the tentacle stand and pervy Obama.

    Onwards to the fifth year, I suppose!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! I try to sound like I know what I’m talking about when I write about a character’s personality and origin; I’ll be honest though, I seldom actually do. Lack of knowledge and first-hand familiarity has never stopped me from talking about something, though.

      Both the tentacle stand and the president will be featured prominently here; I’m particularly looking forward to Alphamax’s Fault!! figures for the latter. Maya is looking pretty ideal.

  15. Wolfheinrich says:

    Congratulation on the 4th blog day! It’s a great accomplishment to have kept chucking out review after review at the frequency that you are doing them. I always enjoy reading your reviews, whenever I get time to stop by to read them. And would you look at that site stats!!! My site stats looks pale, insignificant and down right garbage in comparison to yours orz but that’s why I get for blogging a very niche hobby and besides, I am not quite sure I am nearly as creative as you are in terms of writing style and what not. Majority of my visitors still gravitate towards my eroge game posts, perhaps I should write more on that topic.

    I still remember when we first started blogging (and coincidentally, I have just had my 4th blog day too, along with the domain move and whatnot) , many of them figure review sites have indeed faded away and honestly, yours is the only one I really care to come back to consistently. If I was ever in doubt if about the quality of a certain figure, the first thing that comes to mind is to stop by your site and see if you have done a review on it! Believe me when I say you have most certainly influenced my buying decision in more than a few occasions. You’re doing a good job, I think the amount of visitors and comments you’re getting on a consistent basis is the best proof there is.

    Best of luck in the coming year!

    • Tier says:

      Haha, yeah, I am certain that the number of figure collectors dwarfs the number of Dollfie collectors; I know I can’t afford more than maybe one or two big-ass dolls per year. That said, I think you have the best English-language Dollfie site out there, and I’m looking forward to your pictures of KOS-MOS; it’s a very pretty doll (and I’d probably be trying to get it if she were wearing her Episode 1 outfit).

      Yeah, it’s weird to think that this site is that old now; it’s nearly as old as sites like Foobarbaz and Happysoda in their respective prime. It really doesn’t feel that old to me; regardless of the site stats and comment counts and such, I still really think of this site as being fairly obscure and out of the mainstream of figure collecting. I’m not sure that that’s correct but it that’s the way it feels to me.

  16. My my, how time flies. Four years, huh? You’ve pumped out quite a bit of work throughout the years, and your efforts are appreciated.

    I’m kind of saddened at how many figure blogs have fallen by the wayside throughout the years. Most of the major ones I used to follow (Foo Bar Baz, Heisei Democracy, Mukyaa~, Riuva, Happy Soda) no longer update. My little blog started all the way back in 2007, but there were several periods where I went dormant for months. I’ve really only been on a “serious” update schedule over the past two years. Also got more serious about letting people…uh…know my blog even exists. It’s slowly paying off. Hits are going up, and I actually have followers now!

    It’s great!

    I’ve always worried about my reviews being “too wordy” as well, figuring that most people probably just look at the pics and read one or two sentences and leave it at that. But you know, I feel if you write well people will want to read every little thing coming out of your head. Your reviews in particular are well done. They’re not just “This figure is nice. The paint is good. Oh no, a seam line.”. You go into detail about things and even use humor! More figure reviewers should do that! D:

    As for the high picture count, don’t worry about it. If anything, add more pictures! And more photography tutorials would be great. They’ve always been helpful and informative.

    Congratulations on four years. Here’s hoping the next year brings great success.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty bummed out by that as well. Heisei Democracy, Happysoda, and RIUVA were huge inspirations for this site (oddly, I don’t think I learned of Foobarbaz until after I started up this site). I like Wawawawasuremono as well; he started his site not too long before mine and I kinda viewed him as a friendly rival of sorts, since we initially shot photographs in much the same style. I even purchased one of my camera lenses due to his influence, and it’s the primary lens that I use (well, used to use, I actually bought a replacement for it but it’s basically the same thing).

      It sounds like people do read what I write! I’m more than a bit humbled by that because, well, I don’t always do it myself when visiting other figure sites. (That said, my technical writing professor in school put a huge amount of stress on being succinct and reading through some of my older posts, I can definitely see some places where I ought to have focused more on brevity.)

  17. Marcelo says:

    Congratulations!
    This is a wonderful website.

  18. Phil says:

    This is the only review site worth reading. Well FooBarBaz, but I don’t think he has uploaded anything in quite awhile.

    I actually got a customer to buy your same camera when I told him off your work :p

    My favorite review over the years is all the ones with Obama, they never fail to crack me up. All you need now is a Pope doll so he can have some Yaoi action! JK lol

    • Tier says:

      Thanks for that XD There’s some other really good figure websites out there, though, like Wieselhead. I do miss Foobarbaz a bunch, though; he had great photos and a huge volume of posts. I still go back to his archives a lot whenever I need to see some pictures of older figures.

      Haha, that is awesome; my camera is getting a bit older but I still love it. I never, ever attribute my camera for my pictures but I also cringe a bit whenever people say “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer” – it’s really both (though more the latter, to be fair).

      I’ve got some plans for the president; including a new outfit, and hopefully more than one; I keep an eye on Hobby Search’s doll site as there appear to be a few companies making 1/6 scale outfits for male dolls and several of them have caught my eye.

  19. Rich says:

    Hey! Glad to see you’re still active after four years, and I hope you continue. I’m a bit of a lurker–don’t often say much (only commented once before, I think–but your site is one of few on the internet that I visit regularly. I like your photos and enjoy reading your comments. Hopefully, a year from now, I’ll be able to send you congratulations again!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! I expect that you will be able to, I’m certainly hoping to keep this site running for the next year and beyond. Despite the amount of work and time that it takes to run this site, it’s really become part of my life, far moreso than I thought it would; I was pretty sure that this would just be a fun little side hobby, when I started doing this.

  20. illuna says:

    Wow this site is amazing, i was looking for review on my first figure i wanted to buy, and found here Misa Nee review ;D
    Will visit here frequently, keep up the good work ;D

    • Tier says:

      A Native figure is definitely a fantastic place to start collecting. Thanks for the kind words XD

      • illuna says:

        I found on Native site (tho i cant read nothing there) that Misa-Nee got a friend, lovely Sasaki-san thats in preorder now and due to release in May. Do you know any trusted site that would provide preorder for it, or should i search ebay when its out?

        • Tier says:

          I think her preorder period closed a couple of months ago, but I’m sure she’ll pop up on eBay, Mandarake, or another secondary source. There might be some stores (like Hobbyfan) that might get her in stock; I’d keep an eye out, particularly right around her release time.

  21. Steve Chen says:

    It’s been that long? Congratulations then Tier! Looking forward to more of your beautiful fronti pieces……..never have moe, sexy figs look better with your “touch”. And also give the “president” some credit for your success lol!

    • Tier says:

      Yep, it’s been that long. It doesn’t feel like that long, probably because I’ve been out of school for a while and I don’t have as much reason to mark years as I used to. I know the president is a popular feature here, and while I don’t intend to stop featuring him, I really do not want to be known as the guy who uses the president doll in his pictures; I’d rather be known for the quality of my pictures than a cheap gimmick.

  22. Tian says:

    Just like everyone else, I want to say congratulations! Four years isn’t that long a time and to have the following you do already is pretty amazing! And why no Obama doll on this post? Seems appropriate as you’re starting your second term as president of this place πŸ™‚

    Your comments about writing made me chuckle a bit. It’s true that the internet is not really a great place for long-form articles. That’s why I stopped interspersing photos with review text and went to a format of (words) -> boobs -> butts. Dunno if that’s the right approach but it does speed up the review process.

    Anyway, congrats again. I’m very much looking forward to your posts about photography. And four more years!

    • Tier says:

      The president is unfortunately about a foot shorter than the other dolls here. I’m still hoping that Volks or someone makes a Dollfie Dream of him; then he can become the master of the tentacle stand.

      I think that’s a very solid approach; give the people what they want. I have a tough time cutting down the word count, though, so I try to keep the photos contextual when I can. Otherwise, there’d be this enormous wall of text up at the top of the page that I know nobody would scroll through.

      Thanks again! (On a side note, the president’s re-election has actually had a negative impact on this website. Back before the election, I decided I would re-up my World of Warcraft accounts if he were to be elected, and so I have, which is largely the reason for all the dakimakura cover posts in the last couple of months.)

  23. Aaron says:

    Congratulations on your 4th year with the site. I definitely fall under the umbrella of returning user. I visit the site every day, but since I originally copied and pasted the link for the Eva Dakimakura into my browser it is stuck as the address for me to get here. I don’t know if you can see stats for the reviews, but if you see an abnormal amount for that review, that may be the cause.

    I come for your nice photography and well written reviews. I follow along with everyone else that says that they enjoy reading the reviews. I come back daily because I also like reading what other people have to say about the figures and dakimakuras and your responses to them. It really gives a lot of insight into why people collect the things they do.

    I come often enough that Firefox places your address at second in the search bar when using the dropdown. MFC is first, Google is 3rd.

    Before I started coming here (looking to see if you knew where to get a Shernini dakimakura from the Agarest series because you had Eva) I had three figures. The first is the SDCC Rei Ayanami Race Queen from Kotobukiya, the second was a Play Arts Kairi from Kingdom Hearts II and the last was an EVA-03 from Kaiyodo. Since finding your site I have purchased 3 legit Agarest Dakimakura, Max Factory Samus Aran, Koto Bunny Girl Charlotte Dunois, 2010 GSR Miku figure, 2011 GSR Miku figma, 4 Strike Witches (Charlotte, Perrine, Minna, and Takei), 7th Dragon Samurai, Yuri Lowell, Purple Heart, and the Kagami Sumika figma. I currently have 4 Strike Witches, Leviathan, and the Muv-Luv figmas on order.

    I credit your awesome reviews and pictures for getting me into the hobby. Even though a lot of your reviews focus on reviewing, I greatly enjoy the Preorder Outlooks and the Shot Breakdowns. The Satsuki Shinonome review was absolutley brilliant and they way you showed the magic behind it was amazing to me.

    Keep doing what you do and here is looking forward for many more years.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks, that is very gratifying and more than a bit humbling to hear XD It’s kinda interesting, looking at the little community that has sprouted up around this site. I’m not a big community person – I very seldom ever post anything on message boards, I almost never say anything while playing an online video game (unless I’m playing with real life friends), and my position on social networking is well-known – but I’m very pleased and humbled again that this site does have its own little community. When I look at other websites, you sorta see the same names posting on those sites but this site seems to get a lot of different people who comment here, and I’m very thankful for your (and everyone else’s) comments.

      I’m also very happy that I’ve helped a lot of people get into figure and dakimakura cover collecting. Hopefully some of my future posts will get people into photography as well.

  24. Joey says:

    Happy happy birthday! πŸ™‚

    I usually visit this site while waiting for class. Or when I’m bored. it cheers me up as you sometimes post funny descriptions about the figure, and the tentacle stand! Gotta love that. πŸ™‚ Also the photography is awesome, gotta love that too! Please keep up the good work!

  25. super rats says:

    Keep on truckin’ Tier.

  26. aggrogahu says:

    I read the captions in reviews. I do skim here and there, but they’re useful because they provide a context to a figure/character that I may not be familiar with at all.

    • Tier says:

      Ah, well, that’s good too. It sounds like people like it when figure reviewers talk a bit about the character so I will continue to do that.

  27. Flowermilk says:

    Congratulations, Tier! When I first ran into your site I thought wow that has to be the best figure site ever. Almost two years later, I have yet to fing anything that comes close to it!
    I really enjoy your reviews, you have the best photographs out there hands down, and the fans who comment on the site have always great input and a good attitude. I feel like it’s a peace heaven on the net where everyone is so angry all the time!
    If anything, I hope you’ll keep talking about VMF50 dolls. I have now 3 dolls and quite a few clothes an accessories since I discovered them thanks to Tentacle Armada, and I’m more passionate about them that I even am about my figures.
    Keep up the great job and thanks again for this fantastic site!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks very much! I definitely appreciate the kind words, and I also absolutely appreciate the people who comment here, particularly since a lot of the comments are insightful and conversational, rather than the one-sentence drive-by comments that you sometimes see elsewhere.

      I definitely want to do more doll stuff, and I’ve been meaning to take Shiho’s pictures soon. That’s actually sort of an odd story; I’ve only got one outfit that fits her, and one of her nipples managed to poke a hole in the fabric, so I’ve been waiting until I could get a replacement to do her photo shoot. However, it looks like Yamato has rebranded themselves as Arcadia and their vmf50 line seems to now be called Angel Philia or something, and I don’t think they have their web shop set up yet. I may just take Shiho’s pictures anyway; the hole isn’t that big and it’s sort of a funny thing to see.

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