Year Seven Retrospective

Inori Yuzuriha wrapped up in tentacles

Ugh. It’s a customary thing to celebrate this site’s birthday on February 23, but given the dearth of updates over the last year, there does not seem to be much cause for ceremony. Regardless, tradition is what it is, and I scarcely need an excuse to take a photo of one of my big-ass dolls wrapped up in tentacles, so I will pay the proper respect to the occasion, as unseemly as it might be.

I don’t want to apologize for the lack of posts, nor do I want to promise more consistent and more timely reviews, as every time a site owner does either, it’s a certain harbinger that neither will be forthcoming and that the site in question really is in its terminal stage. I will say that my enthusiasm for collecting figures is undimmed, and I remain passionate about photography – or at least, I am still quite fond of taking pictures. I have found that over the last year, I’ve come to care much less about equipment, which is a good thing, I think, as it’s saved me a great deal of money.

Despite the lack of updates, the site’s stats haven’t taken a huge hit from the last couple of years.

Note that the pageview count is off by around 50,000 or so, as hits were being double-counted for a couple of weeks. Stats for just the prior year were 358,674 users and 1,866,115 pageviews, which seems consistent with the traffic that this site typically gets. Or at least, I think it is; I haven’t monitored the site stats with anything close to my earlier fervor, which is also a good thing, as I was really obsessed with keeping tabs on the hit count.

One thing I have noticed is that my site isn’t the only figure site to have slowed down; almost every site on the blogroll has ceased updates. That’s a little discouraging, I suppose, but I’ve always been more comfortable doing my own thing, so I guess the lack of community doesn’t bother me that much (and if I were really looking for conversation, I suppose I could always find it at Tsuki-board or somesuch).

Another thing I’ve noticed is that since buying a new computer monitor (an ultrawide 1440p display), this site’s layout looks particularly antiquated. On one hand, I’m not too fond of making changes for the sake of chasing modernity or for conforming to contemporaneous expectations, but yet, it does look pretty old. I’m not sure if I want to do anything about that.

At any rate, while I don’t want to make any promises I am not certain that I can keep, I can certainly say I have no intention of closing this site down (particularly being that I just paid for a year’s worth of hosting). So, with this business out of the way, hopefully it’s on to more routine affairs.

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30 Responses to Year Seven Retrospective

  1. wieselhead says:

    Congratulations to year 7 ^^
    Good to hear that you haven’t lost interest in the hobby yet (^ _ ^)/.

    Well, it appears that reviews of figures are outdated these days. People rather use figure photography to grab attention, with a few fancy pictures and often (too) elaborate backgrounds haha I better stop here…

    figure review blogs, (in case there are still any active ones) lost their competitive edge, no one really is interested in getting a review out asap anymore. I also became slightly slower, though I try to do things on my pace. I still enjoy taking pictures of figures and trying to make them look good ;D I got over my “feeling discouraged by decreased blog activities” mood since a few months.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! XD Yeah, I haven’t been paying much attention, but I haven’t heard of many new English-language websites springing up. I don’t really pay a ton of attention to MFC either but I notice that the pictures of nendoroids and of cats and stuff are still as popular as they ever were. Yeah, I stopped trying to rush out reviews a long time ago, too; I’m too lazy to do it and I almost never have the background I want ready when I actually get the figure. And on top of that, I’ve probably got around a hundred figures still in their boxes, in some cases still in their brown shipping boxes.

  2. crazycat100 says:

    Congrat, found & follow your blog since I started buying figures 3 years ago. Enjoy the Ob*ma & tentacle. And learn a lot about figure through your article.

  3. TomTheCat says:

    Happy Birthday to the site! 🙂 Don’t feel obliged to do anything for anybody except you. You created this site to showcase “Things that make you happy”, and I sure hope that you continue to do so.

    Personally, I have a 4:3 display, and it is set at a pretty low resolution. If the display were any wider, I’d have to move my head as if I were watching tennis for reading line after line. I imagine that to be a bit annoying. As for the resolution: The higher it is, the smaller the letters become. Solution would be to zoom in, but that negates the advantage of a wide screen… I’m told that there are sites/pages that realize what sort of display a visitor has and automatically adjust the screen contents to fit that particular display. That may very well be the case, but I still constantly encounter sites/pages that just won’t fit my display. Some of them don’t even give me scroll bars, so that certain areas of the surface aren’t even visible to me. Sometimes, the arrow keys help though (!!) Oh well…

    But never mind! I just hope that you continue to share your enthusiasm with us 😀

    • Tier says:

      Indeed and thanks for the kind words XD Ha, going from 4:3 to 16:9 was a big transition, but going to 21:9 is an even larger change for me. It’s pretty great for photo editing, though (speaking of which, I’m so rusty at Lightroom and Photoshop now …). It is a little odd at how there’s so much space to the left and right of my browser window; I’m still not used to seeing so much of my desktop or of other windows.

  4. Phil says:

    Still stop in here to make sure you are sill alive and kicking. Still the best figure reviewer. It’s insane that I started visiting here 6 years ago. I used to visit Foo Bar Baz before I stumbled here, your commentary along with the pictures made me switch sites. Here’s to another good year!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks very much XD Ha, man, I miss Foo-bar-baz, I just looked at his site while checking on my blogroll and it’s still as he left it, with Rin Tohsaka as his last review and with the bot auto-posting links. I definitely am still alive, hopefully moreso now since I’ve lost a ton of interest in playing World of Warcraft (one of two major reasons updates have slowed to a crawl here; the other is that my job has consumed more of my free time in the last couple of years than it did before).

  5. Shashin says:

    Man, I missed the days when I’d spam up every single comment chain on your site. Congrats on making it seven years!

    I’ve found that my interest in the hobby has completely died. Even my love for dakimakura covers is practically nonexistent at this point in the game, sadly. That’s something I didn’t think I’d be saying anytime soon, just as I didn’t think I’d become as enthralled in the hobby as I became after viewing your very first few dakimakura cover reviews. Funny how things work, I guess. I’m slowly in the process of trying to offload everything I own at this point, and it’s a very slow and tedious thing to do, given my absolute laziness. D:

    How are things going on the gaming front? Last we spoke, I believe you were still playing WoW.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Haha, yeah, I was wondering what you’ve been up to. It is pretty hard to keep an interest in this hobby for so long. I don’t collect dakimakura covers with nearly the same interest (largely because the dakimakura blog is no longer updated, admitteldy) but I still buy one every now and then, particularly if I’m a fan of either the artist or the depicted character.

      Yeah, I’m still playing Warcraft, though I basically just play one day a week (my raid group raids only on Saturdays). I can’t say I’m too hyped for Legion; I’m apprehensive of all the changes and I don’t believe that my definition of enjoyable gameplay completely matches what they’re trying to implement. I actually play Star Trek Online more than anything; it’s a fun game, I’m still a Star Trek fan, and game matches tend to not last more than a few minutes. I have a ton of other games to play through that I’ve completely neglected (Skyrim, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity, Mass Effect 2 and 3, and a ton more) and I feel pretty badly about that, especially since I don’t know when I’m going to find the time to play through them.

  6. Baba says:

    Congrats on 7 years! (hi the silent reader here)
    it’s nice to hear you are still into this hobby <3 esp since yes, most figure review blog I followed are mostly unactive now ;___; probably since PVC is getting even more expensive recently…

    I hope you will keep this for a long time since I really love your figure photography!esp the lighting and mood! And your taste in figures are so nice, I got tempted a lot even when I don't know the characters. Keep it up <3

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Yeah, I noticed a ton of them are gone … literally gone in some cases, like Plastic Parfait. It’s pretty unfortunate, especially since I don’t really care for the way MFC’s community is organized (I’ve rather have general-purpose forums rather than the club stuff they have), and it seems like that’s the nexus for the English-speaking (or non-Japanese, anyway) anime figure-collecting community.

  7. David P says:

    Glad you’re still updating and congratulations! I really enjoy your entertaining figure reviews and photography.

  8. Aaron says:

    Congrats on 7 years!
    Do you still buy Dakimakuras? I still check the site regularly for new stuff, but I am out of the figure hobby and have started to sell some figures. I only really look for the Racing Miku Figmas. There are still a couple dakimakuras I want just because I have always wanted them (Catherine/Katherine and maybe one or two more), but other than than that not much.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I still do on occasion. Not nearly as many as I used to; I’m out of the loop as to what’s coming out and it’s kind of annoying – and very expensive – to go through a proxy service. I’m mostly just a figure collector now, I guess; I haven’t bought a new big-ass doll in a while (though Azone’s Leviathan is still kinda tempting, and I wonder how their version of Rin turned out) and I haven’t even bought doujinshi in some time, too.

  9. Kass says:

    Happy birthday for your website! I certainly enjoy your reviews so much and I always check the website regularly it’s one of my favorites. You don’t have to do anything other than things that makes you happy you know, you’re talented and your photoshoots certainly show how passionate you are about the hobby, i think it’s great and it’s something that you should continue doing because it makes you happy! It makes me want to take pictures of my figures every time i check a new photoshoot of yours XD *sighs* i want me one of those big ass dolls one day… Because they are big ass lol they are very pricey too!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks for the kind words XD Yeah, I definitely do enjoy it, and it’s sort of funny that I forget how much I enjoy it; when I procrastinate on a photo shoot, it’s always such a drag for me to get the background set up and position all the lights, but when I get everything ready, it feels fun and fresh again.

      Haha, I have zero regrets about collecting dolls, but I’d definitely be remiss in warning about how expensive the hobby is. It is grossly perverse how one can spend more money on doll-sized shoes and underwear than one spends on real-life clothing.

  10. Aka says:

    Still kickin’ and screaming eh?

    I managed to post all of 7 things last year and one so far this year which was basically catch up for last year. It’s hard to keep up the energy I find.

    MFC may be where everyone goes, but I find it’s community scattered and difficult to navigate. Taking too much from the Facebook/G+ approach where basically you create insulated communities within for very specific niche interests. I much prefer the older style forum where everything is broken into broad categories instead.

    This post reminds me Tailgrab turned 7 as well, just 2 days ago. Doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. At least until I look at really old posts and immediately want to pretend they don’t exist.

    As for site redesign, if I’m honest yours has looked a bit dated for a while. And mine feels pretty dated to me as well. I don’t think you’ll encounter many problems as you’ve always kept your posts pretty simple in layout. Text, photo, text, photo, photo photo etc… The most you’d probably have to do is rebuild all your intermediate photo sizes to fit whatever width theme you go with, and update all the URLs pointing to the photos. Which can usually be automated with plugins.

    I on the other hand… I got all fancy. Which means every single post has to be manually edited and fixed to match any new theme I go to, or even if I just change the dimensions of my current theme. It would seem I’m a horrible planner. I’ve even already done this a couple of times with each theme change and still never planned ahead. Don’t do what I did, keep it simple!

    • Tier says:

      Not so much kicking and screaming as sleepwalking. This site has been in the back of my mind and it’s never left there, but I also haven’t been nearly as obsessed with it as I used to. In fact, I can’t even remember what that felt like. I miss that feeling a lot, but in some ways this might be better, since there’s a powerful sense of liberation in not feeling the pressure that came with it. I don’t really feel any need to conform or to answer for my photos or editing choices or the way I choose to present a review, whereas in the past, I’d probably be second-guessing myself or wondering what I’d need to do to please the audience.

      Yeah, I’ve never cared too much for MFC’s club system. I don’t think fracturing the community into a bunch of little bite-sized groups was a great idea; it works for Facebook since it has millions of users with widely disparate interests and opinions, but MFC’s focus is intrinsically consistent. I know quite a few people migrated from managing websites to posting on Tumblr, too. Personally, I greatly dislike Tumblr, except for looking for pornography. Aside from that purpose, I assiduously avoid it.

      Congrats on your own site’s birthday! I’d, uhh, love to say that I’ve been a dedicated reader but I’ll be honest, I tend to not look at anything related to Dollfie Dreams. (And this isn’t at all a knock on the dolls or their collectors; it’s because I associate that particular brand of doll with a particular individual and it’s tainted my perspective so badly that I don’t like looking at either. One would think I’d have gotten over this already.)

      Yeah, I specifically chose this layout to look boring and low-tech; at least for a site like this, I prefer that the presentation not get in the way of the content. Even if I changed up the design, I don’t think I’d go away from the standard header/big content block/sidebar scheme that I’ve used here, as I really don’t like the magazine-style layouts that a lot of newer (relatively, anyway) WordPress themes incorporate.

      • Aka says:

        I use Tumblr on the odd occasion. A lot of the time it’s an automatic upload from Instagram which I do use rather more than other social media sites. I don’t really know what to do with Tumblr half the time. Same with Twitter these days, I rarely read things on it, and when it’s not an automatic post from my site or Instagram once again, I’m probably just complaining about something lol. In many ways I think it’s best to avoid social media sites because it ends up keeping me from posting content on my own site.

        As for being a loyal reader, really don’t blame anyone. The Dollfie Dream posts tend to be more for the group I hang out with than anyone else. I think it’s more interesting when I travel around and take photos on my own, rather than the monthly meetup posts. I enjoy the meetups themselves, but I don’t think that particular content is the most interesting. And likewise, I read your site less frequently than I did in the past, but I do keep you in my RSS reader and pop in when something piques my interest. I’m hoping this year I’ll at least get back to travelling the Ontario countryside and posting slightly more interesting content, albeit still Dollfies. I’ve managed to get over my prejudice of a certain individual, in that I don’t just outright hate everything they do. But my opinion is still coloured, and I’m still quite annoyed by a lot of things they do or don’t do. But that doesn’t affect my enjoyment of Dollfies.

        I’ve always found the sidebar on WordPress to be a waste of space. It always seems to duplicate a menu system that’s at the top of a site, or include content I’m just not interested in like a blogroll. So of the changes I’d make to your site that’d be the most likely thing I’d remove. It would give more space for the photos without actually making your site any wider overall. That said, my menu system is difficult to use on a touchscreen because you can’t easily hover over like you can with a mouse. If you kept the sidebar, one thing I’d like is for the thumbnails to be wider/larger to fit better with the available space. All the text seems to be ‘full’ width but the thumbnails aren’t. I like your tiny footer though, because no one really makes it that far down for content. I’ve been meaning to move the content of my footer up somewhere but haven’t. I also think it’d be nice to go with a responsive design for mobile users, but effort.

        • Tier says:

          I’m really not a huge fan of using social media for posting content unless it’s very superficial or transient content, like a picture of what I’m eating or a snapshot of something that happened on the way to work, and I almost never care to post those sorts of things (and I’ve never figured out how to take a decent picture with my phone, anyway).

          The odd thing is that I’ve been so out of the loop regarding the figure community that I barely remember which sites I used to visit, I don’t even remember what some of the figures I’ve bought look like because I haven’t really looked at them in years … but I do remember how much I dislike the community surrounding the individual in question. I actually don’t have anything against him – in fact, there’s a ton to admire about what he’s accomplished – but I abhor the cult that surrounds him.

          Unsurprisingly, I’ve always preferred websites that have a two-column layout, which is why I chose it for this site. I really don’t like “magazine” style site layouts (and unsurprisingly, I hate the tile-based layout that Windows 8 used); they make some sense for sites that serve diverse content to a broad audience, but the people who come to a site like this are here to look at figure pictures and I don’t think that that format works well for what I want to do. Enlarging the thumbnail size makes some sense, though I’ll admit that one reason I chose a somewhat small thumbnail size (always 520 pixels in width) is to force the viewer to view the full-size image.

  11. Aya says:

    Happy Birthday Tentacle Armada XD where else I can find such bold reviews 😀 Glad you still doing it despite less active,and honestly i would love seeing tentacle armada have Flickr maybe, to dump pictures more regularly as alternative thought i doubt it’s as fun as seeing your blog posts.
    Like You mention Seems social media and micro blogging more attractive for talking hobbies these Days, so yeah, won’t find many new figure blogs anytime soon, despite I seeing the number of collectors increased, but hey a bit rant here seems boxes loot picture more popular than photography over there 😛

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Unfortunately, Flickr wouldn’t do very much for me because I don’t take pictures consistently; my routine has always been to spend a few hours on one night taking pictures, and then post-process the images and write the text the following night. However, the general idea is a good one, in that I’ve kinda thought that making smaller posts would help out posting frequency. Each review tends to run around 30 images and about a thousand words and it takes me a while to write them up; even the preorder posts take a few hours to research and write, and I usually use those as posting filler.

      Ahaha, yeah; I remember a prominent photographer once remarked how a camera unboxing video on Youtube got him way more hits than a video he put up that discussed inspiration and creativity. It’s a little depressing but not at all surprising.

  12. Sienar3 says:

    Exactly. You should try Flickr sometime. Personally I do love that laid-back-loosen-up flickrian atmosphere. Oh, and happy birthday TA!

    • Cerberus says:

      Flickr seems a little bit too “single-pic-centered”. Not a bad thing to organize materials about each individual picture, but there is no easy way to set up a topic around a set of pictures and have the viewers comment on the entire set. The other thing is if you have one single front nudity they set your entire account to restricted level, at least that’s what they did a few years ago. I started from uploading everything on flickr and then end up transferring all my figure shots to my personal blog site and only leaving wildlife shots there so that I can keep my photostream G-rated.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks much! Yeah, as Cerberus said, I’m not sure Flickr would work well for what I do; for single pictures, I tend to use MFC for that (though not nearly as often recently, since I haven’t taken many pictures in the last couple of years that I’m really proud of). If I did use Flickr, it would be for real-life pictures, which is an area of photography that, in all honesty, I’m completely inept in.

  13. Cerberus says:

    Congrats on the 7th year!

    Very glad to hear that you are not planning on shutting down the site.

    One limit of the traditional blog post type of personal site is perhaps that it’s not really compatible with web2.0 features. Although I suppose you can always use some plugins to make it easier to share on Twitter/Facebook but the way the discussion thread works on the site itself is not really up-to-date and user friendly compared to the true web2.0 sites.

    I pretty much view the blog site as just a place to store my own stuff, and then perhaps I prefer to share and comment using Twitter? Even though I was never active on Twitter.

    Commenting on Wieselhead’s reply. In my view it’s not strange that people are losing their motivation to make post-release reviews since there isn’t high demand for such posts. A lot of Japanese blogs I view on a regular basis are also slowing down on post-releasing reviews for mass-produced anime figures. They either start to make an emphasis on unique garage kits reviews or somehow get access to make exclusive pre-release shots. These are more unique materials and of course people would like to see these kinds of posts. I think blog hosts commenting in this thread pretty much all focused on creating our own artistic styles so that we are creating something unique too, whether to catch more readers or just to satisfy our own aesthetic taste.

    I have to say I’m the one losing the driving force to update my site LOL. I stopped updating a little bit more than a year ago because I’m trying to finish from graduate school and get a new job. I told myself I will be back once it’s done but now I got a new job I don’t have the momentum to keep updating any more. Also part of that is because I wanted to re-organize the site and make it better looking in a modern way but again don’t even have the time and effort to do that.

    It’s a dilemma in which I want to make better posts, better shots with higher aesthetic standards, which will require more time input which is exactly what I would have less and less.

    I don’t know how do you think about this.

    I do have a few sets of shots which I uploaded but never got a chance to make a post. Maybe I should start working on these first and try to get my enthusiasm back, and also try to get involved in the community more.

    Oh and comment on your reply in the previous post, I think I tried to do the opposite which is limiting my figure purchasing to a few characters/series, and Super Sonico is one of them. So basically I will end up with more and more of her and I’m pretty happy to see there is one more coming from Alphamax.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Yeah, there’s some part of me that feels some dissatisfaction at how this site looks fairly antiquated, but there’s another part of me that feels some pride in not trying to pander to the crowd with new, fanciful technologies. Maybe I’m just getting older but I find a lot of social media stuff to be both appallingly superficial and a complete waste of time. I mainly tried to use Twitter to troll people but I guess people got tired of that pretty quickly, since nobody ever takes my bait anymore.

      Yeah, I think there’s a lot of truth in that there’s not as much of a demand for figure websites as there used to be. I’m not entirely positive but this situation seems to parallel anime in general; I don’t know if episodic anime blogs are as popular as they were, and it seems like a lot of discussion just congregates on MAL or Twitter. I guess it’s far quicker to digest someone’s opinion when it comes with a 140 character limit, too.

      The funny thing is that there was a two year period after I graduated from school where I couldn’t find a job, and all I did was play World of Warcraft. I actually started this website two months after I found a job, and I think that if I stopped working for some reason, I wouldn’t actually update this site more frequently than I do now (or have done, historically). I find that the structure and routine of having a job helps me schedule things, including taking pictures.

      I don’t know much about trying to make contacts within the community but I do know that I’m happiest when I’m doing stuff for myself. One of the very best things about my absence from publishing is that I’ve come to not care about things that I don’t see as being important. Gear? I don’t really care that much anymore. Community perceptions? I do this website for myself and nobody else. Taking such a long break makes me feel a little guilty, but it was also very liberating.

      • Cerberus says:

        applause to ” I do this website for myself and nobody else.”

        I’ll see if going back to routine life with a job could help me get more scheduled and try updating more regularly. I do hope so.

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