Year Ten Retrospective

2B and a friend

Tentacle Armada turns 10 years old today! When I published this site’s very humble first post, I did not imagine that I would keep this site going for another decade. Yet here it is; not as frequently updated as I would like but with 345 figure reviews in the archives, on top of a number of dakimakura cover and doll reviews, I don’t feel that this site has ever lacked for content.

Here are the site stats for the ten years of this site’s existence. Pageviews are off by maybe a hundred thousand due to a several-month period where views were being counted twice. It’s funny; I remember obsessing over site stats for the first few years but I don’t pay a lot of attention to them now. For one, there’s not much point in doing so; also, a lot of internet activity is tied up in social media, from which I generally abstain from participation, and thus never promote this site to new visitors. I do have a Twitter account that I infrequently post to, but I stopped using my Facebook profile a dozen years ago and – perhaps strangely for someone who runs a photography-based blog – I have never had an Instagram account.

This site hasn’t changed much over the years. Sometimes I think about giving it a revamp, perhaps switching over to a more slick and contemporary WordPress theme rather than the rather dated main-box-and-sidebar blog layout that I’ve been using for this last decade, but I’m not motivated enough to do that much work, and I actually like how this site has maintained a consistent look even as self-published blogs have become less of a thing over the years.

There are some other things that date this site, both obvious and less so. A very obvious one is the ex-president doll that I have used, who has kind of become a site mascot, particularly with the more lecherous figures I review. It would certainly be more appropriate for me to incorporate a doll of the current president in my photos, but somehow, I don’t think he’d be very popular here.

A less obvious thing is a post I never actually created. One of the prevailing ideas when I started this site is that you needed an expensive camera to get good pictures. I therefore resolved to do a series of photo shoots using a very inexpensive compact camera, knowing that I could get good results with my standard lighting setup. As usual, I waffled and procrastinated on actually doing the required work, and much to my surprise, the entire compact camera industry collapsed a few years ago, extirpated by smartphones. That was certainly something I did not see coming.

I’ve seen a lot of figure sites come and go over the years. I did take down the blogroll section because almost all the figure review blogs I liked to visit are now defunct (Wieselhead is the only one that is still maintained). That’s unfortunate, I suppose, but for myself, I still enjoy running a figure review website and I have no plans to cease updates. Therefore, here’s to another ten years of figure reviewing and pillowcase photographing (still one of the more popular aspects of this site, peculiarly enough).

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29 Responses to Year Ten Retrospective

  1. DP says:

    Congratulations! Your site is one of my favorites on the web – I enjoy both the great photography and sense of humor you display in the articles.

    On the main question, I think Obama doll likely has a better body for this sort of thing than Trump doll would have. The only other choice would be a Putin doll, if you wish for variety.

    • Tier says:

      Thank you XD I did think a bit about getting Putin, I have to admit; the Trump doll’s resemblance wasn’t quite as accurate, I thought, and Putin looks kind of like a stereotypical soulless evil Russian, which would work pretty well for what I would have used him for.

  2. Shirogane says:

    A ten year anniversary is a good occasion to finally delurk, I think. Congratulations!

    Even though generally I don’t collect neither statues/PVCs/etc (well – fine, I have one or two) nor lewd figures, and even though our views and tastes are quite different, I’ve always enjoyed reading your reviews. Hell, I’d say I’ve been spoiled by your high quality photos and backgrounds, as well as your ornate language, and I often find myself being very critical towards most figure reviewers, as I keep comparing their reviews with yours (though I tend to keep the critique to myself, as I’m a lurker by nature). Not that there’s so many photo reviewers nowadays – sadly, most of them prefer Youtube over a proper photo review on a blog.

    No need to change the theme! There’s nothing wrong with being somewhat old school, and the contrast and the legibility of the theme are fine. And there’s definitely no need to change the prez! 😉

    As a person who can’t afford an expensive camera, I hope that one day you’ll write that post about shooting with – well – a smartphone.

    Here’s to the next decade!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks very much for the kinds words! And thanks very much for visiting even though you don’t collect figures. Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of reviewers do video, and I guess I can’t really criticize that since I admit I look at video reviews for a lot of things (though, oddly, I’ve never watched a video review of an anime figure). I kind of like that my site has an old school sensibility to it.

      Ha, I wish I had bought a different smartphone than the one I own. I’ve got a (comparatively ancient) HTC One M8, and the camera on it is just really lousy – although maybe that would make it a reasonable candidate for trying to get decent pictures from a challenging platform.

      • Shirogane says:

        Oh, I *do* collect figures! I just collect figmas, Revoltechs, Figuarts, Shinki, third party Transformers, etc, as well as gunpla, Megami Device, Frame Arms Girls, etc. While I’m very much able to appreciate the beauty of the so called PVCs, I prefer to own smaller, poseable and/or easily customizable figures. Although I have made some rare exceptions in the past, and I will most likely make them again – I own G.E.M. Beelzebumon, for example, and I think that at some point I will buy that Black Lotus/Kuroyukihime you once reviewed. And I *must* buy the recently shown Quattro Bajeena PVC.

        I’d love to see you review one of the prettier mecha musume kits, by the way – like the Chitocerium Platinum one (once she gets released). Or Moderoid Ariel (again, once she’s out).

        And since I’ve mentioned mecha musume – have you ever thought of buying one of the FA Girl scales?

        I think that the most practical aspect of a video review is showing a 360° view of a figure, especially when said figure has some iridescent parts (like GSC’s Phosphophyllite) or some otherwise slightly unusual features (like Figure-Rise Labo Fumina’s layer injected fleshy parts). Although I’d say that usually it can be also shown well on photos, as long as they are decent.

        And yes, I think that you’d definitely be able to demonstrate that one can take good photos even with an ancient phone!

        • Tier says:

          Ah, my bad then. I have to admit I’ve actually not looked at any of the mecha musume kits in any great detail, other than noting that the Kotobukiya Frame Arms figures look pretty nice. The funny thing is that some of the first anime toys I ever collected were poseable mecha toys from Macross; I still have some of Yamato’s 1/48 scale VF-1s around here somewhere. I haven’t really thought too much about buying the current toys, in large part because I’m pretty bad at posing them in interesting ways; I’ve got maybe eight or ten Figmas and I don’t really do anything with them since I usually just pose them standing straight up.

          Yeah, there’s a lot of value in being able to show someone a full 360 degree view, or being able to zoom in on points of interest. I guess that’s one reason why I don’t feel too badly that my pictures tend more towards an artistic presentation rather than trying to show the figure in a neutral environment. I’m grateful that a lot of people who post pictures on MFC do that, though, since it helps me a lot when I’m trying to decide whether to buy a figure.

  3. Shirogane says:

    (Also, is it just me, or does this version of 2B look a bit like Chloë Grace Moretz here?)

    • Tier says:

      The 2B doll here is an outfit and head set from a Chinese manufacturer (Super Duck), and a lot of these Chinese doll companies seem to pattern their heads after well-known celebrities. I don’t know if they specifically selected Moretz but I think it is not too surprising that their heads and facial features look subliminally like famous actors and singers.

      • DP says:

        Cool. Will you do a post on the 2B doll? That would be neat.

        • Tier says:

          Man, I dunno; I guess I could though I’m really lousy at posing dolls, and I wound up breaking her sword handle off while trying to figure out how to get it into her hand. I guess I could try to do something with her since it’s sort of interesting how Super Duck has all these anime and video game-inspired costumes for sale.

      • Shirogane says:

        What DP said – it would be nice to see a post featuring her!

  4. wieselhead says:

    Congratulations on the tenth year senpai ^^

    You were one to the driving factors that made me interested in anime and later ero figures.
    Your awesome and sometimes impressive pictures always were a great inspiration for me to try harder. Nowadays I’m at a level I feel confident about and that is a nice feeling.

    2010 I started blogging myself, I really enjoyed the time when the figure blogsphere was super active, unfortunately that lasted only for 3-4 years. I honestly got depressed by that lonely feeling a lot, but now it’s ok for me even though I still remember all the blogs from everyone.
    I understand that with growing age people will lose interest in figures (lame) and writing reviews is often a pain in the ass, but damn I miss those folks (´_`.

    I decided to desperately cling to my blog with everything I got XD.
    Hahaha I really enjoy adding new posts, sure I lost a bit enthusiasm and figure prices will soon force me to order less than in recent years, but I still love what I’m doing. Well, I decided to be present on facebook too even though I blame it for the decline of figure blogs and don’t like the layout at all. Anyway I feel happy about the appreciation I often receive from people.

    I hope to see you around in the future, all the best.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! XD One of the initial goals of this site was to take photos of more explicit figures which, as I recall, weren’t that popular or prevalent ten years ago. It’s funny how quaint that seems now. I’m glad that I was able to get at least one person interested in them!

      I recently looked around to see which sites were still around and I was sad to note that HappySoda seems to be busted, meronpan’s site is offline, and I got a malware warning when I tried to access Heisei Democracy. I guess people have moved on to other things. I’m sort of surprised that I haven’t done so myself since I usually don’t stay interested in hobbies for more than a couple of years. Somehow, I’m still buying figures, more than I probably ought to. Figure prices haven’t scared me off yet but some of these recent prices (like Velvet Crowe and Amakuni’s Iowa) are just eye-watering.

  5. Aya says:

    10th years congratulation 😀 a great benchmark =)

    only use the social media you comfortable with =) Instagram is bothersome for camera user .. if only they let upload use computer instead of phone apps or use one of those software that allow you to install and running android/ios apps on PC lol which always sounds silly to me.

    as I can see by how it’s, As long you still buying figures this blog will keep running =)

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Maybe I’m just incompetent at using the site but I was trying to figure out if there’s a way to enlarge pictures on Instagram and I couldn’t seem to find a way to do it. I guess it’s more of a mobile platform and I barely ever use my phone so it’s probably not the sort of app that’s aimed at me.

  6. KoTaKoSonG says:

    Wow, a decade. Congrats!
    I wanna say thank you for a lot of pictures of figures you have been posted. As some of it I used as reference for my decision to buy figures. Thank you very much.

    I hope for you to keep doing it and more frequent (1 figure a month is not enough!).

    • Tier says:

      Thank you XD Yeah, I feel pretty badly about the pace of reviews; I was on a decent roll in the summer and then things crashed to a halt (my excuses: too many video games as usual – this is usually because of World of Warcraft but I got hooked on Azur Lane a few months ago, a period of illness, and having to study for a Security+ exam). I’m going to try to get back on schedule since I have a bunch of figures sitting here, and I’ve got one more in transit (the Hot Limit Uzuki, which I didn’t think would actually ship this month).

  7. mona-chan says:

    Happy 10th Anniversary and Congratulation! Glad to see that you are still updating this site from time to time and I always look forward to your updated contents. Have always been interested in anime, but it was through your page and wieselhead that I have gotten more seriously into figure collecting lately.

    Always wanted to start a page (maybe I should) but the time and commitment to write a detailed review can be pretty daunting. I ended up sticking with casual posting on instagram. Ultimately, I believe that whatever platform or social media is irrelevant as long as figure collecting and photography is fun and fulfilling.

    Figure photography has help me discovered photography and appreciation for my figures which I never had otherwise. You still take really good photos and do keep up the good work. PS, I sometimes download your photos to find out what camera settings and camera you are using =)

    • Tier says:

      Thank you so much XD Yeah, running a website is a lot of work and I can definitely see the appeal of using something like Facebook or Tumblr. In fact, I have occasionally had some ideas for a side blog and I never considered using a microblogging platform, but now that I think about it, it might not be a bad idea.

      I hope you were able to find some useful information! I haven’t really done much in the way of photography tutorials recently, but maybe that’s something I ought to look into again, especially with good-quality camera equipment being so cheap these days.

  8. icelava says:

    Oh come on, the current president would be highly appropriate since he has invaluable experience with how to grab them by the pu–

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, he’d make perfect sense. I probably would think harder about getting a Trump doll if there were one with a really good likeness; I think the Obama doll I use (which wasn’t actually sold as a doll of Obama) is funny in large part because the head sculpt is so easily recognizable, but the one Trump doll I’ve seen is a bit iffy in terms of realism.

  9. KKtelo says:

    Oww! Congratulations on the milestone! I can’t wait to see what you come up with these upcoming years!

    You motivated me to get into figure reviews and photography, it has been a grand amount of help seeing your photos and tutorials. Although I haven’t done too many myself, because of my camera work ノ﹏ヽ. That’s something I’ll have to work on this year.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the reviews and tutorials you create! Especially one with choices of camera’s/ lens, that’s one I’m super puzzled about T v T

    • Tier says:

      Thank you XD I’ll try to do more tutorials; I’ve had one in mind for using off-camera flashes but I’ve never gotten around to writing it. But flashes are so cheap now that I would recommend that anyone seriously interested in still life still photography ought to take a look at using them. My choice of camera hasn’t actually changed much, I used a Canon EOS 7D many many years ago, and I’ve since “upgraded” to a 7D Mark II, which was kind of a waste of money since it doesn’t offer a whole lot more capability. Most of my photos are taken with the cheap Canon 60mm macro lens, which I find offers a tight field of view and good sharpness.

  10. nuo2x2 says:

    your (blog) life is something to be proud of Tier, while other blogs stopped updating, your keep going, awesome consistent works over the decade… salute!

    here’s to another 10 years ahead, cheers!!!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks very much XD Man I’m sad that many of the other blogs aren’t running now, though … I still check foo-bar-baz every now and then but his last review was of that Good Smile Company Rin Tohsaka figure so many years ago, and he just has this auto-posting script running. I wonder who’s paying the bill for the web hosting.

  11. Otakumouse says:

    Congratulations! This site is one of the “OG” figure sites I visit back in the day and one of my motivation in creating my own. Keep it up and more power!

    PS: Mine just turned 9 this year too! We are getting old guys! ^^;

    • Tier says:

      Thanks XD Congratulations to you, too! You know, Kiriko Hattori is still one of my favorite figures, though I have to figure out where her hairpin fell off to. And I still haven’t reviewed that Fate Zero Saber figure …

  12. Philip brownlee says:

    Congrats man. You are one of the old school, you are easily the best figure reviewer hands down.

    I got into figures around 2009 and I used to live on this site. I have purchased many figures based off of your recommendation.

    I got into MFC around the same time, and the Two sites couldn’t have become more different. As they have gotten huge the community has disappeared. Now it’s just a soulless place for buying and selling, as figure sales have become huge business.

    It’s mind of crazy how things have changed these last 10 years. Figure review sites have disappeared while social media and figure sales have exploded.

    GSC and Alter stuff used to be under $100. Now it’s rare to have a figure under $200. Stuff in demand has almost become unobtainable. I recently got back into collecting and saw that 2 characters from a game I played were now available (Xenoblade Pyra and Mythra). I balked when I saw the going price is over 1.4k. For figures that were under $200! The aftermarket is insane.

    Sorry for rambling but yeah I love this site, and I hope Obama and the infamous tentacle stand sticks around for another 10 years!

    • Tier says:

      Thanks very much XD I’m glad that you’ve stuck around, even as the posts have become less frequent (something that I continually feel pretty bad about).

      I haven’t used MFC very much recently, but my impression of the site when I’ve looked at it matches your view exactly. I was really surprised at how most of the comments on figures are from vendors rather than collectors. I guess I can’t really criticize the admins for that since I don’t pay anything to use the site but it does make it less usable. I also think it’s narrow-minded how they prohibit figures from non-Japanese makers; there have been some figures from Chinese (and I think Korean) companies that ought to be included in their database in my opinion but aren’t because of their ban.

      Yeah, it’s been a really weird evolution, though I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since so many of my hobbies have gone through the same transformation from niche to mainstream. I’m happy that there are a lot of really great figure makers, but I’m kind of sad at how companies like Alter and GSC have become so predictable in terms of what characters they make figures of. I don’t buy nearly as many Alter figures as I used to and that’s a little depressing, since they were far and away my figure figure manufacturer when I started collecting.

      I passed on the two Xenoblade figures because of their high prices and now I’m thinking that was a mistake. That said, I feel modestly confident that they will get re-released at some point, given the popularity of the game and GSC’s penchant for re-issuing figures (except for that one Rin Tohsaka figure, I guess; I’m really surprised they haven’t re-released that one).

      No worries at all about rambling, thanks so much for visiting this site XD All the staples of this site are definitely sticking around, though I might put Obama back in his old trench coat, as his new suit jacket looks pretty baggy on him.

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