Monday, January 30, 2017
After Diagon Alley, we moved on to the Men-in-Black shooter ride. We all went on it. It was about a 30 minute wait and we liked it better than the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disney. In the gift shop afterwards, I was able to buy a Noisy Cricket, which was the one item on my list to buy at Universal. Universal is pretty tight about letting you take bags on the rides. They do have lockers by the rides that you can use for free - as long as you claim your items within an hour. Having done a bunch of shopping at Diagon Alley we had a lot of bags to store. Note that some of the wand boxes are too long for the lockers but will fit diagonally if there is not much else in them. Coming out we found that the lockers were not working and had to get someone to override them for us. Luckily we were able to describe the contents well enough to get our items back. We walked through Springfield and took a bunch of pictures but didn't stop. The same at Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone. We were at the right time to catch the minions for Shan and then stopped in to see the Horror Make-Up show. There were lots of good props in the lobby and I took a lot of photos. Even though we tell them to hang on to each other in the crowds, D3 got separated from us in getting to our seats and sat on the other side of the theatre. The show was good - nice and funny. Nothing really new to anyone with even a passing interest in make up but enough humor and crowd participation to keep it moving. It emptied into the gift shop, as they all do. I was trying on the Terminator Leather Jacket ($165 US) when the Terminator show let out into the same gift shop and we had to wait until they cleared before we could get a picture. I did not get the jacket but D3 got a Fallout shirt and hat. We got outside in time to catch the parade, and took a few shots of the stars on the sidewalk. Then we had burgers and fries, with chocolate shakes at Mel's Diner across the street. We took some shots of the kids with the old cars outside the diner. Up the street we heard a commotion, and Shan was able to get a picture with Megatron. The actor was very good - very animated, We all went on the Transformers ride. There was a lot of good theming inside the waiting line - with knobs to turn and switches to flip. We sat in a Bumblebee and got moved from scene to scene to watch the 3D show. Afterwards, there was an actor outside in a Megatron suit, but he wasn't as good. On the way out we got some photos with the Shark from Jaws (Bruce) and then caught the Hogwart's Express back to the Islands of Adventure to leave. The parks closed at 8pm and 8:30pm this week so we had an early night back home. We took a taxi back but now believe it was one of the unregistered ones. Back at Riverside, we picked up our sent items from Monday at the store. I got some chicken nuggets for a snack and had some of Gaby's pasta. We all went for a swim in the pool. The water was very warm and very relaxing.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Wednesday August 24. We got up and breakfast here at Riverside. I again had the omelette. We took a checkered cab/van to Universal Studio Parks. On the way there, Cheryl realized that she had forgotten her tickets so we got off and she had another trip back to the resort for them and back to Universal. She would meet us at Diagon Alley. Our trip only cost $40 after tip. At Universal, they have nice moving sidewalks to get the people in, and the first section is all restaurants and shops before you even get in to the ticketed place. All of which are very nicely themed. We started in the Islands of Adventure and walked through Suess Landing, past the Lost Continent and Sinbad, and popped into Hogsmede long enough to take the Hogwart's Express train over to Universal Studios Florida, getting there just as it started to rain. We waited it out a bit but it didn't stop so we went on to Diagon Alley. We looked around and went into Ollivander's. We were able to get into the wand demo and Gee was able to have a wand selected for her. We were the only ones in that showing. The kids picked out interactive wands - Gaby got Hermione's and D3 got the generic one with the skull end. The rain was still coming down so we bought four ponchos as well. We had brought eight ones from the Dollar Store to Florida but had none with us that day. Gaby and Cheryl had gone on the Escape from Gringot's tour by the time I got out. I went on the single rider line which had a wait of 40 minutes and was done before them. Shan and D3 had taken the tour part of the ride while waiting. I also picked up a key at the Gringot's Money Exchange. By the time they finally got out the rain had mostly stopped. We looked around some more and Cheryl and the kids tried out their interactive wands at the fountain, and by the blacksmith. We got Butterbeers for Gaby and D3, Butterbeer ice cream for me, and Shan had the lemonade and got some meat pastries. We looked around a bit more. I bought some Bertie's Beans for the boxes. I keep hoping Gaby will do a Harry Potter-themed party one year. While waiting for the Dragon to spout fire, I caught some wizards fighting a Dementor. After a longer wait than had been up to that point, I finally got another flame picture - head-on this time - and joined the rest out by the Knight Bus.
Friday, January 20, 2017
I had another year of keeping up with the Fast Forces/Starter sets. I was even able to pick up the few sets that I had missed along the way. The only new set I picked up was the TMNT gravity feed – of which I got most of the set. While the dollar wasn’t great, I was mostly caught up with Warhammer 40K codices so I filled in some gaps from Troll and Toad. I was able to complete three more old sets – Sinister, Supernova, and Batman Alpha. I picked up some maps, and filled in a few more gaps. At the beginning of the year I focused more on completing some of the older WizKids sets. I have decided that I will focus on completing the nine WizKids sets I have left, and a select few of Neca sets. I’ll still keep up on the starters and fast forces sets. If the dollar improves and I get a good chance, I will even try to get of the bigger figures I am missing. I was finally able to get an AVX – X-men set, and I picked up an Avengers: Civil War set to confirm I have one. I also picked up the AVX OP kit with the Phoenix fragments. I’ll probably try to complete the rest of that set, as well as the few remaining figures I need from Batman Classic TV, and TMNT. I’ll even work away at the first few Neca sets, and maybe some of the smaller gravity feed sets. With the figures I’ve picked up, I am now close on Ultimates (0+3), Mutant Mayhem (3+2), Legacy (0+4), Armor Wars (3+0), Origin (4+0), Mutations & Monsters (1/5), Crisis (0/5), Secret Invasion (0/1), Arkham Asylum (0/3), Hammer of Thor (3/8), Brave and Bold (8/7) and Batman Classic TV (5), and TMNT (4+3). I still need the older larger figures - Spectre, both green Fooms, and both of the Phoenixes as well as the original Manhattan and Galactus but have been picking up a lot of the new individual bigger figures and sets. I picked up the Ant Man boxed set and have a line on the Foom (with pants). Neca only put out another 5 sets in 2016, and another 5 Fast Forces sets. I only collected one of these sets, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was able to keep up with the Fast Forces sets – I still need to pick up the last one from December – TMNT – Heroes in a Half Shell. I did pick up the TMNT big boxed starter which was on top of the 5 sets above. I now need 1764 heroclix figures. That still seems like an incredible amount. I now need 1020 Marvel figures and 737 DC figures. My REV total is now 1378 and my Unique/SuperRare total is 360 plus 26 Giant figures and 13 Team bases. But I have come to an acceptance of it. I am less interested in completing all the Neca sets of which I need 1730 figures (1367 REV and 337 Super rares) and am going to focus on completing the WizKids sets of which I only need 34 figures (11 REV and 23 Uniques). I will still get a few Necas as available, and then switch to some of the smaller Gravity Feed sets. Strikezone remains a source and I have completed a lot of the older ones from Troll and Toad. My goal for this year is to complete 4 of the remaining 9 Wizkids sets and maybe 2 of the Neca sets that I am close to finishing. I will also check a few of the local places to see what I can get.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Inspired by The Dice Tower and their top 10 lists, I have put together my top 10 games for 2016 as well. Note that these are games that I have played for the first time in 2016 not necessarily games that were released in 2016. With all the games that I already have, I got another 38 games plus several expansions last year. Some were purchased at the thrift stores and conventions, and some were new. The new games were Betrayal at House on the Hill, Black Ops, Dragon Rampant, Dust, En Garde!, Ender’s Game:Battle School, For Sale!, Geek Out!, Kings & Things, Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China, Lion Rampant, Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers: Shadows over Innistrad, Mars Attacks: 10 Minute Takedown, Mission Red Planet, OGRE: Objective 218, On the Seven Seas, Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem, Star Trek Fleet Captains, Sushi Go Party!, The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth, Timeline Challenge, TMNT HeroClix: Mouser Mayhem Starter Set, X-Men: Mutant Revolution. The ones I picked up not new were 221B Baker Street: The Master Detective Game, Attack of the Mutants, Blood Royale, Bunco Deluxe, Clue (2-6), Cranium Ziggity, Dune, Electronic Mystery Mansion, Inner Circle, Loopin’ Louie, Monopoly Hotels, Set, Showdown Yahtzee, Uno Hearts. A lot of these did not hit the table this year. Some games from previous years were finally played. Games that I played for the first time that did not make my list were: Hanabi, Loopin’ Louie, Telestrations, There’s a Moose in the House 13 – Archer – Once you Go Blackmail – Another Love Letter variation. The extra hidden card mechanism doesn’t work as smooth as the Batman variation does but it does speed up the rounds. 12 – Codenames – Basically it is like team password. I think it is okay for 4 or more players but I’m not as impressed as a lot of people seem to be with this one. 11 – Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China – a deck building game. I’ve only played the intro game a couple of times. There is a lot going on here and it seems like it has a lot of variation available. Not as easy to play as a single player even though listed as capable of such on the box. This involves a lot of set up to start. 10 – Mission Red Planet – A worker placement game that seems like it would be very complex but was actually pretty easy to pick up. It seems like there should be more to it but it’s certainly worth a few more plays to check. 9 – 13 Dead End Drive – An interesting marriage of the good elements of Clue and Mousetrap. More time spent on the set up for the board than it is worth but still a fun little game. 8 – For Sale! – A very simple auction game in two parts. In the first part you bid on properties, and in the second part you sell those properties. It is easy to explain, plays quick, and you can usually get a few games in as one game leads to another. 7 – Storage Wars – It’s not a bad game for a mass market license. I’m not a big fan of regular auction mechanics and that does form a big part of this game. Otherwise it is a quick game for up to 6 players. 6 – Inner Circle – A game from my youth that I am not sure I ever actually played but always wanted to. You maneuver your pieces to get on to the spots that remain when the boards are lifted away trying to be the only player to get to the final spot on the fourth board. 5 – OGRE: Objective 218 – A very small game in the OGRE universe. Still feels like a tight little war game even though it is more about maintaining a supply chain. 4 – Yahtzee: Free For All – An interesting variation which allows a bit more player interaction in that you get 1 round to steal points from another player before they can score them. Also pretty quick. 3 – Pandemic: Contagion – A much smaller version on Pandemic where you play as the viruses. Very tight on your resource management as you only have so many cubes and turns with which to work. 2 – Timeline Challenge – It includes 5 variations of how you can use Timeline cards built into the game. More than one player can score each round so it moves along nicely. There are two points where the bottom players get to play 1 round to get a chance to gain bonus points. It includes some new Timeline cards but you can add other Timeline decks that you already have to it. 1 – King of Tokyo – A giant monster battle contained in a quick, dice-rolling game that is both cute and brutal. I am looking forward to playing with the expansions but right now the base game is more than enough fun.
Friday, January 6, 2017
I ended up not getting any more figures to paint in the last few months of 2016. The final total for 2016 is: Batman Miniatures Containers – 2 Police Call Box – 1 Mexican Bandits – 16 The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth – 38 40K – Ork Burnas/Lootas – 5 Running total 2016 – figures bought 62, figures painted 0 This means 2016 squeeked in as my second lightest year for buying figures in the last seven years. I have already ordered some figures for the Batman Miniatures game, so those are on the way. Also, I'm very likely to get some Games Workshop games this year - likely the new Blood Bowl at least. So 2017 will probably be a miniature heavy year. With help from the family in reorganizing the storage locker, it's a bit easier for me to finish sorting the boxes at home to open up my workspace. Could 2017 be the year I finally put numbers in my figures painted column? I certainly hope so.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Sept Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne Pusher Aces of World War I by Jon Guttman Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic by Jason Surrell Knightsbridge: The Art of Keith Parkinson by Keith Parkinson Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight Walt Disney World – Twenty-Five Years by Disney Kingdom Editions History of Movie Musicals by Thomas G. Aylesworth The Films of Sean Connery by Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa Oct How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker by Penn Jillette and Mickey D. Lynn Special Effects in Film and Television by Jake Hamilton Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me by Bob Hope with Melville Shavelson King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis by Shawn Levy Nov Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography by Victoria Price The Art of Superman Returns by Daniel Wallace Stuntman!: my car-crashing, plane-jumping, bone-breaking, death-defying Hollywood life by Hal Needham Walt Disney Imagineering: a behind the dreams look at making the magic real by the Imagineers Leo Mol Sculpture Garden by Paul Duval The Encyclopedia of Immaturity by the Editors of Klutz Marvel: Absolutely Everything you need to know . . . by Adam Bray, Lorraine Cink, John Sazaklis, and Sven Wilson Dec Creative Play Direction by Robert Cotien and John Harrop Star Wars Character Encyclopedia by DK Books Maps of the Disney Parks by Kevin and Susan Neary Canada by Mike Myers