Category Archives: Internet

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Speedway, Factory Set-Red Line Exclusives

For everyone who wanted a set in the US, I hope you got in under the relatively relaxed time constraint and I know for international collectors, you had to jump through some hoops.

This is a general recap and an assessment of the situation.

eBay?

First, it depends on what kind of collector and of course, your general stance on collecting. If you’re an ultra completist mint-in-box, mint-on-card collector, of course you have to have this. If you were not able to get one, there will be plenty of opportunities on the secondary market in the next few weeks. As “Noel” mentions, there will be buyer’s remorse or someone who bought 4 and now, everytime they walk by the room, the extra sets are quietly ghost-like whispering ($345 dollars, $345 dollars … or in the case of those who bought 4 and didn’t tell their spouse … “dead man walking, dead man walking.”) (including the RLC membership) … or they get it in their hands and the thrill of the chase is more enticing than actually finding it … conversely, there are those who wanted it and rashly decided to sleep in or doing something silly like helping the needy (I’m kidding! I’m kidding!) or of course, you happen to live in a country that Mattel doesn’t recognize (America, Canada – you’re okay … Cuba, Iran, Libya, or Sudan – not so fast … England, you say? – sorry, not on my list. Portugal – nope, not on the list of countries we recognize 😦 🙂 …

Historical Pattern Pricing?

The only real history for CARS exclusive box set pricing is the 2006 Factory Set which sold for $149 plus $12 for shipping + $30 for RL membership or @$190.00. The problem is that in its time context, it’s hard to measure against any other sets. Again, I am not arguing whether you want to, need to, or not buy it. That is entirely your decision, I’m only speaking of its pattern of pricing and sales. The only real problem is that between the time Mattel announced it and when it was actually sold/or released, the market had changed. Because by the time the set became available in October 2007, Mattel has switched to the Supercharged card design while the Factory Set was still the desert art – also by the time the set was available, we were awash in CARS from the early WOC releases, the WM 8, the new 3-packs and the holiday Movie Moments – all diminishing interest at some level and taking money off the CARS table as it were – just as if the set had been released during the summer CARS drought (pre WM8), who knows, it might’ve sold in 15-minutes only because people had CARS money budgeted but nothing to buy … so it’s never easy to do direct comparisons because each circumstance is so different.

Because you can argue logically for and against anything collectible. So, while I’m generalizing a bit, basically, after the set went on sale on the Red Line Club and sold out in about 3.5 hours, there was virtually no movement on the secondary market (most sold for around $200 so if you include the membership cost, virtually no profit) – not necessarily that it was a bad set – only that it arrived when we were awash with literally dozens of CARS in various packs so most people’s interests were on other CARS – so when most of the auctions on eBay didn’t generate much interest, sellers stop listing. And then you get a seesaw supply/demand/pricing pattern. Then later, when one person lists it as a BUY IT NOW for $400 and it sells – suddenly, more auctions appear but add in a few more auctions available then, the equalibrium price gets pushed down to $250 – at that price, sellers drop away – waiting for the next high benchmark and cycle … and of course, what is profitable to one seller is not-enough for another. It all depends. Basically, patience is a virtual. If you don’t have to have one this instant, you might pay $150 less than the next guy for this set but then again, maybe it’s worth $150 extra to you not to have to keep checking eBay. In college, $150 might’ve bought us a UPS truck of ramen 🙂 but after you’ve been working a while, $150 is half a day’s work … and just like some of you happily pay for a $150 dollar bottle of wine, many of you think anything above $10 is foolish. 🙂

The one thing with this set is of the 500ish floating around there – I’ll bet 475 are unopened since my feeling is only true hardcore collectors bought this set – now, what % vow to hold onto it until their last gasp of air on Earth or what % are willing to part for a hundred % return, that’s difficult to say … but its size also plays a factor into it – sometimes people just want to sell it because it’s so damn large in addition they don’t care anymore so if they can reasonable get their money back – SOLD.

The Future of the Speedway Set?

Again, it depends on why you are buying this. If you are merely buying this as an investment, like most things, the price will ebb and flow – while people like to cite “real investments,” how’s that Enron stock working out for you? Or instead of buying MIcrosoft 15 years ago, you bought 2 years ago … just like the guy who sold a Speedway set for $360 on ebay earlier today … the guy made a $60 profit for 3 minutes of work – to him, clearly enough return while another listing is at $1,000 – what is it’s real worth? Well, we know have a pretty reliable secondary market – eBay … and sure, action figures (or toys) can be fickle but it’s impossible to predict its future value. Things fall in favor, things fall out of favor – from art to first edition books to fashion. Sure, most toys nowadays are always going to be available mint-on-card or mint-in-box but honestly, after a while people forget about them or there are so few listings on eBay, at long as you have 2-4 people actively seeking that thing, prices will stay high. Some things going in favor of this set, it’s limited, and until Mattel releases the remaining 22+ Piston Cup racers, the 22+ CARS are truly exclusive & limited. But again, while people might care today or 5 years down the line? It’s impossible to say. That’s exactly like saying “what is the right time to sell my stock?” There is no answer because if I said, I could guarantee you that in 10 years, the set will sell for $1,000 … presuming inflation isn’t too crazy, that’s a nice return on your money but if you just got out school and you’ll be changing jobs and moving 9 times in the next 10 years, how much is it worth to you to schlep this giant box from place to place – all to make @$75 a year return? See, you can figure it a thousand ways.

Or on a practical level, is the value diminished if I said every CAR will be released? Maybe, maybe not. Because the final interested party is going to be the ultimate decider. They might have every Piston Cup racer but think, man it would be nice to have that mantle-piece set even if it means repeating their collection – or Mattel could go all crazy and release a freakin’ Speedway set EVERY year and if you buy ten, you get a complete racetrack (along with 10 more Lightning McQueen’s) … even with that, maybe people will still just clamor for the first one?

So, there’s no predicting the future. Not only that, every set that sells after the first few weeks will face different circumstances … some completely un-connected to CARS, eBay or even your particular auction. Same goes for opening or not opening it, its final value can be seen from all vantage points … like the $1,000 example above – in the early stages of your life $750 (profit) is a lot of money but later on in life, it might not even buy you a wedding cake … and of course, that’s not a guarantee … what if it will sell for $500 in ten years, not even matching inflation … in other words, is it worth $10 a year to open and play with it? Or maybe it’s $2,000? Maybe in ten years, you’ll be worth $50 million, then what’s even $2,000 to buy a set of memories of 2008? I don’t know and no one can say either absolute with any certainty about any purchase or investment.*

So, bottom line – it’s your money & your purchase. Have the fun that you think is the way you want to go. Whether that’s encasing it in argon and a museum case to admire it, whether that’s to open and twist-tie them or whether it’s to see the Speed Racer funnel launcher will really shoot a CAR across your ceiling. Have fun!

*Okay, you can buy T-bills and you know your return but not exactly exciting.

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Motor Speedway Display – Large View

There is some dispute about the display box itself so I’m providing you the large view photos that “S” originally sent along – I had to shrink to fit in WordPress’s 8″ limitations … so if you’re interested in examining it further, just follow the link to ZSHARE to download and view on your own desktop.

The base seems to be a nice thick plastic as “S” originally mentioned – about 4 mm – the box cover does not seem as thick but perhaps that’s just imagination. Take a look and let me know what you think.

ZSHARE LINK to large JPEG’s: http://www.zshare.net/download/1227600350b1a7ca/

Original un-boxing post here.

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Yahoo – Exists Solely for Shareholders? For Customers? or For Employees?

The Yahoo situation brings up some interesting issues. Does the right of a majority shareholders trump everyone else?

Or perhaps better phrased, does a shareholder who bought last week (Carl Icahn buys 50 million or 4% of Yahoo) have the same say as long time shareholders?

AND is it simply that every stock you hold and for that matter, every company out there simply exists – all bidding its time – until it’s sold to someone else at the highest conceivable price?

In other words, if it can be sold, it must?

Microsoft in its original offer said they would achieve $1 BILLION in savings … now, I have not gone over their messages with a fine tooth comb but it’s safe to say you pretty much ONLY achieve substantial savings in overhead by firing/laying off people. Yes, they said they would evaluate the situation and there are no “plans” for mass layoffs but not many companies come out and say we’re buying you to eliminate competition and fire most of the employees.

Again, if a company is perceived as currently undervalued, does it mean it should be dismantled and absorbed into another company?

And how quickly is that undervalued period allowed to “fester?” Apple was selling at $120 a share not more than 2 months ago and now is hovering around $190 … it has almost doubled in share – shouldn’t that mean in that two-month time period, Apple should’ve been on the market to be sold? Clearly it undervalued by nearly 50% in just 2 months?!

Or was it merely a mistake by a number of investors?

So, the system is not 100% perfect all the time is it?

So, if Yahoo is undervalued by most but not by what Microsoft at one point was willing to pay, does that mean Yahoo must sell?

That as a shareholder, you are only holding its shares until a better offer comes along? If it’s a dime more, a dollar more of five more a share – SELL! SELL! SELL?!

And yet, as a shareholder in bankruptcy hearings – you have the least amount of rights. First comes employees, bond holders, then those owed accounts payable and virtually in all circumstances, holders of common stock get squat … so why is the situation reversed here?

Is Yahoo officers, its board and its thousands of employees opinions worth nothing? That as long as someone is willing to offer $.01 more than what it’s selling for now, it’s SELL, SELL, SELL and raze the damn thing to the ground because that’s my right as a common stock holder?

What about companies such as Nextel (purchased by Sprint for $30+ billion but writing off $29.5 billion – essentially saying Nextel is about 10% for what we paid for it). How many employees of Nextel-Sprint will lose their jobs? Will the investment bankers who told Sprint that Nextel was worth $30+ billion say whoops and give back their fees? Of course, you could argue that Sprint mismanaged the buyout but I guess that’s nothing the investment bankers could’ve predicted or care about, right? Ot of course, Warner buying AOL and writing of $99 BILLION dollars of that purchase … yes, BILLION with a B … again, whoops?

Or this quote: “In 2002, when Alfred Rappaport, then professor emeritus at Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal that buyers typically overpay for the companies they target, due partly to being overly optimistic about cost-cutting opportunities and their superior management capabilities.

Rappaport said that two-thirds of acquiring companies see their stock prices immediately fall upon news of a deal, a drop that “usually corresponds” to performance of such stocks over the next year. The “sobering facts” about mergers and acquisitions, he wrote, are that “a majority of them don’t work.”

Will Carl Icahn guarantee the stock price of MS will be fully worth the value of MS now and Yahoo at its highest? After all, he’s nominating his own board (did these 5-8 guys ride around on a bus until Carl Icahn told them to get off in Sunnyvale – yes sir, whatever you say, thank you for the check, sir. I will do as I’m told. You can count on me to vote as you say).

AFTER ALL he’s own his shares of Yahoo for … almost a week now. That’s what it’s all about? Buying at $25, bringing in 8 guys who have signed an oath to him and selling at $25.78?

Customers? Users? Employees? They are worth nothing. As long as you can buy at $25 and sell at $25.78, that’s ALL that counts?

Selling out everything to the highest bidder at the drop of a hat is the reason you build a company, right? – after all, who cares that MS will have to write off 50% of the purchase share or layoff 5,000 people and perhaps even close the Yahoo name – not their business. They bought shares and held for nearly a week – that gives him unlimited powers to do whatever they want.

Really?

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Speedway Set Conspiracy Theorists Unite

Mattel seems to jumping on the gun on the website.

For SECOND-CLASS citizens, you know the first level Hot Wheels Collector Club members, they have already pre-announced the Motor Speedway of the South for you is a sell out.

For Red Line Club Members, it merely announces the date it will go on sale, the 20th of May.

Don’t panic – just sloppy web housekeeping.

Here is a screenshot from a few minutes ago (today is May 18, 2008).

So, nice job of not only causing undue panic but playing into the hands of the er, few, many, millions who think you … well, don’t think too much about us …

Of course, this also might mean you don’t really have a handle on how this whole HTML, web thing works when someone somewhere either can’t code in the words UNAVAILABLE YET or you have already pre-loaded the page for Tuesday presuming they’ll have to load the page anyway after a couple hours of the Motor Speedway going on sale … perhaps not really boding well for Tuesday morning when a few, many, thousands, might be attempting to login and buy all at once.

So, panic now or panic later?

We might want to keep this info handy:

Red Line Club Customer Service:

1-800-858-0102, Monday-Friday
7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time

So, good luck all and hope we survive all this with dignity, decorum and calm … or is is too late for that already?

(Please note, I could’ve been a total bas**** and titled this post – MOTOR SPEEDWAY OF THE SOUTH – SOLD OUT! but then I didn’t want to cause a pre-riot before the real riot on Tuesday …)

So, again, NOT sold out – just a jumping of the gun of web design …

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Red Ransburg – Worth Thousands or Tainted? (Updated)

THIS Post has been updated and moved to our new TakeFiveADay.com – Simply click on the text link or the logo above. Thanks!

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Review: Grand Theft Auto IV – Liberty Call

Sailors understand the phrase, “liberty call.” It means you are finally touching land and you have a few hours, a few days to spend all your money on souvenirs, salads and antiquing … at least that’s what it says on the official Navy website.

The Grand Theft Auto IV game is completely different. You get to be the you you want to be if you had no inhibitions or deal with that stupid law & order thing they keeping talking about … Unfortunately, I am stuck in Club Penguin and wonder if the grass is indeed …um, the kind of greener grass you mow …

So, JackDaddy spent just a few hours/days playing the game to let us know. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to worry about alloting time to find CARS in any retail stores (inside joke) so he can devote all his time to properly being a gangsta gangster in Liberty City … take it away JackDaddy … (a perfect character name by the way).
LIBERTY CITY – HAVE YOU BEEN THERE YET?

For those who don’t know and for those who think they don’t/shouldn’t care, April 29th was a big, big day for home entertainment.

At 1 minute past zero in the morning, retailers and onlinepurchasing systems around the planet went into overdrive.

After 2 years of hype, advertising and some text bookmarketing stops and starts, Rockstar North realised a life time ambition.

(MET: I realized the UK still hates the letter Z … “realized.” 🙂 )

I am of course referring to Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City.

So what’s the big deal?

Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City (GTA4) is estimated to have cost $100 million to produce, market and release, a fact alone worth taking notice of! Incredibly it is now officially the fastest and biggest selling home entertainment retail item of all time!

GTA4 sold approximately 3.6 million units on its opening day with a retail value of approximately $310 million globally.

It sold 6 million units globally with an estimated retail value of more than $500 million in the first week.

No VINYL, AUDIO CASSETTE, VIDEO CASSETTE, DVD, CD or GAME has ever sold anything like that before!

That’s the Beatles, Star Wars, Super Mario, and others, smashed off the charts!

The figures are still rising, with most retailers reporting that strong sales are continuing and some even running out of product!

Sony refuse to admit it, but retailers are also saying thatthey have sold more Playstation 3’s in this quarter than they did in the PS3 launch month quarter and if sales continue, possibly more than they did for Christmas! This would more than confirm the belief that most gamers have delayed their PS3purchase until the release of GTA4! Only Nintendo and Mario have sold a console like this before, but the figures were peanuts compared to this.

But that surely could just be a result of hype and clever advertising?

Is it really that special?

The simple answer is – ABSO ’BLOODY’ LUTELY!

I have essentially spent a whole week in Liberty City, so before I tell you all why, let me tell you what is wrong with it. I assure you all I will not give too much away.

Despite the release of Vice City stories on XBOX & PS2 afew years ago, GTA4 has essentially had to follow up what many describe as the greatest video game of all time, Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas. This was a revolutionary game and arguably was the main player game wise that helped to bridge the gap between geeks/teenagers and the adult market with free time at home. For those who played it, you will know what made it great. I have caned the life out of both GTA San Andreas and GTA4 in my spare time, but am somehow left fonder of GTA San Andreas in many ways.

(MET: I have no idea what the last sentence meant in American English but I believe he likes virtual macking, jacking and hoin’ … 🙂 of course, hey, who doesn’t?)

It is hard to say why, but I suppose it is probably has to be a combination of factors. GTA San Andreas was so innovative and groundbreaking at the time, every turn had a new never before in a video game surprise. The sheer exploratory side of the game was incredible. The humour was at times genius and missions (overall) were a joy. Playing it was like eating a slice of deprived 90s urban America, and getting the runs as a result, with references to all our favourite black gangsta movies, rappers and personalities from recent times. It was naughty, nostalgic and a massive virtual playing field where you could just do whatever you wanted without consequence. Customisation of your character and Car also made your copy of the game unique.

(MET: In Club Penguin, I planted a tulip on my ice floe).

GTA San Andreas was warm, a friend even!

So GTA4 isn’t then?

It’s an entirely different game, part of a new era!

The down side of this? In GTA4, you can’t………………

1 – Fly a plane.

2 – Gang fight like in San Andreas

(You could literally fill up a van with your homeys and go round to you enemies and take them out.)

3 – Parachute jump

4 – Jet pack around

5 – Play as many in game games like the casino/with characters/danceoffs

6 – Make money as easily

7 – Get a hair cut/tattoo

8 – Buy as many clothes

9 – Customise your Car

10 – Buy property

11 – Go into a nightclub

(even though one of the radio DJs is house music legend François K)

Due to the above, its ground breaking innovation and the fact that GTA San Andreas has such a brilliant story and setting, I will always be very fond of it, maybe more so than GTA4. GTA San Andreas had many, many flaws/glitches and bad points, having me throwing my controller across the room! Remember the ‘learn to fly Carl’ missions anyone? Oh my god!

Fondness is fondness, I am fond of ex girlfriends, but they are not better than others!

GTA4 is a darker, grittier experience. You can tell that the franchise has grown up a lot, and is taking its self much more seriously as mainstream medium. The silliness is gone, the next gen engines have been explored and it reeks of real life. It’s a virtual realm, but a believable one!

Rockstar are clearly saying – “hello adults, don’t watch that DVD, play this!”

So is GTA4 over rated then? NO!

If anything, recent reviews and exposure leave it looking somewhat under rated. This is probably deliberate; maybe because Rockstar know what they have got and are letting their consumers do the talking for them (look what I am doing?)

I have now completed it twice as a story and have nearly went through all the mini missions within the game. For those who do not know, that’s a hell of a lot of game play, basically everyday for long periods of time during the last two weeks

In total, the games main story mode contains 87 missions, some very brief, a few very long with most others around the 5 – 10 minutemark. In addition, the game also contains –

9 x Assassin missions

10 x drug run missions

40 x car steal missions

9 x races

50 x police car missions

36 x other random missions involving characters

200 pigeons to shoot (replacing the ridiculous clams from San Andreas)*

50 stunt jumps to perform.

(MET: *Yes, clams is correct – not a typo).

Its retail price? £44.99 or $29.99!

(MET: If you were paid in £’s and then flew to the US but here in the US, it’s $59.99 … and of course, ours is the NTSC version).

This is undoubtedly the bargain of gaming history. GTA4 contains the equivalent of at least 4 – 6 games if you consider the length andcontent of games already released and available for PS3 and XBOX360.

IT’S MASSIVE!

In fact, in my opinion, you would be getting value for money if you bought a PS3 and a copy of GTA4, just to be able to play GTA4. You would get a blue ray DVD player for free and an online compatible gaming console too?!

The game is just wild!

Rockstar have made the playing field more condensed, but San Andreas did have huge waste lands of space with nothing to do.

Liberty City doesn’t.

For those who don’t know, it’s based on New York.

You play an illegal immigrant and experience his struggles as he arrives off the boat from Eastern Europe and moves in with his cousin in Brooker.

(MET: Location: Liberty City, broken up into five areas: Brooklyn is Broker; Manhattan is Algonquin; Queens is Dukes; The Bronx is Bohan & New Jersey is Alderney)


The story mode prompts you from there and 87 missions later reaches conclusion.

There is an alternative ending scenario, but is not much different.

The graphics, architecture and physics are exciting, dazzling and true media innovation.

Detail has obviously figured to be paramount in planning and it is staggering just how much there is.

Simply driving around is breath taking, with every Car having different handling, acceleration, braking and cornering features. All the vehicles are beautiful, with well over 400 to drive/ride/fly/steer.

When Rockstar released the less popular but mildly superior videogame version of the 1970s classic gangland movie ‘The Warriors’ not long after GTA San Andreas a few years ago, it left players begging the question, “why can’t GTA be like this?” Rockstar seemed to have learnt from that and have almost injected the GTA franchise with the Warriors strengths, most noticeable when your character is running, jumping, fighting and climbing.

One of the focal points of GTA4 is its new cover and targeting system, this is essentially up there with the best of games now, where as San Andreas had terrible targeting and weapons accuracy, it was a poor part of the game and looked as though they had to do it rather than wanted to. GTA4 pulls this off perfectly, with all objects in game becoming usable ascover which you can duck up and down from or blind fire from while avoiding incoming bullets. The weapons are slightly limited, but are all awesome. Enemies are much more intelligent, they too will duck and cover and try to kill you more assertively, whereas in previous GTA instalments, they stood still and were easily avoided.

There is just so much you can do in this game, with shootouts, chases, races, and missions to make your eyes pop out in astonishment.

(MET: Penguins?)

My favourite level in story mode was the Bank Robbery. Without giving too much away, this is very much like the bank robbery scene from the film Heat with De Niro and Pacino. It took me 40 minutes to get through this level.

The Assassin missions were another joy. Merely answering the phone and then going to take people out was almost like a game all to itself.** There are hundreds of similar things to do like this, like vigilante mode or most wanted mode in a cop car. You can also just go for a drive and cause mayhem with whomever you choose. My Brother particularly finds joy in causing endless road blocks which he then explodes. I had fun while on top of abuilding merely phoning the cops and shooting them.

**(MET: remind me never to call JackDaddy 😉 )

YES, YOU CAN PHONE PEOPLE!

The biggest change from San Andreas is the Multimedia capability in GTA4.

You can use the in-game internet and your mobile phone, which becomes part of your progress success. You can also access the Police computers from any police vehicle and use their information to your gain.

While online, you can read blogs, email certain people, arrange dates and even send a job application! Virtual reality with a sick sense of humour!

Your phone is equipped with a camera; you can send/receive text messages and can phone certain characters. You can also phone random numbers dotted around the game, some of which are very amusing!

You can go out with friends/dates an do a variety of activities, like bowling, pool, darts, food etc.

The Music is excellent, with loads of different radio stations to listen to, some hosted by very some very famous people indeed.

The humour is there but it’s not as slapstick as San Andreas, which is a little sad, and there are lots of liberal agenda antiestablishment skits and references. GTA4 gives you a panoramic look at the not so different world of our own in your living room. It’s ironic, sarcastic, brutally honest and always down right vicious!

(MET: Welcome to Brooklyn!)



All in all it is an incredible gaming experience, and is the ultimate time killer.

There isn’t a two player option which is a little disappointing, but there is a 16 player online mode you can play via the network. My Brother and I happily exchanged the controller throughout missions and mini games though.

In closing, I would say that the franchise is gearing up for Expansion packs, maybe like the Sims, where every 6 – 12 months they release something new to accompany the game. This would be welcomed in Liberty City, where many of the buildings look empty and dormant, almost demanding to become involved. More clothing and activity outlets/venues would have been better; you can’t really customise your character that well or do a lot with in game characters. My Brother and I are salivating at the prospect of playing GTA San Andreas revisited!

Who knows?

One thing we all know or will know is that Rockstar Games have changed history as we know it with Grand Theft Auto 4 Liberty City.

If you haven’t already – BUY IT!

(PS3 & Xbox360)

Need a PS3 or XBox360?

BTW, there are five non-violent things you can do in GTA4 😉

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Hasbro Lego Indiana Jones: The Action Figure Checklist

Opening May 22, 2008, the long awaited return of Indiana Jones. Hard to believe it’s almost 20 years since the last one … at least they haven’t tried to simply pawn off the Indy character as just a few years after the LAST CRUSADE but that it’s “real time.” THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is set in 1957, @19 years after the 1938 setting of THE LAST CRUSADE.

And unlike the first go-around, they are loaded for bear with toys this time.

For some odd reason, perhaps because the first release of action figures for Indiana Jones around 1982 did not sell that well, the two sequels never featured much of anything in the way of action figures. Presumably, also that the TEMPLE OF DOOM was not exactly kid friendly or all that compelling action figure-wise (hey look, it’s the variant box set of the Indian slave kids!) and of course, the LAST CRUSADE was Nazi’s and biblical – one controversial and one polarizing.

One reason the first figures didn’t particularly sell well was that they were not sculpted all that well …

Though conversely, because they were not that popular, if you have a complete set mint-on-card, it’s worth thousands … especially the mail-away Belloq …

There was a release not long ago that was available at the Disney Resorts that again did not look very much like Indy & also not very complete in regards to the number of figures:

Um, does anyone know what Harrison Ford actually looks like?

So, for the new release, Hasbro is making up for lost time & sales …

I’m sure there will be over 1,000 products tied into the release but we’ll just concentrate on the actual action figures. There are three main groupings.

The Hasbro 3/4″ line
The Hasbro 12″ line
& the others from Sideshow, Medicom and Takara.

Also note, some descriptions of characters & accessories might be SPOILERS so if you’re the type who can’t forget anything … you might not want to know … though the statute of limitations has run on some spoilers (Sean Connery is his father 🙂 ).

The basic line is the 3 3/4″ line

(@6.99 retail)

You get your choice of 5 Indy’s …

In order: Indy & Idol, Indy in Cairo Square, Indy from Castle Grunwald & from the new film – Indy & Rocket launcher (not from Raiders) and Indy & Crystal Skull.

Each sold separately, of course.

Some look like Harrison, some look his stunt double … but it’s a nice price and all with accessories – of course, the Ark is the best accessory.

Of course, you get other figures from the 4 movies … as noted, they are not kidding around this time … you get 21 others to choose from, that’s right, 21.

(these are lower res – and @3 3/4″ figures like Indy above, I figured you had a pretty good idea of what they look like as you’re not likely to get them without Indy … or in the case of the the new film, you’ll either grab them or you won’t).

NOTE – They are NOT three packs, to save space, I placed them together – they are all sold separately.

From the first & third films: Marion, Young Indy, Senior, Elsa, Col. Vogel, Grail Knight, German soldier, German officer & Cairo Swordsman.

Two chances to get the Grail cup! I don’t remember Vogel with an ax but okay …

From the new film: two versions of Col. Dovchenko, Russian soldier, Irinia Spalko, Cemetary warrior, Ugha Indian & three versions of Mutt Williams. The snake accessory comes with the Matt on the very left.

But that’s just the start, there are DELUXE VERSIONS of the 3 3/4″ figures … (@$9.99 retail)

There’s three two-fer sets: with Marian (a sword, a frying pan and monkey accessory!) & Cairo Henchman; German soldier with motorcycle and; a separate set of German soldiers (not photoed).

Indy has his own deluxe blisters …

The very nice Indy & Ark of Covenant (lid opens!)

For the truck chase, see next section …

Tree branches swings across pit.

Both sides left up (the trap).

Here’s what the blister cards look like for the deluxe versions.

And the truck for Indy to chase down on the horse …

The troop car that gives chase …

And from the new movie …

And the mega Lost Temple of Akator Playset

So, in case you’re keeping score, that’s 35 3 3/4″ figures, 4 vehicles, 1 horse and 1 playset.

Oh, one last thing – buy 6 of the BASIC figures, mail in stickers inside the packaging + $5.99 and get a Crystal Skeleton mail-away figure.

Six (6) relic stickers inside retail packages of Indiana Jones 3 3/4″ basic figure products to receive the Crystal Skeleton 3 3/4″ Figure with Throne. Each package contains one sticker. Stickers must be from 3 3/4″ basic figure products. No other stickers will be accepted for this offer.

The 12″ Hasbro line

(nicely priced at @$19.99 retail).

The two Indy releases have fun features.

As Hasbro says, “Embark on your own thrilling adventures with this Indiana Jones action figure that says fun Indy phrases, like “Trust me.” “Snakes…why’d it have to be snakes!” and “I hate these guys!” A 16-inch whip fits in Indy’s hand, while an additional whip stays coiled. A removable pistol fits in Indy’s holster and he also comes with a golden idol.

Action figure comes with shirt, pants, pair of boots, jacket, hat, belt, holster with removable pistol, 16-inch whip, coiled whip and golden idol. Includes 2 AAA Batteries.”

He actually has 11 phrases! I won’t spoil it for you … though shouldn’t he also say, “Why does this sculpt look more like Steve Spielberg?” Part of the reason is the mouth actually moves so they had to make his face rounder … I also hope it’s actually Harrison’s voice and not some random guy.

This sculpt actually looks much more like Harrison though it’s less interesting of a figure, if you hold his hand/arm above his head and press the button on his back, he can whip his arm forward and you get a whipping SFX. THe shirt and outfits looks pretty good though.

Other 12″ figures include:

They don’t seem to have many additional sound features but still, overall – a nice price at $19.99 – most other 12″ figures have straosphered from $30 minimum to a couple hundred dollars.

There’s also a mail-away just for the 12″ inchers also … you get a nice Ark of the Covenant … Hasbro treats you like a King … like the days of yore, you want an Ark of the Covenant, just request it and it shall be done! … well, okay, you have to buy 4 12″ figures and send in $9.99 …

“Four (4) Ark stickers inside retail packages of Indiana Jones 12″ figure products to receive the 12″ Ark of the Covenant. Each package contains one sticker. Stickers must be from 12″ figure products. No other stickers will be accepted for this offer.”

It shall be four. Not three. Not five. Four is the number. And if thy tries to use 3 3/4″ inch figure stickers, when thoust opens the ark, thou might suffer the same fate as waxy Nazi’s … you have been warned.

Info is included with each figure … if you’re buying the 12″ deal … make sure both sides are properly sealed as thieves might steathly cut open packages just to get the stickers … action figure redemption thieves are no better than tomb robbers. A thousand year plague on their mobile homes!

Mighty Muggs

Of course, you want the Mighty Muggs (covered in this post here, scroll down)

While not part of Hasbro, Lego has a whole slew of cool Indiana Jones sets and figures (also wallpaper and movie downloads!)

Or how about taking your own (Expedia) Indiana Jones adventures (only without people trying to shoot you with poison arrows, snakes by the bushel-full and a monkey for a tour guide … but hey, maybe it’s just me …)

And of course, if you need to revisit the three movies, there is a new box set

FROM THE PRESS RELEASE:

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Special Edition DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround and Spanish 2.0 Surround and English, French and Spanish subtitles. The disc includes the following special features:

— “Raiders of the Lost Ark”: An Introduction by Steven Spielberg & George Lucas
— Indiana Jones: An Appreciation–The cast and crew of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” pay tribute to the original trilogy.
— The Melting Face–A recreation of the amazing physical effect of the villain’s melting face in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas commenting on the evolution of visual effects and CGI.
— Storyboard Sequence–The Well of Souls
— Galleries
— Illustrations & Props
— Production Photographs & Portraits
— Effects/ILM
— Marketing
— “LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures” Game Demo and Trailer

The Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Special Edition DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround and Spanish 2.0 Surround and English, French and Spanish subtitles. The disc includes the following special features:

— “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”: An Introduction by Steven Spielberg & George Lucas
— Creepy Crawlies–Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Frank Marshall reminisce about snakes, bugs and rats.
— Locations–Travel across the world to discover where the films take place and where they were shot.
— Storyboard Sequence–The Mine Cart Chase
— Galleries
— Illustrations & Props
— Production Photographs & Portraits
— Effects/ILM
— Marketing
— “LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures” Game Demo and Trailer

The Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Special Edition DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround and Spanish 2.0 Surround and English, French and Spanish subtitles. The disc includes the following special features:

— “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”: An Introduction by Steven Spielberg & George Lucas
— The Women: The American Film Institute Tribute–The three Indiana Jones women (Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody) reunite for a discussion.
— Friends and Enemies–Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Indiana Jones writers discuss how they created the most iconic characters in film history, including a look at new faces in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
— Storyboard Sequence–The Opening Sequence
— Galleries
— Illustrations & Props
— Production Photographs & Portraits
— Effects/ILM
— Marketing
— “LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures” Game Demo and Trailer

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: eBay, the Conundrum

eBay is easy to hate but eBay really serves many purposes – some not so obvious.

On the surface, ebay is merely a virtual auction clearinghouse where buyers and sellers come together to sell and buy goods.

eBay has managed to trump most of the other online auction houses in the United States and in many countries because most people trust it through its processes and its longevity (of course, that’s not to say 100% of all transaction goes smooth or honestly but clearly enough do).

(Yahoo auctions leads in some Asian countries and others in other countries but they serve the same principle).

Part of the success of eBay and to a lesser extent of others is that you have a sufficient number of buyers and sellers. Just as why they do not hold ‘Old Masters’ auctions in Jasper, Wyoming or on a barge in the Amazon – as a seller, you not only want as many interested buyers but also the right potential buyers.

eBay is in many ways the perfect forum for supply & demand. Anyone in the world with internet access (and can read English for eBay US obviously) can see and bid on an item. You can literally buy items for one US penny or over a million dollars depending on supply & demand.

And of course, that fluctuates – as we clearly saw with CARS – the situation with Crusin’ McQueen in the last two months of 2006 was a textbook example of rationality taking a holiday.

For those that missed it, it went something like this.

This Movie Moment appeared towards the later part of the summer, the Crusin’ McQueen was all new and while most of us had a Sally already, since “new” CARS were so rare, most people were willing to bite the bullet (You can read the full story in our book) and buy this MM set … while it was not a pegwarmer as they are now, after the first few weeks, they were relatively available though selling briskly – since it was close to the holidays and at that point, no one was sure how much longer the line would last so might as well buy it to be safe.

But then a mysterious single carded version appeared that was not featured on the back of any Supercharged cards (showing which CARS were out) and in particularly, it was NOT featured on the back of his OWN card!

There were three different Supercharged card backs which featured either 21 or 23 different CARS but none featured Crusin’ McQueen. At this point, Mattel had just switched from the 30-CARS case to 18-CARS case but no one (not even 1StopDiecast) had any idea what was in each case – old Hot Wheels “treasure hunt’ and variant collectors wondered if this was a ‘treasure hunt?’ Or was it a short-pack? (For Hot Wheels, Mattel packs some ‘treasure hunts’ ONE to a box of 72-Hot Wheels – hence the jargon – short pack) Was this the CARS equivalent?

While Batman would shout “Let’s go to the batcave!”

We shout, “Let’s go to eBay!”

eBay serves as our bat beacon. If we see 1,000 listings …, we can pretty much breathe a sign of relief that it’s everywhere – but if there are only 5 listings?

Then the question is – what do you do? Do you succumb or do you resist?

The bottom line is its your money and you can choose to spend it as you see fit.

In this case, based on incomplete information, general craziness and whatever you want to call it, prices actually hit the $180 range for Crusin’ McQueen auctions. Yes, 1 car – @$3.29 retail (about average at that time) eagerly was sold for $150-$175 dollars.

Again, it’s your money. (just to note, I had a SC Crusin’ McQueen but I did not sell it – I bought it just a few weeks before the craziness when it was just seemed like another release – at that time, no one thought it was a rarity … or perceived rarity). Personally, I have spent that on a dinner and can’t remember if it was that great, I have spent that much on stupidity – getting a traffic ticket. We each have happy, sad and stupid stories about spending $200 or not spending $200 … there are people who wouldn’t spend $200 on an engagement ring 🙂 but would on buying a hunting vest … to each their own.

I bring that up because eBay is merely an efficient distribution system.

Part of the problem is that the distribution system (in particular for toys) is wildly uneven and solely dependent on the stores in your area buying and shelving the proper amount of CARS (in this case) for your population and interest.

I’ll cite my area, in NorthernCal. Most of the people here hate WM and refuse to let them build a giant 200,000 square feet store WM prefers so in NorCal and most of CA, we have probably a WM for every 750,000 to 1-million people … while in parts of the midwest or Southeast, in town/geo-areas of 1-million people, you might have 10 WM’s … not to mention Target’s and TRU’s … while we have more Target’s – we only have maybe 6-7 TRU’s to serve 10-million people … so unless each store decided to order 20-cases of everything, we simply don’t have enough.

So, eBay serves to re-distribute what WM-Target-TRU & Mattel was not able to do correctly.

And that extends out to Europe or other parts of the world. I am not the person who cares that much about exclusivity. I am lazy and would like nothing better than to buy everything while I’m buying Coke at the grocery store (one reason I don’t care if WM wants to build a 200,000 square foot store) and I frankly don’t care that much about jumping through hurdles to buy something (like Blu Ray DVD McQueen) … I’ll do it but it being limited or exclusive holds no great interest to me beyond having it (not as something to sell) but I understand it from a marketing point of view – you create hype and an artificial shortage that serves a couple masters.

Because strangely, if it’s easy to obtain, that thing loses the “extra” luster. How many people fight to collect detergent bottles or gum packaging or even closer to home, CARS bedspreads … not many because there’s no fight to find it.

So, that’s the fine line – what’s too much and what’s not enough? You sometimes have to be careful of what you ask for. What’s the right amount of Chuki’s per store? – 4? 10? 100? 1,000? Because at some number point, you might actually stop buying it because you figure, “I’ll just next time.” Because if you stop perceiving its scarcity (real or imagined), you might put off buying until the holidays or worst of all, stop buying because it’s common. Of course, that’s impossible to predict or gauge as it will vary from day to day and region to region.

That’s the irony – you don’t want too much trouble to find it but if it’s too easy everytime … then maybe you stop caring or yearning because the hunt is too easy.

AND eBay can add to that, giving you reason to be early to track it down, knowing that your only recourse is to pay more – having that “easy” outlet to sell and re-sell actually adds value to that you hunt for.

Before eBay, unless you were well connected, you had no idea what was going on unless you read one of the enthusiast magazine and I meant really read it – sometimes MONTHS later – hardly anyone was ever complete (and thus why older toys are so much more valuable) was that you had no idea if they released a red version to FRED MEYER (the chain) if you lived in a state with no Fred Meyer and because mail order was so iffy, you had to drive out of state to a toy show in hopes to see it and buy it … or that in Fred Meyer territory, it’s a pegwarmer and they’re trying to give it away – meanwhile, the rest of the country was willing to pay 3 times that amount … but eBay changes all that as a secondary distributor … now, if they release a gold version only in Hawaii, first of all, we scream to the company that it’s crazy to make such a limited item and then we jump on eBay to bid on it … and remember, if no one else is interested, you get it at the starting price, it’s only if two people value it – that’s when it gets interesting … and if 50 or 100 people are interested? Then you have name calling and the emptying of bank accounts.

But again, you have free will sitting in front of your computer and you in theory should ONLY pay what you are willing to pay … okay, I know it’s easy to get carried away … like being in Las Vegas … just do everything up to the point before you sleep and marry the stripper. 🙂

Bottom line is eBay sellers post items as a test and those that have interest encourage others … how many Green Ramones sold last week? And if they did, how many went past about $5 including shipping?

So, while eBay can encouraging hoarding or immediate transfer from stores to eBay listings – ultimately, demand meets supply or vice versa. Of course, in an odd way, you can blame the liberal return policy from stores on encouraging over-buying … and not really eBay’s fault. With a receipt, you can return un-opened toys within 90 days for a full refund so the eBay seller has a 90-days to try and attempt to make a profit

However, there are short term fluctuations in distribution and interest causing prices spikes and later price drops … now the situation in Europe or Asia is different than in the US. In the US, everything that is limited is announced (Blu Ray McQueen, Speedway of the South, Factory Set) – otherwise, it’s not really limited unless you a packaging variant collector … (for instance, there are much fewer Supercharged (red) Mia & Tia’s than there are WOC carded red Mia & Tia’s – the value you place on that is your call). So it is understandable international buyers are eager to have it in hand because a) they don’t know when or if it will make it over there and b) if it becomes common in the US, ironically, sellers stop listing them so if you’re looking for Bug Mouth McQ, good luck finding a listing …

Ultimately, eBay serves several purposes – helping to hype the hype … helping to re-distribute product where there are shortages … for a collector, it can be a curse, and a hinderance but it can also serve to even out distribution as long as you have enough sellers … and of course, how do you encourage more selling? More buyers … it’s a cycle … but if the profit for an item starts to fall too much, you lose seller’s interest and so, be careful of what you wish for & or wish against. It’s a fine balance equilibrium in regards to pricing and of course, different for everyone.

eBay is a fair system. Unlike a real marketplace where other factors might come into play in the seller setting a price (based on ethnicity, gender, you’re not local, etc …) directed towards a seller standing right there … eBay is only based on the price you’re willing to pay. Sometimes that’s a great thing, sometimes a good thing and sometimes – you have buyer’s remorse … but hey, thanks for participating in the ultimate worldwide test of supply & demand.

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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The Contact Numbers & Websites

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© Copyright Disney/Pixar

Collecting CARS is nirvana and we’re all a giddy as schoolboys and schoolgirls – life could not be finer, full of rainbows, 32-oz steaks and free parking … well, at least for the first 3 days 🙂 … after that, we tend to get a little grouchier.

So, if collecting CARS or buying CARS is not entirely 100% the way you like … go straight to the source and politely tell them how you think things could be improved upon …

Mattel doesn’t have email but they have 800-numbers:

Canada- US: 800-524-8697 (hearing impaired: 800-382-7470)

You can write them at:

Mattel, Inc
333 Continental Boulevard
El Segundo, CA 90245-5012

You can also let them know what they think about their website.

After you join the Hot Wheels Collectors Club, you can post to the forums including:

The Site Feedback Forums.

The Off-Topic Forum (as there is no specific CARS Forum though you can send the webmaster an email and ask them why not: comments@hotwheelscollectors.com)

NOTE: Both sections above will require you to sign up to view.

In Europe:

Mattel Europa, B.V.
Gondel 1
1186 MJ Amstelveen
The Netherlands

(or check their international customer relation website front page)

You can contact Target by email or phone here. Or if you’d like to comment on merchandise (or lack there of), here is the ‘merchandise’ email form.

You can contact WM by email or phone here. Or the merchandise comment email is here.


TRU contact email form is here. Or by phone – 1-800-869-7787.

Or if you have any sins you wish to confess.

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The Mac Clone: Pointless in 2008

In case, you’ve missed, a company called Psystar is selling a Mac clone for $399 & up. As the Guardian noted, they are either operating out of mom & dad’s garage or in a new office.

For $399, they are offering you a Mac Mini (specs) encased in a large (but nice looking) PC case.

For some reason, this seems to excite people as if what we really want in life is a cheap knockoff of something, REALLY? This is really a goal in life? Don’t sell me the real thing, I’d rather pay slightly less money for a thing like the real thing?

A clone made sense when not just Macs but all personal computers sold in the $2,000+ range. Of course, at that price point, I’m willing to compromise a little here and there for a computer in the $999 range.

But for a savings of $200 versus a Mini? What is really the point?

They like to talk expandability as if that’s some great thing worth the savings of $2,000 versus a MacPro desktop. (Um, never mind the MacPro has a quad core and thing isn’t even a duo core).

Sure, in the days of serial ports and wonky SCSI on the Mac side, anything you could install internally pretty much meant it would be easier for the OS to find and for it to work.

But now with firewire and USB, I can daisy-chain 128 firewire devices and nearly as many USB drives with powered hubs. Sure, they don’t don’t look as attractive but how many drives can you fit into most cases anyway, 4? I can buy 4 1TB drives that stacked on top of each other take up about as much desktop space as 4 inside a desktop case.

Expandability inside the case is not that important anymore – with USB & firewire, EVERYTHING is expandable in less than 5 minutes and no chance to cut your hand open trying to fit a HDD onto a tray inside a computer.

If anything, it’s better because if an external drive is really going down, I can unmount it and plug in a new drive without even restarting.

And If you are the 5% of users who will actually replace their graphics card, are you really going to buy a underpowered $399 Mac clone just to spend $2,000 on a graphics card?

Even as recent as 10 years ago, the margins on the PC side were that you could save substantially by building your own but now if your time is money, there’s no real savings. You have to be the type that enjoys tinkering because if a component breaks, you think it’s bad trying to get Dell to admit the power supply went down now, good luck getting a power supply you bought and installed replaced yourself from some company in Muncie? And yes, you can save a little here and there but the quality of the components? How many no-name fans are built for about 6 months before they start making noise slightly louder than a F-22 flyby?

And sure, you can save $200 by not buying a Mini … but what is iLife worth to you?

Or what is it worth to you that Apple has 200 stores around the globe open and ready to take responsibility and answer any question for your Mini (or any other Mac you buy?)

The time is passed for clone makers. The $200 dollar difference is too miniscule (never mind that the website sort of implies that they don’t guarantee any other OS other than 10.5 will run on this – and never mind the legal issues or that this business seems to have started last week). Even if you started selling these at a retailer where customers could return it such as Wal-Mart, $200 savings is just not enough of a difference – now if this clone were selling for $99 or $149, then you might have a business as saving $450-$500 dollars, that’s actually substantial enough to make a difference.

But right now – pointless.

(and yea, Apple will sue – if Apple doesn’t, customers will walk into Apple stores trying to get tech support or more likely, warranty support – your OS is bundled with it?! Apple could care less if you wanted to sell an open source $399 computer but bundling Apple OS as if they had a license to bundle or sell it – implying to customers there is a relationship? That won’t fly).

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