Sunday, 27 December 2020

Seven Examples of Crap I Waste Other People's Money On: Christmas 2020 Edition!

Well this year can go fuck itself

Honestly there doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory way to sum up how shite 2020 has been, and I say that as someone who got a holiday this year – it was only three days but it was better than a lot of people – and being honest I’m feeling pretty ground down by it all now. Just when things were looking up, we had vaccine, Christmas was coming, Trump lost, we get a new highly contagious strain in the UK and my Grandad goes into hospital with not only Covid-19 but a plastic hip that just won’t stay in, he’s always said if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly. We’ve spent Christmas in Tier 4 (I think that should be capitalized?) which is pretty much the same as regular lockdown conditions except it has a more marketable name and the new plumbing shop up the top can stay open – mind you I’m sure I’d consider them to be essential if my toilet broke over Christmas, which it has done before – though no fault of my own I’d like to add. A lot of people in England have spent Christmas in Tier 4 (it doesn’t look right capitalized, though, does it?) which has effectively meant that for a lot of people Christmas was actually cancelled, or they just ignored it and broke the rules. It wasn’t that extreme for us, I’ve been locked down with my mum and nan and we had my Auntie Joycie over because she’s had her shots, she genuinely carried the relevant paperwork and print-offs in her purse the whole day to prove to any hypothetical policemen who might storm our house having smelt her entering on the wind that she was legally able to come round for multiple different reasons. My Auntie Joycie has never been a rule breaker, I think the closest she got was when she bought some dining chairs from a market one time.

So I wasn’t alone, I didn’t have to break the rules - and I still got presents, and I’m pleased to say still got all my gifts out to the recipients before Christmas Day despite lockdown conditions and an utterly swamped postal service and set of courier companies, really, I went for my government mandated exercise on Christmas Eve (and froze my bollocks off, there’s this routine Billy Connelly does about being so cold his breathing made involuntary noises, I thought of this often as I rushed along lit only by Christmas lights and white van taillights) and anyone with a van was throwing parcels into porches. It was like Dunkirk but with Amazon boxes, and in reverse. I can’t remember ever feeling sorry for FedEx before. A couple of my friends didn’t/couldn’t do presents this year, which was fair enough, but many did and my family – mostly my dad’s side, who live in Devon – sent up box after box in various states of ill-repair - my dad’s one looked like postie had sat on it and eaten his lunch, but you know what? There’s a 50/50 chance it was like that before it was posted. It had Joe Strummer T-shirts in it though so I can’t say I give a fuck.

So I thought I’d do an Examples of Crap I Waste Other People’s Money On post; blogging is one of the many things I don’t do during lockdowns because not doing it helps me cope but people spent money on me and put effort in and frankly they had to put a lot more effort in than usual just to get the damn things to me on time and so the least I can do is write semi-amusing paragraphs about some of them.


Eggman!

This is more of a thank you to the merchandizing industry as a whole than to my mum, who bought this for me because as much as it may or may not embarrass her, she knows her son well – sorry, mum. See, this is what we now call ‘Classic Eggman’, the design for Robotnik before 1998, but if you’re from anywhere that’s not Japan you might be thinking ‘is it? I don’t remember him looking like that’. That’s because for everything except the in-game sprites, Britain, America and Europe used the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog look for the character as soon as it debuted, the one with the pointy head and big circle on his belly, on Sega’s insistence. This means that for nearly the entirety of the original ‘Sonic Boom’, when I was a kid, when I breathed Sonic the Hedgehog, what little Robotnik toys, or toys featuring Robotnik, there was mostly didn’t look like he did in games. To my knowledge the only two that weren’t expensive imported items that I couldn’t afford and my parents wouldn’t buy me in specialist shops that I never got to go to anyway cos I was 7 was a prize in some Christmas Crackers from Boots and a Burger King toy, both of which have become hard to find (they were both exclusive to the UK) and both of which I now own, funnily enough.

But things have changed, and it’s brilliant. The fact that my mum can wander into any toy shop (she got this from Smyths, I think) and impulse buy me a Classic Robotnik as a stocking stuffer, that you can get cheap, plentiful merchandise of things like this, or Super Sonic, or Amy Rose, that were rocking horse shit when I was 7, and treat it so casually is so fucking great. Look; this year has been…well…it’s been 2020, and I’m a suicidal, I need to find anything to make me glad to still be alive, ok?

 

Mighty Morphin’ Yellow Ranger!

I always liked Trini better. Back when everyone was crushing on Kimberly I just couldn’t see why anyone would prefer her to Trini, Trini was lovely, Trini could speak Billy, Kimberly was hot but…but…she was such a valley girl. Part of that is a small part of the larger problem with the Mighty Morphin’ seasons of Power Rangers, they got the characters the wrong way ‘round: the kids who would usually be the bullied (Bulk & Skull) were the bullies and the kids who would usually be the bullies (Jason, Kimberly, maybe Zack) were the ones getting picked on. Obviously this was done to appeal to various demographics, all of them American, but as a real life Bulk & Skull – only with the correct role in the social hierarchy – it did mean that I never really fancied Kimberly. Also Thuy Trang was in in The Crow: City of Angels in a very…um…un-Trini like role, and as I got older that helped keep me firmly on #teamtrini, which I assume is a thing. This is just the Trini Kwan figure I wanted back in ‘94, it has a good likeness of Thuy Trang, it uses female body pieces which may not seem like much but was something that Bandai didn’t do back then, it looks like she has clothes on rather than yellow paint and it has ridiculously over the top effects pieces because Kalishsplosions are so large they can actually travel back and forward through time and infect the whole of the franchise.

Incidentally (or not, really), Thuy Trang was the first of the original Rangers to die, and so far the only one to do so, she died in 2001 when she as only 27, by comparison Hulk Hogan, another yellow-clad superhero kids were obsessed with in the 90s, is still alive. There’s no justice

 

1-2 Switch!

There’s no way I couldn’t include this. It doesn’t make a very interesting picture for you all, I tried to jazz it up a little by having Man-Bat and Clayface hold it up but now it just looks like a Switch game next to some poo. I have to include this because while saying this saved Christmas is unfair to various other things (including Auntie Joycie) it certainly saved Boxing Day. I know these sort of party games are generally thought of as only one above shovelware which makes them only two above paedophiles in the eyes of the hardcore gaming set but I personally think that titles like this are essential if you want your console to be a success at the time and for consoles that I intend to keep I like to have games like this to make having another machine gathering dust more palatable – I can share that old dusty machine with anybody if I have games like 1-2 Switch, But more than all this ideological bollocks - it tuns out it’s my mum’s favourite video game! Her goddaughter has had it for a while and she plays it with her, and she’s gotten annoyingly good at it. I have spent a good 6 hours playing this over the holidays and everything bloody aches now but it was worth it to see mum and nan enjoy themselves this much during a gloom covered pandemic Christmas in Tier 4. We even got Auntie Joycie going on it, milking cows and guessing the number of balls, Auntie Joycie is actually GREAT Auntie Joycie and 87 years old – not that you can tell, when I was about 3 she became an old lady and hasn’t really changed since, just got deafer. Everyone enjoyed Christmas that much more and mum fucking loved it, she does enjoy beating me at stuff – not that she’s competitive or anything.

This was from the fiancĂ© of the person who bought me OG Santa, he was already popular in my house before this but over Christmas he was like unto a god for providing such mirth (and distraction) which is delightfully blasphemous. 

 

All This Ghostbusters!

My friend sent me a bag, and that bag was full of Ghostbusters stuff and it was good. I assume she got some kind of Ghostbusters Bundle, which is exactly the sort of present that’s perfect for me because I’m one of those wankers who will buy the same character in everything - you have no idea how many Raphaels are in my house, and nor do I – so I’m not going to complain if I have two more Slimers, or more importantly a Mr Stay Puft I don’t already own. It’s one of those benefits of knowing people ‘in the fandoms’ as we say these days (do we? Is that still right? I’ve not been out a lot this year you see…), we’re easy to buy presents for and very receptive. We also like to own more than one of the same thing. See I bought all the Ghostbusters in Slime figures as soon as they came out (that’s the little Slimer on the slime on the slime barrel), I’m a mini-figure hoarder and these were Ghostbusters mini-figures, of course I did. it’s the only one of the five things she bought me I already owned, but of course I’m keeping it because: extra Slimer. However it’s even more useful than that, and this is one of those nice little stories that you grandma likes but everyone else things is boring so bear with me: on Christmas Eve was doing some sorting out (what else was I gonna do?) and found out that even though I had all three figures, I only had one barrel and made two mental notes: I’m an idiot and I need to find some more barrels. The next day: bam! A barrel, Merry Serendipitous Christmas to me. “But now you have two Slimers and only one barrel” yeah but I only want one barrel per character, I’m not made of room, god.

Also, I am going to open the Body Knocker – what’s the point of having a head knocker if you can’t poke it? – I just hadn’t when I took this picture.

 

OG Santa!

The OG stands for ‘Original Green’. My friends are amazing sometimes. I’ve been looking for a green Father Christmas for years, it’s fairly common knowledge now that St Nick came in all different colours before Coca-Cola got involved and made him red and only red in the eyes of everybody. I’m not a contrarian per say, I own many, MANY, red Santas but I really wanted a nice green one; green being a colour he was commonly depicted wearing pre-Coke and me just liking the look. But I started looking at a time when, apparently, everyone said ‘never again’ to green Christmas decorations (I blame all those olive bathroom suites everyone told themselves looked nice for far too long) so I’ve been shit out of luck. There’s been a flood of gold and silver Father Christmasses as those are the blingiest of colours for the blingiest of fans of Real Housewives of Where-Fucking-Ever but no green for me. So my friend spent bloody ages online, digging around foreign websites and foreign sellers until she found this, which is exactly the sort of thing I wanted. She had it shipped from Europe, during a pandemic, during the busiest season for post the world has ever known, didn’t get Corona Virus of it, got it to me during a time when we were either isolating because we’d been in contact with someone who had Corona (we didn’t get it, and they were all ok, thankfully) or in Tier 4, with him staying in perfect condition – no mean feat as he’s nearly as old as me (and her, actually) and his robe is basically varnished paper - and completely surprised me with it. She’s very dedicated, very caring and much better at keeping a secret than either me or her thinks. He is now the King of Santas, it’s a bit like King of Ring only when the fat guy wins it’s ok, and stands over all the other Santas on my record player, Jerry Lawler is currently suing him

And yes, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, beloved wrestling announcer and beloved former wrestler, really did do that (not to my new Father Christmas): he tied to sue fellow wrestling legend Harley Race when he was calling himself King Harley Race, it didn’t work because it was bloody preposterous.

 

Ultimate Sam!

This figure is awesome (it has three alternate heads! Three!) but I just want to tell the story of how it came to be a Christmas present cos it really is the least Christmassy thing really isn’t it? And my gran gave it to me! I know it’s the ‘come and look at my holiday slides’ of blogging but bite me. In November both my debit cards stopped working properly – which was a bit of an issue as most places weren’t taking cash and I was ordering most stuff online – mostly they weren’t working with store’s card readers, sometimes they would, sometimes they wouldn’t and I wasn’t sure which one was doing what and when because I get mixed up and am stupid. BUT I’m on good terms with a bloke who runs a local second-hand comic and toy store and I thought he wouldn’t mind if I went through the cards and tried them out, he wasn’t, cos he’s a nice bloke but I still had to find stuff to buy and of course this was the one day where he had nothing I really wanted. This was the closest to something I wanted he had, so I bought that. It worked, I was able to go straight from his store – Comic Book Heroes – to the banks and sort out the issues with both cards now I knew just what they were. When I got back, I now had a creepy child in a shiny box, and put it on the side while I washed my hands and burned my clothes and my nan came up and says “oh, did you get that for me to buy you for Christmas?” and in lieu of explaining all that boring crap you’ve just read to someone who has very little grasp of either technology, debit cards of cult classic horror films, and despite the fact that I had no idea I was supposed to be buying presents for her to give me, I just said “yes”.

And that’s how I got a collector’s figure from a Halloween movie as a Christmas present from an old lady. Aren’t I thrilling? Now I just need a figure of Anna Paquin’s character, which of course is in no way because I just want more little plastic Anna Paquins in the exact same way she in no way has a restraining order taken out against me.

I kid. It expired this year.

Frankenbear!

This is so fucking cool. This is why I have a Build-A-Bear loyalty card but not a Tesco Clubcard despite the fact that I live literally across the road from Tesco. He’s huge too, he’s s huge it ruined my set up for taking these photos and I wasn’t using a small table. I probably should have turned it ‘round now I think about it. I bring that up because he’s a Frankenstein’s Monster Teddy, he SHOULD tower over the other Teddies, especially the ones from the same line, scale makes me happy.

But if you think the bear’s cool, you should see how they wrapped it:

This is from a couple, who actually managed to get married this year (sans ceremony or honeymoon, naturally) so congratulations all round there, and they genuinely made a coffin to present a bear based on a man made of dead parts – who canonically were robbed from graves! It may be the finest bit of wrapping for a present I’ve ever had, although that time that one of my friends individually wrapped 30 pound coins for my 30th is close this didn’t nearly cripple me – it just made it look like there as a dead baby in our front room on Christmas Eve, but that was ok because we’re Tier 4 so no-one could come ‘round and see it anyway! I think Frankenbear is a better gift than a dead baby.

And I’m done, because there’s really nowhere you can go after ‘reanimated corpse teddy bear presented in a hand-made coffin’ except the concluding statement: thank you so much, everyone. I’m in no way saying these are the best presents, they’re just the ones I could get a paragraph out of, I’m equally grateful for everything. Seriously, I am so fucking grateful for anyone who bought me a gift in a normal year but I’m extra, EXTRA fucking grateful for people who did it this year, not only was it harder to do but it helped make Christmas a bright spot in the darkness of 2020 and they’re going to help pass the time for the rest of Tier 4 – or at least make sure I look stylish and have warm feet (and/or a massive sugar high) while I do so. Actually, on that, I’m off to mentally prepare for a shit New Year in watching an Ah My Goddess box set and eating my body weight in Cadbury’s while dreaming of a future where I can not only go into HMV again but actually touch people – not in a weird way, though. Cheers, everyone.  

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