Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for September 2014

I was super-excited for this month’s Loot Crate, which had the theme “Galactic”. I won’t say I was disappointed, exactly, but I was a little bit let down. Check out the unboxing video:

Can you see the “let down” look on my face? It’s not that the items weren’t cool, but most of them just weren’t for me, you know? *sigh* So let’s do a value breakdown:

Science Fiction Mystery Mini Loot Crate Exclusive: Mystery Minis of a wide variety tend to go for anywhere between $5 and $10 depending on where you’re buying them. Since this one was an exclusive made just for Loot Crate, I’m going to go ahead and assign it the higher value of $10.
Loot Crate Exclusive Tribble: It’s hard to put a value on this since it’s another exclusive, but I found similar items online for about $10.
Single-Pack Pop Rocks: These seem to go for about $1.50
Star Wars/Asteroids magnet: As usual, I assign these magnets a value of about $1 because, come on…it’s a magnet.
ReAction Kane figure (from Alien): The ReAction figures go for about $10 pretty much everywhere.
Halo comics redemption code: I couldn’t actually find a price for these digital downloads, and I suspect they may actually be free normally, which would make their value $0. If you know better, please correct me.
Firefly Universe Fake “Credits”: Believe it or not this stack of fake money goes for the real price of about $10. Come on, people…it’s kind of cool, but would you really be willing to spend $10 in real money to get a stack of fake money?
Han Solo in Carbonite mini-poster: This mini-poster goes for about $2.

Total approximate value of box: $45
Total cost to me: $30

So, all in all, this wasn’t a great box. The value was lower than previous boxes, and most of the stuff in it just doesn’t do anything for me. The tribble is cute, but I can’t get past the fact that it’s just a ball of fuzz, and the ReAction figure would have been cool if I’d gotten the Alien, but who really cares about Kane in a spacesuit? And I’m sorry, but the Firefly credits just seem stupid to me, especially now that I know that, value-wise, it was actually one of the biggest items in the box. All in all, the only item I really like is the Malcolm Reynolds Mystery Mini.

The Villains and the Heroes boxes were so awesome, Loot Crate…what happened? πŸ˜›

A to Z Challenge: A Review

First, I want to give a bit shout-out to all those who are involved in the running of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s got to take a lot of time and dedication to keep track of so many participants, making sure that non-participants are removed from the list, and ensuring that participants get the attention they deserve. Kudos!

Second, a double-huge shout-out to all my fellow participants who made it (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the end of the challenge. Some of those letters were pretty difficult, but you did it! You rock! πŸ˜€

Third, a triple-huge shout-out to all those who stopped by my blog during April and commented on my posts. I had some great conversations this month, met some cool new friends, and gained a number of new followers. I hope you all stick close by, because it’s been a blast, and I’ve been truly happy to meet you all. πŸ™‚

The challenge has been a great deal of fun, and I got a lot of great comments on my 26 posts, so as part of this review I present a list of links to each of my posts in case anyone missed anything or is just dropping by now and would like to check a couple of them out.

Day 1: Ariel (the Little Mermaid)Day 2: Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer)
Day 3: Castiel (the Monster-Fighting Angel)
Day 4: Deadpool (the Lunatic Assassin)
Day 5: Eric Northman (the Viking Vampire)
Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)
Day 7: Gau (the Wild Orphan)
Day 8: Han Solo (the Cocky Starpilot)
Day 9: Iron Man (the Smarmiest Avenger)
Day 10: James T. Kirk (the Star Fleet Captain)
Day 11: Kefka Palazzo (the Magitek Monster)
Day 12: Lisse (the Child of the Dystopian Future)
Day 13: Magus (the Lost Wizard)
Day 14: Neville Longbottom (the Heart of Gryffindor)
Day 15: Other-Mother (the Other World Evil)
Day 16: Peter Parker (the Spider-Man)
Day 17: Qui-Gon Jinn (the Jedi Knight)
Day 18: Ryuk (the Shinigami)
Day 19: Sherlock Holmes (the High-Functioning Sociopath)
Day 20: Tyrion Lannister (the Exceptionally Clever Imp)
Day 21: Usagi Tsukino (the Sailor Senshi)
Day 22: Victoria MacKinnon (the Lost Princess)
Day 23: Winchester Brothers (the Monster Hunters)
Day 24: Xander Harris (the Lovable Sidekick)
Day 25: Yuki Miaka (the Girl from Other World)
Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)

In case you somehow missed it, my theme for the challenge was “Fictional Characters”. Each one of these characters, even the ones chosen out of duress of very difficult letters, holds a special place in my heart for one reason or another. The TV shows, movies, comics, cartoons, and video games mentioned were overwhelmingly a great part of my childhood, and in some cases an incredible part of my adulthood. If you’ve got the time, check some of them out. You totally won’t be disappointed.

And finally, before I sign off, I wanted to share with you a couple of the blogs that I’ve come across during this particular challenge. I came into contact with so many awesome fellow bloggers this past month that it’s impossible to mention them all, but these are a couple of the ones I fully plan to keep tabs on even now that the challenge is over.

A Scenic Route – Kirsten is a fellow writer who blogs about her “journey into noveldom”. This month she wrote a wonderful series of posts with the theme “Backstage at the Blog”, in which she gave some wonderful tips, hints, and ideas for fellow bloggers, in addition to sharing info about her own blogging journey.

Sophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles – Sophie is a writer of many genres who uses her blog as a place to talk about reading, writing, all the topics in between, and whatever else she so desires. She is also the brains behind the mini-challenge that a few of us participated in in addition to the A to Z challenge: the Supernatural A to Z Challenge. She wrote about ghosts and ghoulies this month, and while I didn’t often comment on her posts because my WordPress reader doesn’t make it easy for me to deal with other blogging websites, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the creepy creatures that she posted.

Alex Hurst – Alex is one of my favorite new people because she is fun, bubbly, and friendly, and we apparently have a great deal in common. The fantasy writer spent the month talking about different aspects of writing and being a writer. Her post “J for Jargon” cracked me up because so many of the definitions she came up with were SO TRUE.

I would love to share some more blogs, and perhaps I will in the future, but this has been such a busy month that I simply do not have the time it would take to go through all the wonderful blogs I’ve found during this challenge. However, if you’re really, truly interested in finding some great new people to follow, check out the A to Z sign-up list and just start clicking. There are literally hundreds of wonderful blogs amongst that list.

And now, with all that aside, I must say adieu, and take a much-deserved nap. Cheers everyone! ❀

A to Z Challenge Day 8: Han Solo (the Cocky Starpilot)

HHanSolo

My closest friends and family members were probably wondering when a Star Wars character was going to pop up on this list. It was certain to happen. In fact, there’s a very good chance that it will happen again. (Shh…)

My obsession with Star Wars has waned over the years, but the original three movies still remain at the top of my favorite-things-of-all-time list. I wasn’t even born when the movies originally came out, but I was somewhere around the 6th or 7th grade when they remastered and re-released them. My two best friends, who had seen the movies before, suggested a marathon to introduce me to the films, and so it was that we spent a night with the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance and a metric crap-ton of microwaved popcorn.

I didn’t say so at the time, because itΒ  was obvious that we were meant to be putting most of our love and attention on Luke, but I totally fell for the Han Solo character the moment he first appeared on the screen. He was cool and cocky, a little aloof and occasionally dumb as a bag of hammers (in a cute way), and he played by his own set of (skewed in his favor) rules. In other words, he was a bad boy, who also was known to have a really good heart. And he also happened to be played by a young, handsome Harrison Ford. What thirteen-year-old girl wouldn’t fall for that?

I continued to swoon over Mr Solo through all three movies and right into the expanded universe. I read dozens of Star Wars novels and gravitated toward the ones that featured Han as an integral character. One such series of three books was all about how Han became a smuggler in the first place, and I’m sure I read each of them a dozen times. Another set of books was about a future in which Han and Leia had had three Jedi children, who were subsequently kidnapped. My favorite chapters were the ones in which Han was losing his mind trying to track down his kids. Even as a father he was a total rogue and I ate it up.

Yeah, okay, Han Solo is pretty egotistical and self-centered. In fact, even Harrison Ford himself said that he hated the character. But, come on…he’s a a handsome, gun-toting space pirate. How can you not think that that’s at least a little bit freakin’ awesome?

A to Z Challenge Day 2: Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer)

BBuffy

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the types of books I read or some of the scenes I, myself, have written, but when I was younger I was quite a wuss. I was a Disney kid who liked puppies and kittens and was too shy for her own good, so scary stuff wasn’t really my thing. To explain to you just how much of a wuss I was, it took several years for me to make it all the way through Pinocchio because I was scared half to death of Monstro the whale. I had more than a few nightmares about that devil-whale.

Yet, despite the adrenaline that would kick up the second something even began to consider being scary, there were a few ghosts-and-monsters related shows that I loved to watch, most of them on YTV on Friday nights. One such show was Buffy the Vampire slayer, which I began watching right from the very beginning. At this point in my life I’d never seen the original movie version of Buffy, but I took immediately to the show, and to Buffy in particular.

There have been many arguments on both sides of the fence when it comes to this particular show, but all I can say either way is that I’ve loved it from the moment I first discovered it, and Buffy immediately became one of my favorite characters ever. She was created by (in my opinion) a brilliant writer in Joss Whedon, and brought to live by (in my opinion) a wonderful actress in Sarah Michelle Gellar, but neither of those things were the reason why I took to Buffy so well.

When I was a kid things were starting to sway, but it was still the “way” of things for the guy to be the hero. The handsome jock would lead the team (Power Rangers), the men would be responsible for the most important battles (Luke Skywalker and Han Solo), the charming prince would rescue the damsel in distress (so many examples I couldn’t possibly list them all). In a world where, for the most part, the girls were the background characters or constantly being rescued, here was a female character who was front line and center. She was the main character, strong and powerful and could totally kick ass, and she was the one doing 99% of the saving. And for all her strength and Chosen One-liness, she was at the core just a regular girl. Her strength didn’t come from size, nor her abilities from super-intelligence. She was just a girl. She had been a cheerleader. She had been totally full of herself, as many teenage girls are. In other words, she could have been anyone. She could have been me, or my best friend, or that really quiet girl in my class who was sweet but shy, or the loud-mouth popular girl who everyone secretly hated.

That appealed to me as a kid. The idea that any random, completely typical teenage girl could just up and become a superhero was a huge thing.

But – and here’s the important part that Whedon and Gellar had a huge influence on – even though she was the center of the monster-slaying universe, and was the most important character, and was the kick-ass female hero, Buffy was not by any means infallible or invulnerable. She made huge mistakes. She got her butt handed to her on multiple occasions. She fell into deep depressions. She hurt the ones she loved and then made herself miserable trying to fix things. She saved the world, but she couldn’t always save all the victims. And that just made her that much more real, that much easier to relate to, that much easier to care for. Buffy Summers is one of those characters whom I became so fond of, so invested in, that it hurt me physically to see her in any kind of pain.

It’s been 17 years since the first time I watched a Buffy episode, and over the course of those 17 years I’ve watched every Buffy episode at least three or four times. Some episodes were better than others, and I will readily agree with some that the first couple of seasons were leaps and bounds over the last couple, but in the end I loved them all. Buffy was one of the first fictional characters to make me bawl like a little girl, something I am none too embarrassed to admit, but as crying for a fictional character is not exactly a common occurrence for me, I think that just goes to prove how awesome Buffy really was.

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