Stan Lee Signed 8×10 from The Collectors Case WINNER!

It’s another giveaway winner day! Today we’re passing along this awesome 8×10 of the Marvel superheroes roster signed by none other than Stan Lee! Did you win? You’ll have to watch the video to find out!

Thanks again to The Collectors Case for providing the prize for this giveaway! They’re our favorite subscription box right now, and if you love geeky collectibles and getting your value’s worth, you should definitely check them out!

Stan Lee Signed 8×10 GIVEAWAY! Thanks to The Collectors Case!

Skipping a few videos to share this one with you guys ASAP, because I want every possible to have a chance at entering this giveaway! Thanks to our friends at The Collectors Case, we have this beautiful Marvel family print with none other than STAN LEE’s signature to give away to one lucky viewer! Get those entries in, true believers! Excelsior!!!

The Little Things in Life

No one who knows my husband and I personally would dare disagree with the statement that we go a little insane at Christmas. We’re not crazy people with endless disposable income – it’s just that we don’t spend a lot of money throughout the year. Our hobbies are cheap ones (he mostly just plays video games, and I’m happy to write on my slowly-dying laptop), and we make a point of trying not to buy our daughter things regularly because we don’t want her to be one of those kids who thinks she can have anything she likes every time we go to the mall.

But at Christmas? Oh, we totally lose our minds at Christmas. It was bad enough when it was just the two of us buying each other geeky collectibles by the truckload, but the past few years we’ve had a kid to deal with as well and the resulting Christmas-tree explosion is a completely ridiculous testament to our mental states.

And I won’t say that the daughter doesn’t enjoy it, because what kid wouldn’t enjoy a mound of presents to open all at once? However, as usual, our adorable little mini-me shows us that quantity is not necessarily the be all and end all.


That little critter in her arms right there is a stuffed Rocket Raccoon. My daughter asked Santa (several times and through several different methods and mediums) for a Rocket Raccoon for Christmas this year, and so when she woke up on Christmas morning this little critter was sitting, unwrapped, at the front of the present pile with a little pink bow on his head. And you know what? She’s hardly let go of him since then.

I’m not saying that she ignored her other presents. Hell no. She loves the superhero action figures that she got, has been rocking out on the Barbie guitar that great-nana gave her, and I’m pretty sure she’d play Disney Infinity all day until bedtime if we allowed her… But this little Rocket Raccoon toy – this little stuffed dude who doesn’t do anything other than be hugged with a grumpy look on his face – has barely left her sight for the past week. She’s been sleeping with him cuddled into her arms every night, and he didn’t leave her hand the entire day when we went out shopping for Boxing Week sales. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that someone had super-glued him to her hand.

And you know what? There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Kids (and adults) these days are surrounded by technology, thousands of channels, hundreds of thousands of options, everything bigger and better and flashier and more expensive. And yet a kid’s favorite toy can still be a little plush that does absolutely nothing. It doesn’t play games, it doesn’t talk, it doesn’t move at all. And yet it’s exciting to her to be able to take him to the grocery store and buckle him in to the seat in the cart next to her. That’s pretty amazing, and something we should all probably think about emulating. Because toys (whether they be actual toys, appliances, electronics, or whatever else) don’t have to be the biggest, brightest, noisiest model with the most possible options to still be fun and enjoyable and make a person happy.

What were your favorite toys as a kid? Were they the simple ones or the complex ones? What about as an adult? Do you have to upgrade to the newest cellphone the second it comes out? Or are you the kind of person who is happy to snuggle up and enjoy an old movie favorite? Do you enjoy the simple things in life, or are you all about the complexity? Please share!

Why write? Well since you asked…


Note: Today’s post is courtesy of a prompt from “642 Things to Write About“. Today’s prompt is: “Why you write.”

I was flipping through the “642 Things” book this morning when I realized I’d forgotten to write today’s post, and this was the prompt that I randomly flipped to. It made me chuckle a little because of all the 642 prompts in this book, this is probably the easiest one for me to answer.

It all started (she said, ceremoniously) when I was in the third grade, and it started in an odd kind of way. You see, one night I was having trouble sleeping. I must have gotten out of bed and been playing with my toys or something, because I woke up my father. He came in my room to tuck me back into bed and I complained to him that I couldn’t get to sleep. I can remember, plain as day, he told me to close my eyes and just think about my day, play it in my head like a movie, and eventually I’d drift to sleep. I nodded and he went back to his room, and I closed my eyes. But I didn’t think about my day. I thought about more fantastical things. I imagined myself in a crazy story, with monsters and heroes and lots of fun and danger. And eventually, I fell asleep.

That became my nighttime routine. Every night I would imagine myself in a “movie” in my head. Sometimes I’d be fighting alongside my favorite superheroes, sometimes I’d be the damsel in distress, and sometimes I’d just think of the craziest thing I could imagine. I enjoyed making up these stories in my head so much that sometimes I’d wake up in the morning actually excited to get to bed that night.

Then I found a better outlet, thanks to a school assignment. We were to write an original short story, paste it on construction paper, draw a cover, and bind it all together. I nailed that assignment, let me tell you. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what the story was about, but I can tell you that I called it, “The Mystery of the Emerald-Eyed Cat”, and I drew two creepy green cat eyes on my cover, and I got an excellent grade.

That was the first real story I ever wrote, and it started one hell of a lifelong desire. In those early days, and for many years afterward, I mostly wrote stories featuring myself and my friends, because I was basically writing down my nighttime “movies”, but as time went on I moved on to fan-fiction and more professional fiction as well, and the rest is pretty much history.

So why exactly do I write? Because, to be honest, I’m still that little girl laying in bed trying to get to sleep. It may sound funny to people who have trouble sleeping because they think too much, but I still lull myself to sleep by telling myself stories in my head, and these days those stories are the scenes for the books that I write. Playing those thoughts and ideas through my head every night is something that I think I’ll always do, and as a result I think that I’ll always write because since that first story I’ve always felt the need to get the thoughts out of my head and onto the paper. ❤

Nerd Block (Original) Unboxing and Review for October 2014

If you’ve been watching my YouTube videos or reading these subscription box review posts, you know that I’ve been wanting to cancel Nerd Block for a couple of months now, but it just didn’t happen. This month Nerd Block did two things that convinced me to hang on for yet another month: they began experimenting with themes, and they got Kevin Smith to curate a box. Of course I had to see what the first theme (“Collide”) was going to be like, and I was confident that Kevin Smith would create an awesome block. And I was right!

First, check out the YouTube vid:

Pretty good, right? So let’s check out the breakdown…

Jay and Silent Bob/FatMan stickers: I’m pretty sure these are an exclusive for the box, so it’s hard to put a value on them, but seeing as they’re just stickers I’m going to go with about $3
Legend of Zelda dangler: This always amazes me, but these tiny little dangling figures go for about $6
POW Superhero pins: I couldn’t find the exact same pins, but similar packs of four go for about $7
Arkham Asylum Patient Notes notebook: This is another hard one since it appears to be a Nerd Block exclusive. With the amount of sticky notes/tabs that are inside, plus the value of the notebook itself, I’m going to estimate at approximately $8
Agent Coulson’s Captain America Trading Cards: These are something you can actually purchase on your own, but it’s still difficult to value because the set that you can buy yourself is different from what came in the Nerd Block. The purchasable collection has two sets (“Near Mint” and “Bloody”), plus a display that you can stick the cards in, and that all goes for approximately $40 or so. Since the Nerd Block pack comes with just the one set of cards, I’m going to take off about $10 for the stand and cut the remaining cost in half, pricing the cards at about $15.
FatMan t-shirt: As always, I’m putting a value of about $15 on this exclusive t-shirt
Deadpool (without mask) Funko Pop: As with most Funko’s, this one goes for about $13

Total approximate value of box: $67
Total cost to me: $33

So, as you can see, this month was definitely a win for me, and I’m glad I held on to see what Kevin Smith would do with his curating powers. I love the Deadpool Funko, and the trading cards and Arkham notebook are pretty cool too. All in all, as I said in the video, the only thing that I’m not really impressed with his the Zelda dangler, and that’s only because I got a character I don’t know. So, in conclusion, good job Nerd Block. You’ve managed to make me question whether or not I want to cancel you again. 😛

Dear Marvel: Please Leave My Poor Thor Alone

About a week ago I came across a headline on Twitter that made me do a little bit of a double-take: “Thor is Now a Woman!” I didn’t click on it at the time because I was on a bus that was driving into a cell service dead zone, but I assumed that the claim was one of two things: either a new storyline where trickster god, Loki, casts a gender-bending spell on his hero half-brother…or a joke. Imagine my surprise when my husband texted me the following day to say, “So…Thor is a girl now,” and, “Also I think Cap might be going black.”

I’ll admit right now, at this point I still thought that it was some kind of joke. And then I actually took a moment to look it up online.

Meet the "Avengers Now!"

Let me go ahead right now and say that it’s perfectly fine – awesome, even – that Marvel wants to be more diverse.  But I really, really don’t think this is the way to go about it. Taking existing, well-established, well-loved characters and changing their gender or skin color does not feel like a progressive move to me. By making these changes I do not feel that Marvel really gets the point behind equal opportunity and diversity. I feel like, instead of putting in the time and effort to make great female and multi-cultural characters that we grow to love, they’re taking the cheap and easy way out. I feel that instead of genuinely trying to convince me that woman and minority superheroes are awesome, they’re trying to force the idea on me by screwing with characters that I’m already invested in.

Let’s get one thing straight. I do not think that making these changes in any way diminishes the core of the character. A black Cap isn’t any less American, and a female Thor is not any less a kickass warrior. What I’m getting at is that it’s unnecessary, backward, and quite a little bit confounding. This move feels to me like an employee firing two perfectly qualified white guys and replacing them with an equally (no more, no less) qualified woman and black man, just to be able to say that their workplace is diversified. The woman and the black guy might be pretty happy with the arrangement, but it’s a hell of a crappy deal for the two white guys and their families.

I’m having a hard time expressing myself on this one because it’s such a baffling concept to me. But I guess what I’m really getting down to is that sure, more women superheroes would be awesome, and sure, more racial diversity in comics would be awesome, but I feel the need to point out that there is also nothing wrong with being a white, male superhero. Does anyone get what I’m saying?

Plus, Thor Odinsdaughter doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I’m just sayin’.

Why “Geek Shops” Fail

My husband and I are huge nerds. I’m certain that I’ve mentioned this more than once. We may not be the worst kind of nerds, but most of the things we enjoy are the geeky kinds of things, and with that comes a certain amount of collecting. I’m big into shows like Doctor Who, movies like Star Wars, and anything ever done by Joss Whedon; he has an outrageous number of horror movies, many of them VHS tapes of some of the worst pieces of cinema ever filmed. I have McFarlane Dragons all over my bookshelves, he has an entire shelf of horror character figures to go with his movies. We both almost exclusively wear t-shirts plastered with nerdy sayings, superheroes, or video game characters. The list goes on, but I don’t think I really have to go much further to prove that yes, we are huge nerds, so I rest my case.

I rest my case...again.
Need I remind you that this was all amassed in a single day?

The point is that, because we’re nerds, and because we amass nerdy stuff, we regularly frequent what we refer to as “Geek Shops”. A nicer phrasing would be “comic shops”, but since not all of these stores necessarily focus on comics, we kinda figure that “Geek Shop” is a more accurate phrasing. These are the places you go to buy toys that you will insist are “collectibles”, and various forms of the kind of literature that makes your family roll their eyes and yell at you for wasting your money. These are the shops where the nerdiest of us go to get our guilty pleasures. These are the kinds of shops that my husband and I have watched fail time and time again.

The pop culture example would be Stewart’s comic shop on the Big Bang Theory. It’s a nice looking shop, and the Big Bang cast frequents it regularly, but we’re never under any kind of misunderstanding that Stewart is in any way successful. He regularly mentions such things as being unable to pay the bills, not having anything to eat for the day, etc. Even with people regularly in his shop, he’s failing miserably. The subplot is part of the humor of the show, but in real life my husband and I have seen this kind of thing time and again. Since we first started frequenting “geek shops” several years ago, we have seen no fewer than five of these shops disappear within a year because they couldn’t hold their own, and a few more downsize to significantly smaller shops because they overstepped their bounds and had a really rough time making a go of it. Alternatively, there are a few shops that have withstood the test of time, that have been around since long before hubby and I started shopping there, and will probably be there for years to come. So what’s the difference? Why is it that some shops are perfectly successful and others can barely stay open for a few months? I have a few thoughts. I’m going to share them.

The owners don’t consider their market/location.

When you open a specialty shop in a big city, chances are that someone will be into it, simply because there is a greater population and a greater variety of people and personalities. Alternatively, when you open a specialty shop in a less populated area, you have to consider that your clientele will not be as varied. Several times I have seen someone open a “geek shop” and immediately order a crap-ton of different comics, books, and collectibles from a great number of distributors. They want to have variety, so they order some video game stuff, some superhero stuff, some TV-related stuff, some movie-related stuff, and maybe even some tabletop board games, stuffed animals, collectible card games…you get the point. They order everything. And then they fail miserably because they can’t sell it.

In a big city this would be a more reasonable approach because chances are, at some point, someone is going to walk in who desperately wants a particular item that you happen to have in your vast inventory. In a small area, the chances of a customer arriving for each of the hundreds of things you’ve decided to stock is very unlikely. You might get lots of people coming in and buy comics, but you might find yourself sitting on thousands of dollars worth of tabletop games for years, unable to pay back all the money that you spent on them in the first place.

In the area where my husband and I grew up, big collectors are few and far between. People like us have slowly been appearing over time, but as a “by population” statistic, it’s a small percentage. Therefore, someone who opens a shop full to the brim with collectible figures in our area is likely to find themselves drowning in those figures for months, and maybe even years, until eventually they sell them all at a loss just to pay the last month’s rent on the store.

I’m not saying that a shop in a smaller area shouldn’t order lots of stuff, but you have to scope out your market first. Buy a few of a bunch of different things, see what sells, and then focus on that stuff. I’m sure that’s right up there in some of the top lessons they teach in marketing classes, and yet a large number of comic shop owners find themselves deep in the hole because they fail to have that little bit of common sense.

They cater to a certain crowd, and alienate everyone else.

Several of the geek shops I’ve seen fail had one big thing in common: they were constantly hosting tabletop or collectible card game tournaments in the shop. This, I’ve come to believe, is an enormous no-no. Why? Space. One particular shop I’m thinking of constantly had their entire store filled wall to wall with tables to host these tournaments, and the result is that no one else who comes in can reach anything. Entire walls of product will be inaccessible unless you want to press your entire body up against the dudes playing Magic the Gathering, or else climb right over the damn table. I have witnessed, on dozens of occasions, customers walking into a store, seeing the army of gamers taking up every inch of floor space, and turning around to walk right back out. No one wants to deal with that, I’m sorry.

Maybe the store owner earns a little bit of money from the tournament itself…maybe a few of those gamers buy something on their way out. But how many customers does the shop lose because they just can’t be bothered having to fight through the crowd just to be able to see anything?

I’m not saying that these shops should never host tournaments, because I’m sure there is some revenue to be had from them, but you have to consider the other customers as well. One shop I know of has a room off to the side that is set aside specifically for these tournaments. The gamers are away from the product, the door can be shut if they’re making too much noise, and other customers can come and go as though it’s any other day. That shop is successful. The one that constantly has it’s entire floor space covered in gamer nerds is not.

They spend tons of money on stuff they may never sell.

This one goes along with knowing your market. There’s a vast world of geeky items and collectibles out there, and for every item there’s someone who desperately wants it and will spend ridiculous amounts of money on it…but that person is not likely to ever walk into your shop.

I die a little inside every time I walk into a geek shop that has a $2000 sword replica hanging on the wall, or a huge glass case full of resin statues that range anywhere from $100 to $5000, because chances are that all of those items will still be there the next time I visit…and the time after that…and the time after that. Those items almost never sell, because honestly, what do you think the chances are that someone who just happens to have $3000 of disposable income in their pocket and really desperately wants a life-sized stainless steel replica of Ned Stark’s sword is just going to happen to wander into your store? Sure all that stuff looks awesome, but if you’ve bought it just so that your customers can say, “Wow, that’s so cool!” and then walk away…well, it’s not a very good investment, is it?

A more successful shop – one that has already stood the test of time and proven that they’re going to be around for a while – can get away with a few of these items because they have the capital to be able to survive if that item never sells. But when a brand new shop opens up and has their walls covered in the kinds of items that only the richest and most dedicated of nerds would ever even consider buying…that’s just dumb. There, I said it. Sorry, but it’s true.

They try to cheat people.

This is not something that every shop owner does, of course, but I’ve noticed it in several shops, some of them being the ones who eventually crashed and burned.

Here’s the thing…geeky stuff has become much more mainstream over the years, and that means that some of the items that we previously could only get at geek shops are now available all over the place. Therefore, where geek shop owners used to pretty much be able to choose their own pricing for items, now they have to consider what that item is being sold for at the Walmart down the street…and a lot of the time they don’t.

I’ll give you an example. I love Funko Pop collectibles. They’re adorable and I love ’em. When the hubby and I first discovered them they were something that we only ever saw in geek shops, but in recent years the cute little figures have become a lot more popular and can be found in lots of stores and also bought online. Therefore, tell me, please…why would I spend $20 on one of these figures from a geek shop when the local Chapters has the exact same one for $12?

Hey, profit has to come from somewhere, I get that, and if a collectible is obscure or hard to find I can totally understand a geek shop charging extra for it because it’s not like you can just walk down the street to buy it from someone else. But if you actually can just walk down the street to buy it from a dozen other someones…well, maybe – just maybe – you should consider not charging 30-50% more than those other someones. There are plenty of people out there who would prefer to support their local specialty shop, but the overwhelming majority of people are going to choose to pay less because of course they are.


This is all just my opinion, of course. I don’t claim to truly know anything about marketing, or business models, or any of that nonsense. All I know is what I see with my own eyes, and when I’ve seen the things I mentioned above, the result has almost always been a “Closed” sign on the door of an empty building.

Join me, my fellow nerds. Do you frequent “geek shops”? Do you notice these trends yourself, or have you noticed other things that tend to contribute to a shop’s downfall? Share!

A to Z Challenge Day 16: Peter Parker (the Spider-Man)


I’ve mentioned before that in recent years I’ve gotten pretty into the comic book world, particularly with the Marvel superheroes. But Spider-Man – aka Peter Parker – is the Marvel superhero who was my first big link to the comic world, before I even really knew anything about comics.

I’m too young for the original Spider-Man cartoon (although I’ve seen it and have an appreciation for the terrible goodness of it), but there was another cartoon in the 90’s that aired when I was plenty old enough to be falling in love with superheroes. I’m certain that I saw every episode of this particular series, and went on to watch a couple of spin-off series’ as well. At one point – though I was always more into prose than comic-style stories – I began collecting a s series of comics called “Slingers”, which featured four teenagers who adopted the four alternate persona that Peter Parker had come up with during a particularly rough time to be Spider-Man. And my enjoyment of the character continued on from there, with the movies, and then the remake, plus the video games that were periodically released all through my childhood.

The biggest reason that I liked Spider-Man, specifically, as a kid is that he was a kid too. Okay, sure, he was a teenager, but still. He was a young person who had to deal with school, a social life, dating, and all that other good stuff, while also being a superhero, constantly in mortal danger and having his good name besmirched by none other than his boss. It’s always great, as a kid, to be reminded that kids can be heroes too, and Peter Parker showed that in spades. He acted like a kid, what with the goofy banter and constantly trying to balance superhero life with a social life, but he also regularly saved peoples’ lives, thwarted evil, and made hard decisions. As a kid who also loved to write and create her own characters, those qualities really spoke to me.

These days I still enjoy watching Spider-Man cartoons, especially with the company of my daughter, who even at only three years old already knows that Doctor Octopus is a “really bad guy”. Damn right, sweetie. Damn right.

A to Z Challenge Day 9: Iron Man (the Smarmiest Avenger)


Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the get-go: Iron Man was not a childhood favorite of mine. I knew who he was, of course, but of the superheroes I followed as a child, he was not one. I liked Spiderman and Batman and the X-Men, and that was actually pretty much it. My childhood background in superheroes was a product of 1990’s cartoons, and though there was an Iron Man cartoon in that time span I don’t ever remember it being available on any channel that my family had. If I’m being perfectly, 100% honest with myself, I eventually hooked onto Iron Man only because of Robert Downey Jr. Before the 2008 blockbuster, I didn’t know a great deal about Iron Man other than that his real name was Tony Stark, and that he was a cocky millionaire with no actual superpowers. He had a hell of a lot of money, and he built himself a superhero suit. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge.

But after watching that 2008 movie (and enjoying it thoroughly) I started to look back into the famous comic book character. What I discovered was that Robert Downey Jr. could scarcely have recreated a more accurate representation of Tony Stark. The “playboy, billionaire, philanthropist” may be over-confident and egotistical, but he also has a good heart, a will of steel, and a concrete desire to rid the world of evil. And he has real, relatable flaws – he drinks a hell of a lot, and also the aforementioned over-confidence issue), which always makes a charter feel more believable to me. I fell even more in love with the character once Joss Whedon had his turn at writing him for The Avengers. Yeah, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a Whedonite. What’re you gonna do about it?

Long story short, in recent years I’ve become a big fan of a number of superheroes, and Iron Man is definitely up near the top of that list. Sometime in the (hopefully near) future I hope to obtain some of the comic compilation volumes that include his origin story so that I can learn more. Because, as previously mentioned in a number of other blog posts, I am an unbelievable nerd.