Friday, September 18, 2015

Comic Con Wrap Up

So this post is long over due and probably no longer relevant, but I need to get this down so I can catch up to the rest of the topics that I have been meaning to write about. The last 3 posts were basically me bitching about what is wrong with comic con. Based on all of that whining and moaning, you would be correct to assume comic con is a horrible experience and should be avoided at all costs. Well I did want to share some of the good and explain why I keep coming back year after year despite my ongoing complaints.

A fact of life is that things will never be as good as the first time you experienced it. That sense of discovery and exploration can never be recreated. However, the flip side of that is that there is ALWAYS something new to discover. That is the simplest way to explain why I come back year after year. The adventure of combing through a gigantic convention center hoping to find that special souvenir or collectible. There is SO much stuff and I get so much joy of just window shopping. Shopping online or at a mall, just isn't the same. So as much as I bitch, I will always come back.

If I am honest with myself, I have way too much stuff. I have toys for days and days and should probably give/sell them to people who could really appreciate it. I used to be hoarder and tried to keep everything, but as I have gotten older and moved a few times, I have slowly let go of a lot of my collection. Thus is the evil cycle of being a collector... 1.) BUY 2.) BUY more  3.)Life event 4.)SELL 5.)Miss your old stuff 6.)Go back to step 1! What I learned is that I like the chase of tracking down toys and the act of buying. Once I own it... eh... no big deal.

Sorry for that bit of a tangent on my hoarding. The last reason why comic con is a great experience and why you owe it to yourself to go (at least once) are the people. Yes the same people I am complaining about... By and large, everyone here is a fan of something. Could be the latest TV Show like Walking Dead. It could also be fans of comics, toys, anime,  Star Wars, or even stuffed llamas. There are literally people from all walks of life that are fans of the most random things. Why is this cool? Because it leads to some awesome conversations and you are likely to find someone who likes the same stuff you do. Every year, I make new friends and it is a blast to meet folks the old fashion way... "Hi, what are you here to see..." and go from there. Over the years, I have made so many friends that I only see at comic con. So that is once a year that I get to see these people. Its funny because I see these people maybe once a year, but we have been friends for over 10 years. When we see each other, its all stories and catching up. These are "real" friends, not fake Facebook/Instagram/Twitter friends. REAL people.

So there you have it... go to comic con, meet cool people, manage your expectations, have fun and don't stress. For the people who may read this, THANKS! and I would love to hear your thoughts or comments. On to the next topic! D23.... = (

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Ugly: Comic Con 2015 Part 3

I promise... only 2 more posts about Comic Con and then off to a new topic.

The Ugly: 

In the previous post I talked a lot about all of the lines. Most of those lines are for Comic Con "Exclusives". An exclusive is some toy/statue/collectible item that is only for sale at the convention and made in "limited" quantities. For example, Hasbro (the makers of Transformers, GI Joe, My Little Pony, Star Wars) has a lot of cool licenses that are beloved by many people. So during comic con, they will take their normal toys and produce it in a special color with special packaging and make a limited amount. 

Hasbro's Ant Man Exclusive for SDCC 2015 (Watch the movie!):

These exclusives make for really cool souvenirs as you can only get them at the convention and it helps to make the experience all the more special. They certainly add up to bragging rights among your collector friends. Basically, it is a nice incentive for paying money to attend this convention. The bad thing is collectors like to "collect" everything and toys that are limited are the equivalent to crack for them. What does this mean? There is an arbitrage opportunity to buy "exclusives" and sell them to said collectors at a profit. Sometimes a very substantial profit depending on the popularity and edition size of the item. Over my 15 years of going to comic con, I quickly learned that I could fund my convention expenses by buying and selling exclusives. 

Now it would be hypocritical of me to condemn all the people who buy exclusives to flip for a profit, but I did just enough to pay for my trip. I always considered making it a full blown operation, but I was there to enjoy the con, not wait in lines and buy stuff to resell... otherwise my vacation becomes work. My philosophy was always to buy enough toys for me and my friends who couldnt attend. If there were extras, I would sell them to cover expenses. But the spirit was always to get stuff for me and my collector buddies first and foremost. If I could make some extra to pay for the ridiculous hotel expenses or eat something better than a dried out bagel dog... then it was a bonus. 

With the internet, this phenomenon was caught on to very quickly. "Comic con exclusive" became a marketing gimmick. EVERY vendor caught on to the hype and now offers an "exclusive" item. These days, most of it is complete garbage and you will be able to find it on ebay for less than the original cost within a month after the convention is over. However, there is still a ton of money to be made and comic con is now much more about finding those arbitrage opportunities to make money. I understand it is a free market and if people keep buying this crap, vendors will sell it, and people will line up to buy and resell. The heartbreaking part of it all is that the proverbial "spirit" of comic con has essentially been commercialized and monetized to the point that going to comic con is about making money instead of having a good time. Essentially people are spending big money to take a "vacation" to work the convention floor in hopes of re-selling items online. 

I thoroughly enjoy the chase and challenge of finding the greatest and most "rare" exclusives. It is frustrating, exciting, and gratifying all at the same time. The following is my personal haul from the past three years:

San Diego Comic Con - 2013

San Diego Comic Con - 2014

San Diego Comic Con - 2015

As you can see, me and my friends are highly successful in getting huge piles of loot. If you check ebay, many of the items in the pictures above sell for hundreds of dollars. The pictures aren't to brag, it is merely to show that a lot of work goes into acquiring these items. A lot of it is for my personal collection and some of it is to sell. People often ask how we do it and there is no secret method. There is a lot of planning, but it also comes down to a lot of luck... But me and my friends get a kick out of it and we try our best to get everything, but we strike out... a lot. But regardless, we have fun doing this every year and we love talking about all the crazy shenanigans that go into this year after year. I just do this for fun.... but there is a TON of money to be made if that is your goal....

With that understanding, you can see the allure of waiting in line to buy these toys. With so much money that one could theoretically  make, it would be crazy not do get into this. There are now you tube channels and tutorials on how to best maximize your time buying and selling. People even talk about the best ways to cheat the system to get these items... because profit is king and you should do whatever it takes to get these items to make money. This is where it gets ugly... 

As I stated in the previous post, everyone is well aware that these items are rare and can be sold. As such, there are LONG lines to purchase.  It is human nature to try and figure out the best way to gain some advantage to secure what you want... much like the saying "If you are not cheating, you are not trying". We are all guilty of cheating here and there, but there is nothing worse than trying to cut into a huge line that everyone has been waiting their turn in. Think about that time you were stuck in traffic to make a turn and that asshat flies down the other lane and cuts off the huge line of cars as if it was their right to do so. Well that situation induces road rage. Cut a line at comic con and someone will get stabbed with a pencil (it is a true story..Comic Con Pencil Stabbing).

There is definitely a cat and mouse game with the lines and people come up with all sorts of lies and other random shit to try to garner sympathy to get to the front of the line. Some examples:
1.) Parents saying their kids are dying (dying to sell on ebay) and need the toy
2.) Grown ass male adults sobbing and crying (let me tell you, nothing is more pathetic than a 300lb obese fan boy sobbing about not being able to buy a My Little Pony doll)
3.) People lying about being handicapped and can not physically wait in line so they deserve to get to the front of the line.

This year, number 3 was by far the most common thing I saw this year. I saw a bunch of people claiming to be handicapped to get a special badge that allows them to skip any line and go to the front. A lot of these people I know personally and have seen walk and run just fine. This was the most despicable and sad thing to see in all my years of toy hunting. I don't know how these folks live with themselves. Faking at being handicap JUST to buy some toys. WHAT THE FUCK. To me this is the equivalent of pretending to be retarded and participating in the Special Olympics. What kind of scumbag do you have to be to do this? I want these toys just as bad as the next person, but I would never fake being handicapped.

Seeing this kind of behavior has really made me reconsider my faith in humanity. It is disappointing  to see how quickly people devolve into such deplorable behavior over some inconsequential "toys". By and large this has ruined the spirit of comic con for me. The fun of chasing toys and the thrill of enjoying the successes and laughing about the failures is no longer there for me. Seeing what awful lengths people will go to just makes me sad. This event is 5 days. As the years go by, I cant make it the full 5 days. I typically can only survive 2-3 before I want to punch someone in the face. Soon enough, I probably will stop going all together.

To sum up this very long post... for all of those who ask me how "fun" the show was or if I saw a lot of cool things? The answer is the convention generally wasn't fun and I saw a lot of terrible things. If you have never been to comic con, I would suggest going once and enjoy the sights and fanfare. But if you are expecting to buy these limited edition toys and aren't prepared... you are going to have a bad time and be very disappointed.

Its not all bad... one more comic con post to go... I promise to wrap it up on a good note. Thanks to my one reader who actually reads this. =)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Bad: Comic Con 2015 Part 2

After spending several days in San Diego, my friends and family ask "How was it?" It is always a complicated answer... like every year, there are good things, great things, and a lot of despicable things.Without being too negative, I wanted to go through all of it, so please bear with me on the long post. 

The Bad: 

Lines. Lines. and More Lines. If you come to comic con, expect to wait in line and often times for several hours. There are lines for everything. Want to see a panel of the next block buster movie in Hall H? Expect to wait 5+ hours. Want the chance to buy the limited edition Lego exclusive? expect to line up at 6AM and wait 3+ hours for the "chance" to enter into a random raffle to pay $40 for a Lego. Want Hasbro or Funko exclusives? Pray that you are faster than the person next to you as you are literally in a race to the line. But I think you get the picture... its a line for everything. 

The sad thing is that for most people, the fun of comic con is supposed to be about seeing your favorite comic publisher, entertainment studio, celebrity, etc. But in today's world, it has become so commercialized and about the "hype" that all you see are lines. For people new to this experience, all I see are sad and bewildered faces of people that dont understand how something is sold out 5 mins after the door opens. Or how they fly in from Middle America and didnt know they have to line up at 5am to get a ticket/wrist band to attend the panel of their favorite TV show. Its gotten to the point where people put together comic con primers on what to do and how to best get to see what you want. The old days of showing up and discovering the fun of this convention are long gone. If you plan to go to comic con, you better prepare and know whats up. 

The reality is that this event has become so popular and "mainstream" that everyone wants to go and with such a huge crowd, there has to be different ways to control the crowd and at least give the perception that things are "fair" to all attendees. All bitching aside, I know the organizers are trying their best to keep things organized, but with so many people, you cant possibly make everyone happy. And that is the source of most people's frustration... that they feel they are entitled to get to see celebrity X or buy toy Y. As an attendee, you are entitled to entry into the convention center, and that is it.Everything else is a free for all. If we could all manage or taper our expectations a bit better, I honestly believe people would be a lot less upset. Imagine a trip to Disneyland. If you go in expecting to ride every attraction... you are likely to go home disappointed. If you go in expecting to ride your top 5 rides, you will probably have a good time. 

My advice is to go with a plan on the top attractions and top purchases you would like to make. Understand that if you cant see or buy everything, it is not the end of the world. Enjoy what you do see, take a lot of pictures and don't worry about what you missed. It is impossible to see everything. I actually dont mind that I miss things because it gives me something to talk about with my friends who saw other things. Being able to share in our successes and failures at the convention always makes for good stories. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

San Diego Fever! - Comic Con 2015 Part.1

Its that time of year again... San Diego Comic Con. If you dont know what this is, let me give you the short of it. San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC or Comic con) is exactly what it sounds like. A comic book convention in San Diego. Yup.... it is that dorky. You will hear "comic con" for short and that can refer to any comic book convention around the world. However, San Diego is THE comic con. It is the biggest one every year and the one that everyone looks forward to.

SDCC is an annual convention and started sometime in the early 70's. It was a big dork fest. Comic book fans would come and gather for several days and trade and buy their favorite periodicals. The stereotype of the nerdy, basement dweller, who smelled and was woman adverse was largely true. These fans loved their comics and loved congregating with like minded fans. This was especially important in the pre-internet days because how else would you meet people who were fans of the same stuff you liked? The important take away here is that this used to be about the "love" of the medium and sharing in that fandom with one another.

My first SDCC comic con was in 1994. I remember it to this day. I went with my friend's family and they graciously took me along. I was 12 years old and maybe had $50 with me. We show up and my head literally wanted to explode. There was STUFF EVERYWHERE. Tons of free swag. Tons of people dressed up. Most importantly, everyone there was a fan of something and you were going to either find someone who liked what you did or someone that was going to introduce you to something new.

My fondest memory of that first time going was that while i only had so much cash, I had fun. I bought a couple of souvenirs and just had a blast walking around. Free posters, comics, etc, was amazing to someone on a limited budget. You could meet your favorite artist and get your comic signed. He might even draw you a sketch if time permitted. You could see all sort of fun knick knacks from around the world. All of those "rare" items you read about in magazines, you could see in person. Again... before the internet, conventions were a place where myths became true. Today, it is so easy to "google" an image or an article. But in the 90's, things did not exist unless you read it in a magazine or saw it person. This was the true beauty of SDCC and any convention... discovery of those things that you never knew existed. It started a love affair with San Diego that would continue on for years to come. I didn't know when I would be back, I just knew that I had to come back....

This is what the old logo used to look like:

I would not be back until 1999 and have not missed a year since... 

Until next time... 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cheerio! - Random Musings on Business Travel

London... where things that are right are actually left. In a former life, I used to travel a ton. Growing up in Southern California, I pretty much stayed on the west coast. I had some opportunities to travel in college to China to visit my dad, but that was all vacation stuff. Well traveling for work is a whole other animal.

I have been to cool places like London, Tokyo, Germany, France, Spain, and China. I have also been banished to places like Wisconsin and Tennessee... basically those US States that I cant spell without spell check. The good is that I got to experience the world, but some places are obviously better than others. I am always up to experience something at least once. Some places you will fall in love with (e.g. Tokyo - because of robots, toys, sushi, noodles, more robots, more sushi, and beers) and others I will NEVER ever have to visit again (e.g, Memphis - because people are surprised I speak English and tell me I am not from around there).

Anyways, after several years, I am back in London for the 2nd time in the past 6 months for my current job. It is so interesting to be here. It is like being in a Twilight Zone episode (for the young-ins, google that shit!). I understand everyone, but I don't (because Brits have a funny accent and different words) and everyone drives on the other side of the road. I guess the point of it all is that I have taken it for granted that I have been here so many times. I came with my team and they wanted to sight see... and I was going to pass because I have seen it all before... I ended up going just to be a good sport and I appreciated the hell out of what London has to offer. I don't know why I assumed it was all the same. Maybe it is because I am older now? I have no clue, but I just wanted to say that I was foolish to not appreciate this opportunity for what it is. I mean working always sucks, but getting to travel the world is a really nice perk.

So in the spirit of having fun and not giving a fuck what people think, I took a Baymax Tsum Tsum and went around London and some other nearby landmarks and took a series of photos to document my trip. If I make it back here, I will continue to do this and keep this tradition going. Stay tuned for more adventures around the world. As the Brits would say "Cheers!"

 Windsor Castle!
 Cathedral in the City of Bath

Monday, April 20, 2015


A Hypebeast is defined as someone who "hypes" a major release because everyone wants the latest and greatest. Essentially meaning that a Hypebeast only wants something because it is "hot" not because they actually want it. This term originated with sneaker enthusiasts (aka Sneakheads),  but is really applicable to anything "collectible". I am a hypebeast.

To continue from the past post about being a hustler and always looking for new ways to make a dollar, it only makes sense that I am a hypebeast and getting in on the latest trends and products that will be good for a quick flip into cash. Known as "flippers", these people generally care more about making money than the item being sold. People like to bitch and complain about flippers and say how they are scourge of the earth and force prices up. To these people, I say you are a hypocrite and full of shit.

Now let me explain. We all have our hobbies and things we like to collect. Some people are extreme (think hoarders) and others are just super fans of some subject matter (sports, toys, cars, etc.). But the fun of it all is finding those things that make you happy. So there is this notion that things are "rare" or "limited edition" as the marketing people LOVE to claim. What does this mean? It means that the perceived value for said item is super high. What happens next is people start to capitalize on "rare" and "limited" items for big dollars. This is where the hype gets evil. When something is HOT people will pay a premium for it. Thus a flipper is born. It is pure supply and demand. Lots of demand combined with low supply equals high prices.

The point is if you are in it to make money, then this is just how things are. I love the latest and greatest "collectible" I am not foolish enough to believe anything is truly rare, but if I can make some cash, you better believe I will. Let's be honest, if you bought a pair of the latest Nike Jordans for $180 and could flip them for $500-1000 (depending on the model), you sure as hell would sell in a heartbeat. This is why (sadly) people are getting shot over sneakers. Ever hear the term "don't hate the player, hate the game"? Well that applies here. As long as people pay ridiculous prices for things, people will be trying to make a profit.

Case in point. I woke up at 7AM to buy these Nike Air Jordans - "Hare Jordan" Space Jam edition. Why in the world am I waking up so early? Because the hype on these shoes is high and if I can buy in at $180 (a ridiculous price) and flip for $400+  why not? For me personally, I really enjoy the chase of finding the "rare" items and selling for a profit. It is a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but it is fun for me. In general, I won't stoop to the lows that some people will, but I enjoy the "hype" and the chase. You do too. I say have fun and enjoy the chase, but understand that you cant get them all.... and if you could, what would the fun be in that?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hustle and Flow

Welcome to my blog! Think of this space as the musings of a long time toy collector. Nothing brings me more joy than collecting and tracking down the next treasure for my collection. I plan to cover a variety of topics all related to my unhealthy obsession with robots, legos, vinyl toys, and so much more. One day I hope to have people actively reading/following this and if there are topics that interest you more than others, please let me know.

Early on in my childhood I quickly realized my toy collecting hobby was really limited to what my parents would buy me. I was too young to have a job and it isn't like I was able to go to the bank and get a credit card. I also did not get an allowance for chores/good grades... I grew up in an Asian household. My parents were not about to pay me for shit I was supposed to do for free. The only logical way to get more of what I wanted was to trade. The classic example being kids who trade lunch items to get that snack your own parents refused to get you. Lunchables anyone? Those things were the shit back in the day. 

Junk food brought a huge premium when it came to lunch time trades. No one wanted a wanted sugar. Sodas, Snickers, Starbursts, M&M's... this was currency. The kids who got the Ding Dongs, or Moon Pies, or Skittles in their lunch held this "power" over the less fortunate kids. It was amazing to see what kids would offer up for sugary snack. You'd see kids offering up their toys, for a stupid Hostess pastry. I was blown away. A Transformer you could play with indefinitely, but a Twinkie is gone in 10 seconds. I soon realized that I needed "in" on this game as this was the solution for me to get that new Transformer that my parents would not buy me. 

I had a secret weapon... I had access to Asian brand candies that the American kids didn't. More specifically, I am talking Super Lemon and Super Cola candies. If you do not know what these are, they are hard candies that taste like Lemon or Cola and have a TON of sour powder on them. You could only find these in Asian markets and this was before there were 99 Ranch Markets everywhere. More importantly, Super Cola/Lemon was different from any American candy on the market. This would be my first economics lesson in supply and demand. I was the supply and there was a HUGE demand. It was not hard to get my parents to buy me a bag here and there... I want to say it was $2.50 for a bag that contained 10-12 pieces, so roughly $.25 a piece. 

As stated above, kids get stupid when they want something they cant have. Trading for food got old real fast and I realized I did not want sandwiches, I wanted more toys. I wasn't getting the offers of Transformers and GI Joes that I dreamed of. I kept getting offered food items that I couldn't possibly finish on my own. So I stopped trading for food... and one day a desperate schmuck offered me $1 for ONE candy! This was the epiphany that forever changed my life.... I didn't get allowance from my parents, BUT that didn't mean I couldn't sell candies to other kids for their allowance. Soon enough I was flipping $2.50 into $10-12 for every bag I got from my parents. At 8 years old, a hustler was born...