Friday, May 20, 2011

Picture #62: "So, they get lunch boxes, but we can't even get pants?"

I've always had a fondness for the Affirmative Action Superfriends, though poor El Dorado gets excluded even from this collector's edition featuring Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and Samurai.

The depictions were often incredibly stereotypical, but at least there were depictions. Baby steps... baby steps.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photo #61: "I told you to wipe your wheels before you come inside!"


This is, of course, the MSE-6-series repair "mouse" droid from Star Wars. Obviously. And it's making a mess.

We have a pretty eclectic collection of toys here at Fortress Astoria. Most of mine are largely more current acquisitions of things I enjoy, and my roommates fill in with toys from our collectively shared Gen X childhoods past. There's no huge array of Star Wars or Transformers toys here, but there's enough from each genre of iconic toys of the 70's and 80's to make it fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pictures #60:"Not so fast, spaceman..."


Just as a note: I've decided to backdate my posts to when I took the shots, just so I can create a more accurate archive of my posts.

A small child of 7 outwitted me in a game of hiding this Buzz Lightyear in each other's bags and drawers. So naturally I had to seek out solace in ice cream... and ray guns.

I was a little torn using the ray gun, because it's an awesome tin toy Futurama Zapp Brannigan ray gun that really deserves to be featured in it's own shot, but it worked too well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Picture #59: Her love was a forbidden one... but she didn't care.


These toys are pretty much designed to make a kid feel adored and happy. Almost creepily so. It's like having an adorable, cuddly little stalker.

Update: Have you seen THESE?!?!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Picture #58: "Stop taking my shoes...!"


What a ludicrous ship the Cloud City Two-Pod Cloud Car was... and yet we accepted it, because of the general awesomeness of Empire Strikes Back. I always thought it looked like a shoe tree, and so... here we are.

On a separate note, I'm COMPLETELY cheating on my blog dating. Granted, April is over so I'm under no BEDA (Blog Every Day in April) onus, but still... a little sad. Particularly since no one reads this thing...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Picture #57: He didn't recall the "Laser" setting from his childhood...

First off, I love how this picture turned out. Not bad lighting for a clip light and a piece of spare orange/red lighting gel.

Secondly, this fire clip has served me so well over the years. It's a still from a bit of fire video effects composite footage from Detonation Films which has a large selection of free special effects clips, such as bullet hits, gunshot discharge, blood spurts, and, yes, fire and explosions. Great stuff for amateur filmmakers such as myself who are too lazy and/or cheap to buy Video Co-Pilot or learn After Effects.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Picture #56: "Quite safe."

This is, of course, the Han Solo in carbonite from the Slave I toy I featured in a previous photo. Boba Fett, it seems, thought additional cold storage would be a good idea.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thor (in 60 Seconds)

Well here it is, the excuse for my dropping $20 on a rubber hammer toy with pretty lights. Want to revisit the magic of the Thor movie, or experience it for the first time? Here you go:


Here's the thing - I actually REALLY liked the movie! I thought all the necessary acts were there, they got Thor's powers and hammer use dead on, the acting was excellent, and the script was actually quite witty and amusing. Were there certain acts that could have used more fleshing out? Sure! Thor's development of humility on Earth certainly receives short shrift, and he definitely goes from being a favorite son to exiled prodigal in the blink of an eye. But overall, I thought it was a really good adaptation of what has proved for Marvel to be an extremely tricky title and character.

The 3D version, however, is utterly POINTLESS and, in fact, detracts from the movie by making certain scenes too dark to watch without straining your eyes. It also suffers from the ridiculous Disney fake 3D nonsense of looking like a ViewMaster toy from the 1950's - layered flat images do not three dimensions make. Save yourself the $5-6 bucks and go see the 2D version.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Picture #55: "Do you mind?"


I don't drink, but I've always liked the sensation of drinking out of tumblers. As a kid, I would sometimes put a bunch of ice in one and pour a little cola over it and sip away, pretending I was drinking some manner of adult drink like whiskey or bourbon. So really, this is two bits of childhood come back to life. Bath toys and ginger ale in a liquor glass. Cheers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Picture #54: Thor Hangs a Picture

As I mentioned in my last post, I finally acquired the Hammer of Thor, a life-long ambition. For years I'd been popping into Halloween stores, only to be told that the surprising inexpensive comic book adaptation model ($20) was sold out.


Sure, I could have ordered it online, but there's a certain fun searching things out in brick and mortar shops - online shopping seems like cheating, at times. So when I saw this beauty sitting a shelf in the Disney Store in Times Square after seeing the movie on Friday night, I knew I'd succumb. Fortunately, Toys 'R Us had it for about $5 cheaper, at $20 as well.

It's actually a really well-made and pleasing toy. You can't really tell, but it's made of soft, smushy rubber, hollow inside, yet the thing still has a nice heft to it. Much less damaging than my mother's meat tenderizing hammer, and much more pleasing! It lights up and makes thunder sounds at the press of a button, and also has a dorky foam missile that can shoot out of the top, which I will never use. And aside from being too narrow in the hammer portion, it doesn't condescend to kids by being too toy-like - it looks and FEELS right. My only other complaint apart from the narrowness is the lack of a strap. No doubt a safety concern... which I shall promptly ignore by making it a strap.

Anyway, I figured since I had the intention of making a Thor summary video, I'd be saving myself the time it would take to make a hammer out of cardboard and paper. Unfortunately, that time was then taken with me running around my apartment pretending to be Thor. Eventually I did get around to cobbling together my Thor costume seen above... Which I found myself horribly tickled by.

FOR ASGARD!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picture #53: "Did you eat that whole #@*%ing thing?!?"



This is my roommate Luke's awesome Galactus toy (with planet drill) that was released in the 90's, I believe. It's a great, simple, iconic adaptation of the character.

Literally the day after taking this shot, I walked into Toys 'R Us to get a Mjolnir toy I've been wanting ever since I saw it on the shelf for the Thor movie tie-ins (and really, a toy I've wanted ever since I was a kid - I remember using a meat tenderizer mallet as my makeshift Uru hammer), and when I walked into the Marvel section, low and behold I saw this!!!


It's a little bigger, has more detailing in the way of bits of Kirby-esque circuitry and whatnot, talks and comes with a Silver Surfer figure, not to mention a very nice display box. That said, I wouldn't say it's superior to the older version - just different. And it doesn't have the planet drill.

Fortunately/unfortunately, buying the Thunder God's hammer (and perhaps some Godzilla figures...) left my toy budget tapped for the month (and really, for the next several months), so I left the Devourer of Worlds on the shelf. Someone else will have to deal with his cosmic hunger...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Picture #52: It'd been years since visiting the psychedelic sock shelter, but he'd still never gotten used to being woken up like this.


This is part of the collection of my friend's daughter. She has an enormous plastic bin stuffed with, well, stuffed animals. It's apparently made of socks from a certain sock company.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

About my Mother


If you've been reading along with the class, you know that I was recently in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA dealing with my estranged father of 20 years. And while this certainly led to a good deal of reflection on my dad's life and our relationship, it also reminded me of the choices my mother made for herself as I was growing up, which were, ultimately and for the most part, good ones.

My parents divorced when I was 5-years old, a growing trend at the time in the US but certainly more unusual for the Thai culture they both had come from. The reasons for this have been a bit fuzzy over the years, but suffice it to say neither of my parents were particularly happy in the situation and my mother made the wise decision to extricate herself from the marriage, taking me with her.

Over the next decade my mother proceeded to simultaneously work several jobs, go to school and raise me, eventually getting her Ph.D. in Child Education and Development and leaving Pittsburgh for greener pastures. In the years that followed she worked as a senior writer and researcher for Sesame Street here in NYC, where she received an Emmy. She then taught as a professor at Albright College in Reading, PA, where she founded their highly successful primary education program and, after 7 years of hard work, was promptly denied tenure for her efforts. After a rather miserable year of trying to teach in Spartansburg, South Carolina, she went on to serve as the headmaster of two prestigious international schools in Chiangmai and Phuket, Thailand, and then followed this up serving as Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation in Bangkok. She now works for a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving education in Thailand and the region.


Don't get me wrong... my mother drives me CRAZY. For example, when I was 3, she asked me how I wanted my Big Wheel decorated for the neighborhood fair and, after I said I wanted it to be Speed Racer's Mach 5, she promptly ignored me and made it a giant crepe-paper flower. This was the beginning of a long, lifetime run of pushing my buttons. Granted, I clearly still had a good time, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT!

"Evidence of the crime!"

The point is that she's traveled to more places around the world than everyone I know combined, met heads of State and celebrities and made a palpable difference in the lives of countless people. She's lived a tremendously full life, through good times and bad, and even though she makes me face palm in almost every conversation we have, I have the utmost respect and love for her. She's pretty amazing.

So Happy Mother's Day, mom! Love, Shy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pictures #50 & #51: Flying and bouncing

Picture #50: Just one... more... second...

Remote control hovercraft technology has come a long way since this wonderful little styrofoam device. Today at Brookstone I saw a four-rotor, wifi-operated hovertoy that was operated by an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app using it's accelerometer and gyroscope. And during brunch, a salt shaker with a built-in spring lid! We live in the FUTURE!

Picture #51: While not nearly as mesmerizing as it's perilous cousin Palantír, the Sparkly-Ribbon-Ballantír is somewhat entrancing in it's own right.

I only discovered afterwards that this ball, when bounced, also lights up. Sigh... missed opportunities.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Madison Square Park

Every spring/summer here in New York, Madison Square Park (not to be confused with the events venue, Madison Square Garden) at 23rd and Broadway features a different outdoor, installation artist for the warmer months. Some years have been truly awe-inspiring, such as the silver tree sculptures they featured a number of years back; several beautiful, flowing tree shapes in reflective metal, gracefully wending their way skyward. Others, such as the taxi cab one artist just plunked in the middle of the park, not so much.

This year's, however, is truly astonishing and captivating. The pictures don't do it justice - if you live in NYC, you really should stop by the park and take a look. The Asiatic image, inspired by the myth of the Greek nymph Echo, takes on a photo-realistic quality despite it's elongated aspect and it almost feels as though you're looking at a computer generated projection rather than an actual sculpture. It both floats above and perfectly integrates with it's surroundings. Truly remarkable.

It's also fascinating to watch the way people interact with the sculpture. The first instinct is, of course, to stop and stare, take pictures, consider and examine the work. But very quickly, due to it's very organic nature, people begin to treat it as part of the regular landscape. It becomes shade, something to lean against, much like the ancient ruins of Rome or Mexico City, lying in the hearts of these metropolis, something to be studied but then accepted into one's everyday existence. Take a look at it both in the day and night time. Really great stuff! And like the trees, it'll be sad when it's gone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Picture #49: "This is my favorite part!"

I've always had a fondness for Winnie the Pooh toys. There's a wonderful simplicity and innocence about both the toys and the characters. Plus, an ex of mine had a wonderful, home-made Piglet doll that had some fantastic stories attached to it, and when she moved away she gifted me a lovely little Tigger doll as a stand-in. So coming across this Pooh doll in my friend's daughter's toy box, as well as this vintage edition of Winnie the Pooh, sort of made this day's photo a no-brainer.

Oh, and Happy Cinqo de Mayo everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Picture #48: "I thought you said you were MARTIAN?"

This Marvin the Martian figure, as well as his matching K-9 statuette, were just gifted to me by a friend who pulled them from the garbage of her building. Still with the store tags on them.

Granted, I just came back from a very pointed object lesson about the dangers of hoarding, but it still both amazes and distresses me how much we as a society produce and then just toss away.

But back to the picture - I'm quite fond of this particular pun I managed on the spot.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Picture #47: He'd never laugh at the idea of wearing a "nose condom" ever again.


During my trip back to Pittsburgh, while walking down Penn Avenue in the city's downtown, an anti-abortionist was walking around handing out these little 10-11 week "preborn" fetuses, along with a little literature.

I didn't read the literature.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picture #46: LEGO delusions of grandeur.


This is a LEGO toy I made for a fantastic tabletop game called Mechaton, a fighty giant robot game using line of sight, dice and robots and obstacles made from everyone's favorite childhood modular plastic building block system. The first time we played, we only had an old box of our roommate Rick's LEGOs that had been laying around, with a hodgepodge of pieces. I was quite proud of the assortment of mechs we managed to cobble together, and this one was by far my favorite creation.

Speaking of creating, I didn't even realize it, but BEDA (Blog Every Day in April) came and went and I actually completed the task (more or less). At the same time, I've actually managed to keep up on this Toy a Day photo project, granted with varying degrees of quality and cleverness.

I can't quite tell if it's having a positive effect in other areas of my life yet, as intended. Time will tell, I suppose.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Picture #45: The line must be drawn here!


I wonder/worry sometimes that people might think that I'm either a vegetarian or vegan, as I seem to have the occasional anti-dairy theme in my photos. Not even remotely true.
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