Star Trek: Generations

This is going to be an ongoing project. Expect updates as I go, and I’ll put a link on the website to it in case anyone ever wants to check back.

I was talking with my wife the other day, and the topic turned to Star Trek.

My son has never seen Star Trek.

I’m not talking about being aware of how Star Trek has permeated our culture, influenced our way of telling sequential stories, or spawned countless memes.

He doesn’t know it exists. Period.

Never heard of the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise, none of the movies.

He has an imagination untouched by the idea of boldly going where nobody had gone before.

No Vulcan nerve pinch. No “Live Long and Prosper”. No “KHAAAAAAAANNN!!!”

Star Wars has remained relevant through the generations. Say what you will of George Lucas, and now Disney, but it is a very visible and vital universe of new creations and stories that our youth enjoy every day. Plus, of course, endless Lego toys.

There have continued to be Star Wars movies, and those movies have had toys and cartoons targeted directly at the younger generations to keep them up to speed.

Star Trek, not so much.

The new Star Trek movies aren’t a good place to begin, because to fully invest in their story you need to have been there for all that came before. If you don’t, then you are left feeling like an outsider as all the cool kids share the in-jokes and secret handshakes around you. When old Spock appears, the experienced and knowledgeable people ooh and aah and get it immediately, while you go “Huh, so this is that Spock dude from the future? Okay, that’s cool, but is that going to be important? And why not take the actor from the movie and artificially age him so it looks more like him?”

Does it feel fun to be the one that doesn’t get the reference everyone else understands? I don’t think so.

So.

Project Star Trek: Generations is born.

My goal is simple. To take the core of greatness that is the Star Trek that I grew up with and present it to my son.

It is my duty to pass the important parts of our heritage on to my son. What he does with it after that is his business.

What makes this a project is, I have no intention of sitting him down in front of three full seasons of original Trek, then Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc etc and so forth.

I am not a trekkie. I enjoyed it growing up, but then I enjoyed a lot of stuff growing up. It’s important to me that he groks the heart and the most significant or enduring stories, not that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of it.

If he decides he wants to see it all someday, if he gets hooked, that’s fine. But that’s not the project.

 

My intent is to cherry pick the very best and brightest episodes of the original series, and follow that up with the best of the movies starring the original cast.

Concerning the Next Generation, I think Next Gen might be fun to watch together when he gets older, I was overseas when most of it was released so I never saw much of it either. For now, Star Trek will mean Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That is what I intend to focus on. Time enough for him to see the Next Generation when he has some distance to make those original cast cameos seem special.

 

In order to narrow the selection down, I have to decide what ‘the best’ means to me.

To me, what I loved best was the warmth and the camaraderie between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That held the episodes together for me. Whatever craziness was going to happen, those three would be able to count on each other to succeed, no matter what.

But the best episodes were the ones that took a bold concept and made it fascinating, asking questions that lingered long after the episode was over.

I know the original tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

To me, the series served to boldly explore science fiction concepts that I didn’t see on TV before, concepts that made me think about normal things in new ways.

I don’t have a ‘maximum number of episodes’ that I want to get down to. But I do want each episode we watch to be a ‘must see’. If we start including episodes where there was ‘like this really cool 2 minute segment’ in it, then we would be watching every episode. Even “Spock’s Brain” has to have some cool bit in it somewhere, even if it lasted less time than the lifespan of a mayfly. No, I want to whittle this sucker down to ‘must watch’ core episodes only.

Here is the complete list of the original series episodes I have to cull from;

1 “The Man Trap” – the melancholy of the salt vampire is cool, and i do remember the episode, but no.
2 “Charlie X” – hell no, I remember thinking it was crap when I saw it, and I was younger than Alex.
3 “Where No Man Has Gone Before” – no. I remember it during syndication, and I always wondered “where did this almost-trek come from? And where’s Bones?”
4 “The Naked Time” – must watch, an inside look at the hidden personalities of the crew, but I can’t remember details other than it was very revealing and cool.
5 “The Enemy Within” – must watch, transporter malfunction and good kirk/bad kirk
6 “Mudd’s Women” – must watch. Harry Freaking Mudd. Or is it? There is another Mudd later that was very good.
7 “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – no.
8 “Miri” – not sure
9 “Dagger of the Mind” – no, I remember this one well, and I never did care for it.
10 “The Corbomite Maneuver” – must watch, I still remember loving how the first encounter isn’t decided by who was strongest, but by who thought who was strongest. Bluff and counter bluff and how belief affects what you think you can get away with.
11 “The Menagerie, Part I” – no. My memories of this were of a horribly dry and boring snoozefest lacking in charm.
12 “The Menagerie, Part II” – no.
13 “The Conscience of the King” – must watch, strong acting between Spock and McCoy, and Shakespeare in space.
14 “Balance of Terror” – must watch due to being highly recommended (I don’t remember it, lol)
15 “Shore Leave” – must watch. I remember this one well, and it has inspired some of my more interesting RPG designs.
16 “The Galileo Seven” – hell no.
17 “The Squire of Gothos” – must watch. The Squire, powerful Spock moments, great fun from the god-being.
18 “Arena” – must watch OMG, GORN and how to make gunpowder to prove all we need is guns, dah de dah da da.
19 “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” – time travel and could be a good preparation for Star Trek IV, but I remember it as being dull.
20 “Court Martial” – god, I hated this episode.
21 “The Return of the Archons” – no.
22 “Space Seed” – must watch, and sets the stage for Wrath of Khan.
23 “A Taste of Armageddon” – possible, I remember this one, and it’s strong send up of the stupidity of war without objectives, for the sake of hate.
24 “This Side of Paradise” – an absolute must-watch, the episode where the enemy is being too damn happy, and Spock smiling and in love.
25 “The Devil in the Dark” – must watch. Silicon-based life forms, judging by appearance instead of by deeds, foul heart concealed by fair face. “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”
26 “Errand of Mercy” – on the fence. first appearance of Klingons, but… I didn’t like this one as a kid, and the Klingons look like, not Klingons.
27 “The Alternative Factor” – hells no.
28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – must watch, Harlan Ellison’s classic time travel piece and a powerful story that lingers.
29 “Operation: Annihilate!” – maybe, but not remembering anything special.
30 “Amok Time” – must watch, standing by your friends, not being ashamed of who you are, the price of repressing your feelings.
31 “Who Mourns for Adonais?” – I do not mourn for Adonais. Not even slightly.
32 “The Changeling” – nah. The all powerful probe from hell wasn’t that interesting.
33 “Mirror, Mirror” – must watch evil facial hair doppleganger twins! Parallel dimensions of fun! Oh, hell yes.
34 “The Apple” – nope
35 “The Doomsday Machine” – must watch.
36 “Catspaw”
37 “I, Mudd”
38 “Metamorphosis”
39 “Journey to Babel”
40 “Friday’s Child”
41 “The Deadly Years”
42 “Obsession”
43 “Wolf in the Fold”
44 “The Trouble With Tribbles” – oh come on, it’s awesome. Must watch.
45 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
46 “A Piece of the Action”
47 “The Immunity Syndrome”
48 “A Private Little War”
49 “Return to Tomorrow”
50 “Patterns of Force”
51 “By Any Other Name”
52 “The Omega Glory”
53 “The Ultimate Computer”
54 “Bread and Circuses”
55 “Assignment: Earth”
56 “Spock’s Brain”
57 “The Enterprise Incident”
58 “The Paradise Syndrome”
59 “And the Children Shall Lead”
60 “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”
61 “Spectre of the Gun”
62 “Day of the Dove”
63 “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
64 “The Tholian Web”
65 “Plato’s Stepchildren”
66 “Wink of an Eye”
67 “The Empath”
68 “Elaan of Troyius”
69 “Whom Gods Destroy”
70 “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
71 “The Mark of Gideon”
72 “That Which Survives”
73 “The Lights of Zetar”
74 “Requiem for Methuselah”
75 “The Way to Eden”
76 “The Cloud Minders”
77 “The Savage Curtain”
78 “All Our Yesterdays”
79 “Turnabout Intruder”

The Movies

“Star Trek – The Motion Picture” – I don’t want to include this. It’s a hard decision, because I loved the core concept – We sent a spaceship out there loaded with things to tell others who we are, and something finds it and follows it back to us that is beyond anything we ever dreamed of. But damnit all, it’s slow as hell, and I hated the uniforms. It was like they pretended time enver passed and the original cast was still in their twenties. The second movie brought that feeling of age and wisdom and experience that the first lacked. Just… brilliant story idea, but as cold in presentation as V’ger itself.
“Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan” – oh hell yes.
“Star Trek III – The Search for Spock” – yep, gotta have it, everyone gets a part to play.
“Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home” – well sure, save the whales, Spock swearing, transparent aluminum, mouse driven computers. The Enterprise in dock. Of course.
“Star Trek V – The Final Frontier” – I think I blocked this out, so I don’t know. I think I hated it, but it’s all a blur.
“Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” – I remember thinking it was great when it was over, but damned if I can remember anything about it now.

Update 1: added link to the Wikipedia page for the original Star Trek episodes.
Update 2: I welcome your opinions and suggestions on which episodes should be included in the ‘absolutely must be included list’, but please, you must tell me why. And only one episode per comment, please. It will help me sort. I will continue to update episode titles above with comments and my decisions as we go.

Update 3: Added more episode decisions, influenced by comments from Tesh, Ted, Kamalia and Degei.

Update 4: okay, made it into Season 2 a little, made the first cull. Now to sleep on it. I can’t believe how many of these I remember from my childhood.

The Cub Report: Minecraft Double Trouble

For those who enjoy Minecraft, a new update went live today that added horses, rideable horses, with armor barding to the game. Also, other stuffs too, but yeah. Horses.

Over the weekend, my son and I investigated this whole ‘Minecraft multiplayer’ concept.

I took the time to setup a Hamachi LAN network tunnel between our two computers, and sort of kinda got it working with Minecraft. If I hosted the game, Alex’s computer could direct connect to it, but not the reverse.

It’s exactly that kind of thing that can make you throw up your hands in frustration if it weren’t for Google searches. A few minutes revealed that our issue was far from rare, and so, as with so many other Minecraft bugs, you shrug your shoulders and be grateful for what works.

It really is that good of a game.

As an aside, the reason this was an irritation was, the person who hosts the game and opens it up to a LAN can do this with any of their created worlds, and if Alex can’t open one of his uber-cool worlds for me to come explore and admire, it takes a lot of the point out of it. He likes to have me see his awesome creations.

Perhaps today’s content update will fix some of the issues. We’ll see.

Did I mention horses?

We created a survival world at random, and entered it together to see what it was like, playing together. Cooperative. VERY cooperative.

Except when I mighta punched him with a pickaxe.

Yeah, that was pretty much my weekend, right there.

I understand that you really can’t make an MMO in the Minecraft model. A world that every player could mold to their own will would be a battlefield of conflicting creative visions, and if it was a PvP world, then every camping asshat would be seeking to overwrite or destroy the creations of others.

That doesn’t prevent me from wishing that there was a way for a phased area to be set aside for each player, much as the farms are, to be our sandbox to shape as we will.

And to wish such a place, once it existed in game, could be set to allow specific invited guests to come visit.

Minecraft satisfies an urge that World of Warcraft does not; to play an active part in shaping the world around us, to set aside a place where everything is as we wish it, and to say, “This is my home. My actual home, my place of refuge, my fortress of solitude, my oasis of calm midst the chaos of a land eternally at war. Come, friend, take your ease and be welcome.”

In Minecraft, my son and I explored islands, built homes, and crafted defenses against the nocturnal stalkers that hunt the night.

We delved deep, and discovered many things. We crafted weapons and armor that were useful and wouldn’t be replaced by drops, and admired how we each looked. (We looked like 16 bit pixel-people. Wearing tinfoil. It was still cool.)

We fought spiders, skeletons armed with bows, ghouls and ender men that could teleport and who would attack if you dared look them in the eyes.

In creative mode, Alex made fountains of lava, and large structures involving levers, pistons, TNT and other stuff that, well… at the flip of a lever, it expanded, then exploded.

He seemed disappointed that it didn’t explode more.

In talking about our game afterwards, I was musing aloud how I wished the game had one additional thing; a way to hire guards to defend your home while you are away.

How great it would be, I mused, if we could build our giant fortresses with the moats of flaming lava and pens of cute animals, and then hire nearby villagers to come and patrol our walls, defend our gates, protect our strongholds while we are away on our adventures.

My son says, “Yeah, I wish I could walk up to a villager, point my sword at him and tell him, serve me or die!”

True story.

And thus, another evil genius is born.

Now I finally understand what Minecraft is.

It’s the Evil Overlord Starter Set.

Now, they just need the minion content update and we’re all good, right?

So you know what we need to have happen now.

We need the Evil Overlord mod, so you can set up your volcano lair with the bond villain death traps, the sharks with frackin’ laser beams in their frackin’ heads, the minions with the different uniform options (identity concealing helmets or non-concealing helmets), all the bells and whistles.

If you’re going to encourage and promote the world-conquering fantasies of  our children, let’s help them aspire to true greatness, shall we?

Volcano lairs. Gotta have a volcano lair. All I’m saying.

The Cub Report – Battlecruisers are Cool

Welcome to another fun filled edition of the Cub Report!

In this episode, we find out what happens when I give the Cub my old computer.

A short while ago, the Cub’s computer took a data dump, and left us scrambling to come up with a replacement.

We ended up getting me a new computer, and passing my old one on to him, leaving us both with an upgrade.

The only thing I had to do to get the computer set up for him was to install the backed up Minecraft game/world saves for him.

So, hey, Portal is on the desktop, he played that a bit. And it had World of Warcraft, of course. And I installed a painting program for him to get his art on.

Over the weekend, he was bored, and asked me what this other icon on the desktop was. Starcraft II? What’s that?

More importantly, can he play it?

Sure. Why not? He’s ten, he can give it a shot.

I explained to him that it wasn’t a World of Warcraft style of game, instead it was like a science-fiction version of Warcraft III, which I let him play a bit a year or more ago.

“You make a base, fortify it, build armies and go out to smash other bases.”

Okay, cool. He’s excited, he wants to try it.

I set him up with a fresh start in Campaign mode, and let him at it.

He did a few missions in campaign mode, but he didn’t really care for it.

“Is there any way I can just do a battle? I build a base and the bad guys build a base and we fight?”

Why yes… yes there is.

I showed him how to set up a match against the AI, the different variables, how to browse Blizzard maps, what team AI was and all of that.

Then I let him go to it again.

He got his butt handed to him by the enemy in his first match. He was kind of upset.

So I told him that if he’d like, I’d replay the battle, and show him some of the things I do to defend my base, build resources and kick butt.

“Sure!”

I sat down, he had Terran set up against Terran on a 1v1 map, and I showed him how you can set up your SCVs to harvest minerals and gas, build more SCVs to farm faster, send an SCV down to another nearby mineral site to start a second command center and bring in more resources, and have a couple SCVs off on their own building missile launchers, barracks and bunkers with Marines around the perimeter.

I showed him how to group armies with Ctrl+#s, I introduced him to the concept of avenues of approach, and how to upgrade weapons and armor and perform research.

I showed him how some forces can only attack ground targets, some can only attack air, some reveal the surrounding area, and some units can attack both types.

Then I built a force of 5 Battlecruisers and turned the keys of the kingdom over to him.

He likes Battlecruisers.

He played several more AI matches over the weekend after that. He tried some of the 2v2 maps, with an AI on his team and two AI opponents, and also one match with two AI buddies on his team with one lone little AI victim.

Does everyone do that at some point? Set up a completely one sided and horribly unfair situation where the poor bad guy is just screwed right out of the gate? It’s not fun to actually play, but it seems like a rite of passage for an RTS game, gives you plenty of time to build up impregnable defenses, a ridiculously large and overpowered army, and then have the AI bad guy die because your two AI allies lost no time in zerg rushing him?

Anyway. He had a lot of fun.

He loves the battlecruiser, he likes the looks of the Thor but I don’t think he’s built them much. So far he seems to go for dominance of the skies rather than open-field tank battles.

He likes the Viking, he asked me if I knew that the Viking was a flying gunship that can land and transform into mecha. Very cool. Also, there are medic ships!

I came in on him last night, he was whooping it up, I wanted to see what trouble he was up to.

He’d started a 1v3 battle, with 3 Terrans against his one Zerg force.

When I popped my head in, he was grouping zerglings into armies. Lots and lots and lots of armies. And giggling.

“I’m going to send THIS army to scout the enemy camp, and THIS army to attack his weak point, and THIS army to cover the way to the enemy base so I’m not surprised, and THIS army to defend my ramp here, and THIS army….”

Um, yeah.

Okay, so, note to self. Do NOT buy a second copy of Starcraft II. I can just see getting my butt zerg-rushed from thirteen different armies while still trying to finish building my first barracks.

Also, those giant things that Zerg can make that look like dinosaurs? Why can they burrow? He was building them, burrowing them and giggling.

Why? Why make something that massive a sneak attack? “La la la, walking along the trail, all is quiet, HOLY CRAP INSTANT MUTANT RHINOS ARGGGHHHH!”

My son likes the Zerg more than the Space Marines?

That’s just wrong, man.

The Cub Report – Sax and Violence

The post title is stolen shamelessly from @neowolf2 on Twitter. Titles don’t get any better than that right there.

Last night, my son had his first band concert at the school. He has been playing the saxophone since the school year began, and he did wonderfully. The band played several songs as a group, broken up with solos and duets. He had a duet with a kid playing a clarinet, and he had to totally carry the clarinet player. If it was a scenario, the clarinet player was trying to run it as a healing spec.

His band class is a before-school extra thing, it’s not part of the normal school curriculum, so he is in a class of about 20 kids, each with different instruments and spanning four school grades. There were three saxophonists this year including him, but next year the other two will be off in High School, so he’ll be big man on the sax circuit.

Seeing him up there, with his serious ‘business time’ face focusing on the sheet music… that makes everything worthwhile, I swear.

Enough of that, it’s time for some Cub news around the World of Azeroth!

Mists of Pandaria is turning out to be a difficult expansion for Alex.

In a pure sandbox game like Minecraft where you are given all the tools and left to go nuts, he has a wonderful time. Just a few nights back he opened up a world where he made a black onyx pyramid that stretches to the heavens, and added a series of roller coaster tracks over and through and under mountains, rivers and the pyramid itself. Including glass blocks so you can see the water you were riding under. He did this with powered mine cars, tracks and switches. Then he took some rides. With nothing but a bag of tools and an open world, he builds shit that knocks my socks off.

In other games, like the new Luigi’s Mansion game on the 3DS, he’s also having a blast. It is focused along one path, and you play the path or you don’t advance. The challenge comes in executing what you have to do each step of the way.

He’s very good at those kinds of games as well.

World of Warcraft is turning out to have too little direction to show him where he has to go next to find a small area filled with stuff to do, and if he does stumble on an area it’s hard to tell what it might be for, what the start or end is, and what the eventual rewards may be.

That would be fine if there was more pure sandbox stuff in WoW, but there simply isn’t enough freedom in the sandbox to let his imagination run wild. Have you ever tried to interact with the environment? They’re getting better at having things that can spawn you can pick up, but for the most part, the assumption is to not bother trying to interact with trees, rocks, sand, buildings, torches, windows, wild animals (except to kill them), etc. If they added sandbox tools, would we know? We’ve been trained to ignore the environment and focus on the critters to kill and people to give us quests or buy our trash.

It is what it is. He is still too young for the game, and I don’t expect a game designed for mature audiences to have to tailor its play to a ten year old. That WoW is as accessible as it is already amazes me.

I mention this because there are plenty of times I feel it, too. I remember when I first reached level 90 in Pandaria, and I felt adrift. I knew a lot of stuff was out there… but where to even begin? What would be the most fun? What should come first? I felt lost enough that I had a major disconnect with my character. It felt almost as if, there I am at max level, there aren’t any more breadcrumbs, there aren’t any obvious things to focus on… guess the game’s over, and I won?

Where things are now, with the scattered quest hubs and nothing to send you out there TO them, he logs in, flies around aimlessly, does a few pet battles, browses Mogit to look at gear sets, reads through the Dungeon Journal memorizing the fights and looking at gear, and then he tells me yet again that he wishes Blizzard would go back and add in entries for all the OLD raids into the Dungeon Journal.

I agree with him on that point. I’d really love to see the Dungeon Journal updated with pictures of bosses, spell effects and loot tables from all the old raids. Really.

He likes WoW, don’t get me wrong. He likes his Worgen Death Knight.

He’s just having a hard time finding a loose end of the sweater to start unraveling to reveal all the fun that is still to be had out there…. somewhere.

He needs some guidance. Something to say, “Hey, you haven’t done this, you wanna give it a try? You’re able to do it, you could handle it with no sweat. Go for it!”

I try to fulfill this role when I can.

For example. When Cataclysm was the fresh hotness, the Cub really wanted to run the Halls of Origination, play around in there. He wanted to ride a camel into battle against bone-winged undead.

It wasn’t so much that he wanted to run it, like go go go get valors get golds get drops get gone and do something else. He wasn’t on the progression treadmill where content is the job you do to earn the valor cash to buy gear.

U bai gear? Yes, we all bai gears.

No, he wanted to explore, to take his time, experience all of that celestial wonder. He wanted to, and this may shock the heck out of you, he wanted to go do a five person instance as a fun adventure, exploring all the little nooks and crannies.

Cataclysm was a long time ago, but all the content is still there. Much like Minnesota, it’s flyover country now, but it’s still there.

He was logged in, drifting along looking for something to grab his attention, and I mentioned to him that part of the joys of being so well geared at level 90 was that when it came to old content, he is now, to quote Goldeneye, Invincible!

Yes, that video is appropriate. It’s true, right up until the point where it ain’t.

I told him he could darn well go and solo the Halls of Origination.

Um what?

YES! Go forth and explore all the things!

So he did.

He had a lot of fun in the Halls of Origination… until he reached this one room with, I don’t if you’ll remember this, four elementals you have to kill in a room filled with fast-spawning groups of ads? Yeah, the frost elemental will ice trap you, freeze you in place. Fine if you’re Unholy with a perma-pet, but for a Frost or Blood DK, kind of a pain. When you’re soloing, it’s mighty funny.

Still, he got through it all and won, he rode a camelback, he fought and won against some beautifully constructed five person instance design. That place is begging for a revamp as a 10 person raid.

That inspired him to do more instances, and he had some fun doing them.

Still and all, that is where we are. The Cub is having a good time when he can find something that is fun to do, that is small enough that he doesn’t have to maintain enthusiasm for it over several weeks of dailies. If we can identify something that has a beginning, a middle and an ending over one or two days, he’s all over it.

When we can’t come up with something he can go out there and have fun doing that doesn’t require logging in and ‘doing your chores’ day in and day out, well, that is when we break out the Minecraft.

There is ALWAYS something to do short term in Minecraft.

The Cub Report: The Mystery Revealed!

Okay, are you ready for the big reveal?

I bet you scrolled down to see the pictures first, didn’t you? You scrolled down, then scrolled back up. Shame on you.

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Pac Man? Is that you? Wakka wakka…

What was in the box is a Figureprints statue of one of my sons characters, Wooffie. Well done Andrew for your accurate guess, even if you talked yourself out of it immediately.

Figureprints statue of World of Warcraft warlock character Wooffie, a Worgen in purple robes clutching a staff

Wooffie the Worgen Warlock!

Yes… yes, it is a Warlock.

How Wooffie the Worgen Warlock became a Figureprint is fairly interesting to me.

I asked our son what he thought. If any one of his characters could be a statue, who would he want it to be?

I tried to ask in such a way that he never once suspected it might actually happen. This kind of questioning is usually the province of Department of Homeland Security gestapo, and spouses desperate for birthday ideas, but I did my best.

I expected the answer to be his Worgen Death Knight. That is the character he actually plays, the character he’s run numerous raids with, Dragon Soul, Molten Core, he has his bank with full 22 slot bags and his entire Void Storage choked with transmog gear.

Nope.

He wanted Wooffie, his Worgen Warlock to be a statue. And he was serious about it.

He knew the exact outfit he wanted to be wearing, as well as which weapon. How? Because he spends more time in game browsing the MogIt addon than he does actually playing.

Which reminds me, I really need to try and get enough people scraped together to get his Worgen Death Knight the Molten Core chest piece. He has the rest of the set along with the heroic mode chest armor, but that flaming red doesn’t blend well with the nice orange of the normal mode. Someday.

Anyway.

We made sure to run raids until he had every piece of the Warlock Tier, looked smoking hot, that Warlock was on fire, man. He also got the staff he selected as his transmog weapon.

I revealed that this was for real, we were actually going to do a Figureprints statue. His reaction was so cute, I swear he squeeed.

We went to the Figureprints website, where we were able to import his character and equipment directly from the Armory.

I was shocked to see Figureprints does Minecraft as well. I was quick to hide that from Alex, I shudder to think what could come from THAT revelation!

Our first surprise in browsing the character options was that you weren’t limited to gear you actually had equipped on your Armory page. You could also browse character sets, and choose from among them to deck out the character you wished you had instead of the one you were stuck with because that damn helm won’t ever drop.

After browsing sets for a while, he went back to ‘HIS’ Wooffie, and then chose his own pose, base, colors for his name, everything.

He got to bring his own character to life, and we placed the order.

What might have thrown you off in your guesses from the previous post is how big the box was that arrived. It’s a big honking box.

That is because the statue is HUGE!

I had in my mind that this thing would be, okay, bigger than a wargaming miniature, but not much bigger. Maybe as big as normal action figures in the stores these days, around 3 1/2″ tall.

Um, no. This thing is around 10″ or more tall, and very wide. The entire thing is sturdy as heck, and I’m not kidding about how big it is. This is a statue under glass, something extremely noticeable on your shelf. It doesn’t get lost among the clutter.

Wooffie the Warlock statue, with a noticeable matte 'dust' appearance.

Wooffie the Dusty Warlock

So, to the good. It looks great. I don’t know how these pictures will turn out, but holding the statue in your hands, it looks incredible. It IS Wooffie, right there, big as biscuits and gravy. I was concerned about the fine details of the armor and glowy bits, but in person it looks incredible. There is absolutely no question what this is, and he looks good doing it.

The one thing that isn’t a negative but is something you notice is… as you can see, the manufacturing process does leave the product with a slightly dusty finish.

I think, for a character wearing cloth, it looks great. It leaves stone spikes and skulls and cloth all looking very good.

Alex did notice the dusty finish right away, not so much as a complaint as in thinking that it may have gotten dusty before the glass dome was put on. “Can we take the glass off and brush it off?”, so it’s certainly there and does give the impression of a light coating of dust.

Again, looking closely at the staff and cloth armor, it doesn’t take away from the figure at all.

My only thought is, if I were a devotee of ‘slut plate’, or chose a character wearing shiny metal armors or lighter colored tones, would the dusty appearance have mattered more?

I have no idea. I’d love to get the opinions of others who have Figureprints of characters wearing colorful metallic armors, and especially pictures I could feature, to find out more.

I was talking to Tesh of Tish Tosh Tesh, the Master of Peep Mayhem and Marshmallow Mastication his thoughts about the dusty finish.

He thought it might be possible for someone to use a clear coat polymer over parts that are supposed to be metal to get a nice effect. He did point out it gives you more of an incentive to play a cloth or leather wearing class. :)

I agree with him, but when you’ve invested in something this special, it would take massive guts to experiment with paints and coatings. Or to breathe on it too hard.

Overall, it’s fantastic.

I know I teased you yesterday, but I hope the final surprise was worth it.

Thank you to Cassie, who took a lot of pictures and, to my mind, did a great job of getting details through the glass case. Thanks, sweetie!

Running With The Wolves

Before going further, I have an important (to me) announcement to make!

Tonight, my son will be attempting to play his Unholy Worgen Death Knight in his first Mogu’shan Vaults LFR.

I will be running with him and offering tips and encouragement, and Cassie might be able to go as well.

If you would like to join us, you would be very welcome! We’re planning on running the first half of MSV for sure, possibly the second half was well depending on queue times.

I know that quite a few of you have run with the Cub and his Death Knight in Icecrown Citadel, Firelands, Black Temple and Sunwell. I would be delighted to have you join us while he takes on what is in my opinion a hellacious step up in difficulty when it comes to getting out of the big bad.

I can’t really give you a specific set time when we’d be going. The best I can say is tonight, and we would probably try to start around 6 PM to 6:15 PM Central standard time.

It kinda depends on how long his homework takes. Such is life in the pint size bracket.

Oh yeah, and since this is Alliance side cross-server LFR, if you’d like to go and haven’t done the Battletag stuff with me before on the fun runs, just send me a Battletag friend request at BigBearButt#1737

I hope you’re able to make it tonight! It would be fun to chat with friends as we steamroll some LFR together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other news, the Cub got a Key to the treasure trove yesterday, and went in for his first shot at the vault.

Up to this point I’ve done it for his character to ‘maximize’ his chances at Elder Charms.

Yeah… he blasted through the first room clearing more chests in less time than I usually do. And that is with the first BIG chest bugging out on him, lid opening but not giving him loot, just like you sometimes see with serious lag spikes in game while looting corpses.

I told him to leave it behind and keep going and all the rest opened fine. It was just that first big one that bugged. Go figure.

In the final chamber, he loves having Burial Trove keys to use. He loves the random element. He looks around, and says “That chest looks like it was being protected by that dead mogu, I’ll try that one.”

It’s fun seeing him create stories about what might have happened, and making his decisions based off of that. I know it must seem silly, but when you remember your children as the small little handful that could sleep on your wife’s lap while she played Spyro or Animal Crossing, to see him engaged in a fantasy game, thinking about what he sees and naturally imagining what might have happened and having fun…

It’s the best.

I just keep counting the months until he’s old enough or at the right maturity level to appreciate the things we love…

Like, on the edge of my seat waiting until he’s old enough to see The Lord of the Rings movies and enjoy them as exciting without being scary. Y’know?

I do have a sad, though.

I can’t convince him that The Princess Bride would be a cool movie to watch. He’s just old enough to need to be bedridden and unable to move before he’ll allow me to put any movie on that has the word ‘Princess’ in the title.

Damnit!

“But… but it’s the GOOD PARTS VERSION!!!”

I used to have that book years ago, the good parts version. Maybe I need to get another copy and read it to him to suck him into it. Grrr.

 

Cub Down! Cub Down!

We may have lost the Cub.

Alex had a birthday shortly before we left on vacation, and along with some toys he acquired a fistful of Target dollars. Er, gift card thingies.

So, armed with gelt we took him to Target and let him run loose in the toy department.

What he wanted more than anything was the Mega Bloks Goblin Shredder, which Target’s website showed was in stock.

Yeah. They lied. Nope, nope, nope.

Not anywhere in the toy area, the clearance shelves, hidden behind something else. Might have had one in another department, but none in Toys.

Standing in the store we called around to other Targets that showed it as being in stock. We got the store clerks involved. We networked.

Nope, nope, nope.

This isn’t a rant on Target, but what turned out to have happened is funny, and Target Corporate has sure paid the price.

See, the Mega Bloks World of Warcraft Goblin Shredder is a new toy priced at $24.99. And as such, it is at the same price point as the old Mega Bloks World of Warcraft Barrens Chase set.

The old Barrens Chase set, along with ALL the old Mega Bloks World of Warcraft stuff has been clearanced out. it’s the same at Walmart, I saw a Goblin Zeppelin for $22 at Walmart the week before.

Whoever handled the toy purchasing for Target at the corporate level made absolutely no distinction between old series toys and brand new cutting edge releases. And to make it more fun, the store doesn’t track inventory by SKU, or by name… but by ‘assortment’.

They put all Mega Bloks World of Warcraft ‘assortments’ priced at $24.99 on clearance, so they clearanced the Goblin Shredders. At half off.

Plus this weeks advertisement had a 30% discount coupon for Mega Bloks sets.

Yeah, Target took that one in the shorts. Well done, sir and ma’am. No need for me to rub salt in the wound by letting everyone know how badly you messed up… but what the heck, if you’re going to be that ignorant, so be it.

Next time, might want to make an effort to know the difference between older toys and newer toys and track by SKU or name. Us customers certainly know the difference, and we thank you for funding our eBay sales.

Well, not mine, but I’m sure somebody saw that one and chortled with glee.

Oh, and if you search Target.com, make sure and use the correct spelling. Apparently, it’s a “Goblin Schreder“.

Yeah, we can tell Target has their finger on the pulse of the toy market. Might be squeezing a bit tight, though.

We ordered the toy online, so no worries there. But that still left our son with cash in hand and no new toy to get that new car smell.

After he wandered the aisles with no result, because it makes a difference when the toy you buy is with your OWN money instead of momma moneybags, I mentioned that there were also video games for 3DS or PS3 or even the Wii he could check out.

Oh, boy.

Our son, blessed that he is, finds exactly what he wants, and it came as no surprise since he’s wanted it for two years.

Skylanders. In this case, Skylanders Giants.

Ah, shit.

Cassie has fought this battle for two years. Skylanders is another way of saying, “Parents, just hand over your wallets, you’re fucked.”

As Cassie began to explain first that we were planning on buying into the Disney Infinity version soon to be released (and thus if we buy Skylanders there would be no money for the Disney version) and second that there was no way his $50 or so was going to stretch to a $75 starter set, plus you need at least one of each of the eight types of power characters to unlock every area, which go for $10 to $15 A POP, I called a halt to the discussion.

That day, Saturday, the last day of the sale week… the Skylanders Giants PS3 starter set was $40. It was $35 off. That one day. And all sets were buy two get one free.

A huddle formed, because the truth was clear.

If this shit is getting bought, it’s happening today, because we ain’t paying $75 ever in the future. But $40… he could afford $40.

Cassie said Amazon usually price matched when a big chain did this kind of thing. I checked, sure as heck she was right as usual, they were price matching… and she said that if they did, again they would stop as soon as the big store sale was over.

Move your ass and decide now, or forever hold your peace.

But does he really want the game? Is he sure?

What it came down to, as we discussed it over lunch, was he didn’t want it if it meant he couldn’t get the Goblin Schreder (sic). He was almost in tears at the pain of this decision. Goblin Schreder or Skylanders Giants?

When Cassie assured him that his money, if he pushed it and used some allowance, would stretch to both… well, he went for it.

With that decision made, Cassie became directly involved.

I might not have ever mentioned this before, but I do not handle the family finances. Cassie does. She is a master at knowing when to hold ’em, and when to go all in. It’s because of her diligent efforts that we have a house, because if it were up to me we’d have lost the mortgage due to a Battlemech miniature game addiction years ago or something equally stupid.

No, I’m not kidding. I grew up so poor you’ve got no freaking idea. Living in the ghetto poor. I have within me this destructive little thing that whispers to me, “Buy that. You know you want it. You’ll feel better if you have it. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it until you do. Go ahead, what’ll it hurt.”

I’m a lot better these days, but there are still those moments where I feel the yearning to impulse buy something to feel good. And for those moments, there is the Auction House, where I can blow my gold and ask Cassie for a loan until the cash from my dailies comes in, lol.

So she has the veto. She has the sense as well as the cents.

She took a good, hard look at the Target special, checked for price matching at Toys R Us, Walmart and Best Buy, looked at Gamestop, and ultimately decided on a course of action that had us purchase the PS3 Skylanders Giants starter set, three more Giants (Crusher, the Whale and the Cubs ultimate favorite, Eye-brawl) and three of the 3-packs.

One of the 3 packs had all series 2 characters that included a Gear and a Magic, the other two sets were adventure sets from the first Spyro’s Adventures game with the pirate ship and the Dragon Peak, which gave us a fire character too.

This careful balancing act left us with at least one of each type for maximum game unlocks, two adventure sets for expansion, and the most value for the money.

It also left our wallets weeping, but it was on sale! We didn’t spend money, we SAVED money! Yeah!

Oh dear lord what have we done… even I’m wincing at the memory.

Anyway, the Cub now has a level 10 Eye-brawl and is having a blast.

I asked him last night if he wanted to play some more Skylanders, or if he wanted to log in and do LFR on his Death Knight with me for the very first time before the reset.

He chose Skylanders, so, yeah. He might be gone.

On the other hand, I was watching him play, and he let me take the controls a few times…

That Cynder is pretty cool. I like the way he turns into a shadow to scoot along underground, and leaves a trail of ghosts behind.

And if you blast sheep with lightning bolts, they puff up like cotton balls and you can roll them around!

And, and, and…

You know, I might not be logging on for a while.

Take care of my alts, feed my dinosaur, and water my garden, okay?

And if you don’t hear from me after a month or so…

No, you can’t have my stuffs.