Month: July 2018

Heroes Awakens the Beast within

Heroes Awakens the Beast within

Last night, Feh Channel gave us a decent look at what’s to come in our favorite mobile gotcha game soon enough.

August is going to be full of opportunities to get free orbs for summoning and a collection of skill-based banners from 2017 will be returning for one day rotations — with a free summon each time.

Another version update will be coming soon with upgrades to the weapons of the original three Order of Heroes members. There’s also going to be updates to the Arena and the Grand Conquest game modes.

There’s also going to be a brand new game mode coming soon based on building friendship with new units in exchange for rewards and accessories using RNG-based treasure drops.

All sorts of fancy, nice little things… That I’m not going to talk about right now.

The major updates and new game mode will probably warrant their own posts down the line (shout out to easy post material). So today I’m simply going to focus on one thing:

New heroes coming in from Fire Emblem Awakening.


SumiaMaid of Flowers

Skill Set:

  • Reprisal Lance (Might = 14 / Range = 1)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Attack +6 during combat.
  • Reposition (Range = 1)
    • Target ally moves to opposite side of unit.
  • Close Defense (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat and uses a sword, lance, axe or dragonstone, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Attack/Defense Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, grants Attack and Defense +6 to unit and target ally or unit and targeting ally for one turn.

Analysis:

Out of all the characters introduced on this banner, Sumia is probably my favorite as far as their actual original game personalities go. She was an interesting case in that she was clearly implied to be Chrom’s canonical love interest despite the game leaving his romance options open to player interests. I fell pretty hard for her pie-based shenanigans as well though, so I can understand where he’s coming from.

In Heroes she’s also built with an interesting set of skills. Essentially the developers have made her an enemy phase unit who can gain +6 Attack, Defense and Resistance when struck by any close-range weapon. Plus she comes with the best movement Assist skill built-in to be used with that Link, so there’s almost no downsides.

Assuming her stats are decent, anyway.

Honestly I don’t have much more to say. She’s probably my favorite of the four here and the one I’d want to summon. It’s just too bad I have a +9 Cordelia that will presumably continue to overshadow her.


LibraFetching Friar

Skill Set:

  • Wo Gùn (Might = 13 / Range = 1)
    • Deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Noontime (Cooldown = 2)
    • Restores Health = 30 percent of damage dealt.
  • Renewal (B Skill)
    • At the start of every second turn, restores 10 Health.
  • Spur Attack/Resistance (C Skill)
    • Grants Attack and Resistance +3 to adjacent allies during combat.

Analysis:

If Sumia was an interesting case in Fire Emblem Awakening that stuck in my mind, Libra was the opposite. Unless you dig deep into a few specific support conversations (something I only found out about later), he’s essentially one-note. He looks like a girl and that causes a lot of confusion amongst various members.

So yeah, while he also has deep-rooted familial pain and all that jazz, I just never got too interested in the guy. By the time I hit his mission in my original play through, I already had Lissa as a solid War Cleric, and he was clearly outmatched by the other recruitable unit in that mission: Tharja.

Some competition, huh?

This version of Libra stands a little higher as far as my intrigue is concerned, but that’s almost purely for his weapon. Having a Wo Dao for axes is a cool idea. Especially when that axe is also a GUN.

Editor’s Note:

I know it’s not really a gun. That’s called jokes, everyone.

Beyond that, he seems to be built to survive. Healing when he triggers that Special Attack and healing every other turn. Perhaps he’ll be a pretty bulky green infantry unit, which is something we don’t have as far as I’m aware.

Or perhaps he’ll just pull out a gun and win every battle.


MaribelleDire Damsel

Skill Set:

  • Trilemma (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
    • After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts the following status on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions: “If unit has weapon-triangle advantage, boosts Attack by 20 percent. If unit has weapon-triangle disadvantage, reduces Attack by 20 percent.”
  • Martyr (Range = 1)
    • Restores Health = damage dealt to unit plus 50 percent of Attack (minimum of seven Health). Restores Health to unit = half damage dealt to unit.
  • Miracle (Cooldown = 5)
    • If unit’s Health > one and foe would reduce unit’s Health to zero, unit survives with one Health.
  • Dazzling Staff (B Skill)
    • Foe cannot counterattack
  • Staff Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all staff allies on team get 2x Skill Points after combat or after using healing Assist skills (only highest value applied, does not stack).

Analysis:

So… Maribelle is a little strange here.

In her original appearance she was a stuffy noblewoman who ran around the battlefield healing units and trying to get everyone to act more professional.

In this game she… Inflicts Triangle Adept on opponents, can’t be hit back when she strikes, heals herself when she restores Health and sometimes doesn’t die. Also she boosts the amount of Skill Points other healers get.

I’m sorry, what is Maribelle supposed to be exactly? Is she an attacking healer or a healing healer?

What kind of weird staff ability is inflicting Triangle Adept? If anything that’s super counterintuitive, as it gives the opponent an advantage more than it does offer your units an advantage in most situations.

I don’t know, man. Presumably she’ll be okay considering how good of a record cavalier healers have, but I’m just not sure I see the through-line.


OliviaSky-High Dancer

Skill Set:

  • Skuld (Might = 16 / Range = 1)
    • If Sing or Dance is used, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 to target.
  • Dance (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally (cannot target another ally with Sing or Dance).
  • Bracing Stance (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Chill Speed (B Skill)
    • At start of turn, inflicts Speed -7 on foe on the enemy team with the highest Speed through its next action.
  • Guidance (C Skill)
    • Infantry and armored allies within two spaces can move to a space adjacent to unit.

Analysis:

Alright here we go. The controversial one.

I’ve made my issue with alternate units in main summoning banners more than apparent in the past. I’m still not a fan, and Olivia is unfortunately not enough of a beloved unit (to me at least) to justify interest.

She’s got a good weapon, much like Performing Arts Azura but with a sword instead of an axe. She also has a decent enough skill set, despite it being a bit more on the defensive than offensive side — something I’m not sure fits well with a flying unit.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just bitter about the whole thing, but I feel like there were a billion other units we could have introduced outside of a third dancing Olivia variant.

Why not Ricken? He was introduced alongside Maribelle in-game, so that would make sense. Or perhaps Miriel or Kellam as fellow original members of the Shepherds alongside Sumia?

Hell I’ll even take Vaike and screw Libra over in the summoning pool. That’s saying something, because nobody likes Vaike!

Maybe if I summon Olivia I’ll sing a different tune. But for now I’m kind of internally boycotting her. Hinoka was my one true alternate art love.


All things being equal, I think I’ve covered all of my thoughts in the analysis sections here.

Sumia is my favorite top summon for this banner, with everyone else kind of middling into obscurity for various reasons.

At least Walmart is coming and he looks pretty wicked.

Also my computer just autocorrected ‘Walhart’ to ‘Walmart’ and I’m sticking with it because that’s hilarious.

I’ve been saving my orbs for a little while following some lucky summoning on the Sketchy Summer banner (shout out to my perfect IV Summer Tiki), so I’m starting out with more than 100. Considering my lack of interest in the banner overall I might just summon a little on this banner and either save up for later or go back to try to get Camilla for the memes.

But that’s a discussion I’ll have with my wallet for later. Because that summoning addiction is something strong, so let’s see what fruits these trees have born.

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It’s going to be this kind of banner then… I see.

Glad to know my luck has finally run out on me.

But hey I got three lance pegasus knights and Chrom so… Maybe that’s a good omen for Sumia?

Probably not, I’m not sure. Either way I won’t be spending too much time on this banner like I said. So we’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, let’s see what that story is all about, shall we?


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This chapter picks up directly where the last left off — something that I suppose should just be assumed, but I figure is worth mentioning anyway. As a segue if nothing else.

After being demolished by the incredible power of a self-reviving King Surtr (and taking a few vacations at the beach of course) the Order of Heroes is hoping to escape the fires of Múspell.

It comes to their attention that troops are pursuing from all sides except the east. Seems as though a second force is out in that direction also trying to escape.

So naturally the Order elects to follow along under the age-old adage that the enemy of their enemy must be their friend.

Unfortunately they don’t have the foresight of seeing the name of the chapter to know that Múspell’s forces are pursuing the Prince of Ice, Hríd.

After all, it wouldn’t be a complete story if there wasn’t a character everyone assumed was dead coming in to make a significant impact in the story.

He tells the Order that he was contacted by a masked man calling himself Zacharias, who provided him with the information needed to know just how to stop the Rite of Flame and kill Surtr once and for all.

Of course we the audience already knew there was a location where sacrifices are made considering that’s where we last heard Princess Veronica was being sent, but now our protagonists have a location and a heaping helping of hope.

Speaking of, can I just take a moment to reflect on the fact that somehow Múspell is still forming contracts with heroes of the week despite locking up the one character who can do that with the intent to kill her?

Because I’m not over that.

But it’s also a tangent for another day.

From this point the story seems to continue as expected. Sumia arrives first and offers a quippy character quirk to start her map.

Then… Intelligent Systems kind of throws a curveball and unexpectedly interjects more story into the second story map.

Laegjarn and Laevatein reveal that they apparently saved Helbindi’s life after his defeat by your hands when entering Múspell.

However, they also reveal that he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. If he goes back to Surtr and reveals he lost, he’ll be killed. As will his sister. So the flame sisters offer him the chance to join them and win his family’s safety by finally defeating the Order.

So that’s just what he does starting in the next map:

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Which, by the way, proved to me how silly Maribelle’s staff was after she buffed my Tiki and made it easier for her to defeat Helbindi. Just saying.

As the Order continues on, they go to a path that’s supposedly little known by Surtr’s forces called Burnt-Bone Gorge.

With a name as metal as that I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t know about it, but that’s plot convenience for ya.

Especially since, as it turns out, they do actually know about the path and are waiting in ambush.

Defeat the final map and the Order is able to break through and escape once again, leading them to question exactly how they got stuck in this situation in the first place.

Feh Plot Meme

The discussion on there being a traitor with the generic back-and-forth of “there can’t be a traitor” and “there must be a traitor” goes on for a long time because none of the members of the Order are willing to believe their old friend is evil. Again.

So I could go on and show everything… But I won’t. Because it’s kind of ridiculous when you consider all the evidence.

All of the evidence being that Múspell having a gOD DAMN SHAPESHIFTER ON THEIR TEAM.

Yeah that’s right. Why is anyone on the Order questioning whether there’s a mole like this is some Cold War drama.

Obviously someone somewhere is just Loki fucking around with everyone. Everyone’s seen her do it before so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

The way I see it there are four possibilities.

  1. The littlest Nifl princess is Loki, as fan theories have guessed for a while.
  2. Zacharias is Loki, because he told them exactly where to go to get ambushed.
  3. Mr. Big Bad Ice Prince is Loki, sent out to be a distraction.
  4. Or hey, maybe all of them are Loki. Maybe every character is Loki, because that’s the kind of plot convenience you can abuse when you introDUCE A SHAPESHIFTER INTO YOUR GAME GUYS COME ON!

I don’t know why this point annoys me so much. If anything it’s arguably good writing to make people guess who’s actually the real faker.

I just wish they didn’t have that intrigue while also having the main heroes be ignorant morons about it, introducing an entire extra layer of bullshit that’s not needed.

But rant aside, that’s where the story cuts off. Come back next time to see the end of the Rite of Flame, presumably.

Have a good night.


Speaking of have a good night, that’s about all I’ve got to say in regards to this banner and its accompanying story!

As usual I suppose I should end off asking you, the audience, some questions I’ll never have answered.

What do you think of the mole controversy? What wrong arguments do you have against the idea of Loki being responsible for everything in some way, shape or form?

How about the Olivia controversy? Are you tired of repeat units showing up like this outside of seasonal banners? Because I am.

Despite that, who are you hoping to summon on this banner? And who do you want to see added in the future?

All of these questions and more: Ignored. On the next episode.

Of Dragonball Z.

*Cue outro music*



Alright so I know I cued outro music already, but I have to keep you here a little bit longer folks.

See, as I was putting finishing touches on this post, I also happened to complete the main story missions and earn all of the extra orbs.

Using those orbs I attempted to summon again, the first summon following that fivesome I posted earlier.

As it turns out, those pegasi and Chrom actually WERE a good omen, because my first attempt scored me this:

My girl Sumia is here already, apparently.

Which I guess means… I basically don’t have to summon anymore on this banner if I don’t want.

Which, by extension, means I get to save up some orbs. Shout out to the ever-growing stockpile.

Time for an Upgrade

As it turns out, I use a lot of pictures.

Not exactly something I ever expected to say considering I bank so heavily on my love of the written word over visuals, but apparently my blind insistence on using lots of images to liven up my Fire Emblem posts has apparently caught up with me. As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m essentially out of media space just over 300 posts in:

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 3.46.44 PM

I don’t know if this is a good or a bad post-to-space-usage ratio necessarily, but it’s the reality I’m living with.

In fact, you’ve probably noticed a slight scaling down of image use around here since… Say… My Old Fort MacArthur post from this year, as I’ve been trying to keep my space viable for as long as possible.

That is, outside of the Fire Emblem posts. Which, like I mentioned, are probably the biggest space fillers I’ve got in terms of images. With a Feh Channel video planned to drop tonight and new units coming out tomorrow, I’ll probably be doing a slightly more extended post for the morning on the latest stuff for the game.

But I’m also going to see if I can get away with doing that using a smaller number of pictures. Trim the fat, as it were.

Ironic, isn’t it? I started to use more pictures to make the words more interesting for a larger audience, but now I’m stuck back using more words due to lack of space for the images.

I suppose we’ll see how it works out. At some point I’ll find a proper balance I’m sure.

I’m going to keep searching for that balance even once I get this upgrade out-of-the-way, too. I think it’ll do me some good to shake things up where I can and make a more concise product, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just indignantly work my way forward with no images forever.

If anything, after about two-to-three years of using this blog here, I think it’s probably worth going ahead and starting to invest some money into it. Even if it’s with the most basic upgrade package.

Hopefully you’ll all stick around as I try to mess with things more. Given my intent to keep doing this daily post thing, I’m sure having the extra space will open up plenty more opportunities to do cool things.

Something Sonic this way comes

Sometimes when you’re sitting around with your friend looking for a thing to do, you come across something so incredible that it transcends all expectations as both a concept and an experience.

For Juan and I this afternoon, that something to do was this:

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Shout out to my OG Splatoon Amiibo

Sonic the Hedgehog. A SEGA Genesis game. From 1991.

Ported to the Apple TV.

Hoo boy.

As would be expected for an Apple product, this port is actually a general iOS title available on iPhone and iPad as well. On those devices the control schemes are based on virtually imposed joysticks and buttons. To be expected on any sort of iOS port or emulator in my experience.

… Not that I emulate games on my iPhone. I just saw that sort of thing going around a lot back in high school as different people played Pokémon on their phones.

Obviously the Apple TV doesn’t have a touch screen, so that begs the question. How exactly do you control Sonic the Hedgehog using an Apple TV remote?

Spoiler alert. Very. Very badly.

Yeah… This is a thing. Whoever decided to give a platformer swipe-sensitive controls like this is some kind of person.

While the controls are rather atrocious, there are other things about this port that simply baffle me.

For one, the game’s App Store information page suggests that the title is free with in-app purchases. But Juan and I looked through every conceivable place and couldn’t find a single microtransaction.

They didn’t even pull something dirty and offer a continue when you game over for a few bucks. There’s just no in-app purchases.

So why did they advertise them?

Also, when you first load up the game, the first major studio credit after SEGA themselves is Christian Whitehead. Which blew both our minds.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Whitehead is one of the chief members of the team who developed the widely successful Sonic Mania for SEGA for the blue blur’s 25th anniversary. He’s a mega-fan that did such good work with such a passionate interest in the series that he actually got to add onto its canon.

So what was his name doing on a port of the original Sonic game on my Apple TV?

Well as it turns out, porting the original two Sonic games (and Sonic CD) for mobile devices was what got Whitehead recognition in the first place. That work wound up also being available on the Apple TV as you can tell, giving me a perfect transformative end to my day.

In all honesty, as much as I joke about the baffling controls on this hilariously placed port, I might actually keep playing it. Assuming I can get past Marble Garden Zone sometime soon — it’s easily the worst thing in this game and I’ve only seen up to it.

I missed out on being able to play Sonic when it first had its run because I was a Nintendo kid primarily. So it’ll be really cool to go back and experience the original game in the series that has become such a… Controversial mainstay in our popular culture.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even talk about the game as a game on here at some point. We’ll see.

Jason and Dara explore Netflix’s ‘explained.’

Jason and Dara explore Netflix’s ‘explained.’

Mom took me down a rabbit hole I wasn’t expecting to go down today.

A Netflix documentary rabbit hole.

But not any sort of traditional documentaries. No, we’ve been watching the series of mini-documentaries produced by Vox for Netflix called “explained.”

Technically it’s more like “_____, explained,” as each episode takes a different subject and dives into that subjects history, impact on human history and potential future developments in neatly packaged 15-minute segments.

For those who don’t know, Vox is a primarily social media-driven news organization that emerged fairly recently with the pretense that they would cut through the noise and succinctly “explain the news” rather than just telling it.

They do a pretty stellar job at that role and have become rather popular in just four years thanks to their well-developed infographics and other such visually-driven pursuits that thrive in the Internet age.

Thinking it over now, their Netflix series is essentially a series of documentaries that feel like some of the best YouTube explainers you’ve ever seen.

Actually, they go further than that. A lot of the editing and visual-driven style of each mini documentary feels very similar to other series birthed by people seeped in the Internet’s ways.

The one that comes to mind most immediately is Game Theory or Wisecrack, who take highly analytical approaches to popular culture, usually.

Yet that style is applied to a more traditional news format that you might expect out of televised enterprise stories or other similar organizations like Vice News.

Basically, to make that whole long story short. “Explained” feels like watching a 15-minute YouTube video developed by practitioners of classic newspaper storytelling styles.

Every episode of the series is engaging as a result of this finely-tuned combination.

However, each episode is also engaging in its own specific way. Because each chooses a different interesting topic and, well, explains them in their own way.

Some episodes, like the piece on eSports or the piece on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, use lots of animations to show concepts that are mostly ephemeral.

Others, like the piece on K-Pop or the piece on monogamy, bring in general people from all around the world for man-on-the-street portions that speak to a deeper human interest in each subject.

Then there are episodes about the racial wealth gap or the failure of diets that seem to rely heavily on historical documents, novels and other media to demonstrate what has happened over time.

Yet in spite of all these different styles of explaining information used, each piece keeps the same core. A similar fast-cut editing style interspersed with expert interviews and well-crafted infographics. They’re all recognizably ‘Vox,’ but carry different stand-out portions based on the topic.

My favorite bit is probably the child-led recreation of how the stock market works using a lemonade stand analogy.

As you can probably imagine just from how many different directions I’ve pulled that last segment of this post in, there’s a huge variety of stories that are being told in the documentary series.

Each, on top of being visually appealing, is also very well-researched and informative. I could recount at least one thing I learned from each story.

I suppose if I’m taking this in the direction of a ‘review’ of the series, it should be obvious that I’d highly recommend everyone with Netflix check this one out.

It’s a great example of a series that’s informative and engaging, something that takes the lessons of the Internet and applies it to teaching in a way more and more groups should take into account.

There’s also apparently more coming out every Wednesday, so it’s something we’ll keep coming back to I’m sure.


Dara’s Corner:

Favorite Episodes: “!” or “K-Pop” or “Designer DNA”

  • “!” — My mom is deeply rooted in the professions of the English language like I am, and this episode was the one that she was first notified of that led to our shared interest in the show in the first place.
  • “K-Pop” — Like me, she enjoyed this episode because of the way it took a topic we were vaguely familiar with and explained its backstory in depth that we never would have expected to exist there.
  • “Designer DNA” — Mostly because the topic delved into areas of research she has already looked into while doing copy editing and fact checking for scientific magazines like “Genome,” meaning she was knowledgable ahead of the curve coming in.

Overall Impression: “The fact that it has little 15-minute interstitials where you learn something that you didn’t know necessarily, you walk away with something interesting to talk to someone else about. I highly recommend this show to everybody.”

Car Troubles are Fun

To make it out to a meeting I had in Fullerton this afternoon, I had to drive my car a substantial distance for probably the first time in a long time.

That’s one of the nice things about summer vacation for me. More hometown driving, less having to go to the gas station multiple times a week.

I’ve been a little hesitant about getting back behind the wheel for a long trip lately because of some issues I had with my car semi-recently. This isn’t something I chatted about when it happened, mostly because I was sort of embarrassed about it, but I figured now would be as good a time as any. Just to keep a log of what happens in my life, if nothing else.

In an effort to not bury the lede and make sure you all can imagine what I’m taking about, enjoy this image:

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Yeah, what a mess.

Now before I get any concerned messages, I’m totally okay. This wasn’t the result of a collision or anything of the sort.

Pretty much exactly a week ago now, I got up extra early to drive my sister to summer school (she’s taking Spanish 3 to clear it out-of-the-way for next year). Because that class is fairly early in the morning, I came home and stayed in a sort of sleepy daze for a while after.

Naturally that led to the fact that it was street sweeping day completely slipping my mind. Up until I heard the sweeper start to make its way down the other side of the street.

Panicked, I rushed out to pull my car away from the street spot and onto the driveway so I could avoid getting a ticket. Unfortunately that rush led to my forgetting just how big of a turning radius my car has.

So long story short my front-left wheel dipped down into the small ditch surrounding my driveway where we have some plants growing, and as I pulled back the inside of the bumper got caught on a concrete corner and pulled out.

Fun. Stuff.

Like I said, nobody was hurt (if you don’t count my pride) and we were able to bring it down to an auto shop down the block from the house and get the bumper realigned and stuck back in for a quick 20 bucks.

Though that’s only a bandage in the grand scheme of things. Apparently we’re going to have to have the whole bumper replaced at some point.

When you add that damage onto the rear-left window’s broken motor, which has left the thing half-open for the last few months, I’ve finally begun to understand the struggles of car ownership. Particularly on a starving college student’s budget.

Luckily I’m glad I can report that the first big freeway drive I’ve taken it on since that damage was done has been a success. Nothing fell off again and all seems to be relatively okay if you don’t count the slight scraping sound of my wheel against the inward bump whenever I turn right.

It’s more disconcerting than it is dangerous, but still.

Honestly car troubles were about all I had in mind as a conversation topic today, but I think I’m just going to leave it at that. Nobody’s interested in the nitty-gritty because everyone has the same problems, I’m sure.

So in the meantime, I guess I can just say look forward to more exciting(?) posts coming out later this week.

I know at some point I’m going to have to upgrade my WordPress here to store more photos, I’ll probably write about that. Also more units are coming to Fire Emblem Heroes on the 20th, so I’ll definitely be on that. Plus I have a job interview on Friday that I’m sure I’ll talk about.

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

I may not be a very sport-y person, but if there’s anything I enjoy about sports it would be the team naming conventions.

Yeah I know that’s a strange thing to latch onto. But trust me, there’s a through-line to this conversation. Which, spoiler alert, is video game related.

Because hey if you wanted to see me spend an entire post talking about sports alone, you should have been around for this discussion I did a while back about watching the behind-the-scenes goings on at a baseball game.

As a home-grown Southern California kid I do have some interests in sports teams that come from some semblance of nostalgia. Namely the Dodgers when it comes to baseball and the Lakers when it comes to basketball. I’ve gone to see them many times over the years, so there are fond memories there even if I’m not as much of an avid follower of their games as I am Nintendo games.

However neither are striking examples of the kind of naming conventions I enjoy when it comes to sports teams. Like… What even does the name ‘Dodgers’ stand for? If anything, you wouldn’t want to be good at dodging a ball when you play baseball. Don’t you get to walk when you’re hit by the ball while at bat?

Come on Dodgers, get your act together.

Granted there is something interesting about them specifically. The fact that both the Dodgers and the Giants were originally East Coast teams before coming to California.

Inherently that brings up some questions about the permanence of a name if it can be so easily uprooted and moved around. Like yeah now we always associate the Dodgers with Los Angeles, but they weren’t always so closely linked with the culture here. That’s kind of fascinating, honestly.

Though according to official records by Major League Baseball themselves, the only reason those teams moved were simply to bring baseball to the West Coast. Which is a kind of underwhelming answer to an intriguing question.

But hey that’s a long tangent isn’t it? What I was going to get at was the fact that I enjoy seeing sports teams that are named after singular entities which could potentially duke it out.

The phenomenon tends to be more prevalent in high school and college sports, in my head. At my high school the main rivalry was the Sea Hawks versus the Mustangs. Though I did have some school spirit, for the most part I couldn’t care less which campus actually won. It was just kind of cool to imagine some kind of battle between a vicious hawk (which my biology teacher told us was actually based on a real life bird known for crushing bones) and a majestic hoofbeast.

I imagine the same thing could be said for many small-town sports rivalries. Certainly the idea of two forces of nature going at it is much more exciting than some other team names. Like the Patriots. Or the Redskins.

Much less racist too.

As I already mentioned, I’m not just bringing up this idea because I have a sudden passion to talk about sports. Or racism scandals. There was actually a spark that got me thinking about the subject of sports team names.

Unofficial Pokémon battle tournaments.

Yeah you heard me right. Bet you didn’t think anyone would be relating competitive Pokémon battling to actual real life sports in your daily blog posts today. Well I am, so you best be ready for it.

There’s actually a healthy amount of comparisons one can make between the two. When preparing for a Pokémon battle, trainers are restricted to six members, much like sports teams are limited to X number of team members on the field. Those six Pokémon fit different roles, be them wholly offensive, defensive or supportive. Or they could be some combination of the three.

It’s not hard to say that my hyper-offensive glass cannon Mega Beedrill in a battle is comparable to a football team’s leading quarterback, or that my heal-passing Audino is supportive much like a shortstop on a baseball team that quickly gets the ball from base-to-base for multiple outs.

I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty easy comparison to make. Maybe you disagree, but it’s all just an unapologetic segue anyway.

The reason I’ve come to think about this subject is because of the lengths I’ve seen certain Pokémon-playing YouTube personalities go to when establishing battle leagues that are steeped in the traditions of real life sports.

There are about a billion examples out there, but the one that’s most impactful to me is the United Championship League (UCL). There’s no real specific reason why other than the fact that most of the circle that competes in it are a close-knit group of Pokétubers that I tend to watch fairly often.

Which yes is possibly one of the nerdiest things I’ve said around here. But does it look like I care?

The UCL started about three years ago and carried an interesting aesthetic:

It comes to mind today specifically because the draft for Season 3 happened over this last weekend. Based on the video that was put up by TheKingNappy not too long ago, it took five hours just to get teams assigned to each competitor.

Yeah that’s right. This is a Pokémon battle competition with an extended team draft and a classic branching tree tournament board. On top of that, each team tends to do a pre-game discussion where they determine which members they’re bringing based on the opponent’s overall draft and how they’re building their teams up as a result.

It’s kind of crazy to thing that that’s almost exactly the same thing as a real sports league, but I adore one and can’t bring myself to seriously care about the other.

I think part of the reason I do care so much about the UCL — other than the fact that I’m a Pokémon junkie in general — is the fact that another real life sports trope they use so well is the naming convention.

Every team in that league names themselves the same way. City name (or some other location) followed by a Pokémon name that matches in some way.

Tucson Terrakions.

Pittsburgh Pichus.

So on and so forth.

Though of course it would be a terrible mistake for me not to mention my absolute favorite Pokémon sports league name:

The New York Mankeys.

Shout out to ShadyPenguinn for coming up with literal perfection. That’s the kind of name I wish I was clever enough to come up with on my own. Not only is it a solid team name, it’s a great reference to an actual real sports team too.

I just love it man. I basically wrote this whole post just so I could say New York Mankeys out loud. It’s just the kind of name that makes me giggle whenever I hear it. More of the world deserves to hear about it even if it couldn’t give a damn about Pokémon.

Now before you ask. Yes. I have had moments where I’ve tried to figure out what my Pokémon sports team name would be. Though I haven’t exactly come up with a good answer as of yet.

Incorporating my favorite Pokémon Gardevoir would be tough without stretching my location to Gardenia (though Gardenia Gardevoirs is a cool name).

I do like the sound of something like the Manhattan Beach Mimikyu, though again that requires relegating my location to somewhere I’m technically not, a city that’s my city’s rival if nothing else.

Unfortunately I’m just not sure which ‘R’ Pokémon I would use to go with Redondo. Ralts sounds a little not intimidating, though they fit the Gardevoir line love. Roserade also doesn’t seem right, despite being one of my favorites.

Also let’s be honest. As much as the Redondo Rayquaza sounds dope, I’m not sure I’d want to use a Legendary. It seems a bit cocky.

The Redondo Rhydon might work well. I have a pretty strong affection for him too, and Rhydon certainly sounds like the kind of Pokémon that could fit a sports team.

I guess if you want you can leave your suggestions in the comments below. Or you can say what teams you might be able to make using your home region. That’d be cool to hear!

In the meantime, I’ve got a five-hour livestream recap to catch up on. So I’m going to go off and do that.

In the meantime, I suppose I should come up with some kind of moral for today’s post.

Uhh…

If you’re a sports guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like Pokémon. Because we do wacky competitive things too.

And if you’re a Pokémon guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like sports. Because they built up a cool structure that we can do stuff with.

Let’s just all live together in harmony. Liking weird things that we all like without judgement.

Yeah, that’s a good lesson. Nailed the ending.

Lucky Number 300

Like yesterday, I didn’t exactly do a lot today that I would qualify as blog post worthy. However I don’t have as easy a crutch to lean on as the play I went to with my family last night.

So yeah I could spend the next couple hundred words or so talking about the almost 9,000 word transcript I did for a Boom conversation with Merry Ovnick of Southern California Quarterly. But I’m not sure a second-hand account of the discussions on regional architecture in California and Los Angeles specifically would be super interesting for anyone but me.

That probably doesn’t sound fair. It’s not an inherently boring interview or anything. In fact, it went over some interesting points, particularly about the effects of history and culture on architecture and vice versa.

I just don’t think I can do it any justice without coming across about as blandly as possible. So I’m just going to leave that to the experts and encourage you all to go read the piece as soon as it’s officially published.

With that mindset in place, I figured this was going to be a short “don’t have much to talk about” kind of post.

But then I started to set it up. When I did I realized this is actually a milestone of sorts.

My blog post yesterday was the 299’s I’ve published here. That means you’re currently reading lucky number 300 — as my headline so aptly remarks.

So yeah. Happy tri-centennial… Erm… I’m not sure what the right term would be… Post-iversary… Thing.

I guess it’s not even so much an anniversary since it isn’t time-specific as much as it is content-specific. I’ll try to come up with something better if I do one of these for the next milestone. Probably 500, or whatever it may be.

While I wish I had something more substantial to say, I suppose it’ll have to do for me to just reflect on my summer project now that we’re at about the halfway point.

I’ve honestly been surprised to see that posting something every single day, rather than putting out a post every other week or so, actually has a substantial effect on how many eyes the words get to. At least twice this summer I’ve broken my record on blog post views and likes (though both are just barely into the double digits so I can’t proclaim it’s that much) and I’ve more than tripled my following.

Even if that’s, again, a less than substantive nine or so followers up to the low thirties, it’s still pretty awesome. I’m sure it sounds cliché when I say it, but I really do appreciate all of you out there that think I’m worth taking a look at for what mostly amounts to random bouts of rambling.

That also extends beyond my direct WordPress followers into the realm of social media. Though that also comes in spurts, I like to know whenever people take a look at the stuff I’m putting out here.

Even if it’s just that Takumi that always retweets my Fire Emblem Heroes posts. I’m 99 percent sure that’s a bot account in terms of retweeting my stuff, but I’m also 99 percent sure he’s the only one who actually takes any sort of interest in those.

So shout out to you Twitter Takumi.

Just based on what I’ve seen come out of this so far, I think I’m probably going to continue writing a blog post a day even after the summer ends. That might be tougher once school starts, but if nothing else I’ll probably just be able to talk about what I learned in class on a given day or something along those lines. So who knows, I’m sure it’ll work out in one way or another.

That’s honestly all I’ve got to say on the matter, but I’m well over 500 words writing about nothing at this point, so I think that should be more than enough. Especially if I want to get something out before midnight.

Again, thanks for all the support, and here’s to many more posts from here on out! Perhaps if I actually keep up this daily business, soon it’ll be child’s play when I hit a number like 300.

That’s the dream anyway.

Night at the Theatre

Night at the Theatre

After a relatively uneventful day, I got to spend the evening supporting the arts.

In what has become something of another annual tradition for the Rochlin family, we went down to El Segundo to support Aly’s friend Rhyan. She and her sister perform with the Haven Academy of the Arts, a Christian nonprofit that helps give kids and teens a chance to perform on stage.

This year’s musical was:

A classic by any other name just as sweet.

Because you know.

Romeo and Juliet. Just with more racism and dancing.

I’ve also seen the troupes performances of Seussical and Guys and Dolls. All and all I’d argue this was one of the weaker shows they’ve put on despite having some well-done choreography.

But I’m not here to review this show, because I feel like it would be in bad taste. Plus it’s not something that’s meant for critical acclaim so much as it is to support the kiddos.

Support the kiddos we did. Both with the buying of the tickets and with concessions.

If nothing else, these guys always have a solid spread of gifts to buy and snacks to eat. With all money apparently going to a scholarship fund that helps more kids afford the ability to take part.

That’s what the head lady said at least. I’m not getting paid to spread the word or anything, but what can I say. I like supporting the arts.

Don’t really have too much to add beyond that however. Just a nice, quiet night out at the theatre with my mom and sister. Figured it would make for a more interesting blog post than the adventures of me transcribing an interview again, which was what I did most of the rest of the day.

So hopefully you weren’t expecting anything super weighty and profound. Because the best I have to offer is a plead to do the same as us and go support local arts programs.

As a writing kid myself I know it’s important.

Receiving the Carl Greenberg Scholarship

At first, I figured today was going to be a day where I would talk all about the trailer that was dropped about the upcoming Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee games.

But something much more important came up after I started writing that which feels like a better conversation topic for the day. So sorry Pokémon, you’ve been sidelined.

Today I received word from the Scholarship Chair of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Los Angeles branch that I have been awarded the Carl Greenberg Scholarship for Political and Investigative Reporting.

Frankly, that’s pretty kick-ass and I’m excited about it!

According to the SPJLA website, the scholarship is “awarded to a college student pursuing investigative or political reporting,” named after a LA Times political reporter “famed for being singled out by Richard Nixon as the only reporter who covered him ‘fairly.'”

So not only am I excited about the fact that I won something I applied for kind of out of the blue — mostly as something to do early on in the summer when I was sitting around — but I’m also humbled at the fact that I’ve been recognized to sit in a pantheon which sounds so prestigious. Helps give some perspective to the work I’ve had the pleasure of doing, and all those other clichés that must be expected from an awards acceptance speech of sorts.

Though to be completely honest, the $1,000 that comes with it certainly helps pique my interest.

What can I say, prestige is nice and all, but so is food and gas when you’re a broke college student.

As are plenty of new video games coming soon, but don’t tell the nominating committee that.

In celebration of my award, I figured I would throw out this short post as both a way of logging the fact that I earned this recognition and as a way of slyly promoting myself.

You’ve all seen those articles out of major newspapers that showcase stories which received accolades. Hell, I even wrote an article in that vein for the Daily Titan at the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

So consider the bottom of this blog post one of those for me. I submitted three articles alongside my scholarship application, and I’m going to link out to each of them here.

Before I do, I just wanted to thank the SPJLA Scholarship Chair Richard Saxton, who helped let me know what I needed to do to apply, and all the other members of the Scholarship Committee for this awesome opportunity. Here’s to many more hopefully coming in the near future!


This article has arguably been one of my proudest achievements as a journalist thus far. That could be said for most of the stories in this small list alone, sure, but there’s so much history to my coverage of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to CSUF that I consider it a saga.

Kicking the whole thing off was an article that was weeks in the making. It began as simple rumors that supposedly there were plans in the work to bring the conservative provocateur to campus based on a petition online to keep controversial figures off campus. Based on that rumor I talked to a myriad of sources and eventually put out this fairly large piece covering the entire process of how one can bring a speaker to campus in light of the confirmation that Yiannopoulos’ visit was in the works.

And that isn’t even going into all of the coverage of the Canin scandal from the semester prior that helped build my relations with the College Republicans Club enough to help them trust my reporting.

Even during that initial coverage I knew the plan was to bring the man to campus on Halloween. At the point this initial piece was published, however, I kept that to myself in case the reporting of that information changed the plans at hand in any significant way.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Our semester was thus far filled with coverage of Yiannopoulos’ visit from any conceivable angle from myself and other members of the news desk staff. Eventually that culminated in a massive three-story package of a paper that went on to receive a special edition reprint, got me a talking head spot on NPR’s ‘Take Two’ and earned a number of accolades at the most recent LA Press Club Awards.

Plus Milo himself said on Facebook that he liked how balanced I was with the story on his speech. Never would have expected that, but it’s something I’ll take on as a badge of pride considering I didn’t get that praise while also upsetting the other side of the aisle.

I could talk about this article all day, but then we’d be here all day. Nobody really wants that.

So check it out if you haven’t, and see all of the reporting that emerged as a result while you’re at it.

My coverage of Project Rebound goes back a ways. Multiple semesters, in fact, unlike the one-semester shots of the other articles on this list.

I was the person who covered the story when the program, which helps offer previously incarcerated individuals an opportunity to earn their degrees and avoid recidivism, first came to campus. At that point I made friends with the program’s director, Brady Heiner, and its brand new coordinator, Romarilyn Ralston.

At least once a semester I try to go back and see the Project Rebound folks because, despite obviously being objective in my reporting, I do feel the cause is an important and righteous one.

The story I used for this scholarship application is my most recent piece about the program: A profile of its coordinator, Romarilyn.

It started as an assignment for my Multimedia Journalism class, and the actual meat of where it originated comes in the form of the video I produced alongside the written article. It’s embedded within the story if you haven’t seen it, and it’s probably my most proud achievement in a multimedia realm.

Though that being said, her story is also incredibly powerful, and certainly one of those stepping-stones that I would argue got me more invested in the idea that Features are a powerful tool for telling other people’s stories more than they are extra avenues of reporting.

Another piece stemming from my work with the Daily Titan’s advisor as a part of her Investigative Reporting class, the homeless coverage I was a part of is another ‘saga’ in my reporting experience thus far that I remember fondly.

Certain specific events, like our coverage of the Point-In-Time count toward the beginning of that semester, are things I’ll never forget.

However, the coverage of Mercy House I did alongside Roxana Paul is another thing I’ll always hold dear. It fits into a similar vein as the Romarilyn story I talked about above, as it gave a hard news-focused kid the opportunity to do slightly more Features-based coverage by actually going out and talking with some of the homeless population in Orange County.

Yet it was also a story steeped in hard news, covering the numbers with how much help is available in the County and talking to the people who provide the aid on the ground.

There are plenty of other elements I could dive into regarding this story. It was one of the first time I took pictures for my own article, it had graphics and other multimedia elements, it was part of a wonderful series put together by a group of really talented reporters. On top of that, it helped me out further last semester when I assisted with the coverage of Santa Ana clearing out whatever homeless population was living along the riverbed.

It’s another story I would consider one of my most in-depth and powerful. So read it if you haven’t, and check out the other Homeless in OC coverage the Titan did as well!

Why I hate Funko Pops

Why I hate Funko Pops

Remember the other day when I got meta about the human brain and talked about money? In that post I mentioned the fact that my trip to the mall with Juan inspired some other ideas I was hoping to talk about.

Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.

Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.

I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.

If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.

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At least I only collect the Smash Bros. Amiibo…

So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?

Not really.

See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.

As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.

You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.

You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.

You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?

Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.

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That’s 213 pages not even counting the ‘discontinued’ models

Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.

But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.

Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.

The marketing possibilities are also inherently genius. Did you know there are exclusive Funko Pops that are first available at places like large-scale conventions?

As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.

So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.

But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.

“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”

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Lord knows I’m still after Tana…

Yeah I hear you audience, I know.

It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.

In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.

You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.

With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.

For example:

Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.

But wait, why not also buy Deadpool in his pajamas? That’s cute right?

How about Deadpool on a scooter?

Deadpool except he’s Bob Ross? He did that in a 30 second T.V. spot you know.

Okay but imagine this. Deadpool. Except he’s a variant from a spin-off Marvel gotcha game that may or may not be in any real canon.

That’s something you can buy.

Too expensive for you? I can understand that, perhaps you’d just like the OG Deadpool figurine, and maybe some smaller accessories to continue to show your Deadpool love.

Well, would you like the Deadpool keychain with his swords out? Or perhaps the one with the rubber duck and bath cap on?

2bj0ul
Aren’t old memes just the best?

“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.

I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.

But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.

Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.

There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.

What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.

I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.

That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.

Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.

Does anyone remember Pokémon Shuffle?

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Still have that jingle stuck in my head.

Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.

Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.

The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.

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It has been forever since I played this game, opening it up for this was wild.

There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.

In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.

For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.

But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?

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Special.

Character.

Variants.

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

Just look at this insanity.

My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.

Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.

This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.

But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.

Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?

I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’

That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.

Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.

God bless capitalism.