There are a couple small updates this time. Last week my dear set of computer speakers finally died on me. I've had them for well over a decade, but it was time to finally replace them.
I tried to hold on to my old Altec Lansing computer speakers for as long as I could. After several years of producing great sound and lasting through many computer upgrades, one of the bottom speakers in a satellite popped out. Eventually the bottom speaker of the second satellite also popped out. While they still worked they had some problems. Still, I continued to use them even after trying to replace them with another set of speakers that just sounded hollow and cheap.
However, last week the second speaker in the right satellite popped out. It was dead. This left me one half-working satellite speaker. It was finally time to replace them.
So I did what I always do... I searched online for a new set.
I decided on the highly regarded Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 set. As you can see in the first photo, the satellites are rather large. I had to move some things around on my desk just to fit them. But the important thing is the sound. While I'm no audiophile, I have to say the positive reviews are correct, for only $150 you really do get a high quality set of computer speakers that sound pretty amazing for their size.
They are 200 watts, which is insane for computer speakers. I haven't moved the volume dial above the 1/3 mark. So it gets plenty loud for me. The bass is also very solid with no distortion and it's nice that the subwoofer has its own volume control on the main satellite. They seem well built. The satellites are made of a thick plastic with metal feet and the subwoofer feels pretty solid with a large back-plate with real wire-based speaker connections. After making a couple adjustments on my soundcard, I'm fairly happy with them. I think they were a worthy upgrade.
Have you ever had something break on you that you didn't want to replace with something newer? Were you happy with the replacement?
The other item I want to mention is that this week the launch date for Tera was announced. After a series of closed beta tests and an open beta, the game will launch in NA on May 1st. As I stated in my last post, I'm really looking forward to this one.
I also recently found out that not only am I getting the new limited DDH-06 head that I also mentioned in my last post (pictured below), but also the limited Natsuki wig (also pictured below). Again, thanks to my close friend. So my third Dollfie Dream may look very much like this picture.
It looks like the next handful of months are shaping up to be pretty interesting. I also have another list of things I plan to post over the next month or so. So keep checking back.
by George Panella
Can you believe it's now 2012? This is a year marked with many expectations and there are several things I am looking forward to and have planned. There are a few incoming items from pre-orders I made last year. A couple MMOs are coming out that I'm looking forward to. And I hope to FINALLY get my new webcomic started! Oh, and the world is supposed to end or something...
While I wouldn't say that all my goals were met last year, I did accomplish many things. Most notable was my move to drawing digitally with my Wacom Cintiq, a tool that has improved my illustration work. I bought my second resin BJD that I named Alexis. Then I had the uncanny luck of winning both of the Shining Hearts Dollfie Dreams, which lead to spending a lot of money on doll related items. A couple new figma were added to my slowly growing collection. Later in the year I had to, unexpectedly, replace my old computer monitor with a new 25" LCD.
A couple friends sent gifts for the holidays, one of which you can see hanging on the wall in the above photo. It is the Danny Choo Mirai dakimakura (pillow case)! It was a nice surprise. So I have to thank my friend (again) for sending that to me.
I ended the year off by getting sucked into two new games, Skyrim and Star Wars: The Old Republic. This, of course, caused a large gap in updates to the blog and delayed starting on my webcomic.
Now we have a new year and a chance to try again with new and old goals!
To start the new year off I slowed down my gaming a little so that I could finally take some photos of my two Dollfie Dreams. Before taking photos of them, though, I had some remaining details that I wanted to add first—such as braiding a ribbon for Rika's hair and making little charms for Yuri's gun. Most importantly, though, I put together a setup that will hopefully allow me to take better photos. With several satin-like sheets, some PVC pipe, and many tripods, I've put together a little "photo studio".
I have several items coming in the first half of this year. There are two figmas that I pre-ordered last year still on the way. One is Black Rock Shooter from the the PSP game (which is coming to the US). The other is Black Rock Shooter Blade, which comes with an artbook by the BRS creator, Huke. These should be coming within the first couple months of 2012, but I expect some delays.
I also JUST recently learned that one of my friends has secretly entered and won the lottery for a limited Dollfie Dream head for me! It is the finished makup version of the new DDH-06 head. I wasn't planning to get another Dollfie Dream, but it seems I have an enabler helping me along. So I am now starting to think of items to buy for this new girl coming around April. I can't thank my friend enough.
Careful time management will also be needed this year. Last year was a slow year for games, which is probably why I was able to dedicate my attention to more personal goals and achievements, but this year has many possible gaming distractions. I currently already have Star Wars: The Old Republic on my plate and several single-player games (Skyrim, Arkham City), but later this year there are a couple MMOs coming out that I've been looking forward to.
One small possible gem for me is Tera. While this is likely not everyone's cup of tea, Tera appears to be the spiritual successor to Lineage 2, at least in style and open world environment, which is a game that sucked away many hours of my life. This is slated to come out "this spring".
Then there is The Secret World. I'm still up in the air about this one. I've played Funcom's other two MMOs with mixed feelings, so I'm still not sure what to think about this one, but it looks like it could have potential. This should come out around April.
And of course there is the possibility that Guild Wars 2 could be released this year, the only other game hyped up as much as SW:TOR. I did spend a lot of time in the first Guild Wars, and the things they are bringing with this new title do sound really interesting. And, of course, there is no subscription fee, which is a nice plus.
So as you can see there is already a LOT on my plate for this year. What are your goals for this year? Did you learn anything from last year? Will you do anything different this year? It's important to constantly try to improve your situation or to reach your goals. Keep a todo list and make it a point to check it and modify it. The iPad has become a great assistant for keeping track of my goals and ideas, a notepad could be just as good. Do what you can to keep moving closer to those goals, even if they are small steps. Just don't give up.
My primary personal goal is to get my new webcomic started this year. It has been too long since I've had a comic going and I feel that I need to get a new one started for myself. Keep checking back for updates on my progress.
I finally put together all the pieces I ordered and took some photos of my two Dollfie Dreams to give them a proper introduction. So here is Rika (DD Neris) and Yuri (DD Airy). I think they came out rather nice.
They may be pretty and cute, but they are trained to "deal" with anything that comes their way. I drew an illustration of them as well!
I hope you like them. It's been a long time coming from the first time I learned that I won them in the lottery, to waiting months to get them, and finally to now all together with the things I ordered for them. I think the photos came out rather well. I hope to take more photos soon!
This has been a busy month for me, and it is far from over. There are still several things coming up that will be keeping me busy. However, as far as my room and other goals go, I have started to make some changes and progress.
Since I got my Wacom tablet I don't really draw on paper anymore, and thus, I also don't really need my scanner anymore. On top of that, with the recent addition of my girls (dolls), I wanted to change my room around a bit to accommodate them. These two things worked out well for me.
First I packed up the scanner/printer. This freed up space on my desk for my girls. I then removed my little drawing table and added in my second matching bookcase. Yes, I actually have more furniture than can fit in my current little room.
Now I have a lot more shelf space, which quickly filled up with books, manga, games, and DVDs/Blu-Rays. A large chunk of shelf space is now being used for my two resin BJD girls. Overall I think it looks a bit nicer, though I hate all the brown. I still plan to "upgrade" all my furniture little by little, but for now this will do.
I'm still collecting items for the girls. I've been putting the new items in a little bucket as I've been getting them. With all the additional items the bucket is now too full to even close, as you can see.
And I STILL have another small order incoming. Lastly, to finish things off for them (for a while), I plan to order two stands next week that will be used on the now cleared off space on my desk.
I'm pretty happy about these changes. Next month, after all the busy things I have to do this month are over, I hope to really start moving forward with a webcomic. I want to get a webcomic started before the end of this year. I'll keep you posted.
I finally received my Miku Hatsune -Append Version- Figma. I've been waiting to get this one for a couple months now. She is one of the most well known Vocaloids out there and I'm even listening to some of her music as I write this!
Vocaloid is the singing synthesizer program by Yamaha made popular by the set of anime inspired characters from Crypton Future Media. Combined they are used to make electronic/dance music with anime-sounding voices (in Japanese). Miku's music can be found all over the net and on iTunes. Her digital concert actually made its way here, to the US, at the 2011 Anime Expo. She has become very popular among anime / jpop fans. I missed out on her original figma version, and even her second release as well. However, I managed to pick up this new design of her.
The Append Version actually represents a software expansion for the original Miku software. The updated design is a more futuristic and really clean style with softer color tones. It matches the electronic/syth style of music that I tend to listen to with her voice. I almost like the Append Version more than her original design.
There are a couple examples of Miku Hatsune music using the Append Version found here.
This figma also represents Max Factory / Good Smile Company's 100th figma, which is a really great testament to how popular she has become -- a true virtual idol. The figma comes with all sorts of options, such as: three faces, optional arm parts, options waist parts, an optional torso section, several hand poses, and, of course,a figma stand. Her hair is also clear at the tips, which is a nice touch. Other details include her signature "01" number on her arm and in the reds dots on her waist attachments.
Like all figma, she is really posable and with the optional faces can show off various expressions. However, my favorite pose is the one inspired by the original illustration of the Miku Append Version, which shows her floating in a sort of peaceful, almost timeless, state.
So far I think this is my favorite figma. Not only because I like Miku Hatsune's music (voice?), but it's also a really "stand out" design. The floating pose I have her in is really unique. I think she makes a great addition to my slowly growing figma collection.
Only a couple days ago I received my first limited Dollfie Dream, Neris. Today I got my second limited Dollfie Dream, Shining Hearts Airy! They are from the same game and were both sculpted by the same artist, so they go together.
I'm so glad I was fortunate enough to get both Neris and Airy. I won Airy through Kerbey Lane Doll Shop, which is why she took a little longer to arrive, but they shipped her out really fast - faster than I expected.
Here are some photos from the box opening.
This time it was a simple brown box, but a little bigger than the last one.
She has a cute "cat-like" smile. :3
She's finally out of the box and bag. Her eyes have a bit of a "pearl" effect to them.
She comes with a lot of items. A basket (like Neris), a book with real (blank) pages, boots, a white dress with a lovely coat and hat, and a nice blonde wig. Volks really puts a lot of attention to detail. The book is fully stitched with a working buckle/strap. The basket is real, not plastic.
Here are a couple quick shots!
After much luck and waiting, my first complete limited Dollfie Dream has arrived, a Shining Hearts Neris! She was delivered safe and sound with a box full of goodies.
When the Dolpa 25 lottery started I didn't think I was going to be able to get anything. I figured I had no chance when I heard how popular Neris was. I entered for her twice. When I got the Volks email saying I won, I didn't know if it was real.
However, here she is! Here are some quick box opening pictures.
You can see some of her face looking out from inside the box.
She came with a lot of items. Even a little basket. The hair is nearly impossible to get on her head as is her default top.
Here are a couple quick shots of her.
There are a couple recent items to mention. First, if you have a keen eye you may notice a different monitor on my desk above. A couple weeks ago my 24" Samsung LCD monitor died on me.
The monitor just went black with no fanfare. At first I thought it may be my video card, but after testing with a spare monitor, I found that wasn't the case. So for a while I was stuck with a small, old, LCD from years ago. It was also only 4:3, and after using a 16:10 (widescreen) monitor for so long, it was hard to go back to. After some online research, I picked up a new 24" Samsung LED LCD monitor. Two days later it was returned. The LED backlight gave a blue tint to the screen and no amount of adjustments could get it to a point I was happy with. Maybe it was a lemon or just a low quality item, but I didn't like it.
Working with pictures everyday, I need a monitor that I am comfortable with. So again, I went online to research a new monitor. This time it was for a regular LCD monitor and not LED. Reviews for an HP 25" 16:9 LCD monitor came up and seemed like a decent choice. It also happened to be on sale at Best Buy. Even more luck would have it that the Best Buy near me was the only one to have it in stock in the area.
In fact, it was the last one in stock! Was it fate? After getting it home and setting it up, I was much more pleased with the screen's colors compared to the LED monitor before it. So this will be a keeper. It's the first HP and gloss screen monitor I have owned.
Last month it was announced that the Dollfie Dreams would arrive from Japan before the original time-frame of August. Volks USA later announced that they received them on July 1st. They still had to go through all the orders before they could be shipped, which took a couple weeks. Yesterday I finally received a shipping notice for my DD Neris! She will be here on Tuesday the 26th. The other one I won, Airy, will arrive about a week later, since she was won through a Volks retailer.
I also picked up some other items. A couple books and a few items from Volks for my incoming Dollfie Dreams. I also have another package coming from Amazon and yet another from Hong Kong. Expect posts for all that soon.
One year ago I got my first resin BJD, Jaimee. It's hard to believe it has been a year already. Just last month I got my second resin BJD and I have two Dollfie Dreams on the way, but Jaimee was the first and will always be special to me because of that.
Ordering Jaimee was a big decision. At the time I was certain I was crazy! She was an expensive purchase. She was not sitting on a shelf somewhere, she was made because I ordered her. In essence, she would have not existed if I didn't order her. The same goes for my latest resin BJD, Alexis. It really makes them feel more special that way—more personal.
She's been with me for a year and it's been great having her around! I'm glad that I took the chance and clicked that order button. I thought one would be enough, but it seems I'll need more space soon.
Danny Choo is just your average guy that started a blog and created his own mascot. He's a fan of anime, manga and Japanese culture. He also collects Dollfie Dreams and anime/manga figures. He shares photos that he takes of Japan and provides a lot of information about the country to those that follow him. He has become so popular that his mascot/character, Mirai Suenaga, was recently released as a figma by the Good Smile Company. Mirai is just a "forever young" 17 year old girl and Danny is currently working with several people and companies to spread her all over the place, from clothes to games and more.
Danny is a hard-working guy. He's gone from a simple blogger to someone that many people follow around the world. It's not his popularity that I find interesting, or even so much that his mascot has become popular enough that she has had a toy made after her. If you read his posts or see some of his seminars he tells you about how he came from nothing, had a not-so-great childhood, deals with a condition and yet he never stops pursuing his dreams. He pushes himself, stays focused, learns, and does what he needs to do. He's determined and ambitious. He tries to tell others that anyone can do the same. He tries to share what he's learned and inspire others. I think that's pretty rare today. He seems to be such an average, fun-loving, down to Earth guy that loves life, no matter what it throws at him. Danny is one of the few people I look towards to inspire me to keep moving forward. Looking at his posts, seeing his journey and progress, is really inspiring and it sometimes gives me that kick I need to keep going.
To help remind me I ordered his Mirai figma. I think it just shows how anyone can succeed if they keep at their goals. The Mirai figma is cute and fun to play around with, but having her on my desk is a great reminder of what is possible if you work hard enough.