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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

During my run today, a weirdass memory came back to me. For no apparent reason (except a little bit of personal drama) I found myself remembering the beginning sets of the game...and the drama therein.

It didn't take a genius to see that we were being BS'd at times. One of the excuses for BEUD's late arrival was that Shueisha, the company that manages Jump Festas and therefore Premium Packs, did not want it released. Since BEUD was released in a Premium Pack, it wasn't allowed to come over here.

Let's look at the other contents of the same Premium Pack BEUD originally came in, shall we?

Tri-Horned Dragon -> Secret in LoBEWD. Well-deserving of its position given the environment.
Gate Guardian -> Secret in Metal Raiders. Only looks good in a binder. Way to go, Konami!
Meteor Dragon -> McDonald's promo
Meteor Black Dragon -> Unreleased. WTF.
Fire Winged Pegasus -> Tournament promo.
Serpent Night/Evil Knight Dragon -> Secret in Magic Ruler. Probably should not have been.
Sengenjin -> Tournament promo.
Magician of Black Chaos -> Premium Pack 1
Black Magic Ritual -> Premium Pack 1

So three of them were released within the first three sets, two of them were released as tournament promos (which they originally were- OK), one came in a Mickey D's set, and Chaos + Ritual came in a long-awaited (post-BEUD, oddly) stateside Premium Pack. BMD has yet to be released to the rest of the world, but really...what are they waiting for? Fusion Monsters are about as alive as the Tasmanian tiger - some sightings, but have altogether been replaced by the more-efficient Synchros. If they don't release it soon, people might not be interested enough to even try it.

Now, I realize that the UDE reps on Pojo had to plug their product. I realize they wanted to keep Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon on the low-down for a little bit. I realize that it was probably a marketing ace in the hole for them. That does not mean that they should have held it out like they did; people would have bought a YGO-branded pile of vomit if it had that darn dragon in it!

Don't give Konami your money, kids. You will set yourself up for disappointment.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Caveat Emptor: Lots of Lots.

Recently, I had a customer who was dissatisfied with one of my lots. He was basically bitching that he didn't get the best cards possible. I would not be surprised if this happened FAR more often in YGO than in, say, Pokemon (for a NUMBER of reasons), but the topic of eBay lots is still worth addressing.

Lots can be great deals. If you see a lot put up by someone who does not know their stuff, for example, there's a good chance that they're missing out on a lot of money. It could very easily become yours for the snagging, and if you see something in there that could pay for the whole lot by itself, snag it. You have no reason not to.

Some lots, however, are ripoffs. See a fake card? The word 'random' in the title? Does it just seem too good to be true?

Read the description. Seriously, READ THE DESCRIPTION.

Here's an example of a lot that should raise red flags no matter who you are. It's poorly-written and sounds too good to be true if you think about it for a SECOND. Any layman will see that the WORST thing you could get in any given lot is an Exodia limb or Starter Deck Ultra Rare. The kicker, however, is that the seller might not even have the God Cards in question.

Use Murphy's Law ("anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong") when shopping for lots. It's the nature of a capitalist economy for sellers to squeeze as much green as possible out of their wares using any means necessary. EVERY seller wants to make a profit; no exceptions. Whether they know how to do it or not determines who winds up on top.

Welcome to Marketing 101: The art of dressing shit up with rainbow paint and glitter. That lot up there is a prime example. The amount of people who fall for these lots is disturbing.

Do not for one SECOND think this is exclusive to eBay or the internet. Real-life companies, like Excell Marketing (with whom anyone who goes to Target is no doubt familiar), do the same thing. They put up a pack with some random cards added and sell it for a buck more than the retail price. Naturally, these cards are never good.

With my own lots, I ALWAYS try to make sure that my buyers will break even, if not gain a possible profit. I make guarantees that assure that my customers are getting their money's worth. Other lots certainly do not.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tainted Love.

You all know how I love to hate Konami. Some of their marketing practices are questionable, even if they do wind up putting money in Konami's pocket. Other ideas are pure win doused in awesomesauce, then grilled to perfection for that savory - wait, wait. We're talking about trading cards, right?

Yes. Yes we are.

One thing that I cannot swing against them are collectible tins. The Master Collection binders were cool, and Duelist Packs were a neat idea (but not NEARLY as cool as Japan's character-themed Structure Decks), but the one truly solid, awesome thing that they thought up was the tins. Even with the economy as it is now, these tins are a theoretical bargain: Get a bunch of packs, a shiny promo card, and maybe a few extras for 20 dollars. Tins were a good idea all around.

Recently, however, their tin madness has been worrying me. As I said before (in the "Yusei, Yusei, YUSEI" entry), they're trying to max out character value...and are milking one cow way too much. I can name at least three friends of mine that are Crow fans, and know several Aki(za) fans as well. Konami picked up on Crow and Black Rose Dragon; would Black Feather and Plant-themed mini-tins (with corresponding Duelist Packs therein) damage them at all? I realize that Yusei is the main character, but he has a few tins that do nothing but rot on Target/Wal-Mart shelves.

Also, of all characters, why did Luna and Leo get a tin? I can understand from an artistic standpoint (their colors are easy to coordinate) and to a lesser degree from a collector's point of view, but the choice still seems odd to me. From what I've heard, they aren't major characters (bar the Signer thing). They probably should have had a mini tin at best; instead we have a gazillion Stardust Dragon Assault Modes floating around. Though I'm glad that Konami used a tin instead of a pack to release that card, it still feels dicey to me.

Putting card sleeves in tins is another thing that sounds cool, but wound up being 'meh.' Konami knows that their cards require specially-sized sleeves. They have made official sleeves for a while. The fans wanted Konami to put sleeves in their tins; they released a survey a while back. Why they put only 40 sleeves in boggles my mind. They mean well, but seeing as these sleeves were released during 5D's and the minimum amount of cards in a YGO deck is 40, wouldn't 45 have been a better number? After all, Konami just added a whole new use to the Extra Deck (which is, as the name implies, separate from the main deck). It was an odd move, but they managed to get the Japanese set-themed sleeves over here. I'll forgive them for now.

Another thing that I wish they would do more of: Alternate arts! While this is a minor point, it helps Nintendo sell their Pokémon tins. Making the tin promos as distinct from the cards in the pack as possible (without being different cards entirely, of course) could be an additional selling point.

On the plus side, they've started including Trap Cards in tins...Mirror Force, please?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NCS + WTF, Nintendo?



Yes, that Royal Knights deck is for the biggest RK fan I know, Mistress-of-Air. :) Finland never got the Digimon CCG, perhaps with good reason. It was a well thought-out game, but Bandai's crap advertising and that it looked like an improvised YGO ripoff would have raised a few eyebrows.

It's a shame; Bandai can be REALLY good at subtle product placement when they try. Case in point: The Digivice. At first glance, would you ever suspect that it started with a digital pet?

As for Pokemon, yeah, Nintendo was fairly subtle about that, too. Merch plugging is not their main goal. However...

The art for their recent cards has been either terrible or great. NO in-between. I personally hate the look of their Pokemon Prime; the perspective is all off, the Pokemon look like they're gonna poke us in the face, and the eye gleam just...doesn't do anything. The Legends look pretty, but did they really need to stress the 'elemental' bit so much? What're they going to do with Psychics, Dragons, and other elements that are hard to emphasize in art?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fakugan.

Have you ever received a Bakugan (or other merchandise) from eBay that just...didn't seem right? Now I know what it feels like.Hong Kong is churning out fake Bakugan.

Check out the pic below:



OK, first off, I had ordered a Subterra Storm Skyress, not a Ventus. That made me WTF, but something was still off when I tried to open the Skyress I did receive.

The first thing that tipped me off to this one's authenticity or lack thereof was the fact that her crest did not come out. Period. Also, the paint job is SHODDY and she does not open well. She does not bear the markings of other fake Bakugan, but she came from Hong Kong, so there is the possibility that she is either a fake or a factory reject.

Now, I've seen another auction or two NOT from Hong Kong with the jungle green Skyress in question, but the paint job, texture, and fact that the crest does NOT come out still say that this is a fake.

I also recently got some fake Digimon cards. It was IMPOSSIBLE to tell in the auction. It was, however, obvious when I got the cards - the backs of every type of card were different, the set numbers DID NOT EXIST, and the numbers were way too big.

"Caveat emptor": A rule of the internet.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yu-Gi-Oh!: An Anti-Drug?

Yu-Gi-Oh! players, as I've said before and will say again, are the human equivalent of magpies. They copy each other and like shiny things - the shinier, the better. This somehow makes them a lot like drug dealers. They will do ANYTHING to get their shiny cards, from making their own to scamming.

I wondered, after looking at my shiny YGO cards for too way long, what happened to making custom Secret Rares. Yes, you read right: There is a method of making those crappy Supers and Ultras shiny as all get-out. There was a thread on Pojo once with a few decent tutorials on how to do this. Not wanting to miss out on my Secret Rare Triangle Ecstasy Spark (seriously, I will take those off your hands), I tried looking it up again:



The commenter who said 'keep the SCR on you fool' or something along those lines is 100% correct, BTW. (That said, I'm also interested in your Marshmallon Glasses.)

However, some of the other videos made me realize that, wow...Yu-Gi-Oh! is a lot like drugs!



Now, I bet you're wondering...What is so bad about scaling children's trading cards? After all, aren't these people just beating the odds? Couldn't they just wind up with junk like anyone else?

Weeelllll...that's the thing. There is no 'anyone else' around scalers. Sure, maybe a few of the more generous ones will leave the Super Rare packs alone (they weigh slightly less than Ultras and Secrets), but if you are in scaler territory, your odds of getting anything shiny are slim. That's why they have a territory chart - so that other scalers won't come after their gold.

This means that the rest of us without scales take a gamble. Have our packs been scaled? We don't know (unless we have also seen that chart). There is no visible difference between scaled and unscaled packs. We have to hope that our stores disallow scaling.

If they do ban it, these people have powerful retorts. From memory, one response to being denied scalage in a retail store is to buy a ton of packs from a place that does permit scaling. Then, show the manager (or the person who presumably stopped you) the receipt from the place that DOES allow it. These people aren't lookin' for any trouble; just hand over all the shiny cards and nobody gets hurt. Capice?

Seriously, though: What DOES this say about the state of the game? If nearly all good cards are shiny, and a handful of people have a lot of the shiny cards, then only a handful of people have a chance at making any sort of gain. I mean ANY sort- nobody likes pulling junk, and if enough people pull enough junk, there will be a mass-exodus of players. You don't want that, Konami.

Worse still, this is hurting Konami's target audience: Children. If little kids eventually learn that, hey, they'll never get anything shiny from YGO packs, they will give up. Card advertisements every Saturday morning are effective, but even children have brains. Once they learn that over half of the most recent Yu-Gi-Oh! sets are Rare or higher, they will give up.

You're digging your own grave by making the best cards so rare, Konami. UDE is not without fault, either, but they're not in charge anymore. Konami busted them for making real counterfeit cards. I have never seen a card game so tightly kept under lock and key in my life; when Pharaonic Guardian came out, packs had to be kept behind the counter. It won't be long before they'll be just as 'need to know a guy' as drugs - at least, for anyone looking for any real 'fix.'

Card games are serious business.

Monday, February 8, 2010

*Sigh.* It wouldn't let me post.



Yeah, apparently the cookies for this blog are malfunctioning on my Mac. Hopefully, this will be fixed by the time I re-find my Doctor Who card pack (come back, you...), and perhaps I will also have a few more obscure packs to open. ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5D's Monster Collection?

Wow, I can't believe something like this nearly went under the radar. O.o; I found a few of these new figures on eBay, nosed around via Google, and so forth. Here's the result:

The Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Monster Figure Collection features the 5 main dragons in the series: Stardust, Red Daemon's, Black Rose, Power Tool, and Ancient Fairy. Each (presumably random) box comes with a small model and a Duelist Terminal-compatible card.

Listen well, Konami: You should bring this over to the States right now.

This makes me happy on SO MANY LEVELS. For one thing, it's great to see more merch, even if it is for 5D's; merch like these figurines is more likely to retain its value than just the card, which might get reprinted at any time. The card itself is pretty special, too - it's compatible with Duel Terminals. That's ALWAYS a perk! Sweet deal is sweet!

Still, I kinda wish they had done this a bit sooner. The technology was there, but nooo- they had to make GX crap. Also, it kinda sucks that the figures look like HK bootlegs, but I'm not complaining. This is a good investment, and I definitely wouldn't mind a case of these.