Thursday, 30 August 2012

Toy Thursday: Mr & Mr Strormtrooper, Part the Second

I blogged a little while ago about my new favourite plastic couple - Mr & Mr Stormtrooper - and their intergalactic love. I thought it was about time we caught up with some of their recent escapades...

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They are still wonderful fun to photograph. They each have such different builds and posability that they just feel so distinct, and I can do different poses with each figure that I couldn't do with the other. Mr Stormtrooper-the-stockier, for example, has permanently bent elbows. Excellent for hugging and presenting flowers. Mr Stormtrooper-the-skinnier, however, has less flexible ankle joints, so he needs to be balanced more upright, as he can't compensate for poses that lean as much.

I think, next, they definitely need some children.

alice xox

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Toy Thursday: Novi Star Mae Tallick

MGA released a new line of dolls this month: Novi Stars. I can't help but think MGA are still trying to edge in on the Monster High corner of the doll market, after Bratzillaz kind of failed to take off. I am 100% ok with MGA trying to come up with new, quirky dollies - and I loved the idea of an alien range. I mean, look! They're awesome! 


So, I was pretty excited to finally get my hands on one! I hadn't seen any in shops at all, and it was only today Argos finally had one in stock. In Argos, you don't get to pick which one you buy - and this is who I got: Mae Tallick. 


I hate, hate having to say this - but I'm kind of disappointed. The design is cute (her pet - "8 bit" - is especially adorable) and I still very much like her in theory, but I'm just a bit disappointed in the actual quality of the doll. I know it's not helpful to compare Novi Stars to Monster High, but I can't help it - for £15, I can get a basic MH who is of a far higher quality standard than this basic NS, who was £20. That's quite a bit of money, and I did kind of expect a doll that would at least stay in one piece. (Which she doesn't.) I know you're probably paying extra for the electronics in two of the Novi Stars, but... well, I just didn't feel like it was good value.

The big disappointment is the hair. As you can see, it's pretty messy. It was messy in box, got messier whilst being removed from the gazillion ties of the box, and I couldn't seem to tame it once it was out the box. It's such a pretty colour, but it just won't behave.


As you can see, the hair is actually a wig - which is cool, in theory, because you can swap them from doll to doll. In practice, though, the wig doesn't fit on the head, and won't stay on. (I actually prefer Mae without her wig. Or her clothes! It seems weird just to have her topless, even if she is a robot-alien. I really rather like her as just a nude, robot alien.) The only bits that are supposed to hold the wig in place are the two Hellboy-esque stubs on the side of her head, and they just don't work. The wig isn't elastic at all, and just slips right off. Again, I hate to compare it to the MH Create-A-Monster sets - but even their wigs work far better (and I'm not a massive fan of them, either.) I think this one is probably the most problematic wig for being messy - but even the others might not stay on, if this wig system is anything to go by.


The stand is another complete disaster, as far as I'm concerned. I can't get her feet to get in the slots at all. I've tried it every which way and all of them with Mae flat on her face. Not a great success as a stand, then...

Her left arm keeps falling out, rather annoyingly, and even though her legs are strung, there's not a lot of mobility. She can't seem to face her feet forward, which makes the rollar skates look a bit daft. The skates themselves are part of her leg, and the wheels aren't separate and don't spin. I believe Una Verse has no leg joints at all, to accommodate her glitter and water insides. (Which do look very fun.) She has no elbow joints and very limited mobility at the shoulder.


But - there are things I do like! She can stand on her own, with a little patience, which is fun. (I'm a doll balancing sensei.) Without her wig or clothes, I really quite like her. She can tilt her head in all sorts of adorable directions, and I love that her face is actually, properly alien


I really love her eyes, though I'm not really sure why there are skulls in them. The eyelashes are a fun touch, and overall, I think her face is just pretty cute. Not sold on the 'talking' feature, but I suppose it's a fun enough gimmick and younger kids might enjoy it. This new trope of aliens/robots having auto-tuned voices does kind of amuse me, and I blame Adventure Time entirely.

My conclusion: close, but no cigar, MGA. I don't think I'll buy another. Mae is cute, though, and I have this vision of kitting her out in a little woolly hat and jumper, and having a cuddly, bald robot-alien. ♥ Whatever she thought Earth would be like, she didn't come prepared for Scotland, that's for sure.

alice xox

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Trials of Being Female, Episode XIVIVVIVIII: The Interview Outfit Conundrum

As you may know, I'm currently job-hunting. Yay. It's all kinds of soul-destroying fun!

As much I hate filling in the application forms, and the online personality tests, and the rejection emails, what I actually hate most are the interviews... and what I hate most about those is deciding what to wear. If you're male, it seems like 99% of the time you should just show up in a suit, and that covers a whole range of levels of formality. As a female, there are so many more options out there, and I never know which is appropriate. Full blown trouser suit? Is a collared shirt necessary? Will a smart top be enough? I just don't know! Anyway, I had an interview today, and here's what I settled on: a fitted shirt and pencil skirt combo.

(Please excuse the delightful backdrop of my mum's bathroom. Do, however, feel free to admire my new iPhone cover.)

It was a fairly informal interview; we pretty much had tea and a chat. I probably could have toned down the formality even further, but I'd rather go too smart than not smart enough. I'm glad I didn't go for the full pantsuit, which I will be breaking out tomorrow for a way more formal group interview type setting. I suspect there will be a lot more on-the-spot interrogation and a lot less peppermint tea and talking about out fabric hoarding problems. (My pantsuit is delicious. It has a bright, hot pink lining so I feel like I'm secretly colourful under my Smart Adult disguise!) The pantsuit, in all its glory, was my mum's idea, as she insisted that trousers are smarter than skirts.

Fellow ladies of the blogosphere: what do you wear to interviews? Are trousers smarter than skirts? How do you decide what is formal and what is extra formal?

alice xox

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Siorrachd Obar Dheathain

I've been spending some time with Gavin and his family in Aberdeenshire, enjoying their menagerie of animals and taking a break from Newcastle. 'Siorrachd Obar Dheathain' is 'Aberdeenshire' in Scottish Gaelic - not that I have the foggiest how to pronounce it, but I think it sounds very pretty nonetheless. I've missed Scotland more than I thought I would (and I completely blame the constant playing of the Chariots of Fire theme throughout the Olympics, which just kept reminding me of West Sands and St Andrews and making me bawl.) Here are a few photos from our wanders:







I also (finally!) got to see Brave today, which was really awesome. I was right about the bears, but it didn't really spoil it, so I suppose I'll forgive Disney for the inherent spoilers in their toy range! (Which I now definitely feel I do not own enough of.) Asides from the gorgeous animation, Merida is a whole new ilk of Disney princess that I absolutely love. Perfection. Conclusion: you must see it, if you haven't already. Apparently, Alex Salmond hopes it will encourage more people to come to Scotland, and whilst that is kind of hilarious given that it's an animated film and contains no actual footage of Scotland, you should totally come visit anyway, because actual-Scotland is just as lovely as its animated counterpart. So there. You have mine and the First Minister's word for it. ;)

A fun Aberdeenshire and Brave related fact for you: the almost unintelligible accent of Young MacGuffin is the local accent - what Gavin would call 'teuchtar', also known as the Doric dialect. As the voice actor Kevin McKidd notes: "People in the North East of Scotland will be the only people on the planet who understand what Young MacGuffin is saying." I can confirm that. I was sitting in a theatre full of guffawing Aberdeenshire locals whilst I looked totally perplexed and only understood every other word - and this is coming from someone who is pretty good with accents. (Hey, I'm from Newcastle. I'm practically an expert in the unintelligible.)

alice xox

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Toy Thursday: LPS Blythes!

The first time I ever saw a Petite Blythe, I thought they were kind of manic-looking and felt intensely relieved that I wouldn't feel the need to collect yet another thing obsessively. (Ho ho ho. Oh, past-me, you underestimated yourself yet again.) I still don't actually own a Takara Petite Blythe, but I do own rather a lot of the adorable LPS Blythes that completely broke my 11.2cm resolve. 

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The LPS Blythes are quite different from the Takara Petites, with most differences basically boiling down to the fact that the LPS ladies are cheaper, and aimed far more at a younger audience than the Takara girls. I don't own a Takara currently, but basically the impression I get is that the Takaras are better quality. There's a super helpful video outlining all the differences you can see here. However, despite their 'cheapness' (which is actually a characteristic I rather like!) the LPS Blythes are still very, very cute.

Christmas Shopping LPS Love

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Affordability has been a major factor in how many of these little ladies I have bought - especially seeing as how TK Maxx in the UK seems to always have a few half price hanging around. I think around 75% of my LPS Blythes were bought there at that kind of discount. It adds up! There are so many awesome releases and I don't think I can say no to a single one of them. (You can see a full release list on this Flickr group. An up-to-date list of my own modest LPS family is on their Flickr set.)

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One downside of the LPS ladies - which certainly doesn't seem to be stopping anyone - is that they're slightly more resistant to customising. Unlike the Takaras, their head is one solid piece of plastic, which makes rerooting and eye changing potentially that bit more of a chore (though - not impossible.) I'm currently working on an LPS reroot myself, so watch this space! Although, the LPS ladies already come in such a variety of hair colours, there's not any particular need - I just like rerooting. (Edited to add: Please check out the comments down below re: customisability from some people who know a lot more than I've picked up from a few youtube videos and photos!)

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My LPS hero is Care, whose photostream, blog and etsy shop you should definitely have a bit of lurk on! She makes the most amazing LPS/Petite clothes that I absolutely love (see above photo) and can't even begin to imagine making anything that small so beautifully. Plus, she has an LPS family I can but aspire to. One day... ;)

Remembrance Sunday     Yay for Autumn!

alice xox

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Goodbye, London 2012!

Tonight, London 2012 is officially over! As I watch the closing ceremony, I thought I'd share some of the photos I took from my Olympic adventures last Wednesday. Most Olympic tickets sold here in the UK were sold by a sort of draw - and we were lucky enough to draw tickets for some evening athletics! 





Not quite as dedicated as the men in the photo above, but I made the effort!

  


I don't really have the equipment (or skill!) to take sports photography of this sort, especially from where I was sitting - but, I gave it a shot. It's pretty cool to have them as a souvenir, if nothing else! Although it was awesome to get to see athletes like Bolt and Blake in action, what I really liked what how many women's events we were able to see in the evening we were there. Even in the Olympics, I do still feel like the men's events overshadow the ladies quite a bit.

Top left: Women's 1500m semi-finals, top right: Yohan Blake in the 200m semi-finals, bottom left: Usain Bolt in the 200m semi finals, bottom right: Allyson Felix, winner of 200m

Top and bottom left: men's decathlon high jump, top right: 110m hurdles semi-final, bottom right: Usain Bolt greeting crowd before 200m semi-finals

It's been a pretty awesome couple of weeks, and I've really enjoyed watching all the events. (My favourite moment being Murray beating Federer to gold - after the heartbreak of Wimbledon it was just too perfect.) I'm so happy I was able to actually go there, as it is potentially a once in a lifetime thing to see the Games in your own country. Knowing this, I've squished any inner cynicism I may have had and just tried to enjoy it all as much as I can! :)

Well, I guess now it's back to worrying about the economy and politicians. It's been a lovely break, Olympics. See you in four years!

alice xox

ps. a little something else, if you promise not to laugh at my strangely masculine bellow (I'd been yelling and screaming all evening!)  - a short video I took for fun of one of the mexican waves going round the stadium. So much fun! Click here to see the video. :)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Toy Thursday: My Little Pony Blind Bags

I may have mentioned this before... but I have a problem with blind bags. My newest problem - MLP blind bags - is 100% my friend Jasmine's fault, as she was kind enough to send me a duplicate Twilight Sparkle, who she explained heard I had 'ruins and cool books and things' and wanted to come live with me. Truly, a pony after my own heart. :')

Ponies at Bolton!

I took Twilight to her first medieval ruin (but not, I hope, her last) when we visited Bolton Abbey.  As you can see, she had already acquired a friend. The family sort of... continued to expand after that, due to some incredible enabling from Gavin. They are so, so adorable 


Rainbow Dash is my favourite from the animated series. Gavin and I were stood in Hamley's for ages systematically going through the packets and checking codes to make sure we got the ponies we want. (If you're interested, this site is super helpful once you know which wave you're dealing with.) I wanted Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, but all the Pinkies were gone, boooo. 


I love Bitta Luck, because pink and green is one of the most underrated colour combinations. She's super cute!


Fluttershy is Gavin's favourite from the series, and so this little one is officially his. She's just rooming with my ponies for the time being. ;)

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If someone can teach me how to say no to a tiny bag full of adorable that only costs a couple of pounds, please do get in touch. Well, after I've found Pinkie. And Applejack. And Rainbow Shine. And Sea Swirl. And Noteworthy. And Cherry Berry...

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... maybe I should just give in and accept that I need them all?

alice xox

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

WIP Wednesday: Luna Scarf

I now have a completed pair of winter mitts all ready and waiting for the autumn! I've started working on a matching scarf with the silk twist I have left.


Here's a little sneak peak - scarves never look very impressive until they're finished, so I figured a small close up is the best way to hide my measly progress. (They're so long!) This is another Rowan pattern: Luna Scarf, and it's a really simple pattern that knits up wonderfully. It has quite a lot of open space, so it probably won't look its best until after I block it. I'll be sure to post photos of it in all its finished glory - but don't, er, hold your breath for that being anytime soon. Scarves seem to take me forever.

In other news, as this entry is being posted by the magical internal workings of blogger, I will be in the Olympic stadium watching the athletics! (I'll be the girl in the Union Jack tights with general manic expression jumping up and down like a loon.) I'm so excited!

alice xox