Teh Old School

Teh Old School

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

7 Ways to Help You Get the Best Deals at Conventions

This is what today felt like...except no Totoro...and no Cat Bus...

So quite often I get asked by how I am able to afford my manga and anime memorabilia collection. I have around 400 volumes of manga, 35 anime series (the majority of which are complete), 70-80 figurines, in addition to t-shirts, cds, keychains, etc. When I tell people, they usually say “How the HECK are you able to afford all that?” So  I’ve decided to give away some of my secrets.
There is one important thing that I want to make clear: I obtained everything in my collection LEGALLY! I do not support bootlegs, illegal downloading, or any instance where someone is taking something without paying for it…it is stealing! That’s my opinion but I have friends in the business and it’s not fair to the people who put their whole careers into making great things. It’s just the same if someone copied your paper in class and got the credit for it. You’d be pretty pissed.  I am here to give you advice on how to get the best deals, not on how to get handouts. I’ve been taught from a young age that if you want something, you work hard and earn it! I’ve worked to earn this collection, which makes me so proud of having it!
Knowing how to navigate a Dealer’s Room is very important to the experience. When I went into my first Dealer’s Room, I had complete sensory overload. There are sooo many things and such a variety of merchandise that it can be very overwhelming. Remember too that the whole point of a convention is to have fun, and a Dealer’s Room is an attribute of the convention, so it should be fun too! 
So without further adieu, here are some things that I’ve learned over the years attending conventions. Because I usually attend anime conventions, so I will reference anime/manga items throughout. However, these ideas can be applied to similar conventions.

There is a reason why conventions post links and information about dealer’s on their website, and it’s not just for advertising. It’s so you can learn more about the dealers and types of merchandise that are going to be in the dealer’s room.
Every dealer is going to be different. Some focus on selling manga and dvds, while others sell wall scrolls, towels, t-shirts, figurines, keychains, and a plethora of other merchandise. Check out the websites of the dealers and see what they have available, and take not of where they seem to have their focus on. Just because dealers sell a lot of one product doesn’t mean that’s where their best deals lie.
 Take a good look around the websites, and determine what you really like buying at conventions, and take notes of the names of those dealers/businesses. *NOTE: Sometimes the merchandise on their website isn’t exactly the same as what they have available at the convention. Dealer’s make active choices on what to bring in order to maximize sales, since they do put a lot into coming to conventions (travel and housing expenses, cost of selling at the convention). However, these will give you a general idea on where you should be looking.

It sounds silly, but it works! Deviate a section of money specifically for if you want to purchase things at the convention. This should be separate from all your other funds, and should be something that you focus on after you have money to actually get to the convention and stay there. Make sure you can pay for the trip before you decide how much you want to spend shopping.
An important side note on this is your Dealer’s room (and Artist Alley budget if you include that in there) should be COMPLETELY SEPARATE FROM YOUR FOOD BUDGET. I have had a situation where I spent too much money shopping, and then had to pull out extra funds to pay for a run through McDonald’s. I strongly suggest bringing your own food for your hotel room, and maybe allocating for one off-site meal per day or so. This way you’re not eating completely out of the Con Suite. While I agree the Con Suite is fun for getting snacks, you do not want to have to deal with your own stomach after eating and drinking only Mountain Dew and rice all weekend. Trust me – I speak from experience.
I tend to keep to it like if you were to go gambling – take a limited amount of funds in cash, and when you’ve spend it, no more shopping. Many dealers still do not accept credit cards, so it’s difficult to pay with anything but cash. Plus with cash, you can visually see how much you have left, as opposed to having to check your bank account. Some form of a budget, no matter what amount, will keep you from spending beyond what you have.

By buying at a convention, you can still save, mainly on shipping. Shipping can get very expensive depending on the size and weight on the item, so if you want that large statue of Sephiroth, and you have the means within your budget, buy it! Save yourself the cost of the shipping if you change your mind after the convention.
One of my favorite things to stock up on at conventions is MANGA! Dealers have killer deals on thinks like manga, and even bulk anime. When you go to a dealer, don’t be afraid to ask what deals they have for that day or the weekend, and they are usually happy to tell you. There’s a dealer I frequent at conventions that usually sell manga for 20-30% cheaper than at normal bookstores, and there are others that will give you a free manga if you purchase a certain amount. You usually can get 2-3 manga free with deals like that. I still go to bookstores to pick up manga in between conventions, but conventions are the best place if you want to buy a whole or stock up on a variety of series.
Dealers also tend to run deals at the last day of a convention. It’s a lot of work for dealers to bring their merchandise back, and the less they bring back, the better. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have any deals for the last day of a convention. However, be respectful of dealers in these situations, since you should be respectful to them at all times in the first place.
*NOTE: Beware of Bootleg items. I have yet to deal with bootleggers, but make sure to educate yourself about bootleg dealers, both at conventions and on the internet. Conventions also have panels about bootleg items and how to identify them, a source I recommend taking advantage of. General rule: you are not obligated to buy anything, so if you feel weary of a product, don’t buy it!

This is not Black Friday, so don’t run in like a crazed maniac (yes..yes it is fun, though). Take a good look at the dealers, and walk around and enjoy the merchandise. Once you have had a good look, you can begin your shopping experience. Too many times have I seen people start spending their money before they’ve had a good look around, and then they’re disappointed when they’ve already spent most of their money and they find something that they’ve been looking for for a long time.
Usually I take a good look around, go off and do something, and then come back. I’ve also found that Saturday afternoon shopping is the best time to go. It’s the time where people usually go to grab lunch or a quick nap, so the Dealer’s Room isn’t as crowded as it normally is. Toward the end of a convention is also another good time to go shopping.
Diagram of Dealer's Room moments after opening...

Dealer’s are very well informed on their product. They know exactly what their product is and the deals that they have because that’s their job! Don’t be afraid to converse with dealers, as many I have met are very nice and more than happy to converse with you on anything from their merchandise to their favorite shows and video games. You can learn a lot from a dealer, even if you don’t necessarily buy from them. I’ve purchased from a lot of dealer’s because they’re passionate about their merchandise and are well informed.
Another part of communicating with dealers is that sometimes they don’t have all their merchandise out. If you ask them about a particular series, in many cases they can show you merchandise that isn’t out on their tables. If you’re looking for a particular series or character, just ask! Someone I know when to a dealer and bought a whole bunch of stuff from them just by asking about a certain series, and the dealer had half a box of merchandise that he didn’t have room for on his table.
Communicating with a dealer also includes haggling. I’ve found that dealers in many cases are open to haggling, especially if you are buying in bulk. *NOTE: Use caution when haggling, and feel out whether or not the dealer is willing to haggle over price. If they have a great deal they’re offering already on an item, it is incredibly rude to try and haggle it down further. If they say “No”, understand that it is their decision, and you should be respectful of the offer that they give you on the item. Building a good relationship with the people you are buying from is not only a good way to get the best information on deals, but it’s a great way to make friends. I’ve met dealers that I talk to outside of conventions because their service and friendliness was above and beyond what I had expected.
Respect is another important component of working with people in the Artist’s Alley. These people work hard on their craft and they should be given proper respect for their work. Again be respectful of haggling over price. If the artist has a set of prices on commission work, don’t argue. By asking the artist what they are giving deals/specials on, you can create a positive dialogue with them. These people do beautiful work and put a lot of hours into their product. Give them the credit they deserve!

You never know what will happen on the way home, so try and always come out with a little leftover. I usually try and aim to leave with $30-40 in my pocket. One reason is that conventions run next year’s registration super cheap. The money you save from shopping can go towards your registration for the next year, and then you don’t have to remember about registering down the road. Besides, you can usually save around $15-20 by registering early.
In addition, if you have any issues on the way home, you have money in reserve. It can be used to pay for gas, food, etc. Otherwise, use it to pay bills or start saving for next year’s convention with the extra money as your base. Besides, it will make you feel better about what you did spend and that you can get back to real life with as few financial road bumps as possible.

Aaaaand finally….

This is your time at the convention, so you do what you want to do with it. The number one person who impacts your experience at a convention is YOU! So make sure to have fun, make some great memories, and find some great stuff to take home!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Godzilla Awards!

It's time! The lights are set, the giant monster size appetizers and glasses of champagne are set, and it's time to get down to business with the Godzilla Awards!!

Before I get into anything, this is my opinion. You as the reader are completely entitled to your own opinion, and if you disagree with me that’s perfectly fine. There are tons of lists out there with favorites of every subject imaginable, and many times they’re never the same. But that’s half the fun is seeing what everyone else comes up with!
Let’s begin, shall we?

OLD SCHOOL AWARD                                                                                                     

Godzilla (1954): Shōwa Series

Seriously, what’s better than the original? Even though I only have the heavily Americanized version, I wanted to give this movie some credit. This movie was the beginning, even though the 1956 movie with Raymond Burr overshadowed this original, it is still the original. Godzilla isn’t yet the protector of Tokyo, attacking monsters more terrifying than himself: he IS the terrifying monster!
This movie also introduces one important piece: the oxygen destroyer. This is what is planted to kill Godzilla in this movie. Well…kill isn’t really the word…but you know what I mean. Anyways, this piece is important because it is the basis for the monster Destroyah. It is the one thing that is actually a threat to Godzilla.
I want to give credit where credit is due. The Americanized version (Godzilla: King of All Monsters, released in 1956), is largely responsible for introducing Godzilla to a wider audience, and helped make him the most recognized daikaiju, well, ever! However, it’s just not as old school as this movie is.

SEE YOU IN HELL AWARD                                                                                                     

Destroy All Monsters (1968): Shōwa Series

Ever had a family reunion or a large graduation party where everyone comes together? This is that movie, and I never get tired of it because it’s my favorite movie to see all the classic monsters in addition to the second-most classic monsters. It’s also considered the last of the classic Shōwa movies, and a time where Godzilla begins his transition from the destroyer to the protector.
The monsters are all confided on Monster Island, where they are kept from humans and also researched. However, when an alien race called the Kilaaks come to destroy earth and release them, they begin attacking major cities, including Beijing, Paris, Moscow, and New York. However, they soon realize that their enemy is not the humans, but the aliens, who are controlling King Ghidorah.
Move the right foot...the RIGHT!!

This movie also has the most monsters, featuring Godzilla, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, Kumonga, Manda, Baragon, Varan, and King Ghidorah. This coupled with the plotline about the aliens really makes for some fun times. It is the movie that really lets it be about the monsters.
In addition, I honestly don’t get tired of watching this movie. I could watch it over and over again without getting tired of seeing all of my favorite monsters battling it out. Even though I don’t really believe in Hell, this is the movie I hope would be on loop if there was.
Hopefully hell won't have this much sparkly alien fabric, however.

BEST ENEMY AWARD                                                                                               

Godzilla Vs. Biollante (1989): Heisei Series

I absolutely love the organic nature of this character (she is a plant anyway). And yes, I mean a SHE, since she is the combination of Godzilla cells, rose cells, and the cells of the deceased daughter of the mad scientist who creates Biollante. She is also like Hedorah (Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster), Destroyah and Mothra where she actually evolves into new forms throughout the movie.
Can YOU guess my weak point?!

She’s not just a monster, she has the emotions and psychic energy of the human that she was created with. The battle scenes with her vine tendrils are really cool, and overall she has a cool design. In addition, her cry is one of the most memorable; it reminds me of a banshee.
This movie also begins to ask more of its viewers. Most of the monsters come from either outer space or under magical circumstances, but not from a combination of a human and a monster. Godzilla even seems to recognize that they are both the same monster, since they share the same cells. This movie also looks into the world of the psychic, and combines that magical element with science to create Biollante.
Overall the Heisei series is where even though Godzilla is becoming for of a protector, he is still the enemy according to the humans. While Godzilla is fighting his enemy (the enemy of earth), the humans are trying to destroy their “protector”. The relationship between humans and Godzilla begins to deepen, especially since the monster he fights in this movie is part human herself. The originality of this creature and her design concept made her a “natural” choice.

HUMANS FIGHT BACK AWARD                                                                              
Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla (1994): Heisei Series

There are a lot of elements that make this movie worth watching, but for once, THE HUMANS AREN’T LAME!! There are a lot of Godzilla movies where the humans become awfully boring halfway through the movie. This one…they have the M.O.G.E.R.A. (Mobile Operation Godzilla Expert Robo Aero-Type), one of the few machines made by the humans that is ever able to withstand against Godzilla. The team that operates it creates another dimension to the humans that are battling Godzilla. In addition, you have the psychic, Miki Saegusa, who is chosen for Project T, which attempts to control Godzilla using her psychic powers along with technology that they’ve developed.
This movie is just a fun adventure, even though Space Godzilla is somewhat simplistic in his concept (though those giant crystal shoulder pads are quite spiff). This movie also includes Mothra, and my favorite version of Godzilla’s son, in this version called LittleGodzilla.
Wait...wait I've seen this before...


Unfortunately this movie is pretty flat in regards to the plot and the originality of the character, but epic battle scenes and probably the cutest version of Godzilla’s son to date.

Tissue Box Award                                                                                                     
Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995): Heisei Series
The only other movie I can think that made me cry this hard is either Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or Marley and Me. This is the death of the Godzilla from the Heisei series and the succession of his son, who has since evolved from Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.
Holy @#*&%!!
Destoroyah is created by the same machine that killed Godzilla: the oxygen destroyer (hence the name Destoroyah). This movie is the end of the Heisei Series, and the beginning of the new Godzilla. It makes me sad because Godzilla is genuinely heartbroken when he appears unable to save his son, but continues to fight against Destoroyah regardless. In few movies do we see Godzilla reacting in such a way (he does have some fatherly characteristics in Son of Godzilla) but we never see his emotions come out this much in battle. Godzilla becomes more than a monster – he is a wounded father facing death either from Destoroyah or from his internal body temperature becoming too high and causing him to melt down like a nuclear reactor.
Even though Godzilla Junior survives, it is the end of the Godzilla that I had been following for the majority of my childhood. The Godzilla Millennium Series hadn’t begun, so I didn’t know what the future would hold for my daikaiju friends.
This is the only time where the battle was more serious than just a special effects and stunt show. These two monsters are actually fighting for their lives, and in the end, one of them fails to return from battle. This emotion contained in the movie was what eventually lead to me needing a tissue box.

And there you have it!! These movies are very close to my heart, and writing about them has made me want to watch them all over again. But for now, you should go watch the Tony’s, and help my sister root for Warhorse.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Award Preview!!

This week it’s time to get down into my Godzilla collection and choose what I found to be my favorites, and what I found was a bit troubling. I love all my movies! Even though they have the same premises, they’re all different in their own ways. I also realized that picking just three movies was particularly difficult, so after some pondering I decided that I was going to choose five. Each movie was selected for a particular award. Since it's Saturday, I wanted to give a preview of what these awards are and the criteria for receiving it. Like any award show, you are free to try and guess which movies you think will win!!

He's learning how to dance for the after party...
The awards are:
·         Old school: The award for the Godzilla movie that is the definition of “Old School”. “Old School” is like the difference between the Nintendo 64 and the Wii. The Nintendo 64 is old school cuz it’s the original and…well…old!
·         See You in Hell: The award for the Godzilla movie that I never get tired. I get super excited when I watch it.  It is the equivalent of the movie that you couldn’t stop watching when you were 5 years old (that was Bambi and The Little Mermaid for me, much to my parent’s dismay). If there was a Godzilla movie that would endlessly loop in hell, it would be this one.
·         Best Enemy: The award for the Godzilla movie that has my favorite enemy. This enemy is one that isn’t a classic like Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, Gigan, etc. This one shows up only once.
·         Humans Fight Back: The award for the Godzilla movie that features humans that don’t completely fail at protecting themselves. The humans are able to create something that is able to (temporarily) withstand Godzilla and his enemies’ power.  Besides, anything that resembles Voltron has to be awesome, right?
·         Tissue Box: The award for the Godzilla movie made me cry. If you know me really well, I don’t cry easily. It takes a lot of a movie, book, etc. to make me tear up. But this movie somehow really got me.

Find out tomorrow which one's are chosen!
For now, here's my favorite version of Mothra's Summoning Song from Godzilla vs. Mothra, sung by the Shobijin, also known as the twin faeries.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oh hai!

I've been wanting to start blogging for awhile, but never had the had been in the right place to do so. But now I've decided it's time, so welcome!

I recently graduated from college, and one imporant thing I've learned is about contributing to the community. People don't volunteer/give back to the community enough in my opinion, so I've made it my goal to find a permanent position eventually that allows me to give back while still having an extensive (and hopefully secure) career. If there's one thing I know though, I can trust the chips to fall in the right place, even if it happens in a way that I don't expect.

If you're wondering what daikaijū is, it is the term for Japanese movie monsters, but more specifically - GODZILLA! I saw my first Godzilla movie when I was in elementary school,  and I've been hooked ever since. I have around a dozen movies, including other famous daikaijū like Mothra and Ghidorah, figurines, and even a t-shirt I proudly display.

Manga and anime are also large aspects of my life. I'm currently working my way through Full Metal Alchemist, and just finished Inuyasha (it's considered a life achievement right now). I usually give any series a chance, and am really excited that they are starting to re-release some of the older series. Be ready to hear about Revolutionary Girl Utena sometime in the near future.

My pets include 3 cats and a puppy. They provide endless entertainment and love for my family and I.

I think I've done enough talking about me for now >.<

Tune in for the actual start of my blog next week. Subject: My three favorite Godzilla movies that I have in my collection!

Oyasuminasai! <<Goodnight>>