vrijdag 18 november 2011

Ponies Against Plastic

I was really happy this week as I found a new pony!!! please meet Blossomforth, pictured on the right. To be honest I think she looks kind of dopey, but I am really happy to have her. One more pony of wave 3 to go!
However, after I purchased her, I was once again confronted with the horrible task of deboxing her. Now don't get me wrong; unwrapping a new addition to my collection is always fun and exciting, and I'm sure that collectors everywhere can agree with me that it's one of the best parts of collecting!
It's a horrible task, however, because Hasbro uses entirely too much plastic and other packaging material to keep her boxed. In the box, the toy is stuck in plastic to keep her and her accessories in place, which is held to the cardboard back by another plastic cover. If this wasn't enough, her hair is tied in a plastic wrapper as well and the comb is stuck in yet another piece of plastic, and her tail and a part of her mane are also held together by a rubber band.
All of this is waste, as it's impossible to take the toy out and to save the packaging so you can put her back in
for storage or display, as is the case with some Japanese statues and PVC figures. So basically, for one little pony, there's a large pile of waste that will have to be thrown away. While the cardboard can be easily recycled (and is of some value to some collectors), the plastic is horrible for the environment (think, for example, about the Plastic Soup that exists in our oceans)and has little to no value.
What's more, this way of packaging is potentially harmful as the plastic used is often sharp and  if you're not careful you can really hurt yourself (I know I did a couple of times), even as an experienced collector or adult. Imagine a child opening this! They can get hurt on the rough edges of the plastic or even swallow the little pieces.
In my opinion, this has to change. These toys are made for the next generation and carry out an amazingly positive message (Friendship, caring, be yourself, take care of your environment) but the way they are packaged is very damaging for the environment which the next generation needs as much as we do, and toys carry out an important message to children. There's absolutely no way Hasbro can justify wasting this much in this age where it's becoming increasingly clear we need to conserve our beautiful planet. Companies like Lego have already decided to drastically reduce the impact their packaging has on the planet.
I'm actually planning to start a campaign to convince Hasbro to reduce the amount of waste on their products. The recent Brony movement is incredibly creative and vocal and I'm sure that if this is combined with the creativity and care of the collector community, we can convince Hasbro in a fun and engaging way that we care about and love their product but that we would love to see them reduce the waste it creates so we don't hurt both ourselves and the planet!!!

zondag 6 november 2011

Nanowrimo, week 1.

Yes yes I know, this is only the sixth day of Nano so "week one" doesn't really make sense yet, but as I just crossed the 10.000 word mark I decided it was time for a little blog-rant-update after all. I have just finished chapter 345 and am one/third into chapter 346. So far writing is going well enough - not as well as last year, but as I have lots of things going on in my life (which is also the reason I delayed updating RD the past couple of months from once every week to once every two weeks, but more on that later) I am rather pleased I have made it so far already.
The chapters so far have focused mostly on one character (3 of the 5 chapters I have finished have been written from her POV). This is mostly because of her intense storyline; I had planned this to be a part of the end of part four originally, but it didn't quite fit so I moved it to the start of part five. The result is that part five jumps into action a lot faster than any previous part; things start happening quite soon which is quite different from the other parts but also makes the story more engaging. There's nobody I need to introduce and everyone's position in the story is clear. I really like this style more than endless introductions of new characters which I kind of overdid in the early days of RD. Anyway, enough cryptic talk about upcoming chapters of RD; you'll all get to read them soon enough anyway.
What is most surprising to me in this year's Nanowrimo is that I'm beginning to look forward to starting new adventures with other characters in different worlds. Don't get me wrong; I love the world I created with RD and I love writing it, but now that the end is coming closer, I find myself wandering to different places more often. There's so many other stories I want to tell and so many characters who are dying to share their adventures! I really hope that with next year's nano I can start a new story, but there's 54 chapters waiting to be finished before that can happen.
On the subject of updating the site: I am planning to resume weekly updates in December, so expect weekly updates December 2nd onwards. I have quite a bit of backup already but I want to make sure I can make even more so that I have something to read for you all even when real life is causing me to not write for a while.
And now I'm going to catch a little break from writing by taking out my gen3 ponies. I have completely lost touch with my MLP collection (more on this in a future blog post, I'm sure) because they've all been stashed away except for a lucky few, and I want to reconnect with what I already have!

zondag 30 oktober 2011

The End is coming closer...

Yesterday evening I finished the last chapter of part 4 of Royal Destiny, and I also wrote the Epilogue. When I had finished that, I realized that this was the last Epilogue I was going to write for RD, ever, as part 5 doesn't have one.
It took me a while to realize this was the first "the last one" I have written for RD. Only sixty chapters are remaining which will keep me occupied for a while still, but after that it's done. After eight years, RD is finally coming to an end.
I'm happy with the way Part 4 turned out. I made up most of this story as an adult (I had a general outline for parts 4-5 from my childhood, but that was really vague and I ended up removing quite a lot of stuff, except for the very end of part 5, and I redid most of it) unlike parts 1-3 which were heavily based on what I had come up with when I was 14. This meant the tone of part 4 was quite different; there wasn't a general bad guy or threat that had to be vanquished, it focused mainly on the main characters and their personal problems, and the effects of their actions on others. I really like this way of writing more, to be honest; it allows for more character development and more interesting plot lines.
Part 4 and 5 are heavily related to each other, even more so than the other parts were. Part 4 was mostly the setup for what will happen in part 5, where all the storylines will come together. This meant that at the end of part four not much is resolved yet, but I hope I managed to give an ending to the part none the less, because the events at the end of part 4 will be a turning point in the story.
So what's in store for part 5? Of course, it'll be the end of RD, so you'll get a lot of answers and closure. The characters will be revisiting old places and you'll get to discover a bunch of new ones still. Also, there will be a new POV character. She'll be the POV for the end of part 4 as well. Can you guess who it will be? I hope you will all stick around with me until the end of RD and I really, really hope you will enjoy the final part!!!

I'm going to write a large part of part 5 in Nanowrimo, so look forward to hearing me rant about writing struggles as well!

Also, the picture at the top of this post is an insert drawing for chapter "The Mysterious Pony" (Princess Awakening, chapter 81). 3 insert drawings will be added to each part eventually! I'm really looking forward to what Lunacat will make! If this picture is any indication, I'm sure it'll be -amazing-!

dinsdag 18 oktober 2011

Colorful inspiration

It's probably no big secret to my readers that My Little Pony has always been (and still is) a great inspiration for me. These innocent and colorful ponies always manage to make me calm and help me relax so that I can go to that silly inner place where stories come from. In contrast, my pullips always make me more excited and I want to show them off in photographs, telling their stories through pictures instead of words.
My Little Pony is a wonderful brand that is reaching out to a lot of different people; not just little girls and collectors, but also to a new audience of young people, mostly boys, who are greatly inspired to not only make awesome artwork but also write an amazing amount of My Little Pony fanfiction. I think it's amazing that these little toys have touched so many people!

The current My Little Pony line (gen4) has never inspired me to write, however. My Royal Destiny is very different in setting and tone than the Friendship is Magic television show (which I completely love, don't get me wrong), and the toys don't really represent the kind of characters I would love to write about, be it in RD or another setting. While the show's characters are awesome, I don't particularly like to write fanfiction with characters that are made up by someone else; all the characters in Royal Destiny are of my own creation and I love that I can just make them grow in whatever direction they're moving into without having to take someone else's ideas into consideration. I do have a great amount of respect for people who can write fanfiction like that and pull it off nicely; it's hard to take a character and write your own story while still remaining true to the character someone else created.

That doesn't mean that the gen4 ponies don't inspire me to any creativity, however. Oddly enough I absolutely love photographing them! I never really liked this with older ponies, because My Little Ponies are really quite static; it's hard to have them express any kind of emotion as you can't move their limbs or eyes like you can with dolls like Pullip and Monster High. The gen4 ponies, however, seem to have more of a personality to each individual pony (I think it's because of their eyes) so it's more fun to take pictures of them in different settings. It would be nice if a wider variety of ponies would be released instead of just ponies in the same pose in different colors (what I'd do for boy ponies!), but that's maybe something for next year. I'm already happy enough that I can go to toy stores hoping that they have a new pony I want to have; that's something I haven't been able to do in over 2 years after all!

zondag 9 oktober 2011

The dark abyss...

Hi all!

Wow, I know, it's been ages since I last posted on this blog. I got a new job which took a lot of my time and I had some personal stuff going on which totally took my mind off blogging. I'm back, though! I hope things have finally settled down a little bit.

Like last year, I decided to participate in Nanowrimo this year. I even took a week off to do just that! Like last year, I will use it to write more RD. My goal is to finish part 4 before November (only 5 chapters left, so that should be doable) so I can make a fresh start on part five and hopefully get a large chunk of it done so I can get back to updating RD once a week again.

I will use this blog during Nanowrimo to ramble about my writing progress and to sometimes distract myself with other fun toys!

Also, I will make a post soon on all my new dolls that I've gotten since I last updated this blog!

zaterdag 18 juni 2011

Royal Destiny Cover!

Here it is, the Royal Destiny cover for the main page of the Royal Destiny site!!! Lunacat finished it yesterday evening. I don't even know how to begin to thank her because it is beyond what I could have possibly expected. Thank you Lunacat, thank you so, so much!!!!

As you can see, the cover isn't really a scene from the book but a collage from several characters. Aras and Taira are the most prominent of course, with the five guardians in the sky in front of the moon. I seriously love Taira's expression - it is exactly like I imagined it in the story when she realizes what Aras has done to her. Aras looks like his evil self, of course. I especially love the details on his wings.
I'm glad the guardians in the sky remained so vague and distant. It's how they are in the story as well. If you look closely you can make out small details between them though!
At the bottom you have the breach, of course. On the right you can see Twinkle Star with her adoptive daughter Câlin and on the other side are Takato and Ruki. Twinkle Star needs no explanation of course. I always really loved writing about her special relationship with Câlin and I'm happy it comes across in this drawing so well, you can really feel the attachment between the two ponies.
And Ruki... What can I say? My beloved little girl looks so amazing. Her sad and cold expression match how she feels in part 2 and 3 so well!!! I especially love how wild and unattended her mane looks. It's such a great little detail. Takato is his proud young self of course. I love how Ruki clings to him.

So yes, if you didn't catch it yet, I LOVE the cover! It's up on the main site now of course, and so is the cover of part 5 (tho there's not much to see yet otherwise on the part 5 page). I'm writing chapter 329 right now, which only just got its name changed. I'm getting close to the end of part 4 which I promise will be a lot of fun (can't wait to write it!). And then it's on to part 5... I can't believe it's the final part of RD!

woensdag 15 juni 2011

A bed of roses...

You know, one of the things I love most about my pullips is making them things like clothes and furniture. It's just a lot of fun to make them dresses I would -never- wear myself or to give them a room that I would never live in. It's just a nice way of expressing yourself in ways you wouldn't do otherwise. Making these things yourself instead of just buying them on the internet somewhere means your things will be completely original and a lot cheaper, as doll clothes tend to be extremely expensive.

That being said, I'm absolutely no good at making clothes. I have plenty of brilliant ideas, but to make them work with real fabric requires a kind of skill and patience I simply don't have (and a sewing machine would help). I did make my dolls some clothes, especially back when I first got my first few dolls, but I ended up buying them most of their wardrobe because the things I made simply didn't look all that good.

So I was a bit reluctant to try out Knottykitty's tutorial on making an infinity dress. She claimed it was super easy and as I have loads and loads and loads of fabric lying around still I figured why not?
So here's Raia showing off the result. For something that requires so little effort, I think it looks pretty well! I really know where to pay attention next time so I hope my next effort will look even better. I actually quite enjoyed making the dress. I should do things like this more often but alas, so little time.

On a slightly unrelated note: I know I am a week behind on the Magic Chronicles, but I've been a bit sick and didn't have the energy to make new episodes. Hopefully I'll be able to make a new ep this weekend.

maandag 6 juni 2011

Rainbow Forest update

I finally found time to get back to working on the new gen2 site again! Now the coding for the site still isn't finished yet so I'm still kind of limited in what I can uploade to the site for now, but it's good to get back into things.
I uploaded some ponies over the weekend (especially in the later years, some royal ladies, some princesses) and I was kind of shocked at how bad the quality of the pictures was. I took them with my older camera. I managed to photoshop some into looking better. Thankfully I now have access to an amazing DSLR camera (and hopefully I'll have my own soon!!!) so I can make better pictures. The ponies above are waiting to be photographed and expect these to have higher quality pictures on their profiles. I hope I can get them on the new site today or tomorrow.

As for the new features: we're still working on a lot of things. An advanced search will be implemented where you can search on, for example, colour or symbol. There will also be more general information like an overview of each year at the top of each year page. I can't spoil much more, but it will be great!

So feel free to look around the beta site! Just make sure to keep in mind that a lot of things are still either missing or not working. Of course I'm always open to suggestions and questions so do let me know if anything comes to mind!

Also, I am looking for people willing to help on a few parts of the site I can't write myself (such as tutorials on, for example, replacing eye gems), so if you think you have something that can contribute to the site, do let me know!

donderdag 2 juni 2011

Review: Monster High Gloom Beach Draculaura

Finally, after wanting one for like a year, I got my first Monster High doll! I finally cracked and ordered two online. Of course 2 days later I find out they're actually getting released here as well (only took them a year...) but that's okay because I love this line and there's plenty more that I want!

So here she is, my first MH doll: Gloom Beach Draculaura. She came with everything you see in this picture (and a stand and a card with a cute text from this girl to another MH character, Lagoona), which isn't that much, I know. I'm sure the normal releases come with more items (and a cute pet) but I guess for a cheaper re-release with a beach theme it's okay. I would have liked a little towel or so too, though; would have made it a bit more complete. All her items are of proper quality, which is nice for a play line doll.
When I took her out of her box the first thing I noticed was that her hair is very soft and of great quality, something which both play line and collector dolls don't always have. It's easy to style and to play around with a bit. I really like the pink touch in her hair. Her bangs have glue in them to make them stay in place, though. I'm not sure what to think of this. It does help in keeping your doll displayed nicely, but I can imagine this becoming icky when played with. I'm also not sure how it'll look if I wash it out so I'll keep it in for now.
Her faceup is pretty detailed although I do think these dolls have entirely too much makeup, but that seems to be a problem with more playline dolls these days (Moxie Girlz, for example). I like the expression on her face and how close it matches the cartoon Draculaura. You can tell they put an effort in the face mold (I've been told each of these dolls have a unique one, which is great!). Her vampire teeth are painted on but that suits me just fine, I think molded ones would have looked pretty weird.
Her body is a bit cheaper than her face; the joints are sometimes pretty rough and she's not as flexible as most collector dolls I've seen, but then once again this is a play line doll meant for kids so it's not supposed to be delicate. What I really do love is her hands; they're in a great and life-like position so you can create all kinds of wonderful poses for her with them. I think her torso is waaaaaay too thin but it does fit the style of these dolls. They're not meant to be realistic. Still, for a playline doll I can't help but wonder what kind of message this will give to kids playing with them, especially combined with all the makeup.
Her feet are a bit weird; they're positioned in such a way that you can't really put her down without shoes as they're made to fit these insane high-heeled shoes. Don't get me wrong I like her shoes (I love how the colors of the straps are reversed) but I would've also liked for her to be able to walk barefoot (especially for a beach-themed doll). Also the box said she can't stand on her own but she totally can with some effort, which is a fun little bonus.
Overall, I'm really pleased with this doll and I'm sure I'll get some more of this line. I'm not sure if I'll get regular Draculaura as well, I'll have to see her in person in order to decide that. Meanwhile I also have Gloom Beach Frankie Stein here and I am planning on getting a Ghoulia, Lagoona Blue and someother version of Cleo de Nile but I haven't figured out yet which version of her I like the most. I really do recommend this line if you're looking for some fantasy dolls with a fun franchise (really, go check out the webisodes on the official website)!

zondag 29 mei 2011

Royal Destiny 5th cover!

So I decided to dedicate my first "real" post on this blog with a scoop: a wonderful piece of art that Lunacat has recently finished for Royal destiny. If you don't know Lunacat, she's the artist who drew all the ponies (and much more) for Pony Island and the author of Worlds Apart, an amazing piece of MLP fiction. She's also the artist who drew all of the illustrations on the Royal Destiny site such as the cover pictures on top of each part. She'll do some amazing other drawings soon as well, but those will remain a secret for a bit longer!

Anyway, as I am close to finishing part 4, I asked Lunacat to draw the cover picture for part 5, The Daylight Star, and she outdid herself once again!

I absolutely love it. The ponies are, of course, Caleantha in the background and Asteria, Firian and Meran in the foreground. Now I won't go into detail about this particular scene yet (considering it would spoil a lot), but I chose it for the cover drawing because of the symbolic meaning. I'm sure it'll be clear in time what I mean by that (and if you read RD, I'm sure you can figure out some things already).
This might actually be the only cover that is not an accurate picture of a scene as I'm not sure if things will be like this in the story (in fact, I'm pretty sure they won't be), but I felt it was important to put it in one picture like this anyway (it's more like a combination of two scenes).
I especially love how Meran looks in this picture. It's so accurate compared with how I picture her in my mind, I couldn't be more pleased. Not that the other ponies aren't accurate, because they are; Lunacat's ability to capture my characters is simply amazing. But when I saw Meran for the first time in this picture I immediately thought yes, that's my girl.

I'll upload the drawing to the website soon. Don't worry though, this won't be the last piece of art related to Royal Destiny for sure!!

zaterdag 28 mei 2011

About this blog

So, first post on my new blog! Why a second blog, you wonder? Well, I wanted to have a bit more clarity on what my blogs were for. The other blog was so obviously about two different subjects (the city I live in/work/photography and my toy collection hobby/related writing) that I decided to just split it up for clarity.

So here it is, my toy collection blog! What will this be about, you wonder? Well, first of all, of course, my toy collection. I am really passionate about both vintage and modern toy lines, and I love to talk a bit about them, so I'll be reviewing toys in my collection here (or things I really want but that aren't out yet/ I can't afford/ whatever). Toys that I collect include My Little Pony (all generations really), plush toys of all kinds, Pullips (and related lines like Taeyang and Isul), Moxie girlz and more recently Monster High toys. Of course this doesn't mean I won't look at other toy lines, but these will be the core of my blog.

Second, I will use this blog to write about my story, Royal Destiny. As that story was completely inspired by toys, I figured it'd fit in better here. I will also post here about my picfic The Magic Chronicles which can be read at Pullip Fiction.

I also might be a bit philosophical sometimes and go into the hows and the whys of toy collecting. I do realize some people find it weird that adults collect toys (let alone play with them!) but for me it's a very natural thing to do, and I really would like to explain and discuss this.

Of course my other blog won't cease to exist but it will focus more on photography, music and hopefully in the near future my non-toy related writing.

Well, I'm looking forward to writing more about my collecting and writing!