I don’t get to go out shopping for fun stuff very often, and even when I do, the hauls aren’t always great. But I recently had the opportunity to hit several places in Toronto, and found that I had a pretty good haul, so I decided to share here. Starting from least to greatest…

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I managed to procure a few toys while I was out. The bear Transformer-like “Beast King” figure came from Dollarama, and I decided to go for it because a) I’d heard good things about these, and b) bears rock, and there aren’t enough transforming bears. Quality-wise, it’s not great, but better than some knock-offs. Transformation was a bit stiff at first, and his arms are a bit loose. Not bad, not great, might look good on display.

I also came across a BotShots Optimus Prime on sale at Real Canadian Superstore. I’ve heard great things about BotShots, and finally decided now was the time to get one, as I loved the truck and trailer design here. While great aesthetically, I don’t see what all the fuss is about– or maybe that’s what the fuss is all about. Quality-wise, it’s hard to keep him transformed into vehicle mode, and if I do the launcher transformation, he doesn’t seem to land on his feet. That’s what he’s supposed to do, right?

Then in front, we have a trio from the same plastic bag at Value Village. My wife grabbed these for me due to Garfield, and for about $2 or so, it seemed like a good deal. On the left is Pooh, who is cool, and in the middle is some sort of half-plastic, half-plush Godzilla from the old 1998 movie with Matthew Broderick. This GINO (“Godzilla In Name Only”) is kind of cool, but my wife claimed him and he now resides by her computer.

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Then we have my comic book run! It had been a few months for reasons, but I’ve got a pretty good haul here: From left to right, top to bottom: Three Life with Archie magazines (of which I’ve read two so far), two parts of Archie’s “Worlds Collide” crossover between the Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog comics (that you should really check out), one trade paperback of The Stand (for Nadia), one Sonic Super Digest, five Garfield comics (which I still need to read), and the latest Sonic Super Special magazine.

I just wish I’d been able to pick up some Transformers trades– I’m really falling behind. Not too much more to say on these, save for the fact they were the main reason for going out and about and checking out everything else that day.

Finally, the most interesting part of the haul:

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While we were at Value Village, I took the opportunity to sift through the book section, and did I ever find some goodies! At the top, there are three Garfield storybooks and one comic compilation. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the compilation is in French– I guess I should pay more attention when shopping in a Canadian second-hand store.

Not from Value Village, the middle row here has some promotional material for Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, plus a business card urging people to visit Nintendo of Canada on Facebook. Oh, and some card for an Avengers event– maybe “Age of Ultron” or something, I’m not sure.

The bottom row here, though, this is where it gets good. Two Transformers: Armada storybooks from around 2001 or so, which are okay, and a freaking Superman IV: The Quest for Peace movie storybook. That thing has to be from 1987, and I remember seeing the movie in theatres when I went to see it with a friend. Pity me for that if you wish, but I don’t remember the movie well enough to really warrant it.

On the left there is a Super Mario Advance book. A book on the best version of one of my favorite Mario games? Why yes, I will give you 99 cents for that, Mr. Value Village person I’m making up in my mind as I type this. And gladly, at that.

At first I thought it was just an old guidebook, but the truth turned out to be better still. In the 90s, Nintendo teamed with Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books for a series of “choose your fate” styled Nintendo Adventure Books” based on Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda– a series which, incidentally, I’d love to complete. The books were definitely a product of their time: Kind of cheesy, fun, and offering some grim endings to those who choose incorrectly– like any other “choose your fate” books, really.

Just after the turn of the century, Nintendo partnered with Scholastic to do it again with a line of Game Boy books. This time, however, the books were based on then-recent titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, Wario Land 4, and of course, Super Mario Advance. And let me tell you: These books are bad.

Not even bad in the Worlds of Power “so bad it’s good” sort of way, but bad in the “how do you suck the fun out of great games” way. They’re as bland as fat-free mayo on white bread. I have one of the Zelda books, and it reads almost like an FAQ, right down to Link speaking to someone and just having them repeat the same text over again when he tries to get more information. Wario Land 4 was a bit better, as it was told from the perspective of Wario, and the author tried to have at least a little fun with it.

Super Mario Advance fell right in the middle as I read it. Not bad, but not exciting, either. To its credit, I often recognized where the characters were from the descriptions, and was able to plot a course straight to World 7. I’ll need to give it another go sometime to see if there is a way to actually fail in the story, but it was inoffensive, and the ending was okay for what it was.

All I need now is Oracle of Ages to complete the set. At this point, I might as well, and it’s just one of those things that I do anyway.

Finally, the most bizarre and most interesting thing of all to me is right there in the middle, big and red: A Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guidebook. That in itself would be okay, but checking the date– and sorry, I don’t have it right here, so I’m approximating– it’s from about 1983 or 1984, if memory serves– before Advanced and different versions, if memory serves right. I haven’t played D&D in years, much less ever run a game, but I knew I had to snatch this up. Maybe someone out there will find value in it, but for the moment, I’m holding on to it. It’s like another part of gaming history right here.

Anyway, that’s the story of my haul, and I think this is the first time I’ve written one of these– the first time in a long time, if nothing else. Tell me about what you think, if there’s anything you’d like me to do to improve it, or if you’d like me to give a closer examination of a certain item! In other words, comments are welcome and encouraged!

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