Archived entries for my hobbies


I finally have it in my hot little hands; the toy that required me to jump through more hoops than a circus tiger to legally own. I now have my very own MP-05 Masterpiece Megatron! A quick recap of the process involved, especially for those of you who I’m sure are now very jealous (not):

  • Join the Megatron Club ($10 annual fee)
  • Apply for a P638 gun collector’s license from the NSW Police Firearms registry
  • Apply for a B709 import permit from the same

I didn’t know about the B709, so when I got back from Hong Kong customs confiscated it while I organised the necessary paperwork. Annoyingly, they had scant regard for it being a collector’s item – they plastered the box with sticky tape and ripped it off roughly, and manhandled the box, leaving a few dinged edges and dented corners. Oh well, I wasn’t collecting the Masterpiece series MISB anyway.

Here are a few choice pictures, with the rest over at Flickr (by the way, I do this because I have a bandwidth limit on my hosting plan and I don’t want it to be used up hosting [often very large] pictures):

In gun mode

In gun mode

Standing pose

Standing pose

Face off between Optimus and Megatron

Face off between Optimus and Megatron

It’s-a me, Charles Martinet!

Mario and a super star drawn using confettiOver the weekend Jenny and I had the privilege of meeting Charles Martinet – the man behind the voices of Mario, Luigi, and a whole host of others from the Super Mario video game franchise, who was visiting Australia (read: Melbourne and Sydney) as part of a Nintendo promotional tour. I won a competition from the Nintendo Web site to Meet the voice of Mario, but was initially confused though: since Martinet was making public appearances, I wasn’t exactly sure what I had actually won.

It turns out that me and 3 others at the Auburn store got to spend a few minutes with Charles in private, and not have to line up. He was a great guy in person, very down to earth and friendly, quite chatty and patient. He autographed stuff for us and answered a few questions. The funniest was when a guy asked whether he ever stands behind kids at demo booths and does the voices in the background. Charles laughed and said that the kids would probably say that he sounded all wrong anyway.

A load of free Mario merchandise!The first 50 people in line on the day received a gift bag of Mario merchandise from Nintendo and so did we (the prize winners), but ours also included a 9″ Mario figure and a lanyard instead of a pen. The other two items in the bag (same as the ones you buy from KMart) were a Mario cap and a series 2 – 3″ figurine. I got lucky with this – the 3″ figurine that I got (Daisy) was one of the two “rare” ones in the series.

The only thing I regret was not getting Charles to record me a ringtone in Mario’s voice. I had totally planned on asking him to do “Hey Caesar, its-a the telephone!” but as usual I couldn’t bring myself to impose on another human being, even though he absolutely wouldn’t have minded and even asked me whether I wanted anything else after he signed my copy of Super Mario Galaxy. Damn this geeky shyness! I really must learn to be more aggressive at going after what I want…

A couple of photos (more pictures over at Flickr):

Caesar and Charles Martinet
My autographed copy of Super Mario Galaxy

The things we do for love

Here it is, boys and girls – a gun permit allowing me to legally own Masterpiece Megatron (MP-05) which arrived in today’s mail. You can now truthfully say that I’m certifiably something (what that something is depends largely on how you feel about geeks and collecting things). In order to get the permit, I had to:

  • Be a member of a legally registered club, that being the Megatron Club Inc.
  • Demonstrate why it is a necessary part of my collection
  • Detail how I will store the item to prevent unauthorised access
  • Submit a P638 Application for a Prohibited Weapon Permit, and provide certified copies of 100pts worth of ID

Fortunately, the fee is waived for collectors.

Gun permit

All this for a toy!?

Now all I have to do is to find one to buy when I’m in Hong Kong. I can also look forward to being stopped by customs as I re-enter the country after spending 8 tortuous hours on a plane…

A super game

Heh… a few days into my supposed new “quantity over quality” paradigm, and prolific is probably the last word that comes to mind. In my defense, I did write a couple of entries on my work blog.

I pre-ordered Super Mario Galaxy today. The very extraordinary thing about this game is that it has been received with raptuous praise from all corners of the Internet – a perfect storm if you will. At the time of writing, metacritic gives it a 98% which is probably about the closest that the press will ever come to unanimous agreement on any one particular topic. This upper echelon of goodness is for once rightfully described as “universal acclaim” – a phrase that is often used (particularly about movies) but rarely true.

Rather amusingly, a Variety magazine reviewer dared to offer a contrary opinion, causing howls of derision from fans all over the shop.

Otherwise, the general sentiment is that Nintendo has once again managed to distill pure, unadulterated, child-like joy and pressed it onto a disc. As one member of the Ars Technica OpenForum said: “It’s so grand and enthusiastic, that it could make an emo kid smile and think tomorrow is going to be a better day.” Just don’t count on the press writing an article about how a videogame did some good in the world.

Hoard or horde?

An Oxfam chicken in a boxI’ve taken a very long runway into Christmas as far as gaming is concerned. Over the last 6 months or so I must have poured $1,000 – give or take a few hundred – into buying games and gaming equipment. The reasons (read: excuses) for acquisition are many and varied – a fantastic deal on the forums, a good cause (more about this later), the excitement of bidding on eBay, etc. etc. In my defense, I do tend to be a late adopter – that is, I don’t buy things until they’re well into their market lifecycle when it’s much cheaper, so this isn’t as expensive a hobby as it could have been.

Sometimes I just can’t help myself. For example, one enlightened soul on the Overclockers Australia forums offered to give away part of his games collection on the condition that interested takers must make “bids” by pledging to buy chickens from the Oxfam Unwrapped website. That was just too cool. I bid 2 chickens ($20) for a copy of “Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion”. The game isn’t even that good.

It’s not as if I don’t already have a severe backlog of unplayed games, or can’t think of better things to do with my time and money (little things like, say, planning a wedding?!), yet I still felt deep down inside that I needed more games. My conquests continued… first Nintendo DS, and another (because my bro decided to keep the one that I asked him to pick up for me) and then another (for Jenny, natch). Some games with that sir? Yes please! Next a PSP and more games, and even a couple of non-games (travel guides for Europe, and a UMD movie) just to show that it’s not just about gaming. All the while I was also adding to my PC games collection. Meanwhile, this year I have only managed to play and complete 2 games (God or War, and Prince of Persia 2: The Warrior Within).

It’s not that there is a gap in my life that needs to be filled, but rather, it’s something that I am interested in and that I find myself drawn to, in the same way that Jenny is drawn to movies. Problem is, a typical game will require a commitment between 10 – 50 hours, whereas your average movie is over and done with in a couple of hours. If only the games weren’t so damn good! The industry continues to come up with so much great stuff that even Jenny is now an avid gamer, regularly reaching for the Nintendo DS and Sudoku (part of Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training game).

I just can’t bear to miss out on great gaming moments. Right now, people are raving on about the recently released Okami, and the soon-to-be-released Final Fantasy XII. I imagine that within the next 12 – 24 months, I will acquire these games one way or another, probably through a great deal on the forums or eBay, and another hundred-or-so hours of my life will be pledged away to the Lord of Interactive Entertainment. It’s like serving multiple life sentences, except in a pleasurable way…

For the record, in 2006 I added the following to my collection:

PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 console itself (slimline)
SingStar Rocks! (thanks Diem and EJ!)
Guitar Hero (Diem and EJ again… hmm….)
Gran Turismo 4
Shadow of the Colossus
God of War
Resident Evil 4 (wait for it…)
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X-2

Resident Evil 4 Collectors’ Edition (yes, I have the same game on 2 different consoles)
Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Controller (best Valentines’ Day gift ever from Jenny!)
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Nintendo DS
3 (yes, that’s three) Nintendo DS Lite units, one of which went to my brother in Adelaide
2 x Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training (1 copy with my bro)
New Super Mario Bros.
Mario 64 DS
Metroid Prime Hunters
Tetris DS (courtesy of gift vouchers, and with thanks to Greg for bringing it over from the US)
Mario Kart DS (Greg…)
Yoshi’s Island DS (… is…)
Kirby’s Canvas Curse (… my…)
Clubhouse Games (… hero!)

Locomotion (here chooky, chooky, chooky)
Prince of Persia 3: The Two Thrones (I really liked the first two, so I had to get the third)
Age of Empires III
Dungeon Siege II
Dungeon Siege II – Broken World expansion
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Tomb Raider Legend
Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Psychonauts (on “indefinite loan” from my bro’s friend)

    PSP value pack with 1GB memory stick
    Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (thanks again to Diem!)
    Passport to London
    Passport to Paris
    Passport to Rome
    Serenity (UMD movie)

      Yeah. All I have to say is… erk.


      Still on the gaming theme: at midnight tonight, the Nintendo Wii will be unleashed onto the Australian public. One person on the Ars Technica forums noted that in their latest Financial report, Nintendo casually mentioned that their mission is to make the Wii part of peoples’ lives. Considering that the machine continues to be continually sold out in all of the countries where it has been released, I imagine that they have a pretty good shot at achieving that goal. I wonder if anybody has even done a study to measure the ratio of gaming devices to television sets in a household. If they did, I imagine that that number will have jumped significantly.

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