Monday, June 19, 2017

Sears Trouble & Party Supplies

It seems like Sears is in trouble.
And that's bad news for Sonic fans, as this big store often had a nice Sonic selection in the boys/teens area and even for little kids. In the heyday of shirts, Sears was a paradise of reasonably priced big selection. They often also had tees that seemed exclusive to them. Probably not by mandate= "nobody else is allowed to sell these", but more likely by happenstance= "we sell these, and others have the ability to, they just don't".

What is wrong with Sears?
You have probably heard that this company that also owns Kmart is in trouble in the USA. Lots of people point blame fingers at various things like 'the store looked run down' or 'the price doesn't compete with amazon', and stuff like that. Business Insider & other publications sate that it is closing lots of stores & then secretly closing more. Probably if they knew what was wrong they'd fix it and stop closing the stores. I, personally, do not know what's wrong but you can speculate all sorts of things if you want to. I wish they would fix it.

So what's the problem?
One of the "Invincible Sears" is closing.
Yes, it's the one I went to, in order to report stuff for SonicGear. LOADS of tee photos on these pages are from that particular store. It's called "invincible" because sometimes there's a store that's in like a really, really good place and this sweet spot would guarantee its success in the face of whatever challenges. Other stores in worse places would close, but that particular one should be immune to closing.
It apparently was not.
This is in one of the top malls in all of America, visited by every country vacation person, bustling at all times of every day, and never enough parking. You hear about 'malls dying', well this one can't grow itself fast enough because its just that prosperous. So why close that Sears there? It seems bad to do, people were always in it. It wasn't run down. Only business people will know, I guess. It really is too bad...

Party Supplies!
On a happier note, Party City is releasing a 2017 line of Sonic Party Supplies!
And...the design is really good still. It uses all modern CG, and includes Shadow, which many fans will enjoy. The line is not as big or diverse on stuff as some of the previous ones, but it's still really decent. (Like, no table decor, only 1 favor, no cardboard/wall stuff) All of the known supplies are now on their own page at Gear.
I guess they got tired of all the bootleggers making bank on 'your name here' party stuff, because this time you CAN customize banners and invites. Hopefully this will stop the shabby art-stealing printer bootleggers from making money off fake Sonic stuff. It seems like a case where there was demand for stuff like that for a while but it took them a couple of years to listen, and in the meantime fakers ran wild.

Next week:
Well, more stuff from Sears. The final items, actually, from one particular Sears. Hopefully some other store picks up BioWorld (maker of the majority) , because if this megaSears is closing, other fans are also out of luck.

Monday, June 12, 2017

More Modern Merch

Better news this week...
With an actual modern-stuff update. Plus, actual items getting sent in again by viewers. Both of these are good news. It's getting a bit more toward the 'bottom of the barrel' of older stuff in the image bins. Hence the 'mystery things' and a few more boring stuffs showing up.

Oddest Item:
This thing doesn't get 'item of the week' because it's actually pretty lame: the Sonic Sunglasses. These things look like a ripoff. It's something you'd expect from a bootleg. Some generic, rainbow tacky pair of kiddy glasses and they slap a itty bitty tiny Sonic logo on the bridge and that's it...then they try to call it Sonic merchandise. Stuff like that is annoying. It LOOKS fake, and you can just feel the cheapness. There's nothing actually cool or Sonic about it, it's so obviously just a stupid tiny stamp.

This tee this week is actually the first of several. They may be all classic styled, but at least major stores are getting Sonic back on shelves. Is Boom still interfering with licensing in the USA? It's looking that way, at least with the spring season stuff that's showed up so far. Unfortunate, as no-matter what they do it all always looks like something everyone already has several of, except brand-new fans. (Who aren't coming into the fandom now anyway because there's no new game out to drum them up)

Party stuff. Party City has apparently done a whole NEW Sonic party line, that's NOT Boom, and everything for it has already been gathered. It'll all go up in 1 page next week. The hat and plastic cup were split off because they're not expressly 'party', but they ARE a part of the PC 2017 line they just let out.

So, over-all pretty good news.
The best would be having a decent amount of stuff around and buy-able upon release of Mania, as that's sure to bring in more new fans & re-energize Sonic to a degree...if they can get the gameplay right. The merch situation doesn't seem to be slowing down either, more like a low but steadier flow of people finding things, like how it used to be.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sonic Cook & Becker Book Perfected

This week brings the announcement that the much anticipated Cook & Becker published Sonic collectible coffee table type book has now been perfected.

It will ship out to all who pre ordered it at the end of June.

So what's the story?
The first printing of the book got sent to the C&B people, and they knew the quality wasn't right. It wouldn't satisfy the fans. So they sent it back to get it fixed & redone. But then! That factory/book maker did the book badly again or ruined it further. So, they switched makers and this new one has gotten the book right & perfected it so that everyone will be happy.

Why is a delay GOOD?
Because it means YOU get a GREAT product! Cook & Becker cares about Sonic fans and they're proving it with this quality issue. Some lame co. would just let the book go/let a bad factory get away with sub-par products. But not these guys. They're standing up for your money, Sonic himself & a legacy of quality with a book people will keep and collect basically forever. They're also being extra cool about it and using super quick shipping for all who pre-ordered as soon as it arrives to them.

Good move: Show this company you can appreciate it and its stand for quality by buying this book if you want it. Which...with 100% Sonic content...who wouldn't?

Fan Power!
This week, fan power solved the Mystery Magazine!
Yes, the power of Sonic Fans looking at Sonic Gear is still strong. Not 1 week after the posting of the 'mystery magazine' but it got solved by helpful readers, complete with a link to all scans of the interior. This is exactly what Gear is all about: Explaining stuff people may not have, and providing resources so everyone can enjoy the Sonic items.And...thanks to the people who contribute & make the site strong it's possible.

Nothing particularly remarkable this week really, except for the power of fans.
It's still clearing more out of the old image bins, and....they're getting toward the bottom with bunch of older stuff going up this week.

Next week:
Some surprising mutants, and bunches of them.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sonic Forces New Character Revealed: It is OC!

Something unprecedented is happening with Sonic!
And it's in the new game Sonic Forces for late 2017 release!
And...nobody really knows what to think of it. But this is SonicGear, so it's certainly going to get talked about.

The basics:
The latest trailer for Sonic Forces had the big reveal of the 'new character' for this game.
It's Original Character AKA a "Create a Character" that the player must cobble together out of various parts and accessories & then play with along-side both modern & classic style Sonics.

Once past the basics though, everything gets into history, opinions, guessing, fan-yelling, and, if youtube is any indication, lots of swears. So let's get into it, minus the swears. Yes, an Opinion Zone will appear too here....more than 1!

Almost since the dawn of the internet there have been "Sonic fan Characters". It started out (and still is) mainly Mary Sues & Gary Stus meant to feature in fanfics, chat rooms & RPG rooms. There were also (early on) fill-in characters because the official cast was tiny unless you wanted to use the SatAM or AOSTH shows for more.
They were appealing because the "Sonic Style" is easy to knock things off of. You can re-color the characters and say it's a different guy, or just remove his face & put it on a new/different animals' head & have it look reasonably "realistic" or something that fits in thanks to the style. The barrier to entry was low, so pretty much 'everyone' seemed to enter it. That's fine/normal/part of the fun.

Bad Time:
What's the problem with everyone entering? Anti-quality, kiddie-quality, troll-quality & srs-buziness quality are the majority of what can be found dabbling around the internet & on popular art sites like DeviantArt. That's where the whole "Originole teh Character Do Not Steel" gag began to appear. (A mis-spelling on purpose to suggest a dummy made it up) The rainbow of different-colored fan-Sonics didn't impress any outsider-on-looker so the fandom became easy to make fun of with things like "Do a Google search for 'yourname' the hedgehog' & then make fun of the result". (Where you replace yourname with your actual name)
Another thing that didn't help was the general quality of the fan fics in which the original characters appeared, because most of the fic would be dedicated to explaining why Original the Character is so much better/faster/powerful/cooler than Sonic & then discard the cast to focus upon Original and his/her friends because it is far more interesting to write yourself into a story along-side characters YOU define, than it is to write FOR pre-defined characters. Remember: Easy Entry=loads of entry by anyone who wants to do something easy.

No one would read a story about Generic the Dog, but if you can TITLE the story "Sonic vs the Egg Hurricane" you'll get readers. Then, all you need to do is have Sonic stub his toe in the first paragraph & Generic the Dog will be off to defeat the Egg Hurricane! Readers will love Generic because he hops 10 stories high in 1 leap and is as fast as Sonic! And he can summon the Dark Magician Girl from his own personal chaos emerald! WOW!

Silly as the example may be, it was everywhere.
Don't believe it? It was even in Archie comics! Remember when Mina the Mongoose was a rock star singer AND as fast as Sonic? But see she was COOLER than Sonic because she could sing and she's so nice and can see exactly where that's going. And that's why they took away her speed.

So, with all this still on going, AND as the history you can easily understand how Sega actually encouraging all these wacky fan characters via a Create-a-Char has boggled the community. Will it lead to more of them? Will it stamp them out because now there's nothing unique at all? Time will tell on that but....

What's the character going to DO in the game?
Everyone brings a gimmick to the table. What's this OC going to bring that's not ALREADY on the table? That's where the game play fun element is going to fit in/exist/whatever.

Opinion Zone:
At least it isn't Boom Sonic!
I was afraid it was going to be Boom Sonic as the 3rd character in Forces. He's not. GOOD. I don't grudge Boom the Show but I DO grudge the lame character designs, stupid Knuckles & how it stamped out all things modern Sonic related, including cool characters like Espio & Blaze. The LESS Boom the better. Let it go. Keep it a show. That's it.

Opinion Zone 2:
I never had a fan character. I actually always resented all of them because I love Sonic most of all, and every clone & Mary Sue banging on about how they're better than he is annoys me to no end. It's also why Sally (from SatAM & Archie) annoys me as well. She was written as better than Sonic, especially in the early days. Characters where they replace Tails (common too) or Amy, or stamp out any other character I enjoy also annoy me because I really enjoy the Sega characters & I don't want to see Tails replaced with some magic bird who's faster/better/smarter than he is and is now Sonic's new best friend.

Opinion Zone 3:
I'm actually kinda neutral on the OC thing in the game. It'll have a scripted part, maybe dialogue choices but the writers won't have OC as the main hero of the game after Sonics (both of them!) stub their toe. HOWEVER, the pitfall could be with what they have the OC doing, if some other already-existing character could have done it. Like, is OC a gadget-user? (Why not Tails?) Does OC act like a brawler? (Why not Knuckles?) If that question gets answered by something that does NOT fit an already-existing character who gets thrown out of the game due to OC, I'll be satisfied.

The Boom designs don't work well because they're not slick. Winding everything up in bandages doesn't make sense, and kitting out the characters with accessories at all times doesn't look as good. Adding extra spikes to Sonic makes him look ragged. The problem is the characters as they are (modern and classic) are SO PERFECT you can't add stuff to them without it looking tacked on. And the cast is SO GOOD and diverse with skills/powers/whatever, that you already have what you need to create great stories. Like "We need someone who punches stuff" and then "I know what punches stuff...........a werehog! Yes!" As Knuckles gathers dust in the corner. It came off not making sense (to me) Knuckles is great, he punches, he's a different playstyle than Sonic, fans love him........nope werehog.

Probably not. It's impossible with all the combos, unless there's some 'default guy', and even then it wouldn't make much sense.

Actual Gear Update:
Pretty standard this week, submissions still on the low side. Lots of stuff involving questions though, hopefully someone turns up with some answers eventually.

Next week:
More clearing of the old image bins.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fan Photos Dwindling: What's Going On?

There are less fan photos now than...well...since a very long time before.
What's going on?

This is the first week in YEARS where there has been 0 items in the Gear Mail. It's certainly an unusual circumstance, but there could be several reasons (or a combination) as to why this would let's see here:

#1 KNOWN thing:
The stuff that's out there now in the way of action figures & plushes are Expensive. costly everyone's complaining and it's just not seeming to get bought by fans. As a merchandise site, all manner of the complaining comes through the inbox here as well, and price is the #1 beef of fans. Tiny dolls costing more than 20 dollars, re-run style action figures with LESS articulation costing much more than the old Jazwares's a recipe for people to skip stuff & leave it on the shelf.

Proof: Look at a lot of the recent action figure & plush posts: it's all stuff IN the store. Not in someone's home. They're just taking the camera in and snapping the pic so they don't have to open the wallet. Even this week's new plush photo is that way.

#2 A guess
Rerun city: There are 2 types of Sonic fans: Fans who have been fans for a while/number of years & brand new fans just discovering Sonic. The absolute bombardment of 'classic only' created by the Boom Ban is less appealing to the long-time fans because chances are, they've ALREADY got loads of classic style stuff that may be genuinely 90s or any of the 'retro' stuff that's basically been coming out since then. The new Tomy figures are a prime example of that: Fans already bought these guys when Jazwares did it, they're not going to spend 30 dollars doing it again.

#3 It seems
This one is just a 'seems'. It SEEMS like in general, there's less stuff out anyway. Of course, as the runner or the site I am always out looking around for new merch in every store to snap a photo. And it's just not turning up like it used to. Sears has shirts still on shelves that were there 9 months ago. Spencers has the same tired old cups and glasses. Where's the new stuff? Nobody's reporting it and I'm sure not seeing any either in brick and mortar reporting.

#4 Endgame
IS there an Endgame for SonicGear? Well, not so long as Sonic exists. BUT it IS possible to finally archive every single thing that came out in the past. That's actually the goal. Do I think the site is close to doing so? Probably not. Will it ever get there? Hopefully so, because everyone who's a fan deserves to be able to observe every sight of Sonic they so desire.
When it happens:
Then, it would be up to the updates to only add the modern things that appear, as they come out.

What will fix it?
When Mania comes out merchandise will follow, as it always does if the past is any indication. But, a problem is that it's still classic, and unless it brings new graphics/designs/stock art/Mania Specific stuff to the table it will fall into #2 up there at Rerun City Zone.

What'll REALLY fix it?
Whatever the post-apocalypse 2017 Sonic later in the year game is. That one's modern and should break up the Boom Ban for good.

"How About Them Archies'?"
So what's up with Archie Sonic? Seems no change in the news. They're still really whirlin' along trying to keep their Archie brand going with a batch of different comics, new styles and of course are banging on about their Riverdale show still because it is successful but still cost a bundle of money.

Calendar of Crud:
Just when you think there's no more crud to go on there, here comes another item. In this case it was Valentine Holdin' Tails. He's a curious case of 'not so bad'. Every year I think "well, finally we have seen them all". (I mean look at how long people have been finding them for, it's literally ages)

There is no item of the week:
There's nothing interesting enough to take the title! It's all real standard stuff that needs to go onto the site, though, so it's fine.

Next week:
More clearing of the old image bins, especially if nothing new comes in.