Monday, July 10, 2017

Added Detail - Added Coolness

Main Announcement:
There will be NO SonicGear update for the following week. (It is skipping a week) That would be July 16 the expected date, that it won't appear on. But it is only skipping just that, it'll keep going as more stuff is flowing in.

Added Detail & Item of the Week:
Sonic Cup with Emerald Ice Cubes
This cup is extra fun because it has those re-use ice cubes in it. Items are just SO MUCH better when they go that extra mile and aren't just "Sonic imagery is stamped on some random generic thing". The hat this week is another ok example of this, where it has the patch and then also the logo.

I'm not sure if it's just my unique perspective via merchandise site, or if everyone shares it/adds this much importance to companies really paying attention to design and detail. Of course, seeing the same stock art a zillion times is more tiring than someone who's just out there noticing Sonic whenever. Still, it can hope that everyone appreciates the extra mile.

Spencers is Back
Hot Topic seems to be out of Sonic stuff, but Spencers' (oddly) seems to be ramping up for another season of Sonic merch. Spencers' is a point of some contention because they got really into weed/pot and porn-type stuff which totally doesn't go with Sonic, so everyone felt they were moving away from him...but it seems not when they're breaking out this level of new merch.

Hot Topic?
Yes, it still has SOME Sonic stuff, but nothing exclusive. The Hello Kitty crossover stuff should be either there or online (and its costly) along with Boom Keychains & the GE Cups/Lunch Tin type stuff. Nice to have it kept available, but it's not anything new.

Another Year of Party:
The party supplies for 2017 are also another good sign. They're modern, and they're not Boom. It looks like the Boom Embargo is still in the process of lifting. Their timing is a bit odd though, because usually party supplies "last forever" (ex. many years) on shelves with the same ones being produced without updating. Still, this seems a good thing, they're nicely designed & inexpensive.

What about Archie?
This is the question on a lot of minds (because people are on the Archie email list that sends mail like almost daily--and keeps never mentioning Sonic any more, when it used to always do it) It also is conspicuous now in its absence from...well anything related to comic book stores. Some alternate covers were also marked 'cancelled'. So what's actually going on?

As far as anyone knows:
Archie is trying to "ReFocus on JUST ARCHIE" which, obviously "Sonic" is not a part of.
Archie is fighting with Sega over money to keep going BECAUSE of Archie's spending to fight with Ken Penders Lawsuit.

They can't afford a big spend on 2 fronts.
Archie the brand itself AND all comic books aren't doing as well as they used to. Individual issues are pricey, online stuff is 'more entertaining', and 'not as many people buy/get into comics'...all the usual problems you read about are taking blame. They're fighting it with the Archie Live Action tv show (which seems to do ok?) but you can def. see how they'd want to 'focus in on archie', it makes sense*.

*So why did they ever get Sonic anyway?
I never understood how Archie got a hold of or wanted the Sonic property. They did ok-enough with it, but it just seemed odd they'd choose him. Would another company have handled him better or worse? There's no telling at this point. Why did it last so long/keep going? 2 words: Sonic Fans. If ever there's a diehard loyal fandom, it's Sonic fans. They may complain louder than a 747, but boy do they ever buy stuff in a loyal way to get all of it. It's the ONLY way the book lasted through its confounding/bizarre periods that would have killed other books. It also lasted through all the absolutely horrible art at the start too, simply because of fans. It kept getting AND taking the chances that it needed to improve.

Next *time* (remember, skips a week) update:
More USA stuff, most likely & the good bit is that it's new. Hopefully we also start getting some actual new art and new real designed stuff.

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.