Monday, May 28, 2018

Net Neutrality & Sonic Gear: 1 Success

Well, Gear's still here.
The dire warning that's been sitting up there since December or so has paid off, as people DID do as asked, and did senator phone calls, wrote letters, and made a lot of general noise about net neutrality. A victory happened when three more people who used to be against it, turned to for it, once they heard everyone's voices....so Gear can continue to exist however there are 3 more fights ahead.

June:
This is the next one, supposedly. Remember, this is the government and everything is really (relatively) slow so it's not like win or lose over a week. People are hoping you will get bored and go away and forget. Because if this loses the chance of getting NN back is reduced to near nothing. Why? Taking NN away LITERALLY takes away your ability to complain about it in any way and simply erases everything that has a word for Net Neutrality.

A bunch of dirty stuff:
So the anti-nn group's just been caught forging signatures & letters of 1 dem & 1 republican senator. Pai Ajit has just also been found to have taken another 400 grand in money to try and erase NN. As if the whole thing wasn't dirty enough this gets piled on there. There are better places to read about it than on here though, and with more facts. But, because Gear is trying to make a rallying call because I DO have a voice & an audience it's important to at least explain some things.

Item of the week:
The Eggman Puma Shoe! For everything the Sonic shoe does wrong, this one is doing right. THIS is the example of 'subtle design' that has to do with the character without naming or showing it on the merchandise. This would be a shoe that Eggman would make. (though his would probably have a gun in the heel that shoots a spiked ball at hedgehogs & feature self-tying laces) How can they get one shoe so wrong and the other so right?

Paperchild Keychains: Yes these are paperchild inspired and yes they're wacky and cute.
But what's the deal with 'limited'? WHY limit it? Oh we're going to make this cool thing and then let like 100 people buy it and that's it because we don't like money? As far as merchandise, I never had a problem with something pre order exclusive, or some kind of anniversary or special deal that's limited somehow. But for every day stuff that's just fun & normal not commemorative/release/whatever it seems dumb to limit it.

Boom Keychains:
They are reasonably priced. Isn't THAT a shock? Are they literally the first Boom thing aside from shirts that costs a normal or even bargain/fun/enticing amount of money? It's sure possible. Tomy seems to love trying to pick everyone's wallet with lower-quality stuff...(notice how it took forever to get fan photos of anything that's because nobody's buying their stuff much) But these Boom chains at 1.99 each are incredibly reasonable and designed cute enough that it would be way tempting to just collect them all. That's the kind of thing I like to see!

Next week:
Tees to be sure. Probably some kind of rallying call for Net Neutrality because if it fails at any point it's real likely Gear will too. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Tomy at Target? Sonic Source...

Is Target the new home of Tomy Sonic?
Maybe.

People are reporting that there are a few of the Tomy plushes showing up in Target...but NOT in toys. They turn up in the video games & music area, for some reason. FNAF is a video game too but all that Freddy stuff's always in the toy aisle--so of course fans would look there first for Sonic. But it seems to not be so.

What else may appear?
As you know, Toys R Us is gone, and they were THE ONLY place that had the action figures & those 'emoji heads Boom plush'. Then, GameStop started picking up a few toy things, and got an exclusive on the classic 'switching deluxe' figure. Will Gamestop pick up the plush too? Will they pick up everything TRU had? One can hope, but with their limited space it seems unlikely.

Target is a good....target.
They have loads of space for merch that sells well, but will they use it?
PROBLEM:
Sticker-shock / Price-Rage...The neutral chao plush? It's barely bigger than a child's hand & has no features/gimmicks, yet is 14.99 at Target. A tiny doll like that? How is it so expensive? It looks nice, sure...it's not crumby and off-model or lame or anything but...gee whiz one can't help but feel that's a rip off at such a price. 9.99 would've been ok for such a small toy. Are these going to sell well or at all with such nasty prices?

You can't look for anything Sonic really online with them yet, their website isn't very updated, it seems. (For such a big store hmmmm)

Sonic Board Game Coming:
Sonic Crash Course the Board Game is coming soon to a Game Stop near you. Is this the game that was on kickstarter?

Affiliate Trouble:
SonicGear seems like a good* candidate to be an affiliate for First4Figures Sonic line, doesn't it?
However, F4F didn't seem to think so and ignored the application after specifically inviting Gear to apply for it! How does that work? It doesn't. That 25th twirling sign diorama has been sitting around in the image bin for months now waiting on the app to go through. When nothing ever happened, I just went and posted it. It's disappointing because if Gear became an affiliate and somebody actually got an item through the link it would be nice to be able to give it to the hosting fee for the site.

*It's actually the best candidate because it has the most Sonic merchandise of any site online & people only come there if they want to see Sonic stuff so............

Next Week: The board game, and hopefully some new stuff from Vandor

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Design Decisions: Sonic Merchandise Design Lesson

What is good design?
It's stuff that's done well......so that you don't notice it's done well! Design really only gets noticed when it does a bad job, or an unusually good job. Otherwise, it sits there in the background & people don't pay it any mind. Sometimes this is ideal, and sometimes not.

What's an example?
The Tomy classic "switching deluxe collector" Sonic figure. The package design is TERRIBLE.
But, the box doesn't expose the figure to dirt & theft and the art is ok...what's your problem?

Something that's not awful looking CAN be "BAD Design" & this is a prime example of it.
Sure, the box isn't terrible. But it does just about 0 things to actually get anyone to buy the product. It's not enough to 'not be terrible' it has to actually do GOOD.

Why is the box bad?
Has NO indication of the load of accessories & parts you get
Has NO item name 'switching deluxe collector' is just some made up name to describe it
Has NO pictures of what you can do with the toy on the box (doesn't show fun)
Does NOT illustrate the money or play value you get when you buy

So, you're in the store and here's a moderately sized Sonic figure for 30 dollars.
"Wow that's expensive, why should I care?"
If the box doesn't answer that question, it's a bad box. There's no reason to spend 30 dollars for just a figure of that size if you don't know that the base is a box & it comes with all the switching parts. Adding a photo montage to the back instead of that random quote would've done a world of good and not cost anything extra. Anyone who hadn't read about the figure online previously would never buy it in the store. A package needs to be able to be its own ad in instances like this.

Another Example: The Puma Shoe (In Prototypes, this week)
Why is this shoe so boring? Why is the fabric so gross? Sure it's just a prototype but there's really nothing Sonic about it other than the tag. "Oh it uses his colors" well that's nice, so does lots of stuff like several famous Gundams, Sailor Moon herself*, the American flag, the UK flag and some donuts. Red, white & blue (with small bits of gold/black/peach) is not some magic combination that instantly adds up to "Sonic" somehow.

Subtle vs Loud
Lots of kids designs are loud. Pictures of characters all over, big logos, big names, loud colors.
Some items (kids or not) are subtle.
There are lots of examples of both all over Gear, with Japan being a bit more of a 'subtle' edge that is sometimes too subtle.

Ok so Puma wants a wide-appeal shoe for adults and teens.
So, pictures of Sonic & Knuckles all over it are out...but just making some blue shoe doesn't mean it's Sonic. Plus, what's up with that awful, pilly fabric? It looks like some white dog shedded hair all over it, then someone wiped it with a gross paper towel and then left little 'bits' of lint & wet towel all over it. Sonic is fast, slick...high-tech! Not grandma's old shag carpet pounded into a sneaker.

There is a good way to do subtle-Sonic & still have it be Sonic and this shoe isn't it so far.

*Sailor Moon is interesting because she's pretty much exclusively Sonic's colors, blue eye/dress, red shoes, gray soles, yellow hair/buckle/moon, beige skin, white gloves/top, gold crown....Does that mean the shoe is also for Sailor Moon?

Next week:
At least 2 uncommon items & a trophy.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Sonic in the Glow Zone

This week's update fell half on April Fools...
And, SonicGear doesn't usually ever do an actual 'fool' post like lots of sites, but it does more heavily feature bootlegs on/around that date and this one was no exception with 4 nasty new things being posted all in one week. One could only hope that horrible Silver was an April Fool--too bad the dumb thing's real. Ugh.

Item of the week:
Sonic in the Glow Zone Coloring Poster Book
Finally, a real look at this real rare book! It was an Australia Only item, and every so often the cover would pop up online with people asking questions. It's notable because it was done under the "Sonic X Treme" brand name / branding but the game never came out. The book itself is fairly unique in a couple of ways

1. It glows in the dark (all the line art)
2. Sonic NEVER has a mouth in any of the art
3. All the art is new / no stock except Robotnick

How'd they get away with removing his mouth completely?
Whoever did the art was good enough at Sonic that the new poses for all the 'xtreme' (but not really) sports look good & not mutant/bad or kiddie scribble which is better than can be said for some Tails art that is official. The book only features Sonic & Robotnick and they use some of his ugliest stock pieces. But if the artist was so ok/good, why's the mouth gone?

The thing was basically notorious for not having any images on the internet. In this day, that's generally a rare case because when you know the name of something & be VERY specific it'll usually show up. (The problem coming on stuff that nobody knows it exists or doesn't know what it's called) SonicGear's (one of the) main directives has been fulfilled with this: putting hard to find items online for all real fans to see.

Sign a Petition:
A petition has been made to draw attention to putting Cream the Rabbit into Sonic Boom.

https://www.change.org/p/boomerang-we-want-cream-cheese-and-vanilla-in-sonic-boom-season-3

Even if it doesn't hit 10k signatures, it draws attention to the issue that the fans would like to see her in some episodes, so any signing of it would do some good. Comments I think are also available if you want to explain why they should add her.

Next week:
More Tomy stuff to be sure.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Toys R Us Closing: What's it mean for Sonic?

As you may have heard...
Toys R Us is closing all the USA stores because it went bankrupt somehow. It had increasing sales for several years in a row but something went wrong with the debt it had (or something) and now they are all closing. This is bad news for several reasons:

It was the last big dedicated-toys-only retail store in the USA
It carried its own brands of stuff that people liked
It often had Sonic exclusives
It would take risks on smaller brands with licenses that other stores wouldn't
It was really large and toys-only so it would have better selections of stuff
Lots of people worked there
It was very nostalgic & fun to visit for many people because it had been around 'forever'

If you want to find out more about why TRU is closing & what business people think will happen this is a good article

https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2018/03/16/toys-r-us-puts-a-lot-of-toy-sales-up-for-grabs/?utm_source=IRN&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=IRN-2018

But what does it mean for Sonic?
As you know, TRU was pretty much the ONLY retailer to carry the Tomy stuff, and certainly so for Jazwares. Does that mean nobody will sell Sonic stuff? No. If you hadn't been in a GameStop in a while, there's a clue there. Many people had commented on how GS was getting to be 'more toys than games', because too many games were turning to apps, digital downloads and other stuff that wasn't cartridges & CDs. Well, that IS true, and they ARE more toy-focused now...but in that article up there you can be surprised to read just how much so.

So, a likely first destination for figures will be Gamestop. But they're often WAY smaller than the warehouse sized TRU...and often more costly plus they don't generally run sales or have coupons like TRU does...so what's Tomy going to do? This is probably something Tomy is thinking really hard about right now. The article says Walmart & Target are likely to (slowly) add aisles to their toy sections to fill in the market. In the meantime Amazon could do something too, but because they're online only the whole 'test the toy' and 'carry out now' thing goes away.

Prediction zone:
Sonic stuff like the Tomy figures & plush could get scarce for a while unless Tomy is really on the ball about this. With TRU as basically their only big seller where there was actual selection that kids and collectors had easy access to, they're really going to have to do something because Gamestop's not going to want 2 boxes of emoji booms, a thing of classic/modern pose-plush, their comic n' figure packs, boom packs, collector figure/s, and all that (literally, pun) hedge-hogging up their shelves.

Collector Figure:
This is going into the spotlight next week with photos as it's now in the SonicGear collection. It IS Tomy and it IS in GameStop (only) so if you want one, now's your chance. So, it's proof...ish, GS can work.

But, what will really happen...we'll only be able to wait and see after this bad news.

Regular Gear Stuff:
Boom ban seems to be further lifting, as the Target 'triangles' tee proves with (finally) something modern in clothing that's not Boom & also not scarce or online only. Same with quite a bit of other stuff too like the Display figures and some of the Segashop items. Good to see for sure, as it means Shadow/Chaotix/Rouge & etc fans could finally see merchandise again.

Item of the week: Eggman & Metal Sonic mug
There's nothing exceptional about it, it's just a standard black ceramic mug with a picture/s on it, but it matters because the Eggman symbol takes up 1 whole side & Sonic is no-where to be found on it. A great item for villain fans & collectors. Stuff that spotlights Eggman like this is nice to see, as it adds real variety.

Next week: Really good rundown on the Tomy figure, with review.
A look at a rare & seldom-seen item...The Glow Zone! Get ready to glow with the internet's only images of this item. (Yes there's probably a photo of the cover but Gear's going inside for a closer look)