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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Of Little Legos and Giant Robots

Just because I'm on staycation right now, doesn't mean I'm going to stay home the whole time.  I wanted to see the city!  I love how quiet and deserted the malls are on a weekday afternoon, so of course I had to take advantage of it.  But this time out, I was not content for my usual old West Edmonton Mall.  I wanted to see new sites!  I wanted to see new stores!  I was once again making the perilous journey...to the south side!

For those who remember, about a year ago was when I made my last disastrous journey to Edmonton's south side.  I went to a comic book store I used to love, only to find that it had closed down and moved.  By the time I got back to my car, I saw I got my first parking ticket.  So it just sucked all around.  But, there's a notable new shop at Edmonton's Southgate Centre that I wanted to see.  I gathered up my courage, and once again, I was off to the south side.

I've blogged before about how, now that I live closer to the city, I'm still adjusting to the new travel times.  When I left Westlock, I figured I'd be arriving at Southgate Centre just as it opened at 10AM.  But, lo and behold, I got there at 9:30.  I considered waiting in my car and listening to the radio, but when I saw that the mall's doors were open, I figured I'd wait inside.  So, I just hung out in the mall, waiting for all the stores to open.  It was really interesting being in the mall for that half  hour.  There were janitors cleaning up the place.  There were people rushing off to work and getting their stores open.  And there were people just like me, hanging out, waiting for the stores to open.  Most surprising was there was a tai chi course being taught in the mall's halls.  Wandering around, I accidentally stumbled into one.  Such a lively place so early in the morning. 

But the magic hour soon came, and at 10AM, there was clatter throughout the mall as hundreds of stores threw open their shutters.  The shopping was ready to begin!  But before I went to the one shop I wanted to see, there was some other shopping to do.  First stop was HMV.  It was Tuesday, after all...new DVD day.  My planned purchases for that day were G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the latest DC Comics/Warner Brothers straight-to-DVD movie, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.  Just perfect for spending the rest of my vacation in front of the TV.

Another thing I recently read about was the Shaw store.  Shaw, the cable TV/satellite/Internet provider, is launching their own chain of retail stores.  Getting my cable TV and Internet from Shaw, I thought I'd stop in and see what this store is all about.  Right away, I was greeted by a very friendly clerk.  After I informed her that I was already a Shaw customer, she started asking me about Shaw's Go Wi-Fi service.  Apparently, what Shaw's doing, is they've created their own network of Wi-Fi hotspots all across the country.  And if you're a Shaw customer, it's free to access these spots.  So the friendly clerk showed me how to get my iPhone on their wi-fi network, and to download their special app to locate the hotspots.  It's pretty neat.  I see most of Westlock's downtown is covered, too, so free wi-fi when I'm out walking.

But with that happy little bonus, it was time for the main reason of my journey.  What brought me back to the south side?  The LEGO Store.

Like many corporations these days, LEGO, the world's favourite building toy, now has their own chain of retail stores.  Edmonton's first, and Alberta's second, opened up in Southgate last month.  Having fond memories of LEGO from my youth, I wanted to check it out. 

Licensed properties really has become LEGO's bread and butter over the past few years.  Basic blocks seem to be non-existent.  The old days of three LEGO themes -- Town, Space, and Castle -- are long gone.  Every LEGO set seems to be based on a movie now.  I was looking at the display of Marvel Comics/Iron Man 3 LEGO sets when one of the friendly clerks approached me and asked if I was a Marvel or a DC guy.  I admitted I was more of a DC guy, and she started directing me to the Man of Steel and Batman LEGO sets.  I told her that I was just there to see the shop out of curiosity, and she let me browse.  Very friendly clerks. 

And of course, I had to see their wall.  When I first heard about the LEGO Store, one of the things that caught my eye was that they sell LEGO bricks in bulk.  Their back wall is covered with bins, and in each bin is a different kind of LEGO brick.  If I remember right, it was like $15 for a small cup, $30 for a large cup, and you can just fill it with whatever bricks you need. So if you're building a scale model of Mt. Edith Cavell in your backyard, the LEGO Store can gladly give you all the bricks you need.

With these stores, they have their own set of exclusives, so I was looking at some of their exclusive LEGO sets.  LEGO really is expanding from being a simple children's building toy to a full-blown hobby, as a lot of their LEGO Store exclusives are incredibly intricate models that run a couple hundred dollars.  I guess that's my main complaint.  I was hoping to get a small LEGO set of ~$10, just as a souvenir of this trip, but there were none in that price range.  Lowest priced one I spotted was $20.  I was thinking about raiding the "build your custom LEGO figures" station (a three-pack of LEGO figures you build yourself runs around $12), but being the middle of summer vacation, and this primarily being a children's toy store, the crowd of 6-year olds around it was pretty thick.  So I left empty-handed.

But it's still free to take pictures!  So I snapped some photos of their LEGO exclusives in their front window.

Here's one of their Lord of the Rings exclusives, Saruman's Tower.

Saruman's Tower from Lord of the Rings...in LEGO.

And here's the upscale Town LEGO movie theatre:

The Upscale LEGO Town movie theatre

And with that, I'd seen everything I'd wanted to see at Southgate Centre.  Creature of habit that I am, I was on the freeway, back to the west, and off to West Edmonton Mall.  Nothing I love more than a lunch at the food court.  Sadly, though, my food court lunches have been thrown into a lurch lately.  Creature of habit that I am, I'd usually hit the Taco Bell.  But, the Taco Bell has recently closed.  Hitting the food court is now is like the days of my youth that I once blogged about:  the freedom to have anything.  When Mom would slip me $10 and say, "Get whatever you want!"  The choices I have, now that one of my habits has died.  I was craving poutine, so I hit New York Fries.  And I had regular poutine, not their designer poutines with pulled pork or butter chicken or all that.

Made a quick stop at Chapters, as there's a book out that I wanted to get my hands on.  My hero, "Weird Al" Yankovic, is the latest celebrity who's trying his hand at writing children's books, and he just released his second, entitled My New Teacher and Me!  So, of course, I had to get a copy for my shrine to all things Al. 

And then, movie time!  What film was I off to see?  Well, who can resist the appeal of giant monsters and giant robots that is Pacific Rim?  I had one last free movie pass kicking around that I wanted to use, so I went up to the clerk and presented it.  "Are you sure you want to use that?" the clerk asked.  "It's hot ticket Tuesday.  Tickets are 40% off today."  I was taken aback.  I didn't know the Cineplex chain had brought back Hot Ticket Tuesday.  I used my free pass anyway, because if I didn't, it would get stuck to my fridge and unused for another year.

Pacific Rim Movie Poster

So how was Pacific Rim, the giant monsters vs. giant robots movie from the director of the Hellboy movies?  I thought it was OK.  I'm not going crazy for it the way most of the Internet is.  Near the end, I started realizing that it's pretty much just Independence Day, if giant monsters were the aliens' weapon of choice.  And on top of that, I know it makes the CGI easier, but why do all the fights take place in the rain at night? 

That being said, GIANT MONSTERS VS. GIANT ROBOTS!  It was fun. 

My complete review is up, so swing by my main website and check it out.

And that was one day of my staycation.  I'll probably be doing more stuff as the week goes on, because there's so much left to do! 

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