Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, February 09, 2018

Half Off

Well, it's that time of year again.  Every year, around January or so, I get an e-mail from the HR department informing me that I still have about a week's worth of unused vacation time from the previous year, and they'd really like me to get it off the books.  So, I usually wind up taking a week off in February to use up said vacation time.  I'm nearing the end of that week right now, and it's been a pretty quiet week of just pretty much screwing around around the house.  Although, I decided to spend at least one day heading into Edmonton to screw around in a different location.

It was strange heading into Edmonton this late after Christmas.  Usually, I'm heading into the city the first or second weekend in January with a bunch of Christmas gift cards burning a hole in my pocket.  But this year, I only got one gift card for Christmas.  It's going to make 2018 somewhat expensive.  In the final weeks of 2017, I was boasting on Twitter how I made it through the year without paying for a single movie, thanks to all the Cineplex gift cards I got for Christmas in 2016.  Looking at some of the movies coming up in 2018, it's going to get expensive pretty quick.

I was contemplating going to see a movie, but there's not much out right now that caught my eye.  With the Oscars right around the corner, and The Shape of Water getting a lot of Oscar love, I was thinking about maybe seeing The Shape of Water.  But again. with a lack of gift cards and my eyes on a budget right now, I figured that maybe I should save my money for Black Panther when it comes out next week.

On a whim, I decided to stop in at Toys R Us.  With action figure collecting still being one of my top hobbies, I find I don't stop in at Toys R Us that much anymore.  Maybe it has to do with living out in the countryside, but I figure that whenever I get into Toys R Us and have a chance to go through the racks, pretty much everything is picked-over, and I have trouble finding what I want.  Especially with Star WarsLast Jedi merch is already pretty much sold out, so the shelves are full of old Rogue One stuff at 75% off.

I did find myself lingering in the Lego aisle for an extended amount of time, and I may have gazed longingly at some of the Lego Trains stuff.  Lego Trains has always occupied this funny little overlap between model railway enthusiasts and Lego fans, and has amassed a sizable cult following.

About 10 years ago or so, my brother bought his motorcycle and my dad bought his ATV, so the joke in the family was, "Gee, what's Mark going to buy when he has his mid-life crisis?"  (Although, according to some of the folks I went to NAIT with, going back to school to pursue a career in broadcasting at the ripe-old age of 25 was what I did for my midlife crisis, but I digress.)  Truth is, it'll probably be a model railway.  I like trains, but I've never had a train set.  And Lego Trains just have a certain quirky appeal.  But with the starter sets at Toys R Us going for $225, it'll be a costly hobby to get into.

I kept browsing through the Lego aisle in awe.  As I've lamented many times before, when I was a kid, there were just Lego themes:  Town, Castle, and Space.  Now, there's just so many licensed products, it blows my mind.  And that's just the Lego aisle.  Imagine how my mind would be blown at the Lego Store.  I only went to Edmonton's Lego Store just once.  About five years ago, I was again taking a week off to burn off some vacation time, so I made the trek to the southside and Southgate Mall to check out the just-opened Lego Store.  There was a lot of Lego.

Taking a close look at the superhero themes, I started examining the Marvel Heroes Mighty Micros.  These are adorable little Lego sets.  You get a Marvel hero and villain in each pack, and they have a little go-kart theme to that character to you can have little go-kart races with them.  At a very affordable $10 each, I wound up collecting all of them last year.  In 2017, they gifted us with Spider-Man vs. the Scorpion, Iron Man vs. Thanos, and Wolverine vs. Magneto.  Well, I discovered they have some new ones out for 2018:  Thor vs. Loki, Star-Lord vs. Nebula, and Scarlet Spider vs. Sandman.  Wasn't sure if I wanted to start collecting the new ones, or just move along, so I moved along.  Maybe next week, when I'm back for Black Panther.

I arrived at my usual destination of West Edmonton Mall, and began exploring.  I always forget how wonderfully quiet the mall is on a weekday afternoon.  Sometimes, it's nice to go without an agenda or a plan.  Just wander around, see what you can see, and just start to slowly feel bad because it begins to be a constant reminder of how broke you currently are.

I did have to make one stop, though.  At work, I'd been lamenting how we've got no 2018 calendars up yet, making it tough to keep track of things and plan ahead.  Luckily, the calendar pop-up stores that the mall always gets for Christmas hadn't shut down yet.  And now, their entire stock is half-off.  So I got Great Canadian Trains for the office, and Classic Travel Posters for home.

Also took a moment to look at the sign heralding the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The original news report said it'd be opening March 1, but now they're saying it'll probably be opening in the late spring or early summer.  I am getting surprisingly excited for the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opened up in the mid-1990s.  The entire restaurant is themed around the movie Forrest Gump, and is named for Gump's shrimp boat business in the film.  As I'm sure you've figured out, the menu is about 90% shrimp dishes. West Edmonton Mall is going to be their first ever Canadian location, and they're hoping to make it their Canadian flagship location.

I'm getting excited for several reasons.  First, I love shrimp.  Second, I love kitsch like this.  Lastly, pure nostalgia, as it's reminding me of the boom of the chain restaurants like this.  The boom lasted for most of the 1990s, and during that time, in West Edmonton Mall, you could find a Hard Rock Cafe and a Planet Hollywood and a Johnny Rockets and a Fuddrucker's....  And like all those chains, I'll eat at them once and then figure that's enough. 

On my way out of town, I decided to make one last stop at Canadian Tire.  As I blogged when I first learned about it back in November, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is not a phrase that pops up in Star Wars action figure collecting circles.  But, that phrase did pop up back in November when The Last Jedi figures started showing up.  I figured that, since Canadian Tire only really has a toy section when Christmas rolls around, now would be the prefect time to get it, as it would be heavily discounted.  And I was right!  50% off.  So I snatched it up.  Sadly, I forgot my Canadian Tire money at home or else it would have been cheaper.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

The Canadian Tire exclusive 3-pack comes to us from Return of the Jedi, featuring Luke Skywalker in his black Jedi outfit, Emperor Palpatine, and the Emperor's Royal Guard.  It's almost a throwback to the Cinema Scenes 3-Packs of yore.  When this modern era of Star Wars figures began in the late 1990s, they did a thing called Cinema Scenes.  It was a three pack of figures, all done up to look just as they did in a specific scene from the original trilogy.

With some shiny new Star Wars toys, it was time to head for home.  I do like days like this, but they always make me feel sad.  I would certainly love to be able to take better vacations than just hanging around the house and making daytrips like this, but financially, it's just not in the cards.  But until that day, we do the best we can. 

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