Category Archives: Obscure Observations
Well, it’s certainly been a while, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss this place. Between a much-needed foray back into creative writing and concerns over that-which-shall-not-be-named, the Nerdy Activities this site promises have been a bit quiet. Luckily, it’s not been for a lack of inspiration, and I have all sorts of stories and ideas I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys, starting with a tidbit I tripped over in an unlikely place.
Among the various gifts I received over the holidays, one category that saw a noteworthy influx was plushies — 9 new dolls in total, in fact (due largely to one friend getting me an entire collection of Pikmin). In lieu of simply jamming them into my existing nets and calling it a day, I figured it’d be wiser to start a new one. TO GOOGLE!
Honestly, there’s not a lot to say about searching for a toy hammock; they’re essentially all the same item and sometimes even share stock photos of gently cradling a dozen or so generic stuffed animals that nobody wants or has ever heard of. Perhaps it was due to this slack-jawed parade of blandness that something unusual managed to stand out when I checked out Target‘s online selection.
Upon closer inspection of the center of the net…
Yyyyyep, that’s a Banjo-Kazooie plushie.
Considering that all I was interested in were prices, I’m still not sure how I even noticed this. It was an fascinating enough surprise, but even more astonishing was what the minimal amount of research I happened to put into the discovery uncovered. According to Video Game Memorabilia Museum, this particular doll was released back in 1998 to promote the original Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64. The entry lists this particular doll as “scarce,” and upon a quick search to verify this, I found a single doll on Amazon for $100 and one auction on eBay whose bids have already pushed it over $30.
The obvious question then becomes, how the hell did a 15+ year old super-rare doll end up in a generic toy hammock photo shoot? Obviously the plushies have to be supplied from somewhere, but where IS that? Did they just grab a bunch of dolls from a thrift store and didn’t realize what they had? Did someone bring in a bunch of old plushies from their kid’s toy box? Was someone on-staff a fellow gaming collector and sneaked in a gem from their private collection just for the laugh of an Easter egg?
Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check the product reviews to see if any shenanigans had gone down; after all, not all companies go out of their way to state that the supplementary items shown with their product are not included with said product, and I could easily see some smartass complaining that their net didn’t come with a vintage Banjo-Kazooie plush. Unfortunately, it seems that the two people who’ve actually bothered to leave reviews either didn’t see it, didn’t know what it was, or don’t have anywhere near as lame of a sense of humor as I do.
However the doll got there, I suppose we’ll never know if it was put there on purpose. I’m still not sure if it’s funnier if they knew or didn’t know, so I’ll leave that for you guys to decide.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I do not own or have any affiliation with Banjo-Kazooie, Target, eBay, or Amazon. I don’t even own the net this article is focused on, let alone the dolls inside of it.
I do, however, own Pikmin. In the plushie sense, that is, not the licensing way.
Metroid: Zero Mission, released by Nintendo for the GameBoy Advance in 2004, is a title that rarely needs a formal introduction. It retold and revamped the original 1986 NES game by introducing graphics, controls, powers, and storytelling in a manner highly reminiscent of Super Metroid. It payed homage to several games in the series while still managing to stamp its own unique fingerprint on the Metroid canon. Needless to say, the game was a huge hit.
But I’m not here to talk about popularity today. I’m here to talk about bugs.
Yeah, these little shits.
As much as I enjoy art and get addicted to competition shows, there’s no way I wasn’t going to get into the show Ink Master on SpikeTV. The show recently started its third season, and it began with a bang: Contestants all had to give prison-style tattoos to inmates. Of the art that was given, several were what I considered typical, run-of-the-mill tattoo flash art, but one in particular stood out to me.
The inmate had requested a ‘karakasa,’ or “a Japanese demonic umbrella.” While the name and design weren’t ringing any bells, his description did feel familiar to me, for some reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Coincidentally, I also happened to be doing some research on a shitton of classic games over the last few weeks, and it just so happened that I recently rediscovered this little tidbit from my childhood:
The creature in question is alternatively known in Japanese as a kasa-obake, which literally translates to “shapeshifting umbrella,” although “obake” is also used to mean “ghost” or “supernatural being”. The screenshot above is from Super Mario Land 2, and was taken in the Pumpkin Zone (aka the Halloween-themed area), which would make a kasa-obake’s presence appropriate.
I never expected that a show like Ink Master would give me a retro experience. It would’ve been cool if the tattoo had been a direct reference to SML2, it’s still cool that there was a connective thread to begin with.
I have no official affiliation with Ink Master or Super Mario Land 2; they belong to SpikeTV and Nintendo, respectively. If I DID have anything to do with them, that’d be pretty badass and I’d be screaming it from the hills.