The Vintage Tempest’s Toy & Tech Wish-List for Santa

21 Dec
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By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Dear Santa,

I’ve been good. Really, I have. I hope it’s in your willingness to consider putting one of these wish list items under my Christmas tree. I want stuff to satisfy my love for toys or tech. I’ve boiled down my list down to five items.

Unlike my best-friend James, I have satisfied my anime craving a long time ago. There really is not much that I want (on video or otherwise) from Japan … well unless you can send me a full size operational Gundam for me to pilot so I can travel anywhere I want (around the world or in space). Or can you please give me an all expense paid trip to visit the Ghibli Museum at Mitaka Park and Fuji-Q Highland Park (I want the ability to spend a full day at each venue). That would be on top of what I really want.

I was there before, but those memories are over a decade old.

Alternatively, if you can find it in your heart to park an AT-AT at my home, well, my grin will be wider than the Grinch and the Cat Bus (from My Neighbour Totoro) combined. But in terms of being realistic, the following items are far more doable:

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Logitech 915-000201 Harmony Ultimate Remote with Customizable Touch Screen

When considering the number of video (DVD, Blu-Ray, SVHS, Beta and Laserdisc) players I have kicking about still, the last thing I hate to dig up will be the remote that’s required to control the said device. There is also my DVR, my Mac and multiple televisions around the house. It’s a nightmare! And to have the ultimate all in one program that can work as software with my Samsung Galaxy Tab, since it has an IR emitter, or as a stand-alone device is much-needed. I’ve gone through Google Play and could not find any program to my liking until I came across mention of this all-in-one package while perusing Cnet one night.

I’ve been told that Logitech maintains the largest database of remote control “drivers” so any lost remote I’ve had from the past 25 years can be resurrected again. In theory, I can operate that BETAmax from years past.

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Apple Mac Pro

Apple’s newest version of the Mac Pro looks pretty sweet. The black cylindrical design is hip, but I honestly think Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave. I doubt he would approve of this HAL9000 inspired design. I even question its upgradability for when a hard drive dies or a graphics board needs replacement. It looks sleek, but were there any sacrifices made along the way? And what about Blu-Ray functionality? I’m willing to put up with what is not there by simply adding more external devices to it. At least there are enough ports to connect devices to.

When considering the specifications I’d want my next computer to handle — to have an eight core (I’m not greedy, but 16 is way too much power than I really need unless I’m creating 3D holodeck worlds) system with 32gb of internal RAM and Dual AMD FireProD500 graphics processors are enough. Stack in a 5 terabyte hard drive RAID system and I’m set for life.

I will not need to upgrade for another eight or so years. Well, that’s until the home computer can create fully immersive virtual environments for an Oculus Rift to use. I have mild interest in this virtual display technology but honestly, development is way too slow. Computers are able to create realistic Second Life environments akin to jacking into the Matrix, but when it comes to real time rendering, half the virtual objects I find still looks like paper mache sculptures.

To own a base unit will do the job for meeting my present multimedia needs, but I’ll no doubt want more power since the next generation of video games will definitely demand it. Creating proper photo-realism in real-time does require a lot of number crunching to be done within a computer.

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Critical Hit LED D20 Die

Okay, the gamer in me must have this light-up die. I want a pair so that I can roll percentages and values up to twenty. Most of the role-playing games that I play and game master usually make use of one or the other. Well, there’s the odd game that uses the traditional six-sided dice, so to have a set of those that light up will be great too. That way, in Champions (the old system that I’m familiar with), I can easily count up the number of “body checks” being inflicted upon the foes my character makes.

If my fellow gamers take issue with worry that the die may be weighted, the developers assure that the product is not and the roll of these dice are truly random.

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Super Deformed Optimus Prime by Kidslogic

Okay, no anime cum Transformer fan can do without this display piece on their shelf. Not only does Optimus’ eyes light up but also his chest opens up to reveal the Matrix of Leadership (which also illuminates). He’s fully customizable. The only downside is that he’s not transformable and a tad on the short side. He stands 6″ tall. But still, the battles he could have should a SD Megatron get made will no doubt be oh-so-adorable.

More pictures can be found at http://tfsource.com/kidslogic/sd-optimus

Slave Leia

Gentle Giant Princess Leia with R2D2 / Slave Leia

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is fantastic for one simple reason: their character designs. I missed out in getting my hands on Gentle Giant’s rendition of the classic trilogy’s characters, namely Princess Leia, and hope to find it now. The small-sized version is nice, since it includes R2D2, but if the full-scale model is available anywhere, that would make for a great display piece to get my total nerd on and be the envy of the block. The sculpt job speaks for itself.

At least the Slave Leia version is still in stock in select outlets. The Vintage Leia version can be bought if enthusiasts are willing to pay the auction prices for it.

Stocking Stuffers

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My needs are simple and the best stocking stuffer I can ask for is reusable hand warmers. I’m going to need some to mend those sore gamer elbows, tired hand muscles after pushing a game controller or sitting too long. Also, there’s the benefit of keeping the body warm while waiting in lines to get into a store first during Boxing Day. Depending on what I find listed in the flyers, yes, I’ll be there to stock up on more USB drives (a few designer ones) and close-out video game deals. I wonder if the retailers will mark down the PS4 or Xbox One by a bit? Hmm.

Perhaps the most creative use I’ve found for these liquid pockets of heat is to keep a dinner warm when I’m too involved with my video game or movie watching.

Many brands exist and the two companies that stand out for me, for availability in Canada, are the products that 3SecondHeat and HeatinaClick sells. I’m guessing that all the manufacture comes from the same factory, made to a company’s specifications, and the selection these two companies offer meets my needs. I like the glove sized hand warmers and the items that come with an insulation cover by 3SecondHeat. That added item makes their product stand out amongst the many other businesses selling the same product. Otherwise, I do not care whom I buy from.

The science between all the brands are the same: they warm up to a comfortable 54c (130f) degrees at a “click” of a button. The liquid is a Sodium Acetate, a salt based solution and water that will crystallize and shed heat. Most instructions will suggest that once used, it should be boiled in hot water as soon as possible. That way, full crystallization will not result afterwards. That’s the only downside for using this technology; so much for being totally “hot water” free. By creating a positive marketing message, users can get two uses out of one when the product is boiled back to liquid consistency. While it’s still hot, it can be used again.

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