Beauty Horse: Let Your Children Grow Up In Happiness

While browsing the pony section at a toy store in Stockholm (Sweden) during my last trip there, I stumbled over this obvious My Little Pony knock-off toy: Beauty Horse.

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What’s fascinating is that they have combined two different pony toy design generations: the blue to the left is reminiscent of the older My Little Pony toy designs, while the one to the right is how the current My Little Pony toys look like. Perhaps they’re trying to offer the best of both worlds: why choose between old or new when you can have both?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a genuine imitation product without some lovingly crafted, borderline nonsensical marketing taglines on the box. At the bottom of the front we can read the following: fashion Horses. Why they capitalize the first letter in horses and not fashion I do not know. Underneath it says: Lovely Horses A Barrel Of Fun Best Friend as one long sentence. It just rolls off the tongue.

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Now to the back of the box. At the top to the right there’s some text in an oval shape, announcing: Lovely Funny New Friend. It’s unclear which of the two ponies in the box is our lovely funny new friend. Presumably the pink one, as the informative oval is itself pink and has been placed closest to the pink pony. Further down there’s a yellow star announcing: Happy time. Now if we’re still in doubt as to whether this is the product for us, they list three final selling points at the very bottom: Funny series product! Best gift for children! Let your children grow up in happiness. Who wouldn’t want their children to grow up in happiness? Though for some reason, this final statement did not receive an exclamation point as the two previous statements did. Perhaps they felt the statement was so impactful on its own that an exclamation point would just be silly. Or maybe they left it out in an attempt to inspire a brief, quiet moment of contemplation so each consumer can consider their own children’s current state of happiness before making a purchasing decision. Beauty Horse works in mysterious ways.

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They also had this beast there, collecting a total of four ponies based on (I think) three different generations of pony toy designs.

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The box is similar to the previous one, but they have placed the taglines from the back of the smaller box – which were in the pink oval and the gold star – to the front of the box, putting them into three purple hearts. They have also divided the tagline from the pink oval in half so that it makes less sense (lovely funny?), and the word new has been entirely capitalized.

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It was surprising to see these in a regular toy store right next to the legitimate My Little Pony toy line. I thought imitation products normally did not also make their way onto retail store shelves, and that if stores carried them they would normally not carry the authentic product. But perhaps it’s more common than I think.

I somewhat regret not buying one of the small double pony ones. 60 SEK isn’t all that much, and it’s a neat example of modern knock-off pop culture. It’s practically a collectible in its own right! It could also be an amusing joke gift to some brony friends of mine.

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Jungeldyret (Norwegian Soundtrack EP)

It has been a while since I posted anything new to this blog. This is due to a combination of life, obligations, and procrastination. The life part includes some very bad luck happening the first three to four months of this year, including head trauma and hard drive crash. But I do hope to get more into blogging again soon. Perhaps doing shorter entries, and/or more personal entries about creative projects. We’ll see.

As a treat of sorts, here’s something I’ve considered posting for a while: the Norwegian soundtrack EP released for the animated movie Jungeldyret (known as Jungledyret in its original Danish, and Go Hugo Go or Jungle Jack internationally). I bought the CD as a kid, and I believe I even bought it right after having seen the movie at the theater. My memory is a bit woozy. I think I maybe saw it with my aunt, but again, it’s a while back so it’s hard to remember clearly. I’m uploading it here as these songs (in Norwegian) are not currently available anywhere else, and who knows if they ever will be.

Enjoy!

Jungeldyret Norwegian Soundtrack Cover

  1. Virre-Vapp Sang
  2. Skateboard Sang
  3. Kake-Kai´s Sang
  4. Jungeldyret

Cover scan / Disc scan / WAV files

If you are the rights holder for this release and would like it taken down, let me know and I will remove it from this blog.

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The Tørtels Bus

There’s a bus and car depot not too far from where I live. Some years back (in 2007 to be precise), I saw there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed bus parked there, presumably to be scrapped or sold. So naturally, I went to take a few pictures.

The bus is a so-called russebuss. It’s a strange Norwegian tradition where graduating high schoolers all chip in to get a party bus, getting it decorated to fit some particular theme. The russ tradition also includes wearing specific outfits (the colours are decided by what you’re studying), getting badges (similar to boy/girl scouts, except revolving around silly and vulgar things like spending the night in a roundabout or streaking), and getting together to party and play loud obnoxious party music. You can read more about it here.

I was never really a russ myself, not feeling comfortable in the teenage party miljø. Plus, it seemed like a bit of waste of money. Though I did idly speculate in getting a party hearse instead, maybe together with some other introverted counter-culture friends.

Anyway. This bus looks (or looked, as the case might be) pretty neat. Not all of my pictures are great, in part due to how the bus was parked and the lighting at the time. But they should give a good idea of what the bus looked like.

Note that the bus reads Teenage Hero Tørtels. The tørtels part is the common Norwegian phonetic pronunciation of the turtles; I believe the show aired as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on Norwegian and Swedish television (read more here); and I guess they just didn’t have room for the mutant part on the sign. It also reads årets buss ’07, which translates to bus of the year ’07. So presumably it won an award or two in 2007 at one of the larger russe-gatherings.

Enjoy!

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Fidelity Wars #130: Nakinyko – “What’s Manabi Straight!?”

I have written about the anime series Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! before. (Over here.) To quickly reiterate, the series was almost really good. It had so many things going for it, including a really excellent and heartfelt ending (which is a rarity for any series). At times it was incredibly interesting, like how the show did a 180 in one episode and suddenly became a dark psychological thriller, or how they tied up the opening sequence of the show with its ending. But it’s still hard to recommend due to the overall tedium of the series.

A while back I stumbled over a curious remix/mash-up on YouTube, combining the instrumental arrangement of the show’s opening with the vocals from the pop song “What’s My Name?” by Rihanna. I’m not familiar with the pop song at all, but the mash-up sounds quite wonderful, the two complementing each other brilliantly. I’m curious whether any auto-tune type tweaking was needed or if the two were so similar that it was more or less just a copy and paste job. The mash-up is credited to Nakinyko, and it’s this week’s featured tune.

Nakinyko – “What’s Manabi Straight!?”

What's Manabi Straight Cover

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Fleamarket Rundown Spring/Summer 2014

Another journal showing off some of the more interesting items I’ve found at fleamarkets this season (and possibly the season before that as well; things have kind of piled up). Due to length, I’ve this time tried sorting everything into roughly defined categories.


Figures & Figurines

A set of plastic figures from the Watership Down TV series. Was very surprised to stumble over these when going to a random fleamarket at Heggedalshallen in Heggedal (which was a pretty good fleamarket overall). I actually didn’t know what these were when I got them, but I thought they looked cute and interesting and I saw they were all part of the same series. It wasn’t until I got back home that I realized what they were, looking up the different names printed under the different figures. I got a couple of double ones (I bought all the ones I could find), but sadly there are a couple missing to make a complete set. I regret not using more time to browse in the boxes in the toys section, as maybe the missing figures were hiding there somewhere.

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The bulk of figures I bought this fleamarket season.

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Wile E. Coyote, Taz the Tasmanian Devil, and Sylvester and Bugs Bunny on surfboards. All well-known Looney Tunes characters.

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A mouse by the name of Colette who’s from the Geronime Stilton book series, an unknown something or other (see below for more pictures and speculation), Fifi the pink poodle from Rugrats in Paris, a mole wearing a monocle pointing at his crotch while holding a caterpillar (no idea where he’s from, looks like something from Aardman Animations – see below for a close-up), and a pretty ugly version of the bloated duck from the Bonbon Andemad candy bags. (See below for more, and prettier, Bonbon figures.)

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Finally we have Amy from Sonic the Hedgehog, Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Puss from the Shrek movie-series and more recently the the Puss in Boots movie. As it’s a chubby version of the Puss character, it must be from Shrek Forever After.

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There are two things I really like about this mole figure. The first is that his monocle is see through plastic (with gray painted along the sides), giving a neat effect. The second thing I like is his rather obscene gesture, pointing down while grinning. I do not know what movie or show this character is from.

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Another mystery character. It looks like a mouse or an otter maybe. He (or she) has a football, has the Norwegian flag on his shoulders, appears to be wearing a captain’s / pilot’s hat, and has SAS on his back. (SAS being a Scandinavian airline.) An old mascot SAS used, perhaps? Something related to some football team or event? I have no idea. The figure itself isn’t bad though, and it has some impressive paint work and details.

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Buttercup and Blossom from The Powerpuff Girls. A great show, and these figures look pretty good too (though Blossom’s hair is slightly damaged, but you can’t see it from the front). Sadly they can’t stand on their own, so I’m guessing they were a part of… something that would keep them erect. Maybe some sort of decorative mobile you’d hang in the ceiling?

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Figures from the Danish Bonbon brand of candy which was popular here in Scandinavia, who’s schtick it was to feature somewhat vulgar anthropomorphic animal characters on their candy bags, with the contents made to simulate whatever the vulgarity was. Below you will find the mascots for: Andemad (translates to “duck food”; the bloated duck), Tisse-bleer (translates to “pee/wet diapers”; the baby hippo with the blue head), Puh-bæ (I think it translates to something like “yucky poop” or “smelly poop”; the pig on the potty), Bladlus (translates to “aphids”; the green bug on the leaf), and Bøvsss (translates to a long “buuurp”; the baby lion laying on its back). These are very small and easy to overlook when you’re looking through containers of toys.

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Three figures from Rugrats. Some googling reveals that these are actually pencil holders/huggers (in the same series as Fifi the poodle seen above). I actually thought they were supposed to combine together in some way to be a decorative piece, so I was keen on getting more of them. Pencil holders are slightly less exciting, but the figure designs are still nice.

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A sassy/saucy/sexy reindeer ornament. Unlike Santa, she doesn’t care if you’ve been a naughty boy.

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I presume this figure is supposed to be of Minnie Mouse, but it really just looks like Mickey Mouse in a dress. Or did Mickey wear a dress at some point in some cartoon, and this figure is based on that?

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Games

Some random video games I picked up cheaply. Alas I own neither a Sega Dreamcast, nor a Sega Genesis (nor a Sega Mega Drive for that matter). But who knows what the future might bring; I never thought I’d get a PlayStation 2, and now I have two of them! (See below.)

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Dreamcast

Yes, that’s right, I now have two PlayStation 2 consoles. A friend was kind enough to donate one to me a couple of years back, complete with game pads and a memory card. Then at a recent fleamarket, I stumbled over one for sale. But they didn’t know whether or not it was working; they only had the power adapter for it (and one controller), and not the TV cable. So they weren’t able to test the picture. But as it was clearly able to be turned on, I figured it was a fairly safe bet that the picture and everything else would be in order. So I got it for 100 NOK, and indeed when I came home to test it with the TV connector from my other PS2, it worked fine! (Unlike the PSOne I’d bought at a previous fleamarket, which didn’t work at all. But thankfully I’d only spent about 20 NOK on that one. If I had the necessary skills, I’d try making it into a waffle iron or somesuch.)

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Books

Some near mint condition Disney story books. They had a few more, and I now regret not buying more of them.

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Various Lion King books in varying states of decay. The hardback ones are in pretty good condition, the non-hardback ones… in less good condition. I’m particularly interested in spin-off books, those that tell original stories not seen in any of the films. Those are harder to come by. I believe the most famous and sought after ones – compiled in the Six New Adventures box set – were never published in Norway, so there’s not much chance of ever stumbling over those. Still, I can hope.

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I loved Tiny Toon Adventures as a kid. (Or Tiny Toons, as I’d normally call it.) One of the funnier cartoon shows at the time. Then Animaniacs came along, which made TTA seem dull and dumb in comparison, making it effectively obsolete for me. Anyway, here are two story books, both in pretty decent condition, and one still even has its price tag.

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A horror manga I hadn’t heard of before: Cat Eyed Boy by Kazuo Umezu. Looks to be in almost mint condition, except for a slight tear at the side. Annoyingly it’s just volume one, and I need to purchase volume two to complete the story. I guess I should be thankful that there aren’t even more additional volumes.

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Eventyrbånd

Turns out, Evetyrbånd are fairly collectible. I was actually contacted by someone in relation to my find of two sealed copies of Alf Blir Detektiv, who offered to  buy them from me. Then later I was contacted by yet another guy wanting to buy them from me, but by then I’d already sold them to the first guy. Sorry!

So I’ve started picking more of these up when I’m able. They’re often in pretty bad shape though, and those copies I usually just ignore. But here are a few of the ones I ended up picking up.

I found two almost sealed, almost mint condition copies. There’s Barnas Ønskejul, which seems to have been meticulously opened so as to cause the least amount of damage, and the book has been re-inserted. I guess whoever owned it wanted to enjoy the contents, but at the same time appreciated the packaging and wanted to keep them in as good condition as possible. Hence this compromise. But, it was missing the tape, though at the same fleamarket I actually found both another copy of the book, and the tape. They were in a plastic bag, somewhat hidden away. The tape was in mint condition. Which made me believe that maybe the tape was the original one from the packaging. Rather curious.

Then there’s Dumbo, which seems to have sustained some damage. Maybe at the fleamarket when being shuffled around, or maybe prior. So the plastic container for the tape has been kind of crunched. But other than that, it doesn’t look bad, and unlike Barnas Ønskejul it doesn’t seem to have been opened at all.

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And two worn copies of just the books without the tapes: Bambi – Sommerfuglenes Hemmelighet, and Den Lille Havrfruen. The former I got because I haven’t seen many Bambi spin-off stories and it’s one of my favourite Disney films, and the latter because it was a plastic bag sale (you buy a plastic bag and fill it as much as you want and are able) and I had the room for it.

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VHS & DVDs

I was very surprised to stumble over five movies by renowned B-movie studio and distributor Troma Entertainment. But this was during the first day of the fleamarket, so the prices were still steep, and knowing I’d come back the next day I figured I’d buy them then, when the prices were lower. What were the chances anyone would be interested in these?

Of course, two of them were gone the next day. But thankfully it was Toxic Avenger (which I already own a copy of) and Sizzle Beach, U.S.A. (which, from what I’ve gathered, is a forgettable soft core erotica comedy film starring Kevin Costner), which were the ones I was the least interested in. So I ended up with Surf Nazis Must Die, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., and Troma’s War.

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Four “films” by the Spanish animation studio BRB Internacional. I say “films” as I believe they’re all just heavily abridged versions of cartoon series with the same name.  The “films” are: Gnomenes Fantastiske Reise, Willy Fog: Jorden Rundt På 80 Dager, Dogtanian: En For Alle, Alle For En, and Sondokan.

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Two more DVDs: Dunderklumpen, a Swedish animated film I’ve been curious about, and Den Lille Gjetergutten, which I’ve no idea what is.

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A VHS special collector’s edition of Titanic, which I only bought because I thought it could be worth something. Plus, it was cheap. I don’t care for the movie at all. The box comes with prints from the film, as well as a few frames from one of the film rolls.

Of course, it turned out it was pretty worthless. So now I own a worthless copy of the Titanic collector’s edition VHS.

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A collection of animated films (and series) on VHS. Most of which are fairly obscure, and I don’t think they’re available on any other formats (yet). At least not the Norwegian dubs.

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Jungel Patruljen: De Tre Små Grisene, Leo The Lion: Jungelens Konge (curious that they didn’t translate the title of the film into Norwegian, but that they did translate the sub-title), Skriket Fra Villmarken (which is a slightly odd translation of The Call Of The Wild, as it translates back to The Scream From The Wild; I think Villmarkens Kall would have been a better translation)…

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Jungel Boken (written incorrectly as two words), Jorden Rundt På 80 Dager

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… and another Jungelboken (this time written correctly), and De Morsomme Kattene.

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More VHS tapes! More animation, and a few live action ones.

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Beyond: Behind The Scenes – Universal Studios Hollywood (still sealed and unopened), Panda På Äventyr (the Swedish dub of a film I remember watching as a kid, which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on for a while; while a neat find, I still need to get a hold of the Norwegian dubbed version)…

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Sealab 2020 (am a big fan of Sealab 2021, so figured this could be a fun and interesting watch), Aladdin Og Den Vidunderlige Lampen

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… and finally, Løvinnen Elsa (original title: Born Free), and Born To Be Free (the follow-up to Born Free).

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CDs

Four CDs I bought because they seemed potentially interesting, and they were cheap or free. There’s Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra with From Ragtime To Radio (which I got because I was undergoing a minor ragtime music kick at the time), Seljåsen with Dyretrall Og Trollevers (which I got on a whim as I had no idea what it was, and which actually turned out to be kind of wonderful when I listened to it), Sver with Fruen (which I got because of the artwork; see more pictures below), and Total War: Eras (compiling music from the Total War computer game series, which I got because, hey, it’s video game music and I like video games).

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Fruen by Sver. I bought this CD due to the neat artwork, predicting it would either be a punk or a Norwegian folk music album. It turned out to be folk music! It’s not half bad either.

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A  promo copy of the album Do Things by Dent May, an artist I’m a very casual fan of. The seal is still unbroken. I was amused to see that this was a copy addressed to Thomas Talseth, a music journalist now working at the Norwegian newspaper VG. He used to be the editor and a writer for the Norwegian youth magazine Spirit, and usually wrote the bulk of the album reviews. I remember I used to get quite annoyed with his writing, as it seemed so forcefully youthful; I was never a very youthful youth.

I’m curious how it ended up in a fleamarket in Lommedalen, my hometown. Does Thomas Talseth actually live here? Shouldn’t he have turned the copy in or destroyed it, rather than letting it end up being resold?

I’m also curious what the heck “watermarked audio” means.

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Miscellaneous Electronics

A folder of home-made MiniDisc compilations, and a MiniDisc player. Sadly the player doesn’t seem to work.

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A keyboard! A Casio SA-21. I think I paid 20 or 30 kroner for it, getting it cheap as they had no idea whether or not it was working. When I came home and got it powered up, I found that it did indeed work! While not a Casio PT 30 or 50, nor a Casio VL-Tone 1, it’s definitely a nice find.

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Prints

Three framed prints of stills from the Norwegian animated movie Solan, Ludvig Og Gurin Med Reverompa, set in the same universe as the cult classic Flåklypa Grand Prix and featuring many of the same characters. I’ve yet to see it, but from what I know it’s not supposed to be very good. I will probably watch it eventually.

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A framed (though the frame is way too big) shiny metallic print thing of The Lion King. It’s hard to see the effect properly here, but it doesn’t look half-bad. Need to find a good frame for it, as this one doesn’t fit at all. (The white borders aren’t part of the print, they’re just empty space.)

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An adorable art print of what appears to be a black/brown bear cub snuggled up with a bigger/older polar bear. I just wish it didn’t say Cliff Wright in big letters at the bottom, which somewhat ruins the aesthetic. I wish the white borders were thinner too (which here are a part of the print and not just empty space between the print and the borders of the frame), or that they were entirely absent.

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A drawing of a river boat. At the bottom it reads “Steamer Natchez, New Orleans”. Can’t quite make out the artist. “Don” something, and it says “copyright 1976”. I’m pretty sure this is just a print of the original drawing, and not the actual original. It has a nice detailed sketch look, and I rather like it.

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Miscellaneous

This got me pretty excited: a My Little Pony cup from 1986. I was really surprised at the condition it was in, as it looked unused, with very little wear on the image print.

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A Disney’s Gummi Bear jigsaw puzzle. While the box is worn and tattered, the actual pieces are in almost near mint condition, and I was happy to find that none of them were missing.

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Sweden

When I was in Sweden earlier this year, we were able to stop by a fleamarket on one of my last days there. It was a gravel field where people could bring their cars and sell their wares from tables set up by their car trunks. It was the first time I had been to a fleamarket like that. While I didn’t make any super exciting, jaw-dropping finds, I did find some nice items – which I’ll of course list below.

Starting off with more figures. Here we have Scar from The Lion King, Sebastian and Flounder from The Little MermaidThomas O’Malley from The Aristocats (and for some reason, the figure has wheels so you can vroom around with it – since when do cats come with wheels?), Wakko from Animaniacs, and Friend Owl from Bambi.

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The Scar figure looks really nice! Except for the fact that he’s a wind-up figure, so his front legs both have visible screws, and there’s an obvious line dividing his body in two. I wish it had just been made as a normal, decorative figure; the sculpt and paint job are both great.

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Two Disney cups: one with a 101 Dalmatians motif, and one with a Baby Mickey motif.

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A children’s book with some cute looking art. While neat, I could have skipped it, but I was urged to buy it by my friend.

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And finally, a jul-themed animated quasi movie entitled Den Magiska Julnatten. Depicting a creepy looking 2D drawn Santa and a clunky looking CGI mouse. It might be fun!

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A Little Bit For Charity

A Little Bit for Charity

A Little Bit for Charity is a creative charity project where indie bands and artists cover songs from the ongoing animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The songs are uploaded to our bandcamp page, where you can pay what you want—including choosing to not pay at all—and all the money will go to an animal-rights charity organization.

http://alittlebitforcharity.bandcamp.com/

Our current charity is the Animal Welfare Institute. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the detrimental effects human actions have on the well-being of animals. This includes working to improve the conditions of farm animals, preserving vegetation to benefit endangered species, and much more. For more information about the organization and their work, please see their website.

Heart-Sick Groans - Art Of The Dress Cover

First up is for the project is a cover of “Art Of The Dress” by Heart-Sick Groans, a quirky Swedish twee folk band. They give Rarity’s song a lush and relaxed, mainly acoustic arrangement, and combined with the quaint and unmistakably Swedish-accented vocals, it turns into something quite special and pleasant. While it may not be the music of choice for most bronies out there, we hope pony fans will find it enjoyable and feel adequately inspired to give a bit to charity by choosing to pay for the song.

For more music by Heart-Sick Groans, please check out their bandcamp page, and for the latest news give their facebook page a look.

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Swedish indie band Heart-Sick Groans.

Now, to go along with the launch of this project and to hopefully answer any questions you might have, here’s a quick Q&A. Feel free to get in touch if your question is not answered below.

Q: What exactly is “indie music”?

A: That’s a tricky one. Indie is short for independent, and was initially used to distinguish between the established, mainstream, popular acts signed with the big labels and record companies, and the lesser known acts signed to smaller, “independent” labels. Now indie music has become more of a genre label, mostly used to refer to alternative and experimental music in the pop/rock tradition, with a plethora of sub genres.

Q: Why indie music?

A: While the series has an impressive creative community, including a thriving music scene, there hasn’t really been much fan-made indie music produced related to the show. Seeing as how most of the music we love fall within the indie genre, we wanted to help rectify this (while at the same time trying to help raise some money for causes we believe are important).

Q: Why My Little Pony?

A: It’s a genuinely good series with some genuinely good (and award-nominated!) songs. It might not appeal to everyone, which is fine, but if you’re not averse to animation it’s certainly worth giving a try, and the series has a special place in the hearts of many.

Q: How often will new songs be released?

A: We’ve unfortunately no idea. The original goal was to release a cover by a different band once every month, but that was quickly proven to be too ambitious. Even once every other month seemed like it could be difficult to pull off. Many bands and musicians have tight schedules, with various  real life obligations above and beyond that of music (especially pro bono work, even if it’s for charity), and it takes time finding the right musicians for the project as well. So right now it’s running on a “whenever we’re able” schedule. Follow us on bandcamp and you should be getting notified whenever new music is made available. (News about new songs will also be made to this blog, but it’ll also include blog posts on many entirely unrelated topics you may have no interest in.)

Q: This sounds fun! Can I help out?

A: We are certainly open for folks who want to help us out! Having a couple of visual artists interested in doing covers for future songs would be great, maybe doing a few different banners we can rotate between too. As for the actual music, if you can get us in touch with other indie talent, then sure, that would also be great! You can also get in touch if you’re an indie musician yourself, but please note that we prefer musicians and bands who are not already known for doing pony-themed music. Just send an e-mail to eivind@kirkebykvalitet.com with the topic “A Little Bit for Charity”.

And before I stop typing and let you all go on with your daily lives, I’d just like to give a special thanks to Rommel from Bronies For Good for some initial advice and encouragement; an equally special thanks to Heart-Sick Groans for their heartwarming enthusiasm, truly embracing the challenge, and for their excellent contribution; and a super special thanks to you for reading, listening, and helping to support animal rights. Thank you all.

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Fleamarket Special: Here There Be Dungeons & Dragons

It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve stumbled over roleplaying books at fleamarkets before. The most interesting find was probably stumbling over a handful of books in near mint condition for the anime-inspired roleplaying game Exalted a while back, which is a bit of a niche setting. Not a setting I really have any interest in myself, but of course I got the books anyway. You never know.

I’ve only been to the fleamarket at Østerås church once before, but I like it. Their selection isn’t the best, but the prices are low, the people working there are usually friendly, and they will apparently start giving things away at the very end as it’ll otherwise just be recycled or thrown. (I actually had to dodge a fleamarket person who wanted to give me free stuff; she was trying to give me a plastic bag for me to load up with whatever I wanted, but I had to run off to secure and carry the stuff I’d already purchased.) Plus, during both of my visits there I found some gems! Last time it was the rare promotional Rocky Horror Show CD, and this time it was two boxes filled with Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying books!

I got them for a total of 50 kroner (think of it as 5 USD or 5 GBP) five minutes before they were closing. The other shoppers there were mostly elderly people with little interest in dragon slaying or dungeon crawling. I guess I could have gotten them for free if I’d waited for those five extra minutes. Not that I minded much.

I’m very curious where all these came from. It’s a pretty substantial collection of books, and I’d think a normal high schooler wouldn’t be able to afford all of these on his (or her) own; I had a roleplaying group back in the day myself, and our collection of books certainly couldn’t have compared to this. The selection is also somewhat eclectic, with both AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition books, and with modules and resource books related to several different settings (Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Ravenloft). There are also a few double copies in here. Was it just a local gang of roleplayers who had all pooled their books together and they ended up being stored and forgotten about in one of their parents’ garages? Or did one of them have wealthy parents who bought roleplaying books for them willy-nilly? Or perhaps the church actually organized gaming sessions for the local youth, and had a running budget for these books? (So books were maybe also purchased willy-nilly by the church’s staff, and kids would occasionally borrow the books, or forget their own books at the church.) Or maybe they belonged to a collector of these books who had accumulated them from fleamarkets through the years, and now had lost interest, passed away, or was getting rid of the excess? I have no idea, and I can only speculate.

Some of these books I might actually use in the not-too-distant future. In particular The Complete Book of Humanoids and The Complete Book of Elves (even though I bloody hate elves), which are potentially useful for any AD&D game regardless of world. But the large majority of these I will most likely never use. Still, it’s nice to have the option, and it’s fun to browse through the books, looking at the art and picking up on tidbits of useless (but perhaps inspiring) lore. If I hadn’t bought them, the collection could have gotten recycled and destroyed, which would have been a real shame. But space is becoming an increasingly rare commodity these days, and roleplaying books do require a decent amount of it. Especially boxes of them, like these.

I’ve gone through the collection, and you’ll find a list of all the books below – followed by pictures. Many of them are in surprisingly good condition, such as the Dungeons of Mystery accessory which appears to be completely unused. Some of them are in less good condition, with a few scribbles from whatever kids or teenagers first owned them, and they may even be missing a few accessories. As I’m not super familiar with all the items it’s hard to say what they should contain, but I did find that the Dark Sun box set was unfortunately missing a couple of things. There are also a few items I’m not quite sure where belong too (mostly maps), which you’ll see some pictures of towards the end of this post. Any help to place them would be much appreciated.

Dungeons & Dragons

  • Against the Giants (9058)
  • The Complete Book of Elves (2131)
  • The Complete Book of Humanoids (2135)
  • The Complete Wizard’s Handbook (2115)
  • Creative Campaigning (2133)
  • Dungeon Masters Adventure Log (9036)
  • Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide (2019)
  • Dungeons of Mystery (9365)
  • The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (9073)
  • Legends & Lore (2108)
  • The Lost Island of Castanamir (9110)
  • Manual of the Planes (2022)
  • Monster Manual (2009)
  • Monster Manual (2009) [These two books have the same content and the same number, but different cover artwork.]
  • Oasis of the White Palm (9053)
  • Oriental Adventures (2018)
  • Player’s Handbook (2101) x 2
  • Queen of the Demonweb Pits (9035)
  • The Temple of Elemental Evil (9147)
  • Tomb of Horror (9022)
  • Unearthed Arcana (2017)
  • Vault of the Drow (9021)

Dark Sun

  • Arcane Shadows (2410)
  • Asticlian Gambit (2412)
  • City-State of Tyr (2420)
  • Dark Sun Boxed Set (2400)
  • Dragon Kings (2408)
  • Dragon’s Crown (2416)
  • Dune Trader (2407)
  • Earth, Air, Fire, and Water (2422)
  • Freedom (2401)
  • Slave Tribes (2404)
  • Valley of Dust and Fire (2413)
  • Veiled Alliance (2411)

Dragonlance

  • The Atlas of the Dragonlance World (8448)
  • Dragonlance Adventures (2021)
  • Dragons of Despair (9130)
  • Dragons of Dreams (9142)
  • Dragons of Flame (9132)
  • Dragons of Hope (9131)
  • Dragons of Triumph (9180)
  • Tales of the Lance (1074)

Forgotten Realms

  • The Drow of the Underdark (9326) x 2

Greyhawk

  • Border Watch (9406)
  • The City of Greyhawk (1043)
  • Falconmaster (9289)
  • From the Ashes (1064)
  • Greyhawk Adventures (2023)
  • Greyhawk Ruins (9292)
  • Vale of the Mage (9270)
  • World of Greyhawk (1015)

Ravenloft

  • House of Strahd (9418)
  • Islands of Terror (9348)
  • Night of the Walking Dead (9352)
  • Ravenloft (9075) x 2
  • Ship of Horror (9321)
  • Thoughts of Darkness (9364) x 2
  • Touch of Death (9338)
  • Van Richten’s Guide to Ghosts (9355)
  • Van Richten’s Guide to Vampires (9345)
  • Van Richten’s Guide to the Lich (9412)

Miscellaneous

  • The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume II
  • Demons Game Master’s Book
  • Dungeon September/October 1988
  • Middle-Earth Adventure Guidebook I (ME2200)

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Two copies of the Ravenloft (9075) book, but both contained within the same cover.

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Unknown map. Appears to be from Ravenloft.

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No batch of used roleplaying books would be complete without some pencilled in character sheets and handwritten notes.

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Research seems to indicate that this print is from the Ravenloft: Realm of Terror box set.

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A Ravenloft map and a transparent Ravenloft grid sheet. Guessing they’re both from the main box set. Too bad the actual main books from the box set weren’t here.

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The Middle-Earth Adventure Guidebook I appears to have been marked with a wax seal.

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… and it appears to be an L.

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A Dark Sun booklet and some character prints (with stats and backgrounds on the book). No idea where these belong.

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Unknown map.

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Unknown map.

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Two unknown Dragonlance maps.

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Unknown map.

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Someone wrote “cry!” on it.

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Some dice that were in one of the boxes.

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Fidelity Wars #129: Young Statues – “California Girls”

I stumbled over the band Young Statues on a jaunt through Bandcamp’s archives for music related to The Magnetic Fields, as their EP of cover songs – descriptively entitled Covers – features a version of “California Girls”. And a pretty a good version! In my opinion, better than the original.

While a great little song, I find The Magnetic Fields‘ original version nearly unlistenable due to the song’s ending, where they  repeat the end chorus line (“They will hear me say, as the pavement whirls / I hate California girls”) for one entire minute. While I’ll be enjoying the song up until that point, the ending always leaves me groaning. Young Statues only say the end line twice, wrapping the song neatly up at the two minute mark – not overstaying its welcome by adding an additional minute, like the original. As they say, leave your audience wanting more.

Other than being nice enough to not drag on at the end like the original version, the arrangement and the performance are really lovely. Relaxed and stripped down, with some light background guitar reverb (or at least I think that’s what it is) giving a polite nod to the distorted sound of the original.

The only other song on the Covers EP I’m familiar with is the cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England”. While not a bad cover, I’m far less enthused with it. Rather than going their own way, they practically recreate the 1991 session version with Kirsty MacColl (which you can hear here), complete with getting a female guest vocalist. So I don’t feel I have a very good reason to opt for their version rather than the original session version. The other two songs on the EP are both fine, but neither really grabbed me. Perhaps if I were familiar with the originals.

Anyway, my featured song is, of course, their cover of “California Girls”.

Young Statues - Covers

Young Statues – “California Girls” [The Magnetic Fields Cover]

As for the band itself and their original music, they seem to be riding the line between indie rock, and more standard American teenage radio rock. I love the vocals, and the melodies aren’t bad, but their arrangements can get a bit too dull and repetitive, with the blaring electric guitars and drums. They definitely have potential and some decent songs under their belt. I just hope they experiment a bit more, and perhaps start leaning more towards indie than radio in the future.

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Custom Fluttershy Plushie

Fluttershy Plushie #1

Fluttershy Plushie #2

Fluttershy Plushie #3

Fluttershy Plushie #4

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Between Love And Nothing At All

I should have made this blog entry a month or two ago, but then some stuff happened, and then some other stuff happened, and then I got sick. Regardless, I am happy to announce, slightly delayed but what the heck, a new EP by your third favourite Norwegian Casio-based lo-fi indie mostly-one-man-non-band band The Society Of Poor Academics, in collaboration with Canadian former-chiptune one-man-wonder-non-band band The J. Arthur Keenes Band: Between Love And Nothing At All.

The Society Of Poor Academics feat. The J. Arthur Keenes Band - Between Love And Nothing At All Cover

Featuring four tracks of varying degrees of freshness, released January 29th this year on San Francisco based Gray Sky Micro Press. Digital copies are available through Bandcamp, and limited edition physical copies (vinyl and reel-to-reel) are available through their webshop.

I may be biased, but I really like this EP. It’s short (so it doesn’t overstay its welcome), it’s sweet (with lines like “f*ck you too” and “you will do for now”), it’s varied (including a remix and a song in Norwegian), and it’s affordable (only $1.99 for the digital copy).

Not to mention the gorgeous, playful arrangements by Dan McLay, aka. The J. Arthur Keenes Band. It was a lot of fun working together, and I hope I get the opportunity to do so again at some point in the future, one way or the other.

In relation to the EP, we also put out a music video for the song “Weekend”, filmed and edited by Oslo based VJ and visual artist Mads Faste Liang Nilsen (also known as Mads Meskalin). You can see the video below.

As a small treat (and as a half-cynical marketing move), I’ve made the song in question available for downloading for free below! Please enjoy, and hopefully you’ll feel inspired to use a couple of dollars to purchase the full-length EP.

The Society Of Poor Academics feat. The J. Arthur Keenes Band – “Weekend”

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