Wednesday, January 31, 2007

List of Comics For Sale

Well, as of writing, many of the comics I was offering for sale are now spoken for, but there are still a few good ones left over that I'm offering. These are books that are going on ebay (at quoted prices), but which I'm willing to part with before then if someone makes me an offer I can't refuse...

In no particular order, they are:

Aria #s 1-4. Price: P500

(For the uninitiated, Aria is basically the story of Kildare, a thousand-year-old daughter of the Faerie, a race of immortals that traces their history to the beginning of time or something like that, and is based in England. It's basically a fantasy comic set in contemporary times, with a really, really hot (thanks to ultra-detailed Filipino penciler Jay Anacleto) girl as the lead character.Think Sandman but with boobs. Big ones).

Aria/Angela #s 1 and 2. Price: P200

Kildare of Aria teams up with Angela (from the pages of Spawn) to take down a mystical charlatan terrorizing England, or something like that.

Death: The Time of Your Life #s 1 to 3 (with a bonus: the last issue of Death: The High Cost of Living). Price: P450

This is a complete miniseries (except for the bonus issue) and a sequel to High Cost of Living. It features Neil Gaiman's signature gothette in a rather touching story rendered by artists Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham.

Batman #s 608, 610, 612-619. (Individual issues priced differently depending on which character guest stars).

Completists may balk at my calling this the Hush storyline since I'm missing two issues, so I'm offering these as individual items (unless someone makes me an offer for all of them I can't refuse). Anyway, complete or not, these issues boast some of Jim Lee's best artwork. EVER. As always, writer Jeph Loeb panders to his artist (and the artist's legion of fans) by having Lee draw most of Batman's rogues gallery. Veeery nice.

Wolverine: Enemy of the State (issues #20-25). Price: P1000.

This is a complete six-issue set. It's Marvel's premier badass at his most brutal! With a story by Marvel wunderkind Mark Millar and mainstay John Romita Jr. Basically Wolverine gets possessed by the Hand and takes on S.H.I.E.L.D. and several high profile Marvel heroes, including his very own team, the X-Men. Blood and guts galore.

Astonishing X-Men #s 1 to 12. Price: P3000

In #12 issues writer Joss Whedon revitalizes Marvel's merry mutants (and one in particular) with two six-issue arcs lavishly drawn by John Cassaday (Planetary).

X-Men #s 1 to 7. Price: P1000.

Yes, that X-Men, the one by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, featuring the first issue that sold 7 million copies. Very nice art.

Uncanny X-Men #s 284, 285 and 286. Price: P300

Three issues by Jim Lee (plot and some art) and Whilce Portacio (most of the art chores), scripted by John Byrne and Scott Lobdell. More or less a complete storyline.

Heroes Reborn: Iron Man #s 1-3 by Whilce Portacio Price: P400.

Pretty good, and with a movie on the horizon, these may even go up in value.

Spawns #8 and #9 Price: P300.

This was the time that Todd McFarlane had different writers take turns scripting the book. Issue #8 is by Alan Moore and issue #9, which features the first appearance of Angela, is by Neil Gaiman.

Wildcats #1s, 3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 36. (Bonus: Savage Dragon #12 by Jim Lee) Price: P600

Some nice Jim Lee art, and...

Wildcats #1-3 featuring VERY good art by Travis Charest. Price: P480.

I may add some more titles once I've put up my eBay store, and those wanting pictures will have to wait till I do. In case anyone's already interested I can meet up at Robinson's Galleria or SM Megamall or Shangri-La, after office hours of course, and with a whole days' advance notice. Cash on delivery, please; I won't ship to any provinces because I can't guarantee the condition of the comics if I do.

As stated before, my contact information is the following:

e-mail: (or

cell: 0922-8036749

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Comics For Sale

For anyone interested, I am planning to sell off some of my collection of comics, for which I have offically run out of space.

I'm selling a lot of these things at bargain prices (not all of them, mind you, especially the ones that have exponentially multiplied in value since I bought them, and which I will only sell to those really interested), lest I be accused of trying to scalp/speculate.

Here's a sampling of the stuff I'm putting up for sale:

Jim Lee's Batman: Hush

Other assorted Jim Lee/Image Comics (Wildcats, his two-issue run on Gen13, Divine Right)

the entire run of Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man (except for issues 3 and 4) (Bargain rates)

I'm also offering the X-Force/Spider-Man crossover (Bargain rates)

Todd McFarlane's Spawn issues 8 (written by Alan Moore) and 9 (written by Neil Gaiman, first appearance of Angela)

Generation X.

Several issues of Peter Parker: Spider Man (Bargain rates), a 1999 re-launch (including a rare sunburst variant cover). and some issues from the Amazing Spider-Man 1999 re-launch (pre-J. Michael Straczynski).

There's other stuff I'm not really putting up for sale but which I may be convinced to part with for the right price.

Anyone interested may contact me at 0922-8036749 or 4370024. For a more detailed listing e-mail me at and I'll send you the list and suggested prices.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why the Tesla Roadster Represents the Future

I am a car fan. I wouldn't call myself a "nut" because that would connote that I know the ins and outs of cars. I know enough to distinguish electrical from fuel related problems, but I don't exactly know what to do about them. And I love collecting diecast cars (though I think that's been covered in just about every other post here for the last three weeks).

I love watching Formula One races. I love the adrenaline, the high-pitched whine of the V8 engines hurtling across the track.

All that said, I look forward to the day when internal combustion engines are phased out, or at the very, very least drastically reduced in production and use (phasing out, I think, is not something I'll see in my lifetime), and I think the Tesla roadster, the world's first electric performance car, is the vehicle to bring us closer to that day.

As anyone who's seen the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? knows, in 1996 General Motors of America launched an electric car, dubbed the EV-1 (for electric vehicle, prosaically enough) in response to a legal mandate by the California state legislature that a certain percentage of their production line be emission-free. Through arm-twisting and intimidation that went all the way to Washington (if the film is to be believed), the Big Three car manufacturers and the Oil Giants basically put so much pressure on the State legislature that they eventually relented, amending their mandate to say that they would only require electric cars if there was a demand for them. Through manipulative marketing, the big three and particularly GM killed that demand. They sabotaged one of their own products because they thought it would hurt their bottom line.

Enter Tesla Motors (named for Nikolas Tesla, a scientist who made spectacular inroads in the use of electricity,) a company determined to make the world's first electric performance car.

Tesla's approach to making this car was a holistic one; it wasn't about just slapping an electric motor into an existing chassis; it was about engineering a brand new car from the ground up, and getting the best people in the business to do it. They did this absolutely right, hiring the Lotus engineers from Britain to basically design the bodywork and chassis, thereby guaranteeing a well-handling and visually stunning car. In addition, they hired a Formula One engineer (whose name escapes me to the point that I'm not even sure it was mentioned) to design their car's two-speed transmission.

The results speak for themselves: the car generates about 250 bhp and apparently very high torque, a top speed of 130 mph (which is electronically limited), and the clincher a 0-60 mph accelaration of 4 seconds. That's supercar territory, faster than most Lamborghinis.

Oh, yes, there is the bit about it getting something like the equivalent of 135 miles to the gallon, which is something no existing supercar could possibly do in its maker's wildest dreams.

Thus far Tesla has sold the first hundred of these at a hundred grand a pop.

It may seem strange to sing praises of a car that I'll probably never get to drive, much less buy, but I think it's an important step towards adopting a truly cleaner and greener lifestyle (which won't come a moment too soon considering global warming is hitting us hard this year with the projected weather being the hottest in over a decade).

I know that, despite its limited numbers, the Tesla will succeed where the EV-1 failed, for a number of reasons, the most important one being that it is made by a company that wholeheartedly believes in it, not one which made one begrudgingly, out of a sense of obligation, and it is from this that all other reasons are derived.

The second reason (a derivative of the first) is that this car is unbelievably sexy. Any sports car fan knows that Lotus knows its sports cars, from the legendary Esprit to the more conservative Elise, the chassis and bodywork of which shares many elements with those of the Roadster. And SEX appeal is something electric or even hybrid cars have never had, especially the EV-1, which looked like a shitty 1950s Fiat. One can tell that Tesla wants this car to turn heads as much as GM wanted their EV-1 to have people averting their eyes. Selling cars these days, especially to sports car fans, is all about sex appeal, really. An engineer can design the most aerodynamic car imaginable, but if it isn't sexy, the execs at his car company will trash the whole thing, saying that it won't sell. GM knew this, and so does Tesla. The difference is what they do about it.

A third reason is that they're selling the damned things. GM only put its EV-1s up for lease, and even then the demand for it was insane. The way I see it, it doesn't matter whether you sell this car to millionaires or huddled masses. The important thing is that it gets out there, into the hands of a consumer that can own it.

In fact, selling them so exclusively, with the right spin, can have marvelous effects in the long run; the roadster can acquire the status previously only accorded to the most exotic of European sportscars. Rich people can buy them, making Tesla richer and driving the price of the technology down. The basic trickle down effect of all this, though it may take more than a couple of simple steps, will, down the road, really open people's eyes to a whole world of possibility.

I liken this effect to those that can stem from the fact that Audi came up with a diesel-powered car that won the 2006 24-hour Le Mans tournament for the first time in the history of the event. More than anything, this victory will really open up the possibility of mass-producing diesel engines for cars and not just for trucks, which is good considering that diesel engines are more receptive to cleaner biofuel than gas engines.

All that's needed is for magazines like Motor Trend to give this car the thumbs up, or to have auto-journalist icon Jeremy Clarkson declare how spectacular the Roadster is, and it's on its way to superstardom, taking the whole concept of the electric car along for the ride.

Of course, I'd be first in line if they suddenly came up with diecast models of this thing...

Check them out at Whether or not you're going to buy one, it warms the heart to know that the future looks this good.

A Rude Awakening

Joining a diecast forum, I figured it was all about sharing one's passion for his hobby with others similarly inclined. Of course, there are trades and deals and exchanges made, but I never figured someone would try to scalp me on the forum.

Well, somebody had a go at it, all right.

It was my fault, I suppose, for parading as my "sig" my two favorite diecast finds: my twin Shelby GR-1s, calling them "my greatest finds." Well, I was barely a week on the forum and somebody tried to peddle me a black GR-1, one of the two I don't yet have, saying "if you like, I can sell it to you for P300" which is basically what I paid for the first two cars.

I would have leapt at his offer, were it not for the fact that I almost immediately sensed that he had not paid that amount for the car he was trying to peddle, and was basically trying to make money off me.

I'm clearly not stingy when it comes to diecast; in less than a month I've spent what may be considered an unconscionable amount just acquiring the things, especially in view of the fact that I have two kids to take care of.

But the thought that even on this forum where everyone is clearly passionate about this hobby, someone would try to peddle something to me at what clearly seemed like more than what he paid for it (otherwise I really doubt he would have let me have it) just rattled me. It left me pissed off, more at myself than anyone else for wearing my heart out on my sleeve and being such an ostentatious jerk.

Of course I politely declined, more out of principle than anything else. The funny thing about it is I don't feel the slightest tinge of regret at having done so.

Incidentally, when Theia broached the sinister (and admittedly quite paranoid) possibility that this "seller," whom I didn't know from Adam, was nothing more than a charlatan posing as a collector who would stick me up as soon as we met, I smacked my head and said "I hadn't thought of that!" Well, it is the kind of thing one could expect after showing off his two cars and saying "does anyone have the black and red ones?"

Maybe the guy was the real item; maybe he wasn't. It doesn't really matter. I rather loathed the idea of paying even a peso more for that car than he did, but more than that, I hated the way he made the car sound so...disposable. "I have this but I'm not really interested because I'm into another line of cars, but you can have it for what you paid for the others (even if that's not what I paid for it)."

Most of all, I balked because the whole thing just went against the spirit of the hunt. As someone who trawled literally over thirty stores to find a Shelby Cobra, I didn't really feel like handing my money over to someone who sounded suspiciously like a scalper. I feel bad enough having bought two of those overpriced Hot Wheels Ferrari F430s.

God, I feel like such a fool. At least I changed my sig to something a little less showy (a nice 2005 Ford Mustang GT, with the text "stangs rule!") If anyone tries asking me how much I paid for the cars in the sig I'll just tell them all I had to do was sleep with the proprietress of the store...lest someone say "tell you what, why don't I give you mine for the same price?"

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Things I Wish I Were, Part 2: Top Gear Journalists

In commemoration of this blog's 2nd anniversary, I've decided to revisit an old theme I touched upon in one of my earliest posts: what job would I like to have other than the one I have now? Meaning, if I wasn't a lawyer, what would I like to do? Back then the answer was "film reviewer" which was accompanied by a long rant about the people I felt got paid too well and got too much exposure for what I essentially felt was a job anyone with half a brain (or my brain, anyway) could do.

This post will be different in that while I have utmost respect for the people who actually have this job, I STILL WANT IT!!! These three gentlemen would Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson, the hosts of "Top Gear."

Back when I used to know this show's schedule, I followed it religiously. It was, at a time, absolutely my favorite show and one of the very few things I even watched on TV next to the Formula One races and the odd sitcom now and again. I haven't been able to follow it for many years now, but was gratified rather recently to see many, many of the reviews that I'd missed on God, but I love that show and intend to start following it again.

It's not the sight of a bunch of guys driving the wheels off some of the most extraordinary automotive machinery ever built (though in some cases, the cars can be quite ordinary, as this show is something of a consumer-guide) that makes this show such a joy for me. It's the acerbic wit that accompanies their every drive. Each and every tour of duty is accompanied by remarks, whether good or bad, which are quintessentially and uniquely British. Forget Simon Cowell, these Brit critics are in a league of their own. This is a show that simply will not translate in any other culture, and attempts to do so (such as the local 'Top Gear' magazine) are absolutely laughable.

Do I think I could do their job? Could I possibly carry the wit and the verve that they pump into just about each and every test drive, while hurtling along at 150 miles per hour? If I tried hard enough to burst some blood vessels in my brain, I might (and provided I was able to write my stuff beforehand, because I don't really know how they do it), but whether or not I could do their jobs as well as they do I still nonetheless want them, because in many ways driving these cars on Top Gear is even better than owning them. How so?

Well, on the show, these gentlemen get to drive these cars, whether they are performance cars or street cars, to the absolute limit under the best possible conditions. Sometimes they drive them through airfields, sometimes along racetracks, sometimes along winding country roads, but in every instance, they appear to have the roads all to themselves. Any millionaire who's had to plod his Ferrari through rush hour traffic would probably love to be able to do this. They don't have to pay for the gas used up, or the wear-and-tear that their exertions on the car inevitably exact. They do get paid to drive to the limit and just, well, talk about it, sometimes while they're driving. It's all the fun of driving a performance car with none of the headaches! (Though of course I'm sure they're not allowed to crash the car, even some of them have on occasion).

I'm happy driving my weenie little Kia Pride to and from work day in and day out, and to the mall or some other getaway on weekends, but given the chance I would absolutely leap at the opportunity to drive all sorts of cars, and talk about the experience of driving them, for a living.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

This blog turned two years old yesterday. Wow, how time flies! I've covered lots of ground in this blog: politics, movies, comics, life, love and now my latest thing, diecast cars. All things considered, my posts have been pretty hobby-heavy, with comics taking up a good percentage of the posts and now my current hobby doing the same. I guess I should probably diversify, though I've already opened a brand new blog, kidztuff.blogspot (kidstuff was taken) just to share anecdotes about my kids and possibly preserve them online for posterity (at least until blogger goes offline, which I hope is never). And well, heck, this is my blog. I don't have any particular train of thought impelling this post, so I'll just jot down some random thoughts:

I am fighting the urge to head back to my Greenhills nook and buy something again. It hasn't even been a month since Christmas day, when this all began, and yet I've spent a small fortune on diecast cars. I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say that at the height of my comics collecting, I didn't spend as much on comic books in six months as I have spent in the last four weeks. I've gone from enthusiastic to excessive to prodigal in practically no time at all. While this hobby is certainly engaging, it's simply got to go on hiatus for awhile.My hands are trembling.

There's some buzz in the F1 fan community about the launch of the 2007 cars and driver line-ups. The first race of the calendar, the Australian Grand Prix, is still a good two months away but people are already getting excited. I launched another blog devoted to F1, jimarroyosf1.blogspot, but all things considered maybe I'll just scrub it and post my f1 thoughts here, if only to add variety to the things I talk about. I don't know. Reigning world champion Fernando Alonso made quite a splash with his new look for his new team: white-and-red Mclaren overalls and a new buzz-cut in contrast to his blue -and-yellow Renault jumpsuit and long hair. Ferrari staged a relatively low-key launch for their 2007 car, but most of the other major teams, including world champion Renault, have yet to officially unveil their cars for the year. I won't make any predictions just yet but the first Michael Schumacher-less F1 year in over 16 years looks like it's gonna be a doozy.

The reports that one of Abu Sayyaf's top people is dead may come as a relief to some, but to those of us who know that where there is poverty there will always be brigands of one form or another it's just another dead body. Still, one has to congratulate the normally sensationalist, doom-and-gloom media for actually putting something positive in the headlines for a change.

The weather's a little chilly these days; truly the January and February chill are upon us. These are easily the coldest months in our calendar and it doesn't look like 2007 is going to be any exception.

Okay, enough soundbites. They're giving me a headache. Time to get back to work.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Apparently, GREENHILLS is the new Greenhills

I once wrote that since its renovation, Virra Mall seems to have lost its edge as a place to find really great, hard-to-find toys. I thought I had happened upon the "new" Virra Mall when I walked into Makati Cinema Square a week ago, only to find out that there was only one collectibles shop there. There are still some pretty good places at the new Virra Mall, like the one behind A Different Bookstore (the name of which escapes me), Best Toys, and Special Toy Center (which sells mostly military stuff but occasionally good die casts, at a very high premium).

Well, last week I also joined a die cast collectors' forum (where I found out that contrary to my initial belief, they really are nice guys and not a bunch of one-upping, hoarding e-bay scalpers like I feared they might be) and well, they pointed me to a nook I had missed, near the Giordano store in Shoppesville.

Apparently, Shoppesville is the new Virra Mall (and for all I know, they might have been even better than Virra Mall all along). I counted FOUR diecast stores all in one spot brimming with Hot Wheels, Jada, and even AutoArt stuff. I almost swooned at the sight of all of them. I didn't really have time to look through everything, but...WOW. I ended up buying the black Hot Wheels Shelby GR-1 I had passed up last December, sadly for a bit more than I would have paid for it had I bought it the first time. I didn't want to have to pay even more for it down the line, obviously.

I will have to resist the urge to go back there for at least another three weeks because I've spent a bit too much on diecast this last week alone. (Any more and I might end up at some meeting saying: Hello, my name is Jim and I'm a collector...) but at least I know WHERE to go, besides Ram's in Festival Mall and RNC in Market! Market!, when I want good diecast stuff.

All things considered, though, I was still more impressed by the stuff available at Ram's Festival Mall (even moreso than the stuff at Ram's in Greenhills).

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Holy Grail (with a little note to eBay hawkers.)

Now it can be told: yesterday, I experienced one of the greatest triumphs I have ever known in the short span of my collecting diecast cars.

I found my Holy Grail, the item I had passed up last December only to find it gone the next day. I found the item I had combed seven (or was it eight?) SMs, four Rustan'ses, four Robinsonses and about a dozen hobby stores besides looking for: a Big Time Muscle Shelby Cobra 427 S/C in 1:64, colored silver with two big black stripes down the middle. I found it just after I had given up hope, having spent the weekend looking for it in Fairview, of all places. I found it at Robinson's Galleria, which is right beside my office, which is strange considering I had already looked there without success.

Life is just full of irony. In the end, I didn't even have to go to all those malls and stores all over town (though in the process I made some phenomenal finds; in going back to RAM's I ended up finding a Ferrari F430 Dropstars, which is so hard to find it practically attained the status of Unicorn as far as I was concerned, and it was in the course of my search that I found the red and white Shelby Cobra 427s, so all things considered there were some high points in the search besides its eventual culmination).

This is the joy of collecting; expending time and effort to find something and to finally, finally have that effort pay off. Would I have felt as gratified if I'd found the item somewhere far flung like Dasmarinas, Cavite? I don't really know, and I don't really care. The point is that I paid for it what I wanted to pay for it, and even though there were a lot of other extraneous expenses (gas, fare, parking) involved, these were expenses of the hunt, which, more than just adding another toy to the pile, is what makes collecting truly worthwhile.

It gratifies me now to go back to eBay and see those psychos selling the item for $12.00 or something ridiculous like that. I feel particularly smug when I log onto eBay Philippines and see the schmuck trying to hawk a pair of blue and silver Big Time Muscle Shelbys for P800.00. That's a mark-up of 100% on each car, assuming he divided the price between the two of them. It gratifies me when I see that no one's taken him up on his price so far. It means no one's interested in getting ripped off by some avaricious scalper who probably bought out all of the Shelby Cobras in his general vicinity so he could sell them for a fortune online.

For people like this I have two words: fuck you. You greedy bastards give collectors a bad name and should be ashamed of yourselves for trying to take advantage of people trying to pursue their hobby, especially by posting hype like "Very Hard to Find." It's not the price you put on the cars that pisses me off; hell, I shelled out P500 the other day for the F430 I was fairly sure I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else, even online. It's that you thought you could get away with doubling the price of cars that you probably got at P200.00 each. In my search I probably spent easily more than the price you were asking for just looking for those cars, but at least I didn't hand the money over to you, thereby rewarding your speculation.

I know that's the way the world works: he who has rare items can jack up the price all he wants, but these people are just like those assholes who charge an arm and a leg for those crappy 1:64 Hot Wheels Ferraris, with one crucial difference: their product is still on the market at its original price. There are still Shelby 427 S/Cs in SM malls scattered throughout not just Metro Manila but the whole country, and while they're out there, nobody is going to pay such a ludicrous price (which is just a STARTING BID). So unless this guy is willing to go to far-flung places like Batangas or Pampanga, or hell, even Baguio, just to make sure these items are really out of stock, he shouldn't try to pull a fast one on people. Heck, I know for a fact that there are actual collectors (not scalpers) who have some extra Cobras in their larder who are willing to unload them for a lot and I mean a LOT less. They know that the collector community can be a very pleasant one and shouldn't be trying to cut each other's throats with ridiculous prices.

THIS is the greatest victory a collector can aspire for: to find exactly what he's looking for and pay exactly what he wants to pay for it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Review of the Penultimate Civil War Issue

It seems strange to review a comic book so soon after I have announced to anyone reading that I'm on the verge of giving up comic books in favor of a new hobby, but having picked up my subscription copy of Civil War #6 just today (several days after its actual release, which should tell you something about how serious I was about not being as interested in comics as I used to be), I can say with certainty that I really and sincerely enjoyed it.

In a nutshell, everything comes to a head as Captain America's anti-registration squad (with new recruits Spider-Man and the Punisher) breaks into the pro-registration squad's Negative Zone prison, setting the stage for the big, final throwdown between the two factions. That's pretty much all I can say without spoilers.

While it seems to be highly fashionable among comic book (read: Marvel) purists to bash the whole series as out-of-character, a big gimmick, and similar such snipes, just as it was en vogue among many DC fans to tear Infinite Crisis a new @$$hole a year ago, and while I've certainly taken my own shots at the series (particularly in issue #4) I really think those die-hard naysayers should really just get bent.

The story is entertaining. There are no more holes in it than there are in a lot of movies that have worked on many levels. The script is engaging, the pacing is good, and the art is consistently stellar (though one can spot the chinks in McNiven's armor here and there; I guess the pressure of drawing the miniseries of the year can really get to anyone).

The story also works as an allegory, especially considering the recent news that Bush and his cronies in the White House are now authorized to open people's mail, thereby hitting home how scary it can be when the government can poke into every private citizen's last nook and cranny. It's like real life has caught up with the events in this story.

I know that Civil War is really just a jumping point for an all-new, all-different Marvel Universe which I won't really partake in for the most part, if at all, but really, this series really has had its moments and will, in my opinion, be well remembered by fandom in years to come.

Now I'd really like to see how this ends!

Some Realities About Collecting.

There is a lot about diecast collecting that makes it a lot less attractive than comic book collecting. I haven't quite lost my resolve to continue with this new hobby (considering I've picked up a few more items today, undoubtedly over the objection of my wife and probably my wallet down the line), but there are some hard lessons I'm continuing to learn about this thing. Allow me to enumerate some of my frustrations:

1. There is a lot less predictability in collecting these things. It's not as though one can plunk down x pesos and say "I want to subscribe to the next dozen really cool hot wheels cars." One can check out the latest releases on the web site, but it's not as if any of the stores that carry these things will reserve a chunk of cars that I like for me. Pre-ordering doesn't seem to be part of diecast merchants' culture. And it's not like I can write Mattel (though I am writing the smaller company whose cars I have bought, which I happen to consider the crown jewels of my growing collection). So I still have to go trawling, which, while it can be fun, isn't something I can do all the time.

2. Because I don't really know the ratio of distribution of certain items, I don't really know what's "rare" or not other than by how hard a time I am finding something. At least with comic books, they're more up front. I hate getting suckered in by the alleged "collectibility" factor. I bought a couple of Hot Wheels toys today because they boasted the "Faster Than Ever" copper-colored wheels as opposed to the normal silver-spoked wheels. They were nowhere on my priority list (which after several days of searching is nowhere close to being checked off), but because I knew that "Faster Than Evers" were supposedly "hard to find," I bought them both. Sure, I feel smug about paying the normal rate for supposedly "rare" cars and sure I felt smug about glancing on eBay and finding out how much these things go for, but the truth is that I wasn't in the market for them in the first place and now I just feel like an idiotic speculator. I shouldn't deviate from the rule: buy only what I really want, not what I think I can eventually sell for more, or something like that. My comics collecting streamlined after I junked that line of thinking (and I have yet to sell any of my comics, despite a couple of ad postings I've done over the years). This early, I've already succumbed to the temptation to collect for the sake of it, and not for the love of the cars. Well, no more, not if I can help it.

3. I hate walking into a collectibles store early in my search, finding nothing, and then searching the rest of the mall/emporium only to find that I have already searched the only collectible store around. Today I walked into Makati Cinema Square thinking I had found the new Virra Mall, namely a firetrap of dimly-lit, nook-and-cranny stores brimming with hard-to-find gems (a title the real Virra Mall lost when it went all clean and commercial looking), only to learn that only gun fanatics would feel that way about the place. There was only one collectibles store in there and while their stash was impressive, they still didn't have what I was and am STILL looking for.


4. I HATE NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR!!! My holy grail eludes me still, after several days of trawling nearly a dozen department, toy, and collectibles stores. For a collector, most of the thrill is in the chase, and should I ever find this item without paying a fortune for it on eBay (which I pray to God never to have to do), I will truly be gratified. Finding this item may even trump the twin Shelby GR-1 discovery I made last Christmas day.

Still, this hobby is proving increasingly involving; while the easiest response to the "what makes this better than comics" question may be to call them apples and oranges, I will say that there's something about collecting three-dimensional works of art, which is what a lot of the cars in my collection are, albeit diecast and mass-produced, that's really special. All things considered though, I never really want to go into a "diecast trumps comics" diatribe or anything like that. Comics will always be special to me, whether or not I'm buying them on a regular basis.

I guess this love-hate relationship I'm developing with my new hobby goes to show I'm in pretty deep...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Menaces to Society and Themselves

As this blog approaches its second anniversary, I find myself with new and improved things to throw tantrums about. Sure, the last three or four posts or so may have been devoted to gushing about my new hobby, but for so long as human beings in general and Filipinos in particular continue to misbehave, there will always be a tantrum waiting to be thrown.

Like many Filipinos that drive, I find myself peeved by the legions of assholes that I have to confront on the road day in and day out. When I opt for the public transportation, I cringe at the behavior of drivers of both public and private vehicles on both major or minor roads.

Up until recently, my pet peeve was the tricycle driver, followed at a distant second by other public transportation drivers, cops and other various scumbags. My loathing for the tricycle driver needs no explanation to anyone who's ever spent a day behind the wheel of a car in Metro Manila. They are basically the scum of the earth.

But in the last few months, I've become aware of a new piece of rolling trash cluttering our streets. I'm talking about the scooter driver.

Apparently these scooters, which seem to be some kind of love-child of the "Honda Trendy" of old and an actual motorbike are available at highly affordable prices or plans, as a result of which suddenly every other Filipino seems to be driving one, whether or not they really know how to drive.

And these guys are a thousand times worse than tricycles for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike tricycles, they appear to be everywhere. Tricyles operate only in certain types of areas and on certain types of streets. You will almost never see a tricycle along EDSA, for example. On a regular day you will see several of these motherfucking scooters puttering along EDSA. Second of all, they are a lot faster and narrower than tricycles, which often carry several times the weight the motorcycle to which the cab was attached was meant to carry. These things are actually pretty zippy, and can blow by you before you get to look into your rear view mirror. This is potentially quite dangerous as a lot of these scooter drivers are fond of passing wherever their scooters can fit. What happens when the driver wants to make a right turn? It only becomes their problem when they smack right into him.

Third, they are coming onto the scene quickly and in such large numbers that it's hard to develop a driving strategy to deal with them. After so many years of driving one derives a sense of predictability to the way they operate, and develops a way to deal with it, whether it's simply letting it slide or mastering the art of savagely cutting them off (which I do whenever it's feasible). With scooters, however, as stupid as their drivers are, it's hard to peg down their personalities other than that they seem to have absolute contempt for road rules. Their unpredictability makes them extremely dangerous.

At around five in the morning I was driving along Santolan when I saw a crowd huddled around an old Toyota Corolla. It being very early in the morning, I had no problem passing the parked Corolla and heading on my way, but not before I saw a crumpled scooter just under the Corolla's front fender. The driver of the scooter was almost certainly seriously injured at best, and dead at worst. The sad thing of it is, having seen the way these guys drive, I found myself not feeling the slightest bit of sympathy for whoever the guy was, whatever might have happened to him.

Scooters and their utterly reckless drivers present a real problem to motorists of all kinds, and I honestly believe this needs to be addressed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Whatever happens down the road in my current quest to collect the coolest 1:64 diecast cars I can think of, today will truly stand out as a milestone.

Today is the day I stuck it to those bastard e-bay hawkers and collectible stores and paid exactly what I wanted to (as opposed to what I was willing to) pay for collectibles I've been drooling over almost since I started this hobby.

I followed my rules, especially the rule about instinct, and now I am reveling in my glorious acquisition...three of them!

I am so happy with this little moment of triumph, I may even take a little break from trawling toy stores for awhile and follow other pursuits after office hours...

...or maybe not....hehehe...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Strange New Territory

Having spent the better part of my adolescence and all of my adult life collecting comic books to one extent or another, I developed a certain set of instincts and habits based on the shipping patterns of the stores from which I bought comics. Some of them were sensible, some of them are quirky, and some of them would make normal people cringe with embarrassment at the thought of how weird I could be.

I am now exploring a new realm, planet die-cast, if you will, and in a scant two weeks I've learned a number of hard lessons that's making me wonder what I've gotten myself into.

To maintain the planet analogy, planet die-cast is a strange, far less hospitable planet than planet comics. Its resources do not seem anywhere near as abundant, which is strange considering that there are tons more toy stores than there are comics stores, and the inhabitants seem a little more predatory. In short, more than the last "planet" I lived on, this one seems a more about survival of the fittest.

While I'm not even sure about most of the "lessons" I've learned of late, Ithink the one thing I can take to the bank is that the most important thing about collecting, especially when I have a specific line of toys/model in mind, is that I have to pay attention to my first instinct. It served me well when I snatched up those two Ford Shelby GR-1s, the like of which I have not seen anywhere since that day, except online and I will only go there when all hope is lost.

The one truly sensible rule of thumb seems to be: if I like something, and I think I can afford it or will be able to pay the credit card bill when it comes out, then I should, without hesitation, buy it. Rule One: on this planet, apparently, to hesitate on what looks like a good purchase is to die. I'm still banging my head on the wall over the last time I hesitated, which was barely three days ago.

Rule Two: it's every man for himself. It's not that I know anyone collecting the same stuff I am, but I'm not about to tell people what I'm looking for lest someone buy the item out then try to hawk it on eBay for three to four times its original value. I've had that happen too...

There are a couple of other rules I've formulated in my head, but for one thing, I'm not sure exactly how reliable they are and for another thing, to talk about them would be to violate Rule Two.

Gentlemen (and possibly some ladies), it's on. Planet Die-cast will soon have a new species of predator.

My One Peso (Two US Cents at the Current Exchange Rate) On Daniel Smith's Transfer of Custody

I'd like to say a few things about the current brouhaha over USMC Cpl. Daniel Smith being moved from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy.

1. As horrible as it is to admit, it actually does state in the VFA that pending the finality of the decision, the soldier shall remain in US custody.

2. This provision existed seven years ago, when the VFA was first foisted on us by ERAP's government. The current government had next to no leeway in dealing with the Americans, thanks to that provision.

3. When it comes to kissing the Americans' asses, the government's batting average is 1.00000. It's not a new thing, and considering how bad Filipinos' collective memory seems to be, maybe we should remember that.

So please, let's not turn this into yet another tired, old "let's get rid of GMA" platform.

My admonition to the Court of Appeals; put this baby to bed, so we can finally see this fucker rot in the godforsaken hellhole that is Bilibid, or wherever they're moving the prison now.