My Year in Hobbies 2019: The Wrap-Up, and 2020 Hobby Goals

OK, we’re here!

First, some stats without much context:

Comic Book Series Cancelled On Me: 9 (at least)

First-Run Movies Watched: 8

Series of Television Shows Binge-Watched: 12

Games of MobilityWare Multiplayer Solitaire played: roughly 4000

Mego-scale action figures acquired: 11

Trading Card Sets Completed or Acquired Complete: at least 4 (1951 Topps Ringside, 1989 Topps Senior League Baseball, 1992 Topps Stadium Club Baseball, 2008 Topps Football)

Video Games 100% Completed: 1 (No Man’s Sky, at least before the Beyond expansion. I’m way behind now, but hopefully will get back to it soon)

States Traveled To/Through: 7

Other Countries Traveled To/Through: 0 (first time since 2016, though my next foreign country could be a while, given what’s going on…)

Live Pro Wrestling Events Attended: 3

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Lance Archer Wrestle At: 2

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Orange Cassidy Wrestle At: 2

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Kris Statlander Wrestle At: 2

So, how’d I do in 2019? I’m still here in 2020, at least for the moment, and you’re presumably still here, too, if you can read this, so let’s start right there. If I’m writing this, and you’re reading it, perhaps we don’t know what the future holds for us, but we’re here, now, and hopefully that doesn’t suck for you. I’m OK with it.

I was in bad, bad shape at the beginning of the year, because I somehow managed to give myself a severe concussion and a small skull fracture on my wedding day, as some of you may know. I’m furious at how on-brand that is (I have unfortunately had a ton of head injuries, especially for a non-athlete). I saw a lot of doctors last year, including three different neurologists and a vestibular therapist, who mostly had me play Wii Fit for the balance exercises (but it did help).

As I write this in April of 2020, just under 18 months from my wedding day, I’m feeling better than I did for most of 2019, though I didn’t really start to until December. I’m hoping that I continue to improve, I’m hoping that I don’t hit my head in any serious way ever again (it’d be a really bad thing at this point), and I’m of course hoping that none of the other things that are going on here in 2020 end up messing me up.

That probably looks more like general information than hobby-centric information, but it does help to be coherent, remember things, not have the room spinning and so forth if you’re pursuing a hobby, just as it helps to be able to spend time around other human beings and touch things that they’ve touched to do so. (This is going to color a LOT of 2020 in hobbies, but we’ll get back to that.) I just wanted to update my status, and talk a bit about the process.

I’ve actually had 2 years in a row where I’ve had serious health problems (2018 started with a serious flu and then a bunch of respiratory stuff which I’m coming to the conclusion was at least aggravated by allergies, if not caused by them entirely), and that can slow a person down a LOT. It has, too.

It’s also made me think a bunch about What Will Happen To My Stuff Once I’m Gone. Some of it, my spouse will want, and some of it, I’ve willed to people, but a lot of it is “just stuff”, no matter how cool I may think it is, and without me to love it and share it with people who happen to get to see it, it’s a burden on my loved ones. Unfortunately, right now, I think it’s a pretty bad time to be a seller of physical goods (there we go with 2020 intruding on the 2019 talk), so until I hear otherwise, any attempts to downsize are probably on the shelf.

I can say that, at least for the moment, I am feeling better and making better health choices than I have in quite a while (or am at least starting to), and hopefully that leads to me sticking around for a long time in relatively good health, but these are really uncertain times.

Onto some actual hobby talk!

Just As A Reminder: I started writing about my 2020 hobby goals by clarifying what goes where. That’s still current, I think.

Trading Cards: I decided (and this has been building for years) that I’m really not that excited about new and recent physical trading cards (baseball, in particular) anymore in 2019, so it’s looking like 2020 may be my last year of trying to collect new baseball sets (which are the only new sets I’m still building). It’s a nice, round number, 2020. It’s a year where we all may have a real hard time getting product anyway, because the world’s on fire. It seems like a million years ago now, but there’s also that small matter of issues with the integrity of the game of baseball that came up over this winter, issues that made me not so thrilled about two of my player collections (Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman; thankfully, I’ve not invested a lot of money in either, but I was enjoying watching them play before this all came to light, and I don’t know that I’ll be able to continue doing that whenever/if baseball resumes).

I just think it’ll be easier for me to have a cutoff point, for space reasons, for “not just trading away old cards for new ones” reasons (though I’ve been pretty successful at building Topps sets I couldn’t afford to keep up with over the past few years by doing this), and for “maybe I should focus on older cards” reasons. I started 2020, so I will work toward finishing the sets I’ve started or have an interest in (Topps, Heritage, Allen & Ginter, Stadium Club, and Donruss, if they’re all made available; physical comic books have been disrupted, so it stands to reason that baseball cards could be, too), but from there, I think I’m just going to collect players I collect, and work on finishing the older sets, once we’re able to shop and trade normally again, if we are. If physical cards are still a thing, I’ll probably buy a few packs here and there, just to do it, and trade off what I’m not excited about. I reserve the right to change my mind if there ends up being an amazing set of cards in the future, but I’ll be able to focus on that better than I would if I keep just putting in time on this stuff for completism’s sake, too.

With that said, I finished the biggest physical card set I’ve ever built in 2019 (1992 Stadium Club Baseball), and as I said above, I made some really nice strides on the past few years’ card sets in trades by shipping off some older bulk cards for the newer stuff . I didn’t get a ton of cards in 2019, but I got some really fun stuff, and I completed a card set from 1951, so I guess I did OK.

I should mention here that, since I am differentiating “physical” cards, 2020 Topps Bunt has been the most fun I’ve had in years with any of the Topps digital products, and also that I’ve been collecting New Japan Pro-Wrestling digital wrestling cards in their NJPW Collection app. Topps rolled out digital cards in a few other licenses since I was last paying attention, and when I catch my breath from whatever’s going on right now, I’ll be poking at those, too. Digital cards could end up being a way for me to feel like I’m in touch with the hobby during the downtime between now and when it’s safer to touch other human beings’ belongings again.

Comic Books: It’s a weird time to be a comic book collector. As I type this, there is no new physical comic book distribution happening in the United States for the first time in the history of the business, and it’s been hanging on by a thread for years now, because of mismanagement both by the comic companies and the distributor that has a near-monopoly on the comics market. Where back issues are concerned, the comic books I collect can be close to worthless forever, until someone licenses a property for a TV series, and then I can’t get my hands on them at all because of speculators. I love comics, but comics don’t always love me. With that said, I made solid strides toward finishing, yes, finishing the collection I started as a kid, and even if new physical comic book sales don’t happen all that often anymore moving forward, I will hopefully get to complete a library that 10 year old me would be proud of in the relatively near future.

Video Games: I got and played some video games that I absolutely love in 2019 (Stardew Valley comes to mind), and played deeper into No Man’s Sky, which is one of the best games of all time in my view. With that said, I’m playing video games less than I’d like to be, and I want to work on that in 2020. I have a few new ones to work on (Coffee Talk and Untitled Goose Game), a few other newer games I have my eyes on, and I pretty huge back catalog of games. I’ve been thinking of downsizing some here, too, and eventually I will, but again, not a great time to be trying to sell physical objects, so I’ll just try to play what I have more often, see what I enjoy playing, and eventually, put the games I don’t enjoy or haven’t been playing in the hands of people who’ll enjoy them more, ideally without some of the regret I have over selling things too soon or under duress (Panzer Dragoon Saga, anyone?). I’ll also continue seeing how high I can make my online Solitaire ranking, because that’s fun.

Tabletop and Other Games: Will there be a fantasy baseball (or real baseball) season this year? Will my D&D group be in the same room with one another any time soon? These are tough questions to answer. As for fantasy baseball, 2 out of 3 of my leagues drafted teams a week and a half ago, so we’re ready to go if MLB is. The other league will draft when an announcement of a start time is made. The DM of my D&D group and I have been talking a little about remote play, and hopefully once he finishes a project he’s working on at the moment, we can all give that a try (which would also widen the base of available players we may have to play with).

Internet: I expect that there’ll be a lot of this. The past few weeks have been kinda Wild West, with people embracing new platforms and then sharply turning on them in some cases (hi, Zoom). Where the one I talk about here the most (Second Life) is concerned, I’m still there, and Heck is, too, but it’s been pretty quiet since the fall. There’s been an uptick in activity since the quarantines started, unsurprisingly, but I’m not sure where my little club fits into all of that. It’s tough for me, because my sleep issues make it difficult for me to schedule events there. Right before the shit hit the fan, Vegetal Planet closed, as well, so there’s a vroum Short-sized hole in the grid that no one’s figured out how to fill yet. We’ll see what’s what. I did have a better than average year at Heck in 2019, with a few busy months, new DJs at the club and so forth, but it’s tough to maintain momentum on stuff like that, especially on a platform that people think died years ago, and one that Twitch banned from streaming years ago.

Live Events and Travel: At least I got some of this in during 2019, because it’s gonna be dire for a while. There are bigger priorities (really, bigger than any of what I’ve been talking about here), like simple survival, but I’m going to miss going out and doing stuff, even though I often struggle with not wanting to go out and do stuff. I hope we’re all back to it soon. I’ll think back on 2019 things like seeing a sunset at the Gulf of Mexico, standing in front of Salvador Dali paintings, meeting Tomohiro Ishii, getting to see Julia Michaels, Wand, Massive Attack, Choir Boy, P-Funk and Fishbone, and even just visiting new-to-me book shops or hitting the flea markets in the meantime.

Toys: Mego were firing on all cylinders as 2019 began, and then around mid-year, their distribution got weird, and I haven’t been able to get the figures I’ve wanted from them since. It’s been disappointing. I did get some other cool action figures during 2019 (lots of DC Directs), but I was in a holding pattern for a while before COVID-19 showed up, and I predict that I’ll remain that way for a while. Bigger fish to fry right now, of course, but it’s still sad when you can’t do fun stuff. Even if everything returned to “normal” tomorrow, I don’t know that I’d run into much in the way of toys I love that I can afford at the moment.

TV and Movies: I watched a bunch of fun stuff, and I’m continuing to do so. I’ll be talking about that over at my other website from here out. I covered a bunch during this Year in Review thing, but I decided midway through writing it that, unless I’m talking about physical artifacts (Blu-Rays, etc.), the place for that is over there.

Overall: While I complained about it a bunch as it was happening, and went through some hard times during the year, 2019 was a pretty good time, relative to this present moment. 2020 is a weird and scary time. I hope it becomes less of a weird and scary time soon. I hope you all stay healthy and safe, and I hope that we all stay in touch, find ways to stay connected to the hobbies we love during the downtime, and make our way back to something resembling normalcy as soon as we can. When the goal for the current year is just to physically survive and stay in good health, the other stuff becomes a really distant second, but that doesn’t make us love it any less, I don’t think. Be well, and like I said, please stay in touch. I wanna know that y’all are doin’ OK, or be able to offer whatever support I can if you’re not. Take care, until then!

My Year in Hobbies 2019: April!

April 2019:

Screenshot of someone getting the "To Live Forever" Trophy in the video game No Man's Sky. A faint, greyish-green sunburst in the center of a black screen, with the "Trophy earned!" Playstation Network icon at top left.
Screenshot of someone getting the “To Live Forever” Trophy in the video game No Man’s Sky. A faint, greyish-green sunburst in the center of a black screen, with the “Trophy earned!” Playstation Network icon at top left.

As I mentioned, I did hit 100% on No Man’s Sky’s trophy achievements in April. I had a lot of help on the “Reach the center of the universe in Permadeath mode” part. I found someone who had been alive in that instance for over 2 years, and had a base built 1 warp from the center of the universe, and they sent me an invite to their game after friending me. Before that, I had probably invested over 100 hours in my various attempts (though I’d probably be able to do it again, and more efficiently, if I tried now), and got close a few times.

Interior screenshot of Second Life nightclub Heck. A human with white skin and black hair, in black clothing (front and center), is seen at a DJ booth from behind. The building has black walls, accented by purple furnishings and green arrows that function as the club's teleport buttons. Photographs hang on the left and right hand wall. A tip jar sits on the stage to the left of the DJ booth.
Interior screenshot of Second Life nightclub Heck. A human with white skin and black hair, in black clothing (front and center), is seen at a DJ booth from behind. The building has black walls, accented by purple furnishings and green arrows that function as the club’s teleport buttons. Photographs hang on the left and right hand wall. A tip jar sits on the stage to the left of the DJ booth.

I returned to Second Life after a fairly extended hiatus in April, wrote about it in May, and events, if sporadic, continued at my club there, Heck, throughout the year, and will continue in 2020. I’ve also been DJing periodically at Vegetal Planet and The Velvet, and DJed at SL16B, Second Life’s 16th birthday party, on June 25th.

A Marvel Legends Black Knight action figure stands on a wooden window sill, with green foliage in a window behind it. Human figure in a blue tunic with a red insignia and red trim, blue, gold and grey armor, a brown utility belt, and blue boots and gloves, holding a large black sword with a gold hilt.
A Marvel Legends Black Knight action figure (a human figure with white skin in a blue tunic with a red insignia and red trim, blue, gold and grey armor, a brown utility belt, and blue boots and gloves, holding a large black sword with a gold hilt) stands on a wooden window sill, with green foliage in a window behind it.

I don’t buy a lot of Marvel Legends, but I couldn’t pass on The Black Knight.

An empty glass display case, center of picture, rests up against maroon walls, with some white boxes on a black shelf to its left.
An empty glass display case, center of picture, rests up against maroon walls, with some white boxes on a black shelf to its left.

Picked up an IKEA DETOLF display case for a corner of what we call “the study” in my house. Fit perfectly, and helps me display some more things like this…

Various toys and sculptures sit on a shelf: Ideal's KRUSHER doll, a green monster with orange trim; ROM The Spaceknight, a grey robot with red trim; Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces, a bald puppet with white skin wearing a blue denim shirt; a statue of a vampire version of comic book character The Joker; a green, pink and white ceramic statue of a sad looking dog with large green and black eyes; A green duck wearing a pink cowboy hat, being ridden by a pink cowboy.
Various toys and sculptures sit on a shelf: Ideal’s KRUSHER doll, a green monster with orange trim; ROM The Spaceknight, a grey robot with red trim; Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces, a bald puppet with white skin wearing a blue denim shirt; a statue of a vampire version of comic book character The Joker; a green, pink and white ceramic statue of a sad looking dog with large green and black eyes; A green duck wearing a pink cowboy hat, being ridden by a pink cowboy.

From left to right, bottom row: ceramic dog bank that’s been photographed and used as Heck’s mascot since it opened; Zimot Industries cowboy riding a duck sculpture.

From left to right, top row: Krusher The Gruesome Growing Reptile; ROM The Spaceknight; Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces; Joker vampire sculpture by Eli Livingston.

Not a bad first shelf.

An overhead shot of the basketball courts of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. approximately 15 people play basketball near a number of basketball hoops, in a circular basketball gym with pictures of famous basketball players off in the distance.
An overhead shot of the basketball courts of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. approximately 15 people play basketball near a number of basketball hoops, in a circular basketball gym with pictures of famous basketball players off in the distance.

Finally made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame with some visiting friends in April. The museum was mid-renovation, which I didn’t know at the time, and it seemed like a significant section was closed off, but we still had fun…

The Michael Jordan display case in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A Chicago Bulls #23 jersey, white with red trim, once worn by Michael Jordan, a red and white Nike Air Jordan sneaker, and several inscribed basketballs are visible in the case in this picture.
The Michael Jordan display case in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A Chicago Bulls #23 jersey, white with red trim, once worn by Michael Jordan, a red and white Nike Air Jordan sneaker, and several inscribed basketballs are visible in the case in this picture.

…and I got to see some other old friends.

The Julius Erving display case at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A University of Massachusetts maroon and white basketball jersey, an inscribed red, white and blue basketball, and a white Converse basketball sneaker with red trim are visible in the case, along with a placard that is not legible.
The Julius Erving display case at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A University of Massachusetts maroon and white basketball jersey, an inscribed red, white and blue basketball, and a white Converse basketball sneaker with red trim are visible in the case, along with a placard that is not legible.

First-run movies watched in April 2019 (1): Avengers: Endgame (I have really mixed feelings about the story directions and deviations of course they chose for various characters, to put it mildly, but I still think it’s amazing to see live action, George Perez-level super-hero crossover events done well. (I haven’t watched the Berlanti-verse Crisis On Infinite Earths yet, so I can’t speak from a position of authority on that one, but obviously the budgets are very different there.)

Comic books cancelled or ending in April 2019 (1): West Coast Avengers (Marvel Comics). This was another great series that I really wish more people had picked up on. Lots of fun, a great new take on a few older concepts, and I wish it had more time. Jeff the Shark forever!