The State of Magic the Gathering

There are lots of video bloggers out there talking about Magic the Gathering, but the one I think garners the most respect is “The Professor” from Tolarian Community College.  This guy is brilliant.  He plays the game.  He makes great video content.  And provides reviews into sealed products.

One thing I am hearing from The Professor, and others, is that the game is in trouble.  There are lots of reasons frequently listed, like;

  1. Standard becomes stale so frequently…People crack the meta-game.
  2. There is a ton of competing entertainment choices…most notably apps.
  3. Other card games, especially those found on app stores.  (Hearthstone, etc.)
  4. Too much product is produced.
  5. Local Game Stores are competing with big box stores.

I think number five is the biggest threat, and most of the other problems can be traced to the mass production of specialty products.  And so that is what I would like to write about.

 

The very first MTG packs I ever bought were from Wal-Mart.  Way back in 2000 at my last career working there .I picked them up out of curiosity…I had to restock some misplaced product.  Back then, you purchased them near Pokemon Cards, Baseball cards, and novelty items.  When I bought them, I thought they were weird.  I didn’t understand them.  I didn’t buy anymore for years.  (Wonder what happened to that couple of packs?)

 

When I started playing the game seriously, I purchased my packs at a LGS. And then I began to return to this section at Wal-Mart, as i began to dive deeply into the Return to Ravnica block.  But there were always a few items I could only get at The Tangled Web (in Spartanburg) or at other specialty stores.  These included Event Decks, and other things meant exclusively for LGS.

 

But somehow, Wal-Mart, Target, and other huge department store chains, have bought into it more, and now Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast are shipping those formerly exclusive products to them in humongous quantities.  and so.

 

  1. I picked up “Mind vs. Might” off of TCGplayer for $8.
  2. E-bay has this year’s gift pack on sale for $11.  I have seen stacks and stacks of these on store shelves…
  3. LGS frequently have Planechase Anthology on the shelf.  STILL.  I have also seen Commander Anthology.
  4. Commander 2018 (or 2017?) is warming shelves.  Draconic Domination seems to be all gone, but the other three are still available.
  5. Planeswalker Mystery Boxes and similar have begun to appear…these are re-packaged booster packs.  Incidentally, they are a terrible value.  You save no money in purchasing these.

 

Truth of it is, all of this overhead product is bad for the game.  It lowers peoples’ confidence.  MTG was the bread and butter of places like The Tangled Web.  But now, they are in competition with forces that are pretty hard to compete with.

The value and rarity of recent cards has tanked.  While people are hanging onto cards like The Scarab God, and Liliana the Last Hope, mostly the cards have gone down in value.  And printing huge numbers of things like Iconic Masters is a bad idea for the game.  People feel their old cards are losing value with modern reprints.

 

So what do I prescribe?

I am a fan of closing down the Wal-Marts and Targets altogether.  (Better for all small businesses,)  But since that isn’t an option…at least Hasbro and the Wizards should scale back this mass production.  Our game feels alot less special because they sell the specialty products alongside toilet brushes and clearance thong sandals.

“I need to go down to the Wal-Mart to get my oil changed.  While I’m at it I’m going to pick up some Scott Tissue, some dog food, and Doritos.  I think I will pick up that Iconic Masters Draft pack too…”

See what I mean?

I think us gamers should vote with our wallets.  We need to only, only, only buy our cards at LGS.

 

That is alot of rant, but if you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments!

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Kubros He-Man…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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I received this from the SpartanWife for Christmas. I’m thankful for it…but this isn’t a product that I picked up on my own on purpose…Why you ask?

I saw this…and the Skeletor on the shelves at Wal-Mart for around $12 (I believe).    If you’ve been reading the SpartanNerd blog, then you know that I have been getting a subscription to a mystery box from Funko featuring DC comics characters for a year.  This box has been fantastic…and sometimes includes unexpected and quirky things.  But mainly it features Funko Pop! figures.  I take these figures and put them around my middle school classroom, where the children really mostly enjoy them.

To me, the Kubros are trying too hard to be Funko Pop!.  The figures are basic deformed…and because they are meant to be a Lego-style pop figure, the mouths on all of them look pretty wrong, and in the case of He-Man, the eyes do too.

Maybe I changed my mind…Keep reading!

The front of the box looks like what you see above!  The sides of the box feature Filmation style He-Man pics.  And the back looks like this…featuring Skeletor, Spock, Master Chief, Ezio (who?), and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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So the brand IS trying to make a diverse array of stylized characters.  I find it interesting that there are 25 different characters being offered…

Down at the bottom, notice that this is a MEGABLOKS product.  Did you know that Mattel just purchased MEGABLOKS, and that recently they renamed them MEGA CONSTRUX?  Not sure where this leaves the Kubros figures…but it seems Mattel had the licenses to make toys of all the things pictured…(MOTU, Star Trek, Terminator, Halo.)

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Opening the box…SURPRISE.  the box is lined with stylized Kubros art.  This reminds me exactly of what Funko did with their mystery box.  And then there are those creepy eyeballs again…

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So what’s inside?

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Five polybags of pieces, and an instruction book.

It took me about 30 minutes to build this figure.  A couple of notable things…the eyes are not stickers…they are pieced together.  I dropped the eyelid…there really is no replacing that.  Luckily, I found it.  The back of one foot has a hole in it, and this was mysterious to me until the very end.  It is where you place the “K” emblem which stands for Kubros.

The basic assembly is three steps.  First the head, which is made of layer after layer of “skinny” bricks.  The legs and body are all one big step basically.  And finally the weapons.

The eyes gave me a hard time, but I think it was the arms and hands that had me scratching my head.  One of the shoulder pieces was hiding under something until the build was almost completely over.  I was going into “compromise mode,” when suddenly the SpartanKid found it!

Here is the finished product.

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Slightly smaller that I expected…the box made me think he would be larger.

Here is a comparison to Masters of the Universe Classics He-Man.

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Comical, I know.  This reminds me of Groo vs. Conan.  (Which I haven’t read…only seen the covers of.)

After you build the Kubro, the only display options you have are to use weapons or not.  You can move his arms at the shoulder, and his neck is also articulated as a peg-joint swivel.

I am going to rate the Kubros He-Man a 2/5.  Sorry guys…As a Mattel Lego…not doing it for me the same way as the recent Mega Construx Heroes.  This design doesn’t work as well as a POP! figure.  The line of studs for teeth in the mouth…the strange looking eyes.  Where is his nose?   And He-Man doesn’t have THAT SEVERE of eyebrows.  They got the “fish head” haircut shape OK.  But where is the cross or 200x symbol on his chest?  To be fair, it doesn’t seem that Skeletor or Spock have proper symbols either from the images provided.

This figure is going in my classroom, or maybe my office…Adding to my collection of pop style figures.  It is OK…I think the Kubros brand is just TRYING TOO HARD to establish something in a market that is already flooded with successful products like Funko POP!  Kubros isn’t adding anything to any of these brands, other than throwing out more plastic to completist collectors.

So the SpartanNerd rates the Kubros He-Man at 2/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!