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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Find Some Meat! Ranking the Classic Doom Monsters

 20 years ago, a software company known as Id unleashed a title onto the video game world which would forever change the face of gaming. Through the use of Shareware and trading amongst friends, DOOM captivated players and lowered productivity everywhere with its never before seen gore and disturbing satanic imagery. And of course, the game was pretty fun, too. But who can forget the cornerstone of the game's appeal - the monsters. Over the years, surely all Doomers have picked their favorite hellspawn to encounter amidst the death and mayhem, and the same is true for us as well. Here, we honor two decades of floating heads, goat legs, and horns of all shapes and sizes with our list ranking the greatness of all* of the classic DOOM monsters.

18. Former Human:

The weakest and generally most boring enemy in the game, these guys do a fine job of their cannon fodder duties but not much else. Their high point pretty much comes in the form of the ammo clips they drop.

17. Imp:

These brown pointy lumps are a staple of the corridors between important rooms, and also one of the most annoying enemies to get hit by if you consider yourself a skilled Doomsman. But their close range attacks cannot be underestimated. I once watched one of these guys take on a cacodemon one on one and win, with his claws alone. Needless to say various theme songs from Rocky came to mind seconds before I shot him in the face.

16. Revenant:

While skinny here can be a challenging monster and pack quite a punch (pun partially intended), something about a rocket vest thing on a skeleton seems more silly than cool. It doesn't help that his blood soaked legs have always and will always just look like really ridiculous, ultra-thin red pants to me.

15. Lost Soul:

 I've often thought of these guys as Hell's take on the common mosquito, and for good reason. Between the high pitched screaming and the "swarms" they are often found in, getting bit by these flying nuisances is almost annoying as the two shotgun shells you have to blow on them.

14. Chaingunner:

 The sheer number of these guys found in the Final DOOM episodes has taught me to sort of hate them, which prevents these bullet-spewing baldies from being the highest ranking former humans on this list. Still, a tougher zombie which uses and drops a chaingun was a welcome addition to the series' first sequel and added a new dose of challenge to the early "Space Station" levels. Their non-stop volly of shots even from huge distances makes the Chaingunners a genuine threat as well as hair-rippingly annoying at times.

13. Former Sergeant:

 For my money, this is the top of the line when it comes to zomies in DOOM. And I don't mind admitting that it's largely because they drop shotguns when felled, arguably the most valuable ammunition in the game. But with that said, I have to appreciate that if given the opportunity, these boys can take a good sized chunk out of your health and face, especially if you're not wearing armor.

12. Demon:

 Sometimes called Demons, Pinkies, or Pig Demons, but you'd better decide on a name for them quick because you're going to be seeing a lot of them. What makes these guys so effective is that even if they don't touch you, their toughness and numbers do a terrific job of eating away at your ammo reserves. And if you do let them get too close, their devestating jaws clamp down on your health percentage like the Playstation 3 clamped down on general quality assurance (which means, it'll hurt a lot). And let's not forget that these brutes are deceptively fast on their three-clawed feet. The invisible variant of this monster, known as Spectres, is basically the same deal in most levels but when placed in dark areas is when they become truly spooky....

11. Hell Knight:

 In my opinion, Hell Knights are just sort of a throwaway monster to create the illusion of monster diversity, a social issue that has plagued the surface of Hell for many years. Essentially just a weaker version of the Baron of Hell, these guys take enough ammo to make you regret having to waste it on them, but not so much that you feel as if you were in a real fight. They are at least a nice bridge between weaker monsters and serious monsters, and it's not to say that they can't hurt you when given the chance, earning them their spot near the center of this list.

10. Nazi SS:

A delightful throwback for the fans of Wolfenstein or an ample mind fuck for those unfamiliar with DOOM's predecessor, the Nazi SS make the two secret levels of DOOM II possibly the most memorable secret in the history of the FPS. Thankfully, this particular batch of anti-semitics aren't as deadly or comically large as their Wolfenstein incarnations, but on higher skill levels they appear in large numbers. Due to the fact that their attack sprite is only drawn from one angle, facing the player, you may enjoy the graphical glitch that occurs when one SS tries to attack another. Their position on his list is bolstered largely by their retro appeal.

9. Pain Elemental:

 Affectionately referred to as "meatballs" in our little circle, the Pain Elemental is a great monster in that it's extremely annoying but admittedly effective. Boasting no attack of its own, Meatball here overstays his welcome by quickly filling a room with Lost Souls which he spews from his mouth. Their passive agressive attack can be the difference maker in a lot of situations and with exception to the Arch Vile, is commonly public enemy #1 in most cases. Of course if you don't mind an exuberant amount of flaming skulls accenting the room, stop to appreciate the Pain Elemental's silly look and itsy-bitsy little arms which constantly pump as he putters along. The way he blows up in death is also amusing the first several times you see it, and the way he almost literally says "Ow!" when you shoot him makes you feel almost as if you owe him an explanation. "Listen buddy, I'm sorry but I'm already inexplicably unable to jump over demons 50 feet below me, I don't need a million of those damn things around."

8. Icon of Sin/Romero's Head:

The best artistically designed monster in all of DOOM is unfortunately merely a series of flat wall graphics. The true target of DOOM II's final boss, John Romero's head, is cleverly tucked behind and below the brain graphic which is what dictates the "rockets only" ultimatum for those who don't take advantage of No Clipping Mode.The monster's attack involves spewing skull-bedazzled boxes from its brain, which spawn a random demon once they hit the ground. Although these boxes aren't aimed directly at you, they do possess the power to instantly kill the player, even if God Mode is on so you still don't want to get too close to one. Still, realizing that you are in fact trying to destroy the face of one of the game's head programmers is amusing at first but has a way of diminishing the seemingly gargantuan monster's mystique, somewhat hindering higher ascension for him on this list.

7. Mancubus:

If you want to put your fancy footwork to the test, just enter a room with a few of these tubby terrors and get ready to dance. They fire endless volleys of fireballs from what one would think would be a rather finite source, and it only takes one to make a room feel like it's just too gosh darn crowded. Pretty much every sound these guys make is amusing in its own right and their death animation is arguably the best there is.

6. Arachnotron:

 When I first laid eyes on DOOM II, these guys are what stood out to me the most. The constant clank of their cybernetic legs keeps you sufficiently on edge until they come into sight. What makes Arachnotrons so great, besides being a cute, mini Spiderdemon, is that their attack is dangerous enough to hurt you but a fun challenge to try and avoid while you attempt to blast your shells into their brainy heads. And unlike Hell Knights, these creepy crawlies may look like their larger progenitor, but their utilization of a plasma gun rather than a super chaingun makes it a completely new and intriguing battle.

5. Arch Vile:

 The manual said it best when it described these nasty bastards as "The worst of a bad lot." Their attacks are second only to the Cyberdemon's rockets in power and temporarily blind you, and they resurrect enemies you already spent precious bullets on putting down. Tack on a creepy way of moving and that chilling, evil laugh they emit while lurking about, and you've got a monster whose "bosshood" escapes him only on hitpoints. In an area with no cover, they are the stuff of nightmares. But you can't argue with results, which is why the Arch Vile ranks highly on a list of greatness.

4. Spider Mastermind:

The final Boss of the original DOOM has dealt with years of scrutiny and criticism from the DOOM community. This comes largely as a result of its low hitpoints and attack which at first appears weak. However the Spider Mastermind's strengths are undeniable under the proper circumstances. First of all, it never stops shooting at you until you can find cover. Second, it fires three bullets per shot, essentially making its weapon a gatling shotgun, and even from huge distances, this deadly spider is insanely accurate. And if you're caught at close range, forget about it, game over. Any Doomer who claims that the Spider Mastermind hasn't been responsible for a few early graves is most likely Fabricating the story of their encounters.

3. Baron of Hell:

The boss at the end of the shareware episode of DOOM, "Knee Deep in the Dead," comes in the form of a pair of these behemoths, also known as the "Bruiser Brothers." The original "oh, crap" demon of the DOOM world, what made these guys such an iconic part of the game was their terrifying roar, fast and powerfull fireballs, and marble warning signs that let you know you were getting far too close to a bad situation. Their classic design of black horns, huge fangs, and goat legs was a potent little reminder that oh yeah, this is hell. Many players were squirelling away all their rockets and BFG shots especially for when this big boy made his entrance. The perfect embodiment of what DOOM is all about, it's a no brainer that the Baron ranks high on the list.

2. Cyberdemon:

 Perhaps the Cyberdemon's success within this list and the DOOM community in general can be credited towards a host of factors beyond the monster itself, such as the awesome, arena-like level in which he dwells, and the superb accordion-driven musical track which accents this intense boss encounter. Of course, being equipped with what is essentially a one hit kill never hurt, either. Players got their first taste of a true boss when they unwittingly shot at the Lost Souls which dot the level, awakening the beast. The stomps of his hooved feet (one made out of steel) echo in the distance, telling you that something big is nearby, and your first glimpse of him is likely to be interrupted by a rocket straight to the face, effectively ending your encounter just like that. Doomers that are good with the strafe key may eventually learn to take the mammoth demon on toe-to-toe, but the fact remains that a single wrong move may bring this dance to a sudden and decisive close.

1. Cacodemon: 

 Of all the hellspawn you will encounter in the firey underworld, only one of them shows up to work with a smile, ready to take on the day. The loveable grin across the face of the demon we most closely associate with history's greatest first person shooter is just one of many features that make the adorable Cacodemon a fan favorite. The spherical body, the crown of horns, the single, green eye, it's all just a wonderful medley of a demon gone so completely right. They are the perfect balance in an enemy, strong enough to keep you focused but relaxed enough to let you enjoy your time together. Their loud, startling will make you nearly jump out of your swivel chair at times as they emerge from their dark corners, but soon you calm down and say "Oh, it's just you, Cacey," and proceed a friendly sparring session. Or sure, you'll have to kill him eventually, and he'll seemingly melt out of the air and make that most amusing sound which sounds like what something which melts out of the air would sound like, and if you're anything like us you'll feel bad about it. But soon enough, the demon will make its return in some capacity, maybe even in a pair or trio and the good times will keep on rollin'. In essence, everything about this red ball of fun is perfect and seats him comfortably at the top of our list of classic DOOM monsters.

Of course, whatever your favorite demon may be, one incontrovertible fact is that they are all great in their own, special way and are all worthy of celebration for their contributions to the most iconic First Person Shooter of all time.

Thanks for reading!

*We did not forget about Commander Keen, but he could not be reached for comment.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Shop Spotlight: Animation Cels and Sketches

Animation cels  are single frames of movement hand painted on acetate. Animation sketches are drawn before the cel can be made. Before everything was done by computers every single movement of an animated series had to be hand drawn and then hand painted by an animator. So in most cases while there are similar cels in a given sequence of animation each cel is one of a kind. Production cels are the animation equivalent of Movie props. We might be a little biased because of our large collection but we really think that due to their one of a kind nature cels are probably one of the best collectibles from any fandom. Here's a small smattering of what we currently have in stock:

This is an awesome cel from the Hentai Sailor Moon parody, Venus 5. This is an action shot of the Usagi/Sailor Moon equivilent, Venus Pink. This cel is an A2 end which means it's the last cel of only 2 in the entire sequence. It also comes with the matching animator's sketch. Venus 5 art is surprisingly hard to find (lots of eechi Sailor Moon fans in the world maybe?)  For just $30 this fantastic action shot can grace your collection.

Sometimes when buying cels it's more about appreciation for the artwork or character designer thanomes with  the show itself. The New version of the Classic Hurricane Polymar (Holy Blood) was only 2 episodes and didn't quite capture the magic of the original as far as most viewers were concerned. However it did boast character designs by Yasoumi Umetsu (best known for his work on Kite and Mezzo Forte) So the series has great art. This is a real cool looking shot of an enemy in the Polymar suit visor. It comes with a bonus cel and is on sale for $5

Angelique is super popular Japanese dating sim game that is a spin on the classic harem meme but making the main character a young girl and harem a bevy of bishounen protectors. In addition to the original games there were a few OVA animations made which is where this sketch is from. We've only seen sketches from angelique twice including the pieces we currently have available so they're quite rare. This is an especially attractive sketch of guardian Oscar and is $10.

This is an animator's sketch from a Donkey Kong Cereal Commercial from 1983. It's a great image of DK and Pauline on top of the cereal box.  To watch the original commercial go here. This piece of Video game (and breakfast time) history can be the newest addition to your collection for $20.

If you were a child in the 80's you or a friend or a sister probably had a charmkins toy. They were cute little character charms made by Hasbro. This is from cel is from a TV commercial that was done by the
 same studio that did Hasbro's My Little Pony Commercials (and it shows). The characters are: Twinkle, Hyacinthia,  Brown-eyed Susan, and Bouncing Bet. Charmkins got one short movie and a handful of commercials so animation art is very rare. This set-up is several cels on a laser-copy background, yours for $30.

As we mentioned earlier we're animation cel collector ourselves and have built up a sizeable gallery (please note that cels in our personal collection are NOT for sale) over the years, so when we decide to sell something from our collection it goes in the shop meaning we've have a decent selection of cels available for sale most of the time. It's also worth noting that while we mostly sell original production pieces made in the process of making an animation, but we do occasionally have reproduction cels, collector's cels and fan cels. Non production cels are just made as collectible items and were not pieces used in the production of a given film or series, they're pretty but usally a lot less valuable (and often can be one of 100's made). When buying cels you should always double check the item you're getting.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Collection Oddities: Dr. Mario Witch Doctor Commercial Animation Cel

Almost our entire cel collection could be a collection oddity as they're one of a kind and while others might have similar cels, rarely will there be an exact copy. This cel though is rarer than most as it's from a commercial which by nature are short and even when fully animated don't have a lot of artwork available and it's from a commercial that's mostly live action. The animation section where this cel comes from  is on screen for less than a full second!

So here it is in all it's glory:

We don't want to know what Mario's plans for that thermometer are.
This is from the most well remembered of the 3 US Dr. Mario commercials, the Witchdoctor. Which I seem to remember also being a print ad. This is a really well composed shot considering that Mario spends part of his half second screen time squinting his eyes shut while stomping and we had previously bought a very rough sketch from that part of the sequence a year prior to getting this cel. We also have this cel and it's matching animator's sketch available for viewing in our cel gallery.  To check out Mario's brief appearance you can watch the commercial:

For obvious reasons we wouldn't have expected to get any art from such a short sequence let alone 2 sketches and a cel. We're incredibly happy to own such a unqiue piece of Video Game and Commercial History.

If you're interesting in owning your own piece of video game commercial history we currently have several sketches and even a cel from the original 1983 Donkey Kong Cereal Commercial available for sale in our shop.


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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Retro Review: Boxxle on Gameboy

Have you ever found yourself playing a Legend of Zelda game thinking: "It's nice to save Hyrule and all, but why aren't there more box puzzles?" Perhaps you're on one of Ms. Croft's tomb raiding adventures but instead of looking forward to your next artifact, you're looking forward to the next room full of crates. If so, Boxxle has you covered.

Boxxle is a game about pushing boxes. No really. That's the game. The very thin premise is that a young man (you aren't told his name, but I've decided to call him Bobby Boxpush)  is working in warehouse to earn money for a present for his girlfriend.


This is a Gameboy game from 1989 so you can't expect too much which is good because there isn't much here. On the small puzzles the graphics are on par with other games of the era, not exciting but certainly serviceable. However, the long view on the large puzzles looks like it was ported from a particularly advanced atari game.

Controls are intuitive and responsive. You push the boxes with the Dpad. The start button allows you to restart,  or select a new level. You only use the buttons to put in passwords in the main game and select and place pieces in create mode. Nothing really of note here.

There isn't a lot of sound happening. There's a few menu selection sounds and when you complete a level, Mr. Boxpush let's out a surprisingly realistic (for the time) "Yeah!". The music is the same repetitive track in every level or at least in every level I played (37 of them). At first is seems like standard uninspired video game fare, but the longer you listen to it the more it seems like some sort of  awful torture. There's a few other melodies such as in the "interludes" and when you pause, but overall Boxxle is best played with some other sort of music going on. I don't care if it's Garth Brooks, or Kenny G, or Lil' Wayne or The London cast recording of Cats, anything and everything is going to be better than what the game gives you.

As I mentioned previously, boxxle is a game about pushing boxes. Instead of a great treasure, a piece of heart, a new weapon or any of the other good stuff normal games give you for completing a box puzzle, here you just get more box puzzles, 250 of them to be exact spread across 25 levels of 10 stages each.

The game's thin storyline about why you're pushing all those boxes told in a series of short between level vignettes in Pac-Man type fashion. You see the first before you start the game and then one every 10 stages. Bobby Boxpush is working in a warehouse to get cash to buy his lovely lady a present. Though honestly I don't see why, as in the first scene she walks right by him. I'd like to point out "She hates me, I'd better slave away pushing thousands of boxes until she notices me." is not a good way to start a relationship even in video game land, but the game sprites can't hear me so I'm stuck pushing boxes.

Once you're in a stage you're presented with various boxes that need to be pushed, not pulled, into place.
You can tell where they should go via dots on the floor and once a box is over one of the dots it turns dark. As you would expect, it starts off simple and becomes increasingly harder as the game progresses. The game counts each step you make and displays the number of steps under the stage number and it seems to count for absolutely nothing, but hey there's always the self satisfaction of knowing you did it in a smaller amount of steps than all your Boxxle playing friends!

 Even for a box puzzle veteran such as myself some of them were pretty taxing and required a several restarts. There is a surprising amount of problem solving and critical thinking involved with rearranging boxes. Luckily, there's a convenient feature that,  if a particular puzzle is making you console-throwingly angry the menu allows you to select a new one within the same level. You can't move on until you've completed all the stages in one level, but sometimes a little break is all you need. If that's not enough though, there's a password feature so you can turn the Gameboy off, put the madness of boxes behind you an run over people in GTA or something.

If you get bored with the 250 pre-made puzzles you can make several of your own custom creations. You get the same materials as the standard puzzles, Bricks for walls, dots for placement, and of course boxes. The only thing to watch out for is that the game will let you create and attempt to play impossible puzzles so you'll need to really consider your placement choices.

So that's it, go into a level, push some boxes. Complete the level, move into a new level and push some boxes. If you get bored with that make a level, push some boxes.


As a Puzzle game/brain teaser game, Boxxle can hold it's own. It'll never be one of the greats but it's playable and it gets you thinking. I like box puzzles and it still got boring for me eventually, but I did do 37 of them in one sitting so it took awhile. As a bonus it's also training for almost every other video game ever.  Overall, Boxxle is a pretty average game, but if you want a puzzle game that's not a Tetris or Bust a Move clone, give some boxes a push. It earns a perfectly middle of the road 2.5 Octopi.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Top 7 Noteable Video Game Moms

In honor of Mother's Day we present you with our list of  Top 7 notable video game moms because 10 was too hard and 5 was too few.  Warning: This list contains spoilers.

Chrono's Mom from Chrono Trigger

Mom gives you money from the millennial fair and watches your cat (or cats) while you're out saving world. She also doesn't get judgy when you bring home the anthropomorphic frog, the robot or the black mage. Thanks mom!

 Jason's Mom from Friday the 13th on the NES

As a Player, Jason's mom is bad news, great reward if you can beat her, but more likely she's just going to kill you. However you have to appreciate the dedication of a parent who doesn't let decapitation keep them from defending their son.

Eva from the Metal Gear Series

Eva is perhaps the most annoying thing about MGS3. I personally wanted her to die a horribly fiery death at the end of the game. Metal Gear 4 let me know that was no way to think as, without Eva (now going by Big Mama) there'd be no Solid Snake. Being the vessel through which we are granted the treasure which is the greatest of all those code named Snake is clearly is Eva's greatest contribution to gaming, but you also have to appreciate that she's a pretty badass old lady.

Jenova from Final Fantasy VII

Jenova isn't really the most mothering of mothers, but maybe that's because she's a been dismembered and used as experimental biomass most of the time. In spite of that she still manages to instill Sephiroth, her son,  with a fierce sense of family pride and her world domination values. Not to mention she's the second Mom on this list who doesn't let dismemberment stop her from kicking your ass.

Mom from Pokemon

Mom wants to be helpful. Sometimes this means healing your party, sometimes it means giving you running shoes. In Gold and Silver she offers to hold on to some of your hard won Pokemon dollars to save it for a rainy day. Unfortunately mom has a shopping problem and buys things like Magmar Pokedolls with your cash. It's easy to forgive her though when she forks over that rare hyper potion.

Dahlia from Silent Hill

If you're Alessa, Dahlia is the worst mom ever. If you're most of the residents of Silent Hill, Dahlia is the worst mom ever. Heck even if you're a Silent Hill Cultist Dahlia is the worst mom ever, but in a way that works for you. What Dahlia does have going for her is that she's smart, she's driven and she's really fucking evil. Dahlia might torture and sacrifice her own daughter in order to bring her frightening God into the world, but it's an admirable level of dedication to her cause. Without Dahlia, Silent Hill would just continue being a quiet resort town with no monsters, no fog, no warped reality and that would be a travesty to the gaming world.

Honorable Mention:

Clement Darling's mom from House of the Dead Overkill

I can't say anything about Mother Darling that can't be better explained by playing this game and if you have played it you know why in many ways the less said about her (and her son) the better. I will say that in spite of the fact that her role in the game culminates in her becoming an especially grotesque monster, it's one of the least disgusting aspects of her character. She's a mom like no other and that's a good thing.

OK so that was actually 8 moms with the honorable mention but hey it's Mother's Day shouldn't we be honoring the hard working moms of gaming as much as possible?


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Uranus Mask

 A  few months ago we  talked about  getting the first piece of horrifying Sailor Moon Mask collection, Sailor Pluto. We've recently gotten the opportunity to add another. This time is the Beautiful Sailor Soldier of the Sky, Sailor Uranus.

Uranus fares much better than Pluto, her hair is the right color and cut. In some ways this mask is a disagrace to our collection of creepy character masks because she actually looks rather cute. She's still got soulless empty eye socket but she's also got a cute shy blush on her cheeks, perfectly painted lips (thanks liprod!) and pretty accurate details. She like our Pluto mask is also too small to fit on an adult face which is why we don't have an action shot.

2 Senshi down and 8 more to go... maybe. We're actually not sure how many masks there are as they don't seem to pop up in collections too often, presumably because they're a little too creepy for most people. We like weird though so we'll keep on picking up these odd things as long as we find them and have space for them.


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Friday, May 3, 2013

Shop Spotlight: Anime and Manga Furoku and Zenin

If you've been collecting anime and manga related items for a long time you're eventually going to come across a furoku item. Furoku is a gift item given away with the purchase of a Japanese magazine often one of the phonebook style Shoujo magazines such as Ribon or Nakayoshi but do occasionally pop up with other releases. In the same vein there are zenin items which are items you mailed in for using coupons from the magazine. Due to these items never being commercially available they're often some of the rarest collectibles available.  We carry various Furoku and Zenin items:

This is a Sailor Moon Single Band-aid with and all over pattern of Usagi with Luna and Artemis on the packaging from Nakayoshi Magazine. For $5 it cane be one of the most unique pieces in your collection.

This adorable hand towel was a furoku from Afternoon magazine in the early 2000's. It made of lightweight fabric and has an all over monochromatic pattern of the goddesses.  It seems too pretty to use as a towel, but it would probably be beautiful framed or even just tacked to a bulletin board. It's $13 and could be a beautiful new addition to your Ah! My Goddess collection.

This Mermaid Melody box from Nakayoshi is probably one of the cutest pieces of Furoku we've ever seen with adorable images Rina, Lucia and Hanon in bathtubs.  It's light weight Cardboard that pops up into a fairly sizeable box, perfect for holding office supplies, jewelry or any other treasures you can think of. It can be making your desk, dresser or work station cuter for $9.

This Full Metal Alchemist Poster is from June 2005 issue of a Japanese magazine, but we're not sure of which one. It's double sided with this fantastic image of Roy and Riza on one side and an unknown to us anime on the other. Other than the original magazine folds in good condition, having never been displayed. A great piece for your collection for $9.

Stitch from Lilo and Stitch has quite a large following in Japan so we actually have several rare Japanese items featuring him. But this small plactic mini bag is on of our favorites. It would make a unique gift for any Stitch fan and is only $2.

 We have lots of various Furoku available (especially if you're a Sailor Moon or Disney fan) so it's likely we have a rarity you'd enjoy adding to your collection.


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