Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Toy Shack - Las Vegas, NV

From July 1 - July 8, my girlfriend and I took a beautiful vacation to Las Vegas.  It was filled with sunny days by the pool, chest-pounding clubs, a few celebrities, shows and lots and lots of alcohol.  After all, it IS Sin City and although they claim what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I couldn't leave it all in the desert.  For as wild and crazy as Las Vegas is supposed to be, I couldn't help but let the nerd in me come out.

On July 4th, after spending our morning at Encore Beach Club for the Macklemore concert, we took a taxi to Fremont St for a free Papa Roach and P.O.D concert.  That was the selling point that enticed us to go on the 4th of July, but the venture to Fremont was going down at some point that week for this store right here... Toy Shack!  If you're unfamiliar with this establishment, it's a store that houses and sells toys for all ages from just about every decade since the 50s.  I first heard about it on Pawn Stars where the Las Vegas pawn shop uses the owner of Toy Shack as their toy expert.  Whenever they need information or prices on a certain toy, this is where they go.  So, after hearing that and doing a few Google searches, I knew this would make for an interesting break from our "Hangover' vacation.  While I didn't intend on purchasing anything, I just had to see what they had available.  Of course, I took as many pictures as I could for all of you before a few associates started to give me the old stink eye.

As you can see, Toy Shack offers just about everything you can imagine and, for me, this was a trip down memory lane.  When I was a kid, I had every Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy you could imagine.  My parents went all out in making sure that I had the entire collection or, at least, the ones that I wanted.  The same can be said for WWF/WWE action figures which, surprisingly, I didn't see any of at Toy Shack.  That was my only disappointment, but it's hard to be upset at all when walking through a store like this.  Personally, I've never been in a more complete toy store.  Sure, I've see vendors at shows that specialize in certain aspects or offer rarer items, but Toy Shack is open year-round and has one hell of an inventory.  I was very impressed and thought it was much better than expected.  The worst part is that Toy Shack made me wish I still had all my childhood toys!

To round things off and really enhance the nostalgic experience, Toy Shack plays classic episodes of your favorite 80s and 90s television shows to truly bring back those memories.  Played clearly over the speakers was an episode of "Dinosaurs."  I remember pretending to be sick to trick my Parents into a day absent from elementary school.  While I don't think they were ever really fooled, the days off were usually granted and I'd stay home watching Dinosaurs, Maury and Jerry Springer.  Thankfully I didn't grow up to be a wife beater with 18 children.  I am not the mama, or the father..

To complete our trip, we took a few photos outside because, really, where else in Las Vegas can you pose with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and pretend to be scared as he reaches to pick you up and throw you over the Stratosphere?  On this 4th of July, Toy Shack was certainly one of the highlights and I recommend stopping in whenever you're in Las Vegas!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cotton Candy Balls

Whenever I make a trip to Target, I usually take the time to search the aisles for products that may be new, limited, or special edition.  I usually look for items that can be purchased for fun and review on The Holidaze.  However, yesterday was not one of those days.  I had just gotten out of work, was tired, and had to run in for just a few essentials.  I didn't plan on buying any junk food, but my something caught my girlfriend's eye... blue cheese balls!  At first, I was intrigued.  No matter how tired I may have been, things like that will wake me right up.  How could you go wrong with blue cheese balls?  They're tiny cheese puffs, put into a ball, and dyed blue!  Um.. yes, please!

But when we picked up the giant tub of blue cheese balls, things changed..

Okay.. Cotton Candy Balls?  Have the good people at Herr's gone nuts?  This was far from what I expected and the first thing I said was "ew, these are going to be gross."  In turn, that scared away a couple who were obviously interested in making the purchase.  They stopped, looked at the tub, then at each other, before leaving after I let my opinion drop.  I'm sorry if that killed their vibe, or the sale for Target, but who in their right mind would buy these?  Of all the flavors Herr's could have released, why an overly sugary circus treat?  Don't get me wrong, Cotton Candy is great, but I just didn't see how it could successfully translate over to corn puffs.

Regardless of my preconceived notions, my girlfriend convinced me that this would be a good pick-up.  We'd get to try such an odd snack and, for The Holidaze, it would make for an interesting review.  For the $6 they cost, it was well worth the risk.  After all, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to liking limited edition Oreos, so why would this be any different?  Similarly, how could I knock Herr's and praise Nabisco for going the extra mile?  No matter what I think, before or after the taste test, I am happy to see such a unique product on the market.

As Leonardo gazed and salivated in hunger, I took a good whiff of these blue balls (pause for immature laughter) and.. wow, they really do smell like Cotton Candy.  I didn't expect them to be so potent, but this was the real deal.  Even more intrigued than before, we chomped down on one of the Cotton Candy Balls.

The flavor?  Bland.. It's an almost flavorless corn puff, but that's only at first.  After a second or two, there's an after taste that actually does remind me of Cotton Candy.  It's not very strong, and tastes much more like Cap'n Crunch Berries than anything else, but even that is a bit weak.  They taste as if they took all the sugar out of our favorite cereals and left us with nothing more than a scent and puffs.

With that said, I'm actually not knocking these Cotton Candy Balls.  I think the fact that they're more bland than expected is actually a good thing.  Had they been overwhelmingly sweet or tastes too much like Cotton Candy, I don't think these would have worked out at all.  Fan of Cotton Candy or not, I just don't think that's a flavor that does very well outside of it's incarnation.  Bubblicious Bubble Gum does a decent job of relaying the flavor, but even that gets old after a while.  So, this way, the way Herr's did it, works well.  I'm not going to buy them again, nor will I be finishing off the tub, but I'm happy we bought them.  They're something worth trying and, as a fan of weird products like this, I had to lend my financial support to the companies that go the extra mile.  Because I do so, I wouldn't be surprised if Nabisco released a Cotton Candy Oreo next.  I'd probably be writing the same review, but at least the packing would be cool.

Since it's Ninja Turtles month around here, I decided to let Leo eat as much as he wants.  Nobody notice that he's missing an arm, okay?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Gummy Turtle Power Pizza

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film will be released three weeks from today!!  I don't know about you, but I couldn't be more excited!  I've been looking forward to this movie since it was first rumored on TheTechnodrome.com's forums.  I remember thinking, "who, a live-action CGI Turtles film?  That's going to be amazinggg."  Now, say what you will about the character designs because, for the most part, I'm right there with ya.  The Turtles that I know and love are obviously not the Turtles who will be gracing the silver screen on August 8th.  But that's okay.. This is a new generation and I'm embracing the new look and hoping for the absolute best.  My hopes are high, no matter how hard I try to keep them low.  I'm pumped and I'm not even attempting to hide it.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mean a lot to me, my childhood and the nostalgia I now celebrate.  I'll get more into that as we get closer to the film's release, but any Holidaze fans already know how much I love those four teenage turtles.  

So how do you celebrate such an awesome time in our lives?  How do you celebrate this new film?  How do you celebrate the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  On The Holidaze, it's simple... dedicate as many posts to The Green Machine as you can between now and August 8th!  Thanks to the power of marketing and Nickelodeon, the Turtles are pretty much everywhere and we have a bunch to discuss!

We'll start off slowly and begin with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles candy featuring Nickelodeon's hit character designs.  While at work, during my lunch break, a group of manly men and I ventured to the local grocery store for a quick sandwich.  These guys don't have any interest in anything I talk about on The Holidaze, so the last thing they were looking for was Ninja Turtle candy.  But me?  I'm a giant man-child and my eyes were moving a mile a minute.  Candy, soda, chips, cereal.. you name it.  I'm always looking for something.  I didn't see much, but when I saw Gummy Turtle Power Candy Pizza, there was nooo way I was passing it up.  At the risk of being ridiculed by men twice my age and size, I grabbed a box and walked over to the cashier like I had just struck gold.  Nobody saw the 27-year-old man pay for his Turtle candy but, even if they did, there was no stopping me.  At that point, I could have easily been confused for Vanilla Ice.

When I got back to work, I did a quick Google search and learned that these aren't all that new, but they're new to me so I couldn't wait to get home and rip open the box.  The Gummy Pizza's don't look like the design pictured on the box, but I actually prefer their actual appearance much more.  There's something about them that reminds me of my childhood.  Do you remember Slime Slurps?  I vaguely remember the slimy, gummy creatures molded into TMNT heroes and villains.  They were strung out in Toys R Us and always drew me in.  Man, I'm having quite the flashback now as I write this.  I knew that these Gummy Pizza's wouldn't share the same texture, but the shape and color surely brings about nostalgia!  That's already a step in the right direction!

Out of the wrapper, you can see the slight detail they added to the Gummy Pizza's.  Again, it's a far cry from what's pictured on the box and looks more like faux vomit you'd find in an old magic shop. The chunky pepperoni pieces a bit less appetizing now that we've crossed that bridge, but I'm willing to accept and overlook that for the Ninja Turtles.  In reality, these don't look, smell, or feel much different than any gummy candies you'd find in your standard candy-by-the-pound stores.  You know, the ones where you fill a plastic bag with more candy that you'll ever eat in your life?  Yeah, well you can't have those without these and, by this point, I had pretty much figured these were Peach Rings without the hole or sugar coating.

I was pretty close.. They're more like those Gummy Strawberries that are red on top and pink on the bottom.  That's the texture, anyway.  But the flavor?  Very bland.  It's a dull battle between cherry and peach, but it's mostly flavorless.  These aren't something I'd eat regularly and they'll probably sit around in my kitchen until I sneak them into theaters on August 8th, but they're just okay..  I love them for being Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' candy, but maybe they're better off in the three-fingered hands of another.

Mikey!  He likes it!

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