Thursday, February 05, 2015

A Geek's Memories - or just the musings of a big kid

 2015 has got off to a rather reflective start, since the birth of our son I have got on somewhat of a retro trip. Ive been looking round at random things on various sites that remind me of my younger days. Ive also bought a lot of random old things for future projects but you have seen some of those in a previous post. As a result ive visited many sites and looked at many things that bring back memories, both good and bad.

It was whilst looking at various random things I got an email that I initially pushed off as spam, it first looked like it was one of your normal write about us and we write about you sort of thing. so I just kind of ignored it and I was happy to let my spam precautions take care of this. If you ever email the blog youll see it’s a simple but effective auto-reply but responding to it confirms youre serious and want to talk. So I got a very polite and timely reply back and being on my massive retro trip (one result of this is that im not soley drinking root beer – which is a pain to get in the uk – just because I remember trying it as a kid) I looked in to it a bit more. It turns out it was a write about us request but it was the manner in which they were requesting the posts be written that got me and has, as a result, spawned this post.

So strangely at the time im looking back and partially reliving my youth a company called Man Crates, (sounds like a coffin seller?) contacted me and asked me to write a post about my youth and my history in gaming. It struck me as odd that they had contacted me and that it coincided so much, but as they had complied with the spam filter I thought I would check them out to see if they were on the up and up. Im glad I did as the site was one I had come across recently whilst looking for random things, its somewhat of a coincidence, one could almost say serendipitous. So the site whilst basic is actually quite cool. They, as the name suggests, literally sell Man Crates, these are wooden crates (with a full on crowbar that’s needed to open them) full of themed stuff ideal for men (and really women but they trade on the man part – that sounds rude), so games, snacks, gadgets, tools etc.

Initially I had second thoughts about writing this post as im not really one for promotion of people or shops I haven’t dealt with (and just for the record at this point this post wont benefit me in away with any gifts – hint hint man crates) but given that these guys have really appealed to my current mood I thought I would talk about my youth and see if any of the Man Crates would be ideal things for me to relive my past, and once I started looking I found a few!

So where to begin…………….

Well lets list some of my favourites and what they remind me of and then we can go from there!

So firstly as I have just become a dad for the first time and am also an avid airsofter, which as a result means I am a bit of tacticool weirdo, then it has to be this set -  the Dad Tactical Bag!
Not only is there a really useful grab bag – which I know the wife will never let me use for the baby – which also comes in coyote, there are plenty of little touches that really make me smile, the ear plugs and dummy (pacifier for you non brits) are something I now understand the need for and the honest homour in why they have been included. The redbull is also rather useful as I have been living on that for the past month or so. For me this is a brilliant tongue in cheek gift, one I can now appreciate, and do feel this makes a great gift for first time dads

Next up is the Zombie Crate, now being an avid Sci-Fi and Horror fan zombie movies have sort of become part of my life from an early age, possibly too early, and this box is one thing I would love to have should the apocolyse come. It’s the sort of thing when say watching films you would say wouldn’t it have been good if they hadn’t lost that last spade or axe, why didn’t they pack a spare. The whole crate just reminds me of one too many late night hiding in my room watching movies with the sound down or headphones in so the parents wouldn’t know (not to mention the one time I did that and my dad crept in and right at the scary part touched my shoulder – resulting in my putting my foot through the TV!) I like this box as this one is one of their real crates and comes complete with the crowbar to open (and as a useful back up in case of zombie attack) and is in my opinion brilliant, only down side is I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be allowed to import this in to the UK due to the mahooosive blades.
as you can see there is a pretty decent selection of accessories and the ever present Zombie Survival Guide (thank you max brooks, in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse we will name the first free city after you) to help provide helpful tips. The quality of the knives and survival equipment is very impressive, especially at that price (but I am looking at this from a uk point of view). What does it for me though is the can of spam, a must in any survival situation and a great touch.

The other crate crate that caught my eye was the Snack Pack, this was a nice little find and comes in the full on crate, I really liked the selection as for some reason (no idea how in hindsight) despite living in the UK, having no American contacts and not living near any USAF bases we always seemed to get hold of a lot of American snacks and food stuffs.
This create has a good selection of things I remember like the crunch n munch, mike and ikes and the nutter butters, something I find harder and harder to get as I move further south. A good selection of things that when I think about them remind me of evenings watching films or playing road rash on the old Sega Master System (note: yes I really had one and didn’t get a mega drive L ) before resorting to the inevitable brotherly bashing that comes after the 29th game and the umpteenth helping of sugar laden goodies!

This next crate isn’t a crate, it’s an ammo tin dude! That’s awesome, hang on, its full of caffine as well! Even better! This is one of my favourite smaller crates as it covers not only my tacticool side but also the insane love of coffee!
I really do like this and the only way I can think to improve this would be to pair it with one of the jetboil stoves, a second mug and some more coffee to make a deluxe package (youre welcome to use the idea if you send me one man crates :) ) this one for me isn’t about memories this is about the here and now and heading out to airsoft with friends for a good brew and shooting :)

My final choice is without doubt one of the most expensive sets on there but it does have a little brother too, that is the Retro Gamer Crate, in both sizes it includes not only a console to play games on (either a repro NES or a NES based portable handset) but it comes with games and snacks

now this I love not only do you get the retro games but for me the big thing is the flavours of my youth. I love retro sweets and I really love American candy (you can keep your so called chocolate though) and this really does pull a lot of that together (another product tip here Man Crates – do a small box containing “gamer supplies” to include sweets like these and drinks like rootbeer and you are on to another winner – that idea is for you guys but feel free to send me one if you use the idea :) )
I do love these boxes and would love one but please let us know where you got all the games as NES games are like rocking horse poo over here! My borther and I eventualy got a SNES and ended up with I believe it was duck hunt and about 4 other games, this eventually replaced master system and the post game entertainment got better once we got the light gun and eventual “light bazooka”, those were random times and ones that wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun without sugar and a TV that was so small you had to sit 8 inches from it and as a result had a permenant tan from the CRT.

So those are some of the offers from ManCrates and I know its lots of cool stuff and looking at a lot of them they do actually remind me of a lot of things from my youth, but if I was to have to pick two to for myself now (hint hint) it really wouldn’t be hard, if I take in to account practicalities (and legalities) then for me it would have to be the coffee canister and the Dad Pack. Im not gready and wouldn’t spend too much but these two for me are the coolest and most usuable items for my hobbies and day to day life. The coffee canister would be a good gift for friends at airsoft (and an expanded version with a jetboil would be even better) as we all love to have a sit round at lunch and after the day and have a coffee before heading back to the different parts of the country we now leave so this is great for a catch up. The Dad bag would be so useful as I now understand what its like to be a dad and the things in it genuinely are things you could use :)

So there you have it my thoughts on the man crates, it’s a cool site and a cool premise. I really do like the products and would love to get hold of some (lets look in to UK shipping guys) and think they are a great concept.

Finally I would like to apologise as some of you might not like me letting a corporate request spawn a blog post but I liked the fact that instead of a linkshare request (of which I get 100s a week) these guys have actually put some thought in to their self promotion and have asked bloggers from various aspects of gaming to tell people a bit about themselves and see if their man crates products inspired them to relive things, rather than just dictate what they want people to see. This I think is great and actually I would like to say that in thinking about this subject and writing about it I have actually enjoyed it and remembered things I forgot I enjoyed. This was great fun and I think I would consider doing another retro post in the future.

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