Hamley’s at Central Square

Hubby and I are really just two kids at heart so we were giddy with excitement when we found out that Hamley’s was opening a branch here. Originally called Noah’s Ark, Hamley’s was founded by William Hamley in Lindon in 1760, which makes it the oldest toy shop in the world!


The toy store had a lot of the usual toys – legos, barbie dolls…



Lots of plushies!



They have all sorts of bubble makers which would delight any kid. I found them rather expensive though – I got the bubble camera (right-most from the photo below) for Georgie and I was mildly disappointed that for a simple toy worth close to Php 500, it failed to make the different bubble shapes and kept spilling on my hands. My Php 20 bubble canister (the one you always find in loot bags) performed better. Still, it was aesthetically pleasing enough and I guess that’s what I paid for.


 Arts and crafts!


The main reason hubby and I were excited to go to Hamley’s was because we wanted to buy old-fashioned toys. You know, the ones made of die-cast metal and wood, and hand-made. These wooden blocks were the closest we got to our wish.



We also found these cute binoculars and telescopes, similar to the ones by Lonely Planet which I spied at Toy Kingdom a few weeks ago, albeit cuter. I wanted to get one for Joey but he didn’t want it (he only realized later on when he saw we got one for his cousin that he actually wanted one himself).


Oh, and they have Tokyo Vinyl stuff here, for the collectors out there.


Hamley’s, given its location at the Central Square, is a nice alternative to the other toy stores since it is less crowded, but, if they plan on opening near a Toys R Us or Toy Kingdom, they’d better stock up on more unique toys to attract customers. As it is, you can find the same stuff in other toy stores so hubby and I were a little disappointed (no die cast double decker buses!!!).

The World According to Joey: Lego Love (Part 2)

When I was a kid, I remember our papa bringing home a bucket of Lego bricks – the plain ones, consisting of those flat lengthwise bricks and the square and plump bricks. Back then, those were the only Lego products available in the department stores (Isetann, Plaza Fair and SM Carriedo, that is, the only department stores our family used to visit in the 80s and early 90s). But I was oh so happy to have those bricks, making buildings and houses. 
Fast forward to today and Lego has evolved – you can build practically anything. The good thing is, the bricks, whether you are using old ones or new ones, all fit together (and I can’t fault Lego for the quality and craftsmanship of each toy). And Joey has inherited this fascination with Lego (you can read about my older entry about his Lego love affair here).
But, as with all kids, Joey has moved on from his NInjago obsession, though he still asked me to buy this Final Battle thingie:

His focus now? Star Wars. Oh, be still my poor bleeding wallet. Star Wars Lego pieces are almost two times more expensive than the regular ones (Ninjago, Build City, and the more recent one, Chima) – and I am sorely tempted to curse our customs for the exhorbitant import and custom fees that make them even more expensive here (I bought a Star Wars ship in HK for around Php800 but when I checked it here, it’s Php2,399!!!). 
Started off Joey’s collection with the planets – I believe this group is up to Series 3 and there are three planets per series. Joey’s got five, so far, although we don’t strictly follow the order of things – he just picks up what to him is the prettier planet. And each planet comes with a small ship and character.

Unfortunately, the more famous characters like Luke Skywalker, C3PO, Han Solo, etc, don’t come with the tiny planets. So poor parents like me have to shell out for the bigger ships to get them.

Han Solo’s ship

That’s Han Solo in the middle

Would you believe Joey looked up this repair droid on the internet and then dragged me to Hobbes and Landes to buy it?

The good thing about playing with his Lego rather than toy guns and tablet is that it encourages Joey to be creative, and patient – building a ship can take hours or even a day, depending on how big it is. And may I add that even the grown-ups (ahem, hubby; and fine, me) love them too.

The Lego brand has also expanded – accessories, bags, clothes, books, and several cartoon series on the Cartoon Network. A Lego movie is even in the works and will be shown early this year!
I previously got him Toy Story and Ninjago Lego watches during their related phases, and keeping up the tradition, and to motivate him to learn the time, I got him a Star Wars watch too (honestly, I figured it was cheaper to get a new watch WITH C3PO than get the Lego ship where the droid is a part of).

This is, incidentally, also my favorite Lego watch. It’s gold!!!
Hubby and I couldn’t find Luke Skywalker anywhere (he is probably part of the big ships) so when I saw this book at the book fair last September, I had to grab it.
Joey’s Ninjago addiction may have waned, but he’s still desperate to have the green ninja (the only one missing from his collection), so I had to grab this one too. See? Now Joey spends his free time reading!

Now, kiddo and I are busy poring over the internet, researching on Legoland which we are planning to visit sometime this year, and reading the new Lego books we gave him for Christmas. 
That and watching old Star Wars movies which we have on DVD.  And gingerly stepping around the house to avoid the Lego landmines on the floor.

The World According to Joey: Lego Love

For several years, Joey’s obsession was Cars – you know, Lightning McQueen and his friends. We got him almost all of the die-cast models as well as a car he can ride and drive, and fitted his bed with McQueen sheets. 

Fast forward a couple of years – Joey saw the Heroes robots from Lego and started dropping tiny little hints that he wanted the red robot. And the yellow one. Well, we waited and waited for the yellow one but the toy stores never offered it up for sale so Joey had to make do with orange. 

Those robots were just the beginning. I think it was actually my fault. I found the robots too expensive (Php1,000 plus per robot) that I thought I should direct his attention to cheaper Lego toys. So I bought him a speedboat with a nice little Lego man. 

And from there, every month or even twice a month, whenever we go on our mommy/baby bonding/malling, we would get a new Lego toy.
The boybie’s growing collection – at least those I got to take a photo of before they were broken up into little pieces and merged to create something else. Or lost. Or given to neighbors as I later found out when I was making an inventory. The bottom two are what started it all – he saw these at a toy store and wouldn’t stop subtly begging that I ended up buying two. Top left and right were the most difficult in this set – I had to spend thirty minutes to build each, no thanks to Joey’s constant hiding of part.
Joey was also able to collect all the Shell Ferrari Lego cars and Lego people – thanks in part to the help of his tito and tita, and hubby’s long-drive to/from work. We were able to complete these in less than a month after its release.

Of course, we didn’t limit ourselves just to the cars/robots variety. We soon set our sights on the Build City stuff. We actually got a police station set but apparently, Joey had given it away or something. At least we still have the house:
One of our favorites – this house can be disassembled to make two other house models.
I didn‘t want to spoil Joey too much, so sometimes, we would only get a Lego man but he has also accumulated a lot of them (each car always comes with a Lego man) that when hubby wanted to buy those display cases which can hold eight men – I told him, you would have to get four of those. Of course, we didn‘t get four – each case was priced at Php1,700 and I would rather buy real Lego than just the cases with that money. Maybe some other time. Hahaha!


Lego men – most of them from Ninjago spinners (the spinners/training sets are listed in my inventory as missing – Joey confessed to giving them away as well) and from all the police cars/sets. Do you also spy Buzz Lightyear? 😀
A couple of months into his obsession, Joey discovered Ninjago. I don’t really know how but he just came up to me one day and asked if we can log onto YouTube and look for Ninjago shows. And then he discovered they’re being shown on Cartoon Network.  He started asking me to buy him spinners after that – kind of like Beyblades but with  Lego Ninja on top of the spinner.

This Ninjago obsession is the longest so far, so much that when I spied this airship during my trip to the US last October, I knew I had to get it. Never mind that the box alone filled half of my luggage (I ended up having three luggages on the way back to Manila – from one when I initially left). By far our most ambitious project yet. It took me and hubby an hour each to finish it. It’s composed of two individual jets which you can link together into one gigantic airship:

Anyway, since Joey also likes books (he can now read but his patience to do so needs work), I got him a Lego book…
Seems daddy enjoyed this more than the kiddo
 …which led to his new obsession. Goodbye Ninjago, hello Star Wars! We ended up watching all the Star Wars movies because he wanted to see the ships and the robots. To jumpstart his collection, we got him the Deathstar. Now, he’s asking for the planet and ship from Naboo, and of course, wants all the Star Wars stuff he saw at Hobbes and Landes.

Joey likes wearing watches (hubby and I have probably a dozen so he got this habit from us), but not just any watch. It has to be a Lego watch.Top: Buzz Lightyear Lego watch from HK Disneyland; Bottom: Ninjago watch, from Barnes and Noble at The Grove, Los Angeles.

Well, Joey’s now looking forward to more Star Wars Lego this year, and a trip to Legoland Malaysia. For now though, we got him this Lego head to keep his Lego bricks organized. Hubby has had enough of accidentally stepping or sitting on Lego bricks at home.

My Newest Babies

I have wanted to get a decent camera for so long – I wanted DSLR quality but I really couldn’t be bothered with the bulk. So, I settled for point and shoot ones, from Canon, to Olympus to Nikon and back to Olympus. But now, with the mirrorless and micro four-thirds system cameras in the scene, I can finally have good quality photos less the weight and bulk.
But, having been burned by an impulse splurge on a Nikon compact camera a few years back (one of their most expensive at the time, but sadly, it only lasted a few months before dying on me), I took my time doing lots of research. And having proven how sturdy Olympus was (both my eight and two year old cameras are still very much functioning) and user-friendly, my top two choices were Olympus and Sony (which had that built-in panorama I so wanted plus a tilting LCD).
So which one did I pick? 
Tada! Olly it is for me. The tipping point was the range of lenses: with Olympus, you can use any of their Zuiko lenses plus Panasonic’s and other micro 4/3 lenses out there. Besides, I find the Olly better suited to me than all the other brands out there. While with Sony, well, you can only use Sony lenses. And I like having my options, thank you very much.

I have yet to figure out how to use this baby though, and I might need a more detailed guide or even a class for that (talk about technologically challenged) so, no camera tips from me here, just photos:
Yellow is my favorite color, but red and white sure come a close second. Besides, I don’t think a lot of products come in yellow. 😦

with the 14-42 kit lens and detachable flash

The initial models didn’t have this tilting LCD (up to 90 degrees), which was why I considered getting a Sony but when they launched the EPL3, I was sold.

It’s not touchscreen, you have to use the scroll button to get anywhere but it works fine with me – I hate touchscreens.

One other thing I finally gave into? An iphone. Although I got this earlier this year, I only got to blog about it now (my bad). Peer pressure, you know. Everyone I know has an iphone (or an android) while I was stuck with a Nokia (which I actually loved).

And of course, I had to get it in white.
I wasted no time looking for a nice case – I wanted something yellow or floral, but couldn’t find one I liked, so I got me a white case from Japanese brand, Tunewear.
The case is pretty heavy duty – Joey dropped my phone several times but seems the case absorbed all the shock. It comes with a cord organizer too and a plug for the charger slot, which you can accessorize with crystals and whatchamacolit.

The cord organizer doubles as a stand too! And the pack comes with a clear home button sticker.
I didn’t want my phone to get dirty or anything so I immediately looked for a multi-purpose case for it. I was on my mandatory leave at the time with no maid so I was forced to do my shopping online and came across this red leatherette case from Shopping Bliss. 

It has three card slots, a bill slot, and of course, cell phone slot, which is perfect as I don’t have to worry about holding my phone and wallet at the same time. My only gripe is that I can’t charge it or use the earphone while the phone is inside the case.

I also got a stylus from Capdase, a bit of a splurge considering I don’t use it as often now (I only used it during Draw Something’s heyday). And, after realizing that the iPhone uses up its battery like there’s no tomorrow, I got a power box (with 1500 mah) from National Bookstore, good for one full charge. And if you have a car, get those car chargers. Trust me, they’re very useful. Victorinox has a pretty nifty set – with cables for blackberry, iPhone, etc.

See? I have a penchant for red and white things, which are easier to get than yellow.

Look! The cap of my stylus has that needle-like thing for opening the sim compartment of the iPhone.
Okay, this one last item is more of in keeping with my lazy nature – I mentioned earlier on that I couldn’t be bothered with bulk right? Well, when I got the iphone, I figured it could serve as my camera as well and I might as well dress it up properly. So, I got me a macro and wide angle lens from Chic Mommies. It attaches via a magnetic ring which comes with the lenses, and can be attached to the iPhone.

Yep, they may be small and far from pro-quality, but for an ordinary person like me who just likes taking photos, these lenses are perfect! My only gripe is the magnetic ring covered the phone’s flash partially, hence, I couldn’t use the flash anymore, unless I remove the case.
All the photos from our Ilocos trip earlier this year were taken using my iphone and edited using a variety of apps; but my favourites are Camera+, DMD (for that panorama shot; I liked this one better than 360), ProCamera, PicFrame and CameraSplash (where you can highlight only portions of the photo and leave the rest of the photo in black and white) and Retouch (photoshop baby!). 
Here are some sample photos taken using the macro lens:

There’s a new model of the Olympus PEN coming out later this year, and I heard iPhone 5 is coming out next month… with this growing interest in gadgets, I think my wallet is gonna kill me. 😛