Posts Tagged Funko Pop

2019 Retrospective

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now 2020! And just as I’ve done every year for the past decade, it’s time to take a look back at 2019 with my annual year-in-review post.

Overall, 2019 was a decent year for me, even with its challenging times (the day job, especially!).

Fitness-wise I regressed terribly, due to not making the time to exercise enough, and not getting our treadmill fixed. That’s on my to-do list for 2020 😉 Despite that, I’m still reasonably healthy, albeit with the usual aches and pains of age.

Last year we lost another beloved family pet. Our old cat (15 years) had been kicking around for several years now with poor eyesight, no purr, some strange nerve issues, and at least 3 close brushes with death, one of which we think might have been a stroke. The latter event finally put an end to his outdoor adventures, since he had no further desire to go outside. In his final few weeks he seemed to be more affectionate than usual, right up until his last moments. My wife and son witnessed the end and knew he was gone before they even took him to the vet. He leaves behind a family who will greatly miss him, along with two other cats that occasionally seem to wonder where he went. Hopefully they will stick around for a good many years yet!

I still enjoy my Magic: The Gathering card game hobby, though I haven’t played in any tournaments since last summer when my local game store closed down. That was a tough blow, especially since there are no closer stores that I enjoy visiting. It’s the 2nd store that’s closed since I’ve started playing! I still play online via MTG Arena (on PC), but it’s not quite the same as playing face-to-face. Recently a new game store has opened further afield, started by one of the guys I used to play against in tournaments over the years. I’m hoping to at least be able to attend prerelease events there in the coming year.

My Magic card unboxing / gameplay YouTube channel is still around, surpassing 7000 subscribers in 2019. It has had over 6 million minutes watched since I started it in July 2017, and over 1.2 million views. I still find these numbers staggering! With strong support from patrons (via Patreon) and modest ad revenue, the channel mostly covers its costs. I’m hoping it’ll continue to grow this year, despite the challenging and ever-changing landscape that is YouTube.

My second YouTube channel (started in May 2018) is another unboxing one related to Funko Pop figures. Aside from the unboxings, I also typically add some silly skits (with special effects) in each episode. That channel passed 1.2k subscribers last year, though it still has a long way to go to reach the minimum monetization thresholds. While this channel is a lot of fun, I’ve started to neglect it lately due to lack of time. Thankfully views haven’t dropped to zero yet, so the YouTube algorithm must still be promoting my older videos!

As with 2018, my fiction writing was non-existent. I simply didn’t have the time or motivation to get back into it. The only way that’s likely to change is if I wind down my YouTube channels, along with the ongoing work on my apps. I feel a bit sad about this, since I’ve spent a good many years of my life wanting to be a writer, yet making little progress.

Last year I again took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but ended up miles from my goal. My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my (paltry) reads for 2019:

Fire Water by Domino Finn
Death March by Domino Finn
Shadow Deal by M. L. McKnight

Can you tell I like to read Urban Fantasy?

Now for some stats:
2019 Stats:

New apps released: 0
App updates released: 3 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
YouTube videos released: 516
YouTube channel subscribers: 4,307
Books read: 3

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales continue to decline. I only released 3 app updates last year, including one for Bonsai Album PC, and updates for the Lite and paid versions of the iOS version. I’ve been struggling to update my apps since the iPhone X release, since there are now a whole slew of new iPhones and iPads with different screen variations. It didn’t help that my old Mac was no longer supported by the development tools, and I had to scrape together funds for a brand new Mac mini this year. Now that I’ve got the new Mac and have spent a bunch of time on the Bonsai Album iOS updates (released last week), I’m finally in good shape to get to work on updating my remaining apps. If only the screenshot automation tools worked and I didn’t have to manually take several hundred screenshots for each app in multiple languages! Since revenue was way down and expenses were way up (hello new Mac!), 2019 was a bad year for my apps. From past experience, updates unfortunately don’t move the needle on sales either. And people wonder why my apps don’t get updated very frequently these days!

Like 2019, my bonsai hobby pretty much just consists of keeping my remaining trees alive. I’m down to a handful of tropical trees, with the rest having perished due to harsh winters or pests. I didn’t attend any bonsai shows, though we did visit Morton Arboretum several times to see the magnificent Autumn colours.

I spent a fair bit of time in the garden this year, growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini). We had some crop failures, including the peas, beans, and peppers. I suspect that was due to planting them so late. I didn’t bother with potatoes this time around either (too much work). Still, there’s nothing like veggies picked fresh from the garden!

Last year was another good year for travel. In addition to our trips back and forth to Michigan (including one work trip for training), we also went on a great American road trip with my parents! I visited Canada for the first time, driving to Niagara Falls and doing all the touristy stuff there, including visiting the town of Niagara on the Lake and the nearby fort. Back in the US, in Michigan we visited the Motown museum, Ford Piquette Avenue plant, and Frankenmuth. We also spent some time touring Niagara Falls on the US side, Old Fort Niagara, the Amanda Gish B&B in Elizabethtown PA, the chocolate museum in Hershey PA, the Civil War battleground town of Gettysburg, the Historic (and haunted!) 1757 Fairfield Inn, Harpers Ferry WV, George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon VA, and the Frank Lloyd Wright architectural marvel that is Fallingwater, in rural Pennsylvania.

So that was my 2019. Not half bad! I’m long past setting New Year’s resolutions, but I would like to exercise a great deal more this year, and read a bunch more books than I managed last year.

I hope everyone had a great year, and I wish you all the best for 2020. Happy New Year!

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2018 Retrospective

It’s 2019! And with the arrival of the New Year, it’s time to take a look back at 2018 with my annual year-in-review post.

2018 was a good year for me, even with its fair share of ups and downs.

Fitness-wise I didn’t do quite as well as 2017, thanks to our treadmill breaking down later in the year. But I’m apparently still healthy, despite some lingering issues that have persisted over the past few years. I suspect most of that is partly the joy of being in your 40s!

We lost a beloved family pet last year. We bought our son a hamster for his birthday in 2016, and even knowing their short life-spans, we’d hoped it would live at least a few years. After some odd behaviour (biting my wife!) and a middle of the night escape from its cage, our hamster’s health continued to decline. It was sad seeing a healthy, energetic animal who’d spend all night running in her wheel, decline so suddenly. I think we’ve sworn off hamsters for the foreseeable future.

I still enjoy my Magic: The Gathering hobby, frequently attending weekly tournaments at a local game store throughout the year. That tapered off toward the end of the year as I became more worn-out from work, and the existing Standard-format cards rotated out of the format, rendering all my decks obsolete. Lately I’ve been playing more Magic online, in the form of MTG Arena. This is a great improvement over the other online game client (Magic: The Gathering Online aka MTGO), and I’ve been having fun leveling-up my skills and challenging viewers of my Magic YouTube channel. I’ve been testing a new Standard deck that seems to be performing well, so I’ll likely be heading back to the game store to take a paper version of the deck for a spin.

My Magic card unboxing channel continued to grow in 2018, passing 3000 subscribers and finally gaining YouTube monetization (i.e. ads). It has also had nearly 2 million minutes watched since I started it in July 2017, and over 350,000 views. These numbers still boggle my mind, though I suppose consistent effort sometimes yield results! Together with support from patrons (via Patreon), the channel has nearly covered its costs on a monthly basis. Hopefully it will continue to grow this year!

I also started a second YouTube channel back in May related to Funko Pop figures. Besides unboxing and talking about them, I also frequently add some silly skits in each episode. I particularly enjoy the ‘special effects’ aspect of these, even if it can be time consuming. I’m not able to devote as much time to this channel as I’d like, but I look forward to growing it in 2019.

Towards the end of the year we took part in some painting classes as a family, each painting a sunset landscape scene and a whimsical snowman. This was spurred by my wife and son attending a painting event to benefit a local animal shelter. This is something I’ve wanted to get into for years (I briefly tried oil painting), so I’m glad we were able to take these classes.

My fiction writing was non-existent for 2018. I neither wrote any new stories, nor submitted any to fiction markets. I had no real goals in mind, and honestly felt a bit dispirited about the whole thing. The bulk of my spare time was spent on the two YouTube channels and working on my apps. I did have some encouragement from coworkers who discovered my fiction, so that gave my confidence a bit of a boost!

Last year I again took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, though I didn’t reach my goal by a long-shot! My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my reads for 2018:

Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Unstoppable Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Inescapable Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Let’s Get Digital 3rd Edition by David Gaughran
Shift by Hugh Howey
Outline Your Novel by Scott King
Dust by Hugh Howey
Plot Gardening by Chris Fox
Be A Writing Machine by M. L. Ronn
Heart Strings by Domino Finn
Powder Trade by Domino Finn
How to Write Your First Novel by M. L. Ronn
Writing for Life by J. H. Haskell

Aside from listening to heavy metal on SiriusXM, I still listen to some great short fiction podcasts on my daily commute, including Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. All highly recommended! The podcasts are free, but please donate or subscribe if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2018 Stats:

New apps released: 1
App updates released: 2 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2018 Word count: 0
Stories written: 0
Stories published: 0
Total submissions: 0
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 0
Waiting for response: 0
YouTube videos released: 599
YouTube channel subscribers: 3,782
Books read: 13

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales have declined significantly, particularly in the final quarter of 2017. I only released two app updates, having struggled for months to add support for the iPhone X screen layout and the myriad other changes in iOS 11 and iOS 12. I’d completed this process for one app, only to have Apple to release more new iPhones and iPads with even more screen variations. While I should have a good handle on making these updates, the more painful aspect is updating several hundred screenshots for all my apps in multiple languages. If only the screenshot automation tools were more reliable! Revenue was significantly lower than last year, though I did manage to keep expenses much lower also.

I released a new app in February, which was the PC version of Artwork Tracker. Despite numerous requests for this app over the years, sales so far have been abysmal. I’ve also had requests for a PC version of my iOS app, Plant Album, but I’m not planning such an app due to poor sales. At this point it seems like I’m close to saturating the market for my apps, but I’m hoping to stabilize the trend with more updates. Failing that, I’ve had a good run, having been working on my apps for over 10 years now!

As with last year, I didn’t do much with my bonsai this year except keep the remaining trees alive. There were no bonsai shows or botanic garden visits either. I still spent a fair bit of time in the garden this year, growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini). We had a nice crop this year!

Last year was another great year, travel-wise. In addition to our trips back and forth to Michigan, we also spent some time in Florida, and went on our first cruise with the in-laws. We visited Miami, Key West, Costa Maya (Mexico), the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (Mexico), Grand Cayman, and Universal Studios. I enjoyed the cruise much more than I thought I would. The seas were pretty calm, and no one was seasick! In addition to this grand adventure, we also spent a few days at a cabin in the woods in Michigan, visited a Halloween event at Old World Wisconsin, and made a short pre-Christmas visit to Milwaukee.

The summer of 2018 was also apparently the summer of home improvement! We knew our roof and gutters were in bad shape, but we didn’t know exactly how bad until we had them inspected. We ended up with a new roof, soffit, fascia, and gutters! Now we’re having a much less stressful winter knowing the roof isn’t likely to cave-in or leak anytime soon due to snow and ice build-up. The downside is we’ll be paying for all this for a long time…

That’s pretty much it for 2018. I’m mostly done with New Year’s resolutions, since that’s an almost guaranteed way to ensure none of those goals are ever reached. Though I would like to make some time for my fiction writing again in 2019, assuming I can fit it in with all my other hobbies!

I hope everyone had a good year, and I wish you all the best for 2019. Happy New Year!

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