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Happy 10th Birthday RRR!

On May 20th, 2010, the very first episode of Riders, Rangers, & Rambles was released onto the world. Aptly titled “Riders, Rangers, & Rambles – Episode #1: Buwaa, Gurrooo, Shittttt” (it’s like we were prophets), the first episode was nothing short of an absolute mess, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. The show’s concept began early on when Kevin (Jedimon2005), another user whom may or may not even be in the fandom anymore, and myself became friends on the CS Toys live show chat. We hit it off, and wanted to begin a CS Toys podcast to discuss tokusatsu. We really wanted Mr. S on the show, but due to time zone differences, the idea never really panned out, and the idea was shelved.

Fast forward a bit, Kevin and I befriended DosmRider, and eventually the idea of a podcast resurfaced. There weren’t a ton of tokusatsu focused podcasts around at the time, and those that were just didn’t match the level of crazy that we wanted to bring to the table. After much discussion (maybe? Knowing us, probably not) Riders, Rangers, & Rambles, complete with a Red Ribbon Army look-alike logo, was born. We wouldn’t ever call it RRR though, that would be stupid.

The remaining seven years in the history of the original podcast are honestly a blur. Hell, when Josh told me it was the tenth anniversary of the show this week, I couldn’t believe it. We never really got a huge audience. Most people in the fandom didn’t take our crazy, unstructured, uncensored, barely edited show seriously, and I don’t really blame them for that. But when we created RRR, my goal was to create a show that emulated a bunch of friends talking about something they loved, like you would on a focused radio show. Something that felt live and a little bit off the hinge. Even if people hated us, I always felt we succeeded in that. Our small, dedicated group of fans kept us going, and we eventually spawned a website that was dedicated to bringing you the latest toku news in the craziest way possible, in all the ways possible. It was a huge undertaking, and eventually staff differences and overambitious natures forced us to close it down. Thankfully we rescued Aresol from the sinking ship. I’ll forever be thankful to him for bringing some much needed sanity and focus to the show. Some of our best discussions of all time came from his participation, and he’ll always be an important piece of the RRR puzzle.

The podcast continued until September 2017. We had been doing the show for seven years at that point. None of us were the same people we were when the show started. Kevin was married with kids, both Dosm and I had moved into our own places and heavily focusing on YouTube, and Aresol had decided to step back. Time wasn’t something we all had a lot of anymore and getting together for a few hours became more and more of a struggle. We tried to move to a monthly format, but even that didn’t quite work out. We never even got to swan song out of there. The show just sort of quietly died in its sleep.

That is until June 2018 hit. Will messaged me one day with a request that honestly surprised me. Him and a group of old RRR faithfuls wanted to revive the brand in a new liveshow format. I was absolutely floored that someone remembered the show (even if it had only been a few months) much less wanted to associate themselves with it. I was honored, and after a quick check with the others, gave my blessing for them to use the name. On July 6th, 2018, RRR the Streets went live, and the RRR legacy was reignited. It took a lot of time for me to become a regular on there, but I’m happy they welcomed an old fart like me back with open arms, and it continues to be a highlight of my week.

After finally getting off the floor and realized my friends and I created a legacy, I was shoved back onto the damn floor when SpringRoland asked Will if him and a couple of the RRR the Streets faithfuls could start a livestream show to lead into RRR the Streets that was more focused on the Super Hero Time discussions and Discord incorporation than what The Streets ultimately becomes each week. After a short time, Will was honored that someone wanted to spin off his show, and I was honored someone wanted to spin off the spin off of my show. I’m a grandparent y’all.

Here we are. May 20th, 2020. Ten years ago me and two buddies sat down to record a silly show about Japanese super heroes. If you pulled me aside that day and asked where I thought it was going to go, I never would have thought that the legacy would not only still be going every week, but now give the title of “RRR Host” to 13 different people, not to mention the handful of guests that have been on multiple episodes of both the original show and The Streets. I will forever be baffled on how this stupid little show lasted so long, and brought in so many people, but I’m forever thankful. RRR is my baby, and always will be.

To Dosm and Kevin, thank you for starting this show with me. There’s no two idiots I’d rather have done the show with. To Aresol, thank you for joining us when you did. You were a breath of fresh air among the crazy with just the right amount of knowledge and sass. To The Streets Crew, thank you for taking our vision and bringing it into the current age while still keeping it crazy. You have something good on your hands. To The Breakdown Boys, thank you for adding some discussion and community interaction to the RRR format, but more importantly, thank you for wanting to take our vision and make it your own. It’s an honor.

Finally, to the fans that have supported us, thank you. Whether you started from Season 1, Season 3, Season 6, or just started watching with The Streets, you’re a part of this community. I never expected so many people to like our silly show, and the fact that this small little community continues to not only band together, but collectively expanded and grow this brand is nothing short of amazing to me. I am 100% truly honored.

Thank you for an amazing 10 years. With any luck I’ll see you all for the 15th where I get emotional all over again.

As always, thanks for listening, take care, and have a great one…

~ Shuki

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Well This is Awkward…

I said back on December 31st, 2019: “Thank you, I love you, and here’s to a crazy and amazing 2020.”

Man. When I said that, this wasn’t the sort of crazy I meant. I intended for lots of amazing events, creative projects…you know, growth. Not whatever you want to call this! Speaking of that post, to everyone that left a comment that I absolutely didn’t see and respond to, I’m sorry! Thank you! That being said, I’m sure anyone reading this follows me on Twitter and knows that I’m alive, well, and doing just fine. That being said, I felt it worth to make a new blog post to kind of touch upon where I’m at because somehow we’re already in the fifth month of this godforsaken year. Did anyone else feel that March was about 120 days long and April lasted a week?

Right. So, I guess I’ll start with work. I’m still at the job I mentioned in the last post. We’re currently working from home and I absolutely hate it. The day we can start going back to the office is the day I regain a slight bit of sanity. Some days are better than others, but it is still a relatively stress-free job when the managers aren’t angry at something. It pays the bills and allows me to exist relatively comfortably for once in my life. I’ve barely had to borrow money in 2020 and the times I did were the rare instance where paycheck didn’t line up with bill quite right. It’s been a few months since even that happened though. I’m really happy about that.

Alright, let’s jump into collecting! I had intention on continuing to do unboxing vlogs as I got packages, but they became a lot more…infrequent, and between either not having the quiet time to record, or not having the patience to wait to record, I usually just never did. I’ve all but bowed out of Zero-One. The sheer amount of Premium Bandai items and such made me realize I made the right choice. I’m down to only collecting Fuwa’s gear and toys, and the few odds-and-ends Progrise Keys that belong to my favorite animals. Kiramager’s toy line is…nearly non-existent. But I’m getting all the mecha and minipla releases. I plan to dive into Ultraman Z. Mostly because Ultraman is the best toku, but also because it’s shoving coins and cards at my face and I can’t say no to that. I got into Earth Granner. The toys are absolutely amazing and if you haven’t checked them out you really should. Long story short, I’m just sort of buying stuff I like as opposed to actually fully collecting anything. If I DID get back into videos, I feel like I couldn’t do toy reviews again because I’m just not buying enough of one thing to actually provide good coverage of anything.

I guess that’s a good segway into the future. Thursday was a rough day for me. We had a rough day at work and during our monthly workshop they basically said if we didn’t hit a certain number of files in a week too many weeks in a row we were gonna get written up, and that sort of messed with me. In retrospect it’s an achievable number and I sort of feel like they need me so even if I get a talking too once in a while not much will come of it. I feel fairly confident that I’m good. That being said it did make me remember why I struggle so much with employment in general. Leaders always have these expectations and potentially unachievable goals, and usually don’t take into account the person that they are talking to. Being a boss or a manager is delicate, but as an empath I sort of always feel like it’s important to understand the individual. Employee A is not going to have the same output as Employee B for a multitude of reasons, and those individual reasons are important to understand. I understand it’s hard to do as a large company, but our segment of the company is a team of less than 20. While I’m not anymore, I’ve lead a lot of teams over the years of my various sites and projects, and that’s just something I’ve always felt was important, and I really wish it was important to more bosses in the world. I guess I feel like I’d be a moderately okay boss.

Look, I miss being creative. I really do. I miss writing. I miss drawing. I miss making videos. That spark really hasn’t came back. I feel like the gas is running but the spark to ignite it just hasn’t quite happened. Like I said, I just don’t know what I would do. I don’t have the time at home to really focus on steady videos again. I don’t really have the time to stream regularly. A lot of it boils down to time. I also really don’t like my house, but that’s more on me than anything else. I love to write but I don’t know what to write about. Would more frequent blog posts actually be something people want? I mean I don’t want to turn this into a LiveJournal thing because I’m not a teenager in the early 2000s anymore, but it’s a thought at least? Anyone have suggestions? Drop them in the comments here or on Twitter. I’m all ears if anyone has ideas for what I could do, be it writing or otherwise. Hopefully I can find that passion again in some form. I’m just sort of at a loss for what it could be. Try to make it Pokemon related because I’m drifting away from the Power Rangers and Tokusatsu community more and more each day. Except for all my friends and fans. You all are great and I wanna keep talking to you. There’s just been this awful amount of drama lately from all these different corners. I’ve barely had time to check Twitter during the afternoons because of work. Let me tell you it’s been WONDERFUL. Fandom is exhausting.

You know, I guess I’ll just wrap up by say I’ve been doing really fucking good. Despite being stuck in my house that I’m not fond of, only really having work to focus on for 8 hours a day has given me a lot of time for self-reflection. Now that my financial situation has calmed down, and my bouts of depression from 2019 have all but vanished, I’m left with a bit of clarity. I’m done with making up excuses. I’m done with not embracing the person I am on the inside. I know a lot of people have been struggling with mental health during quarantine times, but somehow I’ve been thriving instead. I’ve smiled to myself more than I have in years, and it’s wonderful to look in the mirror and actually love yourself instead of think you’re actual human garbage. I’m still going to absolutely joke about being garbage though because that’s kind of my thing. Just know that I no longer think I’m garbage. If I’m gonna be garbage I’m at least cute garbage, you know? Like Trubbish. I’ll touch upon that more when I feel comfortable. Just know that I’m feeling great, even with all the bullshit 2020 is throwing at us.

Now, bring it on 2020. I’m a new me and I’m ready for you.

Random

19 Steps Back, 20 Steps Forward

2019 Sucked. Physically speaking, throughout the year, I’ve been in more pain with more off and on problems than I ever really have before. Mentally speaking, I reached the metaphorical rock bottom that’s difficult to climb out from. I hide a lot of things from the public, and even in private. My problems are trivial compared to those troubling others. I might think I’m not worth anyone’s time, I might think I don’t deserve to be happy, and I might think that there’s no changing that, but at the end of the day, I care too much about my friends and family to really show how bad I’m doing. This was me in 2019.

I was let go from Target in January since my store kept none of the seasonal hires to stay permanently. After this point I struggled with what to do. I was on the brink of turning 30, and I desperately wanted to do something that had some stability and consistency. A number of ankle injuries and my general lack of physical fitness in general meant keeping up with the bustle of retail was difficult, as my time at Target proved to me. The randomness of a part-time job made making plans and spending time with my family hard. I was tired where I was at in life and wanted so much more. Unfortunately that more never came. I was out of the YouTube game for a bit at this point, and since I no longer had the income to pay my bills much less buy a bunch of toys, I either had to shift focus or pack it up, and mentally, I chose to pack it up. The constant need to borrow money from friends and family to stay afloat took a toll on me mentally. Every time I wanted to stream, wanted to vlog, or wanted to film a review, I just…couldn’t. I was out. As far as I can say, I still am.

However, even though 2019 was me at my lowest, there was still plenty to make sure I didn’t stay there. The year started strong with being able to attend Toy Fair New York with Hassan, Maheen, Eric, Theresa, and Chris. Not only was the event itself really fun, wandering around New York with these goofs was one of the highlights of my 2019. In 2019 I got to attend my first Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago thanks to my friend Mark. While the weather didn’t cooperate, it was still super fun, and hope I can attend again in 2020! Shortly after was the North American International Championships, where my friends pooled together their tickets to buy me my giant Snorlax. It is my son and I love him. In September I was apart of one of my best friend’s weddings at the Renaissance Festival. Being included in his special day meant the world to me, and it was just a wonderful time overall. Huzzah! My highlights concluded with being able to go to RangerStop as an early Christmas gift from several members of my family and friends. Not only was getting to see so many of my Ranger family for a long weekend priceless, meeting my man John Tui and getting to spend a bunch of time with Firass Dirani after the convention was priceless as well. The biggest of thanks to Chris, Eric, Zach, AP, Liz, Sean, and Josh for the constant laughs. This was a trip I needed so much after the way the year turned out.

I want to take the time to thank all of my family and friends, both old and new alike. When you’re alone, it’s so easy to give up. But even at my lowest, I look back at the time I spent, and the time I will spend, with all of you guys and it keeps that light alive. Hanging out on RRR the Streets on Fridays, playing Pokemon on Saturdays, and all the random days spent with friends doing whatever it may be all make life worth living. Thank you all for continuing to be the spark of light in my life. I love you guys. Thank you for taking the time to care for me, listen to me, and just be with me when I needed it most.

I titled this post as I did, because I found it an accurate representation of the year. 2019 was a year of constant digression. Loss of job, loss of someone I loved (I miss you everyday MeiMei), health decline, constant clouds of depression, loss of motivation, loss of passion, financial instability, etc. The list could go on to the point where it really did feel like 19 steps backwards. But over the last two months, I’ve managed to find a full-time job, get some stability on my income, improve my mood, and make time to do more things I love. While 2019 was 19 steps back, I’m ready to make 2020 the year of 20 steps forward. As I mentioned in my post about COPPA and YouTube, I don’t know if those steps forward include returning to YouTube in any capacity, but I hope to find some stability in being able to express myself creatively in that fashion. I want to continue to write as much as I can. Maybe finally get around to working on that novel I’ve been saying I’d write for probably around 6 years now? Who knows? Having a full-time job means less free-time, but it means I have more money to commit to things I love and less time to dwell on my insecurities. I get the feeling 2020 is gonna be a bit hectic, and potentially full of change, but damn it I’m ready for it.

Thank you everyone for sticking with me, caring about me, and helping me when I needed it most. No matter where the roads take me this year, I hope you all will join me down them. Thank you, I love you, and here’s to a crazy and amazing 2020.

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What a COPPA Shit

Why yes, that is a pun. If you don’t get it, don’t worry about it.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve done an update video. Even though I’m not creating at the moment, I still like to post update vlogs every now and then, but I just haven’t had the time or energy to do so. Not to mention life just hadn’t been that interesting until less than a month ago. Most of my days were spent sitting around wallowing in my own self-pity because depression is a vile beast, but that’s a blog post for a different day. The TLDR is that I’m currently doing really well. I just started a new full-time job, today actually. It’s a bit on the boring side, but the staff is awesome and it’s something that fits my skills and current physical needs. I just got back from RangerStop as well! It was not only great but was a much-needed rejuvenation for not only my creativity but my love for Power Rangers. With my eyes set on the future, I hope 2020 can be a year of financial stability with loads of creative outputs and all-around happiness. To put it simply, I’m tired of depression kicking my ass.

That being said, the whole point of this post was to talk briefly about the whole FTC COPPA YouTube debacle that is currently happening. I’m not even going to begin to explain the ins-and-outs of the deal, because a lot of it goes over my head. Basically, the FTC is using COPPA to push child protection laws onto user-created content like YouTube, as opposed to just commercially generated content you would find on TV. Any content creator on YouTube that the platform deems “Made for Kids” will see a huge loss in revenue due to the loss of personalized (the most expensive) ads, on top of losing things like comments, end cards, the community tab, stories, and a slew of other, standard, YouTube features. The biggest problem is that YouTube and the FTC are being really vague about what constitutes “Made for Kids”. For most content creators in the Pokemon, Power Rangers, and Transformers (my trifecta) fandoms their content is either made for all ages, or uses a kid-orientated brand to make content that’s aimed at adults, whether it’s because the toy is considered an adult collectible or the creator uses an abundance of obscene language.

Yeah, I might be doing a toy review of the Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon. Power Rangers is a brand made for kids. The Lightning Collection is a line made primarily for older collectors. The language I use in the video is relatively clean, but may occasionally use terms like “This sculpt is absolutely badass.” or “Damn, this blows the floppy Legacy figure out of the water.” It’s still passable for slightly older kids but is still obviously written or performed with the intent for adult viewers. Where does THAT fall under this scale? It’s an adult-focused figure from a kid-focused brand with the occasional adult word in a script that still is suitable for kids. This is the kind of thing that we need answers to, and we need them fast.

Now I’ll be honest, at this stage in my life, the outcome doesn’t affect me much. I haven’t posted reviews since May, and it’s even been a hot minute since I’ve posted a vlog. All this really does is make me have to think about how I want to stabilize the channel in terms of what’s “Made for Kids” and “Not for Kids”, which really is a huge question given my content was intended for adults but presented as suitable for kids.

Truth be told I’ll probably mark my whole channel as “Made for Kids” and just watch it die. In full transparency, at the height of my channel (when it was my career), I was pulling roughly $1200-1800 a month depending on which month it was. When it dwindled down to getting $400-500 a month, I began to worry. When it hit $200-$300, the drive to continue was all but stalled. Now I’m lucky if I hit $150, and more or less consider the revenue from the channel a slight bonus. Seeing it go completely wouldn’t be the end of the world at this point. What matters most is that the content would still be there for people to enjoy, even if they can no longer comment on it.

Granted, this move more or less ensures that I will never return to doing YouTube in a consistent manner. If I ever did, I would have to be shifting focus away from toys, and more onto vlog like content. Unfortunately, my life isn’t exciting enough to warrant doing that, and I don’t get enough toys consistently enough to warrant making unboxings, which may or may not even fall under that “Made for Kids” line. More or less, this is the end of the road for me on YouTube. It was an incredibly fun ride, but if all this actually happens, there’s no reason for me to attempt to come back.

That being said, it will still be some time before I feel comfortable jumping back, but I don’t want this stupid FTC COPPA thing to be the end of me creatively. As I’ve said many times, writing is my passion, and if I can work up the ability to take moderately decent photographs, I may just give written toy reviews a shot (with a bit of video for those sound demonstrations). Hell, if I can set a pattern I might even start gaming or “live chatting” on Twitch. There’s a lot of alternatives to video toy reviews on YouTube, and while I know it’s the end of the line for me with that, I don’t want it to be the end of the line for me overall.

Until that day comes though (hopefully sooner rather than later), you can check out my (roughly) bi-weekly articles over at PokeJungle.net, possibly some articles over at PwrRngr.com, and anything else that may pop up in the future. I hope that one day, I can get back to the swing of things, regardless of the format. I just hope you all will join me on that journey as well.

As always, take care, and have a great one.

Random

What do you do when your passion isn’t viable?

Of course, I don’t want this to sound like a bit where I’m writing off passion as some sham. That’s certainly not the case. There are plenty of people out there that are able to take their passions and build their life around it. YouTube is full of creators that put so much passion and effort into their work, it shows, and they can live off of that passion. Authors take their passion of writing and turn it into novels, editorials, opinion pieces, etc. Artists and photographers take their passion for art and create beautiful things. Musicians create the music that inspires us each and every day.

But what do you do when you’re at the junction where your passion for one thing has shifted to another, less viable outlet? I am known in the tokusatsu and Power Rangers communities as a YouTube Toy Reviewer. I love doing that sure, but considering my last hiatus was as long as the summer Power Rangers hiatus, it shows that everyone has burnout. During that break, as I mentioned in my last blog post from a couple months ago, my passion for writing had rekindled. I’ve worked on a few private pieces since then, and I’m currently working on something alongside one of my best friends that I can hopefully turn into a really cool piece of fiction soon.

Jumping back to the topic of toys though. I love toys. Always have, always will. When I get a new toy I want nothing but to share it with you all. Unfortunately there are several things that get in the way of that. I don’t currently have a proper set up at home like I did in the past (though that’s entirely on me), the house isn’t always quiet between other people, my small army of pets, the loud furnace, and other such home noises. It’s a trailer. The walls are thin and noise just caries. There’s also my own demons. Despite doing this whole video thing for nearly 10 years now, I STILL don’t feel comfortable recording in the same room as someone, which is an issue when you live with somebody. I’ve overcame it recently, but it’s hard to even have the desire to turn the camera on. Yes, the vlogs I do at things like Toy Fair and PMC are actually incredibly hard for me to do mentally. I know some of you REALLY want to see the Beast Morphers figures, and I really want to share them with you all, but everything I just said still stands.

My last blog post’s title still holds true. “I Want to Write.” I do! I want to write fiction (which I’m working on). I want to write more editorial pieces, opinion pieces, all of it. I would honestly love nothing more than to be able to kick back and write every day for a professional news or journalistic outlet. Most importantly, I want to write for YOU. Yeah, you. I would love to get a new toy, crack it open, hone my photography wee bit, and just write an entire piece about how amazing the Beast Morphers figures are, or how Siege Starscream isn’t nearly as bad as everyone thought he was gonna be.

How viable is that though? YouTube is where the money (even though I don’t get much of that anymore…) is. It’s 2019. The general populous doesn’t want to sit and READ about how good a toy is. They want to hear how good a toy is. SEE how good a toy is in motion. Video killed the radio star? Video also killed the…written word star? Terrible, I’ll move on.

So that’s where I’m at. I want to write about toys. I want to write about how good they are, or how bad they are, or how they’re just sort of okay but if my dog decided to chew its head off I wouldn’t really mind. But I can’t really make a living doing that. My only option to make money is to reopen my Patreon and hope people want to read my written reviews enough to donate some of that cold hard casharoos to me. Hell, if I can even get $300 a month to write I’d be doing better than my YouTube is doing right now. Writing I also feel gives me more opportunities to grow as a career, and more time to get other jobs in the mean time until it can become one. Writing is natural to me. It’s a lot easier for me to spend the time to spew out a piece like this than it is to record, edit, render, and upload a video. I feel like I’m considerably better at it too.

While I haven’t decided what I’m doing, I really wanted to get that off of my chest. This here is what I WANT to do. Would you support it? Is it even viable? That’s what I’m trying to figure out at the moment, and I could really use your input.

Thank you, and as always, thanks for reading, take care, and have a great one! Bye!