Good morning and happy Veteran’s Day week, friends and family of the Brew. This Thursday, of course, is Vet’s day, and I’d like to welcome you to another edition of the soon-to-be-award-winning segment here on SpaceBrew, called the Monday-Morning Magic. It’s basically where I write a column on Monday morning that magically changes your mood, and your day. It is sure to either make you laugh, make you angry, or make you bored. Studies have not shown that this segment actually posesses any sort of magical ability, or that it changes your mood at all, in fact. But it completes that alliterative title, so we’re sticking with it.
But I wanted to talk today a little about a new hobby of mine. We’ll go into this a little more on this week’s Bacon Talk, but I thought this was interesting enough to mention this Monday morning. My friends and I – all being intellectuals – have taken to a new hobby. And before you laugh and point your fingers at us and call us immature and gay, just finish the column. Yes, the being intellectuals has something to do with the new hobby. We like to find new and interesting things in which we can get involved. Most of these revolve around drinking and spending time standing around the diner table or the bar in the Space Bar. So what’s this new freak time-waster we’ve found?
Seriously. My buddies and I have gotten into Beyblades. I own around five or six of them right now. And I even have two of the stadia. Yes, I used the plural of stadium. I own two of them. Really. Hey, remember, you have to hold your comments until you finish reading. Let me explain the reasons why we’ve gotten into these. Dudes like to play games around a bar or at a bar table. We play chess. We play poker. We play dice. So how did we make this leap to start playing with toys? It’s crazy dudes. But it’s a game. Just like dice. Just like chess.
It involves strategy, skill and a little luck. It’s not just a toy you play with. I guess I should explain a little bit about it to those of you who might not know. These toys we’ve picked up are battle tops. Yes, they’re tops. You spin them with a launcher and – by themselves – they will spin for upwards of three or four minutes. Pretty cool stuff. But when they’re battling, they slam into each other and cling like the metal in a swordfight.
Each top consists of five pieces. There’s a pretty heavy metal ring called the ‘Fusion Ring’ which is what does the battling, or defense for the top. Then there’s a ‘Spin Track’ that controls the height of the top. Some of these have gimmicks built in, like extra “horns” or “whips” that are supposed to provide extra aggression against other tops. Then there’s the ‘Performance Tip’ which is basically the piece upon which the top spins.
Now, there are four distinct categories into which these tops are grouped:
- Attack: an aggressive top, but not very defensive
- Defense: a defensive top, can take more hits
- Stamina: will spin for a long time, but not necessarily great defensively
- Balance: this is a nice balance of the other three categories
The great thing about these toys – and here’s where the intellectualism comes into play (zing!) – is that you can change out components between the battle tops. When they say one of these is attack because it has a “hole flat” tip on it, they aren’t kidding. And they rank (by stars) each category on each top. So if it has six stars in the attack category listed beside the performance tip, they aren’t joking. It really is an aggressive son of a gun. That’s where it really sort of stops being a toy. It’s not just a pretend like with other toys like Bakugan, where they choose some number arbitrarily and print it on the toy. Well this one is a 420. So it beats yours, which is a 350. Why? Because they chose a higher number for it at the factory. On these battle tops, there’s no arbitration. You send them into a stadium (think plastic cooking wok) and let them battle it out.
So the whole thing is about physics. And, as you know, that greatly interests me. If I have a beastly, heavy top that’s great on stamina and defense, and I put an attack tip on it, it really does change its entire disposition. The top will start racing around the stadium crashing into the other top, almost seeking it out. But being a heavier top, will it last long? A defensive ring hits hard in attack mode, but likewise, that will take a lot of energy out of it. But you can really see differences in behavior with each part you switch out. A toy that really uses physics! So hell yeah, we’re into it.
How is that any different than an average bar game of dice or chess? We reconfigure our blades between rounds (rounds of fighting as well as rounds of beer) and send them into battle, seeing how smart we are. If I outsmart this guy and know what he’s going to throw at me, I’ll be able to withstand his attack and be the last one standing. It’s a pretty cool little game. And it’s cheap enough to go buy a few of them and not break the bank. I think I’ve spent around 60 bucks on them. Hell, you can spend that in a good night at the bar.
Okay, so have I talked you into thinking they’re all right? Not nerdy? Well, they’re definitely nerdy. But then so is chess, if you think about it. You don’t see idiots playing that game. But I’d much rather play battle tops (something I can put my hands on) than say, World of Warcraft. Now that’s nerding.
So the other morning, my six-year-old daughter was out front playing with the boys from the neighborhood. Her best girlfriend was still asleep. It was only like eleven, after all. And the boys finally decided they just wanted some dude time. So they said she couldn’t play with them anymore. It hurt her feelings, and she came back to the house sad and glassy-eyed. You bet I wanted to time machine back to six-years old so I could go out there and whip their asses. But that’s what boys do.
Anyway, she’s a pretty smart little girl. And she knows how to manipulate like all girls know. So she came to me and said, “Daddy, can I play with your Beyblades?” Now think about that for a moment. A six-year-old girl asking her mid-thirties dad if she can play with his toys. Good grief. But of course I let her. So she took them outside and called across the street. “Hey boys! Look what I got!” And now she was suddenly okay to play with again. She had all the toys. It was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. There were three little boys sitting around this stadium totally under her control.
And when we left to run out somewhere, it was, “Sorry, boys, I have to go,” and there went the toys. The Girl bringeth, the Girl taketh away.