Friday, June 23, 2006

Dancing with the Ugly Dolls

This week I attended the Licensing International 2006 trade show at the Javits Center in NYC. The reason I went was to learn more about the licensing industry and how it applies to Mochi Kids!™, see what other artists are doing regarding licensing out their artwork and/or characters, figure out what next steps I need to take, and meet people who might be able to help me take those next steps.

But most importantly, I went to dance with the Ugly Dolls! I think the Ugly Dolls are hilariously cute in their ugly sort of way. It happened that their trade show booth was right next to Sonic the Hedgehog's booth. And it just so happened that I walked by Sonic the Hedgehog's booth right when the folks at Sega were celebrating Sonic's 15th anniversary. They had a little band playing music, all the Sega people were wearing blue hair in honor of Sonic, and they had a giant birthday cake that they cut up and served to all the passers-by, of which I was one. The Ugly Dolls came over from their booth to dance with Sonic and celebrate with him. So of course I had to get a picture of me dancing with them too!

I also got to play with some other fun characters, like Pikachu and Miffy! But I don't know where my Miffy picture went. When I find it, I'll post it here. There are also some other pictures of me posing with random characters and monster trucks, but my friend, Robert, took those pictures on his camera so someday hopefully he'll get around to sending them to me.

So anyway, some things I learned while I was at the trade show... Well, I already knew this one - which is that I have a whole lot of work to do to really get started. But the benefit of attending Licensing International is that I have more concrete ideas of what some of those things are.

For example, I need to beef up my portfolio of designs, including increasing the number of cetral images I have. And to go with each central image, creating background graphics and patterns, icons and border images. This is necessary to make it easier for licensees to apply my images to different types of products - some products, like t-shirts, lend themselves nicely to central images. While others, like bed linens, work better with a repeating pattern of images.

I'll also need an intellectual property attorney, and I'm pretty certain that I will want to work with an agent, to assist me with developing the brand and connecting and negotiating with potential licensees.

And I also want to add depth to the Mochi Kids! characters. Since I don't have the expertise to create animations, or the funding to hire someone who does, I'm going to start the kids off with their own little blogs. Of course the challenge I'm running into here is thinking of things the kids can post about. Unless I'm just babbling off the top of my head like I do here, I do find it a challenge to write things that require more direction. Plus the other thing they told us at one of the seminars that pertained to using blogs and other forms of digital media for marketing was if you are using a blog to promote your character, buisness, etc., "post often, post short, and always post a picture!" So I gotta try to keep the kids' babblings to a minimum, and make pictures for them to post. And my goal to start with is have the kids post at least once a week.

What I need is more time! So yes, I'll be quitting one of my jobs in the not-so-distant future... I'd say by the end of August.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Surprise Trip to Philly!

This weekend instead of the usual grind of spending my Sunday working at Crate & Barrel, I took the whole weekend off to accommodate a friend who was coming into town to stay with us. But then at the last minute we learned that my friend was not going to stay with us after all. That meant road trip!!!

We decided to go to Philly, because I'd never spent any time there before (we drove through Philly on I-95 a couple months ago when we went to Maryland, but that doesn't count), and plus it's really not that far away - only a couple hours drive. So we got up bright and early Saturday morning, had breakfast along the way at a diner near the Menlo Park Mall down by Woodbridge, New Jersey, and made it to Philly well before noon.

On our way into downtown Philly, we took this photo of the traffic light. It just worked out that City Hall happened to be right behind it.

Since it was so last minute, we didn't have much of a selection of bed and breakfasts to choose from. We ended up staying at The Inn Between, which is in the University City district of Philly. The inn is one half of a pretty amazing duplex built in 1903. The owner has only been operating it as an inn since January, so I think she has quite a ways to go in getting her business up to the standard of the other B&Bs we've stayed at before. It really just felt like staying over night at some old house. The furniture was a mish-mash of styles that looked fresh from local yard sales and flea markets. Cleanliness would not pass the quintessential mother-in-law test. And breakfast was ho-hum - nothing I wouldn't be able to fix for myself. The innkeeper was pleasant to talk to though, and she had a lot of good info about things to do in Philly to impart verbally; however, she didn't have many of the free brochures or maps available that many B&Bs offer for the convenience of their guests.

One of our main objectives for this trip was to catch the Phillies' game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. So our first order of business upon arriving in Philly was go to the stadium and pick up a pair of tickets. Who knew I would fall victim to the giant black and white ghost of former Phillies pitching great Robin Roberts. I don't think he actually meant to smack me on the head, but he really oughtta watch out during his follow-through.

After securing our tickets for the Saturday night game, we headed back into the heart of Philly in our terribly hot, un-air-conditioned car. We bit the bullet and spent $7 on flat-fee parking in a garage near Chestnut Street and 7th. We were glad to have the car parked in the shade instead of on the street where it could just bake and bake and bake some more. So that we ourselves wouldn't keep baking while exploring central Philly, we ducked into a museum where Kenji met up with the venerable Ben Franklin (and some air conditioning).

I have to say that Ben's aged pretty well for a 300 year old guy, don't you think?

Next we tried to visit Independence Hall, but not unexpectedly, all tickets for entry were already sold out for the day. But that didn't stop us from wandering around and peeking into free places like the Quaker Meeting House and the Independence Hall/Liberety Bell Visitors Center, where Kenji was able to get his face on the $10 bill!

We were too cheap to go or do anything that might cost more than $20 apiece, but before we knew it we were hungry. Of course you know what that means...

...Philly Chesesteaks!

Yes, we made the trek all the way from central Philly down the Federal and 9th where the famous Pat's and Geno's cheesesteak sandwich rivalry happens all day, every day (and night).

This of course is Geno's, the flamboyant cheesesteak place. It was for that reason we decided to just take a picture of Geno's, and actualy eat at Pat's, a more simple and down-to-earth cheesesteak place, instead. Pat's doesn't use any bright colors or Hummers to attract it's customers. However their ordering process is a bit like the Sienfeld Soup Nazi. Very stressful.

After lunch, we wandered back to our car and made our way over to the Inn Between to get ourselves checked in and take a nap before going to the game. I forgot to bring my camera to the game, so sorry no pictures of Philly's version of the green monster for you.

Sunday morning we followed the advice of our hostess, and made a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On Sundays it's pay-what-you-want-to-pay day. So we paid a little bit, but not anywhere near what the normal entrance fee is. When Mochi Kids!™ takes off someday we'll go back and overpay

The museum of course is huge and even though we spent four hours there, we still didn't see everything. I can never remember the names of artists or works that I see when I go to museums, so suffice it to say there's a lot of cool stuff there. Besides, I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone would I?

Naturally we had some photo fun outside the museum, with me trying to bring some shady releif to this statue:

And I took this picture of Kenji because he likes the color blue, and the top of the buiding behind him has blue behind all the figures, but you can't really tell from the photo:

And wherever there is a giant spider, naturally I want to be there:

After we finished with the museum, it was time for another cheesesteak. This time we drove down the south Philly to check out a place called Tony Luke's, recommended to us by my friend, Steven, who lived in Philly for a few years some time ago. I thought the bread was better than the bread at Pat's, but the meat was a whole lot more greasy. Sorry to say, but my favorite cheesesteak ever so far I got in Hilo, Hawaii of all places. I don't know why that cheesesteak tasted so darn good that time... maybe I was just super-hungry? I don't know. I would tell you what the the name of the place is but unfortunately I can't remember. I think it's in the little strip mall that is kinda-sorta near the mall in Hilo that is on the road that you take to go visit the volcanos.

Oh well, anyway I guess I'll conclude this post by saying that although the cheesesteaks didn't live up to my very elevated expectations, I though Philly was a wonderful city. It was so easy to get around and figure out how to go places that I feel like I sort of know the city already. I also enjoyed that they have a lot of buildings with crazy murals painted on the sides... two of which we managed to snap photos of here:

There was another really cool mural of some of Philly's famous musicians/singers that should be here as well. After all, it was on the wall of the building facing me while I was eating my Pat's cheesesteak. I must have been so hungry I forgot to take a picture. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I haven't had much time lately to update my blog. Too busy working six days a week at two jobs, and then also trying to finish up Mochi Kids™ in time for the Licensing International trade show that is coming up in a couple of weeks. Anyway, just thought I'd mention that before heading off to sleep. Aloha!