handmade nutcrackers

The nutcracker (nussknacker) is one of the most popular German souvenirs to bring back…but where can you buy an original German made nutcracker with all the cheap China made products flooding the market? I did a bit of research about this and came out with two locations in Frankfurt am Main.

nutcracker germany

Germany has a long history of making quality wooden toys and the nutcracker was originally made in the rural areas of Germany. It’s usually shaped as a soldier and has a large mouth which can be opened with a wooden lever at the back of the doll. You can insert a nut inside the mouth and push down, cracking the nut – although the figurines are mostly used for decorative purposes now.

german made nutcrackers

Steinbach is the most premium manufacturer and all their nutcracker dolls are hand carved. These would run in the hundreds of Euros for just a small figurine. It’s not about the size (haha, no really) but the quality! There are huge 1 foot nutcrackers for 20 Euros but those are mass produced China made dolls.

seiffener volkskunst

I couldn’t afford a Steinbach but I still wanted a German made nutcracker so I went with Seiffener Volkskunst instead. These nutcrackers are not only handmade, but also hand painted in Germany! That’s why every nutcracker looks a little different – the paint on every single one isn’t the same. Their wooden toys are all individually made and painted!

handwerkskunst ulrike scheit

I got a 1 foot nutcracker for my dear as a souvenir for 48 Euros. The nutcracker dolls can run from 50 Euros – 200+ Euros, depending on the size and detail. There are two shops in Frankfurt which is reputable – the big Handwerkskunst am Romer and the smaller, more cottage industry-like Handwerkskunst Ulrike Scheit.

wooden nutcrackers

The prices are same in both – avoid the tourist traps that sells souvenirs, these are dedicated stores which sells wooden toys and only handmade wooden toys. I went *twice* (running up a 30 Euro taxi bill each way) so I could get another nutcracker doll for my dad. Old German folklore says the nutcracker dolls are keepsakes to bring good luck to your family and protect your home by guarding your family from evil spirits and danger.

german wooden toys

Don’t be afraid, my beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim but that matters not. I won’t bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness.

Posted: 6:13 pm Frankfurt time (GMT +2) on the 14th April – we’re still one day behind and it’s our last day in Germany!

Updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France:
http://instagram.com/sixthseal
https://twitter.com/sixthseal
https://www.facebook.com/SixthSealcom

lord nelson hms victory

I’ve always been fascinated by these things. It’s a newly launched magazine that comes with a full model of the HMS Victory! It appeals to the inner man inside, the urge to build something coherent from pieces. I think it might be an evolutionary step, right after we got through the hunter-gatherer phase.

Build Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory features a section in the magazine dedicated to the history behind this ship, particularly with its regards to history. If you’re a history buff, you’ll know very well about the Battle of Trafalgar and this is one of the ships built during that late 18th Century period.

The HMS Victory is Britain’s most famous warship and it’s also the oldest commission warship in the world!

The basics of marine modeling is also explained in the magazine, which included a guide for beginners. It’s a very serious hobby in some circles and authenticity and attention to detail is highly sought after.

These model kits usually costs in the thousands but this magazine allows you to have one (albeit in stages) for a fraction of the price.

cannon

Issue 1 comes with a DVD that explains the process of modeling very well. There’s a bonus in every issue in addition to the remaining parts of the ship you need to complete HMS Victory – the first issue has a complete cannon kit!

The cannon is made of metal and it’s modeled right after the original Victory’s 12-pounder guns. The attention to detail is incredible – there’s the barrel, vent, thimble, trunnion, carriage, quoin and even trunks to make it movable!

You’ll need some tools and materials and to start off with, Issue 1 provides you with a small bottle of PVA glue.

subscribe

You can subscribe and get a FREE model tool kit, which is quite comprehensive and suits the needs of this project and also a magnifying glass (told you it was for serious modelers, a toy, this is not).

The best part about this is the incredible detail of HMS Victory supplied with the magazine – it’s faithfully modeled on the original ship and when done it’ll be a 1:84 scale which comes up to 1.25 meters in length!

hms victory

There’s also a removable cutaway section in the finished model which allows you to see the action below decks. It comes alive with the addition of the ships crew in the heat of naval combat. It’s be the ultimate model!

The magazine cum modeling kit is called Build Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and it retails for just RM 9.90 for Issue 1. Get more details at Build the Victory. It’s out in stores now – you can find it at your nearest newsstand or book store. The issues will be released weekly so there’s something for you to do every weekend to make your very own HMS Victory! :)

Okay kids, now over the years you’ve heard me mention several different stories on how I lost my virginity.

Story #1

riccarton high school

I was studying in New Zealand when I was 15 and hooked up with this Kiwi girl called Natalie. This is the generally accepted claim which I documented in my NZ high school chronicles.

Story #2

This is a little known fact that only a few of my closest friends know. I actually didn’t penetrate when I was 15. I had various sexual encounters over the years but never intercourse until I was 17. However, it was with a girl which I would probably never bring home to my family and when the time came (the movie Poltergeist was playing in the background – how’s that for total recall) I semi-penetrated without protection but ended up limp coz I was so afraid that she had HIV.

It’s an irrational fear of mine due to all the STI literature with graphic photos that my mom forced me to read when I was a kid. I tried again the next day with a condom but I just couldn’t get it up.

nye

I finally got over my fear during New Year’s Eve of 2006 when I was at the ripe, old age of 25. My girlfriend at that time was quite puzzled by my reluctance (since the opposite is usually true). We’ve been together for a couple of months and she made me overcome my fear (plus I thought I was way too old to be still a virgin then and it was NYE).

I did make up for lost time though and I can’t even remember how many sexual partners I have.

truestory

One of them is, anyway. ;)

I’ve actually won an award on a piece I wrote on the blog on the importance of HIV testing and it won the RRMA Media Award 2004 which to the best of my knowledge is the first mainstream recognition of blogs as a medium.

rrma

Sex education in Malaysia has always been rather lacking. A lot of people do not know about gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV and other STIs. According to the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey 2011, a staggering 40% of Malaysians do not use protection at their sexual debut. That is indeed quite shocking when you combine it with the other bit of information gleaned from that study.

34% of Malaysians do not know the sexual history of their partners.

sex

A bit of a recipe for disaster when you consider the lack of protection and awareness. I can totally understand the second bit – people usually only talk about their sexual history after they’ve known each other for a while. Strangely, the very same people have sex *before* they consider it polite or feel comfortable enough to ask.

Anyway, some of these problems can be addressed by using protection. It’s not 100% effective (nothing ever is) but it’s close enough for government work. You’ll have a better chance in getting hit by a car while walking down the street.

Durex Love Boxes

Durex is coming out with a limited edition product from 1st February onwards. It’s the most trusted brand around so you can’t go wrong with these contraceptives. The Durex Love-Box comes in 8 stylish and cool designs and it’s really a great way to carry condoms around.

Instead of slipping a single into your wallet (which is actually a very bad place to put it – heat and friction) you can put the box into your pants. Hey, with the interesting Durex Love-Box designs, it could even be a conversation starter. ;)

Durex Love-Box will be available exclusively at Watsons. There are 3 Durex Fetherlite condoms in each. Best thing is, you can use the boxes for other stuff when you’re done too. :D

lovebox contest

In conjunction with the launch and upcoming Valentine’s Day, Durex is having a contest on Facebook where you can win the perfect getaway for 2 to Krabi worth RM 10,000. Just strike an affectionate pose and take a photo – no purchase necessary! Like the Durex Malaysia Facebook page for more details!

Psst…wanna score some coke?

sell coke

Not that kind, my friends…this ain’t 1903.

I know people who collect Coke cans from all over the world.

Thus, I lug a can from wherever I’m going – London, Georgia, China, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Australia etc back for my friend.

Well, if you’re into collecting vintage Coke bottles, I’ve got something for you. Coca-Cola is running a video on the world’s largest full color LED screen – which is right here in Malaysia at PWTC.

I’ve got two very limited edition Coke Heritage bottle sets to give away. All you have to do is to comment on your fondest Coke memories and the two most creative ones win.

coke heritage

These Coke limited edition Heritage bottle set looks really good. I’m half tempted to filch one but no worries, I won’t. Heh. Just comment and I’ll give out two of them. :)

Xanax nightlight

xanax nightlight

I have a cool Xanax nightlight (which I think is rather ironic)
which I got from my ex-gf. Ahh…the perks of having a pharmacist as a
gf. ;) It comes in a small plastic receptacle that has “Xanax” and
“alprazolam” emblazed on it in red.

alprazolam promo

The pharmaceutical promotional product is from Pfizer (probably for
the new 3 mg steady state plasma concentration Xanax) and is a fully
working night light for reading a book on those sleepless nights (see
ironic).

Viagra soap

viagra promo

This huge bar of Viagra shaped soap is also courtesy of Pfizer. It smells really nice.

viagra soap

It contains a large Viagra shaped blue colored soap with the imprint “Pfizer” on one side…

viagra soap real

…and “VGR 100″ on the other, just like the real thing. Except this is soap.

Which I also found rather ironic.

billy giant egg

McDonald’s just came out with BILLY’S GIANT EGG
this Thursday and I just got one of the few remaining units. The
packaging has a typo on it and only says BILLY’ GIANT EGG.

billy giant egg game

BILLY’S GIANT EGG is the second last electronic game in the Sega 3
series and I got a Cheeseburger Happy Meal but didn’t eat it (told the
McDonald’s server that I only wanted the game, but I took the drink). ;)

billy giant egg man

The manual is printed like the previous iterations of the McDonald’s
/ SEGA collaboration – it’s a single sheet of paper with instructions
on how to play the game – in this case BILLY’S GIANT EGG, another Sonic
franchise character.

billy giant egg clamshell

BILLY’S GIANT EGG also comes in a clamshell design and has two
directional buttons in the shape of eggs. The premise of the game is to
get Billy to collect fruits while the egg gets bigger and bigger (three
sizes) while avoiding hazards.

billy giant egg play

Here is a screenshot of the action – BILLY’S GIANT EGG was way too
easy for me. I finished the game on the first try and consistently
managed to get through all three levels and hatch the egg. It was a
total contrast to the previous unit’s hard gameplay.

Collect 20 fruits to advance a level and hatch the egg!

tails sky adventure

McDonald’s came out with the 3rd iteration of their McDonald’s / SEGA video game franchise partnership and this time it’s free with every purchase of a Happy Meal. I collected the first McDonald’s / SEGA collaboration [sixthseal.com] as well as SEGA 2 [sixthseal.com and I wasn’t about to miss the third.

tails sky adventure game

TAILS SKY ADVENTURE is the first electronic game in the Sega 3
series and David was kind enough to get it for me while I was in the
hospital (it was the very last set). It came with a Cheeseburger and
Corn Happy Meal if that interests you, which I don’t think it does. ;)

tails sky adventure man

The manual is printed like the previous iterations of the McDonald’s
/ SEGA collaboration – it’s a single sheet of paper with instructions
on how to play the game – in this case TAILS SKY ADVENTURE, a Sonic
franchise character.

tails sky adventure clamshell

TAILS SKY ADVENTURE opens up like a clamshell phone to reveal the
game which has two directional buttons and an action button. The
premise of the game is to shoot down rogue squadrons by moving left and
right and pressing the button while navigating TAILS to victory.

tails sky adventure screen

Here is a screenshot of the action – it’s a little harder than the
previous games, or perhaps I’ve just lost a lot of my hand eye
coordination from the benzos and antipsychotics I’m taking coz I
couldn’t even finish it after the sixth attempt!

Bring down the enemy ships! Good luck!

she mooncake

S.H.E. is the Taiwanese three girl pop group that seems to be quite
popular. They have come out with a range of three moon cakes, each
bearing their likeness – one each for Selina, Hebe and Ella. The three
mooncakes have different flavors, which I assume is for their different
personalities.

mooncake girl

This is a licensed product by HIM (which I assume is their
management) and it’s for charity. There are two versions of the
mooncakes…they’re actually both the same, there’s just a difference
in packaging. Mooncakes are eaten during Mid-Autumn Festival, which is
based on the Lunar Calendar, and falls on the 28th of September for the
Gregorian calendar this year.

mooncake booth

The RM 48.50 version comes in a single tin box which has the three
individual mooncakes inside. The RM 52.50 version is more “collectible”
in the sense that there’s an individual metal tin for every single
person in the pop group.

rm 52.50

I bought the RM 52.50 one for the individual printed Selina, Hebe
and Ella tins. The downside to this version is that it comes with cheap
plastic packaging.

nutritional

However, the packing lists down the nutritional facts and other
details at the back. It’s interesting to see the calories difference
between the mooncakes. There are three in total, for the three artists
in S.H.E. and here’s the three mooncakes.

selina

This is the Selina mooncake tin. It has a pink design and has a cartoon version of her likeness imprinted on the tin.

selina wrap

The mooncakes tins all contain a mooncake packaged in an air tight
plastic wrap with a moisture absorber inside. The Selina one doesn’t
seem to be working because I see what looks like mould…

selina mooncake

Here’s a closer look at the Selina mooncake. It definitely has mould
growing on it, but I ate it and it didn’t give me a stomachache so I
guess it’s alright…

selina contents

Mini Lotus 1 Yolk (Selina)

ella

Here’s the Ella collectible tin. It has a blue motif and is also consistent with having a cartoon version of her on it.

ella mooncake

The mooncakes all are embossed and designed with the cartoon version
of the character and their name on it. This one has Ella’s likeness and
her name.

ella contents

Black Sesame Lotus (Ella)

hebe

This one is the Hebe green tin.

hebe mooncake

Here’s what a close up looks like…I think I accidentally took out a bit of her hair. It got stuck to the wrapping. Oops…

hebe contents

Green Tea Mooncake (Hebe)

hebe best

I liked the Hebe green tea mooncake one the most, and most of my
coworkers agree. Mooncakes are traditionally cut into eight equal
slices, but I didn’t have a cake cutter, so I used my el cheapo
balisong (what they call a “butterfly knife”, due to it’s folded but
fast flipping deployment) to do the job.

mooncake balisong

I have a better Benchmade balisong, but I don’t carry that around…it’s reserved for…special occasions. ;)

sega2 compilation

The Sega2/McDonalds mini video game promotion has ended. McDonald’s
released a new mini video game made by the Sega team every week on
Thursday. It’s a joint promotion that continues where the first one
left off, thus the name Sega2. The mini video games retails for RM 6
each with every McDonald’s meal purchase. There were six different mini
video games in total, and it’s all reviewed and linked here:

Sega2 Mini Video Games #1 – Sonic Skateboard [sixthseal.com]

Sega2 Mini Video Games #2 – Cream Flower Catch [sixthseal.com]

Sega2 Mini Video Games #3 – Tails Soccer [sixthseal.com]

Sega2 Mini Video Games #4 – Shadow Basketball [sixthseal.com]

Sega2 Mini Video Games #5 – Amy & Rouge Tennis [sixthseal.com]

Sega2 Mini Video Games #6 – Knuckles Baseball [sixthseal.com]

The Sega2 series is a definite improvement over the first Sega series. I’ll love to see a third promotional run.

knuckles baseball

This is the last mini video game in the Sega2 mini video game
promotional tie in with McDonalds – Knuckles Baseball. It just came out
this morning and it’s the sixth and final one in the series.

knuckles packaging

The packaging of this one has a slight difference from its previous
five predecessors. This one opens up at the top and bottom instead of
from the sides.

knuckles game

Here’s what Knuckles Basketball looks like. It has a dark orange
color scheme, with the usual transparent cover. It only has two up-down
directional buttons though, to make Knuckles go in three possible
positions to catch the baseball.

knuckles manual

The manual indicates that this is a simple game, and true enough, I finished it on the first run.

knuckles bg

Here’s the pre-printed color background. It shows a baseball field and Sonic as the batter.

knuckles gameplay

I caught your curve ball Sonic, try harder!

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