Tag Archives: contest

Clearing the guilt cache, or Fortress Maximus is the MAXIMEST!

I want to preface this piece by bringing up a simple fact. Sometimes real life sucks. It’s awkward, weird, painful, and tends to derail us when we least expect it.  Last August my father was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and just a year after I had made the decision to uproot from my previous home of 20 years to move in with the love of my life, I was faced with the challenge of moving my parents across country so that I could take care of them. The past year has been rough to say the least. This is not typically something I’d mention here at Branded, but in the end dealing with real life junk kept me away from the site at a time when I just starting to prep for some big things and partnerships. It sucks, I sucked it up, I dealt with the things that needed to be handled and the site got thrown on the back burner. Family is certainly more important than this site, but in the mix of moving them, a million doctors appointments, and my father passing away I dropped the ball with a promotion that has been eating away at the back of my brain.

I haven’t done a ton of promotions on the site. Typically I end up buying stuff myself to give away and front all the shipping. It’s just how I roll. But the super gracious folks at Entertainment Earth reached out to me and wanted to partner up. I was hoping maybe they’d send some inexpensive 80s-centric tchotchkes, maybe a modern He-Man lunchbox or a Back to the Future pint glass or something that I could write about and then host a contest to give away. But they kind of insisted on sending one of the largest, most expensive modern Transformers toys on the market, the Titans Return Fort Max play set. I agreed, worked on an article while I waited for it to be shipped out, and was getting pretty excited to be able to gift one of these things to some lucky reader of the site. Fort Max arrived, I unboxed it, took a bunch of pictures and was all set to finish the review and set up the contest when the news about my father hit me like a ton of bricks.

Over the next three months I had every intention of finding a couple hours to throw the contest up on the site, and every time I finally found some free time to myself something would pop up. I kept telling myself that as long as I got the review and contest up and running by the end of November it would all be cool. I’m sure sending me a free Fortress Maximus is hardly going to bankrupt Entertainment Earth, but I still felt guilty all the same. That monster of a toy cost over $100 at retail and I had made a commitment to help pimp their site for their trouble. And there it sat in the corner of my office like a 2 foot tall guilt monster staring at me.  When the middle of December rolled around I had, had enough. I boxed Fort Max back up and gave it to my nephew for Christmas. Ultimately, that was where he was going to go anyway as my nephew is a Transformers nut and seriously, what the hell was I going to do with it anyway.  It’s not a bad toy, but I’m just not enough of a Transformers nerd to give it the home it deserves. So at least it found an appreciative owner and I was safely away from it’s frozen-faced stare.

Of course, that didn’t change the fact that I still didn’t deliver on my end of the bargain. Having just recently found some balance in my life I’ve been able to pick back up with Branded a bit. This review has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a year and honestly, I didn’t have the heart to delete it. Long story short, the super rad folks at Entertainment Earth gave me a very cool toy, and here is a review of that toy. Unfortunately I can’t give one away in a contest now (pretty sure that bridge has fallen to ashes), but I can at least ask anyone who reads this to hop on over to the site and consider buying some plastic fun for someone this holiday season. And if you’re curious what I think about a giant toy robot, then by all means, please continue reading…

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As a kid growing up in the 80s it was tough not to covet like, ALL the toys. All of them.  Between daydreaming about winning the Toys R Us Toy Run Sweepstakes where I’d get a chance to have five whole minutes to grab everything I could get my hands on in the store or pouring over all the little toy catalogs that came packed with vehicles and figures from toy lines like G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and Transformers, I was always thinking about toys that I didn’t and in most cases would never own.  Even though I think it’s safe to say that as a kid I wanted ALL of the toys, there was a series of toys that I never managed to get my hands on that I desperately wanted, the Transformers Headmasters series that were initially released back in 1987.

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At this point in the Transformers mythos we were about a year past the release of Transformers: The Movie, the Hasbro toy line was starting to dip in popularity, I was starting to shift my collecting focus from toys to comic books and according to my parents I was too old to be asking for these for birthdays and Christmas.  Of all the various toy design gimmicks of the 80s, none had captured my attention quite like the Headmasters.  I was always very ‘action figure’ focused in my toy collecting, and weirdly I was always sort of obsessed with any kind of interesting head-related accoutrements.  I adored any figures with removable helmets or working visors, not to mention characters that had some sort of head gimmick (like Kobra Kahn from the Mattel Masters of the Universe line with his water-spraying technology or Mumm-Ra’s light up eyes from the LJN ThunderCats line.)  So the idea of a series of Transformers with removable heads that were themselves transforming robots?  OMG.

Well, after almost 30 years I’ve finally been able to get my hands on a Transformers Headmasters toy.  For those who aren’t aware, Hasbro has been releasing a series of Transformers Classics toys over the last decade under a number of different product line names (Classics, Combiner Wars, etc), and the most recent series is called Titans Return which has finally brought back the Headmasters gimmick to Transformers.  There are a bunch of figures starting to trickle out into stores (including characters like Scourage, Blurr, and Blaster), and by far the most impressive (and imposing) is the Classics re-release of one of the largest Transformers toys ever released, Fortress Maximus!

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Full disclosure, I received this toy to review from the folks at Entertainment Earth, and I typically don’t do reviews of releases from modern versions of classic toy lines (unless of course they do crazy things like combining brands like G.I. Joe and Transformers.)  That being said, they very cool folks at EE made me and offer that I just could not refuse which is the ability to hold and contest to give away one of these massive toys to one lucky reader of Branded.  I love being able to pay it forward whenever I can and there was no way that I was going to pass on the opportunity to get one of these rad toys out to the folks who read this site.  I’ll get to the nitty gritty of the contest at the bottom of this post, so with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the new Transformers Titans Return Fortress Maximus…

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First and foremost, this thing is MASSIVE.  I mean like almost two feet tall and the size of a toddler massive.  Having never had the original toy that this new figure (playset?) is based on I have no idea if it’s larger, but I did have a friend who had a Metroplex toy and this Fortress Maximus seems to be a lot larger by far.  Second, for a toy this large Hasbro really pulled out all the stops in terms of pose-ability and articulation.  Now that may seem like a weird statement on the surface, I mean with a larger scale format figure like this there is obviously way more room to implement articulation and detail into the design, but from what I’ve seen in the larger scale toys like this there is usually a distinct lack of articulation.  Bottom line, for once it seems like you can realistically recreate the poses and action stances from the packaging with this toy and I find that pretty darn awesome…

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The level of detail is also off the charts.  Not only articulation-wise where can you independently move his fingers, but in the mold as well.  There are a million tiny details in the mold that make the figure incredibly realistic without falling off the cliff into the Bayformers territory of becoming too alien in design.  This figure really is like a beautiful, highly detailed, ultimate version of what the character was meant to look like.  Like a cross between the old Marvel comics and cartoon episodes mixed with the base of the original G1 toy.

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Now, as cool and massive as this toy is, it’s not without its drawbacks.  Even though you can put Fortress Maximus into some cool poses, because of his heft it’s hard to have him standing up independently in them.  Also, again, because of the size and weight I don’t see this being a great toy for kids as it would be quite unwieldy to try and play with, and I say that as a kid who had a G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg as a kid and hated it.  Just because something is big does not make it awesome when it comes to playtime.  No, Fortress Maximus here is very much for the adult collector.

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Another drawback is the way the head connects to the body.  Much like the original G1 version, Fortress Maximus is a headmaster, so his head detaches and becomes Cerebros.  And to finish off this nestled doll of a Transformer, Cerebros is also a headmaster, where his noggin comes off to become Titan Master Emissary.  As cool as this is from a conceptual standpoint, there are some logistical problems that make the overall head attachment on Fortress Maximus a bit precarious.  When Cerebros transforms to form FM’s head, Emissary acts as the connector piece.  Because it’s so small and the over all head piece is so big I’m betting it would be pretty easy to accidentally snap off Emissary when trying to remove or attach Cerebros to Fortress Maximus.  It just felt a little fragile to me when playing with it.  So again, an aspect that puts this in the camp of the adult collector that will most likely just transform the toy once and then display it.

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Lastly, and this is just an aesthetic thing for me, I’m not a huge fan of Fortress Maximus’ city alt mode.  Much like Tom Hanks in big I just found myself holding it wondering why a kid would want to play with a city instead of the robot…

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That being said, I am still really stoked about the overall toy in general and think that for Transformers fans this would make an amazing centerpiece to any collection.

Vintage Electronics Art and a Contest!

Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the cool electronic gadgets from the late 70s and early 80s, stuff like Simon, Speak & Spells, and those neat mini table-top versions of games like Galaga and Pac-Man.  It seems like I keep coming back to them, whether it’s after spotting them in the Awesome Bedrooms I’ve been dissecting lately (like the Speak & Spell in Poltergeist, the Super Simon in E.T. or the table-top Pac-Man in Flight of the Navigator), or after getting my very first Simon as a gift from my girlfriend’s parents this past Christmas.  So I was pretty stoked when I stumbled upon this rad series of screen printed posters from Boiling Point Creative called *Batteries Not Included…

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Highlighting such great games like Parker Brother’s Merlin, Texas Instruments’ Little Professor, Mattel’s Electronic Football, Coleco’s Galaga, and Milton Bradley’s Simon, this series of three prints is packed with nostalgic eye candy.  Though I never had most of these as a kid (I had a damaged Speak & Spell that I got in a trade for a bit before it stopped working), I used to drool over and covet the few my friends had.  In particular I remember I was always finding an excuse to being up math questions at my friend Ajay’s house so that he’d let me use his Litter Professor to find the answer.

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My favorite in this series is the table-top arcade games though.  I think I’d actually love a single print highlighting just that Galaga game as it’s probably my favorite video game of all time…

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This series is also available as a series of hand-printed greeting cards too which would be an awesome way of keeping in touch with your vintage-minded gaming friends…

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Contest!

So, I’ve partnered with the nice folks at Boiling Point for a little contest.  They’ve agreed to give a lucky Branded reader one print of their choice from this series!  To enter all you have to do is, like the Branded in the 80s Facebook page and then E-Mail me a picture of yourself with your favorite vintage handheld or table top electric game (it can be a picture from when you were a kid getting them for a birthday or Christmas, or a picture of you with your favorite piece(s) from your vintage collection.)  I’ll do a followup post showcasing all the images sent in and I’ll pick one lucky entry at random on Wednesday the 26th of February.  So get digging though your childhood pictures, break out your phone and take a selfie with your vintage game and good luck!

Awesome Ript Contest and a bunch of 80s pop culture vehicles merge to form 8DTron!

So I was recently indoctrinated into the whole 24-hour T-Shirt a day phenomenon when friend of the site Slick McFavorite (of the Open Your Toys podcast) pointed me to an awesome Universal monster mash-up design that I had to have.  Honestly, as much as I’m into pop culture, my wardrobe of cool shirts is pretty damn limited and I’ve been trying to change that over the last six months.  One of my favorite recent purchases was from the site Ript Apparel, a shirt called 8DTron by the artist known as Brinkerhoff

Seriously, how great is this concept?!?  Showcasing a bunch of 80s pop culture vehicles, this Devastator-esque combiner robot 8DTron hits on so many of the things I love from my childhood.  Airwolf (aka The Lady), the General Lee, Rick Hunter’s Veritech (or the Jetfire Transformers toy, you be the judge), the A-Team van, Ecto-1, Optimus Prime, the license plate from the Back To The Future Delorean, and He-Man’s power sword.  Not only is the design super cool, but the actual shirt is pretty damn nice as well, especially for $10 plus shipping.

Honestly, coming across sites like Ript is pretty cool, but it’s also sort of like opening Pandora’s Box (or more accurately, her Armoire) as I can easily see myself developing quite the shirt-a-day habit.  Well, Ript is holding an amazing contest where one lucky winner can win the cool shirt mega lottery, literally a shirt a day for an entire year!

Here’s the press release…

CHICAGO-BASED RIPT APPAREL TO GIVE AWAY ONE YEAR’S WORTH OF GRAPHIC TEES TO ONE LUCKY CONTESTANT

Don’t do laundry for a year: win the next 365 t-shirts from RIPT Apparel

This Thursday until the end of January, RIPT Apparel will be conducting it’s biggest customer giveaway ever. An entire year’s worth of tees will be awarded to one lucky contestant. Yes, that’s 365 shirts, every design printed for an entire year.

To get a grasp on just how many shirts RIPT makes in a year, check out this video displaying the entire roster of shirts from 2012

Entering is easy, just sign up via Facebook at this link.

Prizes:
Grand Prize: a year’s worth of daily RIPT Apparel tees over the course of 2013 (February 1st 2013 to January 31st 2014)
1st Prize: 1 free shirt per month for a year (12 free tee coupons)
2nd Prize: RIPT Apparel prize pack (RIPT tee, RIPT Hat, RIPT Coasters)
Runners up: 1 free tee coupon (multiple winners)

Timeline:
Accepting entries Thursday January 17th through Thursday January 31st
Winners chosen and contacted Friday February 1st.

RIPT Apparel is a Chicago-based online apparel retailer that sells one new shirt design every 24 hours. Each design is created by artists who share in the profits for each sale and retain the rights to their work after their artwork is sold.”

I know I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Brinkerhoff designs a “sequel” shirt to 8DTron featuring K.I.T.T. fom Knight Rider, a Tron Light Cycle, Magnum PI’s Ferrari, The Thunder Tank, a Cobra HISS Tank, the Buckaroo Banzai Jetcar, and Voltron’s head and sword!

The Great Cartoon Lagoon Halloween Contest!

Alright Boils and Ghouls, do I ever have something exciting to share!  As I’ve mentioned on the site in the past, Manny Galán and Cartoon Lagoon Studios have been prepping their new show Captain Cornelius Cartoon’s Cartoon Lagoon, and it’s about to make its debut at the New York Comic Convention this coming weekend!

In celebration of the debut, and in the “vein” of the Halloween season, Manny has graciously donated a set of beautiful canvas prints of his artwork featuring Monster Cereal icons Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry.  Not only are these prints limited, but each has also been signed by Galán and the actual voices of the monsters themselves Larry Kenny (Count Chocula, as well as Lion-O from the Thundercats), Robb Pruitt (Franken Berry, as well as the voice of the Blue M&M), and Chris Phillips (Boo Berry, as well as the Nickelodeon “Face” from the 90s era interstitials.)

I also have a few copies of the Cartoon Lagoon DVD to give away as well!

So, what do you have to do in order to get your hands on these sugary sweet cereal monster prints and DVDs?  Well, I thought it would be fun to hold a good ‘ol fashioned scavenger hunt!  Just like Cornelius and his crew of the Manta Ray dive down deep into the depths of the Cartoon Lagoon looking for choice toons, to score these awesome prizes you’ll have to wade into the waters of the Cartoon Lagoon Studios website and blog looking for the answers to the seven important questions featured below!  To enter, send me an e-mail with the answers to as many of the following seven questions as you can find.  Make sure to include “Monster Cereal Prints Contest” in the subject line, as well as your name.  I’ll be accepting entries until Monday, October 15th, at Midnight.  Since this is a scavenger hunt, I’ll be selecting winners based first on the number of correct answers, and then in the order with which I received the responses.

There will be one grand prize featuring all three signed Monster Cereal prints and Vol. 1 of Cartoon Lagoon on DVD.  Two runners up will receive a copy of Cartoon Lagoon Vol. 1 on DVD.  Here’s the list of questions you’ll need to answer (all the answers are on the Cartoon Lagoon blog), and good hunting!

1). How many “K’s” does Wet Willy pipe onto Axel’s birthday cake, and how many was he supposed to pipe?  Hint, you can check out this Storyboard of that sequence here.

2). What is the brand name of Captain Cornelius’s cereal box (that he’s stashed since the 70s) and what type of creature is the mascot?  (Hint, check the September 18th 2012 entry on the Cartoon Lagoon blog.)

3). In the Interview with Axel, Axel mentions a strange currency that the crew is paid in. What is that currency?  (Hint, read the interview here.)

4). What five classic cartoons are shown in the Cartoon Lagoon Trailer?

5). In an interview with Wet Willy Jones, who does he name as his favorite cartoon character?  (Hint, read the interview here.)

6). What Brand of soft drink is stocked aboard the Manta Ray?  (Hint, check the September 6th 2012 entry on the Cartoon Lagoon blog.)

7). In An Interview with the Captain, what does Cornelius say is the worst part about living in a submarine (Hint, read the interview here.)

But wait, while you’re at it, why not double your chances of winning these great signed Monster Cereal prints?!?  If you’re feeling the creative juices flowing, head on over to Strange Kids Club for a second chance to win these Manny Galán prints by coming up with your own unique Monster Cereal icon and submitting it to the site.  Details can be found at Strange Kids Club.com, or click on the logo below.  Now how cool is that?

The Cannonade, and a contest reminder…

Just wanted to put up a quick update to remind folks that there is still one more day to enter my pop culture Hot Wheels contest!  Contest closes at Midnight tomorrow, 5/31/2012.  Oh, and I broke down and totally bought a vintage 1981 Hot Wheels Cannonade.  This was one of my favorites back in the day…

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Tiny car realization and a CONTEST!

So apparently I collect die-cast vehicles.  If someone had asked me a week ago if I collected Hot Wheels I could have easily said “no” without any hesitation.  There’s no malice in that statement either; it’s not that I dislike these little die-cast metal vehicles.  I just never thought of myself as a connoisseur of the medium I guess.  I know that I had a handful of cars as a kid, but by and large I was an action figure guy and whenever I found myself in a toy store, I was never drawn to that aisle.  I’m not even sure where I came across the handful of cars and trucks I did have, though if I had to bet I’d say they were most likely stocking stuffers.

Over the past couple of years I’ve found myself picking up a Hot Wheels car here and there, mostly due to some awesome pop culture vehicles popping up unexpectedly on the pegs.  I happened to see an Ecto-1 Ghostbusters ambulance one day in Toys ‘R Us and thought to myself, “Neat, wouldn’t it be cool if a few more die-cast cars like this started showing up?!?”  Within six months I was alerted to the fact that the Back to the Future DeLorean was released, and then shortly after the A-Team van.  At that point I was downright craving more miniature pop culture rides, and even though I found myself gravitating to the Hot Wheels section more and more it always seemed like a pretty fruitless endeavor.  There just weren’t enough of these to really keep my interest in continuing the search…

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But then here and there I’d find something that caught my eye.  Whether it was some of the Tron Legacy vehicles, or a retro Hot Wheels Hot Ones release (like Spoiler Sport) that reminded me of a very similar Incredible Hulk-themed version of the car I had as a kid, I couldn’t help myself and before I knew it I was checking out at the register with two or three cars…

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Shortly after Halloween was over last year I stumbled upon a set of Monster Cereal branded cars, which I felt obligated to own as I don’t have any MC merch and this was a fine way of keeping that Halloween-y feeling alive for another week or so.  Honestly though, even at this point I didn’t consider myself a collector of little toy cars.  But after picking up a slightly expensive new Hot Wheels K.I.T.T. (I didn’t want to wait the eternity it seems for this little guy to hit the pegs), and splurging on a few more of the retro Hot Ones cars last week I think I now have to reconsider my stance on collecting.

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I think the final nail in the coffin is that I found myself scouring Hot Wheels wikis and eBay looking for specific cars I had as a kid.  After placing a bid on one of them (keeping my fingers crossed) I think it’s pretty clear that I’ve passed a line of demarcation.  I apparently collect Hot Wheels.

So, in honor of this realization, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway of some of the extra Hot Wheels pop culture cars I’ve picked up over the last year.  I have two sets to give away, one featuring the 2010 Ecto-1, the 2011 Back to the Future Time Machine, and the 2011 A-Team van, and a second with just has the A-Team van and the BTTF Time Machine.  So what do you have to do to win one of these sets?  Well, you can send me an e-mail with the subject line “Pop Culture Hot Wheels” and list your favorite Hot Wheels toy or experience.  Be sure to include your name and mailing address.  I’ll be picking the winners at Midnight on Thursday, May 31st, 2012.  Good luck!

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**UPDATE**  Consider the giveaway pot sweetened!  I found two 2012 Knight Rider K.I.T.T. Hot Wheels today, so I’m adding one to each prize pack!

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Now, I’m just going to sit back and hope that there will be a Hot Wheels release of some of my other favorite vehicles soon (including the General Lee, Airwolf, and Street Hawk)…

Wanna win the first 33 episodes of the original Thundercats on DVD?

**UPDATE**  The winner of this set has been picked!  Congrats Mark H.  I’ve notified you via the Facebook messaging system.  Stay tuned next week for another DVD giveaway!

With the new Thundercats revamp set to launch on July 29th on the Cartoon Network I thought it would be a great time for a new contest!

I’m sort of psyched to see where new production team takes this new series even though I’m a pretty big fan of the Rankin/Bass original.  I’ve always been impressed by how insane the Rankin/Bass animation villains were in shows like the Thundercats and the Silverhawks, and it would be really cool to see if this new series can match that old intensity.

Anyway, back to the contest, I happen to have an extra copy of the Warner Bros. original season one, Volume one DVD set, which contains the first 33 episodes (including the episodes that form the pilot movie)…

So, to enter for a chance to win this copy of the Thundercats Season One, Volume One DVD set, head on over to the Branded in the 80s Facebook page (like it if you haven’t) and leave a comment/response on the discussion board under the Thundercats DVD Contest thread with the name of your favorite Thundercats character.  I’ll be picking a winner at random on Thursday, July 28th at 2:00pm est.  Remember, these are region 1 DVDs, so if you’re an international reader take note.  Good luck!

Cereal Killers Trading Cards and a Contest!

**Update** Alright, I picked three names at random from a hat (well, empty coffee mug) and the lucky winners are: Laura I., Jeremy T H., Khris L.  Congrats guys and gals (I’ve notified you through the FB messaging system for your snail mail address) and thanks to everyone else for entering!

So I came home yesterday and found a package waiting for me at the door, and upon cracking it open I was excited to see this…

These came courtesy of a contest in the premiere issue of the Strange Kids Club Comix Anthology, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the individual boxes to get a glimpse at the loot.  These Cereal Killer trading cards are pretty darn cool and they follow in the tradition of Topps Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids.  The brainchild of artist Joe Simko, this set of spoofs perfectly blends a childhood love of sugary cereal with a score of monsters and horror movie icons.  These sets come with three mini cereal boxes, each containing 20 cards, a special prize and a gross piece of eyeball gum.  As for the special prizes you can expect to find black-light stickers, magnets, gold foil cards, and if you’re lucky an original sketch card from Joe himself.

One of the cool aspects of the set is the social networking built into trying to complete a set.  Wax Eye has set up a thread for trading doubles over at the Wacky Packages forum.  Sure you can buy additional packages, but it’s kind of cool to get back to what it was like in elementary school trading with classmates trying to complete the latest series of Garbage Pail Kids.

In the spirit of this, I’ve decided to hold a mini contest to get my doubles out into the world.  I’m offering up three prizes, a stack of 20 cards, a stack of 10 cards, and one of the super cool black-light stickers.  To get your grubby hands on these all you have to do is head on over to the Branded Facebook Page and leave a comment in the Discussions tab on the left (you can also click on the cards below).  I’ll be picking three winners at random this Friday, May 20th at 3:00pm est.  Good luck, and go check out Joe Simko’s Cereal Killers trading cards!