The day after (of not the SAME day) I posted to my blog, the SAF team announced their version 12 update and gave a preview on the SAF blog. The 2 images they chose to share with us were less than encouraging.
This first stamp, ZombieExpo, is ugly. Let's face it. And that it was part of a Book 2 set called "Post Apocalyptic" did not leave me in any great anticipation, believe me. I had assumed that the entire set would be about a zombie apocalypse. Swell.
Now, I didn't necessarily have a problem with the image on the second stamp, which is part of an Extra-Rare set called "Portraits." But the title of the stamp itself, (as it was presented out of context) "Haunted," gave the indication that would be part of yet another set of stamps dedicated to a subject matter in which I have next to ZERO interest: ghosts.
I was about to give up entirely on this game ever producing anything other than cheesy horror, manga, or lame fantasy sets of stamps.
Well to my utter surprise, the Post-Apocalyptic set is actually, well, not that bad. In fact, I kinda like them. Aside from the stupid zombie fist (it is giving us the Green Power salute?) the set is more like classic anti-war or other propaganda posters from the 1930s-1960s. Here's an example of what I mean:
This is a rare stamp called "Vision of the Future." Very 1930s. I like this one a lot!
The other Book 2 set is called "Dolls." While I find most of the dolls a little creepy, and the subject matter doesn't really interest me (I was never into collecting dolls), the set is definitely a departure from the tits and gore fest of the last update, so I'm not going to complain. Here's one of the less-creepy ones:
This is an uncommon stamp called "Lavender Doll."
I mentioned the Extra-Rare set called Portraits. And I have to say BRAVO to SAF for this set of beautifully rendered portraits. I can, in all sincerity, say that this set has produced one of my most favorite stamps to date: Guardian. Check this out:
It's ethereal and beautiful; whimsical without having to rely on any of the trappings of modern-day concepts of fantasy and whimsy (I'm talking about Disney and such). A truly unique concept and absolutely gorgeously executed. The other stamps in this collection are also good (see the Haunted stamp above). But this one is by far the stand-out, in my opinion.
The second set of extra-rare stamps was titled "Japanese Demons." Well, I do have significant interest in Japanese culture. I thought the worst when seeing the word "demons," especially how that term is typically used in American and European cultures. However, this set has turned out to be fairly nice overall. This is my favorite stamp from that set:
This stamp is called Kyubi, which is a nine-tailed fox spirit in Japanese legend (and also Korean and Chinese). The term "demon" in Japanese does not always have the negative connotation as it does in the English language. It's appeared in many forms of anime, most notably to us in the USA, the cartoon Naruto. But anyway, I like this stamp a lot and it really is a very original way of depicting Kyubi.
With the Version 12 update came yet another new collecting feature: the puzzle stamp. Basically, you trade in 5 stamps (1 rare, 2 uncommon, and 2 common) from your regular book collections (Book 1 and/or Book 2) and then you redeem those stamps for one piece of a puzzle stamps. Each puzzle stamp is made up of 3 pieces. There were 5 puzzle stamps released with this update. Most of them were bizarre manga/fantasy stamps. Not awful, but certainly not awesome. One weird stamp in particular is called "GhostSeaGiantDemon." Uh huh. Can you put together a more RANDOM set of words than that? So I took it upon myself to tack on several other names, just for the hell of it: GhostSeaGiantDemonPencilCowHelmetBanana. It's hokey:
Another puzzle stamp, called "KillGod," (another dumb name) looks like something right out of Final Fantasy X:
I'm seriously not that impressed.
And with this set of puzzle stamps came, FINALLY, a stamp for the LADIES (well, sorta):
Aww yeah! Nice back porch, Minotaur!
I'd also like to mention that I am now ranked 9th out of over 6400 players. Nothing to sneeze at, eh?