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 The Balrog: Demon of Shadow and Flame !
Attakus | Bowen | Gentle Giant | Master Replicas | Sideshow | Weta

Collector's News (Page 3)

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5/30/08 12:41 pm - Database Updates Continue
Database and sorting improvements are continuing. During this procedure, I identified a couple important new criteria which can help sorting. Around twenty percent of auction listings include the edition size in their description, and I now check that this number correlates with the edition size on file for the item I am matching against. Also, for characters which are released with multiple versions, there is a new filter which can prevent the more recent version from matching against older auction titles which traded prior to the new figure's release. The existing price check feature, which discards radically misvalued listings (on the assumption that the match is incorrect - I try to KEEP outlying high/low prices wherever they are valid) has also been improved. Previously, if an item appeared to match, but was too far out of line on price, the search terminated; now, it continues looking for another possibly valid match against other item descriptions.

Also, there is a new icon I'm using for the auction trends. A yellow "warning" circle now indicates that insufficient data has been collected to assign a true value. In such cases, the printed value is simply the MSRP. This is designed to confront the unfortunate situation which has existed in some cases in the past where items have been added to the product database but not yet given sorting criteria. In these cases a product may actually be trading high, but since no data exists this is not accurately reflected. The yellow warning now indicates that less than two sorted auctions are on file, rather than the old default blue horizontal arrows , which are now reserved for auctions with data where the recent price is stable against the printed value.

The SpaceMan

5/8/08 4:39 pm - At Last, I'm Done with Internals for a While
Hi All - It's been a while since my last post here in the news section. I know some have thought the site was winding down, but it is actually not the case at all. I've spent the last year or so of my available development time working on internals, gutting the whole system to make things run smoother, faster, and scale more efficiently to the hundreds of thousands of items now in our various databases. After finishing the software which protects user edits from automatic overwrites (mentioned a few posts back), I tried to turn to database updates, but it quickly became clear that the existing flat file system which I was using to store data had itself become a terrible speed bottleneck as the amount of stored information had grown. Also, my webhost threatened to drop my service because I was using up way too much CPU processor time in the resorts. It was time to move to a dedicated server, start using a proper database, and radically rethink the network of programs which run ToyTracker.Net . Each project completed seemed to reveal another project just as important which lingered, like the false mountain peaks that taunt amateur climbers.

After it all, I'm pleased at last to say that the job is well done, and ToyTracker is faster, more stable, more modular, and more prepared for growth than ever before. There's always even more that could be attempted of course, but I'm trying to give that stuff a rest for a while.So finally, I'm now updating records, adding items, and improving sorting algorithms. I've started in the Gentle Giant section, and I think the improvements should already be very visible. A full newsletter is planned for sometime in June, with word on a new and long planned contest/giveaway, plus more details on the upgrades which have preoccupied me recently.

Stay Tuned, and Thanks for the Patience & Support.
The SpaceMan

3/6/07 1:38 pm - Major Expansion of Tracked Items
A lengthy overhaul of our item inventories for tracked manufacturers has just been completed. All sections are up to date through products released at Toy Fair, including many credible rumors of future products. The number of existing product lines from these companies has also been much expanded. Almost 350 additional pieces have been recogonized under the Sideshow Collectibles brand alone, many in the new Military/Historical, Warhammer, Drama, Animation, or much extended Classic Monsters sections. Marvel and Disney are new to the Master Replicas area, and our Gentle Giant catalog has now includes Corpse Bride, Dragonkind, Titans and Red Star. Both sections have grown by around 70 items. The metal collection, and miscellaneous film articles from Attakus help account for a couple dozen additions, and the Bowen section now sports an extra fifty statue and mini bust listings.

Please note though, that the many hundreds of new items added to the ToyTracker.Net catalog in recent weeks are not yet 'Live'. Some further system upgrades are planned before these can begin reporting auction history, but that will also hopefully begin shortly. Many of the older items may actually have a couple years of raw recorded trades in place, and will instantly have a very rich data set once the resort is accomplished. In the meantime, the collection manager is fully functional for all new items.

The SpaceMan

3/6/07 1:36 pm - Thanks for Your Support!
As much as I love my work on ToyTracker, the effort required to keep it up-to-date, and growing in features has long exceeded what most would reasonably call a hobby. If the site has been a useful resource to you, I hope you'll consider making your purchases when possible via our click-through links to Sideshow, Master Replicas, and even eBay itself. These affiliate links are our sole source of revenue to cover operational expenses and offset the uncounted thousands of hours dedicated to construction and development.

For this and every other manner of support which has helped ToyTracker.Net to thrive - your interest, suggestions, corrections, and help to get the word out - I am, as always, most grateful.

Very Happy Collecting!
the SpaceMan

3/6/07 1:27 pm - Site Development Updates
It's been some time since my last note, and I'd like to fill you in on business at the site. Let me remind you though, that the best way to stay up to date on site developments, contests, and new items is subscription to the "ToyTracks" newsletter. This mailer is sent infrequently (once every month or two on average), and contains almost 100% ToyTracker Specific information. I don't spam you with a lot of generic product news you can get more easily in other places. To sign up, you'll need a Collection Manager account. If you've got one already, just log in and check the box!

My work for the last several months has been in three main areas.Firstly, I've been continuing the long task of strengthening the foundational programs that run ToyTracker.Net. After two or three yearsonline, it becomes more clear in hindsight the way you might should have built certain things from the start. Sometimes you want to naildown spots that were previously held together with duct tape - they worked, but were not elegant or streamlined, and could be prone to eventual breakdown. Foundation work doesn't make the house much prettier, but it's nice to feel like it might keep standing for a while!

The second major task has been a serious visual upgrade to my sales history plots. The perl module I'd been using tended to draw very jagged and pixelated lines, which had always bothered me. I had at least a little history tinkering with graphics programming, and I decided to attempt extending the code myself. For those interested, this required implementing a cubic spline on the data sets, and anti-aliasing in the render phase. It was a lot of effort expended just to makeover a display feature, but this is after all an over-grown hobby, and I tend to gravitate toward the jobs which can educate and keep me entertained. This project defintely did both, and I'm personally thrilled with the results. I am looking into putting the code up on CPAN, or checking if the original module authors would like to bundle in my upgrades. It would definitely be exciting to make my first real contribution to the great universe of open source computer programming. You can see a very revealing "before-and-after" plot comparison from matching data sets (3 years of history on the Balrog) here.

The third area of focus has been updating my routines for "resorting" of data. It is a strange irony that I've actually been hindered somewhat in the addition of new items and correction of missorts by the user operated error fixing system which debuted during our big contest at last summer's end. Specifically, there was the danger of my automated resort undoing the hard work of my live user editors, which was obviously unacceptable. The fix is easy at least in principle, if not in practice. The resorter just has to be upgraded to recognize and respect all archived user-generated edits. The work there has progressed well, and should be finished very shortly, allowing me to "get current" again with items that have been announced in recent months. I should note that the auction data for this time period was still collected, it has just been inaccessible to newly defined items. All previously existing items have continued tracking without any interruption.

I hope 2007 treats you all well. Here's to an even better looking, smoother running ToyTracker, packed tight with an ever growing wealth of useful, reliable and dynamically accesible information.

8/12/06 3:47 pm - Contest Date is Set
The ToyTracker.Net End of Summer Contest and Prize Giveaway is now scheduled to begin in two days, on Monday the 14th. It will coincide with the debut of the long-anticipated User Error Correction System. The basic idea is that the more verified edits you submit, the greater your odds become of picking up a fantastic prize. Full details and rules are available here.

Good Luck and Thanks for your Support!
the SpaceMan

7/24/06 5:43 pm - She May Not Look Like Much ...
Millennium Falcon Studio Scale Prop ReplicaHmm, well actually, she looks like possibly the single most amazing StarWars prop ever produced for retail circulation. Here's the lowdown, adapted from MR's official news release: Falcon experts with years of research knowledge, and master model makers using hundreds of original model kit parts have teamed to produce a replica which is destined to become the centerpiece of any fan's collection. This extraordinary Millennium Falcon Studio Scale replica measures an unbelievable 32" x 24" x 6" (an exact copy of the filming miniature). It features an internal metal armature to ensure long term structural integrity, quality resin and injection molded ABS construction, illumination for the headlights, cockpit and engine, authentic battle worn and weathered paint scheme, museum quality display stand with mirrored base, numbered plaque and Certificate of Authenticity.

This item is limited to only 1500 pieces worldwide, plus an additional 500 pieces with Harrison Ford's signature (the first time he has EVER agreed to sign to a licensed Star Wars product). Both items are set to debut for Collectors Society members Tomorrow Morning, July 25, at 9:00 AM, Pacific. The general public will get their shot two days later at the same time. The price will be $2199 for the standard version, and $2799 for the Signature Edition. Collectors Society members will have access to a $100 discount coupon for any Studio Scale item, which may be applied here. If you are planning to include this incredible item in your collection, I ask you to consider making that purchase through our available banner links. It is the perfect way to express your support for ongoing development at ToyTracker - a consistent support for which you have my sincere thanks, as always.

Happy Collecting,
the SpaceMan

7/24/06 4:49 pm - Summer Contest and Prize Giveaway

The Dark Lord SauronAragorn on BregoGimli and Legolas on ArodThe Mumakil of HaradThe Morgul LordJedi Luke 12-inch ExclusiveLuke Skywalker Premium Format FigureDarth Vader Premium Format FigureHan Solo Premium Format Figure

The most exciting time of the collecting year is upon us, and Toy Tracker is getting in on the fun with our most outrageous contest ever. TWO lucky site users will soon have the chance to pick their own GRAND PRIZE from a choice of: The Dark Lord Sauron, Aragorn on Brego, Legolas & Gimli on Arod, The Mumakil of Harad or The Morgul Lord by SideShow*Weta, as well as the Luke Skywalker 12-Inch Jedi Exclusive or Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or Han Solo Premium Format StarWars figures by Sideshow Collectibles! Stay Tuned to this spot for all the information you'll need to supercharge your chances of winning, COMING SOON.

For now though, here's a quick way to get your name into the hat for starters: 1) Accessing your CM account and 2) Signing up for ToyTracks will get you two free entries into the prize giveaway!

A HUGE thanks to Sideshow for sponsoring this contest by donation of one Sauron Figure to the Site. I'm matching their gift with several comparably valued options from my own overstock, and including free worldwide shipping (Pending Availability of USPS Service to your country). The first winner will have their choice of any of the nine available prizes, and winner number two may choose from the remaining eight options.

Good Luck to All, and Happy Collecting!
The SpaceMan

7/24/06 4:41 pm - Valuation Algorithm Updated
I'm excited to announce that many systems level upgrades which have been long in the planning and development are finally starting to materialize in a finished form. To follow up on the previous news entry, the primary valuation algorithm now weights items which carry specialization flags somewhat less strongly (and very much less strongly for the cases AP, Autographed or Damaged). The amount by which these are discounted in the calcuation is based loosely on some statistical analysis I performed of the price fluctuation correlated with each condition. Also, items from those three categories are entirely excluded from the "last 5" and "15 days" sections. This should help prevent the false assignment of an extreme appreciation/depreciation trend arrow due to non-representative sales.

Even better, the Custom User Average tool now enables you to easily include or exclude categories as a whole. Do you want to know the average price for Cave Trolls sold in EUROS during the last 3 Months, excluding Artist Proofs? Give it a try - your answer is just a few clicks away! I'm really proud of this tool, and I hope you'll enjoy using it for custom-tailored value reports that fit your specific shopping or selling scenarios.

Also, be sure to notice that the front-page detail summary now appears when you hold your mouse over the value, rather than the magifying glass icon. A couple new categories are now visible, including All Time High Price and 60-Day Low Price. Within each detail-view page (click the magnifying glass), are now additionally reported Edition Size and "Range". This last one provides some idea of the "confidence interval" of the stated value. Note though, that value is designed to have some amount of historical memory, and if recent prices are in relatively rapid inflation or depreciation, the likely current trading price may then be several intervals above or below.

Finally, I hope you'll take a minute to subscribe to the site newsletter "ToyTracks". This infrequent report will be debuting shortly as your best way to stay informed of new features, prize giveaways, events and updates at ToyTracker. If you don't already have a collection manager account, you will first need to Register. Otherwise, just login to your Profile and elect to enable the mailing, or click here if you have forgotten your password.

the SpaceMan

6/16/06 11:59 am - Item Condition Reporting
Artist ProofAutographedLow Edition NumberNew or MintPostage DiscountDamaged or IncompleteI'm excited to debut a new level of resolution in the reporting and analysis of collectible trading value. Within the detail-view page of each item, individual auctions are now flagged with up to 6 icons which indicate special conditions which may have influenced the price of that trade. Possibilities are: Artist Proof, Autograph, Low Edition Number, Mint or New Condition, Postage Discount and Item Damaged or Incomplete.

Coming Soon, the valuation algorithm will begin to weight items with certain of these flags less strongly. Also, the Custom User Average tool will be enabled to easily include or exclude categories as a whole. Even better, once the long-anticipated User Reporting system is enabled, you will be able to correct or add flags which the computer has missed in real time!

Accuracy, Precision and Reliablity are the goals moving forward from here.
Enjoy! - the SpaceMan


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