The History of Playtrek: The Mailing List - Year One


 My, oh, my!  It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since
 this whole Playtrek thing started.  The very first mailing
 went out in May 11th, 1997 to eight founding members.  Since
 those very humble beginnings, we've grown to near 400 members
 and most importantly, a fun-loving, thriving community.  The
 following is the history of Playtrek over the past year, as
 seen through my eyes.  I hope that those of you that were there
 in the beginning and those that joined along the way, enjoy
 re-living those early days.  And the late-comers get a glimpse
 into how this whole thing started and why things are the way
 they are.

 In the Beginning
 So why did this whole Playtrek thing get started?  I started
 it for, in a way, rather selfish reasons.  I'm a Juno user, and
 for anyone who knows Juno, it's a free e-mail only service.
 That's the key.  It's *e-mail* only.  I had gotten used to using
 the newsgroup,, for my Playmates' Star
 Trek toy news, but once graduating college late in 1996, my free
 internet use went away.  I was still too poor and cheap to pay
 for a real internet provider, so I'd learned the tricks and
 trades to accessing the internet through e-mail by using Juno.
 Well, needless to say, while these methods worked, they were a
 real pain to use.  They was prone to poor newsgroup feeds,
 e-mail delays, server failures, and just a whole lot of time and
 effort for very little gain.  You get what you pay for, right?
 Add to that, had developed just too much
 noise for my tastes.  Too much spam, too many FS/FT posts, too
 much immaturity, too many misleading subject lines, too much
 whining, and, while I respect other people's tastes in toys and
 their right to talk about them on the newsgroup, too much Star
 Wars, Spawn, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, etc.  All I wanted was
 Star Trek.  After a while, I became *extremely* frustrated by
 the whole thing.  I fantasized about
 And if you know anything about newsgroup creation, making a new
 usenet group is darned near impossible, so it remained just
 that: a fantasy.  I seriously considered giving up the toy
 collecting hobby.  The 1701's had killed my drive and the lack
 of reliable knowledge (no good newsgroup access) was making it
 even worse.  I had come to a critical decision.  Do I quit or
 not?  On one hand, I loved my toys and I loved collecting them.
 On the other hand, it wasn't fun anymore because it had just
 become far too much work.  My decision came down to me being
 pro-active, rather than inactive.  If I couldn't get the
 newsgroup I wanted, well, I would just do the next best thing
 and make a mailing list that would be exactly what *I* wanted.
 If others felt like I did, they would be welcome to join.

 Playtrek Pre-history
 So where do I start at starting a new mailing list?  Well, going
 back a year or so, I had always been active in the newgroup,  Yes, that's right, Roberto is a
 Beakfreak.  The Beakman's World newsgroup had the disadvantages
 in that the spam was usually outnumbering the legitimate
 messages.  And nearly monthly, some moron would come along and
 try and stir up trouble by saying "Bill Nye is better than
 Beakman".  *Sigh!*  So I started a manual mailing list dedicated
 to Beakman's World as a way of avoiding the unwanted stuff in
 the newsgroup.  It was fun and we had participation by Mark
 Ritts (Lester the Rat) and Casey Keller (a show producer).  This
 is where I cut my "running a mailing list" teeth.  That's right.
 Those of you who enjoy Playtrek have Beakman's World to thank.
 And by running it manually, I was having people send their
 messages to a special Juno account I had set up.  Every night, I
 would manually send the messages received out to all the
 subscribers.  It was fairly easy as we only had about 30 members
 and we'd be lucky if we'd gotten more than two messages a day.
 Well, the Beakman's World mailing list had been so successful, I
 decided to do the same thing for a Playmates Toys, Star Trek
 toys mailing list.  Looking back, I had no idea the list would
 become as big as it has, which makes these humble beginnings
 somewhat ironic. First thing I did was post a letter of interest
 to  Essentially, I just asked if people
 would be interested in such a mailing list.  I got a smattering
 of response-- only seven people.  But it was enough to inspire
 me to go on.  I drafted and redrafted a document that was to be
 a guideline and set of rules for the mailing list (that would
 later become the "Welcome Message").  I passed it around to
 those who had shown the interest in the mailing list and asked
 for input.  Slowly, but surely, I honed it into something that
 we thought would work.  So the next thing I needed was an e-mail
 address to use as the central sight for people to send messages.
 Of course, Juno accounts are free and easy of obtain, so that's
 what I used.  As some of you may have experienced, while
 creating the new account, I came to the screen where it asked
 for the e-mail address I wanted to use.  Hmm...  I tried
 "", but it came back as taken.  Would I like
 "trektoy8"?  No.  How about a mixture of PLAYmates toys and
 star TREK?  Something like ""?  Okay, it
 wasn't taken, so it let me use it.  That's right.  The name
 "Playtrek" wasn't chosen by committee or after a long hard
 thought out process.  It was a split second decision as I sat
 in front of my monitor and it was demanding that I strain my
 brain to enter a name right now or the phone line would hang
 up.  "Playtrek" was chosen in desperation.  As some of you
 early members may remember, for the mailing list, I used the
 screen name "Trektoy Playground".  It was never my intention
 for the list to take on the name Playtrek, which I think makes
 the whole thing of the name kind of funny.  But I, and many
 others started using it to identify the list and after a while,
 it stuck.  Anyway, at this point, I had the rules set, the
 e-mail address all set up, and a core group of people to start
 the list.

 Playtrek Is Born
 The first Playtrek message was sent out on Sunday May 11th, 1997
 at 11:34PM, eastern standard time.  It went out to exactly eight
 people.  In fact, for a blast from the past, here is a copy of
 the very first Playtrek message:
 >Subject: Playtrek Mailing List Issue #1
 >Date: Sun, 11 May 1997 23:34:34 EST
 >Topics this issue:
 >       An offer for the mailing list
 >       From the next assortment
 >From: "Scot Finer" 
 >Subject: An offer for the mailing list
 >Date: Sat, 10 May 1997 13:22:40 PDT
 >Message-ID: <>
 >If anyone needs Janeway, or B'Elanna at cost let me know.  I've seen
 about ten
 >of each of these gathering dust in my local area(condision C8-C9).  I'd
 >this offer to the rest of our mailing list, but I don't have their email

 >addresses yet.  Thanks,
 >                                             Scott
 >Get Your *Web-Based* Free Email at
 >From: (Roberto Jinx)
 >Subject: From the next assortment
 >Date: Sun, 11 May 1997 23:03:54 EST
 >Message-ID: <>
 >Okay, I guess I better make my contribution to this list and
 >help start it off.
 >Does anybody have any sort of confirmation that the McCoy
 >figure will be the limited edition in the next assortment?  I've heard
 >rumbles that this is it, but so far, I think it's only speculation.  I
 >want some confirmation before I find five of them and buy 'em
 >up for trades.
 Kinda slow beginnings, but that's okay.  I really didn't want
 to get flooded with e-mail since I was doing all this manually.
 Otherwise, it would've taken *far* too much of my time.  As it
 was, since I only got the messages sent out once a day, the
 conversations were rather sporadic.  It's kind of hard to carry
 a dialog when you ask a question today, tomorrow someone
 responds, the next day you reply to their response, and so on
 and so on.  It was a little tedious.  But nevertheless, it
 worked.  Topics ranged from the Mugatu wave of 5" figures, the
 difficulties in actually finding them in the stores, various
 customizing techniques, variations, etc.  It was a quiet,
 friendly little community.  I made periodic announcements to
 rta-f, inviting people to come join, and the group grew by four
 or five people a week.  I'd had it sitting in the back of my
 mind for a long time that I'll bet Playmates Toys would love to
 listen in on our conversations.  I wanted to invite Mara Hart,
 the Playmates Toys customer service rep, to join the group, but
 I was concerned that her presence would adversely effect the
 group's behavior.  Like if they knew she was listening, people
 would act differently.  I asked the group about it (via the
 mailing list, of course), and they almost overwhelmingly
 supported the idea.  So I composed a long letter explaining
 who I was, what the list was about, and asking if she'd like
 to join.  She agreed, and with a flurry of fanfare, Mara Hart
 joined the group.  In those very early days, she was actually
 rather active with the group.  She shared release information,
 some of her thoughts and opinions, etc.  It was a fun, pleasant
 relationship.  After a while, I had settled into a routine of
 every night gathering the messages from that day, cutting and
 pasting them into my Notebook editor to make one big message,
 then propagating the big message out to everybody.  It got to be
 a lot of work, but it was a labor of love.  Things got really
 hectic when Scott Gordon put a brief description and
 subscription information on the Raving Toy Maniac site.  And
 somebody mentioned the list on an AOL board.  Suddenly, the
 subscription rate was up to almost twenty people a week being
 added to the list.  And of course, the increased number of
 people, means an increased number of messages.  Now, instead of
 sending out one big message a day, I was sending out two and
 sometimes three!  As much as I enjoyed it, it was getting to be
 a bit too much!  I was spending all my time on the computer at
 night.  I had asked if anyone had a mailing list server we could
 use before, but now I was begging.  My old friend, Axel, came to
 my rescue.

 Open the Mailing List Doors, HAL
 Mine and Axel's relationship goes way back.  Way back when the
 Q and Picard in DS9 uniforms had been out so long they were
 going on clearance, yet they still were clogging the shelves, I
 posted a message to rta-f that I would gladly help anybody out
 by picking them up at cost.  I wanted those figure out of my
 stores so they'd start stocking the new stuff.  Axel wrote to
 me and told me he would gladly buy them from me.  He lives in
 Germany, so of course, these figures weren't common for him.  I
 was only too happy to oblige.  He also asked me if I could get
 some of the other, newer figures at cost.  Sure!  By the end of
 the year, we'd developed a relationship in that he'd send me
 money, and I'd buy one of each figure for him.  I'm still doing
 that to this day (which makes some of the hard-to-finds twice
 as hard on me because I have to find them twice).  So back to
 Playtrek, Axel volunteered to set up a mailing list server on
 the HAL machine at Hannover University in Germany.  Great!  And
 somewhere, somehow, along the way, I and everyone else had begun
 calling the list Playtrek.  The name had stuck.  So that's what
 Axel used when he and a student friend set up the list.  I
 practiced adding and removing people from the list and I
 practiced posting to the list.  It was working great.  One
 problem, though.  They didn't have any digest functions
 implemented yet.  I would have to continue doing that manually
 until they got the digest up and running.  Nevertheless, I
 wanted to see the new list in action, so on Thursday, June 26th,
 1997, the new list went into operation!  As expected, with
 people now able to carry almost real-time conversations, the list
 traffic skyrocketed.  Making up the manual digests became a very
 serious problem.  I was having a *very* hard time keeping up and
 I was continually falling behind.  It got so bad, I seriously
 considered not doing the digests at all anymore, if Axel didn't
 get it implemented soon.  I just didn't want to have to drop
 those digest subscribers.  On top of all this, early August saw
 what was probably the most caustic flame war Playtrek has ever
 experienced.  I was gone at work all day and was unaware of what
 was going on until I got home.  People were wanting to
 unsubscribe all over the place, the list was in an uproar, and
 I was very angry.  I put an immediate stop to the flames.  I
 also had the unhappy task of gathering up the posts of this
 immature little flame war and sending it out to the digest
 subscribers.  *Groan!*  Thankfully, on August 19th, 54 days
 after the regular list started, the digest list went into
 effect.  Whew!  At this point, the mailing list you  know and
 love today came into existence.  The stress factor went waaaay
 down and the list started to get fun again.  To celebrate, I ran
 a giveaway for a mint Generations Crusher figure.  The
 respondents had to give the list a fun story about their
 acquisition of a Playmates Star Trek toy (and guess the magic
 number).  The winner was Pete Kavanagh (Jtkirk161) with a guess
 of 161 and a story about getting the POTA set in a crowded
 mall-- during Christmas season-- mere days after having lower
 back surgery.  Yikes!

 O'Brain!  O'Brain!  What is O'Brain!
 August and September were exciting, interesting times for
 Playtrek.  The list had really just come alive as an entity.
 The community and sense of family was really starting to form.
 The T&T wave was in release and nearly everybody was scrambling
 to find the elusive O'Brien.  The list shot down the ebay
 auctioneer who claimed to have the "ultra rare T&T Sisko with
 fuzzies".  Trolls and false information just couldn't get past
 this group anymore.  Amidst all the confusion about O'Brien
 (like Hangar 18 claiming it was never made in the first place),
 we pieced together various reports and rumors to determine that
 something very peculiar was going on with this figure and it was
 more scarce than the 10000 that Playmates originally claimed.
 When the list inquired to Mara for information, her responses
 were brief and vague.  In early September, a listmember posted a
 private e-mail from her that kicked off a storm of controversy
 (primarily concerning her ability to effectively communicate and
 perform her job).  I had to calm the list as another near flame
 war kicked up between listmembers that took sides for and
 against Mara.  I also called the listmember to task for posting
 the private e-mail.  Things calmed down, but almost a week or so
 later, I received word that Mara was really hurt by some of the
 comments and was threatening to leave the list.  Hmmm... I was
 in a real quandary about this.  I didn't want to see Mara leave
 the list as she was our only real voice into Playmates.  On one
 hand, I didn't want to coddle her.  She's a big girl and should
 be able to defend herself.  On the other hand, I wasn't about
 to allow vulgar insults of Mara.  In any case, I had no control
 over what Mara did, one way or the other, so if she decided she
 wanted off the list, I would take her off.  To try and forestall
 this from happening, I sent her a long message explaining where
 I stood on all these issues and that I hoped she would take
 things into consideration before making her decision.  I didn't
 get any response, which I took as a good sign.  This whole
 indecent is the seeds of where Mara's Corner started, but more
 on that later.  There were a few other notables that happened
 during this time period.  Listmember JustCraig ran a giveaway
 for a T&T O'Brien, where people had to write an essay regarding
 articulation versus sculpting (in response to a recent Playmates
 announcement that articulation would be sacrificed on future
 figure to increase character likeness).  I, Roberto, was the
 judge during the contest.  I took extra special care to not pay
 attention to who wrote each essay, therefore, I was able to be
 as impartial as possible when the time came to choose a winner.
 The winner was Jeff Riemersma. Dan Trembley (a founding member
 of the list), ran a member survey with a giveaway (based on
 matching out birthdays) for a Vina and 1940's Crusher.  The
 winners were Kevin  and Daniel Godina (in
 Canada).  Dan's statistics showed that, out of the
 approximately 40% of responding listmembers, the average age
 was 32.8 years.  Other stats: 86% male, 14% female, 53%
 married, 30% single, 87% in the US, 5% down under (Australia),
 3% in Canada, and the remaining in Mexico, Great Britain, and
 Japan.  Also of interest, Bill Eggler, in a comedic sequence
 of events, became the Official Playtrek Whipping Boy.  I almost
 kicked off another flamewar when I made reference to the newly
 christened "Bill the Whipping Boy" when new listmember, William
 "I'm not Bill" Varas, who was unaware of Bill's new status, took
 my comments personally.  Oops!  Apologies had to be quickly

 Make the Corner So, Number One
 During October through December, the list grew by leaps and
 bounds as several new features were added.  First and foremost,
 Playtrek gained a second-in-command, Aries Galindro.  I felt
 that I needed somebody to calm the waters when potential flame
 wars kicked off and I wasn't around to stop it.  Aries was
 someone whose judgment, through her e-mails, I had learned to
 trust.  She would be my eyes and ears, when I couldn't be
 around.  She would also manage things when I was unable to do
 so (such as a vacation).  We made arrangements to get together
 on the telephone so I could show her how to manage the list,
 but I decided to wait until I got the new list up and running.
 More on that later, as it's been a rather curious sequence of
 events.  In the meantime, due to the near loss of Mara Hart
 from the list, my mind got to working.  Since she rarely posted
 to the list anymore (I assume, because of the negativity to her
 answers), I dreamed up Mara's Corner.  It would be a forum for
 listmembers to ask her questions, filtered through me.  Part of
 the deal was that I would organize the questions so that they
 (hopefully) made sense and reduced redundancy.  Her end of the
 deal was that she would have to answer each question presented--
 even if she answered "I don't know."  Also, I added a specific
 "no flames" policy in regards to Mara's Corner, which proved to
 have serious repercussions a few months later.  In November, I
 announced Mara's Corner and on December 6th, the first Mara's
 Corner was posted to the list.  While a bit bumpy getting out of
 the starting gate, it proved to be a success.  Playtrek scoops
 included Data as Sherlock Holmes in 9" size and the numbers made
 for the Spencer Gifts and Kaybee exclusives.  Another hot topic
 of discussion during this time period was the Spencer Gifts mail
 order exclusives.  Quality control at Playmates was obviously
 slipping when a Playtrekker noted that the 4.5" figures listed
 the figures as "Speneer" Gifts exclusives.  Apparently, Spencer
 Gifts was experiencing some growing pains as a mail order
 company as their packing of these overpriced collectibles left
 much to be desired and many a Playtrekker was receiving damaged
 goods (myself included).  Often times, the hand (the people
 manning the phones) didn't know what the foot (the people in the
 warehouse) was doing and frustration ensued as nobody seemed to
 be able to get clear answers on what was happening with their
 orders.  Although a bit slow to rectify the problems, eventually
 Spencers got their act together and by years end, most of the
 Playtrekker appetites were satisfied.

 The New Year Bringeth New Fruit
 Around the first of the year, Playtrek got it's first dedicated
 website.  Chris Doyle started the Playtrek T/S/W (Trade/Sell/
 Want) Site which was an immediate smashing success.  Ever since,
 the site has been a hotbed of activity as Playtrekkers have gone
 there to check out the latest.  Thanks Chris!  To this list, he
 also added a special "want" section for the Target exclusive 9"
 Harry Kim and The Doctor.  As a result of this section on Chris'
 site and the kindness of fellow Playtrekkers, almost every
 Playtrekker who wanted this set, regardless of their geographical
 location, was able to obtain the set.  What an accomplishment!
 It's clear that Playtrek, the mailing list, has become a force
 with which to contend.  Despite all the goodwill, things got a
 bit ugly in early February when a comment showed up on the newsgroup, about how Mara's Corner was a
 (paraphrasing) "useless forum" because Playmates could spout
 anything they wanted and the no flames policy prevented anyone
 from giving any negative feedback.  Hmm...  Well, that I can
 accept, but also on the newsgroup was a comment that Playtrek,
 the mailing list, was a useless tool of Playmates.  What!?
 Nothing could be further from the truth!  And the person making
 these comments was not, nor had ever been, a member of the
 mailing list, so I was a bit flabbergasted that he could make
 such claims.  I e-mailed the person, disputing  what he had
 written, but curiously, he refused to budge from his position.
 Eventually, the mailing list itself got drawn into the argument.
 Things got really ugly there and arguments were flying back and
 forth about the value of Mara's Corner.  The main "con" that
 people stated about it was the no flames policy.  I had had no
 idea that many people had such negative feelings about it (and
 wished they'd spoken up *much* sooner as I thought everything
 was fine and dandy until then).  Mara sent me a private email
 saying that if people had such horrible feelings about Mara's
 Corner, then maybe we should just cancel it altogether.  Well,
 to make a long story short, I called Mara on the phone and we
 shared a long conversation about Playtrek, Playmates, Mara's
 Corner, Star Trek, California, her kids, irate consumers, etc.
 When the dust settled, we agreed to continue Mara's Corner with
 some changes.  The no flames policy would be removed and Mara
 promised to give more meaningful answers.  The wounds were
 bandaged and (almost) everyone was satisfied.  The real irony
 is, the debut of the new and improved Mara's Corner never
 occurred due to Mara going on an unexpectedly early maternity
 leave.  To this day, Mara's Corner is in limbo and I'm unsure
 what will happen to it in the future.  It's kind of sad that I
 put so much blood, sweat, and tears into keeping it alive, and
 it should vanish to dust so quick and easily.  In March, as a
 way to help soothe all the hurt feelings, Melissa Perry ran a
 giveaway of a reverse negative Borg and a loose, but complete
 Esoqq.  This one was another essay contest where the winner had
 to tell why they collect Star Trek toys.  And sadly, Melissa
 made national news when her house was one of those partially
 destroyed by tornadoes that raked across Atlanta in April.
 Luckily, the toys weren't damaged-- just the computer.

 Oh Find Me a Home, Where the Mailing Lists Roam
 There's a long sordid story about trying to find a new home for
 the mailing list.  The HAL machine, while free, also has the
 disadvantages of being in Germany, having little support when
 things go wrong, having little support for the bells and
 whistles that I want to add, and most important, any day it
 could vanish.  Conceivably, the school could come in one day and
 say "Hey!  Who are these toy people and why are they using our
 machine?"  We didn't get special permission to use it.  There's
 no contract for services.  It was just set up when Axel was kind
 enough to do it and provide a machine that his school wasn't
 using.  Well, with the fear that the mailing list would vanish
 without notice, I set out to find a new provider.  My first goal
 was to find out what was available and where to look.  I
 contacted a friend who run another mailing list with which I'm
 involved (for Juno users) and he gave me a plethora of
 information.  What I finally decided was that a local provider
 would be best.  So I pulled out the phone book and started
 calling around.  Let me tell you, not many ISPs provide mailing
 list services for private use.  I found plenty of places that
 would provide for-fee, commercial use listservs, however being
 for commercial use, it cost an average of about $60 per month.
 Yikes!  More than I can afford.  There were also several very
 scary but humorous encounters where I would ask for information
 on mailing list services and the person on the other end of the
 phone would *yell* that they don't support spamming.  Well, in
 late February, I finally found a local provider, EZOnline, that
 would provide me with a listserv for $10 a month.  That sounded
 good.  They were willing to do it that cheap because they wanted
 to get into the mailing list business and Playtrek would be a
 guinea pig while they learned how to handle it.  They set up the
 basic list and I began testing it.  There were all sorts of
 things wrong with it, primarily it was not a protected list and
 I wanted to be able to change the list owner.  I e-mailed my
 requirements to the company and waited for a response.  And
 waited...  And waited...  Finally, I call and ask what's up.
 The guy on the other end says he never got the email.  Okay, so
 I resend.  Essentially, we go in circles: me trying to get him
 to make a few minor changes to the list, and he stonewalling and
 not getting it done.  Frustrated, I finally decide to look
 elsewhere for a list provider.  Late in March, I e-mailed a
 friend who runs the seaQuest mailing list with which I'm
 involved, and she says she can give me a list-- for free!  See,
 she does mailing lists and computer networking for fun!  Great!
 Within two days, she's got the list set up *exactly* like I want
 it.  Perfect!  Many of you may remember when I did the testing
 on that list.  Well, I was ready to debut the new list when she
 tells me that she's going to do a software upgrade on May 1st
 and the list will be down for a day or two.  I decided to wait
 to debut the new list until she's done.  Ironically, the list on
 the HAL machine goes down that same weekend for a day or two.
 Well, why didn't I ever debut the new list, you ask?  Because
 as I type this, she *still* hasn't finished the software upgrade.
 *Sigh!*  You get what you pay for, I guess.  So giving up on her
 lists, I go looking for yet another mailing list provider.  I
 contact the company, World, that hosts the Juno users mailing
 list with which I'm involved.  They can provide me a mailing
 list (actually two: one regular, one digest) for $25 a month.
 One bad thing (and the reason I didn't go with them in the first
 place), is that they run majordomo software, rather than
 listserv.  I don't want to have to learn a whole new mailing
 list, but at this point I'm desperate.  Sign me up!  They are
 very friendly, quick, and knowledgeable.  They have 24 hour
 support.  And they have the new lists set up in a matter of
 three days.  I have to telnet to World to administer the list,
 so I begin testing when... crash!  Something goes seriously
 wrong with my computer.  My networking software won't work
 correctly and I can't telnet to World.  Argh!  Well, after a
 bit of teethpulling, I get things fixed and I'm once again in
 the process of testing and configuring the new lists.  *Sigh!*
 I think we finally got it made this time, folks.  More info as
 it becomes available, but expect in within a few weeks, or
 maybe even days if all goes well.

 Happy Anniversary!
 By total coincidence, I scheduled the Playtrek party at my home
 just mere days before the one year anniversary of the start of
 the mailing list.  For the first time, I got to meet, face to
 face, many of the people that I had laughed and cried with over
 the past year.  I won't go into all the details about the party
 because I've already covered that elsewhere and this document
 has gotten long winded enough as it is.  I will say that for me,
 the party meant that the list had come full circle.  I got to
 meet Dan Trembley, who has been there with me from the very
 beginning.  It felt somehow complete.  What had started out as
 a selfish way for me to try and get the latest info on the
 Playmates Trek toys, had grown into a great leviathan.
 Coincidentally marking the one year anniversary, John Schmidt
 started the Playtrek Family Album web page as a way for
 Playtrekkers to "see" each other and get to know a little more
 about us.  And as of the exact one year anniversary on May 11th,
 Playtrek had exactly 386 members.  It's spawned an ill-fated
 Mara's Corner.  It's seen the departure of both Garber and
 Overley.  It's had it's major flame wars.  It's spawned two web
 pages (John's family album and Chris Doyle's B/S/T page).  It's
 watched the wildly unpopular limited editions continue.  It's
 gotten the Target exclusives to every Playtrekker that wanted
 them for cost.  It's watched the Strike Force line being born
 and dying.  It's had a large share of giveaways.  But most
 important of all, it's created friendships among like-minded
 people.  I now count many a Playtrekker as a friend.  Thanks to
 each and every one of you for making this a fun experience which
 I look forward to  experiencing on a daily basis.

 May year two be as much fun as the first.

 Live long and prosper.  And be kind to one another.

 Robert Porter
 (AKA Caballero Roberto)