Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Lament for a Special Place

10 years ago, I was an unassuming dude making it through my early years of secondary school. More often than not, after school, I would hang out with my buddies in Serene Centre Mcdonalds. Back then, the Macs had two levels and my group preferred hanging out in the top level as it was much more emptier and we had more opportunities acting like Idiots without having many ppl eyeing us.

It was at this point, I discovered upon venturing out of Macs a shop that looked pretty cool. It had comics that reminded me of my age old interest in Marvel and other superheros alike. While gone were the days I had a huge collection of Xmen and Spidey figures and comics, the place had a strange mystique about it.

On top of comics, it had a nice welcoming community of wargamers and a decent range of boardgames and war games alike. Upon discovering the place, I frequent it more often and it was there and then that i started to pick up games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Ahh the good old memories of Jorim, our Dungeon master, repetitively debating with us whats possible and not possible in the game and the countless of hours my friends Tristan, Me and Wei Ting would spend "roleplaying" like the geeks we were.. all to get a measly 50 xp in one session.

It was then, I discovered Warhammer from the usage of Warhammer figures for our DnD gatherings. It didn't take long for me to frequent the place on a regular basis and develop a friendship with the guys like Sudesh, Steven and Squirrel over the years and buying tons of Warhammer stuff. A great place to commune and chat about everything under the sun.

Moments that really get to me when I am in Comicsmart would be the random chats I have with Sudesh about almost anything under the sun e.g. (Politics, Girls and Life). I also like how initially Sudesh and Steven pretend not to know me..
While irritating and infuriating, it is still nostalgic. Used to coin Steven as the grumpy man cause he is always angry at me touching the stuff in the shop, especially new shipment stuff. Still do remember how he scolded me for taking a browse at some comic. Its also funny to have Steven pointing out weird ppl who frequent Comicsmart and have a few laughs about it. The occasional snide comments exchange on soccer rivalry between Liverpool and Man U was also a great part of the Comicsmart history I had with them

Ahh but all in all, it was a little cosy corner for me and my friends. If it wasn't for comicsmart, I would have never known Warhammer and also would not have gone further into wargaming and discover other platforms and modern warfare wargaming.

But most of all, it was a cool place. A cool chill place where my friends would hang out and we would just admire the artifacts and things that while technically geeky, it provided an atmosphere unlike any other comic places I have been.

At last, it is all but gone as we can see on how corporate and the business cycle of things replace dear comicsmart. Saddest part of it is that it is 7-11 of all things.

It is sad to see a part of what was a significant in my life gone.. The memories, the shop and the people that made the shop for what it is.. becoming only just history.

But i guess we all have to accept the changing of times and how society has no more space for niche communal shops such as this anymore. It is a tragedy but as we begin to become more business orientated and profit motivated, the disintegration of customer relations and communal way of doing business is being lost.

In a more personal view, its just sad for me. Nothing much else is iconic in Serene Centre. Nothing really makes serene centre what it is as much as comicsmart. And it is something that you would not see anymore. I can only somberly try other alternative hangout places but even when that happens, it can't replace the loads of memories I had there.

The only regret I have is I wished I could have hangout more often there before I had to study overseas. In any case, it is welcoming to know that Comicsmart has provided a huge impact and influence on the many lives who had made their way to that shop to chat and get their range of comics or wargaming stuff.

While many would desperately hope for an re-emergence, I can only say that i was happy to be part of that experience that was Comicsmart and lament on its departure. You will always be remembered

On a side note though, I'm not sure if it is just me, but pretty much everything I take interest in that are my main hobbies are either in a niche market or its dead. The passing of Comicsmart just makes me wonder am I being left behind?

Friday, September 24, 2010

MS-09R Rick Dom

Hey Everyone

Hope you all have been doing well and I do apologize if you guys felt you were kept waiting. I've been finding time in between schedules to take pictures and post 'em right away, and hope you guys have been enjoying them! We really appreciate you guys dropping by to check us out :)

As you know, I have a particular liking for "bad guys", be it Soviets, WWII Germans, Star Wars Galactic Empire and even...the Principality of Zeon from the famed Gundam series. Personally, I find the "good guy" gundams to be pretty uninteresting in design, and all of them more or less look the same to me. Zeon's mono-eyed robots look way cooler, and as the losing side in terms of technological superiority, I'd prefer to side with them who have life much tougher.

So allow me to present to you Bandai's 1/200 scale MS-09R Rick Dom mobile suit! Looking like a chubby samurai, the Rick Dom was developed to replace the Zaku II units (those well-known green colored one-eyed robots), which have been found wanting in the war the Principality had with Earth. They are typically armed with heat swords and beam bazookas, and were used extensively until the end of the war.

An example of a Zaku II mobile suit.

The eye of the Rick Dom is the eye of death...(yeah right)

This model of the HCM (High Complete Model) Progressive series, where the robots are already painted and ready to play with, and it came pretty cheap during a sale (got it at about USD 8). The gun had a light grey color and I thought it would be a good idea to paint it black, but I screwed up on the primer and made the gun appear very "rough" in appearance, like as if it was exposed to "battle damage" (aka good excuse for bad painting lol). The model itself is really well done, such as move-able monocle eye, fully painted jet thrusters (not in the pics, but I will show them soon!), and even metal pistons for feet joints.

Moving into position...

Lighting-wise, it was my aim was to achieve a very dramatic effect where parts of the model are either in bright light or near darkness...kinda producing some edgy feel of combat. As with all models, dust collects in small crevices and it's a pain to try to get most of the dust out...the 1st two pictures were slightly edited to bring out the blacks.

And I'll end this post with a full body view of the Rick Dom model itself. The "ruins" actually came from a fan-made painting (an artist named "Natiq") from the Fallout RPG I found somewhere from the web. If you're a die hard Gundam fan, you'll know that the Rick Doms were made for space-wars instead of land-wars, but heck I wanted a cool picture in the end heh :P

And until next time, keep it chill and keep tight for more posts :)


Full body view of a MS-09R Rick Dom

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dragon Power! Part 2

Back again with the next set of dragon pics

So here we see the overall picture of the figure.

Looking pretty awesome as the dragon lifts off from the perched rock

Dragon Elf Lord flying through the stormy clouds....

While the painting is good, I must say that the sculpt also enables more avenues for creativity and painting in a more dynamic way. During the earlier editions of Warhammer, the figures were more flat and squarish. It didn't have definition to make dry brushing and blending look as good as it is now.

Dragon Roar!!!!

And lastly, Dragon Faces off with my Bretonnian Hippogriff.

Clearly, in between this two monsters' stats, My Hippogriff is amply outmatched by the dragon.
Might I add that in painting too. My Hippogriff loses.

Dragon Power... A privilege given only to the Elves. DAMN THEM!

Speaking of Dragon Power.

How many of you can recognise DOUBLE DRAGON!!

This cartoon brings back old memories of when i was a kid during the 90s.
Its cheesy but its awesome. DOUBLE DRAGON POWER!!!

I just like the irony in the theme song though. In the ending part, their master says some excerpt of the Code of the dragon which are, never intentionally harm another and do not battle if you can avoid it, but all the while, these two Dragon Masters are using their powers and battling people. :S

And Since they are humans, like Warhammer, they don't have dragons to ride on... So much for dragon power.. HAHA

Sdkfz 173: Jagdpanther

Hey Everyone!

I must apologize for being away for quite awhile, as I have just started my final year in college and the beginning was hectic with club responsibilities and classes. But to me, busyness is seldom a good excuse, and boy trying to start on new pics w/o JQ is indeed difficult...working alone for now does take some time.

So...any WWII fans out there? As a kid, I was a big fan of WWII (one of those natural and hard to explain passions), read a lot about it (along with my elder brother), and I was particularly interested in the Germans. Winners are too easy to like, and somehow I am drawn to a side that fought against unenviable odds and served a dictatorship that perhaps a number of soldiers may have questioned...they were more interesting and harder to study about. I was kind of into the "bad guys"/"losing sides" of my childhood, like the Soviets, the Empire of Star Wars, Clan Wolf of Battletech, and even the footsoldiers of TMNT.

Without further ado, allow me to present to you pictures of the famed Jagdpanther tank destroyer, it served from 1944 to 1945, with only about 300+ being produced during the duration of the war. Mounted with 88mm PaK 43 cannon of the fearsome King Tiger, and running on a Panther chassis, it proved to be an effective tank destroyer. Its first deployment in Normandy demonstrated its effectiveness, as 3 Jagdpanthers ambushed and KO-ed 10-11 British Churchill tanks, before the British immobilized 2, leaving the last to retreat.

Top, side and front views of the Jagdpanther.

Jagdpanthers were deployed in independent "heavy anti-tank" battalions (schwere Panzerjager Abteilungens), 3 companies of 14 vehicles each, with 3 in the battalion HQ (total 42 tanks). Most were deployed in the Eastern Front, while the Ardennes saw the largest concentration of Jagdpanthers in a single front, with 51 taking part in the German offensive.

Top view of the Jagdpanther model (w/o touch-ups).

The Jagdpanther's combination of a powerful cannon, low profile and good power-to-weight-ratio (much weight's reduced in having no turrets) made it a formidable foe to face in the battlefield. However, due to Allied bombing raids on Germany's tank factories, production was severely hampered and the Jagdpanther's lethal introduction into the battlefield was perhaps too late for it to fully exhibit its capabilities.

Well, the model you see here was one of those Japanese "random toys" collections that come in a box, that were aimed at kids for some reason (it came with a piece of candy lol). It was a series of 1/72 scale WWII tanks, the T-34/76, the Tiger and the Jagdpanther, and for a toy, the details were great and it was even motorized to boot (with rubber tracks)! Even though it was made in China, it is probable that quality standards put down by the Japanese are quite high, and I don't think it was very expensive too.

And I'll end this entry with my take of a WWII-esque pic of my Jagdpanther model, thanks to the powerful capabilities of Adobe Lightroom 2 :)

(At the time of writing, I can't find the box to provide more details about the model series)

PS: For more detailed info on the tank, go to Achtung Panzer, which happens to be an awesome site on the vehicles used by the Wermacht. Man, I am absolutely in love with German WWII tanks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dragon Power!

Hi there once again.

First of all let me apologize for the fact that we have been streaming only one post a week for quite a while.

Decided to step up the game, but yeah, I have been having lots of work and things that i needed to cater too. As for Josh, he has been out for quite a while but i can assure you he will be back and posting more than ever.

In any case, since Games Workshop have started its sale of Island of the Blood set which includes High Elves against Skavens, I figured why not feature a new addition of High Elf miniature to our displayed collection. (Sorry no skavens so far :S)

This was a bday present for our friend WT that Josh and I got him. Its none other than the most uber unit the HE have in their army. The High Elf Lord on Dragon, one of the most fearsome powerful hell raising unit there is in the HE ranks.

Josh stumble upon it on ebay and the paint job was pretty fine. I must admit that it is a great job done by the painter and it came at a great deal.

And here we have the Dragon Lord. On his Throne saddle, wielding his lance and preparing to strike down all foes of Ulthuan. One particularly nice paint job in this pic is the shield. I like the blending and drybrushing done to make the engraving of the phoenix come alive. Great work on the colour code.

A little Close up on the rider. I must commend on the face painting. Pretty much more well done compared to the skills of me, Josh and WT combined.

Took a picture of the wing. Note: Blending was great. And dry brushing was of a great standard too.

Dragon has a helm and the blending job is great too. Liking how he paints the gem.

The difficult part about blending is understanding the colour scale across the plot that ur painting and patience. It requires a whole load of time, skill and patience to do it well. While, I'm still only on the level of dry brushing, painting and inking. Blending is something I have yet to master.

Looking at some of my recent works, it is just hard to really picture how to do it well.
And that in summary, is what is so difficult about painting Warhammer stuff and Military Model Kits. The moment you master blending, it means that you really have an eye for artistic painting.

Because for me personally, it is the blending, perspective of shadow and the basic elements of painting that really defines a work form being a standard miniature from a piece of artwork.

Perhaps, I haven't reach that level yet and I am a real slow learner. 10 years into it and I haven;t got the prowess to really spend enough time to do it in a master-class way.

Hopefully, One day. I will. :)

Will continue with the High Elf Dragon in the next entry.

Till then, CHEERS!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lets Booby Trap the Place

Back to Todd McFarlane figures again.

This time round its one of Josh figure. Not quite sure whether is he spec ops or navy seals but as we can see here, he is obviously setting up a claymore mine.

In my opinion, perhaps he is setting up a defensive perimeter around the area he is in.

One thing that really remains iconic in my mind about using claymore is none other than during Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in which during the "Ghillie Up" mission where you had to help Captain MacMillan to the LZ (Landing Zone) as you played the role of Lieutenant Price and defend urselves against an army of Russian Soldiers before your pickup arrive.

Must say, the claymore mines were of great help. Though in the end, like an angry mob, they provided a surface level defense against the enemy while you had to take out the rest that came into your defensive position. It was probably one of the most hardest missions.

NVGs. There always seem ubiquitous to special operation units.

Looking at this pic, it brings me back and raises some issues of when and what version of Modern Warfare 2 I should buy. I am still contemplating whether to buy the PS3 Collector's edition Version of Modern Warfare 2 (especially for the NVG :p) and screw having to play on the laptop which is pretty much how I play all FPS games.

Hmm, but then again, using the mouse as the control for shooting and aiming will always beat the controller. No offense to die hard console players, but even with the slight auto aim function, PC Gamers still dominate the FPS world unless the PS 3 gets a dedicated Mouse and Keyboard.

Zoom Up shot on the claymore. (Seeing him using a red cord, I am going to assume that he will be using the trip-wire mechanism for detonating the claymore.)

And speaking of detonations, what would in your opinion is the most coolest explosive device used by anyone, be it from real Special Forces to people in the movies?

Write in the comment section. And See yer Next Week!