Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Challenger 2 Tank

Hello again!!

So Battlefield 3 is out and I am sure that all you battlefield fans will be busy busting the front lines with ammo in hand and scopes set to target your enemies.

While I haven't really had the time to get real gritty and fully involve in the whole warfare of Battlefield 3, I was able to get some feedback from my mates on how is the game like.

With the great leaps in graphics and dynamics of the game, a few of my friends had trouble telling friend from foe. The action is all over the place that when you first get into it, you almost get disorientated from everything but I guess that's how War is.. or is it?

Aside from that, another critical feedback on the game is that on PC, you have to navigate through a web browser menu, which requires you to get a suitable web browser before you can even initiate the game which can be really annoying.

Other than that, I took the chance to review the vehicle lineup of Battlefield 3 and was a little bit disappointed on the selection. While there are a few new featured vehicles like the Ka-60 Helicopter, some of the original lineups like the UH-60 Blackhawk is removed. What disappoints me a little more is that, there are only two factions compared to the original Battlefield 2 having China and MEC together with the USMC. That means almost all the Chinese type vehicles are not inside Battlefield 3 while Russian ones still remain.

While I am sure BF3 would be a real great multiplayer game that will provide the same unique "Modern Combat" fun, I am sad about the vehicle lineup. It is said that the conflict in the single player mission is set in 2014, so it would have also been cool if they added 5th Generation Jets like the F-22, F-35 and PAK-FA. Furthermore, the M-ATV slated to be the replacement for the Humvee and more armored light vehicle is also not featured which doesn't exactly provide an accurate view of what 2014 could possibly be. Then again, the counter argument would be that it is the USMC and they get the less advanced war machines compared to their Army Brothers.

Speaking of Battlefield 3, I will be excited to see what EA has in store for gamers in terms of Battlefield 3 Expansions. Battlefield 2 had Euro Force, Special Forces and Armored Fury expansion.

Among which, the Euro Force expansion featured the Challenger 2 tank which is what I shall be showing today.

The FV4034 Challenger 2 is the main battle tank of the United Kingdom.

Of which, Oman is another operator. One thing that interests me is that the Challenger 2 is a major redesign of the Challenger 1. So much so that fewer than 5% of parts are interchangeable between both vehicles. Of course, this could work to some disadvantage in terms of the ability to salvage from one Challenger to repair another.

Here we see a Challenger 2 rolling by with a castle silouette in the distance. Old Fortification, meets the New Mobile Armor of the British Isle. This mean fighting machine cost about $6.8 million which is more costlier than the Leopard 2A6 and M1A2.

I have acquired this 1/72 model from Dragon Armour. Dragon Armour makes one of the most nicest detailed 1/72 diecast models. In this particular instance, the Challenger 2 tank is from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guard. The KFOR on the Tank's side stands for Kosovo Forces for the Kosovo Conflict in 2000.

Aside from Modern Naval Warships, the next best thing that I have always take interest in is Main Battle Tanks and the Challenger 2 is a great sleek design tank that has definitely captured my attention.

Designed and built by Vickers Defense System now know as BAE Systems Land and Armanents, it is branded to be the most reliable tank with only two casualties ever. (One Damaged and One lost due to friendly fire)

Armed with a L30A1 Smoothbore 120mm gun (Upgraded to the L55 Barrel), the tank holds 52 rounds and 4 crew. It travels just under 60km/h on roads and 40km/h offroads, making it a little slower than the ubiquitous M1A2.

I love the Challenger 2 tank. And like many of its modern day counterpart, it packs a great punch and a reputable record in combat.

Can your Tank do this? (I know its a M1A2, but hell, this is one unconventional way of diffusing a carbomb)

However, what would really interest me would be a fist fight of this modern generation tanks to go head on with each other in a real battle. Unfortunately, almost all of them are on the same team, which means the possibility of a conflict which will pit a Challenger 2 against a Leopard 2A6 or M1A2 Abram is highly unlikely.

In fact, based on current modern day tactics, if one side holds air superiority, the tank battle would probably be already decided. But at last, I can only speculate till a conflict between these armoured tanks face each other.

Till next time,

Keep Reading (:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Avengers (2012)

Hey Everyone!

Thanks again for coming down to this little corner on the internet, and it's been great having JQ back with a couple of posts that touch on personal topics such as friendship and nostalgia.

Almost everyone knows that the new Avengers movie is coming out in Summer of 2012, and a new trailer for the movie came out recently. It's pretty slick from the looks of it...

I'm not sure if I am alone in this, but I feel mentally fatigued when I was watching it. It seems that Marvel's employing a well-tested formula for a good comic book movie: awesome visual effects, use of humor, bad-ass/tough guy quotes, calculating and cold villain, populated cities under attack (America seems to get the brunt of it)...after having watched Thor and Captain America, I kinda felt that the era for fresh comic book movies has reached an impasse. (Marvel still makes good movies in my opinion, but I am just seeing the same things again and again...)

Batman Begins: an awesome comic-book movie that was fresh upon release.

For me, the 2000s saw comic book movies coming in as a fresh new genre in the film industry. Spiderman did a great job in portraying a geek overcoming very human challenges, Batman Begins (and The Dark Knight imo) did an adroit take of a gritty Gotham city, Iron Man gave us a fresh take on the asshole-billionaire-superhero Tony Stark, Sin City and 300 pushed gore limits with their artful takes of their respective comic books...but we also cannot ignore the flops (Ghost Rider for one) that came along the way and the growing trend that (at least for Marvel from my perspective) comic book movies are becoming like comic books themselves...multiple runs that use the same characters that we all know and cherish.

Going into new areas is risky business model for movie (and video-game) industries, where the odds are stacked against you making a movie that will be an unique and unparalleled hit. It's my hunch that we are seeing a shift in the entertainment industries (which probably has happened for a long time), where creativity/innovation is moving toward indie fringes while mainstream markets churn out entertainment on a strictly economic basis. This may sound patently obvious to some of us I guess.

Algorithms, determining what movies you'll rave about with your friends. Don't laugh at your friends doing computer science or math!

And what do you know...according to a BBC report, the movie industry (and others like Google) actively uses algorithms to decipher consumer trends to decide what movies to make or scrap. As a little aside, Netflix is known to have held a contest (Netflix Prize, a $1 million payout) for teams to compete algorithms against their propriety algorithm to accurately predict consumer ratings for films based on previous ratings.

And here's where a good chunk of your movie ticket goes to: motion picture production and investment companies. There's a good chance that you've heard of Relativity Media LLC, as their logo is emblazoned on about 50% of the mainstream movies of today (Cowboys & Aliens, Battle: LA etc.)...and their big-ass logo shows up at the start of a movie for a good reason.

Ka-Ching!!! Relativity Media LLC, armed with $$$ and ready to make big bucks in the movie industry.

Data crunchers in Relativity Media employ algorithms originally developed to test the integrity of financial instruments, and they can actually try to "predict" best ways to make the movies...from choosing release dates to leading actors/actresses. It is said that they even employ all useable cells in Excel in their analyses and churn out tons of data, talk about intense math! Moreover, they have something that movie studios crave for: money, heaps of money. Relativity co-funds movies it believes that will turn profit based on its predictions and as a looks like a really solid business plan, your clients need to have both your services and $$$.

So the next time you see Relativity's logo up on the screen, smile to yourself and know that they're making a killing even when many movie-goers don't know what the heck they do/how they do it at all. And if you have the time, do read this Esquire article (2009) that interviews Ryan Kavanaugh, the founder of Relativity Media, LLC.

I guess that's what I have for now. After thinking about the Avengers movie...I am kinda interested to see how they will flesh out Loki who went to through a lot after falling through a worm-hole and ready to rule over the world...

(PS: I retyped this entire post after accidentally pressing the close button, talk about unlucky and darned blogger auto-saving not working at all!!! -___-)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gundam RX-93 (Part 1)

So I have been long overdue on my posts and Josh has been doing a super duper awesome fantastic job by posting many super cool and interesting blog posts.

A year back or so, I introduced Maschinen Krieger and mentioned how Gundam took the world by storm.

The Gundam Series is a metaseries of anime created by Sunrise studios that features giant robots called "Mobile Suits". Usually the Protaganist would have the ultimate of all the Mobile Suits and it will be called "Gundam"

This metaseries started on April 7, 1979 as a serial TV show called Mobile Suit Gundam. That first TV series has since spawned a franchise that has come to include works released in numerous media. Many Titles have appeared in the form of television anime, mangas, video games and OVAs

While there are many timelines and even an alternate universe in the massive story of Gundam, it all started out with the character Amuro Ray and his RX-78-2 Gundam in the 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV Series. This series is what swept the nation and the RX-78-2 has become the icon of the Gundam world. Amuro Ray's nemesis, Char Aznable is also a profound character that mans his Zaku Zeon Mobile Suit that has also become an icon villain alongside the Gundam RX-78-2.

Josh has the 30th anniversary Real Grade Zaku while I have the RX-78-2 Gundam. Stay tune as we shall feature them once we get started on the construction and building it.

What you see here is the Gundam RX-93 Nu. It was featured in the OVA Char's Counterattack
Amuro Ray finally returns as a main role character after the first Gundam TV Series. This is after a hiatus and side roles in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam Double Zeta.

In this OVA, it marks the finale of Amuro Ray and Char Aznable intense rivalry against each other. This will also be the last appearance by these two infamous characters. As such, the Gundam RX-93 Nu is the last Gundam that Amuro Ray would pilot.

The intention of me getting this 1/144 Bandai HG RX-93 VGundam Model was not totally because of its significance in the story of Amuro Ray but more for nostalgia sake.

Back in the days of junior school, when I haven't started doing military model kits, I was already aware of what model kits were. And this is all attributed to Gundam.

My first model kit was a Gundam Model Kit. In fact, I knew of Gundam through model kits years before I even watched the Anime. During one Christmas, My dad bought for me one huge ass Gundam, scale: 1/100. This particular Gundam was a High Grade one. The Box art cover was ridiculously cool and it was none other than the Gundam RX-93.

It had internal metal parts and the amount of parts required to assemble it was ridiculously a lot.
While I felt that I never did the model kit Justice, I felt it was only fitting that when I picked up a Gundam Kit again to built, I picked this model in a smaller version.

While the new 1/144 Metallic Coating RX-93 VGundam isn't as detailed as the one I had before, I did it justice by painting a few more parts to look like how it was in the anime and also added more definition.

Part 2 of it will come soon.

For now, does anyone have any nostalgic collectibles that you have gone back since to collect? Any nostalgic collection that bring back memories of good ol yesteryears that give that warm fuzzy feeling in your heart? Do feel free to share.

Till the next post, Cheers!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Fellow Geeks and Nerds,

First and Foremost, I love Star Wars. A passion that is shared by many others who were mesmerized by the original trilogy since the 1970's...and was even a spring board for one of my closest friendships in life (Qamarul who is sadly not with us..but it was really funny that we bonded over one of the crappiest games Lucasarts released: The Phantom Menace video game).

Playing as Obi-Wan in the Phantom Menace video game.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Blu-Ray/DVD)

Most of you must have heard that Lucasfilm has released all 6 episodes of Star Wars on Blu-Ray and DVD as the "Complete Saga" box set. It was a much-anticipated release and many fans were hopeful that the releases incorporated input from the fans (George Lucas did allude to that during the series' development), combined with additional technological enhancement. I was ready to forgo my bias against Lucas if the release did live up to its hype.

Lo and behold, the ugly head of commercialism pops up again...apparently deaf to the fans' repeated clamours. Terms such as "George Pukeus" and "Talifan" (or a fanatical fan protecting Lucas) inhabit the many reviews given upon the box set's release. As of writing this post...there are 1056 negative reviews, 50 neutral and 507 positive reviews on Amazon. Granted there are some reasonable positive reviews but it does not detract from the fact that response to the box set has been largely negative.

Probably one of the biggest controversies is Lucas' strange liking for Darth Vader's oft-ridiculed and ludicrous "NOOOOOOOO" scream from Episode III, and deciding it was a good idea to implant it into Return of the Jedi:

That really kills me inside out.

And of course with bad news these days...Hitler finds out about it first from his High Command:

Chris Gould of, did a really in-depth analysis that compared scenes across the different movie/DVD releases in all history. Check it out to really see what changes Lucasfilm has done over time with the is not just a good time-waster, but it really shows the nooks and crannies of the different versions of the Star Wars films.

A change of the original to DVD re-releases: the tractor beam display.

As a summary, I am indeed awed by the technological prowess the studio has clearly shown in enhancing many scenes, especially correcting scenes that had mistakes only a sharp eye could catch. The coloring and details of the scenes are vastly improved across the board. However, there are additions that Lucasfilm did make that would turn my guts inside out...Darth Vader's "NOOOOO", the CGI-rocks that hide R2D2, and the gay-sounding screech Obi-Wan gave to the Tusken Raiders. In conclusion, I won't touch the new release at all.

Star Wars: Bigger than Lucas?

The Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon has really become so big that its fans have become deeply invested into it after it captured the imagination of millions. For myself as a teenager, I was engrossed with the notion of a living universe that "lived" outside of our own physical universe, which was accessed and shaped by our imagination. I have long dreamed of flying TIE fighters, got really sucked into the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter video game, and am a big fan of Admiral Pellaeon of the extended universe.

The 501st Legion commemorating the 25th anniversary of Star Wars' first release (
Across the world, fans in droves purchase Star Wars merchandise (which is continually a hot-seller for collectible sellers), make fan-made movies, and attend conferences/events proudly dressed in Star Wars regalia...and yet the centre of it all is undeniably the movies.

It is unfortunate that George Lucas had lived up to his prophecy during the time of the original trilogy...when he expressed his disdain for sci-fi film-makers who sacrificed story-telling for technological magic. I am perhaps not the only one to say that the magic of Star Wars has been diluted with more of his studio's tinkering around with the movies.

George Lucas: the creator of Star Wars and to some...ironically the destroyer of it.
To think about it...Lucas and co. are really focused on visual tech and are not true wizards with storylines (unlike Pixar in comparison), and what they did with the Complete Saga should come as no suprise. Lucasfilm is primarily known for its Star Wars and Indiana Jones series...while Industrial Light & Magic supplies extraordinary effects for a wide range of movies. But their recent releases kinda suck (I do have to use that word), the prequels and Crystal Skull have become irksome to many. So I guess either Lucas has an almost dictatorial hold on creative proceedings in Lucasfilm, or that the entire team is made up of just techno-wizards.

An example of a good re-release: Blade Runner The Final Cut.

There are examples of good re-releases...and one that immediately pops up in my mind is Blade Runner: The Final Cut, where the film was visually enhanced and some changes were made that not only appealed to fans...but also made the movie a whole lot deeper. George Lucas had an extremely talented team around him throughout the 6 episodes: John Williams who never failed to produce magical soundtracks, SFX-wizards with a high command of technical breaks my heart that the recent prequels and re-releases of Star Wars do not do justice to the effort put in. I respect Lucas as a professional, he is free to do what he wants with his "creation", but just don't forget that Star Wars has grown massively from its loyal fan-base.

I guess Lucas doesn't see the fans as partners in the creation of the Star Wars universe...which is sad considering how passionate fans can be :(