Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Hey Everyone!

It has come to the time of the year when the Nativity scene and legions of red suited old men have become a common feature in our lives...and also a time where families get together to catch up over dinners.

JQ and I will like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May you have a marvellous time over the holidays that are sprinkled with fellowship and goodwill. We greatly appreciate the many comments that vividly color Toyconstruct, and it has been an extremely enjoyable experience in sharing our geeky lives with you all :)

(c) Paul Wantland
In the spirit of Christmas, here's a Mad TV "Greatest Story Ever Told"...or "What if Terminator was Sent Back to Save...Jesus?" It is kinda old, but still holds a lot of laughs!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cartoon Movement: There is more than One Truth

Hey Everyone

Calling all comic fans!

I stumbled upon this really cool comics website called Cartoon Movement that allows individuals to privately publish comics, free of publisher bias and media control...and the articles have been of a very high quality. They also maintain a blog that covers "behind the scenes" for the various comics published on the website.

Front page of (illustration by Richard and Slavomir Svitalsky).
The comics and cartoons that are produced for this website touch on very political issues and offer a much more intimate viewpoint as compared to news stories. Freedom of expression is highly evident with vivid depictions of current issues in the world, from the Euro debt crisis to the highly contested Egyptian election.

From "Inside the Favelas", art by Maumau.
A good example of this would be a series titled "Inside the Favelas", script by Augusto Paim and illustrated by Maumau (text reviewed by Roberto Frizero), it documents an inside view of Brazil's favelas that goes beyond popular depictions of these slums in popular media (read: Call of Duty MW2 or Fast Five). Part 1 and Part 2 can be accessed through the links.

Rather than a colorful and vibrant environment that is troubled by drugs, "Inside the Favelas" paints a very grey picture of favela life, where drug gangs provide a form of governance and the effects of government crackdowns. For me at least, "City of God" comes to mind...and you can contrast these comics with a BBC report on a police crackdown in a favela.

From "BOOM!", art by Ryan Alexander-Tanner.
Another notable comic is "BOOM!", written by David Axe and illustrated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner, which illustrates Axe's experience as a reporter attached to a U.S. Army artillery unit in Afghanistan. It explores the hidden cost that soldiers pay with concussions, which often go undiagnosed and can lead to drastic life changes.

If you have time to read some comics, I highly recommend you to visit this site! A lot of great work has been published on the website.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shogun 2: The Fall of the Samurai

Hey Everyone

Thank you once again for your continued readership, JQ and I are really pleased to be sharing our geekiness across the venerable Internet!

SEGA released Total War: Shogun 2 with great acclaim and Creative Assembly still showed who held the chops for real-time and turn-based strategy computer games. Their latest series went back to Total War's roots in the Sengoku period, with medieval Japan split among numerous clans vying for the ultimate seat of power: the Shogunate.

One thing that stands out to me (in both Shogun 1&2) is how the programmers were able to model their A.I's strategy after Sun Tzu's the Art of War, to give the A.I. a degree of realism to simulate actual tactics that might have been employed at that time. Plus, Creative Assembly really aimed for realism and hired Stephen Turnbull, an East Asian military historian specializing in Samurais.

Kicking ass on both the battlefields of Japan and video game reviews.

Well, Creative Assembly just announced that they'll be releasing a new DLC for Shogun 2, titled "The Fall of the Samurai" and you can catch their release trailer here:

The trailer reminds me of Tom Cruise's Last Samurai flick (and I am still miffed that Cruise had to be the ultimate hero), and this new DLC has really grabbed my interest. Supposedly, the West will be represented by 3 factions, the U.S., the British, and the French...and after seeing the Gatling gun's awesomeness, I bet a good number of us would want to be on Uncle Sam's side!

Some Warhammer Musings...

Shogun 2 is a game that really makes me wonder: should GW really explore releasing more armies or maybe units of the rest of the world? The units and rules used in Shogun 2 have equivalents with WFB, such as deployment and archer skirmishers, making an army list for Nippon wouldn't be hard at all...but making them unique from Bretonnia or Empire will take some imagination and play testing.

Art from the unofficial WFB Nippon supplement, by M4cRII3n of
To my knowledge, Araby, Cathay, and Nippon have been mentioned in various WFB literature but yet have no official literature of their own. Adding them into WFB might risk "diluting" the focus of WFB's setting by including the rest of the world, by expanding upon already deeply entrenched and "traditional" rivalries such as Orcs vs. Dwarves, DE vs. HE, Chaos vs. Empire.

Ready to stomp on Skaven or batter through Goblin lines? (photo:
However, how cool would be to have Samurai or Ninjas in your WFB army!! As the general audience for WFB (in my opinion) is mostly in the West, I might be jumping the gun by saying that the future fantasy landscape in the next few decades stands to be more influenced by the rest of the world. Already we have Pandaren in Warcraft lore, Dynasty Warriors spawning sequels after another...and fantasy may be following the same general economic patterns of the world.

Expanding WFB's universe into the rest of the world may deviate from "traditional" fantasy, but it might generate more interest in the game...and perhaps ensure the relevance of WFB in the coming few decades.

PS: In WFB there is the Echin clan of Skaven who apparently had received training in Nippon, sounds familiar? :P

PPS: You might have read earlier that JQ and I had a close friend in Qamarul who passed away recently and had a super super super interest (or even obsession) in Japan's martial culture. Qamarul delved into Aikido (earned a black belt) and was a geek of all things Bushido and Samurai...and I still recall how he cried in ecstasy when he saw Samurai sword chopsticks! This post is in honor of the Bushido spirit he so nobly expressed.