Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kenshin Himura, The Wanderer.

Good Day to all!

I am back this week with Anime!

And today, I shall be featuring the Main Character of Samurai X and Rurouni Kenshin. He is none other then Kenshin Himura. Quite awhile back, I have talked about the entire anime series and what was the Kenshin Story about.

This time around, I shall elaborate further about Kenshin Himura's character and how this Anime has influenced me.

To start off, I discovered Kenshin Himura from the first OVA, "Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal" when I had a stay over in my close friend's place back during my late High School years some 11 years ago. I guess I started out with one of the most finest part of the Samurai X series as stated by many fans and critics.

As seen in the seriousness and killer instinct eyes in this picture of which I have taken from an angle, the Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal OVA talks about the starting of Kenshin Himura's life. What really captivated me about the OVA was its portrayal of the brutality of war and sword fighting that I have never seen before in cartoons. The OVA also portrays the reality of life rather than a typical Hero story.

Back then, the closest thing I was ever captivated about the Japanese Feudal Culture was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and they weren't even Ancient, Samurai looking or human for that matter). It would be another year or so before I discover Shogun Total War and started watching Rurouni Kenshin. As such, you could safely say that Samurai X first OVA was what made me captivated by the Samurai Philosophy and Japanese Culture. It was the foundation to my interest in all things Japanese.

As I have told you pretty much a summary of Kenshin Himura in a previous post featuring Seta Soijiro, I will not repeat myself but I must say that the reason why the Anime has been so compelling to me aside from the actual historical events that were illustrated is that there was lots of character development put into making Kenshin Himura who he is.

(This is one of my most favourite shot taken of my Kenshin Himura Figure)

Even though I haven't read much of the manga, the anime has taken me on a great adventure that made me grow more and more attached to Kenshin. In my years in Junior College, I would alway smake it a point to watch and not miss a single episode of the Rurouni Kenshin TV Series. I can still remember that it was in the AXN channel on Singapore's Starhub Cable TV. During the Rurouni Kenshin TV Series, things for Kenshin took a little more brighter turn as you could see Kenshin being less serious and more of a goof ball at times.

But while there was less grit in the TV Series, the philosophy behind his resolve and his new ways was something that inspired me. And it is through the duration of the anime, that we begin to uncover more of how determined Kenshin was to live by his principle and ideals of not killing. It was this profound quality that was forged from his dark past that has made him the greatest swordsman.

Throughout the anime (From the OVAs and TV Series), we see a boy traumatized by a family tragedy, discovering a talent for swordsmanship which he used to pursue an ideal of changing the world around him by exacting death using his skills. Disillusion, he encounters an epiphany in his life through another major tragedy which changes him to not kill anymore. it is throughout this journey of life that his martial prowess in the way of the Sword and his philosophical ideal of not killing that has made him ascend to another level of enlightenment that makes Kenshin the best there ever was as a Samurai in the anime series. Lastly, in observing the life of Kenshin Himura, we find love, sacrifice and companionship that were heartfelt to say the least.

I could continue to go on for hours on end about how this Anime has influenced me but I shall just proceed on to state some exciting news! Rurouni Kenshin is going to have a live action movie as shown on the trailer below!

For those die-hard fans like me, I am sure you all would have already known by now as this trailer was featured a few months back. From the looks of it, it seems to be a really good adaptation with live cast that looks really like how I would have pictured them in real life. (Aside from Saito) The Live action film adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin will feature Takeru Satoh from Kamen Rider as Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kaoru. Directed by Keishi Otomo, the film is expected to release on August 25, 2012. The film is aim to release internationally with intention to make a series out of it.

I wouldn't be your crazy anime fanboy that goes to every anime festival. Let alone one who knows what is the latest popular anime show and what is in trend in Japanese animation. However, I must say that Samurais rocks and after all these years I have grown to appreciate the Japanese Modern and Ancient Culture. Almost every part of my hobbies and appreciation to Japan can be stem from Rurouni Kenshin. The Samurai X has gave me much awesome memories that are vital to who I am today as a person. It has also made me have a more keen interest in the Japanese Language too.

Of which, I am learning using textbooks given to me by my girlfriend. Guess what Japanese Manga I got to learn the language while I enjoy the story? Picture above pretty much explains it all.

Can't wait to see the Movie soon!! There are speculation that there will be a re-imaging of the Anime and it might also include more elaboration more on the Jinshu/Revenge Arc of Kenshin Himura's story which was not shown much in the Seisouhen OVA.

If that is the case, Major awesomeness for me!!!

Hope you all enjoy my tribute to the Samurai Swordsman with the X scar! It is definitely one super duper long post. Will be featuring more characters of the Series soon!

Stay tune!

As of now, I end of with my most favourite Rurouni Kenshin Opening Theme! And one of the first few Jap songs I memorised and learn to Sing. :3

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Iron Sky: A Film with Finnish?

Hey Everyone

Thanks for coming down to toyconstruct, and it's been great to have JQ share on his unit of screamers and his GHQ Udaloy I destroyer. I admire JQ for being dedicated to painting and fixing models up, he's definitely made more completed model kits than me....I just do the easy job of taking the pictures, some of it with his help too.

Not sure if you heard about this, but there's growing hype around perhaps one of the most cheesiest, extremely outrageous, and downright silly movies of 2012. It's not related to Twilight or another "Scary Movie" (thank goodness)...and it's none other than Iron Sky, a comedy set in the not so distant 2018.

The Iron Sky movie poster. I won't blame you if Red Alert 3 comes to mind...
Scheduled to invade cinema screens on April 4th, Iron Sky is a German-Finnish-Austrailian production based on one ridiculous concept: the Nazis have escaped defeat of WWII by setting up base on the dark side of the moon. It also happens that the moon has been well favoured by other movie baddies as well....such as the Decepticons in Dark of the Moon and Hugo Drax of Moonraker fame.

Space Nazis, Fascism in the Final Frontier.
Seventy-three years of Nazi lunar hibernation is drastically broken by an intruding U.S. African-American astronaut, and the Lunar Nazis spring from their base and promptly invade Earth...with plans to activate their giant battlecruiser, the Götterdämmerung ("Twilight of the Gods", an Old Norse apocalypse), and wipe off subhuman presence from the face of the planet, be it full moon or not.

Nazi Moon Base: Beyond Hitler's wildest dreams, without the worries of real estate prices and pesky neighbours.
Jokes weaved into this story include a U.S. president resembling Sarah Palin (who actually wins the election!), a Nazi doctor injecting the African-American with a "whitening solution", and the Nazi base taking the shape of a giant Swastika. Here are the 3 trailers that have been released so far:

I might give this movie a shot on the grounds of its originality and highly ridiculous premise, knowing that it's going to be a B movie with probably low attention to plot and acting...but overflowing with corniness and hilarity. It has already been screened at the recent Berlin Film Festival, and it's expectedly gotten some mixed reviews.

If you haven't fallen off your chairs yet, what do you think about it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Udaloy

This week, it is time for some GHQ Naval Miniatures.

Today, I feature the Udaloy I Destroyer.

The Udaloy I Destroyer was also known as Project 1155. Currently, there are 8 active Udaloy Destroyers in the Russian Fleet. 1 of which is the Udaloy II. Apparently, Project 1155 was proposed and initiated to cater to Anti Submarine Warfare because the building of large displacement, multi-role surface vessels were too costly.

The Udaloy Destroyer as seen here is hand painted by me. I tried my best to put as much detail as possible into it. Even got some references from Model Kit Manuals and pictures to see what I could do with a 1/2400 scale ship.

Project 1155 served as the anti submarine destroyer project while Project 956 Sovremenny was supposed to be the anti surface destroyer for the Russian Naval Fleet.

The Udaloy was generally considered to be the US Spruance Class Destroyer equivalent. As mentioned earlier, due to multi-role vessels being to costly, the Udaloy Destroyer is a specialized surface vessel. As such, the disadvantage to the Udaloy is that it lacked capabilities to handle anti-surface and anti-air threats.

An Udaloy Destroyer escorting the Big Kirov Battlecruiser somewhere in the Russian Sea.

As such, Udaloy II was propose to enable the Udaloy to have a more balanced capabilities. However, witht he economy in crumble after the end of the Cold War, much of Russia's military developments came to a halt or got dismantled.

As of today, only one Udaloy II is completed, while the rest are still Udaloy I with varying SAM and air search radar in each unit. Such is the well-being of Russian weaponary.

Which brings me to a discussion topic. In the last military entry, I have given my opinion on how the T-80B is obsolete as a present day MBT. And many Russian equipment fail to provide an adequate threat to the modernization and technological superiority that comes from the USA and its European Counterpart. Even its Naval Fleet has just recovered from the effects of a crumbling economy after the Cold War. Of which the Cold war had seen many naval vessels rot and dismantled due to the high cost of maintenance or even putting it out to sea.

Do you guys believe that the Russian Armed Forces has what it takes to be a formidable threat against the EU and US given economic conditions now and taking in consideration speculative notions of Russia's future. Can it be considered as a big player with the Likes of China and the USA?

Do comment on it! (I am sure this topic surfaces throughout many military discussion. But for the sake of debating and friendly discussion, give it go (: )

As of now, I have finally come up with a fantasy modern military campaign with Joshua and will be playing it with Josh. Will let update you guys on it soon.

Till then, Toodle loo!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Hello there fellow Geeks!

It is Warhammer Time again!!

As of now, because I have a little more free time than usual, I have been trying my hardest to paint as much as I can and make sure that I accomplish all my year's project. It's been hard to really actually dedicate and focus into doing modelling the whole day or for even a couple of days.

Furthermore, it has come to my realization that overcoming procrastination is easier said than done. However, should I do dedicated my fullest time, potential and hard work into doing all my painting and model kits, I'd be sure to share with you all the experience.

Today, I feature to you all the Screamers of Tzeentch. Awesome Flying Monsters that I have decided to add to my Daemon of Chaos Army. As stated in the rulebook, these Screamers are glimmering sky-sharks that ride upon the winds of magic as a bird glides upon the breeze.

While they look like some freak of nature shrieking above the sky like some form of stingray, they bring my dynamics to my daemon army. With most units in the Daemon army being on the ground (besides the Chaos Furies) and no war machines to provide retaliatory barrage of firepower against enemy forces, the Daemons have nothing that could move fast enough to deal with war machines.

This brings me to the Screamers. They are a Flying Unit and can engage crews of War Machines faster than any ground unit. Furthermore, they work as a Flying Unit which means they are skirmishes. (-1 to hit skirmishers)

On the surface, their stats are kinda poor and average for a flying unit. My Pegasus Knights could shred them to pieces easily. With a strength and toughness stat of 3 and 1 wound, even chaos furies would provide a better punch against enemy units than these guys.

However, it isn't their basic stats that makes them attractive compared to Chaos Furies. It is their special abilities that makes them wicked sick.

As you can see from this picture of a Screamer above, its side is laden with jagged edges and spikes. This provides the screamer with the features to do its special Slashing Attack and what it does packs a great deal of a punch. If a Screamer moves over an unengaged enemy unit in the remaining move phase, that enemy unit suffers an automatic Strength 5 hit per Screamer that has passed over the unit. This Slashing Attack essentially can whittle down a unit without the Screamer actually engaging the enemy.

So imagine this, 6 Screamers passing over a character model. That would result in 6 Strength 5 hits on the unit. This would also work especially well with war machine crew and light cavalry without even needing the Screamers to engage the enemy. While these ability is limited to one time per unit and it is not very effective against high toughness or horde units, it is more than enough to cause your opponents to ensure they put down the Screamers as fast as possible. (Thanks Josh and Desolater for pointing out the obvious which i have misread, Do forgive me as I have not started playing the Daemon Army Yet)

And so I am slowly building up my Daemon of Chaos Army with these guys. Bit By Bit I will get more of other types of units to be able to play a decent game with this army (As will I do the same for my Dwarf Army). However, stay tune as there will also be new additions to my existing Mortals of Chaos and Bretonnian Army.

Hopefully it shall be done as soon as possible!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Amalur: Power Packed Team = Success?

Hey Everyone

Thank you once again for coming to toyconstruct for your nerdy goodness! After enjoying the awesomeness of JQ's T-80B, I guess it's some time for some fantasy!

Box art for the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Not sure if you've heard, but there is a new RPG (with whole new IP) coming out in the horizon, and it's none other than Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which is coming out soon on Feb 7th 2012. There's quite some hype surrounding Amalur, as it is published by 38 Studios (with EA), which is mainly known to have been put together by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

The Founder of 38 Studios, Curt Schilling.
The beginnings of Amalur is an interesting one. Schilling is renowned to be a gaming geek and a baseball pro at the same time. Also, he's known to love World of Warcraft...which might have inspired him to make a MMORPG of his own. This MMO project started out as "Copernicus", but was changed to a single-player RPG that would eventually become Amalur.

R.A. Salvatore, well known for his writing for the Forgotten Realms series.
The impressive cast includes New York Times bestseller R.A. Salvatore, who's probably best known for his Forgotten Realms novels and Drizzt Do'Urden. Gamespot did a very interesting interview with him that talked about how he gets his inspiration for writing stories and his views on storytelling in games today.

Mr. Todd McFarlane, celebrated creator of Spawn.
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is Amalur's art director, and is responsible for guiding artists in fleshing out the game world. The designs take on a very Fable-esque look, and the character + monster designs I have seen are rather original.

Ken Rolston, lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion fame.
Ken Rolston of the Elder Scrolls fame joins in as the lead designer for Amalur, and is mainly responsible for fleshing out game mechanics (lockpicking is reminiscent of Oblivion), which at the heart features a rather innovative class-less leveling system. Interestingly, Rolston has extensive experience with tabletop gaming, from AD&D to Warhammer RPG, and has won awards for paper-and-pencil RPGs.

So with such an impressive cast of individuals involved in Amalur, will it live up to the hype and become a RPG hit of its own...or will it be relegated to an ambitious game that failed to gain traction with gamers?

Good thing is, there's a demo out there that you can'll need to access it through EA's Origin or Steam. If you're a Mass Effect fan, playing this demo will unlock additional equipment for your retail copy of Mass Effect 3.

Here's the launch trailer to Amalur:

Demo Impressions:

Generally, it is hard to tell if Amalur will succeed. There are elements that make it special, and inevitably its existence as a fantasy RPG will have gamers comparing it against Skyrim...which has a superior graphics engine and a loyal fan base, not to forget Diablo III is coming somewhere in the horizon of "early 2012". But all of this does not discount Amalur from becoming a success story.

It took me about 3-4 hours to play through the demo, mostly due to me being a completionist and listening through every line of dialogue. Due to the limitations on game-time, it is difficult to say if the story will be a good one.

A great potential the story holds is that its antagonist faction, the Tuatha, have one eerie resemblance to the fearsome Cylons of BSG fame: practical immortality with resurrection. To me, a story with odds stacked against you makes a solid backdrop for challenging gameplay (eg. Dead Space and Descent: Freespace).

Amalur is very much an action RPG, definitely leaning toward the action part...think more like Dragon Age II than Baldur's Gate. Combat is designed to be flowing, placing a high priority on precise button pressing and reaction times, but without the harsh penalties for failures of Dark Souls/Demon's Souls. If that sounds like your thing, then Amalur might be a good fit for you. I played it on the PC, and the default button assignment is not very intuitive (but can be tweaked in the retail version).

The innovative leveling system works well to give you free reign to play however you want, but the game is too short to notice the consequences of choices made on your character. The class-less system is perhaps a design decision that is catching on in other games, and effective ones have been praised in games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Rift.

It is refreshing to see a game that is venturing into new grounds in terms of IP and its game mechanics. It represents a labor of passion of the very talented team behind it, a feeling you can easily feel from reading about their thoughts on making the game. It's not another sequel, it's not a blatant money spinner, but a work of pride of those behind it. I don't plan on pre-ordering it, but I will be keeping tabs on this game performs.

Word is that this game will be the predecessor of an upcoming MMORPG afterall...