Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sorry for the Delay...

Hey Everyone!

I must apologize that the posts on toyconstruct have dried up for the past few weeks...graduate school caught up much faster than I expected. I am in the middle of my final exam week, and I will be done with them in a week's time and good to go with more posts! (JQ also got a new job and he's adjusting to the change too)

But I wanted to share something I spotted just the past week. Ever wonder why games nowadays are so generic in feeling? The sense of innovation and originality of today pales greatly in comparison with the past. I hope I'm not the only one, but I feel so much more attached to games in the past...even though the graphics were crap compared to today, I feel that games at that time were more like the games we wanted to play.

Today's game publishers are mostly listed publicly and have shareholders to please. Business-wise, they need to make profits every fiscal year in a very competitive environment that's saturated with others who want to make the gaming buck. Upside to this is increased production values and good variety of games to play...but there's lots of downsides too. Rushed games with tons of bugs, boring mechanics, and sequel-itis are some that come to my mind. Just as an example...Call of Duty used to rock my world and reached its pinnacle with CoD 4, and it became the "Madden of FPS" with yearly releases :/

Unlike most game publishers, Valve has something really good going on. For one, they're known to consistently release blockbusters of games, Portal 1&2, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life come to mind. So how are they able to that at this age?

Recently, Gamespot found out about Valve's new employee orientation manual. It captures the culture of Valve pretty well. And if you have the time, I highly recommended reading through it.

There's no strict hierarchy of employees, the company has kept itself privately funded, and employees get to decide what they want to work on. And it appears that their corporate culture is very different than that of its competitors, and I feel that they have kept true to their passion of making games...encouraging creativity and camaraderie among its employees. They may not be releasing a ton of games, but at least what they release is quality.

Dang reading the employee manual makes me want to work in Valve!

And the elephant in the room: WHEN IS HALF-LIFE 3 COMING OUT???

Cheers :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 2

Hey Everyone

Hope you are doing well and JQ has been delivering great stuff onto the blog! The Leopard 2A6 is also one of my favorite tanks of all time, it's power and sheer maneuverability make it a force to be reckoned with.

I am slow on this, but man is HBO's Games of Thrones awesome! I do not have HBO so I have settled for (painfully) waiting for each season to finish and be transcribed onto blu ray/DVD. Right now I am in the middle of season 1, and while there are no spoilers since I read the does remind me of parts that I have forgotten over time. Like those of us who have read the stellar books, I can wait for this season to pass....I hope :P

It's a sure bet that many of us are aware of the trailer for Season 2, and I've just added it and the soundtrack below for our enjoyment. One of the best trailers I have seen in my life.

And for those interested, there's a well-written article from Foreign Affairs that explores the many themes/theories that The Game of Thrones explores, on how it is radically different from the LoTR archetype, and the powerful lessons it holds for its readers, both political and humanistic. Also, there's another erudite article that examines the historical setting of The Game of Thrones and finds that George RR Martin's imagination trumps historicity, which then becomes the ingredient for the compelling narrative of the series (real life medieval Europe was boring apparently, battles lasted roughly 30 minutes long).

Just curious, do you all have houses that you "swear" by? Whenever I read the books, I find myself rooting for House Stark and imaging myself as a part of them...and yet have my dreams shattered by the heaps and mounds crap they go through LOL. There's a fan-made quiz on finding what House fits you, and yes...mine is unsurprisingly House Stark. But I find myself rooting for Tyrion and Daenarys (who is super hot) too.
While the TV series is widely acclaimed, particularly for Peter Dinklage's Tyrion, the same can't be said of the video game side...yet. A Game of Thrones: Genesis was released a few months ago by Cyanide studios to a mixed reception, and it makes me wish how awesome it would be if they went to The Creative Assembly and did a Total War take on GoT (I really hope someone out there is making a mod for it!).

And there's another RPG coming out soon, Game of Thrones - The Game, which again features Cyanide Studios making a RPG set 1000 years before the books. One thing's for sure, George RR Martin is involved in its creative process, and if he's happy with it so far...I guess that should at least be good enough for us. Looks-wise, it may not be a work of art...but I am hoping that its dark storyline will shine.

And just to cap this Game of Thrones's something for laughs:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Leopard 2A6

Its Modern Military Time Today!!

Today I shall be featuring the Leopard 2A6!

The Leopard 2A6 platoon rolling out of a Town!

The Leopard 2A6 is the by-product of modification throughout the many years since the Leopard 2 was first manufactured in 1979.From the sloping armor improvement made after the Leopard 2A4 to the new Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun L55 improvement made after the Leopard 2A5, the Leopard 2A6 is the current mainstay and latest Leopard 2 tank.

The Leopard 2A6s passing through a town. (Hope you guys like a different type of diorama from the usual plain flat grassland with no buildings.)

Even as the Leopard 1 tank was rolling out, the German Army was already looking for the successor of the Leopard 1 to keep up with newer Soviet designs. They went into a joint venture with the US to develop a new tank through the MBT-70 Super-tank Project. However, due to large overruns in cost, Germany withdrew from the project and started the development of the Leopard 2 to complement its Rhienmetall L44 120mm gun.

Even from just this picture alone, the obvious difference between the Leopard 2A6 and the 2A5 is its way longer gun length.

Aside from its Rheinmetall L55 120mm smoothbore gun (an improvement from the older L44 in Leopard 2A5s), the Leopard 2A6 has 42 rounds comprising of DM-53 APFSDS-T anti-tank round and German DM12 multipurpose anti-tank projectile. Last but not least, Rheinmetall has input an upgrade to Leopard 2 tanks enabling them to fire the LAHAT anti0tank missile through the main gun.

Leopard 2A6s moving in combat formation.

It has a combat weight of approximately 60 tons and can travel in excess of 65km/h forward and 30 km/h backwards. It has a combat range of 550km. The Leopard 2A6 is by far, a great formidable compare to the M1A2. Besides, the MBT-70 project, while a failure, was the grandfather and root of the creation of the M1A2 and Leopard 2A6 tank.

I always take particular liking for taking pics of tanks lining up..SO here is the Leopard 2A6s in a line!

In terms of Combat history, the Leopard 2A6 has perform well, providing great protection for Canadian Soldiers manning the Leopard 2A6 in the Afghanistan Conflict.

The Leopards entering a rural town to engage the enemy.

On top of the fact that the Leopard 2A6 is but the descendant of the superior German Armour technology. I find the Leopard 2A6 a really awesome looking tank with a great design. (I would even say better looking than the M1A2)

Isn't she a beauty? I really can't emphasize how much I like the German Leopard 2A6 design.

And as Much as we might deny it, even the American MBTs starting from The Patton tanks right to The Abrams were developed with much influence from German expertise. Since, they were renowned for the Tanks in WWII.

These Leopard 2A6 tanks that you see here are from Takara Toys (Now defunct and has merged with Tomy to form Takara Tomy). They are from the World Tank Museum Series 6 Collection which feature a selection of Modern Battle Tanks. It is designed Akira Tani and produced by Kaiyodo. Unfortunately, from the looks of World Tank Museum website and searching to get these tanks, your best bet on getting the 1/144 scale tanks would be to look at ebay. Apparently, Modern Battle Tanks aren't as lucrative to sell compared to Transformers and other popular Kid toys now.

These lil Tanks come in a great packaging with informative japaneesy info of the tank inside the package as shown below.

In my opinion, Japanese packaging is always awesome.

Speaking of the Leopard 2A6 and how I am really attracted to its design, have gotten myself the 1/72 Leopard 2A6M by Revell!! It will take awhile before I paint it but that is how much I really like the way this German Tank rolls!

Till next time, Thanks for reading!