Tuesday, July 31, 2012

War Movies from Another View

Hey Everyone

Hope you all are doing well and that the summer has been going great. One thing I love about summer is that I have the time to watch some movies in my free time, both new summer releases and DVDs. What do you think of Dark Knight Rises? (I'm not giving away my thoughts here though)

I can bet that there's a good number of us who love watching war movies right?

As an effect of both history (who wins wars) and my living in the US, most of the popular war movies come from the US/Western perspective...which is not very interesting for me. Don't get me wrong, Saving Private Ryan and Patton are technical masterpieces, and I appreciate the daily sacrifices men and women give to the nation.

We cannot avoid the fact that victors write history, but would it be much more interesting be to see war from other perspectives? To deviate from the "Yeah Good Guys!" genre that celebrates heroism and valor under fire, explore what other nations have suffered and experienced in other wars, and perhaps gain a more complete perspective of the world today.

In today's post, I'll be sharing 2 non-US/Western movies that have impacted me and make for very insightful viewing. These movies are less well-known than The Great Escape, Platoon, and The Longest Day, but they are also well produced and directed, and show us the consequences of war from a very different perspective.

1) Blessed by Fire (2005)

Blessed by Fire (Spanish: Iluminados por el fuego) is a movie on the Argentine side of the Falklands War (or Guerra de las Malvinas). The film explores the aftermath of the Falklands War on Argentinian veterans, who experienced horrors on the battlefield and returned as broken soldiers after losing the war.

The film is centered on the experiences of two close friends who served as conscripts in the Argentine army, namely Alberto Vargas and Esteban Leguizamón. Vargas attempts suicide after suffering severe depression from the war and his financial insecurity, and Leguizamón cares for Vargas's distressed wife as Vargas is placed onto life support.
Leguizamon and his fellow soldiers taking cover from a British strafing attack.
Leguizamón relives his experiences on the Malvinas Islands (or Falklands), and the film presents a very bleak view of the war. The Argentine conscripts live in foxholes placed around the barren and cold island, and face hunger, boredom, freezing, abuse from superiors, and the psychological threat of invasion from British ships anchored just off the shore. Once the fighting starts, it quickly becomes evident that the Falklands is an unwinnable for the Argentines, as they face a force with superior training and materiel.
The guy second from right is the platoon commander and can be a real prick.
Although the Argentine soldiers face such gruelling hardship for their country, they end the war as losers and have little for consolation. A few empty words from a general and the symbols of the futility of their struggle come to the fore: discarded weapons surrendered to the British and burned out husks of military vehicles and camps. The ending scene for the war is a masterpiece. Blessed by Fire is highly recommended for its honest portrayal of war, and its depiction of the experience of the losing side questions the purpose of war (this time over the nationalistic rhetoric of the ruling elite).

2) Tae Guk Gi: Brotherhood of War (2004)

Tae Guk Gi is a Korean War movie titled after the pre-war flag of the People's Republic of Korea and current flag of South Korea. It covers the journey of two brothers (Lee Jin-tae and Lee Jin-seok) who are drafted into the Republic of Korea (ROK) army, and see themselves in the middle of a brutal war of ideology that has split the country apart.

The main plot of the film sees the two brothers come into conflict with each other due to different views. The older brother (Jin-tae) volunteers for deadly missions to earn a medal to get his younger brother (Jin-seok) discharged from conscription. However, Jin-seok vehemently protests to Jin-tae stay away from such missions in order to stay alive. This conflict ultimately sees them being fighting against each other in the opposing armies.

The brothers are conscripted into the ROK army and thrust into bloody battles.
Prior to watching the movie, I did not know much about the "Forgotten War" and Tae Guk Gi provided a rather realistic view of the war. The movie has a lot of bloody infantry battles, and presents morally ambiguous situations on the battlefield...from the treatment of PWs (who happen to be related to you) to the brutality of paramilitary militias.

ROK infantry advancing with a M4 Jumbo Sherman in the background.
While Tae Guk Gi may border on the sentimental and feature some skipping of the chain of command, it does an admirable job in presenting the historical context and emotional toil of the Korean War. A gruesome conflict that has pitted Koreans against each other, the Korean War unfortunately continues to go on without a conclusion in sight.

Have you seen other war movies that do not take the US/Western perspective? What do you think about them? There's a lot that I haven't covered (due to space), such as Letters from Iwo Jima, Schindler's List, Das Boot, and Days of Glory (Indigènes).

I do have to say that war movies can be rather depressing and can take away the sheen of the glory of war. An eye for an eye does indeed make the whole world blind (that's from Gandhi), and while we try to leave a better world for the people of tomorrow, shouldn't we also leave better people for the world tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Faith in Humanity Restored

Hey Everyone

Thanks to those who have signed the petition for the Aurora CO shooting, and I am very pleased to let everyone know that Christian Bale the man himself visited the victims on his own volition. He didn't notify the media and personally made the trip without representing Warner Brothers.

Mr Bale truly has a heart of gold.

Check out the news article from the Denver Post!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Aurora CO Shooting

Hey Everyone

You must have heard about the terrible shooting at the Batman premiere, and someone came up with the idea that the cast of Batman come down to visit the wounded kids in costume.

Wouldn't that be awesome?

If you think so, please sign the petition below:


Our hearts and minds are with the families affected by the tragedy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dwarf Warriors

GhulGlus allaz, which would be dwarven for Good day all as specified in this Dwarven Language blog I stumbled across.

It's Warhammer time for this week's post. For all you Warhammer enthusiast out there, it has been quite some time since the release of the New Empire Book.  Looking at the new units, I can safely say that the Empire got a pretty good facelift.

I would make an Honourable mentuion to the huge ass griffon and the new Emperor Karl Franz sculpt that makes  my Bretonnian King and his hippogriff look like a mini version of their gargantuan size.

Karl Franz and his Griffon

Speaking of the Empire, the Imperial weaponary and machinery originated from the Dwarfs which will be what I will be featuring today. Aside from what I had explained about the Dwarfs in my previous post, Originated from Germanic mythology, the dwarf was a being thatdwells in mountains and in the earth. Associated with wisdom, smithing, mining and crafting, rhet were also sometimes described as short and ugly.

They don't look too ugly to me though. Kinda cute I guess.

Based on the poem "Voluspa" from the Poetic Edd, it has an account of the first human being having been created by the dwarves. It also stated that the dwarves are products of the primordial blood of the being Brimir and the bones of Bláinn.

Dwarven Warriors ready for WAR!

In the Warhammer world, Dwarves were aided in their development by the Old ones. While not much is known on how they came about, their insatiable addiction to Gold and Gromril has always been prevalent in Dwarven society and well-known among all.

Beardy Beardy beard BEard...

As mentioned in my previous dwarven post, I have been building up my Dwarven Army and these are my warriors. Usually, Dwarven Warriors are drawn up from the citizenry of Dwarven Society. Most of them comprised of craftsmen and artisans.

Rank and File, Dwarves!

However, for my Dwarven Army theme, the warriors from the Silver Axe, Triple Steel and Ogren Clan are professional soldiers. Similar to the Spartans, the Dwarven Warriors under the command of Thane Utheroth of Karak Grothak, are constantly honing their skills by adventuring or seeking to land a hand to help their fellow dwarves in battle. I shall not stall any further so enjoy these Dwarf Warriors pics below:


Adventuring, A routine of the Warrior clans of Karak Grothak

The Standard Bearer of the Silver Axe

Warriorrssss...Come out to Plaayyy..
The Battleline.

Commander of the Karak Grothak Triple Steel Warrior Clan

While I still have quite some way to completing my dwarven army, bit by bit I am making good progress. Not toos ure if you noticed, but it all started out with my 10 Ironbreakers, followed by the Thundereers, and with my three regiments of Dwarven Warriors and a Thane, I think I could field a 2k army soon.

Till then, Got to be deep in progress in terms of painting and acquiring new stuff. At the moment, I still find it hard to adjust to the new paint series and trying to link the old names with the new ones.

Aside from that, I would also like to raise a topic that has been widely discussed among many fellow Warhammer gamers. Prices have continually increased at a frequent rate for GW products. For myself, I have been buying second hand stuff or acquiring miniatures on ebay, while I still do quite a bit of the painting and rely on painting services for some stuff, buying mainly from GW is way too expensive for me.

The only thing that I really buy direct is the citadel paints which in my opinion are high quality and have the greatest texture for an acrylic paint.

What are all of your opinions on the price increase and GW's modus operandi?

Do share.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DC Direct's Killzone Helghast Assault Infantry Action Figure

Hail fellow geeks!

Thank you for visiting this little blog and your comments on improving it have been very helpful! Please let JQ and I know in what can be done to build this community up better, and we will seriously consider each them. Updates on collections and discussion boards sound like very cool ideas to me.

Some time ago I showed some pics I took of the Helghast sniper, and this time...(and a shout out to POI and all Helghast lovers out there), here's some shots of the tireless Helghast Assault Infantry action figure!

The formidable backbone of the Helghan Army, the assault infantry is perhaps the most common enemy you face in the Killzone world and are more than ready to defend every inch of Helghan with their blood.

The Helghast assault infantry is best suited for close-quarter combat, where they can unleash streams of bullets from their full-auto StA-52 assault rifles. They are known (or "programmed" if you say) to frequently take cover and fire from cover, and even throw occasional grenades to flush enemy soldiers out.

DC Direct has a steady stream of video-game inspired action figures, and these figures are similar to MacFarlane Military figures. Good quality with fine sculpting, with the downside of limited movement and posing. These action figures are certainly designed for display and not play.

Just a casual observation, it appears that German WWII soldiers wearing gas-masks have become the staple of "bad guy sci-fi aesthetics". Some examples include Hellsing Nazi Vampires, Suckerpunch zombie Germans, Wolfenstein SS Venom Soldier, Medal of Honor: Airborne Nazi Storm Elites...and I probably haven't listed them all! There's probably something about gas masks, how they make a person look less human and more intimidating.

This particular figure is quite well made, I like how the sculpting accounts for the ruffles in the soldier's uniform. The paint job is applied well, with attention to highlighting exposed surfaces of uniform, and a gritty paint job to the rifle itself. The emblems on the helmet and right shoulder guard give the figure a very WWII German feel...not to forget the stormtrooper-like helmet and grey uniform to boot.

A piece of trivia: the 3-pronged "star" represents the Helghast triad of values: obedience, duty, and loyalty. The Helghast are essentially WWII Nazi Germany, and their fascist ideology focuses on the industrial productivity and inherent superiority of the Helghast race.

Unfortunately this figure suffers from one major flaw: the left elbow is unfinished. I have observed this from pictures other people have taken of the same figure, and it's not a single/limited design flaw. Strangely, DC Direct has neglected the left elbow a bare flat plastic surface, without any detailing...which can be quite an eyesore since it stands out from the rest of the figure.

One thing I do like about the DC Direct Heghast action figures: the way they do the eyes of the Helghast. From a distance they appear to be "glowing", which adds to the sinister/dark character of their appearance.

Another interesting feature is the StA-52 assault rifle. A hybrid on maybe a FAMAS/VHS/M203, it seems that it comes equipped with a secondary shotgun attachment. Even the figure itself has what look like shotgun shells strapped on its belt and thigh. But such a feature did not appear in the game itself...could be a slight oversight by the art and game-design team.

Killzone is one of those games that make me want to play as the "bad guys." The backstory reveals how the Helghast got screwed over by capitalism, the hardship they endured, they get invaded by the "good guys" on a whim, and they have perhaps the coolest equipment I have seen.

If you're a fan of Killzone (or just the design), I highly recommend getting the DC Direct action figures! They are well-sculpted and painted, and their fixed poses make for easy display. Currently I would lean towards the sniper figure due to the unfinished arm of the assault infantry. But if the assault infantry catches your eye, go right ahead and you won't be disappointed. Each figure right now goes for about USD 18 each.

I love being a geek, always.

Take Care!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The F-22 Raptor

Well met again, Fellow Nerds and Geeks!

I trust you are all well? This week's modern model kit feature would be the F-22 Raptor that I finally completed. (For those who may have noticed, I featured it under construction in my previous post on crazy intense model-making) It is also noted that this would be my second kit that was made using the airbrush technique.

F-22 Raptor Cruising..

In terms of 1/144 scale (My preferred choice) F-22 Raptor model kits, Trumpeter is the only maker that I know of. The kit is simple enough to fix without compromising detailing on the aircraft.

A closeup on the cockpit. (Made the Pilot all by myself using putty.)

As I am still learning about airbrushing, every hour spent on doing this kit was a learning experience. unlike the T-80B, I decided to use masking for this kit as I was required to airbrush using more than just one single uniform colour.

Looks quite plain but it was no easy task painting this fighter jet.

The difficulty in painting started due to my inability to utilize pre-shading and post-shading technique to bring out the detail in the various grooves and rivet points on the aircraft. It was terribly frustrating having to spray coats over coats and redo certain parts all over again because I was not able to come up with the proper definition and detailing.

Faceoff with the Raptor

In the end, I settled with a black wash to detail the various lines on the plane. Masking was also a big handful of a task as there were certain small areas that I could not possibly shape my masking tape to make the airbrushing effect go well. In the end, I had to contend myself with using the paintbrush for certain areas.

There were many issues I had to face with regards to this second model. While admittedly, I am still a big novice in this style of painting, I am pretty satisfied with my work. From airbrush faltering, uneven coat and sputtering paint, to the accidental spillage of thinner on my model that made me redo a big part of the raptor, there were many frustrating issues but the final product looked great and I learnt alot. I do hope to get better at this on my next few models that I intend to paint.

Side Profile
 With regards to the F-22 actual, at the cost of US$ 150 million, the F-22 is the most costliest fighter jet for its time. However, based on what I had seen in wikipedia, the F-35 per unit cost have surpassed the F22 and become higher. While I am not sure why, I opined that it is due to the length of the programme and the developmental cost that is tagged with the plane.

Underside of the F-22

The F-22 has three internal weapons bay capable of carrying an air-to-air loadout of 6 AIM-120 and 2 AIM-9X. It could also be customised to carry air-to-ground loadout of 2 AIM-120, 2 AIM-9 and 2 JDAM or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs.

Dashland Airforce F-22 Raptor with Insignia from the Airforce base of Danilton

Not sure if I had talked about this before but what makes the F-22 a leap over current day conventional fighters is it's super cruise ability which allows it to travel at Mach 1.5 without using afterburners. It is widely known that afterburner feature of a fighter jet consumes a lot of fuel, but it is the feature that enable most jets to travel at their top speed.

The Dashland Airforce Insignia

During the F-22's IOC or Initial Operational Capability, the F-22 was able to down its superior number adversaries.  F-16s and F-15s that went up against the F-22 on a 8:1 ratio still lost in aerial combat.

The rearview of the mighty stealth F-22 Raptor.

The Aftermath Action review from pilots who were the Red force aggressors explained that they could not detect the F-22 and during BVR combat, it was like getting attack before you could even react against it. The superiority in capabilities of the F-22 were haunting.

With such capabilities for a stealth 5th-generation fighter, I wonder what it would be like if the F-22 fought against a similar type of aircraft. Will there be the possibility of a dog-fight scenario? How would an aerial battle look like between a F-22 and a J-20 or PAK-50?

Do give your thoughts.

Till then, I hope you are please with the new regular updates and extra goodies on our Toyconstruct Page. I have also been the creating albums for the various works and photoshots from each blog posts that I post up on the Toyconstruct page too.

Aside from that, do let me or Josh know if you want any new features or improvements to our blog and FB page.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

iGun Pro

Hey Everyone

Anyone out there who uses geeky apps on their smartphones?

It's been about a year since our close friend Qamarul passed away, and one of my most poignant memories of him was his fascination with the iPhone gun app called iGun Pro. He was fixated on the renowned PPSh-41 submachinegun, because its 71-round drum magazine has the biggest magazine capacity of the collection of guns available.

The PPSh-41 SMG of WWII fame.
iGun Pro a free app that is all about guns. It's kinda like those Japanese ready painted/assembled military toys that come in boxes, that give you a model and at the same time offer some educational stuff about the model you got. You collect guns by accumulating coins, 10 coins are given for each day you play the app. To this day, I still 'play' it (it's not strictly a game app) almost everyday, and what attracts me most to this app is simply collecting the guns, firing the guns, hearing their unique sounds, and reading wiki pages about each gun I got.

Money money money.

There are some fascinating things you can learn about guns from Wikipedia...such as the M2 machinegun actually held the record for longest ranged kill for a long time, as soldiers have attached scopes to the MG to use it as a 'sniper'. Also learned that the WWI anti-tank rifles (like the Boys) formed the basis of anti-materiel rifles of today, such as the American Barrett and the French PGM Hecate. Big caliber = big mess.

Guns of all types are available to collect!
Guns do kill people...or do people kill people? I admit that I have some fascination with guns, such as their looks, historical importance, the security they give, and the technical expertise that goes into designing them. Maybe it's just being a military geek, but I won't deny that a world with peace and no need of guns would be a worthy ideal to aim for.

Top Tens: Close Quarter Combat

Recently, I watched the Military Channel's Top Tens episode on Close Quarter Combat guns, and I found the list rather interesting. It has a lot of new guns listed, and it appears that the future of gun warfare would be in bullets totally designed by computers. Could the halcyon days of the venerable 5.56x45mm NATO be over?

Without further ado, here are the guns listed in descending order of rank:

10) IMI Uzi

A simple Israeli SMG produced in the 1950s, it was named after its creator, Major Uziel Gal, and it has spawned successful "spin-offs" (micro and mini) and continues to see action to this day.

9) FERFRANS SOAR (Special Operations Assault Rifle)

A Philippine designed rifle that limits recoil climb with a patented rate reduction system, which does away with the need of a 3-round burst system.

8) H&K G36C

The G36C brings a rifle round to a pistol fight. The G36C uses a 3-round burst to limit heat build up in its barrel.


Sharing 80% of the parts with the M4 Carbine, it has special design features such as a self-regulating gas piston system, and advanced bolt carrier/carrier key design. Known to be a reliable and easy to maintain, and still pack quite some punch.

6) Knight's PDW

Guns are usually designed around a bullet, but this gun uses a bullet specially designed for the gun. It uses a 6x35mm proprietary round, to give it a lethal punch and yet has 50% less recoil than the M4 carbine.

5) FN P90

A gun that looks like it came from the future, the bullpup P90 is chock full of design features. Its casings drop downwards to allow it to be used in both left and right hand styles, which provides much needed flexibility in close quarters fights.

4) Cornershot

The brainchild of Lt. Col. Amos Golan of Israel, the Cornershot allows its user to fire around corners without exposing him/herself to deadly fire. I have heard that some troops use a cat soft toy cover for its barrel, and it's humorous to see bullets flying out a cat! Side note: the Germans in WWII had experimented with this idea using a curved barrel for the StG 44 Krummlauf.

3) Magpul FMG9

The FMG9 represents a revolution in SMG design, as its folding design allows it to be easily concealed (like a spare radio battery) and quickly deployed under fire. It was specially designed for protection details, who need to remain discreet and provide firepower when needed.

2) MP7

The MP7 is uses the propriety H&K 4.6x30mm cartridge, which provides stopping power that penetrates body armor. Easy to control and capable of pistol and shoulder firing positions, the MP7 looks to a true successor of the fabled MP5.

1) Kriss Super V
A weapon of unconventional design, the Kriss Super V uses an asymmetrical recoil system that diverts the recoil off-axis, behind the magazine. This dramatically reduces recoil climb, and it uses the .45ACP cartridge, giving it a lot of stopping power. Also, this deadly gun is designed to be easily maintained and owes some "gun-DNA" to the solid AK series of Russia.

What do you think of this list? I do feel that the MP5 should receive some mention, since it's been the staple SMG for a long time...and even shined during famous gun battles, most notably in Operation Nimrod (1980 Iranian Embassy Siege by SAS).