Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's been one hell of a year.

And on behalf of Toyconstruct,

We would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and an Awesome 2014 ahead!

Many apologies for the long hiatus. Josh and I have been preoccupied with many things. From studying to work matters, it has been quite a crazy year for us and time has slipped from our hands in posting new blog posts. But for now, let us all take in the festive season, have a great one with family and friends, share in the joyous occasion and reflect on the year behind us.

Till the new year, have a good one, and we will be back!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Orihime from Bleach

Today, we delve back into my anime collection.

I give you miss Ditzy of Bleach, Inoue Orihime. While she is also well-known for a bust, Miss Inoue is your typical ditzy anime girl. However, her strong will and peculiar lifestyle and mannerism overshadow her ditzy character, making her more endearing in the anime and manga. In this figure by Bandai, she is dressed in Shinigami uniform which is a depiction of her in the Soul Society arc in which Uryu Ishida saves her from Jirobo Ikkanzaka, a Shinigami of the 7th Division.

Orihime, the Healer of the Group

 Inoue has the ability to reverse time in the predefine area of her choice to heal allies. The ability also known as Soten Kisshun is what is iconic of Orihime.

 Interesting enough, while she had the eyes of many on her during the Bleach's peak popularity period, I did not really find her that attractive. However, I did empathize with her life story and her lonesome livelihood.

 The Lonesome Demure Inoue Orihime 

Unrequited Love.

Admittedly, my interest in Bleach died after the death of Aizen. That being said, in all that time, one would know that Inoue has feelings for Ichigo. Unfortunately, Inoue is the Eponine of Bleach in which her love is not reciprocated. Most definitely soem major friendzoning on.

Though I wonder who Tite Kubo (the Artist) is kidding. The girl could get any guy. Regardless, she could be the Bad Luck Brian of the show. Am I right?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Type 98G Tanks (GHQ)

Hi all!

Finally after quite sometime, I am back with some modern military stuff that I have finally completed. After being on and off in terms of painting and assembling, I have finally finished my Type 98G Tanks from GHQ.

Type 98Gs rolling by a countryside town

While I have had my fair share of painting GHQ modern warships, the Type 98s are my first paintjob and assembly of Micro Armor. Taking much guidance from GHQ forums, I magnetized the tanks turret so that it can rotate rather than it being in a fix position permanently.

Macro Shot shows the mighty detail the GHQ puts into its miniatures.

The Type 98 was seen in the October 1 1999 National Day Military Parade and it was the modern generation Main battle Tank developed by the Chinese. The Type 98 served as a prototype for the Chinese to modernize their tank force. The current Type 99 or ZTZ-99 are the by-products of the Type 98 design. Initially, the Type 98 had 4 crew which was reduce to 3 due to the addition of an autoloader in the Type 98G. 

The type 98G is also capable of traveling at speeds of up to 50mph and is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun which is able to fire APFSDS, HEAT and HE-Frag rounds. This tank caught my eye a few years back when I was playing Battlefield 2. I love how they introduced the Chinese as a new powerplay nation in Modern Warfare. The Type 98 was the MBT of choice for the Chinese side.

A line of Type 98Gs on standby.

In terms of the paint job of these GHQ Micro Armor Type 98 Tanks, I started with a black primer followed by primary basic color  of a customized mixed of catachan green (citadel paint), reflective green (vallejo) and snot green (citadel). I did the stripes using a customised blend of khaki, snakebite leather and white. I used chainmail silver (citadel) for the tracks and black wash the tank followed by agrax earthshade wash for the tracks to make it look a little weathered. Lastly, I layered the tank with lighter shade of the primary colour to make the whole piece standout.

The Chinese Machine has arrive!

There were a few obstacles I had faced doing these tanks. Firstly, getting the right mix of wash and layering was not an easy task. Furthermore, adding the fine detail like the red star and numbering was no easy task. Please do let me know if there is anything I can work on with these guys.

Recently, I have acquired from GHQ the new ZTZ-99 or Type 99 tank. As such, I will be applying my experience from painting these guys onto painting the Type 99. Similar to the Type 98, the Type 99 is featured in the new Battlefield 4 (Man, time passes so fast, I totally missed out on Battlefield 3. Then again, there is just so much to do.)

Single Player Trailer
China Faction is Back!

It is going to take me quite a while before I can get a good sizeable Chinese, US and Russian Force using GHQ Micro armor to simulate a Battlefield 2, 3, or 4 moment. Till then, I will promise to continue to feature more GHQ stuff.

Need the time to paint!

So stay tune and give me your feedback!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Papers Please.

 Hi all,

Not to long ago, I happen to stumble upon a game that took the number one spot for a brief period on Metacritic. The independent (indie) game is called Papers, Please which is available on Steam.

Papers, Please is a puzzle video game that puts you in the role of an immigration officer of the fictitious communist country Arstotzka. The storyline takes you into the life and job routine of an immigration officer.

Now if you may begin to feel that the game could possibly be boring due to the job scope, I will have to stop you there.

 Glory to Arstotzka!

The game gives an eerily real feel of how Cold War Communism could have been like. The dystopian atmosphere is pervasive and distinct in the graphics and game play. Life as an immigration officer may seem to sound dreary and lifeless. On the contrary, the gameplay makes things very much more interesting that it seems.

The requirements to monitor, screen, approve and reject travelers passing through Arstotzka increases as time goes by. Furthermore, there are moral decision that need to be made to sustain the livelihood your family. On top of all that, the relations between Arstotzka and neighboring countries will affect the procedures of your work in many ways. Created from the perception of going through immigration as a very tense experience, the creator of Papers Please wanted to turn that perception into an interactive fun game.

 Oh Jorgi!..

Mustache Man... What is your purpose of visit?
 Fun Fact: Prior to the release of the game, Lucas Pope, the creator of Papers Please, set up a name submission form for the public, where people could submit their own names to be randomly assigned to scripted characters in the game

The concept and gameplay is simple. And yet, there is a "feel" and "experience" to it that I really enjoy. If you are a fan of Cold War Communism and love to hone your skills in being meticulous and working through social problems, this game would be just the thing for you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thor (Hot Toys)

Good day to all!

For all those comic book fans out there, it would be of no surprise for you all to know that Thor: The Dark World would be coming to theater screens real soon! In fact, it premieres in London today! And so, I thought it would be more than appropriate to feature Hot Toys Thor from the Avengers Movie!

Firstly, I got to say that the quality of this figure is superb. From the head sculpt to the props, the figure is down right awesome! Furthermore, this would be my first Hot Toys Movie replica that I have unwrapped and I am thoroughly impressed by its quality.

I must state that the lighting and angle of the camera shot plays a part in really capturing Thor's "epicness". However, I am not sure if my Camera does Hot Toys' Thor full justice. Furthermore, I was unable to provide full background for Thor as the figure is huge. I must admit that I am not use to taking shots of 1/6 scale figures and this has resulted in picture shots without the usual background you are so use to seeing.

Despite my best effort and short comings, I do hope that you enjoy the pics.

 Mjolnir, The Hammer of Thor

 More often than not, Hot Toys provides an accurate depiction of the Movie Character/Replica figure that they are doing and Thor is not an exception. The detailing on Mjolnir is phenomenal. On top of that, the Hammer is made of metal and is pretty heavy which adds to the realism.

 "Whosoever holds this Hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor"

 Definitely Hemsworthy.

Hot Toys goes an extra further mile with the detailing putting Nordic runes inscribe on his circular chest piece. The inscriptions are so small, I can really show it through the pictures here. But if you check out our Toyconstruct page, I have a zoom up shot on it in the Thor album. It is pretty crazy awesome that Hot Toys would add details even the normal collector would not be very particular about. Definitely impressive by my standards.

"Do you want me to put the Hammer down!!??"

It is good to know that Hot Toys has come a long way from developing gear and doing WWII and Modern Military 1/6 scale Figures to specializing in Movie Replicas. And now, they are the dominant force in 1/6 Movie Replicas.Getting back onto Thor, I must say, the sequel to his introduction film looks great. From the trailer, it does show promise to succeed the first film in a good way.

Thor: The Dark World

Impress much?

Not too sure if anyone noticed but Thor and Loki's hair length grows longer from Thor to the Avengers to this sequel.

In any case, the villain Thor faces this time round is Malekith, the Dark Elf Ruler of Svartalfheim or Svartalfar in the Prose Edda of Norse Mythology. For Warhammer Fans, you all would be familiar with this name as Malekith is the Witch King of the Dark Elves of Naggaroth which is also very loosely based on Norse Mythology too.

Thor Odinson, Protector of Midgard

The film takes place a year after the Avengers and probably occurring after Iron Man 3 in chronological order too. The plot revolves around a darkness that existed before the universe. It focuses on Malekith, ruler of a primeval race who intends to exact revenge on the universe for its wrongdoings on him. Thor has to wield his Hammer and protect the nine realms from this evil which gets him consequently involved in Earth's affairs and reuniting with his love interest Jane Foster.

Side Profile

The Asgardian Warrior

A Close-up on the Bearded Manly Warrior

Looking at the trailer and at Hot Toys Avenger version of Thor, I am loving it all. The Head sculpt for the prototype received much skepticism but Hot Toys took in the comments and improve greatly on the final sculpt. While I cannot say the same for the quality of Hot Toys Thor from the first Thor movie, this figure gets my stamp of approval.

If you are a hardcore Marvel Fan Collector who enjoyed the Avengers Movie very much, I recommend you get this figure. But who am I kidding right? If you were a serious Marvel Fan, you would have probably got the pre-order. Unfortunately if you are still keen on wanting to get this, the only way to get it now is via ebay. Please be prepared to pay a higher price as these guys increase in value.

Now, it is time for me to don my fanboy shirt and continue to ride along the Marvel Universe with Thor! I do hope it won't be as underwhelming as Iron Man 3. In any case, have a great one with this film fellow Marvel fans!

Stay tune for more Toyconstruct posts! Will be featuring more from the other categories soon!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Call of Duty - Campaign Memories

Hey Everyone!

Unless you're living under a rock, you must have heard of the Call of Duty series, the FPS giant that has become the "FIFA" or "Madden" of FPSes...always leading in sales, and always updated every year. October 29th, 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of CoD's first release, and its latest title "Ghosts" will be hitting shelves soon. Looking back, the series has indeed come a long way since its 3D accelerated WWII roots. I was crazy about the first CoD, and I fondly remember playing the single player demo repeatedly due to its engaging D-Day mission.

Just some thoughts on Ghosts: I am disappointed that the campaign is about some South American coalition invading the United States, using hacked satellites to wreck destruction throughout the world, a plotline that is too cheesy for me. The plot sounds awfully similar to Cobra's attempt to world domination in GI Joe: Retaliation, doesn't it? What I was expecting was a game that featured Ghost from the Modern Warfare storyline, even if his backstory was covered in a comic book. Of course, there's always a possibility that Ghost isn't dead...and it's pretty obvious that Ghost will somehow be involved.

I just completed CoD 2 and stated the single player campaign for BF3. Yes, my backlog of games is approaching ancient history. Strangely, playing both games in close proximity has given me a clues on the formula behind CoD's success as a single player game, which might partially explain CoD's enduring "Apple-like" appeal in the FPS genre.

Even if BF3 far surpasses CoD 2 in terms of graphics, the older game's campaign was a much more enjoyable experience for me. BF3 is a functional shooter, it plays just as it was made to and its destructible environment adds variety to the game. Of course BF3's campaign was thrown in as an "extra" to its multiplayer, but its comparison to CoD will be inevitable. (Also, there are other FPSes that are well-known for their campaigns, such as Halo, Resistance, and Killzone.)

However, the main difference between the campaigns of BF3 and CoD 2 lies in presentation and panache. BF3's story is a meandering mess of backflashes, you get dumped into the campaign without any context, and I couldn't care less about its protagonist. In CoD 2, the missions are presented in a sensible fashion, you get moments to take in the settings (like the long truck ride in North Africa), the briefing videos provide context, and your friendly AI help in making you feel part of a team. In short, CoD 2 made me feel like I was fighting alongside comrades, but BF3's campaign made me feel just playing on a computer.

Do note that I've only played Infinity Ward's entries in the CoD series, so I can't really state the same for the Sledgehammer ones. From what I've experienced, it appears that the developers have used a consistent formula in the making of their campaigns, which includes character development of its main characters, dramatic twists in the storyline, a slight nod to realism, moments that let the player soak in the locales, and providing proper context to each of its missions (videos, briefings, small talk etc). While CoD's storylines are not the pinnacle of literature, they consistently deliver a solid and exhilarating experience for players.

In light of the impending release of Ghosts, I'd like to share top memorable moments I've had while playing the various CoD campaigns. Do let me know what are yours!

Memorable CoD Moments (IW)

Call of Duty: Stalingrad

You begin the mission as a pitiful private in the USSR army, and all you're given to storm the formidable MG42 nests is just a clip of rifle rounds, and when I first played that I thought it was a bug! Also, if the Germans didn't get you and you faced the wrong direction...your friendly neighborhood Commisar will be ready to kill you for "defeatism."

Call of Duty 2: El Daba (End of the Beginning)

The "demo" mission for CoD2 started off with an incredible scene. You're sitting in a truck within a British convoy, taking in the sights of the Egyptian desert, a calm moment before jumping into the hell the Germans have prepared for you.

Modern Warfare: Shooting Zakhaev (One Shot, One Kill)

Cpt Price is perhaps the most popular character of the CoD series, and what can get better than playing as him? While the mission ended up as a failure, it made me feel like a total badass: infiltrating enemy lines, shooting Zakhaev's arm off, taking a Havoc down, and surviving long enough to escape.

Modern Warfare 2: Prisoner #627

I should have seen this moment coming, but I was surprised out of my pants when Cpt Price (previously assumed dead/MIA) punches you to the ground when you breach a wall. Normally, you'd expect to be in full control of the situation, taking cronies by surprise, but this time...not just someone beat you to the punch, and it's none other than Cpt Price!

Modern Warfare 3: Down the Rabbit Hole

I hate to leave friends behind, and this one did hit've played with Team Metal under Sandman throughout the campaign and you've got to leave them behind. While the theme of sacrifice may be cliched in a military settings, it takes on a different feeling when you identify with those you leave behind.

And most difficult mission? Mile High Club in CoD4, easily.

As CoD reaches its 10th birthday soon, it still remains one of the juggernauts of the FPS scene, rising from its single player campaign to blossoming as a multiplayer game. The series will always have its detractors, but it is undeniable that their single player campaigns consistently deliver awesome experiences.

Friday, September 6, 2013

STGCC 2013

Good day to everyone.

Inevitably due to life's interceding tasks on hand, both Josh and I have been almost non-existent on Toyconstruct and we can only apologize for our long absence. Despite a lacking any time to myself due to my crazy workload, I still manage to set aside some time to go to the annual Singapore Toy Game Comic Convention.

I reckon that this would be my third or fourth time going to the default Geek Fair of Singapore. And while the exhibits are relatively similar every year, it's always a nice feel to soak in the nerd and geek atmosphere that is STGCC.

 It's STGCC 2013 and Marvel is the Big Player for this year.

 Hot Toys Iron Man 3 Space Armor

  Initially, STGCC focused on artworks, collectibles and computer games, including 1/6 Model Figures of all sorts, Street Fighter, Anime Card games, Gundam and Cosplay. However, with the resurgence of Marvel and DC Heroes over the past few years due to their respective blockbuster movies, I have noticed many of the companies that have large correlation to this two big entities started do become more dominant in STGCC.

Hot Toys Man of Steel looking epic

The main highlight for last year's STGCC was the Hot Toys Panel in which the sculptors of our beloved Hot Toys came down to grace the event. (Unfortunately, taking pics with them and getting them to sign autographs required buying all three of their exclusive figures which were quite honestly, not that receptive.) Nevertheless, Hot Toys seem to be very integral to the success of STGCC as it takes up much of the floor space along with the Marvel Panel this year. And of all their products, Iron Man and the Avengers Figures were their main showcase. Man of Steel and the Dark Knight got their equal share of space in the Hot Toys booth which further substantiates the Hot Toy's reputation as a premium collectible company.

 The enslaved fanboy lapping up on all the Iron Man action.

 The Marvel Booth was filled with events and freebies.

While I am sure many fanboys would admit that the film industry saved comic book heroes from gloom and doom, it seems that these Comic Book heroes continue to provide great profitability for merchandising collectible companies. Walking over to the Play Imaginative Booth, major features were derived from Iron Man. In fact, every corner of the entire STGCC had something to do with Iron Man. (It is almost a lil sickening to see Mr. Tony Stark's property everywhere. But then again, saying that would be pretty hypocritical of me since I was wearing an Iron Man T-shirt and checking out every Iron Man collectible)

 Bruce Lee looking glum as he is no Iron Man. Nevertheless, A great figure by Enter Bay.

Despite the populace gorging over the popularity of Iron Man and it's franchise, there were many other collectibles that could draw the crowd too. EnterBay had really cool life-like figures that could compete with Hot Toys. Of which their main features were T-800 Terminator, Michael Jordan and Bruce Lee.

U-Toys Soldier Story 1/6 Figures

There were also other main Retail Players in the SG Market for all forms of Collectibles like Simply Toys, U-Toys and the Falcon Hangar. All of which were showcasing other things aside from the usual Marvel Heroes stuff. Being a Modern Warfare fan, I could not keep myself from checking out U-Toy's Soldier Story Modern Warfare figure. For those who were wondering where was Action City in the midst of all this, I can tell you that they are the direct retailer for Hot Toys. Therefore, they were the ones who organize all the Hot Toys exhibits in STGCC 2013. It is enough to deduce from this that they are the big guns in the collectible retail market in Singapore.

 Rilakkuma is tired out.

 Of course, STGCC is also an event to let cosplayers deck themselves out and really showcase their costumes. Despite not being the main event in Singapore for cosplayers to dress up, you would find a very significant proportion of cosplayers contravening together in this convention. While I lack in knowledge of anime and cosplaying, I got to admit that without these guys and girls adding colour to the crowd, STGCC 2013 would be a less vibrant event.

 Iron Man, Iron Patriot, Me and Nat

I won't deny that the toys and collectibles are what compels me to go to this event annually. However, it is the artist alley and their illustrations that I have been spending most of my moolah every year. Usually I would get one or two illustrations from Imaginary Friends but nothing seem to catch my eye this time round. I think this could be attributed largely to one guy who came down from UK to be part of STGCC and he is none other than....

The Infamous Adi Granov, Artist of the Iron Man Extremis Comic

I loved this Guy's work. The shy and soft spoken Adi provided an illustration to what would be the Modern Era Iron Man. He set the conceptual foundation of the Iron Man Trilogy. It is noteworthy to know that it is his Iron Man Extremis illustration and the story written by Warren Ellis that provided  a source for adaptation for the Iron Man Trilogy. I only regret that I didn't bring my Iron Man Extremis comic to get him to Autograph. But getting his autograph sketch book and illustration print would be my saving grace.

Obviously, taking pics with the man himself was the best thing of all (:

And so my day out at STGCC 2013 is done. It is time for me to waltz out with Spidey back into reality.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wood Elf Spellweaver

Hail fellow nerds!

JQ and I have embarked on taking photos in our "photo studio" (aka JQ's room), and I have just begun to process the photos we have taken so far. We've taken mostly WFB for now, but will proceed with modern military with our next scheduled photoshoot. It was nostalgic shooting back in JQ's room, remembering how we started this blog, and we have much to thank you guys/girls for your continued and warm support :)

Today, I will be featuring a Wood Elf Spellweaver. I don't collect or play WE, but I bought a couple of figures from a painting service as I thought they looked pretty cool...and I could always use them in a proxy army lol (at least they're painted!).

The Wood Elves are non tax-paying residents of Bretonnia and live in the forest of Athel Loren, the oldest forest known in the Old World. Time is warped in Athel Loren, and travelers (or interlopers) who get lost for a couple of hours may exit centuries later, or get lost for decades but leave only mere minutes since their fateful entry.

Athel Loren is a self-aware forest imbued with magic, and is a neutral entity in the WFB world - it favors neither Order or Chaos. While the Wood Elves have become allies of the Kingdom of Bretonnia, they remain estranged from their High Elf cousins. Somehow in my mind, elves always seem to be super aloof and proud even to their own kin (exception: DE who just hate everyone else).

Wood Elves are born with an affinity with magic, and Spellweavers (or the less powerful Spellsingers) are feared on the battlefield, provided they pass spell checks and do not miscast haha. With spells that can render regiments ethereal and mend wounds. they can prove to be useful additions to any WE army.

Tree painting background was done by JQ.
From what I've read about them, Spellweavers have greatly benefited from the new 8th Ed rules, and are considered almost automatic choices for WE armies 1000pts and above. The new Lore of Life and Lore of Beasts have been improved, and a highlight is the Flesh to Stone spell, which increases toughness from T3 to a whopping T7. That's really super cool and I really hate playing with T3, especially against Chaos. For a more detailed discussion of WE tactics, check out Dice of Doom's summary of the 8th Ed Army, and there's a blog dedicated to all things WE.

The backgrounds are courtesy of JQ, who thought of using the tree and flower backgrounds to give the pictures an arboreal feel. Ever since we have studied abroad and away from each other, one of the things I miss most is being able to get together with JQ and just dive into photoshoots. I've tried shooting by myself, but the creative synergy of a partnership trumps working alone.

The Bretonnia Magic-caster's Club: A Bret Damsel with the WE Spellweaver 
With just a few weeks left of my time in Singapore, I hope to get at least one more photoshoot with JQ before we part ways again. Taking photos of our minis and toys is always a fun activity, not only exercising our creativity, but also allowing us to keep this blog running and stay in touch with you all!

Take care and stay tuned for more posts :)