Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dwarven Hammerers

Good day to all you Fantasy Fans!

It's HAMMER TIME!!! (Pun Intended)

Today, I shall be featuring my next dwarven regiment that I have completed. They are none other than the Dwarven Hammerers! Looking at my Dwarf Army, I can say that it has grown to an impressive armed force that is ready to earn some battle scars and wounds on the tabletop. One thing that my army really lacks of now is war experience. However, I am running really low on time this year to be able to play much Warhammer in the tabletop community. Hopefully, I will be able to clock in a few battles and feature to you all some nice battle reports and battle scenes.

The Hammerers patrolling their Underground Forts

Similar to a few of my other posts, I made an attempt to do another unique background illustrating the underground fortresses of the dwarves. Inspired by the huge pillars in the Mines of Moria, I decided to give this background a black and white touch to it. It isn't a great work of art but i was hoping that it would suffice in adding more dynamics to my photography taking.

Hammerer Regiment marching the stony path

For those who do not already know what Dwarven Hammerers are, I shall give a brief description about them. Dwarven Hammerers are the king's personal guards and are accorded a high status within the stronghold. Only a Dwarf who has proven courageous enough over the course of many battles may be selected to join the Hammerers.

"Duty to King and Hold", The Hammerer's Motto

While great skill, strength and courage are needed to be a Hammerer, complete loyalty to liege is the most important of all attributes. A Hammerer must dedicate his life to serve the king and is bound by oath to serve him well.

Stubborn among Dwarves

Hammerers are regarded as Stubborn even among Dwarves but their resolute character is what makes them stand out above the rest. In the battlefield, it is an inspiration to see the great hammers around the King go up and down slaying great numbers of enemies. Through the chaos, they stand firm.

A Lone Hammerer Raises his Hammer

Since my Dwarven throng has the Army colour of green, I decided that I would make my Hammerers uniform to that aspect. However, I gave a more regal touch by using a blend of Elysian and Skarsnik Green. Using a very small portion of Skull White paint, I would lighten the green and layer the Dwarf's colour part of their uniform from a dark green to a lighter green.

The Hammerers Insignia.

Similar to how I paint my Dwarf warriors, I will layer from a dark tone to a light tone. Applying Chain mail Silver to the armor and lightening up to a blend of White and Mithril Silver. For the Dwarves beard, I would use a primary base of Snakebite leather and Brown and layer the outline areas with Bleach Bone mixed with a small proportion of Snakebite Leather. I could have easily used another colour rather than mixing to get a perfect fit for my layering but I'd rather save the money and play around with the available Citadel Paints I have. In any case, that has always been how I paint my miniatures. (The most hardest part of painting the Hammerers was blending Mithril silver with Shining gold in the right amounts to make the insignia above)

In any case, I feel that the Hammerers would probably need an upgrade. They look neat but the pose that they have limits the miniature details. While taking these photoes, there were many times I couldn't find an angle to bring them to life. More often than not, I felt like the figures were more 2D . From the side, they look pretty cool. But taking a pic of them from the front really doesn't bring out their face and coolness like the Ironbreakers.

Let me know what you guys think about the level of the paint job and do you think the Hammerers need a makeover? Hit me up about it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wastlelander Panda

Hey Folks!

Real life has been strangling me for the past few weeks, and JQ's been doing a great job with his posts on his collections. We will be meeting together in a few weeks, and we aim to produce more high quality photos of collectibles...the original inspiration that brought us together in toyconstruct.

Today, I'd like to share about a rather high quality production I have bumped into thanks to Wasteland 2's Facebook feed.

Over the past decade, we have seen a rapid advancement of technology in our lives. Cellphones/handphones have gone from dot matrix graphics to HD, and video games today boast graphics that smash the quality of pre-rendered cutscenes of our favorites of the past (eg. C&C). Moreover, we have also seen a strong growth of independent films, which are based on popular franchises (eg. Halo, Fallout) or set in environments familiar to us (eg. the post-apocalyptic wasteland).

For those of us who play Borderlands 2, you may have spotted the panda stencil near a jackpot machine somewhere in The Dust...and may have wondered about the story behind the easter egg. Is it a Bansky thing? Or a pop culture reference?

I don't think I've ever gotten a triple 7 in BL2.
The panda is Arcayus, the protagonist of Wastelander Panda, an Australian production set in a post-apocalyptic world. WP tells the story of 2 panda brothers (Arcayus and Issac) and the peers they meet in a bleak and brutal post-apocalyptic world. WP originally started as a joke between university friends (Victoria Cocks & Marcus McKenzie), but the idea gained traction and is currently slated to become a full series.

Arcayus, a bipedal panda that kicks ass.
So far, 3 episodes have been released and boy do they look good. The acting is admirable, in particular the 7 year old girl Rose (Sunny Heartfield) from the 1st episode, who was able to evoke emotion and tension without uttering a single word. The funny thing is that no one explains why pandas and bisons are able to walk on two legs and speak perfectly good english, but the details are easily ignored as the drama and the excellent pacing grabs your attention.

The videos are below and arranged in chronological order. The episodes have gaps between them (the 1st and 2nd are separated by 15 years), and they give a preview of what to expect from the series. If you have played Telltale's The Walking Dead video game or watched Soylent Green, you may instantly know what's hinted at in Episode 2.

If you'd like to find out more, do check out Wastelander Panda's website.

With a quirky backdrop (walking pandas anyone?), artful cinematography, and an intriguing plot that explores ethics of survival, Wastelander Panda appears to have great potential. I would love to see the entire series when it is out.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1/700 Micro World Ships of The World Aimless Aegis Sengoku Ver.

Good day all,

Today I bring you another toyconstruct posts on my modern military collection featuring the Kongo Class Japanese Aegis Destroyer, Isokaze. While it is out of production, Takara has produced many interesting Japanese Self Defense Force models and collectibles. Among them is the 1/700 Micro World Ships of the World Collection. One of them featuring a three part section that when combined, gives the entire structure of the Kongo Class Destroyer.

Isokaze, the featured (Fictional) Kongo Class Destroyer from Takara Ships of the World Collection

Like many other products from Japan, Takara provides really high quality ready made collectibles like this Kongo Class Destroyer. Based on 1/700 Modern Naval ships from Aoshima and Pit-Road, I know that Japanese Model kits are of high quality and detail. However, I was surprise to find that the detail in this ready made version of the Kongo Class is really amazing. From the paint job to the parts that were already assembled, it looked great from all angles.

Isokase's Front section

The reason why this collectible came in three parts was due to the fact that Takara intended this display to not just be of the ship but to show a cross section view of the various section and the internal compartments that make this Aegis Destroyer function.

Cut away part of the Front section of Isokaze.

The cool part of this collectible would be to see the cutaway part of each section of the Ship. I really admire how Takara goes into the details of painting and sculpting the various internal rooms within the ship. From the above picture, you can see that the mid level part of the front section has the radar room and you can even see a cross section of other rooms and the bridge too.

The really awesome thing about this collectible is that it is a 3D display of the Warship like how some of these military books showing cross sections of the Tanks and Ships in their books as shown below.


Mid Section

In my opinion, this Kongo Class Destroyer has features that are similar to the Sdkfz 181 Tiger I collectible that Joshua featured in his post. And I believe that this collectible could also be quite appealing to the younger age modellers and hobbyist who are into modern military
stuff as it is easy to assemble and build.

Cut outs from the Mid Section.

As seen in the picture above, the mid section even has cut outs showing the internal parts of the side of the ship. Among these parts is the Aegis radar near the top left corner of this particular ship section. What really amazes me even more is that even the miscellaneous rooms are being sculpted to provide an accurate internal structure of the ship.

Back Section

Front Cut Away of the Back Section

While I do not know every room compartment in the Isokaze, I can deduce from the back section lowest compartment would be the engine room that drives the Ship's propellers. Furthermore, while the Isokaze is a fictional ship name, everything else is based on the actual JMSDF Kongo-class Destroyer.

The Isokaze's VLS Launcher with its array of missiles.

The Japanese Self Defense Naval Flag on the Isokaze

 Aside from showing various miscellaneous compartments in the back section of the ship, we can see the internals of the VLS launcher with its array of missiles. We are also able to get a view of other weaponry like the CIWS and the Mk 46 torpedo tubes. It is noteworthy to know that the Isokaze is a Kongo-class Destroyer which is also essentially an Arleigh Burke Flight I modification.  This modification resulting from the transfer of technology and design between the US and Japan is but one of the many defense collaboration between the US and Japan. Japan's Self Defense Force have been acquiring US weaponry since the days after World War 2 and it is no big wonder that Japan has a strong Asian ally to the US.

As such, matters of each nation do affect the other nation to a significant extent. In recent years, this ties have been drawn to attention due to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. There have been rising tension in Sino-Japanese relation due to the dispute over whether the island belongs to Japan or China. While this dispute is between the People's Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Japan, the two Chinese states have recognize that the islands are part of Taiwan as part of Toucheng Township in Yilian County of their respective divisions. In escalation to what has been mentioned, naval activities between the Chinese Navy and Japans Maritime Defense Force have been frequent around the islands and this has made the US nervous due to not wanting to get embroiled in a conflict with China.

Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands: Nothing really special until the discovery of oil reserves.

However, for all the naval tactics and maneuvers made by fisherman boats and Japanese Coast Guard, many do view this as more of a political play from both sides rather than a possible escalation to war. What is your point of view? And, if naval battle does ensue, will the Kongo Class Destroyer prove deadly against a growing modernized People's Republic of China Navy? 

A NTD Analysis on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island Dispute.

The New Tang Dynasty Television provided an in-depth analysis on this conflict and an interesting point of view. This News Station is based in New York City and its aim is to provide truthful and uncensored news in and out of China. While I dare not say it is unbiased in its news reports and opinions due to its "liberal" feel, it could help us discuss on the possibilities of this conflict and perhaps hypothesize a possible modern naval battle scenario.

So let me know your opinions on the collectible and the conflict. Other than that, Stay tune for more features on Modern Military Collectibles and other stuff!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kurosaki Ichigo

Another Good Day to you all!

Today in my Collectible Archive, I shall be featuring an action figure of the Anime Genre. From the popular tv series Bleach, I present to you its main character, Kurosaki Ichigo. As mentioned before, this Fantasy Samurai anime series' plot line  is not very in-depth and the fillers can make watching the show an agonizing experience. However, I must repeat myself to say that the fight scenes are pretty epic and it really captivates me how the Anime has developed and improve in its illustrations.

Ichigo in Bankai Form
Int his post, I have decided to paint and make my own background to suit the collectible being featured. In this case, Ichigo is in his Bankai Mode with his Tensa Zangetsu's Reiatsu (a.k.a Spirit Power). I do realize my paint job isn't really that amazing, but I do hope it pleases your eyes and provides a new direction in featuring my collectibles. (The "good guy" & "bad guy" sky background can be dreary for me and perhaps even more for you readers)

A Close-up on the Substitute Shinigami

Despite the fact that he looks really cool in his Bankai form and his ability to move way faster than usual along with his power ups, I do not really like the main protagonist of Bleach, aka Kurosaki Ichigo. Along the main story arcs, like the typical hero, Ichigo saves the day. However, on many occasion, you can't help but feel that Ichigo is just some upstart kid that just so happen to always manage to have some random surge of power and talent to defeat enemies who have way more training, talent, skills and experience compared to him.

The Boy who sacrificed to protect the ones he care about

The fundamentals of Ichigo's philosophy is that he must get stronger to protect the ones he love and care about. And it is an admirable trait. By all means, I feel it is a good trait to develop the character. However, I guess I am critical of the story as noone really teaches him on becoming better. Aside from his Sword Spirit, Zangetsu, you don't feel like there is much training needed for him.

Ichigo looks into the distant.

In fact, I feel his philosophy "to protect the people he cares about" is washed down by the fact that he somehow is able to defeat enemy after enemy in an shallow and unrealistic way. Of course, Bleach anime fans could argue that he already has a gift of great power that surpasses many of his enemies. As such, it is the fact that he has to use all of his mental strength and soul to control this untamed power inside him for fear he might lose control of himself and even hurt the people he care about that adds weight to the his story of sacrifice.

A Determiend Ichigo

I could understand that to some degree but the anime doesn't portray it in a way you can really empathize with the guy. Typically, I mean we all know that in a heroic story, the hero always wins, but I just do not see the struggles he had to go through to achieve that ending. Unlike Spiderman or Samurai X, I can't relate to Ichigo's trials and tribulations.

Ichigo's Katana: Tensa Zangetsu.

Regardless of my critique of his character, I really do like the appearance of his Bankai Form. It looks pretty darn badass. Furthermore, his reiatsu colour of black,red and white really does add an extra sense of awesomeness.

In spite of all my continuous rants over the span of all my Bleach blog posts about Ichigo and the Anime in general, their fight scenes outweigh my critique. As such, I have recently been compelled to complete the Arrancar arc. And I dare say, I was pretty please with the ending of the Arrancar Arc and the last few awesome fight scenes between Aizen, Urahara, Yoruichi and Isshin. All of which culminated to the final battle between Aizen and Ichigo.

Pretty epic stuff.

Here is a Youtube vid of the Part 1 and 2 of this Final Battle. 


Till my next blogpost, hope you enjoy today's anime goodness!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Toyota Technicals

Good day to you fellow Military Wargamers!

 Today, I bring to you the most widely used modern combat vehicle in the world: "The Toyota Technicals". From every corner of every third world country in raging civil war, there is a Toyota Technical in active combat. From the Libyan rebels to African Warlords, the Toyota Technicals are there to provide heavy machine gun support and mobility for their forces. I hope you enjoy the setup of my GHQ Toyota Technicals and troops.

Toyota Technicals in the desert.

According to an article by Ronnie Schreiber from the website, "The Truth about Cars", it is interesting to know that these Toyota trucks got their nickname "Technical" due to the war in Somalia in which NGO practice of hiring local gunmen to protect their employees, and paying them with funds earmarked as “technical assistance grants”.

Toyota Technical and 3rd World Regular Infantry.

The greatest things about these vehicles is their ability to mount many variable weapons. As long as the weapon can be practically mounted on the truck and fired at a target without destroying the vehicle, you would see it on these Technicals. Overall, the most common weapon you would see these Toyota Technicals armed with would be the DsHK MG as seen in these pictures.

A Trooper scouts ahead as these Toyota Technicals wait behind.

The reason for many third world warlords and dictators acquiring such trucks as mobile light armored vehicles with heavy weaponry is because of the durability, cheap price and mobility of the Toyota Technicals. It is no wonder that we would see them in Afghanistan, Africa and Syria.

Technicals and a Squad of Soldiers in the desert.

As long as there is no professional army or there are lack of funds to develop a modern army, you would see these technicals as part of one's military arm. It is by far the most suited vehicle for a militia group. In a post apocalyptic America or any other developed nation, when the Modern Military goes out of commission, I can imagine these mean machines prowling the highways in which normal people have to fend themselves by becoming militia men and protecting their towns.

Two Technicals in the Desert as the Sunsets.

Ironically, the infamous Toyota Technicals are facing new competition as stated on an article by Rob Schreiber. As these Toyota trucks evolved into more luxurious vehicles with a more preppy reputation, Chinese manufacturers are making a push into the Middle East markets with their far more cheaper version of these trucks. Priced at USD$10k or less, these Chinese trucks have the potential of taking out the Toyota Technicals from the scene. Below is a Youtube vid of many variations of these Toyota Technicals with a background voice over of a Toyota commercial. Evidently, I sense some trolling in the video.

For those who are in the 1/285 scale wargaming scene, I recommend this vehicles from GHQ's catalog. The Toyota Technicals come with or without the MGs. You can click the link here for the ones with MG. These guys would make perfect pieces for you Modern Warfare game involving a civil war of the third world country. So go get some!

Speaking of 1/285 Wargaming stuff, I am still in the midst of painting the Type 98 Chinese MBT. It's been slow and trying. So many tasks on hand. Got lots to do, blog posts to be written, pictures to be taken, games to be completed and reviewed and many summer movies to catch. Apart from these leisurely stuff, Work has taken much of my week along with certain academic stuff and Aikido.

Nevertheless, I will continue to feature many posts from all genres and I will show you the Type 98 real soon.

Till then, Happy Wargaming!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the 4th be with you!

With J. J. Abrams preparing for Star Wars and Disney pumping in resources to make the new trilogy, there is much to get excited about for Star Wars fans.

For now, Toyconstruct would like to wish all you Star Wars Fans a Happy May the 4th.

And May the 4th be with you.