Friday, May 30, 2014

Batman (Arkham Version by Square Enix)

Hi all,

It is interesting to know that the infamous caped crusader has turn 75 this month. Batman who was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger has been around more years than any of the Marvel Avenger.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I will be featuring one of the many version of Batman across these many years. One of the most coolest Batman in video games has to be Batman from the Arkham series of games.

Fight Mode Activated.

With just the right element of puzzle solving as a detective, the cool gadgets used as Batman and the fight sequence, it makes for a really awesome game. I really do like the fight system in the Arkham series as illustrated in the below video on combat tactics. It really does showcase Batman as a Martial Art Specialist Extraordinaire.

"Batman: Arkham City" - Combat Tactics by MahaloVideoGames
The Dark Knight

One Thing that rings through to the Modern Persona of the Batman is that there is much emphasis on the grit and fear of his symbolism to criminals. Batman isn't the super wholesome hero like many other heroes that we know of. He is the night, he is terror. And like Melisandre would say in Game of Thrones, "The Night is Dark and Full of Terror." This terror is enhanced by the criminal's own guilt conscience.

Batman and his iconic Batarang.

It is this mix of terror and vigilant justice that has made Batman such an icon today. In fact, the re-imaging of him to be mold from these two factors that made him grittier and so much more appealing today. From Tim Burton's Batman to the Dark Knight series by Christopher Nolan, the Batman story in the movies had also focus on these characteristics to be a hit success on screen.

The Dark Night watches over the City

In retrospect of the Batman Legacy, The Caped Crusader is somewhat of a Modern Time Zorro. Perhaps much of the inspiration of Batman could be derived from that classic vigilante. On the topic of the Bats, I am sure many of you are aware that Zack Snyder has picked Ben Affleck to be the new face of Batman. Many of the fans are not too please with the pick and are quite concern that Ben would not be able to pull it off due to his less than exceptional portrayal of Daredevil. There are also some concerns that he just isn't the right fit to be the Bats. And with Christian Bale's exceptional performance as Batman, the shoes he has to fill in place of the previous Dark Knight are quite big.

Nevertheless, I feel we must give the new Batman a chance. I too was quite adverse to Zack's pic of Ben. And I was quick to judge. But I think many were also quick to judge Heath Ledger as the Joker before the Dark Knight movie came out. I would be thoroughly impress if Ben can change our opinions and pull off this role well. What say you guys? Do you think Ben can do well? He was impressive in Argo. Perhaps that can count to him being able to pull this role off? Let us in on your thoughts!

The Face of Vigilance

Onto the Action Figure review, Square Enix has done an awesome job in making Batman: Arkham's Asylum Action Figure. The famous video game developer, publisher and distribution company also has a knacked for creating really exceptional quality action figures (e.g Halo and Mass Effect) and they really nailed it on this figure too.  After completing the Arkham Asylum game, I was really impress and captivated at the whole gameplay and the game persona in Batman. As such, I decided to source out and get the DC Direct Batman Figure. Quite honestly, the figure look pretty good too. 

However, Josh found out about Square Enix version of the Arkham's Batman and recommended it to me. Consequently, I was impressed at the articulation and quality of the work. DC Directs Figure of the same game paled in comparison.

I have more pictures of the Dark Knight here on our Facebook Page. Do let us know if DC Direct can compare with Square Enix the Dark Knight.

Till next time, Happy 75th Anniversary to Batman!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yukishiro Tomoe

Hi all again,

Much Posts this month?

Today, I shall be featuring Yukishiro Tomoe from Samurai X. As a fan of the TV Series, Manga and Live Action Movie, Yukishiro Tomoe must be a familiar character to all. Tomoe plays a major role in the Manga's Final Arc and is also a critical role in the Samurai X OVA.

Soft Spoken and Demure. Such is Tomoe's Persona.

Born to a Samurai who was a low level bureaucrat that served the Tokugawa Shogunate, Tomoe was the eldest daughter of the family. She had one younger sibling, Enishi, who doted on her and treated her like a surrogate parent due to the death of their mum shortly after Enishi was born. Enishi would later play a critical role in the Final Samurai X OVA, Seisohen.

Tomoe side glances

Her story and how it collides to Kenshin is one that adds great gravitas to Kenshin's philosophy of not killing anymore. As the main lady in his life during his Battousai days, the relationship he had with her was one of great complication.

Sometimes, I feel that it is the sense of irony in a story that makes a story so great. In the case of Tomoe and Kenshin, the latter assasinated the former's fiancee in cold blood due to his duty to his superiors who were people that were part of the Meiji Government. Before dealing the death stroke to Tomoe's fiancee, Kenshin was cut across his cheek for the first time in his career as an assassin. It was the fiancee refusal to let go of his life in hope that he could live it with Tomoe and his resolve that enable him to inflict a cut on Kenshin. A cut which would never heal or stop bleeding. Little known to Kenshin, Tomoe who was stricken with grief for her fiancee was sent to him as part of a plot to assassinate him as repercussion to the blood that he has spilled from the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Simple Kimono in front of a Flower Background. A perfect combination of Floral and Beauty

During the time that she lived with him, it is interesting to know that she began to have feelings for Kenshin and the unlikely love blossoms into something so deep and profound between the two. In the manga, it was clear that Kenshin asked for her hand in marriage in which Tomoe accepted. The relationship between the two lovers grew. Eventually, she admits to him of her purpose of being with Kenshin. And yet all is forgiven by him. In spite of the truth, their feelings for each other were mutual.

But such beauty could not last, Tomoe discovers that she was but a pawn in the entire plot to assassinate Kenshin. She was then used as bait to lure Kenshin into a series of ambush. Ultimately facing Tomoe's father who would have dealt the final blow to the Battousai. However, in a horrific twist of fate, Tomoe protects Kenshin from the father's blow and Kenshin accidentally cut her and the father down.  The tragedy ends of with Tomoe placing another slash over his existing cut to form an "X" which sets precedence to the entire manga/anime being known as Samurai X.

Ah, Tragic Love are but the greatest romance. The Toy Com Samurai X Action Figure of Tomoe truly showcases her getup and features. I really love the accurate detailing of the figure according to how she was illustrated in the OVA. Demure and Soft Spoken, there is a sense of calm that is accurately shown on the face of this figure. And yet there is a sadness in her eyes that the figure accurately portrays of her as she was in the OVA.

Hope all you guys enjoy these figure. Let me know your comments. More Pics of Tomoe in our Facebook page here.

Till next time! Take care!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The T-34/76

Hi all,

Today, we take a trip back in time to WWII in which I shall be featuring the infamous T-34/76 Soviet Tank. T-34 History.

World in Conflict Soviet Background with the T-34 

The T-34 is undoubtedly the iconic mainstay of the Soviet Armored Force in WWII. At that point of time, many of Soviet Military top brass were against the idea of putting investment into a new tank design and recommended pumping more money into producing more of the existing T-26 and BT Tanks. However, due to the poor performance of these tanks, the T-34 Tank, led by Mikhail Koshkin went into full production.

T-34/76 Mod 1941

The particular version I am featuring today is the Model 1941 from Dragon Armor. Weighing in at 29.2 tons, this Red Monster is armed with a mean 76.2mm F-34 gun. (Slightly Bigger than the AMX-13) Packed with a Model V-2-34 38.8 L V12 Diesel Engine, it can go to a speed of 53 km/h and has a road range of 400km. The T-34/76 also has secondary armaments that include 2 7.62 machine guns. And lastly, it has an armor that ranges from 20-52mm depending on which side of the tank. With the armor put together with its sloping design, the T-34 was one of the most heavily armored tanks in 1941.

The Red Star, Ever so imposing of an Insignia

 Top Side

 While the Soviets were not revolutionary in terms of their planes or ships, the T-34 is definitely a paragon of tank evolution. The sloping armor design was one of the first of its kind and with the massive production rate of the T-34, the Soviet Armored Strength shocked the Germans. While the T-34 did pack as big a punch as the German Panzers, its armor could also take a pounding and with its numbers, it dished out a painful bite against the enemy.

I gotta be frank. When I was a kid and I got familiar with WWII, I was very intrigue by the Panzer and Tiger Tanks of the Third Reich. They look massive, deadly and awesome. Hell, my first WWII Micro Machine was a Tiger Tank. However, over the years, as I got to familiarize myself with more of the other Tanks from the other armies, I began to fall more in love with the T-34. I always wanted to force myself to like the "Good Guy" tank which would be the iconic Allied Sherman Tank. However, its light armor and puny gun did not steer me away from the fact that German Panzers were way cooler. The T-34 changed all that. No only was it a high speed fighting machine, The T-34 represents the best of mobility, armor and firepower in World War Two. None could match it when you wanted the best of these three aspects. It is pity that because of ill support, lack of training and the inferiority of the Soviet Army as a whole, these T-34s were not put to better use. Many were lost in initial battle of Barbarossa.

Dragon Armor has really put in great effort to making this T-34/76 look as awesome as it can for a 1/72 scale die cast model.In fact, this would be my first 1/72 Die cast WWII model and looking at it does bring a smile to my face.

What are your opinions on this sturdy tank?

Do let me know and stay tune for more Toyconstruct Post!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I love the '80s: Masterpiece Soundwave

Hey Everyone

I apologize that I have been MIA for quite awhile due to medical school, boards are coming and have taken up a lot of my life lately. Classes have ended for me and I have more time to dedicate this blog to you all :) but I still have the boards coming up. Life hands you lemons, you make margaritas. Don't stop at lemonades.

Today, we would be featuring an icon from a decade that holds dear to us - the '80s. That was possibly a decade best remembered by cheesiness, such as hover-skateboards, neon colored clothes, yuppy culture...but it also saw a ton of creative output. Movies were more imaginative than today, such as the Terminator, Mad Max, Robocop, Blade Runner, and Back to the Future. It was also the Bronze Age of comics and darker and grittier storylines made an immense literary impact on still felt today, with classics such as the Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.

And one thing most of us remember very well of the 80's: Transformers, and G1 stands out as the most awesome series, for me at least. The most cynical of us would remark that Transformers is nothing more than a sly corporate maneuver to get us buying hordes of transforming plastic toys. However, it cannot be disputed how Transformers has grown to become one of the biggest cultural phenomena in the modern world. It has spawned motion pictures, cartoon seasons, comic lines, video games, and an extremely loyal fanbase. You can't deny that transforming toys have a certain coolness to them, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone in today's world who hasn't hard of Transformers.

Soundwave: Decepticon icon in his G1 glory.
I have a soft spot for the Decepticons (even though they desire the subjugation of Humankind), and always wanted to get my hands on a Decepticon Takara Masterpiece. On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I was able to pick up MP-13 Soundwave (2nd wave) for a pretty good price. I was actually visiting the Hot Toys "Secret Base" exhibit (which will be featured in another post), and in the same building there's a ton of small toy shops that sell collectibles at competitive prices. If you're there, I strongly recommend knowing what you want to get, and visit a few shops to see their prices.

Soundwave is the stereotypical 80's Transformer who has appeared frequently as the Communications Officer of the Decepticons. You can't get anymore 80's than a robot that transforms into a microcassette recorder, and talks in a computerized monotone voice. JQ and I agree on one thing about Soundwave: he's one of the coolest Transformers out there.

Soundwave's flexibility allows him to even depress his own open/close switch.
Hasbro and Takara produce their own lines of Soundwave masterpieces, and the main difference lies in the color of the eyes. Hasbro's has yellow while Takara's has red. The other noticeable difference is the inside of Soundwave's foot: it's painted in Takara but unpainted in Hasbro's. Also, Takara's instructions are wholly in Japanese, and they probably have a stronger brandname (and higher markup) that translates to bragging rights. I've not been able to compare the 2 together, but I've heard the quality difference is minimal. The kicker lies in his minions: Takara's only has Laserbeak, but Hasbro's has the whole gang for a cheaper cost.

Laserbeak ready for deployment!
As expected, Takara delivers with Soundwave's paint job. The colors are spot on and the application is very neat. There were minor details that could have used a better paint application (the chrome on the fast forward button is not even), and yes we have to admit that most of our toys come from China. This may explain why the quality difference in Hasbro and Takara is negligible, and toy manufacturing quality (probably with some Japanese supervision) has greatly improved to give us quality Masterpieces.

Soundwave comes with a few accessories:

1) Laserbeak (or Condor in Japanese parlance)
2) Megatron as a Walter P-38 scoped with a extended butt
3) An energon cube
4) A viewscreen (for over the chest)
5) Concussion blaster (that doubles as an AA battery)
6) A sensor to replace one of his fists
7) A slipcase for Laserbeak in cassette mode

The instruction manual comes with a cut out for Soundwave's viewscreen, but fans have scanned high quality versions of it so that you won't have to cut your actual manual for the cut out.

Soundwave with his concussion blaster at the ready.
Sounwave's spy sensor, would be mistaken for a plasma blaster cannon if I was a kid.
Transforming Soundwave did take awhile due to our lack of Japanese, and posing him was surprisingly easy given his blocky G1 form. Soundwave also comes with additional "Easter Egg" functions that add personality to him. The fast forward/rewind buttons do spring when pushed on (but not the other buttons), and the earphone jack fits actual earphones.

In all, JQ and I had fun playing around with Soundwave, his innate coolness and good pose-ability makes him a worthwhile Transformer to collect. The 2nd wave is still widely available, and would fetch around 130-150USD. It's pretty obvious that the Masterpiece line is targeted to those who have lived in the 80's, and they did deliver to our expectations for quality and fun.

Here's some photos in the end JQ and I did for fun, and thanks for your continued readership! It means a lot to the both of us. Cheers!

PS: Here's a personality test on "Which Transformer are you?." Perhaps it's fitting for this post that I got Soundwave!

Soundwave and Ravage (note this Ravage is a separate toy and not to scale).
Decepticons may be evil, but Soundwave enjoys the steadfast loyalty of his minions.

JQ and I having fun with the almost functional earphone jack.

Ravage and Soundwave, making retro cool since G1.

Friday, May 16, 2014

F-2 Mitsubishi (1/700)

It is yet another fine day for some Modern Military!

This year, I will be featuring lots of "mini" model pieces. In order to challenge the limit of how detailed and skillful I can paint, I shall be doing lots of 1/700 modern aircraft. Today, I shall be featuring the first of many. It is the F-2 Mitsubishi, also known as the Japanese F-16 Fighting Falcon.

F-2 Mitsubishi patrolling Japan's airspace

Taken from the Takara 1/700 Micro Ship of the World Kongo Destroyer Series, this is by far the smallest ready-made model piece I have ever seen. The imprinted number on the plane is insanely detailed and it also showcase how quality is top notch in Japan.

  Impeccable detailed one-piece model of the F-2 by Takara

For my pictures, I have Josh to thank for loaning me his Macro Lens. Josh's Lens help showcase the minute detail put in by Takara on the F-2. I only hope that my 1/700 Modern Planes I am doing now would be as good as this.

The F-2 Mitsubishi approaches

Developed from the F-16 Block 40, the F-2 Mitsubishi was a controversial program as its unit cost (inclusive of development cost) was about four times higher than procuring the Block 52 F-16 based on its unit cost minus the development cost.

Another controversy was the licensing cost required by the Japanese Government to pay the Americans for producing the F-2. Despite these issues, the JASDF ordered 94 to be built, inclusive of 4 protoypes. Currently, there are 89 F-2 in active service as 5 were scrapped due to damage sustained in the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

A 1 pound coin is rather huge compared to this little size F-2

It is note worthy to know that the F-2 differs from the F-16 in a few things. The F-2 has a larger tailplane and air intake. It also has a three-piece cockpit canopy and a 25% larger wing area. Last of all, it is made out of composite material use to reduce overall weight and radar signatures. With the ability to carry four ASM-1 or ASM-2 anti-ship missles, 4 AAM and additional fuel tanks, it definitely packs more of a punch than the F-16A. 

The F-2 is a 4.5 generation fighter and has seen its fair share of action over the Sea of Japan. On two separate occasions in 2013, F-2 Mitsubishi were scrambled to warn Russian Air Force aircraft to leave Japan's Airspace. In spite of the F-2 accolades, the dawn of the F-35 is approaching. As such, it is only logical for the Japanese Government to make a decision not to continue production of the F-2. 

Hope you guys have a thing for Miniature stuff because there will be more coming your way. You can view all the F-2 pictures in Toyconstruct's facebook album here.

Till next time,

Happy Modelling!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bretonnian Pegasus Knights

It is time for some Fantasy this week!

Today, I shall feature the last work for Warhammer that I have done. After much time, I have finally completed my Pegasus Knights of Bretonnia. So enjoy the pics of my works below!

Many Pegasus Knights hail from the Province of Paragon

 And most of these Knight hail from Rich Families. To ride a pegasus is one of High Stature.

These guys pack quite a punch when it comes to Flying Units. As a Flying Cavalry, its charge increases the strength of the attack. Furthermore, it has armor and has more than one attack. With the greater accessibility as a flying unit, the Pegasus Knights can serve as a great harassing and flanking unit. I decided to go with a more brighter tone of colours and adding more defined highlighting for these Knights.

Layering and Drybrushing the Pegasus was a great joy for me

The Winged Insignia is the Emblem of a Pegasus Knight

Furthermore, the heraldry were painted on rather than using the default decals as none of the decals' colours suited how I painted the Pegasus Knights. On paper, these guys are one of Bretonnia's finest which is why I am considering to paint a few more of them for my Bretonnian Army. On top of that, they look magnificent with their poses.

Charge from Above!!

However, due to time constraint and my lack of enthusiasm on GW plans for Warhammer as a whole, I don't think I will have anymore Warhammer Miniatures for the first half of this year to say the least.

I do apologize to all my Warhammer fans if this disappoint you but I only have so much time and I will be dedicating more time making Modern Military Miniatures and Model Kits whose companies treasure their customers. In fact, while there was a recent update of the Dwarf Army Book, I have not even procure it. Let alone read my Daemon and Warriors of Chaos Army Books. I find it rather strange that every fantasy post pertaining to GW and Warhammer has never been a positive one for quite a while.

Flanking with these guys can be so so deadly. Deadly, yet beautiful

It is quite tragic because my lack lustre interest in Warhammer is primarily arising from the way GW treats their fan base and the exorbitant prices they charge for their products. However, as I have said before, I will continue to do Fantasy Miniatures but not all will be just from GW. Despite my continuous whining about GW, I am still very dependent on their acrylic paints. As such, I can't totally cut them off and not support them. I will give them recognition on their high quality paint. Hopefully, they won't go beyond a certain mark in terms of charging their pants.

In any case, while I would only be showcasing or working on one or two GW miniatures this year, I will still continue to feature interesting Fantasy Miniature news I happen to find.

Thanks once again for reading! You can see the rest of my Pegasus Knights pics on the Toyconstruct facebook page here. Till then, See you all soon!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spiderman (Marvel)

Hello everyone!

It has been Marvel Madness for the first half of 2014! We have gone past Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was a fantastic show with a brilliant plot line! And now we are lining up with the Amazing Spider-man followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. It is a great time to be a marvel fan and for all blockbuster viewers.

Appropriately, I will be featuring the Hasbro Marvel Universe Spider-man in conjunction with the Amazing Spider-man 2 Show. The film is scheduled to be released on 1 May 2014 in Singapore. However, it has already had screenings in a few countries.

 Spider-Man, Guardian of NYC

 I am sure many of you know the origins of Spider-Man. An original work by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Peter Parker bitten by a spider transform into your neighborhood friendly Spider-man. The great appeal of Spidey is his relatability to your average teenager. It has been half a century and the Web Slinging Hero is still able to connect with teenagers and young adults. Even older audiences can still feel for Spidey and the issues and troubles he has to face as the Hero and as a Normal guy.

 The Web-slinger slings

 In fact, the infamous quote "With great powers comes great responsiblity" is a great moral compass that defines Spider-man character and hero status. The fact that Spidey has powers that are not over the top makes his story more compelling. Unlike the Man of Steel, he is still human. He still has limits as to what he can do. And the fact that he relies on the people of New York to help him at times is something that touches many comic book fans.

 Spidey on the Foreground of the NYC landscape

It is these main points in all of Spidey's various adventures and obstacles that has made his story a subject of poignant interest. Don't you all think Spidey's story has great depth? I dare compare that he is definitely up there in terms of great comic literature. In fact, if it weren't for Spider-man, Marvel would have not gotten such a name for itself. Spider-man is the Mickey Mouse of Marvel. Any objections to that? Hahaha.

 Game Time with his Buddies

One thing that I haven't really tried out with my figures is making them do stuff as if they were really Action-figure size. I believe you have seen some pictures featuring the infamous picture concept of the Stormtrooper and his son as shown here.

Avenger Friends helping each other out!

I figured that the Hasbro Marvel Universe Series Action Figures were the most appropriate of the lot of figures I have to be part of this picture concept of "life as an action figure". Inspired by "Toy Confidential: The Secret Life of Snarky Toys", I have decided to try these few pics of Spidey and Iron Man working together. Hopefully, my deviation from normal protocol of taking Action Figures are to your satisfactory! Please do let me know!

Painting and Modelling is no easy job. Teamwork always helps!

Nothing like Rocking it to the max when your movie is coming out

On another note, Hot Toys have release their Spider-Man Figure from the Amazing Spider-man 2 film. I got to say that it is really awesome!

 Look! It even includes Spider-man in winter clothing! Pretty Hipsterish

 Definitely looking way more leaner than Tobey's Spiderman

There have been good and bad critics about the Suit. Many like the leaner Andrew Garfield's Spidey. However, there are criticism on the material use for his suit. Some have said that Hot Toys use cheaper quality than the one used for Hot Toy's Spider-man 3
 Yellow Eyes. Yuck

I have already pre-ordered the new Amazing Spider-man figure. Primary reason why I did not get the first Amazing Spiderman film Hot Toy figure was due to the outfit looking rather scrappy. I particularly did not like the fact that Spidey's eyes were yellow. It is good to see that they have re-made it to the approval of fans for these new movie.

I do hope that the show would be great and that it would meet the expectations built up by the trailer.

For now, I shall bid you all adieu! It has been quite a long post. Till next time, enjoy the show and catch you all later!