30 September 2012
These days, you see an announcement of a new toy, a new figure, or a new model kit which tickles your interest, only to find out it's going to be (yet) another limited edition item.
Amd it appears that it is become more and more of a norm than before.
Looking back, I do have quite a few toys that are of "limited edition". Here are the ones that I have blogged about:
Nendoroid Shana Dengeki Daioh version
1/100 Gundam Exia Roll Out Colour
Nendoroid Snow Miku
figma WRS (don't get me started on this -_-;)
figma Racing Miku 2011 version
Nendoroid Snow Miku: Snow Playtime Edition (aka 2011 version)
Oh yes, more Balls. The Shark Mouth and the Type C version (along with GM Kai normal colour version). I still need to get around to build them once renovation is over @_@;
Limited editions toys... They often are harder to acquire as they are only available for purchase via restricted premises, and those who want them in overseas will often have to resort to proxy services and such. Those who seek them tend to value them more, be it for the character involved, the colours / designs, the quality, or the money value in it.
I am actually becoming more and more hesitant on these limited toys recently. Not only do they become more and more expensive to acquire, but also becoming more apparent and in different forms, be they come as event exclusives, bundled with games or DVDs/BDs. Heck, even gashapons have premiere editions too. At least the ones that I may my eyes on tend to end up that way...
Though at the same time they are also becoming a bit more viable to overseas collectors by offering their own overseas online shop, such as Goodsmile Online Shop, or the Hong Kong branch of Premium Bandai. Nevertheless, they are still more expensive than what local shops may offer, which are usually sold at a small discount of the suggested retail price (though there are always exceptions).
I am not exactly sure the reasons as for why this is becoming more apparent, but the belief that recent struggling Japanese economy is a big factor, and that anything produced in a surplus with relatively few people buying will hurt the companies, so the "made-to-order" basis is becoming more favourable instead, which skips the retail stores in many cases (unless the stores order the items for the customers at a higher cost). There could be other factors as well, but you have any ideas please do feel free to share out or discuss.
My expenditure on toys are becoming greater and greater, and much of these are due to limited stuff... Maybe it's just me, but seeing all sorts of things are ended up like that, rather than encouraging, the "limited" label is starting to discourage me from getting them instead. The high prices and the recent flop in qualities for some of the toys can be quite an impact.
Is it really just me, or others are feeling this (perhaps long ago) already?
29 September 2012
After the long sought Panther Ausf. F, another 1/144 scale tank miniature that I once dreamed of getting was one of unusual rarity, both in real history and miniature form - the Dragon Can.Do / Doyusha 1/144 Tiger I, "F01" of Gruppe Fehrmann unit. It could only be obtained as a bonus item upon signing up for NICOS card many years ago, and with a swift of luck I managed to find it on Yahoo Auctions Japan. Quite a scary place to browse around I gotta say ^^;
And rear view
The original tank in the real war. Towards the end of World War Two, military units had to be formed out of reserved and/or spare units out of desperation. Gruppe Fehrmann was one of them, named after its group commander. It's a mixture of Tiger I and Panther tanks, which fought against the American and British units near Rethem.
Tiger F01 was one of the tanks in Gruppe Fehrmann. What makes it special are its unique marking (starting with F along with other tanks in the same unit, a feature not seen in any other tank units), as well as its hybrid nature of using both parts from early and late production types. The tall cupola on the turret is a nice tell-tale sign of an early type Tiger I tank, but it's mated with steel wheels of the late type. The miniature is not of a fully accurate depiction though; the V-shape air cleaners seen above the engines, as well as the smoke dischargers on turrets are not present on the actual tank. This is most likely to due the restrictions in model's mould back then as it was one of the earliest one made for the shokugan series back then.
A quick "diorama" setup using my phone and Instagram. I hope it looks convincing enough?
28 September 2012
Gaming has been taking a big chunk of time from me recently, especially with most of my stuff packed away for imminent home renovation.
What have I been playing recently? Not a new game at all, but an interesting title for the PS3 released in 2010 with a rather unique genre on its own - Heavy Rain.
Heavy Rain's story takes place in an unnamed city on the east coast of USA, where a number of kidnaps and murders have taken place over 3 years (whom the killer is dubbed the "Origami Killer"), with all victims being boys and that they were drowned in rainwater, with origami figure and an orchid on their bodies upon discovery. There are 4 main playable characters: a father whose son is now the latest son missing and may become the next victim of the serial killing, an FBI profiler sent to assist the local police and investigate the killings, a private detective investigating the Origami Killer, and a journalist who got herself wound up in the affair as well.
Gameplay-wise, most of the commands are done by a prompt icon depicting what input is needed in order for an action to take place. There are also quick time events (QTE) of which player must input the correct buttons promptly or else the character involved may become roughened up or in a less favourable situation during a fight or other intense scenes. Apart from the usual button inputs, some commands require the entire movement of the PS3 SIXAXIS controller, such as tilting left or right, or thrusting the controller upwards or downwards. Navigation is a little unusual in the way how one moves with R2 and change direction with the left analogue stick, rather than having just the latter to do both tasks at once. While it does its job okay in most occasions, in narrow spaces it can be a bit of problem.
What makes Heavy Rain special is how the game is played out. While the story is linear and that you can't roam around a city, but restricted in fixed locations in each chapter before it moves on to a new one, each level, or chapter often lets you interact with the environment there, which may or may not have an impact in the story. Sometimes, instead of performing an action, you would have to make decisions based on questions asked, or the situation you're in where morality may be questioned. The heavy use of cutscenes during interactions makes it seem more like you are interacting in a movie or drama rather than playing a game, hence the studio's preference of categorising Heavy Rain as an "interactive movie". What's also interesting is how you can aim to reach or goal (or fail to do so). In many games you often have one objective (e.g. enter a guarded hostile building) to achieve and there is usually just one way to do it (e.g. storm the building). There are a few exceptions such as Deus Ex, where while you still have the same one objective to achieve, you can do it in different ways (e.g. storm the front door, enter via back door with help from an insider, or even infiltrate from rooftop etc). In Heavy Rain, sometimes you even get the option of not doing the objective, which may change the impact of the storyline. What's more, a character's death does not mean "game over, please restart from checkpoint", but rather the story goes on acknowledging the character's death and adjusts itself for the ending.
The game isn't without flaws though. There are several aspects in the game where it is never explained in the game, and apparently the game director also has no intentions of explaining, so it's up to the player to decide why or how such thing take place. The climax near the end also feels a little odd and unfitting to me.
Overall, Heavy Rain is a nice change of gaming experience from the other usual ones; there is no "canon" ending or the "right way" to do it, and I personally do recommend giving this game a try and play it your own way to see what you'll get out of it.
It's funny seeing myself reviewing anime and games, as they can be much more subjective than, say, reviewing a toy or figure etc. Hope you do like the review and that it's not too boring to read; I admit that I don't write such texts very often!
24 September 2012
After 49 episodes spanning 3 generations of characters, Gundam AGE is finally over.
Contents of Gundam AGE was first revealed, or rather "leaked" (before official announcement) in June last year from July 2011 issue of CoroCoro Comic. The character designs and that the co-operation of production by studio Level-5 suggest that Gundam AGE is generally more intended to be for younger audience compared to most of the other Gundam series.
Gundam AGE tells the story of three generations of protagonists of the Asuno family, with each protagonist piloting his own version of the eponymous mecha, fighting to defend Earth and its space colonies from an enemy faction far more advanced in terms of technology.
Even since the announcement Gundam AGE had left a negative impression on the fans, and throughout the series it received mixed reception, with the negatives making more of a prominence, criticising its storytelling, art/animations, and character/mecha designs.
Well, the series does have some aspects that are well liked. Gundam AGE-2 from the second generation do earn some respect from the viewers, with the second generation generally have been more likeable out of all 3 generation arcs. The Gunpla models do have rather nice designs, and I admit that while I still don't have any from Gundam AGE series, I am tempted to get a couple of them, namely the G-Exes, Adele, Gundam AGE-2 and/or its variations, and even Danazine (for its dragon kaiju-like appearance XD).
Overall, the initial impression from the first generation of the anime did make me not looking forward to future episodes (especially with the story and animations, though sometimes I wonder whether some people on the Internet watch Gundam AGE for the sake of finding errors and flaws in it). Things improved a bit for me around halfway for second generation, but things went backwards again for the third and last generation. Story is not the most believable one, and there are times that I feel as if I were told to "just believe it" for some scenes without much explanation. The target audience also seems a little mucky - initially it may seem as if it's for the children, but later concepts (or lack of) don't really seem to portray the necessary messages very well. Pacing is also another issue, where some parts can have potential to be expanded much more, whereas others that are not supposed to make much of an impact on the overall plot dragged on for too long. The ending is also very rushed (which is quite likely to be affected by the previous point), which leaves very little of an impression for me, though I can see that some people want it to just end asap...
Nevertheless, it has been a long ride, and in this aspect the title of the final episode "End of a Long Journey" is neutrally fitting. While I had little expectation of it in the first place, I did watched it to the end as it is a Gundam series. Looking back, it could have been a much better anime if it were managed better with the flaws addressed. The concept of generations and that grandfather, father, and son fighting together (but with different motives) is something not really done before in a Gundam series, and I'll give them that for sure. But now despite the mixed reception it may be considered as yet another notorious chapter in the so-called Gundam's "Black History". Heck, some don't even want to admit this as a "Gundam" series in the first place! ^^;;;
Well, we still have other Gundam series to look forward to, such as the remaining 2 episodes of Gundam UC OVA, as well as the GUNDAM THE ORIGIN anime that has been a little quiet since its initial annoumcement last year. Say, anyone still waiting for the Gundam SEED movie? ^^;
How do you think of Gundam AGE? It's quite a subject of debate, but it'd be interesting to hear your opinion of it too. Is it enjoyable to you? Do share out your thoughts!
15 September 2012
3rd September 2012 marks the 100th year before the birth of the famous blue robot Doraemon, who travels from the future to the present time to look after Nobita. To celebrate this "pre-anniversary", an exhibition is held 14th August to 16th September with various statues of Doraemon and his gadget-like tools on display near Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, in Hong Kong.
A view of the crowd just outside Harbour City. The blue balls seen in the distance are the Doraemon statues.
A book shape plaque explaining the event
The famous pink "Dokodemo Door" (どこでもドア), i.e. "Anywhere Door", where Doraemon uses it to instant travel to anywhere he wants.
Time Furoshiki (タイムふろしき), i.e. Time Weapping Cloth, of which anything wrapped inside it can advance or reverse in time.
Each of the Doraemon statues are about 129.3cm tall, which is Doraemon's actual height.
Memory bread (アンキパン) is a bread of which you imprint it on a text and you will remember it clearly after consuming the printed bread.
Air cannon (空気砲), a recurring weapon which shoots out a powerful burst of compressed air.
Take-copter タケコプター), or Bamboo-copter, is another common device used by Doraemon to fly. It is a small propeller with a suction cup, of which the user usually puts it on top of his head in order to use it.
Minidora (ミニドラ), a miniature version of Doraemon, which comes in handy whenever Doraemon is busy
Submarine Cream (深海クリーム), which when applied on the legs can make you walk on ocean floors as if you are walking on normal grounds.
Uso 800 (ウソ800), i.e. "Lies 800", is a flask shape drink stored in a Doraemon shape case. When drunk, it will bring a reversed effect of what the user says. It was used by Nobita to bring Doraemon back after Doraemon decided to leave Nobita for good early on in the manga series.
Momotarou jirushi no kibidango (桃太郎印のきびだんご). Based on a Japanese folklore hero, the sachet contains dangos which any animals will be instantly tamed when fed. While it usually has no effects on humans, it can be consumed as food.
Mole paw gauntlets, which makes short work of underground digging
Doraemon in tears escorting a beaten up Nobita back home
Moshimo-box (もしもボックス), a phone booth of which the user can propose a "what if" scenario and make it a reality.
And finally a yellow Doraemon with ears, as how he originally appears before his ears got bitten by a mouse and before his colour got washed to blue as a result of him crying over the lost of ears.
Doraemon is an anime character that has been embedded into the memories of many people here, young and old, guys or girls. The number of people visiting the place for the exhibition is pretty extraordinary, and I only had a small window of time to take the pictures before another group of crowd comes over to the statue I'm looking at. There is also a separate gallery of Doraemon's tools in details, but it requires collecting admission chit and they were gone way before I came over. That really does explain the popularity of the character! :O
Album: Doraemon 100
10 September 2012
Instagram is a photo-sharing program that is used mostly on the Apple and Android smartphones, and pictures can then be shared on social networks such as facebook, twitter, or tumblr. What makes it special is its retro-looking filters and the square format for photos.
I was asked by friends to try it out five months ago when Instagram has just become available for Android phones. While I am not big into photography, and my perception is rather inept, I did try to take some photos and see what these "vintage" filter effects can fit in to my liking.
I drink now and then, though not an awful lot. Ale is usually my kind of thing, but it appears that Guinness only common kind available in Hong Kong.
Takara Tomy World Tank Musuem series 1/144 scale M60 Patton tank (it's only 6cm long!). I orignally wanted to make a Vietnam War atmosphere to go with this tank, only to find out that this particular version of Patton did not see action there (only M48 Patton did apparently).
A tram travelling through a market in North Point, Hong Kong.
My Black★Rock Shooter posing with her ★Rock Cannon. It's actually one of the pictures from my older post.
Another picture of B★RS with her big gun~
Sunset over the skyline in Hong Kong
Dragon Can.Do 1/144 scale Panther Ausf F, whose original picture also from one of my previous posts
F-toys 1/144 scale MiG-21bis. Did a rather rough work on Photoshop to remove the stand underneath the plane... ^^;
Viewing down at the buildings in Happy Valley, Hong Kong.
Doyusha 1/144 scale F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-103 "Jolly Rogers", whose squadron is well known for its skull and bones insignia.
While I haven't uploaded many pictures, I do find the photos most comfortable to me are the ones with military miniatures, of which I can try to reimitate the vehicles in real life in diorama syle, and that the filters can help making them fit in the era that they may belong to, especialy those from the Cold War era such as the Patton tank and the MiG-21bis.
Hong Kong pictures can fit in well as some of the buildings and districts are relatively unchanged for the past few decades, which is usually the case for residential areasl, so I may look more into that for future photos. However, I haven't found something suitable to go with anime-related figures, which is why I haven't really posted them apart from the B★RS doll (because of the rather muted colours associated with the character and background), as I can't find an atmosphere that will make them seem fitting.
You can follow my infrequent update of pictures on the Instagram app with username senorquentinos, or on web viewer such as Webstagram!