31 October 2010

Hobby Search security breach

Last week Hobby Search online hobby store has announced that it has suffered a hacker (or cracker) attack. A notice has been posted on the website along with an FAQ.

According to Hobby Search the attackers have managed to find a security hole within the system and exploited it, having gained access to the the computer system and accessed customer data, including credit card informations. The attack was discovered early this month and authorities have been contacted regarding this issue.

The credit cards affected by this attack are "those used in unshipped orders and orders shipped within one year, prior to July 7, 2010".

To be more specfic it means those cards that are used on or after 7th July 2009 or used before 7th July 2009 but shipped on a later date (or did not ship) were affected. Cards whose last order & shipment were over a year ago have their information deleted from the database and therefore not affected.

Meanwhile payments by credit cards have been suspended indefinitely. Paypal is now the only viable way of payment as a result of this event.

Customers who are affected should have received an email from Hobby Search by now. I know some of the fellow bloggers I know have received one too. People who are affected or think they are affected should contact their credit card companies about it as mentioned by Hobby Search's FAQ. While I haven't received one since my one and only order was way back in 2007, I would keep my eyes peeled just in case.

The attack at Hobby Search sure comes as a nasty surprise for the company itself, as well as its customers. Even though they have contacted authorities and tried their best to rectify the problems, it would sure severe some trusts with a number of online customers.

I don't buy much things from online stores nowadays as I have access to local shops in Hong Kong for most of the things I want, and there is no shipments and shipping fees to worry about. Anyone got affected by this? If so what are your opinions about it?
Read More!

28 October 2010

Revoltech Skeleton Army preview

Now this is something interesting coming from Kaiyodo's Revoltech series (as if some of their latest stuff aren't interesting enough).

Meet the skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts.

Mouth can be opened and neck as two joints for some creepy poses

Base has one emerging skeleton which has limited articulations on one arm to swing the sword

Unused accessories or parts can be placed at the back of the base.

4 extra hands (open spread palms, closed fists) included, as well as an arm with a hand for holding a shield it seems
Full set of accessories and base excluding the skeleton figure itself. A nameplate labelled "SKELETON ARMY, [JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS] 1963" is included as well.

Equipped with sword and shield with head of Ymir artwork

Equipped with spear and a shield with octopus artwork

This particular skeleton actually comes from a 1963 film called Jason and the Argonauts. Directed by Don Chaffey in collaboration with stop motion animation expert Ray Harryhausen, the film was noted for its stop motion skeletons that fought the protagonist Jason and his two companions.


Apparently those four minute stop motion sequence took Ray Harryhausen four and a half months to produce. It may sound ridiculously long for nowaday's technology, but it must have been quite a feat back in its time!

Approximately 140mm in height. Official retail price is set for 2850 Yen, to be released on 1st January 2011 (a great way to New Year)

The Japanese name for this particular Revoltech action figure is called 骸骨剣士, which literally translates to "Skeleton Swordsman". However according to the nameplate it's labelled "Skeleton Army".

While these skeletons may come from one specific film, they are generic enough to be used in many scenarios. Besides, I have a fondness for grunt units, so if the price is not too dear upon release in Hong Kong I may get a couple of them. They are also ideal for some stop motion clips if one is up to it. ^^

While some collectors tend to compare Revoltech line (mostly anime-related figures) to Max Factory's figma line, Revoltech has sought out a wider market, hence they have more creative ideas as for what to do with their technology and is not limited to human-looking figures only. Some nice examples would be the Alien (first in the Sci-fi Revoltech line) and Blade Liger from Zoids. In terms of human figures, the Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star) and Sengoku Basara lines are pretty decent too. These upcoming skeletons have potentials too. I just hope that those Revoltech joints can hold up those bones well enough ^^;

Pictures are from Sci-fi Revoltech official website
Read More!

24 October 2010

Robot Damashii GM Sniper II

Next review: Robot Damashii GM Sniper II. Too bad this guy strangely didn't make it to any of Gunpla models, but I'm happy to get it in the form of an action figure. Besides it's near 1/144 scale too!

Robot Damashii GM Sniper II comes with a beam sniper rifle, 2 beam sabres with beam parts, shield, shield connector, action base clip/connector, and 3 extra pairs of hands (i.e. 4 pairs in total).

About this guy in the Gundam universe: Appearing late in the One Year War of Universal Century, the GM Sniper II is one of the best variants of the numerous GM produced by the Earth Federation (i.e. best grunt machine for Federation back then). Very few were produced and were reserved for the aces usually. In video games it proved itself to be a formidable unit, and much worthier than its brief appearance in OVA Gundam 0080, where it was quickly destroyed by Kämpfer.

Front view

Rear view

GM Sniper II comes with 4 pairs of hands in total: open palms, closed fists, hands for holding beam sabres, and hands for holding the sniper rifle.

Cockpit has a joint in it as if it could open up, but that wasn't its intended purpose. There is a joint between the chest and the waist, so when the body is leaning forward the long cockpit won't be getting in the way hence removing the restrictions that it may make.

The GM Sniper II can hold the sniper rifle on either hands, as there is a trigger hand and open palm for both hands. So you can have your GM left-handed if you want it to be so.

Sniping in standing position. The targeting sensor has been lowered as the visors are covered.

Sniping in crouching position.

There is a connector part to link the shield with the arm (there is a rectangular hole at the back of either arms). 3 holes available for you to mount the shield, but it's not too much differences I think to be honest.

GM Sniper II with shield. Note that the 90mm bullpup machinegun does not come with the packaging as it belongs to some other Gunplas. Nevertheless the GM Sniper II can get equipped with it for close-quarter combat.

The packaging comes with a clip/connector for GM Sniper II to be posed on Tamashii Stage action bases, but it seems to be compatible with the Action Base 2 which are normally for 1/144 Gunpla as shown here.

MG firing

Simple poses

Beam sabre in action. As it comes with two beam parts you can dual-wield as well.

Compared to 1/144 HGUC GM Command. The size difference is very similar, as well as their mecha designs (as it comes from the same series: Gundam 0080).

Omake: GM Sniper II taking cover behind a few block of buildings.

Note that the sniper rifle it is holding here belongs to the 08th MS Team 1/144 GM Sniper Gunpla. Given that the White Dingo version of Robot Damashii GM Sniper II will be a web shop limited item, you can either buy it via some proxy services, or get the sniper rifle from the said Gunpla kit and get them painted to how the White Dingo version looks like.

Released sometime in September, GM Sniper II is sold for a retail price of 2800 Yen. There is not a whole lot of accessories to play with, and the GM itself has a plain finish with some odd nub marks here and there. But then the GM Sniper II has not made into any Gunpla kit at all (except for a 1/144 resin conversion kit which is quite expensive for casual fans or modellers), so it's definitely good to see one appearing for a reasonable price finally in the form of an action figure. Well it could do a bit of a touch-up which I will plan to do in the future (e.g. panel lining, decals etc).

Can I recommend it? Well 2800 Yen can be a lot for not too much stuff to play with, but if you are into Gundam and you have been longing for a GM Sniper II for a long time, then yea go for it. Otherwise I'd say leave it for the big Gundam (or GM) fans if you are not into Gundam or this GM specifically.

The GM Sniper II is available on Hobby Search, Hobby Link Japan, and AmiAmi.

A review of it can be found on はっちゃか (hacchaka).
Toysdaily forum also had a thread of pictures showing GM Sniper II in urban action. Do check those out too!
Read More!

19 October 2010

The Melonpan Song

Digging something out from the past...

Sometime back in 2007, there was a song called The Melonpan Song (メロンパンのうた, Melonpan no Uta) which was sung by a then nine-year-old singer/songwriter girl named Yuppi (ゆっぴ). It's about how anpan has anko (red bean paste) inside, curry bread has curry inside, but melonpan has no melon inside.

The video of the song can be watched below:


A nicer quality version without subtitles can be found here.

I remember first encountering it from From Random Curiosity, when OMNI was still doing his daily anime blogging. It's a cute and innocent song, and not surprisingly anime fans would relate this to Shana, who is well known for eating melonpans. Apparently some had already suggested that this should be a theme song of some kind for her - perhaps an ending song for upcoming season / specials? ^^;

"Urusai, urusai, urusai!"

Writing this post about the melonpan reminds me of pineapple bun. And funny enough just like melonpan has no melon inside, pineapple bun has no pineapple inside, hence sharing more similarities between them XD

Now I remember how this Melonpan Song came back to me. It was because I was eating this luminescent-like green Swiss roll, which I was speculating whether it contains melon flavour or not. Turns out that it tastes just like ordinary ones, and this is probably how the song came back to me out of the blue.

Yes, that Swiss roll really is that green.

Thanks to Anonymous for pointing out this is actually a pandan Swiss roll, i.e. a Swiss roll version of pandan cake. I didn't buy this cake and haven't had prior experience of padan-related food so I've only known about it just then.
Read More!

15 October 2010

What's in the box?

Just carried this back from Mong Kok last night.

The box sure is long, and I can imagine people asking whether it's gonna be a doll.

The box's length sure looks like you can put a 1/3 scale doll in there. So, is it really a Dollfie? Has Q really fallen for this now?

Well see it yourself after the jump.

Here it is:
It's a Dora (or Schwerer Gustav) railway gun. Yep, not a doll there, and it's not any figures or Gundam-related stuff. It's some military stuff I've been longing for a long time. Years literally.

To be precise this is a 1/144 scale pre-assembled and pre-painted model of Dora railway gun. With the lack of time and skill, building one of these will be quite a pain (even for experienced modellers), and even getting hold on an unassembled kit is not easy too due to its rarity. I managed to get one of these completed models with a reasonable price after encountering someone on a forum who happened to have got one recently.

An A4 size 'cover' for the box. The gun itself seems to be a bit too long as it overhangs by a lot, but I'm not going to complain too much about it.

A very bite-size history on the gun itself: The 80cm K (E) railway gun was the biggest artillery gun ever made in history. 2 were made by Nazi Germany, named Schwerer Gustav and Dora. Schwerer Gustav was used in action against Sevastapol, while Dora was supposed to be used against Stalingrad but had to be pulled out as Soviet encirclement threatened. Neither of the guns survived the war, possibly destroyed by their own crew to prevent capture by enemy forces.

At least my little secret ambition has now been nearly fulfilled. I just need to unpack it very carefully over the weekend since it's very delicate and there's a lot of foams packed around the gun to keep it safe ^^

By the way sorry if I got you fooled there thinking I got myself a Dollfie ^^;
Read More!

8 October 2010

Ngee Khiong

For those who are fans of the Gundam franchise or are familiar with the Gunpla (Gundam plastic models), Ngee Khiong is a blog that they are quite likely to visit. For years he has been providing the English-speaking community fans with timely Gundam-related or Gunpla news, as well as other mecha-related and large hobby event news.

On 1st October Ngee Khiong has decided to stop his main blog, stating that he was disappointed with how the Gundam and Gunpla community has turned out over the years, making him didn't feel like wanting to be a part of it anymore. His final post, explaining his reasons explicitly on what he has become disappointed with, with was up 4 days later.

After reading his final post I was a bit sad about what the community has done to him, and was planning to emphasise the problems I have seen with the Gundam / Gunpla community, but I've changed my mind and instead I've decided to write about my personal experience I had with his main blog in a more positive way rather than "bashing" the community with details or examples. It would be quite a long text post, which is something I don't do usually, but I do want to share my humble thoughts out as a fellow blogger and a friend of Ngee Khiong.

I remember that I first encountered Ngee Khiong's blog when I was searching for Gundam 00 episodes to watch. That would be almost exactly 3 years ago I'd think, since Gundam 00 was first aired in October 2007. Back then his blog was not a big hit yet, but I would still visit it now and then for updates. His news, less frequent to what it has been this year, were added with a bit of his personal touch and opinions with a good sense of humour now and then. I remember I was really excited when he replied to my first comment too (yes I know, I was that naïve ^^;), which encouraged me to do more interaction with him as a blogger. And so I decided that I would definitely stick around his blog more and comment now and then like chatting in a way.

Eventually the blog's popularity grows. As more timely news came in, readership increases as well. Understandably the comments became too much for Ngee Khiong to reply to, so he stopped replying unless it's something specific. Bad apples drop by now and then, but overall atmosphere still seems good for quite some time.

It's around Summer 2009 when he disabled comments on all of his posts, as he was getting bugged by abuse of comment section, mostly by one particular person, and it affected other readers too due to the unfriendly atmosphere the commenter has created. The chatbox, which had always been there ever since I first knew of the blog, was still up and therefore people commented and chatted there instead.

So this went on for 14 more months, until Ngee Khiong has decided to close down the chatbox. The chatbox was plagued with spam and people intending to disrupt the flow of discussion now and then, and Ngee Khiong expressed his fatigue on having to do IP bans all the time. Soon after his announcement of closing down the chatbox, there came his annoucement of closing down his blog as well. From his announcement he was originally planning to keep it up until March 2011, which would have marked his blog's 5th anniversary, but at the end he decided to close it on 1st October, the same date the chatbox was scheduled to cease existing as well.

His annoucement came as a shock to many readers, and I wasn't fully anticipating for it to happen either, even though there were hints from the solemn colour scheme, as well as someone on the chatbox mentioning "長痛不如短痛". And so it happened, with the reason stated that he's "extremely disappointed with the development of the Gundam and Gunpla community". He later published his final post, with his full explanation on why he has decided to quit blogging, including but not limited to discriminations, divisions / segregations within the Gundam and Gunpla community, and the amount of negative influence he has faced associated with his blog.

Perhaps Ngee Khiong has been a bit sensitive over what the Gundam and Gunpla community has been doing, but then even though he has tried his best to brush off the negative things as much as possible, receiving hate mails after hate mails and having his blog linked / "associated" with the hate stuff continiously and over a long time has put him on a toil eventually. It must have been hard for him to bear, after seeing his favourite hobby having so much negativity within the community that he used to love to share with. He may have been a high profile blogger in the Internet or at least from the Gundam community, but he is also an ordinary person in real life, just like most of us.

The whole thing really shouldn't have turned out like this. A hobby is supposed to be enjoyed with, not the other way round. It is supposed to be very simple, but it didn't turn out to be so. It's a real pity, but I do respect his decision. I just hope the burden will be lifted for him. At least his EX blog is still up and running, and he's keeping his humours and writing style just like the old times.

"Feels like old times already."
Image from YouTube, footage from StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

I would have written this post in much negative way, but after thinking about it I decided it's not worth doing the 'bashing' and all that sorts; it would do more harm than good, and Ngee Khiong would probably not want to have it that way either.

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise, so I've decided to look at it on a more positive side. Given that I check his blog every few hours or so every day, it will feel a bit strange not to do so now, but I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually. Even though Ngee Khiong will no longer update his main blog, he has given us all the links and sources where he got his info from, and as he said a lot of the information comes from Chinese-speaking community as well. In addition to Japanese sites and Chinese-speaking forums, there are also English blogs like SRW Hotnews and Gundam Guy that are still running and providing news for the English-speaking community. Just as Neo-Era of Gunota Headlines (another great Gundam-related news blog which stopped 2 years ago) has said on his final post that "anime fandom today is more Japan-savvy than it was 5 years ago. Imageboards, largely unknown to English-speaking fandom then, pick up on news pretty quickly. The latest rumors & magazine scans can be seen on other fine sites and are passed around message boards every day." I think with so many sites and info being much more available to us than it was, we should be good enough to try stepping into the new grounds ourselves.

As for the closing words, I want to use this oppurtunity to say "Thank You" to Ngee Khiong for his hard work providing the fans and community with the timely news and info all these times, and I hope to see him continue his blogging in his own pace well and sound on his other blog!

@ Ngee Khiong:
I assume your MG G-3 OYW ver. is in the same condition as I have sent it to you? I haven't built mine either! XD I wonder whether either of us will get around to it eventually, or we ended up finding it too precious to assemble ^^;

The older Ngee Khiong banners are from his 3rd anniversary post
Read More!

5 October 2010

Suzumiya Haruhi x Katoki Hajime

A new sample display is shown for the relatively new COMPOSITE Ver.Ka. action figure line in the very recent Tamashii Nation 2010 event, and it's gonna be... Suzumiya Haruhi in a mecha suit?

The tentative name for Haruhi's new mecha suit is called 「ハルヒ☆隊長☆専用機 全領域汎用人型決戦外骨格(仮)」, or Commander Haruhi Suzumiya's customize model General-purpose Humanoid type Decisive Battle Exoskeleton PRODUCTION MODEL according to the info. Talk about a long name... ^^; I was originally thinking of putting that as this post's title, but it is just impractically long to be one.

Designed by Katoki Hajime, a mechanical designer for Sunrise who is well known for his famous, angelic-like Wing Gundam Zero Custom, the collaboration with Haruhi is sure something rather unusual to have, well at least in my opinion that is.

Front view

Side view

It appears that Haruhi has her whole torso to the left. There should be a joint within the chest which separates the top part of torso from the lower part.

The exoskeleton without Haruhi

Bunny Haruhi with visor on

I'm not the only one who thinks that the waist looks a bit too thin from the side right? It kinda reminds me of the thing with Revoltech Fräulein Bunny Haruhi action figure.

And finally a clearer look at the rifle

No release date, scale of figure, or price are known at the moment. As far as I know this design does not appear in the anime series or the original light novels, and seeing a manga cover on the info will give it a very high possibility that the mecha suit exists in at least one chapter of the manga as manga exclusive content. I have not read the manga (only up to volume 8 for light novel and have not started 2nd season of anime nor the movie), so I can't be fully sure that this really comes from the manga. Oh well I'm sure more info will come eventually.

Images and source from:
GA Graphic via Ngee Khiong
Hobby Stock Blog

P.S. A lot of Gundam fans will be well aware that Ngee Khiong, who has been providing timely Gundam and other mecha-related news for the English-speaking community for years, has decided to quit blogging on 1st October. I will plan to make a post about it by this weekend.
Read More!