Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: Knights: A High-Speed History

Review:  #175
Title:  Knights:  A High-Speed History
Series:  Horrible Histories
Author:  Terry Deary
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Not too bad, but I can't recommend the book unless you have an interest in knights.  I found this one to contain too many pictures, so it’s more like a comic instead of a proper book (which is not necessarily a bad thing), so I didn't learn as much.  There’s the standard format of jokes, facts and gags, which is a good combination and they balanced between the three quite nicely.
Rating:  5.1/10

Friday, March 30, 2012

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty... another really really popular franchise that I have never played before, yet wonder why it is so well received (I personally don't like playing shooters).  I borrowed a copy of this from a friend and had a shot at it.  I played the single player campaign first, and it was okay, nothing spectacular that jumps out at me as the reason for being a hugely successful franchise.  I found the story, which was said by a fair few people over the internet, to be one of the best story in the Call of Duty series.  I found it boring.  I didn't like the story, it was okay at first, but then I slowly lost my interest, it was good then, that it is such a short mode.  I was very glad when I finished as I didn't have to put up with it anymore (I hate not finishing stuff).  The graphics looked great though, and I surprised at how good it looked.

Now, I tried the mulitplayer, and finally, I understood why.  It is addictive, personally, since I suck at these games, and the fact that many many people are better than me (which meant, I was constantly dying), I didn't get into it.  Thankfully, the multiplayer isn't quite dead yet and there were still enough people playing such that it was easy to get into a game.  The leveling up system is pretty good, and playing the different game modes on the map was several times better than the best moment in the single player campaign.  In the end, I'm happy for playing the game, and knowing what it's about but I won't be grabbing any more in the franchise.


Other game reviews can be found on this page.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens

Review:  #174
Title:  Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens
Series:  Horrible Science
Author:  Nick Arnold
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  I really like this book, but that may be me being a bit biased as I love the subject content.  As you can probably tell from the title, it’s about space and our solar system, just interesting stuff for me.  It was written well and although the subject matter of each planet was very general, each planet has enough stuff to fill multiple books so I can forgive this.  I like the space story that they had going on, it was amusing and made learning the facts much better and enjoyable.  I like the style of writing and the cheesy humour that they had put in.
Rating:  5.3/10

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Toy Review: Transformers AA Ravage

Review:  #79
Name:  Ravage
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Autobot Alliance (or Hunt for the Decepticon)
Year of Release:  2010
Size Class:  Legends (Wave 1)
Variations:  none


Ravage transforms into what the packaging at the back calls a 'reentry mode'.  To put it simply, it's a "I don't really know what this transforms into so I'll make up up a name for it" type of thing.  At least it's more of a vehicle looking thing than the deluxe ever was.

If you open your eyes at slits and look at him while your vision is blurred, he does pass off as some kind of flying vehicle.  He has winglets on each side, and his head is somewhat hidden.  I think this mode was somewhat inspired by the swimming concept from the movie.

You can point the two guns on top forward if you like, I personally prefer them aiming back coz it looks more like thrusters.

The worst thing about this mode is that he cannot sit flush on the table due to his tail storing underneath.  He will always be leaning to one side.  I don't want to lie, this is a terrible alternate mode that 99.99% of people won't know what it actually is.


For something that transforms into a lump, it has a surprisingly involved transformation (for it's size).  Ravage has a fair number of joints that move, granted, nothing locks together in either mode, but the number of parts is surprising.  Other than that, a very simple transformation, I wouldn't say it's fun or satisfying though.


Ravage transforms into a robotic jaguar, and this is where that lump of a vehicle is worth it.  Ravage is extraordinarily detailed for his size, there is a lot of molded detail, and the slightly metallic bronze paint used is great.

Ravage has a lot of joints, so he's quite poseable.  His hindlegs has three joints, while his front paws has two.   Sadly, the two front legs are perpetually bent, so he'll always sit low.  The tail is molded solid, with only a joint at it's base to move up and down.

The head sculpt is cutesy, even though it's accurate.  Maybe it's because of the size, but it just does not look menacing.  Ravage also features his iconic twin hip cannons, that's actually adjustable vertically.

A great little legends robot mode.  He's fun to fiddle around with and is quite screen accurate.


A solid legends figure, I say solid with a bit of reserve, since what you might charitably call his 'vehicle' mode, is basically just a folded lump of plastic.  Robot mode is where Ravage shines, and the singular redeeming feature since he's stunning in this mode.  If you do get him, just leave him forever in robot mode and he'll be a great display piece.


Reviews of better Transformers can be found by just clicking right here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: Do You Feel Lucky?

Review:  #173
Title:  Do You Feel Lucky?
Series:  Murderous Maths
Author:  Kjartan Poskitt
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  A really good book with a lot of great humour, I was really surprised at how funny some of the jokes were.  The content was written in a way that was interesting, but the little section about combinations and permutations were a bit confusing (then again, I’m really weak at that stuff).  I liked how the author had approached the subject, and I was surprised by some of the examples, and chances of some things.  I recommend this good book for people who are interested in maths.
Rating:  5.2/10

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Nostalgia is a very dangerous thing.  I remembered watching this film back when it was released, and that it was a great film.  Obviously, a lot of other people agreed since it got great reviews and did well in earnings, coupled with the fact that it's re-released from time to time.  I, myself, got the 2 disc DVD that was released a while back, and just got the chance to watch it.  Beauty and the Beast, hmmmm, my memories ruined the movie for me.  Throughout the whole film, I found myself waiting for the event that would hit me emotionally, the event that makes me remember what was it about this film that I love.  That 'event' never came.  However, enough with my ramblings, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film.  The restoration was good, so the animation did not look the least bit dated (not that I would have minded).  The songs were good, not super catchy, but still pleasing to the ear.  The song "Beauty and the Beast" would be the standout, instant classic right there.  By the end of the movie, you kinda wished there weren't such a strict time limit, since the story could be fleshed out a lot with greater impact (they still did a good job mind you, just that I wanted more of it).  There seemed to be quite a lot of special features packed into this (with the Blu ray Diamond Edition having even more), but as always, I can't find the time to watch it (it's good to know that it's still there though).  Still, highly recommend this film!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Review: The Mean and Vulgar Bits

Review:  #172
Title:  The Mean and Vulgar Bits
Series:  Murderous Maths
Author:  Kjartan Poskitt
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Surprisingly funny, a lot of good humour and jokes in this book; conversely, there were also a lot of lame ones…  They way it was written made are enjoyable, but it’s very obvious that the target audience is younger readers, since the maths was extremely easy.  The author spent way too much time on explaining the simple stuff.  I like the mini stories, they were interesting, and the characters in them.
Rating:  5.1/10

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-1B Convoy Black Ver.

Review:  #78
Name:  Convoy Black Ver.
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Masterpiece (designated MP-1B)
Year of Release:  2010
Size Class:  Masterpiece
Variations:  a lot, repainted from the original MP-1 Convoy, both Hasbro and TakaraTomy has repainted this guy a ton of times, too many for me to list here


Prepare yourself... for a huge review, probably one of the biggest I have done so far (and I am not going to split it into sections like I did with Jetwing Prime, by putting the extra photos onto another post).  Anyway, Convoy Black Ver. (hereby after, referred to as just Convoy) is a Japan and Asia only figure, and he comes in a very nice box.  The Masterpiece line of figures all have premium boxes, and it looks so good that I cannot cut it up (like I usually do) and as such, I have kept it (which I don't usually do).

I really wish I could read Japanese, but alas, I cannot, and so I do not know what the huge chunk of text at the back says.  I can discern, however, that the pictures and text underneath them speak of the gimmicks and showcases the figure in general.  I wish they put this much detail into all Transformers...

All the silver trimming here are reflective, which adds to that premium look.

You will see the line and character name multiple times, as it's pretty much on all the faces of the box...

Mine is the Asia version, so instead of getting the comic, I got a plaque instead, and it's made from die-cast metal, so it's got a nice heft to it.  The stand is made from cardboard, so it's a little bit cheap-ish there (but not so much).

The instruction booklet that comes with him is, I suspect, a greyscaled version of the one from the original MP-1 Convoy figure.  Convoy also comes with a character card, and a little pouch that stores the plaque (which is, logically, also only in the Asia version).

You also get an axe, rifle and a gun that looks suspiciously familiar...  I'll cover only the suspicious gun now, while the other two will be later in the review.  The gun is Megatron, a really scaled down, non-transforming Megatron which is actually pretty cool.

All the attachments are detachable, which is an unexpected bonus, so you'll have the scope, silencer and extension as separate pieces, but they don't do anything (so it's really quite pointless).  You also have the option of folding the cardboard tray into a trailer (not featured in this review), which looks okay.  Annnnnnd... that's about it for this section.


I'm going to be reviewing this figure as if this figure was Optimus Prime itself (since the mold was created just for that character...).  Anyway, Convoy transforms into a truck that is very similar to his G1 cartoon counterpart, with a few changes, which just serves to make him more realistic.  In terms of die cast, it's only the front of the cab and the rear of the truck, but it's more than enough, Convoy is extremely heavy.

Sadly, in a lot of Optimus Prime toys, the rear is always a bit dodgy, showing very clearly the feet.  If they didn't protrude out, it wouldn't be so bad, but as it is, they are very obviously feet and in my eyes, that's a fail for such a large figure.  They did so well from most angles too.

Convoy features rubber tires, with the words "formula" and "desert hog" on them.  The rubber tires give him a more premium feel, but the downside is that they will split over time, which will ruin the figure somewhat.  In addition, he features suspension, in all six tires, which is pretty cool (the front wheels doesn't work as well as the rear ones do though).

There is a truckload of chrome here, the front grill, smokestacks, fuel tanks and rims.  Of course, over time (and I'm sick of saying this), they will flake and crack, but for now, they look awesome.  It's a well painted truck, most details are there, and I really like how the painted the mechanic elements a darker silver which suits the black and grey really well.

He features tail lights of sorts at the back, I'm not really sure what they are supposed to be since it looks just plain weird.  On a side note, Convoy rolls extremely well, thanks to the rubber tires.

One major flaw, in my eyes at least (and in a lot of Optimus Prime toys based on the G1 incarnation), is the full visibility of the torso.  It ruins the truck, and you instantly know that it transforms into a robot.  It disjoints the truck from around the middle.  It's not too noticeable from the front.

If you open the up the two windows in front, of the cab, you can see a single seat, you can probably fit some really small figure in there like a Lego mini figure.  Also, due to the excessive use of the mold, those two window pieces don't line up properly anymore.

He also doesn't feature any side windows, which looks odd, and there are some awkward gaps which are really his shoulder struts.  They are not too obvious since the black masks them pretty well.

There's a hitch at the back which you can plug the cardboard trailer in, or one of the other proper full sized trailers from the Masterpiece line.

In terms of size, amazingly (and you'll know why I used that word later on), he's only the length of a Leader class figure, but he has a lot more bulk and is blockier, not to mention much heftier due to the die cast.

When you compare it against a Deluxe, obviously he's humongous.

A great vehicle at first glance, once you start looking at him more clearly, you'll see quite a few aesthetics flaws, that are pretty much compromises for the robot mode.  To be honest, I really detest the shade of pink used for the windows here, it doesn't suit him at all, grey or tinted windows would work a whole lot better.


A complicated transformation, as you'd expect of a figure this size.  It's not too hard, since the pieces are big, and are blockier, making it easy to manipulation and shift into position.  It's is quite ingenious, considering it was designed in the period of Armada and Energon.  The way the torso forms is nice, but a bit dangerous with the chrome, causing a very likely chance you'll scrap some off (like I did with mine) if you're too rough with it.  It can also be fiddly with some of the pieces but overall, fairly intuitive and an enjoyable process.  I am pretty sure you will be surprised and amazed the first time you attempt it.


Clearly, the robot mode was where the designer focused on, creating a look that's very accurate in proportions to the cartoon model.  In this mode, the die cast is located in his legs (which anchors him down very well) and chest.

There's absolutely no kibble at all, which is an amazing feat.  This means he looks as great from the back as he does from the front.  Convoy is very blocky here.

On my one, Convoy has a little bit of trouble standing up straight.  I am not sure if this is evident on all versions of the mold (I suspect not) but the ball joints used for the feet aren't strong enough, which means that Convoy will naturally lean forward (but not fall down flat).  It should be noted that the grill on the torso is fake (it even has different sculpting).

He has mechanic aspects everywhere, from actual working pistons to vents.  He sports a wicked Autobot symbol on his left shoulder.  The pink windows for his chest and blue accents on the waist ruins the look somewhat.  If it was going to be a black repaint, I would rather the colour scheme been more drab.

Being the definitive version of Optimus for the time, Convoy has great articulation.  He has all the major joints you'd need, and the range is great.  Convoy has a heroic robot look to him.

His hands feature some pretty nifty joints that only a figure this size could have.  Each finger is individually jointed at the knuckles.

Now, time to mention the gimmicks, and Convoy has a ton here.  It seemed that the designer focused a lot of unobtrusive in robot mode, and it's a welcome addition.  The first, and it has to be included, is his iconic matrix from the chest.  It opens up the way it does in the cartoon, to reveal a chromed silver matrix (with a pink centre...).

Not only that, but via a switch to the left of his head, you can light up a LED to shine through the middle of the matrix, a really well thought out gimmick here.  You can also take out the matrix (with some effort) and it even opens up, Convoy can also conveniently hold it.

The head sculpt has got to be one of my favourites, and the highlight of this figure.  It is just so well proportioned, and screams out Optimus to me.  Invoking the heroism of the long lasting Autobot leader.  The antenna is also adjustable, you can swivel up and down (mainly for transformation).  What's even cooler, is that they put reflective metallic stickers for his eyes, so they reflect light, to emulate lightpiping (without the unsightly clear plastic at the back of the head).

Now, it may be pretty random when I suddenly speak of the head while going on about gimmicks, but even the head contains a gimmick!  By pressing a button at the back of his head, it 'jiggles' (for a lack of better term) his face plate up and down to emulate his speaking like the cartoon.

The vents on his shins have a (slightly weird) gimmick attached as well.  Normally, they're closed in vehicle mode, you can open them up by pressing down upon the leg, and they will automatically open.  Cool effect, but I don't see much point in it.

And lastly, for inbuilt gimmicks, on each arm, is a flip up communicator, on his left is Rodimus and the right Optimus.  It features some spectacular detailing here.

You can do some nice posings of Convoy speaking to one of the Autobot leaders.

As mentioned earlier (at least... I think I did), Convoy comes with three additional weapon accessories.  The first is the energon axe that Optimus used in the cartoon only once.  You can plug this one straight onto the arm by retracting the hand and plugging it on.

It looks decent enough, and the axe can swivel.  You can do some good slashing posings with this axe, and it's the only melee weapon Convoy has.

The axe itself is made from some soft plastic, but it's hard enough to not warp, it's also made from semi-transparent plastic to make it seem like it's made from energy.

The second weapon is the rifle that Optimus regularly uses in the cartoon.  In this version, it's grey now.

He can't seem to grip it tightly.  It feels loose in his hand, and wiggles a bit, but it won't fall out.

An impressive looking gun but basically just a bit hollow piece of plastic (not that there's anything wrong with that, just feels lighter than it should).

Lastly, there's the Megatron gun (in which Optimus used it once in the cartoons if I recalled correctly).  The handle on Megatron actually had to extend for Convoy to hold it (since it's too short normally).

With this, Convoy can do some good dual wielding poses.  It's quite surprising how well painted this Megatron gun is, considering that it's only just an accessory (there's a tiny Decepticon logo on him).

That's it for all the gimmicks, Convoy does pack a lot.  I guess I'll just go over some of the things again that I missed out earlier.  The head is on a balljoint, and you might notice this, but the chest windows don't fit together properly, it's more apparent here than the truck mode.

Convoy has a really slim build.  His wrists can rotate and I really like how the wheels tuck into the torso, out of sight.

It's amazing when you consider that the vehicle is just the size of a leader classed figure, yet in robot mode, it extends so much such that it's way taller than one.  Amazing, Convoy is one of the biggest recent toys yet, sadly, no other Masterpiece piece figure is as tall as him (apart from Megatron).

Overall, a really good robot mode, and that's what I'll display him in.  Some colour scheme issues, but they're minor, and frankly, he's just so much fun with all the gimmicks that you don't really care anyway.


I highly recommend at least one version of this mold.  Even taking into account the new MP-10 reinterpretation of Optimus, I think MP-1 is still the superior version (personally preference though, I know many people who prefer the newer version instead).  It's much more value for money, bigger size, heaps of die cast metal, and super accurate in both modes, I prefer the blockier look than the streamlined look of MP-10.  However, the earlier versions of the mold is better (MP-1 or MP-2) since by this stage,the mold's degraded to a point where there is often defects that affect transformation and aesthetics (I know mine does... as do a whole lot others).


Other reviews can be found by clicking on this link.
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