Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transformers Poses 6

Ahhhh, the sixth part in the Transformers Poses series of posts.  Theme seems to be PowerCore Combiners and Dark of the Moon toys (of course, with a few figures from other lines mixed in).  Nothing much more to say really, except... hope you like them.

PowerCore Combiners Groundspike and Chopster

Autobot Alliance (or Hunt for the Decepticons) Ravage (Legends)

Autobot Alliance (or Hunt for the Decepticons) Tomahawk

Ummmm... wait in anticipation of the next round of Transformers Poses?  No?  Oh... okay...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: D.Gray-Man Vol. 8

Review:  #205
Title:  D.Gray-Man Vol. 8
Series:  D.Gray-Man - 8th volume
Author:  Katsura Hoshino
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  An excellent volume, the fight between Lenalee and the Level 3 Akuma was pretty good.  Although Level 3’s will probably appear in abundance later and the Exorcists will defeat them easy peasy… like the Level 2’s now (back in Volume 2, Level 2’s were near impossible to beat).  A suspicion reveals that Lenalee’s innocence might be the heart, although I’m not sure how possible that could be.  Once everything was over, what happened to the crew after the time field ended is quite sad and disheartening, especially since they all sacrificed themselves for them.  Nearly 100% of the crew dies (I think two or three survive).  It seems that Miranda’s powers are more like a curse than anything, although useful, once it ends, there always a tragic scene.
Rating:  6.5/10

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Forced Resignation: Criticizing One's Last Ever Shift

I have a complaint (don't we all?), and if you have a complaint, then naturally you would want to share it with as many people as you can...  Anyway, pretty much just today I was forced to resign at one of my jobs.  Before I go any further, I need to provide some back story.  This particularly job was only a casual one working in a supermarket, and I've been working there for nearly four years now (it would have been four years at the end of August this year), so it's a fair period of time (and I am actually the person that's been in that particular department the longest, one of the most experienced, and efficient workers).  I normally take around a month off, twice a year, so I can concentrate on my studies around exam period (which, coincidentally enough, is right now!).

This year, it's no exception, although I wanted to take an extra month off as I planned to go overseas for that long, so, all in all, two months break.  I asked the manager if it was okay, and she said yes (which was surprising in itself, though there would be at least some sort of resistance).  Fast forward to today, my last shift before my break, and what happens?  I come in, and she tells me that the store manager isn't too happy with the amount that I want to take off.  Why?  Since it's my last year of uni, when I come back, I will probably stay for around another 2 months before having to take a break again or quit, and during that total of four months, they can recruit and train a new guy.  The store manager does not believe that it is worth keeping this position available for me for two months if I was going to work for another two months only.  I asked, so what's her intention, and I got two options, either I cut the number of days I'm taking down, or resign.  I had already booked plane tickets, thus I must take at least one month, and I do not think it would be wise to work during the exam period, especially since I have been pretty much living off week by week with the lecture content, so I had to choose to resign.

The reasons given are fair enough, but what annoys the hell out of me is the fact that they told me on my last day before my supposed break (which is going to be much longer than I originally planned).  I took the liberty of telling them well in advance, I would have expected the same from them, at least telling me one week prior.  The reason I told them so early was so the manager could prepare for my absence, and also to see if there were any problems (so I can confirm my plans).  It's not the job loss that I am sad/annoyed/frustrated about, but the fact that they gave me such sudden notice.  Granted, they are well within their rights to tell me on a really short notice (like an hour), but etiquette would dictate at least a bit of advance notice, and not instantly on the spot, choose whether to shorten your break or leave.

Here I am now, having written a resignation letter ready to hand in, but I cannot help but feel a *little* bit of bitterness towards the company.  I do wished that I could have said goodbye to some of my work mates, telling them I am quitting, rather than now, abruptly contacting some of them.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: D.Gray-Man Vol. 7

Review:  #204
Title:  D.Gray-Man Vol. 7
Series:  D.Gray-Man - 7th volume
Author:  Katsura Hoshino
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Although there isn’t as much fighting or action here as the last volume, I found myself more interested in the chapters.  The way Allen survived and how he was trying to regain his arm was interesting and different.  Although it feels a bit contrived but it was absorbing to read.  The attack on the ship with the other party was engaging as well, and we see a Level 3 Akuma, although I can't really tell the difference in appearance (since Level 2’s can take on pretty much any appearance), apart from it being absurdly powerful.
Rating:  6.5/10

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Toy Review: Transformers Prime First Edition Bumblebee

Review:  #92
Name:  Bumblebee
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Prime - First Edition
Year of Release:  2011
Size Class:  Deluxe (First Edition Wave 1)
Variations:  repainted into SDCC 'Taxi' Bumblebee and another version in a 2pk with Starscream in the normal Prime line


So, a new toyline, and hence a new Bumblebee toy.  What we have here today is the First Edition Bumblebee, and, the only First Edition figure so far not sold out, despite the popularity of this short lived line.  Why?  I'll tell you later.  Anyway, focus!  Bumblebee once again transforms into a yellow sports car, which bears more than a slight resemblance to a Camaro.

Bumblebee also has black racing stripes of sorts, they give him a tech feel.  One thing that I really like is that they painted the rear lights red, which breaks up the blandness.  He does have molded exhaust pipes, license plate and some sort of car logo.

The hubcaps are painted silver and he rolls along really well.  He sits fairly low on the ground, and all his windows are transparent blue plastic, which would look better if they were a shade darker.  Anyway, as per usual, the yellow paint on the transparent bits don't match the yellow plastic, being lighter in this case.  Thankfully, the places where it has the yellow paint is limited.

While the rear of the car is bland, the grill can be regarded as too 'busy'.  There's a huge amount of detail, which clutters up the look a lot.  The molding on the grill is complex and primarily painted black, with some orange (for indicators) and transparent blue headlights.  He also has an exposed engine, which, unlike the normal Wave 1 figure, you cannot plug his gun on top.

The underside shows off a figure that has all his limbs packed and convoluted.  You can store the gun by plugging it on the underside.  It's not terribly secure, and it was hard to make it stay in place (and if you don't plug it in properly, it will scrap the bottom when you're trying to roll Bumblebee).

Bumblebee is a decent size unlike Prime Wheeljack, Bumblebee feels heavy enough to not make you feel ripped off, even though he is smaller than most Generations Deluxes.

A detailed car, and not terrible by any means.  It's a good car, some noticeable seams, yes, but a good mode nonetheless.


This is where most of the complaints of this figure are.  It starts off fairly okay, with the back of the car turning into Bumblebee's legs like you would expect them to.  However, the way the hood contorts into his torso is another affair.  There are a few surprising and unexpected twists, to the point where you might think they had over complicated this figure.  It might throw you off the first time, but I actually thought it was quite neat and kept the transformation interesting.  After multiple playthroughs with this figure, I was surprised to find that I kept transforming his chest wrong.  It wasn't until I checked the instructions did I realise his chest plugs together very securely (before, it was an unstable mess).  Bumblebee is very well designed.  I wouldn't say the transformation is fun, especially going back into vehicle mode, but it was interesting.  One major flaw is that he has too many pegs holding him together in vehicle mode.  That might sound like a good thing, but it's not when you spend some time prying out pieces since they're pegged together so well to the point where you're getting frustrated.  I find that the transformation seems somewhat inspired by the Movie versions.


This is where Bumblebee's greatest strength lies in.  His show accuracy is just amazing, there are a few elements that they incorporated as tiny extra steps to mimic the show model.  Once again, I stress that his chest all pegs together and stays together solidly.  It doesn't dislodge the moment you fiddle around with it (which was a lot of complaints about this figure).

Some might be put off with the proportions, with the long (gorilla like) arms, big feet, small waist and huge upper body, but I like it, and that's how Bumblebee looked in the show anyway.  Bumblebee has a small amount of kibble, the most noticeable being the roof of the car folded behind the door wings.

Bumblebee might look bulky, but he is fairly hollow, especially his feet, due to the automorph like transformation.

Like all the other First Edition figures, Bumblebee comes with a stand.  It's made of cardboard so it's nothing special, and wastes a lot of space if you decide to use it for display.  Also, the stand is not 'deep' enough for you to display the car mode on it, only the robot mode fits.

The torso has a heap of detail.  Luckily on mine, the little hood pieces that move down were easily moved, other people had theirs stuck.  The Autobot logo is somewhat obscured by the hood pieces.

The head sculpt is good, but the star must be the lightpiping, it is wicked.  It catches the light very easily, as you can see in the photo above (and I wasn't even trying).

The only gimmick Bumblebee has is his double barreled gun.  In each forearm guard (which has some nice sculpted elements) is a hole for the weapon to plug in.

Bumblebee only has one gun, which is a shame, would have been nice to have both his weapons available.  However, the guard is angled downwards in such a way that he cannot really aim it (unless it's aiming for the ground).

Bumblebee's fairly tall, well, as tall as you'd expect of a normal Deluxe.  He is paired with a 'standard' Deluxe in the photo above.

The articulation is good, and Bumblebee even features a waist swivel.  The shoulders are jointed a bit weirdly but it doesn't affect much.  Interestingly, the hands are jointed such that they can fold inwards, I would have expected they would be able to rotate but nup...

Bumblebee can be put into a wide variety of poses, his big feet allow him to be stand solid, without fear of falling.

There's not many additional paint apps here, but the yellow plastic works well, and Bumblebee doesn't come off being bland.  Mine had a defect out of the packaging, his left shoulder wheel cover was reversed, and it was when I was trying to fix it did I realise Bumblebee had a LOT of pins.  So that's something to watch out for, because if you get a defect, chances are, you'll need to punch out a pin to fix it.

A robot mode that has grown on me a lot, and I have taken a huge liking to it.  It looks great displayed and infinitely better than the RiD version.  He's great fun to pose around.


The number one most understated and under loved figure in the Prime First Edition line.  Honestly, this is considered by many the weakest figure, but I find Bumblebee to be amazing.  Sure, the market's saturated with Bumblebee's, but most of them aren't good figures, this one is.  However, it's not one for people who likes simple figures, as Bumblebee is undoubtedly complex, but rewarding at the same time.  Grab this toy if you like the aesthetics, I didn't let the many complaints of this figure put me off, and I did not regret it one bit, an excellent figure.


More and more reviews can be found at this page :P

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: D.Gray-Man Vol. 6

Review:  #203
Title:  D.Gray-Man Vol. 6
Series:  D.Gray-Man - 6th volume
Author:  Katsura Hoshino
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  Not as great as some previous volumes, I find that more often than not now, it’s hard to decipher what is happening.  It seems that things are all over the place and I have to concentrate to actually see what the frame is depicting.  I thought the story was boring at first, but it really picked up.  As well as that, I initially thought (as the author would have intended) that Suman was a traitor, yet the story surrounding him was tragic and sad.  It was a great background story and reason why he had betrayed the exorcists.  The ending of the volume is awesome, and you’d be hard pressed to finish the volume not wanting to read the next one.
Rating:  6/10

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Review:  #202
Title:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Series:  Harry Potter - 1st book
Author:  J.K. Rowling
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  It’s hard to judge just this book without considering the series as a whole and getting biased.  Anyway, it’s a good book (obviously), and it reveals a lot about the world of Harry Potter.  I wish the author had managed to put more in, coz it’s just teasing us by giving us a tidbit.  The world sucks you in right from the start, leaving you anticipating and hungering for what is going to be revealed next.  One thing I wished the author could do was flesh out the ending a bit more, it felt too short and brief.  Although it’s great right now, it would have been awesome if the process on how Harry got through the traps were more detailed.  Compared to the rest of the book, the climax felt too truncated.  Either way, if you haven’t read this book, then you should… everyone should at least read this series.
Rating:  7/10

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Toy Review: Final Fantasy XIII Play Arts Kai Hope Estheim

Review:  #91
Name:  Hope Estheim
Brand:  Play Arts Kai
Line:  Final Fantasy XIII
Year of Release:  2010
Volume:  Vol. 2


Let's first start with the packaging, and since this classified as a collectible, the end result is that it feels like a premium product.  It looks great and perfect for those who likes to display their figures in box.

I have to say that the box is heavy in it's own right, heavier than I expected, and the cardboard used is pretty thick.  The layout of all the text and artwork is decent.

The packaging, as you would have noticed by now, is a window-type packaging, showing the figure, and some accessories.  That said, there is a lot of empty space.  The packaging is also smaller than the Volume 1 Play Arts, as it does not contain a stand this time around.

The back shows some (awesome) poses of the figure, however, whether you can replicate them yourself is another matter.

Also one more decent photo of the figure on the side, the photographers sure know how to pose these figures.

Accessory wise, it's very bare.  You only get a spare right hand (for holding his weapon) and his weapon.  I would have loved to see the other design of his weapons included, even if it was just one or two extra, since his weapon has like seventeen designs in the game.


I'll provide a little back story, this figure is my first exposure to these Play Arts Kai figures (since I was interested in the XIII-2 Lightning figure and Dissidia Squall figures), and if I liked what I got, then I would have gotten some other ones.  So, when I saw these Final Fantasy XIII Play Arts Kai figures at one of my local toy shops, I grabbed it straight away.  It didn't hurt that they weren't priced with too much of a premium, costing me only as much as it would have costed me if I got them when they were released with added shipping.

First impression was... I was amazed at the detail used on the figure.  The outfit looks exactly like the game's design, down to every last detail.  Hope was a pretty big figure too (bigger than I expected at least), standing at around 20cm tall (I prefer metric measurements...).

One of my complaints?  The face just doesn't look right, from afar, it does look like Hope, but if you peered more closely, the shape of the face and nose feels weird somehow.  Also, this is one of the things where it's better not to look at it at close range, coz the hair look icky and bad, whereas in real life they're decent-ish.

Let's have a look more closely at some of the detailing.  The jacket and that piece of cloth that drapes over his shoulders are made of soft plastic, so they don't limit the range of motion the arms have.

The strips of fabric dangling on the back of his pants are also made of soft plastic.  Without experience in other collectible figure lines including previous Play Arts figures, I cannot say if the plastic quality is good or not.  Personally, I think it's pretty good, but it could be stronger, especially around the joints.  For example, the elbow joints feel brittle and easy to snap.

As if you need more convincing, just look at the shoes, every single part is detailed and painted well.  The feet have some good articulation, I can only find two joints, which help him stand flat on any surface and in poses (but I saw somewhere that he is supposed to have three).

Time for the weapons.  I think the weapons are the highlight of each figure, it's really well painted.  The design is based on the 'Air Wing' model, which is what Hope wields during the cutscenes in the game.  Plus, it's also one of the better looking models too.

Just like in the game, there's a joint that allows the boomerang to fold up.  Too bad there's no way to store it on Hope's body.  It would have been great if you could have attached it somewhere on his back.

In order for Hope to wield his weapon, you must switch out the right hand for another one.  Personally, I hate the process as it's a pain.  Pulling the hand out requires a bit of force, and putting the other one in requires more force to it to slot in correctly.  Anyway, this other hand has a peg which corresponds to a hole on the boomerang, which is good coz it attaches really securely.

I know a lot of people complain about the smearing of paint, and flashes of plastic that could have been cut cleaner.  However, the one thing that's most important to me, and to the point where I can ignore the other two things I've mentioned (provided they're not terrible) is quality control.  I had hear so many horror reports that it have put me off purchasing XIII-2 Lightning and Dissidia Squall.  I am happy to say... that it seems the Final Fantasy XIII Play Art Kai line doesn't have such a widespread QC issue...

That being said, a lot of my joints are stiff.  That might sound like a good thing, but it's not when they're too stiff, to the point where you can't even use the joints for fear of breaking it.  Actually, I was trying to bend the right arm when I heard a huge *crack*, this was not good news...  After studying it, and looking at the left elbow (which bent perfectly), I tried again, another *crack*, and it finally managed to bend.  I checked around and nothing seem to have broken or cracked, flash of plastic?  Couldn't be paint as it doesn't have paint there.  Regardless, that is something to be careful of.

Now the articulation, obviously, as a figure whose whole purpose is for posing, it is pretty good... in theory.  I don't know if I got a dud one or not, but I find it hard to dynamic poses with Hope, he's got the joints, and most of the range, but the joints are stiff to the point where it hinders the range of motion.

I also found it somewhat hard to balance him when trying to go for more dynamic poses, he tends to want to fall over flat on his face.  I really wished they could have included a stand.

It's also much harder than I thought to try and recreate the poses he had in the game.   Well, it's probably that I just suck as posing.  Honestly though, I see some pictures of him posed like this, yet the legs on mine can't even bend that much!

The boomerang looks great, and is versatile enough for a range of good poses anyway.  I don't like the design of the double jointed knees, as when you bend him the joints show up, and it makes the legs very unnatural.

A figure that looks great and high on detail, and quite fun to pose and play around with.


Obviously, there are good and bad points of the figure.  The detailing is superb and paint applications are good, they didn't skimp on that, and this is what you're paying for.  However, I think the quality could be improved, and it's also possible to make it more durable.  That said, I'm impressed enough to purchase more from this series.


Other toy reviews can be found on this page.
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