Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robot Boogers

Review:  #451
Title:  Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2:  The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robot Boogers
Series:  Captain Underpants - 7th book
Author:  Dav Pilkey
Read Before:  no
Comments:  A direct sequel to the events of Part 1, it apparently finishes off the story in the first few chapters but of course, things are never that simple.  The monsters return, the characters return back in time and more problems come up as Melvin steals Captain Underpants’ powers.  The plot isn’t too boring and the jokes aren’t lame, which makes this one of the better Captain Underpants books.  There are a lot of illustrations, which improves the simple storytelling and you have the trademark “special features” such as a simple comic (complete with spelling mistakes) and flip-o-rama.
Rating:  6/10

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

It was hard to get into Catching Fire.  On the positive side, it was faithful to its source material.  However, the flaw with that is that the book’s first half was never interesting to begin with; the adaptation onto the big screen sapped what little interesting thing it had and distilled it into a bland first hour and twenty minutes.  The concept of the movie was still great, in that the Hunger Games Quarter Quell happened; it was a great way to get the main characters back into the spotlight.  During the games, the political intensity and suspicions were toned down.  It would have been awesome if the film could have conveyed the same extreme tension felt in the book in that you do not know who to trust, why tributes are sacrificing themselves and the clockwork theme of the arena.  Even during the climax of the games, it didn’t truly captivate your attention.  It felt as if the film didn’t have enough time to build the suspense and revelation properly as the ending did not have as big an impact as it should have.  It ends in a cliffhanger, teasing you with what is to come and on the whole, it is an enjoyable film.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise (RiD) Super Prowl

Review:  #198
Name:  Prowl
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Robots in Disguise
Year of Release:  2001
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 5)
Variations:  repaint of the original RiD/Car Robots Prowl; it was later repainted into Universe Inferno, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker; there was also a clear version


Prowl transforms into a police car in the traditional blue and white paint scheme.  It's a much more vibrant color scheme compared to the original, and one that is better in my opinion.

Prowl is a Lamborghini Diablo although the proportions aren't spot on (the hood is much narrower than the back).  Nevertheless, it is still a fantastic vehicle mode.

Prowl is a Deluxe classed figure.  He has a transparent blue and red lightbar which is really nice.

The blue used has a slight metallic flake to it and it looks amazing.  There are a lot of painted details highlighting the sculpt such as all the lights are painted, including the indicators.

The wheels are rubber, Prowl rolls very well on smooth flat surfaces.  The only pieces of chrome Prowl has are the golden hubcaps.

As if his alt mode isn't fast enough, you can attach rocket boosters on either side of the spoiler.

There are painted flames at the ends.  The actual piece itself is a smokey transparent plastic, it would have been awesome if they could have cast the actual flame in transparent red instead.

The boosters are slightly too big and situated a big high to look natural.  Still, it's cool and the option is there.

He looks nice with the rest of the Car Brothers since all of them have excellent vehicle modes and eye-catching paint schemes.

A really good vehicle, it's realistic, the paint scheme is great and it even includes the classic chrome and rubber tires.


Transformation is simple, elegant and super effective.  I really like the blockiness of the transformation as it makes it much more fun to convert.  A worrying aspect though is that the doors, which are attached via balljoints, are transparent plastic, meaning that it could easily crack.  The bottom of his feet are sculpted to look like seats which is a nice touch.


You'll either love or hate the aesthetics of this figure.  Personally, I think he looks great apart from the skinny curvy legs and long torso.

Prowl has a bunch of kibble, the back of the car is permanently attached to his left arm as a shield, he has the windshield and hood on his back and the doors acting as a waist skirt.

The head sculpt is angular and looks perfect for a heroic robot.  It is only on a swivel meaning he can turn his head from side to side but not upwards.

A slight annoyance is the fact that his back kibble doesn't seem to tab in place and the placement is to your own personal preferences.  You can have the windshield more flush at the expense of the hood being further down and visible behind his legs.

Prowl is a wide robot thanks to the giant shoulder pads (which has a blue orb and a red orb on the shoulders mimicking the lightbar.

His robot weapons are the rocket boosters.

Both of them attach to his right arm for a wrist mounted weapon, it looks really cool and can even be used as a welder.

His boosters feature a pressure launch missile.  It's not very effective since it's hard to get a grip and the missile isn't tight enough for it to fire very far.

You may also place the boosters on his back as a sort of jump jet or even give him flight capabilities.  Who knows, since he never used this feature in the cartoon.

There is a giant Autobot symbol on his chest, as if it isn't prominent enough, it is also chromed gold.  I love how his chest mimics an engine block.

Once again, he looks great with X-Brawn and Sideburn since all of them share a similar aesthetic.

With poseability, Prowl is decent and still stands up well to contemporary toys 13 years later.

He has multiple joints for his elbows and shoulders, as well as balljointed ankles.  His small feet works much better than you'd expect, so Prowl can easily stand up in a variety of poses.

The only bit that restricts his articulation is the struts to which the doors are attached to.  They are fixed in place and directly above the hips, obstructing them at times.

The shield is a huge piece of kibble that really limits his left arm which is a shame.

There is a staggering amount of paint applications in this mode from the silver details to the gold paint on his shoulders.

Prowl is a lovely figure with a decent amount of play value.


This version of Prowl is what a redeco should be like, it improves upon the original being much more eye-popping and giving a premium feel.  The mold is a strong one with a detailed car mode and a fantastic robot mode.  If you can, definitely make sure you pick this one up.


Check out some other Robots in Disguise reviews on this page.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Lost in Babylon

Review:  #450
Title:  Lost in Babylon
Series:  Seven Wonders - 2nd book
Author:  Peter Lerangis
Read Before:  no
Comments:  Similarly to the first book, it lacks what makes a fantasy novel great.  It’s not very exciting and the events that happen don’t really gel with you.  The majority of the book takes place in ancient Babylon, in which the characters are on a fetch quest, to obtain the second loculus.  While the setting is interesting, the author doesn’t really make it so.  There aren’t any wonders to wow you and the plot feels very bland and generic.  The final section takes place back in the real world and feels completely at odds with what happened before it.  The ending is supposed to be a big twist but you feel so detached with the characters that it doesn’t leave a big impression.  A mediocre book, still worth reading but don’t expect it to be amazingly good.
Rating:  6/10

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Now You See Me

A fantastic film that keeps you guessing right until the end.  Magic is the theme of the movie, complete with showing off a few magic tricks.  A group of four magicians pulls off seemingly impossible heists for an unknown reason.  The film gains momentum quickly from the start, introducing the main characters in succession and then runs through each heist.  Just as one finishes, it builds up anticipation for the next act such that it never gets boring.  Adding to the feeling is the police, tracking down the magicians and another more mysterious character, seeking to expose the "magic" behind everything that has happened.  Each character carries their own charm and the excitement builds up at the climax, you eagerly awaiting the big revelation.  While the revelation was unexpected, it kinda came from out of the blue.  It wasn't a clever twist that if you paid close attention, you can figure it out.  There were a few scenes where it feels improbable, especially the ones showing something akin to hologram technology.  Anyway, Now You See Me carries an interesting story making for a great watch.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Fall of Cybertron Ultra Magnus

Review:  #197
Name:  Ultra Magnus
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Fall of Cybertron
Year of Release:  2012
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 3)
Variations:  a retool of the FOC Optimus; the Japanese version has shiny blue paint instead


Ultra Magnus transforms into a blue, white and red Cybertronian vehicle.  My pictures don't do it justice but the blue is a really nice dark shade.

It's not the best vehicle mode around.  Ultra Magnus is a retool of FOC Optimus, therefore this is modeled after Optimus' character model in the Fall of Cybertron game.  The rear is forms by his legs and shows an unsightly gap.

Ultra Magnus features six rolling wheels and that's about the extent of play value here.

He is a tiny tiny figure, this was during the time when Hasbro was aggressively reducing costs and it shows here.

Although the good news is that with this wave, there were additional weapons included.  In Ultra Magnus' case, his addition was a huge sword inspired by the one used by Optimus in the final level of the game.  The sword and blaster can attach to various ports of the vehicle.

This is an okay vehicle mode.  It's not as good as the original WFC version and the small size doesn't help portray the powerhouse this vehicle should have been.


Transformation is exceedingly simple and uninspired.  It's very boring to be honest and even to the point of feeling lazy.  There are no surprises here, the back forms the legs, and the sides form the arms.  Done.


I didn't like Optimus' version of this mode but it fits Ultra Magnus really well.  I don't know whether it is the blue used or the fact that the awkward looking shoulders actually fit the character well.  Either way, this is an improvement.

There is not much kibble here, only the vehicle bumper pieces forming the back of his arms.  They don't plug in so it's really annoying that whenever you fiddle with him, you will definitely dislodge those pieces.

In addition to the new sword, the head is also resculpted.  It's a very nice sculpt and further helps distinguish Ultra Magnus as his own character (instead of always being regulated into an Optimus repaint).

One of the things I hate about this mold is the fact that the waist joint does not lock into place.  Since the legs swing down, it's very easy for the upper torso to collapse on the joint such that it's facing the sky.  It also makes the figure seem more fragile than it is.

In comparison with the WFC mold, you can see the extent of  the cost cutting in the space of just two years.  Not only is Ultra Magnus really smaller in comparison, but the fact that he is something like 5 times less complex really lets you down.

Now, weapon time!  The first is a blaster that's inspired by Optimus' G1 gun.

The angled peg is for vehicle mode while the other peg for robot mode.

His next weapon is a gigantic sword.  The sculpting on this baby is great.

Like I said, it is gigantic and Magnus almost seems too small to wield it properly.

A feature that I felt that they undersold was the fact that the gun and sword can COMBINE.  The sword breaks up into three pieces and it attaches to the gun to form an even bigger sword, which is in one word:  AWESOME.

It looks absolutely amazing and it is what sold me on this figure.  I didn't realize it when I first got him (as I got the whole wave of figures and I didn't manage to sell Ultra Magnus) but now you know.

So in terms of articulation, Ultra Magnus has got the lot, however, there are still some problems such as the awkward shoulders which doesn't allow much outward motion.  They look awkward and they are awkward so I don't know how this got past design phase.

The other thing is his knees double as transformation joints, this means that they are situated lower than normal and can look weird in some poses.

His feet has ankle joints which makes balancing the figure a breeze.

A better robot mode than I had initially expected, this is the better mode and he displays well.


I ended up liking Ultra Magnus much more than I expected, mainly just because of the gun/sword combination.  However, what is undeniable is the fact that this mold suits Ultra Magnus much more than Optimus, so if you get a choice, get this version instead.  The play value is good and while the vehicle mode is a letdown, the robot mode does somewhat make up for it.  That said, I can only recommend this figure if it really and truly appeals to you.


Check out some other Transformers reviews here.

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