Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers EZ Collection Movie Bonecrusher

Review:  #226
Name:  Bonecrusher
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  EZ Collection (Volume 4)
Year of Release:  2010
Size Class:  Legends
Variations:  slightly lighter than the original Movie Legends Bonecrusher


Bonecrusher transforms into a Buffalo mine-protected vehicle, which is a really unique vehicle mode that is not shared with any other Transformer.

Despite the small size, the sculpted detailing is impressive, such as the ladder at the back, the grooves in the tires and the pistons in the arm.  This is good because the only paint Bonecrusher has are the metallic blue windows.

Bonecrusher is slim, he feels a bit too thin proportionally compared to the real vehicle but otherwise he's the size you would expect him to be.

Bonecrusher has better play value in this mode than a lot of other Legends thanks to the articulated arm which ends in a claw.

It is jointed at the claw, halfway and at the point attached to the vehicle.  It's really fun reenacting some of the movie scenes.  Unfortunately, it cannot rest complete flat against the roof though.

Another downside is that Bonecrusher has two pairs of rolling wheels, the rear pair and the spare ones on the sides are sculpted in place.

A fantastic vehicle mode with limited flaws.


Bonecrusher has a complex transformation in the movie and obviously, it will have to be simplified at this scale.  Yet it isn't dumbed down.  Bonecrusher has a simple yet clever transformation that's very fun.  Basically the back unfolds to form his arms and legs.


Despite being significantly simplified from his complex character model, this toy does a good job of capturing the essential elements and making it instantly recognizable as Bonecrusher.

Unfortunately as a byproduct of the simplified transformation, he wears the whole front of the vehicle mode on his back as a solid chunk.

The headsculpt is good and makes Bonecrusher angry looking just like he is meant to.  His head is also the only place where it is painted in this mode, being the eyes.

He is a bit shorter than some other Legends figures but he makes it up by being a bit wider too.

I love the attention to detail such as the wheels for feet, including sculpting to mimic the character model design.

Poseability is limited as you'd expect but it does well with what he has.  The shoulders have an amazing range of articulation while his hips are quite limited.

Additional play value comes from his claw arm which is still accessible in this mode.  While it doesn't split in two it approximates Bonecrusher's signature element well enough.

His arms are also sculpted such that it looks like it can extend, this is great use of an otherwise empty spot (kibble from the vehicle shells).

Only complain is that his actual claw fingers are somewhat undefined.

Bonecrusher has a fantastic robot mode that has heaps of play value and looks good.


Bonecrusher is a truckload of fun packed into a tiny package.  The articulated arm adds in a lot of play value, while a clever transformation gives us two great modes.  Bonecrusher is highly recommended.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review: Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf

Review:  #477
Title:  Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf
Series:  Charlie Bone - 6th book
Author:  Jenny Nimmo
Read Before:  no
Comments:  A novel that relies more on the mysteriousness of the characters and backgrounds rather than on action and excitement.  The Charlie Bone series has always made me feel as if it plays down the tension and importance of events in its storytelling.  It presents a unique atmosphere in that things feel darker rather than bursting with energy.  The story is interesting enough to keep your attention although the whole aspect of the wilderness wolf felt rather overrated and by the end of the book, it didn’t feel as if a lot of things had happened.  Some of the characters’ motives and personalities are hard to understand, such as Dagbert Endless (the drowner), whom I can’t fathom since at times he seems alright and at others, he is a definite antagonist.  It is a solid story and keeps your attention but a bit lacking on the wow factor.
Rating:  6.5/10

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Wolverine

The second movie to star only Wolverine, with a grand total of around three mutants appearing in the movie (including Wolverine), it doesn't feel much like an X-Men film nor does it give the divisive feel.  It starts off in typical Wolverine fashion, with Logan away from the world, living alone and probably having some deep reflection.  Obviously, he returns to action and the majority of the film takes place in Japan.  The plot is average but there are way too many scenes that does not add value.  This causes the film to bloat to being two hours long when 1.5 hours would have sufficed.  The relationship Wolverine has with the main female character was superficial and doesn't feel in character, especially when he keeps thinking about Jean.  The hallucinations involving Jean was done way too often and way too much, it feels in your face.  The plot tries to be complex with the involving of many characters... and many antagonists yet it is still predictable and trying to fit so many into the film causes some to be redundant.  All that said, it provides insight to the internal struggle of Logan.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers (2014) Legion Optimus Prime

Review:  #225
Name:  Optimus Prime
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Transformers (2014)
Year of Release:  2014
Size Class:  Legion (Wave 1)
Variation:  a repaint of Reveal the Shield Optimus, which was also repainted into Generations Motorbreath


Before we get in too deeply about this figure, this is the 2014 release in the generic Transformers packaging, released during the same time as the Age of Extinction toys (as AOE was lacking any Cyberverse figures).

As is typical of Optimus, he transforms into a red and blue truck very reminiscent of his G1 self.

Also as is typical of Optimus figures,the rear of the truck simply sucks and doesn't look great.  The truck bed, which is formed by the robot legs, is blue.

As a Legion classed figure, he is small, but no smaller than other figures of this size.

Unfortunately, the side windows aren't painted silver.  Optimus was released at the same time as the Age of Extinction toyline, but features the generic Transformers packaging.

The grill has some nice sculpted details which the silver paint brings out to attention.

Sadly, the middle pair of wheels are fake but on the whole, it actually does a good job of looking like a proper truck.


Clever for it's size.  It basically mimics the G1 figure but adds in a twist such that you get a false torso which makes it more cartoon accurate.


Now, onto the robot mode.  Optimus has great proportions and a heroic stature.

He doesn't have much kibble, the main one behind the wheels and sides of the truck hanging beneath his arms.

The head sculpt is a bit undefined but still recognizable as Optimus.  Due to transformation, as the head is attached to the flip up panel, it is fixed.

While he is not the tallest figure around, his wideness makes up for it.

Thanks to transformation, Optimus has one of the most poseabilty arms in Legion class Transformers history.

His hands can hold 3mm weapons and his upper torso can rotate, mimicking a waist joint.

His legs are another story.  Unfortunately, they're very restricted, the only joint behind his hips.  While they are balljoints, they don't allow much movement all all.

Optimus is faithful to his original G1 design and the paint applications bring out a decent amount of detail.

A fantastic robot mode that manages to keep Optimus' iconic elements in such a tiny package.


This is a fantastic Legion mold.  Optimus has two good modes with the robot mode edging out as the better of the two.  The truck mode looks fantastic while the robot has nice proportions and the extremely poseable arms are a load of fun.


For other Transformers reviews, check out this page.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Assassin's Creed III (PS3)

Assassin's Creed III is the third major installment of the Assassin's Creed series, and the fifth flagship title.  The game features a new character as the assassin, Connor, a Native American.  Assassin's Creed III story is boring, at least early on, although in my opinion, this was easily the worse Assassin's Creed story at the time it was released (and for that matter, one of the worst plots I've ever played).  In the beginning, it features a different character than the one shown in the box art and promotional materials.  It was bold of them to spend the first few chapters before we can actually control the titular assassin.  To increase your care factor, you get to control Connor and watch him grow up.  Fact is, the childhood sections does not do much to help players bond with the character since they are too brief and too boring, there's nothing for us to care about.  The whole game builds up to the final killing blow of the antagonist yet the final mission and the scenes which this happens are severely lacking in anything.  In the end, you don't side with Connor.

While the Templars are said to be evil, the Assassins have performed a lot of evil deeds as well.  In actuality, we see more of the Assassins killing supposedly evil persons (without us seeing the true extent of their evilness in action) and we only have the Assassin's word that they fight for freedom.  The story takes place during the events of the American Revolution and how Connor was entangled into it.  Unfortunately, by shoehorning him into every significant event and giving him a crucial role in each one, it feels contrived.  Connor's motivations for his actions are vague and weak, he lacks any charisma so you don't care what happens to him either way.  To put salt into the wound, the present day ending was a bit abrupt and disappointing, it seems each Assassin's Creed game is the same in that it promises revelations but just ends up leaving another cliffhanger.  The plot can become unbelievable with side characters' motivations and seemingly blind trust for Connor, to the point of allowing him to command troops at crucial moments, especially when said characters meet Connor for the first time.

Like previous Assassin's Creed games, the game is mission based, and these missions are absolutely annoying and frustrating at the unfairness, blandness or plain rubbishness of them.  This is more evident in the earlier missions which require stealth or tailing/eavesdropping.  You can get detected way too easily requiring a mission restart, even though these missions are short, the checkpoints aren't always friendly.  I am not sure whether enemies have higher detection rates than expected but Connor seems to be discovered way too easily.  So while it keeps the same types of missions as in previous Assassin's Creed games, somehow they manage to feel more annoying, more frustrating and less fun to play.  The seems to restrict your freedom to the point where you're forced to trial and error to find out the exact path the developers wanted you to take.  Areas are cordoned off during missions such that you can't stray far without failing.  The other problem with the missions is the repetitveness and emptiness; you will watch a lot of cutscenes, then walk for two seconds to watch another cutscene.  There isn't nearly enough meaningful or meaty gameplay to make it less bland.

This sort of mission structure makes you wonder why the developers bothered to give you those two seconds to control Connor when it would have been much more effective to go straight to the next cutscene.  This makes it so boring when the gameplay boils down to Point A to Point B for a mission, cutscene, then go back to Point A for another cutscene before going to Point C to repeat the whole process.  The trekking between mission points take more time than the actual mission gameplay itself.  This recipe makes Assassin's Creed III sickening and feels like it has taken the franchise several steps back.  What's more annoying is that missions often force you to travel across one of the four unique maps, which means loading screens and wasting more time, especially when you just came from that map in the previous mission.  Even after patches, some glitches remain such as during missions and your side character speaks, once you arrive at the predesignated spot, the character's dialogue suddenly cuts off.  This is really poor timing considering that the developers had timed the event (you're forced to walk alongside those side characters at their pace so they knew how much time they had for the dialogue).

The developers should consider a button for stealth because you can't control when Connor crouches or not, while this is not a problem in previous games, it's glaring here with the amount of frustrating stealth missions.  That, or we need a cover system because the inconsistent handling of cover is frustrating.  The game does a horrible job of introducing the player to all the new stuff Assassin's Creed III has to offer.  A lot of things aren't explained within the main game.  While sidequests are available early on, the game doesn't do much to point it out.  Assassin's Creed III introduces hunting, you can set snares, baits, use a bow and arrow to kill.  It feels a lot different to previous Assassin's Creed games.  Combat remains clunky, being aggressive sucks and countering is still the way to go but somehow, it feels a step back for Brotherhood and Revelations.  It's annoying how once a large group gangs up on you, you're screwed in terms of trying to fight your way out, you have to patiently wait for a perfect moment to counter which can take a while.

A core part of the gameplay is the freerunning, it is now more simplified requiring the press of only one button.  However, this doesn't feel like an improvement, what this change means is if you wanted to run, you have to freeruning which also means climbing objects which you may not have wanted.  The lack of buildings in maps also means you can't freely run on the rooftops which makes traversing the maps quite boring.  One area that Assassin's Creed III excels at are the graphics and environments.  The game looks amazing.  The setting of the American Revolution is unique and provides heaps of potential but the relatively recentness of the setting doesn't lend well to the more traditional look and methods of the Assassin's.  Furthermore, there are four maps:  Boston; New York; Homestead; and Frontier.  None of them provide enough high rise buildings for climbing and rooftop running.  In the Frontier and Homestead, since it's out in the wilderness, climbing trees is limited to preset paths and there aren't many hiding spots.

In contrary to the story missions, the sidequests aren't nearly as annoying.  There is a HUGE amount of things to do, as you'd expect of an Assassin's Creed game.  There are Homestead missions which are recruiting villagers to live in your area, liberation missions to free Boston and New York and many collectibles ranging from feathers, pages and trinkets scattered around the map.  The biggest thing added are naval missions in which you control a ship on the high seas, firing your cannons at other ships.  It was highly praised during its release but I didn't find it too amazing.  It is fun but it wasn't the hyped up experience I was expecting.  There are minigames too, including two board games and lawn bowling but they're slow paced and can be difficult to win against the AI.  Overall, Assassin's Creed III contains a horrible story and frustrating gameplay.  If you can look past the story missions, it contains a huge world filled with heaps of other stuff to do (all of which are better than the story missions).  It's worth playing but it's hardly a great game.


For other game reviews, check out this page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


This movie is about three teenagers (still in high school) who discover powers when they came into contact with a mysterious object (alien in nature?  Who knows as the object was never the focus).  Their powers seems unlimited as whatever they think, they can do, from flying to telekinesis.  The story was interesting in that we see the characters start to learn about their power... and eventually misuse it.  Their journey was meaningful and understandable.  You can see how circumstances ended up warping them to their darker path.  The events were shocking, especially to what happens to them as it was unexpected and emotionally impacts you.  The whole movie is seen as though from them recording it (hence the title) and it can get annoying a some points where the viewpoint isn't clear or you want a wider shot to see everything.  Nevertheless a surprise hit and the ending was good too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

Review:  #476
Title:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Hard Luck
Series:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid - 8th book
Author:  Jeff Kinney
Read Before:  no
Comments:  While still funny and enjoyable (the “one more page” mentality is intact and before you know it, you would have finished the book), the story elements aren’t as imaginative or “innocent” as it has been in the previous books.  We see Greg focusing on money and “cheating” his family and while Greg was always oblivious to his selfishness, it shows how much of a jerk he can be and how easily he gets jealous.  Still, there were some extremely funny sections, especially the ones where the humour is combined from both the text and illustrations (the text would begin the joke and the illustrations would complete it).  The main theme of the story this time is Greg and Rowley’s relationship, well, their falling out due to Rowley’s girlfriend and how Greg copes with it.  It’s a solid book that’s fun to read.
Rating:  6/10

Monday, March 23, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Megatron (Leader)

Review:  #224
Name:  Megatron
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Combiner Wars
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  Leader (Wave 1)
Variations:  retooled into Armada Megatron with a new head in the same wave; Japanese version has a slightly different color scheme


Megatron transforms into a silver tank with two guns on top of the turret.  This figure is based on G1 Megatron but since you can't make him into a toy gun anymore, the tank mode is a compromise.

This tank mode is fantastic, almost everything is doused in silver paint and gives the whole toy a premium feel.  It is a bit empty underneath though and when looking from behind, you can see the hollow space in the middle.

One of the highly advertised features of the toy is the fact that he is the first tank Transformer to have working treads.  Yes, you can now roll Megatron on a table and the rubber treads will work.  There is a slight cheat in that each side is separated into two working tread sections but is still very cool.

Megatron comes with a collector's card featuring art from the Transformers:  Legends game and it looks wicked.

He is a Leader sized figure and he doesn't feel too much downsized.  He is still fairly big and with all the silver paint, his slightly smaller size than from Leader classed toys of yore is easily forgivable (we are comparing him with ROTF Bludgeon above).

The turret is able to be rotated 360 degrees, it's on a ratcheting joint.  You might notice that there are also various Minicon ports, most likely for the Armada version of the mold.

The cannon isn't able to be tilt upwards.  There are a lot of sweet sculpted detailing all over the toy.  The cannon houses a spring loaded missile launcher.

A fantastic tank mode that is hard to find faults with (apart from the slightly hollow back).  The working treads is neat and surprisingly for a Hasbro toy, he features a premium paint job.


Megatron's transformation was designed with the idea of simple and fast to transform to make it fun but also interesting at the same time.  It is a successful execution here as you wouldn't mind transforming Megatron more than a few times, while it is also complex enough to not make it boring or unoriginal.  You can probably convert him from tank to robot and vice versa in less than a minute.  The best aspects of the transformation would have to be how the turret collapses back into the fusion cannon.


Megatron's robot mode is heavily G1 inspired, from the chest to the head to the fusion cannon on his right arm.

Surprisingly, he doesn't carry much kibble in this mode:  only the front treads which he wears on his back.  These are adjustable to suit your preference but their official placement is to snap them together and pulled down to hide them from sight.

The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic.  It captures Megatron's charisma as well as his hardened personality.  It is only a swivel joint with the ability to look up and down.  The red lightpiping works but not as well as you would hope.

He doesn't completely tower over some other toys like you would expect but he is still a decent size.  The premium paint job continues over in this mode, which makes the unpainted shins stand out all the more.

In the Japanese promotional pictures, he is constantly compared to against MP Optimus Prime, they are similar in height and Megatron actually looks decent next to Optimus if somewhat different in aesthetics.

The fusion cannon is fixed onto his right arm, it is not detachment which is a shame.  It also cannot sit flush against the side of his arm due to his forearm guard, which can cause the cannon to sit at a visually awkward angle.

You can also rotate the cannon to show the slimmer cannon on the other end but you'll find that it doesn't suit this version of Megatron (Armada Megatron utilizes this alternative well).  The missile launcher remains accessible.

Carrying over from the tank mode are his two guns.

He can hold them in is hand and there is also a peg hole on his forearm guards where you can plug in the weapons (the same places as in tank mode).

Or you can combine them to form a rifle.

Although the rifle is a tad bit too skinny for it to look good in Megatron's hands.

His poseability is decent, he has wrist swivels too which is awesome.  His knees look awkward and they are, but they aren't nearly as bad in person.  His hips are ratcheting joints with the "click" too far apart, so one click means he sprays out which gets annoying.

There are some slight proportion issues, mainly that his shoulder struts are situated too low so that they look awkward when you swing his arms forward.  Compounding this problem is that his chest details situated just a bit lower than you would like and the hinges make it seem his head is too high up.

Nevertheless, this is an amazing robot mode that captures Megatron's G1 likeness well.


Generations - Combiner Wars is ushering a new golden era of Transformers toys.  Megatron is one of the best toys we have had in recent times with the perfect blend of simplicity and complexity (if that makes sense).  The premium paint job, the awesome sculpting and the inherent fun of the figure makes this a stellar toy.  I admit I was skeptical when the initial photos was released but wow, this is one amazing figure.


For other Transformers reviews, check out this page.

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