Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron is the eagerly awaited sequel to 2012's The Avengers, and with this much hype surrounding the move, it has a lot of expectations to live up to.  In the grand scheme of things, Age of Ultron delivers.  It is not as fun as the first movie, purely because the novelty of Marvel's team of superheroes have saturated the big screen for a while now, but it was huge fun.  Additions to the cast include Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and of course, Ultron.  Age of Ultron has bigger set action pieces in which the Avengers' teamwork is demonstrated to great effect.  These set pieces are entertaining and fantastic fun.  However, where Age of Ultron falls down are the scenes inbetween.  Once again, we are forced to sit through the Avengers fighting amongst themselves before resolving their conflicts to team up again in the finale battle.  The movie carries a darker theme and atmosphere than the original, while there are still some good one-liners, it is nowhere near as numerous as you would have expected.  The romance subplot felt shoehorned and forced, as well as the multiple instances of some sort of backstory to the characters, in which they just happen to not mention it until now.  Overall, a worthy sequel but lacks the awe of the original.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Menasor

Review:  #271
Name:  Menasor
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Generations - Combiner Wars
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  N/A
Mold Status:  N/A


Menasor is the combined form of the Stuncticons, which are comprised of:  Motormaster, Drag Strip, Breakdown, Dead End and Offroad.

They look fantastic as a group and displayed together, as they are all vehicles and share a sports-adventure theme, the set is quite cohesive.

With all their weapons attached, they don't look as great but hey, you don't want to lose those accessories now do you?

Of course, you will need to include Blackjack, the last official Stunticon within the Combiner Wars line, he is intended to be the replacement of the generic car G1 Motormaster had.

Very neat and it is great to finally have a proper homage to the G1 Stunticons.

In robot mode, they look equally good, or perhaps even better, than in vehicle modes.  They share a common aesthetic this time and each figure is very detailed.

They share common design elements and overall, a group of toys that you would want to display together.


Let's go into each Stuncticon's limb modes, first up is Motormaster who forms the torso of Menasor.  There are actually two configurations, the first one leaves his chest closed and it already resembles the G1 Menasor's chests but the halves of the truck as his shoulders do look quite awkward.

Or you can open up the chest which shows some great sculpting but its main purpose is to allow you to plug in Blackjack there.

Breakdown's limb modes are decent although his foot mode lacks knee caps and thus feels like it is truncated and short.  The forearm of his arm mode is also a bit wide.

It's a similar case for Dead End but since Dead End's vehicle mode has more curves and is sleeker, he manages to pull off the limb modes better.

Drag Strip probably has the best limb modes of the lot, both leg and arm modes look fantastic and natural, with some great proportions.

Lastly, Offroad gives you some bulk and "layering" effect, especially with the arm mode, adding some complexity to the look of the combined mode.


Finally, onto the main portion, the combined mode.  All six Stunticons combine to form the mighty Menasor, and it is great to finally see a proper G1 combiner (no, FOC Bruticus does not count).

Menasor is a bulky beast although the torso is relatively thin as you can tell from the back profile.  I'm also not a fan of Motormaster's feet being so visible at the knees, feels like he is squatting and standing on Breakdown and Offroad instead of them being an integral part of the combined mode.

Nevertheless, Menasor looks very nice with the main issue being aesthetically, the legs are way too long making the torso look very squished and lacking substance.

The head sculpt is amazing although Menasor is perpetually snarling.  The horns can swivel and thankfully, are made of hard plastic.

In terms of size, he towers above most figures.  In the photo above, he is compared against Beast Hunters Optimus Prime, a Voyager classed figure.  Menasor even towers above Leader classed figures.

Theoretically, Menasor has all the standard articulation of a figure such as joints for his hips, knees, feet, elbows, wrists and shoulders.  In actuality, posing him is very difficult due a combination of factors, mainly his weight.  He is made of six figures after all, he's bound to be heavy.

Menasor has an amazing weapon, which is formed by combining Motormaster's sword and rifle together to form a huge sword, which looks simply fantastic and is an ingenious twist.

Menasor has a few mold flaws, the main one being that Blackjack doesn't securely peg onto the chest, even though it was designed to.  There are pieces blocking Blackjack from fully pegging in, so he is just loosely sitting there and will fall out at the slightest touch.

You can also swap the limbs around as each Deluxe figure can form either a hand or arm, this makes for some really cool combinations.

The other major flaw is Motormaster's hips.  The space between each ratchet makes it so Menasor cannot stand with his legs straight, they're either too wide or two close together.

Furthermore, the hip ratchets are really weak and cannot take the weight in more dynamic poses.  Add to this are the fact to properly transform him, you lock Motormaster's knees at a certain angle and it just does not work.  Very frustrating when you're trying to pose Menasor and he turns into a flopping mess.

I guess it just adds insult to injury when all the other ratchet joints are so tight and can clearly handle the weight.  In the end, Menasor looks great on display but just is not fun to play with.

Here's a quick shot of Menasor with his chest panels closed.  Of course, Motormaster can also combine with any of the other Combiner Wars Deluxes.

This ability to combine with any other Deluxes adds heaps to the play value and can mean a myriad of possible combinations.

Overall, Menasor is an above average figure but only because he is a gesalt of five figures so there are bound to be some compromises.


If you are going to buy all the Stunticons then Menasor is a bonus.  If you bought all the Stunticons for Menasor then you may be just a tad bit disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, Menasor looks fantastic and amazing but there are some design issues such as the proportions and some production flaws such as the hips and Blackjack.  Considering that this mode is just icing on the cake and is comprised of six very good individual toys, Menasor is worthwhile.


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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review: 07-Ghost Vol. 7

Review:  #519
Title:  07-Ghost Vol. 7
Series:  07-Ghost - 7th volume
Author:  Yuki Amemiya / Yukino Ichihara
Read Before:  no
Comments:  Volume 7 continues at a fast pace which makes it interesting and keeps you wanting to keep reading.  While there are still flaws such as the numerous flashbacks, which by this point, feel like there shouldn’t be any more time in Teito’s past to have more flashbacks, we all know that this will not be the case.  A big bit of information is dropped about Ayanami and now his actions make a lot more sense.  Over half of the volume then goes down to Mikage’s origins, and it try to be emotional.  Since this has already been done before, add to this the fact that Mikage and Teito’s friendship was superficial at best in the first volume, it doesn’t have the impact that the authors wanted.  Overall, the volume satisfies and was a lot more enjoyable than expected.
Rating:  6/10

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 keeps following Barney Ross and his team of Expendables, now whittled down to a team of five.  It stars an ensemble cast that doesn't feel like it was as strong as the second film.  It starts off with a sequence in saving Doctor Death, one of the original Expendable, played by Wesley Snipes.  It feels that a lot of importance was put onto the character at the start, such as his medical ability and craziness but he was just another character.  The plot is simple and at times, predictable.  The concept of the team getting old and disbanding, with the leader not wanting each one to be inevitably killed has been done many times before.  You know that the disbanding will not last, even when so much time was spent with the film scouting new recruits and on the conflict between the generations.  As such, The Expendables 3 felt like it could have benefited from a shorter length.  The climax was an explosion of gunfight and fistfights, as one would expect.  The ending was bland with no surprises.  Overall, The Expendables 3 was enjoyable but lacks the spark the second one had.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Blades

Review:  #270
Name:  Blades
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Combiner Wars
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 3)
Mold Status:  retool of Combiner Wars Alpha Bravo


Blades comes with The Transformers #35 (or Combiner Wars #11), this issue takes place on Earth.  Spike Witwicky makes a resurfaces and his enemies takes an interest, wanting to eliminate him.  Once again, if you are not aware of any past events, especially what Spike had done to end up being a rogue, then the impact and importance is probably lost upon you.  The events are a bit bland, there is a lot of talking and exposition, especially amongst the humans.  The most surprising thing is that this issue was originally released in November 2014, considering that the toy started appearing in April 2015, that's not much of a time delay.  So all in all, not many other things happened, so it ends up being quite a bland issue.


Blade transforms into a red and white helicopter, the combiner piece acts as a stand (which is a nice use for the extra piece).  Many people have complained that he retained missiles despite being a rescue helicopter.  Considering the amount of retooling other figures got, Blades got the short end of the stick.

Nevertheless, this is a really nice helicopter mode.  The main rotor is free-spinning, while the tail rotor is fixed.

Blades is a Deluxe classed figure but he has a very slim profile, also the robot arms jut out to the sides making him less aerodynamic.

A comparison with Alpha Bravo, you can see that there are no differences in helicopter mode.  Slightly disappointing is the dull grey used for the robots and the robot shoulders, it makes Blades feel cheap and it stands out a lot.

You can attach the robot gun either on ports on the side or in the robot fists, either way works quite well.

This is a great helicopter mode, the red plastic used is very nice and different than your standard color scheme for an alternate mode of this type.


Blades transforms exactly the same as Alpha Bravo, and it is quite simple yet fun.  I find that detaching the legs on Blades to be easier than Alpha Bravo, although it still pegs a bit too tightly for my liking.  I like how the rotors end up in robot mode, Blades has one of the best transformation schemes for a helicopter.


Blades' robot mode has some really nice proportions.  He is slim yet looks great.  Once again though, the grey shoulders ruins it, if only they used white instead.

He wears the rear of the helicopter on his back, and the main rotor tucks in nicely there.

The only new piece here is the head, with the face painted a metallic blue.  While accurate to the character, it clashes with the rest of the figure.

Size-wise, he is just a tad bit shorter than Universe Drag Strip.  He feels a bit smaller in your hands due to the slim profile but all in all, he's not noticeably smaller.

A quick comparison with Alpha Bravo, as mentioned, the only new part is the head, slightly disappointing that they couldn't have put in a few more unique features considering the mold is being used for Vortex without any changes apart from the head either.

Articulation is fantastic, he has all the joints that you would hope for (excluding a wrist swivel which he has no need for anyway).

One of the best things are the missiles surrounding his hands.  Not only are they painted silver so they stand out, but they work very well as weapons too.

Blades' main weapon is a gun, it's the same mold as Alpha Bravo.

He can hold it in either hand as you'd expect.  While posing him, you may notice that the piece containing the rotor may get in the way.

Blades has a large footprint which comes in handy.

The other weapon is the combiner piece which holds two barreled Gatling guns.

While just a tad bit too large, the Gatling guns do look quite convincing as powerful weapons.

Blades has a nice robot mode, the red and white are striking and really differentiate him from Alpha Bravo.


The mold that Blades uses is a fun one.  The helicopter mode is great and the robot mode is equally good.  The transformation is simple yet fun.  Only the unpainted grey plastics used for the shoulders and rotors let the figure down.  Despite that, the color scheme works very well and while the fact that he is the same mold as Alpha Bravo may dampen your enthusiasm, Blades is a solid toy in his own right.


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


Blades naturally form a part of the Protectobots, who can combine to create Defensor.  Defensor will get a review of his own later on but for now, lets take a look at Blades' other two modes.

Blades normally forms the right arm, thanks to the slim profile, the hands are proportionally too big to look natural.

As a foot, Blades looks fantastic and is one of the only molds to create a seamless transition to the combiner piece foot.  That and he has a knee spike makes Blade one of the best figures to use as a combiner leg.

Defensor looks fantastic (note that I have used Groove as a chest plate), he has one of the bulkier combined modes and Blades look fantastic as an arm.

An advantage of the limbs modes of the Combiner Wars line is that they have functioning elbows, shoulders and knees.  The downside is that the figures are generally too heavy to support dynamic poses.

That's it for now, thanks for reading and hope you stay around for the next review!

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