Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

Review:  #542
Title:  Skulduggery Pleasant:  The Dying of the Light
Series:  Skulduggery Pleasant - 9th and final book
Author:  Derek Landy
Read Before:  no
Comments:  Here it is, the finale to the Skulduggery Pleasant series where everything has been building up to this point . Darquesse is loose upon the work and it's time for Skullduggery and gang to somehow save Valkyrie from her alter ego.  The mystery of exactly how he is going to do that keeps you going and anticipating the ending.  There were a few times where it drags a bit, as this is a long book and it goes through cycles of Darquesse seemingly being able to be overcome only for the plan to fail.  It rises to a crescendo in the final battle where the vision seems inevitable and the only outcome seems to be the one where everyone dies.  Granted, many more characters die, characters that you care for and had grown to known.  There is also a section where it was confusing in how it links to the story, starting with the prologue and eventually a chapter here and there, it is only until the ending where it is somewhat revealed what it is getting at, and frankly, it's quite disappointing and disjointing.  The author throws in his classic one-liners with some of the most amusing and funny dialogue since Kingdom of the Wicked.  The author also plays on words, leading you to believe one thing but in actuality, it plays into the technical and literal meaning of words in order to resolve a subplot.  As mentioned, the plot can be unfocused and is frequently distracted.  It seems to meander from place to place, slowly arriving at the destination.  It makes an effort to retread many previous locations and characters, at times making it feel contrived.  In the end, what's important is that The Dying of the Light is a satisfying finale to a good series, you'd actually hope for more stories to come after finishing the last page.
Rating:  8/10

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes has a fantastic opening that brings intrigue and mystery to the movie instantly, as well as setting up a nice atmosphere.  Unfortunately, the plot stalls in the middle before finally picking up again at the climax.  It is not your typical mystery plot, while it does mix magic within the story and does the whole "explain how everything was achieved) exposition at the end of the film, it was interesting.  Robert Downey Jr.'s rendition of Sherlock was entertaining, bringing cheekiness and and casualness to the character, while his partner Watson was equally fantastic.  Where the movie stalls is the antagonist, Blackwood, who is just not compelling and his motivation is severely undercooked.  Seeing Sherlock and Watson slowly go through the motions of deciphering the mystery when it wasn't that interesting in the first place was a slog.  The movie also tries to create impressive shots of the environments by panning out or some epic action scenes but since it is all computer generated, and not that realistic either, it fails in that part.  In the end, Sherlock Holmes was an entertaining movie that won't test your intellect but is quite funny in the process.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-25 Tracks

Review:  #287
Name:  Tracks
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Masterpiece
Year of Release:  2015
Size Class:  Masterpiece
Mold Status:  new


Tracks is the 25th main numbered release in the Masterpiece line, of course he comes in a fancy Masterpiece box.

There are stock photos at the back showing the various gimmicks the toy has and the extra accessories.

So let's go through those accessories.  Of course he comes with a collector's card, but it seems they've started cheapening the cards because Tracks' one is not cut cleaning and you can still see the brown cardboard at the edges.

While the front shows some great art, the back has some stats, a short bio and stock photos of the two modes.

Oh yeah, with Tracks, we also get a Masterpiece Blaster!  Just kidding, there is a mini-Blaster in boombox mode.  It's really well painted for its size though.

The other character included is the human Raoul.  Unlike Spike included with MP-10, Raoul is not articulated.  But he has a stand glued underneath his feet to make him easier to stay standing up (he is a small figure).

There's a truncated gun, which is used for flight mode.

Track's actual pistol is included with a silver body.

Lastly, and this was a surprise when announced, Tracks comes with a display stand.  Actually, he comes with a spare pair of side mirrors too.

Overall, that's a lot of accessories included with Tracks, two to three pieces more than other Masterpieces of this size.


Tracks transforms into a licensed Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C3, which is coincidentally (well, not really, it was intentional) the same alt mode as his G1 toy was.

The back is neat and tidy too, with barely any obvious robot kibble sticking out.  The rear lights are painted red.

In terms of size, Tracks is clearly longer than a Deluxe but he is a narrow vehicle.  Anyway, he is quite hefty for his size.

Next to a Voyager, Tracks doesn't feel as big as one.

Maybe it's due to the sleekness of the vehicle but Tracks doesn't really fit in with the other Autobot Cars with their older, blockier vehicles.

Nonetheless, there are some great detailing here, such as the Chevrolet logo in front of the hood.

Of course, how can you not notice the amazing flame detailing on the hood?

The sculpting on this figure is nice, but the clear standout here is the shiny metallic blue paint used to cover the whole body.  It looks amazing and gives the figure a premium feel.

The gun can be stored in vehicle mode, underneath the windshield (where the head is as well).

While the overhead cannons are built into the vehicle too, which is impressive.  They're obvious when viewing through the back window.

There are some bits sticking out underneath the bottom of the vehicle, the car is too small to fit everything in.

You can see how this vehicle is packed tightly with all the robot parts, there is barely any space left.

As you'd expect, the wheels are plastic but Tracks still rolls very well.  There are no die-cast in this figure nor does he need any.  Also note that the side mirrors come in their sprues which you need to cut off and attach to Tracks yourself.

A neat feature is that his hood opens to reveal a silver painted engine.

The Blaster and Raoul figures are included specifically for being placed next to Tracks in vehicle mode...

An amazing vehicle mode that does not have any faults at all.  He looks perfect with heaps of painted and sculpted detailing... amazing...


Transformation to flight mode is fairly basic as you can expect since the two modes are very similar to each other.  However, what makes this annoying is that the tabs holding the rear of the vehicle with the rest of the figure is quite tight.  It doesn't help that once you use enough force to pull it out you feel like you might have broken off a piece.  There are some neat elements such as the inbuilt rear wings.


A mid-transformation in the original toy, Tracks did use this mode in the cartoon and this Masterpiece version faithfully creates it here.  You can leave how the grill gun if you want too.

It's not a bad looking mode, with the rear winglets, interestingly, the robot shoulder cannons are on the underside which means you cannot lay him flat on the table.

The stand included is primarily for this mode, it has three poseable joints and you attach the peg to a hole on the underside of Tracks.

He remains on the stand very securely and is not easy to be pulled off.

The arms make a good job of passing off as air intakes with the sculpting.

Otherwise, there's nothing much else here for you to fiddle around with.

While it is a nice inclusion, this won't be a mode where you'll display Tracks in due to the fictional nature of it.


If you've been collecting the Masterpiece line until now, you'd notice that Tracks' transformation scheme feels different.  This is because he is designed by a different designer (the same one behind MP-09 Rodimus) and it is so obvious here.  It is not as elegant nor as fun.  Tracks relies heavily on panels and that makes the figure feel a bit of a cheat.  It is also a bit fiddly and not that fun to go between the modes.  Furthermore, for some reason, the hood of the car are pegged together very tightly and you have to use excessive force to split it (which is never a good thing).  A bit disappointing with all the panels and tabs.


Tracks robot mode is quite good, he looks close enough to the cartoon model but there are some flaws.  First of all, he is quite slim and tall, too tall.

While most of the robot is kibble free, he carries the shell back of the car as a backpack to anchor the overhead shoulder cannons and wings.  It is a bit unsightly and frankly, a bit inelegant.

The headsculpt is decent but there seems to be something off, not as heroic or awesome as the stock photos.  The face is painted red with blue eyes.

The torso is comprised of a few panels pegged together, and his shins are panels too.  It just feels weird to have a Transformer so reliant on panels (apart from the Movie figures that is).

Looking from the side, you can really see how thin Tracks' profile is.  Furthermore, the way the ratchets are, you either have him bending his knees forward or standing with his knees at a backward angle that looks great in anime but not in a toy.  You can't just have the legs straight.

Tracks unfolds a lot during transformation and he is a lot taller than Deluxes now.

He is approximately the height of a Voyager but bearing less mass and not as stocky.

Similarly to when he was in vehicle mode, compared to the other Autobot cars, he is a lot slimmer and sleeker, with curvier angles (probably due to Tracks being a Season 2 cartoon character).

Lastly, a comparison against previous iterations of the figure, to be absolutely blunt, the Binaltech and Reveal the Shield versions feel superior as an action figure.

Being a Masterpiece figure, of course Tracks is super poseable.  He has the elusive waist and wrist swivels.

A few of the joints are ratchets, including his knees.  The ankles are jointed too to make it easier to pose.

The stand works well in robot mode, pegging to a hole behind the waist.  Also note that a lot of the toys after Age of Extinction has similar pegholes in robot mode, which this stand is compatible with.

Even in robot mode, there are heaps of sculpted detailing, even if they're a bit generic, the mechanical details enhances the aesthetics.

He can hold his gun in either hand.  The fingers are jointed as one and opening it, there is a slot corresponding to the smaller jutted out peg in the gun handle, this means that Tracks holds his gun very tightly.

The wrist and waist swivels helps a lot in giving Tracks some decent poses.

While his shoulder wings are nice and big, the same can't be said for the overhead cannons.  They should be a lot bigger than tiny things they are.  Since they are integrated into the vehicle mode, the lack of space limited their size.

Of course, you can pose Tracks with Blaster and Raoul.  I don't think Tracks can actually hold Blaster by the handle though.

His joints have a large range of motion.  The metallic blue just looks so good on him.

A good robot mode held back by the flaws introduced during the transformation.  However, Tracks still looks and plays great.


Tracks is a nice toy.  He is not the best in the rebooted Masterpiece line but compared to other contemporary toys, Tracks is fantastic.  He has a fiddly and over-complicated transformation that is heavily reliant on paneling, which makes the robot mode seem stretched and lacking.  Tracks is still a worthwhile figure and makes an excellent addition to the line.


For other Transformers review, including Masterpiece figures, have a look at this page.

Blogger Widget