Saturday, December 31, 2011

Negima! Magister Negi Magi Volume 15

VOL. 15
130 – An Anticipated Date Becomes an Unexpected Date

Asuna’s date with Takahata, there was some crazy things happening in this chapter, which was funny, so it wasn't bad.  It did feel kind of weird to be honest.  Anyway, wished we could get to the main part where the mystery around Asuna actually clears.

131 – Finale of the Older Man Complex!!

The chapter started off well, and it ended well.  It was funny in the beginning with the encounter with Ayaka, and I was surprised that Asuna actually confessed by the end of the chapter.  She got rejected, which was to be expected, but don't know the reason why, hopefully we’ll find out.

132 – Before Saying Goodbye

Everything is getting so mysterious, especially Chao, who, apparently, is going to quit the school to return to her homeland.  It’s some place unique I guess, since if she misses her window this time, she can't go until 22 years later.

133 – Super Battle Guidance Counselling!!

Wow, it seems that a lot of the class can fight pretty well, and Chao’s quite powerful, or I guess her techniques are good.  She even got the upper hand against Negi, who is supposedly quite powerful himself.  Its frustrating that her reasons aren't revealed, the suspense is hard to bear.

134 – Full Throttle!  Robotic Martial Arts!!

I completely did not expect the ending, especially when Setsuna and Kaede turned up to fight as well.  I thought there was going to be an ambush when they led Chao away, and there was, of a sort, a good twist.  It completely slipped me of the class’s party, pretty cool.

135 – If Chao Lingshen Won’t Cry, We’ll Make Her Cry

I don't know whether to believe Chao’s back story or not.  It feels plausible, that she is a time traveler from the future (and explains her genius), but on the other hand, it feels a bit far fetched (especially the bit about a descendent of Negi).  She does leave Negi with a tough choice, the power to change the past.

136 – Team Negi-bozu

Pretty much a chapter where the cast brainstorms (and it seems like Asuna has gotten over the rejection), not terrible, and better than what you would expect.  Nothing much really happened, except we got to see Negi’s team (i.e. all his allies).  There were various places where the humour was good, but an average chapter overall.

137 – Mature Discussion of Combat

Finally, Eva lists out all the weaknesses and what Negi has been thinking about through the whole of the series.  She was right on the spot (and that was the annoying thing about Negi, so at least he knows it now), and there were a lot of surprising moments in the chapter.

138 – An Unusual Day for Negi’s Party

Well, the turnout of events was surely a surprise.  Magic exposed and it’s been a week since Negi came back, wow, how is he going to fix this up now?  This chapter really spiced things up a bit and now I’m very eager to see what is going to happen (especially since Negi is held responsible for this by the other mages).

139 – The Girl Genius Wins!

So, the whole thing escalates, and we get to see Chao’s plan revealed… somewhat.  It’s still a bit too mysterious on the actual way it worked, and Chao’s real background (although what she said in the previous chapter is probably true).  It is fairly hard to see how this situation can be reversed, hopefully something awesome happens and not some crappy forced idea.

Guess the volume focuses on the actions of Chao, but I think things really escalate and gets good in the last two chapters or so.  Everything else is a bit ‘meh’.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers Movie (2007) Concept Camaro Bumblebee (Deluxe)

Review:  #61
Name:  Bumblebee
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  2007 Movie
Year of Release:  2007
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 4)
Variations:  repainted into Movie 2007 Cliffjumper, retooled into Movie 2007 Stealth Bumblebee and Premium Bumblebee (actually, just have a look at this page), retooled into ROTF Preview Bumblebee and Cannon Bumblebee, repainted into DOTM Walmart Bumblebee (plus probably countless others I forgot)


Bumblebee transforms into the 2009 concept version of the Chevrolet Camaro, and it is an awesome design.  The mold is great, nailing down all the details.  Quite a few seams on the bonnet (even some holes) due to transformation though.

I liked how they bothered to add some paint at the rear instead of just focusing completely on the front.  There are red taillights and silver exhausts, too bad the license plate is only molded in and not painted.  The racing stripes also continues on.

You can see the Bumblebee squished into the car mode by peering underneath,and you'll realise that the vehicle mode is comprised of a bit shell.

The grill is well detailed, just the overall vehicle is excellent in terms of paint apps.  However, that's also where some of the problem lies, the yellow plastic and the yellow paint on the transparent plastic bits (part of hood, part of back, and the doors) are mismatched.  Granted, its very hard to for them to blend perfectly, but it's even more obvious here than on Cliffjumper.

I don't know if I'm used to it by now or what, but this time around, on Bumblebee, the visible heel pieces when viewed from the rear doesn't stand out as much.

Obviously, being a car, he rolls, and he rolls very well (better than my Cliffjumper in fact), but due to the fact that there is low clearance on his rear wheels (due to the way the feet are formed), it can be a bit rough rolling over carpet.

Size is decent, but has a hollow feel to it (due to the limbs not being bulky and blocky like the Classics line). It's a great car mode, and one that looks great on display.  It's super realistic and one of the best vehicle modes on a Transformer.


A bit complex and fiddly with a lot of panel shifting.  However, the chest automorph breaks up the hood in a pretty cool manner, while the leg automorph is my favourite.  By just pulling the leg down, the gears automatically form the leg, and it's really fun activating it.  As with a lot of Transformers, going from vehicle to robot is easier than the reverse, since you would have to align everything correctly.  The weapon storage is excellent and quite smart, and it doesn't impact the robot mode either.  There are a lot of panels that are manipulated though, making it feels a tad bit like a shellformer (but it's not major).


Bumblebee's robot mode is excellent, and one of the best in the Movie line.  Perhaps what's most surprising is that while the designer was restrained with the intention to mimick the complex CG design, they had done a great job.  It's very accurate and replicates many of the intricate details of the design.

Considering how most of the robot is tucked into the car mode shell, and that Bumblebee has a lot of it hanging off his limbs, it's pretty good how the back is not too cluttered.  It's probably because so many of the panels break up and fold upon each other.

They bothered to paint the license plate in robot mode (while it was blank in vehicle mode), as well as many other details on the figure.

Bumblebee's weapon can switch between a cannon or a blade.  The blade has gears so that when you open each half, the blade extends out.  My one actually had the gears stuffed up due to some extra plastic flash and I had to strip the gears.  Anyway, this is a nice gimmick that they didn't need to add.

The gun is quite big, and it looks like Bumblebee is holding it instead of his hand morphing into it, it's just a super minor qualm and personal preference.  The black plastic on Bumblebee looks really really nice, and it works well with the yellow.

There is a lot of paint highlighting molded details, which helped break up the black.  Due to the automorph, the shins are hollow and at certain angles, you can see through them.

The head is accurate to to the design, but doesn't capture the essence of the character.  It's still great but the black obscures many of the detail.  The lightpiping doesn't work as well as you'd expect either.

The poseability is excellent, Bumblebee is only missing swivels in his legs, sporting only a knee hinge.  Otherwise, he has 'rare' joints such as a waist balljoint, ankle hinge and wrist joints.

Bumblebee is tall for a deluxe (offset by his skinniness), and scales well with other characters.

A worthy robot mode for one of the most popular (and overdone now) characters of the movies.


An awesome toy.  The character may be overdone and overrated, but this toy is great and personally, no other Bumblebee toy produced in the latter movies are better than this one.  This is a solid figure, with two great modes, good transformation (albeit a bit fiddly to get into robot mode) and fantastic weaponry.  Highly recommended.


Other reviews can be found at this page.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Naruto Vol. 2: The Worst Client

Review:  #129
Title:  Naruto Vol. 2:  The Worst Client
Series:  Naruto – 2nd volume
Author:  Masashi Kishimoto
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  As exciting as the first volume, but generally better.  There was a lot more fight scenes and most of the volume is focused on Team 7 and their current task.  It was good, and a lot of appropriate humour, and it was great to see teamwork among the fighting, so it wasn't like one person fighting a superior enemy and somehow winning.  I liked the Zabuza story arc (not that it ended yet), but I just felt there wasn't anything groundbreaking, nothing that shocked me majorly.  The author’s way of building up the anticipation is great, and oftentimes, painful, especially when you know the next volume is going to be where it’s going to happen.  Anyway, it was a good read.
Rating:  7/10

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: Naruto Vol. 1: The Tests of the Ninja

Review:  #128
Title:  Naruto Vol. 1:  The Tests of the Ninja
Series:  Naruto – 1st volume
Author:  Masashi Kishimoto
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The first chapter was interesting, and one of the better debut chapters there is for a manga series, even now, 10+ years later, the story and art is still appealing. Although, the art could be better (I know it does improve with later volumes), the story was immediately interesting. I was surprised at the humour in it too, it was just the right amount and the gags were hilarious. Once Sakura, Sasuke and Kakashi were introduced, my interest in it had ten folded. A really enjoyable volume and I can't wait until I get hold of the later volumes where the story gets much better.
Rating:  7/10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers Movie (2007) Wreckage

Review:  #60
Name:  Wreckage
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  2007 Movie
Year of Release:  2007
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 2)
Variations:  repainted in the ROTF line as Bludgeon


Wreckage transforms into a vehicle based upon the M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.  Its an excellent vehicle mode, but the overall shape and colours might make it seem a bit bland.

There are many sculpted details, it's just that you don't notice them much due to the fact that they are not painted.  Wreckage has a grey gun in the middle, it can only aim straight, no side to side pivot, since it's part of the Automorph.

Perhaps most surprisingly, all of Wreckage's eight wheels roll.  Yes, all of them, separately.  However, most of them don't really touch the ground when you roll it on a smooth surface (probably only four does), but on something like the carpet, it's fine.

If you don't look at Wreckage from above, you'll see his hands wrapped underneath.  It's easy to see since he has such a high ground clearance.

There aren't too many seams here, most of the panels are fairly large but Wreckage gets away with it.

The robot mode weapons are ingeniously stored inside the vehicle, and it's not a lazy storage point, like underneath the vehicle.  The weapons are inside the vehicle itself, but they do poke out.  Another eye catching thing is the red square in the middle of the vehicle mode, this is for the torso cannon in robot mode made out of translucent red plastic.

Wreckage's size is decent, bigger than some other Deluxes.  A great vehicle mode in the end, but a little bit static.  However, we're probably used to this given all the other vehicle modes we get that can only roll.


Wreckage is simple, fun and great.  It's very interesting, and works very well.  It's elegant, I can't believe how simple the transformation is, yet it provided such a well formed robot.  The automorph gimmick is nice, but it threw me off the first time, since the chest piece is held in place via tabs in vehicle mode (you have to unpeg it first for a smoother transformation).

Each blade is spring loaded, revealing two transparent red jagged blades.  This is a really fun transformation, and going the other way is very intuitive too.  There are pegs, enough, but not to the point of too many, that 'shows' you where everything is supposed to go, and creating a very solid vehicle mode.  A very clever transformation.


Wreckage's robot mode is great, with many elements that makes him look good.  He's well proportioned and the colour scheme is excellent.  The red really stands out here and complements the Artic camouflage really well (surprisingly).

He does look like there are a lot of pieces hanging off, and that is true.  He's somewhat of a shellformer, but it's not terribly obvious even after you have transformed him.  Thankfully, none of these vehicle pieces affect anything other than the aesthetics (which are good mind you).

A major flaw here is that his head looks down, it's an intentional design but it wasn't executed well here, since it forces him to look too down, so you would have to compensate this by angling the torso up at the hips (which might look weird from the side).

Even though his footprint isn't big, he's very stable (they're balljointed at the ankles too) and you can get him to stand in a variety of poses.  His waist looks like it can rotate but it's glued into place.

Obviously, Wreckage's weapons include the two blades, each peg onto a hole on the underside of each arm.

While in terms of ranged weapons, he has his torso cannon, and it looks really impressive there.  It would look even better if there were some paint detailing, instead, the details are lost in the transparent plastic unless you look really carefully.

The sculpting of his head is good, but again it's a bit hard to capture on camera due to how he perpetually looks down.

He looks like he has a massive backpack, but it's completely hollow, so it's not bad at all and doesn't really impede anything.

The two blades can also combine into a double bladed weapon, you can attached this to one of the wheels for a wicked spinning blade!

His size is average, although he has a fairly big vehicle mode, his robot mode isn't as big as you would have expected.

Poseability is also good, but he's missing swivels in some places, like his knees and elbows.  It is not a great loss since all the joints are still good.  Although due to the transformation, he has some weird angles, particularly on his legs.

An excellent robot mode in the end that is a lot of fun to place with.


Two words, highly recommended.  A simple transformation links between two excellent modes.  The vehicle mode is a bit static but that's the standard of all Movie toys, while the blades really lift the robot mode up.  Definitely worth picking up at normal retail price (always against paying more, but this figure is worth it) and it really throws some latter Movie toys to shame (looking at the ROTF and DOTM toys).


As always, other reviews of Transformers can be found as this page.
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