Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: The Throne of Fire

Review: #114
Title: The Throne of Fire
Series: The Kane Chronicles - 2nd book
Author: Rick Riordan
Read Before: no
My Comments:  Clearly a better book than the first one (which wasn't too bad in its own right), and it got interesting pretty much straight away.  It wasn't as ‘fixed’ to a structure like the first book in that it got the protagonists going one place and then redirected to another, it has that, but it is not as repetitive (it helps that the book is shorter too).  The story is not too bad, but I kind of get the feel that I could have not read the first book and still get as much of an enjoyment as I did now, which can be a good thing but it doesn't make the series as ‘connected’.  One good thing is that it feels less like the style of writing in Percy Jackson and more like its own work.  A bit of a flaw was that it didn't build up properly, throughout the whole book the excitement (so to speak) was level, there wasn't much build up or revelations (or promises of revelations) to keep you going and excite you.  The climax was disappointing, no big reveal or twist or battle, probably the main flaw in my opinion but it is still a good book to have a shot at reading.
Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, November 28, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers Prime First Edition Deluxe Megatron

Review:  #51
Name:  Megatron
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Prime
Year of Release:  2011
Size Class:  Deluxe (First Edition)
Variations:  none

Note:  I had borrowed this toy for only one night, hence the lower quality photos and I might have missed some minor features of the figure (and I have fixed the formatting issue from Hatchet!!)

Note2:  This is the First Edition Version from the Entertainment 2-pack released with Optimus


Megatron once again transforms into an alien jet like his Movie incarnation.  It's very show accurate, down to the head peeping up from the top.  Many people have issues with the head being visible, and I'm one of them, although it's a design choice, it's annoying.  One thing to note is that I have accidentally attached the cannon on top the wrong around around...

There are tabs everywhere on this jet, except one place, the front pieces.  It's unorthodox, you have this very solid back while the front pieces just shift around every time you accidentally brush against it.  There are two thrusters of sort, but the toes of the robot mode just sit here out the back with nowhere to go.

Megatron may have a wide wingspan, but it's very hollow underneath.  I love the way the robot legs have split into halves to create the wings, it's elegant, innovative and works very well.

The biggest gap by far is where the robot thighs are, you can just see through him.  There's some nice details here and there, the engine intakes, and the touches of silver paint, makes this a stronger jet mode than I had initially expected.

Considering all the recent Megatron figures we have been getting (the Movie ones come into mind), we have one that turns into a Cybertronian jet, AND doesn't suck at it.  I wouldn't say it's awesome, but it does look better in hand.  The biggest flaw would be the abundance of gaps.


More involved than you would expect, and a lot of nice surprises.  It's easy, but elegant, and fun to go from mode to mode.  The biggest annoyance is there is not enough clearance for his air intakes to collapse into his back, four times out of 5 you would pop one of them off when trying to align his shoulders.  The chest panels  folding up are nice, makes a nice change from the complex and frustrating transformations of the Movie lines.  As mentioned, there are interlocking tabs everywhere so it's pretty intuitive where everything goes (provided you know what it looks like beforehand).


This is the mode where Megatron shines.  They have absolutely NAILED it on how he looks on the show, from the stature to his proportions, THIS is excellent.  He looks suitably powerful and evil, his shoulder spikes even have a joint so it can flip out just a tiny bit more.

There isn't any major kibble, the backpack (if it can be called that), comprising of three panels, is compact and sits close to the body, while everything else integrates into the robot.

The head sculpt is perfect, and surprisingly detailed.  The purple lightpiping is wicked, you can even make out his teeth!

The only 'gimmick' of sorts is related to his cannon, you can either attach it to his right arm (left - the traditional way, and how he looks in the cartoon) or you can flip out a handle for him to hold (right).

Frankly, getting Megatron to hold it like a handheld weapon looks silly (particularly since it looks like he's holding a hairdryer).

The rounded bulky chest looks great, and there's a Decepticon symbol in the middle.  The purple forearms are good and the silver highlights brings out the details, Megatron does not look cheap at all.  If they have added more gimmicks, it would have been more fun but what can you do.

With huge feet and heelspurs he stands solidly and in danger of falling back.

Megatron looks great from any angle, and they have perfected the blend of a rounded cartooney look with the more complex Movie aesthetic.

As you'd expect, the articulation is great, he even sports rotatable wrists.  An excellent robot mode, and you can tell that the designer focused the engineering here first as it's just leaps and bounds above the jet mode.


I had my doubts about this particular Megatron when I had set my eyes on the jet mode (and when I saw the CG designs, thinking, it'll be hard to create a good toy that turns into that), but they've been dashed.  I do not believe he is the best toy, but what they have done is solid.  Megatron is great fun and looks great, if this is an example of what Prime toys are going to be, I have high hopes for this line (and having a go at the other First Edition toys, they are all pretty solid).  If you like the looks of him, I definitely recommend this Megatron, but you may want to wait for a better version, maybe a Voyager sized one.


Credits:  the review and pictures are mine, but I have linked to TFwiki.net

Thanks for having a look at this review, others can be found on this page.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: Thor

Review: #113
Title: Thor
Series: N/A
Author: Elizabeth Rudnick
Read Before: no
My Comments:  It started off so well, and it spent more than half of the book pretty much setting the scene, but it just falls down flat on its face at the end.  It’s based on the movie, but I’m not sure how closely it fits, but the climax of this book was very disappointing.  It ended abruptly, and we didn't see much things actually happening.  The explanation was all on the setting up at the beginning, and I would have expected a final fight but it just skipped all that, leading me to wonder why they had cut it out, page length problems?  A second book?  I don’t know, just that the style of writing was done so well, but a let down in the end, that is what caused it to lose most of it’s marks.
Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: The Ghost of Shadow Vale

Review: #112
Title: The Ghost of Shadow Vale
Series: Reloaded
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Read Before: no
My Comments: Although it’s obviously for a very young audience (due to the large print and pictures), it is written quite well.  The story is quite captivating (within the context, it was never intended to be complex) and was intriguing to find out how it would end and what would happen.  The style of writing was quite good, and overall, I enjoyed this much better than I had originally anticipated.
Rating: 6/10

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers DOTM Hatchet

Review: #50
Name: Hatchet
Brand: Transformers
Allegiance: Decepticon
Line: Dark of the Moon
Year of Release: 2011
Size Class: Commander (Wave 3)
Variations: none

Note:  for some reason the formatting for my 'enters' have gone wrong and I can't seem to fix it, now everything's spaced out too much, :(


Hatchet transforms into a modified Eurofighter Typhoon jet, which is completely different to what he had transformed into in the movie (a Chevrolet Suburban - but hey, at least we got a toy right?).  There's the illusion of a sleek jet but if you look closely, there's a lot of stuff packed here, creating a stubby look.

There's a fair amount of detail, with some sculpting on the fuselage, and twin thrusters out the back.  The biggest thing that ruins Hatchet's jet mode is the claws that stick out the back, this feels lazy... but there really isn't another way to store them that doesn't make the jet worse.

The white nosecone is composed of rubbery plastic, but it isn't the usual soft rubber (thank goodness), it doesn't warp easily.  There's some painted details, including the silver cockpit and gold on the wings and winglets.  However, there are a lot of noticeable seams everywhere.

Hatchet has retractable landing gear... of sorts.  Only the one in front is retractable, the two landing gear underneath each wings are molded in.  However, you don't even have to deploy the front one and Hatchet will still sit flat on the table due to all the bulk underneath.

With all these problems, they are still forgivable as the overall shape is nice, and he looks great.

Slung underneath each wing is an 'attack drone', although they can pass as missiles as well.  Relative to the size of Hatchet, they feel oversized.  They don't do much, so it's best to leave them alone.

The underside isn't bad, but you can see the stomach sculpting for the robot mode, and of course, the claws are really obvious.

Perhaps the most surprising bit of all, is that Hatchet is decently sized.  Especially in DOTM where everything has been scaled down, for a Scout-sized equivalent class, he feels as big as they were in previous lines, you don't feel ripped off.  It's a nice jet mode in the end, but with just a bit too much stuff underneath.


Going with the drones first, you can flip out a barrel on each one to become Hatchet's weapons.  Yes, I have two of the laser ones, one should have been a multi-barreled gun, what this means for me is that I got a defected toy and they cannot combine like they should.

Now that that is out of the way, Hatchet's transformation is exceedingly simple, but very effective.  You pretty much unfold everything from the jet, the cockpit becomes his tail, and it extends, which is nice.  Going the other way can be somewhat annoying lining up the front area.  Simple and fun.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it elegant, but it's designed well.


Hatchet is a bit different from most Transformers in that his robot mode is a quadruped affair.  I like this difference, it sets him apart nicely and it's finely executed here.  Personally, I love the twin shoulder cannons, and as a side effect of the two same blasters, my Hatchet now has symmetrical cannons.

At first glance you might think that his forearms are too long and big and that his hind legs in comparison are too short.  That is correct, but it can be remedied somewhat by fully extending the hind legs.  The tail has three joints, I love how the designer bothered to let the nosecone extend further to create a slimmer and more jointed look.

However, the biggest liability here is still the hind legs, compared to the forearms/legs, they are really restricted.  With the way they are jointed, it's very hard to find a way to pose them that looks good, even in a neutral pose.  These legs are by far the biggest flaw.

He has some really nice abs sculpting for his 'stomach'.

The head sculpt is wickedly detailed and evil, but I find is extremely ugly and unsuitable.  The head is jointed only to look up or straight forward, no side to side motion or downwards (the latter for a more conventional robot mode since he balances easily on two legs).

Hatchet looks good from most angles, the hind legs are situated too close to each other, especially in comparison to the forearms.  Speaking of the forearms, they end in open claws, which feels kind of weird.

His body is too short, and yes, it seems that I have been going on about all his faults, but he is one of the better DOTM toys, and he's great fun.  It's only because of the liberties taken due to his small size that created all these minor flaws.

The claws are open for a reason, as he can hold his cannons as a handheld weapon.  The arms can only point straight forward due to the way the claws are angled (you can only bend the arm 'sideways').

Other Cyberverse figures make better use of these handheld weapons, and they look brilliant as guns.

As in vehicle mode, Hatchet is a decently sized Commander classed toy.  You don't feel ripped off (unlike, say, Commander Megatron).

Poseability is limited but he just looks so good in a neutral pose that you don't need to do anything special.


Hatchet is a good toy, relatively speaking.  I say this because he is great compared to the current DOTM Commanders, but previous Scout classed figures have been designed better.  Granted, he still packs a lot of fun and one of the better toys so far.  I would recommend him in a sale though, as I still don't believe any Commanders are worth full price.


Credit: pictures and text are all mine, but I've linked a few pages to TFwiki.net.

Thank you for reading this review, more can be found at this page.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Chute Thru

Review: #111
Title: Chute Thru
Series: N/A
Author: Janice Marriott
Read Before: yes
My Comments: A really entertaining book, something you wouldn't realise from just reading the blurb or judging the book by it’s cover (something which I always do even though it’s in no way indicative of the contents, it’s just in my nature and habit).  Although it’s not really fantasy as much, its set in the future, and chronicles the ‘life’ of Arlo who finds what he supposes is an alien.  The reason why this book is great is the ‘inventions’ of the future and how different things are, but the story is not bad either and the ending is very nice, and leaves you a good feeling (it’s a happy ending).  There’s a bit of suspense and mystery within the book but there were still one or two minor things unresolved by the book’s end, which was a bit slack.
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Negima! Negister Negi Magi Volume 11

VOL. 11
090 – In Which All (?) is Set A’Right:  Entering Events
lol... (honestly, Negi looks like girl here)

Another time travel back and Negi experiences the first day for the fourth time.  Hmmm, anymore and it’ll get a bit troublesome.  However, still interesting to see, and he does a lot today, and there’s a sense of realism here when Negi faints due to exhaustion, since he technically hadn’t sleep for over 24 hours.  How Ayaka gets all happy was hilarious, and I do like how Negi has no clue on why the students are happy (since he visited them) and when he meets Asuna and Yue before they knew about the time machine.  Negi dressed as a girl went a bit too far, and truth be told, I thought it was Asuna at first glance.

091 – Wise in the Ways of Cosplay
another random moment

Not as enjoyable as the previous chapters, but this one focuses on Chisame with her cosplay tournament.  It was okay, with some good points here and there but it wasn't that great.  At least, this marks the end of the ‘first day’ of the MahoraFest, wow, 11 chapters for one day.

092 – Promise to a Rival
nah... I think they're friends

In preparation for the fight, Negi escaped to the awesome one day = one hour resort of Evangeline’s.  Fairly boring chapter, filled with explanations on the difference between ‘magic’ and ‘ki’.  Kotarou and Negi unknowingly become friends and it shows here.

093 – Enter Kotaro!  The Budokai Begins
why is it that the most impressive entrances indicate the weakest characters?

The second rounds start, first half is everyone talking and we see the contestants, while the second half is Kotarou’s fight.  It was funny how easily Kotarou defeated his opponent (who was one of the undercover sensei mages from the other chapter).

094 – Extreme Combat!  Tatsumiya vs. Ku Fei
don't worry, she's not getting shot by bullets, they're actually 500 yen coins

Whoa, as you can guess, this chapter is on the match with Tatsumiya against Ku Fei, and I was surprised how unforgiving Tatsumiya is in a friendly battle such as this.  Flicking coins as the mode of attack just isn’t that flashy or awesome.  The chapter in the volume that probably has the most action yet.

095 – The Latest Weapon… and a Tradition of Fighting Spirit
yup, wtf

Ku Fei… wins?!  Don't now if Tatsumiya went easy or not, it seemed that she might since Chao is giving her money, but she refuses and said she was serious, so I think it might be the latter, but she must be stronger than that…  The match afterwards is with two random people, it does get weirder and weirder (and Chisame is the only one that notices…), but is a bit funny at a certain place (where the other mage thought her partner was going to die).

096 – Courage – the Key to Victory!
Negi gets serious

Yes, the highly anticipated fight of Negi against Takamichi has begun in this chapter.  I thought it wasn't going to start from the way the chapter started, and all these students giving him hints and encouragement.  Negi was afraid at first, but thankfully, he pulled out some courage and just went on the attack.  However, the fights always seem like so similar, as in the style of drawing, flashing auras surrounding the person with a lot of streak lines.

097 – Takamichi Gets Really Real
gotta love explanations in the middle of an intense fight

I like this chapter, and how Takamichi fights, like the explanation (and comparison) used to describe it.  This isn’t even counting the fact that he can use the two main techniques (ki and magic) that have been shown at once.  Not too sure if Negi would be able to win (kinda doubt it now, since Takamichi is so much more experience, and the only way I think Negi would win is if Takamichi lets him), but he must… or you would expect him to.

098 – Negi!  Get Up!!
I dunno, for some reason this seems overused

Nice, the ending was good.  Negi almost lost to Takamichi after he got a direct hit, and I thought people were going to start cheering for Negi to get up or something.  A few of the major characters did, but thankfully the author didn't waste any more time by having the audience do so, otherwise I would have cringed from it.  Anyway, I like Negi’s final attack and it caught Takamichi by surprise, although, I tend to think that it might be just that he underestimated Negi, since he’s way more experienced and powerful.

099 – The Hidden Technique Bursts Through
and now it ends

Ahh, the fight finishes, spectacularly I might say, it was one of the better chapters for a while, and a better fight than the stuff we have gotten before.  Although it was confirmed that Takamichi, in a roundabout way, let Negi win, and it was plausible, as he said so himself, that he is way more experienced and older than Negi so it’s unfair.  The ending is a bit suspenseful, Chao is up to something, and she’s even a threat to Takamichi?!  The chibi Setsuna is cute and funny, and this was a great chapter.

is Negi stupid?  Probably

The beginning of the volume was boring, but it picked up once the fights started, and of course, it peaked in Negi’s fight, which is what you would expect anyway.  Cool to see Takamichi in battle, and what his fighting style was, since we had seen him a lot, but never really seen him in action.  The best volume in terms of fighting and action, but doesn't have much in terms of story.  There’s also that mysterious hooded figure, that looked like Negi’s father’s hooded look, but it can't be him otherwise people would recognize him…


Credits: due to it being faster and more efficient I just took these pictures from scans online instead of scanning the tankobons themselves. These were scanned by the groups "Red Hawk Scanalations" and "AquaStar Fansubs"

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