Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2


I saw it (finally) today and here's my thoughts on it:

I believe Kung Fu Panda 2 has surpassed the original, it was very exciting and time just flew away while I was watching it, all too soon I found the movie finishing… One found I found funny was that back when Kung Fu Panda was first out and a sequel was confirmed, I read a comment on a site that said that they bet the second one will have Po asking his dad where did he come from (due to his dad being a goose and he’s a panda…) and that really happened, I thought it was amusing. Anyway the whole movie was great, a lot of great humour and they managed to give the ‘Furious Five’ more screen time, something the original lacked, too bad other than Tigress, the rest of them got minor roles. Po was also a lot less useless this time around, at first I was worried it was going to be another lame plot but they utilized it quite well. It was violent, a lot of explosions and fighting, so I was surprised (it being a kids movie and everything). A couple of things were predictable, such as the final scene where I knew what Po was going to do, I had my suspicions very early on and then it was confirmed that he was use the new technique he learnt on the cannonballs. I didn't find the visuals as stunning as it was in Megamind, maybe it was coz the settings weren't as bright. The fight scenes were brilliantly done, and I loved the teamwork in them, and how I felt Po was part of the team, instead of just a blundering fool that had to be saved by the rest. Nevertheless, a great movie to watch, and I was really surprised that it was better than the first Kung Fu Panda, which is a feat in itself.

And it's got great ratings by professional reviewers too, getting 83% at rottentomatoes.com!

Toy Review: Transformers WFC Legends Starscream



Review: #17
Name: Starscream
Brand: Transformers
Allegiance: Decepticon
Line: Other (War for Cybertron promotional toy)
Year of Release: 2010
Size Class: Legends
Variations: A repaint of Cybertron Starscream, the mold was also repainted heaps before as Skywarp, Ramjet, Thrust and Sunstorm (may have missed some though). Also repainted and put into a Cyberverse 4 pack in DOTM.

JET MODE:




Starscream transforms into a Cybertronian jet, in a shape that resembles a tetrahedron. As far as Cybertronian jets go, this is a well defined one, and looks quite cool. He is well painted, with a lot more paint applications than the original toy.



He has two thrusters at the back, but you can also see his fists, as well as his head poking through up on top. Despite this, Starscream is still one little awesome jet.



You can also flip out the weapons here if you wish (although one of them is pretty useless in this mode), on the left wing is a gun, while the right is a blade, they are cast in red plastic so it looks a little bit weird.

TRANSFORMATION:

Transforms pretty much exactly the same as the larger Voyager and Supreme sized versions. Have to be careful with the legs as you have to twist it in a specific way as not to pop the hips off the ball joint. A nice and fun transformation for a small toy, being able to convert this with speed adds to Starscream's appeal.

ROBOT MODE:



Starscream looks buff in robot mode, mainly due to his beefy shoulders. His stance is awesome and he's got weapons, which is rare in toys this small. The distribution of jet mode parts in robot mode is great, only thing that might be considered an aesthetic flaw would be that his legs might be too long and appear disproportionate to the rest of the body.



Looking at his back, there's a lot of 'holes', some (like his legs) are required to be hollow due to transformation, others (like his shoulders) are just to save plastic. Anyway, he has a LOT of paint applications, all the blue on him are painted (which is a nuisance for the feet as he comes packaged with them loose and you have to clip them onto the friction joint, making paint scratches very easily). I especially like his chest as the paint is very detailed.



His head doesn't particularly evoke Starscream but since it's so small, it doesn't really matter anyway.



You can fold the weapons back up but he just looks so weird and unusual without them.



Starscream has excellent articulation, the only thing he is missing is elbows (they bend the other way for transformation). His head even turns from side to side! A robot mode that looks great, and with a lot of fun packed into it.

OVERALL:

This particular repaint is a bit of a hard figure to track down (not to mention that it commands a slightly higher than normal price for a figure this size) as this was a promotional toy given away to people who preordered War for Cybertron in the UK. Honestly, I think this is one of the best paint schemes on all of the variations. However, I highly recommend the mold, and pretty much any of the other (cheaper) variations will give you as much fun.

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Other photos can be found on this site.

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

Thank you very much for having a look at this review! If you're interested, more can be found on this page.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motto To Love-Ru (Episodes 3, 4)


03 – Magic Love Potion; What I See Through the Lens is…; You are the Lovely Cinderella
Another great little part, really fun to watch and it wasn't boring at all. A bit of humour and a few sentimental stuff, it’s becoming really really apparent that Kotegawa likes Rito, and even hopes that Rito confesses to her, aw, how sweet. Kotegawa is become more and more likeable now, instead of just this person who sticks to rules, she is slowly bending and disregarding them, and it makes her character much more interesting. The ending scene was amusing too, with Yami bringing a load of taiyaki and giving it out to everything.
When I first read the chapter “What I See Through the Lens is…” I had seriously doubt that it would be adapted into the anime (whether in full or just based on it), so I was surprised when I watched the second part of this episode. Guess they’re not censoring as much stuff as the first To Love-Ru anime (I’ve noticed it ever since the first episode now, but it’s become quite apparent in this one). It’s pretty interesting, but the peak was at the end where Run changes into Ren, the implications were hilarious.
The third part of this episode was also great, with Rito changing into his girl form, Riko and going out with Saruyama. Saruyama always seems to get the short end of the stick, but the whole part was hilarious, it was awesome, I was laughing a LOT. The dialogue and the misunderstandings were presented beautifully, and the sarcastic (or more like the despairing) thoughts of Rito were funny as. I guess it’s this fun to watch since as a viewer you know pretty much all that is going on and it’s funny to see how the characters (who don't know what is happening) react. Just a great episode, THIS is how the original To Love-Ru anime should have been made, a lot of fun to watch, and the animation is beautiful.

04 – Yami-Yami Fashion; Wonderful Love; Twins Escape
Yami-Yami Fashion is a pretty good watch, and if you have seen Black Cat, then, like the manga, you’ll get the Eve dress that Yami tries on. Loved it, really fun to watch, and even though I know what to expect and what to happen, it was still really great. I laughed numerous times throughout this part, and of course the ending is good. For some reason, Yami still feels really mysterious and you kinda feel sorry for her at the end, where she says that it seems that her old clothes suits her better even though they brought new ones for her, it’s just something I picked up that I didn't really notice in the manga.
Wonderful Love is alright, not that interesting, but then the chapter it is based on wasn't that great either. Oshizu really shines in this episode, and we finally get an explanation in the anime of how she managed to ‘come back to life’ (she just got an artificial body to possess). Oshizu was really funny and her actions were quite cute in this part, so she livened up an otherwise bland part.
Twins Escape might the stellar one in this episode where Momo and Nana run away from Deviluke again to Earth. Zastin finally makes an appearance, being absent in the OVA’s and Motto To Love-Ru until now, and he’s got his comedic personality back. That guy is honestly quite dim-witted (or should I say, too simple minded), but that’s what makes him so hilarious to watch. The anime is also taking care to explain a few more bits and pieces that they didn't reveal earlier (like how the twins can communicates with plants or animals), a good section and plenty of fun to watch. Overall, this is another great episode, I was a bit surprised at the amount of fan service, and lack of censorship, but it forms a minor part anyway, I can't wait to watch more of this anime, I’m enjoying it so much (laughing at least ten times more than the first To Love-Ru anime).

Toy Review: Transformers ROTF Scavenger



Review: #16
Name: Scavenger
Brand: Transformers
Allegiance: Decepticon
Line: Revenge of the Fallen
Year of Release: 2009
Size Class: Legends
Variations: There is a TakaraTomy (i.e. Japanese) version and a Hasbro version, and both companies repainted it into G1 green and purple

VEHICLE MODE:



Scavenger transforms into a mainly red excavator truck with a white scoop. Scavenger is unusual in the fact that his scoop (or bucket) faces outwards instead of the other way around.



It is a nice little mining truck, and from the size of the driver's space, it is a massive machine. He is supposed to roll but tends to slide instead.



Scavenger's scoop can be lifted up and down, but that's about it for additional articulation in this mode.



By far the biggest flaw is that the 'roof' is open and you can clearly see two wheels inside. Despite this, I still like this vehicle mode very much, it's very unique.

TRANSFORMATION:

As expected, transformation is simple, but ingenious. I loved the simplicity of how they managed to create a robot mode that is so accurate to the on-screen interpretation of this character. The transformation can be a bit annoying with the wheels though, you should also watch out for the white paint on the pegs of the scoop, as it tends to scrape off due to the slightly smaller peg hole.

ROBOT MODE:



Scavenger has a very very distinct and unusual robot mode, probably the weirdest out of the seven Constructicons. I dig the design though, and it translated into Legends form a lot better than the Voyager one did.



He's static, with limited movement in his arms and scoop (you can fold down the treads on his back to balance him while posing the scoops). Since he has three points resting on the surface like a tripod, Scavenger is extremely stable.



The head sculpt captures the design well.



All in all, a nice (and cute) little robot mode, brilliantly designed.

OVERALL:

A great Legends toy, even if he was sold individually I would still buy this one, purely coz he appeals to me so much. Of course, he forms a critical component of Devastator, which pushes him even higher.

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Additional photos can be found at this page.

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

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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Additional Photos of DOTM Optimus Prime (space value pack version)

Kinda an addendum to the review of DOTM Optimus Prime and Comettor where I'll post up the rest of the photos that I didn't have the space for earlier.



A shot of Optimus Prime's vehicle mode from a better angle, you'll see some tabs sticking out of the cab that are used for transformation.



A shot of the side, Optimus loses the gold on the hood in favour for a white fade-out.



A shot from head on, it's more obvious here that he is forced to take a wide stance due to how his legs attaches to the body. I think the biggest problem is the wide backpack making his skinny legs look weird.



A shot of the three big panels that are on his back.



A shot of his back (again) but without the gas tanks.



Like the leader classed figure, the backpack juts out, but not to the same degree so this Optimus isn't as likely to fall over.



A shot of one of his arm hooks (which is made of soft plastic, it's still pretty rigid though).



A closer look at the Matrix in his chest, as a byproduct, this shot also provides a better look at his new head sculpt.



A (weirdly) posed Optimus Prime with his two buster cannons.



Optimus Prime with Comettor in vehicle mode (a bit of a boring photo).



And finally, Optimus Prime and Comettor standing next to each other.

That's it! Thank you!

Toy Review: Transformers DOTM Optimus Prime with Comettor

A slightly different format for this one as I'm reviewing the two figures in the pack.



Review: #15
Brand: Transformers
Line: Dark of the Moon
Year of Release: 2011

PACKAGING:



For some reason, I really really like the packaging of this bonus pack, maybe it's because of the shiny silver foil they used as the background for Optimus Prime's name. Anyway, this pack contains a Voyager classed Optimus Prime toy with a 'bonus' Deluxe classed Commetor toy. I only got this as it was super cheap, it costed just a bit above the RRP of a Deluxe toy, which meant, that effectively I got a Voyager for free.



The back is nothing different to other regular packaging, showcasing the product and a short bio, at least it's on the back and not on the sides (which really annoys me). It's compact, and overall a nice package. Now, onto the toys...



The set has a 'lunar' theme, although it's not as obvious with Comettor, he is supposed to be a 'moon buggy'.



Apart from being packed in together, Optimus Prime and Comettor don't really look like they're part of a set. Anyway, onto the individual reviews...



Name: Optimus Prime
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Voyager
Variations: This is a retool of Battle Blades Optimus Prime from the Autobot Alliance line (which has swords and a head with a faceplate instead).

VEHICLE MODE:



Optimus Prime transforms into a truck (what else??) that resembles the one seen in the movie (which is based on a Peterbilt 379), and it's a pretty accurate representation, that is, apart from the unrealistic paint job. I can live with the sparkles on the side of the truck, but whoever got the idea (and approved it) of putting a picture of the moon and stars on his windows needs a smack. It's terrible and ruins the whole aesthetic.



Anyway, ignoring the paint job, the proportions are great, and all the detail is there. The abundance of grey (especially from the back) kills the look. However, the shade of grey used is dark (I would say it's gunmetal, or close to it) which is infinitely better than the grey we normally get. It would be nice if they had painted the headlights and maybe even the gas tanks silver on the side.



I'm really surprised at all the intricate sculpted details on this figure, especially at the back of the truck. This is a really well formed truck, with no notable robot bits showing, it's amazing that they managed to achieve this.



They even painted the little Autobot head ornament red... and it isn't just a splotch of red paint, if you look closely, you'll notice that they had only painted the raised parts, wow...



The only flaw would be that there are some gaps when looking from the back, I can't see how they could be avoided without making the transformation even more complex, it's not a deal breaker, but it's there.



Optimus is on the small side, he is bigger than a Deluxe, but only just, however, he is clearly heavier than one. Considering the many moving parts of this toy, I can understand why it's such a small size. All six wheels roll, there is a manufacturing problem with every toy though, in that the nubs for the hooks (in robot mode) are a bit too big, causing the hood to have a gap in the middle as it cannot clip together properly, it doesn't impact it greatly, but it's there. Overall, I love this truck mode (I can ignore the outrageous paint scheme), it's a bit static but it makes a great display piece.

TRANSFORMATION:



Just so you have an idea of what you're going to get into transforming this toy, the photo above shows him halfway done. After transforming the leader classed toy, I didn't expect anything else could be so frustrating but I was wrong, the smaller size of this figure makes him a very annoying toy to transform as well (not to the point of the leader classed figure, but it's close). Getting the vehicle mode to snap together was a pain. Going into robot is slightly easier, provided you know about the 'hidden hinge' of the cab roof when you flip up the head. Basically, the whole transformation involves unclipping everything and then compacting it all together.



I'll mention the guns now but you can leave them on during transformation. The gas tanks on either side of Optimus can unclip.



You flip up the barrel from underneath and you'll have Optimus' two buster cannons. The handles are rectangle pegs, so only Optimus can hold them. They are a bit crude but they do the job. Overall, a REALLY complex transformation, make sure you have plenty of time to spare before you attempt to transform him...

ROBOT MODE:



30 mins later... and you get the robot mode, seriously, he's just like a smaller version of the leader class figure!!! I love the blue metallic paint used here to highlight some details, and the darker grey works wonders on this mode. Optimus even managed to keep both the back tires on the side of his legs (something the leader class couldn't do).



He is a bit kibble-tastic, I guess you would say he is a shellformer. He carries a three big panels on his back, which makes him look a lot wider than he actually is, and there's also the issue of the hood halves on the outside of his forearms. The biggest thing hindering the arms are the retracted hooks.



This is a picture of the hooks retracted, they reach up to the panel above, causing Optimus to be unable to straighten his arms past a certain (limited) angle.



Each arm contains a hook, and when they are extended, his arm articulation is superb, only thing to look out for is you accidentally moving the forearm hood halves back down.



The second gimmick involves you to partially transform him, unclipping the arms, lifting the two chest windows, tilting his head back and then flipping down the red abdomen panel reveals... the Matrix of Leadership. This time, it is cast in orange plastic (I guess in homage to the original matrix), it looks like the one in the movie, but that's it, nothing much to get excited about...



The third and last gimmick is of course... his two buster cannons! The look of Optimus Prime dual wielding the cannons is AWESOME, he is wicked, and you can finally pose him like he was when he crashed into the factory to save Sam in Revenge of the Fallen.



The head sculpt is nice, but they painted his eyes bright blue, even though it was cast in transparent blue plastic and hence would have been lightpiped. The eyes really stand out, too much in fact, I would rather Optimus would retain the faceplate but it was not to be...



Comparing him to the leader class figure, they look very similar, amazing... However, the leader class version outclasses this one due to there being too much unpainted grey, the feet being too narrow and also that his legs at the hips are too far apart, causing proportion problems. Articulation is great, you can unclip the wheels from his thighs so it can rotate, his feet is hinged in two planes, the only thing he's missing is a waist joint (and it's not a sore point). Needless to say, this is a great robot, and is an amazing feat of engineering, the way they had managed to fit so much gimmicks and still make him look like Optimus is mind-boggling.

OVERALL:

A good mold, only hindered by a very weird paint job, it's a lot easier to ignore it in robot mode, but it overwhelms the vehicle mode. I think the moon picture on his windows are just stickers, so if you're willing, you can peel them off. Anyway, you've probably grasped how much I like this toy, I would recommend the Battle Blades version first over this one due to a better paint job (but still missing a lot of details), but this guy is cheaper, and you get a bonus deluxe too.



Name: Comettor
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Deluxe
Variations: The original version was the Movie 2007 Landmine and repainted in ROTF as Armorhide.

VEHICLE MODE:



Phew, one toy finished, just one more, don't worry, I'll keep this one succinct :). Comettor transforms into a 'lunar buggy', in reality, since he is a repaint of Landmine from the first movie, the vehicle is actually based on the Sector 7 Assault Buggy of the type seen in Transformers. It's a very nice vehicle mode, with my favourite paint scheme yet, the white and gold appeals to me so much.



Something odd that I had noticed was that they had painted all four wheels completely with grey, that's a lot of paint, yet a lot of other details on Comettor are painted too. You are really getting your money's worth here. Comettor only has one gimmick, his gun can be targeted as it has two vertical hinges and you can swivel it on its peg (obviously, the wheels roll as well).



Sorry, I forgot, he has one more additional thing, all four wheels are on suspension. However, if you push Landmine down, due to the way the plastic containing the wheels are attached, the wheels 'angle out' (instead of staying vertical) and they don't get compressed to their full extent, such a shame.



If you look at the interior, although it's a bit crowded, you will see two seats, which is a really nice touch, they're actually his hands, but they double as seats rather nicely. A nice vehicle mode that has better play value than Optimus Prime at least.

TRANSFORMATION:

Even if you don't compare it with Optimus, Comettor's transformation is exceedingly simple, flip out the arms... fold the front as his chest, and flip the legs, done... It would take you five mins tops, I feel that he's about on par in difficulty with Reveal the Shield Windcharger. Although easy to transform, you would need to fiddle with him a bit to get him looking the way you want, as he's got so many joints in his arms.

ROBOT MODE:



Comettor has a nice robot mode, with good placements for most of the vehicle pieces. The front of the buggy sits naturally as his chest (and looks great there). I'm not sure if it is just me or the angle, but I keep getting the feel that Comettor is knock-kneed.



The interior of the buggy sits as a backpack, and juts out more than the rest of the body but it doesn't impede with anything. Although he has a large piece of kibble on the outside of his arm (the vehicle sides), it doesn't impact his overall clean look and his range of motion. One aesthetic complaint would be that either his forearms are too short, or his hands are just too large, it looks weird and causes posing around the area to be a bit fiddly.



Comettor's head may take some getting used to, his head reminds me of a Bionicle, I guess the designer was going for a hockey mask look. The gold plastic used is a fairly ugly shade, bordering on orange, if it was brighter (or shinier) then it would be an improvement.



Curiously, the designer added little wheels on the gas canisters that form his feet, coupled with the rear wheels as his heels, theoretically he can roll/skate, however, he tends to slide, it's still a nice little touch.



You can unplug the gun from it's socket and place it in Comettor's hand, it's ok, not the best gun around, it feels too small in his large hands.



Alternatively, you can leave it where it is so it forms an over the shoulder gun, it's not ideal as the handle is too short, but it's an option.



Comettor is crazy poseable, with heaps of joints everywhere, including waist rotation (which is not required of transformation), and his hands are brilliantly jointed. He pretty much has everything you want, including hinged ankles making him very easy to balance and stand flat on the table. A very nice and fun robot mode, he is a bit lanky at the limbs but that's typical of movie toys.

OVERALL:

An excellent repaint of an excellent mode, I prefer this paint scheme over the ones in the past, as it brings out the details a lot more, and makes him look 'cleaner'. He has tons of paint highlights (arguably even better than Optimus Prime) and he's rock solid, holding him in hand, you don't feel that he's going to break or snap.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS:

For the price, this pack is a steal. Sure, the paint job on Optimus may be a bit of a stretch but if you haven't gotten the mold before then it is a great alternative (especially considering the retooled head and hooks). I mean, you get Comettor for free, which is an awesome toy in it's own right, with a great paint scheme. The only big flaw with the toy would be the gap in the truck mode, which they should have picked up earlier. I didn't feel ripped off for this one, and when I saw the price, I just jumped at it, and I'm very satisfied with the set, highly recommended.

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Since I didn't want to clog up this review any more than it already is, I've put the rest of the Optimus Prime photos I took here if you're interested (about eleven more photos).

However, some more professionally taken photos can be found here for Optimus Prime and Comettor.

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

Thank you for reading this (super long) review, more can be found here.
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