Sunday, October 30, 2016

Small Soldiers


Small Soldiers involves toys that come to life, of course, this directly reminds you of Toy Story, but Small Soldiers is a much more brutal movie.  It takes a short while to set up the plot, in which a new line of action figures have been developed, with a military chip embedded such that the figures become sentient and able to learn.  The movie takes place on a neighbourhood and is confined to the main characters' houses, but effectively, there are two factions of the figures.  One faction is actual human soldiers and they want to kill the other faction, which are your traditional monsters named Gorgonites.  It's actually quite unique and the plot works out well.  The climax of the film has an all out battle between the figures and humans, and to even the playing field, the action figures have rigged up some custom weapons, such as a rapid firing nail gun, and flaming tennis balls.  The special effects were fantastic for its time, and overall, Small Soldiers is a neat movie.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise (2015) Groundbuster


Review:  #342
Name:  Groundbuster
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Robots in Disguise (2015)
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Legion (Wave 8)
Mold Status:  new

EXCAVATOR MODE:


Just like the cartoon, Groundbuster (or Groundpounder as he's known in the cartoon) transforms into an excavator.  It looks fairly decent although not sure why the made the visible side the hollow one (since it's also hollow from the outside in robot mode).


Where it falls apart is if you looked at it from the other side and you can see that it's a bit odd with the cabin elevated so high.


In terms of size, this is a tiny figure even by Legion standards.  Above is a comparison with Legion Optimus from 2010.


The arm is jointed to lift up and the bucket can tilt a little bit.  The treads also have little molded wheels underneath to roll.


A semi-decent alternate mode but understandable as compromises had to be made somewhere.

TRANSFORMATION:

It's actually very easy to get from excavator to robot mode despite the big differences between the two modes.  The legs are clever slotted inside the body of the vehicle although the negative is that the robot torso is hollow.  The whole top half becomes the arms.

ROBOT MODE:


It is unbelievable at how closely the toy matches the cartoon model, and at such a small scale too!


The treads that angle from out his back looks perfect.  The proportions are also spot on giving him a gorilla-type aesthetic.


The headsculpt is a snarl of the character and it is fixed since it's molded onto the torso.


He is one of the shortest, if not these shortest, Legion ever made, which is a bit sad since in the cartoon he was this huge character.


As you'd expect, he doesn't have much articulation.  The best he has are the balljointed shoulders and hips, and swivels for his right elbow and claw-hand.


Due to transformation, his torso is hollow.  Also, there's no swivel for his claw it's perpetually facing upwards.


Nonetheless, this is a fantastic little robot that matches the cartoon model perfectly.

OVERALL:

While we only get one figure for this character, at least we got such a wonderfully designed figure.  His excavator mode is flawed but the robot mode is perfect.  For the price point, there is no reason not to get Groundbuster.

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review: Sword Art Online: Progressive 2


Review:  #614
Title:  Sword Art Online:  Progressive 2
Series:  Sword Art Online:  Progressive - 2nd volume
Author:  Reki Kawahara
Read Before:  no
Comments:  Progressive 2 takes on the third floor of Aincrad, unlike the first volume, all the pages are completely dedicated to this third floor.  We are introduced to a new character called Kizmel and it explores the mechanics surrounding the quests of Sword Art Online.  It ends up being quite interesting and while you need to understand some gaming lingo, the author’s painstaking descriptions of the game mechanics and how it all works keeps your attention.  The plot is not too deep and tensions start to flare up between the players, which can feel a bit tedious.  Unfortunately, the plot spends so much time on establishing Kizmel and her relationship with Kirito and Asuna, that it literally skips the floor boss battle which is usually the most exciting and epic part.  This results in a rushed ending which does not feel satisfying especially after the buildup.  There is some cringe-worthy dialogue from Kirito with his selflessness, but it strays more toward cheesiness.  Overall, Progressive 2 still manages to tell an engaging story and introduces a lot of new concepts which keeps it fresh.
Rating:  7/10

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bee Movie


Bee Movie has a strong and clever start, with humanizing the honey-making process into a factory, and having some neat ideas such as a bee performing the one job for the rest of their lives.  However, this quickly degenerates into an improbable and exaggerated plot in which a bee named Barry, finds out that honey is taken from the bees and sold by humans.  He then proceeds to speak to humans, take up a court case and in the finale, even fly a plane.  The events get worse as the film goes on, to the point where it feels like the film itself gave up trying to justify events and asking the viewer to just go along with it.  This eventuates to an average animation film with a lack of any draw as the humor isn't up to scratch, the animation isn't stellar and the plot is downright silly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Titans Return Alpha Trion & Sovereign


Review:  #341
Name:  Alpha Trion
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Titans Return
Year of Release:  2016
Size Class:  Voyager (Wave 2)
Mold Status:  new

SOVEREIGN:


Sovereign is the Titan Master of Alpha Trion and a suitable name for such an important character.  He's mostly red with a purple torso and grey thighs.


He has Alpha Trion's head on his back and is otherwise pretty nondescript.


The head has a faceplate but lacks paint so it all just blends into the red plastic.  The balljointed head and shoulders are the only meaningful articulation here.

LION MODE:


The main mode of Alpha Trion is the robotic lion mode and it looks fairly good from the front.


Where it falls apart is from the back as it is fairly gappy, and the back torso (formed by the robot thighs) do not lock into place.  The sword as the tail also cheats a little bit.


This is definitely a robotic lion thanks to the all the blocky bits.  He's a pretty good size for a Voyager, above is him compared to Generations Springer.


In comparison with the other recent robotic lion Transformer is Prime Thundertron and you can see Alpha Trion is much bigger is size.


One of the interesting quirks is that the robot fists form the lower jaw of the lion and this actually works better than expected.  For some reason, he also has a purple horn, go figure.


There's no meaningful articulation in lion mode, he's fairly static.  It's a shame that the eyes are painted in purple so they're hard to make out.


On his back is the cockpit that you can place Sovereign in.  The cockpit is a bit odd as it juts out of the body but there's no other place for it so this is the best the designer could do.


Alpha Trion also comes with a character card which showcases artwork of the robot.  The opposite side shows some stats.


A decent lion mode for display but look anywhere other than the front and it looks a bit dodgy.

TRANSFORMATION (TO SPACESHIP):

Transformation is quite simple even though he is a triple changer.  It's fairly ingenious at how to turn the curvy lion mode into a boxy spaceship. The lion's rear legs form the front of the spaceship and panels unfold to cover up most of the pieces.  The lion head then splits in half to form the sides.

SPACESHIP MODE:


The spaceship mode is a bit of a stretch but since it adds extra play value without compromising too much of the figure, it's an acceptable trade-off.


The biggest area it fails is the sides which are the halves of the lion's head.  You can actually have an alternate transformation that has the head facing downwards and the spaceship won't look as awkward and makes it seem like it has wings.


You can leave the gun off the middle and the sword though if you wish to make it more streamlined.


In this mode, he's still pretty big and hefty in your hands.


There is a fold out landing gear/sled to allow it to rest on the table.


Alpha Trion is more of an aircraft carrier with the flat surface and if you find a small enough plane, it looks quite good.  Above is Generations Flanker.


Once again, the cockpit lifts up to fit Sovereign inside.


The other place for Sovereign or any other Titan Master to go into is the gun turret.


There are still a lot of flaws but as long as you don't expect too much, the spaceship mode is passable.

TRANSFORMATION (TO ROBOT):


Transformation is from spaceship to robot is fairly easy as well.  The front of the spaceship forms the legs and it's fun to see how it incorporates the joints for the lion mode as well.  The torso is solid in order for the pop out pylons on either side of the head, so that makes it a bit boring as you're just rearranging around a central block.  This also means that Alpha Trion doesn't have to include a Headmaster gimmick as there's space for a head.

ROBOT MODE:


Robot mode is the figure's strongest aspect although there are still a few aesthetics flaws here, most notably the huge torso.


Considering he is a beast-former of sort, it's impressive there aren't any limbs sticking awkwardly out.  The lion's feet are neatly integrated to his shins and torso.


The headsculpt is good and he has some spring-loaded pylons on either side of his each to bulk it up (doesn't help though as the figure still looks very buff).


You can leave the bits off to free up some head movement and for a more uncluttered look.


Size-wise, Alpha Trion is perfect and he is bulky to boot.


Articulation is really good, he only lacks a waist swivel.


Thanks to transformation, his ankles can tilt up and down which allows for balancing during posing.


His two weapons are a sword and a tri-barrelled gun.


The sword's sculpting is really nice.  Alpha Trion has wrist swivels to be able to utilize sword wielding poses to its full potential.


The gun is okay and while the empty gap ruins it somewhat, it's not as bad as some other Titans Return weapons.


You can fit a Titan Master onto the gun if you wish, that's the only bit of Titan Master interactivity here.


The gun can also store on his back at the same place as in lion mode.


With all being said and done, Alpha Trion does look very regal and wise.  There are also an insane number of paint applications on this figure, much more than you'd expect of figures these days.


A great robot mode and while the head articulation is restricted with the pylons up, no major complaints here and does justice to the character.

OVERALL:

Alpha Trion is a fun figure.  The lion mode is either love/hate, and the spaceship mode is universally criticised for it's mediocrity.  With all being said, the figure is very solid and has a great looking robot mode.  He is worthwhile to purchase and has great aesthetics, especially with the way his robot legs are designed.

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

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