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Can we fix it?

So I'm on mid-semester break, and since I had a couple of hours to kill between handing in the last assignment of the first half of semester and the final lecture of semester, I wandered into the nearby shopping centre. I felt like buying things, and upon coming out I had the collector's edition of Machinarium (a puzzle game with a really nice visual style) and the legends-scale version of Devastator from Revenge of the Fallen. Machinarium's pretty cool, but it's Devastator I want to talk about.

The movie line was not kind to the Constructicons. Only four of the seven got mainline toys with robot modes, and the big flagship Devastator toy was made of six non-transforming vehicles (missing Overload), and was apparently garbage. There was a Power Bots version, but it doesn't really count, I think. The closest to a Devastator toy that split off into seperate Transformers was the legends version, which Target was selling for close to $50. I would not pay that price for it, but this week I found it on clearence for $34, which is just about the value of buying seven individual legends toys here, so it was totally worth it.

The legends Devastator set is a pretty good one. The Constructicons can split off into their own robot and vehicle modes, and assume third modes in order to combine into a single robot. I find it amazing that they managed this at the legends scale. Devastator's torso is formed from Overload (red flatbed truck), Scavenger (red digger) and Mixmaster (grey cement mixer), and the limbs are Scrapper (yellow shovel), Hightower (yellow crane), Long Haul (green dumptruck) and Rampage (yellow bulldozer). The limbs can all be switched around, though only Long Haul and Rampage have the configurations needed for proper feet. While impressive, Devastator can't move very well. The individual components can turn on their pegs, though Hightower's crane gets in the way, and turning the legs just makes Devastator look like he needs to pee. The head's balljointed, which allows for some movement.

Individually, the Constructicons aren't quite as good as other legends-scale figures. Vehicles modes are good, but robot modes aren't particularly poseble, and some ball joints would have done wonders on Long Haul, who can't move his arms around very much. Aesthetically they're more interesting. Most of them are humanoid, except for Scavenger, who is a bizarre unicycle monster, and Hightower, who is some sort of crane monster in a Jason Voorhees mask with treads. Overload's my favourite, since he's a stumpy little guy and is kind of adorable in a weird way.

Mixmaster has Devastator's face hanging off his back, by the way. It looks kind of weird.

So that is Devastator and the Constructicons. I'm unsure whether to recommend them, but in any case they're the only old-school-style Transformers combiner team released in the last few years, so pick them up if you're into that sort of thing.

I feel I should include a picture. Here's one I took yesterday, after uni finished and me and some friends were at the uni bar.

Beast Wars Bonanza

So the Parramatta Fair was on today, and I braved the hot weather to go to it. I ended up adding three Beast Wars toys to the collection, all of them Maximals.

First, Bantor. He's a Fuzor, a freaky fusion of two animals. In his case, he's a tiger fused with a mandrill (incorrectly labelled as a baboon-only mandrills have the blue and red muzzles that Bantor has). It actually works quite well-there's even a weird little touch where Bantor's back legs are asymmetrical, one being a tiger leg and the other a mandrill leg. The only really shitty thing about the beast mode is that the lower jaw of the animal head is also an arm, so it's perpetually open unless you want an arm randomly hanging off his chin.

After a very interesting transformation, we end up with a small poseble robot covered in animal bits. While the left arm's has no point, being the animal's hindquarters, the right arm houses a spring-loaded punch gimmick, which is also useful in robot mode. Bantor's cool in a weird 90s way.

Second, Night Glider, the only flying squirrel transformer mold ever made. He's a Transmetal II, so he's a strange metallic cyborg monster thing with VTOL fans and holes in his 'wings'. You can't do much in this mode, because he's posed as flying. Night Glider's robot mode is a simple affair that nonetheless works. Unfortunately I got mine incomplete, as I didn't know that the toy had a sword that usually stowed in the tail. It doesn't really matter, though, because it's not like in early BW toys where one missing part resulted in an incomplete-looking animal.

Finally, Transmetal Optimus Primal is the greatest toy ever made ever. He has a third mode which is the ape on a rocket-powered hoverboard, which is the Best Thing Ever. He is a suitably large and chunky toy for a faction leader. The chrome looks excellent and the moulded detail is similarly well done. Finally, I got him for $15, complete. Getting a big chunky toy for far cheaper than it's worth makes the whole thing so much better.

I saw some other BW toys there, most notably Transmetal Tarantulas. I wanted to get him but the toy was missing two spider legs, and a six legged spider isn't a spider at all.


Last year I did a big thing about not only how 2009 went for me, but also the best and worst films I saw that year.

I don't really want to do the film thing again, because I didn't see anything offensivly bad this year to use as the Worst Film, so I will just say that Toy Story 3 and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World are tied for my favourite film of the year.

I felt I grew up a lot this year, likely due to being in uni, where you need to be able to fend for yourself. Not only that, it's a very different social experience to school. In school, it's easy enough to know everyone in your year group, and everyone wears a uniform. At uni there's no proper year group nor would it be possible to know everyone in it. Plus you get a lot more self-expression as people get to wear whatever they want. So I got to be more social-I went out a bit more than usual-and somehow evolved a proper fashion sense.

There was also the matter of seeking actual employment. After getting rather badly done-by in one gig, I swore off trying to get positions in fast-food resturants ever again and went after retail positions. This didn't deliver success, so I went looking for volunteer positions. Now I have one, and it's brilliant. Things are looking up.

Despite maturing in social terms, my new years resolution is that I want to become less shy. I'm not that shy to begin with, but when you start meeting new people, sometimes you think that you like one or a few more than usual, and then you find you can't stop thinking about them-and then you realise you're nursing a crush on them. The problem for me is working up the courage to try and start more of a relationship, even if it isn't immediately, or ever, about love. It's just a bit intimidating to try, for reasons I'm not exactly sure of. The trick is, I suppose, to not force the issue, otherwise the whole thing dies. I'll work it out eventually.

To 2011, and all that it holds!

Christmas tree of DOOM

A lot of people I know have artificial Christmas trees. My house doesn't, and never has. Considering how many decorations we have, and how many I dumped on the tree this year (the result of the decoration of the tree being my job), our tree is pretty much plastic anyway.
But who is that oddly coloured angel sitting on the very top?
An angel? Hardly.Collapse )
On the twelfth day of Christmas, db_silverdragon sent to me...
Twelve kilts drumming
Eleven muttaburrasaurus piping
Ten dinobots a-leaping
Nine lizards dancing
Eight raptors a-milking
Seven computers a-drawing
Six bagpipes a-gaming
Five impo-o-o-ossible creatures
Four angry beavers
Three beast wars
Two video games
...and a chopperface in a stephen fry.
Get your own Twelve Days:

Huh. I'd never have thought of Dinobot/Stephen Fry as a possible pairing until now.


Well That's Just Prime: Part II

Well, now I’ve watched the first two episodes of Prime. More episodes will come later in the week, but what do I think of the first two?


Opinions, and SPOILERS, under the cut.Collapse )


Well That's Just Prime

Transformers: Prime is nearly upon us. Well, me, as I’m waiting for the torrents to be uploaded. So I thought I’d write down my thoughts before watching the first two episodes.

 I have mixed feelings about Prime. It’s great that Hasbro are aiming to make a more unified continuity, rather than constantly reboot it with every new series. I also like that they’re trying to make a series that’s essentially everything good about every previous Transformers series. Prime will apparently be exploring ‘what it means to be a Prime’. While I think Animated did a pretty good job of that, I’m interested to see whether Prime will do a different take on that idea.

 Design-wise, though, I don’t have any major reactions. I don’t hate or love the new designs, I’m more disappointed, somewhat. It doesn’t seem like they’re really trying to make their own visual style. The designs of the Transformers are really like hybrids of the movie and Animated styles, but it’s not a hybrid that creates a new beast, so to speak. They very much look like all the fanart you see on deviantart of characters from one series in the style of another. It’s not bad, it’s just really derivative looking. Although Soundwave looks very cool. He’s not too much like G1 Soundwave, as people apparently want, but he’s supposed to be a sneaky spy. Being a big chunky robot does not facilitate spy activities very well, as does transforming into a tape deck which hasn’t been common for the past 20 years. However, being a sleek robot with a flying drone alt mode is very fitting for him in this role.

 The other thing is that it’s still Optimus Prime and Megatron. I don’t dislike them, but ever since Robots in Disguise it’s been Prime and Megatron, Prime and Megatron, Prime and Megatron, over and over again. At least Japanese continuity tried to shake things up with guys like Star Sabre and Deathsaurus who, if not completely different, were at least new faces. The only vaguely comparable thing in Western Transformers fiction is Animated, where being a Prime wasn’t the highest rank in the Autobot power structure. Once again, though, we’re back to the familiar pair. I think this whole thing stems from two factors. The first is the fan reaction to the death of Optimus in the original 1986 film. To put it simply, kids went insane, Hasbro was inundated with letters about it, and then Optimus came back from the dead at the end of Season 3, ending the most experimental phase of the G1 cartoon. The second factor is keeping today’s kids into Transformers. As there are so many different incarnations of the franchise now, with the movies as the most prominent part, I suppose keeping roughly the same cast provides a chance of attracting kids to the different series. In any case, I’d like to see a shakeup. Maybe have the Autobot and Decepticon leaders be sub-commanders in some distant section of the galaxy, where Optimus Prime and Megatron are legends who no-one has seen. Exploring the whole ‘what it means to be a Prime’ thing would be more interesting when the Prime is not Optimus. Similarly, do the same for the Decepticon leader, who wants to be like Megatron but has trouble doing so.

 I’m not saying that Prime is going to be terrible-I’m still going to watch it, even more so if certain characters appear in it. It’s just that, for the reasons above, I’m not terribly excited for it.

Toasted TV

Morning television was something denied to me in my childhood. Mum didn’t think it was a very good thing for me to watch. So I ended up being raised on ABC afternoon kids shows, which at the very least exposed me to gems such as The Trapdoor, Shadow Raiders, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

 But every other kid was watching Cheez TV on channel 10 on weekday mornings, 7.00 to 8.00am. You could use it as a barometer of whatever was popular amongst kids-things like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! were aired in the Cheez TV block. Some years ago, though, Cheez TV ended and was replaced with Toasted TV, which, aside from the bread-themed rebrand, doesn’t appear significantly different.

 I still don’t usually watch morning television, but my parents are out camping until Wednesday, and I’m stuck back here needing to study for my final exam. So I decided to see what was on Toasted TV. Rather than just switch off at the sight of anything that looked like crap, I resolved to watch it all, making an exception for girl shows like WINX club or whatever, because I couldn’t bear to watch them.


So what was on this fine Monday morning?Collapse )



31 Favourite Monsters: Loch Ness Monster

My number one favourite monster of all time is the Loch Ness Monster. The most famous cryptid of all time, Nessie, as it is also known, allegedly dwells within Loch Ness, the largest freshwater lake in Britain. Trust me, it is a bloody huge lake. Something could very well be hiding in it.


Stories of lake monsters have been around long before Nessie became popular. Stone carvings around Scotland show a strange animal, dubbed the ‘sea elephant’, which has been thought of as showing something similar to Nessie. Later on, in 565 AD, St. Columba warded off a monster in Loch Ness that was going after one of his followers. However, it was not until the 1930s, when a road was built alongside the loch, that Nessie sightings became more frequent, and efforts were made at finding it. These have had mixed results-some have turned up nothing, whereas others have produced possible photographs of a creature. One of these prompted the naturalist Peter Scott to coin a scientific name: Nessiteras rhombopteryx (wonder of Ness with the diamond-shaped fin). It was later pointed out that this could be rearranged into ‘Monster hoax by Sir Peter S’.


It is speculated that Nessie, if it exists, is a surviving plesiosaur, or possibly some kind of unknown animal, like a long-necked seal. Other theories include misidentified animals (such as sturgeons), logs, and other cases of mistaken identity. I like to think that Nessie is some kind of unique animal, whether plesiosaur or strange seal, that has managed to evade detection and remain hidden in the loch.


After all, what’s life without a little mystery?

31 Favourite Monsters: The Daleks

I was a fan of Doctor Who before the revival made it cool again. It started when an uncle offloaded a bunch of his science fiction stuff to me, and it continued from there via whatever tapes of the old series I could find. Inevitably, I came across the Daleks. Without the Daleks, Doctor Who would likely have vanished into obscurity aeons ago. It was initially meant as an educational show, with historical episodes showing history, and science-fiction episodes showcasing science. The second serial introduced the Daleks, and history was made.


Though the vastness of the Doctor Who canon (and the assorted spin-off material in the early days) means that the Daleks initially had conflicting origin stories, there is at least one definitive version, provided by the serial The Genesis of the Daleks. On the planet Skaro, there lived two humanoid races, the Kaleds and the Thals, who fought each other, finally creating nuclear weapons. After bombing the planet to hell, they found that they were mutating. The Thals became physically perfect humanoid beings, while the final fate of the Kaleds, as found by the Kaled scientist Davros (the guy in my icon up there), was to become small crab-like creatures which couldn’t survive very long. Davros, a mutated victim of an atomic attack, decided to design machines to aid the mutants. Along the way, he became obsessed with the survival of the Kaleds above all else. To this end, he altered his design for the machines, and performed genetic experiments that cleansed the mutant Kaleds of concepts such as love, pity, and fear. The end result was the Daleks, who wiped out the Thals before turning on their creator (though Davros turned out to be not quite dead, and the Daleks later enlisted him in their schemes). Afterwards, they became bent on exterminating all other life forms in the universe. To this end, they have hatched many schemes, culminating in a plan to destroy the entirety of reality, thankfully thwarted by the Doctor.


The Daleks are very distinctive monsters for good reasons. Their design is unmistakable, stemming from the creator not wanting to have ‘bug-eyed monsters’ on the show, as is their trademark voices and catchphrase: “EXTERMINATE!” They are also nearly unstoppable-not only can you not reason with them, they happen to be bulletproof, and even a flight of stairs isn’t quite as effective as it used to be, thanks to their hovering ability. They’re like alien Terminators with awesome voices-and that is why I love them.


Nick McAllister

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