Tuesday, 14 May 2013

ThreeA - 3AA Membership 2013 Pack : The Blanc Hunter.

if travel is searching
and home has been found
i'm not stopping
i'm going hunting
i'm the hunter
i'll bring back the goods
but i don't know when
thought that i could organise freedom
how scandinavian of me
you sussed it out, didn't you?

Bjork - Hunter.

A (mis) interpretation :
Name : Unknown.
Designation: außen / Der Blanc Jäger.
Age : Unknown.
Affiliation : N.O.M.
Ranks : Nom di Sciple 06 - Der Alle Sehen Spezialgruppe.
Std. armaments : N.O.M. Totenmaske; N.O.M. Lebensunterstützung Hilfesystem; Ragnarök - .50 autorevolver x 2; Angantyr - power mace x 1.
Abilities : Panzer Kunst - anti-armour martial art; psionic manipulation; transhuman physiology.
außen was the 6th Nom di Sciple of the All-Seeing Eye elite group. This particular elite group was trained to walk the Path of the Seer, which was the longest, most treacherous, most complex and rarest of the Threefold Path of N.O.M. However, those whom undertook this Path would be the most powerful psykers amongst the N.O.M. faction. A single individual could mind wipe and machine hack, simultaneously, an entire company of warbots and infantries alike. They could affordlessly take over the controls of the Melchizedek terminals, battle ships and orbital satellites. They worked closely with the both the Daywatch and Nightwatch Chapters to monitor the N.O.M. targets' movement.
außen was the 6th and the last Nom di Sciple to be initiated by the Supreme Mother before the Fallens Uprising. He remained steadfast to the loyalist side and though he was a then a neophyte, he fought bravely against the renegades. He achieved notoriety during the Second Winter War campaign on Terra, a military conflict between the Terra's Deep Powder Corps and the Ecclesiarchy of Mars' Frateris Militia in the Fennoscandia sector and the Karelian Isthmus sub-sector, beginning in 1941, of which außen led a N.O.M. clandestine hit and run operations upon both warring factions which would eventually led to the termination, with extreme prejudice, a chief commander of the Terra force, which was foreseen by the N.O.M. would be eventually responsible for the utter destruction of the entire Norge sector, claiming twelve million lives in a subsequent nuclear holocaust. außen was tasked with the prevention of the occurrence of the cataclysm. He was also referred to as the Blanc Hunter, for his extremely effective skills in hunting down designated targets, be it warbots, Terran grunts and Martian sloggers alike.  He rarely machine hack or mind wipe his targets, preferring to end their existence via death through physical or reality manipulation and/or energy manipulation. The name Blanc Hunter struck fears into the hearts of grunts and sloggers, like some forms of bogeyman, during the brief resting period in between combats. No one actually claimed to have seen him. Those that do were boasting and lying, for außen leaves no trails, only dead bodies and destroyed carcass of the despised warbots. Some concerns were raised about his method, akin to the by now excommunicated Dirty Deeds elite group, though none of the multi-possibilities and paths of the future indicate außen would turn to the Path of Damnation. Nevertheless, it gained him a certain degree of distrust as time went by, and within the N.O.M., he was truly the "outsider", ironically befitting his alias. He left the asteroid fortress monastery frequently, undertaking tasks and missions without resting, partly to be away from the rest of the N.O.M. and partly because of his inherent nature to travel and to hunt down N.O.M. enemies, particularly the renegade Fallens. However, during the Fallens assault on N.O.M. loyalistsaußen returned and proved himself to  be fiercely loyal to the Threefold Path and his fellow battle-brothers and sisters. He singlehandedly engaged the Fourth, former Nom di Sciple of Barguest de Plume the Hellhound, renegade and leader of the Bleeding Eyes warband, to buy time for the others to launch a counter-attack. außen battled the 4th within the astral plane as well as in real space simultaneously. But he was defeated and as außen  neared death, the Fourth tried to corrupt him in the ways of damnation and the wrongs of the Supreme Mother's Threefold Paths, of which he fiercely fought off, and in a supreme show of effort, außen unleashed a psionic detonation which screamed across the vacuum of space and time, effectively rendered the Fourth powerless and crippled, albeit temporarily, but enough time for the loyalist to gather the strengths to defeat him before retreating once more into the darkness of space. außen survived, and the name Blanc Hunter, continued to be mentioned by individuals, like a white death coming to reap the very souls of those in the battle fields of the Great War. He was said to have occasionally forged an uneasy alliance with the banished Fantôme de Plume and his fearsome Bards of Twilight warband during their journey to atone for their mistakes and roles in the Uprising, and their subsequent eternal journey of pertinence.


This is the ThreeA's 2013 3AA membership pack. The membership is offered annually at the beginning of each year, and it gives members discounts, access to certain exclusives figures. That's primarily why I subscribed to it. The 2013 version comes in a nicely packaged, minimalistic designed box, very designer-like, with a Ashley Wood artwork reprint, a 1/6th "Nom di Sciple" figure called The Blanc Hunter (in early promos), or the 06, a "3A Ordinance T-Shirt" contained within a plastic bullet casing, and of course the membership card. I couldn't wear the t-shirt as I specified a wrong size as in the case of KDA. It is not as "offensive" as Esther puts it regarding the Lasstranaut one, so maybe now I could pass it to her.  But then, I am worried she might says that the inscriptions are kind of "nerdy/childish" for a thirty something woman to be seen in. Sigh. Now, the figure is nothing different from the Nom di Sciple 27, same accessories and designed, except for the colourway, the 06 being white while the 27 is well, black. I noted that initial "promo pics" have a slighter greenish accent. But like the late MJ sang, it doesn't matter if its black or white. The signature 3A weathering is there, nice, but still subject to paint drying concerns due to the Tropics weather, I think. The 06 doesnt' have this concern, but the 27's boots and some of the TKs' gloves have begun to show abit of paint "wetness". A nice, well airing in the open is in order I suppose. The details are all there, the 06 stahlhelm has a  "außen" with cubes-like symbol print on it. A quick check with the Googie Translate, it says "outside" in German. The figure articulation is well, as articulated as it can be, except that it is kinda "loosey" on the wrist joint, again like the 27. And like 27, the grip on the "hand cannons" is quite loose, falling off easily. And the boots, woo, that's nice. No more molded ones. The sole curiously reminds me of a certain brand with "bouncing soles". Overall, a nice addition to the 3A collection, and though I have cut down a lot on the 1/6th collections, selling off majority of it, including some of the 3A ones, I do not see myself cutting off 3A totally, being a fan of Ashley Wood's arts and stuffs. In fact, it might even swing the other way 'round or as long as the fun's still there. All these figures, are a nice, tangible representation of his stylised arts but a tight focus and discipline is required. Hey, what discipline, I bought only what I like anyhoo. Never the herd mentality. And 3A's recent released of Ash's prototype pics of a stylised Iron Man is definitely on the list. What a controversy it has begun to generate. Which is why when "yum cha" with fellow friends on this hobby, I was always on the end of the stick when it comes to 3A. Why not the MSG's Rex? Or the Halo's Spartan? Just too realistic, not stylised by Ash. Oh, ThreeA "honoured" fans whom had been subscribing to their membership since year one, that's five years ago, with extra accessory called the "NOM Prey (or is that Pray?) Box", available only to the veterans. Hhhmm, must start eyeing for a loose one in the secondary market. Again, the mis-representation above is "siphoned" from Games Workshop's WH40K background and Lexicanum. And with that, the 3A collections allow me to re-imagine them in my own "universe", albeit in its own weird manner. I honestly don't even know half of the stuffs which I wrote and how many times I have ret-conned for each characters. But, bottom line is, its fun for me that way. And makes me enjoy the ride...while it last. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

ACI Toys - Roman General : Roma Victor.

What we do in life, echoes in eternity.
- General Maximus, legio III Felix.

A (mis) interpretation :

Decimus Meridius Maximus was one of the greatest Roman generals whom distinguished himself during the period of the Parthian War (AD161 - 166) and the Marcomannic Wars (AD166 - 180) during the reign of the Roman philosopher emperor, Marcus Aurelius (AD121 - 180). Much of his early life has been lost to history. Maximus date of birth was unknown. He was a native of the Roman province, Hispania Lusitania, from the city of Emerita Augusta. His father was a member of the Equestrian Order, the merchant and banking class of Roman citizens. His family first received their Roman citizenship during the reign of Emperor Claudius (BC10 - AD54). Maximus was a "novus homo" or new man as he was the first member of his family to be appointed as a Senator. He married young, and his wife bore him a son. Maximus first served as a staff of a legion commander in the beginning of his military career, and after his praetorship, as the commander of legio XI Claudia, under Emperior Antonius Pius (AD86 - 161) based at Durostorum in Moesia Inferior province on the lower Danube.
During the Parthian War, Maximus initially commanded legio I Minervia, which in AD162 he personally led on the long march to the Eastern front from its permanent base at Bonna on the river Rhine in Germania Superior. During the course of this war, he won from the nominal commander-in-chief of the campaign, co-emperor Lucius Verus (AD130 - 169), a string of the army's most prestigious awards for valour. In addition, Maximus was accorded several honorific commander's standards. He was appointed Suffect Consul in AD162. In AD163, Maximus was appointed as the military governor of Lower Pannonia, on the Empire's northern frontier along the Danube River.
Beginning in AD162, the Germanic tribes and other nomadic people launched raids along Rome's northern border, particularly into Gaul and across the Danube. Between AD162 and continuing until 165, an invasion of Chatti and Chauci in the provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior was repulsed by the Romans. By late AD166 or early 167, a force of 6,000 Lombards invaded Pannonia. This invasion was defeated with ease by Maximus leading the Roman local forces consisted of vexillations from legio I Adiutrix and auxiliaries, but it marked the beginning of a larger Germanic tribes invasion. In that same year, Vandals of the Astingi and Lacringi, and the Sarmatian Iazyges invaded Dacia, and succeeded in killing its governor, Calpurnius Proculus. Late in AD167 the Marcomanni tribe invaded the Empire by crossing in Pannonia. To counter them, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus planned a punitive expedition to drive the barbarians back across the Danube River, but due to the effects of the Antonine Plague which was ravaging the empire, the expedition was postponed until early AD168. In the spring of that year, Marcus Aurelius, together with Lucius Verus set forth from Rome, and established their headquarters at Aquileia. Maximus accompanied the co-emperors to Sirmium as one of Verus' comites  He was also tasked with the re-organisation of the defences of Italy and the IIIycrium supervised by the emperors. Two new legions were raised, legio II Italica and legio III Italica and crossed the Alps into Pannonia.  Aided by Maximus, the two emperors were able force the Marcomanni to retreat. Maximus' military skills earned him the confidence of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and he quickly became one of the emperor's closest advisors. As the emperors returned to their winter quarters in Aquileia, Lucius Verus fell ill and died in January 169 due to the effect of the plague. Marcus Aurelius returned  to Rome to oversee his co-emperor's funeral while Maximus remained on the troubled Danube frontline.
In the autumn of AD169, Marcus set out from Rome, together with his son-in-law Claudius Pompeianus, who was appointed as chief general. The Romans had gathered their forces and intended to subdue the independent tribes, especially the Iazyges, who lived between the Danube and the Roman province of Dacia. The Iazyges had defeated and killed Claudius Fronto, an equally illustrious Roman military governor of Lower Moesia in battle. However, the Roman army was entangled in this campaign, making little headway. Several Germanic tribes used the opportunity to cross the frontier and raid Roman territory. To the east, the Costoboci crossed the Danube, ravaged Thrace and descended the Balkans, reaching Eleusis, near Athens, where they destroyed the temple of the Eleusian Mysteries. The most important and dangerous invasion however, was that of the Marcomanni in the west. Their leader, Ballomar, had formed a coalition of Germanic tribes. They crossed the Danube and won a decisive victory over a force of 20,000 Roman soldiers near Carnuntum. Ballomar then led the larger part of his host southwards towards Italy, while the remainder ravaged Noricum. The Marcomanni razed Opitergium and besieged Aquileia with its praetorian army defeated and its general killed. 
This disaster forced Marcus Aurelius to re-evaluate his priorities. Forces from the various frontiers were dispatched against Ballomar and his coalition army. Pompeianus returned to Rome and Maximus succeed him as the new chief general with many Parthian War veterans recalled to join Maximus' military staff. A new military command, the praetentura Italiae et Alpium was established to safeguard the roads into Italy, and the Danubian fleet was strengthened. On the death of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, governor of the Tres Daciae province, Dacia Apulensis was added to Maximus command and then the whole of Tres Daciae. At this point, Maximus was in command of 4 legions and around 60 auxiliary regiments, a grand total of over 50,000 troops. In the subsequent Roman counter-attack, Aquileia was relieved, and by the end of AD171, the invaders had been evicted from Roman territory. In AD172, the Romans crossed the Danube into Marcomannic territory. Led by Maximus, the Roman army succeed in subjugating the Marcomanni and their allies, the Varistae, Naristi and the Cotini. During this campaign, Vallao, the chief of the Naristi and a fearsome champion, was personally killed by Maximus. Ballomar personally surrendered to Marcus Aurelius. In AD173, Maximus led the Roman army in campaign against the Quadi. Facing a superior force, Maximus and the legio XII Fulminata were almost forced to the brink of defeat due to heat and thirst. It was on this occasion that the famous incident, "the miracle of rain" occurred, with lightning striking the Quadi and the subsequent rainfalls refreshed the Romans. By late AD174, the subjugation of the Quadi was complete. After this, the Romans focused their attention on the Iazyges living in the plain of the river Tisza. After a few victories, in AD175, a treaty was signed. Maximus' successes during the Marcommanic War further distinguished him, with the emperor awarding him a second Consulship in AD175.
Marcus Aurelius may have intended to campaign against the remaining tribes, and together with his recent conquests establish two new Roman provinces, Marcomannia and Sarmatia, but whatever his plans, they were cut short by the rebellion of Roman general Avidius Cassius in the East, upon rumour of the emperor's death. Marcus Aurelius marched eastwards with his army, accompanied by auxiliary detachments of Marcomanni, Quadi and Naristi under the command of Maximus. After the successful suppression of Cassius' revolt, Maximus returned to home for the first time in nearly 8 years.
The respite was to be brief. In AD177, the Quadi rebelled, followed soon by their neighbours, the Marcomanni. An ailing Marcus Aurelius once again headed north, to begin his second Germanic campaign. The emperor appointed Maximus as chief general once more, and together they  arrived at Carnuntum in August 178, and set out to quell the rebellion in a repeat of the first campaign, moving first against the Marcomanni, and in AD179 - 180 against the Quadi. The Romans fought and prevailed against the Quadi in a decisive battle at Laugaricio. The Quadi were chased westwards, deeper into Greater Germania, where Maximus led the legio III Felix  to achieve a final, decisive victory against them. But on 17 March 180, Marcus Aurelius died at Vindobona of plague related complications.
Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by his 18-year old son, Commodus (AD161 - 192), who had little interest in pursuing the war. Against the advice of his senior generals, particularly Maximus, Commodus negotiated a peace treaty with the Marcomanni and the Quadi and left for Rome in early autumn AD180, where he celebrated a triumph on October 22. Nevertheless, operations continued against the Iazyges, the Buri and the so-called "free Dacians" living between the Danube and Roman Dacia. The victories they achieved were deemed sufficient for Commodus to claim the title "Germanicus Maximus" in mid-182.
The relationship between the young emperor and Maximus, the experienced officer, quickly deteriorated due to the increasingly arbitrary and capricious behaviour of Commodus himself.  In AD182, Lucilla, Pompeianus' wife and Commodus' sister, organized a failed assassination attempt against the Emperor. Prior to that, Lucilla had attempted to recruit Maximus but he declined. Though Commodus executed Lucilla and other member of her family, the emperor was satisfied enough to believe that both Maximus and Pompeianus had not participated in the conspiracy and were spared. Following the conspiracy, there were increasing political strife and tension, Maximus, citing old age, withdrew from all posts and public life. He retired to his estates in Hispania Lusitania where Maximus spent most of his time in the country away from Rome, claiming age and an ailment of the eyes as an excuse. It was not known when he died.


This is ACI Toys anniversary edition of their Roman warrior series, representing General Maximus from Ridley Scott's memorable epic historical, Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe as the protagonist, Maximus Decimus Meridius. I really looked forward towards this figure, and awaiting it to arrive made me into something like a Diplodocus i.e. long neck. I was excited to see it finally arriving at xl-shop, and even with my right arm fractured from an accident for nearly two months now but healing nicely that the cast is off, I braved the traffics to just pick it up. During the night, I slowly realised the horror of which I had to face when I opened up the box, anticipation running high. The adrenaline was replaced by fear. The knot in my stomach began. What is the horror? Assembly. Reminds me of some of the DiD Corp WW2 releases. I need to put on the "gears" which were quite a chore, took me, someone who really hates putting all the itty bitty strings, making knots, nearly two hours just to adjust and figure out this and that, and whatever. It really pushed me patience to the hilt. I have had resort to gluing some major parts, particularly the body armour. And the red sash, oh man, putting it in proper "manner" was one of the most torturous moment of 1/6th experience. And the material was kinda "flimsy". The more I "manhandled" it, the more the stringy stuffs started to un-ravel. And as mentioned, the cuirass. I have had to "slot" these bunch of molded straps onto these pre-punched holes on the armour to hold it together. So are the shoulder armours. I just couldn't slot it in, just like the 1/6th Spartacus figure's two "feather dusters" on his helm. I really wanna shout and curse at the figure coz it was more pricier than the standard ACI Warrior series and the piece of "help guide" just doesn't help.
But that's just me. Some of me friends just love and figure out how to put those tiny, minuscule parts together. Military maniacs they are, so they are experienced, and nuts. Me, I want me figures fully assembled. Ever try putting on a glove on a flexi-finger hand? I have to be Mr. Miyagi to do so. I just don't wanna spent precious times "assembling" a 1/6th figure. Ideally, I wanna immediately pose, play with it and admire it.
The movie is highly entertaining, but I ain't a fan of the movie as much as to the level of, say Scott's Alien (1979) or Bladerunner (1982). But when a figure arrives, I would more likely to re-watch a movie just to see how the real deal on celluloid would be represented by the 1/6th replica. The figure is not quite as close to the real deal, although slightly.
I could not help but compared its "gears" and uniform to the movie. Now this is a comparison to the movie, not historically accurate ones. I don't know anything about Roman era war gears and stuffs.  One of the glaring overlook (?), are both the "inner" sleeves of which seemed to be knitted instead of "fur". And are they suppose to "expose" the arm when bent? The red sleeves don't seem to "hang" good enough. And there seems to be missing engraved piece on the primary sword's strap or maybe my eyes are deceiving me.
Both swords are die-cast metals, the engraved, ornate on the helm, armour is a beauty, the headsculpt is there. Looks like Kurt Russell, I mean Russell Crowe to me but it ain't Hot Toys level of course, but then again, show me a 100% accurate 1/6th headsculpt out there. This is a bittersweet purchase and collection for me, due to the price, the struggles of getting the gears on, and strings, straps, pieces of "cloth" which are flimsy. But when fully assembled, it looks kinda great. And, though I am not into Roman era stuffs, I do want to add Maximus to my collection due to the movie, just like Spartacus. And that will do. Till a better version comes along, if any. Wait a minute, hang on. Looking at the pics I took, I realised I have placed the major sword the wrong side. That's due to my fault of cross-referencing it with the pics on the box. Oh man...I can feel the perspiration beginning, even in an air-conditioned room...the horror! Just exaggerating of course...or am I? I based the "mis-interpretation" on Tiberius Claudius Pompeianius and roman general Marcus Claudius Fronto from Wiki as usual. According to official sources online, Maximus is based on real life Roman general Marcus Nonius Macrinus.