Sunday, 30 March 2014

Chloe - Birthday 2014.

Happy Birthday Chloe. Esther and I left the decision as to where to celebrate which happens to fall on a weekday, to Chloe herself, of which she promptly replied "Pizza Hut". With Suetch and Nee Nee in tow, Chloe and the equally mischievous Dylan have a great time at the pizza joint. By the way, what's with the cross eye pose Chloe?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

ThreeA - Adventure Kartel : Dark Fighting JC Shit Got Real.

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you." ~ Jules, Pulp Fiction mis-quoting Ezekiel 25:17.

A (mis) interpretation.

Name: Javier Fernandes Chigurh.
Alias: The Fighting JC.

Age: 50 years old.
Affiliation: Manny's Gym (former); The Thirteen Acolytes (former); The Adventure Kartel (current).
Std. armaments: "The Blind Oracle" - severed precognitive Zomb Head; "The Towel of Turin" - divine towel.
Abilities: "The Exegesis", "The Red Atonement" - divine empowerment; "The Ten Commandments", "Palm in the Face" - divine martial art; "The Eye of Providence" - divine sight; divine protection; prayer empowerment; indomitable will; purification; healing; exorcism; peak human condition; "The Revelation" - enhanced wisdom/knowledge.

2001. Javier Chigurh or JC listens intensely at the night skies and horizons as the din of the battles on land and above keeps him awake throughout the night. The Robot Islands War. He is resting within a church ruin in the town of Alaşehir, on the Island of Patmos. No one knows his where about currently. JC is recuperating after the suicidal battle, known as the Red Night, against the Zomb Horde of the Carrion City. His restless mind and thoughts wander back to the past. Curiously feels like 2000 plus years have passed.
JC was born in lower hive level of one of the toughest mega blocks, "Maradona", within the chocking, urban decay of the  hive city, Pan Am City Four, United Americana. His father left when JC's mom was still pregnant with him. JC remembered his mom likes to joke to friends that JC is of virgin birth. His mom had to work in a back breaking mandatory job 24-7 as a boiler at a local warbot manufactorum to ensure there's food on the table and bills were paid on time. Like most kids his age, JC ran with a local posse after being expelled from school for beating a fellow student to near death for bullying and attacking a student of Eastasian origin. Anti-immigrant, racial sentiment is exceptionally high in the southern sectors after the Great War. Himself a victim of bullying when he was a kid and experiences from watching and confronting bullies revealed the omnipresence of evil and enemies in the world, and taught him the value of physical strength and violence. JC instinctively knows it was the character of a person that matters, not creed, culture nor skin colour difference. Frequent exposure to violence and effects of injury combined with the massive criminal activities within the residential block has also ingrained in JC a hardboiled outlook on the world. Mix martial arts becomes his passionate preoccupation, as well as developing a love for all contests involving violent, masculine struggle.
In his late teens, he was noticed by John "The Baptist" Manny, a caporegime of a mafiosi clan who has a knack of dispensing loan defaulters by drowning them in a tub filled with water. He ran an underground, vicious mixed martial art tournaments, the Vale tudo, in the under hive level of the city. He witnessed a young, skinny JC outfighting and breaking the arm and leg of a 200 pound, 7 foot gorilla of a man in several places, knocking him out cold. He could had crushed JC like a cockroach but instead was beaten to pulp by the skinny lad. Manny knew a natural when he saw one and recruited JC into his stable of fighters, giving him proper training and guidance. JC could be Manny's way out, away from the old f*** he calls "boss" whom owned all the fight clubs and gyms, taking bets and organising both legit or otherwise fight tournaments, one of the many "businesses" under his ten fat, sausage like fingers. JC would be Manny's money making machine. Then he could take over the clan. He groomed and trained JC into a top mixed martial art fighter. Eventually JC would ran out of local opponents to fight. Manny knew it's time for JC to go regional and full pro. JC defeated everyone, and became the youngest number one contender. He won the prestigious Sparta Mixed Martial Arts World Championship at the age of 20, the youngest person to do so and a title which he would hold for the next 13 years. It is a record which that remains unbroken. JC became rich and lived a lifestyle of excesses and grandeur on the upper hive level of the city. It seemed the world was his oyster. The 'bling bling' never stopped coming. More importantly, JC's mom would never have to work again, but yet she remained humble, stayed at the mega block, and continued to work at the manufactorum. She even reprimanded JC for his excesses, resulting in frequent emotional confrontations and quarrels. 'Wastin away your life like that. I know there is something more to you, within yerself, than all these. This things ain't lastin,' she said during one of their arguments. 
JC's mom eventually succumbed to cancer, as the block they were staying, categorised as "slum status", was located only 100 metres away from the lead wall that separates the vast, irradiated and toxic outskirt wasteland as well as combination of the non-sanitary conditions within the manufacturing plant. JC never had the opportunity to seek a final reconciliation with his beloved mother. A particularly deafening explosion  breaks JC's train of thought as his eyes welled with tears in present time. His mother's death would be the catalyst in his gradual path to enlightenment and spiritually free himself.
It all began in his dreams after several bouts of the usual partying, boozing and pleasures with the ladies. JC dreamt about an encounter with an old shepherd tending  a herd of sheep on a hilly area with vast green grasses all around. These dreams would end in nightmares, of a giant serpent coiling around JC, slowly choking and crushing his body. He would try to break free but the serpent's grip was an unbreakable vise squeezing around his torsos, leaving him breathless. He would wake up covered in cold sweat. Day after day, he tried to forget the dreams and nightmares. Thinking he's going "Insane in the Membrane", JC consulted psychiatrists about the issue but without any breakthrough. He also began to, un-consciously, underwent bizarre behavioural and personality changes. When he got his tattoos, he had "God Life" inked on his chest with a cross instead of "Thug Life" with an AK 47 as he initially wanted. He also tattooed "Zomb" on his fingers instead of "Bomb" and he punched the light out of the famous tattooist, Avi James, for the blunder. Later he had "Mary, the Mother of God" tattooed on his back instead of "J.B. Mary, Da Queen of Soul" a female artist he once admired. Avi got a black eye because of this but he got compensated well. Over the course of his life, JC would steadily acquired numerous religious Christian themed tattoos all over his body.
He began to consciously grown tired of his current lifestyle and career - the endless partying, decadency, spilling bloods and cracking bones in the barb wired, iron cages. He began to self-teach himself on various subjects on banned books on religions illegally obtained through his contacts. He later studied philosophy, science, social study, and later expanded to occultism, mysticism, and arcane texts, going through it methodically and meticulously. By choice, JC starts to celibate and adopts a vegan diet. He decided to give away all his wealth and luxurious possession to various charities and those in dire need. JC embraced asceticism, by total abstinence from worldly pleasures, with the aim of pursuing spiritual goals, involving restraint with respect to actions of the body, speech and mind. JC sees this not as a rejection of enjoyment of life, or because the practises themselves are virtuous, but as an aid in the pursue of physical and metaphysical health. Nevertheless, JC would still cuss and curse, and would not hesitate to resort to violence to make sure the message is understood and clear.

At the age of 34, JC made an important decision. He asked Manny to hold a press conference, announcing to the shocking world that he is retiring, abandoning his unified MMA championship titles. This incurred Manny's wrath, the man whom controlled his career and life, and had by then ascended to become the boss of the mafiosi clan. He ordered some of his homeboys to teach JC a lesson. JC was shot six times on the chest at a drive by, but miraculously survived and non of the bullets hit any of his vital organs. He confronted Manny after demolishing an army of  his guards armed with weapons singlehandedly, saying he will remember Manny's gratitude, but he had now paid his due, owing Manny no more. His former Agent Provocateur lingerie model trophy wife, Madeline, left him for someone else. JC, now stripped himself to nothing except for the knowledge gained, then exited the life he once lived. The dream and nightmare began to stop. As for Manny, JC heard several years later that he and his clan were involved in the distribution of a new drug, triggering a block war with a rival clan, and the Judges finally enforced and executed all of them on the spot for trafficking of illegal substances, but primarily for being out of line. JC then fell out of the public consciousness and no more news were heard about him.
Time passed and JC, by then almost unrecognizable - beard, moustache, haggard and looking older than 50, but still lean and packing a mean punch and kick which could break bones and rupture internal organs, for he has then trained himself to peak human physical condition - was travelling from city to city along the Amazonis Planitia on Mars, making his way to Olympus Mons with a group made up of eclectic individuals, calling themselves the Thirteen Acolytes, consisting JC himself, of brothers Pedro and Andre, both former  MOD pirates; sister-brother team, Johanna and Jimmy, both former mercenaries; Phillipe, an ex-gigolo; Bart, a former smuggler; Matthaus, a former tithe collector; Tom, a disillusioned former Ecclesiarchy preacher; Jamie and Simone, both former Arbites of Mars. They preached to those who listened, about the decadency and corruption of the religious ideals by the Ecclesiarchy. For a brief period, they were successful. Even a Cult of the Thirteen Acolytes was formed and spread among the Martians citizens. Declared heretics, they became highly wanted by the Ecclesiarchy of Mars and fought many battles against the Arbites and the Retinues.  In one of
 the ensuing fight and violent rioting, JC is the only survivor. The deceased twelve other Acolytes were martyred later by the others. JC successfully evaded the Arbites and Retinues, smuggled himself on board a merchant ship en route to the politically neutral United Space Colony Federation. From there he arrived back onto Terra.
JC travelled across Terra on his lonely journey, taking up odd jobs to meet ends. He first realised his more than human powers during a rest from his travel to Jerusalem's Lot, United Americana. A child had been possessed by a lesser daemon of The Warp and JC instinctively performed exorcism and effortlessly casted out the entity which screamed out in terror even when JC hadn't arrived yet. Years later, he subsequently gained a reputation as a formidable monstrum venator. He eventually settled in the city of Andria, Europa. Surviving the subsequent destruction of Andria, JC later joined the Adventure Kartel. This is due to the rise of the walking deads, the Zomb Horde, reanimated humans entombed within the old city, now known as the Necropolis or the Carrion City. Their relentless attacks, feeding and stealing on the brains of the human population of New Andria made JC stayed on and stopped his nomadic lifestyle. 

JC initially stayed at the Church of Divine Grace, only to realise that its members were actually perverse daemonic worshippers of the Ruinous Powers. After battling the daemon possessed individuals, banished a daemonic entity and burnt the building down, JC opted to stay at the attic converted into a room at Tommy's record shop in the cluttered District 12. Tommy wanted to ask for rent but back off after seeing the tats and scars on the old man. Tommy knew JC meant business, literally and metaphorically. All JC wanted for his room was a bed on the floor, clean blanket, clean pillow and a bolster. JC cannot sleep without a bolster. He went around the city, found some discarded but nice timbers, made himself a wooden chair and table, with a repaired table lamp, completed with a shelf of old tomes, books and ancient texts. Tommy defunct band, the Missionary Position, rehearsal room and recording studio on the second floor was converted into a training room and gym at the request of JC. JC also began to train Tommy the art of hand to hand combat but the lad just could not focus. On several training sessions, JC had broken Tommy's ribs (twice), both bones on his hands (thrice) and dislocated his jawbone (uncountable). JC eventually gave up on training Tommy after the latter kept coming with all sort of excuses to skip the trainings. JC is a master and expert on all forms of existing martial art techniques, of which he combines and refines into what are known as "The Ten Commandments" and "Palm in the Face" a nigh formidable form of assault and defence hand to hand combat skill. It is said that no one, except for a very few, could match JC in any fights.
In subsequent years, JC becomes well known to be at the forefront in all fights against the Zomb Hordes, daemonic entities and other foul creatures summon by their leader, the Zomb MD and the Heart of Darkness. JC would inked a cross onto his forearm for each successful battle. Tommy often commented how JC was a one man fighting machine against the Zombs and other supernatural creatures, regardless how numerous or powerful they may be. This is due to the divine empowerment, of which JC could gain powers from divine gods, spirits, concepts or forces. His normal human physiology is heightened to the level of a superhuman when invoking this power, and combine with his absolute mastery of all forms of existing marital art skills, JC is unstoppable in combat. One of his trademark divine empowerment abilities is called "The Exegesis", of which JC would be enveloped in bright light and blasts pure energy in all directions. Another is cleanliness manipulation, of which JC is literally immune from all forms of pestilence and diseases of Nurgleth, as well as purifying and healing those affected by the Zombs. The deadliest is the "The Red Atonement" divine empowerment. It literally turned JC blood red with berserker power. JC also performs exorcism to a great extent and very efficient and effectively so, purging those possessed by daemons from the Realms of Chaos and Warp Space. He possesses "the Eye of Providence", a supernatural ability enabling JC to see into the very soul of an individual and all the vices and virtues, lies and truth of that individual. This ability also grants JC the capability to see a hidden daemon in the Real Space. JC is known to be able to cast back greater daemons or princes from the Warp personally. Lesser daemons are known to shriek in pain simply by the presence of JC. He doesn't charge his clients for his service. Tommy often got a severe, though non physical, but verbal reprimand from him for the former's fondness to con people of New Andria through his knowledge of sorcery and summoning of daemons, which often ended up disastrously, needing JC to clean up the mess. JC however, never reveal the truth on such matters for there's virtue in the boy and knowing his background, perhaps a bit too mischievous and lack responsibility for his own good.
JC is a mortal. Regardless, there is intense speculation that he could be The One Who Sits On His Father's Right Hand of the House of YHWH. He could be severely injured, for all the divine empowerment has a toll on his health, often suffering from extreme fatigue and fainting spells if overstretching his power. JC would try not to use his more formidable abilities unless faced with overwhelming or powerful enemies. The Carrion Lord, the Zomb MD himself, considers JC to be his numero uno enemy besides Baron Seth Von Sydow.
During one of the combats against the Zomb Hordes, JC succeeded in obtaining the ghastly, decapitated head of the Blind Oracle, a unique Zomb with a specific ability - precognitive divinity. Sworn an oath of loyalty to JC, the Blind Oracle would advise JC on near future events (an hour to be precise), enabling JC to prepare for pre-emptive assaults against the walking dead next movement and action. The Blind Oracle also acts as a form of motion sensor, gurgling hideously if a fellow Zomb is nearby or hidden in the sewers, their favourite place to launch an assault. JC speculates that the Blind Oracle Zomb has the ability due to overwhelming saturation of the corpse gas, causing it to go into trance and slight degree of clairvoyance. According to the Blind Oracle, the Heart of Darkness, the corrupted A.I. of the Rothchild Corporation's Alpha Q class orbital weapons research and development station, The Apsinthos which destroyed Old Andria, is now a literal, living fusion of the Warp and Real Space, in constant mutation, a living, twisting mass of bio-mechanical horror, of which its tentacle-like circuitry has transformed the entombed former city into its own nightmarish imagery. The Heart requires constant human brains to fuel its existence, and even addicted to the endorphin. JC nurtures the Blind Oracle into forgoing the craving for human flesh and brain, instead replacing its constant hunger with lamb chops and sheep brain instead. JC keeps the Blind Oracle in a specially made box anointed with arcane rites to seal its contagion from harming others. JC slaps on a large warning sign stating "Bio-Toxin" on it and keep it in a secret place not even Tommy would search for it (actually its beneath Tommy's bed). 
Baron Sydow, knowing JC's background and suspected "real self", is keeping a close eye on him, whom he considers a "loose cannon" and highly unpredictable, for he is worried that one day, JC would eventually upset the fine balance of the truce between the monster hunters and the children of the night, an event which would result in unprecedented bloodshed and war, which had occurred during the Dark Days.
During one of the Zomb Horde attack, JC single handedly defeated 50 of them within 10 minutes. Covered in black, foul, putrid blood of the walking dead, JC quickly asked for soaps and towel to hose himself clean for "Cleanliness is Godliness". When Tommy took the towel to dispose off, he saw what seemed to be an image imprint of JC's face on it, which looked remarkable similar to the Shroud of Turin of which the Baron lusted for. A bright idea sparked in Tommy's mind. He sent a vid pict of the towel to the Baron. The latter was naturally excited and paid a considerable sum for it to Tommy, but upon receiving the towel, Baron Shadow flew into a fit. As it turned out, within an hour of receiving it, the image had changed into a smiley face instead. The Baron sent a squad of ANKOU EX Shadow Security to see Tommy, demanding not only full refund, but also to pay compensation for making a fool out of the him. All JC could say was greed, one of the seven sins, was 'never good. Greed muddles. Greed clouds the mind. Hope this would be a good lesson to you.' Tommy was saved from all the troubles upon Lil Shadow's intervention on behalf of him. JC takes back the towel and has since use it to bitch-slap his supernatural enemies with it.

JC looks out from the window. News of him being absent from the Adventure Kartel has spread around New Andria. The temporary truce between the Zomb MD and the Baron, in a united front to fight the bots from Robot Islands is about to come to an end. He puts on a combat pant and boots, and proceed towards New Andria once more.


This is the second wave of the Fighting JC character, which was first released back in...could not remember. Back then, the character was depicted as wearing a boxer robe (?) and matching pants, with a pair of sneakers. Four variants were released on Bambaland - the original, the white, blondie Exegesis, the dark "shadow" Mauro (with accompanying Zomb) and the Tracky JC. Later a so-called Palm in the Face surprise, limited drop version was released with revised red robe, red sneakers and accessory called the Towel of Turin (but without the severed Oracle Zomb head) of which I got separately through eBay. This version, the Dark Fighting JC with tagline "Shit Got Real", comes with a revised headsculpt and additional tattoos. There is a chase variant called Pale as F*** JC. The "band aid", first debut in KA Mumb, is used to replaced the previous molded ones. I am tempted to "open it up" to see if the collection of tattoo crosses on the forearms seen in the first version is still there but nah. Like a Cantonese saying, I don't want to "light up a lantern in the toilet". It comes with zero accessories, no more boxer robe, trainers, pants, replaced with combat pants and boots, and bags, pouches. 3A love bags and pouches on their figures. Generally there is a divided opinion on this but I love 'em. The additional tattoos are very much welcomed, though I have trouble understanding one or two of them. But the one which takes the cake is the revised headsculpt. That is sure one heck of a killer stare, really heightened the character of the character greatly. Side by side comparison makes the first release headsculpt looks so...sedated. There would be many more to versions, releases to come for this character I believe, but right now, this is the real shit.  Since I do not want to write any more "mis-interpretation" on this character, I decided to just copy and paste it from the my write-up from the first blog, and add abit of additional "fluff". Guess that will do for now.

Dylan - The Three Warriors.

Chloe got her Sylvanian Families, Esther again surprised me (coz most of the time I am the one who get them toys to the irk of Esther, like those Nerf guns collection, which by the way, are surprisingly fun) with an affordable but nice three tiny warrior action figures for him. Again we have to prioritise what is important for them at this stage.

Chloe - Sylvanian Families.

Esther bought a set of Sylvanian Families set for Chloe recently, as gift for her coming birthday. She is beyond happy as she has been surfing those creative and enticing Re-ment cooking set toys on You Tube. Esther and I would have to practise control, doesn't want to escalate the collection to the degree such as mine ;P as there are more important priorities for Chloe at this stage.  

Saturday, 1 March 2014

AUTOart - Initial D "Project D" Toyota Trueno Sprinter AE86.

Model type: Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX (AE86 / "Hachi-Roku" (ハチロク).
Manufacturer: Toyota.
Year of manufacture: 1983 "zenki" (production period 1983 - 1985).
Assembly: Toyota City, Japan.
Body style: 3-door hatchback.
Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive.
Transmission: 5-speed manual.
Wheelbase: 2,400mm.
Length: 4,200mm.
Width: 1,630mm.
Height: 1,340mm.
Curb weight: 923 - 1,089kg.
Plate: 13-954, classification 55.
Colour: High tech two tone black and white "Panda".
Engine displacement: 1600cc.
Engine type: TRD Group A Touring Spec AE101 1.6L '93 Silvertop 20v 4A-GELU inline-4.
Maximum bhp: 240bhp @ 11,000rpm.
Maximum torque: 23.5kgm @ 6500rpm/min.
Aspiration type: Natural Aspiration (NA).
Custom parts:  Cibié T353 Fog Lights, RS Watanabe Eight Spoke F8-Type Wheels (Magnesium), TRD 2-Way LSD, TRD Crossed 3 w/4.778 Final Drive, TRD Keiichi Muffler, OEM Door Visor, ItalVolanti Admiral Red Trim Steering Wheel, Smiths 12,000 RPM Tachometer, Smiths auxiliary gauges (Oil Pressure/Water Temperature), 2 TRD Sports Seats, Vent Cup Holder, TRD Carbon Fiber Hood, Carbon Fiber Headlights, Bridgestone Potenza RE-01 tires, TRD Short Stroke Adjustable Kit, and Cusco Strut Bar.
Team affiliation: Fujiwara Tofu Shop (藤原とうふ店 Fujiwara tōfu-ten) / Akina Speed Stars / Team Project D.


“Fujiwara Tofu Ten” is the translation of the Japanese spelling for the most famous tofu shop in the world. Millions know about this tofu shop, and yet the shop has never existed in the real world. It was written on the right-side door of the fictional Toyota Trueno AE86 from the Japanese manga comic book called “Initial D.”
Initial D (頭文字D(イニシャル・ディー) Inisharu D) is a Japanese comic book written and illustrated by Shuichi Shigeno. It has been serialized since 1995, with the chapters collected into 46 volumes to date. The story focuses on the world of illegal Japanese street racing, where all the action is concentrated in the mountain passes and only rarely in cities or urban areas. The drift racing style emphasized in particular, and professional race-car driver and drifting pioneer Keiichi Tsuchiya helps with editorial supervision. The story is centered on the prefecture of Gunma, 70 miles northwest of Tokyo, and, more specifically, on several mountains in the Kantō region and in their surrounding cities and towns. Although some location names where the races occur have been fictionalized, all of the locations in the series are based on actual locations in Japan.
The story focuses on a high school student, Takumi Fujiwara, who works as a gas station attendant by day and a delivery boy for his father's tofu shop early in the morning. He never realized that all those nights delivering in his father's modified Toyota Sprinter AE86 Trueno (colloquially known as the "Eight-Six") have given him precise driving skills, enough to make him a formidable driver and prodigy.
The first Initial D volume was released in Japan on November 6, 1995 and has been translated officially into Chinese, French and English over its publication run. As of 2013, 46 volumes have been published and 47 millions copies sold. It has been adapted into several television anime, an original video animation series, and a movie.
AUTOart produces a 1/18th scale model of the Toyota Sprinter AE86 model of this Initial-D version. Because of restrictions in the licensing arrangement, an earlier version had been produced a few years ago but was only available in Japanese market. However, for the first time, AUTOart is able to sell the model under limited edition outside of Japan market with a modified version. 
- write up from AUTOart website product page.


Initial D is one of those manga/anime series whose popularity is in the veins of say, Slam Dunk. While the latter primarily deals with the trial and tribulation of a high school basketball team, Initial D is about a 18 years old teenager, Takumi Fujiwara experiences and his rise to fame in the world of illegal street racing using and emphasising the drift racing style amongst dangerous, narrow mountain passes known as taugeh, I mean, touge or Tōge () while fending off numerous challengers from various teams.  The writer and illustrator is said  to have personally owned a Trueno AE86 and also a Subaru WRX STi himself. Professional race car driver and pioneer of drifting, Drift King (or Dorikin (ドリキン)) Keiichi Tsuchiya, whom popularised the drift style motorsport and the Trueno AE86 as well, served as technical supervisor to both the manga and anime. The manga is serialised in Kodansha's Young Magazine from 1995 to 2013, with the chapters collected into 48 tankōbon (manga) volumes. Although both the manga and anime series were initially licensed for English-language distribution in North America by Tokyopop from 2002, it is discontinued in 2009 due to various concerns and as of present,  the anime license has since been picked up by Funimation Entertainment, while the manga is no longer available in English.
I haven't had the chance to read the manga but the anime is widely available. Presently comprise of five parts, each called a "Stage", I picked up the first part way back in the early 2000s after hearing about it from fellow friends, anime otakus and of course, car aficionados. It is the Hong Kong version, in Cantonese language and the subtitles were not "friendly" but ok enough for me to get the gist of what the characters are saying. It is so popular that for a time, a handful of Trueno AE86 were even personally sighted on local roads. The anime also "motivated" and perhaps created a sub-culture consisting of local boy, and perhaps girl racers based on the world of Initial D, possibly try to emulate Takumi and other characters racing styles in their own souped up Japanese sport cars and more popularly, the local national cars. Hopefully they could differentiate fiction from real world. And one must remember those were the times when European made hot hatches so popular now were virtually not available or at least only accessible to a handful of generally snobby, "I love English tea and scones" elitists and old money.  But when it comes to car choices, it is an extremely polarised crowds, bordering on fanatical. And still is. Also I could not help but noted that indeed most Initial D fans have colourfully bleached hair with dodgy personality in their equally "loud" cars with pretty Ah Lians sitting beside them. I am guessing the Genting and Fraser's Hill routes gave them plenty of chance to "practice". Those were what I called the Golden Age of Japanese sport cars and Ah Bengs in the nation, prior to the current onslaught of K-Pop culture. Furthermore, the WRC was being dominated by 4WD rally bred cars such as Evos and Impreza WRXs. Suddenly someone or the nouveau riche with funds but could not afford a Prancing Horse could own a homologated 4WD car with basement quality interior but with priority in absolute functionality in mind and arguably, during those times, could match those super rich uncles businessmen and kids owned Italian or German made supercars, depending on the type of roads. Not straight line, not all out drag race but street racing, a pure dog fight where anything goes. Including lives. Anyone could accelerate in a straight. Just press the accelerator and off you go like a rocket, with kidney pressing pressure as the turbo or supercharger kicks in. A friend, whom I hadn't contact nor seen for a time, once scoff off at the idea of driving fast on the extremely straight road to Sepang, citing it as boring. A beaten up van could bypass his Evo easily. He seemed to be much happier doing those daredevil, life threatening over taking manoeuvring and criss crossing cars under heavy traffics, as well as tackling those sharp corners on the way up and down to those resort hills. From a responsible driver on the straight, he turned into a beast on wheels when it comes to those routes.  When it comes to those treacherous narrow and twisting passes, it is a different skills all together. It's all about finding the perfect balance of the driver's skills, abilities and his/her car functionality. It is one of  the ultimate tests of an individual's driving skills. Blind corners, incoming traffic, understeers, oversteers. You get the idea what I am talking about. And aftermarket parts and tuners boomed everywhere. Car stickers became popular. Insurance life and car policy premium soared as more accidents occurred. 300 bpm rave "muzak" became the "in thing". Even Uncles in a Nissan van with wind down window would "chill" out in those ear drum splitting rave "muzak", simultaneously slapping their hand on the door side. Too much MDMA in their system I guess. But  I digress. Enough of personal ranting and back to the subject.
Personal favourite is Initial D (1998), retrospectively called First Stage, which storylines are engaging enough with colourful supporting characters and humours abound. Takumi has been "sub-consciously trained" by his father, Bunta since he was 13 years old, delivering tofu to a hotel located at the fictional Lake Akina around Mount Akina (based on Mount Haruna) on daily basis, through various climes, in the early morning of 4am. The chain-smoking Bunta runs a small tofu shop business in Ikaho, Shibukawa in Gunma Prefecture. His background is highly hinted as someone with extensive networks in the motorsports world and possibly a former but still extremely skilful race car driver. I mean, that old man practically lit up a cigarette in the midst of drifting around a corner. To ensure the delicate tofu arrives in one piece, Bunta puts a cup of water on the highly modified and tuned Trueno AE86 cup tray for Takumi everyday before delivery, instructing him not to spill a single drop. And Takumi, having to wake up early and eager to complete the delivery as fast as possible to grab some sleep and  go to school, eventually find ways and methods to do so, indirectly developing formidable drifting skills progressively and naturally. It should also be noted that Takumi is known as a "downhill specialist", that is he faced challenges on the downhill section of the mountain. This means that the power output disparity between the supa dupa old but gold rear wheel drive Trueno AE86 and newer, more powerful cars of those times are averaged out, such as the likes of RX7, Evo, Impreza, Type-R and Skyline GT-R. Also, when it comes to twisty, downhill roads with hairpin corners, greater engine output doesn't necessary mean better as opposed to a straight road. One possible factors is because downhill racing requires guts. Lots of it. Otherwise, off into a ravine. Other factors include tyre grip due to eventual wear and tear from drifting, braking techniques etc. Combined with his unorthodox methods and instinctive ability, using such as the famous "the mizo otoshi technique (a technique where the driver drops the inside tires into the rain gutters on the side of the road to defeat centrifugal force) or learnt from other challengers, such as the "blind attack technique" which involve switching off the headlights while chasing the car in front, relying on instinct (such as shadowing the tail lights of his opponent's car) and memory to tackle the correct line, in addition to reduce drag from the pop up headlights, Takumi is undefeatable. At one point, Bunta even taught Takumi not to be afraid of those mighty 4WD rally cars by making him drive alternatively between the Trueno and a newly purchased WRX STi. It also contain some adult theme, such as enjo kosai (subsidized dating), the offering of one's own virginity and fleeting nudity.
The animation is so-so, but it is fun as it captures the rise of Takumi whom started out as the underdog. That leads to Second Stage (1999), which is also fun to watch. Then came Extra Stage (2000), a side story about one of the teams, followed by Third Stage (2001), an animation movie. They are alright but my attention span has started to "drift". Then Fourth Stage came, released between 2004 to 2006, with subheading "Project D". Boringness starts to creep in by then. When Extra Stage Two (2008) and Fifth Stage (2012 to 2013) came about, I struggle to keep myself awake through each episode. Just drop me into the gutter. The reason is simple - it has become too draggy. Takumi has progressed to being a near omnipotent drift car race driver, virtually undefeatable. And the reasons offered for his incredible rate of mastering and winning each challenges are explained in some forms of philosophical, Zen-like musing. There are scenes which border on ridiculousness, like the energy aura-like thingy emitting from the characters and cars (Takumi's AE86 is depicted as having a pair of angelic wings in one episode) and the effect of showing the extreme entry and exit cornering speed which is depicted as if it was teleporting / side-stepping time and space. Yup, Takumi has officially become a Jedi with transhuman ability to defy law of physics in Fifth Stage. The boys at Top Gear can retire. Oil baron owners of Bugatti Veyron can ditch them into the Gulf. Finally, most of my favourite supporting characters have been relegated to less role time. I wonder how it would all end, with the concluding Final Stage announced for release this year. Oh, there's also a new animated movie scheduled for this year as well. In real world, the AE86 has become legendary in its own right, continues to command high secondary price and a favourite in the racing circuits. Toyota and Subaru even joint co-operate and release the "spiritual" successor called Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ from 2012 onwards.
This die-cast model, in 1/18 scale captured all the details as per AUTOart standard. Curiously, there is a single bucket seat only (or are there two?). This is the Project D version, from Fourth Stage onwards. Previously there is a JDM release only First and Second Stage version by AUTOart and incredibly difficult to obtain. Due to demand, AUTOart moved to release this second version for wider, international market. The Project D version Trueno AE86 has been further extensively modified and tuned to such extent that it is a Trueno AE86 by name and outlook only. The original but highly tuned 1.6 engine at 160bhp has been replaced with a Group A touring spec engine due to events during the later half of Second Stage. The engine is basically not available to the public, just like the anti-lag misfiring system used in one of the Evos. This iconic 1/18th scale car is more pricey than a normal release but I is worth it to satisfy the bygone J-Pop, pimp my ride era of Ah Beng-ness in me.