Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dylan - Kinderworld Concert 2014.

Dylan, "graduating" from nursery to Primary One next year, joining Chloe. This is the last Kinderworld Concert we all would be attending. Time flies fast. And Chloe has the privilege to watch the entire concert as audience this time around.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Kumik - Ronin.

A (mis) interpretation:

Name: Manji.
Alias: The Immortal Blade; The Killer of One Hundred; Mister Twelve Blades.
Age: 26 years old.
Affiliation: Non / ronin / yojimbo.
Abilities: Immortality; expert swordsmanship; cunningness; peaked human physiology.
Std. armaments:  Katana - "Imo-no-Kami Tatsumasa (Sister Defender Tatsumasa)" x 2;  wakizashi - "Shidō (Four Paths)" x 2;  chained scythes - "Mumei (Nameless)" x 2;  dagger - "Kotengu (Little Devil)" x 1; two-headed spear - "Aun (Om)" x 1; shuriken - "Karasu (Crow)" x 2; modified club - "Okorobi (Man Toppler)" x 1; ōdachi - "Merabi (Lady Gadfly)" x 1.

Late 18th century. Edo period, Japan. Out of loyalty and honour, Manji, a samurai, carried out numerous acts of atrocities and brutal suppression upon the local populace, most of them innocent victims, upon the order of his tyrannical lord and daimyo, Horii Shigenobu. However, Manji assassinated his own lord after he was framed and implicated in an intricate plot of power struggle. An extremely serious offense, he was hunted after by fellow members of the clan, of whom one hundred was killed single-handedly by the extremely skilful samurai in a single confrontation overnight. On the run from the law enforcers for the next two years, the by-then ronin secretly made his way to his sister, Machi, house to seek temporary refuge when he was confronted by Saito Tatsumasa, a chief law enforcer of the area. In the subsequent duel, Manji defeated and killed Saito, un-aware that he was Machi's husband. The killing incidentally occurred in front of Machi which shattered her mind, reducing her to a child-like behaviour. The ronin, horrified and extremely remorseful for causing his sister's predicament, intended to commit seppuku for atonement. Before Manji could carry out the act, the ronin was approached by an elderly nun, Yaobikuni. She claimed to have been observing the ronin for a period, saying a swordsman of such skills could contribute better to the society in such tumultuous times instead of simply committing suicide. Yaobikuni also said that Manji was now indebted to look after the welfare of his sister and must stay alive to do so. She made an extraordinary offer to the ronin - immortality. In return Manji would have to forgo the worldly trappings and cycle of violence to become a monk or kill one thousand truly evil individuals as atonement for the innocent people whom he had murdered. The ronin was perplexed and brushed Yaobikuni off, accusing her offer a hoax born out of superstition. The nun was calm and asked whether she could stay with them for awhile before continuing her journey, of which Manji reluctantly agreed, sensing that the elderly midget sized woman could be of no harm and might even help him look after Machi. He forgo the idea of suicide and commit to looking after the well being of Machi instead. But no one could escape karmic repercussion it seemed.
One night, Manji was lured away from his house as part of a ruse to kidnap Machi. The mastermind of the plot was Shido Hishiyasu, whose younger brother, Gyobutsu, an assassin posing as a priest, had been killed by Manji earlier, and now intended to avenge his death. Hishiyasu was also the leader of the Shinsengumi, one of the biggest groups whose members comprised vicious mercenaries, assassins and bounty hunters. The sociopath sent a message to Manji, who immediately went to the area at the edge of a forest. Manji pleaded to Hishiyasu to let Machi go and would surrender himself. Manji was bounded up and brutally beaten to half consciousness. Hishiyasu then sexually molested Machi in front of him before cutting her down with his sword in one single stroke. Manji was overwhelmed with such grief that he crawled to cover Machi's body as numerous swords, blades, arrows, darts, and even firearms such as arquebuses rained onto him. His physical pain was incomparable to the emotional sufferance Manji was undergoing through and through. As Manji shattered body lay motionless on the ground over his sister, the group laughed and was overjoyed. Then it happened. Hishiyasu and the gang members could not believe their own eyes, like an act of trickery or hallucination. But it was not. Manji's unrecognisable, badly mutilated body became whole again and the ronin was seemingly alive, and then stood up. Even the most hardened killers were shaking with fear. Hishiyasu then looked at Manji. The ronin eyes were filled with extreme wrath. There were no witnesses that night. But if there were, it would be a sight which would scarred an individual forever due  to the manner of which Manji carried out the absolute annihilation of the entire gang, including Hishiyasu himself, as retaliation for Machi's death. The entire area was red with bloods. Authorities investigating the massacre had no means to even identify the body parts, except for the decapitated head of Hishiyasu, whose expression was of someone whom seemed to have underwent a terrible torture before dying. The case was closed, with the investigators citing a gang rivalry as cause.  
How Manji survived was quite simple. Yaobikuni had earlier  secretly infused the ronin with  Kessen-chu, a form of sacred microscopic organism which gave him immortality. Manji, which means well-being, harmonious balance and eternal, brought back Machi's body home, covered in blood. After the funeral ceremony and a period of mourning, Manji agreed to Yaobikuni's offer - to kill one thousand truly evil individuals. But with one condition, that once the objective was accomplish, regardless how long it would take, the nun would remove the Kessen-chu from Manji's body and the ronin would be granted an honourable death. The nun agreed and shared that she was a 800 years old Kessen-chu saturated individual. Manji  wore a unique samurai robe specially made for him by the nun. It was black and white with an emblazoned symbol of his name, a left facing swastika on the back. The Kessen-chu gave Manji the power of immortality. He wouldn't age and any form of physical injuries, regardless of the severity, would be instantaneously healed, allowing Manji to sustain any wounds. This extend to the point where his severed limbs and torso could be reattached back, internal organs and damaged nerves completely healed, critically and fatally damaged cells can regenerate, preventing scars. Manji could not be harmed by any disease nor poison. The only weaknesses of this immortality are decapitation, starvation, burning to ash, extreme cold, lack of food or oxygen, being crushed to a pulp and drowning. Scars or wounds prior to the infusion of Kessen-chu also remained such as his blinded right eye and various old scars. He could still feel pain from injuries inflicted upon him. Manji imposed self-abstinence from the temptation of the flesh but indulged in smoking and eating while not seeking out targets to achieve his objective.
His first assignment began by becoming a yojimbo to a fourteen years old girl, Asano Rin and avenge her parents brutal murder at the hands of a group of highly skilled mercenaries and assassins called Ittō-ryū. The group was led by Kageshiha Anotsu, a master swordsman whom intended to unite and rule all existing dojos under him. Early in his quest, Manji became more and more reliant on his immortality and healing power to the point whereby his swordsmanship skill began to decline. As he faced greater and more powerful opponents, Manji reverted to training himself into a master swordsman once more. He developed a habit of collecting and using his defeated and killed opponents weaponries if he liked it. Manji faced various degrees of obstacles and challenges during his journey to achieve his goal. He had been defeated by greater opponents, like master swordswoman Otono-Tachibana Makie and master assassin Giichi, as well as being outwitted, trapped, captured and tortured. But Manji survived it all. His targets were mostly driven by ambition, pride and greed. Some were outright psychopath such as Kuroi Sabato and Shira, which Manji spared no mercy when despatching them. He also challenged and defeated a swordsman, Shizuma Eiku  whom was infused with Kessen-chu and like him, was an immortal. He also destroyed and annihilated many groups and clans, including the powerful Mugai-ryū and Rokki-dan, led by Habaki Kagimura. Starting out as a cocky, self-opinionated individual, Manji ended up becoming more understanding and mature over the course of time. Manji also become more conflicted, questioning what truly define an evil person. He became more emphatic and had even shown sympathy to some of his targets on several occasions.  Some even became allies with him in several quests. Manji also succeed in freeing Rin from the vicious cycle of vengeance and escalation of violence.
For all purpose, Manji did not achieve the killing of one thousand truly evil individuals, only nine hundred and ninety nine. He allowed the last one, Anotsu himself, to live out of mercy and pity. The former nemesis of Manji was by then a mentally shattered and physically broken old man. Time had not been kind to him. At the end of his quest, Manji ultimately gained great spiritual insight about upholding the values of humanity, moralism and the truth of meaningful existence, which was Yaobikuni's overall objective. Manji prayed at Machi's grave for the last time. He had dug a pit beside it. As he lit up his pipe for a final smoke, Yaobikuni asked if he was ready of which Manji nodded. He grimaces and tears flowed freely down his cheeks as his body was wrecked with pain and unbridled spasms. There after, Manji was no more and freed of his all the emotional burden and guilt he had carried in this world.  
Blade of the Immortal (無限の住人 Mugen no Jūnin, lit. "The Inhabitant of Infinity") is a Japanese manga series by Hiroaki Samura. The series is set in Japan during the mid-Tokugawa Shogunate period and follows the cursed samurai Manji, who has to kill 1000 evil men in order to regain his mortality. The manga was originally published in Afternoon from June 25, 1993, to December 25, 2012. A 2008 anime adaption was produced Bee Train and Production I.G. Also in 2008, the novel Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon was released in Japan by Kodansha, and two years later in the United States by Dark Horse Comics. Kumik decided to release a figure based on Manji and for obvious reason, called Ronin. I haven't owned any Kumik figure releases thus far. Alas, the figure, despite the affordable retail price, is sub-par on quality, including the overall finishing from the figure, robe to the accessories. While sometimes I feel that the hobby has beginning to become less affordable, I also wish for a better figure even if it was slightly pricier. Kidslogic's Akuma and Art Figures releases are good example of balance. Kumik thrown in several additional pegs, interchangeble legs, an extra headsculpt, hands and rotating feet but they are not applicable to the figure. The robe's "blood splashes" are more like some one accidentally spill some "air bandung" on it. It is pink in colour. The hands colouration are incredibly poor, reminiscence of Triad Toys' controversial female body, with plenty of mold lines. The sword and a pair of daggers are lacklustre and could be better. It looks like some thing which could be purchased at pasar malam or one of Dylan's toys. Well, till next manufacturer whom are willing to officially release a better version, I guess I am keeping this one, for now.

Friday, 15 August 2014

ThreeA - World of 7174 Studio 10th Anniversary Figure : Ms. 74.


WO7174 or World of 7174 is a BlogSpot which Ashley Wood and T.P. Louise i.e. Mrs. Wood manage to highlight their works and other collaborations. This figure was released on Bambaland as WO7174 studio tenth anniversary commemoration. Designated as "Ms. 74", the figure represents a stylised version of Ms. T.P. Louise. As I have seen Ashley Wood, I am curious about how the real life TP Louise would look like. Chances are nil. The figure was released on, not sure, either the tenth anniversary date or her birthday itself. Released as a random drop, I "accidentally" stumbled upon it on Bambaland when I woke up on the wrong date, a Sunday on this side of the world, to score the WWR Evol Battlechild set, thus making it quite a memorable moment. Looking back, there was an announcement posted informing us Ms. 74 would be released on that Sunday but I didn't take note of it. The figure is alright with minimal accessories except for a 1/6th spectacle but could not be put on. And I noted that the brown carton shipping box description has the word "Bunny" on it. I wonder what that means. However there are the increasingly common "bold" mold lines and rough finishing on the hands (first surfaced way back to the WWR Rothchild figure). And again, like Squidy Fondle Miyu, the hair sculpt is slightly rough and the facial texture are not smooth (something which I noted began with the Isobelle Pascha line) in comparison to ThreeA's older figures. Later there was a "Mr. 71 and Eddie" figure, representing the man himself and the pet dog which I miss. It would be a crime not to pair them up but the secondary market price is crazy high. Let's see how it all goes. After all, didn't "Mr. 71" went rogue and become a N.O.M. Commander?      

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams.

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014).

Thank you for all laughter and goofy moments. Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Popeye, Hook, Aladdin, The Birdcage, Jumanji, Bicentennial Man and of course, Mrs. Doubtfire. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

ThreeA - The Adventures of Isobelle Pascha : Squidy Fondle Miyu.

Another figure obtained from eBay. The random drop Squidy Fondle Miyu. Got it because the price is again quite reasonable. The purchase was made because I like the pink colour-way. I swapped the "squid cosplay" costume with Lil Shadow's "latex" black dress and the strap on sex toy from the SXCLB set. Lil Shadow's, ahem, dildo is the same but the straps are different. And since I was swapping this and that, I decided to change Lizbeth Paramour's platform pump with that of the black Kuma Attack. Unfortunately it came to my attention that Lil Shadow's knee has become loose at its joint. Couldn't stand the test of time? I am not sure why as I didn't even display it. Another contention I have to bear is the Miyu figure itself. There is an area of the hair sculpt that is rough. There is also a chipping on the rubber neck. And the figure is fresh and unopened in box. So I swap the body with the black Kuma Attack figure once again. I wonder why 3A's finished products are kind of "let down" and inconsistent recently. Hope everything would improve back once more. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Hot Toys MMS 222 - Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

A (mis) interpretation:

Name: Frederick Harlock.
Alias: The Corsair of the Seas of Stars.
Age: 138 years old.
Affiliation: The Deathshadow Martyr Fleet, Gaia Communion Warfleet (former); space pirate (current).
Rank: Captain.
Std. armaments: Modified rapier rifle "Errol" x 1; hand pistol "Flynn" x 1.
Abilities: Expert marksmanship and swordsmanship; expert hand to hand combatant; master military strategist and tactician; cunningness; charisma; indomitable will; leadership skill; slow aging.

Far, far in the distant future. For the past ten thousand millennia, mankind has spread across the galaxy. Planets and moons within star systems are terra-formed. Habitable colonies are established. Eventually these New Worlds develop their own cultures, languages and religions. On Earth, a singular individual proclaims himself the leader of all mankind. His followers deified him, and worship him as a god-emperor. He establishes a united theocratic government called the Gaia Communion. For the next three hundred years, the Gaia Communion carried out the Great Journey to re-claim and unify all the New Worlds under them. A terrible and great war broke out, known as the Unification Crusade. The Gaia Communion achieved victory, established a galactic wide empire. But at a terrible costs. Majority of the New Worlds were destroyed, entire population annihilated or captured as heretics. They are enslaved and sent to rehabilitation colonies, working to their death. Pogroms and iconoclastic acts were carried out. The Gaia Communion rules the New Worlds with an iron fist along theocratic autocracy political line. Tithes are required to be paid with exclusive right to all trade routes and resources. The New Worlds populations begin to suffer from accelerate decline in civilisation. Birth rates begin to fall. Technology, engineering and scientific knowledge were denied and lost. Billions starve to death. Uprisings and societal upheavals begin but are brutally put down by the military might and economic sanctions of the Gaia Communion. New Worlds people is declared illegal to enter the Sol System. It is within such period of perceived peace, oppression and the simmering tensions beneath it all that a dangerous and charismatic outlaw, an infamous space pirate with mythic and legendary reputation appears, an individual singularly bent on challenging the tyranny of the Gaia Communion religious empire and to give back two things which are long forgotten by mankind - hope and freedom. The Corsair of the Seas of Stars. The space pirate Captain Harlock.
Frederick Harlock stood amongst the glassy, black sands on a New World which had been subjected to excommunication by a Gaia warfleet. He was too late to prevent the massacre. An entire world and its population were reduced to a dead world in mere minutes. Despair gripped his heart as he gave a final look and teleported back to his ship. Harlock  was once a captain of the Gaia Communion's elite Deathshadow Martyr Fleet. The fleet was spearheaded by five Deathshadow class battleships. The battleships were built using the advanced technology and engineering feats of the Nibelung, humans whom have evolved to higher state of civilisation. Apart from its incredible maneuverability and speed, armed with multiple advance weaponries, it utilises Dark Matter Engine which allows space travel by de-folding or warping instead of the FTL (Faster Than Light) Hyperdrive Engine use by conventional ships. A Deathshadow battleship does not require refuelling.  More ships were to be built but the Nibelung was annihilated as a race during an incursion of the Great Devourer Kraken. As part of the Inquisitions, the Martyr Fleet primary objective is to enforce the rules of the Communion through genocidal act of atrocities. When his wife and two children were executed after being falsely accused of practising heretic acts and thoughts as part of an intricate plot by Grand Admiral Alexander Kamerov to remove Harlock from his position, Harlock and his entire crew of his ship, Arcadia, mutinied during the battle at Tannhauser's Gate. He succeed in destroying the other four Deathshadow ships, causing micro-black holes to emerge which wiped out the Martyr Fleet. The entire area is declared off-limit and sealed off from any ships. Objects getting too close would be pulled and torn apart.
All the crew members were killed during action, including Arcadia's Commander Roger Devlin. As reinforcement warfleet began to arrive, Harlock ordered the sole surviving Nibelung, La Mime, to detonate the Dark Matter Engine of the heavily damaged Arcadia in a suicidal act. Arcadia was instead enveloped by the Dark Matter and de-fold. It re-entered real space at the far flung reaches of the Outer Rims. Harlock was critically injured. An explosion took out his right eye and left a scar across his face. The Dark Matter cause several side effects. The Arcadia is transformed into a living ship, capable of self healing from any damages. Its A.I. machine spirit merged with the consciousness of Roger. It also slows down Harlock's aging process. He hid amongst the graveyard of ships within the Sargasso to heal with La Mime by his side. As he mourned his family and conversed with Roger within Arcadia, Harlock reached a conclusion to single-mindedly strike back at Gaia Communion directly at its heart - Earth. Harlock began to recruit various righteous and chivalrous individuals whom had suffered and survived the atrocities of the Communion along his quest. Amongst the firsts are Kayla Kerry, the Chief Navigator and Science Officer; First Mate Caliban; Chief Medical Officer Dr. Zero; Chief Engineer Maji and the quirky elderly cook, Miss Masu. After the battle at Olive's Creek colony to liberate the orphanages, Terrence Drake, at fourteen, becomes the youngest crew members of Arcadia. Roger's adopted daughter, Maia, briefly joined Harlock until her reconciliation with her biological mother, another formidable space pirate, Queen Emeralda. Both Harlock and Emeralda do not share an amicable relationship but occasionally join forces to prevent greater threats such as the mission to protect Galaxy Express 999, a commuter ship carrying Maetel, a clone and Tetsuro Hoshino, a boy with knowledge of a bio-mechanical device important to stop the Prometheans, soulless humans whom undergo mechanisation in order to achieve immortality.      
For the next one hundred years, Harlock and the Arcadia motley crew of outlaws, mercenaries and outcasts fight against the Gaia Communion war fleets, plundering merchants shipping lanes, terrorising New Worlds military outposts, protecting the weak and liberating the oppressed, becoming the galaxy most wanted space pirate. The Communion sent out many war fleets and assassins to kill Harlock but none ever succeed. He has even been challenged on every occasion by other space pirates. The captain and his ship become legendary. Any sighting would cause the Communion to send out investigations immediately. The Arcadia has become a ghost ship like myth from an age long forgotten. Its appearance would be usually precede by nebulous-like ionised black clouds with flashes of lightning, causing dread amongst admirals and planetary governors, as Harlock with his pet, Mr. Bird perched upon his shoulder, his skills in ship-to-ship combat honed to perfection over the one century, broods in his command throne upon the bridge. Partly for vengeance, mostly for having gains insight into his own tainted soul, his mind perpetually burdened with his blood filled past and resolution to seek atonement. Ultimately, Captain Harlock aims to liberate each New Worlds and unravel the rules of Gaia Communion in his wake as he moves ever closer to Earth itself.          
Space Pirate Captain Harlock (宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku) is a manga series written and illustrated by Leiji Matsumoto, serialized Akita Shoten's Play Comic from 1977 to 1979. The series was adapted into an animated television series in 1978 directed by Rintaro and produced by Toei Animation. I saw it on RTM when I was a kid. Together with Galaxy Express 999, it is one of the most memorable characters of those times. Hot Toys decided to produced a 1/6th scale of the titular Captain based on a computer-animated film adaptation of the same name premiered in 2013 which is so-so. I checked around the net for more infos on Harlock eventually realising that the origins, storylines and even characters are ret-conned or changed depending on the series. The background on the Captain remains enigmatic. The figure comes fully cladded in rubber-like material, which is abit disconcerting to say honestly. It is also surprising taller than standard Hot Toys figure which I have (if only they do that for Bane. Sigh). Nothing breaks this time but articulation may be a bit difficult due to his uniform. I have slight difficulty in posing the static Mr. Bird but not a concern. Finally, it is great to have this different version of an iconic manga/anime character. An interesting observation is that previously Hot Toys include Kei in the line up. That would be a bonus but guessed that has been put into the back burner. Now, where's the Appleseed Alpha Briareos (and Deunan, if that is even possible)?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Frank Miler's Big Damn Sin City by Dark Horse.

The biggest, baddest Sin City ever is here, just in time for Fall’s Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For! This imposing volume, suitable for home defense, contains all seven of Frank Miller’s landmark Sin City yarns! In these tales of Marv, Dwight, Gail, Miho, Hartigan, Nancy, and the Yellow Bastard, no corner of Basin City is left unturned, and no bloody deed is left undone. Written with unmatched intensity and drawn in the starkest black and white imaginable, the Sin City books make up the greatest crime saga in comics history, and Big Damn Sin City is the best way to rediscover it!
- write up from Frank Miller's Big Damn Sin City.
At a staggering 1,360 pages, nearly 4 inches thick, 14 x 9 inches in size, this hardcover omnibus singularly collects all primary Sin City trade paperback books with all one-shot stories thrown in as well. Published via Dark Horse, this is great for those whom miss out on this seedy, violent neo-noir tales illustrated in contrasting black and white by Frank Miller with Lynn Varley. Now having read these stories in one form or another, and pass up the Library Edition due to costs, this "big damn" book is just perfect for me to have all the stories in omnibus format at, well, affordable price comparatively. Perfect for "home defence" indeed. And like Hellboy, I don't feel like twenty plus years have passed, as Sin City was first debut back in 1991. Wish some one would make a Frank Miller's version of Marv and other characters in 1/6th scale. The only set back is that Frank Miller's illustration "changed" over time. It has, for the lack of better word, "sketchy" in comparison to the first story of the series.

ThreeA - The Adventures of Isobelle Pascha : Kuma Attack Pascha (Brown).

Saw this on eBay and at a reasonable offer, decided to pull the trigger as this is the ideal version of the Kuma Attack Pascha variants. The seller must have bought the three pack set as it was offered as a loose figure. Added the bear backpack, cannonball and match from Triad Toys' Lola which has since "gone with the wind" after its "ankle caved in". Open eyes with pony tail in white colour. However the figure in hand has a few noticeable concerns. Firstly, there is surface unevenness on both the headsculpt and right feet, which looking back at the black version, has the same concern. Then the left hand peg split in half after some posing, forcing me to replace it with the extra hand peg. Mind you that there's no insane pressure applied, particularly when it comes to action figures nowadays. Finally the lips have less "red lipstick" effect in comparison to the black version in hand. Overall I am sort of "wiser" when it comes to blind offering i.e. random figures, especially if that particular figure has numerous versions to it. Rather I would stay put and look out for it in the secondary market in order to obtain the variant I want.