The Tundra Bull support campaign

The Tundra Bull support campaign
I currently have my Tundra Bull moc running on Lego Ideas, please click on the picture and cast your vote to help it reach the 10.000 mark!

donderdag 29 januari 2015

Building the Comanche Camp

Okay, let`s face it, this little build is now paling with the Marvel Helicarrier official announcement an hour ago, and which drove me in a religious frenzy.  Okay, it`ll be costing me 350 EUR, but I`m a Magic player, I have a `few` binders of good stuff I break open every so often when I want something big (Black Pearl, Orthanc...) and for those that might know what I talk about, if anything REALLY big ever comes out (and we`re talking 4 digit prices) I have been playing that game (and keeping my rares) since day 1.  Or should that be day "9"...

But that is not relevant to today`s build, the 79107 Comache Camp, one of the sets from the The Lone Ranger ermmm range.

Just like Prince of Persia, the movie was, well let`s be polite, not that great.  And just like with the Prince of Persia range, this reflects on the Lego sets as they quickly tumbled in price and found their way to clearances and such.  Completely undeserved, both the Lone Ranger and Prince of Persia are actually a great range with excellent sets in it!

This set, one of the smaller in the range, hasn`t received that much love it seems here in Belgium, as I managed to pick up no less then 5 copies of it a few months ago for less then 10 euros a piece... and with some negotiating tactics, they even gave me some more discount on top of that to clear shelf space (okay, I had a lot of old Dino sets with me as well, but in the end, each of these 5 came down to 7.88 euros a set...)

The set itself contains two polybags of pieces, the booklet, two base plates and two plastic tent sails to create the tipi with.

Minifigure wise, we get The Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto (I just love that crow on the headpiece), as well as Red Knee, another great Indian minifig.

And a canoe.

The first build we do is a small weapons rack to go alongside the tipi.  Nothing spectacular or challenging here though.


Up next is the tent itself.  This starts with mirroring a build on the two small base plates.

Notice the excellent colour selection this set has, even those alone are worth every penny I paid for it.

Once both halves are done, they are connected using technic pins, and a campfire is added in the centre.


We then build the large poles around which the tent sail will be put.


Adding the sails, remember to `open` one side for the entrance.


The other part of the build is a large rocky formation with traps, which includes a pit full of scorpions.  Apart from the excellent colour selection, this set also contains a heap of small animals (scorpions, a fish, the crow from Tonto...) which are always usuable in a MoC somewhere.


The launcher is the first level of the rocks build.


This is then enclosed and the critters are put inside, ready to be tossed out of the pit if you push the handle.

The full set put together

And the additional pieces:

If you can grab this set in serious discounts, don`t hesitate for a moment, it comes full of very handy pieces in `the good colours` for most MoC landscaping, it has nice minifigures, and even by it`s own is a sweet little set to put on a shelf for display, a real top set from a real not so top movie!

Avengers Helicarrier

She has been revealed, perhaps one of the most anticipated Lego sets of the past years... and the one I have actually quit smoking for to make a lot more brick budget available (but that is for a later post, it`s only day 2 so far but no problems at all).

The mighty Helicarrier, ever since it was easter egged in the Ideas logo when the Birds set came out...

And it is a beast indeed.  Expected to cost 350 USD (should be about 300 euros), it comes with 5 minifigs (Fury, Hill, Hawkeye, Widow and Cap), but also a lot of Microfigures (those small ones often used as oscars and such)... in colours, and with faces!!!



As soon as this set goes `live` for the VIP members early access, I`m ordering!

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis review

The first 2015 release movie I`ve watched this year, this is the newest animation movie from the DC comics stables.

Detailing the origins of Aquaman, I found it actually better then a heap of superhero movies from the past, and of course Green Lantern rules all ;-)

His swagger, his humour... he even sounds like Captain Mal from Firefly!

Oh wait ;-)

Synopsis

When a submarine of the US Navy gets captured in the oceans after an attack by unknown `people ` and the whole crew massacred, the Justice league member Cyborg responds to investigate the cause of the mysterious attack, but he is attacked himself though he gets away.

Meanwhile in Athens, Supermand and Wonder Woman are enjoying the view, finding life as heroes rather lonesome.  In a bar, a strange guy is talking to a lobster in an aquarium.  When another patron wants the beast for dinner, a huge bar fight ensues as he saves the beast and returns it to the ocean.

After the attack, Cyborg contacts the other members of the League, which in his opinion doesn`t really exist to begin with.  Only Sha-Zam and The Flash answer his call...  and the latter get`s Hal on board as well.  Sha-zam and Cyborg go to collect Clark and Diana, who are enjoying a dinner, while Green Lantern tries to get `the bat`.  He solves a car chase Batman was conducting... and ruins the investigation`s bigger picture that way by his show off attitude.

They find out it are warriors from Atlantis, a mythical people of a fabled land long gone.  In Atlantis, it`s revealed that the ruling queen hopes that Arthur Curry, the odd guy from the bar earlier, returns to his people and take up the mantle of leadership, as he is the son of the Atlantean queen and a human lighthouse watcher.  But it is Black Manta actually pulling the strings behind the curtains, manipulating the prince Orm and all to unleash war upon the surface.

He plays out both sides against each other, and Arthur is about to be overcome when royal bodyguard Mira intervenes.  Queen Atlantea knows Black Manta and prince Orm placed the coup, but is killed by her son when she is about to reveal this.  Arthur, Mira, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Superman and Wonder Woman arrive in Atlantis, they find the deceased queen and Atlantis is preparing for war.  Orm meets them and confesses to killing her, before overcoming them all and tossing them into The Dark Trench.  Arthur breaks free, and together with Superman overcomes the monsters down there.

Orm sends a massive tidal wave onto Metropolis to cover the advance of his army and starts his assault on land.  The League moves in defence though, and as Aquaman faces of Black Manta, he defeats them Jaws style...  Orm using the Atlantean trident manages to hold them at bay, until only Aquaman and Batman are still standing, but as Aquaman is about to be defeated by his half brother, Batman reveals the truth of the confession who abandon the war and their prince, and taking on Aquaman as their rightful ruler.

Conclusion

A highly enjoyable animated movie, and of course the timing is `just that` to get the general public into the Aquaman mythos as they have to start building a hype around him for his solo movie in two years.

It did take a few moments of watching after all the anime I look at before i got `re-used to` the western drawing style, but the characters are well done as you see them in the comics, Hal being his cocky self for one (even fighting by creating a huge vacuum cleaning mech).  The one oddity though is when the never known Atlanteans attack Metropolis, the army general immediatly knows who their leader is... by name even.

All in all though, Aquaman remains an often ridiculed hero, and to be honest, I`m more in the Namor the Sub-mariner camp myself as well...

woensdag 28 januari 2015

300: Rise of an Empire review

I admit, I never liked the original 300 movie.  I`m just not a fan of the cinematic style of the movie or the over the top scenes this produces.

The movie as we know ended with the fall of the Spartans and the united Greece army standing ready to face the persians, but this movie isn`t really a sequel in the manner of the timescale.

It actually plays partly together witht he first one, as the fall of Leonidas and his men happens somewhere halfway during the story in this movie.

Themostecles is the hero of the battle of Marathon 10 years ago, and now a council member in Athens when he needs to mount a defence against the persian horde.  Back then, he had killed the mighty persian king Darius, but he curses himself not to have killed the son as well, Xerxes.  Manipulated by the greek born admiral of his father`s mighty navy, Artemsia, he embraces dark powers and becomes the monstrous man now commanding the persian forces, in order to defeat and destroy all of Greece.

Synopsis:

As the democratic states argue what to do as the 1 million strong army marches on their borders, Themostecles tries to unite them to the fight, and seeks the help of Sparta.  They refuse, choosing to make their own destiny however (aka, the first movie), so Sparta won`t be lending it`s ships to the fleet he is building.  Only 50 small ships as such engage the huge persian fleet, but they manage to overcome this first wave by ramming their midsections, and as such sink them. 
The second persian wave sails in, and the Athenians retreat into the fog, luring the ships of the enemy to crash on the rocky coastline, Themostecles taking down the present persian commander in personal combat.

Artemsia sends an envoy to Themostecles and he accepts.  She wants to seduce him into joining her, but after some fierce nookie he refuses (he, who would resist Eva Green, she looks ravishing in this movie). 

The next day she floods the waters with tar and uses suicide burners to set the sea on fire and destroying a lot of Athenian vessels.  Returning to the senate, he learns the Spartans have just been defeated and Leonidas`s sword has been returned as proof of this.  But Themostecles manages to use this token as a way to unite the states and gather a fleet near Salamis.

As Xerxes ravages Athens, word reaches him of this event and the persians go to the all out attack so they can take down another hero of Greece.  As the full might of the Persian navy faces the far smaller Athenian one, Themostecles plans on reaching Artemsia and kill her in order to break the chain of command of the enemy.  She answers the challenge and they face off, injuring each other... but right at the moment Artemsia is about to be victorious, the united greek navy arrives.  At the front war shouts go up as the sails unfurl and show the red triangle, SPARTA HAS COME and is out for blood!

Artemsia chooses death over surrender and falls to Themostecles, but lives just long enough to see the "wind of vengeance" from Sparta tear their foes apart, led by Queen Gorgo, the widow of Leonidas...

Conclusion

Oddly enough, I actually liked this movie better then the original.  It is still not my style at all, but the naval aspect, for me, made it more enjoyable to watch.

Koken Eten: Bacon and Taters

Today a nice and simple dish at Casa Von Geekington, as I had a busy past two days, and some very special things lined up for tomorrow and the day after.  And I`ve quit smoking since yesterday, so I had no idea how I would be running around today - perfectly fine actually, seems the mental clique of spending the money saved by that in big Lego boxes works better then `for my health` as motivation...



So I made my own variation today of `the lazy dish`.  You know, that one pan thing where you toss some potatoes, bacon and whotnot`s in a pan and that is it.

I went to the market this morning because I love strolling (or in my case, limping) around on it, and got me some fresh cream, some nice thick slices of bacon (well, spek actually, here bacon is very thin and smoked spek), and voila.

I cooked up some potatoes half ready, then sliced them.  The bacon was baked unil pink and soft (not further until it gets crispy, or you will be munching some very dry stuff), and some sjalots where tossed in near the end to glaze over slightly.

I then decided to cut up an apple and add it to the pan at the very last moment, for the simple reason I saw I still had some in the fridge and no real plans with them anytime soon.

The next step is to take a small round serving pot, put down a layer of potatoes, then the bacon micture and then another layer of potatoes. 
Gently pour over some of the fresh cream right until it touches the bacon layer, and put it all in the over for about half an hour at around 150 degrees.

And that is it, the lazy dish my style... same ingredients, perhaps only a slightly bit more work, and the cream and apple ofsets the bacon and potatoes, giving a mixture between heavy and fresh on the taste palette.

Labour Rating: 0 - it`s called a lazy dish for a reason...
Girlfriend Rating: She liked it, but for her it would have been better with a fatter sauce like bechamel.

Work-in-Progress: The Mitgardian Army part 3

After a month, it seems time to do a small update on the forces of the Village of Merak.  

Quite a few models have been put together as I could score a good amount of trades on Miniature Trading, mostly liquidating my Simpsons series ones for the regular troopers.  

Add to that a side dish of Facebook groups and sparkle with some BrickLink, and two more regiments stand raised, bringing the force now to 2/3ths completion.  I just need to remember to finally start sorting out all those viking torsos from the Kingdom series years ago and raise my main regiment further.

This update sees amongst the odd figure left and right, the completion of two more regiments.  The first is The Wulfen, a regiment of the fearsome wolf-men living near the edge of the Clan of the Wolf lands in the North.

The second is the regiment of Ironborn Dwarves, mighty warriors living under the northern mountain ranges of Mitgardia.


Merak in the meantime has also been mapped (aka, added to the old GoH Northern map, as it was updated recently - currently there are about half a dozen more settlements, cities and the likes on top of the ones shown here.  As soon as the definitive map is done and everyone that wanted to contribute on the GoH forum has done so, I`ll be sharing the whole thing, but this might take *some* time hehe.

Like searching for my viking torsos...

dinsdag 27 januari 2015

F1 2015: the pre-season thoughts

Less then a week are we now removed before the unofficial start of the 2015 season, when the teams will be heading to the Jerez circuit in Spain for a four day training session.

Though at this time it is still nog official, though unlikely, back markers Marussia (currently living under it`s very first name Manor) and Caterham are going to make the grid, even though the latter has already managed to reach an agreement to start the season with last years tractor... I mean car.

The first sessions are also a great way of finding out how the new cars look like, and with the new aero regulations, everyone now is going the `broken nose` look of Ferrari last year. You see, my beloved Scuderia where revolutionary.  Now only to get forward.

Another thing the first tests are usually about is to get an idea of the liveries and how they are going to look, though this is not always certain.  Williams last year tested in a dull dark blue scheme, only to appear in Australia in the gorgeous Martini colours.

On the driver`s front, some big changes have occured, with Alonso going to McLaren demoting Magnussen, Vettel taking his place at Ferrari.  At Red Bull, he is replaced by youngster Kvyat who had a good rookie year at Toro Rosso.
That same team is now lining up the youngest driver duo ever with 20 year old Sainz Jr (son of the rally legend) and 17 year old Verstappen (son of the F1 driver), though the latter has caused some controversy having only one season of F3 under the belt, and caused the whole Super License awarding system to be overhauled.

Sauber, coming out of it`s worst year ever has changed it`s entire line-up, forced in part for going the `money way` and signing Felipe Nasr and Magnus Ericsson, both bringing big bags of bucks.

Another new player this year is Honda, returning to F1 as an engine provider since 2008, and going back in sea with McLaren.  Though the initial test after last year`s season was pretty abysmal, that doesn`t mean anything really.  Last year Red Bull spend more time next to instead of on the track during the Jerez test, yet they where the only team bar the ubermighty Mercedes able to win races and steaming to second place in the rankings.

Looking forward, here is a bit of my `gut feeling` for the coming year.  Of course, much can still change, and the tests will give a first, but not definite idea (someone might have screwed up their design, an unexpected `rocket` etc etc).

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
I expect them to be ubermighty yet again this season, as they had a huge lead still at the end of last year.  Hamilton is my number one title contender once again, I rate him the better driver due to his natural fighting spirit over gentleman Rosberg.

Red Bull Renault: Daniel Ricciardo and Daniel Kvyat
Renault wants 5 wins this season, but I doubt the Daniels will be able to do just that.  Even though Newey probably has drawn another superb car, now that he knows the requirements for the turbo era with a year worth of experience, there is the fact the Renault engine was less powerfull then the Mercedes last year

McLaren Honda: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
A legendary combination and by far the strongest driver line-up in sheer skill and experience, I do fear this might become the `Lotus of 2015`, in a way they remain to far below expectations.  The talent of Alonso and the consistency of Button are going to cover up a lot of weaknesses, but I fear they will be fighting around 7th place though, behind the Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams.

Williams Mercedes: Valteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
The unexpected second best team of last year, this year will all be about consolidating their position as main challengers.  Will the car be as fast on the straight line as last year?  Can they take that win that kept eluding them in 2014?  At least, they where the first to show their new car totally unexpected, and it was another beauty in those Martini colours

Force India Mercedes: Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg
Building onwards on the strong combination that rocked especially the first half of the season, they are also overhauling their livery and stepping away from the traditional Indian flag livery.  I expect them to be there to pick up the remaining points, being a solid midfielder.

Lotus Mercedes: Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado
It can`t get much worse then last year, and they now have a better engine, so in principle, they should be again on the way up.

Sauber Ferrari: Felipe Nasr and Magnus Ericsson
Having the weakest engine of last year and two drivers many consider to be `pay drivers`, it might be another tough year for the Sauber team.  Last season was their first ever in Formula One without scoring a single point, and the question remains if this year will be better.  And if they don`t improve, if they will survive into 2016.  As it currently stands, I see them a bit as the problem child for the coming season, but I hope they suprise positively.

Toro Rosso Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen
The training team of Red Bull, it actually doesn`t matter if they score a lot of points.  This team is all about preparing and discovering new potential GP winners for Red Bull, and for the second year in a row a driver of them promotes to the mother team.  While some are against this policy, I actually think it a good thing to have a junior team that forces talents to best each other, while showing real driving skills in the middle of the pack instead of shooting away in a top car from day 1.

Ferrari: Kimi Raikonnen and Sebastian Vettel
Saving the best for last. After the abyssmal 2014, Kimi is about the only person not replaced within the mighty Scuderia.  Which, in typical italian chaotic ways isn`t always a good thing...  Alonso was replaced by Vettel, and it will be the question if Seb can step in the footsteps of that other illustrious german who build a real powerhouse around him in the red cars.  Of course, having two drivers now who couldn`t really get their hands on the new driving style the changes last year incurred might be a slight issue...

And there we are, my gut feelings for 2015.  Of course, after the tests end next wednesday, the  whole shabangle might be turned upside down completely, but we`ll see that in a week`s time.