donderdag 31 december 2015

The Best of 2015

And here we are, the very final post of 2015 on my little corner of the internet!  And as every year, it`s my own personal and SUBJECTIVE look on some of the coolest things I saw / did / read in the past 365 days.

And of course, feel free to discuss whatever you like or don`t agree on true here, my FB page or my Twitter account of course :-)

But without further ado, here is my selection of the coolest things from 2015!

1. Best Movie: Space Captain Harlock

Or `Albator` as he was known in my youth.  The movie, that came out in the beginning of the year, is a true masterpiece of CGI and big space pirate battles.  What more can one want?

It might also be a bit of a suprise to many, as it wasn`t wildely released over here, and that in a year with a new Star Wars movie (to much A New Hope for me) and a CGI Saint Seiya movie (suffering from having to fit in an hour and a half), but really, find this film, watch it and enjoy the awesomeness of this japanese gem.

2. Best Series: Sense8

The brainchild of the Warchowski siblings, this Netflix original was a very strong series.  Taking it`s time to build up strong characters, the gradual awakening of the Sense8`s connections, and the heavy finale made this a true gem.

3. Best Book: Lego Bouw Je Eigen Ridderwereld

Perhaps not a novel `per se`, but I selected this book in the end due to it being so damn handy for my own building techniques, like trees and round millwheels.  While the (mostly part 2 to 4) Harry Potter books where a revelation to me this year, I opted this one in the end because of all the practical use I gained out of it.

4. Best Lego Set: Ant-Man Final Battle

It`s a Marvel set this year, and it ain`t the Helicarrier.  The sole set that came with the fun summermovie just hit me at the right points.  The `big build` Lego elements to make the minifigures appear small was just a clear winner for me.

5. Best Toy: Liveman The Machine Buffalo

A pure nostalgia choice, the Machine Buffalo from one of the old Super Sentai series was a find I payed less then a euro for, including all it`s animal machines and even it`s missiles.  I liked it so much I even used it as the base for an Andromeda`s Gates APC build.

6. Best Anime: Fafner in the Azure Exodus

Spanning two seasons in one year (it`s an anime thing, they often release a series split in two, and labelling them different seasons unlike US series that have a `summer break`), Fafner was a true suprise for me.  Drawing on the style of Gundam SEED in animation, it is a very raw series, yet without getting gritty.  A true recommendation for any Mecha fan out there.

7. Best Game: Lego Jurassic World, PS3

Combining all 4 movies of the franchise in one game, this game in the traditional TT style was another winner.  The hunor is a plenty, and it comes close for me to the best Lego game I ever played, Pirates of the Carribean.  Oh, and you get to play as dinosaurs as well...

8. Best Music: TIE

I couldn`t make a choice here, really couldn`t, though neither will ever beat Lion from Macross Frontier for me.  While Gundam Tri-Fighters might not have been the best series out ever, the moment in episode 12 when the Meijin arrives in the arena with his Perfect Gundam, this south american song plays.  Six Times the Passion of Ordinary Flamenco: it`s just epic in rhytm, building up to a superb climax after an explosive opening.

On the other hand, there is The Hefty Naru Faita.  This came along rather late in the year in the final episode of Saint Seiya Soul of Gold.  It is a strong mix of copperblowers and electric guitars, playing when the twelve gold saints take on Loki.  It`s a goosebump song, making you feel heroic inside, especcially in the first part of the theme.

9. Best Trade: Two Yellow Castles for some Barbie dolls.

It was a trade over on a local website, somebody offered a few kilo`s of Castle Lego because the granddaughter didn`t have intrest in old knights.  I had seen on the pictue there was a yellow castle in it, and when it turned out she was looking for vintage Barbies, I reached an agreement.  Upon receiving the parcel and checking it... it contained even two of those classic fortresses, putting my tally on four of them now.

10. Greatest Disappointment: Eureka Seven AO

This could have been the Helicarrier actually, but the longer I watched that beast on my cabinet, the more it grew on me, so the dubious honour this year goes to the named anime series.

Eureka Seven was a very strong, and gorgeously drawn mecha anime. While AO retains the drawing style, I`m afraid the story is coming not even anywhere near it`s ankles.  You won`t miss anything if you miss out on the series, except perhaps the final two episodes to see the stars of the original return.

And so we close the door on 2015, and hope to see you all again tomorrow, in the sparkly new 2016!

Classic Lego Build: 6370 Weekend Home

Has it been 12 months already since I started the year with a build report of the Mirkwood Elf polybag?

Well, apparently so, and as such the penultimate blogpost of 2015 is a buildreport of a classic set from 1985, the Weekend Home set.

Part of the City lot I bought from Vincent, this 160+ parts set is a true classic, and if you see towns and cities in Lego, you can be almost sure that this little gem is standing in one of the rows of houses on it.

The weekend home is crowded by two minifigures, boy and girl, out to have a weekend of leisure and relaxation.  It`s also one of the earlier sets that featured the red hair look for the lady.

Coming with a `half baseplate`, we start the build by laying the lineout for the walls.

A kitchen is installed, as is the decalled wall.  back then, lego regularly produced decals that overlapped over multiple bricks, but if your carefull they remain in great condition.

As the windows and door are inserted, we cover up the first floor using red plates.

Red and blue where mainstay colours in the 80s, as Lego had a palette of 7 colours for bricks back then, and the roofing is made in blue to contrast nicely with the red walls.

The roof is finished as the windows are installed there as well.

The full set completed

And a view from the back

It`s a pure nostalgia set through and through, and it was great fun to rebuild it after more then 20 years I must say.  While City isn`t really my thing, that doesn`t mean one cannot enjoy those lovely trips down memory lane, fitting on the day we reflect back on another year gone by...

woensdag 30 december 2015

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

And so my I finally saw all the Harry Potter movies at last... about 4 months after his kids went to school.

Now, contrary to the previous two movies, which suffered to hard in book vs movie levels, this one was actually a rather enjoyable action flick I think.

The story continues where we left off in part 1, with Harry now hunting down the final Horcrux and needing to return to Hogwarts to do just that.  In doing so, he learns that Dumbledore`s younger brother, Aberforth, was the one watching over his shoulder in the previous year.

But as he arrives at the castle, Voldemort decides to launch his grand attack on the ancient school, and the defences are activated by McGonogall.  Which is actually pretty awesome when the statues are animated.

While the battle causes a lot of injuries and casualties, they manage to fight the dark lord to a stalemate, but Harry then learns the truth about Severus at last, and realises the weakness of Voldemort.  He goes to face him to have himself killed, but knows he won`t die thanks to the love of those that protect him even after death, and with the Ressurection Stone in his possession.

He confronts Voldemort for a final time, and as Neville strikes down the final Horcrux, Nagini, the power of the Dark Lord is broken as his soul is now completely shattered...

... which brings me to a big rant about Harry Potter.

The Boy Who Lived.  The Prophecy.  The One To Kill Voldemort...

I rather like to clal him the most overrated wizard ever (at the risk of sounding Snape`ish), but I have a case for this.  In all movies, he actually never accomplished anything by himself...

Movie 1: it was the mirror that actually overcame Voldemort
Movie 2: he only survives thanks to the intervention of the phoenix and the Sorting Hat
Movie 3: he needs Hermione to take him back in time to defeat the Dementors
Movie 4: his parents spirits appear to hold off Voldemort so he can escape
Movie 5: about everyone that appeared in the movies needs to rush to the rescue
Movie 6: this time, it`s first Dumbledore, then Snape doing the hands down work
Movie 7: he gets lost in the woods, and Ron saves his life, while later it is Dobby that sacrifices himself.
Movie 8: a flawed wand and a rouse, before Neville takes down the snake and kills Voldemort that way

You see, he is brave, no discussion about that, but if you look at it, not once, ever in any of the movies, did he overcome the plot mainlines just by himself, he always needed to have help from the outside.

It does make Dumbledore`s words true though... At Hogwart`s, Those That Ask Help Shall Receive It

But apart from that, yes I enjoyed the movies, and if I should name my favorite ones, that would be in first place The Chamber of Secrets, then The Goblet of Fire and as third place notation this movie...

The Walking Dead season 1

Backlog?  What backlog???  Okay, so it is rather immense, with a heap of new shows coming out, and old classics I`m rewatching.

But today I finally benched through the first season of The Walking Dead.  Now I must admit, though it is something of a cult classic, I wasn`t to eager about watching it.

Don`t get me wrong, but I`m more of a space sci-fi or high fantasy viewer, so a tale about a zombie apocalypse wasn`t high on my priority list, and so it kept shuffling back and back in favor of other shows.

The tale begins with an opening of a police officer shooting a young girl with heavy disfigurement clean through the head... so what is going on here?  We learn that the officer, Rick Grimes, was in a hospital recovering from being shot in the line of duty when hell breaks out in Atlanta with a zombie infestation (well, zombie is actually never used, they are `walkers`).  He hooks up with other survivors, and finds his old partner, his wife and his son again amongst them.

Eager to look for answers when their camp is overrun by Walkers, they travel to the CDC, but learn that they couldn`t do anything, and that this is a disease of global catastrophe levels.  Humanity is on the brink of extinction and the Walkers are the next thing to roam earth it seems.

I was wrong to have put this off so long, it isn`t bad at all.  It`s even a great drama series, focussing on the survival instincts of humanity and the choice to fight against all odds in the name of hope.

Okay, so season 1 is short, numbering only 6 episodes, but it was an emotional rollercoaster of the heights of the better seasons of Lost, Battlestar Galactica and other drama shows put against a `not regular` background.

I don`t think season 2 will be lingering for a few years before I go to watch it ;-)

Classic Lego Build: 6595 Surf Shack

The penultimate day of the year, and probably the penultimate build report for this little corner of the internet to be posted up.  I`ll find a small hole probably somewhere tomorrow to sneak in another backlog article ;-)

Today`s build report tackles one of the sets I got from Vincent this year when I bought most of his collection, the 1993 Surf Shack.

A set consisting of 80 parts and coming with 3 minifigures, it was part of a small `at the beach` range in the classic Lego City (known as Classic Town on BL) range, and wasn`t really that popular actually.

These three figures are the macho surfer dude, a moustached shopkeeper and the bar lady.

It also featured three surfing boards with their plastic sails.  I didn`t attach them on fully in order to not damage them.

The shack is based on two yellow plates, a 6x12 and a 6x14, whom serve as the underground and are connected with each other by means of white bricks.

On the one side we are building the boards rack, while on the other the counter of the shack starts getting build up.  Long bricks are used to form the pillars of the little bar.

Once the covering plate is added to these, we put on some palmleaves to give it a tropical appearance.

Some more details like a decalled sign and flags are then put on top of this small roof structure.

And the build stands completed.

It is in the end a really simple and unimpressive build, and I can see how it didn`t really became a highly popular subtheme.  If you`re a City builder, you`d have to dedicate a whole section of `beach` for the range to include them, and they aren`t that `WAW` overall, so they ended up being passed over for a new police or construction worker section in all probability.

dinsdag 29 december 2015

Star Wars Rebels season 1

Airing in 2014, Star Wars Rebels is now considered canon, together with the `Clone Wars` animated series replacing the `extended universe` as events happening between movies.

Rebels spans the era between the prequel trilogy and the original movie series, as independant Rebel cells start forming and resist the newly founded Empire.

It follows the adventures of the crew of the Ghost, consisting of the Jedi Kannan, one of the survivors of Order 66, the Twi`Lek pilot Hera, Mandalorian Sabine Wren, Lasat Zeb and the droid `Chopper`. 

On the planet Lothal, they encounter Ezra Bridger during a heist he interferes in, and Kannan senses that he is Force sensitive, taking him on as an apprentice.  Working for a secretive informant only Hera knows, codenamed Fulcru, the rebels are hunted by the Grand Inquisitor, who has Sith like powers and can use the Force, but isn`t an actual Sith, and a high ranking Imperial commander, Kallus.

The first season focusses on the one hand on Ezra`s starting steps into the Force and the path of the Jedi, and on the other hand on the budding rebels trying to make a difference.  The season features the appearances of some well known faces, with Lando Calrissian, (the voice of) Yoda and Grand Moff Tarkin as great names from the original movies.  As well as Bail Organa and a couple of droids ;-)

But the seasons final episode held the largest suprise, as Fulcrum is revealed to be Ahsoka Tano, former padawan of Anakin Skywalker and known mostly from the The Clone Wars series... as well as the entrance of Lord Vader itself.

It was a good series to watch, though it started of a bit on the slow side as it clearly had to find it`s footing yet and find ways to give all the new characters some chance of becoming known, but picked up it`s pace in the later episodes as it began to really focus on opposing the Empire instead of trying to do some low level local damages.

Project Merak MOC: The Viking versus The Wolf

The most reason display build I completed for my ongoing Project Merak has been the Viking versus the Fenris Wolf, from the Vikings theme.

As I said when I did the build report for the set, if there was one range that I felt `beugh` about that I missed it during my Dark Ages, it must be the Viking line, so I`m definintly going to be adding them to my Castle lay-out as I continue building them.

While the larger plates are in the lines of green and village life, I would love to build the vikings on a higher sort of raised display bases, to represent the more grey and cold Northern lands.

To that end, I have been building a snowy rockscape for the setting, with the viking being in a raised positions to face off the legendary wolf, and the first setting for the northern section of my future lay out build :-)

Lego Build: 30275 TIE Advanced Prototype

In today`s build report I`m putting together the polybag set of Star Wars Rebels for the TIE prototype fighter.

Piloted in the series season 1 by most noteably The Inquisitor, the vessel has rounded wings overthere, something not easily done with in essence square bricks, and on this small scale.

But the set comes with a very intresting building technique, and the result is rather pleasing.

Opening the bag we get the instructions leaflet and a pile of mostly grey elements.

It all starts around a 2x4 technic plate, to which the rounded elements are then attached to make the flat bodywork of the fighter.

At the underside, a technic pin is being inserted.

We make a second flat build like before with the technic plate as the centre, and then we get this intresting buildtechnique.  As we first put on the ion engine at the back of one side, both sides are connected to each other by the pin, but both sides with their studs showing outwards.

The clear canopy piece is then attached to the front to lock both sides nicely in place.

Next, 4 small wings are then assembled to recreate the curving of the vessels on the hingepieces.

And the TIE stands assembled

Including a single extra piece

While not 100% representive of the cartoon contemporary, for the reasons I stated on the beginning, this isn`t a bad polybag at all.  The technique for both halves is intresting, and it is in a good scale with other small sets.  Considering to this it`s one of the more readily available polybags of Star Wars around, it`s a nice set to have in your collection.