vrijdag 30 juni 2023

June is gone: the 2023 goals halfway mark!

 The year is already at it's halfyear mark, meaning it is time for the quarterly oversight of how the set goals are progressing.

And some are approaching the point of actually getting completed already!
In what was labelled the Year of Ink, the first tattoo has been placed / worked on at last, as in the first weekend of april I went all the way to Arlon for the Arel Tattoo Convention, and had my Thorin tattoo set upon my underarm.  I doubt I`ll get three more this year, but one extra will surely be done!
Another thing that went smoother then foreseen is the discovery of new beers.  Past weekend was the Bier Passie weekend here in Antwerp, and as such this goal is checked off, as I`m currently at 67 out of the 50 planned already.  Skol!

On the mecha painting, I got off on a good start this quarter, completing 4 gachapon and 3 plamo (the Super Mecha Champions ones), but then the Chaos Dwarfs returned into the fold, and as I started painting a tournament force, the other projects fell off by the side.  Maybe something to tackle in the final quarter or so...
Reading progressed smoothly as well, with now 41 books and manga finished, so it seems that goal will be achieved as well this year.  The same actually can be said for all the viewing goals, with movies standing at 14 at time of writing, series on 17 as this now goes very strongly, watching something during painting sessions, and the anime series for the moment ticking off on 31.  That also means my Letter Challenge is standing at the letter "N" at the moment, over halfway of the set goal.

The only thing really not progressing: the getting fit again goal...
So, I hope to have some goals checked by the next update, which will come at the end of august, before putting in some additional effort to finish goals for the end of the year.  See you all back then!

donderdag 29 juni 2023

Unboxing Darling in the Franxx Strelitzia (3rd run) Good Smile Company

 The Steel Lady has arrived into my collection, and this in the form of the plamo kit by Good Smile Company.

This mecha, piloted by Hiro and Zero Two, has had a 3rd release run, and this time I made sure I could get a copy.

It arrived recently, and I'm doing an unboxing of the kit, taking a look at the runners and details of the set before (one day) starting to build her. 

I must say, the amount of runners looks a bit daunting at first sight, but I think this will be a fun project to build, and one I will be chronicling on the blog of course.

But for now, let's find some time to actually start working on her...

dinsdag 27 juni 2023

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt volume 3 - Yasuo Ohtagaki

 Time for some good mecha action in the next instalment of Gundam Thunderbolt.

And with Daryl and Io both out to get each other after the losses in volume 2, it looks like this will be an intense volume.

Will the Full Armour Gundam take the upperhand, or does the Zeon sniper take him down in his psycho system empowered Zaku?  As they clash, a fresh fleet of Zeon comes to the rescue of the Living Dead division.  In the meantime, the survivors of the Federation fleet make way to the damaged Zeon carrier, in the hopes of boarding it succesfully before their air runs out, even though there are still soldiers and crew in the derelict.

As the Federation troops sweep through the ship, Daryl takes out half of Io's camera's, evening the odds again for his Psycho Zaku.  
Federation lifeboats start docking at the derelict carrier, and Cornelius runs into dr Mitchum, who is about to detonate the vessel.  He convinces her not to do it, but his men have other ideas, shattering any possibility of a temporary cease-fire to tend to the wounded, and the vessel is destroyed by the others of the Living Dead division.  This causes major casualties on both sides though dr Mitchum escapes, as does Cornelius, as they are sucked out of a hole in the hull.

With both their suits heavily damaged, Io and Daryl are at the end of their duel.  But just as Io is about to take out his opponent, Daryl launches a missile destroying both suits.  Io is captured with the rest of the Federation troops by Zeon reinforcements, but he tells Daryl that he and Daryl are two of a kind, seduced by the lure of battle, and their war hasn't ended yet...

So that was a pretty intense volume to be honest, both on the duel level between the ace and the sniper, as on the level of how some of them are truly tired of war, yet dragged on in it's maelstrom...

maandag 26 juni 2023

Bier Passie Weekend Antwerp 2023

 It's that time again, as the weekend of discovering beer on the Groenplaats in Antwerp has arrived.

That means lots of variety, tasting and new additions to my Untappd account!
So, armed with a short list of 8 beers I definitly wanted to try, we set out on a journey of hoppy discovery! 

Under a sweltering sun, as the belgian heatwave days are back after a single cooler day in the past month, and the sounds of a dixieland band, me and Noshi went armed with our reference guide (and initially, my paper scrap of things to try) to give it all a try.  Please note some pics are off, not because of high drunkeness on my part, but because I pulled back the phone just a tat to early.  I`m typing this sunday mornings, and there is not a single grain of hangover to be found in my old body.

Starting off was La Guillotine, a very heavy 8.5% multiple grains beer, a serious kick off today.

Noshi took a Floris Framboos, 3.6% and really refreshing.  Both these beers came from Brouwerij Huyge in Melle.

The next two beers where from microbrewery Abdij van Grimbergen, me going for the 8% Magnum Opus, Noshi taking the 8% Magnum Opus Brut Rosé, but to be honest both lacked a bit of an "oomph" and where amongst the least favorite ones we tried today.  The cheese was super duper though!

My next taster was a Malheur Summer, a 5% wheat beer, produced by Brouwerij De Landtsheer in Buggenhout.

While Noshi went for a new beer for this year, the Timmermans Lambicus Kriek Black Pepper, a 4% cherry beer that gave a nice spicy tough in the the aftertaste from Brouwerij John Martin in Waterloo (yeap, that place where Napoleon rued his visit to Belgium).

The we came to the stand of Leroy Breweries in Boezinge, and coming from the heart of hop brewing region in Belgium, I knew this was going to be good.  I took the special Hommelbier Fresh Harvest 2023, a 7.5%er, Noshi going for the Cuvée Watou Rouge of 8.5%.

I also purchased two beer sets at this stand, a steal at 15 euro for both together, for some more tasting back home.

Noshi followed up with a Martha Guilty Pleasure by the Brew Society in Heule, another new release for this year of 8%, but liked the above mentioned Watou more though.

The next one Noshi did like a lot, the Rasta Trolls, a 7% blonde enriched with brown rum by Brasserie Dubouisson in Pipaix.

I went for good old Scheldebrouwerij in Meer, and took their 9% 'N Toeback.  I never had a bad beer from them so far I must say.

My next experiment, and another special for this year, was the 6.9% Corsendonk Grand Hops Edition 2022, but to be honest found it a bit average compared to other beers I already tasted today.

Noshi in the meantime was send out to seduce the bartender of Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck in Emelgem, to get a nice fishermen's hat for me along with her Kasteel Rubus Framboise, another new release and 7% of refreshing, pure fruit beer.

Next on the stop, the Stuut Aloha IPA of 6.2%, nothing spectacular for this Brasserie Caulier from Peruwelz.

While Noshi too a Tarot Noir, a beer I already tried out in the past by Brouwerij Linde;ans in Vlezenbeek.

I ended the day with a Le Plan Extra, a new yet simple, 4.8% beer from Le Plan Vermeersch.

While Noshi rounded out with another Tarot, the D'Or, a beer also tasted before with a hefty 8%.

So, there ended the beer tasting, resulting in no less then 15 new entries for my Untappd profile.  I also received a lovely Bier Passie t-shirt, a small pre-birthday gift from my little man.  At the back it says a wise life lesson, a bit fitting I would say.

These festivals are aslo great for some random conversations, like with these two guys, Bjorn and Mike.  No idea who they where, but they asked if they could join at our table.  Of course they could, and we had some laughs before moving on.  Though I can`t fathom as I heard people tell that some people dind`t want people at their tables... it's a beer festival for crying out loud!

Well, that's the first beer festival of the year under wraps for me, let's see if we get the opportunity to visit one or two more during the year.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous

 After the hard sci-fi of Muv-Luv, it is time for something calmer, in this romantic anime series.

With an odd, comedy twist... in the first half of the series before getting (perhaps to) serious.
Ryousuke is a young man with a crush on the lady of the local flower shop, resulting in him almost daily buying a small plant or something.  That way he can get a glimpse of Rokka, the owner of the flower shop.
He decides to get a part-time job at her store to get closer to her, but he runs into a major issue: the ghost of her deceased husband still inhabits the appartment of Rokka.  He has been watching over her since he passed away three years ago, but Ryousuke is the first one to ever notice him.  They quickly come to odds, as he is jealous of Ryousuke, even though his dying wish was for his wife to move on with her life. 

But while they are rivals, they also need to work together at times like when Rokka is struck by a heavy fever.  Even though Ryousuke can get closer to her after that, the husband, Atsushi, jealously disturbs the moment.  Atsushi proposes to have Ryousuke lend him his body though, to make him experience what he feels. 

Ryosouke takes Rokka to the amusement park, trying to tell her his feelings.  But as he makes no progress, he drunkenly agrees to lend his body to Atsushi.  This leads to strange situations in the real world, but also Ryosouke learning more about Rokka as he is caught in a story book within Atsushi's mind.

During this journey of discovery, Ryosouke learns a lot about Rokka and her late husband, from how they met until how they where forced to part.  But the Rokka in his mind also tells him what he has to do to get her to fall in love with her, as she wants to be just plain happy.

Being inside the spirit world does allow him to get a better understanding of what drives her ex-husband, even though he doesn't agree with his motivations.  He convinces Atsushi of his intentions, and decides to go full time for Rokka.  Rokka has it figured out, and confronts Atsushi with what happened, and that she likes Ryousuke.

This isn`t a bad romance series, but for me personally it missed some "gut wrenching" like for example Your Lie in April.  So not bad, but I doubt it'll linger in my "classic" mind for long.

zondag 25 juni 2023

The Haul Report 364

 Time for some more anime figures for the collection this week, as parcels from both Mandarake and from TokyoCatch arrived.

Though actual unboxings will be for july I guess, my calendar is stuffed.

From Mandarake comes a fresh Lunamatia Hawke for the collection.

While TokyoCatch expands my collection with the Love hashira herself!

On another front, I got around grabbing some greenstuff and some new brushes, so I can start tackling those goblins in the near future.

The final addition was a small find at a local second hand site, 2 classic Blood Bowl Hobgoblin linemen, just to good to pass up on.

And that's it for this instalment, now, I don`t have any orders on the way at the moment, but as soon as things arrive, I will be back with the next episode!

zaterdag 24 juni 2023

On the Painting Desk 238

 Way to hot this week to really paint, as sitting behind the lamp transformed my in a sweaty waterfall.

Never the less, I did manage to get some stuff done.

Not nearly enough to where I wanted to be this week, as I would loved to have all the gold finished on the models, the prospect of slightly cooler weather the coming week might prove a blessing.

Add to that summer vacation around the corner, taking away the school stress for preparing Thorin, I hope to pick up the pace again in earnest though.  And finish season 3 of The Musketeers at last while doing so.

See you back next week for a fresh update!

vrijdag 23 juni 2023

Unboxing Police Uniform Ichika Nakano

 A recent cheap find over at Ami-Ami's pre-owned section, another Ichika joins the collection.

A prize figure, she is made by SEGA in their excellent SPM range, and one I didn't manage to grab when she was in the crane game apps I play.

So let's unbox the lady and have a look!

Definitly a nice figure, and with some great detailing.  She will look well on my shelves for sure, and over time more iterations of her will join the collection!

And she can cough me anytime ;-)

donderdag 22 juni 2023

Streamlining the anime collection

 I have a lot.  Maybe to much...

Well, it's the regular mantra of any collector, and it is always fine until suddenly the room runs out of space.  

The room yes, not even the shelves, but the whole room...

So it is at that point one must decide to streamline the collection a little, and focus on some things, in this case characters, instead of going all over the place.  Which is just what I will be doing over the coming months.

The first step though is buying behaviour, and to only get models of series one will like, instead of the cool of the moment (aka, the last anime one watched) purchases.  YouTube is full of those kind of video's, so I guess I`m not alone in that.

For example, Eromanga Sensei was a funny series, but why did I get all those figures as I don`t really have anything with the characters.  But back then, I just needed to have a model of them, and one became two and so forth.
So to that end, I decided to slim down from figures of (last count: 84) various characters, to tone down to 8, namely of two anime franchises on the one hand, and 5 seperate characters (okay, I admit, Waifu's) on the other.
The anime franchises of course being Saint Seiya...

... and Gundam, because you know, apart from loving all the mecha and a lot of the various series, there is also uber waifu Lunamaria Hawke.
So no surprises on that front.  Do mind, the following characters are all for the part of my PERSONAL display cabinets, not for the communal ones I share with Noshi of series we both love and have various characters from, like That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime or Rising of the Shield Hero.  Those are figures in the living room displays, I`m talking about the mano-cavo displays.

Marin Kitagawa

Because of course, which otaku doesn`t like this female otaku from My Dress Up Darling.

Zero Two

She is sexy, she is hard as nails, and she is slightly off the bat.  So of course, combined with being a mecha show, Zero Two from Darling in the Franxx is on my to collect list.  And for that matter, also on my "have to get a tattoo with her" list.

Kurumi Tokisaki

I guess I might have a knack for slightly of the bat girls, as Kurumi fills that box just as well as Zero Two.  And the fact she is an epic gun-toting spirit makes her great material for lots of figures out there to collect.

Himiko Toga

Did I say of the bat?  Okay, so they probably don`t come further from the bat then Toga (okay, except perhaps Noshi's favorite Yuno Gasai, who still is strangely figureless) from My Hero Academia's League of Villains.  And her bangs make her look so innocent...

Ichika Nakano

Okay, this one is a bit more normal.  I loved The Quintessential Quintuplets, and Ichika was by far my favorite sister (I guess it's the tomboy hairstyle), so she is the one sister I`m collecting multiple editions from, especially the prize figures.
And yes, in the end I will have a tattoo of each and every one of those five!
While I will keep like one copy of characters I liked (like Ryder from Fate, MHA's Denki Kaminari or of course Yamcha from Dragonball Z), those will be the characters I will be aiming for and collecting mostly, hopefully granting every one of them a dedicated shelf over time!
Now to start sorting and finding back the boxes of the ones that won't be making the cut...


woensdag 21 juni 2023

Shadow and Bone season 2

 Half of march saw the return of the Shadow and Bone fantasy series, based on the books of the same name, and I must say which was a fun first season.

So Noshi and me sat down and binged through the series in a few evenings.

The Sun Summoner, Alina Starkov, is still looking for ways to end the Fold, a massive, monster ridden area that splits their world in two.  While she defeated the Darkling at the end of season 1, there are still many obstacles to overcome.  One of those is that she must increase her light channeling power, and to that end she and her boyfriend Mal set out to look for the second of three mythical amplifiers.

The rest of their band has returned to the Barrel to face off against crimelord Pekka, as Kaz wants to bring back his life and that of his companions back to the way it was, but in the meantime he also uses them as his vendetta is personal, Pekka being the killer of his older brother in their youth.

New alliances are forged, as Alina and Mal join the crew of the excentric inventor / privateer Sturmhound to get to the amplifier and to travel the fold, while Nina, in an effort to free her lover Matthias from the best guarded prison in Ravka, joins Kaz and his crows in his quest in exchange for a visit to Matthias.

But the Darkling was not defeated, and he returns at the Ravkan borders where Grisha, the spellcasters of this world, are about to be sacrificed to the Fold, prosecuted once again like they where in the old days.  He plans to overthrow the lands once and for all, and with the powers of the Fold rule over them with the Grisha as the upper class.

As Kaz retakes his city with a glorious scheme, Alina enters an engagement of sorts with Nikolai, to gain command of the second army and protect the Grisha.  But the first prince Vasily, a gambler and hater of Grisha who sees the throne as a toy, unknowingly reveals their location to the Darkling who comes after them.  Bekker and his Crows go out to search for a sword of legend, that should be able to hurt the shadowy creatures as Alina tries to sever the mental link between her and the Darkling.  But this results in her falling out with Mal...
Alina, Mal and Baghra, the "mother of all Grisha" go out and look for the magical firebird to obtain the third amplifier.  Baghra reveals to Mal that he is actually the firebird, while she is the daughter of the crazed mage that created the fold.  His destiny is written for him, as Alina is once more approached by her link with the Darkling, but Baghra interferes.  She sacrifices herself in order to sever the link by cutting of his hand, at the expense of her own life.
Back in Shu, Bekker and his Crows manage to obtain the sword, as they overcome the trial set by a master thief, who turns out to be a hundreds of years old saint that originally forged the blade, and she grants it to them to overcome the shadow creatures.

Mal is approached by the Darkling who tries to lure him away from Alina's side, so he doesn`t need to lay down his life for her as detinied, but is rebutted by him.  Th army splits, Nicolas and his soldiers being ambushed as they get to the front.  Alina and Mal travel to the Fold, but the Darkling is there waiting for them after he moves the Fold over the fort her allies are holding out.  When the Shadow Monsters grab Alina, she is saved by Inej wielding the magical sword.

The Crows have arrived just in time, saving Nicolai and the last troops holding out from a Grisha assault, as Alina and Mal face off a final time against the Darkling.  Alina wounds him, but in return Mal is seriously injured.  He fullfills his destiny, and the empowered Alina blasts the Fold away, but the Shadow Monsters remain only to be struck down by the sword.  In order to save Mal, Alina, after killing the Darkling, uses his forbidden merszost magic to bring him back.  

The group recovers and counts their wounded, before splitting up and pursuing their own paths and fates.  But when Nicolai is about to be crowned, a new threat emerges as a Grisha, powered up by a mysterious drug, wants to assassinate those present.  Alina uses a cut to take her out, but the power is twisted to a darker version...

Another good and amusing season of this series, and the foundations have been laid down for a possible third one.  I personally look forward to it, as I`m enjoying it (in a different way) as much as the books I read from the series.  

And Kaz Bekker remains such a fantastic figure...

dinsdag 20 juni 2023

Muv-Luv Alternative

 Back in 1973, aliens arrived on Earth, and ever since then humanity has fought these BETA with the aid of mecha suits.

And now Alternative is finally here with 2 seasons so far, a series of which the spin-offs (Total Eclipse, Schwarzesmarken) actually aired years ago.  Yeah odd, I know, but never the less I dug in!
And it is in one go also the M entry for my letter challenge...
Japan is being overrun by the the BETA when Takeru joins a military unit after suffering nightmares of the fall of Japan and humanity.  He soon learns these are actually recollections of an alternative timeline version of him, and he now wants to help prevent this from happening in the current timeline.  Now called Alternative IV, the goal is to prevent Alternative V from happening.  That opening episode btw is awesome and dramatic with the music!
Years later, in 1999, soldiers discover a BETA hive where human brains are being stored. Takeru learns about Alternative IV, the plan to put the faith of humanity in a single child.  And how he ended up in this version of reality, after his original one was overrun by the BETA.  But his knowledge of the future might prove a great asset to save the world as it is now, as humanity can anticipate the moves now of the enemy.  But he also learns the Yokohama base he is residing is build upon an old BETA hive.

Training begins with a new and upgraded OS that makes the suits far more mobile then before.  But he agrees to test a project by professor Kouzouki, shifting realities again to a time with no BETA.  While this shift is only for short periods, it allows him to learn things about the enemy.  In doing so, he also gets tought about the different Alternative plans and how humanity came to create the ESP people like Kasumi.

But politics soon come into play, as insurrectionists threaten to weaken the position of Japan in defending the country.  But these don`t turn out to be just insurgents, but actually the rightfull ruler of Japan.  This leads to a confrontation with UN forces, threathening the sovereignity of the country.  Takeru takes her majesty onboard his TSF, to guide her to safety.

But once secured, the shogun decides to go talk with the insurgents and the UN forces herself none the less, as a united humanity is the only chance Nippon has against the BETA threat.  Overcoming the threat from within, she speaks to the nation to unite.

So, the beginning of the series looked promising, but it soon became just "to much" all at once, making the actual spin-off series that came before better.  Hopefully season 2 will be better... but that is something for next year or so to watch.