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Sunday, December 31, 2006

5:28 PM - Lance-a-lot

Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos

A photo of Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos in full armour.

Size of figure: 16.5cm.

Size of lance: 20cm.

I'm afraid I accidentally tore part of the breastplate while removing it. The accessories and armour pieces are generally well-constructed but that particular piece of PVC should have been made much thicker, I think.

The breastplate can still be attached to the figure thanks to pegs but in between this and the fact some parts have a propensity to fall off when the figure is manipulated, it's evident to me that this is a line meant primarily for display.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

6:21 PM - Chevaleresse

Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos

A photo of Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos in full armour. I have always loved the knight-in-armour look so this impresses me.

(It must be said, however, the helmet does evoke an armoured dunce cap.)

The only pieces retained from the other mode are the boots and groin armour. Attaching the armour pieces isn't as simple as snapping the pieces onto the figure. You have to first dismember the entire figure by removing limbs and the head.

I noted earlier the figure's arms were prone to falling off once the pauldrons were attached. This puzzled me considering the amount of thought that went into the rest of the design. Upon checking the instruction sheet, I realised I had neglected to remove a tiny plastic washer from each bicep joint and once I did that the arms stayed in place.

One final note: contrary to my previous observation, at least one toyco has brought together action figures and videogames before Konami did it with Busou Shinki. Takara did it with Web Diver in 2001 and there are probably other examples as well.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

8:57 PM - Blade

Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos

A photo of Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos.

Size of figure: 15cm.

Size of sword: 12cm.

When not needed to look incongruous, the sword is sheathed in a scabbard which is pegged to the figure's armour either on the side or the back.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

10:23 PM - Elsewhere on the web

My Area's Flood.
One man's account of how the floods in southern Malaysia affected his family. (See this site for photos of the flooded areas.)

Teh tarik: nectar of the gods.
A video of the preparation.

VOTOMS Busou Shinki.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

6:23 PM - Knight-at-arms

Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos

A photo of Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos.

I was almost overwhelmed by the sheer amount of gear Konami included in the set. There's a nice figure stand, extra hands, weapons a-plenty and another stand for extra armour pieces.

The core MMS figure only has peg holes on its back but remarkably none of the armour pieces seen above attach to those peg holes. It's pretty cleverly designed.

But perhaps a bit too clever.

For example, attaching the boots requires carefully aligning a peg and a tab in each boot with a corresponding hole and slot in each leg. It took me a long time to get this right.

The shoulder/upper arm armour pieces are the biggest problems. The way they're affixed means the lower arms are prone to falling off when the arms are moved about. It's an annoying blemish in an otherwise fine design.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

10:41 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Gundam Busou Shinki.
And a low-budget version inspired by this.

Made in China.
"China's toys now constitute 75% of world output ... the bulk comes from Guangdong province, home to more than 5,000 of China's 8,000 toy factories. At peak times, some 1.5 million workers are making toys in Guangdong ... Last year, the province accounted for 78% of China's $15.2 billion of toy exports, a 10% jump from 2004 ..."

Advent Children - Last Impression.
A fan-created music video featuring the Two-Mix song from Gundam Wing Endless Waltz.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

11:59 PM - Xiphos

Busou Shinki Xiphos

A photo of Konami's Busou Shinki Knight Xiphos.

I got the Xiphos set today along with the EX WaffeBunny weapons set. I didn't spend a lot time examining the core MMS figure but I was sufficiently impressed by its elegance to snap a photo to share.

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12:00 AM - Elsewhere on the web

Playtime for Japanese adults.
"While the toy market as a whole is stagnant at best, the segment aimed at the more mature is growing at 10% to 20% annually and already worth $430 million a year."

Hope springs eternal.

Richmal Crompton's More William.
Some of the writing is timeless ("William was frankly bored. School always bored him. He disliked facts, and he disliked being tied down to detail, and he disliked answering questions. As a politician a great future would have lain before him ...") while some of it is not ("'Oh, 'ell!" he ejaculated, with a slightly self-conscious air ...") but it's still hilarious.

Editor's notes for "Sweet Child O' Mine."
"... frankly, if it should ever hit the street in its current form, the song would be a colossal failure."

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

10:32 PM - Elsewhere on the web

A Busou Shinki fairy tale.
A Red Riding Hood parody by hiroking7800 using screenshots taken with Konami's Diorama Studio. This could be taken to the next level by exporting the screenshots into a program like Planetwide Media's Comic Book Creator.

Guild Wars Nightfall concept art. [via]
See also: ArenaNet artists' sketch blog.

Mind Your Language.
YouTube has several videos including parts 1 and 2 of episode 10, and the opening and closing credits.

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10:32 PM - Biker-bot

Transformers Beast Machines Thrust

A photo of Beast Machines Thrust.

It's a pretty poor Transformer overall. There are elements that puzzle me and there are elements I just flat out hate. On top of that, the QC is poor: the elbow joints are so loose the lower arms flop about.

The best thing you can say about the figure is that it looks ... different.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

11:39 PM - Elsewhere on the web

And I'll form the head.
Zoids do their impression of Voltron.

Best coincidence ever.

Glay: Itsuka, Glorious, Beloved.
YouTube videos of my favourite songs by the band.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

11:15 PM - Busou Shinki

Konami, a Japanese company best known for its videogames, has been producing toys in recent years as well and has now managed to bring those two worlds together with its latest toyline, Busou Shinki. Given the overlap between fans of toys and videogames, it's remarkable no toyco has thought of this before.

At first glance, Busou Shinki seems to be another blatant attempt to take money from the otaku crowd who gush over all things kawaii. Don't make the mistake of dismissing it so casually, though, because the line has a lot of clever things going for it.

The line revolves around a 15cm-tall action figure designed by Asai Masaki, a 15-year veteran of the figure industry. It's very posable and apparently sturdy despite its slender build. Figure customisers will be happy to learn the base figures will be sold separately as MMS Naked for 1800 yen each beginning next year.

Action figure fans, on the other hand, will be drawn to the MMS sets costing 3500 yen which include the base figure as well as a generous amount of weapons and accessories. The weapons and accessories are interchangeable and fans have naturally been going wild coming up with crazy-cool combos.

One of the many interesting things about the line is it uses different character designers for each wave. The first two waves weren't to my liking since I don't like the moe or kawaii look. Fortunately, the third wave features characters designs done in a more realistic style. I'm especially keen on the Xiphos and Benou sets done by mangaka Shinofusa Rokuro.

Since having more parts means having more interchangeability options, Konami has also released 1700 yen EX weapons sets which each include a head, weapons and accessories. Mix and match to create your own character design.

On top of that, there will be an online game released next year which allows you to input code from the toy packages to take participate in online battles using the toy characters as avatars.

Believe it or not, that's not the most exciting aspect of the toyline.

Strike a pose

The thing about the line that dropped my jaw is Diorama Studio, a PC program which Konami has made available as a free download on its site. The program features 3D models of the toys which can be posed and suited up with virtual weapons and accessories. You can then place the figure(s) in a 3D set and take a screenshot which can be shared with other users.

Let that sink in.

Now imagine a Transformers version of that.

Buy a Transformer and you get a passcode to download a program which includes a CGI model almost indistinguishable from the figure you bought.

Click on a joint, move a limb and pose the 3D model the way you want it on your PC. Click on a button and your desktop Transformer auto-transforms. Click on a button and you change its colour scheme. Move your mouse and the "camera" moves around the figure. Click on a button to take a screenshot. String several screenshots together to create simple animation of the model in action.

Allow users to buy additional software to expand the experience. For example, additional 3D sets to use as backdrops for screenshots. One buck buys a set of the Ark's interior complete with Teletraan-1, another buck buys an Iacon set. Beef up the virtual Transformers with weapons and accessories. One buck buys a Matrix of Leadership, another buck buys a laser sword.

I can definitely envision other toycos getting into the act. It's too cool an idea to ignore.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

11:52 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Knight Xiphos.
Momodani and Goe have reviews of this striking figure from Konami's Microman-like Busou Shinki line while Yuusuke shows off his custom paint job.

Mugenziggurat.
An astonishing Mugenbine fan-mode by Monomania combining 40 Mugenroid, 12 Turboroid and 4 Mugenengine.

Beware the gnomes.
A video from Guild Wars April Beta Weekend event in 2005.

The Desert Wars.
Robot dinosaurs duke it out with mecha in the sands.

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12:12 AM - Snake fist

Beast Wars Quickstrike

A photo of Beast Wars Quickstrike in robot mode.

Ball joints abound resulting in a sinuous snake-arm and a posable figure overall. The snake-arm also gets most of the detail with the rest of the figure being relatively simple. The robot head, for instance, is a mere blob of yellow plastic with some paint on it.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

11:32 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Bizarro's Toybox.

Old but gold. [via]
"In real life, Sandra Newton is a small, bespectacled woman who's about to turn 62. But in the online role-playing game Guild Wars, she becomes the much younger and significantly more buxom Dydia Fayrefire, who gallantly fights off evil centaurs, harpies and demons." She's played over 1000 hours of Guild Wars in 6 months.

Kamen Rider 555.
A nice fan-created music video featuring action scenes from the series.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

11:14 PM - Well, howdy!

Beast Wars Quickstrike

A photo of Beast Wars Quickstrike.

This hybrid of cobra and scorpion might be the best representation of the Fuzor concept but as a toy, it's a bit lacklustre. It's a Basic figure but unlike most five-dollar Transformers, this one actually feels cheap. That's mainly due to the translucent plastic and the hollow torso.

Like most Transformers from that era, Quickstrike has a gimmick and like most Transformers gimmicks, it's embarassing. The cobra head can be filled with water which is squirted out when the head is squeezed. I'm sure the prospect of getting slightly wet fills Quickstrike's opponents with tremendous fear but personally, it elicits nothing more than an "Ehhh ... ."

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

12:06 AM - Elsewhere on the web

Visionaries remembered.
A cool toy-line backed by a very cool cartoon.

Cobra Commander's day off.
Part 1 of 5.

The Nisei at war. [via]
"... in the face of painful prejudice, they helped to define America at its best."

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12:08 AM - Wham bam pow!

Transformers Warpath

A photo of my very first Transformer, Warpath.

I wasn't keen on the toy despite being a fan of the rambunctious show character. The figure was too simple to hold my interest even when I bought it two decades ago. But I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice back then as stores in my area only carried the carded Transformers.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

12:02 AM - Elsewhere on the web

The New York Times on Inu Art.
"The five men who work here practically live in a fantasy world, but help make billions of dollars for toy manufacturers by designing action figures based on comic book, film and television characters, and rock stars. They created the prototypes for about 300 toys over the last seven years ..."

Ode to Baba Yetu.
You can download a remix of this fantastic Civ IV theme from the composer's site.

Raphael Lemkin.
He fought for millions of genocide victims past and future yet his funeral was attended by only seven.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

8:23 PM - Bird-dog

Beast Wars Silverbolt

A photo of Beast Wars Silverbolt in beast mode.

The figure was released as part of the Fuzors subline which featured Transformers with bizarre and unlikely fusions of animals for their beast modes.

Part eagle and part wolf, Silverbolt is one of two successes of this experiment in style. Quickstrike, the other Fuzor to appear on the show, is the other.

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