Thursday, August 10, 2017

90's Nikes: On Court Classics

Retro sneaker heads usually have a fondness for 80's models like Air Force 1 and SB Dunk, but as 90's basketball fan that era defined the classics for me. There are more that are considered iconic, like the ones worn by Barkley and Penny, but here are the ones i really dig.

AIR FLIGHT 89


Technically its just outside of the 90's, but i'm featuring it because its a cheaper alternative which takes elements and visual cues to one of MJ's iconic shoe, the AJ4 - evident from its lacing eyelets and mid sole design.

AIR FLIGHT LITE 91


Besides being featured in White Men Cant Jump, the debut of the Flight logo is also prominently represented on court by Scottie Pippen, a favourite player of mine.

AIR MAX UPTEMPO 95


These particular colorway is inspired by the 1996 All Star Game hosted in San Antonio, notable for MJ winning the game MVP honors after returning from retirement.

AIR FLIGHT 96


The Air Flight 96 takes design cues from the immensely popular Air Max 95 (wavy pattern of its upper), this colorway is a tribute to Allen Iverson, who was drafted in 1996.

AIR MORE UPTEMPO 96


Another shoe that Pippen wore before he got his own signatures, its a popular retro design that's even been adapted into an exclusive by Supreme.

ZOOM HAWK FLIGHT 96


Another shoe made iconic by featuring in a movie, Ray Allen wore this as Jesus Shuttlesworth in He Got Game.

AIR AFTERBURNER FLIGHT 99


A personal fave of mine, this shoe was repped on the court by Jason Kidd and Damon Stoudamire, the colorway above are Mighty Mouse's - Damon's nickname - PE's.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Titans Return Misfire and Twin Twist

DELUXE MISFIRE


Another G1 Targetmaster turned Headmaster, Misfire (along with Triggerhappy from the previous wave) is a member of the 4th generation of the original G1 seekers (Decepticon jets) and he really stands out. The alt mode is the most extra-terrestial looking amongst the 3 jets (Slugslinger soon to be released), the nosecone has catamaran-like twin pontoons and the wings are downswept - not as odd as Scourge's flying soap bar but certainly nicer looking.


And in case he's not unconventional enough Hasbro even gave the character a garish purplish pink color - fuschia? magenta? Whatever you want to call the color, he's faaaaabulooooous. Robot mode shares a number of parts with Triggerhappy but between the remold and striking colors he really feels like an entirely new toy.

DELUXE TWIN TWIST


Twin Twist finally gets a proper toy! A G1 Jumpstarter, he and his brother Topspin feature the pullback transforming gimmick early in the original line (the gimmick would appear again later with Decepticon Battle Chargers and Throttlebots). The character actually was done as a member of the Wrecker combiner group some time ago (repainted from FOC Combaticons) but this version is much more accurate to the G1 design.


At a glance he's kinda bland/generic looking but the robot mode is solid - literally. No hollow bits as the arms are telescopic and legs comprised of folded panels and he's huge for a deluxe. I don't really care for the drill tank mode but seeing how this figure is really well done makes me look forward to Topspin - who i've always preferred for his cruiser alt mode.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Lego Star Wars Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike

This is the most anticipated toy i've been looking forward to this year. The speeder bike chase is the best thing to come out of ROTJ - by all accounts, the biker scout is the most competent of the Imperial's troopers, unless confronted by their only weakness: Ewoks.

I've been looking out for a new version of the speeder bike, the last time i bought its toy version is practically a decade ago (Hasbro's Galactic Heroes). Before that, i had the 3-3/4" Clone Wars version, which was terrible - the front outrigger posts were made of bendy plastic and deformed if you didn't store it properly. As a kid, the vintage was one of my favourite toys, which had the gimmick where you pressed a button and the bike would 'explode'. How much do i like the speeder bike? I bought a Desert Skiff Lego set for the sole purpose of making my own speeder bike MOC.


Anyway, i've been itching to buy a new toy of the speeder bike and was eyeing the Bandai kit, which looked like a fun build. I was having trouble tracking one down, so i looked at the 6" version by Hasbro but for whatever reason i didn't pull the trigger - it's a step bigger than the 3-3/4" but i'm so burned out from that figure scale that i don't see the 6" version as significant improvement. So then i looked at Hasbro's old 12" scale toy, but then i realized i don't really collect at that scale and it'd be huge and unwieldy to display if you have limited shelf space. When the 2017 Star Wars Lego sets were announced i was stoked and knew this was purchase-on-sight.


This if my 1st experience with both Hero Factory and Technic builds - neither of which i'm a big fan of, to be frank. I just prefer the traditional bricks and studs construction. It's Lego though, so its still a fun, engaging build and its interesting how the internal structure is put together and the external shapes are formed using only existing parts and profile.


I finish the figure 1st - at 10" its slightly bigger than what i'd like, which is 8-9" scale - I'm a fan of Hasbro's Marvel Signature Series (based on the 8" scale Mego figures) a scale that i think hits the sweet spot for both playing and displaying. The figure is gappy in some areas but once you sit him on the bike its less obvious.


The bike is pretty huge at 18" long, but isn't overwhelming if you display it as a desk toy. The missile shooting gimmick makes the undercarriage blaster too bulky to be accurate. The stand is built into the toy, which also functions as the 'handle' for the missile shooting gimmick - the trigger is design so that you hold the stand and shoot the missile like a gun. The rear flaps are articulated so you can flip them up to reveal repulsors in flight mode. The only thing that looks off to me is the detailing of the front outrigger, which is a tad bulky. There's a few stickers but the only essential one is for the control panel.


Overall, it's a great piece for display. It's not detailed enough to be considered as the definitive toy of the character/vehicle, but it's Lego so you can tell non-collector friends 'oh, its a model', its sizeable without taking too much space, has a nice heft and still decently sized for you to whoosh it around the room and go PEW, PEW!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Titans Return Hot Rod

Titans Return comes out slow here at major retailers - especially now that the new movie stuff is coming out. It took 3 restock to put out all of wave 3 (and i'm still missing the legends class) but he finally turned up on the shelves to complete 3rd wave deluxes -Titan Returns Hot Rod.


Hot Rod's bot mode is...just okay, i suppose. The torso could use a bit more bulk, and the hips on mine are loose. But he's very poseable and looks good overall. His 'wings'/spoiler could use to sit higher too, since its a prominent feature of the design.


While the bot mode is kinda meh, fortunately the car mode is GREAT. Yet another rendition of a futuristic sports car, he's curvier than the Generations version and bulkier than the Animated version but now he has a working cockpit. If you're gonna ride, ride in style.


Even the back of the car is nicely detailed (although lacking paint apps) - i like how his knees are worked into, uh, exhaust vent thingies.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Retro Gaming: Legend of Zelda

Got myself a Nintendo DS! I'm behind by more than a decade but bear with me :D


The novelty of the Famicom Mini wears out pretty quick until i found out about Hakchi2, a homebrew posted at GBAtemp.net that allows users to hack into the NES/Famicom mini and run not only NES roms, but roms of other platforms on emulation. So i've got some games from Sega Genesis (Sonic!), MAME (Super Monaco GP!) and even N64 (Mario Kart! Ridge Racer!), but relevant to this post - SNES games, specifically Zelda's Link to the Past. I had never gotten into Legend of Zelda (and adventure games in general) on the NES - as a kid i was more into shoot/beat em ups, button mashers basically - but LttP really got me hooked into Zelda's storyline and gameplay. The critics have been right in its consistent praise of the game: engaging gameplay, pretty graphics, even the music is great.


That said, the gameplay is very deep which requires hours of sitting at a time and i didn't really have that luxury to sit in front of the TV at home for hours playing it on console. Which is where the DS came into play. Came across an online article on how the DS can be made a portable retro gaming machine and it's the ideal platform for me because it allows me to play the game during commute and down time at work.


My impressions on LttP:

- Holy shit, how did y'all finish this game back in the day without guides? The solutions become apparent once you acclimate to the game's routines, but without guides some of the puzzles would take hours of continuous play to stumble on the solutions. It's a punishing game despite the cutesy design.
- I love the depth and breadth of the gameplay: exploring the overworld, solving the the dungeons, increasing complexity by introducing the dark world. You really had to explore every nook and cranny and try out every trick to squeeze out tips and hints - with modern games its a lot of hand holding and extraneous cut scenes.
- The ramping up in difficulty level is excellent - by the time you reach Ganon, the final boss, its a really rewarding feeling to beat the game's final act, feeling assured you couldn't have beat the game without the experience of all those hours you put in.


Finishing LttP, i immediately jumped into Minish Cap (purely based on how it looks) and was pleased that it gave me the same kick - its remarkable that the gap between these two games is practically a decade, yet they didn't have to improve much to update the game. Just goes to show how good LttP was. Minish Cap impressions:


- Oh man, i forget how annoying game guide characters can be. Ezlo adds an integral and fun element to the gameplay (shrinking, floating) but even in text the character's 'voice' is grating.
- This game is so pretty. Too pretty actually, because the game's bright color palette actually cause the game to lose the grittiness suggested in the LttP's more muted colors.
- The whole shrinking gimmick is pretty cool and actually stumped me in some places. I actually prefer the Minish miniature world compared to LttP's dark world.
- There's also a lot more character integration in MC with the whole kinstone fusion thing so it really creates incentive in further exploration, rather than just collecting hints and tips.


I tried out Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, which are native to the DS. I enjoy the story aspect but i think i still prefer Zelda's 2D gameplay to 3D - currently playing Link's Awakening and the Oracle games, i find them more engaging despite the simple graphics.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Titans Return Triggerhappy & Twinferno

An actual TF update!

TRIGGERHAPPY


The G1 toy was part of trio of futuristic jets, whom together with Cyclonus and Scourge, formed the Decepticon Targetmasters. If you can get over the fact the new toy is instead a Headmaster, TR Triggerhappy is a damn good deluxe class toy that looks great in both modes with an engaging transformation scheme and a nice color scheme. I got a lemon tho, with one of the arm guns not tabbing properly but reading reviews its not a widespread issue, so i just got unlucky. But even then, its still a darn good jet robit.

TWINFERNO


Twinferno is based on the G1 Monsterbot Doublecross. He's a bit blocky for a beast robit, when you compare to Weirdwolf and Skullcruncher. But beast modes are always fun and and its nice to get an Autobot that isn't a car or truck for a change - we already get a lot of those. Twinferno also has the dubious honor of having a crotch design with the saddest expression ever.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Lego Speed Champions 2016 Ford GT & 1966 Ford GT40

Been a drought of toy purchase - still no new Titans Return toys in sight since Sixshot - so i was happy when this turned up at Box of Bricks, KLCC.


The set commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ford's GT40, featuring the 1966 original and 2016 iteration of the GT. I'm not familiar with the modern machine but I'm a big fan of the GT40 for its styling and its heritage - it was developed to beat Ferrari on the race track - which i first learned about when they released the retro styled Ford GT back in 2005.

The 1966 original

The 2005 retro

The 2016 edition

The build does a good job of capturing the curves and the general profile of the 1966 model and the driver is appropriately deco'ed wearing beige jumpsuit. To the laymen this build looks a bit plain but i love design and look from this era with the whole minimalist - modern futuristic vibe. The 2016 model is the more interesting build thanks to some color blocking techniques that capture the modern machine's more colorful race livery. It looks bulkier than the actual car model due to disproportionate size of the body kit and spoiler in brick form, but it compliments the 1966 model by providing contrast in colors and style.