Sunday, September 18, 2016

CELEBRICKTION at Bangsar Village (Part 3)

There were also a few micro builds, featuring prominent Malaysian landmarks. Here's the National Parliament building, a great example of the early modernist style, notable for its facade's brise soleil - sun shading elements...


...examples of recent and more contemporary designs, the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower...


...Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, built during colonial times but influenced by Moorish architecture, to reflect the ruling Malays Islamic cultural influence.


Besides buildings there were also builds of ferrys, which were used to commute between Pulau Pinang and Seberang Prai - and still in use today, even after the Pulau Pinang Bridge was commissioned in 1985.



Lastly, here's a mosaic portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman, one of the nations founding fathers and the 1st Prime Minister of Malaysia.

CELEBRICKTION at Bangsar Village (Part 2)

This portion of the diorama features a street market scene, with Central Market as the backdrop - a prominent architectural landmark of the cultural market district associated with the Petaling Street area in Kuala Lumpur.





Besides urban based architectural builds, there was also a diorama featuring village-based architecture that depict 'kampung' scenery. While bungalow scaled structures in town areas used masonry and tiles in the colonial style, 'kampung' houses in the olden days were built in timber and raised on stilts.






Something a little more contemporary, below is a scene of a typical Malay 'warung' (roadside  restaurant) with its distinctive covered but open dining area...


...and here's another sight that's uniquely Malaysian, a PETRONAS gas station - Petronas is the national producer of petroleum.



CELEBRICKTION at Bangsar Village (Part 1)

LOM (LUG Of Malaysia) does it again, with the CELEBRICKTION installation at Bangsar Village. In conjunction with Malaysia's 59th year of independence, LOM commemorates the event with a Malaysian-themed group build. Some of these have been displayed in previous exhibitions, but this is the 1st time they've done an event focused on heritage styled buildings.

I'm spreading the event though 3 posts, due to the number of pics. This 1st post will focus on the shophouse typology, which is the most prominent archetype of buildings that formed early towns in pre-independence Malaysia (then called Malaya). The architectural influences are eclectic, ranging from neo classical to art deco to british colonial, and considering Straits Settlement towns (Penang, Melaka and Singapore) had a high population of Chinese, the designs featured oriental influences, along with characteristics that make it unique to the tropical climate.






This build stands out not only for the early modernist style, but also the little rooftop prayer house - a tradition the chinese practice for good fortune.


While the main diorama is modular scale, this set of builds is at a sightly smaller scale...



...while these are at a large scale - to accommodate even more intricate detailing and decorative features.



Quite a few of the builds included interior detailing. Unfortunately the diorama is arranged in an island with builds facing all 4 sides, so views to the interiors were limited.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Titans Return: Wave 1 Deluxes

These guys finally showed up:

SCOURGE & SKULLCRUNCHER


I was looking foward to Skullcruncher the most so its not surprising find him underwhelming. His robot mode looks good but the figure is failed by the legs - the hip joints are super loose and the feet design aren't good for posing. Still, the alt mode is fun to mess with - we don't get a lot of gator beast modes - and his colors are fantastic.

Scourge is solid if unspectacular. Good looking bot mode that's faithful to G1, monotonous colors that aren't as bad wave-mate Blurr (more on him later), very decent flying soap bar alt mode (although the leg panels that stick out from the undercarriage is just lazy design). His 'you want me to gut Ultra Magnus' fanmode - where you can stick the headmaster in head mode on top of the cockpit - alone is worth the price of admission.

HARDHEAD & BLURR


I'm THIS CLOSE to anointing Blurr as best deluxe ever...and to think all he needed was just a few paint apps here and there to break up the all blue color scheme. I even forgive the shoulder boosters cheat - the actual boosters for the alt mode is part of the lower legs. But this is a very good looking figure in both bot and alt mode, pretty much a perfect (almost) update to the G1 design. The mechanism for the cockpit canopy deserves a special mention - simple yet ingenious.

Hardhead was the figure i least look forward to for this wave, so i was pleasantly surprised to find he's very well done. His colors are the best in terms of execution - just look at the nice details that go into his, uh, belt. He works well in either mode and his BFG is arguably the best accessory from this wave. I may not care much for the character but i'd be hardpressed to find fault in this figure.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Transformers Headmasters: A Retrospective

With Titan Returns out i think its a good time for another retrospective entry. So here's a look back at the inspiration for Titan Returns - Generation 1's Headmasters:


Truth be told, Headmasters - which followed the 1986 Movie toys - were the beginning of the end for TF's for me as a kid - at least toy collecting-wise. While the movie itself was AWESOME, the toys didn't impress me - i had a G1 Scourge as a kid and the simplified design and the lack of die cast metal made the toy felt cheap. Scourge - along with Pretender Cloudburst - were the only post-movie TFs i owned as kid after "amassing" almost 3 dozen figures from earlier in the toy line.


This trend - the impression that the toys were declining in quality - continued with the following series - Headmasters, Targetmaster and Pretenders - when Hasbro took it further by moving away from realistic vehicles design (which were forgiven for the Movie on account of the movie being set in the future) and usage of bright, gaudy colors. Furthermore, while i continued to read the comics, i never warmed up to how the Masters toys were portrayed in fiction - as human partners bonded to the robots - which i felt took away the focus from the robots, to the human characters instead.


Anyways, flash forward decades later - once i completed most of the 84-85 cast, i moved on to build the 86, 87-88 cast and since then i've developed a much healthier respect for TFs from this era. For one thing, little minifigures that can combine with the vehicles they pilot to form the robot mode is an awesome concept anyway you look at it...even if the cool robots have to rely on gross, puny fleshlings - HUMAN GERMS!


Also, from a visual point of view, if you put together the 87-88 line up the overall color palette is a fantastic work of design coordination, with a lot more variety in hues and tones compared to the primary colors used for the 84-85 line up.


I've also grown to appreciate that while casual fans are more familiar with the original cast of the cartoon, the more hardcore fans will recognize post-movie characters, even the 2nd and 3rd tier characters - guys like Targetmaster Spinister (prominent member of the Mayhem Attack Squad's secondary cast in the UK comics) and Junior Headmaster Nightbeat (US Comics' Matrix Quest spoofing Bogart's The Maltese Falcon).


Besides the Masters toys, I've also grown to appreciate the Pretenders - which is funny considering i was also a fan of MOTU's eclectic and wacky designs - but that's another story for another post.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Transformers Titan Masters Wave 2

Titan Returns toys are out!

I've been slow to catch up with Combiner Wars but i'm pretty hyped on these new head robits. Its been awhile since i bought TF's by the wave so let's see if these guys live up to the hype.

(The TRU's here skipped wave 1 and went straight to wave 2 for whatever reason. Can't believe i feel i'm missing out on a Wheelie toy.)

LEADER CLASS OPTIMUS PRIME & BLASTER


PM Op! I never had Powermaster Prime as a kid, and while i thought the toy was dumb, PMOP got quite a bit of screen, uh, panel time in the US comics. And anytime Hasbro has tried to make a toy Optimus where the trailer is part of the robot mode has always been hit and miss. I'm glad to report that this is a definitive hit (not surprising 'cuz its basically a heavy remold of CW Magnus, which was well received). STILL. It's Optimus, it's G1 and he combines with his trailer. TAKE MY MONEY, HASBRO.

While opinions on Prime may vary, Hasbro knocked it out of the park with Blaster. He's big, nicely proportioned/articulated and he's got his boombox alt mode. Get yourself a Goldbug toy and Blaster can start beefing with MP Grimlock - which, by the way, is Bob Budiansky's best contribution to the TF lore.

DELUXE CHROMEDOME & HIGHBROW


The scale caught me off guard initially, i thought the voyager scale worked pretty well with Generations Brainstorm.

Highbrow's transformation is for the most part straightforward. But the simplicity works on account of the nicely proportioned robot mode and helicopter robits are always cool.

They could've easily mailed it in with Chromey - considering the glut of Autobot cars - but the transformation scheme is pretty slick, in particular how the canopy is formed from 2 halves while retaining a working cockpit.

DELUXE WEIRDWOLF & MINDWIPE


I was really looking forward to Skullcruncher but even missing him, beast robits will never let you down.

Weirdwolf is prolly the best deluxe in this wave. Looks great in both modes and you can see Hasbro really put effort into this mold - the wolf head consist of separate solid/translucent parts with the eyes and teeth in clear red plastic. Outstanding.

Mindwipe is pretty good too but i'm not big on the rubbery plastic bits. The bat mode is a bit finicky but the design of the wings makes for good playability - its poseable enough so the wings can wrap itself around the figure, just like regular bats do to creep you the fuck out.

TITAN MASTERS APEFACE & SKYTREAD


These are mini vehicles that transform between alt modes and gun modes to work with the larger figures as accessories. The headmaster minifigures can be combined with larger figures, if your into the whole swapping heads thing.

Apeface transform into a gorilla, with the titan master riding on his back. That's all you need to know.

Skytread is based on G1 Flywheels, apparently, and both tank and jet modes are present here.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Lego 6970 Beta 1 Command Base

Last year i bought set 918 one man space ship, the lone space set i had as a kid. Recently i had a vintage itch to scratch so i decide to get another space classic - set 6970 command base.


While i had a number of town playsets as a kid, i never owned a space playset, so it was cool to finally get the lunar base plate - always wanted these as a kid. After completing the build 1st thing that stands out is how playable the set is. While the actual building itself is relatively small (when you compare to the likes of police/fire station) - about the size of a medium lego town house - the set comes with a small craft, a buggy and a monorail. So that's a lot of activity spread over 2 base plates for the 4 lego spacemen the set comes with.


The building is nicely detailed with multiple radar dishes on the outside and several furniture pieces on the inside - the large wall panel with interior graphics in particular is cool. The set comes with some special pieces, like the antennae and the flag staff. You also get a bunch of tools for the minifigures, which includes walkie talkie, wrench, gun and cup.

Next up would be the 920 rocket base and 924 transporter - i find the 928 explorer, while cool, a bit too humongous - and that should round up my classic space collection nicely.