Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Back around 2005 (I think), MTV Asia has this programme hosted by Edison Chen (yes...way before he became notoriously famous for all the wrong reason, hehe), and has this segment called "Chiseen" (literal translation of Cantonese i.e. Crazy)which sometimes has actor/director Daniel Wu and stuntguy, Min doing all sort of "JackAss" type thingy...being CNY month, and da firecrackah bein banned again, here's a video of perhaps one of their craziest stunt on that programme. Happy CNY everybody.

New Order video : Crystal.

One of fav New Order songs...with a video which doesn't actually show the band members themselves but actually "stand-ins" featuring young hipsters ala The Stroke...which is kinda nice. Note that the name "The Killers" is on the drum, causing abit of confusion when it came out.

Hot Toys MMS The Spirit : Silken Floss plus DID Tim Becker version SD.

...occasionally, there would be one or two popular categories of figure which are generally part of a collector's/toy enthusiast's collection. The dreaded Sicherheitsdienst (SD) of the Schutzstaffel (SS) Nazi party would be one of them. Maybe it is because of the combination of colors and design which screams "power", that attract in the first place. Originally formed as a small paramilitary group providing security to the Fuehrer, the SS grown into a truly formidable organisation in a matter of few years, with its own rank structure, unit insignias and uniforms. The all-black SS uniform is designed by by SS-Oberführer Prof. Karl Diebitsch (mmm, doesn't it read like Karl the b***h?) and graphic designer, SS-Sturmhauptführer Walter Heck (now, that rhymes with what the heck), and usually manufactured via camp prisoners under forced labour condition. Interesting fact which I did not know until now is that Hugo Boss happened to be one of the manufacturers. The SS, under Himmler leadership, and via the SS Einsatzgruppen death squads established by his deputy Heydrich, is often singularly identified as the group that carries out horrific acts of genocide within occupied countries and accounted for numerous war crimes as well as crimes against humanity. During the war years, the SS infiltrated every political organisations and became truly a force to be reckoned with, up to the closing curtain of WW2. This include setting up the SD to take over the intelligence role of the Gestapo, the state and federal policing duties, as well as by forming own combat group called the Waffen-SS, actively involve in the front line battles, comprising mostly of former concentration camps officers. As written in the history of WW2, we all know eventually what happened to these bunch of crazy nutters by the end of the war. For the record, I bought the DID SD as I thought I would like to kitbash a Kroenen (of Hellboy movies) and sort of fit it into the Kerberos alternative history storyline but walter heck, it all didn't work out (as well as DID figures keep getting better with all the details and stuff) as planned. Somewhere in the corner of my puny little imaginative mind, I would like to see these two figures as antagonists to the alternative Colonel Markus Von Stauffenberg...I also could not resist one of the Hot Toys' The Spirit character with the buxomy Scarlett Johanssen as Silken Floss, though I did not watch the movie. The figure has soft, rubberised body. Now, how did they come up with that? If only Triad Toys thought of that for their Otaku female figures ;P. DID first version of T. Becker is supposedly based on actor Robert Knepper on his portrayal of the psychopath Thedore "T-Bag" Beckwell in the series Prison Break. I thought the figure kinda looks like a laughing fool but true to DID standards, the materials and tonnes of badges (the SD just love their badges) work extremely fine for me. And both are issued in 2009. Both face sculpts varies from the actual resemblance, but it alright. On a separate note, I thought that I get goosebumps each time I look at the SD...evil perhaps?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Hot Toys MMS DX 02 ~ The Dark Knight: The Batman.

Criminals are a terror.
Hearts of the night.
I must disguise my terror.
Criminals are cowardly.
A superstitious terrible omen.
A cowardly lot.
My disguise must strike terror.
I must be black.
Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot.
I must be a creature.
I must be a creature of the night.
Mommy's dead. Daddy's dead. Brucie's dead.
I shall become a bat.
- Arkham Asylum : A Serious House on Serious Earth.

A (mis) interpretation:

Name: Bruce Wayne.
Alias: The Batman / The Dark Knight.
Age: 35 years old.
Affiliation: The League of Shadows (former); Independent (current).
Std. armaments: Modified military personnel suit - "The Bat Suit"; utility belt; prototype military land vehicle - "The Tumbler"; prototype escape pod - "The Batpod"; prototype stealth urban pacification aircraft - "The Bat".
Abilities: Genius level intellect; master detective; peak human physical condition; master martial artist; expert acrobat; master of disguise; master escapologist; indomitable will.
Current status: Unknown.

Bruce Wayne is born to Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, two very wealthy and charitable Gotham City socialites. Dr. Thomas Wayne  was a well-known philanthropist and CEO of the Wayne Enterprises prior to his murder. His kindness and generosity are unequivocal. Martha Wayne dedicated to philanthropy as much as her husband was dedicated to medicine, Martha was well known and respected in Gotham City. Martha was the heir to the Kane Chemical fortune and a member of one of Gotham City's wealthiest families.  She shared Thomas's charitable nature and was dedicated to her son Bruce's upbringing. Mrs. Wayne was fondly regarded in the city's social circles and helped host lavish charity balls at Wayne Manor.
The Wayne Enterprises, owned by billionaire Bruce Wayne and run by his business manager and CEO Lucius Fox, was founded by merchant ancestors of the Wayne family in the 17th century as a merchant house. It changed and gradually grew when it was officially erected in the 19th century when Alan Wayne, heir to Solomon Wayne, founded Wayne Shipping and Wayne Chemical. Along with Wayne Manufacturing, which came later, the Industrial Revolution fueled Wayne Enterprises into becoming a major powerhouse. The Wayne legacy went through two world wars and the WayneCorp is built out of the ashes of the Great Depression. The WayneTech developed aircraft plants and shipworks which fueled the American efforts in the Pacific War. Dr. Thomas Wayne would create and contribute the Wayne Foundation and its various divisions to the conglomerate, while his son, Bruce Wayne, would expand the conglomerate's focus to become a global powerhouse in a wide variety of fields. This diversity allowed him to use the conglomerate's resources for the betterment of mankind by financing and providing resources for not only his own endeavours, but for the financing of various charity groups as well as combating poverty and disaster-affected areas.  In addition to providing an income for Bruce Wayne, the various activities of the organisation help facilitate his Batman activities.
Bruce is brought up in Wayne Manor, a stately residence. The Manor grounds include an extensive subterranean cave system that Bruce Wayne discovered as a boy and later used as his base of operations as Batman. As a child, Bruce Wayne falls into a fissure, where he is attacked by a swarm of bats before being rescued by his father. Bruce develops a fear of bats as a result.
Bruce was brought up surrounded by the Wayne Manor's wealthy splendour and leads a happy and privileged existence until he suffered from a highly traumatic tragedy at the age of eight, when his parents are killed by an unknown small-time criminal when exiting a theatre performance of Faust halfway through the Second Act when Bruce became scared. Suddenly, while Thomas and Martha were consoling Bruce, the Waynes is confronted by an armed mugger. Thomas stands in front of Bruce to protect him as the man draws out a revolver. He demands Thomas's wallet and Martha's necklace. Thomas complies to the thug's demand but suddenly one of the ushers of the theatre, on cigarette break, shouted at the mugger which causes him to panic and shoots Thomas. As Martha screams and rushes to his aid, a second shot is fired, claiming her life as well. Her pearl necklace is torn and falls onto the pavement. The murder took place at 10:47 p.m. on the 26th of June, 1983. Their tragic murder shook Gotham City to its core and indirectly led to years of urban blight. Bruce is spared as the panicked mugger, now murderer, runs away as the crowd began to gather with police siren approaching. Thomas, in his dying breath, holds Bruce's hand tightly and tells  him not to be afraid. As the rain begins, Bruce life is forever changed from that moment onwards. He feels truly alone from that moment onwards. Suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, Bruce frequently had recurring distressing nightmares and becoming emotionally distant. Investigating authority established that the murderer is a mere mugger who randomly selected the wealthy Waynes. He is never identified nor captured. Bruce Wayne would later visualised the murderer in his mind, and based on the latter cold, frightening eyes, calls him "Joe Chill". He is raised by the family's butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Later, Bruce would be enrolled in various schools away from Gotham City and finally completed his studies at Princeton University.
When he returns to Gotham City, Bruce immediately witnesses a mugging incident which leave the victim blinded in both eyes. Gotham City has been plagued by societal and urban decay. Corruptions are rampant. Criminals rule the city. The general population seems to embraces and nurtures apathy as if was a virtue. As Bruce stands there frozen by the incident, Bruce has flashback of his parents' death. Shaking from fear and trauma of the memory, Bruce realises that he cannot truly understand what he intends to fight as a wealthy person. He abandons his life at home, stowing away on a cargo ship and traveling the world for nearly seven years. Bruce decides to travel the world and learn about the criminal underworld, before becoming one himself. He is caught at one point and sent to a Bhutanese prison, where Bruce meets Henri Ducard, and upon release, is recruited by Ducard into the clandestine terrorist organisation called The League of Shadows. The League, which according to Ducard, has been in existence since the times of the Egyptian civilisation, primary objective is the elimination of any form of injustice and to restore the world to balance throughout history when human civilisation achieved decadence. Ducard personally trained Bruce for an unspecified period until he could best any of the League members, including Ducard himself, in combat. Bruce was also mentored by Ducard to confront his greatest fear and how to control it instead to turn it into weapon against the unjust. He would not foresee the ultimate plan of Ducard, whom Bruce would eventually fights and defeats personally when the Ra's Al Ghul leads his men and women in an act of terrorism upon Gotham City which is known as the First Gotham City Crisis.
Upon completion of his training, Bruce left the Himalayan mountain fortress of the League and returns to Gotham City. By then, through intense training, specialised diet, and biofeedback treatments, Bruce has reached the pinnacle of human physical prowess. His physical attributes equalled and may even exceed that of any Olympic level athlete that has ever competed. His strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and coordination are at peak human perfection. Bruce has mastered 127 styles of martial arts, and through his martial arts training, he has become an expert on virtually all types of weaponry. His Ninjutsu training has made him a master at stealth capable of breaching high security facilities with ease and without being detected. Bruce is also a brilliant, virtually peerless, detective, strategist, scientist, and tactician with the keenest analytical mind. Bruce often uses cunning and planning to outwit his foes, rather than simply "out-fighting" them. He is also a polymath, earning more degrees than any individuals in his studies in all fields of advance sciences, technologies, engineering, computing, forensics and others. Bruce is master detective,  capable of observation, forensic investigation, and inductive and deductive reasoning of the highest calibre. Human intuition is an unlearnable trait and one of Bruce's most effective tools. Given any mystery, he can arrive at any conclusions with a fraction of the data. Bruce has also mastered the art of disguise and further learnt Expanded Disguise techniques. He has many aliases he uses to infiltrate the underworld or just to go undercover in public situations. 
On the night before Bruce Wayne embarks on his one-man crusade against criminals and the corrupt system, he goes to his parents' grave and swears an oath to rid the city of the evil that had taken their lives. On a surveillance mission to the seedy East End, a disguised Bruce is propositioned by teenaged prostitute Holly Robinson. He is reluctantly drawn into a brawl and is attacked by several prostitutes, including a dominatrix, Selina Kyle, whom would later achieved infamy as "The Cat". Two police officers shoot and take him in their squad car, but a dazed and bleeding Bruce breaks his handcuffs and causes a crash, dragging the police to a safe distance before fleeing. He reaches Wayne Manor barely alive and sits before his father’s bust, requesting guidance in his war on crime. A bat suddenly crashes through a window and settles on the bust. Bruce realises that all the skills alone would not be enough. "Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot", Wayne remarks, "so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible...". He staggers into the cave and confronts his greatest fear, the bats and embraces them instead. As a final catharsis, Bruce decides he would become a bat, a Batman.
Publicly posing as a multi-billionaire playboy, Bruce takes an interest in his family's company, and meets the Wayne Enterprises' top scientist Lucius Fox, who shows him various prototype technologies for the military purposes from the Research and Development Program within the Wayne Enterprises' Applied Sciences Division. Taking these with him, Bruce, with the help of Alfred, set up a workshop at the cave. Primarily among these are the "Batsuit", a Nomex survival suit originally intended for advanced military use which is made of hardened kevlar plates on titanium-dipped tri-weave fibres and is broken into multiple pieces of armour over a more flexible bodysuit for greater mobility. But as a trade-off, the flexible armour leaves Bruce more vulnerable to injury from bullets or knives in favour of increased flexibility and lighter weight. The first layer of protection is an undersuit with built-in temperature regulators designed to keep the wearer at a comfortable temperature in almost any condition. The second layer of protection consists of armour built over the chest, calves, thighs, arms and back. This armour features a kevlar tri-weave that can stop slashing weapons and can also deflect any bullet short of a straight shot impact, and reinforced joints that allow maximum flexibility and mobility. The armour is coated with a black latex material for camouflage and to dampen Bruce's heat signature, making him difficult to detect with night-vision equipment. Made of a graphite material, the cowl acts as a protective helmet. The cowl's Kevlar lining is bulletproof and capable of withstanding blunt trauma. The cowl is separate component, allowing Bruce to freely swivel and move his neck without moving the rest of his upper torso. The Batsuit also has "sonar-vision", where signals emitted by mobile phones are converted into images in a similar way to echolocation. In order to view the images, lenses fold down from Batman's cowl to cover his eyes. An advanced eavesdropping device is concealed within the cowl's right ear and enables Batman to listen in on conversations from a distance. Also, a strong electric current runs through it that prevents anyone except Batman from removing it to further protect his identity. Bruce also adds metal gauntlets with scallops on the forearms, mainly used to block against knives or other stabbing weapons. It is also retractable and are capable of firing outwards as projectiles. The left boot heel contains a high frequency sonic "sounder" which can summon bats. Batman's cape is made of "memory cloth" also developed by Fox. It is essentially flexible in its normal state, but becomes semi-rigid in a fixed form  when an electric current is passed through it from the microcircuits in the palms of his gloves. The cape has the ability to fold into a backpack shape when not in use. The utility belt is bronze in colour and is a modified climbing harness, with magnetised impact-resistant pouches and canisters attached to the belt at ergonomic points for ease of reach. It carries a magnetic gas-powered grapple gun, an encrypted cell phone, "Batarangs" which resemble ninja throwing stars cut in the shape of a bat, a medical kit, smoke bombs, mini explosives, periscope, remote control for the "Tumbler", mini-cam, money and other unspecified equipment such as the pneumatic mangler that allows him to bend a gun barrel and tear through the sheet metal of a van and an air-powered charge-firing rifle, which allows Bruce to fire timed explosive charges from considerable distances and can be folded into two halves into a box-like shape to fit into the utility belt's compartment. Bruce removed the belt's shoulder and chest straps because they restricted his movements.
The Batman utilises the prototype vehicle known as the Tumbler designed by Wayne Enterprises' Applied Sciences Division as a bridging vehicle for the military. It is the Batman's personal vehicle and primary mode of transportation. It includes weaponry and the ability to boost into a rampless jump. The Tumbler's armour is strong enough to break through concrete barriers without sustaining significant damage. A prototype escape vehicle is also utilised by the Batman, known as the "Batpod" which ejects out of the Tumbler's front end, with the Tumbler's front wheels becoming the Batpod's front and rear wheels. Shaped like a bike, it is armed with grappling hooks, cannons, and machine guns. Its wheels are capable of rolling against their normal axes, for added stability in sharp turns or other manoeuvres. This also allows for instant changes in direction - if the driver approaches a wall, the Batpod's central frame will rotate to keep the driver upright. The Batpod's chassis also elongates, allowing the rider to pass under low-hanging obstacles.  During the Third Gotham City Crisis, an airborne, unconventional, lightweight volantor-like craft with a ventrally mounted rotor known as "The Bat" is used by Bruce against Bane and his army. Developed by Lucius Fox, the Bat was originally intended for urban pacification and low intensity engagement military operations.
Bruce goes out for the first time as the Batman and stops a trio of teenagers who have just stolen from an elderly couple and beaten them badly. The Dark Knight retaliates by beating the trio so severely that all three are admitted to intensive care units. They are said not to be able to walk again. This is the Dark Knight's first victory. Each night, without fail, Bruce would goes out in his masked vigilante persona to prevent crimes and track down criminals. He starts to become an urban myth, with badly beaten criminals and witnesses saying that a monstrous bat-like creature attacks or save them. Some say it is a form of supernatural creature, like Spring Heeled Jack, a vampire, or extraterrestrial from another world for it can fly and disappear without a trace. The legend quickly grows with the Batman beginning to attack all levels of criminals with increasing boldness. The vigilante eventually comes to the attention of Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, the godfather and head of the strongest and most powerful crime family in Gotham City when he hosts a party for various corrupt city leaders and gangsters in his mansion. The Batman sneaks onto the grounds, puts the guards to sleep and sets up stage lights around the window that comprises one of the dining room walls. He cuts the electricity, throwing the room in darkness, blows a hole in the outside wall and then activates the lights. He gives the men and women a dire warning that he is just as determined to deliver them to justice and then leaves. The Falcone family would be the primary enemy and target of Bruce nearly throughout his entire career. Bounty is placed on his head by Carmine and other gang lords. Assassins are hired to track and kill the Batman which often backfire. The police would try to capture the Batman numerous times, but Bruce is too elusive and alert to fall for their traps. GCPD crime division's then newly assigned Sergeant James "Jim" Gordon would become the Batman first and longest lasting secret ally. Gordon initially resented the mysterious vigilante's interference in police business. Although the Batman seemed to fight on the side of justice, his methods and phenomenal track record for stopping crimes and capturing criminals are against the law. He eventually  helps the Batman indirectly when the vigilante saves him and his family during the East Division Scandal investigation on widespread corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (or CRASH) anti-gang unit  from corrupted policemen implicated in the incident. Bruce knows he could not fight his one-man war against crime. One night, the Batman pays a visit to Gordon and establishes communication. He persuades the detective that they need each other's help.  In addition, the maverick district attorney, Harvey Dent, also becomes Batman's secret ally. Their alliance bears positive results as eventually throughout the subsequent years, various crime lords and corrupted city leaders are investigated and implicated for various crimes.      
Bruce Wayne, in his Batman persona, is a dark and brooding individual with an intense personal vendetta against both crime and injustice. Psychologically traumatized by the death of his parents, Bruce swears to rid Gotham from the criminal elements that took his parents away from him. Not for revenge but justice. For each and every victims of crime Bruce personally seen or comes across, he would burn their images into his mind. A perpetual mourning for them, which in turn galvanises him more to bring the criminals whom perpetrated the acts to justice. Bruce is extremely pessimistic and suspicious, which often makes it difficult for him to trust people other than Alfred, and later, Lucius Fox and eventually, James Gordon and Harvey Dent. The latter's tragic turn and eventual death would often makes Bruce question himself on his quest for justice. This psychological issue also affects his inability to sustain any serious friendships or establish romantic relationships. In the course of his crusade, Bruce has also sustained various serious physical injuries from his encounter with both law enforcements and criminals. Apart from evading the authorities, Bruce as the Batman would often have to deal with the social issues which stemmed from his actions as the masked vigilante. Bruce ultimately intends to instil hope and inspiration to rise against injustice and criminals through the identity and the acts of the Batman. Nevertheless, individuals would often impersonate him and take up laws in their own hands, often at the perils of their own safety and lives. The appearance of the Batman also receives much media coverage, from the Gotham Times to the Daily Planet. His "notoriety" as the city's vigilante causes much debates amongst the publics. Protests and supports of his acts continued almost on daily basis. Gordon once raised the issue of escalation due to the Batman's activities. Criminals, in order to protect their interests, have become more violent and armed themselves with deadlier weaponries as do the authorities. Social commentators, particularly the critics, also point out that percentages of "weirdo" criminals, comprising psychopaths, sociopaths and serial murderers have risen since the Batman appearance although there is no concrete facts to support this argument. Apart from accusation of encouraging vigilantism and causing escalations, political detractors also call the Dark Knight a fascist, intend to eliminate liberty and civil rights, instil fear and turn the city into an authoritarian, police state. Some, including Gordon himself, questions the ethics of his method and means in confronting criminals. The Batman is known for his unflinching, brutal and physical assault which often than not leave his targets cripple or permanently incapacitated.  
Despite these criticisms, Bruce conscience is clear and proves to be in control of his temperament. And as the Batman, Bruce has proved to still have a great love for humanity, which is instilled by his parents since he was a child. His father is a doctor, while his mother is a crusader against child abuse. Indeed, the Batman's oath of vengeance is tempered with the greater ideal of justice. He refrains from killing, as he feels this would not make him any better than the criminals he fights. Bruce also applies the necessary degree of physical assault according to the seriousness of the crime. 
To protect his secret identity, the Batman has constructed a fake persona he can use in his civilian identity. To the world at large, Bruce Wayne is a high profile, self-absorbed, infamous playboy and philanthropist. Bruce never gives up at his quest until the forced, self imposed exile caused by the Joker's death. He would makes a final reappearance as the Batman until being defeated by Bane during the Third Gotham City Crisis, yet, passes on the mantle to his protégé, GCPD officer Robin J. Blake before making the final sacrificial act of preventing the nuclear destruction of Gotham City. Bruce once remarked to Alfred, quoting from a Hemingway novel, 'The world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part'. 

I placed a last minute order for this one...thus it arrived kinda late for me. The Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger waaaaayyyy back in 1939, is personally an all time favourite hero from DC Comics, no thanks to a slew of ground breaking stories and artworks from mid to early 90s. This version, presented by Hot Toys in the MMS DX format, from the 2008 sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, features the second Batsuit which was worn during the climatic confrontation with the Joker. The figure itself is innovative in the sense that the second head sculpt is attached on the neck via a magnetic device, which also gives an initial weird feel but got used to it after a while. Beautifully rendered and produced, I am glad to own one. The only grouch I have for this figure is...the secretion of "stomach juice" from the lower torso of Bats. Maybe, it is Hot Toys way of telling me that the Batsuit requires lube oil all the time to prevent squeaky sound, or perhaps it is a new, secretive device created by Hot Toys for the Dark Knight of which I have not read about.