...when I noted Indigofan latest blog entry, my heart skipped a second...finally someone is "brave" enough to open a stand alone Japanese vintage/replica denim store in this country! Imagine the impact once I opened the page....OMG! Indigofan's right. Name's there but no denim mon! C'mon, at least have the decency to call it Elvisu or Visu.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
I always felt that the boots for HT's Major Dutch and Ma.K's female pilot are a tad small for them. Their current boots make them look like having "bound feet". Thus, got two pairs of new boots for both figures. Being a guy whom is not learnt in the manners of which military accessories go with what or the precise term for it, I have to rely on guess work based on the original. Thus got a ACE 1/6 Panama boots for Dutch and ACI 1/6 desert boots for Ma.K pilot. I reckoned that Dutch, whose storyline involving his encounter with the Predator took place in 1987, must have been issued a Vietnam era boots? As for Ma.K pilot, it is abit tricky, as I always view K. Yokoyama's sci-fi works as an amalgamation of WW2 era stuffs with a tinge of retro 80s sci-fi elements. Furthermore, human combatant visual references are comparatively few and far in between. Again, I had to rely on the original boots to see which other alternative boots are closest possible and proceed from there. It seems to be almost the same as the current military desert boots which are available online (but at least I won't spend hours trying to lace the darn boots up as in the case of Dutch). I would love to add at least a pair of knee protectors and body armour (what is it called? Molle? Alice? What da..?) on her, but again, I see Ma.K pilots and servicemen (and women) as wearing very little accessories (not even a sidearm). Practically, it is because the pilot would not be able to fit into the SAFS at all and secondly, the battles are presumably carried out in the scorching hot Australian desert (or some tropical countries). Nevertheless, I could not help but added DiD William Bowman's leather flight jacket and flight helmet (?) onto her. In this case, the "look" takes precedent over "practicality". Perhaps later, would also add an 80s sci-fi sidearm for her, if there were a right one around.
Friday, 23 April 2010
Field Marshall Paulus: My army is not designed for this kind of fighting. Yesterday, yet again I had to promote 25 sergeants to replace the officers shot down by the sharpshooters. Those snipers are demoralizing my people. This city is no more than a heap of ruins, but the Fuhrer's persisting. We should trust the fuhrer's instinct, he always managed to lead us to victory. We shall be at home for Christmas. How are you going to go about finding this young Russian?
Major König: I'll fix it so that he's the one who finds me.
At last, Herr König arrived. Not from Berlin but Hong Kong. Produced by DiD, Major Erwin König is based on the 2001 movie, Enemy at the Gates starring Jude Law and Ed Harris as the legendary Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev and German numero uno marksman Erwin König respectively. The movie is based on David L. Robbins' 1999 fictional novel, War of the Rats, and drew its inspiration from William L. Craig's 1973 non fiction work, Enemy at the Gates : The Battle of Stalingrad, which referenced Zaytsev's mentioning of a three days duel against a lone German sniper during the Battle of Stalingrad in hia memoir, Notes of a Sniper. An interesting fact is does König really exists? Zaytsev referenced him as Herr Koning, based on the documents retrieved from the sniper's body. More confusingly, Zaytsev supposedly referred to König as a SS Standartenführer (equivalent to a colonel ranking) named Heinz Thorvald in his earlier memoirs. However, no sniper was ever recorded to hold such a high ranking, and no SS divisions fought in Stalingrad. Also, most German snipers were deployed as lone wolf, rather than in group. Other than the question on his existence, König was supposedly the head of the Wehrmacht sniper school in Zossen and specially assigned to the Eastern Front on the savage fighting in Stalingrad to kill Zaytsev. The Soviet war records supposedly used both names, whether they are one and the same person, or different, or probably a fabrication of Soviet propaganda to boost the troops morale remain to be seen. In the movie, König was portrayed as a ruthless Bavarian aristocrat, highly skilled sniper, whom was killed in the Stalingrad train station by Zaytsev after Zaytsev's comrade Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) sacrificed his own life to lure König out in order for Zaytsev to deliver a single shot through the German sniper's left eye. As for the quality of the figure, as usual of DiD, it comes pack with metal badges, weapons and nice fabric for uniforms and field gear. Head sculpt likeness is quite close to the real deal, but I always felt that when it comes to DiD's head sculpt, the depiction on the box looks somehow much nicer. Sniper always possessed some sort of mystique to me personally. Like a lone wolf seeking out its prey by hiding and blending in onto their surroundings. According to Wiki, the snipers were universally employed throughout the warfare in history. The term itself was first used in 1824 in the sense of word "sharpshooter". It further added that even before firearms were invented, elite marksman had been around to halt or even assassinate important individuals and officers. During the Second Boer War, the Scottish Highland regiment, the Lovat Scouts, was the first British sniper unit which earned high praise for its effectiveness. In World War I, the Imperial Germany army deployed specialised marksmen armed with scope rifles to pick off enemy soldiers showing their heads out of the trenches. In World War II, it was the Soviet Union which trained specialised marksmen and organised them alongside regular troops to increase their effectiveness. Following this, Germany re-established their sniper schools and re-introduced them onto the front line. Armed with high quality scope, efficient field gears and excellent sniping skills and knowledge, they inflicted numerous casualties amongst the Allies, most notably during the Normandy campaign. Germany's sniper doctrine would eventually be applied by other nations after the war. Selected, historically famous snipers include Russian Zaytsev (WWII ~ Battle of Stalingrad) and Lyudmila Pavlichenko (the most successful female sniper in history ~ WWII, Battle of Odessa and Battle of Sevastopol), Germany's Matthäus Hetzenauer and Josef Allerberger (WWII ~ Eastern Front), China's Zhang Taofang (張桃芳- whom earned the record of most kills without using a magnifying scope ~ Korean War), Australian Billy Sing aka The Assassin of Gallipoli (WWI ~ The Gallipoli Campaign) , Finnish Simo Häyhä aka The White Death (WWII ~ The Winter War, held record for the most kills in any war) and American Carlos Hathcock (held previous record (for 35 years) for the longest distance kill at 2250 m ~ Vietnam War).
An alternative (mis) interpretation.
Name : Leon Thorvald.
Age : 43.
Rank : Major and head trainer of the Zossen Wehrmacht Sniper School.
Std. armaments : Kar. 98k w/ telescopic sight.
Current status : Deceased (KIA).
Leon Thorvald is an aristocrat whose grandfather is a Junker, a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. Thorvald was assigned to the Eastern Front during WWI, where he emerged as the most successful German sniper with a confirmed kills of 335 Russian troops. During the interbellum, Germany subsequently dropped their specialized sniper units. Thorvald was eventually re-assigned as the head of the Wehrmacht sniper training school in Zossen after the rise of the Nazi party. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the effectiveness of Soviet snipers and the amount of casualties they inflicted upon the German army forced the Wehrmacht to re-instate the deployment of snipers. Thorvald was specially chosen and sent to Stalingrad with the sole mission to eliminate Vladimir Zaytsev, the elusive number one Soviet sniper. Thorvald accepted the assignment due to a personal reason. His only son had been killed in Stalingrad by a sniper. Anguished, he was determined to avenge his son's death. Thorvald departed from Berlin to Warsaw, whereby he joined a captain from 808th Propagandakompanie, Markus von Stauffenberg in an armoured train to Stalingrad. The armoured train also incidentally carried Dora, a 80 cm K (E) railway siege gun intended for installation onto the Landkreuzer P 1500 Monster super heavy tank as well as the newly developed personal panzer armour, the "Wolfpeltz" for the 1st and 2nd Company of the SS Heavy Panzer Battalion 101. Arrived on the western bank of the Volga, Field Marshall Frederich Paulus of the Sixth Army briefed Thorvald at the Ostheer HQ in the massive GUM state department store in the city center about the grim situation they were facing on the front line. Josef Stalin had decided to concentrate all available troops and armours onto the defence of Stalingrad. The Germans were being slowly grind to bits by the intense and atritious warfare within the ruins of the city that borne the namesake of their enemy leader. Tanks were rendered almost useless as mobility within the bombed out city was hindered by rubbles up to nine meters high at times. The Soviet Army's snipers took advantage of this senario to inflict countless casualties upon the German troops sent into the city as well as halting their advances. Paulus called this Rattenkrieg or Rat War. Thorvald immediately went to carry out his assignment, tracking deep into the no-man's land, where he immmediately killed Ludmilla, Anton and Koulikov, three of the best snipers active on the frontline beside Zaytsev. Employing un-conventional sniper tactics like non-relocation and using mannequins to draw out their firing positions, Thorvald also had an uncanny instinct to help him lured out enemy snipers. He noted in his diary of the grim situation facing both armies from each side. He controversially commented on how he observed some Soviet troops cannibalised the remains of their fallen comrades, as well as being shot by their own commanders if they were to take a step backwards from the front line. Thorvald was also highly critical of the SS torture methods, and sees it as pointless. He befriended a 13 year old Russian boy who worked as a cobbler for the Germans in return for food, Sacha Filipov. Sacha knew Zaytsev personally, and this information delighted Thorvald and began to seek out more informations about Zaytsev from Sacha, by offering him chocolates, an item which was impossible to find during those times. Later the news of Zaytsev was dead began to circulate, due to the confiscation of Zaytsev's diary from a Werhmacht deserter whom was rummaging through piles of dead Soviet soldiers for valuebles, leading to Paulus dismissing Thorvald and ordered him to fly back to Berlin immediately as Paulus deemed Thorvald duty as completed. Thorvald refused to believe Zaytsev was dead and refused to back down, leading to Paulus confiscating Thorvald's dog tag as he didn't want the sniper to be identified in case he were killed. Thorvald also surrendered his son's War Merit cross to Paulus, requesting him to pass it to his wife in Berlin. After being injured on his left hand from a shot inflicted by Zaytsev in a trap specially set up for the Russian, Thorvald began to suspect, and later discovered, that Sacha was a double agent working for a Soviet political officer named Danilov. Feeling betrayed, he interrogated Sacha and after coldly apologizing to him, Thorvald hung him from a post at the Stalingrad train station, where he successfully lured Zaytsev out for a final three days climatic duel to the death.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
As I walked along,
the supposed golden path,
I was confronted,
by mysterious spectres.
they pointed to the graveyard,
over and yonder hill.
I paused in cosmic reflection,
confused and wondering,
of how I came to die.
Hmmm..I was confused.
For if I was dead,
how and why,did I die?
But I composed myself.
And decided I should face it
But I stood there alive,
on the supposed golden path,
and I was confronted,
by powerful demon force.
They said it was the devil,
and when he spoke, his words flowed like glowing lava from the mouth of a volcano.
And I said: Help me lord! I found myself in some kind of Hell!
But I did not believe in him, heaven and hell,world in opposites, kind of reality.
And I gained control of myself, and I decided to press on.
And as I walked along,
the supposed golden path,
I was trembling with fear,oh the lions and wizards yet to come.
I seen in the distance, silver mountains rising high in the clouds
and a voice from above did wisper, some shining answer from the moon.
Please forgive me, I never meant to hurt you.
Please forgive me, I never meant to hurt you.
Please forgive me, I never meant to hurt you.
Please forgive me, I never meant to hurt you.
Please forgive me, I never meant to hurt you.
(As I walked along) Please forgive me,
(As I walked along) I never meant to hurt you.
(As I walked along)
(As I walked along)
(As I walked along)Please forgive me,
(As I walked along)I never meant to hurt you.
(As I walked along)Please forgive me,
I never meant to hurt you.
- The Golden Path by The Chemical Brothers ft. Wayne Coyne on vocal.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
...this figure received much flak recently, due to the less than desirable "quality" which admittedly, does not reflect the price tag. Rightly pointed out by some toy sifus are the skinny body, pin on jacket with seams, which is comparatively "un-tidy" and conventional against offerings from other toy companies and a non-removable goggle. The plus point is that I noticed how effortlessly I can swap the various hands and head around (at least not as pain inducing as some I have encountered). Nevertheless, this is one of the those rare situation for me at least, of which the bike and the figure have got to be paired up together, otherwise I felt it is like ordering char kuey teow without kuey teow. I suspected that the red bike could have been produced by Bandai whereas the figure is by Medicom. Medicom is notorious for below par QC. Opsie! Allow me to correct that statement. I mean, the perceived quality is not on par with the price. Which was why I have always been shying away from Medicom offerings...until now that is. Thing is, Medicom produced some real "accurate" manga/anime type figure. They have the knack for capturing anime renderings effortlessly. And with Hot Toys (the last anime characters from them was the awesome Briareos and Deunan pair) currently focusing on realistic looking movie related characters, and DiD on WW2 military figure (couldn't wait for the Battle of Stalingrad 1942 aka Enemy at the Gate figures to be released next), that gives me the option to check out Medicom (there are others but way too unaccesible) when it comes to collecting favourite anime/manga related figures (which in my case, are very very rare...they somehow tend to skip my favourite characters like Battle Angel Alita, for example). Kaneda himself, of course, is the protagonist of the epic manga, Akira, illustrated and written by Katsuhiro Otomo back in 1982 shortly after he completed Domu : A Child's Dream. The entire series ended in 1990, was compiled into six massive volumes, and initially translated for the English readers by Marvel Comics imprint, Epic Comics back in the early 90s, later Dark Horse Comics picked up the licensing and came out with a new translation in 2004, re-released the manga in its original six volumes paperback (the only set back up till now is I have no idea where does the psychokinesis power comes from, is it "hidden" within our DNA?) Akira became so popular, globally is also partly due to the 1988 anime movie released. Considered ground breaking for its time due to the application of countless numbers of cels animation and perfected lips synchronisation with the dialogue, it resulted in one of the most breath taking, ultra fluid motion in an animation I have ever seen. Personality wise, Kaneda is, honestly, the typical teen rebel one could readily identified with. In this country, I imagine he would easily fit into a profile of a typical Mat Rempit, Fei Chai or samseng. The only difference is, being a futuristic, deluxe Japanese version of an Ah Beng/Mat Rempit, Kaneda is way cooler, and he owns a cooler bike than say, a mod Honda Cup, or even Batty's Batpod :). An early, fairly controversial subject I noticed was that Kaneda may have impregnated the school infirmary nurse (it was only hinted at) but after a few pages, the idea is not explored further in the manga. Another was that Kaneda and gangs are recreational drug users. And the effect of these drugs are indirectly compared when hardcore druggies like the Clowns are introduced, as well as when Tetsuo became addicted (which is why most mangas I had have to be hidden away in secret storages :) Both these matters are excluded from the movie. Incidentally, Kaneda's look evolved in the manga as the story progressed, and somehow looks abit different from his anime incarnation. Again, I read somewhere that Otomo actually completed the anime first before concluding the manga, which led to differences in both mediums. According to Wiki source, Otomo mentioned that he could never actually complete Akira.
Name : Shotaro Kaneda (金田 正太郎)
Age : 15 years old (as of AD2030).
School : 8th District Youth Vocational Training School, Neo Tokyo.
Favourite hangout place : Hariyuka Bar, 17th District, Neo Tokyo.
Gang Affiliation : De facto leader - sentōsha (先頭車), of the bōsōzoku (暴走族) bike gang, The Capsules.
Std. Armaments : The big, red bike + amphetamines. Optional JGSDF laser rifle model LZR.30 w/ NV optic sight (40 shots std round, 5 "hotshot" rounds) and rechargeable battery pack w. liquid metal core.
An alternate (interpretation).
Due to the collapse of the global economy shortly after World War Three (which begun in 1992) ended, massive unemployment indirectly causing the collapse of traditional family structure, resulted in many children being abandoned at a very young age into various state-sponsored welfare homes. Kaneda is no different and spent his time growing up in an orphanage where he met Tetsuo Shima (島 鉄雄), another orphan whom would become his closest friend after he prevented Tetsuo from being bullied and beaten by the older kids there. A complete opposite of Tetsuo, Kaneda has decided a long time ago not to be anchored with feeling of being abandoned, and determined to make it on his own in this world which he comes to regard as harsh. As such he continuously rebelled against any rules and regulations set by the adults, whom he regarded as old fashion and "dull". Kaneda can sometimes be seen as egoistical, speak without thinking and considerably brash. He also sees himself as a self styled "skirt-chaser", and although not very bright, he possesses confidence and leadership qualities as well as a strong sense of brotherhood, and would often stick out his neck and help friends in trouble all the way. At the age of 14, Kaneda and Tetsuo were both sent to the 8th District Youth Vocational Training School, an infamous institution which is a center for juvenile delinquents and dropouts from normal school. In fact it is kind of a school and boot camp rolled into one. There they met Yamagata (山形) and Kaisuke or better known as just Kai (甲斐). Together, they formed the bōsōzoku bike gang known as The Capsules, due to their mutual fondness for bikes and amphetamines. Originally, Yama wanted to be the sentōsha of the gang but he was "out-debated" by Kaneda (furthermore, Kaneda "proved" he could get them ample supply of pills for free, due to his affair with the school infirmary nurse) and became his right hand man instead. As all of them hold part-time jobs or fully unemployed, their bikes were all stolen from others and modified to suit their own tastes. Night after night, they would group together at the Hariyuka Bar, in their various loud and customised bikes, seeking the thrill of speeding down the highways, playing hide and seek with the police, alarming pedestrians and attract girls' attention. Eventually their memberships grew, and territorial dispute began to arise between them and other bike gangs. Thus, apart from seeking open road thrills and flaunting the authorities, The Capsules occasionally find themselves armed with baseball bats, metal pipes, knives and even molotov cocktails, and embroiled in particularly violent and brutal gang fight along the roads, most notably against their closest rival gang, The Clowns, another bosozoku outfit consisting of drug traffickers and hardcore addicts led by their physically intimidating sentosha, Joker. Often they would out-battled The Clowns and emerged un-scath, but occasionally, there would be injuries which lands them in hospital instead. Kaneda himself had been detained twice but since he was still below the legal age, Kaneda would be let off with warning. Kaneda continued to look after Tetsuo, whom he had came to regard as his very own kid brother. However, this attention only fueled Tetsuo's dissatisfaction of his own inferiority complex and deepened his sense of pessimism, as well as amplifiying the perception of helplessness and the "weak link" other members had projected upon him. On one particular faithful night which would forever changed both their lives, Tetsuo was determined to show everyone that he wasn't weak and overtook Kaneda in leading the convoy, a clear violation of the bōsōzoku rules. Speeding off towards an off limit abandoned highway which heads directly toward The Heart Of Destruction (the crater left by the supposedly new bomb which destroyed the former Tokyo City and ignited WW3), his bike exploded upon coming in contact with a mysterious boy with a number 26 laser engraved on his palm whom suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Injured, Kaneda and others came to his assistance. At this juncture, Kaneda thought he saw the boy de-materialised into thin air but a police car intervened and he never gave much thought to it. The officers took Tetsuo away and put Kaneda and the others into custody. A disturbing matter was that Kaneda and others never know which hospital the officers brought Tetsuo to, irregardless how hard they tried to get informations. A few weeks later, Tetsuo suddenly appeared on the school compound and drove Kaneda's bike away. Tetsuo had been desiring Kaneda's red bike from the time it was stolen from a bike showroom a year ago. Kaneda gave chase, not so much as to beat Tetsuo up for stealing his bike but to know where, how, why from Tetsuo himself. Tetsuo would have outrunned Kaneda easily but ran into a group of Clowns whom recognised Tetsuo as one of the members of their rival gang. Tetsuo was kicked off the bike and would have been beaten un-conscious if Kaneda and the rest did not arrive in time to chase off the Clowns. Except for one Clown, the rest ran off. Tetsuo, bleeding from the mouth and filling with rage, began to savagely rained down kicks and punches onto the captured Clown until Kaneda intervened and asked him to stop before Tetsuo kills him. Tetsuo burst into a rant at that point and blamed everything bad that were happening to him to that point upon Kaneda. Shocked, Kaneda froze at what Tetsuo had said, until the sound of the police sirens snapped Kaneda out of it. At about the same time, Tetsuo started to grasp at his head, screaming in pain. The police officers quickly whisked Tetsuo away while Kaneda and the rest of the members were taken into custody again. That would be the last time Kaneda ever saw of the Tetsuo he knew since childhood. The next time they met, their strong friendship would forever be shattered, and with Tetsuo (psychic experiment subject designated no. 41) newly manifested psychokinesis power, of which he used to massacre almost all the existing bōsōzoku gangs (including Yamagata) after they failed in the effort to trap him within a warehouse, both would see each other as bitter enemy instead. Kaneda also happened to be the only individual whom could engaged Tetsuo in a physical fist fight without being killed by Tetsuo's powerful psychokinesis ability, most likely due to the deeply ingrained sense of brotherhood whom both once had for one another. Kaneda was instrumental in eventually assisting Kei, a beautiful 19 years old member of the Resistance, in preventing the dormant and autistic Akira from being fallen into the military hand (although it turned out that Kei and her "brother" Ryu, ended up being betrayed by Nezu, the leader of the Resistance as well as a member of the local National Council) as well as causing Tetsuo's right arm to be incinerated by a SOL laser satellite shot. Minutes before the destruction of Neo-Tokyo (due to Akira releasing a second devastating psychic detonation), Kaneda and few other individuals were sucked into the vortex of the psychic sphere generated by Akira. What he encountered or experienced within was not revealed, but he was "released" from it when Tetsuo tried to manifest the same power some time later. Immediately catching up with Kei, Kai, the Colonel and even Joker, they formed an alliance to face and take down the anarchistic Great Tokyo Empire (formed by Tetsuo's aide, with Tetsuo being the "prime minister" and Akira as the "head of state") ruling the survivors amongst the ruins of Neo Tokyo city. As Tetsuo's power spiralled out of his control, Kaneda rode out alone to take him on face to face in the final showdown. But by then, Tetsuo had manifested into a grosteque and monsterous physical representation of his own surpressed memory. With Tetsuo's personality consumed by his own rampaging psychic power as well as seriously addicted to drugs, it would be up to Kei, whom has displayed potential as a "medium" for Lady Miyako (herself a psychic experiment subject, designated no. 19) to channel and amplify Miyako's psychic power, in order to reach into the SOL satellite's laser cannon and redirected the blast onto Tetsuo himself. That did not stop Tetsuo however and finally, Akira (whom was killed by Ryu earlier and had re-gained his personality), manifested and together with the collective consciousness of his former (presumedly deceased) childhood friends, absorbed Tetsuo into the psychic sphere and took him away from this existence forever to prevent any further destruction. As the US military forces gathered onto the shore of the ruins, Kaneda and his surviving friends and comrades, including Kei and Joker, stopped them from advancing into the city, saying that the place now belongs to them and they would not welcome any third party interference. Kaneda then rode into the ruins, and briefly saw the spirits of Tetsuo and Yamagata riding along side with him. Somehow re-assured, Kaneda knew that after all the apocalyptic occurences for the past one year, Neo Tokyo and all her survivors would now face a better and more optimistic future...
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Back to Malacca for the weekend recently (after having tormented by numerous phonecalls from Esther's mom for "no show" for nearly six months!). As usual, Esther's mom whipped up some great, delicious meal for lunch and dinner. Kar Yau "customised" a cook top with a table top gas hob for her cooking activities...at the backlane! But, unlike "matured" backlane, the residential area is still fairly new, so it wasn't as filthy as I thought it would be. Furthermore, Esther's mom is really, really good at growing various veggies, which she planted on various discarded plastic containers. Her secret recipe for growing such lovely veggies and fruits are ikan bilis "extracts" plus the usual commercial fertilisers (of the chicken variety ~~~). The reason I am amaze with her are the size of these veggies. Giant, juicy ladyfingers, eggplants and white raddish amongst others. Yummy. Oh, yeah. The first thing Chloe and Dylan did was running to the giant pot to fiddle and try catching the guppies Kar Yau has. And no, Nicole is not drinking the "fish water" from the pot (as much as I would love to see her doing so hahahaha).