Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: A Year in Review

Nothing figure related, but I felt that I should post this here as well! 

From start to finish, 2012 has had its fair share of ups, downs, twists, and turns. The year started off with me on my Christmas break in Nairobi, Kenya with my parents. From the beginning, I fully intended that 2012 will be the year where I finally break away from my past and look forwards my future. When I say that, I really mean getting over a certain girl. Yeah, I know it's that whole shenanigan again, but whatever! However, let's take this step by step, shall we?

Towards the middle of January, I returned to Guam and took up the second half of my second year at the Guam Community College (GCC). It was a pleasant semester, no hassle at all. My favorite moments from it were my field trips for my Environmental Biology class. They were always fun, and it really gave us time to bond with each other in the class. Whether it be hikes, riverboat tours, a trip to the aquarium, or dolphin watching, each trip was a learning experience and a fun time for everyone. Among that class I also took Finite Mathematics, Desktop Publishing, and Web Design. All were wonderful classes. I also took part in my college's art exhibit, put together by the GCC Digital Arts Society. I submitted a mini comic, which was met with positive responses. I was happy enough to be able to display my work to the public and to my fellow peers and instructors.

As the semester came to a close, I returned to Nairobi for one last time for my parents were moving back to Virginia that Fall. I spent almost my entire summer break in Kenya. I visited my high school one last time as well to attend the Class of 2012 Graduation ceremony. I saw a lot of my old friends and teachers again, which made me really happy. It reminded me of the fun times I had during my two years, my junior and senior years, at that school. I found it astonishing that many people remembered me and were excited to see me! It made me feel guilty that for almost half of the people I saw again, I forgot their names. Regardless, I was filled with nothing but glee to see some of my old friends, who were in the 10th grade when I graduated, finish high school and prepare to begin their lives at college as I did two years ago.

As for that girl I mentioned before, yes. She was staying with my parents while her family moved back to the States. She did not wish to finish her senior year back at an American public school. My parents, in their kindness and out of their friendship with her family, willfully took her in. This girl, I was really close with her. I met her when I was a senior. We instantly clicked. We were best friends for the longest time. I told her things that I have not told my other friends and vice versa. I helped her out with issues with relationships – keep in mind this is before I thought of her in a romantic way. As the year went by, I became closer not to her only, but her family and her siblings. By the time I left, I had come to realize too late that I was beginning to view her more than a friend. So, skipping the two year time difference, that leads us to last winter. Just as I was about to summon the courage to tell her how I feel, she does the worst thing possible. She tells me that she has a boyfriend, and loves me as if I were a brother. If she told me that years ago, I'd be fine with it, but it being that I was infatuated with her, I admit, it stung. Over the following months, I slowly but surely managed to get over it. That brings us to last summer. She is already packed out and ready to fly back to the states with her mother to be with the rest of her family and get settled in college. Despite vowing to keep in touch, I knew that this would be the last time that I'd see or talk to her. Sure enough, I was right. I haven't talked to her since that day. On the outside, I may look like I don't care, but deep within me, I miss the days that the two of us laughed together, talked freely, and that I'd be the one she messaged on Facebook first and end up chatting for hours on end with. Frankly at this point, I'd rather have our friendship back more than anything else. Right down to it, I miss her, and I'd rather have her as a close friend and a sister-like figure rather than a girlfriend. Overall, I'm done pursuing women of my past. Period.

For the rest of the summer. I worked at the United States Embassy in Nairobi as a summer intern. I worked in the Consulate section, which deals with passport renewals for mission employees and American tourists currently in Kenya, and etc. It was not a bad experience and I was paid well. I certainly enjoyed myself despite it being a desk job. My boss was kind and always kept me busy rather than leave me with nothing to do and eventually bore myself to death! I hung out with the other interns during our lunch and breaks. The other interns are mostly former classmates of mine. Some who have already graduated and are returning, and some have just graduated, or are still in school. We had fun. Our time together is what makes our internship bearable, I admit. Out of the times I've worked at the Embassy before, this time was perhaps the best. I bonded with a lot of my fellow interns and colleagues. We saw people come and leave. It was a real emotional roller coaster when it came time for myself and another intern in my section to leave, especially on another intern for she had to take over both of our jobs when we left!

Ultimately as the summer neared its end, my parents began packing out. The movers had a fun time packing away my Godzilla collection, which I had stored away for the last several years when I was gone. It was fun seeing my figures again and realizing the magnitude of my collection. As we were boxing stuff away, I reminisced about when we first moved there in the summer of 2008. It's hard to believe that four years have past since then. A lot has happened and changed. Some for the better, some for the worst... mostly the former. Fortunately before I returned to Guam, my parents and I managed to spend a few days in the Philippines, seeing relatives and staying at our summer house up in Tagaytay. By the end of July, I was back on Guam. Thankfully enough I got back two weeks before classes started, allowing me to become reacquainted with the timezone, and get out of my "summer head," and into my "school head."

The Fall semester began in mid-August. I only took two classes this semester: Introduction to Literature, and Video. The former was the easiest of the two. I had a swell time in that class since I am will intuited with literature. Video on the other hand was a challenge for various reasons. Firstly it is not an interest of mine, secondly I... or I should say we lacked the proper equipment, and thirdly, our instructor expected way too much from us throughout the semester. I get the fact that this guy knows his stuff, but he fails to realize that this is a Community College class, not a University. He expects "Hollywood" style quality from each and every one of us. Throughout the semester we struggled to accomplish his assignments. We were set into groups and had projects due every week. Many of our classmates are also working too, so it makes it even harder to meet up to film and finish assignments. We told our instructor time and time again that it's just way too inconvenient. By the end though, he finally saw it through our perspective and let us off gently. Fortunately our final project was a marvelous success and was met with positive reviews. I managed to pass with a B-. An acceptable grade at best.

Last month, I took part in Guam's annual Chibi-Con. It's a convention dedicated to figure collectors and anime fans and enthusiasts on the island. I was invited to display some of my Godzilla figures. By being an exhibitor at the event, I was able to attend for free (saving me $15!). It was a really awesome experience. Sadly, I have never been to a convention like this before, so this was a real treat. I was invited essentially at the last minute after a friend of mine alerted the show runner that I have a particular line of figures that he's interested in showcasing at the event. I gladly accepted and I have no regrets. I made a lot of new friends at the event and had myself a really nice time. I was quite surprised that a lot of people had a decent level of knowledge on the Godzilla franchise. For once, I felt like I belonged.

As quickly as the first semester ended, I flew straight to Virginia to be with my parents for the holidays. Essentially that leads us up to this moment. So how do I feel about this year? It was great! Sure, I had some downers, but overall it was great.  With that, I ask myself, what do I look forward to in 2013? Quite a bit actually. Firstly I am looking forward to my eventual internship for my Work Study course. I am looking forward to finally graduating with my Associates Degree in Visual Communications this May. I am looking forward to attending the wedding of a lifelong friend of mine. Beyond that, 2013 is a mystery. I am still questioning of my future after I graduate. Do I stay on Guam to work? Do I meet up with my parents at their next assignment in Laos temporarily? Or do I go to the states to take up a major in Fine Arts for my Bachelors Degree? Time will tell. However, at the moment my eyes have been opened to a decent course with the Disney College Program that I am highly interested in. I would not mind becoming a concept designer of sorts for Disney's movies.

Anyways, that's my year for you guys! It's been fun and we didn't die... must've pissed off a lot of doomsday preppers who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing for this moment! I expect 2013 be full of surprises.

Till then, I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Latest Purchases

Minutes ago I just purchased a couple of backdrops from Diorama Depot to be used to display my S.H.MonsterArts figures.

Check out Diorama Depot's other miniature products that you could use to brighten up your kaiju displays! 

Friday, 28 December 2012

New Ultra-Act Scan

Here's a scan that recently surfaced showing the Ultra-Act Balbalu and Ultra-Act Zetton. So far there is no slated release date nor price for these two yet.

D-Arts Charizard Promo Pics

Tamashii Nations has just updated their website with the official promo images for the D-Arts Charizard, slated for an April 2013 release. The price has also been mentioned as well, 3990 Yen, which is approximately $46 USD.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Junior Has Shipped Out!

Just got a notification from Big In Japan that my S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla Junior has shipped out. Hopefully my cousin in Guam picks it up for me so it'll be waiting for me when I get back in a couple of weeks. 

Kaiju Toy Review - Sci-Fi Revoltech Baragon

I am indeed a fan of Revoltech's renditions of Toho's infamous kaiju. While they were not able to acquire the liscences to produce a Godzilla figure for the Sci-Fi Revoltech line, they were able to produce some neat figures for other monsters such as Moguera (The Mysterians), Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus (Destroy all Monsters), and Gigan (Godzilla vs. Gigan). Baragon's been on my wish list for quite some time. I recall seeing him displayed at a hobby store back in Malaysia when I last visited in 2010. I regret not buying him then. Since, I've seen his price online go higher and higher. Lately, however, his prices seem to drop and he's been popping up at various sites. Once I found him on HobbyLink Japan, I jumped at the chance to get him!

On this cold winter's evening, I returned home from a dinner with my family and some old friends to find a parcel slip in my parents' mailbox. Fortunately the front desk of the apartment complex was still open and I was able to acquire my package. Quickly I went up to my parents' place and opened up my box. After inspecting the packaging, I proceeded to take the figure out. Baragon is very well detailed. His joints were stiff when I took him out, but after fiddling around with them, they loosened up and are easier to handle. The figure is really well detailed, standing at around four inches tall. It really does a good job capturing the charm of Baragon's on-screen counterpart. For those unaware, Baragon is a monster created by Toho and was first featured in the 1965 film, Frankenstein Conquers the World, where his attacks are blamed on the innocent Frankenstein who then battles Baragon to the death.

Like with all Revoltech figures, they possess a great range of articulation. Let's start with the head. Baragon's head has three major points of articulation: his jaw, and his ears. The ears can be positioned back to show Baragon calm, and then they can be propped up as if he were angry or frightened. His neck is also split into two sections as well, which can be useful when displaying Baragon on all four legs.

As with all of Revoltech's figures in their Sci-Fi line, they come with nameplates showing the monster's name and the movie that they originate from as well as the year of production. The nameplates are a nice addition to these figures in general. They're great for museum-like displays.

Baragon's accessories are quite neat. He comes with a pair of trees, a cabin, and a horse. The latter Baragon devours in the movie. These little doodads make really cool display pieces for Baragon to be posed with.  

Overall, the Sci-Fi Revoltech Baragon is a really nice figure. He's everything that I expected and a bit more. My rating for him is a solid 5/5. With just one more figure to go, Moguera, my Sci-Fi Revoltech collection of Toho Kaiju will be complete! 

S.H.MonsterArts Junior now released!

As of Christmas Day, Tamashii Nations released the S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla Junior in Japan.

Check out more pictures of Junior at Import Monsters.

Promo Pics of MonsterArts Kong

Bluefin has updated their page with clearer promo images of April's S.H.MonsterArts King Kong.

Source - Bluefin Distribution

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Book Review - Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-In-1 Edition Volume #1

For years I have been craving to read the manga adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion. While I do like anime, I have not read much manga. Only a few here and there. Earlier today I made a run to a nearby Barnes and Noble and amongst other items, I picked up the first volume of the Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-In-1 Edition. It's exactly what it says it is, three volumes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga in one book. I was so psyched when I stumbled upon this. I just had to get it, and once I did I began reading it and couldn't put it down!

Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in the year 2015. 15 years ago, a cataclysmic event occurred called Second Impact. It is told to the world that a meteor struck Antarctica, instantly melting the ice cap and raising sea levels by 60 meters, flooding coastal areas and putting the world in a state of chaos and desperation. 15 years have past and through the advancement of technology and ingenuity, mankind was able to rise back up amidst a post apocalyptic world. Our main protagonist is Shinji Ikari, a 14 year old boy, abandoned by his father, Gendo Ikari, as a child. He is called to Japan's new capital, Tokyo-3, by him for what he believes to be a 'happy' reunion. He is suddenly caught in the middle of an attack by a gigantic creature called and Angel. Shinji soon discovers his father's true intentions for him. Shinji is to be the pilot for Evangelion Unit 01 and his mission is to protect humanity against the deadly onslaught of the Angels.

I am all to familiar with the Evangelion story. I've watched the original anime series as well as the more recent Rebuild of Evangelion movies (spare the most recent movie, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo). The 3-In-1 Edition covers the events of episodes one to five in the anime. In all honesty, I think the manga does the Evangelion story much more justice than the actual anime itself.

Shinji's characterization is handled way better this time around. The story is mostly told through his perspective, so we peer into his mind a lot more in the manga than in the anime. His monologues shed more light on his troubled past as well as his difficulties in his relationships with his father, Misato, Rei, and his friends Toji and Kensuke. Unlike in the anime where Shinji is timid and shy, he is a lot more outgoing in the manga, even to call Misato a "weirdo" right to her face. Also his back-story was changed slightly. In the anime Shinji was living with his sensei prior to the series. In the manga, it was with his aunt and uncle. After his first battle with Ramiel (the diamond shaped Angel), where he's in the hospital, he has a flashback to when he was living with his aunt and uncle. This little flashback helps us get a little more insight to why Shinji is the way he is. One of the things about Shinji that I noticed a lot more in the manga is his relationship with Misato. Misato is attempting to act like a motherly figure towards Shinji. It was her that 'forced' Shinji to live with her in order to 'fix his attitude.' Unseen in the anime, Shinji realizes that he is living with Misato merely for her to keep an eye on him, which makes him resent her. He believed that Misato actually cared for him, which she actually does. I liked how the manga fleshed out their relationship. I feel that it's a lot more stronger in this adaptation of the story than in the anime or movies.

Overall, I consider Neon Genesis Evangelion a classic, no matter what medium it is presented in. This is my first time reading the manga, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. It had details that were absent from the anime, and provided a lot more insight on some of the characters, especially Shinji and Misato. I give this volume a 5/5. The second 3-In-1 Edition with Volumes 4, 5, and 6 is due out next March with the third following up in May. While I do have the means to acquire the individual issues of the manga, I wish to wait to get the rest of the 3-In-1 Editions.

More scans of S.H.MonsterArts King Kong

Much more clearer scans of the upcoming S.H.MonsterArts King Kong have surfaced. Special thanks to John Thompson at Facebook's Super Articulated Kaiju Collector Group.

Once again, Kong is slated for an April 2013 release. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

D-Arts Charizard Confirmed Release Date (Also MonsterArts Kong, and Ultra-Act Ace Killer)

Latest scans from Hobby Japan are rolling in. The D-Arts Charizard has been confirmed to be released in April 2013, a month after the release of the D-Arts Mewtwo. Ready your wallets people!

UPDATE: Another scan showing the S.H.MonsterArts King Kong and Ultra-Act Ace Killer (right page of the scan below) has also risen. I'm getting very giddy right now! Kong is slated for an April release while the Ultra-Act Ace Killer is slated for May.

UPDATE: MonsterArts Kong's will cost around 5775 Yen (approx. $68.50 USD) and the Ultra-Act Ace Killer will be priced at 4725 Yen (approx. $56.00 USD). 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Latest Purchase

Bought one last item for this month, and it's definitely one that I have been waiting on for a good amount of time, the Sci-Fi Revoltech Baragon. Hopefully I'll be getting it by Friday or Saturday if shipping isn't delayed.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Kaiju Book Review - Project Nemesis by Jeremy Robinson

Only a few kaiju related novels are available to fans of the genre. So when word of a new 'Kaiju Thriller' titled, Project: Nemesis, by author, Jeremy Robinson, was muttered across the interwebs, I immediately caught wind and was automatically intrigued.

I received my paperback copy of the book the other day, but actually did not start reading it until today. I must admit - I do not read a lot of novels, but since Project: Nemesis was right up my ally it turned out to be the first book in years where I read it from cover to cover in just under a day. It was just that good!

Here is the official description as stated on

Jon Hudson, lead investigator for the Department of Homeland Security's Fusion Center-P, thinks his job is a joke. While other Fusion Centers focus on thwarting terrorist activity, Hudson's division is tasked with handling paranormal threats to national security, of which there have been zero during his years at the DHS. When yet another Sasquatch sighting leads to a research facility disguised as an abandoned Nike missile site in the back woods of Maine, Hudson's job becomes deadly serious.

Hudson and the local Sheriff, Ashley Collins, suddenly find themselves on the run from a ruthless ex-Special Forces security team, but the human threat is short-lived as something very much not-human destroys the facility and heads for civilization, leaving only a single clue behind--a name scrawled in blood: Nemesis. Working with his team at Fusion Center-P, Sheriff Collins and a surly helicopter pilot named Woodstock, Hudson pursues the creature known as Nemesis, attempts to uncover the corporate secrets behind its creation and accidental release and tries to comprehend why several clues lead to a murdered little girl named Maigo.

But as the body-count explodes, along with the monster's size, it quickly becomes clear that nothing short of a full military response can slow Nemesis's progress. Coordinating with every branch of the U.S. military, Hudson simultaneously searches for clues about Nemesis's origins and motivations, and leads the counterattack that will hopefully stop the monster before it reaches Boston and its one million residents.

Witness the birth of a legend as Jeremy Robinson, bestselling author of SecondWorld and Ragnarok, combines the pacing of Matthew Reilly with the mystery of James Rollins and creates the first iconic American Kaiju* story since King Kong. Includes original creature designs by legendary Godzilla artist, Matt Frank.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that as well - Matt Frank did the creature designs for Nemesis. There are several designs for Nemesis throughout her stages of development. Each stage is shown throughout the book every five to ten chapters. There is also a section towards the end of the book which showcases the designs much more fully. A nice little addition to give the reader a more visual representation of Nemesis if they haven't already conjured up an image of her in their head from the detailed descriptions. 

So as I stated, this is the first book in a while in which I read entirely in a day. The way the story was written and paced really kept me interested. The characters of Jon Hudson and Sheriff Ashley Collins are equally developed and likable. I'd go into more details, but there are just many aspects of what I want to say that would spoil the book for any potential buyer and reader. So, I'll just conclude by saying this...

This book is awesome! Nemesis is truly a true American Kaiju by every definition. This is a definite must for any fan of the kaiju genre. Buy it! Go, do it now! It gets a full fledged 5/5 rating. This book kept me glued to it all day. I kept my eyes peeled on those 250 or so pages as if it was crack. As I read the book, I could imagine myself in the characters' shoes to the point where the creature's presence did in fact frighten me to some degree... I admit. 

I certainly hope Robinson does eventually write a sequel. I am hooked on Nemesis! :D

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Toy Review - Revoltech Eva-01 Test Type

For the past few years I have been buying many of Kaiyodo's Revoltech Evangelion figures. Most notably sculpts from the Rebuild of Evangelion movie series starting with figures that were made in correspondence to the release of Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance as well as their more recent Evangelion Evolution (EvaEvo) series. However, I have not yet delved into acquiring any of the original figures from the anime series. That is, until now. My prior intent was to get the Revoltech Mass Production Evangelion first, however the ones I found were quite out of my price range therefore I decided to start with Unit 01. The box for this figure is pretty basic. It's a tall window box, white on the front with some neat graphic design for brand name as well as the figure itself. It's pretty neat, and simple. But it's something that I can easily store away after taking the figure out.  

The figure itself stands at around five to six inches tall. The figure itself is sculpted based on its appearance in the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime, not from the recent movies. For those unaware of the differences in the design between the anime and movies, Unit 01 in the original series sports less neon green highlights. It also is not as streamlined and its shoulder pylons are bigger. The differences may be subtle to the untrained by, but if you watch Evangelion as much as I do, you'll immediately catch the differences. The detailing on the figure is average. It perfectly represents what we see in the anime, no more, no less. With this being one of the earliest Revoltech figures, articulation is not as dynamic as in their later figures. However, it is still quite impressive. It can easily perform stances seen from the anime and much more. Also, considering that Revoltech's earlier figures did not come with stands, the figure is pretty sturdy and durable, capable of being posed without needing such a stand. This is something I wish Revoltech would return to. A lot of their later figures, especially the Evangelion figures have become way too flimsy to the point that it has to be displayed using a stand regardless.  

Accessories for Eva-01 are pretty good. Besides what is already on the figure when you take it out of the box, it also comes with various sets of hands, an umbilical power cord, pistol, rifle, progressive knife, and alternate head with an open jaw. It also comes with a sword. Though a sword was never utilized by any of the Evas in the anime, I believe in one of the video games Eva-01 used on. It's quite a neat addition. For a figure such as this, that is pretty much a satisfying compilation of accessories.  

Overall, my expectations for this figure are above and beyond. It's got to the point where I favor this figure over those in the EvaEvo line. I am really tempted to acquire myself the rest of the original Evas from the anime – Unit 00 (both Yellow and Blue versions), Unit 02, Unit 03, Unit 04, and the MP Eva. My final star rating for the Revoltech Eva-01 Test Type is 4.5/5. For anyone who is getting into collecting Evangelion figures now, this is definitely a great start. I managed to acquire this one for $38.00 over

Pacific Rim Announcement Trailer!

Finally, the announcement trailer for Guillermo Del Toro's 2013 film, Pacific Rim, has finally been debuted. Check it out below!

Latest Purchases

I did quite of bit of Christmas shopping for myself in the last day on with some newfound money that came my way! So, here's what I managed to snag:

The original Revoltech Yamaguchi Evangelion Unit 01 from the anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The recently released BluRay copy of the 1989 Toho film, Godzilla vs. Biollante.

A paperback copy of the kaiju thriller, Project: Nemesis, by Jeremy Robinson (with artwork by Matt Frank).

A DVD copy of the long awaited documentary, Men in Suits, which describes the history of suitmation in films spanning from the Godzilla series to Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.

And finally, the complete series of Ultra Seven on DVD released by Shout Factory.