Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nostalgia Time: MM

What does MM stand for? If you guessed Mighty Max, you are correct!

I was very lucky to have a lot of toys when I was a kid. Most of it came from my aunt who worked at Mattel at that time. I use to get literally garbage bags of "samples" on Saturdays almost every month. One of the toys that stuck with me the longest were the Mighty Max playsets. I had TONS of them. Unfortunately, along with 99% of my toys, they were lost when we immigrated to Canada.

A while back when I was suddenly feeling nostalgic and started to hunt for toys that I had as a kid, I got reminded of Mighty Max playsets. I then proceeded to go on Ebay to see if I can get some of them back...but man oh man...they are not cheap! I guess since they came with tiny little figures, there aren't a whole lot of them that are complete out there anymore. I soon forgot about it since it would cost me tons of money just to get back a few of them.

Then a few weeks back, while I was checking out the local Transformers forums. I saw someone selling several sets of Mighty Max playsets. They weren't complete, but there was this one that I had back then and I figured why not ask for the price anyways.

Long story short, I got the lot and here's the main piece I wanted, the others were just icing on the cake!

After some Google, I found out this set is called "Stings the Scorpion".
Mighty Max - Strings the Scorpion

Ohh look who it is!
Mighty Max - Strings the Scorpion

Here's the scorpion opened up to reveal the playset. I was looking at this just now and I thought I must have had a really good imagination back then because I could play with these sets for hours at a time by myself and have stories conjured inside my head with them. I don't really "get it" anymore, but this piece just brings up all sorts of nostalgia for me.
Mighty Max - Strings the Scorpion

I swear, they looked much better than this in my young noggin'...
Mighty Max - Strings the Scorpion

And the coolest part of this set is that there is a scorpion robot that Max can ride on inside! To this day, I still think this is still just so COOL!
Mighty Max - Strings the Scorpion

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Toy Portraits #3

Going to switch it up a bit and post up some Rider portraits I've taken in the past few days.

One of my favourite piece of photography gear is the external flash. I use a Nikon SB-600 with the commander mode on my D7000, this way I can trigger the flash externally using the on-board flash on my camera. It's not the best solution, but it doesn't cost anything extra for me so that's a plus. I still find it amazing how the outcome of a photo can change so much just by changing the angle of the flash a tiny bit. It is definitely one of the hardest techniques to master in photography.

The following three pictures were created by trial and error with my flash and multiple white pieces of paper to bounce the light to try and create an even lighting. One of the hardest part is that these figures have reflective surfaces which causes the flash to show up on the figure itself. I use to always tried to avoid having this effect, but now I think that a little of it can actually benefit the picture by making it more 3-dimensional.

Kamen Rider Meteor - I found out after posting this picture that my camera sensor was all dusty. After a quick wet clean with a VisibleDust swab, it is squeaky clean now as you can see in the next two pictures.
Kamen Rider Meteor

Kamen Rider W Luna Trigger
Kamen Rider W Luna Trigger

Kamen Rider Kuuga
Kamen Rider Kuuga

Monday, November 26, 2012

Toy Portraits Set #2

Here's another set of Zombie Portraits haha, I just love these little figures!

By the way, I removed several pictures from yesterday and am going to reshoot them because I wasn't too happy with how they came out.






Sunday, November 25, 2012

Toy Portraits Set #1

Not sure why it took so long, but I finally bought a macro lens. Several of my lenses have macro ability, but they just can't focus close enough for what I want. The lens I got is an Ai Micro-Nikkor P Auto 55mm f/3.5. This is an old lens made back in the 1970's. I figured since the main use for a macro lens for me is to photograph toys, I don't need the autofocus ability of the current lenses on the market. Going the manual focus route also saved me a lot of money as it only cost me $130 for the lens, a Nikon UV filter, and the Nikon M2 extension tube (used to focus down to 1:1, lens alone can only go down to 1:2). A regular macro lens on the market right now usually go for at least $500 and can go up to $1000.

There are actually quite a few advantage to getting old MF lens over the newer AF lens.

1. Build quality: Most of the vintage lenses have a much better build quality than the current lenses. This little 55 3.5 has an entire metal build, compared to what is mostly plastic in today's consumer lenses.

2. Focus ring: Since MF is the main and only focusing mechanism back in the days, they really took the time to make sure the focus ring is of good quality and has a smooth feel to it. The rotation of the focus ring is butter smooth which allows for precise manual focusing, not like the cheap tiny plastic focus rings on the AF lenses nowadays. When tiny increments are needed (ex. macro and astrophotography), the tiny plastic rings are a pain in the rear to get the right focus.

3. Price: These lenses can typically be found on Ebay or used lens stores (ex. KEH, B&H used section, etc.). There are a lot of vintage lens enthusiasts, so the price will depend on the popularity and condition of the lens. I've actually bid on this lens for three times prior to this one and lost them all, so I was very happy to win this one finally.

But before you go out and hunt for some vintage lens, make sure it will fit on your camera. The advantage with the Nikon system is that they haven't changed their mount for a long time, so many vintage lenses can still be used with the DSLR's available now. Although it might not meter on some cameras and the manual mode should be used as auto modes will not work.

For Canon users, there are adapters to use Nikon lenses as well as other type of lenses such as the screw-mount M42 which is another popular choice. I would forget about vintage Canon lens as they use the FD mount which is not compatible with the current Canon mounts. There are adapters for FD-to-EOS mounts, but there is a piece of inferior glass in the adapter which sort of defeats the purpose of having the good optics in the vintage lens.

Ahh I've blabbered on too much about lenses again...this post is to start off a new series of toy photographs for this blog since I got this lens. I am going to take close-up portrait shots of all my toys and post them up in the Toy Portrait series.

I'll start off set #1 with some S.L.U.G. Zombies...




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fine Dining on Liberty of the Seas

It has been a few weeks since my vacation in Europe. I went on a cruise for 8 days starting on the port of Barcelona in Spain. The ship was the Liberty of the Seas from the Royal Caribbean line. We stopped at 6 ports along France and Italy for 6 days. On the 7th day, it was a "At seas" day since the ship needs to return to the Barcelona port. And then we spent the 8th day touring in Barcelona.

One of the best and most enjoyable experience on the ship was the fine dining (at least for me! LOL). Since we joined the excursion on each port, we usually have to wake up around 6am to eat breakfast and then leave the ship at around 7am. The tour usually go until 5-6pm, so you can imagine by the time I got back on the ship, I was starving. Luckily our dinner time was set at 6pm so it was perfect for our schedule.

I have tons of pictures of my trip, but I am dedicating this blog post to only the food served at Michaelangelos Fine Dining on the Liberty of the Seas.

Onto the pictures!


Beef Stroganoff






Mmm...berries and cheesecake

Cranberry Yogurt

Orange Chocolate Parfait








Yes! As you can see, I love my steak and cake LOL!

And all of these were served by our waiter, Reynald, which made the dining experience so pleasant and entertaining throughout the whole trip. Thank you very much for your excellent company! I hope you are enjoying your vacation with your family!

Yup, that's me on the right with my friend Reynald!
Reynald, our awesome waiter

Man...just typing up this post is making me hungry again even though I just ate dinner...LOL

Marvel Legends Beta Ray Bill

I just watched Avengers Earth's Mightiest Super Heroes on TV and it was the episode where they introduced the origin of Beta Ray Bill. I had interests in this character ever since I saw him in the Hulk animated movie where he fought World War Hulk. I picked up the Marvel Legends figure of him a long time ago but had kept him MISB this whole time. But after watching and learning where he came from, I decided to let him out of his plastic prison at last!

They really don't make them like they use to anymore huh?

The cape on this figure is soft rubber, yet it is solid enough to hold a sculpt, but not get in the way of the articulation. It also comes with a comic about the origin of the character, I had a quick scan through it and it seems like the Avengers show is pretty comic-accurate, even the color of his suit before he got Stormbreaker is the same color in the show.

The BAF for this series is MODOK, this figure came with the base (chair + flame). I really want to collect all the pieces to make MODOK, but I don't really care for the figures that go along with the pieces. I'll probably try to look for them on Ebay later down the road.
Marvel Legends Beta Ray Bill

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Left 4 Dead 2 by NECA

My current favourite figures are the Left 4 Dead 2 special infected figures from NECA. Although I am a huge fan of the game, when these figures were first announced, I was hesitant to get them because they look so disgusting. But in the end I grabbed them anyways. I got the Boomer from Toysrus when I was in Boston, couldn't find the Smoker since it was just released at that time. I ordered and received the Smoker from Ebay for a good price.

They are gross, disgusting, but ohh soo cool if you are a fan of the game series...
(Also testing out my the macro lens I just got haha)

The Boomer, these guys vomit out a "Boomer bile" that attracts large zombie hordes to attack and pile up on you. But they are very easy to kill, one shot and BOOM they go!
NECA L4D2 Boomer

The Smoker, a more dangerous special infected especially in areas with high buildings with windows. It uses its extremely long tongue to wrap around the victim and pull them in. Once you get caught, you only have a few seconds to shoot the tongue to get loose, after that you just take damage until you die.
NECA L4D2 Smoker

There are still I think 5 more special infected that are hopefully getting releases from NECA. They did a really good job on these figures in terms of both detail and articulation. The articulation points are hidden so well that I didn't even know they were there. I also totally did not expect these figures to have so many points of articulation since the older NECA figures I got were, although had very detailed sculpt, lacked in the articulation department. I would recommend these figures to fans of the game series or even just zombie fans in general.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some more riders and girls...

Two more updated displays!

Mostly SIC's and some candy toys.
Misc. Kamen Rider display

Black Rock Shooter characters, Alter Saber, and some of these little nendoroids which I forgot what series they were from.
BRS + misc. display

Sunday, November 18, 2012

And a couple more displays...

That's all I've been doing this weekend, opening up new figures and adding them to the displays.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (with new Super Robot Chogokin is soooo nice!)
MMPR display

Ironman (with Revoltech and Hot Toys IM)
Ironman display

A weird combination, but here's my Medicom Ultraman Taro with characters from the anime Doraemon haha
Doraemon + Ultraman Taro display

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Few more Kamen Rider displays

Changed up and added some figures to several more Kamen Rider displays!

Kamen Rider Decade
Kamen Rider Decade Display

Kamen Rider OOO
Kamen Rider OOO Display

Kamen Rider W
Kamen Rider W Display

Friday, November 16, 2012

Masterpiece MP10

As most Transformers collectors on this side of the world know, the Masterpiece MP10 Toysrus exclusive have been really hard to find lately. I actually haven't even seen this set on store shelves yet. When this first appeared, I was thinking that I will pass on it. But after seeing some reviews and pictures, I just had to have one. There has been talk on the local forums that this set has been discontinued at our Toysrus which is a bummer. Luckily I spotted a sale post from a local collector at the right time, actually just a minute or two after he posted this bad boy up for sale for really close to the retail price.

So I met up with the collector tonight, chatted for a while about TF's and secured my MP10! Thanks!

Masterpiece MP10 Optimus Prime

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kamen Rider Kiva Display

Opened some SIC's tonight and cleaned up my Kiva display!

Kamen Rider Kiva Display

Kamen Rider Fourze Display

I took some time tonight to open some new figures and set up this new display for my Kamen Rider Fourze figures. I really like how these figures look and the whole displat setup looks sweet!

Kamen Rider Fourze Display

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unexpected package

Received an unexpected package from Automaton toys today. This is my OOH (Order On Hold) from them, I am not sure why it was shipped already since I still have something from them in December and was planning to ship it before Xmas. Oh well, I am glad to have the Super Robot Chogokin MMPR Megazord finally.

Man, this will just add to all those figuarts I got from them in the summer that I haven't even open since I don't have any display room left...sigh...

Monday, November 12, 2012

OMFG Series 1 Glow-In-The-Dark set

Cracked open the packaging for these little guys and took them out first thing when I got home. I was really excited for these guys because I've been a fan of them for a long time. Scored this glow-in-the-dark set at the AFX 2012, unexpected but satisfying find.

Here's the front packaging for them, simple and clean:

The back showing the art for each of the 5 figures in the set:

There are two things in toys that gets me every time: glow-in-the-dark and translucent colored plastic. Although I didn't expect the plastic on these guys to be as solid, I was thinking it was going to be rubbery like the SLUG Zombies, but these are solid chunks of plastic here.

Ohhhh yaaaa!

Who's my favourite?
It's a really tough choice, the sculpts on each one of them are so detailed and intricate. Base on design alone, I think I will have to go with King Castor with MultiSkull and Phantom Outhouse on a close second place.

I highly recommend grabbing a set of these guys as they are cheap, looks AWESOME, and great for display!