Friday, September 22, 2017

Hobby Talk: Model Kit Review, MG GAT-X105E Strike Noir Gundam

An awesome surprise package.

Why this kit
It's a gift.  From my boss.

Kit Details
The strike noir kit was released in March 2007, a D0 box kit with 18 runners and 379 parts. Immediately, a huge jump in number of parts compared to the Turn A.  A lot of this will go into the over sized backpack.  Almost the same amount compared to the strike RM.

You also get 1 small sheet of sticker decal and 1 small sheet of dry transfer decal.  There's really not a lot of decals for a kit this size.  A bit like the build fighters kits. This kit is priced at 4500 yen.

Build / Difficulty
(Score: Neutral)
The highlight of the build is the work on the grey shaded parts.  Almost all of it, in fact.  The main gundam unit is essentially the same strike frame.  But there are difference with the overall design so you won't get the deja vu feeling of building the same strike all over again.

The next highlight is the huge wing back pack.  This noir striker pack is what makes the strike noir unique.  Overall, the build is enjoyable although some parts, especially on the head is a bit tight fit.  There's not a lot of panel lining needed due to the color shade of the kit and not much decals to work on as well.

Looks / Details
(Score: +1)
This is a strike, no doubt.  But the similarity ends there.  The dark color scheme is very good looking, with dash of red and yellow at the right place to avoid looking monotonous.  It has a larger and a better looking V fins too compared to the original strike.  A few other places like the shoulder armor, are also sharper making it looks fiercer.  Oh... don't forget the naruto whiskers.

However being an older kit, it does lack some sense of depth and doesn't look complicated like the newer kits.  There are plenty of empty space.   The grey areas are pretty plain.  This kit doesn't have the details that the strike RM brings out from the decals and much more panel details on the brighter parts.

Luckily there are the big wings that offset the lack of details, giving it a much sharper look.

(Score: +1)
This is where it gets fun.  5 total guns consisting of 2 pistols (named shorty) and 3 high energy beam rifle.

There's also mortal kombat scorpion's spear like weapon (it's called rocket anchor) that can be attached to the arms or legs.

Although the backpack doesn't count as accessories, there's a lot of gimmicks that comes with it that is worth mentioning here.  There's 2 large detachable fragarach 3 swords, and freedom like shoulder twin linear gun.

Articulation / Pose ability
(Score: +2)
This is a strike.  So the pose-ability is not a problem.  Arms can bend 90 degree.  Knees can bend 90 degrees.  But this is based on 2003 strike frame so the total movement is a bit inferior compared to the 2013 strike RM.

But this kit makes it all up with all the bells and whistles that comes from that backpack.  There is so much pose you can get out of this kit.  Guns, cannons, swords.  So many cool poses that this kit can do.  Spread the wings.  Unfold the cannons.  Pew pew pew, small guns.  Pew pew pew, big guns.  Lots of cools poses, big thumbs up.

Shelf presence
(Score: +1)
A very attractive color scheme, couple with the big wings, big backpack and tons of cool poses.  This kit will be able to steal the highlight from your shelf from some better known kits.

But, there's a but.  This is a CE kit.  That means the size is smaller compared to those gigantic UC kits.  Pose this away from the UC kits please.  And in terms of boastfulness, this kit still couldn't beat the huge wings from freedom and strike freedom.

(Score: Neutral)
Well, since this kit is not from the main gundam series.  There are really not much extras that can boost this kit.

Summary and Rating
(Total Score: +5)
I would not ever think of getting this kit at first since it only appears in the seed novel.  And I dont read gundam novels.  Pity me.  But now, I would not think twice to recommend this to fellow builders.

Gundam: Strike Noir Gundam
Code: GAT-X105E, AQM/EX09S
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed CE73 Stargazer
Pilot: Sven Cal Bayang, Leos Alloy
Faction: Phantom Pain
Weapons: M8F-SB1 Shorty Beam Rifle, MR-Q10 Fragarach 3 Beam Blade, MAU-M3E42 Twin Linear Gun, 57mm High Energy Beam Rifle
Release: March 2007
Box: D0
Runner: 18
Parts: 379
Price: 4500 yen

Pundit: This is a very good kit regardless if you build Kira's strike before or no.  It has so much great accessories in the box unlike the strike.

Well, since this is a CE kit, there's plenty of CE variants that you can choose from.  See my earlier post on Aile strike for the list of kits that is similar to this.

Dalong's Review
Dalong's Score: 91

Up Next: Providence Gundam

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hobby Talk: Model Kit Review, MG WD-M01 Turn A Gundam

It's different, and it's the 100th master grade.

Why this kit
After so many good kits (Sinanju, Freedom, RX-78-2), I am a bit lost on what to build next.  After building 2 standard gundams, I am looking for something different again.  Surely the 100th master grade won't disappoint right?

Let's find out, shall we?

Kit Details
The Turn A kit was released in August 2007, a A2 box kit with 12 runners and 273 parts. Yes, a lot less parts for a kit similar size to the RX-78-2.  If you look at the runner list, there are a few really big big part especially the rifle and shield.

You also get a very small sheet of dry transfer decal, not that you needed it anyway.  This kit is priced at 3800 yen.

Good news is that the trademark mustachio is a single piece of runner.

Build / Difficulty
(Score: +1)
This kit is very unique, so one thing you can be certain is that there is zero reuse of runners from other kit.  Except for the pink beam saber, of course.  A good omen for those looking for a completely new kit to build.

With 10 pages of build instructions, this kit is not very complicated to build.  Although it sometimes can be confusing since it is not your usual everyday gundam.  Most of the kit are big parts snapping together.  Even the head is big, fat and easy to work on.

If you don't like to put decals on your kit, good news for you since this kit has zero decal needed.  You can sharpie the logo on the head.

On the other hand, if you don't like panel lining, this is bad news for you.  This is one of the heaviest panel line kit for its size.  If you don't line this kit, it will look dull.  Get your GM01 ready cause there is a lot of drawing to do.

But overall, this is still a very pleasant kit to build.

Looks / Details
(Score: +1)
The look is very very subjective.  A lot of people hate it for what it is.  Mr. mustachio.  Very un-gundam-ish.  Why on earth it is piloted from the nether region.

I don't really mind on how it looks.  For me, it's like a cross over between a standard gundam and your everyday bad guys like the z'gok and acguy.  Well, maybe not that extreme but it is definitely an acquired taste.

Nuclear missile, anyone?

(Score: +1)
Not much to brag on the accessories department.  This is where all the huge chunk of plastic goes.  You get a beam rifle, that can be carried like a briefcase.

A very big piece of shield and my favorite among these, the gundam hammer.  Reminiscence of the grand Daitarn 3.  Too bad the legs doesn't shoot cannon and there's no sunshine attack.

Oh... did I mention that you also get a cow?

And 2 chest silo compartment that stores a few pieces of nuclear missile.

Articulation / Pose ability
(Score: +1)
This kit doesn't do as well in terms of total articulation compared to modern kits.  Lack of any backpacks do mean a very stable kit, which has absolutely no problem standing on its own without doing the Michael Jackson lean.

The highlight of this kit is definitely the legs which can bend inwards that no other kits can.  Neat!

All the joints are very solid, allowing maximum pose-ability.  However, some parts that flaps like the shoulder armor and the side skirt are really loose.  Even the neck and waist is a bit loose.  Stark contrast to the solid arms and legs.  Which means it will to be able to hold a pose quite well, but I'm quite worried about its longevity.

Shelf presence
(Score: Neutral)
Again, I would say, the standard gundam color scheme won't make this kit stand out as much.  But the out of the ordinary design would most likely catch an eye or two.

(Score: +1)
If you have a display space, get the moonlight butterfly add on effect parts.  This is a super awesome looking butterfly wings, priced at 1944 yen.

Summary and Rating
(Total Score: +5)
This is a very special kit.  One of it's kind.  If you want it to look great on your shelf, get the P-Bandai moonlight butterfly edition.  The regular release, is for those like me, wanted a different experience on a very unique master grade kit.

Gundam: Turn A Gundam
Code: WD-M01
Series: Turn A Gundam
Pilot: Loran Cehack
Faction: Inglessia Militia, Ghingham Fleet, Diana Counter
Weapons: Beam Saber, Beam Rifle, Gundam Hammer
Release: August 2007
Box: A2
Runner: 12
Parts: 273
Price: 3800 yen

Pundit: This is a very unique kit that season gunpla builders can definitely consider getting.  Don't let your judgement on the looks turn you away from the great experience you'll gt building this kit.

This kit is one of its own.  But there's another one.
1) Turn X.  The antagonist of the Turn A series.  And it's another super unique kit that is worth considering.

Dalong's Review
Dalong's Score: 104

Up Next: Strike Noir Gundam

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hobby Talk: Model Kit Review, MG RX-78-2 Gundam Ver 3.0

Hell, it's about time for the granddaddy to make an appearance.

Why this kit
The RX-78-2 has always in my to build list.  But I never got to it because of 2 things.  1, I never build myself enough hype to get this MS and 2, the RX-78-2 kits are always sold out.

I read and watch a lot of review of the grand daddy gundam on the net and almost everyone gave a big thumbs up. Is it really that good?  When the 3.0 kit is made available at Modelland one fine day, I asked myself why not.  It's a 3.0 kit.  The remastered kit is good.  2.0 kits are excellent.  3.0 must be f**king heaven to build.  So I YOLO, paid 155 bucks and leave with a big box.

Kit Details
The RX-78-2 ver 3.0 kit was released in August 2013, a D1 box kit with 19 runners and 432 parts. You also get 1 big sheet of stickers.  No dry transfer nor water slide.  I'm kind of expecting more of a 3.0 kit.  Perhaps Bandai wants to keep the cost down or probably reserve all the difficult decals to Katoki Hajime's kits.  This kit is priced at 4500 yen.

Note that I changed the price to yen instead of ringgit.  Cause the Malaysian currency has depreciate so badly this 2 years that all the price tag I mentioned in my previous review are around 10-20% more expensive now, thus no longer applicable.  For example I mentioned Freedom 2.0 is priced at RM155.  But the kit is sold at RM175 today.

Don't worry, 4500 yen is 45 US dollars.  Multiply by whatever shitty conversion rate for ringgit.

Build / Difficulty
(Score: +2)
I have to say the best part of this kit is the build process.  This kit is essentially an up-sized RG kit.   If you have been holding back from RG kits due to its challenging size, this one is for you. This kit has 19 runners.  That is a very generous amount of parts for an average sized master grade with no fancy big wings, funnels or effect parts.

This means 100% of parts are focused on the gundam itself.  Maybe not 100% cause you got the core fighter and some weapons but let's just say a big chunk of it.  Every single parts gets the best detail and mechanics a plastic model engineer can think of.

Why so many parts you asked?  For starters, you get 2 shades of red, 2 shades of blue, 4 shades of white and no, just 1 grey for the inner frame.  FTW right?  And the build is not overly complicated.  There's not much panel lining to worry about too.  All those color variations and a very good detailed inner frame makes this kit an absolute pleasure to build.

Looks / Details
(Score: +2)
This is an absolute wonder to look at.  Real grade details at 1/100 size.  Line and sticker up this kit and get ready to be mind blown.  The stickers weren't that bad and doesn't overpower the kit.  There are copper stickers all over the joints to give an extra bling to the bang.

(Score: +1)
You get a standard RX-78 shield, a slightly modified beam rifle, a hyper bazooka and 2 beam sabers.  Good color variation and generous amount of stickers on all weapons.  You also get interchangeable parts for to fit these weapons to older manipulators.

Articulation / Pose ability
(Score: +1)
In terms of articulation and pose ability, this kit is the top of the top.  It gets into whatever pose you put it in.  And it's a very well balanced kit so you don't have the problem of this kit falling over, as long as you keep the feet planted.

Arms and legs can bend to the best amount of angles.  Shoulder and waist armor are not over sized and can be easily moved to avoid getting the way while posing.

All is good right?  Well, no.  Although this kit is very flexible, but because of all the complications and those lots of small parts to bring out the details in the kit, it is not very solid.  Things fall out a lot.  I mean things, not only parts.  Twist the legs, and it came out.  Twist the arms, and it came out.  Twist the body, 2 or 3 small parts fall out.

So although its very pose-able, getting to the pose you want can be very frustrating.  So a bit of zen is needed.

Shelf presence
(Score: +1)
This is the icon of gundam and the grand daddy is easily recognizable by gundam fans.  However, that could be where it ends cause this kit doesn't stand out that much compared to other kits I have in my collection.

For starters, it's a standard size master grade kit.  Then, it doesn't have all those big backpacks with big wings and effect parts. So, on a busy shelf, this kit loses out to the big wings on Freedom and flashy reds of Sinanju.

(Score: +1)
Not much added bonus here cause this kit is a complete kit with great looks but with quite a bit of problem on parts not holding together.  I see a lot of builders are addicted to building the grand daddy gundam and won't stop with just one of Amuro's machine.

Summary and Rating
(Total Score: +8)
This has to be one of my favorite kit.  The build is amazing, the details are amazing, the pose-ability is excellent.  I hold no regret picking up this kit.  Although I won't be moving or re-posing this kit quite that much cause I do't want to have missing parts on this great looking kit.

Gundam: Gundam
Code: RX-78-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam
Pilot: Amuro Ray
Faction: Earth Federation
Weapons: Beam Saber, BAUVA*XBR-M-79-07G Beam Rifle, BLASH*XHB-L-03/N-STD Hyper Bazooka, RX-M-Sh-008/S-01025 Shield
Release: August 2013
Box: D1
Runner: 19
Parts: 432
Price: 4500 yen

Pundit: The RX-78-2 is a must have kit of any gunpla builders.  Be it this one, or any other master grade variants listed below or any other grades, you need to own at least one of this.

There are damn a lot of RX-78-2 variants that you can choose.  But here are my top 5 picks.
1) Gundam the Origin. Possibly the best RX-78-2 variant ever created.  More anime accurate and offers lots of gimmicks and effect parts as well.
2) Amazing Red Warrior.  Souped up BF variant with lots of custom weapons and gimmicks.  And it's red.
3) RX-78-2 ver 2.0.  The most solid RX-78-2 kit ever.
4) Shin Musha Gundam.  A RX-78-2 with samurai armor and weapons.  Looks absolutely bulky and badass.
5) Thunderbolt ver Ka.  If you like complicated kits, this one is for you.

And many more...

Dalong's Review
Dalong's Score: 108

Up Next: Turn A Gundam

Friday, January 6, 2017

Zer0's Tech Talk: Honest Review of My HP Laptop

Now.  I worked for an evil giant company that will create Skynet in the future that will end the world once the machine becomes aware and took over humanity.  I am always happy that this company provided their employees with top of the class laptops in order to achieve greatness.  That was until the infestation of HP laptops.

I am always an IBM/Lenovo guy.  Starting out with the T43 which is a nokia of a laptop but severely lacking of power due to being overly bastardized way beyond its life span.

I switched to the T400 after seriously begging to increase the horsepower of my daily driver in order to properly do my job.  The T400 is way ahead of it's time.  It operates flawlessly for 3 years and will continue going if not for the rise of the ultrabooks.  Those slim and mean laptops are just bloody genius.

I left my T400 for this babe called the X1 carbon and until today, it was the best ever laptop I ever used to do my work.

But the X1 was among the first few ultrabooks ever appear in the market.  First ever means it's not perfect.  Yes, the build and exterior is marvelous.  I did broke the flimsy hinge but apart from that, this macbook air alike is a rock.

But the downside is the internal.  Non upgrade-able SSD, non upgrade-able RAM, limited 1440x900 resolution are just a few murky things that makes me decide to severe my tie with this beauty after 3 years.  And that was the biggest mistake I ever made.

I was given the chance to experience a new batch of laptops that runs the all new 6th gen core processors and the shinny windows 10.  Sounds promising right?  It was exactly the time I accidentally burned my USB 3 port on my X1.  So a new hardware is all good right?

F**king wrong!

Because it's a f**king HP.

HP laptops has been plaguing my peers for ages.  I thought, it has been many generations and many opportunities for HP to improve.  The latest model shouldn't be that bad.  F**k wrong!  It's the same shit.

When I was handed the new machine, I was a bit excited.  But when I was asked to type in my password to begin data migration.  That's when the horror begins.

I loved tactile keyboards.  Lenovo's keyboard is excellent.  But when I typed on the HP, every keystroke is like touching spongebob's ass.  The keys are mushy.  The keyboard has a minor flex which is annoying and the hell with the stupid layout.

For weeks I am jumping to home when I did a typo and tried to backspace.  The arrow key is retarded.  There are no spacing between function keys ie. F4-F5 and F8-F9 should have a minor spacing in between, so my Alt+F4 will accidentally turned into something else.  The trackpoint is shit to use and the trackpad is slippery as hell.

One thing to note. Once you used a backlit keyboard, you can't go back.  Apparently HP is too cheapskate to plant a few LED to improve usability in poor lighting.  Hello, this is 2017!

The build quality weren't that good too.  I am a heavy typist and I am using a MX black switch at work.  That over 60g of force I smashed my keyboard is not doing well on the mushy flexing keyboard.

Then, there's the problem with the screen.  The hinge are f**king terrible that the screen is rattling uncontrollably when you bumped the table.

The HP that I'm using now is actually the second unit.  My first one lasted me less than a week because the hinge was so retarded that it cannot hold the screen in place.  This cause the screen to fall backwards and won't hold the optimal open laptop position.

The internals was decent.  An i5 skylake processor with 8GB of RAM, 160GB of M.2 SSD.

Battery was decent, lasting for about 6 hours.  That's not whole day so I'll be scrambling for charger in the afternoon if I was not on the brick in the morning.  The kind of average battery life is due to stupendous software running in the background that I cannot disable or remove.  Heatsink fan is spinning at high RPM at times due to these retarded software hogging the CPU time.

Some other annoyance are like wifi won't connect in timely manner after resuming from sleep, headphone jack are f**king broken, fingerprint scanner never worked and I was forced to type my overly complicated password every single time.

Recently, this HP has become a drunk sleeper that it takes forever to resume from sleep and sometimes it just gave up and ended up in BSOD.  So, I'm kind of good at recovering all my lost work and backing up all my stuff whenever possible.

HP UEFI engineers are probably the shittiest people ever.  Who the hell hardcorded a maximum volume buzzer beeps into their firmware update? I was forced to update my UEFI a few times with those stupid beeps and other people were like "Are you ok over there?".  And I was like "NP, it's just my f**king HP".

There are plenty more annoying fault about this stupid laptop.  And I was too lazy to list them all.

If you ask me if I will consider HP laptops again in the future.  Hell NO!  Never again.  I don't usually ban stuff but HP branded laptop will be forever in my blacklist.  Stop torturing humanity with your stupid product and go back to what you do best.  Make industrial grade printers.

And a note for you, reader who made it this far for my rant.  If you decide to cut cost and offer shit to your customers, remember this.  You might save a few dollars.  But the butterfly effect of your cheapness will cost millions of dollars of losses elsewhere.

Every single day, my valuable time at work is wasted recovering my lost work, reinitiate my debug and SSH or VNC setups. googling WTF is wrong with this shit and try to temporarily fix whatever crap that pops up so I can do my work.

Bad news is I'm stuck with this shit until 2019.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hobby Talk: Model Kit Review, MG ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam 2.0

Probably the most anticipated kit of 2016.  The first kit of the CE century to get the 2.0 upgrade.

Why this kit
Talking about gundam seed, Kira Yamato and his imbalanced Freedom and Strike Freedom will come to mind.  I really have been holding back on getting either kit from 2004 and 2006.  They're kits from older gunpla generations and doesn't offer the details and mechanics unlike newer 201x kits.  Which leads to not so positive review from builders.

When this kit was announced during 2015 Gunpla expo world tour Japan, I was indeed very excited.

This is the first kit I ever pre-booked prior to the release, and my.. it's worth the long 12 years wait for the 2.0.

Kit Details
The Freedom 2.0 kit was released in April 2016, a D1 box kit with 18 runners and 353 parts. You also get 1 sheet of stickers and 1 sheet of dry transfer decals.  This kit is priced at RM 175.

Build / Difficulty
(Score: Neutral)
The build wasn't as fun as I thought.  Probably the after effect of building a more amazing Sinanju.  The build is quite easy and straight forward.  The plus side is you get to put together a quite impressive inner frame and testing out how the mechanic works during the build.

The kit is very-very panel lining heavy.  If you don't do panel lining, you're probably better off with a much simpler Freedom 1.0 kit or other colorful kits from the seed universe.  Panel line this kit up, you can directly see how much details were put into this kit, especially on the white armor.

Since this is not a ver ka kit, stickers and decals are not overwhelming but enough to cover the empty white areas.

The one concern I have during the build is that the inner frame doesn't feel very solid during the build.  There's quite similar feeling of building transformable kit like the Aegis and Fenice at certain parts of the body.  Let's see how it holds up when everything is put together.

Looks / Details
(Score: +2)
This is a fantastic looking kit with lots of details going into this kit.  The kit looks busy.  Huge V fins, huge waist skirts, huge backpacks.  I have done fair amount of panel lining on all my previous kits.  This kit tops even the great Nu.

Truthfully, freedom lacks in terms of color variation.  Less red and yellow compared to older Strike.  Blue, grey, white and bits of red all over the kit.  With the big wings folded up, the freedom doesn't look much different compared to other kits.  Spread those wings open... my god! It is an awesome looking kit!

(Score: +1)
You get a very well detailed laminated anti beam shield, a lupus beam rifle and 2 lacerta beam sabers.  Again, not that colorful but has a lot of play-ability.  There are waist mounted xiphas rail gun and shoulder mounted balaena plasma beam cannons but those aren't exactly accessories

Articulation / Pose ability
(Score: +2)
This is a poser's kit.  The inner frame is an engineering marvel.  No policaps means the joints are very tight to move, similar to the Sinanju but can hold its pose really well.  Do take care as to not break the fragile inner frame as reported by many builders.

Remember earlier I said about the frame being not solid enough?  Slap those white and blue armor on and it is solid as rock.  This kit is better than it's bigger brethren like the Nu or Sinanju in terms of absorbing shake and bumps.  Parts hold well together and is not falling off randomly.

The downside, it is very back heavy.  The kit always fall backwards when it is on its feet.  It's almost impossible to pose this kit on the ground with wings wide open.  But heck, Freedom is a space MS.  It's not meant to be grounded.  The box has an action base included so put it up in the air and you're in a treat to have this kit pose in whatever style you want.

Shelf presence
(Score: +1)
This kit is a bit taller than all other model kits from seed universe but it is still a dwarf to those big UC kits.  But thanks to the big wings, this kit promises you an awesome air show on your shelf.

(Score: +1)
There's a beam effect and ver ka sticker kit that can be purchased separately at RM150.  This will turn your Freedom into the full burst mode.  But putting these beam effect parts on, you'll be stuck with just one pose, of Kira going nuts.

Summary and Rating
(Total Score: +7)
The build for this kit isn't too exciting.  It's very well detailed but doesn't have the colors to outshine its competitors.  But despite that, opening the flaps of the big wings, all is forgiven.  You'll see how impressive the freedom looks.  This is a very solid, good looking kit and has a lot of gimmicks to boot.

Plus it's a very pose-able kit as well, providing that you utilize the action base.  The only thing I feel falls short of a perfect 2.0 kit is the absence of the individual articulated manipulators.

Gundam: Freedom Gundam
Code: ZGMF-X10A
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed
Pilot: Kira Yamato
Faction: ZAFT, Orb Union
Weapons: M100 Balaena Plasma Beam Cannon, MA-M20 Lupus Beam Rifle, MA-M01 Lacerta Beam Sabers, MMI-M15 Xiphas Rail Gun
Release: April 2016
Box: D1
Runner: 18
Parts: 353
Price: 4500 yen

Pundit: This is a must have for Gundam Seed fans.  Until Bandai decided to release SF 2.0, this is the best Seed MG kit you can get.

Two other variants of the Freedom to choose from.
1) Strike Freedom (2006) - the upgraded freedom.  But the puke gold turned down most of SF fans.
2) Freedom 1,0 (2004) - there's basically no reason to get this one anymore unless you're really not into panel lining and not willing to fork out extra cash for the new kit.

Dalong's Review
Dalong's Score: 114

Up Next: RX-78-2 ver 3.0