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# Friday, 26 June 2009

When the first Transformers movie came out I purchased an Optimus Prime Leader Class figure, but after learning that it would take quite a lot of effort to do the transformation, I delayed playing it and the toy ended up unopened and packed until now. After watching the recent movie, despite having some disappointments (even questioning on some of the hidden political messages there), I consider this the fault of the production and should have nothing to do with the Autobots themselves, so I would still consider getting a new figure.

But what is the point of getting a new one unless I know what the differences are? Well, I went to a department store and I found out that the new one is much slimmer and more like the movie figure, but a quick research on web led me to another angle, there is actually a Japanese verison of it (code is RA-01)! So I went to some local shops (the smaller shops as all the department stores and ToysRUS are penetrated by Hasbro exclusively) and found out that they are indeed available, but I couldn't spot the difference except a Japanese sticker on it, at one point I even suspected that the so-called Japanese version is exactly the same item, as the box looks exactly the same!

Only after further research on the web that let me find out the difference (At least one spot)! The part below the neck is painted red in the Hasbro version, while the Japanese version is silver, after checking out the movie site, it seems that it is true that the Japanese version is indeed more accurate!

For Hasbro version photo, please check out: http://www.hasbro.com/transformers/en_US/shop/details.cfm?guid=C7B0855F-6E9A-1014-8306-F81AE4AFE356&product_id=24097&src=endeca

So do I have to pay more for the Japanese version? The retail prices are almost the same, but since I can only get the Japanse version at those smaller shops, I can't take advantage of the discount coupons and Credit Card promo (cash rebates), and I ended up paying around HKD $100 more (Approximately USD $12+), is it worth it for just a small color difference? Well, I am happy to pay for that, how about you?

And has anyone come up with a Lego Optimus Prime that's transformable? If you know, please share it!

Friday, 26 June 2009 22:45:23 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Today is a big day for fun, the showing of Transformers 2 (Revenge of the fallen) definitely is an important entertainment to catch, so despite having to travel a long way to the SkyPlaza at terminal 2 of the Hong Kong International airport, I still go for it. Why the airport? The IMAX threater is so fully booked! In the days of H1N1, better play safe to watch it in a place with less people, the mcl cinema at Skyplaza is a good choice, I see around only 20+ people watching the 10:00a slot.

So is the movie good? I think it is "just ok", the fresh stimulus we got when the first movie came out may have diminished, so it is only a "ok", and I don't like the story line as it creates too much chaotic scenes without depth, if you ask me which scene in the movie is the most impressive one, I can't really tell, there are just too much reckless psuedo-heroic battle fights which drives you nuts. But to be fair, for plain entertainment, it is still a must watch movie if you like movie of this kind, it is not easy to have something better, may be I was just expecting too much.

So how about the quality? Is the 4D Extreme Screen (which they claim to have a dimension of 64 ft X 44 ft, close to 5-storey high) comparable to IMAX? Well, this movie has no 4D element exactly except that they create some winds and gas at some moment, besides that, I guess it is just an ordinary movie showing, with only around 60% to 70% usage of the screen, the quality is not as good as IMAX, but it is still a bit better than most theaters in Hong Kong, and one special thing about this MCL Cinema is the distance between the audiences and the screen, which is quite comfortable. In the IMAX threater, the distance is too close for such a wide screen, so even when you are taking the highest row, the viewing is still not comfortable, but I believe that the IMAX version should still produce better quality, I would try that out a week or two later when less people would go to watch this movie.

Wonder if anyone has built any transformers in Lego? One that really transforms?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009 17:37:20 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, 20 June 2009

This impressive build of Bionic Scorpion from Flickr user birdboykristian's Photostream is a great example on how we can leverage the Bionicle parts to come up with great work, I think Bionicle is one of the under-rated themes of Lego here in Hong Kong (or Asia in general), while I feel that many of the sets are monolithic, they contain great parts for MOCs. 

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24699874@N08/3642076365/in/pool-51035542119@N01

Saturday, 20 June 2009 22:52:40 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 19 June 2009

Found this impressive Lego work from <Aaron>'s Photostream at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbla_member/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbla_member/sets/72157619771375751/

It would be great if a bigger and furnished room with ceiling is provided.

Friday, 19 June 2009 17:27:58 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 18 June 2009
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I came across this interesting work from an Asian Forum and it really lights up my day, the creator also has a gallery in Brickshelf.

Source: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=371925

But this is not the most interesting picture of them all, be sure to check out the brickshelf gallary for a surprise of another kind...But if you are a serious person, never mind then.

Thursday, 18 June 2009 23:32:50 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 16 June 2009
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To fight against fate, a hoth rebel has to revert to extraordinary actions to survive, fearless and heavily equipped, the Hoth Rambo has no hesitation to draw first blood....

Borrowing some nice stuff from 7749 Echo Base, adding wheels for mobility

Carrying heavy firepower...how it is done at the back

With a determined look

MOC
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 19:12:29 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 15 June 2009

I have found some very nice photos on scenes created based on 7749, please check out Gauntlet Run's Star Wars Lego set on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38745162@N05/sets/72157619437111919/

I especially like this snow trooper squad in action!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38745162@N05/3616994680/in/pool-starwarslego

And I have to take back my comment on why people would buy a number of sets of 7749, in capable hands they do can turn into something excellent.

Monday, 15 June 2009 22:10:55 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 11 June 2009

Among all Starwars characters, I have a special sentiment toward the Hoth Rebels.

Being small potatoes, the Hoth Rebel is a tragic character, fighting a battle that is destined to fail, sacrificing without causing damages to the enemies, but their fighting spirit and courage are definitely respectable.

I have collected quite a number of Hoth Rebels mainly from 4500 before the release of 7666, although I don't really like the yellow face Brown Hair over Eye minifig head, it is better than the 3 dot face now comes with 7749, just wish it were LtFlesh as I somehow just feel that Yellow faces are wierd. I also feel that the old Aviator Goggles is better.

Another goodie from the 4500 Hoth Rebel is the weaponry:

Anyway, my ideal Hoth Rebel minifig probably has to be custom mix one.....

Thursday, 11 June 2009 21:03:57 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 10 June 2009

When I look at the Snowtroopers minifigs, there is one thing which puzzles me, why would the Lego designer responsible for this come up with a helmet with a backpack attached? And that, is a leaking backpack!

I hope it has nothing to do with cost-saving.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 14:43:07 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 09 June 2009

After talking about the strange Tuan Tuan in 7749, I think I can write a full review on the set.

Aside from the cutie Tuan Tuan, this set comes with Han Solo, two Hoth Rebels and two Storm troopers, in terms of number of minifigs this set is a good deal, but to rebuild the battle of Hoth? I think this idea has been around for years, but after seeing many of such great work in Flickr, I gave up any attempt to do it, as there seems to be no point in repeating something that many others have done so well, especially when doing so requires a lot of money.

The good guys:

The bad guys:

The Hoth Rebels now share the same white pants with the Storm Troopers, I think it was grey in the movie, not sure why they changed it for the Rebels starting in 7666. And they also get a new pair of Aviator Goggles, seems in line with the latest fashion trend, but somehow looks funny in battle scene though.

Beside the minifigs, the rest are slight variation from the counterparts in 7666, the missile-firing defense turret can house a rebel, but honestly I never appreciate those firing missile mechanism, which I doubt even how many young kids would care to play with. The springboard mechanism is also ridiculous, why would a Hoth rebel do that for?

This set is fair in pricing, but since the new Tuan Tuan is a disappointment, the rest are just copied from 7666 with no new surprise, buying a set is ok, but seeing some local folks buying half a dozen of it, I really can't understand their passion.

Tuesday, 09 June 2009 22:49:34 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 07 June 2009

I found out that many people are very excited about 7749 Echo Base, personally I am very passionate about the battle at Hoth, but I really feel that there is something wrong with this new 2009 set, something not found in all the predecessors, such as 7130, 4500 or 7666.

The first weird thing is the Taun Taun figure, this lady-eyes animal is more like a disney character than a Star War figure:

Although I should not be expecting a piece like this:

Picture From: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Empire-Strikes-Skywalker-Tauntaun/dp/B000065CLL


However, at least  it should not be so cute and look so much like a baby kangaroo with a few pimples on the head.

And having a big single piece that you attach the horns and forearm is not very good, the Tan color for the horns also looks incompatible.
 

And the crack between the asymmetric half on the box picture is quite obvious, good that the real thing is not so.

Personally I think this Tuan Tuan is very disappointing.

Sunday, 07 June 2009 22:30:11 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 04 June 2009

Just found out today that Only 4 local ToysRUS Branches in Hong Kong has the new Star Wars 2009 H2 Sets: Central, Causeway Bay, TST and Shatin.

It seems to me that they have only limited inventories.

In case you'll be travelling to Hong Kong in the next few days and want to buy these sets, please check out the ToysRUS store locations at:

http://www.toysrus.com.hk/inside/location.htm 

If TST is convenient for you, go there, it is the biggest.

Thursday, 04 June 2009 23:51:19 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 03 June 2009

May be many of you who would buy the Lego 2009 H2 Starwars sets would wonder, which set is the most demanding one. Here in Hong Kong, some of the clues include:

1. 7749 Echo Base is the first set to be reviewed in local forum

2. 8036 Separatist's Shuttle is the first set that is out of stock in a ToysRUS branch in the busiest district in Hong Kong (Causeway Bay)

3. Someone already discovered that the R2-D2 in 8037 Anakin's Y-Wing Starfighter is new!

But these are random pieces of information, I have another angle of looking at it, which is trying to read the mind of the local Lego distributors through their pricing strategy.

Typically the pricing in Hong Kong is much higher than the US, the price at ToysRUS represents the official prices, and usually ranges from 110% to 130% of the US retail price. I think the pricing may somehow indicate how the distributor expects the sales of respective sets in local market, through common sense, the better selling sets with better demands should be marked up higher, based on the this theory, I calculated the pricing of the new Starwars 2009 H2 sets as followings:

Set No Description USD HKD HKD to USD % 
7748 Corporate Alliance Tank Droid 25.00 268.90 34.47 137.90%
7749 Echo Base 25.00 268.90 34.47 137.90%
8036 Separatist's Shuttle 30.00 366.90 47.04 156.79%
8037 Anakin's Y-Wing Starfighter 60.00 689.90 88.45 147.41%
8038 Battle of Endor 100.00 989.90 126.91 126.91%
8039 Venator-Class Republic Attack Cruiser 120.00 1289.90 165.37 137.81%

So does this mean 8036 will be the hottest set if my theory is correct? But it is hard to convince myself that 8037 is the next hottest, the Yellow Y-Wing does not look good to me, and having no hot minifigs, how can it be more demanding than the others? And if someone tells you that 8038 Echo Base is the least demanding set, you must think that he is nuts. So my conclusion: My theory is wrong, I have no clue why the pricing is set this way. I can only say, buying 8036 locally is mostly hurting, and I just did that, even buying at a price way much higher than the regular price...

But the good news is, buying 8038 locally is a good deal, especially when I can use HKD 10 coupons per HKD 100 purchases at ToysRUS, they are really very good in driving you back for more purchase with this coupon strategy, but it helps indeed, as there are something that I sure will buy without the need for them to drive anything.

Anyway, a message to lego players in US, you are the lucky guys, you pay less for the same lego set we got. 

Wednesday, 03 June 2009 21:57:31 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 02 June 2009

I have been scratching my head on which set to blog about at the launch of my blog, I have quite a few interesting sets, but probably all of them are not interesting at all to others, so I need something that few would have blogged about, or even have played with, and this is what I got for my first set review:

8036 Separatist Shuttle has been mentioned extensively along with other Lego Starwars 2009 Summer sets such as 7749, 8038 and 8039, these are all interesting new additions but 8036 offers 2 new minifigs that caught a lot of attentions. To be honest I am not a minifigs freak (or geek), so even if I buy a set for the minifigs, I would complain loudly if the vehicle stinks, such in the case of 7752.

So how do I rate 8036? Well, I won't complain even slightly, except for the price I paid for in order to get this set at this moment (it is my fault and has nothing to do with Lego), it is truly expensive and I hate to mention it to make me appear like a fool, but because of this, I would complain more than loudly if somehow I am disappointed with the set.

The set is composed of a few relatively small Bags:

 

The shuttle is quite small, but a shuttle is a shuttle, especially in the world of Lego, if emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader together can only ride on such a small shuttle in 7264 (Imperial Inspection), how can Nute Gunray and Senator Farr expect to have a big shuttle? Here is a picture of the shuttle beside an X-BOX controller so you can feel accurately how small it is.

Actually I can feel how small it is by the size of the box, and when pulling out the bags from the box, but it is ok, coz this shuttle IMHO has been designed well, I am not sure how all the other much experienced builders would say, I am quite impressed by the sleak design.

The knob controlled doors is quite impressive over the common hinged doors, it is not easy to design a container space inside such a small vehicle. Besides, the building process is very smooth, the rear tail wing is very solid and nicely layered, and unlike many of the Star Wars vehicles, the shuttle is extremely solid! It is so solidly designed that it can be solidly separated and packed in chunks inside the original box, which if attempted on other vehicles, such as 7752, would instantly result in a vehicle break down.

There isn't any special parts in this set, but I don't think anyone would buy this set for reusing the parts really, the minifigs are what people mainly look for in this set I think, and the 2 minfigs are truly valuable, you get Nute Gunray and Senator Farr for the first time, and the 2 minifigs are quite good looking (in minifigs standards, which focus on color and pattern instead of being handsome), despite being the villains.

Overall this is must get set for Star War fans, "must get" are truly overused nowadays but I do mean must-get because it does not cost unreasonably if you buy it at regular price, you get 2 rare minifigs in addition to a nice shuttle, even if pay a foolish price I do not regret paying extra to have a first hand experience on it.

By the way, I do not remember exactly where this shuttle appears in the movie or TV series, is there really a cockroach like vehicle in Starwars?

 

Tuesday, 02 June 2009 17:05:59 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)

I am not a kid, though I wish I am. I like Lego a lot, though I am not sure if I wish I have not. But this blog is about my daily struggle with lego, and I hope some folks would read it.

Let me start by sharing my sentiments on my lego playing experiences, like everything else on earth, there are always pros and cons to everything, and lego should not be an exception, so I feel like listing down the goods and bads about being infested with AFOL syndrome.

Top 5 good things about being an AFOL
- Having a hobby after all
- Have an area of interest in common with the Kids
- Owns something that most likely won't depreciate
- Create miniatures of things that one can't really have in reality
- There is something nice to look forward to at least (especially when you are rejected for....)

Top 5 bad things about being an AFOL
- $$$$$
- Losing spaces to lego sets
- Long term tension with spouse
- Have to act like a smuggler when bring home a new set
- When passing away, would leave over a heritage of treasure that the family will dispose like crap

Tuesday, 02 June 2009 16:27:38 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)