Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tau: Shas' O

I picked up the 9 suit Apocalypse set back in the day, since it was a pretty solid deal. Unfortunately, three or four suits had very badly warped rear torsos. Unsalvageable. I contacted GW Customer Service and they shipped replacements. No fuss, no muss.

These guys are a quick and easy build. The lack of compound curves means I can scrape, file, and sand much more rapidly and still get very clean surfaces. The ankles are the only real engineering problem with the XV-8. They're rather delicate and won't handle too much torque. Once based, though, I think they're more survivable.

Since this is my Shas' O, I did go ahead and cut up the legs around the knees and arms in order to create a more dynamic pose. His stance is based on the Farsight artwork in the Tau Codex. His head is one of the two metal variants. In all other respects, he's a standard XV-8. All of my Crisis Suits have 4 neomydium magnets (1/8")- one in each forearm, and one at each corner of the top of the jump pack. These allow weapons swaps on the fly.

My Tau have a fairly consistent color scheme across infantry, vehicles, and suits: I airbrush Tamiya Buff over everything, followed by a wash of Devlan Mud and drybrushing of Vallejo Sand. Mechanical bits are painted Chaos Black with Fortress Grey highlights. Red panels are painted Vallejo Vermilion with highlights of Vermilion mixed with Vallejo Flat Yellow. Additional weapon details are picked out with Fortress Grey and Skull White highlights.

Movie Quick Take: Transformers- Dark of the Moon

"'s over, Prime"

(review contains spoilers)

Went to see Transformers 3 last night in 3D. Usually I don't go for the 3D (not very fond of the effect or the price) but the timing was right. My buddy and I settled down with only the slightest hope that this installment might be better than the last one. If you haven't seen Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen...don't. Just be content to know it's a turd. I mean...really, really bad. And dumb. Not the usual Michael Bay dumb- more of an offensive dumbness, a mind-dulling dumbness that leaves you feeling enstupidated after you finish the movie. I digress.

Once again we get to enjoy adventures with everybody's favorite transforming giant robots. Notice I included the word "giant" there. There are 2 midget Autobots with whom we enjoy nothing. This time around, Megatron is off in the background, scheming to enslave humanity, defeat the Autobots, and rule Cybertron. Natch. His machinations, however, are evident throughout the film, and there is far more of a plot in this film than the last film. Regrettable it still feels like those plot lines have been rushed through the pipe as quickly as possible in order to just get on with the explosions. Too bad, as a bit more investigation and mystery could have added tension and suspense to the movie overall.

OK, it's about giant robots beating the tar out of each other, but here's a major problem- total lack of character development for Sam (Shia Leboufbouf) means that you, as a viewer, don't give a crap what happens to him. At all. When you feel a greater emotional investment in the robots...there's a major issue. The human touch point has lost its relevance, and as such is not necessary anymore. Why bother with ANY people this time around? Stick with the robots and be done with it.

The opening 10 minutes, the "set-up", was masterfully done. Rapid jump cuts and effects told us everything we needed to know as quickly as possible. After that...meh. Boring relationship stuff with Sam and his new Eye Candy. Pointless cameo roles from better actors (Malkovitch, McDormand) and more entertaining actors (Turturro, Tudyk, Jeong) who seemed very out of place. Also, a painful appearance by Buzz Aldrin playing Buzz Aldrin. It would also appear that Lane Kim managed to graduate and now works for the NSA. Yes- I do watch Transformers AND Gilmore Girls. Deal.

Right...something else, I was distracted. Where was I?

Explosions. I think the last half hour was one big explosion that went around the screen destroying everything. Buildings, planes, cars, boats, robots, people, planets... Lots of violence in this Transformers. Not just the kind where you bust a cap into an Autobot prisoner' head at point blank range, or punch through a Decepticon's sternum and blast his head clean off from, I mean the kind where high caliber weapons literally vaporize people on screen leaving charred bones to fall to the ground. Cute, yes? I think the younger (inappropriately younger, I must point out) kid a few seats down from me started freaking out. Good job Mom!

From a nerd perspective, I did enjoy all the voice performances. Nimoy was just as good playing Sentinel Prime as he was playing Galvatron. Towards the end, I think he may have been channeling a bit of Galvatron, too. A few cute nods to prior Transformers lore, and even a good tip of the hat to some Trek as well. The Decepticons became even more faceless this time around, and Megatron came off as petty. Oh well.

I only wish that Bay could keep his cameras locked down for more than 2.6 seconds at a time. Unsurprisingly, Michael Bay's films suffer from the "Michael Bay Effect"...too much jitter, too highly kinetic to register visually...overstimulating.

Bottom line: not a great film, but certainly entertaining. I'd add it to my collection if it was on sale. If you like Bay films, this is for you. If you like Transformers, you'll have mixed feelings. If you like solid storytelling and character development and engaging plots... here; check out this video.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Painting: Urban Camo

I've caught up with taking pictures of my Tau (to be posted in future) and started with my Ultramarines. The first squad was going to be my Scouts, but once I had them on the table I realized that I'd never "finished" their cloaks. So, away went the lightbox and out came the paintbrush. Rather than complete the process on all three figures, I decided to leave them in-progress in order to take this photo.

The cloaks were originally just Chaos Black with a dry-brushing of Fortress Grey for highlights. Subsequently, I outlined the blocks of angular camo with Fortress Grey (far left figure), then filled them with more Fortress Grey (center figure). Shading was done by adding VERY small amounts of Chaos Black, darkening as the blocks receded into the folds of the cloaks. Simple, quick, and effective.