It's raining Tomorrow Kings!

So... many...!

New Dropcloths have arrived!

Is new necessarily good? Read to find out whether the version 1.5s are indeed upgrades / improvements of their iconic predecessors...!

More NOMs...!

4 tubes for the 4th Anniversary, or pure design coincidence...? Well, 3A's not unknown for the randomness in their creations...

Tomorrow Queen Bashes

Disappointed at what turned out to be the WWR Supreme Nom? Well, you are not alone... but here's a simple bash from what's in the Whitemother package for your replacement (or reinforcement, tsk tsk) TQs. Also, KC Design's 1/6 Bodysuit is reviewed here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ThreeA WWR Medic Dropcloth & Bertie

I never watched the movie or read the novel, but somehow I've always known that Dr Zhivago originated from Russia, so imagine how apt it is that I managed to get a Medic Dropcloth (named Zhivago) from a Russian collector! There were some hiccups with the shipment but it eventually landed at my door step in great condition, which was all that mattered to me. I remember that it arrived the same day as the Dark Equine Superset, and how elated I was that day to receive two masterpieces that were rolled out from the Hatchery, albeit being 3 years apart.
I think there isn't much that hasn't been said about the WWR 1/6 Dropcloth (DC here on), as I have reviewed the EMGY colourway before, and also photographed the Deep Powder and JEA DCs couple of years ago (speaking of EMGY DC, I recently bought another OG cause it was quite a good deal... and all of its accessories are still in sealed bags, which I know I oughta take some photos of before opening it... if I get down to it). So how does it fare under the banner of the Medics...?

Zhivago DC was one of four DCs sold as a set (along with Jungler, Snowballer and Monty) on 29 January 2010. Suffice to say, I didn't even know 3A exists at that time. However, prices of 3A stuff on the secondary market seemed to have cooled off a little, particularly for the DCs which, some might say, is an acquired taste that might not appeal to all. I remembered that I didn't really fancy them at first, but today I'm happy to have 5 of them in my collection. Zhivago came packed in a standard shoe box with plastic inserts. While the cover is a plain red with a white cross, there is a nice illustration by A.Wood on the bottom.

I'm not the 1st owner of this figure, but I'm happy to report that he has been well taken care of in his previous ownership and the condition is mint. All the joints work nice and tight. Unlike his DC counterparts, Zhivago comes equipped lightly with only 2 hand guns. I would attribute that to the fact that he is a Medic, so... on the battlefield, his priority is probably to rescue and will only need to defend himself and the wounded. According to the Geneva Convention, firing at a medic wearing clear insignia is a war crime, unless they use their weapons offensively. Of course, we won't know whether this applies to Medics in A.Wood's World War Robots...

Well, this theory does contradict the 2nd Medic to be released in WWR / WWRp, which is the WWRp Medic Bramble MK2 issued on 20 July 2009, the 1st being the WWR Square MK 1 released on 25 May 2009. Bramble comes with a gatling gun (photographed below), which is most probably used for offensive purposes -.-" If I had the chance, I will probably buy some 1/6 DC weapons and equip Zhivago with more fire power...

Next up, we have the WWRp Bertie MK 2 and Square set that was dropped on Bambaland on 20 November 2009, the 3rd member of the Medic colourway. Bertie comes only equipped with 1 hand gun. He's about to go through a quick draw shoot out with DC in the pic below. This particular Bertie I have has a loose left knee hinge, but it doesn't really affect its poseability.

At this point I would say that after the Bramble, Bertie, Square and DC, the paint application on the Medic colourway took a turn towards the darker, more heavy weathering which I don't personally appreciate. The off white base colour and brownish grime weathering were replaced with blackish weathering on the Armstrong, Caesar, Grunt and Betsy Square MK 2 that were offered subsequently. I'll admit I am rather resigned to the lack of consistency of 3A design, which is probably a good thing cause it won't restrict the Artist's creativity, and it could potentially mean more savings and less spending for me... Unless the Medic colourway reverts back to the old days, I'm happy to keep my Medic collection the way it is today.

Dropcloth MK1s are a gem. I don't have many good things to say for the MK1.5s, and there hasn't been more colourways announced apart from the EMGY, Peaceday and the slew of ugly GIDs that are so forgettable... Get one and see for yourself (try to get something earlier than the JEA DC) if you don't already have one. I'm sure the charm of the Dropcloth will rub off on you slowly but surely.
The WWR versions of Bertie MK2s have long been teased but never released. Even if 3A really gets down to releasing them, it is hard to say whether they will come in the colourway your desire, and what sort of "improvements" that might be implemented on them. If it were up to me, I will just upsize 'em WWRps into the larger version and keep everything exactly the same (including paint apps)... Anyhow, let's wait and see what 3A does with the WWR Berties.

ThreeA WWRp Deep Powder Bertie MK 3

So Deep Powder Bertie MK 3 Mode B, ie. huge ass twin cannons mode, was dropped on Bambaland earlier this year. I don't recall it being a limited sale, despite his listing on the catalogue as so. Hmmm... All I recall was that people were making noise about how these samples were shown and never sold, and A.Wood seemed to suddenly wake up from hibernation and got it listed online or something. Limited or not, it was fairly easy for me to score and I had been wanting a WWRp in Mode B in this colourway after I gotten the JEA Bertie MK 3 Mode A.

I did a fairly detailed review on the JEA one and sorry to say, the 2 main flaws that I found previously are still there with this later release: the flimsy fingers, and the huge gap in the pouch hooks. For this particular piece I got, it came even missing a pouch hook! Talk about bad QC! Alas, CS was quick to ship one to me so it wasn't that much of an issue. A dab of super glue and bam! Deep Powder Bertie MK 3 is ready to rumble.

In this review I will focus on the two main differences between the Deep Powder Mode B and the JEA Mode A, which is of course the paint application and weapons.

The Mode B is not as inconspicuous as the Mode A, mainly because of the huge cannons that are mounted slightly above its shoulders. They stem from a dumbbell double ball joint, which gives it a fair amount of mobility. Apart from the turrets, there seems to be what resembles an ammo drum that is also mounted adjacent to the turret, which kinda gives a lot of bulk and top heaviness. So each turrent assembly can essentially broken down into 3 parts: the turret, the ammo drum, and another drum in between that I can't guess its purpose. The shell casing ejector slots are sculpted on the turret itself, which is pretty neat.

Since the turrets are already mounted on their own ball joints, the arms are free to move around or carry even more weapons. Not that he comes with any, but he might look pretty cool carrying some side arms like a pistol or an uzi.

The only way you can pose the Bertie Mode B at ease is actually just to swing the cannons down forwards as far as you can go (photographed below), which is actually how he was packaged when delivered..

I absolutely like the paint application this time. For JEA it was meh, but I think for this Deep Powder colourway that was painted on the Bertie MK 3 Mode B, 3A did a great job. The chassis sports a nice, big snowflake logo followed by the huge letterings that read "Deep Powder Corp", though partially covered by the huge pouch at the abdomen. I really didn't notice that the cartoon of a kid carrying a bomb on the left shoulder (photographed above) is the same one that is on Snippy, until after I've gotten Snippy. Anyway, I like the colour combination of off-white, dark grey on the body and limbs, and turquoise highlights in the form of insignias a lot. Caesars (and later Frank and Snippy) have also been done this way except there isn't much deep greys on 'em...

If you fool around the cannons a lot, you'll probably notice that there seems to be an extra lump of plastic sticking out at the turret base of cannon right (photographed above). Turns out this extra piece is what seems to be a little Bertie head with a cyclop scoping eye, possibly essential for the targeting system of the cannons. A similar idea was adopted for the WWR Caesar rifle; a small Bertie head that is articulated is also mounted at the tip of the rifle. For Bertie, it sometimes gets in the way of the turret movement and will scrap against the main body but no big deal... honestly it is quite a nice little detail that breaks the symmetry of the turret.

I have seen the WWR version of Bertie Mk 3 Mode Bs in person before and I must say that their presence is incredible, being the tallest robots that were ever made by 3A. Can't comment on the functionality of the huge cannons on the 1/6 version though, cause they are super long and probably weighs quite a bit. On the WWRp though, the cannons still make the figure stand out, but with the added advantage of manoeuvrability due to its smaller scale.

For Bertie MK 3s, I still recommend the WWRp version, despite the flimsy fingers, which is the side effect of the shrink ray process... just be really careful and we should be alright. Before you say the words "Customer Service", I think that CS is actually less willing to send out spare parts these days judging from feedback on the Outpost so don't count on it and be really careful handling these figures. After the JEA Mode A and DP Mode B, I think I'm done with the WWRp Bertie Mk 3s... Seeing how apart from these two colourways, the Daywatch, Nightwatch, Sand Devil, Dutch Merc and even a GID are also released, I'm plenty sure that A.Wood is also done with this mold.

Personally, I think that the Bertie MK 2 and 3 are great follow ups from the original feetless Bertie MK 1, but I don't really see the point of the MK 3.5 that was released later... I feel the same way about the Heavy Bramble and DC MK 1.5, 'em being mediocre updates of the original versions... Caesars and Harolds are kinda meh for me now looking back at it. Well, I suppose there are always hits and misses for whatever gets developed for the WWR series, and it is so subjective (some people just love almost everything that gets produced). Luckily, I always have the option whether or not to buy any new designs that gets developed. I do feel that WWR isn't getting the attention it deserves now with the AK / TK club things going on, and A.Wood going to space with Totem... there's probably only so much one guy can do I guess...

Friday, September 20, 2013

ThreeA WWR Frank & Snippy

When the first sniper grunt was offered through BBICN, I was kinda intrigued but I held out with its purchase because I'd taken a gamble that a similar figure will probably be offered in a different colourway later. Jungler was never really my thing, but the winter camouflage has always been something closer to heart. On 05 April 2013, Frank and Snippy were dropped on Bambaland and stayed on for a couple of days. This time I didn't hesitate with the purchase, even when the fully painted sample of Snippy was not revealed until the sale was over.
A couple of days before the sale, a sketch and short story of Frank and Snippy was posted on the blog, possibly as a form of publicity. It did generate more interest for me even though my mind was already set on getting this duo. I like to read stories about A.Wood characters and I do hope that he would do it more often.

As with the Jungler Punter Bot Sniper, Frank came equipped with a jungle hat, a ghillie suit (I admit I don't know the official term for this piece of camouflage fashion wear until I had to write this review) and a vest under some ammo pouches strapped on his harness and belt. For weaponry, Frank like Punter comes with a huge ass sniper rifle (35cm long), which also came with its own camouflage in the form of a long camou-patterned cloth that wraps itself across the length of the gun in a systematic fashion. He also carries a pistol holstered to his right thigh. I didn't really care for the ghillie suit as it obscures a lot of the figure when donned (and rightly so since a sniper should blend in with his environment) but I really do prefer to see the silhouette of a human figure.
What is different this time is that Frank sports a new headsculpt (not another clone of the Grunts), and goggles. There is a little irony in the fact that Frank is camouflaged for the winter environment, but not dressed to withstand the cold climate that he ought to. I wouldn't have mind if 3A threw in some winter jackets for ol' Frank here, and lost the jungle hat for the hood of the parka. Alas, we got a pair of goggles instead, and might I add, a pair of goggles that is rather poorly constructed. The lens are not see through (painted opaque) for a start, and they are misaligned when Frank puts them on, giving him a rather comical look (not sure if it is intentional). I am rather inclined to get this set to bash Frank up into a proper winter sniper if it is priced economically... Oh well... character designers sometimes love to defy logic, and since the last sniper that shoots in cold weather I know of is also skimpily dressed, I'll cut Frank some slack. Another thing I would've preferred is real faux leather boots with laces instead of plastic boots. Once you've had a taste of what 3A's capable of, I guess it is rather difficult to fall back on the oldies...

I think it is a genuine concern of folks regarding the balance of the figure since he is carrying such a big gun. I must say though that the gun is designed to be light weight and fairly manageable by Frank. The joints on his arms are pretty well constructed and Frank should be able to carry it without toppling over, possibly a lesson 3A learnt from the disaster that was called the WWR Heavy Bramble. Having said so, I doubt you will be able to get any good shooting poses out of Frank if he is standing upright. The best way to pose him in a position ready to fire is probably with him proning down and with the legs of the rifle near the trigger fully extended.

Snippy is Frank's companion, fully equipped with a smoke stack (with an articulated cap might I add) that blows up thick clouds of black smoke aimed at giving away Frank's position (again, the irony!). As a figure, Snippy preserves the adorable look of his Square predecessors, but with a battle damaged eye. Something different about him is that he has longer legs compared to the Square Mk1s, and they end with feet that resembles snow skis. The construct of Snippy is really well executed too, with joints that are nice and tight.

Frank and Snippy are quite fun to play around with, and I'm glad to add them to my collection. The Sniper figure does have its shortcomings, but nothing too severe. I like the new headsculpt, and I like the weathering that was applied on Frank. It reminds me of what has been done on Flakey Frost, which has white spots that are coarse and grainy to touch (sharks, I just said I like feeling dried paint). IMO, Snippy is an interesting upgrade of the Mk1 Square design, and its presence as a sidekick to Frank helps add a lot of character to both of them.

ThreeA Popbot Dark Cowboy Superset

So the Dark Cowboy Superset was dropped on Bambaland on 30 April 2013, and was shipped way ahead of schedule for a change. If Oroshi, Frank & Snippy (both shipped on time) and this Dark Cowboy Superset serves as an indication of 3A's continued effort to up their game at toy production efficiency, I think delays might become a rarity in the future. Keep it up 3A!

This "Dark Cowboy in Service of Him Superset" is the full name for the Bambaland exclusive set comprising of the Dark Cowboy 1/6 figure and his Dead Equine (or horse). Unlike the "Dead Equine Superset", which is used to describe the retail version of this set, the online exclusive comes with an additional shotgun. And, to spice things up, a red sock devil and two posters have also been thrown in exclusively for the Bambaland version. Personally, I won't be able to understand why anyone will purchase this set from a retailer, since the 3AA discount applies for Bambaland purchases, and it comes with more accessories and stuff. It appears to have shipped earlier as well! Speaking of which, 3A did give US purchasers a good week's headstart with the shipping (literally by ship across oceans) but they still landed in Asia first.

I don't read any Popbot comics so what I know about this character is really anything that can be found online. Here is a summary of what I gathered:

The Dark Cowboy is the dead version of the original Blind Cowboy, whose real name is Emit Brown. Emit has only 1 friend: his horse named Ghost. It appears he only has 1 enemy too: Kitty. His family was murdered by robots, and the red poncho that the original Blind Cowboy dons is supposed to have wiped the bloody brow of another Popbot character called JFK, who was assassinated. Hmmm... there might not be any reference drawn to the ex-American President here... cause when it comes to A.Wood stories, anything that sounds cool goes. JFK could mean Jittery Finger King or some made up character for all we know... Jane fucked Kim? Just friggin' kidding...

After the Blind Cowboy died, he was revived by a red Sock Devil as the Dark Cowboy (read about it here and here) to run some errands for him. This comic strip was only uploaded on to 3A's blog on the eve of the Dark Cowboy sale... I think a little background story on any characters goes a long way in helping a collector appreciate the figure (and boost sales). In this case, I thought the story was pretty cool and I enjoyed reading it and admiring the art work.

So in reality, the Dark Cowboy Superset is just a grayscaled repaint of the original Blind Cowboy, which was offered on 15 August 2011, nearly a couple of years ago. When it was announced that there shall be no price hike for the reissued Dark Cowboy, I must say I was fairly impressed by 3A's commitment to keep prices affordable for fans. I was expecting some 0.000001 to 5% hike, owing to the increase in shipping prices and the additional stuff that they are throwing into the set (which isn't much but still...). It was a nice gesture I appreciated and I'm sure many collectors feel the same. This was a great chance for folks like myself who'd missed the chance to buy the OG Blind Cowboy years back... a chance not to be missed...!

To be honest, I remembered myself staring at the screen of my computer, wondering whether or not to click the "Add to Cart" button on the night of 15 August 2011... but... I wasn't really full steam into 3A at that time and the OG Cowboy did have a Ken doll vibe to it that made me hesitate and eventually didn't pull the trigger. Personally, now that the Dark Cowboy set is released, I'm kinda glad I didn't buy the OG since I do prefer the grayscale colour scheme... what's wrong with owning both you say? Well, space constraints aside, as the Chinese saying goes, "一山不能藏二虎" (literally means a mountain cannot house two tigers).

And now... the moment we've all been waiting for... the review of the new Dark Cowboy Superset.

If you've watched unboxing videos of the original set, I guess you won't be too surprised by the size of the box and the quality of the packaging for the Superset. I am very pleased to see that 3A kept to the original design of the packaging, except for the updating of A.Wood's artwork on the front of the box. The box is huge and heavy, mainly because the contents within is equally so. The Dead Equine is fully made out of polystone, which adds significantly to the weight of the entire package. I think its size is only superceded by 2 other 3A products that I've purchased before (the Yo Super Set and Rex), but the quality remains unprecedented.

The Dark Cowboy figure is more or less the same as the original, except that this time, the velcro that was used to hold the shirt together has been replaced with snap on buttons. Apart from that, it is just a colour change. The Cowboy comes equipped with 7 guns (excluding 2 mounted on his steed) like in the past, a poncho (now dyed grey) and a brown cowboy hat with wire inserts in the rim. I must say that the hand is sculpted to hold the pistols really nice and firm, but not so much the new shotgun... BTW, I have a theory on why he has so many guns: if you are equipped with more loaded guns, then you can save some time on loading your guns, just expend, toss away, draw another, and keep firing...! More importantly, if you can't aim cause you are blind... ... ... ... ... ... then you... ... ... ... ... ... yup.

Overall, the figure represents a typical cowboy really well, and all the grays compliment each other nicely, with sufficient white highlights through the prints on the poncho and the skin tone. I was a little taken aback by the fact that the poncho was just a tattered piece of felt with no tailoring at all. I felt that it was a little fragile and can be prone to tears especially when cuts were deliberately introduced at some points along its edges to give it a weathered look. A little trimming to reinforce the edges might not've been such a bad thing. Another thing I felt uncomfortable with was the thin faux leather belts and holsters that were used. Compared to the gun, which is a chunky piece of plastic painted to look like metal, the holsters appear rather thin and I will take great care in pushing the guns in or taking 'em out. The belts also feel very brittle and prone to breakage, especially the pair that straps the holsters to the left knee / sheen area.

Another problem that I had with the figure was the loose shoulder swivels. The 3A body features a swivel on which the usual shoulder ball joint is mounted. This allows a wider range of movement, as the entire arm can now be 'folded' forwards or backwards. While it is a good articulation to have (see 3rd Cowboy pic above, where the right arm is 'folded' forward), mine is particularly loose and somewhat irritating... It is a ratchet joint that goes click click click click as it moves, which it will whether intentionally or unintentionally when you move / accidentally shake the figure.

The boots imitates leather pretty well, but it is actually a rubbery material that impedes the movement of the ankle joint quite a bit. I won't say that it affects the figure if you are posing him in any typical Cowboy poses though. Like the improvement on the shirt button / velcro, I would've thought 3A did some improvements to this known shortcoming of the original boot by changing its material to a softer one... Now let's bring out the horse...!

Online reviews and videos can prepare you for the size of the Dead Equine, but it can never prepare you for the wholesome weight of the polystone statue. I guess it is a fair question to ask which would one prefer: a polystone horse with no articulation or a plastic one with joints. I think I will choose the former any day. I owned the new MOTUC He-man and Battle-cat for a short period of time and while I enjoyed being able to pose the Battle-cat, it was plagued by loose joints at the neck hinge and I found that I didn't really pose them after they have been placed on the shelf for display. I did miss the simplicity of the vintage cat which was essentially a brick with no articulation... True story.

One obvious difference between the OG Ghost Horse and this Dead Equine is that the timber planks that were wrapped around the legs with bandages are now fully concealed. They are still present though, I can feel them through the bandages. I'm sure there are some brave souls out there who are going to try unwrapping the bandages to reveal them just like in the original statue. Personally, I'm not too bothered by this change... a decaying horse does need some bandages no...?

Bandages also find their way around the head and neck portions of the horse. The head is the nicest part of the statue, and I really like the skeletal look that it has. I must applaud the 3D modeller / sculptor that managed to translate A.Wood's art into this masterpiece. He / she must be some unsung hero slogging it out in a sweat shop known as the Hatchery that should be given due credit. Equipment-wise, everything that is supposed to be on the horse saddle is there: the horse bit in his jaw that connects to the reins, the crown / front / nose band, the collar that holds the seat and the stirrups, etc... and on top of all these? Pouches! 3-4 of them on each side, and also a rolled up blanket at the back for those harsh winter nights. This piece is not short of details I'm telling ya!

I think it is worth mentioning that the horse does come with an additional cloak (top in pic above), which is a piece of black felt that is meant to cover the head of the horse, probably to make it look a little more mysterious or spooky. Thing is, for someone who thinks that the horse head is the best part of the entire sculpt, I'm not to sure if I'm keen to open the packaging for a cloth to cover it up.

I haven't taken out the red sock puppet either, probably because it is just an unimpressive and forgettable red repaint (and inferior version) of the white sock puppet that came with Red Devil Sham... It comes in a packet with a relaxed left hand, something good to have I suppose. Below are some shots of Dark Cowboy, Dead Equine and the usual suspects...

I have the Dark Cowboy sitting on his the Dead Equine, standing on the television console in the living room. It definitely has a strong presence, towering over my 18" Toybiz Spider-man that is standing on the opposite side of the television. My wife is not one who gives much praise to my toy collection, but even she said to me that the horse "looks nice" (yea, not going to get any much more outta her, but trust me when I say it is a higher compliment than winning 10 consecutive years of Designer Toy Award). This brings me to the thought of whether the Dark Cowboy is actually a worthy figure by himself without his companion. Honestly, I think that one cannot do without the other; as much as they complete each other, they also compliment each other very well. I haven't tried putting a Shogun or any other Popbot figure on the horse, but I doubt they will go very well, and surely not as matching as the Dark Cowboy...

This brings us to another pressing question: will the Ascended Blind Cowboy that was surprise-dropped during the Dark Superset sale be able to hold the fort on its own without his trusty steed? I will be able to review it as I was lucky enough to score it when the final batch was up. Even if it does disappoint in hand (hopefully not of course), I'm pretty sure the devil bot head accessory that it comes with will still make his purchase worthwhile... We shall see.