Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Human Mage Photo Reshoot

Continuing through the figure photo re-shooting project, I took some new pictures of Good Smile Company’s Lineage II mage.

This was one of the more difficult photo sets I’ve taken. I originally used red cloth for the ground surface and it looked conspicuously incongruous with the foliage and flowers and such. I decided to reshoot the photos (making the final set a re-reshoot) using dirt for the ground, except since I didn’t like the idea of strewing actual dirt on my computer desk, I used instant coffee. Of course, I forgot that I hugely dislike the smell of coffee, which tends to make me feel nauseous. The process of taking these pictures was thus particularly arduous, and I’ve still got three fans blowing air in here to try to ventilate this space.

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Senhime and Mishiro Re-shoots

I said something a week or two ago about having a bunch of preorders due this month. Ha! I’ve watched with helpless dismay as figure after figure is pushed back to September and October. It’s almost enough to drive a man to tears. To assuage my lachrymose despondency I went ahead and re-photographed Senhime and Mishiro Akatsuki, the girl with the helicopter hair.

Does anyone think that anything is actually getting released this month? Should figure manufacturers just preemptively bump back all of their releases by a month? Was Michael Vick’s signing by the Eagles a good move? Maybe it’s time to work through the figure review backlog; Alter’s Nadie might be next up, then.

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Subaru Photo Reshoot (or Angry Girl in the Snow)

Back when I really did not know what I was doing, I took this picture of Subaru, the cutest amputee ninja around:

Man that looks bad. The background is bad. The figure looks bad. Everything is bad. The rest of the review’s pictures were just as bad. Now that I’m a bit more experienced with taking pictures, I decided to re-do Subaru’s photos:

Lately I’ve been making an effort at providing an interesting backdrop for my figure pictures. I think it makes for a much more appealing photo, and the backgrounds are a lot of fun (albeit rather time-consuming) to create. I’m also trying a few different things with respect to photographic technique. I’ve switched to the cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens for all my figure pictures, and I’m spending more time performing post-processing. My figure reviews take a lot longer to complete, but I think the time spent is worthwhile.

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Meiya Photo Reshoot

After a protracted period of figure repair and familiarization with the new camera lens, I’ve finally finished reshooting Meiya. In retrospect, even though her armpit is looking rather ragged, the arm repositioning turned out better than I could have initially hoped for, given my cluelessness with respect to modeling techniques and the limited hobby resources available to me.

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Random Thoughts VI – Fixed-up Meiya and Cheap Lens Impressions

I got Meiya put back together and as one can see, she’s actually holding her sword now. Am I making a note here, huge success? Hardly; I did an awful job of reattaching her arm, but fortunately the paint is dark and her armpit isn’t visible from the front. Given a choice between ugly arm joint and a straight sword versus a clean arm joint with her sword passing over her right hand, I prefer the former.

I’ve been playing with the new cheap lens; it’s tempting to abuse its capabilities by jacking aperture width as wide as it’ll go. It’s noticeably sharper than the kit lens I’ve been using for all my earlier shots, but it seems more difficult to focus where I want it to. It’s also unusual in that I have to position my camera farther away from the subject than I’m used to; with the kit lens, I’m usually no more than a foot away from the figure, but with the f/1.8 lens I usually need to move back a meter or more to get it in the frame. It’s fun to experiment with, but it does provide a humbling indication of how little I really know about photography.

In miscellaneous news I looked at my preorders and I have something like ten figures scheduled for release this month. It’s gonna be spensive.

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Random Thoughts V – New Cheap Lens and Fixing Meiya

I got the famous cheap Canon f/1.8 50mm lens today, although I haven’t had a chance to do much with it yet. I’ve heard that it’s a pretty good portrait lens though, so my hopes are high.

Instead of taking pictures, I spent most of the evening wrestling with Meiya, and not in a good way. As I mentioned in my review of this figure, Hobbyfan screwed up her arm positioning so that her sword doesn’t line up properly. It bugs me to have a nice figure with such an obvious error, so I figured I’d tear off and re-position her arm. As I found out, that’s much easier said then done; her shoulderguard and hand make it near impossible to saw through the joint, and I discovered that my Dremel is busted. I resorted to using a hobby knife to cut through it; I was really tempted to try batoning the blade but I guess that wouldn’t have worked all that well. After cutting maybe half of the way through, I pried the arm off with a can opener. Let me tell you, the can and bottle openers on Victorinox tools are some of the most useful things around. I don’t think I’ve actually ever used them for their intended purposes, but they are outstanding small pry bars.

I think I can position her arm so that the sword is reasonably straight, but as one can see, doing so leaves a conspicuous and hideous gap between her arm and armpit. Sigh. I do have some modelling putty around here, but having never used it before, I have no clue what to do with it. I’ll also have to paint over the putty as well as the damage I inflicted on Meiya’s paint job. I hope the results turn out okay.

As everyone in the figure collecting hobby knows, the summer Wonder Festival recently ended. Lots of good stuff was shown, but Good Smile Company didn’t unveil any new Sora Kake Girl figures. Come on GSC, where’s the Itsuki figure? Don’t let your sponsorship of the show go to waste.

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Site slowness

This site has been very, very slow recently, with some extended downtime, and I don’t know what’s causing the problem. My webhost’s support staff suggested that the poor performance might be caused by my site’s theme, so if this issue persists, I might revert back to the default theme for a few days to see if that clears things up.

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Partial Loot

I didn’t get everything I expected today. How tragic. I did get three things though: the Hustler (they should’ve given her a real name rather than naming her for a porn rag) and Mikuru from HLJ and an Itsuki Kannagi dakimakura cover from Hobby Search. I’m still expecting stuff from E2046 (which was shipped by SAL so I guess it’s not surprising that the package is delayed), Amazon (selected free shipping so I guess I’m getting what I paid for), and Kid Nemo (well, it’s Kid Nemo, so this ain’t surprising. I wonder if they’ve actually shipped my figure?).

The Tonberry was not part of today’s loot but he insisted on being in the picture anyway.

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Random Thoughts IV – BlazBlue Impressions, Figure Photo Reshoots

2009 is a good year for fighting games, with Street Fighter IV released for consoles earlier in the year, The King of Fighters XII scheduled for later this summer, and now we have a spiritual successor to Arc System Works’s Guilty Gear X in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Players of Guilty Gear will feel right at home with BlazBlue, as many of the basic game mechanics have transitioned to the newer game. I’m not very good at BlazBlue (or any fighting games, really), so I can’t speak to the more advanced fighting concepts. Thus far I’ve played primarily as Noel, the ever-polite, painfully shy grammaton cleric, but from what I’ve seen each character possesses his or her own unique moveset and quirks. This is a good thing since unlike other contemporary fighting games, BlazBlue’s playable roster is comparatively short at twelve characters.

The game uses character sprites rather than 3D models like Street Fighter IV, and they look superb. Even better is the game’s audio. The game features surprisingly good English voice acting; I usually prefer Japanese voices for Japanese games, but this time I’ve kept the language set to English. The music is awesome and is of the same theme as Guilty Gear – that is, the soundtrack principally comprises thrashing, churning operatic heavy metal. Oriental Flower – Litchi’s theme – is my favorite song, but the soundtrack is outstanding in general. Aksys Games has generously included a copy of the soundtrack with the first production run of the game.

I spent some time this holiday weekend reshooting some more old figures to replace some of my poor-quality pictures. Old and new pictures of Gwendolyn:

Gah. Jesus that looks awful. Newer picture uses the black background that is in almost all of my recent figure reviews:

Old and new for Sasara:

I wonder what I’m going to do with all that fabric. On a happier note, I think I’ve figured out how to get a decent white background without massively blowing out the highlights on my figures:

I’ve got a bunch of stuff due in on Monday. I hope the post office guy is driving a pretty big truck.

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Random Thoughts III

This figure of a disheveled maid in a state of profound distress (and undress) has gone up for preorder recently, and I’m contemplating putting an order in for her. The problem is that she’s currently only available from Native’s website, and that means I’d have to go through a deputy service. In my experience, the markup for doing so is usually around 50%, so at 8000 yen, I’m looking at a final price of around $120. That’s a lot of scratch to drop on a 1/7 scale figure. On the other hand, money comes and goes and comes again but opportunities to get a figure like this are ephemeral indeed.

That said, if I do order her, I’m going to feel rather foolish if she gets a domestic release like Kotone Osaka (NSFW link).

Everyone’s seen pictures of Shoujo M already but in case anybody missed her, more pictures are up on AkihaHobby and Moeyo. Needless to say, both links are NSFW.

A bunch of reviews of Good Smile Company’s 1/4 scale Nanoha went up recently and I really like that figure, and since I like Fate better (with respect to character design, as I haven’t seen the anime), I was looking forward to seeing Nanoha’s counterpart. This image was the first picture I saw of GSC’s 1/4 scale Fate, and something didn’t look quite right with her. I once saw pictures of a strange form of cosplay, where people not only dressed up as anime characters but put on masks so that their faces looked like anime faces. There’s a Japanese term for this practice but I don’t recall what it is. Anyway, that’s what this Fate figure sort of reminded me of; she looks like a female bodybuilder wearing an anime cosplay mask. Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t really there but my enthusiasm for this figure has dampened.

For someone who spends so much money on anime-related merchandise, I don’t actually watch a great deal of anime. The last series that I viewed in full was Beck, which curiously could lay claim to having both the best half-season and the worst half-season of any anime series I’ve watched, and the only show I’ve followed this year is Sora Kake Girl. I started watching Ga-rei Zero the other day and it’s a fun show so far. The first two episodes were rife with dramatic combat and the wanton spilling of blood and the third and fourth episodes spin the show’s direction into a much more lighthearted study of how the two main characters grew up together. I’m guessing that the show wasn’t super popular, judging by the lack of merchandising. More the shame, that.

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