It’s been a while since I’ve written up a list of figures I’m interested in, so I figured I’d go ahead and take a look at some of the stuff I’m looking at. Pictures are shamelessly borrowed from Hobby Search which, despite their annoying removal of porno goods from their English website, is still a great place to buy things from.
I recently spent some time practicing my
Photoshop photography skills, and I shot some new pictures of Aegis and Rei. My Aegis photos were one of the earliest photo shoots in which I played around with shadows and a black background. I liked those photos a lot at the time and in retrospect, I can’t quite remember why:
I really am not digging the folds and creases in the background. It makes me want to re-shoot pictures of every figure I reviewed using a cloth backdrop.
I like my new pictures, but I wonder if I’ll look back at these photos a year or two from now and think, “What in the world was I doing? C’mon man.”
Here’s one more image that isn’t quite as dark as the first:
Rei was one of the earliest figures I photographed, and I was still using a ragged blue curtain then as the background. I also used three lamps, one shining from each side and a third illuminating from above. It made for a lifeless photograph, as if Rei were nothing more than a chunk of molded, painted plastic:
How boring is that? Really bloody boring. Rei’s an albino clone girl who slides herself into a tight bodysuit to fight off huge monsters bent on genocide in an apartment-sized robot; she shouldn’t be boring. I think my new pictures are more interesting than my old ones, even though I don’t really have any clue what I’m doing. They’re probably not quite as useful from a review perspective, but I’m comfortable with making that sacrifice in the name of prettier pictures.
Or more precisely, new computer parts. My current computer (5.5 years old at this time) is just about dead; it takes around eight hours to reboot and the video card croaked. Being that nobody makes AGP video cards anymore – and that I was very lucky a friend still had an old machine that I could scavenge working parts from – I felt that it was time to get a new machine. My new computer is going to have a 2.66 GHz Intel i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 300 GB and 1 TB hard disks. I had hoped to include a Radeon 5850 card but they were sold out planetwide when I bought the parts, and as I mainly play console games, I don’t feel too badly about having to settle for a lesser video card.
In keeping with my indomitable spirit of laziness, I’m probably not going to get around to building it until the weekend. No doubt I’ll need the additional time to fix the inevitable problems that are going to occur; something always goes wrong when I build computers.
I got asked to provide a size comparison picture of Kenshin and Meiya, so I also thought this was a good opportunity to provide the goods.
Of the eight figures that I had preordered this month, six have been delayed till next month or beyond. I’m not sure why figure manufacturers don’t tack on extra month on all their pending figure releases just to sync their schedules back up with reality. Even this pornographic figure that I preordered got kicked back a month. You know things are messed up when a small-scale manufacturer like Giga Pulse can’t meet their projected ship date. I bet transvestite Yoko doesn’t make it out this month, too. (And as I type this, I am proved correct! I wish I could say that this prognostication was built upon careful deduction, but anybody could see this coming.)
Serendipitous it is indeed, then, that HLJ is holding a holiday sale with shipping costs waived if you buy a sale item. With funds freed up for this month, this sale is a pretty good opportunity to pick up anything that I had passed on. Or at least, it would be, if there were anything that I wanted to buy. I went through HLJ’s inventory for Alter, Max Factory, GSC, Yamato, and all the other major figure manufacturers and I’m having a real tough time finding something that I want that I don’t already have. I guess Akiha might be a possibility (where’s the Itsuki figure, GSC?). Given the expense of EMS shipping, I feel like I should take advantage of this sale. I was really hoping that they’d have GSC’s 1/4 scale Nanoha or the Aegis Figma still in stock, but unfortunately they do not. I guess I will have to take a second, less discriminating look through HLJ’s inventory. I should probably also take this as a sign that perhaps I shouldn’t throw money at every figure that I want as soon as it comes out.
Lacking anything more productive to do on this cold, wet holiday, I decided to reshoot Kokoro, being that my earlier pictures were particularly hideous. While I was at it, I thought that I’d provide a look at the “studio” in which I take my figure pictures. It’s not a particularly complicated setup, although it certainly is a mess.
I spent some time this evening shooting pictures of Tsukino Azusagawa, and I wasn’t really feeling the way they turned out. Guess it’s back to the drawing board there. Since I have no pictures to post, and since it’s been a while since my last preorder outlook post, I figure why not do one of those? As usual all images are shamelessly taken from Hobby Search (a great place to buy figures from) and AmiAmi (I’m sure they would be a great place to buy figures from if they shipped internationally).
I got Meiya put back together and as one can see, sheâ€™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 isnâ€™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.
Iâ€™ve been playing with the new cheap lens; itâ€™s tempting to abuse its capabilities by jacking aperture width as wide as itâ€™ll go. Itâ€™s noticeably sharper than the kit lens Iâ€™ve been using for all my earlier shots, but it seems more difficult to focus where I want it to. Itâ€™s also unusual in that I have to position my camera farther away from the subject than Iâ€™m used to; with the kit lens, Iâ€™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. Itâ€™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.
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.
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.
Didn’t I just do one of these?