Friday, October 30, 2009

It's A Sure Sign You Spend Too Much Time With Language Dictionaries When... can figure out how puns work in those languages.

For instance, take the word "mashogun," used in several anime and manga as a term for giant demonic leader-minion beings. (By which I mean large, powerful, and ostensibly leadership-oriented dudes who are really just minions of some bigger thing.) Its literal meaning is actually "demonic warrior," more or less, but since it contains the word "shogun" as well as "masho," it is a portmanteau of sorts that not only means warrior ("gun"), but general ("shogun").

Now, this isn't really an example that I can take credit for-it all goes to the Transformers Wiki.

I can, however, take some credit for figuring this one out: "Bakudai" is a word that means enormous. (Like, since it's Japanese, you might be able to hear Japanese guys shouting it in an unedited Japanese version of Godzilla when they see the critter the first time.) "Dai" also means big or huge by itself. Does "baku" mean anything? It sure does-it refers to explosive blasts.

So implicitly, anything that is "bakudai" could also potentially be explosive.


Can you tell I'm not particularly in the mood to blog at the moment?

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mary Sith

Ironically, the character I'm calling that is a guy.

So I saw this trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic...

I thought it was pretty nifty, but there was one thing which, as a Star Wars nerd, bothered me.
That being the use of Force lightning by a guy who may or may not be a cyborg, and who is wearing heavy armor.

What, you might ask, is the problem with this? The fact that George Lucas stated the reason Darth Vader never uses Force lightning is specifically because the damage to his body prevents him from doing so (no squishy hands and all that to use as the focus, after all). By that standard, since this dude is only maybe a cyborg (certainly, his hand is real-looking enough, though that doesn't mean much), it only maybe is wrong. But in Knights of the Old Republic, another game (though a different one than the trailer is for), Force lightning can't be used by anyone wearing body armor.

Er, not that that is necessarily important to this totally different game... I just got a Mary Sue vibe off of that guy when I saw him dress like Darth Vader and fight like the Emperor, is all.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writing Techniques: (Un?)Like Us

Recently, I took a look at whether or not you should explain things in fiction. (The answer: A definite maybe. Also, something I didn't specifically mention-if you want to talk about something like what I was referring to, or something else such as imaginary vehicle specifications, etc., obviously there's another option: Bonus materials and source guides. I mean, how much money has Star Trek made on that kind of stuff over the years? It's gotta be a lot.) At the end of the article, I hinted that I would be exploring another subject, that being how much like us intelligent alien beings may or may not be, especially in the fictional context.

This has always (since modern science fiction's roots at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth) been a controversial subject in serious fiction. The resemblance between aliens and ourselves found in most fiction is more or less inevitable; whether we physically anthropomorphize them for sake of convenience and budget, or we write them as "humans in funny suits" in the more figurative sense. (There are a number of common ways to write alien beings; Planet of Hats, Rubber Forehead Aliens, Intelligent Animals, Scary Dogmatic Aliens, Human Aliens, and Starfish Aliens. TVTropes, by the way, is pretty much tied with the Transformers Wiki for most awesome wiki ever.)

How seriously should you take this issue?

Well, one of the problems in a visual medium is that you can make aliens very alien, but they may be very hard for readers or viewers to follow if they aren't anthropomorphic enough to interpret their appearances... which of course has the further realism issue of aliens probably not having the same expression set as humans. (Strictly speaking, in human culture only smiling is universally recognized, though most cultures recognize more than that thanks to exchange of media.) In non-visual media such as novels, this is rather less problematic, as you can describe an expression and explain what it means, or even simply say "s/he smiled" and explain to the reader that it wasn't really a human smile but an equivalent expression that the character understands. (There is also the fact that cultural exchange with aliens can potentially create self-anthropomorphized aliens who are trying to be friendly, who may smile even though they never would within their own society.)

The real deep issue, though, is alien minds. Can a writer truly write an alien mind, or will it just be weird behavior for the sake of weirdness? And how alien can a mind truly be? Since minds and personalities can be expressed with equal ease in any media, provided you know how, this is a deeper issue.

I tend to think that the example used by the guy who inspired the previous post on the subject (the author of Lovecraft is Missing) is a good one to refer to for convenience-the Predators of the same-named movie franchise. They are an excellent example because they appear in a movie where the point is trying to figure out what they are.

Let's generally examine the appearance of the Predator. While they are invisible, we know from various junk that they are generally pretty humanoid in shape, and in fact mostly look like really ugly deformed Klingons. (Though apparently they have their fans. Don't ask-my sister has anecdotes.) The other primary thing we know about Predators (and I'm just drawing from what little I know about the early movies, not the Alien Vs. Predator review which complained about their too-human behavior) is that they like to hunt. Preferably, smart, tough, and well-armed prey. And they do it for the mere sake of hunting.

Now, generally speaking, I know a decent amount of biology. If something is bipedal, stands upright, has two four-to-six-fingered hands, two eyes, and a mouth on its head below its eyes, it's going to be wired a lot like a human in terms of its motor nerves, etc. Even if it has developed from some kind of smarter-than-average slug originally, those similarities suggest it probably would have had a reasonably similar lifestyle to the human one in the developmental stages, i.e. banding together, using tools, hunting in the plains or the forests or the mountains using probably similar techniques. If something looks as human as the Predator ultimately does, it's going to have a similar way of viewing the world to a human no matter how divergent its other features are.

So we've established that something like that has something in common. What else can we look at? Well, biologically, we could presume that their distant ancestors had significant differences, and we can presume that probably, they have natural ways of expressing and communicating that derive from that heritage rather than what humans have. The biochemistry of their brains may even contribute to significant behavioral differences, and they may have some quirks, such as hermaphroditism, egg-laying, multi-stage development, extreme sexual dimorphism, or something that Earthly biology doesn't even have an equivalent to, that also set them apart. (Now, obviously, I'm starting to go into somewhat more general ideas than the Predator itself. Bear with me.)

At the end of the day, though, we still have something that:
  • Hungers. (It's an animal, thus it hungers.)
  • Probably sleeps. (Only really stupid animals don't sleep on Earth.)
  • Is social. (They couldn't have developed serious technology if they didn't have a pretty complicated society.)
  • Uses tools. (Weapons and clothing are specialized tools.)
  • Maps and processes the environment with stereoscopic vision. (Just because it's an infrared vision type thing doesn't make it that different.)
  • Can probably hear pretty well. (It's likely to have been at a significant evolutionary disadvantage if it couldn't as a species.)
  • May or may not have a similar sense of smell and taste. (Maybe that's what the ugly mouth is for.)
  • Has enough (let's face it, way more than enough) free time and resources to waste it on recreational activities (though the Predator probably puts a bit more emphasis on it than mere recreation).
Notice that, except for the first three, not all of these technically apply to all humans. There are feral children (who may not use tools, and actually aren't always social, either...), blind people, deaf people, people with messed up senses of smell and taste, and people who don't have any free time or resources.

So my conclusion, at least with regards to something with a similar body type to ours, is that we could probably understand it with some effort, no matter how weird it was to us at first. Past the biology, I tend to think it'd all just be culture.

But even if the creature was much more different, I tend to think the boundaries wouldn't be insurmountable. The first three items on my list of things in common would probably still be in common if they were literal freaking starfish aliens. And even a sapient carrot would still likely have hunger in common despite being a plant, because hunger figuratively refers to things such as scarcity in the environment that must be dealt with, and even plants must (figuratively) stare down scarcity.

A being with a big, smart brain usually has to be pretty active to fuel that big brain, and pretty active to fill that brain with useful information that can make that being smart enough to become relevant to this discussion. Anything that can be that active also has the potential for boredom and for curiosity. (Not to say they would definitely have it. But if they're smart, they had to get that way somehow, and curiosity is the quickest, easiest way I can think of.)

Really, saying some alien is incredibly, incomprehensibly strange is shorthand for saying "too weird to explain in five minutes." And it's also total bunk. As I said with regards to the strange in the previous, chances are we can understand, if we have an opportunity to do some research and are patient, no matter how darned alien those darned aliens are. If you say you can't, you really just don't want to.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Not Much of A Star Trek Fan, But...

...I have to admit-this is pretty funny and nifty. (Although you may be offended if you're Turkish...? [Read the comments.])

Not much else to say about it-what can you really say about something with this image in it?
I mean, besides the obvious.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Golden Age Comic Book Moment of the Day (6)

I'll tell ya what...

...these critters, which are repeatedly referred to as "insects," don't even remotely resemble insects, yet they were vehemently called such.

In fact, they look more like lizard/crocodile hybrids... I find it rather hard to believe the artist of the comic had never seen an insect, but had seen crocodiles and lizards.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 23, 2009


People create stuff imitating things all the time using the game Spore. Let's see some.


Kinda gawky...

But that's nothing next to the Tendril I found. This, for reference, is Tendril:
And here's the YouTube video:


Well, I could show you the Metlar, but that thing bounces around too much for my tastes. Whatever.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Golden Age Moment of the Day (5)

You know what's even uglier than the Inhumanoids?

This thing.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Toy Commercial From Heck

Well, perhaps I'm being uncharitable. But don't these old Inhumanoids spots look awful? And I mean video quality, not just visuals.

Having owned the Magnakor toy, I can state for a fact that the thing in the commercial was a prototype or something. Mine was considerably more proportionate than that thing. (I still have 'im 'round somewhere, I just don't know where.) Also, that thing in the commercial has no articulation whatsoever that I can see; mine could (without the thin shell that formed his outer covering in front) move his arms, legs, and even his head-5 whole points of articulation. (Wow, those were the days, huh?)

But here's one thing I think should be made perfectly clear: No Magnakor toy ever had a magnetic gimmick. Some guy who talked about the show and the toys remarked that Magnakor had magnets in his halves for the sake of holding him together or something; I regret to shatter his illusions, but that's not the case. Magnakor was held together by simple friction-his cheap ol' shell didn't even have room for a magnet.

I wouldn't rant about it, except that that remark has stuck in my craw literally for years now, and I thought I'd put it out there on the Internet for hapless Inhumanoids researchers (ha!) to find.

Also, with regards to Magnakor's toy versus the appearance in the show, it's ironic to note that his component halves were Fire (check) and Ice (what?!), as opposed to the toy's Fire and blobby Rock.

While I'm babbling about Magnakor, I might as well mention-wouldn't it just stink to be him? His sole purpose in life is to stand there paralyzing Metlar. For crying out loud, get the boy an electromagnet or something.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

5 Reasons the Inhumanoids Should Cross Over With the Transformers

(Don't say I didn't warn you.)

5. The two franchises clearly exist in the same multiverse.

Aside from the obvious fact that both properties belong to Hasbro, they do have some concrete connections. First, the Inhumanoids character Sabre Jet would seem to be either the same person (or an alternate reality version of the same person) as the GIJoe character Ace-while this isn't a direct connection, GIJoe clearly exists in the same overall multiverse as Transformers, and so the Inhumanoids must as well. Second, the Shattered Glass continuity of Transformers coexists with an Earth that has "metal monsters" from the Earth's core. In effect? Inhumanoids. ("Metal monster" is an exceedingly accurate description for Metlar, the primary villain-Metlar's sole weakness is to magnetism.)

4. Because Hasbro can totally get away with it.

Do I really need to elaborate?

3. It's a logical reason to use the monster-like Decepticon Pretenders.

Either these Pretender shells would be cloned from Inhumanoid tissues, or...

Open scene. Metlar, with a motley crew of various monsters, is standing there surveying the situation. He is holding some kind of MacGuffin-er, new weapon or tool, which he hopes will grant him an edge in the coming episode-er, conflict.

Metlar: Finally, we will be able to conquer the cursed Earth Corps and those Autobots with this, my new...

Metlar trails off as he spots a few troops who strike him as odd-looking. They are the Decepticons Bomb-Burst, Bugly, and Skullgrin, disguised in Pretender shells.

He looks confused. They try to look as innocent as possible.

Metlar: Who the slag are you?
Skullgrin: We your troops.
Metlar: ...

Metlar: Eh, whatever.

It's ironic to note that the Autobot Pretenders actually have a certain resemblance to Earth Corps figures.

2. You know who else would be perfect for a crossover like this? Brushguard.

He'd probably chase Tendril and the Redwood guys around trying to get samples.

1. Because it would be awesome, man.

If nothing else, it would, as my sister suggests, be a second legitimate reason for crazy groups like the Rapid Anti-Transformer Assault... er, whatever they're called, but yeah, special anti-Transformer task forces would have more of a job if the Inhumanoids were there to deal with too, and Sis also wants to see Megatron and Metlar go toe to toe sometime.

I'm seriously going to keep going with the Inhumanoids Stuff Week thing tomorrow, unless there's some reason that I don't. I... hey, get back here!

-Signing off.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Revive the Inhumanoids

...Not in the literal sense, I mean...

Oh, whatever.

I'm obviously a huge nerd, and the fact that I've actually considered how one would revive a poorly remembered toy franchise (which I've talked about here) from the '80s is just a sign of the peculiarities of my particular brand of nerdiness.

And, in all seriousness, I think it's a viable one.

The central aspects of my plan are twofold. (Hasbro employees, if you're reading this, I'd be happy if the series was revived, and that's all I'd ask for as a reward.) The first is understanding just why Inhumanoids tanked.

Much as I love the oddball little franchise, it had one glaring flaw-all the toys were too darned big. The smallest toy in the line was at least the size of a modern Transformers Voyager-class, and most of them were Ultra-class sized or larger. The stars of the line, Metlar, D'Compose, and Tendril, were about the size of Transformer Supreme-class toys-if not bigger. (I used to have a Metlar, but my mother threw him out after his head broke off. WHY? I loved that headless Metlar!) This means, in the modern market, that the cheapest toys in the line would at a minimum cost of $20 a pop. $20 a pop for the smallest toys in the line. And the toys were absolutely tremendous, minimally poseable, and had minimal gimmicks. Obviously, a new toyline would have to go with smaller, cheaper toys, at least for most characters. (For an explanation of the Transformers size class terminology and a chart of related price points, look at this web page.)

The second step is a major cost-saving measure: Recycle other toys.

No, I don't mean the originals. Fun as the classic toys might be in one respect (they be BIG and HEAVY-one person on the ol' internets described their primary virtue as being the fact that you knew you could kill somebody with one), they're figurative dinosaurs-uncompetitive in today's market. No, I'm thinking of mining the past of another toyline, one that would love to foist off what it sees as its past mistakes on some poor, unsuspecting fellow toyline. I am, of course, referring to G. I. Joe.

Yes, seriously, GIJoe. Here's some examples of what GIJoe could part with: Bio-Viper. Monstro-Viper. Lobotomaxx. Predacon. Carcass. The Manimals (Iguanus, Slythor, and Warwolf). (If you're a Joe fan from the time period, don't deny hatin' 'em, you heartless jerk. The line died around then, and you blame them for it.) Digging deeper, there are things like the rather boringly named Armor Bot, and of course even vehicles like the Septic Tank and characters like Cesspool would probably be better-suited to the Inhumanoids franchise than GIJoe. (Or the Cobra-La team. Heh heh heh.) While one's at it, it wouldn't make much difference to move over such sub-franchises as Sgt. Savage or GIJoe Extreme, or at least individual characters from them. (Click my "GIJoe" label for more information on those, or do your own search. I'm in a groove, and don't feel like taking the time to link them.) GIJoe is crammed with figures and vehicles which are "too goofy" (too unrealistic, too sci-fi, too whatever your pick) for GIJoe (fans' tastes), and of course generic figures can provide extra human characters, while Inhumanoids would not be harmed by this supposed goofiness in the least.

To pick up the slack that would exist in the line in the form of the decided lack of large monster toys would be the relatively small remainder of the line, made up of various medium-sized new-mold monster toys, topped off by one good-sized one (say, "Leader-class"-that is, about $40) to contrast whatever the largest vehicle in the line was.

If the line is met with failure in the mass market, well, boo hoo, but at least development costs were pretty low. If the line is moderately successful, then it can hold on by producing more recycled toys with relatively few new-mold monsters; if it is very successful, of course, then the design work would be worth the effort, and newer and different vehicles and figures could complement the designs of the monster toys.

Marketing, of course, would be a reasonably important feature-I would suggest cheap re-releases of the Inhumanoids on DVD, maybe some pack-in minicomics, and tie-in animation of some kind. (Even just webisodes.) To keep it in step with the market, the monsters' appearances and powers would probably best be rather more anime-like than they are in the old cartoons and toyline. Not that they weren't anime-like already in many ways-I mean, in its own quirky way, D'Compose's "turn stuff into giant killer zombies" power is pure anime. And I would suggest banking on what I've described Inhumanoids' appeal as being for me-"kiddie Lovecraft," a series about terrible monsters that people don't know enough about.

And there we go, a semi-detailed outline of just how one would rebuild some stupid failed toy/cartoon franchise from the '80s for today. Join me tomorrow, when I talk some more about Inhumanoids.

I am so totally stone cold serious-this is now Inhumanoids Stuff Week.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rickshaw Time

Sometimes you see things that you never realized you wanted to see. For instance...

A guy dressed as a superhero pulling a rickshaw and doing acrobatics. While pulling the rickshaw.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writing Techniques: To Explain, or Not to Explain?

So the other day, I read a review of Alien Vs. Predator (the movie version) in which the writer of said review (author of the webcomic Lovecraft is Missing, which I have mentioned in the past and is about exactly what it says it is about) complained about the "watering down" of the Aliens and Predators by explaining and exploring them. The whole point, he says, is that they're scary because we don't really understand them; going into the life cycle of the Aliens or the culture of the Predators takes the teeth out of them.

Speaking as someone who examines worldbuilding for the sake of doing so, I can see his point, but I must also disagree to some degree. While the scariest thing imaginable is the thing you don't understand at all, partly because you don't know what it can and can't do, that doesn't mean something you do understand is totally deprived of its scare factor.

Just because you know that a xenomorph is basically just a giant ant/parasitic wasp/velociraptor hybrid that is also bulletproof doesn't make it not scary; for crying out loud, even a simple bulletproof velociraptor would be pretty darned scary if you were the guy it was chasing. Whether or not it's a "cheap" scare depends on how it's used.

Also, speaking as someone who is a (wannabe) author, I can understand another motivation for revealing details of a movie monster: In order for it to make sense in a science fiction context, the creators of the monster have to know all the details, regardless of whether they reach the film or not. And I can imagine that, if they had made all those Alien movies (for crying out loud, how many are there now?) and never got to elaborate or otherwise explore their nature, they would probably have gone completely bonkers from wanting to share.

I suppose also that part of my perspective comes from being a science fiction reader (and moreover a science weirdo); I like to know about things, usually for the sake of knowing about them. And I'll tell you what-reading the stupid Zombie Survival Guide actually wasn't funny at all-it scared the freaking heck out of me, and gave me the heebiejeebies so badly I didn't sleep that night. There's also a horror story, "The Autopsy" (by Michael Shea), which initially looks like it might just be a story about a particularly weird serial killer; but then, it looks like it might be a story about a vampire; but the real answer (which I won't spoil), revealed after several more twists and turns, is rather creepier. But it would not have been if we'd never found out the answer-it'd just have been a frustrating buildup of suspense.

The ultimate answer to whether or not something should be explained depends on numerous factors. Time, the effect you're going for, and how well you can work exposition into stories all are part of it.

(He also complains that the Predators are "just like us," something which I think could be addressed, but I'll get to that some other time.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Good Idea (at least by one definition of good): Building a giant army of nearly invincible robot soldiers to conquer the world for you.

Bad Idea: Hastily repairing said robots.


-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Golden Age Moment of the Day (4)

These frogmen are half-frog, half-man.

But have you ever heard of a type of frog...

...that lives on the sea floor and has a giant dorsal fin (and for that matter, velociraptor snouts)? (FYI, there are no marine frogs.)

-Signing off.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Awesome Dictionary: Running the Gauntlet

(expression, verb)
1. To do a difficult, arduous, or painful task, as in "I had to run the gauntlet at work today."
2. A traditional punishment in which the punishee was run down two parallel lines of punishers, each of whom struck the punishee or threw rocks at him. (Source of the name.)
3. What your enemies must do in the game Warzone Tower Defense.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spooky Day

Is it spooky when, mostly by coincidence, you read about multiple instances of something similar and spooky in the same day?

For instance, today I read about a movie with a killer possessed car.

Then, by complete coincidence, Chris's Invincible Super Blog mentions two possessed vehicles, Killdozer and Trull the Unhuman. (Also, by extension, one Marvin Heemeyer, who was far scarier than an ordinary possessed vehicle because he was a real person who went on a possessed-vehicle type rampage.)

Is the Internet conspiring to tell me something? Or is it just October working its ways...? Whatever.

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Distraction

Just discovered that I need to watch a show I've heard things about...

Um, yeah. Not that it'll be happening in the near future, but it's on my list of things to do now.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Golden Age Moment of the Day (3)

Fact: Not only is Stardust more or less invulnerable to everything...

...he also feels the need to trick his enemies into thinking he might occasionally be vulnerable.

That's a mean guy right there.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Mechs...

So after my last post concerning them, I realized I didn't really define the term "mech," and not everyone might assume the same criteria as my own. By most definitions, for instance, Jungle Fiver would never be considered a "mech."

Here, then, delineated with similar points to my super robot definition, is my definition of a mech:
  1. A mech is a robotic fighting vehicle; hence, it has limbs replacing at least one of the following: wheels/treads, turrets, etc.
  2. A mech is often but not invariably larger than any other ground vehicle, and often has some capacity for flight.
  3. A mech generally has cannons, missile launchers, and other "relatively realistic" weapons, as opposed to magic energy beams projected from its body or swords pulled out of thin air.
  4. A mech further has its design at least partly grounded in other forms of technology and science, even if it's mostly its own universe's twisted and backwards version of it. Thus, it is common (though not necessary) for a mech to be mass produced.
Note that this is a pretty flexible definition. Anything from powered personal armor to a planet-sized robotic deity can technically be considered a mech. While the definition distinguishes them from super robots, it is also not a mutually exclusive definition.

And since I took the time to define mechs, I guess I'll list a few more good ones that have occurred to me since the last lot.

1. Commanders (Total Annihilation, expied to Supreme Commander and Spring.) Commanders have some variation in appearance, but the best-known version is probably this one.

Commanders are among the most frightening mechs imaginable. I'd be far more worried to learn that a single Commander had landed somewhere on Earth than a hundred or even a thousand mechs of some other variety, assuming that the hundred/thousand mechs in question weren't capable of vaporizing planets. Why?

Because Commanders are armed with the power of destruction in their right hand and the power of creation in their left. Less poetically, the Commander can kill anything with the antimatter-spewing disintegrator weapon in its right arm, and can build anything with the nanotechnological construction lathe in its left arm. Thus, Commanders are the ultimate generals, able to raise armies out of junk and then lead them. It's really a frighteningly efficient system if you think about it.

2. Krogoth (Total Annihilation.) While I'm talking about the ol' black hole of free time, I might as well mention the other iconic mech of the game, the Krogoth. (Do not look this up on UrbanDictionary. You will regret it. Forever.) I've never been clear on the etymology of the name, but the Krogoth is the largest unit to appear in the Cavedog-sanctioned version of Total Annihilation. By most estimates, it towers over the battlefield at a hundred meters or more-i.e., the same size as Godzilla.
And it's pretty much as tough as Godzilla, able to absorb tremendous punishment, actually having almost as much in the way of armor as the game's engine will allow. It has a "blue laser of death" it can shoot from its eye which kills many lesser units instantly, guns for hands, and a backpack with rapid-firing rockets that are specialized against aircraft but are good against anything. Of course, it can't kill even half its cost in conventional units, but it can stand up to a lot...

Not a disintegrator, though...

In terms of appearance, the Krogoth has this bizarre arrogant strut that suits its personality perfectly.

3. Alvatore and Alvaaron (Gundam 00.) It's easy to find info on Gundams on the Internet, and thus, it's easy to keep track of the nice Gundam designs. And this is one of them. Or rather, two of them-one of them is a "mobile armor/weapon" that hooks up to a smaller unit. And the result is a rather interesting hybrid-basically a fairly typical winged-and-rifled Gundam (*cough* Wing Gundam *hack cough*) which essentially rides a giant mutant robot dinosaur. That's awesome.

4. Turn X (Turn A Gundam.) A giant atypical Gundam which splits into a few dozen independently mobile pieces, allowing it to swarm and attack. And it can use an attack called "Moonlight Butterfly" which destroys all technology (or at least seals it away).

5. Scopedog (Armored Troopers Votoms.) It's not really exceptional in any way, but that, to some degree, makes it exceptional. It's also a nice design generally, and the name is appropriate to it. (Weird, but appropriate.) Simplicity is good here.

6. Invid Trooper, AKA "Invid Scout" (mislabeled in the Exosquad re-release of the toy) and "Grab" (Robotech/Mospeada.) I like pretty much all of the Invid designs from Robotech (obviously), but this one is probably my favorite. (Next would be the Enforcer, but I never had a toy of that thing.)

7. Aerial Attack E-frame (Exosquad.) Sure, it's teeny tiny by mech standards, but it counts. And it's an itty bitty little terror, because J. T. Marsh's had a "solar pulse" weapon that could level a mountain. Even the regular ones were super-maneuverable and well-armed. (Pic of a slightly worn toy can be found here.) The design just works pretty well in general, too.

8. Wraith (Battletech.) There's just something about the Wraith's construction that's inexplicably creepy. And that's all I have to say about it.

9. Blood Kite (Battletech.) Supposedly, the Blood Kite was built with cutting costs in mind. I look at it and tend to think there was something else on the designer's mind.

10. Shiro (Battletech.) Samurai helmet + four pseudo-rotary missile launchers + naginata + chain-fed machinegun = instant classic. I like this thing almost as much as the Axeman.

11. Zeorymer (Zeorymer.) Only barely a mecha (any connections to science are pretty tenuous and that's even by anime standards), but it's absolutely beautiful. In it goes.

12. Garland (Megazone 23.) Best transforming piloted motorcycle robot ever.

And that's a list.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Laser Sword Attack

So my sister was at some con or another over the weekend. (Yes, that had to do with the company who interfered with me blogging on Friday.) And at the con, she apparently met a lot of people who wanted to play with ("fake") lightsabers-i.e., actually mock swordfight with them.

Sis remarks that she thinks "real" lightsaber dueling is mostly Flynning (i.e., swinging deliberately at the other dude's sword), because if you "score" (in the fencing sense), the fight's pretty much over, right?


-Signing off.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh, Dear...

Had company over, and that made it pretty much impossible to blog. Sorry if you were waiting with bated breath or anything...

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Five Greatest Mecha

Of course, this list is pretty much purely my own opinion, and I don't really think of it as a "greatest mecha" list. These are just some personal favorites; it's just that "Five Greatest Mecha" sounds oh so much better as a post title than "Five Personal Favorite Mecha," especially because there are probably some other mecha here and there that I like better than some of these, but I'm not thinking of them at the moment.

I did this because 1) I'm a little strapped for bloggy ideas, and 2) the thought occurred to me because of the previous posts I did on spacecraft. (Also, I must credit Siskoid for pointing out the one list and doing the other list that inspired those posts.)

In no particular order.

1. Axeman/Axman (Battletech). The funny thing about the Axeman (I will always spell it that way!!1!) is that it's really hard to find good pictures of the darned thing if you aren't looking the right way. (This is the right way. Specifically, those first two pics [as of the time of this post] are the ones I'm talking about-decent pictures, anyway.) Specifically, it's really hard to find pics of the "AXM-2N," which is the one I'm really referring to. In terms of design, the Axeman stands out, with its huge beefy body, its skeletally gawky limbs, its axe, its mini-spaceship head, and its decided and open need for moar dakka than you. It's pretty much one of my all-time favorite mecha/robots, and it's certainly my favorite Battletech design ever (certainly better than that stupid Madcat everybody thinks of when they're talking about Battletech).

2. Gouf (Gundam). I'm not really a fan of Gundam stuff, but there's a story behind my love of the Gouf. Years and years and years ago, my mom bought me some pencil toppers. As it happened, they were bootleg imitations of licensed Japanese robots, including a Dougram, SanKanOh, and a mess of little Gundam guys (the "man" himself, plus some villain mecha). One of them was a Gouf, and he was the most awesome of the little mooks. The problem with Gundam in general is that they reuse the same designs over and over again to the point of monotony and disgust, but the Gouf came early, and it doesn't look like the RX-78, the "original" and "true" Gundam... which is the most imitated and boring design of the Gundam set. (Nothing against the thing itself... it's not a bad design, and was pretty good for its time period. It's just that there're five billion of the stupid things imitating it now. But I digress, and entirely too much for my own good.) Anyway, what qualifies the Gouf for this? Well, aside from a just generally solid and interesting design, it has the most perfect shoulders of any robot ever. Yes, that's a legitimate reason.

3. Qubeley (Gundam). I know I just said that I'm not a big Gundam fan, but I do tend to like the really weird and quirky designs (read: villain mecha) that their designers came up with. This thing looks like it ought to be hanging out with the Zentraedi fleet or something. Also, darnit Gundam namers! It took me forever to find that thing! Give them names that vaguely resemble real words, for crying out loud!

4. Valkyrie (Macross). I'm not going to link to a specific page, but if you go here and look at any of the Valkyries on this page, well, you'll see that they're all generally similar. The Valkyrie is one of the greatest robot designs of all time, and all the better for being 1) a transforming robot, 2) something that had an incredibly well-engineered toy back when it was designed (I loved that thing), 3) a huge selection of accessories in the form of least two add-on armor sets and tons of variants, and 4) an expy to Transformers (lawsuit included).

5. Jungle Fiver (Bots Master). You might wonder what the heck I'm talking about, as I haven't linked anything like an image. Well, here you go, a little image.

The thing about Jungle Fiver (so called because "they're the hottest 'bots on Earth!!!"-forgive them, it was the '90s-and it came from France) that I like is that it audaciously addresses the difficulties suffered by combining robots, such as where to keep the darned giant hands. Its solution-make them the hands of the little guys stuck together-is hideously ugly, but it's novel, it's interesting, and it works better (though not as a toy) than one would expect.

Honorable mention: Regult (Macross). That thing gives me the heebie jeebies.

-Signing off.