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Akano's Blog



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New set acquisition and such

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in LEGO Jul 19 2012 · 78 views

I got another 90s LEGO System set this week, and am currently writing up the review. I won't tell you what it is just yet, but I'll give you a hint: it was immensely popular, and I don't think it was one that I've talked about wanting to get. It was also featured in the PC LEGOLAND game.

So there are three-ish hints. :P

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LEGO Bag End

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in LEGO Jul 12 2012 · 203 views

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I have been waiting for this to be announced since I heard LEGO was doing a LOTR/Hobbit line. Want. 8D

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Rv B Episode 6

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , Jul 09 2012 · 92 views

I love Wyoming's mustache. It looks like it came right out of LEGO Star Wars. :P

Also, backstory and appearance of Sigma! Woot! ^_^

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Reflection

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in Comics Jul 07 2012 · 119 views

The other day I decided to look at my comics from start to finish to remind myself of where I started and how far I've come to get to the comics I have today, and I have determined the following.

I sucked in the beginning. I mean, I was awful! Did I really actually think some of those comics were post-worthy? Holy Mukau!

Seriously, go over to my topic and read the first couple comics. Then, cry in a corner. For several hours. That's what I did. :P

In unrelated news, I've been toying with the idea of voicing some of my comics in a sort of strange animated-comic sort of way. Would anyone anywhere think this would be entertaining? KK may even have a role. :P

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Comic And Question

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in Comics, Life Jul 02 2012 · 126 views
Akanos Comics, Productivity
New comic is up! It covers the subject of learning new things.

Now, I have a question to pose to you. My friends were talking about being productive with their evenings (both are fellow physics grad students), and I had mentioned that I had felt really productive lately due to the fact that I made two reviews (one of which no one has commented in yet. show it some love!) and finished my latest comic. Then they replied, "I wouldn't really call that productive; you just do that for fun."

To be fair, my one friend was working on a paper she's trying to get published, but I feel I have to defend myself. While I do enjoy writing these set reviews and my comics (which I'm sure you all would love me to update more often), they do take honest work to produce since no one would want to read a review written by a twenty-three-year-old that looks like it was written by a four-year-old. I tried to convince them otherwise, but they kind of shrugged it off.

So, my question to you is this: do you think that working on these "hobbies" is not productive? Just curious on your opinion. :)

P.S. Please do not say anything hurtful about my friends, as they are my friends, and I do love them very much.

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Set Review: 9473 Mines Of Moria

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in Set Review, LEGO Jul 01 2012 · 281 views
Moria, LOTR, Lord of the Rings and 2 more...
Today, we take a journey to Middle Earth and take a look at the LEGO reimagining of the Mines of Moria.

Presentation
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

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I really like the LEGO LOTR logo with the one ring on Sauron's finger in the upper right corner along with the map of Middle Earth in the background. The back highlights various parts of the set. I do like their cave-like choice of background for the front picture.

Building
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?

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This set comes with four bags of pieces which build the well & Balin's tomb, the wooden doors, the center of the wall, and the outsides of the wall. The build took me about 2-3 hours or so (not counting distractions). I must admit that at times I jumped the gun with some of the smaller pieces and thought I had run out of pieces, meaning that I was frantically searching my pile of pieces for I piece I simply misplaced during the build, so follow instructions carefully. :P

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Again, this set does come with stickers (grr!) for some of the detail, such as the dwarves' record and Balin's tomb.

Set Design
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.

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I totally forgot the cave troll in this pic, sorry.


The set consists of three main parts: the wall, the door, and the tomb and well.

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The door has some pretty good detail, but some of that is provided by stickers with the wood plank patterns. They also included the axe that locks the doors shut for about 10 seconds from the movie, and this axe has a metallic copper blade, which I thought was cool. I also like the use of spyglass pieces as torches. Looking from the back, the wall on the right has a lever that makes it fall.

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I like the detail of the cave troll; however, he has absolutely awful balance while holding his hammer, so the number of poses he can have while wielding it are limited. He has a tendency of falling forward, since his mold is rather forward-heavy, even when not wielding the hammer. If you have studs beneath his feet, then he should be fine, but he's rather unstable just standing on a table.

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The wall consists of bookshelves with some of the oldest books stickers can convey. There is also some of the dwarves' treasure underneath the floor in its own little nook. For some reason the treasure chest moves in and out.

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The sides of the wall have towers that can be toppled using levers underneath them. The box shows one of these landing on the troll.

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These are my favorite parts of this set. I don't know if it's the fact that they're small and simple or if it's because these are the parts most focused on in the movie, but I love the well and the tomb. The tomb actually opens to reveal Balin's skeletal remains.

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Shouldn't Balin's skeleton be dwarf-sized?


My only qualm with the well would be that the skeleton does not have any armor/helmet on it unlike the movie. Otherwise, I love this part of the set. :)

Now, onto the minifigures:

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The heroes are very true to their movie selves save probably for Pippin; I don't really see Billy Boyd when I look at him; in fact, Pippin's face isn't too different from Shire Frodo's face. My favorite is probably Gimli,since the detail in his face, beard, and helmet are amazing. Boromir's appearance is probably second in terms of movie accuracy.

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the goblins are pretty creepy looking, and while I'd say their faces are pretty good, they seem to have too much hair (but maybe I'm remembering the movie wrong). I do like the shield that the one carries, as it's very jagged and looks goblin-made.

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All the characters have back printing on their torsos, which is more impressive on some than others. They also all have flip faces, which is amusing for Gimli, since all that changes when his beard is on is that his eyebrows go from neutral to angry. Also, they tried to make Legolas look intimidating, which just never happens in the movies. :P

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The hair/helmets of the characters all seem to be new molds to match the movies. I particularly like Gimli's helmet, which again has a lot of detail put into it (including printing).

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As far as interesting pieces go, there are quite a few jewels in this set. You also get a set of weapons that came originally in the Heroica games which I found interesting. They're mainly there to litter the ground of the tomb, probably to serve as the weapons of the dwarves who once populated the halls. You also get a bone and a rum bottle that originated the Pirates of the Carribean sets.

Playability
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?

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For the Shire!


This set has quite a bit of play to get out of it, since you can basically reenact the battle in the tomb with it. It's also makes for good scenery for any type of underground adventure you'd like your characters to embark on, so there's a good deal of potential. Any Lord of the Rings fan, of course, will just want to spend hours having our heroes take out that cave troll. :P

Final Thoughts
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

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For any fan of the movies this set is a good pick, since it is, I think, one of the more accurate depictions of one of the movie scenes. All the minifigures in this set, save for the skeletons and Gimli, are exclusives, so it's a must-have for those who want, well, at least half of the Fellowship. :P

Pros
What's to like?
  • Great detail
  • Very true to the film
  • The minifigures
  • Cool pieces
Cons
What's not to like?
  • The price tag
  • Cave troll is a bit unbalanced
I hope all the LOTR fans who are reading enjoy this review. For the gallery, go here when it becomes public. :)

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Set Review: 9468 Vampyre Castle

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in LEGO, Set Review Jun 28 2012 · 379 views
Monster Fighters, Rodney Rathbone and 3 more...
I've felt rather unproductive recently on BZP, so I decided to do another set review. This time, we look at the new Monster Fighters theme's largest set (for now), Vampyre Castle!

Presentation
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.

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The trunk dented the upper left corner of the box. Sad face.


The titular castle sits here in front of a sinister, spooky background with bats trailing from the moon and a ghostly green glow emanating from the castle, its inhabitants, and the moon. The back of the box shows the secrets and interior of the castle, allowing the potential buyer to see all the features of the set.

Building
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?

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This monstrous set (HA! Pun) has seven bags of pieces. For 949 pieces to the set, it's not too surprising that there are so many bags, but still, I think this is the largest set I've built to date (and probably the most expensive one I've ever bought). All the pieces from the seven bags are shown above, and I can tell you that it took a great chunk of time to build. Expect to set aside 2-3 hours to build this (or more, if you're not a seasoned System-building veteran. I took a bit longer, but I was taking pictures as I went. Also, I did take a couple breaks here and there to spend some time with friends :P).

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Although it is a long build, it's really cool to watch as the whole thing comes together, which is one of my favorite experiences in building a LEGO set. While time consuming, I didn't find the build too difficult, but that may be due to having past experience with System sets.

To be honest, the only annoyance for me was the stickers. While they do allow for LEGO to not have to print their designs on the pieces themselves (which honestly probably saves them some money), I am quite particular when applying stickers, and it's annoying when I mess up the first time. :( The stickers do glow in the dark though, along with many other pieces, so that adds a bit to the cool factor if you like glow-in-the-dark.

Set Design
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.

Let's start with our heroes and their car:

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The car is a pretty slick ride. For those of you who like sand green, this is your car. I'm quite the fan of the early 20th century vibe the technology in these sets gives off, and considering that Jack and Rodney's prosthetic limbs are steam-powered, the steampunk vibe is good, too. The car is a one-seater and can accommodate either Jack or Rodney, since the right leg sits on a 2×1 grate, so there are no studs to prevent Rodney from driving it. The most notable feature of the car is the net launcher, which sits in the back, and has a sort of piston that, when pushed, makes the net fly out.

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It's like Spiderman's web power, only with a machine and the ability to catch bat people.


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The heroes included in this set are Jack McHammer and the leader of the Monster Fighters, Dr. Rodney Rathbone. Rodney sports a very dapper vest (with pocket watch) and bowler hat, a steampunk leg, a rapier, and a revolver. Jack has a steampunk arm, a green flannel shirt with a leather vest, a knit cap, and Mjolnir.

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I wouldn't doubt it if he took it right out of Thor's hand.


Now, let's dive into the castle and its villainous vampire owners.

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The castle is centered on the main tower where the Moon-Eclipse-Whatchamajig stands.

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As you can see in the picture, a hinge with pin pieces is what connects the parts of the castle to each other. The main tower, though, only has connections on one side. The castle is sort of connected in a sideways U or S shape, where the main area is the top branch, the bend is the drawing room/spiky death pit tower, the middle is the gate, and the final bend/line is the prison tower. Only the main/drawing room connection is hinged, though, which allows the castle to have its layout.

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The inside of the main tower has five rooms; the attic/organ room, the solar eclipse machine room (which is more like a clock tower chamber than a room, like where Basil of Baker Street and Ratigan duel), the drawing room, the bedroom/potions room, and the coffin in the basement. My personal favorite is the potion/bedroom, as the bed is really neat and the potion room contains some cool pieces. I like how in the basement the curtains around the coffin are portrayed by bricks rather than fabric; I think that if they used fabric it wouldn't have the same feel.

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Also, the moonstone device is really neat to behold. It has a cool mechanism for revealing the moon wheel thing behind the moonstones; the moonstones are all on 90° axle joints all connected by Y-shaped axle holders. When the moon wheel is pushed out, the axles that the moonstones aren't connected to end up between two large cart wheels behind the moon disk, and so when the disk is retracted, the moonstones return to covering the disk, which is pretty cool.

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The secondary turret is cool due to the cute little map/drawing room that looks comfy-cozy until the floor falls out from under you and you land in a spiky pit of doom. However, if you survive and manage to climb into the attic, you get some treasure! I'm guessing this is the guest room of the castle. :P

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The next portion is the gate, which features creepy old school cast iron doors and, if that doesn't prevent you from entering, a secondary gate which has fangs as the blocking mechanism.

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Enter if you dare!


You know, to attract the neighbors.

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The final portion of the set is the prison, where a poor, unfortunate soul has been wasting away for a while, since he's only a skeleton now.

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Poor guy, I just want to give him a hug.


However, if either of your heroes get trapped here, you can always bust them out with the nifty lever on the outside wall of the prison.

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Behold, my finger's debut on BZP! Greet him with kindness, please.


And now, Lord Vampyre and his wife (does she have a name?).

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As you can probably tell, LEGO seems to be enjoying making minifigures with printing on the back and front of their bodies, and it seems to be quite prevalent in this theme (as with the latest series minifigures). They also have flip faces, another trend becoming more popular (which debuted in the Studios sets that were released a decade ago. I feel so old...).

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Also, note that we get another appearance of the Series 4 Mad Scientist's flask in this set, so the piece is becoming more and more widespread. We also get a translucent green wine goblet, several gems, a toad, a mushroom, and six of the seven the moonstones (zombie moonstone not included).

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Note: these probably won't evolve your Clefairy, Jigglypuff, Munna, Nidorino, Nidorina, or Skitty.


And last, but certainly not least, the Manbats!

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Not to be confused with Batman.


These minifigures are definitely a first for LEGO with their arms that actually spread outward. However, they don't actually move inward/outward, so the poseability of their arms is quite limited without looking rather goofy. They have ears similar to the Elf and Werewolf Series Minifigures, but are a lot bigger and more...batlike.

Also, to give you a sense of how massively huge this set is, I compared its size to the largest Fright Knights set released, Night Lord's Castle, which is the tallest castle set to date that LEGO has released.

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I sense a war between Vampyre and Bat Lord brewing.


It's pretty incredible how far LEGO has come as far as detailed sets go, since you can really see the difference between the present day and the early 90s. But notice that Night Lord's Castle just barely keeps its title; in fact, the only reason it's taller than the Vampyre Castle is due to Willa's telescope at the top. Also note that Night Lord's Castle contains only 598 pieces in comparison to the Vampyre Castle's 949; a lot of those additional pieces go into the detail.

Playability
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?

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Have at you!


There are definitely a lot of possibilities with this set. It has several rooms which make good vignettes/settings for spooky interactions between your heroes and villains, and the appearance is right out of Halloweentown (of Nightmare Before Christmas). Along with the prison wall lever, the prisoner can be moved up and down with an axle and the moonstone device can be engaged with a similar sort of piston that the car's net launcher has. Also, the trapdoor to the spiky pit makes for some good fun.

Final Thoughts
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?

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Let me play you the song of my people.


This set is pretty darn cool. It gives off a great spooky aura and is perfect for anyone who is a fan of Halloween, castles, and/or the Monster Fighters theme. It supplies us with a good cast of minifigs and is definitely one of the best sets released this year. If you can afford the $99.99 price tag, pick this up; you'll be glad you did.

Pros
What's to like?
  • Hugely gigantic castle
  • Cool minifigures
  • Cool car
  • Awesomely spooky
  • Some neat pieces to grab
Cons
What's not to like?
  • The price tag
I hope you all enjoyed my take on this set. If there are any pictures you want me to take or any aspect of the review/set you want my to clarify, just ask. :)

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It's A Trap!

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , in Math/Physics Jun 25 2012 · 79 views
Optics, Physics, Laser
A magneto-optical trap. We just got it back up and running again after many days of realigning things (which is quite a pain, but it builds character :P). The image is taken from a TV screen since the collection of atoms shown (the bright, white dot in the center) scatters light very dimly in the near-infrared, so our eyes can't see them, but security cameras can. The collection of atoms in the center is just above absolute zero (-273.15°C) by millionths of a degree. I don't remember off hand what the number of atoms is in the trap, but I'm assuming it's fairly large (~106?).

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Obligatory Korra Finale Entry

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , Jun 23 2012 · 63 views

That...was amazing. I was tense for the whole second episode, which is a good (albeit stressful) thing. Tekulo did good guesswork on Amon. Kudos, bro.

Spoiler


I'm looking forward to some good things.

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Rv B Season 10

Posted by Akano Toa of Electricity , Jun 19 2012 · 107 views

We're four episodes into the new season of Red vs. Blue, and I still haven't heard Elijah Wood's voice nor seen his character on screen.

Just sayin'.

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About Me

Akano Toa of Electricity
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Premier Members
Stone Champion Nuva
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1,500+ posts
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Proto
+2 for Premier Membership
+1 from Pohuaki for reporting various things in Artwork


Name: Akano
Real Name: Forever Shrouded in Mystery :P
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Likes: Science, Math, LEGO, Bionicle, Ponies, Comics, Yellow, Voice Acting
Notable Facts: One of the few Comic Veterans still around
Has been a LEGO fan since ~1996
Bionicle fan from the beginning
Misses the 90's. A lot.
Twitter: @akanotoe

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My Lovely Topics

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Hieroglyphs And The Like

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