Rock Band Bandmate Figures

If you're a fan of Rock Band and are a frequent visitor to RockBand.com, then you've certainly come across the custom Rock Band merchandise available for purchase. What better way to immortalize your virtual band self than by plastering your faces on posters, t-shirts, pins, and stickers? Though the system still has a few bugs, it was rather easy to customize your poster, etc - choose your background, the characters, your text/band logo, pose, and facial expression as you please. I couldn't be happier with the outcome of my purchase - the poster was definitely my favorite. However, when we come to the topic of the Bandmate figures, we're dealing with a whole different situation.

When I first learned about these custom bandmate figures, I was ecstatic. Sure I expected these lovelies would come with a hefty price tag, but I figured the quality of them would speak for itself. For those not in the know, these 6 inch bandmate figures are made using 3-D print technology. It is made out of a plaster composite material, similar to ceramic. The figures will be printed with the clothes, accessories, tattoos and instruments your character had when your game last connected to the internet.

So my first stop was checking out the forums since the cost wasn't obvious. About 70 bucks a piece and some hefty shipping costs (~$20). My next step was actually selecting what characters, instrument, and poses I wanted. Things started out shaky as it took a good long week until my preview images arrived. Apparently something was causing the delay, but with the help of one specific RockBand.com staff (HMXcj), who would later seem to be the only one trying to resolve issues, I eventually received my preview images and consequently put in my order.

More visits to the forums made me more nervous and an onslaught of problem cases were popping up left and right. Some with the familiar preview images delay, but others receiving the wrong bandmate in the mail. And even others receiving broken figures. One thing was consistent with all these inquiries, no one was getting ANY responses from "customer service." I also remember reading that the estimated arrival time for these bandmate figures was roughly 3 weeks. So there was nothing else I could do but wait. Three weeks passed, then four, then five, and then much to my surprise (and without any warning), I received a huge bundle in the mail -- 4 separate boxes taped together into one. Hoping for the best, I carefully opened the packages and was surprised with the outcome. (And I wanted to note, that 2 days after I received the packages, I received the email confirmation with the tracking number -- something's a little off...)

In each box was one smaller cylinder box glued firmly to the main box with a strong foam, to prevent any movement during shipping. Inside the cylinder box was the bandmate figure transfixed in a plastic cylinder case. From earlier reviews I read, the older figures came in a cardboard box and any movement probably caused some breaks. Obviously, RockBand.com have been listening and have made changes for the better. I am also happy to report that all 4 of my band members were correct, had the right pose, instrument, and were all in tact. The figures are a little more grainier than I would have liked, especially with the figure's cost. With the grainy texture aside and the fact that my drummer ended up with much darker hair color than her bright green, there is a lot of detail. Overall, I am happy with the outcome. Though there is some room for improvement, possibly taking the extra step to sand the figure and repaint, this is an awesome collectible for any Rock Band fan.

If anyone is interested in purchasing their own bandmate and have any questions with any part of the process, feel free to email me. And if you're a proud owner of your own figure, I'd love to see some pics.


FUNimation's Newest Acquisitions

FUNimation Entertainment has been racking in the acquisitions of distribution rights for a plethora of anime series. The latest additions are "Yasuhiro Nightow" and Madhouse's "Gungrave" from Geneon Entertainment. Other titles acquired in this month include:

- Slayers Revolution
- Slayers Evolution-R
- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- Last Exile
- Vandread
- Gad Guard
- Oh! Edo Rocket
- Nabari no Ou
- Ikki Tousen

UPDATE (12/31/2008): Time to add Samurai Champloo AND Evangelion: 1.0 You are [Not] Alone to the list!


Hobby Complex 06

With Wonder Festival Winter 2009 being canceled, it seems another hobby event has been getting a whole lot of coverage. Hobby Complex 06 took place on Sunday, December 21st at Tokyo Big Sight. And just looking at the photos, it's apparent that there are a lot of incredible pieces to salivate over. My personal favorite among the many gems would have to be this figure of one of my favorite and unique anime titles, Dennou Coil. I love the simple yet detailed work on Isako. For any fan of Dennou Coil, it is obvious that the makers have done an excellent and accurate job.

I now direct you to a selection of Hobby Complex coverages:

Danny Choo
Akiba Hobby
Tokyo Hunter
GA Graphic


New Projects for Kojima

In a recent interview with Famitsu, post-MGS4 videogame God Hideo Kojima reveals that he is directing not one, but two games concurrently.

According to 1UP News, the first title that will be announced is being made in "traditional" Kojima-style, i.e. similar to the way his team has worked in the past. The second game, however, wil be produced by a restructured Kojima Productions with the aim of creating a game that can compete with the top titles from America and Europe. [Source: 1UP News]



MLG's Resistance 2 Tournament

As someone who enters the battlegrounds of Resistance 2 on a daily basis, I definitely perked up when I heard about the first ever Resistance 2 tournament hosted by Sony and Major League Gaming. From December 22 to February 28, 2009, four-player teams will compete in a ladder-style competition. The top 64 teams will then battle it out in a single-elimination bracketed tournament from March 1 through March 31. The top team will take home $9,000, and with over $50K in prizes and major bragging rights, this is sure to be a heated tournament.

If you're interested and think you've got the skills to match up against the pros of R2, sign up here. [Source: Playstation Blog]


Kuroshitsuji: Phantom & Ghost

The anime/manga series about Sebastian, the butler, and Ciel, his master, "Kuroshitsuji," is slated to get the portable game treatment via the Nintendo DS. Titled "Kuroshitsuji: Phantom & Ghost," the DS game will have an original story featuring the main characters. Players will be able to switch between the two characters and view scenes from different perspectives. This, in turn, will affect the ending you get. Not much is revealed on the official site, but it is speculated that this will be a text adventure with some mini-games (including a dishwashing mini-game).

I doubt Kuroshitsuji: Phantom & Ghost will make it to the U.S., but for those interested, the game is due out some time in March 2009. [Source: Siliconera]


LBP Metal Gear Solid Edition

It's finally coming, the most anticipated LBP pack I've been waiting for turns out to be bigger and even better than I imagined. This is one hell of a huge addition, but before we get down the nitty gritty, check out this video that gives you a taste of what's coming just around the corner. This video is a definite must-see! Metal Gear fans will immediately take notice all the tiny details of the MGS universe.

Alright, finished watching and re-watching the video? Then let's get down to business. We start with the MGS Premium Costume Pack, which not only includes Solid Snake, but the rest of the cast too. Enter Meryl Silverburgh, Screaming Mantis, and Raiden. Individual price is $1.99 though I have no idea who wouldn't get the entire pack for $5.99.

What better way to sport your sackboy's MGS look then with the MGS Level pack. With this hefty pack, you get a new Sackboy costume - the Gurlokovich Solider. Tons of new stickers, materials, decorations, and objects await. Media Molecule and Konami have teamed up to create 5 new Story Levels and 1 new Challenge Level. The experience gets even more authentic with 1 new background music track, 3 new interactive music tracks, 1 new MGS themed sound object, new plasma ball 'danger element,' new laser sight 'gagdet,' new functioning searchlight lamp (for the special exclamation mark moments), and a very cool new weapon - the paintinator.

Can we say, awesome!?! Check out all the details at the Playstation Blog.

The Metal Gear Solid packs will be available in the U.S. playstation store December 23. "The game has changed..."


Priest Joins the Live Action Remake Squad

Tokyopop's graphic novel "Priest," written by Min-Woo Hyung, is set to be adapted to a live action. As stated in their press release: The story, set in a world ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampire, follows a warrior priest who turns against the church to track down a murderous band of vampires.

Screen Gems has just announceed that Scott Charles Steward, the director of the upcoming apocalyptic epic "Legion<" has signed on to direct "Priest," with a screenplay by Cory Goodman.


Keanu Reeves Hopes to Star in Cowboy Bebop Live Action

Actor Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly, Johnny Mnemonic) is eager to play the lead role in Twentieth Century Fox's proposed live action film adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, according to the MTV Movies Blog.

Erwin Stoff, a film producer who worked closely with Reeves on The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly, told the IFMagazine.com entertainment website in July that a film development deal was signed. Stoff and Reeves both emphasized a desire to remain faithful to the original work.

Reeves said that Cowboy Bebop's "Western film noir aspect, […] that kind of Old West, bordertown, low-tech science fiction aspect" attracted him to the project. He added that Stoff and the development team have already hired a writer who is penning a scene outline. Right now, the outline includes a drug, developed by the military, that is partially based on an element from the anime. Reeves explained, "We're taking the Red Eye [story], the beginning part of the series." He acknowledged that the episodic nature of the story will be difficult to adapt into a feature-length work: "[…] It's got so much of an origin-story obligation; you've got to get people up to speed, but you don't want to do much of that. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, but we think we can do something good."

Watanabe's original Cowboy Bebop series follows the motley crew of the spaceship Bebop as it travels throughout the solar system in search of the next job. The anime distributor Bandai Entertainment and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block released the 1998 television series in the United States, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the subsequent 2001 animated movie. The anime was also adapted into two separate manga series, and Tokyopop released both manga series in North America.
Update (12/19/2008): Well, it's official, seems like Keanu's wishes have been granted. He will indeed play the role of Spike. For obvious reasons, I am choosing not to make any comments. I will just sit here and observe. Hmm, maybe one comment - I have no "problems" with Keanu, it's the mere action of adapting this revolutionary anime title. [Source: ANN and ICv2]


Kurokami Simultaneous Broadcast

Great new things are happening in the realm of anime - with a trend I hope doesn't lose any steam. That is, getting new anime series as quickly as possible. Whether it be through early english-sub only versions months after its original broadcast in Japan or streaming anime episodes online weeks after airing. And now at as a historic first, Bandai Entertainment has been working diligently to broadcast "Kurokami - The Animation" on TV ASAHI at 2:40 a.m. on January 8th in Japan, on ImaginAsian TV January 8th at 8 p.m., and in Korea on AniBOX January 9th at 10PM.

Yep, you read right - a simultaneous anime TV broadcast between Japan, the U.S. and S. Korea! The U.S. broadcast will be the english dubbed version - marking the first ever dub production to be made parallel with the Japanese production. . You can find more information, including the cast list for the dub at Bandai's page.

Kurokami, or better known as Black God "focuses on Keita, a high school student living on his own, lost his mother in his youth. One night at a ramen stand, he meets a mysterious girl named Kuro. Keita is told the story of how if a person runs into another that looks just like them, they would die. From Kuro, Keita learns of the Doppeliner System and the Coexistence Equilibrium and how his life would never be that same afterward." [Source: Japanator]


Totoro Forest Project's Art Exhibit

The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, CA is holding an exhibit for its Totoro Forest Project exhibition from now until February 8, 2009. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition featuring paintings, illustrations, and sculptures from almost 200 international artists. ll of the art for the exhibition, of course, was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's iconic animated feature Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro).

If you're around the area or have the opportunity to check out this exhibit, you do NOT want to miss this. I would love to check out the exhibit myself, and I'm extremely livid that I realistically won't be able to. [Source: ANN]


Prince of Persia

"Prince of Persia" first made its debut almost 2 decades ago. And since then, it has enchanted players with its compelling story and gameplay. For a game that has never been lacking, Ubisoft made a bold move by revamping the Prince of Persia experience.

If all you're looking for is a challenging game (forget the story, stick with the challenge), then Prince of Persia is NOT the game for you. The game is set up in such a way that you'll never be confronted with a "Game Over" screen. Missed that leap or lost your grip on that ledge? No need to fret - Elika is there to protect you. While you may assume this fact alone dooms the game, perhaps losing that sense of intensity when fighting a boss where you can't die, this is luckily not the case. Once you get past the ease of the game, you can appreciate Prince of Persia for what it is, in short -- an impressive game. An entertaining story, unique gameplay, beautiful visuals, and cool combat moves marks the success of the new addition to the long-standing franchise.

Visuals are exceptional, fluid and very artistic. The titular prince himself is quite entertaining - a wisecrack after riches and really thick carpet. When it comes to allies or partnerships, the second character (especially one that joins us from the start) can sometimes be burdensome, helpless, or just plain annoying at times. However, Elika proves me wrong, as she quickly becomes the highlight of the game - at many points besting the prince as we delve more into her past rather than his. Not only does Elika save him from death, she is a true adventure companion and with the two, you can pull off some very cool combos.

Together, this prince and princess duo seek to imprison the evil god Ahriman, who has been set free by Elika's own father, by restoring a series of fertile grounds. One of impressive aspects of the game is the ease of movement, similar a bit to Assassin's Creed. A novice could easily pick up the controller and perform some acrobatics, while a more expert player can whip out some intricate combos. However, at times the boss fights can seem a bit redundant and getting from one fertile ground to another can feel more like a boring chore.

Despite some minor flaws, Prince of Persia is a winner - in no small part to its beautiful artistry and fluid controls. The level designs are note-worthy to say the least. You'll find yourself instantly drawn to the game.


Today, 26 years ago...

Yep, that's right...*sings* Happy Birthday to me (^_^) It's truly amazing to think about how many of my now 26 years have been devoted to anime et al. I still remember when I first set eyes on Dragon Ball, Kimagure Orange Road, or even Totoro during my single-digit years. Just imagine how much its branched off from there.

So anyways, I just wanted to take the time and thank everyone for their wonderful birthday wishes (my FaceBook wall is full of them), lunches, dinners, and the presents I will truly treasure -- including a the beautiful DMC4 Dante figure by Kotobukiya, an always handy gift card to GameStop, of course the Sony Cyber-shot DSCH50 camera I got for myself, and other spectacular figures. Thanks again!


A Next Metal Gear Is...

A flash site has recently gone live on Konami's Kojima Productions site bearing just a teeny taste - Konami's logo, and the left image with just 5 words, "A NEXT METAL GEAR IS..." With just a few words, a black background, and some green symbols, the deciphering has already commenced. It's interesting to see the slew of comments pouring in with guesses. Even if you try to just wait it out, reading everyone's thoughts makes you just want to jump in and join them.

So what are we working with ladies and gentlemen? Green symbols reminiscent of the Xbox?? An "i" perhaps for the iPhone, of Wii, or even DSi. The exclamation point as shown for Metal Gear AC!D? And as pointed out, the url contains "mgst" - perhaps "Metal Gear Solid Touch?" The slew of Apple products scattered across MGS4 is also brought up to mind. My guess, or perhaps my hope, is that the message confirms/indicates that development of the next Metal Gear game in "on." Ah, how they toy with us, entertained by our torture. What else can we do, but wait...[Source: Kotaku]

UPDATE (12/17/2008): Just as I figured, the next Metal Gear is...Metal Gear Touch.


Travel in EVA-style

The EVA store boasting all things Evangelion have listed two limited versions of luggage commemorating the new EVA movies - one of Shinji's EVA-01 and the other of Asuka's EVA-02. These nifty 360-degree rotating rolling suitcases are due out April 2009 and retailed at 15,750 yen. I guess this is one way of picking out your suitcase among the crowds.


Sebastian x Ciel Cosplay

MARUIONE.JP has always carried a wide collection of extremely high-quality popular Japanese brands of clothing. Two of the brands they carry, BLACK PEACE NOW and ATELIER BOZ, have put out a series of collaborative cosplay outifts from the anime series Kuroshitsuji. I've been keeping track of this set of Sebastian the butler, and Ciel the young master, for a couple of weeks now and was not surprised to see some of the items were sold out already. If you're willing to shell out the big bucks, you'll definitely want to place your order soon.

And on a related note, JUN Planning has posted a set of upcoming dolls from Kuroshitsuji. Each doll is 13 inches in height and comes with its own accessories. Retailed at 13,650 yen, the Sebastian, Ciel, and Grell dolls will be released in March 2009.


Black Mesa Official Trailer

Need I say more? Well for those not in the know: Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source) is a Half-Life 2 total conversion remaking VALVe Software's award-winning PC game, Half-Life. Utilizing the Source engine, Black Mesa will reintroduce the player as Doctor Gordon Freeman, along with the original cast of memorable characters and environments seen in Half-Life. This total conversion will not require Half-Life: Source to play - only a copy of any Source Engine game installed on Steam. [Source: Black Mesa]


Maywa Denki Knockman Series at Brookstone

I wandered into Brookstone on Black Friday with no intention of buying anything, when much to my surprise, a set of figures caught my attention. A set, in fact, I know much about. And for long time readers and fellow fans, you'll easily recognize them as Maywa Denki's Knockman series - a set of wind-up toys with an instrumental knack.

Apparently, Brookstone has got its hands on exclusivity of the Knockman figures -- and have fancied them some names, including Tommy (on head drums), Lester (on cymbals), and Glen on chimes). Reminiscing on my difficult journey in finding these "sold-out everywhere" figures and the amount of money I shelled out for these cuties, I nabed a few more for myself for the Black Friday rate of $9.99 each!