Awesome Toy Collection – 1:18 The Ultimate Soldier XD “Fallschirmjäger” Series

Hi world! Welcome to my first post for 2017! And this post is actually a follow-up to my previous showcase of 1:18 scale WWII German soldiers. I had recently acquired the one “Fallschirmjäger” soldier that was missing from my collection, and so now I have all six figures of 1:18 The Ultimate Soldier XD “Fallschirmjäger” series.

img_4263
The “Fallschirmjäger” series – “Fallschirmjäger” is German for “paratroopers”.

img_4252

Major Von Schnitzel

I’m assuming that Major Von Schnitzel is the leader of this team of Fallschirmjäger since he is of the highest rank. He wears a peaked cap, holds a submachine gun with a wooden stock, and proudly displays his Iron Cross medal. Unfortunately, some accessories have been lost by the previous owner. Von Schnitzel is missing his helmet, binoculars, and a pair of straight arms.

img_4261
Major Von Schnitzel without his peaked cap.

img_4253

Private Krieger

Private Kreiger is dressed in full paratrooper attire, and he wields a MP40 submachine gun.

img_4258
Private Krieger wears a parachute harness, complete with a bundled parachute on his back. Check out the ripcord that extends over the shoulder.

img_4254

Sergeant Jaeger

Sergeant Jaeger is also armed with a MP40 submachine gun.

img_4255

Corporal Wenzel

Corporal Wenzel slings his ammo pouches over his neck as he goes into battle. I’m leaving Corporal Wenzel helmet-off as the rubber straps are extremely brittle and will break easily. On the other hand, some of the other figures are already wearing their helmets as their previous owner had somehow managed to fit the helmets onto the heads, and similarly I have decided to leave the helmets where they are to avoid breaking the straps.

img_4256

Private Keitel

Private Keitel is armed with a panzerschreck. The figure is missing a rocket projectile.

img_4277
Private Keitel aims his panzerschrek through the window on the blast shield.

img_4257

Lance Corporal Mayer

Lance Corporal Mayer lugs around a GPMG equipped with a double drum magazine.

img_4279
Lance Corporal Mayer also comes with a anti-aircraft tripod for the GPMG.

img_4283
Fallschirmjäger squad ready for action!

Advertisements

A chronology of Indiana Jones adventures

Being an avid Indiana Jones fan, I have acquired quite a collection of Indiana Jones adventures which includes DVDs, novels, comics, and even video games. And I thought I’d arrange them in their chronological order, just to see how they will look.

P1120337

Here’s a listing of Indiana Jones adventures, and their supposed respective dates:
(Disclaimer: NOT ALL ever published Indiana Jones adventures are listed here, just the ones that I am more familar with. See the notes below.)

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – Indy as a kid (TV)                                                                                       1908-1910
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – Indy as a young man (TV)                                                                        1916-1920
Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi (novel)                                                                                                                        1922
Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants (novel)                                                                                             Summer 1925
Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils (novel)                                                                                                                March 1926
Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge (novel)                                                                                                       Spring 1927
Indiana Jones and the Unicorn’s Legacy (novel)                                                                                                          May 1928
Indiana Jones and the Interior World (novel)                                                                                                            Spring 1929
Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates (novel)                                                                                                                             1930
Indiana Jones and the White Witch (novel)                                                                                                                            1930
Indiana Jones Adventures Vol. 1 (comic)                                                                                                                  Winter 1930
Indiana Jones Adventures Vol. 2: Curse of the Invincible Ruby (comic)                                                                         1931
Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone (novel)                                                                                                 March 1933
Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs 
(novel)                                                                                                       October 1933
Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth 
(novel)                                                                                                                Early 1934
Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx 
(novel)                                                                                                             1934
Indiana Jones and the Shrine of the Sea Devil (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 2)                                 1935
Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (video game)                                                                                                       1935
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (film)                                                                                                                      1935
Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods (comic)                                                                                                               1936
Raiders of the Lost Ark (film)                                                                                                                                                     1936
Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 1)                                                   1937
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (film)                                                                                                                            1938
Indiana Jones: Thunder in the Orient (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 1)                                                  1938
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (video game)                                                                                                              1939
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (video game, also inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 1)                     May 1939
Indiana Jones and the Sargasso Pirates (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 2)                                            1939
Indiana Jones and the Golden Fleece (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 2)                                       April 1941
Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of the Sorcerer (junior novel)                                                                                           1941
Indiana Jones and the Mystery of Mount Sinai (junior novel)                                                                                August 1941
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead (novel)                                                                                                                  1943
Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 2)                                             1945
Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix (comic, inside Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 2)                                                   1947
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (video game)                                                                                                       1947
Bookend scenes of Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues (TV)                                                                 1950
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (film)                                                                                                 1957
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – Old Indy (TV)                                                                                               1992-1993

Notes:
1. I have not included the comics from The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones as I have not yet thoroughly read through them to figure out their places in Indy’s timeline. Furthermore, there is a tendency to cluster most of Indy’s adventures around the 1930s which implies that some of his adventures could literally be happening at around the same time.
2. There are also other sources of Indiana Jones adventures which fans have differing views on whether to consider them as canon, such as the Find Your Fate books, foreign-language publications, or even role-playing game sourcebooks.
3. I have decided to list the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in only three parts – “Indy as a kid”, “Indy as a young man”, and “Old Indy”. I don’t think I have to go through the trouble of listing down the titles of all the episodes on this already convoluted list.
4. In case you are still not aware, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Set in 1935) is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark (Set in 1936).

Awesome Toy Collection – 1:18 Lunar Rover

And since it was so much fun the first time round… I’ve decided to showcase again the 1:18 lunar rover.

P1110189The lunar rover, also popularly known as the “moon buggy”, was used on the last three missions of the Apollo Program (Apollo 15, 16, and 17). It allowed the astronauts to explore the lunar terrain a greater distance away from their landing site, since in previous missions the astronauts were limited to short walking distances due to their bulky spacesuits.

P1110191In actual fact, during the missions the lunar rover was still restricted to within walking distance of the lunar module, just in case the rover broke down at any point. But the lunar rover performed all its functions on the Moon reliably without any major anomalies, apart from several cases of the dust fender breaking off.

P1110192As you can see, the lunar rover model appears to be exquisitely detailed, even though I believe it is a knock off copy of an original brand.

P1110193Back view of the lunar rover.

P1110196This is the box that the moon buggy model came with. The brand is one “Ausini”, the lunar rover coming under the “Space Exploration” series.

P1110197Other releases apart from the moon buggy includes a satellite, the space shuttle, and one robot exploration vehicle which doesn’t seem to be based on any actual space robot vehicles. And each comes with an astronaut figure.

P1110195aAnd the reason why I haven’t featured the astronaut figure is because the knock off appears to be a very bad pastiche of a Benedict Cumberbatch resemblance. Urgh!

P1110198The actual man on the moon. This is a 1:20 Apollo astronaut that I’ve acquired to showcase with the moon buggy. He’s also quite detailed, you can see all the pipe attachements connected to the backpack.

P1110199Back view of the Apollo astronaut.

P1110200The Apollo astronaut is a 4D puzzle coming under the “4D Master” brand.

P1110180Apollo astronaut and the moon buggy.

P1110181Even of a slightly different scale, the Apollo astronaut together with his backback fits snuggily on the rover seat. The mission commander served as the lunar rover driver, occupying the left-hand seat of the rover.

P1110203And so you’ll know where we came from.

P.S. While searching the internet for more information about the moon buggy, I’ve came across this picture of the “Space Exploration” robot exploration vehicle which came with a different title (“Space Adventure”) and a different box art. Go figure.

spaceman_995

Awesome Toy Collection – The Space Stuff

In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, I’d like to showcase a couple of space theme toys that I have collected.

Here’s a big one – A Saturn V rocket model

P1110172The Saturn V rocket comes with an Apollo astronaut figure. The rocket itself can be disassembled into its three separate stages.

P1110188Saturn V rocket’s first stage, second stage, and the third stage. The third stage is connected to the command/service module and they are not separable.

P1110175Some Space MicroMachines here, from left: The Apollo command/service module, the Apollo lunar module, the lunar rover, and three astronauts.

P1110177The panel on the service module opens up, revealing its inner systems.

 P1110176More Space MicroMachines, from left: The Bell X-1, the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, the Space Shuttle attached with the external fuel tank and booster rockets, and an astronaut. Bell X-1 is the world’s first supersonic airplane. The Space Shuttle is detachable, and can be mated with the Boeing 747. The astronaut wears a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), which seems weird since he’s not on a spacewalk but appears to be standing on the lunar surface.

P1110179Here’s an interesting find: A 1:18 scale lunar rover. And it is exquisitely detailed, even though I believe that it is a knock-off brand, the makers of this moon buggy had gone to great lengths when designing this toy.

P1110180And I’ve acquired an Apollo astronaut to accompany the moon buggy. The astronaut is a 4D puzzle which needs to be pieced together, and he is at 1:20 scale, which almost makes the astronaut compatible with the moon buggy.

P1110181This is how the Apollo astronaut fits onto the moon buggy.

P1110183Hot Wheels’ Mars Rover Curiosity, breaking new ground in the exploration of the red planet.

P1110184Space Stuff

Let us learn Runes!

One day, I was in a bookshop at Orchard Rd, leafing through a picture book about the recent movie “Thor”, and I came across an interesting picture.

If you had watched the movie, then you would know that the device on the pedestal is the icy energy power source of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, taken by Odin to Asgard as spoils of war ages ago. Not sure whether the device was mentioned by name in the movie. But what more intrigued me was the inscription on the pedestal, which was in Runic, the alphabet of the ancient Scandinavian people.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I searched for info on the Runic alphabet on Wikipedia, in an attempt to find out what was inscribed on the pedestal. Several variants of Runic exist, but I think the version used here is that called the “Elder Futhark”.

The 24 runes of Elder Futhark, with each rune corresponding to the alphabet on its right. Note that multiple equivalent runes exist for “h”, “s”, and “ŋ” (called ‘ing’).

With this knowledge, I was finally able to decipher the inscriptions:
20111028_ankient_wintersas “ankient winters”, or “ancient winters” with the rune for “k” standing in for “c”. A search for the phrase “ancient winters” on the internet led to a reference to “The Casket of Ancient Winters”, which was a icy power source mentioned in Marvel’s “Thor” comics. Obviously, the writers of the movie had used this as a plot device for the story, and somewhere along the way the set designers had inscribed the device name onto the pedestal, in runes!

Now that you know Runic, you can create your own messages in runes, or better still, have fun testing your deciphering skills over here, at a gallery of artifacts from Odin’s vault which you may have missed in “Thor”.

The “Opium Song”

Some time back I was walking through a shopping centre, it was during a Chinese festival and an electronics shop was playing on their televisions the MTVs of several Chinese festive songs. It was then I thought I heard a song which mentioned the words “鸦片” (opium). That’s odd, how could there even be song singing about opium, the highly addictive and dangerous drug? And that such a song could actually be allowed to play on Singapore airwaves? Surely the draconian Singaporean entertainment censorship board would have caught such a lapse in censorship and not allow such a song to be broadcast. The very mention of the word “opium” in a song could possibily be perceived as a glorification or promotion of a drug culture, and it would be just as bad as that “rehab song” by the recently dead wine singer. Oh my…

Back home, I asked my Dad if he had heard of the “opium song”, that song sounded rather old so maybe he might have heard it before. My Dad couldn’t figure out what am I talking about, and likewise he seriously doubted that such an “opium song” could be allowed to play in Singapore, the government would have banned it straightaway! He then suggested that I might have heard the song wrongly. Unfortunately, I was not able to remember the tune of the “opium song” such that I could humm it for my Dad to identify. But I resolved to try to remember how the “opium song” sounds like if I ever heard it again, and ask my Dad about it.

It wasn’t easy. At times I actually got to hear the song being played somewhere during the day, only to let its tune slip my mind by the time I returned home. Finally, after several months, during yet another festive season I got to hear the “opium song” being broadcast from a loudspeaker at a temple. I made myself remember its tune by repeating it to myself all day! Returning home, I hummed the tune for my Dad to listen, and he immediately recognised it! He has the song somewhere in his CD collection.

The song in question is entitled “叮嚀” (“Advice”), it’s a 1930s Chinese song famously sung by the singer Zhou Xuan (周璇) and more recently by other singers, it is usually sung as a duet but can also be sung as a single. Its main theme is about a girl’s boyfriend having to go overseas to work, and that she should not get into trouble by becoming addicted to opium. Somehow back then it was quite okay to sing openly about drugs and warn against drugs and other vices. You can listen to the song at the below link.


The lyrics with the “opium” word happens at 2:19, and it goes: “… 望情妹切莫吸鸦片, 鸦片香烟费金钱…”, which roughly translates to “… think of your girlfriend, must never smoke opium, opium and cigarettes waste money…” Somehow I must have only selectively heard the words: “…吸鸦片, 鸦片香…” which if taken out of context of the song means “smoke opium, opium smells sweet!” No wonder I thought that it was some “opium song” promoting the nasty habit of taking drugs!

You know, this entire episode has inspired me to rewrite the song such that it really is a song that glorifies and promotes smoking opium. Try singing my lyrics to the tune!

“鸦片香, 鸦片甜, 鸦片又香又甜, 快来吸鸦片! …吸鸦片, 鸦片香…”

Now that’s a song that is askin’ to be banned!

Apes of the Planet

One day, my Dad and I went to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I wanted to visit a sports shop there as I was thinking of buying a pair of mountain shoes for an overseas hiking trip. Unfortunately, the shop was already closed. But along the way, we came across numerous wild monkeys which were frolicking about on the grass, grooming each other, and helping themselves with fruits and food plundered from nearby rubbish bins. Their carefree mannerisms both amused and intrigued us. For several years, the National Parks had been releasing monkeys (specifically the long-tailed Macaques) into the Singapore forests to help repopulate the species. Given the numerous instances of monkeys invading private residences to steal food, and the incessant feeding of monkeys by law-breaking citizens, I should say that NPark’s efforts at raising the awareness of wildlife conservation among Singaporeans had been met with a considerable degree of success.

The sight of so many monkeys inspired my father to comment: “猴子是人的远亲” – which translates to “Monkeys are distant relatives of Humans”. Hmm… I know of a couple of people who would take serious offense at that statement. Yet again, they also think that Yoga is evil, and that the universe was created in six days, but I’ll leave all that as a blog to rant another day. Obviously, my Dad was making a reference to the Theory of Evolution, which as suggested by Charles Darwin from his 1859 publication “On the Origin of Species” that Humans today evolved from apelike ancestors through a lengthly process of natual selection, adaptation, survival of the fittest, and probably even mutation. Being a person of scientific thinking, personally I find the idea that man could have evolved from apes to sound logical and it is possibly credible. Though I know of someone who totally outright rejected the Theory of Evolution since “he hasn’t seen any monkey turn into a man yet”.

Interestingly, my Dad’s comment inspired me into thinking what exactly are the implications of his comments, and it wasn’t very long before I came to the logical conclusion which I expessed by replying: “人是猴子的远亲!” – “Humans are distant relatives of monkeys!” Actually, that statement sounds more amusing than it was logical, as me saying it implies that we are the monkeys! Living about our carefree lives in this urban jungle!

On this note, I would like to mention of the upcoming movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which I assume would be a remake of the classic “Planet of the Apes” movie series, excluding the faux 2001 Tim Burton version. The “Planet of the Apes” series told of the story of… the planet of the apes, and I am not going to spoil the story for you by going any bit further into the details. What you can know about the upcoming movie, you can see for yourselves from the movie posters or movie trailers, the latter of which I am going to avoid since I choose to keep myself unaware of the storyline until I can surprise myself by what I see in the cinema.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Coming soon.

A Brief History of China

The history of China goes back a long way, stretching nearly 5,000 years, from a time when history and mythology were regarded as one and the same, to the succession of numerous dynasties (and sometimes even overlapping ones), with occasional periods of warring states every so often. And there are many influential figures who have made their mark in Chinese history, heroes, tyrants, poets and philosophers, names which had made their way into the Chinese psyche and remained there ever since.
.
With such a long chronology and such a large who’s who of Chinese history, it gets a bit daunting, or even outright confusing, when it comes to trying to remember which dynasty came first, or who’s from which period, who came earlier? Have you ever been accused of being ignorant of Chinese culture by having the various dynasties all mixed up? Or have you ever gotten too upset when you thought that someone was from one dynasty when in fact he belonged to another dynasty?
.
So here I present a partial solution, a brief history of China, a timeline from (nearly) the very beginning all the way to the present, with the dates of certain historical figures indicated. I call it a partial solution, because anything more detailed or accurate is beyond the scope of my blog. For more information, you can search in wikipedia, or ask any of your friends whom you think is well-learned in Chinese history. I get a feeling that they may instead be the ones who will be asking you for information after you have read the timeline.
.
20100624_chistory120100624_chistory2.
Gee, wow.  I hoped that worked.

The Bible in a Nutshell

Every religion has its holy book, and for the Christian faith, and to a certain extent the Jewish faith, that holy book is the Bible. The Holy Bible, usually taken to be the word of God, is made up of 66 books belonging to two major divisions, with 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. In case that you are not aware, the Jewish religion does not regard Jesus as the Messiah and their religious texts consist mainly of the Old Testament and does not contain the New Testament books, since the New Testament has more to do with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples. A couple of other books didn’t quite made it into the authoritative Bible, but had also at one time or another been considered as canon by the different denominations.
 
From the beginning, there had always been myths and legends that were passed down through the ages, stories created to explain about the creation of man and the surrounding world, words of wisdom and inspiration, as well as the occasional morality tales. At first, these tales were passed down via the oral tradition, until the advent of writing, upon which it became possible to gather these texts together and subsequently be regarded as an entire whole. These stories could have been based on actual historical events, and sometimes, even stories that were exchanged between different cultures have over time become adapted as part of the scriptures. For example, the story of Noah and the Great Flood bears similarities with the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, right down to the building of the Ark and the collection of animals for safekeeping, while the flood itself could have been based on an ancient flooding event, theories range from a catastrophic Mediterranean tsunami, to the Black Sea deluge, or even an Indian Ocean asteroid strike.
 
The Tower of Babel
 
Apart from serving as a record of actual historical events (such as the fall of the Tower of Babel, the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, exodus of the Jews from Egypt, establishment of the Jewish Kingdom, among others), the Bible also contains many other information, ranging from important ones such as the collection of rules and laws, songs of praise and worship, prophecies and dire warnings, to others somewhat more trivial ones such as family records, construction inventories, and even donation records. Nearly every aspect is given a divine context, after all, it is supposed to be a book of worship. And just like any historical document, they were probably written to conform with whichever political climate that was prevalent at that time.
 
There was an approximately 400 years gap between the Old and New Testaments, during which it is believed that there were no inspired prophetic writings. Of course, the writing never stopped, only that the books produced during this period were simply not accepted as canonical scripture. Known as the Apocrypha, these books were said to promote false doctrines, they contained errors and inconsistancies, and they lacked a convincing divine nature (the writers themselves did not claim divine inspiration for their writings either).
 
The New Testament heralds the arrival of Jesus Christ as the Savior of Man, with the Gospels alluding to the life and teachings of Jesus (ranging from the virgin birth, Jesus’ ministry on Earth, the crucifixion, and resurrection), and one whole bunch of letters from the Apostles to Christ’s followers giving encouragement and hope during a time of Roman persecution of Christians and proliferation of errant teachings. The Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, tells of future apocalyptic events with the coming of the end of days, and the ultimate victory of Christ and the church over sin and evil, although some scholars believe that Revelations more likely served as a message of hope during the time of the Roman persecution.
 
It was also during the time of the writing of the New Testament that many Christian cults emerged and promoted their own interpretations of the teachings of Jesus, some of which clashed with the authoritative version held by the early Church leaders. These alternative teachings were branded as heresy, and as the Church grew in power and influence, such cults became persecuted and their writings were banned and destroyed. A number of such manuscripts belonging to one such cult known as the Gnostics had managed to survive to this day, providing Biblical scholars an invaluable chance at understanding the evolution of early Christian writing.
 
In the meantime, it fell onto the responsibility of the early Church to determine which books were to be considered as the Holy Scriptures, having been written inspired by God. In general, the gospels considered as canon were those which fit into the Church’s image of Jesus having been the martyred Messiah who was the Son of God, a concept not exactly shared by other Christian cults. Eventually, the New Testament was finalised into its current form of 27 books. And since then until now, the Holy Bible had seen numerous more translations and interpretations, depending on the religious and political overtones of the times, evolving into the versions that exist with us today.
 
The exclusion of the Apocrypha, and the Gnostics texts, from the canon Holy Bible, may somehow make it intriguing to take a look into these writings to see what is it that makes them so offensive. But it should be mentioned that these texts cannot be understood unless they are read in the context of their contemporaneous writings. So unless you are already knowledgable in the relevant Biblical texts, and actually believe in them, there is no way that these non-canonical texts are going to make any sense to you. You have been warned.
 
 
Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas to all !

I’ve returned from Vietnam

Hello world, I have just returned from a nine-day vacation in Vietnam. I was travelling with three of my university friends, and we went to three places: Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.
 
 Me at the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City
 
Ho Chi Minh City was previously known as Saigon and served as the capital of South Vietnam, before the North successfully reunified the country in 1975, and renamed the city in honour of their great leader Ho Chi Minh. Although nowadays the people here use both names interchangeably.
 
Me at one of the royal tombs in Hue
 
After touring Ho Chi Minh City, we flew to Hue in Central Vietnam. Hue was the ancient capital of Vietnam, and there are many royal tombs in Hue, belonging to Vietnam emperors. Apart from visiting the tombs, we also visited the ancient palace known as the Citadel.
 
 I visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
 
Lastly, we went to Hanoi. There are many museums in Vietnam, showcasing its rich culture and history, in particular its fight against French colonialism, as well as the Vietnam War against the Americans. Since I am interested in history, it was a real treat for me to visit the museums, as well as the many places of historical interests such as the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, where Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body is displayed for all generations to view.
 
In Hanoi’s Army Museum, this is the famous tank that crashed through Saigon’s Independence Palace.