So near, yet so far from greatness.

I was really invested in the beta of this game, and hoped it would live up to its promises.

So, as everyone and their mum knows by now, Transformers Universe has reached the end of its life-cycle, and is closing down for good on the 31st of January this year. When I first heard about TFU, I was quite excited – it was being marketed as an MMORPG set in the Transformers Prime universe, so I eagerly signed up for the beta.

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TFA Slipstream: Cosplay Work in Progress 1

In the last post about my new cosplay project, Transformers Animated Slipstream, I talked in fairly general terms about why I’d chosen this character and mused about some of the challenges I’d likely face and materials I might use during the build. Since then I’ve grabbed my craft knife and glue gun and things have got real! I actually started by planning out the clothing I will need to wear underneath all the foam and plastic but as (1) I’m still waiting for a top I ordered to arrive and (2) the textile element has to be the least interesting part of the costume, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today….

Today we’re talking helmets!

"Bulkhead, hold still and checkout my helmet" (Screencap from Transformers Animated Episode 29. ”A Bridge Too Close, Part II”)

“Bulkhead, hold still and check out my helmet”
(Screencap from Transformers Animated Episode 29. ”A Bridge Too Close, Part II”)

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Film Review: Ex Machina

Year: 2015
Director: Alex Garland
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Screenshot from Ex Machina official trailer:

Alicia Vikander as Ava. Screenshot from Ex Machina official trailer:

The theme of artificial intelligence is one explored time and again in science fiction, and it’s a fascination that seems to be only increasing as such ideas move into the realm of science fact. Just look at how the recent driverless cars debate has ignited responses in the media stretching from impressed excitement to apocalyptic dread.  Alex Garland’s tense, cerebral film evokes precisely this mix of wonder and unease, making for an engaging cinematic experience.

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Science Fiction Metal

Heavy metal loves fiction: the very blood of the genre is the imagination, and fantastic narratives of horror, fantasy or some other escapism make up many of the classics of the genre. Indeed, many of my fellow metal-heads got into the genre as adolescents simply because it offered more lyrical options than partying, dancing (optionally a metaphor for shagging), being in love/happy/dumped/lonely or whatever other mediocre bullshit the main-stream was throwing in their faces.

Book cover to CS Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the silent planet – dreams of desolation!
Out of the silent planet come the demons of Creation!

Basically, heavy metal as a genre likes to go where no-one has gone before – musically and lyrically, and many of the big names in the genre have done a few SF songs or even albums. Iron Maiden have done stacks of literature-inspired songs and a couple of them reference SF epics: To Tame a Land is Dune, Out of the Silent Planet is – guess what – inspired by the CS Lewis novel with the same name.

Bands such as Voivod, Nocturnus and Hypocrisy have pretty much made whole careers out of SF metal, and all of these have garnered well-deserved accolades. My favourite band, the mighty Arcturus, have been hopping in and out of science fiction lyrically for years, when they’re not making Moomin songs. There is some other pretty good SF-themed metal out there though, of which you might not have heard. I’m going to waffle on for a bit about some under-rated or little-known SF-inspired metal bands so if that’s not your bag, you can pretty much quit reading this post now.

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Kinder Surprise Transformers

2 unopened Kinder Eggs

I’m English, and as such I crave disappointment. That’s why I buy Kinder Surprise. Horrible chocolate; nasty little toy: a double-whammy of disillusionment! Sometimes I eat the toy out of sheer despair. I call them the Eggs Of Numbing Inevitability.

– Bill Bailey, Bewilderness (2001)

I happen to think Kinder chocolate’s OK (but if you do get more of it for your money by buying the straight up Kinder bars) but I was pretty much with Bill on the toys. I can still remember the disappointment of opening these eggs as a child, hoping to get whatever cute figure had been advertised on TV and instead always always (it felt) getting a crappy, plastic yellow motorbike that didn’t roll or stand up unaided.

So at first I wasn’t terribly inspired when I heard last year that Kinder were doing a special promotion putting Transformers in their blue eggs (and Barbie in their pink eggs). Note how I said “blue eggs” and “pink eggs” there, NOT “boys eggs” and “girls eggs”? Speaking as a girl who straight up refused to play with dolls even when I was very young, the whole concept of gendered toys is pretty frustrating. I know there’s been some controversy  about this Kinder promotion, but in fairness  – and pleasingly – it doesn’t actually say anywhere that the toys are for a particular gender.  If you think they are, you’re just buying into the whole “blue is just for boys, pink is just for girls thing” which is pretty much nonsense – right Prime Arcee?

Transformers are for everyone, and especially for me. But even so, I was NOT going to go down the slippery slope of trying to collect all of these toys. Absolutely not….

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Transformers Prime Arcee Cosplay: more pics

I recently had the pleasure of doing a cosplay photoshoot with my lovely friend Sadie, who blogs over at Aim for Fabulous. I guess “Autobot” is a little bit of a departure from Sadie’s usual blogging focus of fabulous fashion and travel but we both enjoyed doing the shoot. I have to say it felt sooooo good to be back in the Arcee costume for another hour or so, I might be becoming a bit of a reluctant human! It’ll be great when I finish my Slipstream costume so I have a choice of “alt-modes.” We did the shoot in as neutral a location as possible – just a plain hallway – to hopefully let the costume do all the talking.

Here are the results!

Transformers Prime Arcee costume made & modelled by AddAltModeR

Transformers Prime Arcee costume made & modelled by AddAltModeR

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Game Review: Choice of the Deathless

Type of game: Text / interactive fiction
Written by: Max Gladstone
Published by: Choice of Games
Year: 2013
Played on: Steam

Choice of the Deathless Cover Art

Cover art by Ron Chan:

Thanks to Choice Of Games I’ve already been able to cross off “marry a robot” from my 2015 to do list. My love affair with that game – the first of its kind I’d played – inspired me to begin exploring the Choice Of back catalogue, which brought me to Max Gladstone’s Choice of the Deathless. And now I’ve been able to  draw a line through ”become an become an undead skeletal lawyer at a demonic law firm” too.


To be honest, I hadn’t actually realised that item was on the list, but hey, you’ve gotta try these things once, right?

Wrong! The beauty of these Choose Your Own Adventure games is that it doesn’t need to be only once; you can try everything, replaying the game as much as you like to explore different options and pursue different paths. This definitely appealed in Deathless as the game’s primary strength is undoubtedly its world-building. The story made me want to explore and discover more of the interesting setting Gladstone has created, a world that takes the “law is an evil business” cliché and runs with it all the way to its necromantic conclusion.

What’s it all about?

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Video Game Review: Double Dragon Neon

Skullmageddon's goons abduct Marian.

Skullmageddon’s goons abduct Marian.

Last december, at the start of the *snort* Primary Gifting Period, I was generously given Double Dragon Neon by my brother. It is, of course, a remake of the classic 80s beat-’em-up Double Dragon.

Billy Lee sets out to rescue Marian

This vehicle must be a time machine, since it came directly from 1987.

The plot goes thus: The villainous magical skeleton Skullmageddon has kidnapped Marian, girlfriend of martial artist Billy Lee, who (aided by his brother Jimmy if 2 players are available) must slap, kick and wrestle through Skullmageddon’s army of goons to rescue her. Continue reading

Cosplay 2015: The Plan

Meet Slipstream.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of her this year.

Screencap from Transformers Animated episode 41 'Endgame, Part I'

Screencap from Transformers Animated epsode 41 ‘Endgame, Part I’

As TFWiki neatly put it, she’s “the Starscream clone that raises the most questions.”

  • Just how did an alleged clone of a male character end up female?
  • Precisely which aspect of Starscream’s personality does she embody?
  • Why does she hate her creator quite so much?

But my biggest question is

  • Where do I start with building a Slipstream cosplay?

Yes, my TF project for 2015 is going to be project Slipstream, based on her appearances in Transformers Animated (which are brief but, in my opinion, show-stealing.)

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