Bello Reusable Ice Energon Cubes

Pink cubes you use to cool drinks.

Reusable Ice Cubes!

Bello reusable ice cubes are available in packs of 18 for a small sum from various places: I got these from Amazon, but various web-shops and large out-of-town giant-box shops stock them.

These are basically soft plastic cubes partially filled with water. To use them, you put them in the freezer, and the water freezes, filling the cube and giving you a piece of ice sealed in a thin plastic layer.

Now, you might reasonably inquire why I would be excited about such a thing. They’re a reasonably practical way of cooling a drink, and have an advantage over simply using ice in that they don’t dilute your drink with water as they melt. If left out by mistake they’re easier to clean up than ice, meaning that clumsy people will be less likely to have to deal with a puddle (unless they are damaged, and therefore leak). I’m certainly going to make use of these for keeping drinks and food cool, given how insanely hot it is in South West England this summer.

My reason for being excited by these cubes is far nerdier, however — they allow me to set-up photos like this:

Hey, 3rd-party guy, do you think Soundwave'll mind if we have a taste, taste, taste?

In a secret location hidden in the depths of Kaon, the Insecticons prepare a secret store of Energon cubes, under Soundwave’s careful supervision.

Cubes're a bit bright here. Meh, what can you do?

Kickback would rather drink from these cubes now than store them for later. Planning’s not his forté.

Wreck and Rule! The Wreckers lay claim to a shipment of Energon cubes, for the Autobots, and for a free Cybertron.

Wreck and Rule! The Wreckers lay claim to this shipment of Energon cubes, for the Autobots, and for a free Cybertron!

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Unicron’s Faster-Than-Light Travel Method

What kind of thoughts keep the strange minds at chez AddAltMode up at night? Well, we have relatively few skeletons in our closet, and no strong phobias, so it’s mostly the eccentric stuff; by which we mean musings on 30-year-old movies about robots.

In The Transformers: The Movie, the planet-eating monster Unicron appears to be able to traverse interstellar distances very quickly and with great ease. It is clear that Unicron possesses some sort of faster-than-light (FTL forthwith, due to laziness) engine.

Unicron devours the planet Lithone. © 1986 Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions, and Hasbro.

Unicron devours the planet Lithone. Presumably, he got to where Lithone was from where we was previously at faster-than-light speeds, or else they’d’ve seen him coming and evacuated earlier.

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MTMTE Voice Acting

How do all these 'bots sound when they speak?

How do all these ‘bots sound when they speak?

AddAltmodeR and I have a little thing we like to do with the IDW Transformers comics, particularly More Than Meets The Eye, Windblade and the Dark Cybertron crossover comic: we like to read it to each other, sat on our sofa or in bed, whilst putting on voices for each character. We’re like a home-grown (and markedly less skilled) version of the Audio Knights Theatre, the group who make the podcasts of people reading comics (and whose work includes, but is not limited to, readings of MTMTE). Now, neither of us is an amazing impressionist, and we’re certainly not professional voice-actor material (neither of us can talk for long enough), but attempting to do this is good fun.

So, we tend to have strong opinions on the subject of how the characters’ voices should sound. This feeds into a perennial conversation topic: which voice actors we’d like to hear in a (hypothetical) animated version of More Than Meets The Eye. This post is going to be a long one. It’s also unapologetically self-indulgent; I’m not kidding myself that there are a huge number of people who care what voices we at AddAltMode put on when reading comics aloud to each other, but for the people who will find this interesting, I hope both of you enjoy it.

So if I was casting director for an animated series or movie set in the IDW universe, (and I had unlimited resources, so as to acquire the services of any voice actor I choose), here’s how it would sound…

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TAV-30 Grimlock: A Capsule Review and a Modification

TAV-30 Grimlock is a roughly Voyager-sized Dinobot figure, representing the character from Japanese ‘toon Transformers Adventure, and by proxy it’s Anglophone-world counterpart Robots In Disguise (2015).

TAV-30 Grimlock; a roughly Voyager-sized beast covered in Minicon ports.

TAV-30 Grimlock; a roughly Voyager-sized beast with a scattering in Minicon ports.

I’m going to tell you, dear readers, what I think of him; what I like, and what I dislike. Then I’m going to tell you what I’m doing about what I dislike. Continue reading

Inspiration from art: Get to Da Choppa!

*pushes glasses up nose* Actually, it was the year 2005.

Those grid lines behind him help you to tell that it was the ’80s when this happened.

Sometimes, inspiration just seizes you, and you have to go where it follows. Now Galvatron, was an interesting enough character in the old G1 comics and ‘toon, a construct of Unicron created from the defeated Megatron’s carcass.

Galvatron's fierce grin, from IDW's Transformers #37.

Galvatron’s fierce grin, from IDW’s Transformers #37.

In the modern IDW comics, they’ve taken him in an entirely different direction with a new origin story that places him as a time-traveller from Cybertron’s distant past. Galvatron of the Darklands was a barbarian who fought in the time of the ancient Primes; initially a follower of Megatronus Prime, he ragequit and went on a murder-spree against combiners, headmasters and various other transformers he considered impure. He has no patience with anyone he doesn’t consider to be a “true warrior”, nor anyone who relies on “magick” science too complex for him to understand (he doesn’t trust any technology more advanced than his fusion cannon). He’s basically Conan The Cybertronian.

What is best in life, Galvatron?

To crush your enemies, to see their alt-modes driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their Minicons.

There’s a fantastic illustration of him on Retailer Incentive cover of IDW’s Transformers #45, drawn by the vastly skilled Kei Zama, known to the interwebs as Golby II.

This guy is for the chop. then.

Bigger, better version of this image here at the artist’s website.

Anyway, I took rather a shine to this barbaric ‘bot; in particular I adore this image which really channels the character’s oldschool “barbarian” fantasy feel. Furthermore, I think that axe is rather cool.

Here's the axe, pulled out from the rest of the image.

Here’s the axe (and Galvatron’s shoulder), pulled out from the rest of the image.

So simple, but such an effective outline. I couldn’t resist sculpting it and 3d-printing one for my Transformer’s figures. The model just seemed to flow from my mouse and keyboard. It’s probably the easiest sculpt I’ve ever done. (I put it on Shapeways, of course, it’s at http://shpws.me/M8jv.)

If only I could get the orange ink to glow...

Brainstorm isn’t the most natural stand-in for Galvatron, but he’s the most natural stand-in for a Cybertronian weapon-smith…. so there.

I don’t actually have a Galvatron figure, so I’ve no idea what I’ll do with the axe. Making it just felt right. If the upcoming Titans Return Galvatron doesn’t have a decent axe, then this blade will find a suitable wielder. After all, sometimes the blade chooses you.

“Quick and Dirty” Pandemic: a Custom Transformers Toy

This is Pandemic, from the defunct MMO Transformers Universe:

Pandemic!

Pandemic!

For those who never played, or don’t remember the game, he was an ambitious Decepticon with a sibilant voice, a fondness for viral weapons and two vicious drills. He transformed into a very sleek, vaguely snake-looking car.

This is Knock Out, a Deluxe-size Transformers Toys from the Beast Hunters subline of Transformers Prime:

Knock-Out!

Knock-Out!

 What happens when you blend those two things? Well just look here after the jump…

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Taikongzhans: Knock-off Transformers

So, recently, I made an eBay purchase that seemed a little bit too good to be true; Transformers Age of Extinction Dinobot Scorn. Now, regular readers will know that the “Bayformers” franchise-within-a-franchise is far from in-favour with us here at AddAltMode – aside from a few interesting figures, we don’t feel it has a lot to offer us. Seriously, it would be fair to say we like almost everything else Transformers-related except the Michael Bay movies (and Kiss Players… Kiss Players is an abomination.).

"トランスフォーム" is a phonetic rendering or "transform" in katakana, the actual Japanese word that makes the closest analogue to "transform" is 変換, "henkan".

トランスフォーム です!
“Transfooorm, desu!”. We even like the only-released-in-Japan Headmasters cartoons.

Note that in the last paragraph, I did mention that there were a few interesting figures: The character Scorn is one of them. Firstly, his Spinosaurus alt-mode is surprisingly in-line with the (then)current understanding of the real animal’s appearance (since then, better fossils have been found). What’s that? Real Science in a Transformers franchise *mild heart attack*. Also, though both modes display bilateral symmetry, they have different axes of symmetry; that’s quite a rare feature, yeeessss. It reminds my of another dinosaur-transformer for whom I have some fondness, yeessss.

Anyway, the eBay deal that looked too good to be true was, of course, too good to be true. The product that was mailed to me was a knock-off…. Continue reading

Game Review: Endless Legend DLC: Shifters, and the others

So, a little while back I posted a review of Endless Legend, a 4x-type strategy game by Amplitude Studios. Well, they recently released a new DLC pack for it, called Shifters, so I thought I’d throw in my tuppence-worth…

The title screen for Shifters neatly includes silhouettes of all the cool new things included in the DLC.

The title screen for Shifters neatly includes silhouettes of all the cool new things included in the DLC. Highlighted, from left: The Allayi’s skyfin unit, an Altar of Auriga, Allayi armies and Pearls of Auriga.

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Dovah-cookery: Skyrim-inspired cooking

Lots of the food in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, (a game which I’m sure needs no introduction from me) looks remarkably appetizing.

Good grief; that salmon steak looks almost real.

Salmon Steak, Seared Slaughterfish and a “Homecooked Meal” look particularly nice, assuming you’re not vegetarian.

But there’s one food above the others that impressed me in Skyrim, though for the life of me, I can’t put my finger on why: Grilled leeks!

Here they are, in all their crispy glory.

Here they are, in all their crispy glory.

You can buy Grilled Leeks from from almost any tavern in Skyrim, and find them on plates in dungeons and fortresses. For some reason, though, the Dovahkiin (player character) can never master the recipe.

Well, I decided that I needed to exceed my Dovahkiin’s cookery skills; since grilled leeks looked so nice in Skyrim, I would learn to cook them for real… Continue reading

Video Game Review: Endless Legend

From the Oxford English Dictionary entry for “epic”:

adj. 2 Heroic or grand in scale or character:

  • his epic journey around the world
  • a tragedy of epic proportions

adj. 2.1 informal Particularly impressive or remarkable:

  • That gig last night was epic

“Epic” is an adjective that gets bandied about with irksome regularity these days; just this morning I overheard a colleague rhapsodising that the fish and chips he had last night were “epic”. So it’s a nice change of pace to actually be able to use it appropriately.

Look at the little dragons and armies! =)

Endless Legend’s Splash image from the Steam Store.

Endless Legend is a 4X strategy game (of the ilk of the Civilization series) made by a firm called Amplitude Studios, and set in a science-fantasy universe, with asymmetrical victory conditions and unique player factions. It is, quite frankly, epic, both in the sense that it is grand in scale, and in the sense that it’s really quite impressive. Continue reading