Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All your base

Ok, let's get one thing clear. I love toys. Not just any old tat, mind. Some toys are just too good for children. One example might be the Lego Bionicle range. Sure, it's a construction toy. It's my favourite (Lego), but it's a sharply designed, fully poseable (very important, this) action figure that really looks the biz. And it's aimed at kids. These things, the Bionicles - and any other Lego stuff for that matter - are well designed and made of the highest quality materials and are possibly just too good to be played with.

I note also that K'nex, that spindly arch rival to Lego, now has a brick-like component in some kits, complete with studs that in no way whatsoever could mate up with, oh, I dunno bricks from some other toy manufacturer. That's right, Megabloks.

So anyway, with toys these days mashed perennially with other media, particularly TV, I took the opportunity to pick up a Supermag Cyberman, modelled after the new Doctor Who characters. He's a jolly little chap, standing about 7 inches/17cm tall.

Plastwood (the makers of the Supermag range) have done a cracking job on the details, particularly the head and torso, using quality plastics with a good fit and finish.

The trademark magnetic joints primarily make up the arms, with the head, torso, hip and ankle joints being steel ball and plastic sockets. Sadly, the knees are fixed - I suspect the intention was to make them magnetic, but the lack of friction to hold these joints in place would have been a deciding factor.

The upper legs are just the Supermag plastic rods and so look spindly in comparison to the rest of the figure.

The Doctor Who range includes a Dalek, K-9, and a Tardis, but I think this is the best because it's the least construction-y toy looking. And he looks cool, to boot.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My definition is this

The other day I visited our local, friendly 'recycling centre' (AKA 'the dump') to drop off some 'materials for recycling' (AKA 'rubbish') only to notice the giant crates of broken CRT TVs sitting there like the sun bleached ivory of a technological graveyard. With a slight twinge of sadness, I wondered (had they not been quite damaged by the October climate in Scotland) if any were perfectly good TVs before they made that last, lonely trip to the telly knackers yard. Requiring only a Playstation 1 or just a set top aerial for company, I suspect many had years of quality viewing left in them. Perhaps, I thought, they had company on that last trip in the shape of a broken Flymo and that Strimmer that never fed it's twine properly. Ever.

It's now quite hard to buy a CRT, standard definition TV here in the UK unless you go to a supermarket and even there they are flogging cheap HD-ready, digital TV capable screens of decent size and questionable quality. I, for one, welcome our new digital TV overlords having 'bought into' the idea last year with the purchase of a modest 26" model from Philips, and only then just managed to clamber halfway from the primordial sludge that is Standard Definition TV.

So earlier this year, in order to lie basking on the sun-cracked mud of HD and with not a little trepidation, I purchased a Sony HDR-HC5 high definition camcorder to replace my broken Canon. Call it futureproofing if you like, but I was determined not to go back to fuzzy old DV, even if I can't fully utilise the HV footage, for reasons I shall explain soon.

Next up will be a mini review of the HDR-HC5 and my thoughts on that choice 6 months on from buying it.