Monthly archives: June 2007

Manchester Metropolitan degree show

Studio 2
Originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Wandering back from photographing a Transformer attacking Urbis, I spotted the Manchester Metropolitan degree show. I had been meaning to go along and see stuff by the film students earlier in the week, but never got round to it. In the end, I think film was the only course I didn’t check out.

My favourite item was the Zip MP3 player concept, designed to fit in the shell of your old Zippo lighter. I thought they’d gone so far as to put up a web page about it, but won’t respond. I may have to go back and see if they’ve got an email address, because I’d like to use the player as a prop some time.

I wandered around the maze of Arts faculty buildings, wishing I had the funding and patience to be able to get to their level. I turned off a tap in Studio 2 because the sink was overflowing. I do hope it wasn’t part of the installation. There follows a list of all the students sensible enough to set up a web presence for themselves. I haven’t looked around their pages yet, so the links are offered without comment unless I can remember something from the show.-

Ian interviewed on Let's Go Global tv

Yesterday evening I went along to the Let’s Go Global tv studios in Old Trafford to see how they made their programmes because I might be co-presenting the No Budget Show from next week. The singer scheduled to do two songs didn’t turn up, so they interviewed me about Memory instead. I can’t get it to work on my PC, but the Superchannel stream of the show is here. If you can make it work, please tell me how good or bad I was.

A tank from a lake

Tanks from the Second World War are still being pulled out of the lakes around St. Petersburg. If I remember my history correctly, the city was resupplied across the frozen lakes during the winter phases of the siege and at times the ice broke. The site refers to it as a “BT” tank. You can get BT5 or BT7 tanks in 1:35th scale from Zvezda, or BT5, BT7 or BT2 from Unimodel in 1:72nd. A salvage operation like this would make for an interesting diorama.

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The San Fernando Valley Illegal Soapbox Federation

Letting gravity do the work. I was thinking about the doing a go-kart race down Shudehill the other day. It would only be a short sprint, however. I’m sure there are other hills near Manchester that would offer better challenges and less traffic to stop, and for the truly insane there are a few really steep roads in the Pennines with sheer drops off one side.

The San Fernando Valley Illegal Soapbox Federation meets on the second Sunday of every month to charge downhill on wide American roads in races of twenty or more karts. Which is cool.

via Jalopnik

Get in the car and drive

Casa Spinneyhead loves driving games. I’ve been meaning to write a group review of them for a while, so here goes.

We haven’t tried the most recent version of Gran Turismo, because we don’t have a PS3, but have played most of the others between us. There’s not a lot to be said about Gran Turismo that hasn’t been said elsewhere. It is the daddy of racing games, but it appeals more to the perfectionist than others in the genre.

GT3‘s cheat of choice was to build the most powerful car possible and use the extra horses to compensate for poor driving. With GT4 we discovered B mode, where you play as the team manager, sitting on the pit wall working out strategies and telling your driver how aggressive to be. Unlike professional drivers, they actually pay attention to you.

For beautiful graphics, realistic cars and handling and masses of tuning options, Gran Turismo is your best bet. The lack of damage, given the way we drive, is a bonus as well.

Project Gotham Racing 2 offers no tuning options, and it does have damage and less realistic handling. Which makes it much more fun, naturally. The aim is to collect Kudos, rather than credits, to progress. You don’t just get points for winning races. They’re awarded for drifts, air and other factors of style. Which suits us fine, because we have a hard time keeping our cars going in a straight line. Night time races, with damage taking out your headlights, are a special kind of challenge. Project Gotham 3 is available for the Xbox 360, but we don’t have one of those either.

Need For Speed: Carbon places great emphasis on drifting as well. There are events dedicated to it and it plays an important role in the pursuit races as a way to block the other drivers. We haven’t progressed very far on the career game, which takes you from neophyte drifter to, I guess, King of the sideways drivers. Customising your car is, of course, an important element in the game, allowing you to build the tuner of your dreams.

Body building is a big part of Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition. Our in house competition is to see how tacky our cars can be. This is our current favourite driver, to the extent that we’ve started all over again.

Rockstar aren’t famed for their socially responsible games. Whilst you can’t run anyone over the way Grand Theft Auto lets you, there’s a lot of scope for property damage. Win money racing through three cities (the Remix adds Tokyo and new cars) and modify your car for speed and style along the way. Routes are peppered with destructible architecture and jumps. Hitting a ramp at full boost can see you spending a long, long time in the air. The household’s favourite ride is the Chrysler 300C. It’s no coincidence that we started seeing so many on Manchester’s roads right after we started playing it.

The Burnout series was addictive from the start, but it wasn’t until number three that it really came through on its promise of being able to take out other racers using buildings and traffic. This makes the racing as addictive as the crashing sections, which were the highlight of the previous versions. Sadly, Burnout: Revenge screwed up a lot of features and is much less playable. There’s no tuning or purchasing of cars in these games, just make your choice based upon weight and speed and get out there and cause carnage.

We tried a Formula One game, but it just didn’t work for us. Another spin off of a real racing series- Colin McRae Rally 2005– was far better. How much better we can’t say, because the game really does take account of damage and we’re far too fond of interacting with the scenery to keep our cars intact. Damage, in multi stage rallies, can only be partially fixed by allocating time to different jobs. If we could learn to stay on the road, this could become an addiction.

There are a few also rans in the search for the perfect driving game. Forza Motorsport didn’t impress. Forza 2 might be an improvement but, again, we don’t have a 360. Ford Racing was poor, its unique- and only- selling point being the ability to drive Henry’s products. NASCAR was even worse. Midtown Madness is fun, but not as much as so many of those listed above. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit seems slow and low quality compared to later versions.

Wish List Time

At the moment I’m collecting, more than making, models. And I don’t have the money or the space to do much of that, either.

But that’s not going to stop me drawing up a wish list of kit’s I’d like to get my hands on or see produced. Quite a few of them are driven by a desire to start painting 54mm figures, particularly Andrea’s character series and placing them in dioramas involving relevant vehicles.

1. Arii’s Collectors’ Series available in the UK. I’ve developed a crush on these 1:32nd scale curbside models without ever seeing one or reading a review. I’m watching a lot of Kung Fu movies at the moment and I want to put Bruce Lee on a street with a delivery trike behind him and scattered boxes and other debris. I could order the models from Japan, or EBay shops in Australia or Hong Kong, but I’d really like to be able to get them from my local model shop or one of the bigg online shops like Hannants.

2. More of Airfix’s 1:32nd scale ’60s and ’70s saloons re-released. I’ve read that some of the moulds were damaged or lost, and I may be the total market for a Morris Marina model. What I really want is the Ford Capri and Ford Escort. (I know the latter was in last year’s three car special set, so I’ll see if I can pick up one of those.) I don’t have any plans for these in figure terms, just an abiding fondness formed from reading Street Machine and Custom Car in my youth. Whilst we’re about it, let’s have a Ford Pop (Anglia in the States, I think) in that scale. I know there was a 1:24th, or 1:25th van version by one of the US manufacturers, but let’s have the saloon beloved of British hotrodders.

3. Photoetched parts for 1:72nd scale cars such as the ones from Cararama. You can get them for 1:87th cars (and, a little, for 1:76th ones as well), so let’s have them for my braille scale of choice. I’m going to start producing transfers and stuff again, so one day I may be the person who satisfies this desire. (Affiliate link Cararama 1:72nd cars on EBay)

4. Retro robo. This is a personal project, I don’t want anyone to produce it. I just need to find an appropriate Japanese robot to kit bash and lots of spare parts to use in the bashing.

5. Preiser 1:72nd stuff. I know they do a lot of good stuff in this scale, I just can’t find it in my local model shops.

That’s what I want right now. That, and the money to afford it all.

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