Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Battlestar Galactica Eaglemoss Hero Collection | Cylon Raider Unboxing

Today, we are looking at the Cylon Raider from Ronal D. Moore's 2003 reimagined series.


I have gone with the Eaglemoss Hero Collection when collecting ships from the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Also, I purchase them on Amazon because I know I am guaranteed a refund or a replacement if the item arrives damaged or is not up to snuff in any way. 

Almost all of the Amazon reviews of this model are positive, so I feel safe spending my hard-earned money on it.

For starters,  the box is quite nice.




As usual, Eaglemoss includes a brochure detailing the Raider, which includes some pretty nice shots of the ship. They include some concept art by Charles Ratteray.

When I looked up this model on Amazon on my phone to purchase, the dimensions seemed small.

I hoped to find something comparable in size and scale to my Viper collection.
The dimensions listed were quite strange. 3 " in length, 2 inches in width, and 10 inches in height. That's not very large. So, let's measure.

Some detail the insides and depict what Starbuck found when she opened the ship to escape off that planet or moon that we discussed earlier. This brings one of the theories that Scar is such a formidable opponent because it is the reincarnated entity that Starbucks shot down in the first season.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments, or can you show me where this can be found?

The book mentions that the biomechanical Raiders resurrect and are placed in new fuselages.  Here is a fascinating depiction of the Raider jettisoning the "wings.

Inside, as usual, is the styrofoam packaging with the product cutouts, keeping the model secure.

The actual dimensions of the Cylonh Raider turned out to be:

The Cylon Raider has some heft to it. So, I weighed it.

It turns out to weigh 11.45 ounces.  In metric, that coverts to 0.32 Kg or just 32 grams. 

Very nice detail etched onto the fuselage.

Comparison to Viper

Check out these videos


In the beginning, there was Star Wars, and the 13-year-old me sat stunned and amazed on the edge of my seat for two hours and saw that it was good. I saw it five or six times that year and many more in the following years, and each time, I declared it good. My life had already started to change. I had a reason to spend my extra time and money researching how to make a film just like that. 

I spent my paper route money buying a Super 8 camera with my best friend. We enrolled in the school's drama class so we could learn the art of acting. I read books on cinematography. I bought every Starlog magazine to get an inside track on creating special visual effects for my film.

I bought model kits of X-Wings and Tie Fighters. Not only to hang them on my ceiling but also to explode them in front of said Super 8 camera. My room's ceiling was a menagerie of World War 1 and 2 model aircraft on one side of the room, and on the other side was my USS Enterprise, Pan Am starliner, and all my Sci-Fi models. It was wild.

I got books on scriptwriting and spent time at the library trying to understand sound design in films. 

I was obsessed. 

I still went to school, had a paper route, and was a voracious reader, but all that ended when I was shuttled off to the desert in the hot summer of 1978.

It took me time to acclimate to the harsh desert environment. 

I got a job at a radio station, but that didn't stop my love of sci-fi, action stories, horror movies, and just being a kid. 

I was still engrossed in Star Wars; however, on the horizon was a new world to immerse me in the galaxy of a rag-tag fleet fleeing from their inhuman enemies—Battlestar Galactica.

The "pilot" premiered in theaters on May 18th, 1978, as a 2-hour, 22-minute extravaganza that promised to bring religious ideals along with ancient alien concepts and tell the story that was supposed to be about how life here began out there.

It was supposed to be relatable to the mass audience of the late 1970s. 
And initially, it was. By that fall, the TV series had premiered on ABC. For 24 episodes of the original run, from the fall of 78 to the spring of 79, our heroes were chased from world to world in search of the mythical planet Earth.

Although I wasn't earnestly pursuing my film-making quest, I was still moving in that direction. I continued my work in 16 mm and, of course, started building Vipers and Cylon Raiders.

Yes, I had several Vipers and Cylon Raiders hanging in my bedroom.

After high school, I returned to my city by the ocean, escaping the desert hellscape. I did this on my own, leaving my family behind. A year or so later, when my family also decided to return, I found that many of my childhood models had to either remain in storage or be tossed due to a lack of space.

Besides, I had other endeavors. 

What do millennials today call adulting? 

After raising a family and building a career, while I no longer have the time to make these model kits, I have the resources to search out and find replicas that bring home those fond memories. But which fond memories?

By this time, a new Battlestar Galactica had returned to television. I am talking about Ronald D. Moore's reimaging. Not only did he rework the mythology to fit a modern-day audience, but they jettisoned the original network's mandate that the show had to be kid-friendly, thus quickly removing the Boxey character. 

There is no ambush by Lizard creatures, with their robotic minions carrying out genocide during a peace meeting; there is an ambush. It is during an armistice. The Cylons are updated to look less like Roman soldiers and more like slender chrome killing machines with the iconic red eye that scams back and forth. And, oh yeah, the Cylons are now human-looking, and the first one we meet is gorgeous.

The attacks on the colonies are limited to radio chatter on the "wireless." We first meet the Cylon raiders when the Galactica fighter squad meets the attacking Cylons. The colonial pilots are not even sure what a Cylon Raider looks like.

Moments later, when the pilots come in range of the Cylon Raiders in this first encounter, the Viper pilots see what their enemies look like now, but they only live briefly. 

Boomer and Helo fall back out of range and see the carnage as the raiders jam the Viper squad's electronics, dooming them to slaughter. The two race back to the Galactica, hoping to make a report.

Unfortunately, that report will have to wait as Boomer and Helo are pursued and wounded by two chasing Cylon Raiders, forcing them to put down on Caprica to make repairs. This is where they lose Helo and pick up survivors, including Dr. Gaius Baltar.

Before their deaths, the Viper squad saw flying machines that didn't seem to have a pilot. Looking at where a cockpit should be, the scanning red eye gave us all the impression that these were artificial intelligence running amok.

Well, that is at least until we get to the fifth episode of the first season: "You Can't Go Home Again."

This is where the big reveal comes into play. 

Of course, the Cylons in the reimagined version are presented as two types: the Cylons that physically resemble humans and the Cylons that seem to be just an upgrade on the War-era Cylons, which are purely mechanical AI with Romanesque helmet-looking heads.

In the episode You Can't Go Home Again, Starbuck and a Cylon Raider go down on a planet or moon.

As she recovers from her parachute landing and damaging her knee. Hobbling along, she comes across the downed Cylon raider. 

Approaching the Raider, she notices the hole in the side of the cockpit, or "head." She realizes the Raider, or the Cylon inside, is no longer operational. She opens a hatch only to find organs and mechanical tubing.

Like the humanoid Cylons, the Cylon Raider is a biomechanical entity.

This actually changes the dynamics of consciousness in the Battlestar Galactica Universe. 

As it does have a mechanical side to its existence, Starbuck can cut out the 
"brains" and operate the roll, pitch, and yaw herself. As there is a biological aspect to the Raider, there must be some way to keep the biology alive, like a circulatory system. 

Tapping into the oxygen system, Starbuck takes off and returns to the Galactica. 

In the first episode of the fourth and final season, the Cylons appear out of nowhere, and Adama orders a red alert, sending all the pilots to their ships.  

Lee, who just testified in Baltar's defense, suits up, as does the newly promoted Samuel Anders, who just discovered he is a Cylon. 

During the battle, Sam, new to the piloting thing, is caught dead to rights when a raider flips around and targets Ander's Viper.

The Raider scans Anders and recognizes that he is one of them. He communicates with the other raiders and breaks off the attack.

The purely mechanical centurions, which are clearly obedient robots, can think independently, except that the human models have installed telencephalic inhibitors into the centurions.

Once again, Battlestar Galactica transcends its 1978 predecessor by asking whether it is morally correct to lobotomize the raiders.

The Centurions discovered what Cavill was doing to the raiders because they failed to continue attacking the human fleet.

I always had an issue with the original Cylon Raiders. 

When I was 13, I went along with the three Cylons required to fly the Raider. Technologically, why would it need three centurions?

Take that a step further: Why do we need a centurion at all? They are machines, robots. How soon before we no longer need human pilots to fly drones into war?

The Ronald D. Moore reimagined raiders are sleeker, faster, and much cooler-looking.

Tell me in the comments if you agree or not.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Denis Villeneuve's Dune Crysknife | Parts 1 & 2

I  was born on the west coast, by the sea. Green trees and morning mist surrounded my home, giving way to the warm, temperate sun that beat down upon my beautiful childhood. Spending hours on the sand and playing in the waves. I went hiking in the mountains with my friends to explore the forest that surrounded me. Walking the palm-lined streets as I strolled through the town's Old Spanish architecture, with red-tiled roofs, white stucco buildings, and intricate wrought-iron details. I hung out with my friends at school, visited various museums, and enjoyed life. The people were cool.

It was a simpler time.

That was until I was 15 years old when my father changed jobs. When he broke the news to me, I was devastated. As an adolescent, I didn't really understand the necessities of life and survival. We pulled up stakes from the land of my birth and moved to the desert in the middle of summer. During the last few days before the move, my best friend handed me Dune. He thought reading it would help in the transition.

The move, while tiresome, was also exciting. The long trek into the desert was a shock. I had never seen such desolation before other than in old Western movies and TV shows.

It was late after our arrival and unloading of the truck and cars, so we slept. The next day, my brother and I woke early; we wanted to explore. My older cousin, hung over from the night before, enlisted my brother and me to help him retrace our vehicle's path to our new house and find a sock he somehow lost on the way in the night before.

The thing we all noticed was that the sun was way too bright. The air was dry, with

no moisture at all. The air at 7 in the morning was dry and hot. We didn't have to walk far before we noticed the houses give away to empty fields of dirt and tumbleweeds. The wind did blow, but all it did was blast dust into our faces. We turned our heads to cough and spit out the dirt from our mouths.

I didn't read the book right away. It took me several weeks before I found it. After arranging my library, I looked at the book and decided to give it a chance. I didn't get far. I found the book to be slow and tedious. I called my friend and asked why he gave me this boring book. My friend told me to get past the first 100 pages.

I did and found myself identifying closely with Paul Atreides,  the protagonist of Dune. I cannot explain how profound that experience was and how Frank Herbert's philosophy affected me. Since that time, I have read Dune and all six of Herbert's original Dune series books once a year for 35 years. I know the book very well. I also read some of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's expanded Dune universe. I also incorporated many of Dune's principles into my life and how I raised my children.

With a new Dune movie out, we could celebrate by looking into  Crysknife from Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel, Dune.

Now, I have done a couple of videos concerning Dune. 

One video features the central religious text of the  Imperium, The Orange Catholic Bible. It's a fascinating book if you are into comparative religions. I'll leave a link in the description.

The other video focused on the two versions of Crysknifes from David Lynch's 1984 version and the 2000 and 2003 Sy Fy mini-series of Dune and Children of Dune.

Here are the links to those videos:

Orange Catholic Bible 

Dune Crysknifes from 1984 and 2000 - 2003

A Crysknife is the sacred weapon of the Fremen on Arrakis. It is made from the teeth taken from dead sandworms, and to understand the importance of the crysknife, we must look at its origins. And therefore, we must briefly talk about sandworms, 

Before moving to Arrakis, Paul talked with Yueh (A million deaths for Yueh). He provided the young man with a filmbook on a small specimen that was only 110 meters long.

Better known on the planet Arrakis as Shai-Hulud. The Old Man of the Desert, Old Father Eternity, and Grandfather of the Desert, the Fremen, had a few names for this entity. The name Shai-Hulud, when referred to in a specific tone or written with capital letters, designates the earth deity of Fremen hearth superstitions.  

Sandworms grow to enormous size (specimens longer than 400 meters have been seen in the deep desert) and live to great age unless slain by one of their fellows or drowned in water, which is poisonous. 

Most of the sand on Arrakis is credited to sandworm action. Arrakis was a moist planet, and upon the arrival of the sandtrout, they encysted all the water to transform into the sandworm. This aligned with the tangible proof discovered on Arrakis, which consisted of salt beds that seemed to have been vast oceans in the past.

Large bodies of water may be encased by Sandtrout, converting a whole terraformed planet into a desert and enabling the survival of Sandworms, which cannot exist in a wet environment. In Dune, the sandworms evoke a fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power.

I know there are various Dune Crysknife replicas on the market today. However, instead, I once again went with a creator on Etsy. The crysknife was produced by Stupendous Props. 

Villeneuve gives us a first peek at the Crysknife in the new Dune remake we now call Part 1, when, like in the David Lynch version, the Shadout Mapes presents Jessica with the Crysknife as a gift. 

Later, near the end of Part 1, Paul and Jessica are captured by the Fremen after escaping with Kyne's help from the Ecological base when it is overrun by

Sardaukar. Paul is forced to fight Jamis. Jamis is that guy. The typical dissenter is always complaining and challenging Stilgar's authority.

We see the crysknife as the chosen weapon of the Fremen.

Apparently, the Crysknife can break. As Jamis calls out, May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter.

During Part 2, there are various scenes where the knife is flashed but not necessarily featured.

That is, until near the end, Paul captures the Emperor and his entourage. Paul kills the Baron with his crysknife, and then a short bit later, he fights a duel with Feyd-Rautha to the death. 

The battle looks realistic and looks like any modern close-quarter hand-to-hand knife battle. 

Kudos to the actors for pulling it off.

The knife is delivered in a cardboard poster tube. It is well-sealed with packing tape.

As you can see, the replica is wrapped well with bubble wrap. Very well wrapped.

The blade is silver-looking, directly contrasting with the colored blades of the two previous films.

The blade is 3d printed in PLA. The sword and hilt are glued together instead of printed in one piece. The hilt is painted silver and brown, giving it a leathery look. Near the hilt, there is some decorative scrolling.

Now, according to the book Dune, the Freman manufactures the crysknife in two forms: The two forms are "fixed" and "unfixed." An unfixed knife requires proximity to a human body's electrical field to prevent disintegration. 

Fixed knives are treated for storage. 

All are about 20 centimeters. As mentioned, the 2021 and 2024 Crysknife versions are a bit longer.

The Stupendous Props Crysknife is 20.5 inches or 50.7 centimeters long. The blade itself is 14.5 inches, which is 36.83 centimeters.

The blade comes in 4 VERSIONS
*DIY kit for you to make (blade and sheath)
*Painted blade only
*Painted blade and sheath.
*Painted blade and sheath with a leather strap attached to the sheath.

The knife is very lightweight. No more than a few ounces.

I am sure many of you have seen either or both of Deni Villenue's adaptations of Frank Herbert's book.  

I have learned to separate the two mediums after being so engrossed and deeply affected by the novels. Stephan King taught me that lesson. People like stories, and this is just another rendition of that story.

Villeneuve does an excellent job with both of his films, keeping the central theme in place: Dune, in essence, is a Greek tragedy on the scale of Homer. The hubris is on full display by almost all characters, especially Paul Muad'Dib, the Lisan al Gaib, the voice from the outer world. 

Deni Villanueva, for whatever reasons he had, I will not question him on that, decided either for time constraints, budget, or resources, to eliminate many scenes and characters that show the underlying motivations of the great houses, the nuances of the culture of the Imperium, and of the Freman.

As I said, Villeneuve hit the major plot points while streamlining the story and changed a few of those plot points to tell a somewhat different story. In doing so, he wants to take us in a different direction, but I am sure he will ultimately end up in the same place by the end of the next sequel. Dune Messiah.

The political statement, while decidedly different than the subtle and gradual understanding that emerges in the books, is more explicit in the film.

For example, the southern fundamentalist freemen who have a presupposition of their dogmatic beliefs are willing to run headlong into the acceptance of a prophecy that is not divine but ultimately manmade, or in this case, Woman-made.

Is this a direct statement of our times politically?  I leave that to the dear viewer.

The film is an amazing cinematic event. Everything about the production of Dune is fantastic and draws the viewer into experience.

Overall, the new Dune films are excellent as long as you let go of the novels to enjoy the visuals, the special effects, the grandeur, and the scale of this epic tale.

For me, the best Dune films are the ones I create in my mind as I read or think back about scenes in the novel and picture them as I imagine them to be.

So, after high school, I returned from the desert and enjoyed the ocean, the cool breeze, and moderate temperatures. Once again, the desert beckoned me to return. And I heeded its call and have remained in the desert for over half my life.

The desert is my home.