Adam West, Star Of TV’s Batman, Passes Away After Battle With Leukemia

Adam West, star of iconic 1960’s TV show Batman has sadly died, his family have announced. The Caped Crusader was 88.

West passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday after a short battle with leukemia. He is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

After Batman, West struggled to find steady work, but more recently found his career rejuvinated, as he joined the cast of animated hit Family Guy – to play a comic take on himself, as the city’s Mayor.

Adam West as Batman

Tributes to West have been made by notable celebrities including Mark Hamill who described him as a “wonderful actor” and Edgar Wright, who tweeted the following:

“Farewell Adam West. You were MY Batman. Such a super funny, cool, charismatic actor. Loved the show as a kid, still love the show now. POW!”

Burt Ward – who played sidekick Robin in the TV show – has also released an emotional statement today, in which he described “a special friendship” between the two actors.

“This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Night.”

Thoughts and prayers with Adam’s friends, family and loved ones at this time.

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Adam West, Star Of TV’s Batman, Passes Away After Battle With Leukemia

UK’s National Healthcare Computer Systems Hit By Ransomware Cyber-Attack

Numerous NHS hospitals across the UK have been hit by a major cyber-attack, causing ambulances to be diverted and scheduled operations to be cancelled, it’s being reported tonight.

The malware attack which has infected machines across Europe has spread to UK healthcare systems, leaving staff unable to access important patients’ records, although at present there’s no indication any medical data has been stolen. Several A&E departments are telling patients not to visit unless it is a “genuine emergency” or “an urgent or life-saving matter”.

NHS Digital, the branch of the health service dealing with the attack, has issued a statement which includes the following:

“The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor.

“At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.”

As of Friday evening it is thought up to 40 NHS organisations were affected.

UK’s National Healthcare Computer Systems Hit By Ransomware Cyber-Attack

Someone’s Built Titanfall 2’s Mechs From LEGO And They Look Amazing

If you want some glorious fun in front of a games console, there’s very few ways you can go wrong with the fantastic FPS that is Titanfall. Similarly, if you want to step away from the screen, and want to keep your creative hands and brain busy, then LEGO’s where to look. So, what happens when the two are thrown together?

Talented German student Marius Herrmann has given us a glimpse, building some amazing LEGO recreations of Titanfall 2’s mechs.

I won’t waffle on, just check out the outstandingly accurate builds below:

For a closer look I recommend you click through to Marius’ flickr page.

Someone’s Built Titanfall 2’s Mechs From LEGO And They Look Amazing

Universal And Nintendo Talk About Their Partnership, Discuss Vision For “Entire Nintendo World” At Universal Parks

A few months ago many lost their tiny little minds when Universal Parks revealed that they were to partner with Nintendo on an upcoming project. At the time news was vague regarding exactly what fans would see, but it was widely rumoured a ‘Nintendo Land’ would pop up, much like the Simpsons section of the Orlando Universal park.

It looks like we were right! Not only that, but the new video featuring Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Universal Creative’s Mark Woodbury posted today reveals that Universal Orlando Resort wont be alone is welcoming Mario and friends, with Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Japan also seeing Nintendo expansions. Wa-hoo!

We’re told the new areas, which are already underway and will open “over the next several years” will be “expansive, immersive and interactive” with “highly themed and authentic environments filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants”.

Universal promises “to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special.”

So excited for this. Might have to make a return trip to Orlando when that warp-pipe pops up.

Universal And Nintendo Talk About Their Partnership, Discuss Vision For “Entire Nintendo World” At Universal Parks

GAME & Insert Coin Team Up For Assassins Creed 4 Launch Day Booty

Customers who pre-order and then purchase Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed release – Black Flag – at selected GAME stores are to receive a rather special freebie.

The high street retailer are teaming up with the creative chaps over at Insert Coin clothing to offer up an exclusive AC4 branded hoodie to day-one swashbucklers.

Insert Coin – who recently provided GAME staff nationwide with swanky new uniforms – already sell a wide range of video game related merchandise, including an extremely desirable selection of Assassin’s Creed related garments, such as hooded tops and dressing gowns.

It appears a visit to one of eight GAME & Ubisoft “lock in” events is the only way to get your hands on their latest design though, and numbers are likely to be strictly limited.

On Thursday, August 1st, Ubisoft reps will be in store at the Bolton, Walsall, Camden and St Austell branches of GAME, and on Friday 2nd, it’ll be the turn of gamers in Liverpool, Northfield, Norwich and Portsmouth.

The events are not only showcasing Assassin’s Creed either – those in attendance will also get to play the stunning Watch_Dogs, and it’s been confirmed both games will be playable “using a PS4 controller”.

For full details about the offer, please contact your GAME store of choice.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is due out on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U this coming November 1st, with PC and next-generation releases to follow accordingly.

GAME & Insert Coin Team Up For Assassins Creed 4 Launch Day Booty

Building The 2013 Meccano Gears Of War Judgement Construction Sets

Following on from my write up of last year’s offerings, I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on Meccano’s latest videogame related product – the Gears Of War Judgement range.

A well placed tie-in with the launch of the latest game in Epic’s Xbox 360 Gears Of War franchise, and following on from 2012’s mostly vehicular based construction sets, the new Judgement branded boxes very much bring the battlegrounds and character figures to the forefront.

I’ve tried and tested all three of the new additions to the Meccano Gears’ universe, which are, as follows:

  • Halvo Bay Pursuit – A 100+ piece box retailing at around £20, featuring a rooftop scene and 2 fully poseable figures.
  • Island Bunker Assault – A 60 piece build, in which Damon Baird is protecting his communications bunker from a Locust Grenadier.
  • Silverback G.O.W. – Build the iconic silverback exoskeleton in this 60 piece set and prepare for battle.Both the smaller Bunker Assault and Silverback toys will set you back around £15 each.

The first thing I noticed, as a consumer, before even getting my hands on the models themselves, was the significant improvement in the Series 2 box art – the Gears’ branding and all other assets are crisp and well placed, and the text clear and informative; Each box certainly looks the part.
Inside, as you would expect, you’ll find full colour and simple (for the most part) instructions, along with a tool set for constructing your models. Naturally, there’s also the little plastic bags of bits-and-bobs to actually build with; The good stuff.

There’s all the classic fixings: screws, nuts, washers etc., accompanied by various moulded plastic parts, which, although different to Meccano of old, and disappointing from a nostalgic point of view, definitely allow for a lot more creative approach to modeling – The Silverback set in particular is a great example of how this new approach really enhances the Gears’ Meccano products, as both toys and collectables for fans of the videogame.

The gun turrets for example, carefully crafted in plastic, can feature far more intricate detail than traditional metal pieces would allow, whilst the traditional fixings maintain the sense of accomplishment afforded by bringing it all together.
All three new sets also include environmental pieces, in the way of crates or barrels, which again, whilst plastic, still require at least one fixing. The sets could easily have sold without these additions, but their inclusion brings another layer of creativity and creation, which is very much appreciated.

There’s an odd balance in the attention to detail here – some things, as I say, are brilliant, and others are, frankly, odd, leaving me asking questions such as: “Why in the Island Bunker box are the ‘Evacuation Route’ stickers printed the wrong way up?” or the far more prevalent “Why won’t Damon Baird stand up?!”

You see, In the Judgement range, the character models are more important than ever, with close combat and the associated firefights being the centrepoint of each scene – Disappointingly, their quality hasn’t improved over the pieces I sampled last year, and my concerns regarding their rigidity remain. The figurines, whilst posable to a degree, are made of a soft plastic, which means they are, unfortunately, prone to falling apart, rather than standing strong. The weapons, again, whilst looking good, are just a little too flimsy, in my opinion.

Each set includes at least one such figurine, but If you’re looking for more Locust Soldiers or Delta Squad heroes to expand your universe further, fear not, as you’ll be able to buy these in a “blind-bag” format for the pocket money price of a penny under £2 each.

Niggles aside, If you’re a fan of Gears Of War, and videogame collectables or construction sets as a whole, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than this Meccano to occupy your itchy trigger fingers between sessions on the console shooter.

Individually, the sets aren’t particularly amazing, but they’re fairly priced, well detailed, and are extremely satisfying to build – when brought together as a full range though, these pieces complement each other, and form a fun playset that children of all ages can enjoy.
I do, however, suggest this Meccano is best suited to the little ones wanting to join Dad in the Gears’ universe, but without all the 18 rated content this would normally include.

So put down the gamepad, pick up the Allen key and let your imagination build, and play along, a new chapter in the story.

You can grab the boxes right now from your local Toys R Us, or online at Amazon. The full range will set you back around £50, which is a little more costly than Gears Of War Judgement itself, but will undoubtedly keep fans of the series entertained when the TV is otherwise occupied.

For more information on this, and all their recent product ranges, please visit Meccano UK’s website.

Building The 2013 Meccano Gears Of War Judgement Construction Sets

Building The Meccano Gears Of War Armadillo APC

A week or so ago, I heard word that Meccano UK were holding a press event down in London to launch three new ranges of their popular construction toys, inspired by the Sonic The Hedgehog, Raving Rabbids and Gears Of War video game universes.

To say I was more than a little excited by this branding crossover is an understatement – As a child I adored making all sorts of things with my big box of random Meccano and Lego pieces, from tower-blocks to cars and fully functioning winch operated cranes. I loved it.

I’d been playing video games for a couple of years, but Christmas 1992 brought a Super Nintendo into my life, and that box of assorted blocks and bolts moved from the bedroom floor to the cupboard, only to be lifted out ever so occasionally. At the age of eight, it was starting to lose it’s appeal for me.

Interestingly, that’s the age this newly licensed Gears Of War Meccano range is targeting. (The Rabbids are recommended for ages 7+, whilst the Sonic The Hedgehog sets are aimed at a slightly younger 5+ audience.)

I was super-excited to see how Meccano was going to pitch itself as relevant to the 8 year olds of today. Those who are wired on the pre-imagined worlds and instant gratification of some of the most loved console game franchises available.

After speaking to the guys at Meccano, they invited Teflon from TheSixthAxis down to the press launch, and he ever so kindly got his hands on a Gears Of War Armadillo APC Construction Set for me to have a tinker with.

My immediate thoughts were mostly positive. The kit comes in a sizable box, with plenty of familiar Gears Of War branding and a slightly larger that scale picture of the model itself. Inside there are “80+ parts and pieces”, including fully pose-able 2” figures of Dominic Santiago and a Locust Drone, along with all the expected fixings of nuts & bolts. What’s missing amongst the 13 clear bags this kit contains is most surprising though – there are very few metal pieces, only 4 in fact.

Ironically, my Gears Of War branded vehicle is missing any actual gears, and the traditional metal plates of old I was expecting. The majority of this new look Meccano is moulded plastic. Of course, the sculpted plastic bodywork allows for far more complex and precise shapes than flat panels or rods ever could back when I was playing with Meccano in the early 90s, but nonetheless, my inner child felt massively disappointed by the omission.

Looking briefly at the items in Meccano’s other video game ranges, the Sonic sets are much the same. Thankfully, for those who want a bit of that classic engineering feel with their new toys, the Rabbids have all sorts of projects available, including a battery powered washing-come-time machine and a miniature shopping trolley racing kit which instantly wheeled it’s way onto my Christmas list.

Anyway, I cracked on to my build. Hopeful that the finished piece, marketed not only at children but collectors like myself too, would be more than simply the sum of its parts.

In the box there’s an A4 glossy full-colour instruction booklet, with plenty of easy to understand diagrams. Strangely, although these are numbered, the pieces corresponding to that part of the build could be in any of the included bags, seemingly at random.

I tore them all open, and carefully worked my way into connecting the bland looking grey plastic together, using the tools provided where required. Again, the instruction manual came in useful, with 1:1 scale images of the bolts to help easily identify the correct fixings for each section. I did have a little difficulty with the fiddly nature of the nuts and bolts at times, but this was almost definitely down to the fact that I don’t have very childlike fingers nowadays.

For the most part, the reassuringly lengthy bolts tightened with a couple of satisfying twists of the Allen key, and the nuts sat nestled in handy little guides to stop them slipping out of place. This is a nicely thought out touch which eliminates one of the biggest problems I had with my Meccano as a child.

Midway through the 23 step build I had to undo an earlier fixing as it was impossible to move on until I did so, but aside from that the step-by-step process was extremely easy to follow.

After clipping this and screwing that, before finally applying the assortment of Gears related stickers to make the bland grey shell look a little more exciting, my Armadillo APC was complete.

With regards to both the vehicle itself, and the character figures, the kit looks great and will certainly attract fans of the Gears series. Unfortunately, it all feels much less appealing.
Now don’t get me wrong, It’s a solid toy featuring rotating gun turrets and fully working wheels that seem rugged enough for even the most hyperactive child to play with; The figurines however are a different story. Whilst wonderfully detailed, Dominic Santiago literally fell apart in my hand when I tried to manipulate him into a threatening Lancer wielding pose. This, combined with the smaller pieces of the APC bodywork simply clipping together like an over sized Kinder toy, mean that if your child is of an age where they like to pull things apart and see how they taste, or even just a bit inquisitive, you’re best to steer clear.

There are more toys planned to coincide with the launch of Gears Of War: Judgement in March 2013, including a series of blind-bag mini figures which have proved to be a massive money spinner for Lego and Megabloks with their licensed models in the past.

In my opinion, this is a wonderful selection of toys and a brilliant first attempt to get kids and their dads building real things again, rather than blowing virtual things up. There’s some way to go with the Gears kit, but if Meccano can improve upon their production values and polish up their pieces, there’s no reason these new ranges can’t hit mainstream and sell millions in the same way that Star Wars Lego or Halo Megabloks has. The Gears Of War models are a little misplaced for the market currently too – The toys, although aimed at 8+ year olds, without any real moving parts or electronics, feel more like something I’d have enjoyed at 5 or 6. There’s nothing going on here to appeal to the higher age range, aside from the branding of an 18 rated video game. It’s all a well meaning but badly implemented brand juxtaposition that I sadly don’t think will be enjoyed by many this Christmas.

The Armadillo APC Construction Set is well priced for the market at £24.99 (RRP) and took me roughly an hour to complete (including making notes, I’d expect half that for a competent child or collector), but from what I’ve seen, and what I’ve experienced during this build, I fully expect the Sonic sets and the rather more traditional Rabbids range to do a lot more business in the long run.

Unfortunately, it’s a Mecca-no from me.

For more information on the Armadillo APC, please visit Meccano online by clicking here.

Building The Meccano Gears Of War Armadillo APC