Monday, February 18, 2013

Fantastic voyage

I've bought a lot of voyager-class TFs lately. It started with the Generations FoC Soundwave I got a few weeks ago. Then, last weekend, I found his remold, FoC Blaster. This past Saturday, I found the Beast Hunters Voyagers Optimus and Predaking for the first time. Finally, yesterday I found Blaster's wavemate, FoC Grimlock.

I'm actually trying to decide about taking Grimlock back to the store; I feel a bit guilty about spending even more money on TFs after getting so many recently. As such, he's still in package in my car along with the receipt.

Anyhow, Blaster is pretty awesome, being a really good example of remold. Even right next to Soundwave, it's not too obvious that they are the same basic toy. Unfortunately, his databot (?) partner is Steeljaw, which is a Ravage remold. Now, Ravage, which I got back over New Year's, is not great, but it does fold up well into disc mode and has a great deco. Steeljaw has neither of these features going for him, being made of cheap-looking yellow and white plastic and having a disc mode that does not have a flush surface. And, of course, he inherits all the problems that Ravage has. But, overall, Blaster is very much worth the cost. It's a good mold, though I  wouldn't own all three versions (I've passed over Soundblaster/Buzzsaw).

Predaking is interesting. He has some really awesome design/transformation features and some fairly obvious deficits. But overall he looks really good in both modes and basically does what he's supposed to do. I'll discuss him further in a mini-review later on.

Optimus Prime is a horse of a different color. This is easily one of the best voyager class Optimus Prime toys we've gotten in a long, long time. While it is recognizably an update to Optimus' TFP body, it manages to homage many other iterations of Optimus from across the years. It's also one of the best Voyager OPs in terms of being a toy; the figure is simply very fun.

I'll have to get back to you on Grimlock.

My God. It's full of stars.

edit: Ok, I meant to get this up last Sunday. But here you go anyway:

I thought Hasbro really outdid themselves at SDCC last year. You may recall my "How Hasbro Got Their Groove Back" post. This was in the context of last year's Botcon and Toyfair, both of which (Toyfair specifically) were rather underwhelming, new-wise. So SDCC (and later NYCC with Beast Hunters) was a breath of fresh air.

I...I had no idea...

All the stuff I raved about during SDCC last year? It's small potatoes. Today, Hasbro has put on one of their greatest showings in a long, long time. Probably since I joined the fandom a decade ago. I mean, I'm sure plenty of other Toy Fairs/Botcons/SDCCs/NYCCS have had some great gems - MP-01 Optimus Prime, Armada Unicron, Alternators Smokescreen, and Classics come to mind. But I really don't think Hasbro's ever been able to cram so much awesome into one toy show. I'll try to do justice to everything, but forgive me if I leave something out. So, by toyline:

Transformers: Prime: Beast Hunters

-Legion class: No one that we didn't already know of as of this week. Still, I'm excited about that Soundwave.

-Commander class: 2 new guys:

  - Shockwave: very nice; maybe nicer than the voyager. Definitely looks better than the DotM Commander.

  - Starscream: remold of the existing CV Commander Starscream. Looks a bit like the new BH deluxe, but the deco is almost flame-themed, to the point that it looks like it'd be a different Seeker. Not sure I'll go for this one, not being a fan of the original mold.

  - Skystalker: gracile, blue ice dragon with discs that fire from the wings. Not bad looking, and I like how the dragon mouth opens Divebomb-style to reveal the robot head. Not sold on it, but I've got no major objections, either, other than the fact that it's an ice dragon and isn't named Cryotek.

  - Ratchet: ugh. Probably the only toy shown here that I actively dislike. Of all the BH weapons, Ratchet's is the most toy-looking, and that's largely due to the color. Also, like BH BB and Wheeljack, Ratchet is a remold of the original TFP toy, which was never my favorite mold. Oh, and he looks evil as hell, so that works well for him, right? Very low likelihood that I'll get this one.

  - Dreadwing: Apparently not too dead, Dreadwing gets a deluxe mold that is full-on Beast Hunters. The jet mode gets beefier, almost AV-8B style intakes, and the bot mode has wings that open as feathers and has an overall avian look. Weird weapon, though. Not sure about this one.

-Voyager class: Cool stuff here!

  - SHOCKWAVE: I posted about him earlier today, but I'm pretty happy about this guy. We get a better look at the "tank" mode, which take more cues from the Energon and Animated versions than the DotM one. Still digging this.

  - Grimwing: green Predacon, he looks pretty good! Dragon mode was described as a cross between a bear and falcon, which is pretty accurate, but his weapon also doubles as his little monster-parrot buddy thing, as noted in the Guidebook. Strange. Good chance I'll get this guy.

  - Ultra Magnus: I had pics of the prototype up about three posts ago, and here's the real thing! Already knew it was a remold of PRiD Optimus, but it's still great and looks honestly more enjoyable than PRiD Magnus himself. Love the Forge of Solus Prime and add-on armor. Really excited about this one.

-Ultimate class: I guess these are like Supremes? Not sure on the price.

  - Predaking: Apparently a Target exclusive, this guy does look really nice. Instead of the two extra "hydra" head/launchers, he gets two crossbow-type guns, and of course his tail sword. Crazy 21" wingspan. I like it, but may not need it. Price is a big determining factor here.

  - Optimus Prime: OK, so this is really called Dragon Laser OP or something ridiculous, but it's basically the voyager design, but larger and with the wings replaced by this crazy five-headed dragon cannon ring thing. He also has his meat cleaver sword (not the Star Saber) and a dragon head-styled shield that other toys of him lack. The variety makes him more appealing than Predaking in a certain sense, but again, necessity vs. price will play a big role here.

Ok, onto Generations!

-Legends class: firstly, let me say that after the 2 sets of Autbot data discs, it looks like those little automorphing guys are done for. Wave 3 and beyond are (apparently) 2 packs that seem to feature a CV Commander-sized figure with a sub-legends (mini-con-ish?) partner that is a bot/vehicle/targetmaster triplechanger. Pretty ambitious! Also very happy that these are inteded to specifically interact with the Titan class, discussed below...

  - Optimus Prime w/Roller: This is the G1 Optimus design from the IDW Ongoing series, which is pretty cool. The chest windows even pivot open to reveal more mechanical sternum detail. Roller is a little armored truck with a decent bot mode and forms an impressive cannon that Optimus's gun can attach to. Definitely cool.

  - Bumblebee w/Blazemaster: This is interesting. Bumblebee's bot mode is clearly based on his WfC/FoC/IDWRiD body, but has am alt mode that is more of an Earth car. Weird, but it looks good. Blazemaster doesn't look too much like the G1 micromaster, but still has a detachable rotor blade that can attach to BB's arm wheels. He also forms a gun. Pretty neat; I'll be getting it.

-Deluxe class: Ok, here's where I really start to get excited. Starting with wave 5 (the post-Wreckers wave), we're getting new-mold toys based on IDW designs with pack-in (full-sized) comics! Too great.

  - Trailcutter (Trailbreaker): His packaging/comic wasn't shown, but this guy looks great. I think the bot mode is meant to be a bit MTMTE-ish, but it definitely has an Earth truck mode. The camper shell detaches to become the weapon. I'll be happy to finally get a decent-sized G1 version of this guy. And between this, his Kreon, and the BH Ironhide remold, Trailbreaker's finally getting a break this year.

  - Orion Pax: yup! Not Optimus, this toy is based (at least the bot mode) on Optimus's pre-Prime body that first showed up in Spotlight: Blurr many years ago. The cybertronian trcuk mode is new (and featured in the included SL: Orion Pax comic) as are the energon axe and signature ion cannon. It's great that we're getting a dedicated Orion Pax mold; that's something I never saw happening. Really want this.

  - Megatron: this is B-2 Megatron from the IDW Ongoing! Don's design actually surfaced sometime earlier than it did in the comic a couple of years ago, so this is a toy I've wanted for a while. Awesome.

  - Bumblebee: again from the IDW Ongoing, this is BB's "leader" body. Having ditched the VW alt mode, he now transforms into a sports car and has door wings, taking cues from the Movie version. The design is a bit different, with the headlights/fenders forming the shoulders rather than the windshield doing so. Most anticipated BB toy in a while, that's for sure.

-Voyager class: triple changers!

  - Springer: it's pretty much perfect. This is Springer as we see him in Last Stand of the Wreckers, and yes, he actually has two alt modes that are decent and don't suffer and the benefit of the other. Looks to be one of the greatest voyagers ever.

  - Blitzwing: While I would have liked him to be a deluxe to go with the other two 'Con triple changers, this guy does look great. Both jet and tank mode are fantastic and distinct, and the head apparently changes faces Animated-style while otherwise being a G1 homage. Very cool.

-TITAN class: the piece de resistance.

  - Metroplex: I was convinced that we'd never get stuff like this from Hasbro ever again. Metroplex gets a tried-and-true Classics-style G1 update, but, oh yeah, he's also TWO FEET TALL!!!! Apparently someone at Hasbro figured we needed another giant transformer, one for the modern era, and we're getting it. The "Titan" class will cost about $125, but when the toy's this big, it's fine. He comes with a legends class Scamper toy (which hasn't been seen yet, I don't believe) and is still a triple changer in the same vein as the G1 toy. This is really incredible. Makes me feel ok for not dropping the same amount of cash on the newer MP Optimus at TRU!

-Generations: Platinum Series: We already knew about Platinum Optimus and Omega Supreme (neither of which really impresses me for the price), but know we know about two new releases:

  - Ultra Magnus: This is TFP/BH Ultra Magnus, using the same basic design as the BH voyager toy. That said, it's also a remold of Optimus, this time Weaponizer Optimus. This version also has a larger Forge of Solus Prime, which looks a little better than the voyager's, as you'd guess. I've never been too keen on Weaponizer Optimus, but this remold looks good overall, and I love the kind of attention Magnus has been getting this year. Like the BH Ultimates, price is a big determining factor here.

  -  Grimlock vs. Bruticus: no pics of this so far, but this is apparently FoC Voyager Grimlock packaged with the FoC Combaticons with more metallic paint apps. Sounds kind of neat, and I don't have Grimlock yet, and if Bruticus looks good enough, I'd be fine with handing my retail version off to my son. However, it's pretty crazy that there's yet another Combaticon redeco set. Maybe Hasbro saw how many people missed out on the SDCC version. I'd really love to see the pics so I can know if I need to pass on retail Grimlock or not.

-Generations: Masterpiece: Yep, more money-draining releases. No pics yet, though.

  - Acid Storm: Apparently a repaint of the remolded MP Seeker, like Thundercracker was last year. Not sure if it's a more cartoon/Bot Shots-like deco or more like the camo of the Universe deluxe. I'm interested, but I don't know that I need to spend ~$75 on Acid Storm. Sunstorm would have been a no-brainer, but I guess Hasbro was trying to avoid copying Takara. We'll see.

  - Soundwave: Comes with all 5 tapes in package! I'm assuming "all 5 tapes" means Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Rumble, Frenzy, and Ravage. The Japanese version just got released and looks fantastic, so I'm very happy this is being released here. Hopefully the price is reasonable. Some people are worried about the deco in reference to the Takara version, but I'm not. 

Ok, what about Kre-O?

-Microchangers: Oh man, they have went into over drive with these guys. Both waves 2 and 3 were shown. Here's the list:

  1. Arcee: Nice! A good G1 version, but still a nice Airrachnid counterpoint
  2. Acid Wing (Acid Storm): Looks good. Same as Sunstorm.
  3. Blot (Blight?): To go with Abominus (below)
  4. Bombshell (Hardshell?): A G1 version - very creepy!
  5. Bulkhead: The Animated version. I'm digging it.
  6. Groove: First Kreon motorcycle! Not a bad attempt, either.
  7. Hoist: Serviceable, but not too exciting.
  8. Scourge: G1 version; good alt mode, but bot mode suffers for lack of wings.
  9. Vehicon: A lot more blue than the multi-pack ones. Looks better, though.
  10. Lugnut: Seriously? This is awesome.
  11. Perceptor: Good bot mode, fun microscope mode that is close to the G1 toy's.
  12. Powerglide: Not bad. Plane mode is similar to Lugnut's.
  13. Beachcomber: Pretty good, but again, not too exciting.
  14. Cheetor: Fun; we need even more BW Kreons, though!
  15. Guzzle: very LSotW, looks great.
  16. Huffer: Don't care for the character, but pretty spot-on.
  17. Kickback: Neat, though not as spot-on as Bombshell.
  18. Long Haul: All right! The Constructicons are completely rounded out.
  19. Nemesis Prime: Decent truck mode, but overall more a Black Convoy.
  20. Nosecone: Looks really goo; evidence of Technobots down the road?
  21. Ramjet: Yes, please! Same as Dirge.
  22. Seawing: To complete the Seacons! Not bad.
  23. Sharkticon: Really fun. I like it; the mace is ace.
  24. Thrust: Again, same as Dirge, but now all the normal Seekers are complete.
-Microchangers Combiners:

  - Abominus

  - Piranacon

  - Defensor

-Random stuff:

  - Autobot Base

  - Special Edition Kreons
  1. Starscream
  2. Optimus Prime
  3. Ironhide
  4. Soundwave
  5. Megatron
  6. Bumblebee     

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Yes, it's that time again - every year close to Valentine's day, New York City hosts its annual Toy Fair, wherein Hasbro shows off its latest wares.

While their presentation isn't until later today (I think), pictures have emerged of a Hasbro-published Beast Hunters "guidebook" of sorts. And it's pretty awesome - a combination of pack-in catalog and faux-intercepted lab journal by TFP Shockwave, all about each of the Predacons and how he made them.

What grabbed me firstly about this was that it gives us our first look at the TFP Voyager Shockwave toy! You know me, I love my Shockwaves. I was happy to see that, like Beast Hunters Smokescreen, Shockwave's actual design is unaltered from his appearances in TFP Season 2, but he includes some removable (orange) armor pieces to get him ready to take on Predacons in both robot and tank mode. Yes, that's right, he appears to turn into a tank once again (it is cybertronian, as per usual). The cannon mounted on the left arm (not sure if it is removable, a la DotM and Animated Shockwaves) is the same main cannon for the tank mode, and also houses the main gimmick - the barrel splits open to reveal a missile launcher, and something in this assembly spins. It's kind of like a smaller version of Cybertron Defense Red Alert's missile, I guess. I also like how the shoulder armor attaches to the tank to look like claws; that's fun.

Anyhow, the fictional contents of the guidebook are great too. It's pretty humorous, with Shockwave honestly noting his mistakes (after making Hun-Grrr, he notes: "Nor more 2-headed dragons") and we get an idea of the individual Predacons' personalities, which is good when Hasbro decides to make an ENTIRE FACTION all have the same alt mode. And while all the Predacons are dragons, I've been impressed with how Hasbro has been able to stretch that idea and make most of them pretty unique. In fact, the only evidence we have so far even of repainting/remolding is that we know, at least in the Rage of the Dinobots comic, Ser-Ket has the same body type as Ripclaw, and the Scourge revealed in the guidebook is a retool of Lazerback with a new dragon head (not sure about the bot mode head). Anyway, here's the list of Predacons in the guidebook:

  1. Predaking
  2. Lazerback
  3. Ripclaw
  4. Grimwing
  5. Skystalker
  6. Scourge
  7. Hun-Grrr
  8. Windrazor (Cutthroat)
  9. Rippersnapper
  10. Blight (Blot)
  11. Twinstrike (Sinnertwin)
  12. Abominus (combined mode of #s 7 - 11, of course)
So that's 12, right there. Of course, we know that the neo-Terrorcons that make Abominus are legion toys, and I'd bet that they won't get larger ones, but that still leaves six Predacons that will most likely get deluxe or larger toys. The only known ones are Predaking (Ultimate, Voyager, and CV Commander), Lazerback (deluxe), and Ripclaw (deluxe). Grimwing also is the build-kit partner for Kre-O Trailbreaker, but it doesn't have a bot mode or anything; Ripclaw gets her own "transforming" build kit and Kreon, but the colors (and maybe gender) are off.

Back to the "Terrorcons" for a moment - we've known about Twinstrike/Sinnertwin for a while (since NYCC), but we just found out this week that we're getting all five, and as a combiner, to boot. In G1, not all of them are dragons; only Hun-Grrr and Sinnertwin are distincly reptilian, and for whatever reason are both 2-headed dragons. Cutthroat was most probably a pterasaur, but Rippersnapper was a shark with legs and arms, and Blot was...well, something. No one really knows. Now, they're all dragons, in keeping with the theme. Rippersnapper has been pretty effectively translated into an aquatic dragon, and Windrazor/Cutthroat is more a wyvern that pterasaur now. Blot has become the more clearly reptilian Blight (same basic body design), and obviously the two double-headed guys haven't lost their draconian features. Abominus himself, while not seen in color yet, looks pretty good for a small combiner that lack real hands and feet. He does have his own head, concealed within Hun-Grr, but the more monstrous look of the lack of hands really works for the character.

Anyhow, I'm sure Toyfair will yield more Predacon/BH info later on, so I'll try to come back and chime in.

Monday, February 4, 2013


The one that started it all.

About this time in February 2003 I began collecting Transformers. 

Don't get me wrong - my childhood was inundated with the converting plastic robots, having been born just a year before the toyline appeared on American shelves. G1 was a big part of my early childhood, and G2 a great thing for a 10 year old to have around. My last Transformer I got, as a child, was Beast Wars Waspinator. After that, I moved away from toys in general and began to get more interested in video games and the outdoors, both of which are expensive interests. I still had a lingering interests in Transformers, and still played with my cousins' growing Beast Wars collection, but it wasn't something I was personally invested in. 

That changed in 2003. Having watched the 1986 Animated Movie in the summer of 2002 for the first time in, basically, forever, my fondness for the toys was rekindled. My dorm buddies and I watched the film again very early in 2003, leading me to look up, online, the current state of the Transformers franchise. I discovered that the toyline of the day was called Transformers: Armada, and it had a lot of familiar faces, some unfamiliar faces with familiar names, and some altogether unknown. One in particular caught my eye - Starscream.

I don't know when I my affinity for Stracream began, but those images of Armada Starscream somehow rekindled it. He was just so, I don't know, dynamic. It's a robot that turns into a fighter jet. How can you not like that? At any rate, a few weeks pass, and, suddenly, I get the desire to initiate my first Hunt. My good buddy Doug (you can read more about him in my very first post here) humored and joined me. My college town, at that time, had 2 Walmarts, 1 Target, 1 Toys R Us, and 2 Kmarts as the major Transformer retailers. Not bad, but as Starscream was a wave 1 Armada Maxcon (good lord, I miss those size class names), and it was now two months into 2003, he had started to get scarce. I remember us, mid-Hunt, walking into one of the Kmarts, which was in the midst of closing - it was awful, with stuff strewn everywhere. It was no luck, just like all the other stores. It was only the last place on our route, the 2nd Walmart (the one farthest from the dorm) that finally yielded an Armada Starscream to my open wallet. 

Being an Armada toy, Starscream not only included a fun mini-con (Swindle, the red F-1 racer, who makes a good arm-mounted blade), but also electronics at the $20 price point! He also  came with a mini-comic/catalog (that actually featured him & Swindle) and, yes, somewhat limited articulation. But he was great. 

Of course, in short order my collection grew. I believe Blurr (with Incinerator) was next; I think I got him at Target. Jetfire and Commettor, my largest to date (an Ultracon!), was third, bought on a date night in with a tolerating and patient girlfriend. He particularly was cool, though even then I was beginning to get dissatisfied with the limited articulation. That was partially allayed with my fourth purchase, Supercon Optimus Prime (with Over-Run), which I bought at Toys R Us on my way out of town for vacation. It was the 2nd variant, I think, as I gave it one of Reissue Tracks' extra Autobot symbols later that year. 

Basically, it was all downhill from there. I bought a large number of Armada toys, though I was still pretty selective and anti-repaint at that point, so I passed on a lot of things like Sideways (still need to get him!), the original versions of Cyclonus and Demolishor, Thundercracker (got him off ebay in 2009) and others. Unicron was a big deal, though. And once Energon hit shelves near the end of the year, I was all in. I bought all of wave 1 - save Optimus and Treadbolt - in one fell swoop once they hit the local Walmart (not the same one I got Starscream at, if you care). That was a fun night, as was that Christmas, when I got Alternators Smokescreen, Energon Scorponok, and ordered MP-01 Optimus Prime (well, Convoy) for myself shortly thereafter. I had also, earlier in the year, begun to catch up on Robots in Disguise releases, which didn't take too long. 

So, since then, I've been an avid Transformer collector. Energon gave way to the still-incredible Cybertron, while Universe and Alternators (not to mention the TRU G1 reissues) filled in gaps on the side. Classics (and, to an extent, the Titanium Series) was a great thing to shoehorn in between Cybertron and the 2007 Movie line. Animated was also fantastic, if more limited in scope than Cybertron, and had the sequel to Classics, Universe (2.0) to increase the G1ness of my collection. Revenge of the Fallen gave us a bunch of stuff we never thought we'd see, and was follwed up by the great Hunt for the Decepticons/Reveal the Shield and Generations lines, the latter of which introduced War for Cybertron video game toys to us. Dark of the Moon was, in some ways, an inferior toyline to RotF, but it had some great individual items. Alongside it, the Kre-O line was unveiled, which has been fantastic. Transformers: Prime finally got off the ground in late 2011 with First Edition toys, which infamously not completely released in the US. I'm thankful that I didn't fully buy into the "FE rush," as most got released later in 2012. TFPrime came into its own early in 2012, which has been pretty good and looks to get only more interesting with the transition into Beast Hunters. Oh, and the video game world of Fall of Cybertron has been given full rein of the second iteration of the Generations toyline, producing a few great gems. 

While I've been meaning to cut back on collecting for a while now, and have done so in some minor ways, it's hard not to get excited about the new Transformers as we learn about them, either officially through Hasbro or through online leaks. I can say this - I'm stoked for Toyfair this weekend. Expect my response to be posted here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Operation: gimmickry

My mom found FoC Soundwave and Soundblaster at the TRU near her work, and was kind enough to pick up Soundwave for me. I'm passing on Soundblaster, as cool as he looks, mostly because I don't care for Buzzsaw and I think the purple "dark energon" on Soundwave makes more sense. Plus, the upcoming Blaster toy is a remold of this mold, and I don't think I need all three version. (She was actually dispatched to the TRU to hopefully find a replacement FE Bulkhead -mine has a sort of defective right chest panel - but no luck)

Anyway, Soundwave/blaster is the first voyager class toy from the WfC/FoC toylines, and he's a doozy. After getting used to increasingly smaller voyager toys over the past few years, Soundwave is a beast. And while the deluxe version from 2010 is still pretty good, this one captures the proportions and overall look of the game design much better.

The key difference, of course, is the gimmick that voyager Soundwave is literally built around. While the deluxe could store his guns in his chest cavity, the voyager has space for his minions. I've already gone over how the datacons work, but I am very pleased to say that the actual deployment/ejection gimmick works pretty well. I say this because a lot of others online have reported their Soundwaves having datacons stuck in the cavity and other problems. So far, Laserbeak has had no issues with his boss and transforms upon ejection - it's pretty awesome. My 5-year-old loves it; he'll probably get Soundblaster for his birthday. Basically, this is one of most successful voyager toys and Soundwaves, well, in the history of the franchise. Good on Hasbro for having the gumption to go for it.