Friday, July 26, 2013

Green Propeller Task Force

That's what I call them, anyway.

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, it's a set of four voyager class TFs: Energon Bulkhead, Universe Springer, HftD Highbrow, and T30 Springer.

Why these four? I guess it all goes back to Energon Bulkhead. When this guy came out, back in the fall of 2004 (!), it was part of the very G1 homage-heavy Energon line and in the midst of the franchise's 20th anniversary. As such, people assumed that Bulkhead (who came before the now-famous bulky autobot bruiser of Animated and Prime) was an homage to G1 Springer. It made sense - Energon also saw characters like Rodimus get homage toys, and Bulkhead was a green autobot helicopter, that, while it lacked a true third mode, could have a ground mode thanks to its ability to combine with its walker-mech "accessory."

Anyhow, one year later, Hasbro releases the orange rescue copter Evac as part of the Cybertron toy line, who then got repainted into an official Springer toy as part of the Universe 2.0 line during the franchise's 25th anniversary. Seeing that I never use UT molds as G1 characters as the repaint was intended, that meant that this Springer would be my UT Springer. This also meant that Bulkhead, also being a UT character, definitely couldn't be the UT version of Springer, despite the design similarities. Now, granted, I had never really been sold on the E. Bulkhead = Springer idea, for a few reasons, but now I had to decide for sure on a separate personality for him. Whoever he would be, in my mind he'd function as UT Springer's mentor and partner/friend (the mustache and his characterization in the show indicated that he was an older 'bot).

Enter 2010's Hunt for the Decepticons Highbrow. Like most of the HftD toy, it was designed to be part of the movie universe (basically a "latter-day" RotF toy), but it was also the first new Highbrow toy, by name, since G1. While he did have blue and gray in his color scheme, it was more dominated by the dark WWII green of his P-38-ish alt mode and therefore the guy didn't look much like G1 Highbrow at all. In fact, they only thing they really have in common is the fact that both of them have twin propellers in alt mode and a head gimmick (G1 = headmaster; HftD = sliding visor).

However, HftD Highbrow sure did have a lot in common with Energon Bulkhead. Both were intended to be older characters in-fiction; both had spinning propeller weapon gimmicks, both had wings on the hips armed with rockets, both had really long lower legs, both had visors covering their eyes, both had alt modes whose noses tilted up when landing gear were deployed, both were predominately green, both had transformable weapon-hands...etc. So, all the similarities, in addition to the toyless Animated Highbrow also being an older, mustachioed Autobot, lead me to conclude that I should rename E. Bulkhead as Highbrow. And thus he has remained. He and his buddy UT Springer have had a few adventures with HftD Highbrow in the past few years, and the three looked great together. What they really lacked was another good Springer to allow UT Springer to have a multiversal counterpart to join in on the fun. I owned Botcon Springer (a CDF Hotshot repaint) for a while, but he didn't quite cut it. RotF Springer was only a legends-class toy, so that wouldn't fly (they really need to remold TFM Incinerator into Springer for TF4). And last fall, they remolded HftD Tomahawk into another pseudo-G1 version of Springer, which I was not going to fall for.

Good thing I didn't, as hasbro just put out Thrilling 30 Springer as part of the Generations line this summer. Who I now own, so he has taken his place as part of the Green Propeller task force. Now, I'd still like a good, deluxe-class G1 Springer (triple-changing not necessary), but thanks to the China Generations remold, I don't think we'll see that anytime soon. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Well, almost.

Ok, so I picked up Springer today too. So sue me.

But that'll be it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last Stand of the Wallet

Ok. The past few posts have been kind of gloom and doom, what with me highlighting my downturn in interest in transformers. I even compiled a list the other day of what remaining items I want that are being released between now-ish and next March (which is as far as we've seen as of SDCC). I plan on not buying anything on that list, which is not overly short, especially if you don't count what are now "pipe-dream" items for me (Metroplex, MP Acid Storm, etc), but instead hope to receive them as gifts over the next year or so. I've sort of tried this before, as I detailed here back about this time in 2010, but I feel like I'm approaching it a bit more seriously this time around. Finances are tighter than ever around here, and I'm going through some other lifestyle changes that make halting (at least mostly) toy purchases for myself a very prudent thing to do.

However, there was one more splurge I had to go for: The Wreckers.

Yep. They've been sighted more and more frequently and locally over the past couple of weeks, and I had the opportunity to find them today. It worked out pretty well, too - I found all five at the first and only store I checked at (one reason I wanted to go ahead and get them was being worried about finding all five, especially with how Impactor is likely to be scalper bait). It was a pretty expensive splurge, but thankfully not as much as I paid for the original Combaticons versions of the molds back in November, thanks to Walmart having deluxes on sale for $13 instead of $15.

I have to say, the Wreckers are pretty cool for what they are. If you know the FoC Combaticon molds, you know their flaws and limitations, but if you can or already have gotten over those (and I pretty much have), the new Wreckers versions bring a lot to the table.

Firstly, there's HOLY CRAP WRECKERS COMBINER Ruinations. This is possibly the greatest plastic nod to a joke in a Transformers comic, specifically when Rotorstorm tried to intimidate Overlord in Last Stand of the Wreckers by announcing, "Wreckers! Combine!," knowing full well that they had no such ability (actually, no Autobots had that ability in IDW continuity at that point). More to the point, this is a NEW Autobot combiner that has never existed, so we're not just dealing with another rehash of Superion. I'm sure this if because Hasbro didn't feel like the Combaticons couldn't be feasibly remolded into any other existing Autobot combiner team, but I'm not complaining. To cap it all off, "Ruination's" head is really that of "Emirate" (a misnomer) Xaaron from the Marvel and IDW comics, who was historically associated with the Wreckers and Impactor in particular. So that's pretty cool. I mean, it's hard to imagine Xaaron hanging out in Impactor's torso and occasionally tearing up the battlefield, but then again, that's what imagination's for.

Secondly, the remolding! All of the Wreckers, of course, got new head molds. They all look great, especially Impactor (who, as I'm sure you know, has never had a toy until now!). Whirl is probably my second favorite, though he could use his antenna on the right side that he typically sports. Topspin, uniquely, gets a second remolded part in that the panel his 5mm port is molded into is now hinged (the port itself is new, too) to lift up - Blast Off can't do this.

Thirdly, the WEAPONS. Holy crap, you get an arsenal here. On top of the weapons from the original versions of the molds, each Wrecker gets his own unique new, big weapon with some kind of action feature. Impactor gets a nice cannon that shoots his trademark harpoon (and it combines with the Onlaught-style twin cannon in such a way as to simulate a harpoon hand), if with a hair-trigger. Topspin gets a DotM Rachet-style rifle with swing-out circular saw (the rifle's barrel is pretty big!). Twin Twist gets a weapon with his spinning drill bits on the front and a small cannon on tip (the trigger for the drills). Roadblock gets and interesting gun with three opening barrels (?). It looks pretty cool. Lastly, Whirl gets a nice, big multi-barreled gun in which said barrels and be pushed forward and spin as they do so. One big problem with all of these, though, is very inconsistent handle tolerances. Some weapons can barely plug into the others at all. All the original weapons work together just fine, but try sticking Whirl's swords onto the sides of his gun. At least on my copy, they just flop down in their ports. Not cool. Luckily, there are enough ways to mount weapons that you can work around this, but still, it's aggravating. I may have to lather some posts or ports up with nail polish.

So, there you have it - my last major TF purchase for myself, or, at least, that's the plan. I'm posting the list of others I want below:

Transformers: Prime: Beast Hunters
·         Cyberverse Legion class (~$5) [$30]
o   Bluestreak  – Jan ‘14
o   Rippersnapper (white/teal aquatic dragon) – out soon
o   Windrazor (green/tan dragon with large wings on arms) – out soon
o   Blight (blue/light blue/yellow dragon) – out soon
o   Air Vehicon (purple/silver flying car- Aug ‘13
o   Ace Vehicon (white repaint of Air Vehicon w/ orange gun) – Jan ‘14
·         Cyberverse Commander class (~$9) [$27]
o   Ultra Magnus (blue/red/silver truck with opaque hammer) – Jan ‘14
o   Bludgeon (green/orange tank with skull head) – Jan ‘14
o   Unicron Megatron (Bronze repaint of Megatron w/purple sword – Jan ‘14)
Transformers: Generations
·         Legends class (~$10 2-packs) [$50]
o   Optimus Prime & Roller (Red truck with smaller blue truck) – out now
o   Megatron & Chop Shop (Grey tank w/reddish beetle) –out late summer/early fall ‘13
o   Starscream & Waspinator (Grey/red/blue jet w/green wasp) -  out late summer/early fall ‘13
o   Swerve & Flanker (red/white truck w/black jet) – Oct ‘13
o   Tailgate & Groundpounder (white/teal sports car w/blue/silver bulldozer) – Jan ‘14
·         Deluxe class (~$15) [$105]
o   Orion Pax (wave 5 young Optimus; red/blue sci-fi truck w/comic) – Aug ‘13
o   Megatron (wave 5 black stealth bomber w/comic) - Aug ’13
o   Thundercracker (wave 6 blue/silver sci-fi jet w/comic) – Sept ‘13
o   Waspinator (wave 7 larger green/yellow wasp w/comic ) – Jan ‘14
o   Armada Starscream (wave 8 red/black/yellow w/clear swords) – Mar ‘14
o   Mini-con 3-pack (names unknown;  wave 8 green/black set of tank, jet, helicopter that combine) – Mar ‘14
o   Skywarp (wave 8 black/purple/grey sci-fi jet) – Mar ‘14
·         Voyager class (~$20)
o   Rhinox (green/grey/gold rhinoceros from Beast Wars show) – Jan ‘14

Friday, July 19, 2013

Botcon/SDCC Roundup 2013

Well, despite my last post, I can still be bothered to do a run-down on the new TFs shown at Botcon and SDCC this year. Interestingly, while Hasbro's SDCC panel was just yesterday, Botcon was only about two weeks ago. Normally, there's a lot more time between the two events. Because of this (I think), Hasbro's SDCC showings weren't a whole lot greater than what they had at Botcon. Already, that brings an air of disappointment to the proceedings, but let's forget that for now and move onto the toys themselves:

-Ok, one more thing first - I'm not covering every single release here like I might've in the past. A lot of what Hasbro had to show were non-traditional TF toys (like the huge showing for the new Construct-bots). I'm really trying to focus on the mainline releases.

Start with Beast Hunters? Sure.

Cyberverse Legion:

-Bluestreak - this is a repaint of BH Legion Smokrescreen (surprise!). For some reason, he has neon green headlights and a neon green repaint of the now-omnipresent chainsaw gun. I pretty much have to get this, being that I already own Smokescreen and Prowl from this mold. Oh, and he's actually blue, for once.

-Rot Gut - a neon green/blue/yellow/repaint of BH Legion Blight (the G1 Blot homage). Pretty sure he's a reference to Blip from IDW's MTMTE, which is enough to spark interest, but unless the repaint every single one of the legion Predacons, I probably won't pick up any of these "extras."

- Windrazor (? I think that's his name) - This is a repaint of BH Legion Cutthroat (or whatever his new name turned out to be). Apparently this one is an Autobot defector, and it's hard not to draw comparisons to Swoop. Still, no draw unless all 5 get repainted.

- Ace Vehicon - repaint of the Air/Jet Vehicon that has normal colors, now in Starscream's "Armada" colors. Thought what is silver in the show is white on the toy. I'll probably get this, just because I'm surprised that this mold got made at all (I'll get the original too). Another damn chainsaw gun, though. Ugh.

Cyberverse Commanders:

- Unicron Megatron - well, it's just a repaint of TFP CV Megatron, but apparently it represents him after he's SPOILERS possessed by Unicron in the BH DVD movie. So, while the colors didn't really grab me, I may have to get this just for it's plot significance (especially since Unicron criminally never got his own domestic release).

- Bludgeon - a remold of BH CV Shockwave, this one is pretty impressive. New skull chest, new skull samurai head, plus an orange version of Optimus' Star Saber. Looks pretty good; I'll probably get it.

- Ultra Magnus - yep, UM gets another CV toy! I kind of called this one, after Um began with his own voyager mold, and then got one remolded from Optimus; now the same has happened here. In other words, this is a remold of TFP CV Optimus. And a pretty good one, too - it even includes a new-mold Forge of Solus Prime. This one's a lock.

Deluxe: Ok, this is where I convert to rant mode.

- Bumblebee repaint - shocker. This is a repaint of the BH BB remold into "Stealth" colors. Admittedly, this was a fun remold and now has even better colors, so there's a lot to like here, but it's still Yet Another Bumblebee.

- Prowl - this is pretty cool. It's obviously a Smokescreen repaint, but they did go out of there way to give him a new head based on the Prowl design from the as-yet-unreleased TFP-based Universe game. So that's pretty danged cool. I want to get this, if only to give my Universe 2.0 Prowl a multiversal buddy, but the mold is pretty iffy and I'd feel like I'd need to get Smokescreen, whom I've avoided until now. Not sure here.

- Bumblebee, Cutthroat, Twinstrike, and Smokescreen - Oh! Deluxe versions of some of the legion Predacons? Smokescreen gets a second shot at having a decent deluxe mold? A newer, better Bumblebee? NO. Shitty upsized legion class toys. That's really it. This is the most embarrassing thing Hasbro has done since I've been an adult collector. Sucktown. At least these are $60 less toy that I have to worry about.


- Optimus Prime - like the new deluxes, this is just an upsized version of the BH CV Commander. It seems to fare a bit better from the upsizing process, and his weapons looks good, but it's still unecessary.

- Predaking - Conceptually, this is another "upsize", but is really more of just a simplified new mold. It does takes some cues from the CV Commander, but not too many. Honestly, this one looks pretty good, maybe even better than the original voyager, my opinion of which has really dropped over the past few months.

I won't say anything about the larger toys except that it was a smart move to make the Weaponizer BB's deco match his look in the show (it originally was going to be some kind of stupid yellow/brown camo).

Ok, Generations!

Legends class (this is really now a 2-pack class, containing a CV Commander-ish toy along with a Micromaster-ish partner)

- Swerve w/Flanker - This is MTMTE Swerve with an Earth mode. Despite getting a G1 Swerve truck toy last fall thanks to the China Generations stuff, this is pretty hard to not want. Flanker looks like a Micromaster and probably homages one.

- Cosmos w/Payload - Cosmos, who last appeared as an impossible to find legends toy for the 25th anniversary line, gets a size upgrade. Payload is a pretty cool looking space shuttle guy. I'll probably skip this. At least it'll maybe drive the aftermarket price of the 25th anny one down?

- Tailgate w/Groundpounder - Like Swerve, this is IDW Tailgate with an Earth mode. He has flames on the hood, a la Prime Tailgate. Looks great. Groundpounder is an interesting little bulldozer with an attack claw weapon mode. If I get Swerve, I have to get Tailgate.

- Shrapnel w/Reflector - Forget that "Sharpshot" nonsense, this is Shrapnel. It's honestly a pretty perfect G1 Shrapnel update, too, in size and appearance. What's funny is that I wanted them to make some legends-ish sized G1 Insecticons many years ago, but we are finally getting them. Reflector has the gun mode, but transforms into the entire camera (with a very long zoom lens). He's probably the weakest of the partner toys, unfortunately. Unless they make the other two Insecticons like this, I'm not sure I'll go for this.


- Dreadwing - this is a remold of the upcoming Stealth Megatron into G2 Dreadwing. New head. Makes a lot of sense. Not sure if I'll go for it.

- Skids - this is straight-up a MTMTE Skids. Even has the cybertonian car mode. I like that in concept, but the toy looks a bit off. Probably skip.

- Goldbug - remold of the IDW-style new BB mold. He gets a new head. Where I will probably skip the BB version, I may go for this one, as it would look like a real upgrade compared to Classics BB. Still don't like that weapon, though.

- Waspinator! - looks really great. Getting it.

- Scoop - Eh. It's certainly a G1 Scoop, and even includes both of his targetmasters. No real interest here.

- Skywarp - repaint of FoC Starscream, this one's a lock. There's a bit more grey on the chest rather than the black I'd prefer, but I can deal. Glad that we're getting all three core seekers from this mold.

- Armada Starscream - that's right! The toy that got me into adult collecting gets a deluxe redo. He looks great. He now gets two swords (energon, not "metal) that detatch from the bottom of his wings so he doesn't lose the wings in bot mode. The missiles come from the front of the intakes this time, and the whole engine apparatus can fold flat on his back like it should be able to. Too friggin' great.

- Unknown minicon trio - these might be my favorite thing from both Botcon and SDCC. New character minicons, military alt modes, integrated, removable hand-held weapons, one is a fembot, they combine Armada Perceptor-style, and they're flippin' black and green! It's like a love letter to me and my fondness for UT. Have to get, and then give to the new Starscream (he has four minicon hardpoints!). Heck, even the jet one is vaguely Seeker-like.


- Rhinox - this is the one for me. Looks pretty much just like he did in the show. He'll go well with Waspinator.

- Doubledealer - remold of Blitzwing. Neat idea, as I've always like Doubledealer, but I'm not sure this was the best choice. He does get a new "face" (the helmet is the same), but I'm not sure if he has multiple faces like BW does. Nice looking, at least.

- Whirl - A very, very G1-looking Whirl. The head is sort of MTMTE, but I would have preferred the whole thing to be more MTMTE. Gerwalk mode was intentional, so that's neat, and I do like his weapons. I'm probably the only person who will skip him in favor of the FoC deluxe version (Vortex remold).

Fan-built bot: Ok, no toy images, but this one is the result of online polling from Hasbro that I participated in. It turns out that the bot will be Windblade, a female Autobot jet (called a "Seeker" by the Hasbro staff). She has a Kabuki/samurai motif, red/black color scheme, and VTOL fans in jet mode a la Thrust. I'll get her, but she won't be out until late 2014 as the capstone in the Thrilling 30 celebration. I really hope we get a G1 Slipstream remold out of her, as we've never had a deluxe female jet before.

And that's it. I guess there's about the right amount of stuff for me to be interested in in regards to me wanting to spend less, but I can't help but think that, outside of Generations, the offerings here were a bit weak. Oh well, there's still some very solid stuff coming around the corner.