Saturday, December 20, 2014

Transformers of the Year

So, here we are. I'm actually beginning to type this on December 30th, so a little earlier than normal, which is always iffy since Hasbro likes to do 11th-hour releases at the end of the year (like me finding T30 Dreadwing last New Year's Eve). Without further ado:

Best Legion class: Grimlock - For most of the year, we didn't get any new Cyberverse toys, legion OR commander; it appears that subline died with Beast Hunters (well, at least until now, since the neo-RiD legion wave 1 is hitting stores). Anyhow, Walmart did get a bunch of Age of Extinction exclusives, including a single wave of 4 single-packed legion class repaints from previous lines. One  of the best things about the Beast Hunters Cyberverse series (a great series all around) was the Abominus Terrorcon molds, and I always thought that Rippersnapper, admittedly the weakest of the bunch, wold nonetheless make a decent Grimlock. Lo and behold, we get one! Granted, he uses AoE Grimlock's more coppery/orange colors, but since it's a TFP base mold, I'm using it as some version of TFP Grimlock anyhow. I DO wish he had been packed with BH Optimus's sword; there is actually ANOTHER Grimlock repaint of this mold (more black, some red) that does include that sword, but it isn't getting released domestically or something.

Runners up: I would have said Rot Gut, as he is essentially a TFP version of MTMTE's Blip, a terrific minor character, but this wave didn't get released in the US. A shame, as I was hoping to be able to build an Abominus from repaints, but neither Hn-Grrr nor Twinstrike have ever shown signs of getting repaints at all. Intead, I'll probably guess neo-RiD Steeljaw that has just been released, mainly for the awesome animalistic car mode and werewolf bot mode.

Best Commander class (traditional: tiny toys of big characters): Starscream. This guy is such a better Commander Class Starscream than the TFP version(s) that it's not even funny. It's also the best small version of Starscream overall, in terms of kibble management and whatnot. The Waspinator targetmaster is a great touch, finally giving us a set of toys that accurately depicts the size difference between G1 and BW transformers. I like that the null ray cannons have handles that can be used by both 3mm holes and traditional 5 mm holes - that's pretty swank.

Runners up: Again, I would have picked BH Ultra Magnus for (like his voyager counterpart) being a great remold of an Optimus toy and introducing the Forge of Solus Prime into Cyberverse, but his wave (also including the ONLY official domestic TFP Unicron toy as a Megatron repaint and a Bludgeon remold of Shockwave), tragically didn't make it to the US either. I may have to track down at least Magnus sometime...

Best Commander class (newer: normal scale toys of tiny characters): This might have to be a tie between Swerve and Tailgate; they make such a great pair and despite having Terran, not Cybertronian, alt modes, they look like they jumped right off a page of MTMTE. However, I also have Shrapnel and Cosmos and they are fantastic too. In fact, this class (sans targetmaster partners, sadly) is probably the single biggest thing I'm looking forward to from Combiner Wars. These guys are a lot like a new basic/scout class, but they also manage to handle their own slightly smaller scale very well. The only ones I haven't gotten by now are Bumblebee and Cliffjumper (they do look a bit iffy). No real runners up.

Best Deluxe class: Man, this is hard...this is where Hasbro really banged it out this year. I suppose for purely personal reasons I choose Armada Starscream. He's a great mold anyway, and the dynamic look of the original toy deserved the larger range of movement that the new deluxe has. I DO wish he had come with a tiny version of Armada Swindle, but his twin energon swords (a much better alternative to the original's one wing sword) and the Centuritron wavemate, made of 3 minicons, more than makes up for Swindle's absence.

Runners up: A lot! Jhiaxus, Centuritron, FoC Skywarp, ARCEE, Windblade, etc. It's easier to list what I didn't like, which includes Skids/Crosscut, Rattrap, Chromia, etc.

Best Voyager: AoE Drift. Yes, the remold of DotM Skyhammer into a Samurai. I did not care much for most of AoE, but in lieu of them making an actual triple-changing Drift, this toy made a great substitute.

Runners up: Honestly, I haven't been as impressed with many of the Generations Voyager this year. Rhinox looked good but needs a lot more paint. I think I'd have to pick Slog here, because he's the first Sludge update...EVER. And he looks pretty good, too/ I got one for my boy for Christmas, along with the TRU Swoop Evolutions 2-pack.

Leader class: All of these looked sub-par this year, and of the three (four? Does AoE FE Optimus count?). I guess Jetfire is the best, but even he suffers from needless fake kibble and hollow limbs.

Runners up: Grimlock looks a little better than either large-scale AoE Optimus toy.

I think that sums it up. So, Transformer of the Year?

I pick....Swerve. Seriously, he's a triumph of both engineering (simple and still gets the job done) and good transformers fiction from MTMTE. I think he technically came out last year, but didn't really become easy to find until this summer or so. SO much character in a tiny, affordable package!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Season of the Witch

Well, hello there! It's been about 2 months since I posted on Swerve and Tailgate, and my birthday has come and gone with Halloween on the horizon! I got exactly enough birthday cash to get Jhiaxus, Windblade and voyager Drift (on sale for $20) the other day. 

It says something that my only non-exclusive AoE toy is a remold of a DOTM toy. Drift is a strange bird of a figure but in the end works pretty well. I'm not happy about having to sand down his sword handles, but he's well armed besides. Windblade is a toy I initially was very excited for, and then not very much, but once I got to see some online in-hand pics, it looked like she'd be ok after all. I do wish she felt more solid - a lot of connections in both modes are held with friction - but overall she's a good deluxe. She needs to be remolded into a G1 Slipstream, though. Jhiaxus hits a lot of buttons. I was already a big fan of the base Starscream mold for what should be by now obvious reasons, and Jhiaxus is an interesting character who never had his own toy aside from a late-RiD Kaybee exclusive repaint of deluxe BM Jetstorm, which this new toy for whatever reason draws its deco from. Still, that means he's pretty close to being a Halloween transformer, which is never reall a bad thing. I love the new parts as well, and can't wait to get deluxe Armada Starscream out of storage at my parents' to compare in-hand.

So, I might only have Arcee left for the year...I did see legends Acid Storm last weekend, but passed on it for now. NYCC did reveal a Thundercracker remold of the new leader class Jetfire, but I don't think I need a non-MP Thundercracker that big, and that mold with its fake chest cockpit sucks besides. I'm glad to have these three new TFs, but am still looking forward to unloading many others in the collection and just picking some up sporadically.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Me Grimlock no dino, me dragon!


Ok, as you can see above, I've made my second (counting CB Dino-rider Lockdown...) AoE purchase. Most likely my last one, too. This here is, officially, AoE Legion class Grimlock, who ships in a Walmart exclusive case with Stinger, Optimus and BB. However, in a weird move, hasbro decided to not make ANY new CV molds for AoE, despite showing some new ones for the upcoming RiD show. So we're stuck with repaints! Optimus and BB are barely worth talking about, since they are repaints of former movie legion/legends toys that inevitibly are indistinct from prior releases. Optimus is a real shame in that regard, having his evasion mode artwork on the box with the worn-down look that most of his toys have avoided in the AoE lines. Stinger is interesting only because this is the first toy of his to be released; too bad it's only TFP Knock Out with Different Black Stripes. Suck-town. Anyway, Grimlock is nice because the Rippersnapper mold already had some Grimlock-like traits (beast rear legs become arms, legs form from even split beast parts, tiny forelimbs dangle uselessly off robot mode, backpack, etc). The paint job is AoE Grimlock's, but it's a much more toyetic approach, like most of his other releases. His dull orange is meant to emulate copper, and he has some black and silver.

A few other things:

I don't fault them for not giving the ROTF Optimus mold a weapon, because AFAIK it was never remolded for CV to be able to carry any. However, at least Stinger and Grimlock are both 3mm capable molds that originally came with weapons (two in knock out's case), and I'm assuming BB is the DOTM remold of the ROTF mold, so it's disappointing that they aren't equipped with armaments. Grimlock would have looked cool with a sword or maybe the BH hammer weapon. 

This toy doesn't represent AoE Grimlock for me. I wouldn't mind having a representation of that character, but none of his new-mold toys interest me, and my mold-origin OCD means that this Grimlock hails from the TFP universe. I ignored the comics that depicted the FOC Dinobots as part of TFP, so while this guy doesn't have to look like FOC Grimlock, his dragon alt mode, I feel, needs explaining. Similarly to how I was going to use the (pretty much unreleased) TFP BH CV Dimebom as a Predacon-ized Swoop, Grimlock here as pretty much the same deal. Basically, shockwave attempted to transfer the Dinobots' sparks into Abominus-type combiner-capable Predacon bodies. 

(As an aside, it turns out that there are two more AoE legion Dinobot repaints coming - one is the cutthroat mold in AoE Strafe's blue, but looks a bit more like Cryotek, and the other is a rather inexplicable second repaint of Rippersnapper into Grimlock, this item with a slight different color layout, including some red paint apps)

Any way, this is a neat little repaint and will go well with a CV collection, especially the BH releases. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Things change...apparently

It's been a while! My last actual post was back in February, and other than the upcoming objects of discussion, I haven't bought any TFs for myself since February when I picked up Generations FoC Skywarp, Armada Staracream, Centuritron, and legends Optimus/Roller and Megatron/Chopshop.

So any way, I managed to find both Swerve/Flanker and Tailgate/Groundpounder in one day and decided to pick up both sets. They were desirable when first revealed, and I'd kind of set aside a place in my mind for MTMTE-based toys, so these factors combined with my reasoning that I hadn't bought any TFs for myself in half a year (no, I'm not counting the CB Dino-rider Lockdown I got in May...) and they were purchased. 

I'm glad I got them. Unlike many current or upcoming TFs, they don't seem to suffer from cheapness or wonky design choices - they feel just like any "normal" quality TF, and actually feel better (I guess?) than a lot of "normal" Commander-scale toys. They are also interesting in that they are the first commanders I've gotten that are meant to be in the same scale as typical deluxe, voyager, etc TFs; that is, they are supposed to be small guys, kind of like what people wanted classics bumblebee to be when they found out we were getting a deluxe. It actually works pretty well, especially since the only other competition was HFTD Windcharger, a scout toy (amusingly, tailgate is being remolded into a new windcharger). I'm trying to say that I don't mind the difference in size b/t tailgate and windcharger (and as such would did the new windcharger superfluous) and find their smallness compared to deluxe autobot cars perfectly acceptable, despite having a deluxe Generations Swerve from 2 years ago (the only other tailgate I have is the TFP CV repaint of Cliffjumper). 

Anyhow, a larger point to discuss is that my much-baleyhooed stepping away from TF collecting has seemed to, by-and-large, actual start occurring. Again, I've bought a total of SEVEN individual TF releases in 6 months time. That hasn't happened, I'm pretty sure, since I began collecting in February of 2003. Fortunately, pretty much nothing from the Age of Extinction line(s) interests me - ESPECIALLY the normal deluxes/voyagers/leaders - and not too much from Generations is tempting me, either. I mean, I'll of course get the new G1 Arcee deluxe when it arrives, and I might go for one of the two Leader Megatron releases, but there isn't much beyond that. I've pretty much given up on owning Metroplex. 

It's a weird thing. I mean, I'd already made a post last summer about "giving up" TFs for lego, and while a lot of Generations/BH releases last fall/winter sucked me back in for a while, I've now pretty much transitioned to that. The next big step is to truly begin selling off big parts of my collection (I still intend to keep Primes, Starscreams, Megatrons, Magnuses, etc), but that's not easy to do now that I've moved and all of my TFs (save for tailgate, swerve, their partners and CB lockdown) are an hour away in storage at my parents' basement. I guess I'll just have to try bringing one bin home at a time and sell my way through it, but either way it's still going to be a long process, and one I'm now somewhat reluctant to execute since my son is pretty hight interested in the toys. Luckily, he seems to like Legos more, and a lot of those sets that I bought "for myself" are now functionally his anyway, so that helps divert attention from a shrinking TF collection.

As a result of all this, don't expect a whole lot of activity here for the foreseeable future. I'll still want to do some mini-reviews and updates from time to time, but otherwise my time is being diverted elsewhere. Even the lego blog I started this spring hasn't been updated since then, and I've definitely been buying lego, so you see what I mean.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almost there

So, the New York Toyfair is coming soon (two weeks or something) with the London Toyfair come and gone, so info regarding Hasbro's new releases is starting to leak!

So far, of note:

- Amazon (maybe other retailers?) is releasing a $60 First Edition Leader class Optimus from Age of Extinction, the fourth movie. This is notable because hasbro already revealed an AoE leader Optimus toy back in October at the NYCC that is going to be released in the Generations line (apparently Generations this year will include both Classics/Thrilling 30-type stuff AND the movie toys; we've seen no indication yet that there will be an independent movie toyline). So, the two leader toys are definitely different, but both kind of suck in that they are super-shellformers and do a terrible job of translating Optimus's new AoE robot design into toy form. Also curious is the pricing - while this FE Leader certainly has the type of packaging we've now become used to from the Generations Platinums Edition toys, the toy itself doesn't seem to have any features that make it look really different from the Generations Leader - both handle kibble similarly, have similar weapons, and both have chromed parts. Whatever. I do really hope that we see a better large-scale Optimus with this design before long, though.

- BBTS confirmed that we will be getting Generations deluxe toys of Arcee and Chromia! FINALLY. They are supposedly in the wave after Tankor, Rattrap, and Crosscut. I know we now have a precedent of sometimes getting two versions of the same mold in the same wave (FoC Soundwave and Soundblaster), but I really hope these two are different molds. Arcee in particular I'd like to be the WfC design that IDW has been using since RiD started. Really hoping these get shown at toyfair!

- Rescue Bots are getting a prehistoric makeover....most, if not all of the robot cast is getting redesigned with not only new vehicle modes, but also other (presumably larger) toys with dinosaur alt modes! So far, only one actual toy image has been revealed, that of Optimus Primal (yes, that's the toy's name!). Amusingly, he transforms quite a bit like BW Megatron's first toy, with the right arm being the T-Rex (yep, that's his alt mode) head and the left being the tail (complete with drill bit tip)! His new, smaller toy (normal RB size) is a monster truck, with Heatwave now being a firefighting speedboat and Bumblebee being a motorcycle. It seems that Blades might become a jet, and Heatwave's dino mode appears to be a sauropod, with Boulder being a triceratops. The others are sort of unclear so far. Still, I wish Hasbro was willing to make these kind of alt mode changes in a mainline, such as the movies or TF: Prime. Ah, well.

Ok, that's kind of it for now. I will add that I've done a couple of mini-reviews (haven't done any in a while!) - Generations deluxe Waspinator and Predacons Rising Sky Lynx, on the G1 and Prime pages, respectively. Both are great deluxes.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Transformers of the Year, 2013! (Late edition)

Ok, this is just C & P'ed from my Allspark post:

Ok, I figure that it's time for this thread. It's the brand's 29th anniversary, though Hasbro started celebrating early! Broken down by line, then size class:

TF Prime: Beast Hunters (technically, some of these were available this time last year, but I figure it's close enough that I could include anything from the line):

-Cyberverse Legion: Soundwave. Looks great in both modes and was sorely missed as a non-BH character that should have had a toy earlier. I admit I gave him Flamewar's gun to replace his chainsaw gun, but otherwise he's basically perfect. Runners-up: All the predacons/Abominus (not sure if he shouldn't have his own category, but whatever) for being a great successor to RotF Legends Devastator, and Airachnid for being better than her deluxe mold.

- Cyberverse Commander: Three-way tie between Optimus, Beast Blade Optimus, and Optimus/Thunderclash from Target. This is a truly fun mold that, while deviating from the design of the show and larger toys, looks great and has an interesting transformation. The original gets points for evoking the aborted "Monster Convoy" Armada design. Beast Blade has the awesome shield/wings and the swirled plastic "camo" otherwise reserved for Deluxe Beast Hunters, and Thunderclash cleverly became available around the time of his fun MTMTE appearance, in addition to inverting the MW repaint order. Runners-up: Hardshell for being another great mold with fun transformation, and Trailcutter for being a great remold.

- Deluxe: Ripclaw. She's the most solid non-cyberverse Predacon toy. Her dragon mode is great; she has a traditional-ish but fun tranformation with a few fourishes, and has a great weapon while being an atypical female. It's a shame she wasn't in the show. Runners-up: Starscream, for being a much for fun/toyish version of the character (though I still love FE Starscream) and Dreadwing for being bananas but still a fun mold.

- Voyager: Sharkticon Megatron. C'mon. Runners-up: Optimus for being one of the most fun Voyager Optimuses in a long time and Magnus for being a great remold of PRiD Optimus and still better than PRiD Magnus.

- Ultimate: Optimus, if only for its over-the-top nature. I'll admit that I didn't buy either of these molds, so not much to say.

Generations: Man, lots of good stuff here.

-Legends 2-packs: Unfortunately, I only have the data disks and none of the more cyberverse-style 2packs. Of the disks, I'd say my favorite individual one is Ratbat. Looks great and works well. Runners-up would be Sundor, which has the best colors for that great mold, and Ramhorn, the only quadruped that really works (and does so well). I do plan on getting the Optimus, Starscream and Megatron sets, of which the Starscream/Waspinator duo seems best.

-Deluxe: Ruination/Xaaron. Yeah, it's a bit cheaty to do a 5-way tie, but this was just a great way to remold Bruticus, It allowed us to finally get an Impactor toy, put some kind of Whirl on shelves while he's a big thing in MTMTE, and allowed the Swindle mold to be used on a character it makes more sense for. The new weapons add a lot of value too. Runners-up: Thundercracker and Orion Pax.

- Voyager: Tie between Springer and Sandstorm. The latter may be a bit more fun in my book, but it's great to see this kind of engineering crossed with such extensive remolding. Runners-up: Even though I don't have him yet, I know Rhinox looks to be pretty great, and I thought Blaster was another fantastic remold that worked well (his only shortcoming was Steeljaw).

- Titan: duh. See below.

- Platinum releases: I'd love to have Platinum Predaking. Magnus was a valiant attempt, but overpriced and not better than the voyager BH Magnus.

Masterpiece: Soundwave. I bought one and then returned it for money reasons, but it seemed great for a much better price than from Japan. However, Acid Storm was very tempting as well.

Construct bots:
- Scout - Ironhide is probably the best all around scout bot. I like the Seekers a lot too, and I don't have anything from wave 3, but Ironhide is very satisfying.

- Elite: Optimus is probably my favorite. I like the clear plastic and the new parts used to differentiate him from the 2-pack version; about the only thing he lacks compared to the 2-pack version is the missile-lanching "ion" cannon. I remedied this by giving him Blitzwing's version of the gun. Runner-up: I don't have him yet, but Shockwave looks great.

- Triple-changer/2-pack: Bltizwing is the only one of these 4 I own, but I like that he manages to feel pretty much like his own bot without having many unique parts; even his head is a remold of Ironhide's. Runners-up: If I had to pick, I'd say BB because of his cool jet mode and Predaking, whose dragon mode is fantastic.


- Boxed sets: I only got Trailbreaker and Windcharger, and of the two I think I'll ultimately side with WIndcharger, because Cohrada is so awesome in its simplicity. My son did just get Ripclaw for Christmas, and it's ok.

- Microchanger wave1: Probably Airachnidis best, with Springer and Blast-Off not far behind.

- Microchanger wave 2: Lugnut is pretty darned awesome, but so are Arcee and Bulkhead. Lots of other great ones in this wave if I'm honest, though.

- Microchanger wave 3: Sharkticon is my favorite, followed by Long Haul and Thrust.

- Microchanger Combiners: I have only bought Devastator for myself, and I honestly was less than impressed with the QC (mostly joint or connector strength), something of a first for Kre-O for me. I've gotten Superion and Pirhanacon for my son. I'd probably get Bruticus, Predaking and Abominus for myself if I were more confident in them.

- Custom Kre-Os: Starscream looks the best, thought Megatron and Optimus are cool too.

TF of the Year: Titan class Metroplex. C'mon - the fact that this thing exists is something of a miracle. I don't have it yet, but there's no way I'm going to miss out on having the biggest TF ever, even if I buy him at full price. His only downside is that Hasbro didn't create a larger range of new G1 Cyberverse/legends to go with him. Well, and the fact that he's functionally an online exclusive (I still have never seen one at retail).

Post-holiday goings-on

Ok, it's 2014! Holy crap. I don't think I could have imagined how the year 2014 would have been when I was a kid, but I have to admit it's somewhat underwhelming, what with the lack of hoverboards and flying cars. Oh well. Maybe 2017? We'll see.

The good news is that it's now actually the Transformers' 30th Anniversary year, even though Hasbro really started celebrating late last summer with the Thrilling 30 Generations releases. I've been able to start off this 30th Anniversary pretty well in terms of TFs, too!

Firstly, the DotM Jetwing Optimus I was able to get myself for Christmas is pretty awesome. His only real faults: one of his four wings is a bit loose at its root (though only in a certain direction), the feet stabilizers do not attach very securely to the jet pack for truck mode (necessitating careful handling), and his kneepads get knocked out of place a bit more easily than those on my copy of RotF Leader Optimus. Overall, though, he's functionally fine and really, really looks great. I have no idea why Hasbro passed this remold over during the initial DotM run in favor of Ultimate Optimus Prime, but I'm glad to finally have it (and for a fair price, too). Now I just have to round up DotM Wheeljack, and the deluxe and HA molds for Soundwave....yay.

Secondly, I was able to acquire both Legends Starscream/Waspinator and deluxe Dreadwing on New Year's Eve, making them my last purchases of 2013. The only reason I got them was because I was out of town; the local Walmart still currently has NO Generations deluxes, and has NEVER carried the legends class (not even the data discs). Fuckers. I still need to get Waspinator (the deluxe) and at least Megatron/Chop Shop and Optimus/Roller, and possibly Bumblebee/Blazemaster. By the way, is Target the only brick and mortar store to carry these things? Even TRU can't seem to get them in, still hanging on to wave 1 data discs. Before I move on, let me fawn over Dreadwing. I was only somewhat interested in him initially, but he really turned out great. His colors are fantastic, as is the new head (awesome light piping!) and he's even sporting the G2 'Con logo. Awesome.

Now, perhaps you're wondering why I'm on something of a tear to get the other Generations legends 2-packs. Well, that's because....I have initiated Operation: Get Metroplex! Yep, I can hardly believe it's already been almost a year since he was revealed at Toyfair....and I still don't have one. In fact, I've never seen one. Seriously, distribution has been almost total shit this year, especially in my neck of the woods. Anyway, I've finally gotten around to putting my "extra" TFSS toys on ebay - Circuit, Jackpot, and G1 Breakdown (yep, I decided to let him go). Jackpot sold on day one, fortunately. All three are BINs, and if all three actually sell for the prices I've got up (as Jackpot did), then I'll have pretty much the money I need to get a Metroplex from HTS (which fortunately has free shipping). I may go ahead and order the remaining legends toys (and maybe Construct-bots Shockwave) at the same time to take advantage of the free shipping. I'm also looking forward to deluxe Armada Starscream, Centuritron (the mini-con combiner) and FoC Skywarp, so maybe they'll be on HTS by the time I'm ready to order as well. Anyway, wish me luck. If you're interested in buying TFSS Breakdown or Circuit from me, just look here for Breakdown or here for Circuit.

Lastly, I finally ordered and received volume 5 of both Robots in Disguise and More Than Meets They Eye! Man, I know I haven't really talked much about the comics on this blog, but damn if I don't love these two series. I mean, yeah, MTMTE is better than RiD, but I like RiD a lot too. And honestly, for all the complaining about how the issues in volume 5 didn't advance the plot and were just padding to allow MTMTE to catch up for the beginning of Dark Cybertron, it's fantastic filler. Lots of backstory for Shockwave and Soundwave, a reason to be interested in Dreadwing, tying Waspinator into G1 in a purposeful way (he doesn't really do much in Spotlight: Thundercracker). The only issue I didn't care much for was the one with the Autobots being cast out into the wildnerness. Arcee had some good stuff going on, but the art was not great and compared to the other issues in the volume it just didn't feel as important, plot-wise. As for MTMTE, I had read spoilers for the Remain in Light arc as it came out, but finally getting to read it for myself was great. After lots of substitute art in the last two volumes, it was great to see a solid, 5-part arc with nothing but Milne. Having Raiz for the last issues wasn't bad, either, though it wouldn't have been my first choice. I do wish the scene with the Autbots pulling up Starscream in the Communications room would have been shown in the comic, thought. That's a perfect last-page, cliffhanger image for a comic, but oh well.

Anyway, I'll keep "you" posted on Operation: Get Metroplex. Have a happy new year!

(Now to belatedly post my Best of 2013 list)