Thursday, October 15, 2015
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Well! Hasbro gave us a subtle tease of "Titan Wars" at Botcon this summer with blueprint images of Blaster, Fortress Maximus, and what we now know to be Sentinel Prime, but I had no idea that they'd be making a good showing of these sorts of items at NYCC this year! This really reminds me of their Beast Hunters revelation from 2012 except, well, better.
Holy crap. Real Galvatron! Now, y'all know I'm a huge fan of Combiner Wars Galvatronus. In fact, he may still be tops in my mind over this new mold. Even so, this new Voyager Galvatron is hot shit. One of the great things about Galvatronus was that he was Galvatron, but processed through a very popular franchise gimmick - gestalt combination. Well, the train didn't stop there - Titans Return (yes, that is apparently the official name of "Titan Wars") Galvatron incorporates not just one, but two franchise gimmicks: he's a triple-changing headmaster! :D
While Galvatron is shown above in his animated movie-accurate cybertronian cannon mode above - in other words, nothing new - you can also see his headmaster standing on the aft portion of the cannon. That's cool enough, but we all know that this cannon isn't a vehicle in the truest sense of the word, so where's this headmaster gonna go?
In the cybertronian Starfighter mode's cockpit, that's where! Some already claim to not like this mode. They're idiots. But who, you wonder, is the pilot of this fantastic starfighter?
Yup. That's right! None other than Megatron himself. While he looks a bit too monochromatic here, it's hard to deny the sculpting, despite this headmaster's official name being "Nucleon." I mean, I'd already been forming a fan theory in my head the last few weeks that allows the Sunbow and IDW interpretations of Galvatron to both be correct, and this just helps seal the deal. While I'm still bummed that Galvatronus didn't get a comics appearance for Combiner Wars ( having him possess now-good guy Cyclonus and have Him and Tailgate fight for his soul could have been cool stuff), I love how these new toys that could have been simple updates a la Universe Inferno are taking things in interesting new directions while still accomplishing the objective of giving us great new toys of these classic characters. Also, I'll mention that, apparently, all the voyagers in this line have helmets that go over the headmaster in robot mode to make the head more appropriate for the size class (the headmasters are designed to work with deluxes too!). Oh, and all voyagers will be triple changers, not just Galvatron!
(As an aside, it should be noted that the actual hand-painted display copy has a pretty different helmet; the helmet on the CGI model is based on his IDW incarnation and looks really nice. The physical copy has a helmet that is a bit more evocative of the Sunbow appearance, if stylized. I think I prefer the IDW helmet, but I could live with the other one too)
This guy look familiar? Officially, he's named "Infinitus," but it's pretty clear that we finally have a G1 (specifically IDW-based) Sentinel Prime on our hands! Sentinel is actually set to play a big role in the Titans Return story, after being (presumed?) dead since the beginning of the war. No longer a truck, Sentinel's headmaster can pilot two different alt modes (as noted above, all voyagers are triple changers):
Space Train! Shades of Energon Omega Supreme here. This is a heavily armed and armored Cybertronian locomotive. Sentinel can be airborne now, as well:
Shuttle mode! Wait, I'm sensing a pattern...
...yep, Sentinel here is totally an Astrotrain premold. It's a bit too bad that our first G1 Sentinel you can't even really be his own guy, but at least this body appears in the comics and thus we'll (hopefully) get an in-fiction reason for it. Overall it looks good, and the design actually is really close to Don's Stormbringer sketch of Astrotrain, which is kind of neat. I also really dig the seat gun; it hearkens back to PM Optimus.
So, speaking of headmasters, they are what the Titans Return line is built around. Everyone, save the legends toys, is a headmaster. In fact, we are even getting "solo" headmaster releases! Dubbed "Titan Masters," these headmasters come packaged with an accessory that the headmaster can both use as a vehicle and combine with to form a more cohesive vehicle/animal. The headmaster can also, of course serve as a replacement head for one of the larger toys in the like while their vehicle can be wielded by the larger robots as a weapon! It's a pretty cool system and much more interesting than the current crop of small TFs, the neo-RiD minicons. It should be noted that all four of these Titan Masters are based on actual G1 Headmaster characters, including Squeezeplay who is depicted here (but named Crash Bash):
Here's the head mode, which is a bit more stylized than the original toy. Looks great, though - appropriately evil.
This is his partner's "vehicle" mode: yes, it's a dragon, but it is the mode Squeezeplay can ride like a vehicle. The wings are a bit iffy, but not to bad.
And here you can see the combined dinosaur mode - Squeezeplay himself forms the lower jaw, chest and forearms of the Dino. Pretty neat, and very well-integrated! I think he'd go pretty well with Galvatron, so he will most likely get purchased (though "Terri-bull," nee Horri-bull, looks pretty great - best of the vehicular Titan Masters).
This little guy may look familiar - it's Grax, headmaster of...
Skullcruncher! Damn right. This has got to be one of the truest G1 update toys in since Classics debuted in 2006. I should know; Skullcruncher is one of the few transformers I own that pretty successfully survived my childhood intact. Since this new one is a deluxe (notice the lack of a helmet), I'm sure he will be a bit smaller than the original, but I'm cool with that. Seriously, other than the tail weapon being less straightforward than the original, which was just a chainsaw-sword, this guy looks great. I like that the gator claws will be easily usable as robot weapons, Wolverine-style.
And here, my friends, is the jeans-short-wearing, shit-eating Florida Gator mode.
Wait, let me start over, sorry! Just upset about the lack of a bulldog TF to balance things out, that's all. Anyhow, if this doesn't scream G1 I don't know what does. Also, it's hard to tell here, but in some of the NYCC display photos, it's clear that Grax no longer has to ride in Skullcruncher's mouth - which was a neat but conceptually weak idea for a cockpit - rather, it looks like a panel on the gator's back (where the stats panel was on the original toy) lifts up to reveal an open-air cockpit. It would be hard for me not to pick this guy up!
And here's one more MTMTE character to check off the list. Actually, I think I was one of the few who was pretty happy with the data disc FoC Rewind and thought that TFCC Rewind really didn't work (neither did their Chromedome, which I expect will be rectified in this toyline). Still, this new legends-class Rewind does look great and certainly has an articulation advantage over the data disc. Oh, and he's also ready to assassinate not-Megatron (expect a lot of pics online with this toy next to CW Megatron with the latter's chestplate opened)! By the way, it should be noted that as nice as Rewind's bot mode is, Stripe's (a Ravage tiger premold) is terrible. No purchase on that one. Or Buzzsaw, who was actually revealed at SDCC. Looks like the humanoids will be the winners of this set of "cassettes."
All the new TR legends toys have a vehicle mode for the headmasters to pilot, and amusingly enough, Rewind's is a tank, just like the TFCC toy. Additionally amusing, his tank mode reminds me of nothing more than Titanium Megatron, one of the worst TFs in modern history. Not that I'm knocking this toy. This works fine within the constraints of the size class and triple changing gimmick.
For his normal altmode, Rewind gets a bit of an upgrade from simple flash drive in MTMTE to full-blown tablet/smartphone, with a cute (?) microcassette wallpaper. Not sure if the gun can store in this mode, though if Hasbro was smart, they would have given it a stylus-like slot to slide into (that might be what is going on with his nearer arm). We'll see. But what good is Rewind without his big boss?
Yep, sound stage/tactical base mode Blaster! He's one of the new leader class toys, sporting a very PMOP-like base mode. You can see his headmaster form on one of the platforms to the left.
And here is the big ol' bot mode. Looks pretty cool, though I'm happy enough with FoC Blaster (and going to spend enough on other TR toys) that I don't know that I need this guy, despite my plans to get Rewind. Still, no complaints!
Posted by Rook at 10:20 AM
Friday, September 25, 2015
Ok, I know - crappy pic. So, yes, I caved on one of the leader Megatrons from Combiner Wars. The G1 version never quite looked right to me, thanks to its oversized head, but Armada Megatron was kind of always gnawing at the back of my mind. Y'all gotta know that I was always going to be tempted by such a high-profile UT update, even if the equally high price and somewhat lacking articulation didn't exactly sweeten the deal.
Even so, with my birthday coming up, I decided to spring for this guy. I'm glad I did because he's actually pretty good. Nothing revelatory in terms of transformation technique or anything (though he does have the first working treads in forever), but he's a much better Armada Megatron than I thought he'd be., especially considering that the mold was designed mostly with G1 Megatron in mind. The smaller head sculpt is rockin' and really helps sell him as this huge, towering warlord. I, for one, love that he has an arm cannon rather than shooting from the hip - how many of us kept Leader-1 attached to the original Armada Megatron's right arm in Targetmaster mode in a pale imitation of G1 Megatron's arm cannon? No need for something like that now. The back treads look cool and do a good job of emulating how they used to look on the original toy while also mimicking IDW Megatron's cybertronian mode (amusingly, the G1 version of this mold is intended NOT to transform this way...). The tank mode is pretty good, mostly resembling DOTM Guzzle though obviously channelling the old Armada toy very well (one interesting bit - this toy's tank mode is clearly intended to be an Earth mode, while the 2002 toy's tank mode could easily be seen as Cybertronian. Yet, the cartoon made it clear that the 2002 toy was how Megatron looked after ditching his cybertronian design and presumably scanning an earth mode. Weird stuff).
Again, I don't really feel like this was worth the $45. I'm eager to compare it to Cybertron Galvatron, as unfair of s comparison that may be. It really feels like an old Ultra class toy. Still, it's very good for what it is.
Posted by Rook at 7:50 PM
Friday, September 11, 2015
Ok - I've had the 84bots for a couple of weeks now and they are pretty great. I'm really behind on reviews, so I'll probably get to individual reviews for them at some point, but for now I'm just going to throw out some comments on the combined mode.
Firstly, my Ultra Prime is not technically an official mode. I use the wave 1 Optimus torso, not the coming-soon Battle Core remold. I don't really care, though. I have no plans to buy the Battle Core version; I'm very happy with the configuration I've got.
Second, damn is Hasbro didn't screw up the chest-armor gimmick. How on Earth Hasbro can't manage to get a toy with not one, but two 5mm ports to not stay on in combined mode when they've been using 5mm ports forever is beyond me. I managed to fix the issue with Menasor/Blackjack, but trying the same fix with Optimus/Hot Rod didn't really work; I may have shaved a bit too much off of Optimus's posts. I'm going to try adding a bit of superglue, but damn of the whole deal isn't annoying. Kind of puts a damper on the experience. Still, Hot Rod looks good as the armor and it's a nice call-back to Battlestars (which is one reason, I'm sure, why Battle Core Prime has the new Star Convoy-styled head).
Third - I'm loving the Energon Optimus emulation. Optimus himself has enough Energon-inspired details on his own, but the limbs are almost exactly in the right colors. Only Ironhide is a bit off, being red rather than orange, but then OP-1 was originally going to be red anyway, so whatever. Subbing Alpha Bravo in for Prowl only strengthens the look.
I love that Prime gets an axe. Yes, it's only because Ironhide is a retool of Off-Road and yes, it's tiny, but still, it makes a lot of sense.
Also, the silver-painted foothandguns looks really nice. I was surprised that all four deluxes got this kind of treatment (I was pretty sure Sunstreaker's would be painted since Breakdown's is too). It really helps set this wave/combiner apart.
Placing the combined rifle in his right shoulder/hand port is a nice nod to Apex PMOP.
Optimus is a lot more stable than Motormaster. Markedly so. I like him to be paired against a Stunticon-wearing Galvatronus, so it doesn't matter much anyway, but it's worth noting.
Overall, it's pretty awesome that I have a legitimate G1 Optimus combiner!
Posted by Rook at 5:50 PM
Saturday, August 15, 2015
I'm not sure whose digibash this is, but this is the kind of stuff that just hits me the right way. I actually thought of this exact type or repaint (maybe with a bit of remolding?) back in college not long after Energon Optimus was released. I mean, I'm pretty happy with the two toys I use to represent UT Magnus (Universe BiaB Magnus and Armada Overload), but snag if this hypothetical repaint probably isn't the closest we'd get to a magnus with removable "armor" trailer. Hasbro needs to get on this; this is something I might actually pay Platinum Series prices for, unlike the less-than-lovely Year of the Snake (?) repaint.
The next best thing? Do a Magnus repaint of CW Optimus with dedicated limb ds that combine into a trailer. I'd have much rather had that than the Leader toy they released (my appreciation for tiny Minimus notwithstanding).
Posted by Rook at 2:44 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
So, I'm a bit of a Shattered Glass sucker, and Combiner Wars is making me think it's about time we got the first SG combiner!
I'm tempted to just start with CW Optimus being repainted into SG Optimus. However, SG OP has already gotten 2 releases. I figured we try another tack - one with potentially interesting story results. Repaint CW OP into SG Ultra Magnus. Give him a new, skull-like bot mode head, paint his windows purple like he had in the comic and give him a translucent purple version of Motormaster's sword to be the Terminus Blade. Have the combined mode be Optimus himself! The two inimical brothers now share a body...
SG Ironhide from CW Ironhide seems like a no brainier. It would be better than using the universe mold (as his character model does), but it would mean using the Off-Road mold in black a second time after Trailbreaker. Maybe stick the Ironhide head onto the First Aid body instead?
A new SG Wheeljack wouldn't be bad either; obviously it would use the upcoming CW Wheeljack remold of Breakdown. What's pretty neat is that it would mean that both SG Wheeljacks were different kinds of combiner!
Repaint Air Raid into SG Jetfire. The air Raid mold looks a fair bit like the Classics Jetfire mold, and probably wouldn't need a new head.
For the last one, do SG Sunstreaker from his CW counterpart. Not a very compelling character, but it sets up a nice symmetry with one of the Decepticons (read on).
For the legends partner, repaint CW Hot Rod into a new character - SG Minimus Ambus! Have him be characterized as Magnus's slave that he won by defeating Dominus Ambus in combat. Or something.
Throw in a few more support team figures:
SG Prowl, simply because he hasn't gotten a toy yet, and legends SG Wreck-Gar from his CW toy (maybe in triplicate?)
So, for the decepticons:
SG Cyclonus from CW Cyclonus. Wait - are you saying you want the second combiner to be evil too?! Well, we all know that the Galvatronus torso has a strong Emperor Starscream resemblance. Have the story go like so: after Cyclonus "assassinates" Megatron, the newly in-command Starscream, who has recently discovered that his spark is indestructable, decides to possess Cyclonus as a combiner. This prevents Cyclonus, a very powerful asset, from defecting to the Autobots, and also allows Starscream to control Cyclonus's great power in combiner mode. He declares himself Lord Starscream, though intended in a benevolent manner.
His team members include Skywarp and Thundercracker, from Air Raid and Skydive respectively. They both share the same new head mold.
For a legends partner, we can finally get a SG Shockwave.
For support staff, use Breakdown with a new head to make SG Sideswipe.
On the Beast Wars end of things, 2016 is the 20th anniversary of that era of the franchise and while we got some pretty cool stuff for the 10th anniversary, it seems like the only 20th anniversary items are the red/blue repaint of the giant BM Primal toy that was originally released during RiD and FP's Botcon set with its take on Tripredacus. However, I would really have liked to see a normal retail release of BW combiners, one for each faction and using the main characters. Since some of these characters are showing up in the IDW books anyway on a colony planet, have it be those versions of them or make a new time line where it's the BW cast that lands on Earth instead of the G1 guys.
Cheetor from Dragstrip
Rhinox from First Aid
Tigatron from Dead End
Dinobot from Swindle
Rattrap from Blackjack
Airrazor from Powerglide
Primal from Optimus Prime
Combined mode: Optimal Optimus
Waspinator from Vortex
Terrorsaur from Sky Dive
Scorponok from Rook
Inferno from Brawl
Tarantulus from Shockwave
Blackarachnia from Groove
Megatron from Onslaught
Everyone would get new heads!
I toyed with having both Cheetor and Tigatron being straight repaints of Prowl, and I still wouldn't mind Prowl's head being used, but I thought that the alt modes of Drag Strip and Dead End evoked Cheetor and Tigatron's alt modes better than Prowl's (as much as I love Prowl's car mode). Rhinox could have been the voyager core, since he's bigger than the other S1 Maximals, but I decided to go with First Aid, again largely because I think his "ambulance" mode is a pretty decent rhino equivalent. Dinobot was kind of the toughest, largely because no one has ever really pinned down what is vehicle mode "should" be. His weapon suggests helicopter, but the Alpha Bravo mode doesn't allow the rotors go be used as a bot mode weapon. I also didn't think a tank or APC was appropriate enough, since a raptor is one of the less heavy carnosaurs. I settled on the Swindle reshell of Rook as the best choice, partly because of the alt mode and partly because I think someo of the bot mode details on the chest and shins evoke the bones Dinobot sports. Primal from Prime is almost too easy, to the point that I was close to choosing something else, but it just works too well. I'm honestly not settled on Optimal Optimus as the combined form, partly since I thought brand new characters for the combined modes might be cool since everyone else is a straight homage. That and I think The Optimal head design is fine, but I think it might look weird in the blue/Orange atop a mostly black body. We'll see. Rattrap could have easily used the Groove mold as a DOFP homage, but the Blackjack mold works with the Optimus mold, so that's easier.
I've always thought that a helicopter would be a great vehicle to go with Waspinator, despite "Possession," the TM toy, DOFP and the overall temptation to make him a latter-day Seeker. Sky Dive is too easy as Terrorsaur. For Scorponok, I know FP is using Rook for Tarantulus, but I think it works better for a scorpion with the claw weapon and potential to give him "claws" in the form of combiner hands. The claw weapon could even be interpreted as a "tail" in alt mode. I picked Brawl for Inferno since he's an army ant, and few vehicles say "army" like a tank.
One more idea: BM Vehicon Combiner!
Torso: Jetstorm from Cyclonus (new head)
Combined mode: Megatron (new helmeted head instead of Galvatronus)
Tankor from Brawl
Obsidian from Alpha
Thrust from Afterburner
Strika from Rook
Diagnostic Drone from Shockwave
Posted by Rook at 8:37 PM