Saturday, June 20, 2015

Botcon '15; or, Holy Crap That's a Lot of Mold Reuse

The Botcon 2015 Hasbro panel has come and gone. While I expected that we would FINALLY see pics of the actual toys for the 84bots (Optimus's limbs), I really didn't expect for us to see two other combiners, especially one so out of left field!

So, firstly, here are the 84bots:
I KNOW! Actual toys! So these things, yes, really exist. And while we've got some mistransformations here, you can clearly see what's up with these guys: they are the Stunticons with new heads. Of course; we already knew that. What I didn't expect was the fact that these guys would have the same weapons as the Stunticons; it's my chief complaint about this wave (which is wave four, by the way). I'll admit at this point that I've not been completely accurate - Prowl isn't a Stunticon remold; at least, not directly. He's a remold of Streetwise, who is remolded from Dead End/Wildrider which at least means that he wields Streetwise's tri-shotgun rather than Dead End's liberated exhaust pipe. This is a pretty big relief, as I felt the Stunticons' weapons emphasized their thug mentality and Dead End's pipe most of all. So that's a plus. Overall, I'm pretty keyed up for this wave, still!

Ok, here is the weird part. I already have an Optimus combiner torso, waiting for the 84bots to arrive here. And yet, Hasbro has determined that once the 84bots hit shelves, they need a different Optimus for combine with; enter: Battle Core Optimus Prime/Optimus Maximus. The only new part of this release is the robot mode head; it's basically a standard Optimus design but with Prowl-type crest horns added. The color scheme is what has really thrown people off. When we first saw a sliver of his box art back in January, most of us thought this was none other than Ultra Magnus, since Magnus is often shown as a white Optimus repaint (especially since Hot Rod serves as the chest armor). Now we see that the colors are closer to (if anything) Nova Prime. Kind of amusing since the TFCC only just shipped out their own take on Nova, a new-head remold of the Orion Pax toy. In the end, since it doesn't really make a good Magnus, I'll not have any use for this toy.

I'm deviating now from the order of Hasbro's presentation, but next we're gonna look at the "no one saw this coming" combiner: Sky Reign!
Sky Reign? Who the hell is this?, you might ask! Well, take a good, close look at that combiner torso, because it is formed from...
Sky Lynx! Holy crap, just like the Spamish inquisiton, no one expected Sky Lynx to get a "for real" update. Especially since he was apparently, for years, off the table due to Aaron Archer hating him or something. I can't believe we are getting such a faithful and inventive Sky Lynx, and let me explain what I mean by inventive: in G1 Sky Lynx was already of combiner of sorts, being made from a shuttle that turned into a....archaeopteryx (? I'm not really sure) and a cargo section that became a Lynx. Or some kind of cat. Point being, the two sections could combine to produce a shuttle with external cargo hold that formed a combined robot mode not unlike a dragon (hence his character showing up as a Predacon repaint in Predacons Rising). For Combiner Wars, the shuttle/cargo split is dropped on favor of the dragon mode being the "normal" bot mode and the Lynx head being used for the combiner mode! It's pretty danged clever and not something I would have thought of.

Now, how about the limbs? We actually learned about most of these guys a few weeks back thanks to leaked store listings:

Ok, you got me, that's only three pics, and two of them are of Wheeljack. I'm sorry, I can't help that he's such a sharp-looking bot. Anyway, the other two are Hound, a repaint of Swindle (see below; this means his root mold is Rook) with a new head and Smokescreen - I'll leave it up to you to figure out who he's made from. 

As neat as this wave is (seriously! Sky Lynx!), I think I'll probably skip out on it. My son is interested in Sky Lynx, but really only as a substitute core for the Aerialbots assuming he's ever able to complete them; finding these suckers at retail had been difficult lately). I will very likely get Wheeljack, since I love the character and Breakdown was the surprise favorite mold of his wave for me. Trailbreaker is a maybe but I feel pretty good about skipping his T30 toy now; I do really like the gun hand! I think I speak for everyone, however, when I ask why he didn't get the First Aid version of the mold rather than the normal pick-up of Off-Road. 

One other curious thing about this wave: store listings previously indicated that we were getting Ratchet instead of Hound. We've even seen CAD art for Ratchet, logically using the First Aid mold. I guess they didn't want two versions of the same root mold in the same wave? While Superion uses two members with the same root mold (Skydive and Air Raid), they were separated across two waves also, leading to the awkward set up of waves one and two having three parts of one combiner and one of another. At any rate, I guess there is a chance that Ratchet may see online release like Slingshot and Wildrider, or we may be looking at yet another wave of Autobot limbs that are made from characters that aren't traditional combiner parts. Someone on the Allspark suggested S wave of Ratchet, Jazz from Dead End, Sideswipe from Sunstreaker, and Bluestreak from Prowl. I can't say I don't like the logic of the idea, but while I'm a big fan of this whole "let's make combiners out of normal autobots" idea, we would at least need a good break with a historical combiner team and hopefully some normal-to-combiner Decepticons before we revisit the idea for the autobots for the third time. 

Ok, Combaticons!

Firstly, the big guy himself, Bruticus! I have to say, he looks pretty awesome. Big and beefy, very unlike the spindly FoC version. It's pretty amazing that just three years ago we were all stoked about Foc Bruticus, since he was the first full-sized, G1-based (kind of) combiner in years, particularly since this one seems to blow him away. 

Anyhow, some focus on the components:
Onslaught! He's looking pretty great. You can probably tell that he's a Hot Spot remold, but I'm really impressed with they fact that they remolded him such that what was the back of Hot Spot's fire truck mode is the front of Onslaught's truck mode! It's terrifically clever, with the downside being that all the remolding didn't get rid of Hot Spot's light bar *facepalm*. I'm also not snug fan of Onslaught having the same guns, but whatever. I can't say that either the ultra-class Universe toy or deluxe FoC toy look nearly as good as this guy. I may get him without the rest of his team, that's how good he looks.
Good ol' Brawl. One of the few perennially popular Combaticons; he even got a leader class toy for the 2007 movie line. Well, he's done pretty well in combiner wars too, earning the first new mold in two waves (yes, after wave two, Brawl is only the second new limb mold...we'll talk more about this later). He looks well enough like his original toy, and he also brings the PCC tank guy to mind. I do wonder if he gets a new foothandgun mold (I can't remember if Rook got a new one); I certainly hope so.

Yep. This here's supposed to be Blast-Off. Now, I'm not that guy that is against this toy because "Blast-Off is a brown space shuttle, damn it." Having a fixed-wing military plane on the Combaticons makes too much sense to only now be happening. So what don't I like about it? Well, it's now the third use of this pseudo-Harrier mold AND it uses friggin' Slingshot's head! Essentially, this is deep cover Slingshot. Now, I can get why they'd want Blast-Off to have the AV-8B alt mode; it excels at ground attacks (helping most of his teammates with their targets) and it can actually "blast off," with it being a VTOL aircraft. But c'mon neither Air Raid nor Sky Dive have gotten second uses yet (outside of the Club, anyhow). I think I would have preferred Air Raid's mold, since it can approximate the delta-wing look of a space shuttle. Much more realistically, why wasn't Fireflight's head used? It's much closer than Slingshot's distinctly balding noggin.  Ergh.
Well, for every high there is a low, and I guess the opposite is true as well. I'd really been hoping for this, and we saw his name in computer listings, but it's great to see the real deal! This is legends class Shockwave - a G1 Shockwave, not only to hang out with his DOTM and Beast Hunters buddies, but also to help recreate the G1 episode where Bruticus gets ahold of him and uses his giant gun mode to mow down some cybertronians. Totally loving this!

There are some other legends toys, including a weird Buzzsaw that seems to tie into the enigmatic, upcoming "Titan Wars," a head remold of Shrapnel into ChopShop, and another head remold of groove into Wreck-Gar (goes with Sky Reign somehow). Oh yeah and Hot Rod (BlackJack remold for Op Max) and a Skywarp to round out the newer-mold seekers.

Speaking of Seekers, I've already posted a pic of him before, but here's Starscream with his crown drunkenly half-on:

Liking him more and more, despite my misgivings with the mold (fake kibble, nontraditonal transformation, etc). And here is his slick looking buddy Skywarp:

Not bad, huh? These guys are making me feel less and less bad about selling my MP Seekers the other day.

Ok, time for some mold reuse talk:

-Dragstrip mold: 2x (Dragstrip & Mirage)

-Skydive mold: 2x (Skydive & Air Raid)

-Fireflight mold: 3x (Fireflight, Slingshot and Blast Off)

-Alpha Bravo mold: 5x (AB, Blades, Vortex, two of Victorion's limbs)

-Dead End mold: at least 5x (Dead End, Wild Rider, Streetwise, Prowl, Smokescreen, at least one of Victorion's limbs)

-Breakdown mold: 3x (Breakdown, Sunstreaker, Wheeljack)

-Off-Road mold: at least 4x (Off-Road, First Aid, Ironhide, Trailbreaker, maybe Ratchet)

-Rook mold: 3x (Rook, Swindle, Hound)

-Brawl mold: 1x (Brawl)

That's nine root mold limbs for seven different combiners (counting fan-built Victorion, who we know a little bit about). 7 x 4 = 28 different limb toys, all from these nine root molds. Of course, some of the remolds are significantly different from their root mold, such as First Aid, Air Raid, Swindle, etc. Still, this level of mold reuse is a bit hard to swallow. I don't think I have as much of a problem with it as some others, but I don't think we've seen it at this level since Alternators or Armada. Still, it's being done about as well as it can, with very few straight repaints, like AB into Vortex or Slingshot into Blast-Off.

All in all, I'm really impressed with how much Hasbro showed off at Botcon this year. I was expecting the Op Max wave at the most, but they went and pulled out Bruticus AND a bonkers, surprise Sky Reign. Looking forward to seeing Victorion (and hopefully more!) at SDCC next month!

Sunday, June 14, 2015


So! That last BHS Cyberverse wave that was pretty much cancelled for the US? The very helpful Nevermore (of both the Allspark and TFW) has been able to get me all of them in his nativ Germany for not too much more than retail! I've also had him grab an extra Ultra Magnus for one of my friends, as you can see above.

I've sold some TFs on eBay and am waiting for payments to come in, but it might still be a few weeks before I see these. Still, I'm pretty excited to be getting these finally, especially when I thought getting them wouldn't be an option at all.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Now THIS is nice...

This is from Guidi's deviant art page. How flippin' inspired, yet simple, is this?!

The Jet Vehicon always brought Tracks to mind for me because, let's face it, they turn into flying cars, not actual airplanes, but it never occurred to me that the Jet Vehicon's should be repainted into Tracks. However, doing the opposite, as Guidi shows, is just friggin' great. And while this picture didn't require creativity in the sense that it pretty much is just a picture of Tracks's toy, I love it because it's a rare instance where a character design transplanted from a more stylized continuity to G1 actually looks G1. As much as I love Milne's latter-day works, he did just the opposite of this when he transplanted the TFP Vehicon's into MTMTE with no visual changes whatsoever. Yes, yes, MTMTE has a much more stylized look compared to the Sunbow show, but still, I appreciate the effort shown here in Guidi's picture. 

We need a remold of RTS Tracks into G1-ized Vehicons NOW.

One more step closer...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fixit Wheelie

So, I "finally" found RiD legion wave 3 last night - Fixit and Underbite! Why do I sound so excited? I dunno. There is just something about this wave that's, you know, truly fun. This wave isn't about legacy characters or anything; just two new characters that have unique, fun toys.

Now, don't get me wrong; I love legacy characters, and, in fact, part of Fixit's appeal for me is his fairly strong resemblance to Wheelie (G1, IDW, and ROTF altogether). But what really sells him is how great his bot mode is for a legion toy. Fixit is clearly meant to not be in scale with other legion toys, but rather the deluxe/warrior RiD toys - he's not a big guy, so his small stature works. Moreover, he's got to be one of the most expressive legion toys ever, having a particularly well-articulated torso and neck! His shoulders prevent his arms from sticking straight out, but that is about the only limitation I can see.