Thursday, 18 July 2019

Power of the Primes - A Plethora of Prime Masters

Although, technically, thirteen wouldn't really be 'a plethora', let alone the mere eight I managed to obtain. The Prime Masters - much like the 'loose' Titan Masters of the Titans Return line - were released in single packs with 'Decoy Armour' (AKA Pretender shells - a homage to part of the 1988/89 section of the Generation 1 toyline) which, for no obvious reason, also transform into TargetMaster-style weapons which the Prime Masters could then attach to externally.

As 'play patterns' go, it was just as daft as that of the loose Titan Masters, but further aggravated certain elements within the fandom who had been hoping for a bigger, more impressive revival of the Pretender concept. For me, though, Hasbro's most heinous crime was releasing only eight of the thirteen Primes at mass retail, and holding back the remaining five for special boxed sets - Onyx Prime being made available only with the Predaking boxed set (which I had zero interest in) while Amalgamous, Nexus, Prima and the Thirteenth Primes coming only with the San Diego Comic Con 'Throne of the Primes' set (also made available at mass retain in Hasbro's Asian markets). Exacerbating this, Prima Prime also ended up packaged with the Amazon exclusive Punch-Counterpunch, so the completist would end up with two copies and a total of fourteen Primes.

Aside from all of this, the Prime Masters served no real purpose other than the decorative. Sure, each one was supposed to grant special powers to whoever wielded it - via slots on the larger figures and on the updated (and now separate) hand and foot parts of the gestalts - but there were no new features activated - Unicron Trilogy-style - on the toys. Furthermore, they were rendered mostly redundant by prexisting chunks of plastic - molded as either weird, flat handguns, Enigmas of Combination or Matrices of Leadership - which already occupied the Prime Master slot on every single Power of the Primes toy of Deluxe class and above.

So, to close off the Power of the Primes and, indeed, the Prime Wars Trilogy posts on this blog, here's a roundup of all the mass retail Prime Masters...

Friday, 5 July 2019

Studio Series #38 (Bumblebee movie) Optimus Prime

I can't have been alone in the expectation, while watching the Bumblebee solo movie, that the version of Optimus Prime seen briefly in the trailer - as a hologram projected from the titular Autobot's chest - and in more detail during the Cybertron-set sequences, would somehow end up looking more like the Peterbilt truck from the first TransFormers live action movie once on Earth - if, indeed, he were to make a terrestrial appearance at all. So seeing him at the end of the movie, as a properly G1-styled 'cab over engine' truck, pulling a metallic trailer that looked just like the one packaged with the G1 toy (minus the obvious Autobot insignia on the sides) was a huge treat.

Naturally, I eagerly anticipated a Studio Series toy of this new interpretation of Optimus, particularly in the light of the amazing work that went into creating Evasion Mode Optimus Prime back in 2014, let alone the upscaped and improved Japan-only version released under the Bumblebee movie banner as 'Legendary Optimus Prime' in 2018.

Based on initial photos, it looked as though the Studio Series version would not disappoint, potentially being something to rival the Age of Extinction Voyager... but let's take a closer look, just to be sure.

Cyberverse Cyclone Strike Windblade

(Femme-Bot Friday #69)
The TransFormers Cyberverse toyline is the latest of Hasbro's attempts at producing a 'mid-level' entry point into the ever-expanding TransFormers franchise, using a new continuity that appears to combine aspects of various other existing continuities with a development of the TFPrime/RiD2015 aesthetic, and which isn't quite their 'Evergreen' style. Some of the fans appear to be embracing it - the larger Shockwave toy in particular seems to have impressed a lot of people - but, like the new War for Cybertron line, Cyberverse generally has left me cold.

Bad enough, in my humble opinion, that Hasbro feels the need to create another separate toyline of simplified TransFormers to cater to a particular age range (6+ in the case of the 'Warrior' class, which is essentially equivalent to Deluxe in size), but to burden them with spring-loaded, geared gimmicks suggests to me that whoever came up with the Cyberverse concept has no idea what made TransFormers cool back in the mid 1980s.

And yet, here we are... I decided to pick one up. I was vaguely interested in the Windblade figure simply because I seem to have developed a distinct subsection in my collection specifically for her, beginning with the Generations/TF Legends figure that accompanied her introduction to the IDW comics-verse after a series of fan polls selected her key attributes.

So, I mean, however bad this figure might be, it's still a Windblade... and that has to count for something, right?

Let's find out...

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Power of the Primes Evolution Rodimus Unicronus

As previously mentioned, my original intention with the scant Leader class selection from Power of the Primes was to skip Rodimus Prime entirely, instead picking up his blantant Shattered Glass homage repaint, Rodimus Unicronus. Hasbro had come up with a cover story, to the effect that this version of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime was under the sway of Unicron, via the Matrix of Chaos, but there are too many Shattered Glass references to ignore.

The 'good guy' version of this mold turned out to be far better than I'd expected, so let's take a look at his 'bad guy' repaint, and see if he follows the pattern whereby black repaints of any toy are better than the originals.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Titans Return: Titan Masters Apeface & Overboard

One aspect of Titans Return which seemed underdeveloped in the toyline - not to mention completely unexplored in the terrible Machinima animated show - was the packs of Titan Master figures that came with approximately Scout class transforming vehicles and beasts with weapon forms but no robot modes to accompany their head form. The Titan Masters could ride or become part of these, but their role as HeadMasters was to be reserved for the Deluxe class or larger toys... which already had heads of their own.

Since, unlike the G1 interpretation of HeadMasters, the Titan Masters were supposed confer some sort of power boost or upgrade upon the larger figures, but neither the packaging nor the instructions actually detailed any of this (although Hasbro did release a digital mini-comic/bio booklet to fill in the blanks) it was pretty much left up to the imagination of the individual what these replacement heads would do for any of the larger toys.

The triple-changing accessories to provide a bit more play value, as their weapon modes could be wielded by the larger robots but, on the whole, they seemed a bit pointless. The only reason I bought these two was to turn them into Overlord's Powermasters via an upgrade kit made available at TFNation 2017 by the Nottingham Robot Company. Since that didn't pan out, I may as well give them their own little write-up...

Saturday, 22 June 2019

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG46 TargetMaster Kup (aka Chear)

Kup doesn't often appear in TransFormers toylines - coming from the latter part of Generation 1, and introduced to most audiences in the 1986 animated movie, he's never been one of the 'must have' characters. Much like Hot Rod and Blur, his original toy was a bit of a brick, designed to resemble the ridiculously stylised Floro Dery animation model, which took the TV show's habit of fudging the toys' transformation sequence and cranking it up to eleven because he (and/or the rest of the design team) were working from scratch rather than from existing toys and box art.

Thus, Kup became a futuristic, Cybertronian pickup truck and, bar his appearance in a BotCon set as a repaint/retool of Galaxy Force First Aid (representing a young version of Kup, a new recruit in the Elite Guard), his only other appearances in the toyline have been as a more traditional terrestrial pickup in the Generations toyline back in 2011 and a bulked-up repaint of a mold intended for Ironhide in the TFPrime toyline.

Titans Return went back to the original Cybertronian vehicle style, albeit perhaps more functional-looking (G1 Kup's cargo bed didn't look very useful, after all), but the colourscheme looked a bit too lurid for my liking so, coupled with a typically miserly paint job, the lacklustre weapons and a rather bland face sculpt, I decided not to bother picking him up. Then Takara Tomy revealed their Legends version, with an animation accurate desaturated colourscheme, several remolded parts (including a more grizzled face sculpt)... and a TargetMaster weapon too... So I decided to take the plunge after all.