Friday, 29 May 2020

Binaltech BT10 Grimlock

If Binaltech's pre-movie 'lost years' timeline wasn't weird enough when it repurposed obvious Autobot shells into Decepticons - even if there was a valid in-story explanation - it jumped up a gear with its tenth entry. Early G1 Autobots getting new, contemporary, licensed vehicle modes to replace their old, unlicensed G1 vehicle modes was one thing... but the latest figure, Grimlock, had originally been a Dinobot, with a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex as his alternate mode.

Yet, while turning the former Dinobot Commander into a car may have seemed strange, they at least chose a fitting vehicle - the latest iteration of one of the most well-known American muscle cars.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Reveal the Shield Fallback

The TransFormers subline entitled 'Reveal the Shield' was as strange as it was shortlived. By and large, it was a callback to that period of G1 toys which featured heat-activated faction insignias. The bulk of them were also just another part of the ongoing Classics line, but a small handful could be interpreted equally as part of the continuing Revenge of the Fallen toyline due to the ambiguity of their packaging.

Fallback - aka Outback, another name Hasbro lost for a few years - was one such figure. Clearly based on the G1 character, going by his colourscheme, yet a repaint of the movie version of Brawn. So... technically, while I thought Legends class Ravage was the final Revenge of the Fallen toy in my collection, it seems it's actually this one!

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Revenge of the Fallen Ravage (Legends)

Continuing my recent theme of ten-year-old movie toys and - finally - completing the write-ups for my collection of Revenge of the Fallen toys, here we have the second mold made of Ravage, yet another G1 character who got a bit of a raw deal out of that movie.

The Decepticons' master spy, a renowned lurker-in-the-shadows, got turned into a shiny, bare-metallic cyclopean robo-kitty whose contributions to comic relief far outweighed his few awesome moments of action. Rather than sneaking into the N.E.S.T. holding facility to steal their Allspark fragment, he went in all guns blazing and essentially provided a distraction for the weird gestalt known as Reedman, which he had merely deployed by coughing his component ballbearings down a ventilator shaft. His only other significant contributions were delivering Scalpel to the captive Sam Witwicky (anyone else find it odd that Soundwave ejects Ravage, then Ravage ejects both Reeman and Scalpel, without any indication of how either got inside him?), and then getting his spine ripped out by the tail when it went up against Bumblebee during the climactic battle of the movie.

His Deluxe class toy proved to be disappointing, in that it had only a perfunctory alternate mode - dubbed 'Re-entry Mode' and supposedly representing his 'missile' form after Soundwave shot him down to Earth - and a colourscheme that was more G1 than movie. After about a year - and a couple of repaints - Hasbro released a completely new mold, in the smallest current size class. There were two positive signs on this version - first and foremost, his colourscheme was very much movie-style bare metallic. Perhaps more interestingly, its alternate mode was based on the fish/submersible form Ravage was given in his concept art, but which didn't make it into the movie.

Is it possible that a tiny Legends class figure is better than a Deluxe?

Monday, 25 May 2020

Revenge of the Fallen Mudflap

Intended as comic relief - in a franchise that was overburdened with comic relief from its very first installment - the Twins, Skids and Mudflap, attracted a lot of scorn due to perceived racial stereotyping. Personally, I found it odd that they were seen that way, as their characterisation seemed to be taking aim at Hip Hop-obsessed white trash more than anything else. Maybe my impression - as a middle class, middle-aged white dude in the UK - is flawed, and I'm missing some critical element of their portrayal, but it felt to me like manufactured outrage for the sake of outrage, over a movie that was just poorly made from start to finish.

Meanwhile, it took me five years to get round to writing about the Deluxe class Skids, and he turned out to be a floppy mess of a figure, with a large amount of car shell wrapped around a comparatively small robot. It was a well-designed toy, certainly, but let down by the materials and the manufacturing.

...Which doesn't exactly bode well for his brother...

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Revenge of the Fallen Dead End

One interesting feature of Hasbro re-using established names in new franchises is that some fairly high-profile names end up appearing in unexpected places. 'Dead End' was used for two separate figures in the extended Revege of the Fallen toyline - the Scout class figure later repainted into Nightbeat, and this Deluxe class figure, a repaint of the Sideways figure with a new head sculpt.

Notably, neither of them were in any way connected with the Stunticon Dead End, and the name was applied in reference to the character being some kind of robotic vampire. Whether this makes him distantly related to Ratbat, or just the expanded movie universe's resident Goth stereotype, who can say? But I'm a big fan of the mold for its interesting transformation, automorphing features and the unique look of its robot mode, even as a poor second choice for representing Dino from Dark of the Moon, so this Revenge of the Fallen repaint was a no-brainer.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

TransFormers Animated Bulkhead

In many ways, this should have been posted as a direct follow-on from the KuBianBao upsizing of movie Hound, since TF Animated Bulkhead surely played a part in the Bayverse reimagining of the old G1 favourite. While the mass release of TF Prime Bulkhead was fudged to stop him looking 'fat', the First Edition paid greater attention to the CGI, leading to a vastly superior toy. The toys made of TF Animated Bulkhead - regardless of size class - didn't even try to disguise how chunky the character was, and they all ended up with fairly stumpy legs, as was appropriate to his animation model.

And, like most TransFormers figures at that time, Bulkhead was made available in just about every size class. All of them had their shortcomings, but only one of them - the Leader class version - was anywhere near the right scale for the rest of the toyline. While the line as a whole wasn't overly concerned with scale - Bumblebee being one of the largest Deluxes, despite the character's diminutive stature on the show - I've always like to try to get the characters matching up as well as possible. While the Voyager class version of the toy was more accurate to the character's overall appearance on the show, even this Leader class version was technically undersized in robot mode... but it was the closest available.

Of course, 'best available' doesn't always equate to 'best overall', and it's not as if Leader class figures always made best use of their budgets back when they were all huge and packed with features...