Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Real Gear Robots Zoom Out 25X

If you were under the impression that the Real Gear Robots toyline couldn't possibly get any worse than Speed Dial 800... You'd be about right. However, it's a very close-run thing when it comes to the last few I bought. The funniest thing about the line is that, just 15 or so years later, so many of the alternate modes are so out of date, and Zoom Out 25x is saddled with one such example, along with another of the line's terrible names.

Given that there are already digital (photo) cameras and (ancient-style) cellular telephones available in the line, a camcorder feels like another logical addition. It has as much play value in its alternate mode as in its robot mode, and it's certainly the same kind of consumer technology... But is it a worthwhile addition to this strange and short-lived, movie-adjacent toyline?

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

War for Cybertron: Kingdom/Golden Disk Collection Mutant Tigatron

Looking back on the War For Cybertron Trilogy, now that we're entering the second year of Legacy, it is quite easily apparent that it was a troubled toyline from the very start. How much it was affected by COVID-19 is anyone's guess but the line, as a whole, was an occasionally glorious trainwreck, with little in the way of consistent direction, particularly when the Netflix series is included in its context.

Siege was a toyline that didn't live up to its promise and which ended before it really got started. Its accompanying show didn't feature half the molds or characters available, yet introduced some who weren't represented on the toy shelves. Earthrise was yet another in Hasbro's seemingly interminable series of 'true' G1 reboots, yet half the expected characters wound up in the Studio Series '86 line, while the animated series was a continuation of Siege that had zero connection to the toyline beyond certain specific figures. Kingdom, meanwhile, was seemingly cobbled together from the end of Earthrise and a Beast Wars anniversary toyline which has continued into Legacy without ever properly acknowledging Beast Wars, or its anniversary, and the Netflix show kept the same old Siege CGI for the Autobots and, while it introduced some of the Maximals, most of the Predacons were absent.

So it seems strange that Hasbro chose to further muddy the waters by creating several unrelated boxed sets, all of which featuring either repaints or minimal retools. The Golden Disk Collection would have been an easy pass for me, in its entirety, were it not for Hasbro's decision to make Terrorsaur part of the set rather than a mainstream Kingdom toy. This one was only of mild interest to me, because the original Tigatron figure was unexpectedly good... but, at £32, Mutant Tigatron was a figure I decided I could live without. However, as part of Hasbro's Advent sale in the run-up to Christmas 2022, they dropped his price to just £16... and I found I could no longer resist.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Studio Series #91 The Fallen

Ostensibly released toward the end of 2022, this figure was rumoured to not be getting a widespread release in the UK, and was almost instantly listed on Hasbro Pulse as 'Sold Out'. Having seemingly missed out there, I bookmarked the figure on Amazon, despite it being priced significantly higher initially, and ended up ordering after Christmas, at a slight discount, using some of the Amazon vouchers I'd received as a gift. Unfortunately, the copy I received was not only headless, but missing the mask accessory, so I had to send it straight back and claim a refund.

By this point, Hasbro Pulse miraculously had stocks again and, given that their standard price was just 90p more than the discounted price I'd just paid on Amazon, I figured I may as well order there... Free delivery as well, thanks to the current Leader class pricepoint, which is always a bonus.

Now, I'm not a fan of The Fallen, per se. Back when I wrote about the original, Voyager class figure from 2009, I described it as "what would happen if you let H.R. Giger design a TransFormer" and as exemplifying "everything that was wrong with the TransFormers movie robots". In retrospect, I have decided that I like the design, in and of itself, but I just don't think it works even as an ancient Cybertronian quasi-deity. The bizarre, monstrous appearance, coupled with the fact that he never transformed in the movie, was a huge missed opportunity within the franchise... but then, introducing a villain like The Fallen in just the second live action movie, only to kill him off so easily at the end, was the quintessential missed opportunity, as well as being, just generally, a terrible mistake on the part of the 'writers'. Perhaps if the writers' strike had been resolved sooner, the movie could have been more coherent, and The Fallen a better-developed and more 'normal'-looking character, with a more significant impact on the franchise rather than just another Scooby-Doo villain of the week...

...But let's not dwell on what might have been... Because here we have Hasbro's latest attempt at creating a toy based on the bonkers CGI, and all we need to know is whether or not it's better than the original.

Friday, 10 March 2023

APC Toys Night Countess

(Femme-Bot Friday #82)
Way back in 2016, a 3D printed figure based on the TransFormers Prime character Airachnid turned up on my Facebook feed, courtesy of (seemingly former) YouTuber Daimchoc. Given that Hasbro's own Deluxe class toy was an absolute travesty, any new figure based on that character didn't exactly have a high bar to clear, but this looked to be phenomenal, even in its grey/white prototype form. A painted sample appeared not long afterward, looking incredible and, from the moment I first clapped eyes on it, it has been on my Want List, even though obtaining it seemed unlikely given its provenance. Then again, stranger things have happened...

Imagine my surprise, then, when APC Toys revealed images of their latest TransFormers Prime figure earlier in the year and, rather than being just another minor upgrade to an official TF Prime toy, it was that very 3D printed custom figure, fully painted and very much on the way to a full production run. The moment it became available, I put in my order... And, precisely 30 days later, it arrived, straight from China.

Is this new, Third Party take on the other alluring Femme-Bot Fatale actually any better than Hasbro's? Let's take a look...

Friday, 3 March 2023

Human Alliance Barricade & Frenzy

Here's another fine example of me forgetting about a perfectly good toy for far too long... So long, in fact, that I acquired and wrote about the Masterpiece version of the figure more than three years ago, and that was ten years after this toy was released! Worse still, this blog was already in full swing when this toy came out, so I really have no excuses... I wish I knew why I neglected the last three Human Alliance figures in my collection... But, other than the blog getting off to a very slow start, I can't imagine what stopped me.

But let's not dwell on old mistakes and, instead, enjoy the process of revisiting a toy that had been stuck in storage for far too long. I was a massive fan of the Human Alliance concept... still am, in fact, and it's something I hope Hasbro will eventually revisit at some point in the future. Barricade was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects of the first live action movie, being a Decepticon who transformed into a vehicle which, in an ideal world, is intended to reassure people, make them feel safe and protected. Barricade is, of course, the antithesis of that idea... but I don't think they really played into it as much as they could have, and then he disappeared until the third film, then again until his refit in the fifth.

The original Deluxe class toy was very much a product of its time, with all the shortcomings that implies. Let's see how this version of Barricade fares, being not only a product of a different time, but a different and much more advanced toyline.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Buzzworthy Bumblebee: Creatures Collide 4-pack

By and large, the Buzzworthy Bumblebee line has been filled with products I have been perfectly content to live without: regardless of which line the toys are derived from, they have been mostly superfluous repaints. When it comes to the boxed sets, there have been far more misses than hits. When the Worlds Collide set came along, I ended up buying the Blackarachnia figure purely because she's a Femme-Bot and it was a decent reference to the original Beast Wars toy's box art, while the other figures were reportedly a mess of loose joints.

This second 'Collides' set was, at first, marginally more interesting. I wasn't overly fussed by the scarcity of the Netflix-branded Earthrise Bumblebee toy because, having already bought Cliffjumper, I knew it wouldn't be a patch on the Classics toy from 2006... But Goldbug was another matter, because I'm quite fond of the G1 Throttlebot, and he's sufficiently distinct from Bumblebee. Similarly, I'd passed on the TV show-inspired Kingdom Scorponok figure because I was disappointed by the look of it but, now I own a reissue of the original toy in show-accurate colours, a toy-coloured repaint of the Kingdom figure was potentially a fun comparison. Skywasp was a stupid/amazing pun, and so instantly interesting, in spite of the new mold's obvious inferiority to Generations Waspinator... Which left Ransack: a repaint of the Legacy Kickback figure that's barely an improvement on the G1 original, representing one of the 'Deluxe Insecticons' which, back in the day, had a wholly unique mold that was never made available in the UK.

So, when presented with this set at a RRP of £93, I turned my nose up and avoided it, even though that breaks down as four figures for slightly less than the price of four individual Deluxes. However, seeing it cut down to £45 at GAME, it seemed like a sweeter deal... But let's see how I feel about it with the figures in-hand...