Thursday, 18 June 2009

Galaxy Force Master Galvatron

At some point in the history of all things TransFormers, but well after the 1986 animated move that first introduced the Megatron/Galvatron upgrade dynamic, it seems to have been decided that the difference between Megatron and Galvatron can be nothing more than their paintjob. This has been true with Car Robots/Robots in Disguise, Micron Legend/Armada, Superlink/Energon and Galaxy Force/Cybertron, and it's generally a huge disappointment. Considering that G1 Galvatron was an entirely new mold (and, according to his Tech Specs, at least, an entirely different character), and one of the earliest models with lights and sounds (primitive though they may be) to have an official UK release, using the same mold in a different colour scheme seems like a cop out.

The upside with Galaxy Force, then, is that the original colourscheme for Master Megatron is vile - purple, grey, orange... not a great selection - while the Galvatron upgrade is almost entirely silver and black. In fact, this is one of the few occasions where the US/UK Cybertron figure looks slightly better than the Japanese version, as the yellow panel in front of the head on this one is gold on the US/UK release. There may be other superficial differences but, in the main, they're pretty much identical.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Galaxy Force Flame Convoy

Leader of the Beast Planet, Animatros, Flame Convoy is initially cast as a Decepticon though, in common with many of the characters in Galaxy Force - as opposed to Hasbro's localisation, Cybertron - he has no real allegiance, as such. He is simply the leader of his own planet... and got to that position by being the most powerful TransFormer on the planet.

Galaxy Force First Gunner

The upgraded form of Deluxe-sized Galaxy Force First Aid, First Gunner is now an armoured mobile missle platform, and part of the Vanguard Team (read: Autobot Elite Guard) to boot. Supposedly this upgrade happens after a particularly ignominious defeat at the hands of Megatron, which might explain why First Aid's original Ambulance alternate mode goes through such a drastic change.

Human Alliance Bumblebee

Considering the sheer number of variants of Bumblebee released for the first film (Deluxe Old Camaro, Deluxe New Camaro, Deluxe New Camaro with remolded Battlemask Head, Deluxe New Camaro with Black & Yellow Paint Reversed, Statue, Legends... Beatmix... the list goes on...), it's no surprise that he's still getting a fair bit of attention in the second film. Set up to be the character who provides the audience with a connection to these giant alien robots, Bumblebee was given the lion's share of the screentime, action, and facial expressions.

For the Revenge of the Fallen toyline, Hasbro has created an new subline - Human Alliance - where Binaltech/Alternator fans are given their heart's desire: Cars that are of approximately 1:24 scale, transform into movie-like robots, and come with human drivers. Who could want anything more?

Well, me, I guess... the first in the line - Bumblebee - is a decent representation of the character, but is lacking in a few areas...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Galaxy Force Soundwave

Galaxy Force as a whole seemed to have far stronger links to Generation 1 than any line before it, and these ties were strengthened further by the reappearance of a G1 character who'd been notable by his absence (apart from one reference in a Beast Wars spin-off) since those halcyon days: Soundwave.

No longer Megatron's righthand man, Galaxy Force Soundwave held no allegiance (except to himself, and possibly Noisemaze) and, rather than being anything like his old G1 self, lurking in shadows and using an innocuous alternate mode to get other people to carry him around and aid him in infiltration, this incarnation of Soundwave transforms into a strange, Stealth-style jet. In fact, aside from colour scheme, the only thing this guy has in common with his ancestor is that he has a minion who ejects from his chest (operated by Planet Key, rather than a simple eject button).

Monday, 15 June 2009

TransFormers Animated Blurr

It should be ironic that Blurr, a character associated with speed of movement, should have started his Generation 1 career as a complete brick, with barely any articulation. Even the more recent incarnations of Blurr, using a mold that first appeared in Armada, but was most recently used as the TransFormers Collectors' Club Shattered Glass Blurr, couldn't be posed in anything like the dynamic fashion that the character of Blurr required.

Thankfully, the team behind TransFomers Animated saw fit to correct this... albeit more than 20 years late ... with this lithe, poseable figure, based somewhat on the concept art of the unreleased TransTech Cheetor...

TransFormers Animated Blitzwing

Blitzwing was one of Generation 1's Triple-Changers and, frankly not the best of them. Not that any of them were particularly good, because 80s toymaking was vastly more simplistic than it is today. Each one - Astrotrain, Blitzwing and Octane - had very limited posability and, with the possible exception of Astrotrain, had huge chunks of two alternate modes clearly visible in robot mode. While Astrotrain and Octane got the Classics 2.0/Universe upgrade treatment, Blitzwing was drafted into the Animated universe, and the results are actually very impressive.

Taking the idea of three modes and adding three distinct personalities has given the toy a lot of character and, while all three modes are limited to some degree, they work out pretty well considering the relatively small size of this Voyager Class toy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Revenge of the Fallen Starscream

The original movie Starscream had more than its fair share of detractors, both in terms of the character model (which, for the record, I quite liked because it was so different from the 25 year old image of the Seekers) and the toy. Bearing in mind that the toy was made based on pre-production artwork, I've always considered it one of the successes of the first movie. Sure, it's F-22 Raptor mode is a little chubby in the undercarriage. Sure, the missile launcher/arms are painfully conspicuous in plane mode, and dreadfully out of proportion in robot mode. Nevertheless, the transformation was clever, and the resultant robot, while chunky, was effective. The original tan colourscheme was way off, though, and Hasbro saw fit to correct their error by releasing Deep Space Starscream into the Premium series of movie repaints.

Noone should have doubted, though, that huge improvements would be made in between the first toyline and the sequel. That said, while the improvements are significant... so are the shortcomings.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Revenge of the Fallen Preview: Soundwave

OK, I'm doing these in a screwy order. This, along with the slightly re-sculpted Deluxe Bumblebee, was among my first Revenge of the Fallen purchases but Prime and Sideswipe, while bought several weeks later, were far more interesting. Figure I'd better get this out of the way, though... and get to RotF Bumblebee whenever...

Soundwave has been on the cards since the first movie came out. The writers wanted to include him, but needed to figure out a way of working in the idea of 'ejecting' minions. Well... they've kind of come up with a solution... but, while this thing has a robot mode, rumour has it Soundwave will not transform in the movie. Perhaps it's going to be like Scorponok from the first film - the toy has a robot mode, but the character in the movie does not.

However it pans out, this toy is said to be a Triple Changer - that's right, three modes. Sadly, the difference between two of them is minimal, and achieved by locking panels together in a slightly different configuration.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Universe Darkwind

There's a funny series of coincidences to this thing... Or perhaps it's not as coincidental as one might think.

Back in 2007, the BotCon box set - Games of Deception - featured a Classics reimagining of Generation 1 Powermaster Dreadwind. Fans immediately began theorising about what this might mean. Would the soon-to-be-rebooted Universe/Classics 2.0 line feature Darkwing? If so, would the two combine into the fearsome superplane Dreadwing? All the evidence seemed to suggest a negative on both counts... Until Kitbashers discovered that, with the right paintjob, Universe Silverbolt looked eerily similar to the Generation 1 gloom-sayer. Very soon after, official photos of Hasbro's own interpretation surfaced. Frankly, both the home repaint and the official one were a huge improvement on the model's original Autobot colourscheme, so I vowed to pick this one up, despite its simplicity.