Saturday, 31 October 2015

Music Label Soundwave (Spark Blue Version)

Even at the time, Music Label seemed something of a potentially dangerous folly for Takara Tomy. The sorts of consumer electronics involved still tended to be quite expensive, and including them in transforming robot toys, while pretty cool in theory, was perhaps venturing too far into a niche market. Sure enough, over its two year lifetime, Music Label produced only three unique molds, but two were released in several colourschemes.

Like Convoy, Soundwave - or, to give him his full, tautological mouthful of a title 'TransFormers Music Label Soundwave Playing Audio Player' - was originally released in white, back when Apple's attitude toward the colour of their proprietary media player was "you can have any colour you want, as long as it's white". It didn't take long, however, for a G1 homage to turn up...

Friday, 30 October 2015

TransFormers: Prime Wheeljack

Introduced in Generation 1, Wheeljack, in one form or another, has been popping up in various continuities of TransFormers since the Unicron Trilogy but, aside from the familiar head, it's never been quite the same character that G1 gave us. In fact, on several occasions, he's not even had the right name, let alone the right character. In the Unicron Trilogy, 'Wheeljack' looked suspiciously like Sideswipe, and had sided with the Decepticons. The character that looked like Wheeljack was named 'Downshift' and started out as a blatant homage to the G1 character in both paintjob and overall styling, later becoming a 1970s-style green and black muscle car whose head and feet were the only features that closely resembled the G1 character. None of them were the 'clumsy professor' of Generation 1, though.

Then along came TransFormers Prime, with a character who looked very much like the character of old in robot mode, and with vehicle mode which was a clear homage to original... But is it the Wheeljack we actually wanted?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

On a random note...

I don't know who's writing the bios for the TransFormers Collectors' Club's Subscription Service figures, but I've just seen the bio cards for this year's FSS Krok and Nightracer... and they're not half bad. They deal less with the character's backstory and more with the character's personality and abilities, just like the old G1 toy bios.

This led me to look back at the previous ones, and they seem to have been gradually improving from the nonsense of Carzap to the latest couple which feature a much shorter piece of backstory followed by halfway decent information.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a new trend...

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Perfect Effect Perfect Combiner PC-05 Combiner Upgrade Set G1 White Version

I honestly think Hasbro/Takara Tomy had the right idea in turning the Combiner Wars hands and feet into secondary weapons for the Deluxe class components of each team. After all, the G1 characters all had their secondary weapons, most of which had to be simply removed and set aside for gestalt mode, making them a bit of a waste of space.

By combining these secondary weapons with the hand and foot requirements of each gestalt, the became more efficient in design, and the potential was there for something very good.

Unfortunately the execution left a lot to be desired. The hands all had massive, protruding knuckledusters - theoretically quite cool and useful, but ugly and unwieldy in plastic form - while the feet ended up being far too small and, with no real ankle joint, they rarely presented a stable footprint. Together with frequently loose hip joints, they conspired to make the completed gestalt wobbly on his feet, and the poseable thumb/heel had no discernible benefit.

This is normally where the Third Parties step in, and so I was very pleased when Perfect Effect announced their 'Perfect Combiner' upgrade sets, which take the idea to a whole new level of brilliance.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Combiner Wars Superion

This being the toyline called 'Combiner Wars', of course there's more to it than just groups of individual Deluxes with a Voyager class team leader. These things do actually combine to form gestalt robots and, unlike Generation 1's diminutive combiners, the size class of the components involved means that the combined mode is pretty colossal by the standards of contemporary TransFormers toys - easily exceeding what now passes for Leader class.

But we all know these gestalts are big... are they actually any good?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

TransFormers Animated Ratchet

The character of Ratchet, having been all but ignored since Generation 1, went through a series of rather massive changes (not to say transformations) when he turned up again in the live action movie series and in TransFormers Animated. While one seemed to be attempting a take on the 'party bot' persona hinted at in the G1 toy's bio, the other went completely the other way, turning him into a grizzled, curmudgeonly war veteran medic for an inexperienced team of Autobots whose primary function was maintenance.

The result was surprisingly effective, given TFA's heavily stylised look, and Ratchet was one of the best developed characters, gradually learning to soften his approach, as we learnt about the events - and the failures on his part - that shaped him.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Mastermind Creations Reformatted: R-08D Azalea (Stealth Assassin)

(Femme-Bot Friday #31)
You might think that, with three other iterations of this mold already in my possession, I wouldn't think it worth paying over the odds for a(nother) limited edition, event exclusive repaint of the Azalea mold... But then, dearest reader, you would reckon without the dangerous allure of the dark/evil repaint of a Fembot, not to mention my OCDs.

You'd also reckon without the amazing good fortune I had on eBay with this one...

Monday, 12 October 2015

Combiner Wars Alpha Bravo

The wild-card in the set, Alpha Bravo is a whole new Aerialbot, replacing - temporarily, at least - Slingshot from the old Generation 1 character roster. Being a helicopter, he was also quite a blatant hint that the Protectobot Blades was on his way and, knowing Hasbro, set to be reused - likely with minimal, if any alteration - as the Combaticon Vortex (a move confirmed at this year's BotCon, when testshots of the Combaticons were first revealed).

Naturally there was a massive fan outcry when Alpha Bravo was revealed - not least over his nondescript name - which may have led to the repurposing of Firefly as 'Quickslinger'... but was it at all necessary, or is this a decent replacement for the loud-mouthed Aerialbot?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

G.I.Joe/TransFormers Collectors' Club 2015 Old Snake with Advanced Stealth B.A.T. duo

While the TransFormers Collectors' Club has been run by the same company as the G.I.Joe Collectors' Club for about ten years now (wow, that makes me feel old!), and despite the fact that TransFormers and G.I.Joe have crossed paths in the associated fiction several times, the two Clubs have only relatively recently started crossing over their exclusives. It started a few years ago, with the likes of Hound, Starscream and Jetfire being turned into G.I.Joe vehicles but, this year, the TransFormers Collectors' Club released a pair of crossover exclusives: Afterbreaker (formerly Technobot Afterburner) with Marissa Faireborn and Old Snake with Advanced Stealth B.A.T. Duo.

Since the former is a non-transforming toy - just an underachieving repaint of a GI Joe movie vehicle featuring a spring-loaded gimmick that either fails to work at all, or operates on a hair trigger - with a fairly nondescript G.I.Joe figure, that was an easy pass for me: one thing I may never understand is TransFormers toys that don't transform.

The latter is a different story...

My Take on the New York Comic Con Reveals

You will no doubt have seen by now the many images of Hasbro's upcoming output, as revealed at the New York Comic Con this year. Obviously, I wasn't there, so everything I say here is based on those photos on the editorial accompanying them.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Combiner Wars Firefly

With a team made up of four Deluxe aircraft and one Voyager, I wonder if Hasbro were tempted to pull the same trick as they did with Energon/Superlink and use only two unique Deluxe models with the colourschemes creating the characters. Thankfully, the designers of Combiner Wars have been clever with their parts counts... and probably had slightly higher budgets, and so the Aerialbots have four mostly unique models with only a few shared parts between two of them.

Firefly - formerly Fireflight - is one of the entirely unique molds... but is that necessarily a good thing?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Combiner Wars Air Raid

When Hasbro declined to release the second wave of Combiner Wars toys across Europe, citing a lack of interest from vendors, that left collectors with an oh-so-nearly complete Superion and/or only the first component of Menasor, potentially leaving many fans unable to complete their contemporary sets of Generation 1's biggest rivals, the airborne Autobot team and the Decepticon road warriors.

This, obviously, is where the online retailers prove very useful... though the final component of Superion, Air Raid, sold out pretty quickly almost everywhere (mine is actually the US-style package, meaning I got a comic rather than a collectors' card, but pretty much everything else is standard) so I consider myself quite lucky.

But, of course, it's still a Hasbro product, so was it really worth the effort of tracking it down?