Saturday, 26 December 2015

Generations Platinum Edition Trypticon

Back in the 80s, the idea of a giant alien robot that transformed into a city seemed quite cool, even moreso after the bit in the 1986 animated movie where Ultra Magnus orders Springer and Arcee to "transform Autobot city" (even though that didn't actually involve Omega Supreme, Metroplex or Fortress Maximus, all of whom had appeared in the Marvel comics by that point) because that was a pretty exciting sequence early on in the story, and showcased some of the most impressive, intricate animation in the entire movie, surpassed only by Unicron's transformation toward the end of the movie.

Sadly, the UK tended not to get the larger, more complicated TransFormers toys in those days so, while Metroplex got released on this sceptred isle (and made his way into my collection), we didn't get Trypticon (similarly, we later got Scorponok but not Fortress Maximus).

At least, we didn't get Trypticon back in 1986. For whatever reason, Hasbro have seen fit to grant him a re-release as part of their 2015 'Platinum Edition' line... I thought I'd given up on buying Generation 1 toys after completing my G1 Seacons by finding a Snaptrap in reasonable condition on eBay... But when I found Trypticon on Amazon at a vastly reduced price, I ended up taking the opportunity to grab one of my few remaining 'Holy Grail' G1 toys.

But how does a nearly 30-year-old model stand up against today's TransFormers toylines, and does it really have a place on the shelves of a 40-something collector?

This is the first Platinum Edition I've bought, but the box style is not dissimilar to Hasbro's new take on the Masterpiece line, as demonstrated by Soundwave, or a heavily upgraded version of the Voyager class toy boxes from Combiner Wars. When I heard that a "massive" box had arrived for me in the office, I knew it'd be large, but wasn't quite prepared for the actual size of the enclosing box - I basically didn't have a bag large enough to carry it in, and it would have been impossible to carry the box by hand without some kind of handle or strap - so I had to open it up and remove the product box, but even that is huge (33cm/13" x 48cm/19" x 18cm/7"), and I ended up having to add a strap to the largest carrier bag I could find to bring it home... and, let me tell you, navigating the London Underground with a box that size really ain't fun.

The presentation is stunning, though, with the front flap featuring a beautiful painting of Trypticon, unnecessarily captioned "Fantasy scene" though there's nothing saying "other figures sold separately" - if anyone knows who did this painting, I'd love to know! - with some spot UV varnished elements (Trypticon himself, the three jets in the background and the four Autobots in the foreground) for added punch. Below that on the flap is the Platinum Edition labelling in a silver bar and a note about the toy's battery requirements on a sticker (which is over another version of the battery requirement information, as far as I can tell). Behind the flap is a large window revealing the toy in its fully stickered-up glory... and it is truly a sight to behold, taking up almost the full height of the box (Trypticon stands about 29cm/11.5" high!) and a good portion of the width (15cm/8"), with his accessories in a plastic bubble in front of him, to the right of the box. The background features a Combiner Wars-style selection of 'blueprints', featuring G1 Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and Unicron. The inside of the flap contains a very brief bio in English, French, Italian and Spanish, while a different (even shorter!) bio appears on the back of the box, along with photos of the toy and information on its features. The version I have additionally features stickers over some of the original information - I guess these are just for localisation.

The box could easily have been made smaller with a few adjustments to the layout (all his accessories could have been laid out around him, for example), but it feels appropriately large, given that it's a Platinum Edition of a toy that never reached Europe in the 80s. This is Hasbro giving one of their premium products the attention it truly deserves.

Robot Mode:
Breaking with tradition, I'll start here... because Trypticon looks awesome in robot mode and most of his features are available in this mode. He's an absolute hulking brute of a TransFormer, and far more impressive than the clumsy, blocky G1 Metroplex, despite a comparative lack of free articulation. Trypticon is also one of the earliest large-scale beast-type TransFormers before things went a bit weird with the toyline in 1987, and virtually every Decepticon had some kind of robotic beast as its alternate mode, whether it was a combiner or a HeadMaster. He even looks a bit like MechaGodzilla's beefier sibling with two rows of three spinal plates running down his back, but his tail is substantially shorter and stubbier.

Back in G1, after the most suitable of the original Diaclone and Microchange toys had all been repurposed as TransFormers, newly-designed toys tended not to have any paint other than the occasional chrome pieces, so it's nice to see that remains on this re-release. It's kept to a minimum, with this shoulder-mounted missile launchers only coated on one side, then his toes, a couple of his 'concealed' weapons - one behind the translucent orange panel on his forehead, the other in his mouth - and the mechanical details beneath the translucent orange discs on his hips are also chromed. It's a bit of a shame that his teeth aren't either chromed or simply painted silver, but this is at least true to the original. Most of the model is a mid-grey plastic, but the inner core is a greeny-turquoise. The layering of the plastics makes for a great effect - maybe not to the more contemporary standards of the Mech Alive detailing of movie figures, but it helps give what little detail there is more of a sense of depth.

All the stickers are factory-applied, so he looks fantastic straight out of the box. Whatever G1 toys lacked in molded detail or variety of colour, they usually made up in stickers. Virtually all of Trypticon's stickers are intended to be seen from the front, though there are a few applied to the sides of his hips, knees and the base of his tail.

One rather funny aspect of this toy is the warning sticker at the base of his tail, which suggests the legs are potentially hazardous to anyone with long hair...

City Mode:
Over the years, I've become far less enamoured with the idea of a giant alien robot that turns into a city... I mean, what's the point? Well, looking at Trypticon, I'd have to say the point is to look awesome. OK, fine, it doesn't look like a city, as such, or even much of a base, really, but it's huge and imposing, and packed with cool features. In this form, the gears that powered his walking in robot mode are repurposed - via pieces of his tank drone Brunt - to making his radar/comms towers rotate. It's a simple feature, but pretty effective... it's just a shame there were no stickers for adding a bit of detail to the dishes, as the pale grey plastic is very dull-looking.

Trypticon's flanks open up to form helipads and parking bays on either side (the front-facing purple ramps being separate pieces that need to be tabbed into place), while his tail opens up to form a launch ramp in the centre of the 'city'. A small button on the back of the central tower flips up the purple flap on top of the central section, launching Full Tilt off and down the ramp. Other than Full Tilt and the Mini Autobots of the era, I can't think of any G1 toys that are quite the right scale for Trypticon's bays. Perhaps the combiner limbs or Micromasters, but the Decepticon ranks weren't exactly brimming with tiny 'bots.

Trypticon's legs open out at the hip, via hinges at the foot, to widen the span of the base, and the entire leg is suspended above the ground by orange rods which were concealed in the ankles, and a pair of grey parts that plug into the extended insides of his hips. These serve the additional function of being (loose) connection points with any of the original four G1 combiner torsos in their deeply unconvincing base modes. Above these, the detail within the domes is rather ambiguous, but I like to think they're space bridges...

Right at the back, Trypticon's shoulder launchers are raised up to resemble tower blocks. Here, again, there's decent molded detail, but it really needs a bit of paint (or some stickers) to really make it stand out and look perfect. Brunt's cannon forms a third, central tower above Full Tilt's launch bay, but it has a hard time looking like anything other than a raised cannon, partly due to its design, partly due to the lack of decoration.

Mobile Battle Station Mode:
Not really much of a transformation, to be perfectly honest - just the legs getting folded back into their robot mode configuration, the Helipads closed back up, and the mounted weapons changed around... Still, it sort-of counts, right? The box doesn't actually refer to this mode as a mobile battle station, and I can see why not - the wheels don't give quite enough clearance to lift his legs off the ground, and they're still sticking out at a weird angle - however, the fact that the wheels are slightly more available and that he's looks more like a massive dreadnought than a city in this mode gives me the impression that he's meant to be mobile in this form. The image on the back of the original G1 box depicted Trypticon hovering above Metroplex, as if he's just arriving on the planet, so perhaps it's more of a flying battle station than a rolling one...

The central cannon is directed forward and looks like the perfect weapon for a massive dreadnought like Trypticon, so it's a real shame it's completely fixed in place. Then again, with the missile launchers back in play either side of it, it wouldn't be able to turn far without being inconvenienced by its own supplementary weapons.

There are two big downsides to this mode, the first being that it rather looks like Trypticon lying on his back with his legs splayed. Looking at him from the sides or the back, his head is clearly visible, and the fact that it's now facing the ground doesn't really offer any kind of disguise. The second is that there's no way to fix the legs - or even the side flaps - in place and, while they're not exactly loose, they don't like to stay in place if Trypticon is moved.

It's almost wrong to describe what Trypticon does to get from one mode to another as 'transforming' - from robot mode, he simply opens up, lays down, and gets pieces of Brunt applied to various points. Transformation between base mode and 'mobile' battle station mode is even simpler - a couple of bits close up again, and that's it. While Trypticon has wheels on the underside of battle station mode, closing up the legs doesn't really do much for his mobility as the legs will scrape along the ground. Then again, complex transformation - and generally making sense - were never the point of the cityformers - they were there to be huge war machines and, on that score, Trypticon is a winner.

His articulation is very limited, even for a G1 toy - due to the walking action, his arms and legs are joined, but his claws (or his thumbs, at least) can move independently and his neck rotates a full 360° for transformation, but it also counts towards expressive posing in his robot mode. Additionally, the head can tilt up and down very slightly as long as the mouth is closed - once it's opened, the only thing that moves is his jaw. It's all very G1... but the battery powered walking is wonderful to watch in action, and not remotely hindered by the curious choice to remold the inside of the foot so that the purple forks sticking out of the feet (these would provide added stability on other toys, but I'm not entirely convinced Trypticon needs them) point down at a slight angle. There's a slight glitch in the gears on mine that means one foot glides down to the ground while the other stomps down... and I'm not sure which is correct. Given the way the leg motion gears are set up, I'd guess it's the latter, but I'd have to look into it.

His battery requirements - two C batteries, to be installed in his tail - are a little out of the ordinary, especially considering the Encore rerelease of Galvatron in 2005 was adjusted to work on two AA batteries rather than a 9v block. Two AA batteries would put out the same power as two Cs, so I guess they just didn't feel like remolding the battery compartment.

This tank minion isn't really a TransFormer, as such. Brunt is basically a way of keeping some of the partsforming pieces together when Trypticon is in robot mode. The front 'wheels' form part of his battery powered movement in city and battle station modes, the two central parts become towers behind his twin helipads and the cannon sits in the middle looking dangerous. When combined into Brunt, he rolls around on four little wheels on the middle two segments and his turret does not rotate, but it does feature the second battery powered gimmick - his big, purple cannon has a nice, bright LED in the end (operated by a single AA battery), but it's basically just on or off - it doesn't pulse, or flicker, or fade, though it does switch itself off after about 38 seconds, presumably to save power. Nowt special at all, really... But I prefer this simplicity to the aggravating sounds of Galvatron or Shockwave.

The only decoration on Brunt is a pair of piston detail stickers on the sides of his front wheels and a tech detail sticker on the underside of the cannon. There's not a massive amount of molded detail on any of his components, but what's there - particularly the wheels and treads, and the raised details on the front which appear to be headlights - cries out for some paintwork.

Despite looking absolutely nothing like it, Brunt does remind me of the purple tank that comes with Superlink Galvatron G... it's probably just the colour that does it.

Full Tilt:
TransFormers toys don't get more basic than this but, let's face it, Trypticon came out before HeadMasters and TargetMasters were a thing, and Full Tilt is essentially a sort of proto-Mini-Con, rather than a true minion like those made for G1 Soundwave: when not riding around on his own, he plugs neatly into Trypticon's chest. This doesn't have any effect on Trypticon, but it does give him another weapon... albeit an awkwardly-placed one.

In vehicle mode, Full Tilt is basically a vaguely buggy-shaped block of purple plastic with large black wheels and a grand total of five stickers, one of which is his Decepticon insignia. Bizarrely, another of them is a rectangle of metallic purple which is laid across and angled part toward the back, possibly representing a rear windscreen. The other stickers are tech detailing that doesn't apply to any molded detail because there's virtually none on this toy beyond the very simplistic engine block at the back.

His weapon - regarded as one of the most easily lost pieces of any TransFormers toy ever - pegs into the roof of the vehicle and acts as a turret.

His robot mode is achieved by simply unfolding the front section of the vehicle and standing him up on that shell part. His 'legs' are deeply unconvincing and his arms are ridiculously stubby... but they do move - on some kind of ratchet joint, in fact, and this seems to be one of the mold changes versus the original, which is widely reported to have just used simple pinned shoulders - and his weapon can be mounted on the side of either arm. Considering the size of his 'fist' chunks, it's surprising he doesn't hold his gun properly, but it works well enough on his arm, and makes him look almost Vehicon-ish.

The level of molded detail on Full Tilt's body seems somewhat reduced, even for G1, but his squat head looks pretty decent. He has a second Decepticon insignia sticker on his belly to complement the now-inverted one on his lower legs but, other than that, there's no new decoration for his robot mode.

Not unexpectedly, given his simplistic transformation, Full Tilt looks absolutely terrible from behind - the only molded detail is the vehicle's engine and the short peg to which the front of the vehicle attaches during transformation.

I'll put my cards on the table and admit that I didn't pay 'full price' for this thing... I found it on Amazon for just under £100, while it's currently averaging £180-190 in the UK, but about $200 (£135) in the States. Even so, I still had to agonise over whether I could really afford it, and whether I have space for it on my shelves. There was also a small nagging doubt due to the cutbacks in plastic quality over the last few years, and especially in some of the reissues in recent years - I can remember loads of people complaining that the 2008 reissue of Omega Supreme in Takara Tomy's Encore line used plastic so thin, the integrated lights shone through the solid, opaque parts almost as well as the holes and the translucent plastic. There are no obvious signs of similar issues with Trypticon, but the only light is directly behind a piece of translucent plastic and doesn't have much opportunity to be visible through the nearest opaque parts.

For a good few days, I figured I'd have to give it a miss, but eventually (after my girlfriend insisted that we'd be able to find room for it somehow) decided to take the plunge... and I don't regret it. While Trypticon is certainly not as complex as contemporary TransFormers, nor as poseable... there's just something irresistible and joyously nostalgic about this colossal brick of plastic that can walk under its own power. I can't help but smile as he clomps along my floor, or sofa, or kitchen worktop. It's the sort of toy I would hope to share with my niece the next time she visits, assuming she's remotely interested in TransFormers by that point.

Naturally, there are a couple of caveats. The stickers, having been factory applied, were not necessarily placed in the most sensible way in some cases. Some of them were either peeling or hanging over edges of the plastic straight out of the box, so I have some concerns about their longevity. This will no doubt vary considerably on a case-by-case basis, so it shouldn't put anyone off. The main problem from my point of view is the parts-forming, not least the notorious ease with which a certain part - Full Tilt's gun - can go missing. I misplaced it temporarily while recording one of the movies above - trying out the launch ramp, I sent Full Tilt flying across my kitchen floor and, when he came to rest, the gun was missing. It took about half an hour to find it (turned out it had spun off under my washing machine!) during which time I was exceedingly grumpy as he'd been in my possession for less than 24 hours by that point (also because, while searching, I saw what a mess the kitchen fitter had left underneath the fitted cupboards under the worktop, but that's another story!). Another issue (probably to do with the age of the mold more than anything) is that both his legs have a habit of falling open a little too easily - there are release catches on his hips, but it's often not necessary to use them - but, saying that, they've never fallen open while he's been walking, only when I've been fiddling around with him.

I would have to say that G1 Trypticon is well worth getting for fun value alone, and particularly for those of us who grew up with Generation 1, in a region where he wasn't released. Furthermore, I believe he would be a decent toy for kids today due to his battery powered walking, but your mileage (or your child's) may vary - personally, I really enjoy toys that walk on their own, be they battery powered or clockwork, so I'm very biased.

All that said, I'm not sure he's entirely worth the full UK price tag of about £180 - the US price is probably closer to the mark (similarly, the Autobot Intel Ops set - Perceptor + slides, Blaster + Steeljaw, Ramhorn and Eject - sells for about £100 ($150-ish) in the UK, but about $110 (£75) in the States, which is a much more reasonable price) - so I was very glad to get him at a reduced price. If you think you might like it, shop around, aiming to fork out no more than about £135, otherwise you may as well order from the States. And if you do pick him up... keep a close eye on the small, removable parts!

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