Sunday, 29 May 2016

KuBianBao Deformation Detective

Knockoff merchants have long been know to upsize existing toys in an attempt to make their luridly coloured, poor quality plastic and simplified mechanics less of an issue - bigger toy meaning greater value for money, and all that. In more recent years, though, many knockoff merchants have developed the audacity to knock off official products - and, occasionally, Third Party products - without simplifying the engineering at all... and one or two have even had the bare-faced cheek to improve upon the original.

One such manufacturer is KuBianBao, whose Deformation brand has knocked off and enlarged both Age of Extinction and Combiner Wars figures (though not, as yet, any of the gestalts). There seems to be a competition going on between KuBianBao and WeiJiang over the size of their oversize figures and the extras they come with. While WJ have produced the ultimate movie Optimus Prime figure, KBB's take on Hound seemed to be a more appropriate size versus some of the genuine figures and comes with a knock off of Doctor Wu's Mercenary kit.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2015 (Timelines): 'The Boss' Megatron

BotCon 2015's boxed set - Cybertron's Most Wanted - was an interesting concept, but only really had a couple of actual figures I was interested in. One in particular was the inspired - in my opinion - repurposing of the TF Prime/Arms Micron Breakdown mold (specifically the zombie/'Silas/CyLAS' version Takara Tomy put out) as a cross-continuity Dark of the Moon Megatron.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Beast Wars Metals Airrazor

(Femme-Bot Friday #38)
Yes, you read that correctly - I had to double-check the box, instructions and bio card to be certain but, for no obvious reason, Beast Wars Metals Airrazor has a double-R in her name. For the sake of simplicity (and because I'm more used to typing a single R in her name) I'm going to call her Airazor throughout. That's not the strangest thing about the BWM version of one of my all-time favourite femme-bots, though. The strangest part is that, since she and Tigatron were imprisoned by the Vok at the point when the quantum surge hit, she never had a TransMetals form in the TV show, though she did in an incomplete 3H Productions comic.

I've seen plenty of photos of this figure over the years and it never really lit my candle in any way, shape or form, despite my fondness for the character, because the vast majority of TransMetals toys seemed to be a bit on the rubbish side, and the fact that she was repurposed into Armada - largely a junkpile of poorly-designed toys - kept her off my radar.

...Buuuut... Times change, I started this Femme-Bot Friday feature, and I figured it'd be worth picking up the first ever TransFormers mold that was designed to be a canonical femme-bot (the original BW Airazor wasn't designed to be any specific gender, and the original Blackarachnia doesn't count as she's just a repaint of Tarantulas). I picked up the Japanese version largely because it was available fairly cheaply on eBay, but I've since realised there are some significant differences to the US/European version, so I'm very glad I chose this one over the Hasbro version.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Needlenose

And so the penultimate year of the TransFormers Collectors' Club's distinctly variable Subscription Service begins. Being an international member, I tend to get my Club figures about three to four weeks after US members, and this year's Subscription Service looks as though it won't be an exception.

It brings with it, just like this year's BotCon Set, a sense of the Club coming full circle: its first Membership Incentive figures were the five components of a Superlink/Energon-style gestalt, Nexus Prime, and so its penultimate Subscription Service is creating a new, Combiner Wars-style gestalt. More than that, just like all the figures from BotCon, this is not a Timelines set, it's labelled in every way as part of Combiner Wars.

When this year's set was announced, I was intrigued, but pretty ambivalent - and hadn't expected the massive glut of awesome Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors stuff that subsequently appeared - so I signed up eagerly. I don't know anything about the Mayhem Attack Squad, or the variation on Thunderwing - Thunder Mayhem - which they combine to form, but the idea seemed cool, and I liked the idea of building another Club gestalt.

Let's see how the first component looks...

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Slowing Down, By Necessity

There comes a time in a Collector's life when their collection begins to exceed the available space to display/store it and a tough decision has to be made. Anyone who's checked out my Want List will notice that I am allowing it to slowly decline as I obtain things, and I haven't added many new 'wants' in recent months. Granted, this is partly because the upcoming Titans Return toyline doesn't look that interesting to me, beyond a couple of figures. I'm baffled that, with a perfectly good Combiner Wars Megatron and a reasonable CW Optimus Prime (Takara Tomy's Grand Convoy set looks good, Hasbro's 'Each Sold Separately' version not so much), Hasbro feel the need to bring out a new, smaller model for each under the Titans Return brand, when there's already a larger, Powermaster Optimus Prime and TR Galvatron's partner, Nucleon, looks suspiciously like Megatron.

I also have - for the time being, at least - all the Third Party figures I have a particular interest in. Most of what I've seen that's due out in the next year or so doesn't light my candle in any particular way, or is simply too large/expensive for consideration in the foreseeable future. Some of it looks excellent, but there's simply no place in my collection for most of it.

I've never been able to put things like the BotCon boxed sets on display, all my Binaltech models and Alternity models are back in their boxes (and under consideration for selling off, though the former are 20th Anniversary items and the latter are simply very cool), Several of the larger/older TF Movie figures have been stashed in my wardrobe (the first movie Leader class Optimus Prime toy having been thoroughly superceded by the RotF version, and two movie Leader class Megatrons having been superceded by the Voyager class DotM version). Some of the Beast Wars figures I picked up a few years ago have been put back in their boxes also, having been superceded by their Generations remakes.

Boxes for the myriad Japanese and Third Party figures on display are hidden inside the sofa-bed in my lounge and stacked atop my four Ikea 'Billy' cabinets, which are rearranged periodically to accommodate new items. Sadly, these are only becoming more and more crowded. Due to the pattern of holes drilled for 'Billy' shelving, it's possible to add additional shelves in where the maximum height of the contents of existing shelves permits, leaving occasional 'short' shelves purely for storage or for holding smaller items (one cabinet has had a Mini-Con shelf for ages, a whopping 3" high, for example), but the positions of the three hinges on each door - and the central, structural shelf - can be a limiting factor.

So, despite both my Amazon Wish List and my eBay Watch List featuring a number of items I'd love to pick up as soon as the funds are available (and I've been attempting to keep to a monthly budget so far this year, with some success), I feel I must wait until more space is available, or I'll have to start buying stackable plastic crates to dump an entire shelf's-worth into just to accommodate new purchases. Such crates are easily obtainable, but present 'storage challenges' of their own. The items I have on preorder, therefore, will likely be my only new purchases for some time (unless something 'must have' springs up), while I figure out how best to organise my existing items.

Fear not, though, for I have plenty of draft posts remaining, and many items besides which I have yet to photograph. With the preordered items, this year's Club Membership Incentive and Subscription Service figures still to come, I could probably comfortably post for the remainder of the year without any further purchases.

So, that's the idea... let's see how it goes...

Friday, 13 May 2016

Mastermind Creations Reformatted: R-08Z Zinnia (Parapax Medic)

(Femme-Bot Friday #37)
You'd think, by now, I'd be well and truly bored of Masterminds Creations' femme-bot mold or, at least, being rather more choosy about which ones I pick up now that I have both exclusive versions and the adaptation into the female Prime. In truth, I probably should be, but there's something compelling about this mold, and I really did want the Paradron Medic version, not least because the 'missing' backpack components/fenders were included with Salvia Prominon.

Of course, buying things second hand on eBay always comes with risks, so I'm sure you're all itching to know what went wrong with this one.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Prowl

Here's what I don't get about Hasbro's strategy: the TF Prime toyline got about a billion versions of Bumblebee, in all different size classes and with several different paint jobs, but Smokescreen - who changed his paint job after only a few episodes from white to blue, and remained blue till the end of the series - never got repainted to match his on-screen counterpart...

...Instead, the mold received a new head, a lightbar, and a new paint job and became Prowl - at once a G1 homage and a reference to the online TransFormers game that was getting a lot of press at the time.

It's baffling to me that Hasbro will miss obvious opportunities, only to bodge together something 'new'... but, hey, Prowl's a cool addition to the TF Prime toyline, even if he never appeared in the show, right?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Revenge of the Fallen Legends Constructicons set

Much as I despise the way Devastator was wasted in Revenge of the Fallen, turned into a mindless brute apparently made up using duplicates of Demolishor (offed by Optimus Prime in the opening minutes of the movie), Rampage (offed by Bumblebee in a separate fight) and Scrapper (ripped apart for spares at the behest of Scalpel, to resurrect Megatron), amongst others, and unceremoniously wrecked by a terrestrial battleship's high tech weapon, I have to admit I quite like the concept and the look of the result. It was nothing like G1 Devastator, but it looked like a robot that should be called Devastator. It had potential and, perhaps, if production of Revenge of the Fallen hadn't clashed with the writers' strike, it might have been more impressive.

The giant-sized, light-and-sound infused version of Devastator was tempting, but the fact that it was so huge, yet his components had no individual robot modes, made the whole thing pointless. I still kind of wanted a RotF Devastator toy, though, and thankfully Hasbro decided to release a cut down, Legends class set... with a bonus extra character not used in the larger figure, but who did feature in the movie... though not necessarily as a component of Devastator.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tokyo Toy Show 2010 Dreadwing & Smokescreen

I noted in my write-up for Reveal the Shield Strafe that I would much rather have purchased Mindwipe, but I don't think he was ever available in the UK - lost, perhaps, thanks to another of Hasbro's remarkably short-sighted marketing decisions. The mold itself was great, but Strafe's colourscheme was terrible, and meant I had a Skystalker with no vehicle mode partner.

Enter 2010's Tokyo Toy Show, at which a repainted set of the two molds was available as a boxed set of Generation 2 Dreadwing & Smokescreen (aka RiD Dreadwind & Smokejumper in blue)

Friday, 6 May 2016

Generations (30th Anniversary) Sky-Byte

I have to confess that, never having seen more than a couple of episodes of the early 2000s 'Robots In Disguise' TV show (a friend bought a random DVD - titled "Sideburn's Obsession", after one of the episodes included on the disc - in a charity shop) Sky-Byte is a bit of a random whim purchase, even by my standards. Not only that, but the original mold was used as a Maximal in Beast Wars Transmetals 2, then transferred into Robots In Disguise/Car Robots along with a whole host of pan-generational repaints on the Decepticon/Predacon side. As far as I can tell, while the Autobots were mostly new molds, the Decepticons/Predacons had only one - Megatron/Galvatron.

The original Sky-Byte was one of the weirder-looking molds, with a very awkward and asymmetrical robot mode and an oddly posed cybernetic beast mode. Coming 15 years after the original Transmetals 2 figure, what improvements can the Generations version bring?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Galaxy Force Exigeyser

The Galaxy Force TV series pulled some strange moves once in a while. While 'Super Modes' were not uncommon, they had tended to be an upgrade thing among the Decepticons (RID/Car Robots Megatron becoming Galvatron, Armada/Micron Legend Megatron getting upgraded to Galvatron, Energon/Superlink Megatron getting upgraded to Galvatron, Cybertron/Galaxy Force Megatron getting upgrade to - you guessed it - Galvatron). But when a group of three Autobots were thoroughly trounced by Megatron, in the Cybertron/Galaxy Force TV series, they didn't just dust themselves off the way they might have in any other series... They received some pretty heavy-duty upgrades.

Exillion, aesthetically the closest thing the toyline had had to a proper Hot Rod in years (all the Hot Shots being pale imitations), went through one of the more dramatic reformattings... and, while Hasbro's version simply gained the prefix 'Cybertron Defense' on his name, his Galaxy Force counterpart got a whole new name.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Cybertron Cryo Scourge

Hasbro has a habit, when crafting some of its characters, of re-releasing them as their opposite to some degree. Hence we have a Nemesis Prime in as many continuities as possible, and Transmetals 2 Megatron got remade in shades of blue and re-released as RiD (2001) Cryotek.

A similar, yet different path was taken with Cybertron Scourge (aka Galaxy Force Flame Convoy) where he has somehow become "irreversibly mutated" by "long exposure to the freezing waste of deep space" which somehow transforms all his fire-breathing, etc. into ice powers. Because SCIENCE! (with apologies to my Physics student girlfriend who would no doubt facepalm at the mere suggestion).

So, is it time for me to break out the ice puns?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

TransFormers (Movie) Jazz (Target Exclusive G1 Repaint)

When Jazz was first revealed as a character in the first live action TransFormers movie, few people would have foreseen that, by the time the credits rolled, the issues with his alternate mode would be the least of our complaints. Sure, the Pontiac Solstice isn't a patch on the Porsche 935 of the original G1 character, and silver was a boring - yet predictable - choice of body colour (later misapplied to Sideswipe as well) but, seriously, movie Jazz was under-characterised and wasted in every sense of the word.

So here's a deep, philosophical question for you: Does a G1 repaint of an underwhelming toy of a wasted character make up for any of that? As the 'bot himself would surely say, "Do it with style, or don't bother doing it".