Sunday, 19 June 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Grabuge (aka Ruckus)

Because, in between publicising their Subscription Service 4.0 and actually shipping the toys, the Club lost not only its Timelines banner, but access to the name Ruckus as well... so he's called Grabuge now... which was the French Canadian name for Ruckus back in G1 days. Amusingly, 'grabuge' can also mean 'mayhem', which is pretty appropriate for a member of the Mayhem Attack Squad, who will combine to form Thunder Mayhem.

But we're still quite a way from that particular level of mayhem, with Grabuge Ruckus here being only the second of the five members to arrive... So how does he shape up?

Saturday, 18 June 2016

UFO Toys UP-2 Mega Arm & TF Dream Factory PJ-01 Evil-Blood Blade

I originally wrote about the Leader class Megatron figure from the Revenge of the Fallen toyline over six years ago, when I found it to be a rather poor attempt at realising the movie's CGI as a plastic toy. Given it's simplicity and lack of screen accuracy, one could be forgiven for thinking it wasn't even from the same toyline as its counterpart Optimus Prime, which is still one of the best TransFormers toys to come out of the movie line.

The problems with Megatron were mostly due to the CGI design being shit. Megatron in the movies was never recognisably Megatron, and not just because he didn't turn into a gun. After all, Megatron has been a jet/spacecraft thing before (Energon, Animated) and since (Prime, Generations), he's been a tank about a billion times (G2, Armada, Classics, off the top of my head) and since (Generations/War for Cybertron, twice so far in Combiner Wars). The problem was that, while all the other Decepticons and Autobots looked like robots that turned into vehicles, Megatron had been conceived as a character who felt that disguise was beneath him. The inevitable result was that he didn't look like much of anything in either robot or vehicle mode until Dark of the Moon and by that point he was, for the most part, a rusty shell of his former self.

As a result, the toys were terrible until the Dark of the Moon toyline, with the first being a misshapen jet/spacecraft made out of spikes, and the second being a misshapen tank made out of spikes. Both turned into misshapen robots made out of spikes, both had limited or poorly-designed articulation and neither one truly felt like they lived up to the potential of any of the available size classes. One would think, though, that Hasbro would have been able to do a better job of representing the rebuilt Megatron and his 'Murder Arm' considering the fact that his primary claw/blade pretty much disembowels Optimus Prime before his arm cannon finishes him off is quite a major 'plot' point in the movie, such as it was... and yet what we got was this:
"So... disappointing."
A downright shabby, poorly articulated, spring-loaded missile-launching mess, with a limply spring-loaded blade attached to a large, clawed plate... and then there's the other arm, known less than affectionately as 'the gimp arm', which is essentially the animatronic skeleton of a Skeksis spliced to a short, shrivelled arm on which the elbow is evidently also the wrist.
A tank... though almost by default.
Its vehicle mode looks like a robot doing weird alien yoga thanks to not even attempting to disguise the head (accurate to the movie CGI though that may be). Whereas RotF's Leader class Optimus Prime managed to include lights and sounds without sacrificing intricacy, this one - much like its predecessor - faked or bodged its detail to accommodate utterly lacklustre effects, and could have been made just as well in a smaller size class... My RotF Megatron has been stuffed into a box in the bottom of my wardrobe - along with the original movie's Optimus Prime toy, several others which were superseded by better toys, and a whole host of other junk - since I bought the Dark of the Moon Voyager toy.

But RotF Leader class Megatron need no longer suffer these ignominies. Two third party companies have independently developed replacements for both arms of this toy and, while it seemed pretty pointless to upgrade to UFO Toys' left arm and leave the right with its ugly, spring-loaded toy arm, the appearance of TF Dream Factory's take on the 'Murder Arm' suddenly seemed to turn both into must-have upgrades.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Generations Laserbeak

Every so often, Hasbro seems to have read my mind in a particularly bizarre and sadly incomplete way. I noted when I wrote about Tokyo Toy Show 2010 Dreadwing & Smokescreen that the Mindwipe/Strafe/Dreadwing mold was basically suitable for a custom movie Soundwave, had he not been turned into a car. Since Smokescreen could then have doubled for a Cobalt Sentry Garboil analogue, when images of Hasbro's own Laserbeak repaint (released only in the Asian markets initially) surfaced, the only surprise was how good it actually looked.

Friday, 10 June 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club Botcon 2005 (Timelines) Flamewar

(Femme-Bot Friday #39)
In a lot of ways, this somewhat hard-to-find BotCon exclusive is the origin of my femme-bot fixation, moreso than the original Energon/Superlink Arcee/Ariel or the Paradron repaint. This is partially because I just really like the mold, and a lot more because it was so hard to find at a reasonable price. She turns up once in a while on eBay, with her price ranging between £120/$175 and £185/$270 but, though exclusive she may be, she's still only a Scout class figure, and even the low end of the secondary market price scale is a little more than I'm comfortable paying.

Cut to April of this year, when one turned up on eBay at less than £60/$80, with the only caveat being that while the figure and weapon parts were in their sealed bag, she was without her bio card and instructions. Call me crazy if you will, but a 50% saving at the expense of a mediocre bio featuring hideous artwork and a sheet of instructions I already have for other iterations of the mold represents, to me, a saving well worth taking advantage of.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2014 (Timelines) Chromedome & Stylor

While I was very keen on the TF Prime Wheeljack mold, I wasn't sufficiently keen on any of the remolds released by Hasbro to pick any of them up - the Dark Energon version seemed pretty pointless (except as a homage to Slicer) and their repurposing as Dead End was garish and ugly. Takara Tomy's use of the mold as Arms Micron Wildrider is slightly more tempting, but what really took my fancy was the Collectors' Club's use of the mold as a very IDW-inspired Chromedome, released as part of their second Subscription Service group, from which I also picked up Barricade and Rewind.

But how does this former HeadMaster fare, now that his partner is a TargetMaster/Arms Micron?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Armada Laserbeak

Obviously this is going back a few years in my collection but, unless I'm very much mistaken, Laserbeak was one of the first TransFormers: Armada figures I ever picked up... and so is quite possibly responsible for getting me back into collecting the mainstream toy releases.

While Laserbeak is traditionally a Decepticon, the Armada version was an Autobot. In the TV show, he was little more than a drone - somewhat similar to TF Prime Soundwave's minion - so, on the surface, he seems like a strange choice for a standalone toy, particularly since he could easily have been made as a Mini-Con.