Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Retrospective

I didn't quite keep to last year's clever plan of starting my retrospective in January, the first words here typed near the end of November, but this year has been one of my less prolific. I'd put most of that down to simple exhaustion: around August/September of last year, things at work started changing quite dramatically, and the fairly constant stream of problems ever since has left me very drained, and in a state where I'm not finding a great deal of joy in my collection a lot of the time. Spurts of activity in May, July and September (the latter largely due to this blog's ninth anniversary, as well as the aftermath of attending TFNation for the second time, and news of HasCon) punctuated the months where I was surprised if I managed to squeeze out more than a couple of posts.

Still, having made a start (which was actually far easier than I'd expected), I can at least follow the template of the previous years and have this ready to go live just before 2018 - which will be this blog's tenth anniversary year - is rung in. While one of my blogs came to an unceremonious end on its tenth birthday, I see no immediate signs that this one will suffer the same fate. Then again, I have yet to even start my more generalised toy blog (inspired mainly by my purchase of a Vitruvian HACKS Medusa and some Play Arts Kai figures, but it's been eye-opening to think about the other non-TF toys I have lying around), and my foodie blog seems to have ground to a halt despite my few continuing forays into simple cooking when the opportunity arises. My blogging, generally, has been patchy for the last couple of years, but this one has been, if not consistent, at least ongoing... and that's the main thing.

I have noticed that, with about 50 draft posts (many of which featuring now-defunct Photobucket image thumbnails) still hanging around, I've spent rather too long agonising about clearing my backlog and not enough time focusing on new purchases, which is something I hope I'll have at least started to address before the end of the year...

But, without further ado, here's the roundup of what has felt like a rather crummy year...

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Titans Return Cosmos

Bizarre as he was, G1 Cosmos was one of my favourite figures - as a fan of vintage sci-fi, I really liked that a TransFormer had been based on the UFO from the celebrated hoax photograph by George Adamski, despite being completely incongruous in a line of toys whose terrestrial disguises were still largely based in reality. Trouble is, with such an outlandish - literally - vehicle mode, he became rather difficult to fit into later lines.

Thus, aside from a very basic disc-shaped saucer, very poorly articulated version in the late noughties and an aborted Titaniums version, it had been left up to the Third Parties to produce their usual plethora of versions of the same character, each with their own unique interpretation of the iconic G1 design of both vehicle and robot mode.

Then came the Thrilling 30 line, and a whole new version of Cosmos was released... Or was it? I certainly never saw it in shops, and couldn't easily find it online at a reasonable price. Thankfully, Hasbro deemed it worthy of a more widespread rerelease for Titans Return (since it had already been repainted as Marvel Comics' wheelformer spy, Scrounge, to partner with the Technobots). Needless to say, I snapped him up pretty sharpish... but was he worth the frustrating wait?

Saturday, 16 December 2017

TransFormers Adventure/Prime of Micron TAV41 Optimus Prime & Gravity 'Gravity Armour'

Back in October 2016, my best mate took a holiday in Japan - somewhere I've wanted to go for many years now, and which was actually on the list of possible destinations when, about 20 years ago, he and I occasionally travelled together. I asked him to be on the lookout for any cool new TransFormers (and particularly Legends Blurr), but with no expectation of him actually buying anything on my behalf. When he came back, he came bearing a gift, in the form of one of Takara Tomy's versions of the RID2015 Mini-Con Battle Packs. He seemed a little disappointed, and said that TransFormers didn't seem to be widely available, but a gift is a gift, and I was more than happy to receive it.

I don't normally go in for this scale, but the RID2015 take on Mini-Cons was at least intriguing, if a little inconsistent,

Friday, 1 December 2017

DotM Mechtech Ironhide (Leader)

Considering the multitude of repaints already made of Ironhide by the time Dark of the Moon rolled round and (spoiler warning) unceremoniously killed him off, it seems more than a little odd that Hasbro chose to release several new versions specifically for that movie, not least a Leader class version replete with electronic features in the form of the lights and sounds that had been pretty much ubiquitous with all the movies' Leader class figures.

Then again, they (foolishly, I feel) chose not to create a Megatron figure any larger than the Voyager this time around and, aside from Starscream (who'd already received a Leader class toy back in the Revenge of the Fallen subline 'Hunt for the Decepticons') and Bumblebee (who got a larger format toy of one form or another for... every... movie), there weren't that many worthy options in DotM.

Also, up to this point, most of the Ironhide toys had been a little lacking... and, if RotF Optimus Prime and DotM Sentinel Prime were awesome, surely a Leader class Ironhide would be too..?

Friday, 20 October 2017

TransFormers Adventure/Prime of Micron TAV52 Strongarm & Sawtooth 'Torrent Armour'

(Femme-Bot Friday #44)
While I still haven't watched a great deal of the new Robots in Disguise series, there was one character who immediately stood out as something new and unusual. Strongarm was a Femme-Bot, but not of the typical slender, curvy variety. Nor was she an emotionally-scarred, battle-hardened warrior or a seductive femme-fatale... Instead, she was a rulebook quoting rookie, full of boundless enthusiasm.

Granted, that's swapping one kind of stereotype for another, but her appearance - rugged and bulky - was quite a departure from the traditional style of Femme-Bot, and that's always going to be worth a look.

I'd wanted to pick up a version of Strongarm for quite some time, but didn't think much of Hasbro's version of the original Deluxe, and didn't think it was a good enough toy to really justify importing the Takara Tomy version... But then the Prime of Micron subline brought a whole new version of Strongarm that, in photos, at least, looked to be a bit of an improvement...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Cogman

There's something of a recurring theme in the TransFormers movie franchise, where a character turns up in the toyline despite being cut from the movie, or a particular element of their character plays an important part in the toy even though it was glossed over in the movie... And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I mean, on the one hand, it frequently shows how little regard the movie makers have for the property, yet shows how invested Hasbro are in the franchise, and taking advantage of features that define a character... even if it becomes utterly inexplicable one the toys actually hit the shelves. On the other hand, perhaps it simply proves how little Hasbro cares - that they're willing to let these movies waste a good idea that they decided to make use of in the toy?

Thus, we have Cogman as an Aston Martin... Or rather, we have Cogman, a 35mm tall action figure who turns into a larger version of his own head, packaged with an Aston Martin that transforms into a giant robot for Cogman to be the head of. Rumour has it, Nitro has a removeable head specifically to accommodate Cogman, though this was edited out of the movie. All this sounds like a bit of a trainwreck... so let's just see how the toy shapes up.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

SXS Toys A-06 & A-07 Replacement Weapon Sets (TF Prime Skyquake & Dreadwing)

One of the most irritating things about the TransFormers: Prime toyline was the 'Powerizers' weapon gimmick shoehorned in to every single Voyager class figure. Each one had the potential to be reasonably impressive, but the scale was off - some too small for the character, others too large - and they seem to have been designed to replace the character's forearm, without there ever being a means of attachment included... Optimus Prime and Starscream, for example, ended up with oversized handguns that featured their own forearm detail, while Megatron's fusion cannon was just too big for his arm. And while the LED-lighting gimmick was interesting enough, it never actually worked as intended due to the way the weapons were constructed, and the geared mechanisms were almost all unreliable.

Still, Third Parties can often be relied upon to fill in where Hasbro's budgets cut things out, or where their fixation on gimmicks causes disappointment and, while Dr. Wu crafted the lion's share of weapon accessories for mishandled TF Prime toys, SXS were the only ones to produce accurate plastic interpretations of the enormous, two-handed cannons wielded by Skyquake and Dreadwing, and it only took me about three years to finally cave in and buy them...

Robots in Disguise (2015)/Combiner Force Soundwave

There are few characters in the history of TransFormers as memorable and iconic as G1 Soundwave so, when he turns up in other series, he tends to look broadly similar, frequently featuring details which directly refer to, for example, the tape door or the stop/play/fast forward/rewind buttons (except when he doesn't). It's a brave designer who comes up with a whole new concept for Soundwave, so I was particularly impressed by his novel and original design in TransFormers Prime.

Being a continuation of TF Prime, Soundwave eventually turned up in the new Robots in Disguise TV show in his spindly, silent and sinister form before taking on a new, bulkier and very G1 referential form... but was it the right move to go back to his roots after such an impressive deviation?

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Titans Return Overlord & Dreadnaut

While I felt a little deprived over the likes of Fortress Maximus never appearing in UK toy shops (since he actually appeared in the Marvel comics, albeit at the same dubiously variable scale as he seems to have used in the cartoon), I wasn't even aware of the likes of Overlord until I became an adult collector, because I'd stopped collecting by the time he was released over here... and, these days, the lustre of most G1 toys has faded somewhat.

Overlord, being one of the 'playset' TransFormers toys, may yet have had a place in my collection, alongside my original G1 Metroplex, Scorponok and (2015's Platinum Edition) Trypticon as well, because he's unique in that he's a triple-changing dual-Powermaster with a fairly decent, quite sprawling base mode, but the lack of articulation in the robot mode is more of a sticking point for me these days than it would have been only a few years back.

But then Hasbro decided to update him for Titans Return, and a widespread release was more-or-less guaranteed (the 'less' part being dependency on Hasbro's increasingly dodgy distribution). As usual, I umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether or not to get him, more or less deciding against based on a couple of YouTube video reviews... but then caved in and forked out £60 for him at TFNation 2017.

So, was he worth it..?

Friday, 22 September 2017

Top 10 G1 Toys I Don't Own

As a collector who started out with Generation 1 toys back in the mid 1980s, I'm often guilty of comparing each new toyline to G1 and, despite all the engineering improvements the last thirty-odd years have brought, finding them a little wanting... Not least because so many of the more recent figures have had very simplistic - almost G1-level - transformations, with all kinds of detail faked in.

However, what with Combiner Wars, Titans Return and Power of the Primes continuing the reboot of Generation 1 that commenced with Classics back in 2006, it occurred to me that I've more or less decided no longer to pursue a number of the original Generation 1 toys I once coveted, in favour of picking up their contemporary remakes. Not so say there aren't any I still want, just that my list of 'Holy Grail' G1 TransFormers toys is now far shorter than it was only a couple of years ago.

Here, then, is a list of the Top Ten G1 TransFormers toys that I really wanted at the time, but (for the most part) don't anymore, along with why I wanted them at the time, and why I don't want them anymore... Some will be pretty self-explanatory, one way or another...

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Ninth Anniversary

Starting off this post was actually really easy once I actually found the time (in January of this year, I decided to try to take one Friday off work toward the end of every month, just to have a short, regular break and - hopefully - actually take advantage of my full allocation of holiday time this year, and these long weekends turned out to be good blogging opportunities) and I acquired a few very cool toys very soon after the last Anniversary post...

So, without futher ado, here are my top nine purchases since last year, inevitably featuring some figures I haven't yet posted about individually...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Robots in Disguise (2015) Fracture

The funny thing about a lot of TransFormers toy lines is that I start out thinking I'm not going to bother with any of the toys, then end up picking up a couple because they look cool and then, before I know it, I've got another new facet to my ever-growing collection.

Since I'm not actually watching the current Robots in Disguise TV series, the figures I've picked up thusfar haven't really followed any pattern beyond me thinking "Ooh, that one looks cool" and then trying to figure out if it's something I have to import, buy online from a UK retailer, or that I could pick up on a chance visit to Toys'R'Us or The Entertainer when I'm off to the nearby cinema with a friend. Once in a while, something I've put on my Amazon wish list is ordered by a friend or family member, and I get a surprise dose of plastic crack over Christmas or on my birthday... one such dose this year, courtesy of my sister, was Fracture.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Last Knight/Autobots Unite Hot Rod

Hasbro seems to have caught a lot of flack for re-using one of the more disappointing Age of Extinction molds for a new character in The Last Knight. Lockdown wasn't irredeemably bad and, in some respects was actually a lot of fun... And being much the same sort of car as Hot Rod becomes (after being a Citroen DS when first introduced) it makes a certain amount of sense, not least because it saved them some engineering costs.

That said, Hot Rod in the movie seems to have taken much the same role toward one of the new characters as Bumblebee did in the first movie, and his robot mode features suggestions of a Bumblebee-style transformation... Can the Lockdown mold really do him justice?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The HasCon Reveals - A Few Thoughts...

...Based on the photos that have turned up online because, as usual, I've not managed to visit a show in the States (though, admittedly, I'm somewhat more keen to try to visit a HasCon in future having seen those images).

DotM Mechtech Jolt

Given that Jolt's presence in Revenge of the Fallen appeared to be more an editing error than the intention of the film-makers, and that he didn't appear at all, even briefly, in the background, in Dark of the Moon, it seems like a complete waste of plastic to release him in the DotM toyline... and even more so to find he was given an entirely new mold.

The original toy wasn't remotely accurate to the on-screen CGI, yet managed to be a decent toy all the same. Surely a second attempt will be a significant improvement..?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Mastermind Creations Cyber Engine Knight Morpher KM-07 Warper

As a Seeker OCD sufferer, the moment I purchase a Starscream these days, I'm instantly compelled to desire - and, with any luck, acquire - the same mold as both Skywarp and Thundercracker... So it's lucky for me that the Third Parties are far more inclined than Hasbro to enable my compulsion. I don't think there's been a single Third Party Starscream that hasn't been swiftly repainted as the other two original Seekers, and many are subsequently retooled into the Coneheads. Hasbro, meanwhile, seems to think that niche characters like Sunstorm and Acid Rain/Storm are the more likely moneyspinners...

When Mastermind Creations started producing the Hearts of Steel Seekers, under their Cyber Engine Knight Morpher banner, they wasted no time in producing the three G1 Seekers, and tracking down all three on the secondary market, thankfully, didn't take me too long, back in 2015.

So let's take a look at the next on the list... the super-sinister black repaint...

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Titans Return Wolfwire Weirdwolf & Monxo

It could be suggested that I have a strange fascination with Weirdwolf. Perhaps because of the BotCon 2007 repaint of Cybertron Snarl/Galaxy Force Fang Wolf (which I only bought because it was half of a 2-part set with that year's Alpha Trion) but, while the robotic beasts that were the 1987 Decepticon HeadMasters didn't appeal to me, and the third party remakes of Skullcruncher and Mindwipe did nothing to endear me to the incongruous concept, Quadruple-U seemed kinda cute and turned out to be a pretty good update of the old HeadMaster concept which, at the time, was not being explored by Hasbro or Takara Tomy.

But then Titans Return happened and, conspicuously, Hasbro's first order of business seemed to be releasing official products of all the characters the third parties had tackled, including the confused lupine Decepticon, sadly coinciding with a somewhat ridiculous price hike for Deluxes. Granted, they were still far cheaper than the third part efforts, but they were also smaller and vastly less complicated models.

No surprise, then, that after several months of not buying Titans Return Wolfwire (his original name now unavailable, it seems) on any of the few occasions I happened to visit my local branch of The Entertainer, I finally caved in an order him online (at a much lower cost) when he was no longer on their shelves.

Friday, 1 September 2017

MAAS Toys/TFNation CT001TFN Rune

(Femme-Bot Friday #43)
One of the best things about BotCon - the TransFormers convention I never managed to attend over its 11 year history of being operated by Fun Publications, let alone its earlier days, when I wasn't even aware of its existance - was the range of exclusives they made available. Starting out with one or two small ones, and developing into their lavish boxed sets. Some have been contentious, some have been mediocre, some have been awesome, but all of them got the attention of the fandom.

As someone who attends conventions for the merchandise more than the panels or the 'community' aspect, event exclusives are especially piquant, so I've made a point of encouraging everything from badges and clothing to toys whenever I've given feedback on a UK show, and I'm clearly not alone... Because TFNation have really delivered, in only their second year, partnering up with MAAS Toys to create an event exclusive version of their first model, Skiff (aka G1 Cybertronian Bumblebee) as a new take on a BotCon exclusive toy from 2002, Glyph (itself a repaint of the G1 Bumblebee toy).

Make sense? OK, let's take a closer look...

Saturday, 19 August 2017

TFNation 2017 Round-up & Haul

I'm not going to split this into two parts, as per last year, simply because TFNation 2017 felt more like one experience split over two days, rather than the one horrendous day and one slightly better day I had last time (for reasons which had little or nothing to do with TFNation itself). It's also far more convenient, as I don't have to remember and write about things in any particular order.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hunt for the Decepticons Hubcap

One of the few coherent and interesting concepts to come out of Revenge of the Fallen was the idea that TransFormers have been on Earth far longer than Optimus Prime and his team believed. It's an idea that deserved - deserves, even now, in the wake of The Last Knight - a proper and thorough examination in a movie of its own, rather than being shuffled aside as a minor plot point in one of RotF's many silly, ad-libbed scenes.

Perhaps by way of compensation for this oversight, Hasbro decided to release a few smaller Autobots and Decepticons based around the movie's reinterpretation of the 'Seeker' title, more generally applied to the earliest visitors from Cybertron on their quest to find the Allspark. One such visitor was the vaguely G1-referencial Scout class Autobot, Hubcap...

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Titans Return Scourge & Fracas

G1 Scourge got a bit of a raw deal. As one of the new characters, introduced in the 1986 animated movie as one of Unicron's minions, rebuilt from one of the casualties of the Decepticons' raid on Autobot City, he represented the start of a very new direction in the toyline. No longer would there be realistic vehicle modes - the whole line was going completely Sci-Fi... and adopting all kinds of shortcuts in the process. Scourge, in particular, was one of the earliest - if not the earliest - shellformer, with most of his space-hovercraft vehicle mode ending up as squared-off 'wings' on his back after a minimal transformation.

Since then, Scourge toys have been few and far between and, aside from the Generations remake as a flying wing and the BotCon adaptation of Noisemaze, even his comic book character models tended to stick to the same bizarre look - moreover, the Third Party models have gone for a screen-accurate Masterpiece vibe rather than actually creating an alternate mode that looks like a spacecraft.

So, with the Generations figure already in my collection, I was all set to ignore the Titans Return version until I remembered that I have a newer Cyclonus and (Grand) Galvatron thanks to Unite Warriors, thus allowing my somewhat random OCD to kick in and demand I complete the set with a new Scourge...But is Hasbro's latest take on the leader of the Sweeps worth picking up?

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Combiner Wars (Custom) Sky Reign

While there is an official team - and configuration thereof - for Combiner Wars Sky Reign, I feel that all the components, even in the Unite Warriors version, turned out very lacklustre. I'd been toying with the idea of picking up CW Wheeljack and sprucing him up with Reprolabels simply because he's was the only CW Stunticon mold reuse that I don't have a version of (well, him and Drag Strip)... but the Breakdown mold he came from wasn't one of the better ones, so I ended up procrastinating.

Then, trawling through eBay one evening, I found the perfect solution, from Fun Publications' now-defunct Collectors' Club's final Subscription Service set. The package containing Toxitron and Counterpunch also contained the somewhat random choice of secret companion, Shattered Glass Starscream, based on the CW Aerialbot Skydive - with the head coming from the same mold's usage as UW Grand Galvatron component Ghost Starscream.

So, now complete, my Sky Reign looks a bit like this:

Friday, 28 July 2017

Iron Factory IF EX-16 Pink Assassin

(Femme-Bot Friday #42)
When the first few figures in Iron Factory's line of miniaturised transforming robots appeared, there didn't seem to be much of interest to me. I'm not overly keen on smaller, more simplified models of anything, particularly if they go for the Cybertronian aesthetic (often quite lazy and of inconsistent appearance) or if I already own a larger format version. Of course, that all changed when the first of the line's Femme-Bots - Windsaber/'Miko for IronTitan' - and suddenly I was hooked.

But, when it comes to Femme-Bots, Arcee is pretty much always the starting point, and it wasn't too long before Iron Factory revealed 'Pink Assassin', their impossibly cute but heavily armed take on the franchise's most poorly represented character.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Megatron (Leader class)

Way back toward the end of May 2017, an announcement turned up on the TransFormers fan sites that Amazon UK had put up preorder listings for The Last Knight's Leader class Megatron for about £45. Before I'd made up my mind about whether I wanted it or not, the price and order button were removed. Later, without any fanfare, the preorder became available again and, being a somewhat impulsive creature, I ordered it.

Then I just had to wait for it to arrive... a wait of a little over a month. But, hey, at least I didn't have to pay the current price tag, which seems to be closer to £65!

And, since we're now three toys into this line, I'll spare you any detail about the box... Not least because the only difference (other than size) is that someone at Hasbro decreed that Leader class Megatron actually deserved four whole lines of bland bio in four languages.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Thunder Mayhem

By the time BotCon 2016 rolled around, Combiner Wars was already winding down but, as well as the show's exclusive gestalt boxed set - (Dawn of the) Predacus, the Club was creating another combiner of its very own via the 2016 Subscription Service, this time collecting a motley crew of Decepticons - a pair of former Triggercons and a pair of Double Targetmasters, with a former Pretender as their leader - calling themselves the Mayhem Attack Squad and repackaged as Combiner Wars repaints, with the torso figure receiving a new head of his own and a new head for the gestalt.

I've dealt with all the components individually, so it's about time I had a look at the completed Subscription Service 4.0 figure, Thunder Mayhem...

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG35 Super Ginrai

Let's take a trip back to August 1988. Fourteen-year-old me was reading the TransFormers comics published by Marvel, frequently revolted by the artwork, but at least trying to pick it up every week (asking the newsagent who delivered our newspapers to call in a subscription didn't work, and the place at the tube station occasionally sold out, so I don't have anything like a complete run, and many of those I have are damaged due to poor storage). Having been killed off the previous year, Optimus Prime was finally returned in another of the Nebulans' bizarre experimental processes (which they seemed to enjoy regularly inflicting upon hapless Cybertronians in the name of keeping the peace), where they built themselves mech suits which basically turned them into power converters - Powermasters, in fact - for the newly-rebuilt Autobot leader and some of his cohorts. Not only that, but Powermaster Optimus Prime could combine with his trailer to become one of the few 'Super Robots' the toyline had seen (along with Ultra Magnus and all the gestalts). I can't remember offhand if I owned the toy before the character appeared in the comics, but I do remember being impressed by the idea of Optimus combining with his trailer to make a super robot... only to be extremely disappointed because the basic truck robot was a step backward from the original, Diaclone-derived figure in every way, and the combined 'Super Robot' could barely be considered poseable, even by Mini-Autobot standards.

Takara Tomy reworked and improved several aspects of this toy, releasing it as a new character, Ginrai/Super Ginrai, who coincidentally looked like Optimus Prime, but wasn't... At least until it was repainted in black, to become 'Nucleon Quest Super Convoy'.

So, when images of Hasbro's Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime surfaced, my interest was thoroughly piqued. Based on the awesome Combiner Wars/Legends Ultra Magnus structure, it had far more potential than the old G1 brick but sadly ended up with too many parts recycled from Ultra Magnus and a weirdly beige 'grey' plastic on a lot of its parts.

Of course, it took Takara Tomy to get it right, even if that did mean turning him into Super Ginrai again... but could even they unlock its full potential?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

TransFormers Legends/Tokyo Toy Show 2017 LG-EX Black Convoy

Of all the character concepts in TransFormers, Nemesis Prime (aka Scourge and, obviously, Black Convoy) has to be one of my favourites: a clone of Optimus Prime, with all his strength, intellect and skill, yet unencumbered with his compassion... and occasionally designed in such a way that he can be mistaken for Optimus by unwary (or just plain stupid) humans.

I have a number of Nemesis Primes, including a couple of exclusives/limited editions and, if I'm on the fence about a particular Optimus Prime mold, there is a good chance I'll still snap up the almost inevitable Nemesis repaint. Such was the case with the Titans Return Voyager class Optimus Prime triple-changing HeadMaster figure: as a homage to G2 Laser Prime, it was an obvious placeholder for TR Octane and while the 'Chaos on Velocitron' boxed set version's G2 toy-referencing paint job and tanker sticker looked excellent, robot mode was even more plain than the individual TR release, so it seemed like an easy pass, regardless of the long wait till Octane finally surfaced.

But then images surfaced of a Tokyo Toy Show exclusive repaint as Black Convoy - the show's fourth take on Nemesis Prime - and I was instantly hooked. I got very lucky, and managed to preorder via TFs-Express only days before they sold out, then just had to wait over a month for the event to actually happen, to make the stock available. Was it worth the wait..?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Thanks a bunch, Photobucket...

So, Photobucket - the image hosting site I used when I first started this blog - has recently decided that one can no longer use images uploaded to their service on remote sites. I'm going to guess it wasn't a popular decision with any users, but in this day and age it's not exactly unexpected... albeit rather misjudged. I mean... why use an image hosting service if they won't permit you to show the images they host for you anywhere but on that site? And to regain this 'permission' to use your own images, you have to pay?

Thankfully, I've been using Blogger itself to host my images since March 2013 (as a result of other irritating changes they made to their 'service'), so I only have to worry about fewer than 180 posts using Photobucket... and they currently seem to be working - the only thing that alerted me to the issue was their warning image turning up in my 'Cool Your Jets' image rotation in the lefthand column, which is now hosted on my personal website as Blogger doesn't seem to like animated GIFs sometimes...

Monday, 10 July 2017

Quick Teaser

Regular viewers may have noticed a bunch of new acquisitions from my Want List getting marked as 'On Order' or 'Bought' (so much for slowing down to conserve space - definitely need to do some housekeeping/shelf-to-storage rotation soon!). While I managed to take photos of much of it over the last, glorious weekend, I'm still having trouble sitting still long enough to compose a good write-up. Not for any significant reason, I'm just not really in the mood for concentrating on things in weather like we've been having lately, and with all kinds of other crap on my mind.

Still, one particular new purchase - preordered from Amazon a while back - only arrived today, so it missed the flurry of photography over the last couple of days. Considering how little toy blogging I've done over the last month-and-a-bit, I figured I should make an effort to pop something up here straight away, in lieu of a decent post.

Of course, as the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley... and I barely managed the below before the battery conked out...

Once more, with the flash? Why not..?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Because I'm Nothing If Not Capricious...

...I'm going to be heading to TFNation again this year.

Except I'm not just being capricious - despite my misgivings about last year's event, I did enjoy some of it and said at the time that I would go again if there was a particularly interesting guest. Unfortunately, by the time Venus Terzo (the voice of Blackarachnia in Beast Wars/Beast Machines) was announced, there didn't seem to be any rooms available at the convention hotel. Well, it was either that, or I spent a few more weeks procrastinating before trying to book... Probably the latter, now I think about it.

I spent a short while trying to find an alternative hotel nearby and, at that point, failed miserably... But a second attempt, more recently, netted a better result. So, I'll not be staying at the convention hotel, but I will be staying nearby. The short walk between venues shouldn't pose a problem... and hopefully my hotel this year will be easier to locate in the dark..?

To be honest, I'm not expecting much improvement on the setup of last year's - the MCM London Comic Con has been going on for over ten years now, and getting in is no better (just different) each time, so I've no reason to expect a much smaller event like this will develop any better - but there's no Roll Out Roll Call this year, so I figured I may as well give it a second try.

I'll be going on my own again, as my girlfriend wasn't keen to come, so I may end up giving the evening's entertainment a miss, or just go for the script reading... I'll probably make up my mind on the day.

In other news, my birthday netted me only one new TransFormer - RiD2015 Fracture, from my sister - because I'd asked my folks to steer clear of my 'Plastic Crack' wish list due to lack of space. I'm getting very much behind in my write-ups of new stuff while I try to plough through some of my existing drafts (less than 60 to go)... and, unfortunately, won't have much time for photography this weekend, or anything next weekend, as we're having a short holiday over the last week of June. Bit of a shame, as I actually did quite a few posts in May, but there we go. There's more to life than toy blogging.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Last Knight - Trailer Reactions (and Further Toy Musings)

I'll put my cards on the table and preface this opinion piece by saying that I'd made up my mind - quite some time ago - to avoid seeing TransFormers: The Last Knight. It was evident from the earliest trailers that it had taken the franchise's ongoing retconning game way too far, linking the story of these shapeshifting alien robots with Arthurian legend pushed things into the realms of the utterly ridiculous... and that's coming from someone who read the UK Marvel comics circa Man of Iron. That said, a glut of trailers - some almost character-specific - have been released (and there may well be more to come, even now), and I've been watching them for a reason to change my mind.

I haven't seen one yet.

Friday, 26 May 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2017/Generations Lifeline

(Femme-Bot Friday #41)
With Fun Publications' loss of the TransFormers Collectors' Club license at the end of 2016, the fifth and final year of their Subscription Service hit the kinds of delays that members hadn't seen since the first couple of years, back in 2005-6. This didn't really bother me a great deal, as there was only one figure that interested me in the whole set - the almost inevitable green repaint of Generations/Legends Arcee as a Paradron medic, seen briefly in the G1 cartoon - so I hadn't subscribed. It's often a huge risk to not grab a Club exclusive at the earliest opportunity as their prices tend to skyrocket very quickly... but, given the cost of year five of the Subscription Service, it was a gamble I was willing to take.

Of course, the other gamble is, will the figure actually be worth even the first, very slightly inflated secondary market price?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Optimus Prime

I'll be honest: I didn't bother picking up any version of Age of Extinction Optimus Prime. I was vaguely interested by the improved CGI accuracy, remolded parts and superior paint job of Takara Tomy's Movie Advanced Armour Knight Optimus Prime, but the model itself still looked like a trainwreck. The entire robot was folded up inside the cab, most of nose of the truck ended up on the backs of his legs and the entire rear section hung off his back, untransformed in any way. Compared to the previous Leader class figures, it was a disaster of reduced budget and oversimplified transformation, mitigated only by the extra attention Takara Tomy lavished upon its appearance but, even so, the £150+ pricetag is way more than I'd ever be willing to pay.

Cut to the run-up to The Last Knight, when images of a smaller, yet more impressively designed reworking of the new Optimus Prime character model showed up, actually looking pretty decent. Despite my misgivings about the character's redesign, the toy certainly looked as though it would be worth a look, and so became something of an impulse buy...

...But was it worthwhile after all?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Bludgeon

Out of all the TFSS4.0 figures announced, I'd say I was least enthused by Bludgeon. Not that the Photoshop-recoloured images and the new head sculpt didn't impress me, just that the Hot Spot mold seems to have had more use than just about any other Combiner Wars torso Voyager figure (bearing in mind that I don't own a single iteration of the Optimus Prime/Motormaster truck mold). Also, by the time this package arrived in the post, I'd already planned to acquire Unite Warriors Bruticus, eventually giving me three very similar gestalts on my shelves.

But, this is the final part of the Collectors' Club's very own, 'unique' gestalt, Thunder Mayhem, along with the other members of the Mayhem Attack Squad: Needlenose, Grabuge/Ruckus, Spinister and Windsweeper. Let's first see how Bludgeon fares in his own, individual form...

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Revenge of the Fallen Dirt Boss

Ever have one of those times when you look at a figure in your collection and wonder why you bothered buying it? I don't often have moments of introspection of that particular kind, but I suspect the extended toylines of the live action movies - that is, the toys made of character not actually featured in the films, but developed as concept art or for the licensed videogames - probably account for the greatest proportion of those few I have.

Probably the finest example of this very specific breed of buyers' remorse would be Dirt Boss - one of the toys based on a drone from the videogame of the first movie. Some of those drones took on cool alternate modes, like jets and cars... Dirt Boss became a small forklift...

Oh well, let's get on with it...

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Barricade

Despite an astonishing lack of character, Barricade was one of the more interesting Decepticons in the first live action movie, if only because he was the first one sent to track down the AllSpark's location, and he chose to disguise himself as a police car. His fate was uncertain at the end of that movie, and he didn't appear in Revenge of the Fallen, only to resurface - briefly, and without explanation - in Dark of the Moon which, again, left his fate uncertain.

Now, having been absent for Age of Extinction, the Bad Cop is back... with a new vehicle mode and a whole new look... So, what's the 411?

Monday, 8 May 2017

Dark Portents

Every so often, a fairly random thought - that is to say, unrelated to whatever I'm actually doing at the time - will pop into my head and nag at me persistently until I do something about it... This morning, for example...

It occurred to me, while I was getting ready for work, that it was pretty much right after the HeadMasters , Targetmasters and Powermasters of Generation 1 that I lost interest in TransFormers toys and that, not quite thirty years later, TransFormers toys have basically come full circle with Titans Return. "What does this mean?" I wondered, "Does it have any significance?"

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Revenge of the Fallen Swerve

Back when I wrote about the original Deluxe RotF Sideswipe, very nearly eight full years ago and less than a year into this blog, I noted that the Corvette Stingray would look awesome in red, since that would have been a far more fitting colour for Sideswipe. It didn't take too long for Hasbro to release a red repaint, albeit as a difference character... Though, in a lot of ways, it looks more like a cheeky way of producing a more G1-referential version of movie Sideswipe considering Swerve had traditionally been a truck rather than a sports car...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

iGear Con Air Raptor Squadron IG-C03 Thunder-Wrath

It's been over a year since I picked up the three members of iGear's Raptor Squadron and, while I'd intended to get through them all in fairly quick succession, things haven't worked out that way... I guess part of the problem is that they are basically identical bar their colourschemes, making the exercise seem like a bit of a chore at times.

Nevertheless, let's have have a closer look, to see if there's anything special about iGear's vaguely IDW-style take on Thundercracker

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Berserker (AKA Crankcase v2)

The toyline from Dark of the Moon was extremely variable. Much of it was remakes and fine-tuning of existing figures (most notably those Autobots who actually survived the first two movies) and a whole lot of the random Decepticon background 'characters' never made it into toy form. The Dreads - an indentikit set of spike monsters that transformed into identical SUVs - didn't all make it onto the shelves in the same size class, and the only one of them to come out as a Deluxe, Crankcase, was a hopeless mess of car panels and fragility.

Cut to the fifth movie in the increasingly ridiculous live action movie franchise, and we're introduced to a Decepticon supposedly known only as 'Berserker'... who looks remarkably similar to Crankcase. Berserker somehow managed to be part of the first wave of The Last Knight's toys, and early photos suggested that Crankcase's character model has finally been done justice... So let's take a closer look...

Saturday, 29 April 2017

TLK Definitely Out...

After a false start last weekend - when I was under the mistaken impression that The Last Knight toys must have hit the shelves because photos were cropping up all over the internet - I popped back over to the recently-opened branch of Toys'R'Us in Uxbridge this morning, with a somewhat greater sense of certainty that I'd find something new and exciting...

Sunday, 16 April 2017

CW Sky Lynx Addendum


Several Subtle but Worthwhile Adjustments to a
Flawed but Fun Figure

Straight out of the box, there were several issues with Sky Lynx. First and foremost, not one of the white hip-caps had been properly attached in the factory, so I had to remove and reseat all of them. Next up, I couldn't understand why the two angled fins had been attached backward (ie. angling forward) compared to the main upright fin, so I switched both around. It has a negligible effect on the look of the Sky Reign torso, but nothing serious and, frankly, both vehicle mode and robot mode look far better with all the fins angling backward.

Combiner Wars Sky Lynx

Back in the days of Generation 1, Sky Lynx was yet another of those toys that Hasbro 'appropriated' into the TransFormers line and, like Omega Supreme and Shockwave, he never appeared in the UK (in retrospect, it's rather suprising we got Jetfire!). In fact, Sky Lynx was one of the very strange few who never had an official Japanese release until appearing in the Encore line back in 2008... and he's still never had an official UK release.

I'd been debating whether or not to try to track down the Encore figure - it's still fairly easily available almost ten years after it appeared, albeit pretty expensive on the secondary market - when, all of a sudden, a year or so ago, Hasbro released images of a whole new Sky Lynx for the Combiner Wars line - a Voyager class figure that would become the torso of a wholly original gestalt named Sky Reign. It met with a fairly mixed reception, so I wasn't entirely sure I wanted it after all... and only really made up my mind when I realised that my purchase of the Deluxe class Groove left me with three 'spare' limb-bots (two from the Collectors' Club's Subscription Service year 4), giving me the opportunity to level the playing field between Autobot and Decepticon gestalts with a slightly customised Sky Reign.

But is this new Sky Lynx sufficiently glorious as a homage to be worthwhile in and of himself..?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Last Knight/New Designs - Early First Impressions

So, we've been seeing photos from a couple of toy shows featuring toys from the line accompanying the new live action movie, The Last Knight and many of them look... familiar. Bumblebee is yet another reshelling of the honed-to-perfection figure they got right back in the Revenge of the Fallen toyline (only to take several steps backward with each subsequent figure, culminating with the over-simplified mess of a toy based on the over-complicated mess of CGI that was Age of Extinction 'Bee). Drift and Crosshairs are reshellings, with the most exciting aspect of the two of them being Drift's new, eyeball-melting orange colourscheme and an inverted transformation versus the AoE Deluxe. There's a new Optimus Prime - obviously - which looks leagues better than either of the Leader Class figures from the AoE toyline, despite being only a Voyager. The only major improvements are with the Decepticons... A new Barricade looks decent, a new seemingly generic character known only as 'Berserker' is the Crankcase toy we should have got in the Dark of the Moon toyline, rather than the brittle piece of crap than came out at the time...

...And the new Megatron...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Titans Return Hot Rod & Firedrive

It should come as no surprise that, when the Classics line came along in 2006, certain characters from TransFormers: The Movie - set in 2005/6 - featured quite prominently. Hot Rod - rebranded as Rodimus, no doubt for complex legal reasons - was one of the very first releases, and the mold was reused about a billion times over the years, twice by the Collectors' Club, and most recently appearing in a Platinum Edition boxed set. It was a decent mold for the time, but certainly not one of the best... and plenty of people have been wanting a proper Deluxe class update of G1 Hot Rod for a good few years, given that we have two Masterpiece versions as well as interpretations for other continuities (though surprisingly not TF Prime where, arguably, Smokescreen took his role).

Cut to Titans Return, where Hasbro is basically reliving their glory days once again by rebooting the entire Classics line, and remaking quite a few characters who received adequate toys ten years ago, but are now considered ripe for updating into the latest part of the continuing Generations line... and, finally, we have a Hot Rod named Hot Rod rather than some variation of Rodimus...

Friday, 24 February 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2007 (Timelines) Springer

Back while Hasbro were still insisting that they wouldn't be doing Triple Changers in the foreseeable future (I'm actually a little hazy on whether that was before or after the lukewarm Octane (aka Tankor) and Astrotrain), there were several attempts to repurpose more standard two-form TransFormers into one of the much-beloved characters from the 1986 animated movie, Springer. Hasbro themselves released a version of him repainted from Galaxy Force Live Convoy in a two-pack with Ratbat repainted from GF Noisemaze, then followed that up with Springer as a Legends class Osprey helicopter as part of the extended toyline for Revenge of the Fallen. That took care of Springer-as-Helicopter... but what about Springer-as-Armoured-Car..?

Enter the BotCon 2007 additions to the Games of Deception boxed set, where a ground-based version of the character was repurposed out of a surprisingly appropriate source...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG25 Blurr

Back in the 80s, the G1 Blurr toy was an easy pass for me: a large, poorly proportioned mess of a robot that transformed into a sci-fi doorstop of a hover car and, in the thirty-plus years since the character's introduction in the animated movie, only one Blurr toy - the TransFormers Animated version - seemed worth picking up thanks to its improved design and articulation.

...And then Titans Return happened, and Blurr's G1 wedge-shaped alternate mode returned, with massive improvements both to the vehicle mode and the robot mode... albeit with the slightly incongruous Titan Master aspect tacked on. Blurr had been one of the G1 Autobot TargetMasters, along with Hot Rod and Kup, so reinventing him as a HeadMaster initially seemed like a poor choice. That, coupled with Hasbro's hideous colourscheme (seemingly based on the G1 toy, but with less colour variety) made him an easy pass all over again.

But then photos of the Takara Tomy version, from their Legends line (continuing from their 30th Anniversary releases), surfaced, and suddenly the HeadMaster aspect didn't seem so bad after all... And it's about time I posted about something properly new... Though, unlike the other TF Legends figures I've picked up, I won't bother writing about the packaging...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

TransFormers United 2-pack: UN-20 Rumble & Frenzy

If there's one thing I find frustrating and disappointing about the TransFormers brand, it's the reliance on tanks to solve just about any issue with updating a character's form. Megatron can't be a gun anymore because gun toys are considered more dangerous and contentious in America than real guns? Make him a tank. Shockwave can't be a space gun anymore because space guns are still guns? Make him a space tank.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so fussy about a toyline which is still, let's face it, predominantly made up of cars... but surely there are better updates to contentious G1 alternate modes than tanks?

And yet, just because the extended Classics line had no Soundwave of its own (despite there being a sort of contemporary figure in one of Takara Tomy's short-lived offshoot lines), two of his more enduring minions appeared in somewhat familiar and sadly unimaginative forms...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Unite Warriors UW-07 Decepticon Combaticon Combiner Bruticus

Back in the days of Generation 1, I had much better luck with the Decepticon combiners than the Autobots, managing to complete two of the former (Menasor and Abominus) and most of another (all the Seacons except Snaptrap, who I only picked up on eBay a few years ago) without any of the latter (3 out of 4 limbs for Defensor seems, in retrospect, a little underachieving). The truth was, the Autobots weren't that interesting - Defensor looked a bit boxy, Superion looked very gangly and Computron's components just looked pretty awful to me. Also, with G1 Devastator not making it over to these shores, I felt compelled to compensate by focussing on the Decepticon gestalts anyway.

The one I never got round to was Bruticus and, while Hasbro released his Combiner Wars incarnation as a G1 toy homage - with only one new mold (Brawl) and one reshelling (Swindle, from Rook), reducing Blast Off from a space shuttle to a jet (albeit a more appropriate vehicle  for a military unit) - Takara Tomy aimed for a more cartoon-accurate vibe and created a whole new mold for the Decepticons' 'Space Warrior'.

Of course, buying the Takara Tomy boxed set on import makes it rather more expensive than the version I could pick up piecemeal in UK toy shops... but is it worth the extra..?

Pricing Insanity

It's actually pretty rare, at the moment, that I'll buy any TransFormers in a physical shop, largely because there aren't any decent toy shops close enough to me that the potential for disappointment (nothing new in stock, limited selection, etc.) is outweighed by the likelihood of scoring an awesome new purchase. Out of town, the most easily accessible shop is the Uxbridge branch of The Entertainer. Across the outskirts there's a Toys'R'Us at Brent Cross, another at Watford and the Friern Barnet branch of Smyths (the latter more easily accessible from work than from home). I gather from a trip in to Uxbridge yesterday that the Intu complex will soon boast its very own - and permanent - Toys'R'Us, following the pop-up branch that arrived shortly before Christmas one year, then disappeared very soon into the New Year. The last time I regularly put in the legwork and visited toy shops was back when the Revenge of the Fallen toyline was in full swing, although I did pick up quite a few Combiner Wars figures in the Smyths at Friern Barnet.

We're also in something of a period of economic uncertainty, with the 'Brexit' referendum causing the value of the pound to plummet against the Euro, the US Dollar and the Yen. This would naturally have an impact on the cost of our Plastic Crack, but the pattern thusfar seems to show a specific, strange, yet not entirely unexpected bias. Leader Class toys have long been fairly stable in the region of £40-45, so the RRP of a Leader Class figure in the Titans Return range being £45/£45.99 seems perfectly acceptable (unless you get really technical and compare the likes of Powermaster Optimus Prime or Soundwave with Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime - same pricepoint, vastly different levels of complexity). Even the Voyager class figures have been creeping steadily upward from about £18 to £25 over the last decade. Size-wise, they've been reasonably stable so they presented probably the best value for money over that same period.

So, when I visited The Entertainer yesterday, while I was expecting neither to buy anything nor to even see anything new, I was surprised by a couple of things: firstly, they actually had TR Voyager class (triple-changin') Optimus Prime and Megatron (at £27 each); secondly, there had been a significant price hike in the Deluxe class Titans Return figures in only a couple of weeks: last time I was there, they were £20... Now they're £23.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Beast Wars Neo Mach Kick

OK, now for something from the weirder portion of my collection, to celebrate another milestone - TFCC/SS4.0 Windsweeper being my 500th post to this blog - it's kind of a shame I didn't hit the 500th post before starting the new year, considering how close I was... but I've had a hard time with anything creative recently...

I think I've mentioned before how the more ambitious Beast Wars molds came along after Hasbro had gradually started reorienting the brand back towards the mechanical, and Takara picked up the idea and ran with it in some very strange directions. The original set of characters was quite small and, while it certainly covered a wide range of animal types, quite a few others were conspicuous by their absence... For the most part, the animals of Beast Wars Neo were fun, quirky, and beautifully detailed.

Robot modes, however... that's where things went truly bonkers...

Saturday, 28 January 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Windsweeper

And so, we come to the final limb of Thunder Mayhem, the former G1 Triggercon Windsweeper. Before even taking this thing out of its box, there was a sense of disappointment about it, because there are only three Aerialbot jet molds, and two of them - Firefly and Skydive - seem to be getting the used over and over again, while the one figure that was not made available officially in the UK seems notably by its absences in the repaints... even though it has actually been reused just about as many times.

It also seems a bit sad that the Skydive mold was only recently repainted for BotCon 2016 set (as General Cicadacon), furthering the impression that certain molds are getting more attention than others.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Perfect Effect PE-DX05 'Beast Muscle' Leonidas

Every so often, a Third Party release comes along that has my attention from the very first images. There's no real pattern to it, but there's frequently a connection to my earlier collecting habits.

One of the stranger examples is this - Perfect Effect's pre-Beast Wars reimagining of Lio Convoy. Granted, I'm a fan of the original, and I love the Collectors' Club's 2015 Membership Incentive version, but this is a version of the character who transforms into a robotic lion... which basically doesn't make sense in the context of Beast Wars... or, really, any TransFormers continuity.

But when has that stopped me buying something potentially awesome?

NB: This post has been sitting in my drafts for well over a year... Nothing unusual for me, in the grand scheme of things but, in this case, there's a very good reason...