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...

...And, initially, I was disappointed - their 'Action & Adventure' section at the back featured only RID2015 and Titans Return stuff, and precious little even of that. Of course, Toys'R'Us have the habit of putting the new and exciting stuff right up the front of the shop but, sadly, in the Uxbridge branch, this location is utterly counter-intuitive, because the racks face into the shop, and you'll likely only glance at them on your way out again. Most of it is still full of toys from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but I did happen to notice the new 'Premier Edition' packaging of Hasbro's The Last Knight toys, and gladly picked up the interesting portion of Wave 1 (ie. not the AoE Bumblebee repaint).

Of course, I say "gladly", but a look at the price tag certainly gave me pause: £22.99 for the Deluxes, £32.99 for Optimus Prime. Putting things in nice display boxes and labelling them 'Premier Edition' isn't enough to make them premier quality, and the paint jobs on the Deluxes looks pretty sparse even in the boxes. Sure, Optimus Prime has a mass of silver paint over his torso and shins, but the arms and chest panels are lacking the flame pattern and there's very little detail work in general... When something is described as 'Premier Edition' and comes with a higher than normal price tag, I'd expect something significantly better than the average mass retail paint job, even if it's not as opulent as some of the Collectors' Club's output, and I see precious little here that might fit that description.

Essentially, we now have Deluxes at the old Voyager price tag (circa Dark of the Moon, if not Age of Extinction) and Voyagers costing as much the now defunct Ultra class (those toys that were a touch larger than a Voyager and often featured lights and sounds, but weren't big or impressive enough to count as Leader class) and I've yet to see what a Leader class figure will cost on this sceptred isle.

The odd thing about all this is, what with the reduced size and complexity of the figures, the dull paintwork and the increased cost, I've gone from being super-excited about a new TransFormers movie toy range and high expectations for a cast of toy-only supplementary characters, to thinking "Well, the movie sounds as though it'll be crap, so perhaps it's a good thing that Hasbro are currently less likely to produce an extended range of characters under this 'Premier Edition' banner".

There is the sense that actually producing toys to accompany these movies based on a toyline is now a perfunctory process for Hasbro, not helped by the fact that they permitted the designers of the movie robots to create characters who cannot be translated into transforming plastic models without resorting to just folding the robot up inside a vehicle shell. The first three movies just about managed this with varying degrees of success, but the decline into shellforming certainly began with Dark of the Moon and took on a life of its own with Age of Extinction.

I'll obviously go into more detail on all three of these - and any others I might pick up from future waves - at some point (hopefully soon) but, while I'm not absolutely disappointed in them, even at these inflated prices, there's still plenty of room for improvement, though it seems increasingly unlikely - in these economically uncertain times, where Hasbro has to have multiple continuities on the go at all times - that we'll ever get back to the awesome detail and complexity of the Revenge of the Fallen toyline...

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