Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Retrospective

Going back to the strategy for 2016, I started writing this post at the end of January, with the intention of building it up more-or-less as and when things occurred. It wasn't particularly successful, as many of this year's personal 'events' were quite stressful at the time, and I didn't really want to write about them so, by the end of the year, I was left trying to remember things to cram in...

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Masterpiece Cassetticons: Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage & Laserbeak

Way back in July 2014, when I decided to write about the Masterpiece Soundwave set in three parts - based on the way he was packaged in G1 and according to the split Takara Tomy releases - I figured I was being terribly clever, and honestly thought I'd get to the remainder of the minions a bit sooner than this. Then again, there's not much to them, so they're fairly easily dismissed considering some of the drafts I've had lying around in Blogger for substantially longer.

Still, I figure it's about time to get on to them but, rather than split them into two further posts, I've decided to lump them all together in one, just for (my) convenience.

And, just so there are no surprises, the characters are named per their G1 toys rather than the G1 TV show, so Rumble is the red/black one. I don't care about the arguments - to me, the toyline (and Bob Budiansky's bios) are correctly assigned (though I concede that Sunstreaker and Sideswipe's bios were switched, most likely because their Diaclone colourschemes were switched). Others are free to name them as they see fit...

Friday, 21 December 2018

Galaxy Force Chromia White Version

(Femme-Bot Friday #62)
I've waited quite a long time for this one... Originally released back in 2005 and packaged with part of the Japanese DVD release of the Galaxy Force TV series, Chromia White Version is a homage to the Japanese G1 (specfically Super-God Masterforce) release of Minerva - a toy which was repainted and released in the West as Nightbeat.

Rather foolishly, I decided against ordering this figure when I first became aware of it because I hadn't quite got to the stage in my collecting habits where I wanted to try to focus on Femme-Bots and, let's be honest, Chromia was hardly the best toy to come out of Galaxy Force. Nevertheless, she became one of my Holy Grail figures a few years later - after I'd bought a BotCon repaint and the standard version - but became impossible to find online until earlier this year, when a pair of them turned up on eBay, minus the packaging and the DVD.

It's entirely possible this is actually a knockoff... though I'm not aware of this figure having been knocked off, let alone this version of the figure and, to be honest, cost aside, I'm not too fussed.

Let's have a closer look...

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Robots in Disguise Omega Prime

When I picked up RiD Ultra Magnus, all those years ago, one of the toy's features that really interested me was that he was designed to combine with RiD Optimus Prime. That simple fact was what led me to track down that first fire engine Prime and, later, fill out the RiD Autobot ranks with the three 'car brothers'. The most impressive aspect of this gestalt was that the two component toys featured electronics of their own, and the combined form had a unique set of features...

These figures were recently re-released as part of Takara Tomy's Encore line, but got a remarkably poor reception due to a whole long list of QC problems, either due to shoddy assembly, the quality of the plastics used, or simply the age of the mold. It's a real shame, as it was an expensive set and its release deserved to be a real event, but not such an infamous one. So let's have a look at the original RiD Omega Prime...

Monday, 17 December 2018

War For Cybertron - How I would have done it

As the first toys from War For Cybertron: Siege start to trickle into the shops for Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about the way Hasbro chose to approach the narrative (such as it is, so far).

Personally, I think the idea of setting it before the Autobots launch the Ark and, pursued by the Decepticons in the Nemesis, crash land on Earth, is a huge mistake. Like the Star Wars prequels Rogue One and Solo, that is a point in the story that doesn't need to be explored and which, I'd guess, no-one was really asking for. Also like those films, dwelling on this period could do more harm than good to established canon (which, obviously, Hasbro are free to reboot as often as they like, as it's their property... but they've already rebooted G1 from 1986 onward through the Prime Wars trilogy). It's too brief a time period, for one thing, unless you're starting it at the very beginning of the Decepticon uprising and giving everyone alternate modes that aren't built for war, but appear to have had weapons bolted on. What we're actually getting is a series of toys that seem to have futuristic Earth modes rather than alternate modes that look as though they come from an ancient planet populated by sentient, shape-shifting robots.

The more I've thought about it, though, the more I realise the fault isn't with the toyline at all - unimaginative as it seems to be, and likely having no place in my collection aside from a handful of exceptions - it's really just the choice of setting. Given the right setting, they could use exactly the same toys and it'd make a whole lot more sense.

So here's how I'd play it - based on all the toys we've seen so far, but with a few strategic additions...
(plus addendum following IDW's announcement of the upcoming comics series)

Sunday, 16 December 2018

TransFormers: Bumblebee - Proof that it can be done well?

While the Bumblebee movie isn't on general release until after Christmas over here, my best mate let me know it was being 'previewed' this weekend at a cinema convenient to both of us, so we booked tickets and had a quick look.

Briefly, it's very good - far better than any of the movies helmed by Michael Bay - and, despite being essentially a retread of the first movie (but "a girl gets her first car" rather than "a boy gets his first car"), still featuring humans rather too much, and borrowing heavily from The Iron Giant, it's enough of a TransFormers movie that I'm more hopeful for the continuation of the franchise.

More specifics? There will be a few spoilers ahead... You have been warned.

Seriously, do not read further if you don't want to see spoilers.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Studio Series #20 Bumblebee Vol. 2 - Retro Pop Highway

Hasbro really have gone a little bit nuts over Bumblebee over the last decade, and that's come sharply into focus now, with the Bumblebee solo movie hitting cinemas. The marketing machine seems to believe that they should release multiple versions of every single iteration of Bumblebee - myriad repaints in every size class, occasionally with new accessories or minor changes to the engineering.

Frankly, I got bored of that after Battle Blade Bumblebee, released eight years ago, simply because that still represents the pinnacle of Deluxe class engineering on a movie toy - not just a Bumblebee toy - as far as I'm concerned. Sure, I bought two movie Bumblebees from the Age of Extinction line, but they were at least based on different cars. I also had a Dark of the Moon version (Nitro Bumblebee) given to me as a gift, but I refused to buy any of the repaints and minor tweaks, and this will carry over to Studio Series: I bought the very first, because it's an improvement on the original '76 Camaro Bumblebee toy, and have no intention of buying any of the others...

...Except this one, which looked interesting because vehicle mode is almost a homage to G1 Goldbug, while robot mode is simply a more impressive-looking repaint of the SS VW Beetle Bumblebee for his eponymous live action outing. It's not exactly a limited edition, and clearly not as much of an exclusive as it's supposed to be, but the combination of a special paint job and a couple of G1 cassette-bots was more than enough to encourage me to (temporarily) lift the self-imposed Bumblebee embargo on my collection.

Annoyingly, though, I preordered this set in September, when it was supposed to ship in October, and then found him available at the Hasbro booth at the MCM London Comic Con at the end of October (probably cheaper there, too). He eventually arrived in the post last weekend, more than a little overdue (not least because of Royal Mail's 48-hour service taking closer to 72 hours)... so let's take a look at him.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Iron Factory IF EX-16N Night Assassin

(Femme-Bot Friday #61)
Cleverly taking a leaf out of Takara Tomy's books, Iron Factory took their 'Pink Assassin' small-scale Arcee-analogue mold and very quickly turned it into their very own take on the G1 cartoon character, Nightbird. It seems like a rather niche move, and certainly strange as a standalone release when their Elita-1 analogue was packaged with another figure (irritating as it is to my OCD, their Combiner Hunters Arcee, IF EX-16H, being packaged with IF EX-24 War Giant Commander made much more sense), but it's another Third Party Femme-Bot, so it was on my want list as soon as I became aware of its existance.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Power of the Primes Blackwing Darkwing

Also (as in originally) known as 'Darkwing', Blackwing is the second Combiner Wars Aerialbot retooling to be turned into a G1 Powermaster homage following Power of the Primes Dreadwind. While both have lost their Powermaster gimmick in favour of the somewhat shoehorned Prime Armour gimmick, their other unique and defining feature - the ability to combine their vehicle modes into the giant 'Dreadwing' superjet - was announced as having been retained. Having missed out on the cumbersome, clunky G1 figures, I was keen to see what contemporary toymaking techniques could do with such an interesting concept.

I was reasonably impressed with Dreadwind on his own, but acquiring this figure made both seem more disappointing than either in isolation... so let's find out why...

Sunday, 25 November 2018

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Knock Out

One of the biggest frustrations with TransFormers: Prime season three - aka 'Beast Hunters' - is that virtually all the regular characters remain the same bar a few isolated changes to their paint jobs, while the toyline just went bonkers, growing spikes and other protrusions all over the place... And yet, where Hasbro had the perfect opportunity to do a straight repaint of a new character, Smokescreen, they dropped the ball. By and large, the 'tooled up' versions of the regular show characters weren't at all appealing to me, but the remake of Knock Out - affectionately known as 'Croc Out' - certainly has its appeal.

Monday, 19 November 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2007 (Timelines) Hologram Mirage

There are times in every collector's life, I'm sure, where they look at an exclusive figure in their collection, and wonder why they bought it. As I started writing this, I couldn't remember if this figure had been part of a set I'd bought on eBay or something I bought on its own and, after a little research, it seems more likely the latter. Hologram Mirage was one of those figures given away to those who collected their top-tier BotCon 2007 set in person, at the show. I guess that makes it kind of interesting...

But, still, it was another version of the Classics Mirage mold which, at the time, was fantastic - stable and poseable to an extent matched by few other Classics figures then or since. I have to confess that a hologram version is a bit of a novelty - there was a similar Binaltech version, described as the "Electro-Disrupter" version, released by e-HOBBY the same year, and Takara Tomy produced their own take using this very mold in 2009 - so clearly there's a market for this sort of thing... but it does seem more than a little bit niche...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Masterpiece Movie Series MPM-7 Bumblebee

Considering the prevalence of Bumblebee figures in all the live action movies' toylines, I made a decision very early on - after Age of Extinction, in fact - to be very selective of my Bumblebee purchases. Thus, I bought the original Studio Series Bumblebee because I felt it was a good way to close of my collection of Michael Bay-era Bumblebees (until the WWII version was announced, at least), and decided to preorder the gold, 'Retro Pop Highway' version of the Studio Series Bumblebee movie figure simply because it was something different and special.

Around the same time, though, I caved in and decided that I did rather want a 'proper' version of the new yellow VW Beetle figure, and so ordered the Masterpiece version in the hope that it would serve as the definitive figure of the new CGI character, so I won't feel compelled to buy any others.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Black Mamba Deformation LS-01 Ares Nitrogen

Hasbro's Nitro (Zeus) figure, despite having a typically poor paint job, turned out to be one of my top figures of 2017, so when I learned that KO merchants/upscalers/upgraders Black Mamba were producing their own oversized version of the character, my interest was immediately piqued. A better paint job alone would make the figure worth a look, but the promise of making him larger, tweaking the engineering and adding a few die cast parts put 'Ares Nitrogen' firmly on my radar, and the first photos of the fully-painted figure rocketed him right to the top of my want list...

...But with Studio Series Thundercracker - based on the same mold - now available, is it worth tracking down an oversized upgrade on the original?

Friday, 9 November 2018

TransFormers Adventure TAV03 Strongarm

(Femme-Bot Friday #60)
When I wrote about the Prime of Micron version of Strongarm, last year, I noted that I didn't think Hasbro's Deluxe was worth considering and that the cost of importing Takara Tomy's was prohibitive given that it's the same toy, just with a slightly improved paint job. Of course, that was before I realised that PoM version was smaller than a Deluxe and so not really the Strongarm figure I wanted either.

So, you know what that means, right..?

Monday, 29 October 2018

MCM London Comic Con - Hasbro Display & Sunday Panel

OK, so Studio Series Devastator was a pleasant surprise... I'm now glad I didn't buy the colossal non-transforming electronic brick version after all... But that particular event-exclusive reveal wasn't the only bit of news, either from the Hasbro/TransFormers panel this afternoon, or the Hasbro booth - the first time they've done such a thing at a UK show, as far as I can recall.

The stand itself was split between Hasbro's Marvel, Star Wars and TransFormers products (interestingly, with the first two currently owned by Disney, I almost wonder why Disney didn't pick up TransFormers when a cinematic outing was first pitched). I had a brief look at the other bits and bobs (the electronic Infinity Gauntlet, Black Panther Mask and a more detailed, multi-part Darth Vader helmet being the highlights) and of course there was a small display of War for Cybertron stuff... but that was even more disappointing than I'd expected. 'Voyager class' Optimus Prime is positively miniscule, little bigger than a Deluxe from a few years back. Megatron looks worse in person than he did in photos, and the rest of the display amounted to Hound, Sideswipe, Cog and Flywheels. That's significantly less than they've revealed between the New York and Paris Comic Cons already, and seems like a pretty poor showing, under the circumstances.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

I'll Just Leave This Here...

Yes, it's a terrpible photo... but that there is the upcoming Studio Series Revenge of the Fallen Devastator (wrecking balls not included - someone asked specifically). A few more bits and bobs to come...

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Generations (30th Anniversary) Crosscut

The Generations/30th Anniversary toy of Skids was a surprise on many levels - not least that it happened at all. Along with Generations Springer, it seemed to show, at the time, that Hasbro were paying attention to IDW's output and tailoring their output (to a degree) toward those who appreciated the ongoing comic book narrative. While I hadn't intended to buy Skids for various reasons, he ended up being an impulse buy while on holiday a few years ago and I really liked what Hasbro had done to update and improve what had been a fairly poor G1 toy.

G1 Crosscut, meanwhile, was an e-HOBBY exclusive with a 'new' (that is, derived from one of the alternative Diaclone versions of the mold) head sculpt so, when Hasbro announced a Generations version, with a head styled after the original figure applied to the new Skids mold, the fact that I'd enjoyed Generations Skids so much put Crosscut straight onto my want list.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Power of the Primes Evolution Rodimus Prime

If you've read my write-up of Evolution Optimus Prime, you will have gathered that I was pretty lukewarm on this figure. My plan was to skip this one entirely, and instead buy the Shattered Glass-alike repaint, Rodimus Unicronus, because that had the advantage of being a black repaint, and we all know that black repaints are awesome.

Then, this figure turned up on The Entertainer's website for £35 and change - pretty close to half the RRP in the UK, and basically what I considered to be an acceptable price for a figure that hadn't received particularly good reviews. I ordered it, collected it in-store a couple of days later, and had pretty low expections, but ended up leaving a very positive (4 star) review on the website.

Curious to know what I liked about this toy? Read on...

Friday, 12 October 2018

Armada Jetfire

It seems strange to be revisiting Armada - in the sense of actually adding to my Armada collection - but I'm pretty sure my few purchases of this year will be the last from that particular toyline. At the start of the year, I bought a replacement Optimus Prime cab to replace the one I broke while trying to photograph Timelines Astrotrain in Superpants mode the first time. In doing so, I was reminded of how much fun Prime was, and so felt compelled to get Jetfire so I could get some shots of the proper Jet Prime/Jet Optimus, and so spent a while trawling eBay.

Since a brand new, boxed Armada Jetfire turned out to be pretty expensive at that time (prices in excess of  £100 - far more than this toy is worth!), I decided to go for a second hand one, as complete as possible. Many of those available unboxed on eBay were missing parts, partially broken (the accompanying Mini-Con in particular) or both. The most likely one I found was without its missiles/bombs, but I was later able to obtain these separately.

I already know the mold and its shortcomings thanks to Timelines Astrotrain, but let's have a closer look at the original version of the mold...

Saturday, 6 October 2018

RID2015/Clash of the TransFormers Paralon

One would think, given the long history of Autobot/Decepticon conflict within the TransFormers franchise, that subtitling one portion of the newest Robots in Disguise continuity "Clash of the TransFormers" would be unnecessarily excessive tautology... Yet here we are. I know nothing about Clash of the Transformers except that it consisted mainly of repaints and was supposedly exclusive to Toys'R'Us.

Carrying on my habit of randomly purchasing RID2015 figures, I picked up this repaint/retool of Scorponok for a fairly flimsy reason, even by my standards: he's a more overt Beast Wars reference than the original version of the mold. Scorponok hadn't looked particularly impressive, being another one of RID2015's bizarre beast-robot Decepticons, but with a beast mode rather than a vehicle mode... making the toy as much a tautology as the name of the subline.

But does the toy rise above this inauspicious start?

Friday, 5 October 2018

NYCC 2018 - First Impressions of the Seige Decepticons

Yes, inevitably, I feel the need to write a little bit about the images from this year's New York Comic Con now surfacing on the TransFormers fan sites. My first impression of the Autobots could be boiled down to a resounding 'Nope'... So the big question is: have Hasbro done any better with the Decepticons...?

Well, for my money... Kinda?

Allow me to elaborate and elucidate...

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Prime Wars Trilogy Punch-Counterpunch & Prima Prime

As far as I can recall, Punch/Counterpunch appeared, very briefly, in a grand total of two episodes of the old G1 TV show - 'The Rebirth' parts 1 & 2 - though I can't remember if I actually saw them on TV, or as one of the edited-together stories I owned on VHS. Even so, he was fascinating: appearing first as the Decepticon Counterpunch, he warned a couple of other Decepticons that his "Autobot counterpart" (surely something of a giveaway) was "nearby... real nearby", at which point he transformed back to Punch and attacked them.

I only really looked into the G1 toy once I got back into TransFormers in the early/mid-2000s, and discovered that it was actually a bit shit. Nevertheless, while it never quite made it onto my list of 'Holy Grail' TransFormers toys, even after the less than stellar attempt at an update by the Collectors' Club, based on the Classics Sunstreaker/Sideswipe mold, I was quite keen to get hold of one...

...Until, that is, the Power of the Primes version was announced. Sporting a sleeker vehicle mode and a Combiner Wars-style transformation (minus the combiner peg, thankfully), and coming as an Amazon exclusive boxed set with the Prime Master 'Prima Prime', this seemed like a better use of my money than acquiring the G1 Doublespy which, complete and in good condition, can command silly money on the secondary market. Since I'm still awaiting any news from Amazon on their supposed Prime Day exclusive PotP Nemesis Prime, I ordered this from In Demand Toys for £35 - cheaper than a Deluxe class toy from the Club, certainly... but still somewhat inflated for a Deluxe. Is it worth that?

Friday, 28 September 2018

DX9 War In Pocket #14 Leah

(Femme-Bot Friday #59)
My final purchase on the Sunday of the inaugural TFNation was a boxed set containing two of DX9's War In Pocket line of diminutive transforming figures. Toufold wasn't really of any interest to me, being based on Kup from the 1986 animated movie. Leah, on the other hand, was right up my street.

Considering Arcee was supposedly based on Princess Leia, the choice of name makes a fair bit of sense, and it's less flouncy than the names used by some other Third Party Arcee figures.

When I split a boxed set into multiple posts, I normally end up regretting it, but I figured it's worth the risk for this one, since Leah is a Femme-Bot and Toufold is actually a bit dull. No doubt I'll get to him eventually (2023, perhaps?) but, for the moment, let's take a look at Leah...

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

TransFormers Animated Bumblebee

If I remember correctly, TransFormers Animated's toyline is when fans really started complaining about quality control in Hasbro's output. They had made the rather strange decision to use matte-finishe plastic for the whole line, the engineering was quite ambitious for the time - simpler than the movie line, but complex and intricate in its own way due to the bendy animation models they were attempting to emulate - and a lot of the paintwork turned out to be pretty damned shoddy, not to mention incomplete.

I mention this because Bumblebee was one of the first figures that I added paintwork and stickers to straight out of the packaging because Hasbro's idea of a paint job was just terrible.

I'll also take this opportunity to apologise for the shite photography - I'll retake the photos at some point, using my light tent, and replace those currently included here, all of which were taken about seven years ago.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Generations Sergeant Kup

One of the things I really liked about the Classics line, particularly as it evolved into the earlier stages of the ongoing Generations line, was that it wasn't content to simply re-do each and every character in much the same form as their G1 original - the designers took risks and came up with original concepts for some wholly new takes on the older characters.

Few Generations toys exemplify this better than Generations Kup, which finally gave the old Cybertronian warhorse from the 1986 animated movie a proper, contemporary Earth mode. Naturally it was a pickup truck... but really not the sort of thing I'd have expected. He'd also developed the 'Sergeant' prefix on his name, likely for trademark reasons, which would carry forward to the TF Prime figure (itself a sort of 'pre-paint' of a design intended to represent Ironhide).

There are some characters that shouldn't be altered too far from their original designs, but is Kup one of them?

Friday, 21 September 2018

Tenth Anniversary(!)

When I first started this blog, back in 2008, I was fully in the grip of my rekindled interest in TransFormers toys following my discovery of the 20th Anniversary products - MP01 and the Binaltech line - four years previously. At the time, since I still lived with my folks, my job left me with a good deal of disposeable income and, while the Binaltech line was winding down by that point (BT20 Argent Meister, the penultimate figure in the line and one of the first figures I wrote about here, was released that year), Masterpiece figures were still coming out, and I'd already amassed quite a collection of Cybertron/Galaxy Force toys before looking back to Energon/Superlink and even Armada/Micron Legend... Then Classics had happened and I suddenly had a growing collection of Hasbro/Takara Tomy's remakes of G1 toys along with the 'new' TransFormers Collection/Encore re-releases...

...And then, the unthinkable happened: by mid-2008, the (admittedly meagre, by today's standards) 50Mb web space allowance on my personal website ran out because even the tiny thumbnails images of my toys added up to quite a lot of space. I wanted to keep on taking photos of and writing about my toys... in fact, I wanted to do more of both. One solitary image of each toy's robot mode cannot capture the full awesomeness of TransFormers toys so, having hit my website's limit, I had to find a way to expand...

...Hence the move to a blog. And so, ten years later, here we are. I've managed to sustain the blog (just about) though some troublesome periods, created a recurring feature in 'Femme-Bot Friday' (sadly, Members Incentive Monday ended on #12, due to the closure of the TransFormers Collectors' Club back in 2016), filled in some regrettable gaps in my G1 collection, improved my photography a little, and had quite a lot of fun writing about all these transforming robot toys in my collection.

To more fully celebrate this new milestone, I'd hoped to write up a top ten list of toys of the past ten years (or possibly of my entire collection?) and maybe even a feature or two based around specific characters... But, for one reason or another, I've got no further than putting shortlists into a spreadsheet. Photos are not available for all the figures listed, and I can't easily get my hands on some of them. Perhaps I'll save it for next year, when I'll have been collecting again for 15 years?

For the moment, though, I'll write a few words about the coolest TransFormers toys I've picked up since last year (now, and henceforth, a Top Ten!)...

Friday, 14 September 2018

Masterpiece MP26 Road Rage

(Femme-Bot Friday #58)
I've more or less given up on the Masterpiece line, as it slips ever further down the slipperly slope of 'animation accuracy', but I'm still a huge fan of Generation 1 because of the range of cars it turned into awesome alien robots. While I only had a handful of the Diaclone-derived G1 Autobots at the time, I've filled in a few of the blanks over the years with both Hasbro and Takara/Takara Tomy's reissues, even managing to grab some of the e-HOBBY specials along the way.

One of my particular favourites was the Corvette Stingray and, while I own the Hasbro Commemorative Series version of Tracks, the Femme-Bot repaint released by e-HOBBY was never available at a price I was happy with... The Masterpiece version was available at TFNation this year, and, after much consideration, ended up being my final purchase of the show...

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Cybertron Excellion

With the Unicron Trilogy, Hasbro started each chapter with character names reassigned from their existing pool of G1 names, where Takara (by and large) came up with new names for what were essentially new characters within the franchise. Thus, while Takara had Exillion as their Hot Rod analogue in Galaxy Force, Hasbro actually named the same character Hot Shot for their adaptation, Cybertron, since Hot Shot had appeared, in one form or another, in both Armada and Energon.

But this led to things getting a little convoluted... Because Takara released a G1 Hot Rod-inspired repaint of Exillion as part of a DVD set (much like Chromia White Version), and Hasbro decided to get in on the act by releasing a similar repaint in the western markets. However, with the name 'Hot Shot' already taken by their version of Exillion, they decided to turn him into a whole new character within their Cybertron continuity, named... Excellion.

Confused? Well, let's have a look at the toy, then...

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

TransFormers: Bumblebee Power Charge Bumblebee

While the early trailer suggests the writer and director of TransFormers: Bumblebee have a better grasp of what could make TransFormers an awesome and awe-inspiring franchise than the likes of Orci, Kurtzman and Bay, I'm still not entirely convinced that Bumblebee is the ideal starting point for a reboot. Focus on one character, sure... but the TransFormers franchise is already creaking under the weight of Bumblebees, so making him the focal point fills me with equal parts of dread and outright loathing, and I'm having to tell myself that I'll want to see it because Travis Knight has worked on some excellent movies, and the quality of the cast - headed by Hailee Steinfeld (brilliant in True Grit back in 2010) and featuring the luscious tones of Angela Bassett as one of the Decepticons - is very encouraging.

Ultimately, though, we'll get what we're given... and for the toyline, that means a whole lotta Bumblebees. Toys are just starting to hit UK retail this month, well ahead of the film's Boxing Day release date... and a chance visit to The Entertainer netted me the latest in Hasbro's gimmick-laden, super-sized Bumblebee figures.

This isn't going to go well, is it?

Sunday, 9 September 2018

The Other Half 2: TFNation Edition!

I mentioned in my TFNation 2018 summing-up post that I'd asked my girlfriend, Courtney, to write a little bit about her experience of the show as 'an outsider' - that is to say, someone with a level of familiarity with thing TransFormers-related but is not herself 'a fan'. Courtney and I share similar tastes in movies and TV shows, but don't have a great deal of common interests and are both content to do our own things.

In part, I dread to think what it would be like to be in a relationship with another TransFormers fan - and particularly cohabiting with one - and haven't tried to engage her in my collection, though I have forced her to sit through shared with her some of my favourite TransFormers TV shows, and the first three live action movies. We've been living together for a few years now, and I have asked her if she wanted to come along to TFNation since its first year but, while she's been happy to attend more general conventions - MCM London Comic Cons, London Film & Comic Cons, Hyper Japan, New Scientist Live, to name but a few - she politely but nervously declined to attend until this year (she was out of the country the first year anyway).

Considering I enjoyed this year's show much more than I'd expected, I figured it'd be particularly interesting to commemorate this momentous occasion by getting her take on the event, both as a non-TransFormers fan, someone who doesn't necessarily enjoy crowds, and someone who occasionally attends events around the country as part of her job.

So, without further ado, I'll hand over to Courtney...

Saturday, 8 September 2018

iGear Con Air Raptor Squadron IG-C02 Sky-Wind

Is this the last of them? Am I finally up to date on my Third Party G1 Seeker analogues? Weirdly, it's taken me about 15 months per Raptor to get iGear's sort-of-IDW-style Seekers out of the way, having bought them over two and a half years ago. It's a fine example of the one of the problems with having a G1 Seeker OCD, and feeling obliged to buy the same mold in three different colours: what more is there to say having already written about this mold twice?

Still, Sky-Wind is the Skywarp analogue, so at least you know you're about to see photos of the sexy black-and-purple version, and that has to count for something, right?

No box shots with this one either because there's so little difference between the three... So, without further ado...

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Studio Series #11 Lockdown

It should be noted, first of all, that I did not dislike the Age of Extiction toyline's Lockdown toy. Prewarned that it was a bit rubbish, I bought it with suitably low expections and found it to be a competent toy with a fun transformation and a rather cool head-gun accessory... However, recognising that it was a poor representation of the character from the movie, I was quick to buy Unique Toys' Masterpiece-scale interpretation, Peru Kill, long before Studio Series Lockdown was announced.

So when the photos of Hasbro's entirely new take on the nonpartisan bounty hunter surfaced, I was impressed but, initially, not that interested... We all know how these things go, with my collecting habits, and I ended up ordering him almost as soon as he became available. How many Lockdowns does one collector need?

Friday, 31 August 2018

Mastermind Creations Reformatted R-08Q Feral Queen & Nero Queen

(Femme-Bot Friday #57)
There was me, thinking I'd got all the Mastermind Creations Azalea variants I wanted (apart from Eupatorium... maybe...), only for Kapow Toys to announce that they would be bringing the all-new, TFCon 2016 exclusive boxed set of Feral Queen (a repaint originally intended as an April Fool joke - a Femme-Bot companion to the Feralcons/Feral Rex - which was turned into a real figure with a unique head sculpt) and Nero Queen (a black repaint of same, to accompany Nero Rex) to the inaugural TFNation that same year. Stocks were naturally in short supply, so preordering for collection was advised... but, at that point, I wasn't even sure I would be going.

Naturally, my wacky sense of priorities meant that this announcement - and particularly the preordering advice (I'd asked if I could reserve one to be sent to me after they returned from the show, but they couldn't guarantee they wouldn't run out) - tipped the balance in favour of attending the show... and led me to spend even more money on other items of plastic crack.

The big question, obviously, is whether or not the cause of my attendance was actually worth all the effort and associated expense...

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Alien Attack STF-01 Firage

When Hasbro cancelled the Dark of the Moon toyline with at least one wave of toys still to come, Takara Tomy picked up the slack to an extent. Molds like Que/Wheeljack and Soundwave were released in the Asian markets - both under the Movie Advanced banner, with Que also getting released in Hasbro's packaging in certain markets, as well as a repaint as 'true' Wheeljack with a G1 toy-style head. Dino, meanwhile, only got released as a repaint of Revenge of the Fallen Sideways, with a new head and weapons added to the weird-looking robot with a hopelessly wrong Audi-style vehicle mode.

Understandably, lots of fans were upset by this omission - it's hard to describe any of the robots from any of the live action movies as 'key characters' or 'important characters', but Dino at least had several lines of dialogue and a couple of cool action scenes, even if he did end up getting done in offscreen, between Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction - and the Movie Advanced version, while not too difficult to obtain, was rather expensive for what was little more than a repaint, and became positively extortionate on the secondary market.

Enter Spring Thunder (ST) Studio - a customiser based in China - who, back in 2015, took a 1:32 scale Ferrari 458 shell, a Battle Blades Bumblebee figure and some ABS plates, and created a very accurate-looking, super-poseable and fully transformable custom figure, and offered to take orders for a limited run of duplicates. One of the Third Party companies then contacted him, and this offer was cast into doubt. Less than a year after images of the custom were posted online, it was announced that Alien Attack had picked it up for manufacture... but it was over than a year after that before it became available for preorder, and several months more before it was release. Was it worth the wait?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

TFNation 2018 Round-up & Haul

And so, another TFNation has been and gone. This year, for the first time, my girlfriend Courtney accompanied me (and will be writing a little bit about her own experiences of TFNation, as an 'outsider' to the fandom), and a lot more pre-planning went into the weekend, based on my experiences over the last couple of years: not only did I book travel and accommodation, we also booked tables for dinner on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and agreed to take advantage of the comparatively sparse schedule to potentially go out and have proper lunches rather than just make do with the 'street food' on sale within the venue, the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Power of the Primes Moonracer

(Femme-Bot Friday #56)
There's an awful lot of the G1 TV series that I missed out on due to its irregular scheduling on British early morning telly back in the 80s. One episode I only became aware of after I got back into collecting as an adult was 'The Search for Alpha Trion', which revealed that a group of six Femme-Bots acted as a resistance group on Cybertron, and featured Shockwave uttering the immortal line "Female Autobots? I thought they were extinct.", which was basically all the explanation ever given both for the existence of Cybertronian Femme-Bots and their absence in the preceding (and subsequent) episodes.

Terrible writing of a kids TV show designed to sell toys aside, it's taken Hasbro more than 30 years to create toys of any of that group... which is hardly surprising, given that they never appeared in the show again after that episode. That said, one of them was part the BotCon 2005 boxed set, Descent into Evil, as a repaint of Energon Arcee with a new head, while another was an additional souvenir figure for BotCon 2009, and several have apparently appeared in other fiction intermittently over the years.

One such Femme-Bot was Moonracer, who now appears as one of the Combiner Wars-style figures on the final chapter of the Prime Wars trilogy...

Monday, 13 August 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Impactor

Marvel's TransFormers comics sometimes introduced characters who were not and, in some cases, still aren't going to be available as toys. Hasbro occasionally paid lip service the fans desires to see these characters in plastic, and created a version of the Wreckers' irascible leader, Impactor, in 2013, using the much-maligned Fall of Cybertron Onslaught mold. He was made to be the torso of Ruination, a combiner formed wholly of Wreckers, each a repaint of the terminally underdeveloped FoC Combaticons. This version of Impactor didn't look anything like the Marvel Comics character, and didn't even have the right colourscheme.

Subsequently, back in 2016, the penultimate Subscription Service from the TransFormers Collectors' Club - amounting mostly to the Decepticons' Mayhem Attack Squad - was concluded with the second ever official figure of Impactor, this time created using the mold originally used for Combiner Wars Rook. Was the Club's attempt any better than Hasbro's?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

It's All About The Box...

Back when I first started getting serious again about collecting TransFormers toys rather than just the Masterpiece figures and Binaltech, I started ordering the Japanese versions of certain toys - most notably the majority of Galaxy Force - since their Hasbro-released counterparts seemed lacklustre by comparison and, at the time, they were super-easy to acquire via a web-based company that seems to have since gone out of business. Getting these large, ornate and beautifully-designed boxes in the post started me down the path of keeping the packaging of all my imported toys - the rationale being that I'd need 'em if I moved house. This then led to me keeping the packaging from certain special Hasbro releases as well. This new strategy soon grew to include packaging from older, obsolete lines.

When I did eventually move into my flat, about ten years ago, I brought with me a large collection of boxes... And this collection has since grown to include even more boxes and bubble-cards for Takara Tomy toys, event exclusives, Hasbro special editions... and, of course, the mass of Third Party toys and accessories I've picked up in the intervening time.

Friday, 10 August 2018

TransFormers Animated Oil Slick

Oil Slick was one of those characters I didn't feel a compelling need to acquire at the time TransFormers Animated was one of the primary toylines, largely because he appeared only a couple of times in the TV show - and only in the final season, at that. His design was interesting, but since I couldn't see it in action at the time (TF Animated only aired on satellite channels over here, and the series' UK DVD release came to a premature end with Season 2 - I had to order the US boxed set of Season 3, released by Shout Factory in 2014!), the toy wasn't interesting enough to warrant spending money on... Always assuming he was even available on UK shelves because I didn't tend to order TF Animated toys online back then since they were easily available in Toys'R'Us and The Entertainer.

Nevertheless, as the years have gone by, I've developed a need to more fully round off my TF Animated collection, obtaining Arcee online and Hot Rod as a Christmas present, both only a couple of years ago. Oil Slick eventually found his way onto my radar, and I grabbed him second hand, from the treasure troves of eBay.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Studio Series #08 Blackout

Blackout had the distinct honour of being not only one of the first Cybertronians seen in the first ever TransFormers live action movie but also one of the first to be turned into a toy. Back then, he was a comparatively small, Voyager class figure and, like most of the first movie's toys, his robot mode bore little resemblance to what was seen on-screen. It was a decent toy which ended up getting reworked into three other characters - Grindor (a straight repaint), Evac and Whirl (Autobot repaints with a new head and a raft/gun accessory in place of Scorponok) - as well as getting a 'Premium Series' repaint which was basically just made using a darker-coloured plastic for the bulk of the helicopter parts, and with a few new paint applications (mainly battle damage) at the expense of some of the original detail paint.

He was then, sadly, one of those characters who didn't get an updated toy - probably because he was killed off in the first movie and Grindor was killed off in the second - meaning he rapidly became quite archaic in comparison to later movies' toys.

Cut to 2018, and the Studio Series line reveals a new, Leader class Blackout figure, which came out in the same wave as Grimlock. Large, super-detailed, and vastly more accurate to the CGI, it seemed to be everything we've wanted from a new interpretation of Blackout... but is it all it's cracked up to be?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Revenge of the Fallen Back Road Brawl (Toys'R'Us Exclusive) Hoist

Wow... That guilty feeling when, going through a list of draft blog posts, you find the second half of a two pack from 2009, the first part of which you covered during your second most prolific blogging month ever, way back in 2012... Deary me.

In my defense, most of my remaining drafts (now reduced to about 40) were created using the web browser Flock, back when it communicated nicely with Blogger and Photobucket, so actually getting a new post started and images uploaded was a hell of a lot smoother than it is even now...

But I digress...

While the TransFormers movies directed by Michael Bay played fast and loose with character interpretations, and invented new characters when existing characters could easily have sufficed with a bit more planning (or better scriptwriters), Hasbro's toyline has been fairly scrupulous in delivering repaints that better fit the G1-centric portion of the fanbase. At worst, you get boring repaints like Red Concept Camaro Cliffjumper... at best, you get boxed sets like RotF's 'Back Road Brawl', featuring two awesome G1 repaints, one of which being this repaint of Longarm, from the 2007 movie toy range, as Hoist.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

TransFormers Adventure VS04 'Joint Struggle' Sideswipe & Stepper

Having bought one of Takara Tomy's TransFormers Adventure 'Versus' packs - Drift Origin Mode & Jazz Battle Mode - at the first TFNation, I had a quick look at the others, but didn't see much that tickled my fancy. It helped, in a way, that there just weren't that many RID2015 figures that I'm at all interested in - TAV VS01 was Bumblebee and Steeljaw, VS02 was Grimlock and Gregevor (the latter, aka Greejeeber - a reference to the G1 Combaticon repaint Rollbar/Jeeber who formed part of RID/Car Robots' Baldigus/Ruination - being a Decepticon repaint of Strongarm), VS03 was Strongarm and Phantomjaw (a police-type repaint of Steeljaw), none of which lit my candle in the least, and there were only four unique molds across the three pairs. VS04, however, was a two pack of figures I knew to be tolerable, one of which was a rerelease of Takara Tomy's more screen-accurate Sideswipe, while the other was the almost inevitable repaint of Jazz into Stepper/Ricochet.

Having been grossly disappointed by Hasbro's version of Sideswipe, and being curious to own at least one version of Stepper/Ricochet, I dug this set up on eBay more or less on a whim... But was it a good move..?

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Studio Series #01 '76 Camaro Bumblebee

Yeah, let's get this one out of the way... I'll have to admit that, contrary to probably several assertions I've made on this blog, this clearly isn't going to be the last Bumblebee figure I ever buy. The upcoming Bumblebee movie has at least two figures that I'm interested in picking up, and that's before you even get into the variants, such as the gold version of the VW Beetle that comes with a couple of G1 cassettes.

This figure - the first Studio Series figure, according to their numbering - was actually something of a surprise, because the movie toylines always tended to focus on the latest model of Camaro - frequently concept versions - other than the '67 Camaro that briefly became Bumblebee's disguise in the early part of Age of Extinction. Bumblebee's first appearance in the first live action movie was treated as a joke within the story (Mikaela's question, "Why, if he's supposed to be, like, this super-advanced robot, does he transform back into this piece of crap Camaro?"), so it seemed that the old rust-bucket would never be seen again...

And yet, here we are... At least it's been a couple of years since I last had to write about the live action movies' take on Bumblebee... And it's not as if the original toy was actually any good, so why not, right?

Friday, 27 July 2018

FansToys FT-24 Rouge

(Femme-Bot Friday #55)
Many Third Party companies attempted to fill the Arcee-shaped void in the TransFormers toy lineup in the years before Hasbro and Takara Tomy released their own, official Deluxe class figure... and, strangely, other Third Parties are still churning them out. Every single attempt has had its detractors, but none of them seemed to fully capture the essence of Arcee better than the TransFormers Legends version released back in 2015...

...Until, that is, I clapped eyes on images of FansToys Rouge - a Masterpiece-analogue attempt at creating an animated movie-accurate Arcee in both robot and vehicle modes. Toy World may have released their Leia earlier, but its proportions - and particularly the head sculpt - look pretty awful to me, and the vehicle mode appears to be missing its back end. Rouge, meanwhile, looked to be utterly gorgeous, well-proportioned... and was to come packaged with a variety of faces, including one version featuring the red visor she deployed all of once in the animated movie.

Recently, I've learned to be cautious when it comes to Third Party figures, owing to a few mishaps over the last few years... but the images of Rouge were enough for me to throw caution to the wind and preorder her. In the month or so leading up to her official release, several YouTubers were granted early access, and complained about flimsy joints and a ridiculously overcomplicated backpack. Undaunted, I awaited the arrival of mine and (partly thanks to cancelling another, delayed figure) the shipment containing Rouge arrived during the week after my birthday... So let's take a look, and see how bad (or, y'know, good) she really is...

Monday, 23 July 2018

Power of the Primes Dreadwind

Powermasters came along at the point in G1 where my interest was beginning to wane... Aside from the new Optimus Prime, the only one I picked up was Doubledealer. While, at the time, I though the gimmick - where the Powermaster figure had to be plugged in for the toy to transform into robot mode - was pretty cool and interesting (not to mention given a good explanation in the Marvel comics), virtually all the others looked overly simplistic compared to the Diaclone-derived toys that first got me into TransFormers.

There were a couple of Decepticons with an additional feature, though - Dreadwind and Darkwing transformed into individual robots, but could combine their jet modes into the super-jet, Dreadwing. Given that gestalts were nothing new to TransFormers, the idea of combining vehicle modes was only slightly novel, and the results were as clumsy as one might expect from late-G1 toys. Nevertheless, I do somewhat regret not picking the both of them up.

Thankfully, then, Hasbro decided to resurrect this concept in Power of the Primes, recreating both Dreadwind and Darkwing as Deluxe class figures (released in separate waves, just to make things interesting). The gestalt jet feature has been included... but is it an improvement on the original?

Friday, 20 July 2018

Approaching TFNation

With less than a month to go before my girlfriend and I head off to Birmingham for TFNation 2018, I figured it'd be worth making a note of what I'm looking forward to, what I'm after, etc.

As with previous years, I've bought a weekend ticket but won't be getting there till late evening on the Friday (cheaper travel after 7pm, and all that!). This means I'll be missing all the Friday panels, and probably won't be in time to attend the 'Notorious (Zombie Related) Erotic Fanfic Show', presented by DC Douglas. I'm pretty ambivalent about most of the Friday stuff anyway, so it's not a massive loss. Similarly, I didn't pay the additional cost for a ticket to the Stan Bush gig on the Saturday night. While I liked the soundtrack to TransFormers: The Movie as part of the movie, and even though I bought the soundtrack on vinyl back in the day, it's not really the sort of music I tend to listen to these days.

Last year, I gave the whole Saturday evening's entertainment a miss, even though part of me was keen to attend the script reading, at least. After having a panic attack the morning of the first year's event, which utterly ruined the whole experience for me, I probably wouldn't have attended TFNation 2017 at all were it not for guests like Bob Budiansky and Venus Terzo. I may attend this year's evening event, if only because it has a definite end this time, since they have to clear the room for Stan Bush.

I'm not blown away by most of this year's guests - Bob Budiansky is a pretty hard act to follow, to me - though voice actors always have great stories to tell, and I am keen to see what Mairghread Scott and Aaron Archer have to say. Since I'm not really into the comics (I bought both 'Last Stand...' and 'Sins of the Wreckers' a while back, and didn't enjoy them as much as TFNation 2017's print-form final chapter for TransFormers Animated), I may drift into the other artist/writer panels if they sound interesting, or if there's any indication of what'll be happening once IDW's current continuities are closed off.

As for what I'm after... Nowt in particular, to be perfectly honest... but I shall be on the lookout for any new Studio Series or Power of the Primes figures, anything I don't already have from Titans Return, Generations and TF Legends. Of course, if I see any items from my Want List, I may well take the plunge. Chances are, there will be a lot of impulse buying, as TFNation often features lots of surprises... Particularly with Third Party figures. I keep telling myself I'm not collecting Masterpiece anymore, but I recently bought MPM Barricade, the new G1 toy-style MP Megatron is most definitely on my radar and MP Road Rage is quite appealing.

Any surprises in the traders' section of the hall are unlikely to include any of my 'Holy Grail' figures... I recently obtained one of them (GF Chromia White Version) via ebay, having not seen it available for years (I believe the last time I saw it was as part of the DVD set, around the time that first came out in Japan!). I did see an incomplete Tako Tank at last year's event, but didn't (and still don't) have the space for it... and would prefer it complete, if at all possible. G1 Sky Lynx is another one I don't really have space for, but I'd want to be sure I was getting one that was complete and in working order. BotCon 2006 Darksyde Megatron rarely appears outside of eBay - the last time I saw him in the wild, I believe, was at a convention many years ago, when he was priced the same as the whole BotCon 2006 boxed set, approximately £250 at the time. I'd be willing to pay a reasonable price for him, but not £1,000+.

There's also oddities like Armada Overload, which I've quite recently decided that I'd like to own, because I've got a complete and intact Armada Superpants Prime again, and picked up a second hand Armada Jetfire not long after taking the photos of Timelines Astrotrain in Superpants mode. Black repaints always catch my eye... and, of course, there's always Femme-Bots.

I'll probably have a scoot round the Forge - I picked up a couple of posters last year, from Nate Phoenix on DeviantArt, and very nearly picked up some stickers for my girlfriend on another stand... This year, she'll have the opportunity to peruse them herself.

As mentioned, I'm ambivalent toward the comics, and the majority of non-transforming TransFormers merchandise just annoys me. Even the RID2015 Bumblebee Bath Set I saw in a local B&M - which is thoroughly appropriate to the idea of attending a convention such as this one - is of no interest. I have pre-ordered the little story book whose proceeds are going to charity, along with this year's show t-shirt, after missing out on last year's.

On the subject of t-shirts, I'm attempting to sort out a 'Cool Your Jets' t-shirt to wear for the event, but the people I'm using at the moment have messed it up twice in a row, so I think I may have to look into an alternative printing method...

And, finally, following my discovery last year that the restaurants in Resorts World decline walk-in patrons when they're even slightly busy, I'll be sure to make bookings for both Saturday and Sunday evening...

Iron Factory IF EX-05 H Windsaber (aka Miko for IronTitan The Hunter)

(Femme-Bot Friday #54)
And here, we have another write up of a repaint within a month of dealing with the original iteration. I was honestly surprised to see this appear, given how niche the Combiner Hunters set was... Iron Factory have yet to tackle Chromia, but now both Windblade and Arcee have had their Combiner Hunters paint jobs reflected in this range of diminutive reimaginings of TransFormers figures, though this is the only one to get a solo release.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

DotM Mechtech Ironhide (Voyager)

As a member of the core cast of the first three films, it was almost inevitable that Ironhide would receive multiple interpretations in plastic. Oddly, though, while some characters were completely remade in most size classes between the first and second movies, Ironhide had to wait till the third movie's toyline for an entirely new Voyager class figure, with only Legends class updates in between.

By and large, the original toy was adequate - not the best of the bunch, but not the worst, and suffering only from a few loose joints, some less-than-perfect Automorph features, and the general level of inaccuracy to the CGI that afflicted all the figures in the first movie's toyline. When Dark of the Moon rolled out a while new mold for the character, I was happy to see it, and quick to snap it up... but was the new version all that much better?

Friday, 13 July 2018

War for Cybertron - Early First Impression

And, lo, CGI images of three War for Cybertron (2019) toys were unleashed upon the internet... My initial impression?

Nope.

But let's have a closer look, shall we? (Now with SDCC addendum!)

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG62 TargetMaster Windblade

(Femme-Bot Friday #53)
It seems a bit weird going over this figure again so soon after writing about the first version I picked up, but that's the sort of thing that happens when you decide to neatly bookend a series of posts about the same character when you have only a limited selection remaining... and it's inevitable when Hasbro continually cheap out on paintwork - and, occasionally, accessories - while Takara Tomy not only improve the paint job, but fix other omissions... and add bonus features into the bargain...

...And so we have a remix of the Titans Return Windblade which is not only a HeadMaster, but a TargetMaster as well, and that has to be worth a quick look, at least!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG44 Sharkticon & Sweep

I'd have to say that one of the strangest - if not outright daftest - elements of the animated TransFormers movie was the sequence on Quintessa, and the introduction of Sharkticons to the pantheon of beastformers.

Not to say Sharkticons are inherently daft in a franchise that had already introduced Dinobots, and would soon introduce the Terrorcons, the Firecons and all the Decepticon HeadMasters... but the fact that they were seemingly an entire, separate race of non-Cybertronian transforming robots, all looking identical, which would normally indicate that their toys would be intended as troop-builders, yet the Sharkticon released in the toyline was given a unique name - Gnaw - and his tech specs bio appeared to treat him as an individual within the Sharkticons.

Hasbro's release of the Titans Return version followed this trend, albeit without the bio, but Takara Tomy seems to have gone back to the idea of Sharkticons as troopbuilders, not just because the packing names him simple 'Sharkticon', but he's also packaged with a troopbuilding HeadMaster

Friday, 6 July 2018

Titans Return Windblade & Scorchfire

(Femme-Bot Friday #52)
It was basically inevitable that Windblade would get a remake for Titans Return. Having been introduced in the comics as a Cityspeaker, and playing a significant part in Combiner Wars (both in the comics and the terrible CG animated web series), the Generations/Legends toy from 2014/15 was no longer sufficient, and no longer fitted the ongoing aesthetic of the toyline.

The big question, if course, is how much of an improvement the new toy is, and how badly Hasbro's version lets down the new mold... So let's take a look...

Friday, 29 June 2018

TransFormers Adventure/Prime of Micron TAV55 Windblade

(Femme-Bot Friday #51)
As a general rule, I'm happy to buy the same mold multiple times if each one represents either a different character or a different version of a character that I'm particularly keen on. What I won't tend to do, except in certain circumstances, is take Hasbro up on its offer of cynical repaints of the same character in the same mold, just because they want more of my money. With very few exceptions, I'd be reluctant to buy repaints that happen for plot reasons... though limited edition repaints tend to get a free pass.

With Hasbro's Robots in Disguise (2015) line, I've not only ended up buying more of the toyrange than I'd imagined at the start, but I've subsequently replaced several of them with Takara Tomy's TransFormers Adventure versions due to their vastly superior paint jobs. One such example is Windblade, whose RID2015 toy was absurdly underpainted and barely resembled her on-screen counterpart. I even concluded that write-up wondering about Takara Tomy's version, which I acquired almost a year later.

Is it as significant an improvement as I'd hoped..?

Friday, 22 June 2018

Studio Series #03 Crowbar

Given that we never got to see the Seekers in Michael Bay's TransFormers movies (not properly, anyway, they were paid lip service when Wheelie described a set of photos produced by Simmons as depicting Seekers, who had been on Earth "for thousands of years, looking for something" but, aside from introducing Jetfire as seemingly the last remaining Seeker on Earth, the concept wasn't explored any further), the Dreads, introduced (and sadly killed off) in Dark of the Moon, effectively filled their role... And rather than being jets, they all transformed into sober black Chevrolet Suburbans, all seemingly law enforcement vehicles.

Sadly, the Dark of the Moon toyline brought the three Dreads out in different size classes, and each was given a unique vehicle mode - Crankcase was the only Deluxe at the time, turning into a Suburban, Hatchet was a Cyberverse Commander and turned into a jet(!), while Crowbar only ever made it as a dinky Cyberverse Legion class figure, turning into a car.

Now, however, hot on the tails of The Last Knight's Berserker figure (aka Crankcase v2), Hasbro's Studio Series has delivered a Deluxe class Crowbar, superficially similar to the TLK figure... Sounds great in theory, but is it surplus to requirements?

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Armada Skywarp

While Takara Tomy made two versions of Micron Legend Starscream, Hasbro took the colourscheme of the Supermode version and released it as Thundercracker. Since Armada happened back in the days where Hasbro would happily feed the fans' Seeker OCD, they also released a Skywarp to complete the set (following up with a nonsensical Ramjet repaint in the Universe line, then neglecting to round out the Coneheads with an Armada-style Dirge or Thrust).

Unlike Thundercracker/Supermode Starscream, however, Skywarp got some remolded parts to properly differentiate himself from the others, beyond a simple change in colourscheme... but how big a deal was it really?

Saturday, 16 June 2018

TransFormers Legends (Titans Return) LG42 Godbomber

Certain aspects of Takara Tomy's take on TransFormers nomenclature have always baffled me. Way back in G1, some retained their Hasbro names, while others got weird, monosyllabic replacements, like Gong (Brawn), Gren (Hook) or Sprang (Springer), which almost read like Furman-style sound effect captions from the comics. Some names - Condor (Laserbeak), Jaguar (Ravage), Lambor (Sideswipe) - were descriptive of one mode or the other. Some were even cooler than the Hasbro names (Meister, arguably a more apt name than Jazz)...

...Then there were the crazy names, like Goshooter, Black Zarak, Blue Bacchus, Road Caesar, Killbison... and, of course, Godbomber.

As well as being its own TransFormer - or Partsformer, at least - Godbomber was an upgrade set for Super Ginrai... but while Super Ginrai was released outside Japan in a simplified form as PowerMaster Optimus Prime, the add-on set didn't reach the West until the Commemorative Series set in 2003. For this release, Godbomber was renamed Apex Bomber and packaged with the fully retooled Japanese version of PowerMaster Prime. Whether Godbomber was originally skipped because it wasn't fully compatible with the earlier, cut-down Western market PMOP or simply because Hasbro were concerned that the name might offend religious types, I've no idea... but it's abundantly clear that there's no Titans Return version because TR Powermaster Prime uses too many parts from Combiner Wars/Legends Ultra Magnus - particularly the feet - which make him incompatible with the Legends version of Godbomber. The only compatible option from Hasbro's toyline was Magnus Prime, released as part of the Seige on Cybertron boxed set (though, as far as I'm aware, this never made it to UK retail).

Lucky I'd bought Super Ginrai instead, then, right?

Friday, 15 June 2018

Iron Factory IF EX-05 Windsaber (aka Miko for IronTitan)

(Femme-Bot Friday #50)
You know a new character has made it in the popularity stakes when the Third Parties start churning out their own versions, and it didn't take long for the 'fan-built bot' Windblade. It actually also made a lot of sense for Iron Factory to produce their own, diminutive version of Windblade since none of Hasbro's own output really scales properly with the likes of Metroplex. After all, one of the character's defining characteristics is that she's one of the few able to communicate with these city-sized robots, despite being ant-like in comparison.

Since 50 Femme-Bot Fridays is a bit of a milestone, I'm going to celebrate it by kicking off a short run on the remaining Windblades in my collection. This will include a comparison between a Hasbro version of the character already covered in my FBF series and the Takara Tomy version I've picked up more recently, as well as a direct Titans Return/Legends comparison of the most recent model... but the first will be Iron Factory's takes on the original, and concluding part will be the SDCC2015 Combiner Hunters-inspired repaint...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Revenge of the Fallen Nightbeat

One of my favourite Generation 1 characters was Nightbeat, the Cybertronian detective forged in the image of the traditional Film Noir gumshoe, with the exception of his ostentatious choice to 'disguise' himself as a blue and yellow Porsche 959 with red flame patterns on his doors.

The former Collectors' Club released their exclusive version - based on the Energon Hot Shot mold, which had a fairly similar vehicle mode - which just happens to be the first proper post I ever made to this blog. A few photos of the G1 version were included there, in lieu of a proper write-up of that (which I will get to... eventually... I do feel like doing some G1 stuff soon...), but Nightbeat is one of those fringe characters who has gone unrepresented in the mainstream toyline ever since...

...Until he was referenced (weirdly) in the Real Gear subline from the first movie, only to return in this (slightly) more traditional form in the extended Revenge of the Fallen toyline.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Mastermind Creations Cyber Engine Knight Morpher KM-06 Stormer

It was always my intention to spread out my write-ups of Mastermind Creations' Knight Morpher Seekers simply to avoid the risk of monotony, writing about the same mold in three different colourschemes, but I'd hoped to get through more than one per year! At least this one is only eight months after the last, rather than the 21 months I left between the first two...

In any case, the Steampunk Thundercracker is the last of the set, and I think it's a shame Mastermind Creations haven't continued the Cyber Engine Knight Morpher subline, but Reformatted seems to be more generally appealing and, having now actually read Hearts of Steel... I think leaving it behind after the Seekers was probably for the best.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Studio Series #07 Grimlock

Yes, yes, the Eternal Despiser of Dinobots has picked up another Dinobot toy and - hypocrisy piled upon hypocrisy - it's a live action movie Dinobot at that. Here's the thing, though: similar to The Last Knight's Megatron, movie Grimlock's design isn't inherently bad generally... it's only inherently bad within the context of TransFormers. If someone had come up with a property in which robotic dinosaurs evolved the ability to transform into humanoid 'knights' in an attempt to combat a bunch of robotic 'knights' that transform into spacecraft, with AOE Grimlock and TLK Megatron being their leaders, I might be tempted to give it a look... it's just not right for TransFormers, in my opinion. Plus, given the way the movie Dinobots and TLK Megatron look, I'd struggle to decide who the good guys were supposed to be...

Which brings us to the Studio Series, where Hasbro are taking the opportunity to release whole new molds of 'popular' characters from throughout the live action movie franchise, and one of the first Leader class figures to be released is Age of Extinction Grimlock. Roundly received as looking far more accurate to the CGI and with an appropriately subdued paint job, rather than the garish copper, silver/grey and black of the versions released in the AoE toyline, I'm still not entirely sure why I caved in and bought him... But let's have a look and see if we can figure it out.

Friday, 1 June 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2014 (Timelines) Flareup

(Femme-Bot Friday #49)
BotCon 2014's theme - 'Pirates vs Knights' - was one that didn't resonate with me in the least. The boxed set had little of interest, and the vast majority of the attendee extras seemed pretty bland. There were two exceptions, both attendee exclusives. The first, because I can't resist a Femme-Bot Fatale, was Flamewar, a repaint of Beast Hunters Arcee, the second was another Arcee repaint, Flareup... and, coincidentally, both characters appeared in BotCon 2005's 'Descent into Evil' set using the Energon Arcee mold.

I have a general fondness for motorcycle femme-bots, but didn't pick up 2005's Flareup as I already have several variations on the Energon Arcee mold and thought the new head sculpt was terrible. I hadn't planned to get this one either, but it turned up on eBay at a very reasonable cost, which tipped the balance in its favour. Let's see how she shapes up...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Unique Toys R-01 Peru Kill

Lockdown was an interesting addition to the fourth live action TransFormers movie, Age of Extinction, and potentially a clever addition to the franchise. Sadly, 'clever' is not a word that can be associated with the live action movies made thusfar under the auspices of Paramount and Michael Bay. In typical Hollywood fashion, he was killed off in the climactic battle of that movie, having very graphically killed off one of the Autobots from the first three movies right near the start (and several others off-screen, it's strongly implied).

There was a Deluxe class Lockdown released as part of Hasbro's mercifully brief Age of Extinction toyline, but it was one of the worst-received figures that year - short, blocky, weirdly-proportioned, and molded in entirely the wrong colours of plastic, about the only thing right about it was the way the face-cannon worked. Even so, and perhaps because I already had low expectations when I picked him up, I quite liked it. It wasn't perfect, but the transformation was reasonably clever, even if the results weren't quite right.

While Hasbro are due to release their Studio Series remake of AoE Lockdown pretty soon, Unique Toys have beaten them to the punch with a larger - essentially Masterpiece-scale - interpretation of this underutilised yet impressive character, under the baffling name of 'Peru Kill'.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Should A TransFormer Transform?

I recently happened to find and watch a video debate uploaded by YouTuber Bobby Skullface as part of his 'Sit Down Saturdays' series, where he posed the titular question to a group of friends gathered at his home. I was more than a little surprised to find that the majority answered in the negative. Not just that, but a large number actually stated that they would actively prefer a more 'accurate' robot mode at the expense of transformation.

Now, I tend to rail against anything TransFormers related that doesn't transform - statues in particular - as utterly pointless, and detrimental to the brand. After all, any non-transforming TransFormers product that Hasbro produce is basically development time, effort and money diverted away from the core of the brand. Licensed stuff does actually make them money, because they're basically being paid by the licensee to permit the sale of a product developed at the licensee's expense... but I still have to wonder why they license so much bizarre crap - again, statues in particular, as they are the very antithesis of TransFormers, being utterly immobile representations of dynamic robots that turn into vehicles.

It's therefore worth noting that I stopped collecting, in my youth, a year or two before Action Masters were a thing and, I don't recall with any certainty, but probably only even found out about their existence when I got online and started looking into TransFormers again as an adult. To me, transformation is the essence of the TransFormers brand... even so, perhaps it's a question worth considering a little more seriously...

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Titans Return Octane & Murk

I absolutely refuse to call this guy 'Octone'... that's just another example of Hasbro being unable to give a character his G1 name, and settling some something close-ish, even if it does just happen to be the original Japanese name for the character (in the same way that Alternators Jazz was called 'Meister'). The third and final Decepticon triple-changer, Octane, actually completes a pan-Generations set of the original G1 characters for me: I have Classics Astrotrain (though still haven't posted about it yet!), 30th Anniversary Blitzwing, and now Octane.

There was a Deluxe class Octane released in the Universe phase of the Classics line (under the name 'Tankor' just to confuse everyone), but that turned out to be arguably worse than the G1 original due to several odd design choices, so I didn't bother picking it up. We knew that Titans Return would be taking another stab at Blitzwing and Astrotrain because TR Megatron and Sentinel Pime, part of the first wave of Voyagers to be released, were obvious placeholders for the two G1 triple-changers.

Equally, we all knew a TR Octane was coming when Hasbro released a weird, cobbled-together TR Optimus Prime using an early draft of the mold, based around G2 Laser Prime (albeit several months before they released him again with a colourscheme more appropriate to that specific character, as part of a boxed set), but that just made the entire first wave of TR Voyagers a complete waste of time for me.

I do already have one iteration of this mold in the form of TF Legends Black Convoy, so I was looking forward to getting my hands on Octane, and managed to pick him up at TFNation 2017.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Robots in Disguise (2015) Thunderhoof

I have to confess that I do rather like the somewhat outlandish designs of the RID2015 Decepticons. The more beast-like appearance of their robot modes may be somewhat implausible, given that the Autobots are so 'normal' looking by comparison, but it has made for some visually striking characters, like Bisk and Fracture.

For the most part, though, the Hasbro versions of the toys have been utterly disappointing, and I've tended to buy the Takara Tomy versions where I know I really want the character, picking up the occasional Hasbro release as a result of random whims, and usually at considerable discount. This is one such example, found for less than a tenner at TK Maxx, while killing time before seeing a movie with my best mate one weekend...

Friday, 11 May 2018

Power of the Primes Elita-1

(Femme-Bot Friday #48)
Generations Arcee - if not TF Prime Arcee before her - seems to have caused something of a snowball effect. Hasbro have realised, not before time, that one of their biggest boys' toylines is (a) actually appreciated by girls as well and (b) gifted with a fandom that isn't as firmly against 'girl characters' as they had estimated. It really shouldn't have surprised them, given the enduring popularity of the likes of the Baroness in GI Joe, but it goes to show how out-of-touch they were, and for how long.

Elita-1, for example, turned up in the G1 TV series back in the 80s... and, while the name has been applied to several other characters over the years, it's actually taken more than thirty years to get an official, mainstream toy based on Optimus Prime's old flame, with the Collectors' Club getting their version in almost ten years ago.

Was she worth the wait..?

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Superpants - Really This Time!

Well, it's only taken me a little over five years since I first posted my write-up of Timelines Astrotrain, but I've managed finally to get a handful of photos of his combined mode with Armada Optimus Prime. The new images have been added to that original post.

As I mention there, I'm now fairly keen to get my hands on an Armada Jetfire and either Armada Overload or Energon Ultra Magnus, so I can put together the 'complete', 3-part upgraded Optimus Prime... Though that would leave his trailer unused, and I don't really have space to display it in base mode...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Studio Series #02 Stinger

The toylines accompanying the last couple of movies have been pretty perfunctory. From the very first movie, the toys arrived long before the films but, initially, carried on for quite some time afterward as well, with Hasbro winding down other toylines to ensure everyone was focussed on buying the movie toys. Dark of the Moon showed a marked departure from the strategy, with the toyline reaching a premature end before several of the toys had reached the market.

Takara Tomy filled in some of the gaps later on, releasing Wheeljack in Asian territories only, and creating Movie Advanced versions of some of the stragglers, including a repaint of Deluxe class Soundwave and an attempt at Dino from Dark of the Moon, based on the Revenge of the Fallen Sideways mold.

While the AoE toyline was still in full swing, Hasbro teased the existance of a unique mold for Stinger - the KSI drone created as a 'better-looking' Bumblebee analogue - but the line was halted before any images of the mold emerged, and Takara Tomy's version was just a repaint of AoE Bumblebee.

I'd given up all hope of a unique Stinger toy, and had been looking into acquiring the Takara Tomy version... until a new Stinger toy - with a whole new mold - was revealed as part of Hasbro's Studio Series line. Could this be the mythical toy that was made for the AoE toyline?

Friday, 4 May 2018

Keith's Fantasy Club Scorpinator

One of my big regrets as a TransFormers fan and collector is never making it over to a BotCon. It never stopped me acquiring any of their boxed sets that I wanted, but there's something to be said for attending the convention and picking it up in person, I think. I did manage to get to a couple of AutoAssemblies, but it wasn't till Roll Out Roll Call 2016 and the first TFNation that the idea of convention exclusive toys really took form in the UK.

While RORC obtained a load of that year's BotCon exclusives (though, again, I'd already obtained the only figure I was especially interested in), TFNation 2016 pretty much allowed a couple of their vendors to carry the exclusives, rather than having any of their own in their inaugural year (it didn't take long for them to get proper show exclusives, though).

Since I try to make a point of supporting exclusive merchandise, there were a couple of things I picked up at TFNation, one of which was this G1/Masterpiece Soundwave-compatible cassetticon, originally created by Keith's Fantasy Club as Stinger, packaged with Doubledeck, their homage to G1 Twincast. This exclusive marks the first time it's been made available on its own.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Titans Return Sixshot & Revolver

G1 Sixshot was another of the later G1 toys that was never released in the UK but, even if he had been, I'd probably not have picked him up simply because his arrival would have been toward the end of my original collecting days, if not after.

In the intervening years, I've considered picking him up on eBay - either the original or the 2002 Encore re-release - and also started looking at the third party options, from Mastermind Creations' Terminus Hexatron to Iron Factory's Shadow Tengu, but more-or-less decided not to bother as all I really remember about Sixshot was a single appearance in the G1 cartoon, during which he appeared in the middle of a battle, and attacked something once in each of his modes... then, as far as I can recall, disappeared for the remainder of the episode. Suffice it to say, he didn't make much of an impression at the time.

Then the announcement came that there would be a new, super-articulated Titans Return Sixshot - a Leader class figure, no less - and my interest was somewhat rekindled... But does this remake, 30 years in the making, really improve that much over the original?

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Titans Return Krok & Gatorface

Since I wasn't that inspired by the G1 HeadMasters, I've not felt the need to buy their Titans Return remakes. However, one mold in particular - Skullcruncher/Skullsmasher's - tickled me more than any of the others, I just didn't like the colourscheme.

Thankfully, Hasbro decided to come with a repaint fairly quickly, referencing an Action Master figure, just for added fun, and the new colourscheme - black, purple and acid green/yellow - looked far better than Skullcruncher's green, pink and grey...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2007 (Timelines) Weirdwolf

The Games of Deception set from BotCon 2007 was a controversial one because of the updated G1 Seeker and Coneheads it so callously included (not to mention the Go-Bot) meaning - for a while, at least - neither Hasbro nor Takara Tomy were making them available as mass retail figures. The extras from that year's show were equally controversial because they included a Springer who wasn't a Triple-Changer, pretty much the first ever official Elita-1 toy (made out of a much-reviled Galaxy Force/Cybertron shellformer), and a completely out-of-context (yet very welcome) repaint of Galaxy Force/Cybertron Vector Prime as Alpha Trion, with an excellent new head.

Bagged along with the latter came a repaint of Galaxy Force Fang Wolf/Cybertron Snarl as another otherwise out-of-context character - Weirdwolf, formerly a HeadMaster, but now Nebulan-free and very much different from his G1 form.