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?