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?


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...