Friday, 13 July 2018

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!

Vehicle Mode:
Naturally, this is the same base model, so there's not a great deal to write about... Or is there? If nothing else, there are a couple of changes to plastic colour - the shade of red used for the majority of the jet parts, and the colour of the canopy - but there are also substantial changes to the paintwork, and her accessories are entirely different, not least with the inclusion of a TargetMaster weapon.

So... The plastic colour - the shade of red used is far more bold and vibrant than Hasbro's. I've no complaints about the shade of red Hasbro chose - not least because, for once, it wasn't completely anaemic - but it is nevertheless subdued... and the character of Windblade really deserves a bold, brash red to contrast with the black parts. The real highlight of this version, though, is the more extensive paintwork on the nose section. The original version of Windblade was depicted in the comics has having a largely white nose, with black on the underside and yellow and red details - resembling either the eyes on a robotic bird, or Windblade's eye makeup - on either side of the cockpit. This was entirely cut out of Hasbro's version but, lo and behold, Takara Tomy have done it right (mostly - shouldn't the intake sections on either side of the nose also be black?). The black paint on the wings is no more extensive than it was on Hasbro's effort, nor have they introduced a different design, but the wings are nevertheless livened up by the pearlescent cream paint on the fans - another feature harking back to Takara Tomy's take on the original Windblade toy.

Another not insignificant improvement is to the canopy over the cockpit. First and foremost, it's not molded in a hideous shade of translucent yellow, but a nice translucent blue. Secondly, while Hasbro's version had a perfunctory bit of black paintwork on either side and the sculpted framework for the canopy left unpainted, this version has both black and yellow painted panels on the sides of the canopy, and the framework is highlighted with black paint. On the downside, the hinge part in front of the canopy was painted black rather than white, so there's an odd block of black toward the back of the jet's nose largely white upper surface.

The big drawback to the Stormfall Sword/scabbard being included with this version of Windblade is that there's really no 'good' place to attach it to vehicle mode. Both the Generations/earlier TF Legends version and the RID2015/TF Adventure version had sockets on the underside specifically for attaching the Stormfall Sword and its scabbard, but TargetMaster Windblade has no such feature. It's possible to wedge the tabs into the slots on the undersides of the wings, where the long slots designed to accommodate TR Windblade's twin swords are still present, but this leaves the scabbard sticking out at an awkward angle, either forward or back, depending on which way round it's attached.

Since both versions of this particular toy feature a 5mm socket just behind the cockpit - which is cut across with a slot designed to accommodate TR Windblade's combined sword/sled-thing - the TargetMaster weapon, Pointech, can be easily pegged in here, so at least there are storage options for that as well as her HeadMaster

Robot Mode:
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much difference in robot mode other than the more vibrant shade of red plastic used, as the paint changes are quite subtle. Probably the most noticeable are the paint applications on the kneecaps - blue for the middle section, with glossy black on the outer rim - which were entirely omitted on Hasbro's. The black paint used throughout is also far glossier than Hasbro's... though I'm not 100% certain that one isn't black plastic with red paint on the chest and groin, where this one is red plastic with black paint on the waist and shoulders. The arms feature a more thorough coating of black paint for the hands (that is, the insides of the grip are also painted), metallic blue dots on the forearms and no red paint on the uppermost part of the shoulder armour. While this is, strictly speaking, more accurate to the usual character model, those applications of sparkly red paint were one thing I actually liked on Hasbro's version, as it highlighted and differentiated the uppermost layer of armour... so I'm almost tempted to switch the parts. The strangest difference is the sweeping blue part of the collar, which is translucent blue plastic on this version, but was painted metallic blue on Hasbro's. Assuming the sprue layouts are much the same, this must mean that the plastic used on Hasbro's version is translucent yellow, like the cockpit, making the paint a necessity... Though it does make one wonder why they didn't just make life easier on themselves and use translucent blue for the cockpit and swords. Another minor, yet significant difference in the paint job is that the sculpted 'afterburner' detail on her lower legs is painted glossy black, which makes a huge difference to the look of the legs. Takara Tomy's version of this character - as was so often the case with the TF Legends line - looks more complete than Hasbro's.

Perhaps not surprisingly Takara Tomy's version of TR Windblade comes packaged not with the terrible, combining, piss-coloured swords of the Hasbro release, but her traditional Stormfall Sword and its scabbard. While it's getting a little tedious to find yet another iteration of Windblade wielding exactly the same sword she came with back when she first appeared, four years ago, perhaps the more significant problem is that it doesn't fit her hands especially well. It's another example of a rectangular peg in an open, round hole and, while it is possible to wedge it in after some fiddling, it has to sit at a very slightly unnatural angle within her grip. This version is clear, colourless plastic with the hilt painted glossy black - making it officially the plainest version of the sword apart from Hasbro's solid black plastic version, packaged with their RID2015 Windblade - and the scabbard is plain black plastic. The scabbard can be pegged into the sides of either main thigh section, just like the other versions of Windblade, and attaches quite solidly because the tabs on the scabbard and the thighs themselves are rather more substantial than on previous, more lithe interpretations of the character. This socket is rather low down on her thigh, though, so the scabbard ends up reducing the range of her knee bend.

Her TargetMaster weapon, Pointech, seems typically oversized in her dainty hands, almost to the point where I wish Takara Tomy had reserved the TargetMaster weapons for Voyager class figures, or just made them slightly smaller. They're far taller and bulkier than the HeadMaster/Titan Master figure, and of a similar size to the old Generations TargetMaster figure, first packaged with Classics Cyclonus. I'm pretty sure they could have been made a little closer to the size of the HeadMaster/Titan Master figures without compromising the engineering...

Naturally there are no differences to the head sculpt, but the paint job is very noticeably different. First and foremost, the shade of metallic blue used on her headdress is lighter. Secondly, the gold paint used for her fan is a slightly 'warmer' colour, almost coppery rather than the dingy, tarnished gold of Hasbro's effort. It also covers both the fan and the 'hairpins', so there are no odd, distracting black patches either side of her 'fringe'. The colours used for the face, eyes and makeup are indistinguishable from those on the Hasbro version of the figure, but the red paint below the eyes is marginally thicker, going right to the edges of her eyesockets, rather than leaving a hairline white border. The lips, too, are painted slightly differently - this version of Windblade appears to have a very subtle smile, rather than the tightly pursed lips of Hasbro's version. This, in turn, makes the eyes look happier, versus the vacant, expressionless look of the other version.

Mini-Windblade - that is, I'm assuming the Takara Tomy version of the HeadMaster figure follows the same pattern as their take on G1, where the smaller robot was the on with the identity, and the larger robot was non-sentient transforming body controlled by the smaller robot - is exactly the same mold as Hasbro's version, and is still made up entirely of black plastic, but now features red paint on her forearms and shins. I'm a little surprised she doesn't have either red paint on the torso, or just a red plastic torso with some black paint, to make her look more like the typical Windblade, but any improvement on Hasbro's bland offering is good enough. She also has a pale cyan visor, as opposed to white on Hasbro's.

TargetMaster Pointech:
I have to say that the new-style TargetMaster figures are fairly cute. Vastly more poseable than the G1 figures and, to a degree, perhaps better than the Offshoot TargetMaster provided with Hasbro's cut-down take on Masterpiece Rodimus Prime. Granted, it's lacking the elbow joints and independently articulated neck of the older, larger TargetMaster, but the presentation is much improved.

It's functionally identical to TF Legends Kup's weapon, though almost every part appears to be uniquely molded. It's a double-barrelled blaster with translucent red barrels featuring very light applications of metallic red on certain parts, giving it more of a pearlescent effect than actually making it look metallic.

TargetMaster weapons have always tended to be overly large and unwieldy, but Pointech, in the hands of a comparatively dainty TransFormer like Windblade, looks especially large. They also tend not to look particularly convincing, with the arms just lying down the sides and the legs loosely pegged into the top of the gun, still looking just like legs. TargetMasters are a fine idea, but I think the engineering still needs a lot of work.

This version of Windblade still isn't one of the greatest additions to the toyline, but it's far better than the Titans Return version. The return to carrying the Stormfall Sword is a mixed blessing as it's preferable to the multi-purpose weapons packaged with the TR version, but no changes have been made - either to the sword/scabbard or the figure intended to wield it - to facilitate its attachment in vehicle mode. That said, vehicle mode storage on a Deluxe class toy still isn't a prerequisite for me, it's just strange that it was a feature of previous Windblades, but it's absent on this version. Pointech, meanwhile, pegs in perfectly well to the combination wide slot/5mm socket just behind the cockpit, but there's not even a way to attach the sword to him.

TargetMaster Windblade is a curious release in many ways. I'd imagine most people would have been mostly satisfied with this figure even without the inclusion of Pointech, and it's unlikely that any of the fiction outside Takara Tomy's own Legends continuity will portray her as a TargetMaster... Then again, unless I miss my guess, there hasn't been any sign of Windblade functioning as a Titan Master in the IDW fiction, so that's probably not important anyway.

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