Monday, 18 February 2019

TransFormers Animated Soundwave

The TransFormers Animated TV series not only had an eclectic mix of characters in the Decepticons' ranks (including a triple-changer, a beast-former and a Combaticon), it also did some fairly original things with them. Case in point: Soundwave,  in this continuity, started out as an electronic toy (something like Beatmix Bumblebee) given to Sari Sumdac. Through the power of the Allspark Key, it gained sentience and upgraded itself into a formidable enemy... But how's the toy?

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Arms Micron (TF Prime) Thundercracker

I've often noted in this blog that the appearance of one of the Seekers in a TransFormers toyline will often lead to the appearance of the other two but, certainly in recent years, Hasbro has not followed this strategy quite so closely as they once did. Aside from oddities where Combiner Wars Thundercracker actually preceded CW Starscream and Skywarp, we tend to get a Starscream first, and then either a Thundercracker or a Skywarp from Hasbro (usually the former, it seems), while Takara Tomy will release the other as some sort of region-exclusive.

The TransFormers Prime toyline, being quite small due to the limited cast in the TV show, seemed like the ideal line to bolster with Starscream repaints, and yet the only ones we got were literally alternative Starscreams. Given that two versions of Starscream were created - the First Edition Deluxe and the mainline Voyager - it seems ridiculous in retrospect that Hasbro didn't turn either into Thundercracker or Skywarp...

...Thankfully, Takara Tomy wasted no time in producing the other two Seekers in their Arms Micron version of the line, repainting not only the Deluxe class figure, but also the Arms Micron mini-figure packaged with the toy.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Robots in Disguise (2015)/Combiner Force Thermidor

While I wouldn't consider myself a fan of the most recent TransFormers toyline to bear the subtitle "Robots in Disguise", I've nevertheless picked up more than a handful of the toys - both Hasbro's output and Takara Tomy's versions, packaged under the name TransFormers Adventure.

A significant part of the reason for that is the G1 homages in the Autobot ranks, or the (marginally) superior paint job on the likes of Strongarm... But perhaps the most significant part is the bizarre and outlandish appearance of the Decepticons - it's almost as though they were trying to build on the Beast Hunters aspect of TransFormers Prime, and develop more beast-like Decepticons... Except many aren't robots that turn into beasts, they're beast-like robots that turn into vehicles.

One of my quirky favourites was Bisk, an orange muscle car - not unlike the TFPrime Vehicons - who turned into a lobster-like robot with massive claws and googly eyes. When a repaint was revealed, in a gorgeous shade of blue, and with a name referencing another lobster dish, it immediately became a must-have and, in the end, I was lucky enough to find him in a nearby branch of Asda... So let's take a look

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Binaltech BT01 Smokescreen

More than anything else, two TransFormers toys - both released as part of the 20th Anniversary back in 2003 - were responsible for rekindling my interest in collecting. The first - no surprise - was MP01 Convoy. The second, which I was pleasantly surprised to find on a visit to Forbidden Planet, was this one.

Binaltech was presented as a sort of alternate timeline of events between the second season of the TV show and the animated movie, in which a group of Autobots who had become infected with the Cosmic Rust virus were rebuilt in new forms with the latest technologies and the aid of various real-life car manufacturers. Each vehicle was fully licensed by Takara and, while they tended not to be precisely the same vehicle as their G1 equivalents, they were either the latest iteration of the same series, or appropriately similar alternatives. They were also part die-cast, much like the G1 toys, and all made to 1:24 scale. I'd picked up the first few Binaltech figures before Hasbro's version - the all-plastic Alternators - surfaced in the UK, and tended to keep buying Binaltech because the Alternators tended to look quite lacklustre in comparison...

I wrote up one of my final Binaltech purchases way back at the start of this blog, so I figured it was about time I got back to the first of the line...

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Cybertron Twin-Pack Starscream

There are times when the stranger aspects of my collector mentality completely trump any and all logical thought, and this toy represents one such occasion for me. By the time this appeared on shelves at Toys'R'Us in the UK, I already owned the Galaxy Force versions of both Starscream and Vector Prime. The version of Vector Prime included with this figure is vastly inferior to the Takara Tomy version (fewer paint applications, the shade of brown used - both paint and plastic - is too dark, sword and wings are made out of bendy plastic that develops a weird, powdery coating after a while), while the colourscheme of this so-called Starscream doesn't represent anything shown in the TV show...

...But I liked it, and I guess my Seeker OCD took a new turn (Thundercracker and Skywarp being made from a different mold in Cybertron/Galaxy Force) because I felt compelled to shell out for a boxed set of two figures when I was only interested in one. Vector Prime is still in the box to this day while this - the only UK release of this version of Starscream at his intended size - stands among his Cybertron/Galaxy Force contemporaries... representing a different character...

Friday, 8 February 2019

TransFormers: Prime Ratchet

While TransFormers: Prime owed a significant aesthetic debt to the live action movies, it owed at least as much to the previous TV series, TransFormers Animated, both in terms of its character setup (few Autobots against a legion of enemies, both Cybertronian and human) and the specifics of its cast. Optimus Prime is a given in any toyline - thanks to the lessons Hasbro learned with the 1986 animated movie - and Bumblebee has become a staple character in recent years by becoming the new Hot Rod, but it's still quite rare for other G1 characters to resurface in any recognisable form.

Ratchet's persona in TFAnimated was that of a traumatised war veteran, haunted an encounter with Lockdown, an irascible but reliable medic/engineer who gradually softened over the course of the series. TFPrime's Ratchet... was much the same, but didn't become appreciably friendlier as time went on. He was sometimes reckless (experimenting with synthetic Energon using himself as the guineapig) and proved himself in battle on several occasions, but, with the exception of a couple of spotlight episodes, he was mostly a support character, remaining in the Autobots' base rather than getting involved in their missions. Nevertheless, he was a brilliant character, voiced by the inimitable Jeffrey Combs, so even the briefest appearance in an episode was often a highlight.

Does the toy follow suit?

Thursday, 7 February 2019

WfC2019 Is Definitely Not For Me... (w/ addendum 30/5/19)

As more images and information about the War for Cybertron series toys become available, it's becoming increasingly clear that it's a toyline I can happily skip. I know I felt the same about Armada/Micron Legend, only to change my mind after spending a bit more time with Energon/Superlink and Cybertron/Galaxy Force but, while that was mainly based on the childish look of the toys, simplistic transformations and taking the stance of a conscientious objector to the blatant Pokemon rip-off that was Mini-Cons, my objection to WfC2019 is rather more broad... and possibly puts me at odds with the majority of collectors, even those who, like me, lived through the actual Generation 1 and, by and large, quite liked Classics/Generations and even the Prime Wars trilogy.

I've said before that this new line - ostensibly set before G1 in the TransFormers timeline - is just too G1 for me... But, more than that, it's G1 with an ill-considered, poorly executed pseudo-'Cybertronian' aesthetic. Nowhere is this more apparent than with some of the latest reveals: Deluxes Impactor and Mirage, and Commander class Jetfire.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Power of the Primes Novastar

(Femme-Bot Friday #64)
I suggested, back when I wrote about Moonracer, that buying the repaints I already knew about was all but a foregone conclusion, and here we are... On the upside, I knew ahead of time that this figure was going to be disappointing. Even so I have to say straight away that I rather wish I hadn't bothered with this one, and now probably won't buy the new War for Cybertron version of Chromia, or the Combiner-enabled Greenlight with its Battlemaster partner, let alone the yet-to-be-announced fourth version of this mold, which will create a new official gestalt for Elita Prime.

So let's get Novastar out of the way, shall we?