I should get Laura Linney to introduce this post. Masterpiece Seekers! Thundercracker! Skywarp! Starscream!
Super nerdy post title is super nerdy.
Almost exactly two years ago this month, I did a sequence of posts on the original G1 Seekers where I declared the acquisition of Thundercracker the “end of the Generations Seekers Saga”. Though the Generations line also included the three “Conehead” Seekers and the new Seeker, Acid Storm, the 2012 release of Masterpiece Thundercracker at least completes the original trio of Seekers in Masterpiece form.
We’re reportedly receiving Acid Storm in the Masterpiece line near the end of the year. Being a Toys R Us exclusive, he will most likely be difficult to find initially, then when he is somewhat easier to find his price will go up to excruciatingly expensive. This pattern repeating itself will determine whether or not I bother trying to pick him up at all.
To complete a full set of “Masterpiece” Seekers, including the Coneheads, the Blue Rainmaker, and a G2 Ramjet if you want, you have to go 3rd Party. So far the original three and the planned Acid Storm are the only official full retail releases in Hasbro’s Masterpiece line. TakaraTomy released “special edition” versions of Sunstorm “Starscream Ghost Version”. I actually wish we were getting Sunstorm instead of Acid Storm over here.
Either way, these are the quintessential Seekers as far as I am concerned and having all three brings me much joy.
To make it easier to discuss in the forums, even Hasbro Masterpiece mold versions tend to get named after their TakaraTomy release numbers. Hasbro’s Skywarp and Starscream both use the “MP-3″ version of the Masterpiece Seeker mold. TakaraTomy released Starscream as MP-3 and, using the same mold, Skywarp as MP-6 and Thundercracker as MP-7. Hasbro’s Masterpiece Thundercracker uses the new “MP-11″ version. MP-11 was first released as “Starscream Coronation Version”, while based on the MP-3 mold, there was significant remolding done. Most notable being the addition of struts in the back to help him stand better, the removal of the pieces hanging off the hips — something a lot of fans didn’t like about the MP-3 mold — and a brand new headsculpt. Apparently someone in the packaging department didn’t get the note about Thundercracker using the new version of the mold, as his box has a call out for “2 different heads!” which was true of the MP-3 mold, but not the MP-11 mold.
The instructions included are also for the MP-3 mold. Oops.
The new headsculpt is pretty awesome and I had hoped to swap it out for Skywarp’s. When I did, I learned a couple things:
First, as expected, it looks really cool on Skywarp.
Second, the older head looks surprisingly cool on the new mold.
Third, the old mold can’t transform with the new, larger head, despite the new head having collapsible sides to make it somewhat smaller. Since I am not about to take a dremel to my favourite toy, the head swap was short lived.
Other than the head differences, the new legs are heftier and lend more of a cartoon aspect to the mold. In fact, of the three, Thundercracker has far more of a cartoon look to him. The fandom is split, with a majority appearing to prefer the MP-11 mold because of the lack of “hip kibble”, but I actually fall more on the MP-3 side. I determined this when I set Masterpiece Thundercracker next to his G1 and Generations incarnations.
In robot mode Thundercracker looks a lot like a large version of his Generations release, especially with the new, chunkier legs and his new headsculpt. I’m not really a fan of that. It’s hard to put into words, but the closest I can come is that I much prefer my Masterpieces to be their own thing, to be uniquely distinct from the other releases of that same character.
His alt mode looks perfectly fine from the top, retaining the realistic F-15 the other two Masterpiece Seekers have.
He also retains the mold’s air brake feature.
Thankfully he also keeps the orientation of the Decepticon symbol on his wings the same as Skywarp’s, which puts them right way up in robot mode. Starscream has them the other way around in alt mode and therefore upside down in robot mode.
Unfortunately the removal of the pieces that hang from the hips results in removing the part that better covers the sides of his robot mode arms. They also added ball-jointed armatures attached to his guns so they would not need to be removed during transformation, nice touch but ultimately unnecessary in a Masterpiece toy and further take away from the look of alt mode. Both are minor details, but still push me further to the MP-3 side. Something else they did with Thundercracker that I don’t appreciate, and didn’t appreciate with the one application on the Starscream release, are the rather capriciously humorous tampographed details they added.
Hidden on the back of his shoulders in robot mode, both sides of his alt mode are the only place you can really see the images of G1 Reflector with the words “Say Cheese!” Then, combining Thundercracker’s signature Sonic Boom attack with G1 Soundwave, this silhouette adorns the outside of both vertical stabilizers.
Had they been optional stickers, I would have thought they were pretty awesome (and summarily not applied them), but being tampographed I find them mostly annoying. Thundercracker really doesn’t strike me as the whimsical type.
Some far less annoying applications are the addition of pilot names and Thundercracker’s G1 Takara release number, D-24, as a sort of call sign detail.
Though one name is paying tribute to toy designer Joe Kyde, I’m not sure who exactly J. Sass is, though I am assured he is also a toy designer.
He might also be an actual dragon as far as I know. Toy designer sounds like a safer bet, I guess. The MP-11 mold keeps the MP-3 mold’s chest missiles and smaller accessories (accessories I completely forgot to even mention in either Skywarp or Starscream’s previous entries). There is a clip to allow jet mode to carry the gun mode Megatron that came with 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, wing missile racks, a chromed “holographic pilot” figure, and a base with a stand for posing him in either robot or alt mode.
The missile racks don’t make as much sense as it requires removing his attached guns with their armatures; kind of defeats the purpose of the armature pieces and leaves the unsightly ball-joint receptacle. MP-11′s “holographic pilot” replaces the MP-3 mold’s figure of Dr. Arkeville. Also, the parsing of “Thunder Cracker” on the stand sets my teeth on edge.
All-in-all, any quibbles I have with either the MP-3 or MP-11 molds are very minor.
As I’ve already typed once; these three together bring me much, much joy.
In my Torca post I recounted how I dreaded pulling him out of the bin he currently resides in for fear of the results of the dreaded GPS. Though I lucked out and found nothing yet, GPS is a question of when, not if. There will come a time that he eventually cracks and finally crumbles. To alleviate that sad day, I am still determined to hunt down the non-GPS suffering version of the mold, Elephorca, released in Takara’s Beast Wars Neo line.
Fast forward to one of the two subjects of today’s post: Megabolt. Though I went into the Torca post aware of his affliction, I didn’t know it about Megabolt. Apparently he has what the TFWiki calls “a mild case of GPS”. This means he suffers cracks, but doesn’t simply shatter into powder like most.
I didn’t know this at the time I removed him from his bin so it came as quite a surprise when immediately the posts holding the sides of his alt mode head together both snapped off.
This is a ten year old figure, never before transformed, so — despite the gold plastic staring me in the face — I didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion of GPS.
Then the small loop where his arm locks in place on the back of his alt mode cracked into multiple pieces.
While trying to survey the damage, his left arm fell off altogether. That’s when I hit the internet for answers. The diagnosis was grim. With the somewhat hopeful use of the words “mild case” on the TFWiki, I was determined to repair as much damage as I could and extend his life as long as possible. I started by successfully gluing the arm back on. So far so good.
Next I glued the tab back together, or at least the one piece of it I still had.
However, to glue that one piece back on, I had to transform him to robot mode first.
I was terrified.
Luckily (what an odd thing to type at this point) the only thing that happened was the indention that holds the ball joint on his shoulder cracked into several pieces. There would be no way to ensure I didn’t glue the joint into one piece if it was still attached, so I had to remove it. I glued the pieces together, waited until it dried, then tried to snap it back onto the ball without stressing it so much that it shattered further.
It shattered further. Enough remains to actually hold the joint together while still allowing it to move so I was more or less successful. In the image above, you can also see where the tip of the tab on the other shoulder piece snapped off as well.
There he is, you wouldn’t know his sad state of affairs just by looking as him, so I guess mission successful. However, this is as posed as he’s going to get, I am not tempting his fragility any further. Never has a headsculpt so perfectly encapsulated my feelings about a particular toy experience.
As the most compacted mode and therefore most secure from random breaks, he will probably spend the rest of his life in alt mode. So let’s talk about this alt mode and this figure in particular now that the unpleasantness of GPS is done.
Megabolt makes very little sense as a toy release. He was an Armada style packaged, Robots in Disguise toyline KB Toys exclusive redeco of the previous year’s KB Toys exclusive Robots in Disguise release that was actually meant as a Beast Machines Megatron toy.
Bwah? I’ll give you a moment if you want to re-parse that sentence. It’s kinda tangled.
Of course, if you’re familiar with the Beast Machines series, you recognize Megabolt’s alt mode as an improperly coloured, scaled down version of Beast Machines Megatron’s “Grand Mal” mode most commonly known as the BFH, the Big Floating Head (or Big F#@%ing Head if you’re less polite).
Unlike with Torca, when Megabolt finally suffers an irrevocable break (*sob*), it won’t be as bad because I already have the original and — more importantly — non-GPS inflicted version of the mold, Megatron Megabolt.
Megatron Megabolt was designed to be the toy incarnation of the massive, floating head construct that Beast Machines Megatron’s spark resided in for a time when he purged the organic material from himself. It was shown to transform in the cartoon, but from an enormous head into a spaceship.
Nicknamed “BFH” by the fandom, the official name of “Grand Mal” [french for "great evil/wrong/illness/pains" but best known as the erstwhile name of a type of seizure] was revealed in episode scripts and in a short story in the Transformers Legends anthology. In toy form, his original Beast Machines bio states that he “has taken the form of a gigantic cybernetic head that hovers over Cybertron”.
While staying within continuity for the series, the bio fails to address the addition of spider legs in alt mode. It also says nothing of his robot mode.
It would also make as much sense that this was meant to be a scaled down version altogether. I would love to imagine a scene in Beast Machines where the Grand Mal opened its mouth and out poured hundreds of these spider legged horrors. Then for them to transform into copies of Megatron himself as they began their assault. How chilling would that have been?
The toy also has a spring-loaded, flip-down “battle mask” attached to a missile launcher. The mask is designed after the helmet of the control harness Megatron used in Beast Machines to control his army.
On the toy, the helmet portion actually adheres to his head by way of magnets.
The head on Megabolt is one of the parts reported to suffer from GPS, which is why a photo of him in his mask is missing from this post.
One more awesome little factiod about these two (and I have to confess, my recent acquisition of Fortress Maximus actually spurred this post).
When Megatron Megabolt was brought over to the Robots in Disguise toyline, he received a bio that made him the “Emissary Mode” of Robots in Disguise Megatron himself. Car Robots, the Takara cartoon and toyline that Robots in Disguise was dubbed from included a repaint of G1 Fortress Maximus named Brave Maximus. There is an odd design quirk about Megatron Megabolt and Megabolt that he fits perfectly into the Fortress Maximus mold’s head area once you remove the spider legs.
Though most likely accidental, Megatron Megabolt’s Robots in Disguise bio actually calls this “feature” out.
“Developed “Emissary Mode” to combine with his space cruiser and even the secret Autobot defense fortress in attempt to gain absolute power.”
Regardless, I still consider Megatron Megabolt to be a Beast Machines toy and he will be displayed with the other Beast era toys. Megabolt, however, will now be sealed up in as safe a container as I can find and stashed away in a bin until the day I can display everyone. Not that it matters, I guess, considering he very well may be a pile of shattered pieces by then.
Episode 3 of the blogcast with the newly minted name!
Not only a new name, but advertising courtesy of Paul of The Gassy Autobot! Podcast is now a verb. ‘Cause we say so.
That Metalhawk is sooooo negative.
Part the Second is going to be less like a sequel and more like bookends for Part the First.
Sitting at work and watching the UPS Tracking link like a hawk, I was actually surprised how fast I got him. Sitting at work, I received a message from my wife,
“I have your box.”
I contemplated coming down with a sudden bout of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo disorder (I’m pretty sure that’s the medical term for “Lazy”) and heading home, but stuck it out — that’s the selfless kind of person I am. Just to give a sense of the size of his box, I put it up next to my one and a half year old kid.
He then dutifully and excitedly started pointing out the Autobot symbol, repeatedly saying “Ah-bot! Ah-bot! Ah-bot!” (I am quite proud of the fact that “Autobot” and “Optimus” were some of his first words). The box is huge. I was originally concerned that I didn’t know where I would store it, but have since decided the box itself is display worthy. I really, really, reeeeeeeally like the Takara boxart.
Not that Hasbro’s isn’t nice, it just lacks the dynamism of Takara’s.
As was widely reported, this release has put a little bit of a crimp in the style of the MISB collectors. Due to an undisclosed “QC Issue”, TakaraTomy was forced to open each box and then tape it back up, this lead to dreaded “double-taping” that sets most MISB collectors’ teeth on edge.
Not such an issue with me, I believe Transformers are meant to be transformed so I sliced right through that tape. Out slid what came to be something of another surprise with this Encore release. Long determined to be environmentally detrimental, the styrofoam used to pack many of the larger G1 toys has been all but removed from modern packaging. Fortress Maximus, however, comes packaged in a styrofoam coffin, similar to his original release.
Finally, it was time to see my very own Fortress Maximus.
First, we must go back in time for just a moment. Before there was a Fortress Maximus in my collection, there was Fortress Minimus.
When I was under the clear understanding that my acquisition of an actual Fortress Maximus was about as likely as a lasting Cybertronian peace treaty, I settled for the next closest thing I could find. By “closest” I mean “oddly well detailed at about one eighteenth the size”.
This miniaturized knock-off version of Fortress Maximus actually fit in well with my shelf of Primus and Unicrons, but could now be retired because he had been rendered remarkably redundant.
Meanwhile, back at the unboxing,
I pulled everything out of the box and inspected it meticulously; transforming him between his three modes to make sure. From armless Spike/Cerebros to a defective hip ratchet on Fortress Maximus himself, there has been a smattering of serious quality problems being reported on the forums. I am quite pleased to say that I found none, serious or minor, on mine.
Having relieved that particular anxiety, I was ready to set up the camera and take some serious photos. Oh… wait. What’s that colossal sheet of shiny silver paper that’s almost the size of Fortress Maximus?
Stickers. 55 of them to be precise.
Determined to push through my least favourite part of reissues, I actually found far fewer instances of needing to trim down improperly cut stickers than normal, which helped the process along. There’s been a couple posts on the forums about buyer’s remorse, but – just short of needing the money for an unforeseen life-saving operation — I can’t fathom how that could be. He is magnificent.
Does he lack articulation? For a G1 toy, not particularly. There are those that can truly be called “bricks”, like Powermaster Optimus Prime or Star Convoy (two of my favourite Transformers toys), but Fortress Maximus’ limited articulation is on par with a good portion of the G1 ’bots a fourth his size.
For someone big enough to just step on most of his enemies, even without counting his handheld dual laser cannons and photon rifle he is fairly bristling with weaponry. Guns rotate out all over the place.
He also carries the massive Master Sword.
No, not that Master Sword, this one.
An accessory exclusive to the Takara release, the Master Sword played a very prominent part in the Headmasters series as the weapon that allowed Fortress Maximus to finally defeat his rival, Scorponok. In the cartoon, they are roughly the same size, but in toy form, Maximus towers over Scorponok.
Had this been the scale used in the show, Headmasters would have been a very short series indeed. Probably the worst offender of scale tomfoolery in all of Transformers history, writers just didn’t know what to do with an Autobot this big. His fictional appearances mostly bring him down in size; how far down varies between different fictions and something even varies within the same fiction. His most recent appearances in the IDW comics put him at just a little bit bigger than the average Transformer.
I really like the sculpt on Fortress’ head mode, I was surprised to find that Cerebros was not necessary when attaching Fortress to Fortress Maximus, with the instructions even showing that he can be placed in the shoulder compartment to the right of the head.
When in robot mode, Gasket and Grommet can be parked in his feet.
Now, Fortress Maximus may have been intended as a city ‘bot, but out of all his modes Headmasters uses his third mode most often. The somewhat indeterminate “battle station” in the Hasbro instructions or the space-faring Battleship Maximus of the Headmasters release (or “Spaceship Bruce” as the hilariously bad Omni Productions dub called it) is the least convincing of the modes, despite being the one with the most cartoon representation.
Though this is the mode that makes use of the little cockpit at the top of the tower.
I was quite surprised by how low the price was when the Encore release was announced, but even as reasonable as I found it, unfortunately it’s still prohibitively expensive for a number of fans. This makes me sad because I can finally understand why this has been a grail piece for so many. I know I have already written it once, but magnificent is really the only word I can use for him.
Playing with toys.
This is a concept that is natural while mostly inconceivable to your average toy collector. This is how these toys were meant to be used,
But for a good portion of them, this is how they will be displayed,
Almost seems a shame. Well. Almost, until something like this happens,
That is the tiniest of holes poked in the sticker on the main ramp — stickers that go over molded detail are one of the many areas that the original G1 stickers fail as a concept. It was done by my son because all he wants in the world is to drive “truck” (a.k.a. Gasket) up and down the main ramp.
Which I will allow him to do all he wants.
When he is eighteen…
Or maybe never. The jury is still out on that one.
The Year of the Really Big Autobots, Part Two… Part One. Gasket and Grommet (Cog), Spike/Cerebros, Cerebros/Fortress! Fortress Maximus!
2013, which I have declared the year of the “most surprising, most glee-inducing releases in recent Transformers history” rolls on with TakaraTomy’s Encore Release number 23. Unless you’ve been living under a Transforming rock for the last six months, you are probably well aware of the identity of the most recent release in the Encore line.
Measuring 22 inches tall, Fortress Maximus was, until very recently, the largest Transformer toy ever made and an unattainable holy grail to many, myself included. Add in the fact that I had just finished watching the Headmasters cartoon series not too long before he was announced and I pre-ordered him so fast I was dizzy. Though I did not shell out the extra money for the “early shipment” that some online retailers were offering, I was champing at the bit to get my hands on him.
Never having owned his toy (I was 13 when he was originally released and was told I was too old for Transformers), the closest I have come to him is pictures on the internet or the few I have seen from a distance on dealers tables at Botcon. Not having the commitment nor the fortitude to stomach the cost necessary to complete a vintage Fort Max, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the closest I would come to having him grace my display was the KO of Spike that I owned. His Encore release was as welcome as it was completely unexpected.
Encore reissues are, of course, completely a TakaraTomy affair — especially with this one as there’s just no way he can pass the Draconian “Drop Test” laws of Hasbro territories. One thing this means is that the smaller robots that come with the gigantic ‘bot aren’t the human Spike, binary-bonded with the Headmaster Cerebros, who in turn transforms into the head of Fortress Maximus. No, here we have the small robot Cerebros who forms the head of Fortress, who then forms the head of Fortress Maximus. That’s why, when referring to the toys themselves, I will be using their Takara release names.
As I wrote about at length in my Hardhead post, I fully support Cerebros being a robot in place of the squishy human Spike. As much as I absolutely love Headmasters, Targetmasters, and Powermasters; I still consider the use of highly modified organics for partners to be both illogical and painfully awkward.
As first impressions go, I expected Fortress himself to be larger, though I’m not sure why. Fortress Maximus is as righteously huge as I was anticipating, so the size of the robot that makes up his head should have been pretty easy to extrapolate.
Despite his smaller size, he still has the full three tumblers in his chest for his Tech Spec readout. Putting the “Max” in “Maximus”, he has all tens across the board.
Despite having Spike, I never really thought about just how very wrong the Marvel comics and US cartoon got his head model — shown in the bottom of the last panel in the comic book image above. Headrobots did do a set called “Centurion” that included updated versions (along the same lines as their “Hothead” G1 Hardhead update) of both the original G1 toy as well as the way he looked in the US fiction.
As much as I love Headrobots, I didn’t really feel the need to pick this set up. I can imagine it was awesome for anyone that had assembled almost all of a vintage Fortress Maximus but maybe missing Spike. Though I wouldn’t mind owning just the US cartoon accurate one, I honestly like Takara’s Fortress better than Hasbro’s Cerebros, they managed to get much closer to the look of his toy.
Another difference between the Takara and Hasbro releases is the inclusion of two versions of the Master Sword, the sword “given to the just ruler”. One of which is a smaller version, meant to be wielded by Fortress.
On the subject of things I wasn’t aware until I acquired him for myself included his third mode: ”communications room”.
Errr, well, it works better when he combines with his section of Fortress Maximus in city mode.
A good reason for me not knowing his second alt mode was that he actually transformed into an alt mode in the US cartoon’s “Rebirth“. That alt mode just happened to be a miniaturized version of Fortress Maximus’ full city mode.
That’s not too surprising, as there really isn’t anything consistent across any of his fictional appearances.
I’ve looked far and wide, but can find no evidence for or against Takara’s release using the same name as Hasbro for the two components, Gasket and Grommet.
By extension, as far as I know, Takara released their combined robot mode under the same name as well, Cog.
The part that I don’t understand is — beyond the application of wheels and tank tread stickers — no real attempt was made to make these guys transform or even look much like two separate alt modes. Gasket, the upper half, does marginally better; if seen from the side, he looks like a vehicle of some sort. He can also function as a heavily armed
wheelchair vehicle for Cerebros.
I still think he was meant to go the other way ’round. He looks like a torso on wheels the way the instructions show him. Reversed, he looks like a well armed pickup truck type vehicle.
Grommet on the other hand makes no attempt to look like anything more than a pair of Transformers legs with tank treads driving around.
It would have made so much more sense to put holes on Grommet to allow him to carry Cog’s arms as guns in alt mode.
That’s Fortress Maximus’ supporting cast, the primary inhabitants of this particular Autobot city.
I have to admit, Gasket and Grommet are a bit of a let down, though Cog is a solid enough combined mode. They are definitely no Scamper, Six-Gun, and Slammer, so that’s one area that Fortress Maximus loses out to Metroplex. Well, the only area. I’m saying this while being very partial to Metroplex, but Fortress Maximus is just a wonder in city mode.
As my kid will attest, this mode has non-stop play value.
One of the added benefits to leaving the guns off Gasket is that he’s able to fit into my favourite gimmick of city mode. I knew that Fortress Maximus had a somewhat awkwardly placed rotating handle on his crotch but never knew what function it served. In city mode, it sits in the back, tucked away behind the main tower and nestled between the two rear cannons.
Turning the crank raises and lowers an elevator inside the main section of the fortress.
Once the vehicle elevator has been raised, pushing the red button next to the ramp opening tilts the back end of the elevator platform up, ejecting the vehicle at surprisingly high speeds.
City mode has a prison for dealing with those dastardly Decepticons.
Also, a helicopter pad.
There’s a turning radar arrary, presumably powered by Fortress in his “communications room” mode. Of course, there’s also a million other nooks and crannies for the other inhabitants, ’cause this is a
Next up is part two of “The Year of the Really Big Autobots Part 2″ — Part 2 of Part 2? Maybe I should have just called them Part 2: Hyper Fighting and Part 2: The New Challengers.
Anyway, up next: the Big Bot himself.
With the Kreons, I have gained both a new appreciation as well as jealousy of the folks at Takara and Hasbro that design Transformers. It started with my experience bulking up and somewhat G1-ifying my Kre-O Wheeljack and has happened again with the new Kre-O Microchanger Combiners.
Before we get to that part, first let me go off on a bit of a tangent. With all of the announced Kre-O Microchanger Combiners — wait, back up: let’s start with the fact that the Microchanger Combiner teams based on their G1 releases even exist to begin with. Now, back to what I was typing about before my tangent went off on a tangent: even though each of the Kre-O Combined robots is only made up of four ‘bots; they are including the fifth ‘bot from the team as a single packed release.
Now I want one more person to tell me that Hasbro & Co. doesn’t love the fans. Just one.
There is absolutely no other reason they would include a single-pack release that is mostly indistinguishable to the average kid from the guys in the Combiner set other than for the fans.
For example, that way we (the fans) don’t miss out on Slingshot — released as Kre-O Quickslinger — with the rest of the Aerialbots that make up Kre-O Superion.
Quickslinger gets a different head and helmet from the rest of the Aerialbots, but other than that, has the same basic colour scheme as Firestrike — the Kre-O incarnation of Fireflight.
The remaining three are the ones that didn’t suffer a name change; Air Raid, the team leader Silverbolt, and Skydive.
Air Raid’s is pretty much the only one of the five of them with a semi-decent alt mode.
Mind you, this isn’t a complaint or a strike against these guys in the least bit for me. None of the Microchanger series and especially none of the Microchanger Combiners have been bought because they can actually transform. Just like the pre-Microchanger Kreons, they were all bought based on their robot modes and the awesome G1-ness of it all. Pretty much the same reason I own all of the widely released G1 Robot Heroes.
As much as I like Superion and the Aerialbots, I’m not too overly attached to them, which may be why I didn’t really feel the need — as so many other apparently did — to find a combination that included him in Superion. It wouldn’t be too difficult to do and still include a majority, if not all, of his pieces.
For some reason, I didn’t feel the same about Predaking and the Predacons. Not only did I feel the need to include the single-packed member of the group, Rampage, but I also felt compelled to correct the non-G1-ness of his combined mode’s legs.
For it to properly be Predaking, you have to have a rhino head for the left kneecap and a bull head for the right. What the instructions have instead is a — admittedly clever — single horn to represent the rhino and the double horned piece from Divebomb’s tail to suggest the bull head.
What I and countless others have done is to use the actual head pieces in place of the suggested ones. This presents a slight problem, because the combined mode uses the orange head piece for its head. All except Divebomb have an interchangeable helmet piece with holes to insert horns and make it into a rhino or bull head or left as is for the two cats. To solve this, I swapped out Rampage’s red head piece achieving even more G1 accuracy in the process. However, this wasn’t the end of the problems. As a further cheat, the red head for Rampage on Predaking’s shoulder is faked by using the red headpiece from the bull. I say “faked” because, remember, Rampage isn’t even included in the Predaking set.
I considered buying a second single-packed Rampage just for the headpiece, but for now I faked it even more by borrowing a couple of my extra red pieces for his shoulder.
By adding Rampage into the mix, I also made Predaking a little taller, which is appropriate given his comparatively hulking size in G1.
While I was adding extra pieces, I also increased Divebomb’s wingspan which in turn increased Predaking’s. Remember that appreciation and jealousy of the toy designers I mentioned? Divebomb is where a majority of it came from in this case. I had a lot of dislikes with Divebomb. First, his robot mode placed his wings directly on his arms, which is needlessly inaccurate. I moved those to his already existing backpack. I also used red for the wings rather than black in robot mode. I would have preferred a little more G1 accurate orange, but was lacking the pieces.
I also left his tail piece on his backpack. Speaking of his tail, that I changed completely. The double-pronged tail piece from the instructions just didn’t work at all. His entire alt mode was pretty much just him bending in half, it clearly needed further help. I kept the black wing pieces along with the added red and gave him a bigger wingspan and used the two slanting orange pieces from his combined mode’s legs to try to recreate his G1 tail. I also replaced the two horns with actual clamps to give his bird legs some actual clawed feet.
Still not perfect, but much better in my opinion. The appreciation for toy designers came in the fact that I would make improvements to his alt mode, but then it was too bulky and I was removing way too many pieces to convert him to robot. What I had to do was find a balance between a definitive alt mode and a clean robot mode without a pile of pieces left over. Luckily Kre-O has a precedent of a couple pieces left over after you transform them. A toy designer doesn’t even that much leeway. These days they have to try to make a convincing alt mode and a convincing robot mode and use all the same pieces for both. A mind-twisting exercise, but a fun one (which is where the jealousy comes in). With the exception of not putting the vest piece on Razorclaw, I left the other guys pretty much alone in both modes. The vest pieces have been particularly annoying because they cover up all the wonder detailing included on the Kreon’s chest.
I’ve left them off of any Kreons where they aren’t strictly necessary.
Despite the identical headpieces, the menagerie of animals for the Predacons has just enough differences. Though they still come off rather… impressionistic.
Once again, not a problem. The combined mode is where it’s at.
I have purposely tried to stay away from their Kre-O names because two of them are a bit of a mess. Razorclaw, Rampage, and Divebomb all retain their original G1 names, but Tantrum and Headstrong are no longer available. Hasbro replaced them with Torox and Headlock. Now, Torox has history, it is actually Tantrum’s Italian G1 name. The problem is that someone got confused and swapped their names along the way, with Tantrum being renamed Headlock and my favourite Predacon, Headstrong, being renamed Torox.
Either way, whatever they’re named, I seriously doubt anyone’s going to mess with them about it.
The audio for the next episode of our still somewhat unnamed blogcast is up:
I’ll most likely replace the direct audio file link with a Youtube one once it gets uploaded.