Archive for April, 2012
For the love of Primus, go buy this toy. Right. Now. Transformers Prime Arms Micron Skywarp and Balo!
As recounted in my
post, my choice for the Starscream First Edition mold was the 6th entry in Takara’s Arms Micron toyline, AM-06 Skywarp; a decision I am so pleased with right now, I can’t even explain put it into words.
Well, maybe I better put some words to it, or else this post is just going to end up a bunch of disjointed images.
Much like Animated Prowl, the First Edition Starscream mold has lithe proportions and a sleek alt mode that contributes to a very, very well articulated robot mode with tremendous amounts of personality.
Skywarp’s little Mini-con friend, Balo (the TFWiki states his name comes from “a shortening of “buffalo”, accomplished by dropping the middle syllable from the Japanese spelling of the word”) is marginally articulated himself, for an adorable little buffalo-drill-ninja star-shield-dude.
Granted, his “shield” mode looks a heck of a lot like the reverse side of his “ninja star” mode, but he transforms into a freaking ninja star, so I’ll allow it.
My favourite of his alt modes has to be his drill mode. Oddly, nothing in his instructions or on the box depicts him in this mode.
The Arms Micron line has a couple peculiarities, first: stickers. I don’t like stickers. I don’t like stickers a lot. Thankfully Skywarp doesn’t have too many of them and I admit they add some nice, shiny details to him. Balo actually has more of them than Skywarp, and they were quite annoying in their small size and quantity.
The other thing is that the Mini-cons in the new Arms Micron series come as pieces on a sprue.
I was worried when I first learned this but, at least in Balo’s case, those worries were unfounded. He’s really solid with tight joints.
Skywarp maintains his warp ability but now uses it for “ninja-like” “Warp attacks”. Courtesy of Hydra over at Allspark.com, here’s the translated bio for Transformers Prime Skywarp in its entirety:
Skywarp is a member of the Decepticon aerial group the Seekers. He outwardly resembles Starscream, but lacks his scheming nature, instead loyally obeying Megatron. True to his name, he specializes in warp attacks. Lurking in the shadows of the Decepticons, he rarely makes his presence known, but his ninja-like attacks with his shuriken-shaped Arms Micron menace the Autobots.
Definitely qualifies as Skywarp’s coolest incarnation, despite having a minature buffalo as a pet. Skywarp’s jet alt mode swaps Starscream’s removable missle pods for non-removable bomb-like attachments.
They are covered in the new hexagonal 5-mm holes that are used in the Arms Micron line.
Every time we go on a roadtrip, I always choose a Transformer to bring along. Next week is a very, very, verrrrrrrrrrrrry special roadtrip to Dallas, TX for a little thing called BOTCON! I do believe my newest Skywarp and his minion will be our travelling companions.
Stealthily silent, efficient and lethal. Pretty much the polar opposite of Animated Bumblebee. Animated Prowl!
The appearance of Animated Jazz was pretty freaking awesome, but Animated Prowl is the original Animated cyber-ninja.
He also serves as yet another example of the unbelievable job they did turning those superbly fluid ‘bots from the cartoon into toys.
I will admit, when I saw the first images that showed up for the cartoon, I was part of the, “OMG, there’s absolute no way they are going to be able to turn those designs into toys” crowd. In fact, I am still surprised how well they did with a majority of the Animated cast. That being said, even amongst this impressive toyline Prowl is still a stand-out for having remarkable articulation. Add to this his awesome ninja star weapons that store as his hubcabs and he almost becomes to cool to handle.
Quite unnecessarily, he also comes with a traffic light on a rope for a weapon.
A good portion of this phenomenal articulation is owed to his alt mode.
Making a robot that folds up into a sleek motorcycle necessitates rather flexible and slender proportions. So, when you have a cyber-ninja with amazing articulation, you had better have a damned good excuse for limiting that articulation.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait. From cyber-ninja to cyber-samurai? I am pretty sure he just lapped himself in the cool race. Coming straight out of the cartoon, his samurai armor and wheel blade/shield upgrades form a sidecar for his alt mode.
Initially I was perturbed with them selling “Samurai Prowl” after I had already bought regular Prowl, but I got a little better with it once I had the actual toy in hand. Instead of just releasing the same figure with the sidecar, they did an extensive remold on him, among which included replacing his clear windshield with blue etched with circuitry designs. Annoyingly, they also cut his hubcap ninja stars. Also, he is missing his traffic light. However, you can remove the hubcaps and replace them with the ninja star hubcaps from his regular release, and I guess he can still hold the traffic light but I still don’t even understand why it was necessary to begin with.
Count yourself lucky, normally if you’re seeing two Prowls there’s a good chance the cyber-ninja just got done whopping your tailpipe so hard you’re seeing double.
Slight delay in today’s post due to a trip. One of my favourite things to do on roadtrips is swing by the toy aisles as we make our way. I was quite surprised when we came across this particularly barren Transformers aisle:
Despite this veritable wasteland, I was able to score the newest run of Bot Shots: Mirage, Ratchet, Brawl, and Super-Bot Bumblebee at a Toys R Us further down the road.
I’ll be back tomorrow with an actual toy post, just thought I would share this little piece of sadness in the meantime. You know, misery loving company and all.
In the list of names of Transformers that cause laughter, Windbreaker runs neck and neck for first place with Erector. I hardly think that’s fair considering if Windbreaker should be made fun of for anything name-wise, it’s that he shares a name with a type of jacket. I have yet to hear “Windbreaker” and think ”one-who-breaks-wind”, but what can you do? Children will be children.
When I went on my previously mentioned hunt for Scoop I noticed that the same guy had a really good price on a mint-on-sealed-card G2 Windbreaker as well.
As a general rule, I don’t buy sealed items. Mostly because the price is too high for a toy that I will inevitably open. Transformers are meant to be transformed; for me, my collection is a tactile thing. I don’t collect MIB because a Transformer in a box is only half a toy (or in some cases one-third or even one-sixth or one-tenth of a toy.) There are some that agree with that sentiment so much that they buy at least two of every toy, one for robot mode and one for vehicle. I fall somewhere in between the MIB folks and the multiples buyers. Like I said, for me it’s a tactile thing. It’s not just the fact that they are two toys in one, it’s the fact that they transform from one toy to another. My collection is as much a monument to the engineering of transforming as it is to the individual toys themselves.
But I digress.
Specifically this toy was such a good price because, whereas the toy was both mint and sealed, the packaging was definitely not mint. The card had gotten water damage at one point and had warped and turned brown. It was most easily seen on the cardback.
For as little as packaging means to me, I do have to admire the carded G2 toys. Rather than simply adhering the plastic bubble to the front of the card, having the bubble somewhat askew and going all the way through the card makes for a very nice presentation of the toy itself.
Of course, true to form, that admiration lasted a very short time once my very bright orange order of toys arrived.
Ugh. Stickers. I forgot about the “joy” of stickers. However, one stickering session later, I had an orange and bright blue old school Chevy Camaro with a little more detail, like headlights.
Albeit, now also with pink taillights.
The stickers were cut rather poorly. Most obvious was the pink chest sticker that, thanks to the two circles, is quite obviously cut far off center.
This mode highlights my favourite thing about Windbreaker — aside from his very G2 colour scheme — his headsculpt. I had never seen Windbreaker’s toy before and didn’t realize that the orange and bright blue Chevy Camaro was hiding such a great headsculpt.
For such a little guy, he also has some of the best light-piping.
I am quite happy for the turn of events that made me need to hunt down Scoop and inadvertently stumble upon this splendid toy. Also, thanks to sporadic appearances in the Botcon 2010 comic, Windbreaker will now take his place proudly on the shelf with the other G2 and G2 Generations figures.
For whatever it may mean to you (to me it means chocolate and presents) Happy Easter!
May today be everything you hoped it will be.
Something tells me Megatron isn’t going to be quite so happy with his Easter bounty.
Prior to March 29th, I could pick Scoop out of a crowd; I knew he was a Double-Targetmaster and a bright orange and yellow payloader who was a member of the Wreckers. I just didn’t have an immediate need to own him. He’s a Targetmaster and as such he’s higher on my list than some, but still not someone I felt overly compelled to hunt down.
Until the morning of March 29th.
What happened on March 29th? This picture graced the Botcon Twitter feed:
An image from the upcoming Botcon 2012 comic book, it was titled “Metalhawk & the crew ready for a tussle!” My initial thought was, “Heh, once I get my Botcon set with Timelines Metalhawk in it, I’ll be able to recreate this shot with my toys.”
Followed quickly by,
“Wait. Except for the orange and yellow guy.”
It didn’t take long for me to recognize him as Scoop, thanks to his rather distinctive set of guns. I basically saw two possibilities:
1. Scoop was possibly going to be part of one of this year’s Botcon souvenir sets and I should probably grab his G1 toy to make a nice display along with his new form.
2. Scoop was just popping up in the comic but wasn’t getting a new toy. If this were the case I must get his toy now.
Oh, the odd, unexpected obsessions that can suddenly take hold in a toy collection. Shortly after my need to own Scoop for one reason or another kicked in, Allspark.com got a little mini-exclusive news item related to Scoop’s presence in the image. Pete Sinclair from Fun Publications, the Botcon folks, had “stopped by to give an exclusive scoop about Scoop”. I guess sorta kinda, not really spoilers for the Botcon 2012 comic ahead:
I am gonna give you all this one little reveal. We’ll call it an Allspark exclusive… I guess I should throw up a Spoiler tag.
Scoop does not get a new body
Scoop is not cannon fodder
Scoop is just… Scoop”
No new toy? Yes. I must own his G1 toy immediately. I went first to Ebay. I don’t know why I did that. On the whole, I hate Ebay. Whatever reason for going there, I found him complete (i.e. with his two Targetmaster partners) for anywhere between $35 with sticker damage to $50 with mostly ok stickers. Not happy with this particular price range, I came to my senses and went to check the sales threads in the forums. First try, over at TFW2005.com, I found a picture of a very nice condition 100% complete Scoop for less than half the Ebay prices. Bought.
He has pretty much standard G1 level articulation, which consists of being able to raise his arms, though that is hampered when he is transformed correctly as the large wheels on this shoulders collide with his scoop. Moving the scoop out of the way allows him to at least raise his arms to firing position, which is kind of important for a Targetmaster.
Scoop, as well as his partners are actually very detailed for their sizes.
Scoop comes by his name honestly, transforming into a piece of construction equipment.
Just like the other Double-Targetmasters, his alt mode has points to mount his partners in weapon mode. Unlike the other Double-Targetmasters, Scoop doesn’t just have the two. He actually has five total. With his partners in their combined weapon mode, that’s six guns you can put on him at one time.
Bright orange and festooned with weaponry? Well, it definitely makes a statement.
Some of the official Shattered Glass universe is clever repainting related to established characters with reversed personalities, some of it is traditional paintjobs of established characters with reversed personalities, and then there’s the 2008 Botcon exclusive Shattered Glass Sideswipe. He is neither a clever repaint related to nor traditionally painted like Sideswipe. Heck, he doesn’t even have a reversed personality. Also, he now has a cute little boisterous, loudmouthed Mini-con friend, ironically named Whisper.
First up: his paintjob is from G2 Drench, complete with “Turbo” stamped on his tail-end. Second: his personality is the reverse of Armada Wheeljack rather than Sideswipe. Second and a half: Armada Wheeljack is also where his toy’s mold comes from, explaining why he now has a Mini-con that triggers pop-up, gullwing-door mounted missile launchers.
So, why is this guy Shattered Glass Sideswipe?
Because he basically has G1 Sideswipe’s head. For reasons that still mystify, the Takara designers that made the original Armada design of this toy gave him a Sideswipe homage for a head, despite neither Takara nor Hasbro calling the character Sideswipe.
Fine, so that’s why he’s Sideswipe rather than Shattered Glass Some Other Guy. Why the non-Sideswipe related personality?
With it’s sliced through Autobot symbol and tacked on Decepticon symbol — the Armada Wheeljack toy is specifically created to be an heroic Autobot who has gone over to the evil Decepticon side. This detail being built directly into the toy, Shattered Glass reverses the colours on his insignias and becomes an evil Autobot that has joined the side of the heroic Decepticons.
Once again, fine, that why he’s the ex-evil currently good guy and not some kind of reverse G1 Sideswipe. I really am fine with that, G1 Sideswipe’s personality was an extreme rule-bender with a penchant for underhanded tactics, the reverse of that sounds remarkably boring. Though the toy is definitely not one of my favourites to come out of the Armada line, most of my complaints are with the robot mode’s lack of useful articulation.
His paintjob works best in alt mode anyway so that’s usually how I display him. Speaking of which, why the G2 Drench paintjob? Because Hasbro was going to release a repaint of Armada Wheeljack as G2 Drench as a part of the Universe “Battle in a Box” subline but never did.
Seriously, Botcon folks, you had me up until then. The head and the chest detail went together perfectly to give us a Shattered Glass Sideswipe that is more interesting of a character than he should have been, but the paintjob is just an odd choice. They did justify the colour choice in his bio. In fact, it and the explanation of how he came to find himself on the other side of the battlelines pretty much makes up his entire bio,
“Once part of Prime’s elite Seeker unit, Sideswipe was feared as the most ruthless of the trio. Drench, the team’s leader, believed that there should be a balance between a stern hand and compassion. Though there was a difference in philosophy between the two, there was also a mutual respect. However, for Optimus, these were not traits he found appealing in his sub-commander and when the opportunity arose, he had Drench killed. Sideswipe, though ruthless, was loyal and did not agree with the fate that had been dealt to his fallen leader. Sensing a conflict in Sideswipe’s “loyalties,” Prime let Sideswipe walk into a staged ambush in which he and a fellow Autobot were left to die. Though the companion, who had been there by mistake, was killed, Sideswipe survived and ended up being accepted into the ranks of the Decepticons. While Sideswipe fights for different reasons than his new comrades, he fights nonetheless. As a tribute to his former commander, Sideswipe has taken the colors Drench once bore as a constant reminder to Prime that vengeance is coming.”
…Okay. Nevermind. You got me with that one. Shattered Glass Sideswipe takes on the paintjob of his dead boss to remind the psychopath Shattered Glass Optimus Prime that he’s going to revenge-kill him one day?
Well played, Botcon folks, well played.