Posts Tagged Destron
Horse jokes are easy, Archaeopteryx jokes, not so much. Beast Wars Neo Mach Kick and Archadis! Beast Machines Airraptor!
Why did the Archaeopteryx catch the worm?
Because it was an early bird.
Sorry, as far as Archaeopteryx humor goes, that’s all I got. Prior to the second Japan-only Beast Wars sequel, Beast Wars Neo, (of which, to this day, neither sequel has been subtitled in English — a complete travesty) I would never have thought Archaeopteryx humor to be needed in a Transformers blog. However, there he is, the “stylish snob”.
Archadis is actually a relatively recent addition to my collection, but only because I already had this guy.
The Dinobot Airraptor from Beast Machines represented something we hadn’t seen too much of yet. While Beast Wars II introduced new characters using almost entirely pre-existing molds, Beast Wars Neo had a slew of new molds. Among these were many new Dinosaur-based molds for the Destrons and happily almost all of them were brought over as the Dinobots subline within Beast Machines, among these were Airraptor and the Target exclusive Magmatron. Though I like Airraptor’s bright paintjob, I can also appreciate Archadis’ more subtle coloration.
Hidden under the wing on their chests are their spark crystals. Naturally Archadis sports a Predacon symbol.
While Airraptor has the Beast Machines Dinobots faction symbol.
Unfortunately, someone on Takara’s side of things seems to have missed this change. When they re-released Archadis in their Beast Wars Telemocha series it was with a Dinobot spark crystal rather than the original Predacon one.
The mold itself is just chock full of mostly non-annoying gimmicks. Turning the arm shield on the right arm — made of the alt mode’s feathered tail — causes a pistol to rotate into the hand.
In alt mode, both wings have spring-loaded mechanisms that allow them to release “feather-bombs”.
The “mostly” in “mostly non-annoying” is that on Airraptor, these wings seem to have a hair-trigger and pop out at the slightest provocation. I think it may have something to do with the fact that the piece that makes up the actual trigger is shaped differently on Airraptor, forming more of a wedge, making the button more easy to brush against and set off the gimmick by accident.
Once the wings are ejected, they can be folded out to blasters.
Archadis being a Destron (basically a Predacon) and Airraptor being a Dinobot (basically a Maximal) means they can be mortal enemies. How much fun would it be to have a battle between “the most meticulous member of the Dinobot team” and the Destron who “worries over how many feathers he loses in battle”?
Of course, a fight between these two in alt mode might just end up looking like a Pokemon battle.
The only reason I own Archadis is because I was looking for the Maximal, Mach Kick, another of the new Beast Wars Neo molds. Strangely enough, I found that the “Showdown of the Favorites” two-pack of Mach Kick and Archadis was the same price as trying to get Mach Kick by himself.
Much like Longrack and most of the other new mold Beast Wars Neo Maximals, Mach Kick never made it to the US market. Also, like his fellow Beast Wars Neo Maximals, he has a third, completely superfluous mode. Mach Kick’s is particularly bad; officially called “Protect Mode”, but known by many as The Unhorse.
That is gonna give me nightmares. Let us never speak of it again.
No… seriously… never speak of it again.
Back to ponies! For having a horse alt mode, he has a serious amount of articulation.
His rooted hair tail is actually attached to his robot mode weapon, his “Tail Tomahawk” “a combination axe/whip” which “can slice an enemy in two”.
They sought fit to also give him a rooted hair ponytail in robot mode.
Never having seen the show, I can’t say if it is intentional based on his character, but the headsculpt really reminds me of a Lucha libre mask. Keeping the “disturbing added gimmicks” tradition alive (for a previous example, see Longrack’s “Choking on his tongue” mode) Mach Kick has a “Elastic Hand attack”, where he thrusts his horse head right hand out.
Though he is all panels and pieces, they can mostly be folded out of the way to create a relatively clean looking robot mode from the front.
As two of three designs that were settled upon by a contest, it’s easy to see why these were considered “The Showdown of the Favorites”. Both molds are great in alt and robot modes.
And as a change of pace, you can partner Airraptor up with Mach Kick instead since they’re both good guys — well, “good” for the most part.
If you have never seen any of Omni Production’s dub of The Headmasters, Super-God Masterforce, or Victory — sometimes called “The Singapore Dub”, it’s the one referenced in my post about Billy-I mean, Blaster/Twincast – you are doing yourself a disservice. This dub is so horrifically bad, it’s awesome. Now, I’m in no way suggesting you watch all of the Omni dub, that can’t possibly be good for anyone’s sanity, but there’s enough of it up on the Tubes of You to give you a taste of the lunacy. One particularly note-worthy scene involves the translation of Sixshot’s function as “Ninja Officer”.
Now, does this mean he consults about ninjas? Or he is a ninja who also does consultations? On what? Or maybe he consults directly to ninjas? Mysterious. (Or ridiculous. Your choice.)
His single appearance in the U.S. cartoon was pretty much a straight advertisement for his toy and its unprecedented six modes.
He also only made an appearance in one panel of the second issues of the four-part Headmasters comic book mini-series. This meant that for a while, his involvement across Headmasters, the Japanese season 3 cartoon, was pretty much the entirety of Sixshot.
Most of that was being known as the guy that ruthlessly killed folks. First, we find out millions of years ago he killed Chromedome’s little friend Abel (get it? Abel, the biblical first victim of murder? Subtle Takara, real subtle.) Then he shows up in modern times, gets up to some pretty standard Decepticon hijinks and then, oh yeah, murders Ultra Magnus in episode 24, given the accurate-yet-spoiler-filled-title: “Ultra Magnus Dies!!”After he fires the fatal shots, Sixshot lets out one of the best evil, maniacal laughs in the history of Transformers cartoons. Four episodes later, he then murders yet another friend of Chromedome, Jack.
All of this seems to culminate rather unsettlingly in episode 32 “My Friend Sixshot!” in which Daniel befriends “Uncle Sixshot” when he convinces himself that Sixshot isn’t really that bad of a guy. Did I mention this is the guy that killed Ultra Magnus a mere eight episodes prior? Or that killed two friends of Chromedome, who Daniel is supposedly also friends with?
I never had Sixshot as a kid, I honestly don’t recall at what point I even became aware of his existence. Until somewhat recently, the real lack of a presence in US fiction lead to statements by many like,
“I generally like G1 figures but I don’t remember Six Shot at all.“
However, IDW changed that by having him take a very active role in a number of their comics. Unfortunately, at first they poured on the “I’m a super-awesome-uber-cool-tailpipe-kicking ‘bot” a little too thick for me.
Granted, that “unbeatable one ‘bot army” thing has been knocked down a peg. The last we saw of him, he had just been dealt with by Metroplex.
But even that couldn’t keep him down permanently, so I’m sure he’ll be making a comeback.
Hopefully his return will come as an actual character rather than the super-powered stereotype he’s been portrayed as so far. All of these appearances seem to have been enough to garner attention from Mastermind Creations, a 3rd Party group, who are soon releasing their highly articulated and highly expensive “Terminus Hexatron”.
While a very, very nice looking toy, it’s not really something I need in my collection. Though it is infinitely more articulated than the original, it doesn’t really do anything to actually update Sixshot.
While only having a single point of useful articulation (his arms swivel up) Sixshot’s G1 toy has one advantage, he is intimidatingly large.
Mine is the 2002 Takara reissue. There’s recently been a Hasbro Asia reissue, but as it was given a shiny new chromed and metallic paint deco, it’s actually more expensive to get ahold of than the upcoming 3rd party toy.
Hopefully the combination of the 3rd party stuff — there’s also a recent Justitoys “World’s Smaller Transformers” release of Sixshot — and the Hasbro Asia release will drive prices down on the original and the 2002 reissue for those that haven’t had a chance to add this guy to their collections. For those that do finally get him, my first piece of advice regarding the instructions: ignore a good portion of the instructions.
First, don’t fold his chest “fins” in.
I assume whomever made the instructions thought the chest fins should move completely out of the way of his one point of articulation, but his box art shows you how it’s really done.
I usually angle them out somewhat rather than just putting them flat out, but that’s personal preference. Ironically, Sixshot’s instructions came sealed with a sticker and presented the buyer with a challenge:
The reason this is ironic is that both the instructions and the photos on the back of the packaging mis-transform the armored carrier mode.
There’s a step that rotates the arms to move the wheels forward.
Another purported inaccuracy involves his gun mode. There are extra holes inside his legs. Not used in any of his official transformations, his gun mode would make much more sense if this were where his blasters should be put.
Unlike the correct positioning of his wheels in armored carrier mode and of his chest fins in robot mode, the presumably correct gun mode transformation didn’t make it into his fictional appearances either. Instead they all used his instructions’ placement, on the outside.
The two modes that are pretty properly described are his other two vehicle alt modes. First, there’s the tank, which is particularly cool for the command station that’s formed by folding out the wolf’s lower jaw.
Then there’s my favourite of his vehicle alt modes and the most cohesive, the “Attack Jet”.
My favourite of all of his modes is his wolf mode. However, even this mode doesn’t escape without a minor bit of scrutiny. If it is indeed just a wolf, then the instructions’ placement of Sixshot’s wings is fine.
However, his fictional appearances tend to go with a Winged Wolf, angling the wings up and out slightly.
One of the reasons the wolf is my favourite is that it even warrants a special call-out in his Tech Spec.
“Only the wolf creature has no need for Sixshot’s 2 hypersonic concussion blasters; the wolf mode prefers to rip apart enemy Autobots with his razor fangs.”
Of course, “Winged Wolf” isn’t to be confused with “Wingwolf”, the oddity of a “hidden” seventh mode he suddenly displayed in Headmasters.
I wonder if the reason this seventh mode is “hidden” is because he doesn’t want to get kicked out of the Six Clan? (Couldn’t possibly be because it’s completely made up by the producers of Headmasters and not actually a real thing… right?)
I don’t need this toy… I really don’t need this toy… Wait? Data discs? Ok, I need this toy. Fall of Cybertron Soundblaster, Frenzy, Rumble, Ravage, Ratbat, Buzzsaw, and Laserbeak.
There have recently been a couple glaring contradictions in my usual rules surrounding toy-centric versus fiction-centric names. To recap, this is Frenzy:
Despite the fact that this is Rumble:
Of course, in that same episode of the original series, this was also Rumble,
We’ll all be better off if we just pretend that never happened. As I pointed out at length in my “Rumble is red, Frenzy is blue” post, I adopted a toy-centric view mostly because I was exposed to the toys well before I was exposed to the cartoon. So, in my world RiRFiB (Rumble is Red, Frenzy is Blue) because that’s what the toys told me.
And this is Fall of Cybertron Rumble,
Which means so is this,
It remains to be seen if this is a decision to officially reverse RiRFiB for toys moving forward, but Hasbro at least ok’ed the FiR part as far back as 2011 with the eventually cancelled “Demolition Rumble” release of United Frenzy.
Though the Fall of Cybertron and Prime releases have continued making Rumble blue, it might just be because the game itself went that direction and as far as I know Hasbro is still pretending that Prime and Fall of Cybertron are all the same continuity (despite glaring evidence to the contrary).
This does nothing to change the fact that, despite what the packaging may read, I will never be able to think of this guy as Frenzy,
Ugh. RiRFiB/RiBFiR. Derailing conversations/threads/posts since 1984. Back to the only reason there’s new Frenzy and Rumble toys to fret about in the first place: Fall of Cybertron Soundwave.
At Botcon 2012, we got our first look at the return of voyager class toys to the Generations line. Quite a surprise — and to many, a disappointment – was the announcement of Fall of Cybertron Soundwave. Disappointment because rather than getting a new toy, we were getting a supersized version of a toy we already got once. War for Cybertron Soundwave, even at deluxe scale, was an awesome toy. As great as Fall of Cybertron Soundwave looked, he was effectively surplus to requirements. Left at that, this would have seemed a very bad idea on Hasbro’s part, no matter how popular Soundwave was. So, why release him?
The return of Soundwave’s army of Decepticon Mini-Cassette minions? Wonderful. Laserbeak comes with Soundwave, Buzzsaw with Soundblaster.
Of course, there’s the aforementioned misnamed Rumble and Frenzy.
Each comes packaged in a two-pack. We couldn’t have a set of deployers without loyal Ravage.
My favourite of the set just so happens to be my favourite original Decepticon Mini-Cassette, Ratbat.
And not just because his box art is absolutely adorable.
Of course, we can’t have a bunch of random little dudes running around pre-Earth Cybertron as cassettes. The answer? Cybertronian data discs complete with disc cases for the two-pack sets.
The return of Soundwave’s army of Decepticon Mini-Cassette minions as Data-Disc minions? Genius!
What started as an apparently risky proposition for Hasbro turned out to be quite the opposite. At this point I knew I was going to need this mold for the ”deployers” alone, an annoying proposition when I already had a Soundwave I was quite happy with (and who fit in better scale-wise with the rest of the War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron display shelf). Then Hasbro announced that we were getting a repaint as Soundblaster and my annoyance levels dropped considerably. Though the amount of work I had to go through to secure a Fall of Cybertron Laserbeak without buying Soundwave was tremendous, it worked out monetarily quite in my favour and I even ended up with Soundwave’s weapon out of the deal. Fall of Cybertron Soundblaster is actually a wonderful homage.
And Soundwave didn’t even have to die this time around to get upgraded… or did he? An oddity from Soundblaster’s toy bio gives the impression that Soundwave doesn’t really fare too well after the end of Fall of Cybertron:
Restored to a fully functioning state by the loyalty of his minions and
the arcane science of an alien world, Soundwave takes a new name to
reflect his new lease on life.
Alien world? Arcane science? I am intrigued. What happened? Will we ever know what the bio writer was talking about?
Beyond the inclusion of his chest being able to contain and eject up to 3 of his deployers at a time, there’s really no overall difference — other than size, naturally — in either mode from the original deluxe release. Originally described as just “Armored Vehicle Mode”, he is now labelled as transforming into a “Communications Truck”.
The ejection of the deployers can also be done in Alt mode, which is a nice addition.
The aforementioned “Operation: Ejection” gimmick is rather hit-or-miss. First and most important: the instructions show the data discs going into his chest with their little auto-transformation buttons facing out. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER DO THIS. EVER. They are meant to go the other way around and will almost certainly get jammed in there if put in backwards. That is not to say that putting them in the correct way is entirely pain-free. The tolerances on these things are razor thin, meaning… well, I can’t put it any better than David Willis over at Shortpacked did,
“Mostly these guys get stuck and then you push and push and push and use excessive force and then when finally one of them gives they all explode out of his chest at the same time, usually hitting you in the face no matter where your face is and then you have a scattering of half-transformed things everywhere.”
Most of mine fit pretty well, but the birds and bat are the ones that stick the worst. Speaking of the ejection gimmick, the homage does go a step further on the Fall of Cybertron figure than the original War for Cybertron. He has an ejection button on his shoulder that opens his chest compartment, exactly like the placement of original’s tape door eject button. A splendid step further, there’s molded detail in his right hand that I initially mistook for a trigger finger. Nope, just like in the G1 cartoon, he can reach up and push his own eject button.
Another oddity from both Soundwave and Soundblaster’s box, also shown in their instructions, is a second gun. Though no second gun was included, the gun depicted is actually G1 Optimus Prime’s.
So yeah, other than packaging photo strangeness and the mostly-not-working main gimmick, it’s an excellent mold. Had I not already owned the deluxe version, I would have happily bought both Soundwave and Soundblaster. Besides, even if it weren’t a good mold by itself, the new mold Deployer army alone would make it more than worth it.
Thanks to the Soundblaster repaint, no need to buy Soundwave again, I pretty much figured I had Hasbro beat on this one. Then they announced Fall of Cybertron Blaster. Oh, screw you Hasbro.
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.
I like the general idea of Pretenders. However, just like Hasbro’s version of the Headmasters, their execution of the Pretenders was odd to say the least. Once again, it is Takara’s version that managed to make sense of the technology, or at least half make sense. In Super-God Masterforce the Cybertron Pretenders, lead by Metalhawk, had shells that were able to shrink to the size and appearance of actual humans.
Transformers pretending to be human. Makes sense, right?
In the Marvel comics version, there was no shrinking down, the Autobots were simply really large humanoids.
Unfathomably ridiculous implementation. This and the fact that I didn’t get to see Super-God Masterforce until many years later was the reason I never liked the Autobot Pretenders. The Decepticon Pretenders were another matter. Oh, they did still suffer the same ridiculousness at the hands of the Marvel comics,
“Sheathed in their synthoplasmic outer shells, these six warriors bear no resemblance to Decepticons. The Autobots will never suspect their true identities until it is too late!”
Yes, Scorponok, there’s no way the Autobots are going to suspect that these giant, hideous monsters with a tendency to destroy things are bad guys at all. Why should they? Also, once again, isn’t that a lot of effort for a “surprise” that can only be pulled off once? After the first time you pop out of your shell and yell, “Boo! Ha! Got ya!”, you’re pretty much done with that gag. This aside, the bad guy Pretenders still have one distinct advantage, whereas until later in the Pretenders line the good guys basically look like chubby-faced white dudes in awkwardly bulky spacesuits with spindly robots hiding inside that had weak alt modes, the first set of Decepticon Pretenders were cool looking kaiju-like monsters… with spindly robots hiding inside that had weak alt modes. Of the six original Decepticons, my favourite are the three that also appeared in Super-God Masterforce Blood (Bomb-Burst), Dauros (Skullgrin), and this guy, Gilmer or Submarauder.
I think this is Submarauder, but because the Takara and Hasbro releases were apparently identical, this could be either so I usually call him Gilmer. This aquatic monster also has a “torpedo rifle” I haven’t got my hands on yet. Though notably lacking articulation, his shell has a lot of detail to it and a good amount of contrasting paint applications. His robot mode, well it is what it is.
Not the greatest robot mode, but honestly out of G1 has come far, far worse robot modes than that. The place that the Pretenders catch the most amount of flak, and rightly so, is in their alt modes. This, for example, is a submarine.
To reiterate: I am willing to set all of that aside just for the great shells. Almost all of the Decepticons as well as the later, smaller Autobots have some wonderfully bizarre and well sculpted shells. I’m still waiting for an updated toy that will do them proud. There’s been some great updates to the characters themselves minus their Pretender gimmick, like Bludgeon, Thunderwing, and the upcoming Botcon exclusive of Metalhawk (we shall see what’s up with him, considering he has his human face), but so far neither Hasbro nor Takara has managed to update the Pretender toy concept itself.
I keep hoping though. At the very least, it would be great to see the original Pretenders pulled into a Godzilla crossover of some kind.
If you have never seen Headmasters and hope to someday watch it spoiler-free, just skip this post altogether and, seriously, go watch it already. Sheesh, it’s already been 24 years and, oh, how you are missing out on some grand Transformers history.
If you have never seen Headmasters and have no intention to, watch this until at least the 2:19 mark to give you some context:
If you have seen Headmasters, go back and watch that clip anyway because it’s brilliant.
So, yeah. Soundwave and Blaster (or Broadcast) are both dead. Only death is a fickle thing in the earlier parts of the franchise and to quote Monty Python, “I’m not dead yet!”
Thus was born, or rather re-born, Soundblaster. Redone in a lot of black, his original G1 Takara exclusive (understandably being from a Takara exclusive cartoon series) toy added a new chest case that was expanded to hold two of his cassettes at once. After seeing a Takara reissue of Soundblaster in 2005, this larger capacity mold would go on to be used in Hasbro’s 2007 Commerative Series reissue of G1 Soundwave. I missed the 2005 reissue of the Soundblaster mold in actual Soundblaster colours, so I jumped when he was re-reissued as part of Takara’s Encore line this year.
With most of his stickers turned into tampographed detailing, he is gorgeous. There is a sort of consensus that Takara should have taken this opportunity even further to turn his blue-stickered area into a more logical and cartoon-accurate black, but I can appreciate a certain slavish attention to original toy-release accuracy.
You can’t have a Soundwave related release without providing him some cassette troops, but the problem here is that if you own the originals plus all the reissues of Soundwave/Soundblaster you already own four Buzzsaws, four Laserbeaks, three Ravages, a Ratbat, and a Rumble. Just to toss things up, Takara could have chosen to go with Frenzy, Slugfest, or Overkill, but if you have been getting the reissues that only involve the Cassettes as well your total of Decepticon Mini-Cassettes goes up to four Buzzsaws, five Laserbeaks, three Ravages, two Rumbles, two Ratbats, one Frenzy, one Slugfest, and an Overkill. Needless to say: they have done these guys into the ground and Takara recognized that. Instead they decided to go in two directions no one was expecting.
In a move of sheer brilliance, Takara plucked these two from relative obscurity. Enemy previously only existed as two pieces of G1 merchandise. First attached to an AM/FM radio and then as only a head as the “Voice Changer”.
Less obscure, but just as awesome, Wingthing was an orange bat-like creature and partner to Action Master Soundwave. Though I don’t really have interest in getting Action Master anybody, I am now on the hunt for G1 Wingthing, thanks to this repaint of my favourite G1 Mini-Cassette, Ratbat.
I can honestly say, these two were the deciding factor when it came to whether or not I was going to pay to import the Encore Soundblaster release. So glad I did. Everything about this reissue has made me extremely happy.
“In universal stream of Primax 109.0 Beta in the year 2009, the Autobot forces are investigating a mystery”
That’s the beginning of the story of Alternity as recounted by the TFWiki. No, things don’t start making much more sense after that. Alternity is the sequel-of-sorts to the fiction that accompanied the Binaltech toys in Japan. Itself an equally convoluted piece of writing, I didn’t collect any of the Binaltech toys because most of them had already been released over here as the Alternators series. Then, when Alternity was released, I didn’t like how much the characters differed from their intended homages/updates. I mean, there’s a lot I have patience for when it comes to changing Optimus Prime, but making him into a tiny Nissan GT-R is not one of them. Making Megatron into a Nissan 370Z — a.k.a. the Fairlady Z, as it is known in Japan — is just right out.
Ironically, it was the fact that he was so very different from his previous incarnations, that made me decide that I had to add Alternity Skywarp to my collection. First up: that colour. Purple is my favourite colour and this purple, given the ridiculous name of “Witch Purple Pearl” (by whom, I’m not sure), is positively mesmerizing.
Second, the design. The Mitsuoka Orochi might be one of the most reviled car designs by the “experts”, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as I find the design to be pleasantly stunning. Wanting to get a neutral opinion, I took Skywarp to my wife (not a “car person” per se) and asked her what she thought of the design of the Orochi,
“There’s a lot going on with this car. It’s fancy.”
So there you have it.
Named after Yamata-no-Orochi, a dragon of Japanese mythology, I totally get the design aesthetic for which they were aiming. Especially with the snake-like eyes formed by the slits applied to the headlights and the impression of scales given by the hood vents.
The affectation of scales continues on the back along the trunk.
I can understand not liking the design of a car, but with this one, I just don’t understand the amount of outright hatred it receives. Upon transforming him, I was also pleasantly surprised by the little details added to his robot mode to tie him back to the original.
Small wings fold out from his back kibble as well as on his legs harkening back to his G1 alt mode, with weapons cleverly resembling his G1 missile launchers on his arms.
He is a remold of Alternity Starscream, given a new headsculpt, possibly my favourite part of his robot mode.
Mitsuoka states that they were trying to inspire “latent beauty underneath the shivering fear of the Eight-headed Serpent” with “an eccentric design concept of ‘Hero of Evil’”. Very fitting for a Decepticon. Now, giving the Seekers cars for alt modes may prove sacrilegious to some, but as alternate reality takes on my favourite Decepticon go, Alternity Skywarp is one of the best.
First, I guess it’s encumbent upon me to get my policy regarding Knock-Offs out of the way. I am ok with any KO that isn’t actively competing with any first party, primary market material. If I am able to get my hands on an honest-to-goodness official re-issue of a toy, I will buy that first. I truly believe in the power of money. Takara and Hasbro are businesses, they will continue making re-issues until people stop buying re-issues. To this end, in my G1 collection, that grumpy old curmudgeon Kup is the Japanese 2005 TF Collection Re-issue, the last year he was re-issued. Conversely, the “as hefty as he is dumb” Sludge in my collection is a knock-off. The reason for this is two-fold.
First, I have no regard for the secondary market. After too many purchases represented as “Mint” condition arriving in far, far less than mint condition, I will only ever purchase original G1 and G2 toys from other collectors, people who understand what “mint” actually means. Thus my secondary market is severely limited.
Second, neither Hasbro nor Takara has sought fit to re-issue any of the original Dinobots. This is completely their prerogative, however with no G1 Dinobots on the primary market, I am not in any way shorting Hasbro or Takara any money with my KO Sludge. Were they to ever do a reissue, you can be sure that would then take the KO’s place on my shelf, for sure.
But! Haha! There are Mint In Sealed Box sellers, you say! Surely, a Mint In Sealed Box toy meets with your snooty expectations on quality. I respond to that with the fact that MISB toys are meant for MISB collectors and are priced accordingly. Take, for instance, one of today’s Headmasters; the Japanese-exclusive Toraizer. Here he is in all his sealed, wonderfully mint condition:
That image is from a current sale, you can go out and buy an original, never-been-touched Toraizer if you would like. It will only cost you $400. I have created an image to give you an idea of what you get for your $400 (plus $10 shipping).
Oh, how I love me some Masters, be they Headmasters, Targetmasters, or Powermasters (also Micromasters, but you can keep your Actionmasters, thank you very much). Given the prices for these guys on the secondary market, however, you can imagine why I never dreamed owning them would be a thing in my lifetime.
Sometime last year, in what has to be one of the oddest, most surprising, and wonderful choices in counterfeit toy history, someone decided to take a bunch of these hyper-rare headmasters and make a set. Then, they compounded the awesome by using all-new packaging art. Rarely am I impressed by packaging, it usually is just an impediment between me and my toy. (“Mine! *rip*shred*tear*”) The fact that this isn’t even an official release just blows my mind.
Computer rendered G1-style boxart of all ten Headmasters on the front and a classic Battle-In-Space tableau adorning the back? It doesn’t stop there. Opening the flap reveals a technical readout image displaying Spike from the set but also listed are Stylor, Arcana, Duros, and the rest of the Headmasters not included.
I do find it very interesting that even though this set is primarily Japanese, it uses the American name of “Spike” — rather than the Japanese name of Cerebros or Fortress — as well as the American names for the Headmasters listed on the inside flap. As much as I can say that I do not feel bad buying KOs of these rare Headmasters, I can say that those still wishing to find originals will need to be very, very wary. Just examining the one of these that I already owned — Zarak with my G1 Scorponok – they look virtually identical until you get close enough to detect the flaws in small paint apps, etc.
Luckily there are also several forums and fans that have created recognition guides to help purchasers make sure they are getting the real deal.
First up we have Spike and Gran. In America, Spike was the head of Cerebros who was in turn the head of the colossal Fortress Maximus. In Japan, the toy was identified as Cerebros, the head of Fortress, who was then the head of Fortress Maximus. In Super God Masterforce, a repaint of Fortress Maximus was released as Grand Maximus. The cartoon going so far as to say Grand was Fortress’ younger brother. Grand Maximus’ head became Grand, and Grand’s head became Gran.
Now, this is an odd one to explain. In American, we had Lord Zarak, the head of Scorponok. In Japan, they had Scorponok, the head of MegaZarak. When MegaZarak was destroyed, Scorponok created BlackZarak and gave himself a new paintjob.
That takes care of the American releases and their Japanese repaints. Up next we have the real gems of this set. In 1987 Japan released six heads that had no corresponding bodies. The Headmaster Warriors were young Cybertronians that were attempting to earn their Transtectors (the large bodies that came to life when a Headmaster became its head). They were sometimes known as the Headmaster Teens, and at least three of them have the some of the greatest names ever officially applied to actual Transformers.
Loafer. As the Headmaster Warriors never received tech specs or bios, sadly we’ll probably never know what he did to earn that name.
Don’t let anyone try to tell you his name is somehow “Karku”. Kirk. This next guy’s name is Kirk. Who names a Transformer Kirk? Oh, yeah, the Japanese, ’cause they’re awesome.
This is another one that falls prey to mis-transliteration. Even the packaging included with this set uses “Lodoni”, which seems like a perfectly okay, somewhat Italian looking name until you realize it’s not pronounced “Low-donny”, it would be “Lahd-knee”, change that pesky ”L” to an “R” and what do you have? Rodney the Transformer.
This next one also falls prey to mistransliteration, but quite legitimately. Commonly either Trizer or Trizor is used (the packaging for the KO set uses “Trizer”), but so far the only justification I have seen provided for a name is TFWiki’s use of Toraizer with the notation:
“Tora” is the Japanese word for “tiger”.
Good enough reason for me.
At least this one is easy. No naming controversy that I am aware of. Lione.
Lione is neck and neck (no Headmaster related pun intended there) with Shuffler for my favourites from this set. There are just too few elephants in Transformers.
Up next: Tomorrow! A surprise post featuring the Headmaster Warrior that shouldn’t exist anywhere but on paper! Who could it be?
“As a warrior he has no equal; as a weapon he has no restraints.”
This is one predator you definitely wouldn’t want to catch. Everything about Predaking is designed for war. From the built-in brass-knuckle like spikes on his fists; to the fact that he has bulls horns for one knee and a rhino horn for the other; to his feet guns.
Predaking certainly does not disappoint. He is huge and, thanks to all that diecast metal, quite heavy. Luckily the designers put a latching mechanism at the point Razorclaw combines with both Headstrong and Tantrum to form the legs, to keep them from slipping off when you pick him up. The Predacon’s unified colour scheme looks so much better than the patchwork crazy quilt look of the Scramble City style combiners. I think this might also explain why the Seacons were one of my favourite combiner teams originally as well. The combined form is so much more visually appealing due to the fact that these guys actually look like they are all part of a cohesive whole.
Though his instructions show him with Razorclaw’s sword as his weapon, the sword is clearly built for a ‘bot of Razorclaw’s stature, not the towering Predaking. The effect is something like a human holding one of those plastic swords used to impale fruit in alcoholic beverages, i.e. not very threatening looking at all. CrazyDevy.com does have an impressively large upgraded sword for sale for those that just have to have a show-accurate sword for their Predaking. They also have upgraded wings — the first release of which did serious amounts of damage to people’s original Divebomb wings (just looking at the pictures at the beginning of that thread hurts). Their latest offering, cartoon accurate feet, as well as their first upgrade, a more accurate and articulated head, also hold no interest for me. That being said, if they offer articulated hands at some point and if the price is reasonable I would definitely be interested.
So, 24 years later, the impressive and fearsome Predaking joins my combiner shelves. Well worth the wait.