Posts Tagged Homage
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.
So, it looks like the last of my blog post publishing problems has been wrapped up and things should start appearing every Thursday like they’re meant to. For anyone that missed it because of the two Gizmodo posts, I did finally get my Insecticons post to show up. Enjoy!
In the Beast Hunters line there were three toys I was looking forward to the most and one I was looking forward to the least. The first of the three was Smokescreen, the last of the three will be Beast Fire Predaking, the Ultimate Class dragon expected later this year. In the middle are the remaining two: one I was eagerly anticipating and one not-so-much.
What I found was that the one I wasn’t looking forward to at all is actually quite good and the one I was looking forward to is indeed fantastic.
I actually feel a little bad for Bumblebee at this point. He’s been done so many times that you would think that he could get a good long break from that same yellow and black look, but no. Sure, he’s gotten a couple “stealth” releases here and there, but the vast, overwhelming majority have stuck steadfast to the very strict homage. This wouldn’t be too bad by itself, but once you mix it with the sheer number of toys he received on the shelves since his front-and-center role in the 2007 movie; a tinge of animosity can begin to grow.
His Beast Hunters release had it even worse, being a retool of a previous toy. Granted he is heavily, heavily retooled. In Beast Hunters style, he is festooned with the requisite stabby spikes, but he also has new hood detailing, missile carrying racks added to both car doors, and a 5mm hole added to the car roof for mounting weapons.
More specifically — though he comes with the Robots in Disguise release’s arm guns — it’s for mounting his new “Eagleshot Bow” (not to be confused with the weapon of Beast Hunters Optimus, the “Eaglefire Missile Launchers”) for which he comes with six missiles.
He has a new “armored up” headsculpt which basically adds a cool crested helmet to his previous head and giving him a birdlike visage.
One more major retool he received is that the hinge that lets his roof fold up and tuck away better is removed. The end result is that part of the roof sticks up further in the back on the Beast Hunters release. However, this takes away from the awkwardness of the one part of his Arms Micron and Robots in Disguise releases I didn’t like; the thin panel that juts up behind his head.
So, I am glad to report that even with his yawn-inspiring yellow and black paintjob, the rest of him is surprisingly good.
Not surprisingly good: Shockwave. He is decidedly not surprising in the fact that he is beyond good, he is amazing. What is surprising, is that somehow he accomplishes this while overcoming a very serious handicap. No, not his lack of depth perception or the huge cannon where his left hand should be; those particular “handicaps” are an intrinsic part of Shockwave.
No, his problem is his alt mode. While it’s very reminiscent of Animated Shockwave, it’s a strange half-tracked, spindly suggestion of a tank rather than an actual tank.
For a voyager, I definitely don’t expect to see his arm and hand mostly dangling from the bottom of his alt mode — a problem he shares with fellow Prime Voyager-class release, Dreadwing. At least Dreadwing’s hands stick out in the back, Shockwave’s is right there in front. He definitely isn’t doing the “H-Tank” category any favours.
The other thing he shares with Dreadwing: his robot mode more than makes up for any alt mode deficiencies.
Furthering the Shockwave homage in a very clever way, one of his tank treads unwraps and attaches to this gun arm to mimic his G1 release’s cannon tube.
Also, this mode is impressively large, fitting for his character in the show, but as he towers over Megatron, not fitting for the actual scale of the show.
Though some didn’t like the Deluxe size release for War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron Shockwave, I always thought it was appropriate for his smaller “Scientist Class” size in the game itself. The difference between these two is almost like before and after shots of some sort of augmentation or upgrade.
Shockwave’s gimmick is a gun feature that expands while it spins. There is no built-in way to lock it open.
Shockwave shared Smokescreen‘s Beast Hunter feature, having his extra armor pieces as flexible, removal add-ons.
Though, like Beast Hunters Soundwave, I’m not sure why one of the Decepticons needs the Beast-y armoring, but his will go somewhere in a bin like Smokescreens as it doesn’t really add much to either mode.
Really, though, what could they have possibly done to improve on this monstrous presence?
Smokescreen gets the support he deserves (*snort* HeeHee). Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Smokescreen vs. Ripclaw!
When the possibility began to rear its ugly head that we would not receive a Hasbro release of Prime Smokescreen, the temptation to purchase the TakaraTomy repaint of the Knock Out mold was tremendous.
I sympathize completely with those that went ahead and bought him. There was no guarantee — especially after the Breakdown ordeal — that we would ever see him in Hasbro markets; despite the facts that he remains a major character on the show and really deserved his own mold. Hasbro then unintentionally added fuel to that fire by announcing that a new mold Smokescreen would indeed get a release, but as part of Beast Hunters.
Many were afraid that this meant we would only get a spiky, bulked-up, and weathered-looking Smokescreen out of Hasbro without ever seeing a representation of his standard, second season robot and alt modes. However, Hasbro was on top of it. His newly acquired “Shadow Quill Armor” (a cool, if somewhat non sequitur name) is a heavily-molded piece of flexible plastic and can be removed altogether.
The Shadow Quill Armor piece can also be added to his robot mode. Now, this is the part where my inner-twelve-year-old boy starts to giggle. See, for anyone that doesn’t know; a stretchy, usually vinyl, usually aftermarket piece added to the front of a car is called a car bra. So, to take that piece and then stretch it across Smokescreen’s chest. Heehee.
Apparently the Germans, Swedes, Danes and Dutch all use the acronym “BH” for women’s bras which means, respectively, büstenhalter, bysthållare, brysteholdere and bustehouder. Gives a whole new meaning to BH Smokescreen…
Ok, I’m done, I promise.
As for Smokescreen’s unencumbered robot mode, it suffers only slightly from pieces — or kibble, or whatever you want to call it — hanging from the backs of his lower arms.
Obviously not as visually smooth as his cartoon model, but it definitely doesn’t get in the way of dynamic poses.
The other thing that is not screen accurate is the particularly irksome decision to paint his head details in blue rather than red.
Why go to all the trouble to give us such a screen accurate head and then apply paint mostly in the wrong places and in the wrong colour? He also comes with an Electronet launcher for all that beastly hunting of beasts.
Speaking of beasts (how’s that for a subtle seque?): Ripclaw.
No… really. Just… Ripclaw.
Easily up there with the best Transformer releases in recent history, the new Prime Predacon Ripclaw is an amazing toy. She — yes, SHE – puts her fellow Predacon Lazerback to shame. While both have good detailing and design in alt mode, Ripclaw adds in a goodly amount of articulation. Combined with her segmented tail ending in a clawed stinger and you can get some great shots.
You can remove the claw from the end of her tail and the handle is recessed enough that placing it in her hand make it look like a natural extension of her harm rather than a handheld weapon.
Pivoting the tail down removes the tension on the rubber piece inside by producing enough slack for the segments to move. The end result is that the tail can then lay loose behind her.
From the moment I saw the solicitation images of her, the first thing I thought of was one of my favourite Marvel supervillians, Annihilus.
Errrr, surely we’ve got a better image of him around here somewhere…
Ok, I think this comparison is getting away from me. Let’s try something a little further back in the archives.
Ah! Yes, that Annihilus. Although, with his colouration, he looks a little bit more like Ser-Ket than Ripclaw.
Introduced in the recent Rage of the Dinobots comic book series, Ser-Ket — also female — looks exactly like the toy of Ripclaw. Naturally this has lead to many fans anticipating a repaint of the mold in a later wave. If it happens, I will buy her too, if only to have an excuse to display this mold in both modes.
Not exactly the greatest mystery of Transformers history, but definitely an interesting identity crisis. G1 and Dark of the Moon Spike Witwicky and Backfire
Most humans are not allowed in my display, let alone subjects of blog posts, but with the obvious exception of Minerva and Shūta showing up last week, I feel now is as good a time as any to take a quick look at Spike Witwicky; mostly spurred on by a Human Alliance release from early in the Dark of the Moon line (so there is an actual Transformer involved in this post too).
We start at the most recent release that actually represents the beginning of the cycle; last year’s Toys R Us exclusive Masterpiece Optimus Prime. Hasbro’s release of TakaraTomy’s MP-10 mold included the tiny Spike figure.
He represents the beginning because first there was Spike from the original G1 cartoon.
Followed by Spike from later in the G1 cartoon by way of the 1986 movie (or “Sparkle” in the hilariously bad Omni Productions dub of Headmasters.)
Which leads to the amusing little sidetrack homage of Spike from Animated.
Separately from the cartoons, we have Spike from the original G1 comics.
Who was caused by Spike from the G1 toys. By “caused” I mean he was inserted in the comic at the time pretty much to sell the new Fortress Maximus toy.
Previous to Spike’s appearance in the comic, there was just his younger brother, Buster.
Another amusing sidetrack, either Spike or Buster may or may not also be Butch from the Forest Rescue Mission coloring book.
None of them is – or perhaps all of them are – necessarily analogous to Sam from the recent movies.
Sam is given the nickname of “Spike” in the credits of the Latin American Spanish dub of the movie (presumably from an earlier draft of the script) but Sam Witwitcky can’t be Spike Witwicky. Mostly because this guy already is.
Packaged in with Human Alliance Backfire, Spike Witwicky is definitely not Sam. Just to add a little confusion, Sam Witwicky was later packaged in the Autobot Daredevil Squad, which also includes a repaint of Backfire. How do I know Sam is not Spike? Sam can be described as a number of things (“twitchy” comes to mind) but Spike Witwicky is described as a “specialist in urban warfare”.
Sorry, Sam, I’m not buying it, I don’t think you have a place in the Spike Witwicky group.
So, how did I end up on this ultimately fruitless path of trying to figure out where “Spike Witwicky” fits within the movie-verse’s Witwicky family? To make a long story short (too late!),
Initially there were a couple things that really caught my attention with this guy. First, he has great light piping in his head. Second, the two guns that he comes with are really freakin’ cool.
Third, his Can-Am Spyder Roadster alt mode is great. Just like Human Alliance Icepick‘s snowmobile, I don’t have any particular attachment to the vehicle itself, just that the sculpt is really well done.
The best part about him, though, is his third mode.
Speaking of Human Alliance Icepick, before I get to Backfire’s third mode, I need to clear up a moment of extreme stupidity on my part in my Icepick post. I derided him for his third mode, something I declared to be a “Hoverbike with a chainsaw”; which, as awesome as it sounds like it should be, doesn’t really make any sense.
Now I’m not saying I’m the smartest person on the planet, but normally I’m not this obtuse. Somehow, despite showing the shield mode of Drag Strip in the very same post, I managed to miss the post at the back of Icepick’s third mode. As in: the handle. The handle meant to be held by larger Transformers.
And not just a Targetmaster weapon, a freaking chainsaw with guns. That is awesome. Seriously.
It finally dawned on me what the best point of the Human Alliance basics line really was when I saw Backfire’s third mode.
I knew I had seen this before and a quick search of the Dark of the Moon concept art proved me right.
I think I’m actually going to go back, revisit this line a little more closely, and see what other awesomeness I might have accidentally glazed over.
The biggest conclusion I have come to, though, is that I would have cared so much more (or at all, I guess) for the “Human” part of Human Alliance if they had used humans I cared about at all. By this, of course, I mean: why is there no G.I. Joe Human Alliance Transformers?
The Year of the Really Big Autobots: Part One. G1 and Platinum Edition Year of the Snake Omega Supreme!
2013 brings three of the most surprising, most glee-inducing releases in recent Transformers history. Releasing in ascending height we have:
- Omega Supreme -”Year of the Snake” and second of the Platinum Edition exclusives (the first being last year’s “Year of the Dragon” Dark of the Moon Ultimate Optimus Prime), a retool of Energon Omega Supreme done in the style of Omega’s War for Cybertron incarnation with just enough G1 about him to make him at home in a Generations display.
- Fortress Maximus – the holy grail for many Transformers and now Encore Release #23 coming in March/April.
- Metroplex – An unexpected Toyfair 2013 reveal, the giant city-bot gets an update via the Generations line, with a somewhat Fall of Cybertron feel to him. At 24 inches tall, he will ever-so-slightly surpass Fortress Maximus as the tallest Transformer toy ever made. His release has been declared as “Fall 2013″.
Just one of these would make for a pretty awesome lead-in to the Transformers “Thrilling Thirty” 30th Anniversary celebration, but to get all three is as awesome as it is literally huge.
Part 1: The Last Line of Defense.
Omega Supreme has, hands down, one of the best retorts of the entirety of the Generation 1 cartoon. In The God Gambit, after crash landing onto a cliff edge on an alien world and finding himself stuck in place due to low energy, Jazz tells him that they will be back to help him, adding cheerfully,
“Just don’t move!”
The ever-pragmatic Omega Supreme responds with,
“Sarcasm: not appreciated.”
Along with being just a genuinely funny moment, this whole scene highlights the biggest (no pun intended) problem inherent with using Omega Supreme — or any of the Titans for that matter.
He’s simply too big and too powerful to be used regularly. He is relegated to the “last line of defense” because he could smash the Decepticon army almost single-handedly; which would make for a very short cartoon series. Granted, in a war for energy, keeping an energon-guzzler like Omega Supreme fully functional isn’t realistic, which helps mitigate the first part but that doesn’t really factor in when you are talking about the toys. It’s no fun taking your Skywarp into battle when the other kid has an Autobot that can solidly trounce you in one hit.
Due to their cost, most of the people I know only ever had one of the titans growing up. I am no exception; mine was Metroplex. I never even got him in-hand until he was reissued in the Encore line in 2008. Originally sold as “Super Change Robot Mechabot-1″ by Toybox — the same people that sold Sky Lynx — his reissue became possible when Takara merged with then-rival Tomy in 2006. It turned out that Toybox had licensed both of them from designs created by Tomy. Because Hasbro had licensed them from another company, Takara never released either of them in Japan until their somewhat-inaccurately-named Encore releases. The Encore attempts to give Omega Supreme a face in the previously vacant area under his visor.
Though the sculpt doesn’t really make it look any more like the cartoon head, I like it. He can also turn his head around to bring his cannon to bear.
Though, it wasn’t entirely necessary, as shown in many of his fiction appearances, he could still blast enemies without turning his head.
Also, as shown in many of his fiction appearances, he has really, really, reeeeeeeally cheesy dialogue. I guess you have a lot of time on your hands when you spend a good portion of the time as a base. Omega Supreme apparently chooses to use that spare time to come up with imposing one liners?
Due the nature of his “Tank with track around rocket base” alt mode, he is the very definition of a partsformer.
I’m sure this lead to a lot of Omega Supreme toys with missing pieces, especially the little yellow clips that keep his legs together. I like his alt mode mainly for the motorized tank that patrols the base’s perimeter.
In robot mode, the motor gives him an awkward, slow, shuffling walk which is pretty much the full extent of any leg articulation. His arms have very good articulation, though.
There’s a little bit of disagreement about his robot mode, namely his “wings”. In his instructions, he has the center pieces attached to his back.
However, most of his fictional appearances show him with the side pieces instead, a look that can be duplicated on the toy.
This attention to how the wings are placed becomes more apparent when you put the G1 Omega Supreme up against the new Platinum Edition release. If any true deficiency can be pointed out on this wonderful new update/homage, it’s that he has no wings at all.
Setting this aside is very easy to do when so much else about the new Omega Supreme is so very right. Whomever decided to take Energon Omega Supreme, give him a G1 paintjob, replace the Headmaster feature with a new headsculpt, and replace the crane arm with a proper claw arm is a genius.
I originally had Energon Omega Supreme but got rid of him when I became so very disappointed in a good portion of the Energon toyline. It was just too hard to look past his bad paintjob, gimmicky crane hand, and strange train engine with crane arm part of his alt mode. Unfortunately, the only part of it that makes me regret giving him up is the Headmaster part, which was removed in the Platinum Edition release. Happily the new War for Cybertron headsculpt is amazing.
Seeing pre-release pictures of him, I was concerned that the new headsculpt seemed too small, but once I saw him in person, I find I like it. It actually helps to give his body more of a sense of size. Of course, his actual sheer size also helps. The visor part of his headsculpt can be raised and a cannon flips out from the back of his head.
My major complaint with Energon Omega Supreme in both robot and alt mode, the crane arm, has been replaced by the articulated spinning claw hand/cannon from the game. This also fixes that half of his alt mode, as it is now a train engine pulling a massive cannon.
The battleship half of his alt mode is the same, but I never had any problems with it, it’s actually pretty cool.
The combined version of his alt mode, the “Cybertronian Armored Supertrain” is still complete nonsense.
For the most part, so is the “crane” transformation.
Ditto on the “artillery cannon” transformation.
None of it matter, though, when there’s already a decent alt mode made of the two vehicles and an absolutely wonderful, massive robot mode.
Hunter. Hunted. I’m the guy with the guns and sword. Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Optimus Prime!
SPOILER ALERT for the very last moment of the last episode of Season 2 of Transformers Prime.
At the end of the final episode of Season 2 — appropriately named “Darkest Hour” — we are left with a stark image.
The damaged, lifeless hand of Optimus Prime jutting from the ruins of the Autobot base would have much more impact if it weren’t for the fact that:
- Optimus Prime “deaths” are somewhat commonplace in Transformers series. At this point, I’m starting to believe that when Hasbro hires a studio to produce a new series, the contract ends with “Oh, yes, one more thing: make sure to kill Optimus Prime at least once.”
- We’ve seen toys of Season 3 Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Optimus Prime. Not only does he survive his impromptu burying, but it actually seems to have done him some good.
Beast Hunters Optimus Prime is the bulked up, menacing looking version of Optimus that presumably somehow claws his way out of the literal mountain of rubble dropped on his head by the Decepticons. I was initially concerned that the armored versions of the Autobots might not make it into the cartoon itself, but going by the promotional material, it looks like at least Optimus will get his upgrade in cartoon form.
Speaking of Season 2, many fans have eagerly awaited the Star Saber in toy form ever since it made an appearance in Transformers Prime.
“Eagerly awaited” became “OMGGimmeThatSwordNow” when Optimus did this,
Some of us even got weak in the knees when he followed that up with,
This lead to many fans simply taking it on themselves to equip their Optimus with his blade including the talented 3rd party accessory maker, Dr. Wu.
Some fans were… less interested in the subtle details.
We did get a smaller, less impressive version of the Star Saber with the Robots in Disguise Optimus release.
However, the smaller size puts it more on par with the Star Saber that comes with the Cyberverse release of Beast Hunters Optimus Prime.
It didn’t quite meet expectations for the mighty Star Saber, and happily Hasbro didn’t leave us hanging for long, though they have traded the blue glow of the cartoon version for translucent green.
The green tint is reflected in the promotional material, but we will see if that detail makes it into the cartoon.
Despite the upcoming Ultimate class “Dragon Disc” Optimus Prime, you know some will buy the Voyager release as well just to get the sword. For me, the sword was appealing, but the bigger draw was the built-in “Jet Wing” mode.
His backpack has places to put his weapons, both of his guns — which form jet engines for his flight mode — as well as the Star Saber.
Optimus’ “Eaglefire Missile Launchers” are detailed in his instructions as:
- Compact size masks devastating power.
- Missile impact powerful enough to cause earthquakes.
- Double as rocket engines for limited flight.
Augmenting this powerful new Optimus is a powerful looking new alt mode.
This is your Robot in Disguise.
This is your Robot in no mood to deal with anyone’s crap any more, disguise be damned, thank you very much.
Disguise is officially gone from Optimus’ alt mode. Apparently now it’s all about brute force.
Though not from a completely official source, news has appeared that Season 3 or Beast Hunters will be the end of Transformers Prime with a new series coming (along with the fourth entry in the live action movie franchise) in 2014. If the toys and promos we’ve seen so far are any indication, it looks like Prime is looking to go out with a growling, angry bang, not a whimper.
I have to admit a great deal of disappointment in Fall of Cybertron, and it’s almost all this guy’s fault:
I’d like to be able to simply jump on the bandwagon and say that the toy is the problem; that he’s just too small and his transformation is to simplistic. In reality, he is much less bulky than his previous incarnation.
It’s not that, though, I really don’t have a problem with the recent down-sizing of the toys. No, I have an issue with the overall aesthetic. I have since before setting eyes on the toy itself; since seeing this shot from the Fall of Cybertron trailer.
The design just doesn’t come close to his War for Cybertron body (a change that is never actually explained anywhere.) The toy actually improves on the odd, rounded look his head has, making it less rounded and more angled. However, it pales when put next to the awesome War for Cybertron head. The problem that the toy doesn’t fix is the chunky, blocked torso, though it does a decent job of downplaying it.
Still, that boxy, squared-off, top-heavy chest piece is something I would expect from an Ultra Magnus toy, not Optimus.
Oh. Well there you go. Yes, the mold definitely looks better as Ultra Magnus. In fact, I’m pretty sure he can deal with that (and just about anything else) right now.
I consider this a sort of vindication for poor Ultra Magnus. After suffering as an on again, off again repaint of his much more famous “brother”, it’s good to see him actually doing a mold better. The strange part is just how well the exact same mold still manages to pull off a really good Optimus and Ultra Magnus alt mode at the same time.
Since Ultra Magnus’ appearance in Animated, he’s become somewhat synonymous with hammers, but it looks like earlier on, he chose a… stabbier-slicier weapon. The best part is that the sword splits into pieces and can be combined with his gun — the same as the gun that comes with the Optimus version of the mold — to form an even bigger sword.
Funnily enough, the sword itself is modeled after the sword Optimus uses in the final showdown with Megatron in the game.
A scaled-down version of Megatron’s sword actually comes with Fall of Cybertron Air Raid.
When it comes to a sudden boost in weapon accessories, Ultra Magnus and Air Raid are both indicative of the second and future waves of the Fall of Cybertron toys.
The weapon Optimus’ toy comes with appears in promotional material for the game.
This is a nice inclusion, and speaks to this new move to actually make toy versions of the weapons from the game.
Optimus’ primary weapon of choice in the game is the Path Blaster.
Sideswipe, a fellow wave 2 toy with Ultra Magnus, includes this massive weapon.
After playing through the game and getting all the upgrades for the Path Blaster, there’s a good chance Sideswipe is not getting this weapon back from Optimus. All of this new weapon love isn’t entirely new. Back in War for Cybertron, Megatron came with his fusion cannon, the front half of which resembles a combination of the War for Cybertron Fusion Cannon and Fall of Cybertron‘s Riot Cannon
Unfortunately, it was molded as his alt mode’s primary weapon and includes a huge piece at the end. Also, it attaches in a specific way to Megatron’s arm and really can’t be used by other toys.
Another weapon, which makes an appearance in the game but is really character-specific, it the Sling Shock. Unlike Megatron’s, Shockwave’s weapon has a standard post and can be held by others.
Starscream comes with the game’s Neutron Assault Rifle, a very mean-looking geared six-barreled cannon.
Last but definitely not the least of wave 2 is one of my favourite weapons to use in multiplayer, the Gear Shredder. Used properly — never charge it all the way, it kills the accuracy — it’s a lethal and, more importantly, fun weapon (watching enemies flee with bladed discs sticking out of them from different angles never gets old).
Included with Kickback, the firing mechanism leaves a lot to be desired for a disc weapon, but it still looks very cool.
There are at least two of the next wave that come with game weapons; Whirl with the Subsonic Repeater and Roadbuster with the Energon Harvester. I can’t wait to grow the Fall of Cybertron in-game arsenal a little more.
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.
He’s big, he’s bad, he might even be battlin’, but this Dudicus is somewhat awkward. Fall of Cybertron Bruticus!
As I mentioned in Jazz’s post, in the Fall of Cybertron line everyone is tremendously more bulky in game form than they appear in toy form.
There’s a million and one real world reasons for this and in my opinion it’s fine in most cases. I find the bulging designs of most of the characters in the game to be too much, I like the slimmer look of the toys. However, nowhere is this difference more apparent than the default combined mode for Fall of Cybertron Bruticus.
One arm longer than the other, his top is spindly, gangly, lanky, awkward; whichever word you choose. He takes the weight loss paradigm a little too far and definitely doesn’t have the impact his game incarnation has.
With the proportions reversed, using Swindle and Brawl for arms with Vortex and Blast Off as legs, things don’t any better.
Also, despite being a Scramble City style combiner, there really is a kind of default with Vortex and Blast Off as arms.
Fortunately you don’t have to do the default transformation for Vortex and Blast-Off. Unfortunately this lead me to an even bigger disappointment.
Not just hands, but each one has the ability to be either a right or a left arm, meaning each one has right and left hands — some by simply rotating the thumb piece around to the appropriate angle, some just have two full, separate hands. Though Brawl gets the award for worst, the best hands are actually on Swindle. Vortex’s karate chop/salute hand really annoys me.
So, how to use the best hands when they are both on the guy that is best used as a leg?
Step one, easily extract said hands by removing two screws and sliding them off their bars with Swindle none the worse for wear. Steps two through done; cut some dowel rods, make alternate transformations for Blast Off and Vortex, attach the hands, and voila.
The best hands in the set with a transformation that makes Bruticus a little less lanky.
Any other potential flaws are inconsequential enough that this alone moves these guys from “pretty ok” to “freaking awesome”. Also, falling in the “freaking awesome” category is the packaging for the exclusive G2 themed set.
Adorned with G2 Decepticon symbols and completed with painstakingly accurate original-style box art, the box itself is a masterpiece.
The lettering, the colours, the “Clip and Save!” Bio and Tech Specs, all perfect. One thing the package doesn’t do, is make one mention of Fall of Cybertron.
Why is this important?
Well, fictionally, it means there is no actual tie between this incarnation of Bruticus and the one from the videogame. Yes, the videogame has downloadable content to use the G2 coloration, but it also has a G1 Optimus Prime skin you can use.
So, why should you care?
You shouldn’t. Unless you run the TFWiki, in which case you then have to include the retail, SDCC, and TakaraTomy releases under “Fall of Cybertron” but include the G2-themed release under G1.
I’m still only including these guys on my War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron display. Continuity gives me nosebleeds.
The sum of his parts versus the Dudicus as a whole… your mileage may vary. Fall of Cybertron Combaticons!
With the two “game accurate” (not counting downloadable content) releases being ridiculously expensive — the San Diego Comic Con version initially selling for a laughable $100 and the initial import prices for the TakaraTomy release putting it at $150 before shipping, I went with the $60 G2-themed BigBadToyStore/Amazon.com exclusive. Providing even more odd symmetry to my personal saga of Bruticus, the G2 version is most likely the only one I will keep in my collection. There is a retail version, but as I discuss later, I’m only picking up the rest of them if I find them discounted; in Onslaught and Brawl’s case, heavily discounted.
On that ominous note, how do these new incarnations stack up against the originals?
Onslaught is the biggest disappointment for a lot of people. Though most say he is a disappointment because he is a deluxe release, not a larger, perhaps Voyager release, I disagree. Him being the same size class as the rest of his squad makes perfect sense to me for a number of reasons, primarily the fact that he does not appear much larger than the other Combaticons in the game.
Most important for me, his arms lack shoulder articulation which is just inexcusable in a modern Transformer. Also, they missed an easy opportunity by not allowing his gun to attach to his back in robot mode, like it does in combined mode.
My own biggest complaint against Onslaught has to be his mess of an alt mode, especially considering how straightforward the original Onslaught’s alt mode was.
Chief among my complaints are that his robot mode arms and hands are just a little too visible and his alt mode is missing most of its mass in the back. With its missing rear middle section, this Onslaught clearly stole his alt mode from G1 Kup.
From my least favourite we move on to my own personal biggest disappointment. Brawl shares Onslaught’s issue of having way too much hanging down in the back in robot mode. Though the reason he is my biggest disappointment out of the set isn’t even the toy’s fault directly. He has two cannons instead of one, his head is all angles instead of the boxy helmeted look, and… yeah, there’s just nothing really Brawl about him at all. Given that Brawl is my favourite G1 Combaticon, this make me sad.
Also, in the War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron world the hover tank is done absolutely to death already. They managed to pick the most boring design of all to give to Brawl.
Moving away from the two slight disappointments, there’s the three designs I like the best in the set. Swindle is really good from the front and actually comes off slightly bulkier in the upper torso than his game model.
Much like his sleazy sales-based personality, it’s all a front. (Haha! See what I did there?) Turning him around reveals a robotic skeleton.
His alt mode is really well done, this is helped along tremendously for me by the fact that his alt mode is the basis of my second favourite level from Fall of Cybertron. In Chapter VII: Belly of the Beast, tearing along at breakneck speeds under the Autobot Energon Transport endeared this little “Assault Transport” to me.
I not entirely sure what it is, but there’s something I really like about Blast Off’s design. Unlike Brawl, Blast Off’s head is clearly an update of the original.
The fairing of his humongous engine forming his shoulders gives him a very distinct silhouette.
In fact, I liked him enough that, when I saw his retail release at a discount, I grabbed him so fast it would make your head spin.
I have to say, his alt mode being almost 50% engine is grand.
My favorurite of the Fall of Cybertron Combaticons is easily Vortex. Not so coincidentally, my favourite level in the game is Chapter VI: Death from Above a.k.a. “the Vortex level”.
As my favourite, it didn’t take much for me to buy his retail release.
The reason he’s my favourite, though, as I pointed out in my post about the game, is Vortex’s alt mode was the best thing about the game for me. The toy does a wonderful job of capturing that.
I wish there would have been some sort of alternate transformation that mimicked the video game’s booster flight mode.
The other thing I am wondering is why they gave two swords to the guy with four blades already permanently attached to his arm. I like to think that Blast Off and Vortex end up on missions together quite a lot (like the one in Chapter VI) so they swap weapons.
Overall, out of the five Combaticons, there aren’t really any I would call outright failures and as display pieces they all work.
All together, I can easily imagine them as an elite Decepticon squad. Well, assuming they all lived through that last battle that sent Bruticus spiraling off into space and potentially hurtling back to Cybertron from orbit.
Speaking of whom, next up, Fall of Cybertron “G2″ Bruticus: is he big? is he bad? is he… battlin’? (What does that actually mean?)