It was the mid-Nineties, and I was trolling around a Tru-Value Hardware store in La Porte, Indiana. On the endcap of the perfunctory action figure aisle was a Mindwipe for like $12, the original pricetag still on it. At that point, Mindwipe was... several years off the shelves by then. He's from 1987. Someone must have found one hiding in the back and put it out.
And that's why I have a Mindwipe!
It's also why I was a little particular about which Titans Return Mindwipe I got, the domestic or the Japanese version. The Japanese version takes care to paint the front of his bat wings brown like the original toy's, while the American version keeps it unpainted purple. Japanese version it is! (It also helps that the Japanese Mindwipe comes with the fifth iteration of Crashbash's little dino/dragon partner, named Servant, and if I already have the first four of them, I might as well have the fifth, right?)
The original Mindwipe is a box with a tiny bat head and tiny bat wings. He's about as deep as he is wide, because all his robot parts fold up into a cube to form the body of the bat, and all of the non-body bat stuff is extra hanging off him. It's a very G1 look.
Titans Return Mindwipe tries to fix that by giving him an entirely new transformation. The bat's wings now fold up into the robot mode's lower legs. They literally each hinge five times into a box, and the foot kind of swings up into place under the box. The bat's feet unfold into the robot mode's arms. The bat head folds back behind the torso rather than hiding itself inside the driver compartment.
Because the wings now form the legs, and Mindwipe apparently needs the bat wings the original toy had on his robot mode back, there's some fake kibble wings there for you, so that Mindwipe's robot mode silhouette is preserved. In bat mode, they're still there, but they fold back mostly/hopefully out of sight. Really, it just kind of looks like the batmode has an extra pair of smaller bat wings shooting out of his shoulderblades.
The bat mouth opens and closes. It's weird, though, because the whole head is so rubbery. The robot mode's bladed shield pegs into the back of the bat mode to become the worst bat tail ever. It's like pegging a Hostess Suzy Q into his butt.
Mindwipe wins points for being inventive in its transformation, rather than just duplicating the original's engineering like some other modern Transformers reinventions, but I do wish his thighs were more substantial. They look tinier than they even are because of his tall knees, but even so his thighs are so dainty short. The paint matching on his biceps isn't so good versus the plastic on either end, either. The rest of him is fine, though I wish his bat mode were a little less greebled-out.
With BotCon over forever, you might be tempted to think, "man, are we not gonna get weird oddball obscure shit anymore???" but then you see Hasbro's making goddamned fucking Lione and selling him at retail.
Who is Lione? Well, you see, back in the olden Headmaster days in the mid-Eighties, Japan sold little spare Headmaster heads all by themselves. They are amazingly rare. Super amazingly rare, and hard to find nowadays. Also most folks don't even know they ever existed. Anyway, one of them was a lion.
And now he's a Titan Master, and his name is Sawback.
The original Lione transformed from a head to a lion, but this new Sawback guy transforms from a head to a kitty-faced humanoid who transforms into the back of a lion-thing's head, and that lion transforms into a very unconvincing spaceship which the guy rides, and also a shield.
That's all I got to say. What the hell.
I like Fangry! I got him at my seventh grade birthday party (at Aladdin's Castle, because this was the Eighties) and then due to obvious pure happenstance he had a few focus scenes in the old Marvel Transformers comic. He was kinda a pissy, petulant dude who was prone to attacking anyone who tells him what to do, including his own Decepticon commanders. Probably not a popular guy!
Years later, Beast Machines gave us a toy of Noble Savage, aka "Beast Changer," an organic beast-to-beast Transformer that went from wolf to dragon. Because transforming only does so much at ten bucks, Beast Changer's wolf mode had dragon wings (though you could remove them). This made him look uncannily like Fangry, and so often I would pine for that toy to be redecoed as Fangry. Who cares if he didn't get a robot mode and had a dragon mode instead? Like, when else would we get a new Fangry toy? Jump at those opportunities when you're presented them!
In light of that memory, on purely a personal level, it's kind of freaky that we're getting a new Fangry toy that transforms only from winged wolf to dragon. There's no robot mode because none of the little Titan Master "vehicles" do. They're just spare heads that come with little things to ride. But still, that syncronocity with my Beast Changer Fangry concept presents itself. Huh.
Because Fangry's Titan Master vehicle transforms from wolfdragon to... regular dragon, that already makes him one of the best Titan Master guys. Obviously, I'm being very biased here, but the Titan Masters that are beasts are just way better than the vehicle-onlys. They're the best ones.
Fangry's winged wolf mode involves shoving the Fangry head into the tummy, filling out what's otherwise an empty gap. Put together, it's a pretty good tiny version of the original Fangry. Put Fangry on all fours and swap heads, and you have the dragon mode. Here, the Fangry head transforms into a little dude who rides the dragon. You sit him on top and you're done. There's also a third weapon mode that's meant to be wielded by the larger head-compatible Deluxe, Voyager, and Leader Class toys. The weapon peg is 5mm, which means the original Fangry can hold himself.
Titan Master Fangry's tiny and simple, but he's fun.
Out of the four Wave 3 Titans Return Deluxe Class guys, I saved the best for last. Triggerhappy is, like, the Italian finger kiss of Titans Return Deluxes. I love him so much, you guys. Whereas Getaway was just a redeco with a new face, Hot Rod was solid but very conventional, and Twinferno was inventive but kind of awkward, Triggerhappy is the whole package. He is everything.
Let's start with his jet mode. Spaceship mode? Sure. But, like, it just looks cool. It's got those giant double-barreled cannons and the swept-back tailfins and the sharp angular look... I dunno, it just looks fast and deadly. It one-ups the original Triggerhappy just by having those tailfins. They add a lot of important visual flare to both his jet mode and his robot mode legs.
Same as per the others, Triggerhappy's cockpit can open up and his little head dude can sit inside.
The transformation is complex, efficient, and elegant, all at the same time. The original Triggerhappy, as mentioned, didn't have those tailfins on his legs before. The legs previously hid underneath the jet, but now on Triggerhappy's new toy they form the rear half. The double-barreled cannons double up on his arms. And the fun part -- the nose of the jet folds down, which is attached to a rotational piece that also the legs and crotch are attached to. You rotate that whole thing around, switching the placement of the nose and the legs. This was not part of the original toy's functionality... the jet nose just hung down at his crotch. But by splitting the cockpit in half and rotating the rest behind the toy, you get a much nicer looking torso. Plus it moves the legs from behind the jet to just below the back half of the cockpit to complete the torso. I dunno, it's great, I love it. It's fun to do.
And it results in such a nice robot mode. He's got those new tailfins on his legs, he's got that abbreviated cockpit window on his chest, and the shoulders are moved up into place on a series of struts that bulk up his look in just the right way. If you want, you could fold his fists back into his forearms and untransform his double-barreled cannons into their place, giving him giant gun arms.
Triggerhappy's head is based on the animation model, with the separated eyes and the mouthplate, rather than the original toy, with the goggles and the mouth. I am very fine with this. My mental image of Triggerhappy's face is the animation model.
I'm also pleased with the amount of paint. There's no large areas that are covered with paint; instead, there's lots of tiny little areas given silver and gold highlight. Lots of little things that you would have been expected to be left plain are given little paint details, whether it's the very middle tip of his jet nose or the tiny bits of gold on his ankles. Unlike the sparse-looking Getaway, Triggerhappy looks very complete.
I'm gushing, I know, but there's not much to complain about here, and everything is executed so well. I heart him.
Combiner Wars was wonderful to me, but one thing it did fall short with is beasty dudes. Of the guys from that line who actually combined, the Deluxe and Voyager Classes, only Sky Lynx (and his redeco, Deathsaurus), were beasty dudes! There were buttloads of vehicles, sure, and, heck, even Sky Lynx himself is a vehicle and then a beast, but the entire line of Deluxe Class guys were just carcarcarcartruckcartruckjetjetjettanktank and so on.
And so I'm grateful that with Titans Return, I have been granted more Deluxe Class beasty dudes. Say hello to Twinferno, who used to be "Doublecross," but thanks to the inability to get that old trademark, he has been gifted a new name that is about 30 times cooler. The original Doublecross toy was the first Transformer ever to have organic detailing (his dragon mode had furry arms), and if you rolled him along the ground, there was a spiked gear in his chest that caused him to spurt out sparks from, uh, his sternum. Unlike the other two sparky beasty guys he originally shipped with, his beast mode heads' necks were too long for the sparks to launch through the mouths proper, and so out the collarbone or whatever they went instead.
Hilariously, Titans Return Twinferno has the spiked gear sculpted into his chest, but it doesn't do anything. It's just there to remind you of the thing the older toy could do but this one can't. That's some Masters of the Universe Classics-level bullshit, there.
Twinferno's a great robot. He looks pleasingly proportioned with his new big stompy feet. I do love the stompy feet. I especially love how they transform out of the beast mode's hind legs. The hind legs just wad up, swing under the robot legs, and become feet. This allows the tail halves to have that room on the side of the robot legs to themselves. It's an amazing improvement and I love it.
(Note: I generally try to keep my photos of old toys next to new toys in a left-to-right chronology, but my vintage Doublecross has one of his wings broken off and so I put him on the right hand side in the below photographs instead of the left so you could see his single remaining wing better in beast mode.)
I love less the beasty mode. Because the little head robot dude has to ride inside the beast mode, the beast mode has to fit him into the torso somehow, and now we end up with this.... super long torso. It looks very awkward to me. This beast is like 80% torso, with these legs all the way at the bottom and these tiny arms all the way at the top, and the torso is so long and ungainly that it makes even the dragon necks and heads look unimpressive in comparison. I am a disappoint.
As a result, I think this guy's going to spend a lot of time in robot mode. I mean, my guys spend a lot of time in robot mode anyway, but as an upright-standing beasty guy, he could have had a chance at remaining that way in display. But no! He looks kinda dippy in that mode, so he'll just have to be Big Stompy Foot Robot Guy perpetually instead.
Twinferno's head guy, Daburu, is sculpted to look like White Leo from Battle Beasts. In Japan, Battle Beasts were part of Transformers continuity, and they even had an episode about them in the Headmasters anime. Doublecross was in that episode, so I'm told, and so that's why his head is a little white and black lion dude wearing an eyepatch.
I'm not sure I'm the specific audience for that reference, but I'm sure someone will enjoy it, and it certainly bothers me none.
I really do love that new "Twinferno" name, though.