Finally, I got my hands on a Titans Return Deluxe Class toy. Weirdly enough, it's a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive (no, I didn't go personally this year), and it's a drastically retooled version of a wave 1 toy that's been out in stores but I haven't gone looking for. So I kind of feel like I skipped ahead instead of starting from the beginning.
Titans Return Brainstorm is the second Brainstorm toy in just about as many years, with Thrilling 30 Brainstorm coming out shortly before Combiner Wars got its start. That Brainstorm was a Voyager Class (translation: bigger) and it was directly based on Brainstorm's More Than Meets The Eye comic book series design. This new, much smaller Brainstorm is.... sort of based on MTMTE. It's a heavy retool of Titans Return Blurr, and so it primarily looks like Blurr with wings glued on. That's an oversimplification of the changes done, but it gets across the idea that this toy was not created with Brainstorm first in mind, not like the previous toy.
However, most importantly, he does have MTMTE Brainstorm's face. There are a number of other styles of Brainstorm face Hasbro could have gone with, such as his cartoon/Marvel design, or the weird faceplateless version from Japan's Headmasters (which is a face we can assume Japan will get on their version eventually), or another interpretation of the original toy's face. But naw, we get a second MTMTE face, which is fine by me. I likely wouldn't have much use for this new toy otherwise.
So why bother with him at all, if the previous Brainstorm toy was closer to his MTMTE look? Well, a few reasons. First is me reminding you that I am obsessive. Second is his size. The previous, Voyager Class Brainstorm was kinda a honkin' huge toy, and Brainstorm's not quiiiiiite that tall a guy. And so this toy feels better scaled to everyone else. Third, the SDCC version of this toy has a specifically-MTMTE-y deco, with the more cyanish teal and the teal on the legs instead of bare gray. And probably most importantly is he comes in a three-toy box set with a new Fort Max-themed Windblade that I definitely wasn't gonna not have. (The third toy is a translucent orange Sentinel Prime, which, again, yeah. You know me.)
But all that said, this Brainstorm toy is a better toy than the larger, earlier one. The previous Brainstorm was pretty damned simple. You fold his legs under himself and he's done. ...Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Simple toys can be more fun to play with than complex toys, but this new Brainstorm his a better sweet spot between simple and complicated. The new Brainstorm transforms a little upside-down compared to the old one, where instead of the feet folding underneath the front, you flip Brainstorm around so his feet fold up into the rear of the spaceship mode. The arms unravel from the sides and you flip them front-to-back as well. The giant nose of the spaceship, which just folded behind the back of the previous Brainstorm toy.... still folds behind his back, but you can also remove it and use it as an arm-mounted weapon or as a vehicle for his little head dude.
(his little head dude is called Teslor, by the way -- back in 1987, his head's name was Arcana, but i guess that trademark isn't available anymore, so it's TESLOR, which is............... definitely a real historical guy's name with -or on the end of it, ain't it)
Versus either of the "official" ways to store his giant spaceship nose, I have decided to do it my own way. I hang it upside-down on his back so that Brainstorm keeps the over-the-shoulder cannons that he has both in MTMTE and his previous toy. (As seen in this post's first image.) They're an important part of his silhouette to me, so first thing out of the package I tried to find a way to recreate them. They definitely don't plug in securely, requiring gravity to do most of the work, but if you angle the support structure just behind his head just so, you can kind of hook his nosefins across the large tabs back there and have it stay in place well enough.
If you don't want to have to buy a SDCC-exclusive Brainstorm, well, sort of good news! There's a single-carded version of him coming as an exclusive to Walgreens very shortly. The Walgreens Brainstorm tries to be more like the original toy, with a mintier green, warmer grays, a yellow cockpit window, and minus the teal on his boots. Also his helmet might be a darker gray, we dunno for sure yet.
If you have a Walgreens nearby, I recommend trying to pick him up. I thiiiiiiiiiink he starts showing up in August?
Backing up, Brainstorm is a retool of Blurr, right? Well, that means he has the same partially-open canopy that Blurr does. Which means Brainstorm is a spaceship without a fully-enclosed canopy. Better hope whoever's driving can breathe in space!
Rewind here is in the same size class as Wheelie, who I mentioned was not a Triple Changer unlike some of his wavemates. Well, Rewind is some of Wheelie's wavemates! He goes from box to box-with-turret to boxy robot. Pretty simple. But, like, none of these modes fall apart at the touch, so he's already better than Wheelie in that respect.
It's funny, a year or so ago when we got a Rewind from Fun Publications and their Figure Subscription Service, I was so happy, since it was OBVIOUSLY the only time we'd see such a MTMTE-centric head on a Rewind toy, head-camera and all. WELL HEY GUESS WHO'S WRONG. And... happy to be wrong, sort of? I mean, I don't like making expensive exclusives redundant with better representations of characters that sell for $10 at retail, but I also sort of really do. I am torn.
Regardless, as this toy is not a hulked out space tank robot (while still transforming into a space tank), it's a better MTMTE Rewind toy than the one I previously had. And still have. Look, it's cool, there's two MTMTE Rewinds, technically, so now I have one of each! The alive one and the also-probably-eventually-to-be-revealed-as-still-alive one!
Rewind transforms from a suitably boxy robot to a cellphone or similar electronic device. He's a rectangle with a screen with a battery power, signal strength, and wi-fi icons in the upper menu, so he's definitely phone-ish, but he also has a stylus, which is very Dumbing of Age ca. 2010, but whatevs. The stylus is a great idea, btw. It stores in the side of the phone, becomes Rewind's handheld (or arm-mounted) weapon, and then in tank mode it clips into the turret as the tank's barrel.
In phone mode, he can be inserted like a cartridge into Leader Class Blaster (or Soundwave when he later comes out).
Unlike Wheelie, Rewind doesn't have as interesting an integration with the tiny head robot dudes. He has no cockpit, just some pegs on the roof of his tank's turret that you can stand some tiny head robot dudes on. Because, you know, that's the best place to be on a tank. Standing on the top of it.
TakaraTomy's gonna do this guy themselves later, but they're gonna try to paint his very MTMTE-y face into what his face looked like in the original cartoon, where he had separate eyes and a nose. Why, TT, why. You're monsters! Who even cares about cartoon Rewind? Nobody, that's who!
In this year's Transformers line, Titans Return, the dealio is about the little tiny robots that turn into heads. The Leader Class guys transform into a third (*intentional pause*) base mode that can be populated by little head dudes, the Voyager Class guys can be piloted by little head dudes, as can the Deluxe Class guys. The Legends Class, which last year's Combiner Wars line spent most of its time turning into little add-on armor or weaponry for the big-ol combiner robots, is now dedicated to providing tiny vehicles for the Leader Class base modes which can also be piloted by the little head dudes. That means some of these three-inch tall guys are triple changers.
Wheelie is not.
Wheelie transforms from a robot to a futuristic car which a tiny head dude can fit inside of and drive. That itself is a feat, since, again, Legends Class toys aren't terribly large (they were the smallest price point until this very toyline), so that Wheelie has room for a drivers compartment inside him is kind of amazing. And it's not like one of those "kind of floats inside like a Flintstones car" situations, where there's no floorboards and no proper roof. Naw, you can stick a little head dude robot in him (sold separately) and close him up inside completely, canopy and all.
IN THEORY. Here's Wheelie's problem, you see. While his robot mode is fantastic for its size and the transformation itself is a dream, the vehicle mode does not actually like to stay together. There are some very tiny, shallow tabs that are supposed to lock the arms into the top of the canopy, but they don't lock in well much at all. And so you can easily destroy the vehicle mode just by trying to fit the little head dude inside, which seems to kind of ruin the entire point of the toy. I would recommend fitting the head dude into the seat placement first and then transforming the toy around him. Which is probably not the desired playpattern, but it involves less cursing overall. This way, you can spend time trying to get the tabs to rest in the slots best you can (but never perfectly) without immediately destroying it by using the pilot functionality and having to start all over.
Or just keep him in robot mode on your shelf forever, I dunno.
This is a Wheelie toy with 5mm fist pegholes, which means he can hold any of the other Titans Returns weapons (and most other Transformers weapons)..... or you can give him Deluxe Wheelie's slingshot, which is what I have done. You can even use its side-peg to attach it to him in vehicle mode, though, yeah, this is gonna break Wheelie apart again. Hmph.
Maybe some other Wheelie toy has better plastic tolerances than mine, but this one definitely has problems.
I got the new Titans Return Fortress Maximus this past week. Fortress Maximus is a heavy retool of Metroplex from a few years ago, and as such will definitely not fit in my little photo lighting studio. So let's focus on his head, Cerebros, instead. He's really the best part, anyway.
Unlike most of my childhood Transformers obsessions, I don't get my feel for Cerebros from the Marvel comics. That's because he was a complete nobody there. He was literally nothing more than an intermediate transformation step for Spike Witwicky to become Fortress Maximus's head. Instead, the Marvel stuff focused on Fortress Maximus, giving him character focus and shrinking him down a bunch so he could interact more easily with everyone else. I mean, he was still big, but not, like, Autobot City big. Not two-foot-tall-largest-Transformers-toy-of-all-time big.
No, Cerebros got all his character focus in the original cartoon, where they did the opposite. Cerebros was the character and he was forced to wear Fortress Maximus like a big mech suit. I say "forced" because Cerebros had had it up to here with 9 million years of war and had made a personal decision to never fight again ever ever ever, to the point that he threatened to shut himself down were he given a choice between oblivion and fighting. But Spike Witwicky was all "oh hey but what if i build you into a giant robot's head and i become your head and we murder everyone all at once so we don't HAVE to fight ever again, eh??? EHH???"
spike is a great non-monster and definitely not a horrible threat to all notions of personal agency y/n
Anyway, I was a little obsessed with him because he was (sort of) in my comics and he was on my VHS tape of "The Rebirth" and he was in my toy catalogs and I spent every single autumn session of my third grade "gifted and talented" class building Fortress Maximuses out of bristol board. Like, I am serious, I did no other real actual school work. They had giant sheets of paper at this special "gifted and talented" class location and only at this special location, and that meant I was going to make them into Fortress Maximuses, every single week. The only thing that stopped this was getting the real Fortress Maximus at Christmas. It was probably a relief felt all around by everyone, and likely worth the money paid just to put an end to my all-consuming obsession.
But I'll tell you one thing this new Cerebros has over the original one -- the right face. The animation/comics model gave him an entirely made-up head (maybe, some folks think they might have gotten him mixed up with Cog) that his toy definitely didn't have. Cerebros's toy head was just a smaller Fort Max head. But in the comics, he had this domed noggin with shades and a mouthplate. It was hard to think of Cerebros-the-character as Cerebros-the-toy, because the two were so different. And so it was a smaller disappointment buried in the otherwise endless jubiliation of owning a friggin' Fortress Maximus.
Titans Return was all heck no and gave him his animation face. They also gave him -- mostly -- his animation colors, going for black and gray instead of gray and lighter gray. Both the face and the color choices are important to me. The San Diego Comic-Con version of Fortress Maximus gives Cerebros a toy face, and fuck that! Fuck it right up its dumb Comic-Con asshole!
Cerebros is where Titans Return Fortress Maximus keeps his electronics. You can see the speakers in his chest, and by pressing down on Cerebros's head, he'll start making noises and flashing a tiny light at you. Mine, though, is a little fussy. Most of the time, the sound clip cuts out before it completes. This is pretty annoying! One of his sounds is even a really robotic delivery of "CE-RE-BROS" that I've heard exactly twice and which I cannot duplicate and this makes me mad. When you flip the cover for Fortress Maximus's face, Cerebros makes the classic transformation noise, and when you plug him into Fort Max as his head, he has some other different noises. I'm not sure what they all are because, again, sound clips cut off annoyingly.
New Cerebros transforms pretty dang similarly to the original! On the way to head mode, Cerebros's arms fold behind his torso, his legs fold onto either side of the torso, and the aforementioned cover flips up to reveal the face. The only notable difference is the feet now transform, with the toes and the heel folding up onto the shin.
Also like the original Cerebros has a third mode where he integrates into the city mode by becoming... some sort of structure. It's about as convincing now as it was then. In the old toy, you just sort of wad him up and cram him into a shoulder. In this new toy, you just sort of was him up and cram him down the top of the control tower. The only real difference now is that if you don't integrate him into the city mode you have this giant hole at the top of the control tower where he would otherwise be.
The new Cerebros also has a much larger gun than the original. Like, it's even double-barrelled. Just to stick it to Mr. I Don't Want To Fight Ever Again, I presume.
But really, the largest question here is, like, what was that "gifted and talented" class I went to, anyway, if I didn't actually have to do any real school work and they just let me do arts and crafts all day? I was allegedly supposed to be attending it because I was one of the top 20 students in the district -- or so my teachers and parents CLAIMED, even though I made a lot of Bs in the year beforehand -- but really I just used that time to fuck around. There was zero advanced learning involved on my part. They even sent some kids home from the program, and I know for a fact that they were shitting around less than me, and they were all also much more well-adjusted in their behavior. It raises a lot of questions I'm not sure I'll ever have answered.
.....oh they totally thought i was autistic, didn't they
i'm sure the repeated manufacturing of the same fictional robot over and over disabused them of this notion
Optimus Prime once just used to be one dude's name. But then Rodimus Prime happened and then the franchise decided that there were a bunch of _____ Primes that came before Optimus, and that "Prime" was a title. Thanks, Rodimus! I'm not sure how facetious that thanks is. Generally when the mythos is "grown" like that, it can be kinda irritatingly obtuse. But I think I'm fine with it. Usually.
It was decided in the Marvel comics, in the same brush stroke that decided that Prime was a title that we learned that the guy who came before Optimus Prime was called Sentinel Prime. It was just a series of name drops, but there was a panel from the UK stories a while prior that showed a yellow and orange and red robot handing the Matrix to Optimus as the former was dying. So that was probably Sentinel Prime. Years later, the Dreamwave comics would show us Sentinel Prime's forearm as he died, defeated by Megatron. It started to look like "we only get to see Sentinel Prime as he dies" was going to be a thing.
As Animated, the IDW comics, the War for Cybertron video game, and then later the third live-action movie gave us Sentinel Primes, it became obvious that Sentinel Prime, as he was forced to have an actual characterization, had to live in contrast with Optimus Prime. Optimus is the hero, and he kind of sucks up all the heroism in a room, and so Sentinel Prime became the jerk or the ineffectual leader or the secretly-kinda-genocidal-facist grandpa. Y'know, pick something that Optimus does really well, make Sentinel the opposite of that, and demonstrate why Optimus needed to show up and replace him.
The Titans Return toyline, much to my inner 12-year-old's boggling, now has a sweet G1-style Sentinel Prime toy. Despite having gone through so many iterations -- and despite obviously being Astrotrain painted to hopefully look like somebody else -- this toy still has a through-line to that first Marvel UK panel of the later-to-be-named Sentinel Prime. He's still orange and yellow and red, though the ratio of orange to yellow's been flipped, and he still has those three rectangles on his lower ribcage. That was one of the few bits of character design that managed to make it into the IDW reimagining of the original Sentinel Prime, those three rectangles. Artist Alex Milne made them into a cockpit window split into three, and here on this new toy they're no longer a cockpit window, but that detail remains all the same. The head (which now transforms into a tiny robot, Infinitus) harkens entirely to the IDW design, which covered up the mouth with an Optimus-esque mouthplate, albeit retractable. The rest is, well, an orange and red and yellow Astrotrain.
Despite essentially being a Voyager Class retry of the 2007 Deluxe Class Astrotrain, the larger toy feels less ambitious. Its transformation, at its core, is pretty simple. He's a robot, and then he pins his limbs together and he's a shuttle, and then he spreads out and he's an armored train. There's some small panel flipping here and there to cover up what you don't want to see (along with covering up the entire torso in train mode with a giant pile of shuttle wrapped around it like foil on a potato), but it feel perfunctory.
The packaging renders and early convention sample appearances led us to believe that his feet in robot mode are supposed to be train parts instead of the shuttle nose, but in practice this possibly not the best solution, as the instructions warn us to try the shuttle nose halves as feet instead. Otherwise, the angle of the feet makes it rough to stand the robot on on uneven surfaces like carpeting, but the train feet are generally fine on a very flat surface. I like trying to use those feet because they look "eviler." Just lots of sharp angles. The shuttle nose halves look like tap shoes, and as we all know tap shoes are benevolent.
As stated above, the head transforms into the tiny Infinitus. I feel like his name and future Astrotrain's head partner, Darkmoon, were switched at some point. Like, Sentinel Prime was in Dark of the Moon? Doesn't "Darkmoon" make more sense for him? And "Infinitus" could be a play on how Astrotrain is a space man, a la Buzz Lightyear with his infinity and beyond. Anyway, Infinitus pops off the shoulders, becomes a dude, and is meant to pilot Sentinel Prime in vehicle modes. He can do this either from the translucent orange cockpit on top of either vehicle or from the seat inside the wider of Sentinel Prime's two weapons. Other Titans Return toys have a smattering of tiny pegs to apply your tiny head dudes to, but Sentinel seems completely devoid of them, unless I've missed one tucked away. As such, he's missing a little play value. I like sticking those little head dudes on the bigger dudes' shoulders and whatnot.
Anyway, in the IDW comics, Sentinel Prime is gonna come back somehow and restore Cybertron to its former greatness probably. They never should have let him host SNL.