I've probably mentioned it in this blog before, but when I was a kid, I designed a Transformers combiner. Powermaster Optimus Prime and Pretender Classics had just happened, and I noticed that we were starting to get old guys (Bumblebee, Jazz, Grimlock, Starscream) redone as new toys with current gimmicks, and I hatched a plan to get me other new toys of guys I wanted years earlier but never got toys of. And so, using allll the creativity that a ten-year-old can muster, I designed a Transformers gestalt guy made of Ratchet, Ironhide, Prowl, and Wheejack with Optimus Prime as a torso. It was very creative. So wow.
Anyway, twenty-five years later, the dream is nearly being realized. I've got my Ironhide and Prowl, Wheeljack's coming, and there's some art of a possible Ratchet that leaked, and of course there's Optimus Prime. I am so into this. I want everyone to be a combiner. I want to rebuy my entire Transformers collection as combiner limbs and torsos. Combiner Wars is the shit.
Anyway, all these new limbs here (Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Prowl, and Mirage) are retools of the Stunticons. Ironhide was Offroad, Sunstreaker was Breakdown, Prowl was Dead End (well, okay, he's a retool of Streetwise who's a retool of Dead End), and Mirage was Drag Strip. They all get new heads. They're officially supposed to combine with "Battle Core Optimus," a white redeco of the first wave Optimus Prime torso with a new also-Optimus-Prime head retool, but I'm cool with the first wave Optimus Prime I already have. My childhood combiner guy didn't have a white redeco of Prime in it. Also Legends Class Rodimus forms the chest armor. Sort of. He likes to not stay on so well.
My favorite of the four is Sunstreaker, since his toy incorporates the big fist/foot/cannon accessory into the robot mode itself. Plus Sunstreaker's yellow, and you know me and my yellow.
One thing I don't like is how the fist/foot/cannon accessory on each of these guys is split up between silver-painted plastic and silver plastic. Some of the plastic in these toys are nylon for structural integrity reasons, and nylon won't take factory paint, but it still makes the weapon modes of each toy look even less cohesive than before, like a piece of gun with some fingers in it. It's just more conspicuous. Which, again, is why I'm happiest with Sunstreaker, who can peg his fist/foot/cannon accessory onto his back.
I've seem some folks complain that we're getting new toys of these four guys when we already have toys of them. Well, maybe you do! Those toys came out in 2008! That was a while ago! And, like my childhood self, sometimes you don't get to get everything you want during the first pass, so second chances are nice. And it's even better if these second chances combine into a larger robot.
Now where's my Wheeljack and my Ratchet?
Entertainment Earth had an exclusive set of the pair (plus a fold-together version of the Weekend Update set) on sale at SDCC this year, and I'm not really sure there's anything more I could have wanted. (well, okay, maybe to-scale castmembers from both 30 Rock and Parks & Rec) Each of them has four points of articulation -- shoulders and hips -- and is ... I'd say probably original GIJoe:Real American Hero scale? Old Snake there outsizes them by a bit, but modern GIJoes are relatively huge. Amy Poehler's likeness is uncanny, while Tina Fey's is a little weird. It's probably the glasses. It's hard to sculpt glasses on something that small and not have it look off.
They sit on my VCR/Blu-Ray shelf, and I was dumb and took this photo at night when the light's kinda crummy. Every day I'm like "I'm gonna photograph these guys before it gets dark!" and then every day it gets dark and then it's a month passed and NO MORE GOD DAMMIT, HERE THEY ARE.
Here's the SDCC-exclusive Combiner Hunters three-pack, which I'll showcase 'cuz the remainder of the stock goes up some time today on HasbroToyShop.com. (OH HEY! HERE IT IS!) It comes with redecoes of the three Deluxe Class female Transformers we got last year: Arcee, Windblade, and Chromia, plus a bunch of additional huge-ass weapons and one small bit of retooling.
The retooling is Arcee's hands, which go from slot-holding hands to the usual 5mm peghole hands. She still comes with her swords, and since the slots are 5mm across, she can still hold her swords. She doesn't come with either of her original guns, which means technically you can't really complete her transformation. Her hands grasp either end of her smaller rifle in car mode, and without that rifle, the arms kind of just fold underneath and don't secure. I mean, it's not the worst thing in the world, and it's not like they're visible in car mode, but it still bothers me a little. She comes with a giant toothed cleaver that originally came with the super-large Beast Hunters Optimus Prime toy from a year or so back. She doesn't hold the cleaver super well, what with it being twice her size, but you can still get her into some poses, and a huge-ass cleaver is still fuckin' rad. Her new colors, a dark charcoal with some pink and silver trim, make her the most attractive toy of the set. Plus, you know, Autobot symbol tattoo on her cheek. Booyah.
Windblade and Chromia have fewer changes to them, with no weapon absences or retooling, and their colors kind of feel a little more shuffled-around rather than changed. Chromia is improved, I think, with the facepaint around her eyes, which makes her look pretty fierce and a little terrifying. Which fits Chromia well, hmm? She's still blue and gray, though now she's more gray than blue, while Windblade is now mostly red rather than only a little red. They both come with weapons from those 12-inch "Titan Heroes" figures that collectors hate but kids snatch up like crack. You know, the nontransformable five points of articulation guys? Windblade's weapon is the "Decepticon Hunter" from the Robots in Disguise cartoon, while Chromia's sword is Bumblebee's sword version of the Decepticon Hunter from the same cartoon. But, you know, packed with a Deluxe Class toy, they're huge.
A purchase of either this Combiner Hunters set or the SDCC-exclusive Devastator at Comic-Con got you a bonus Combiner Hunters one-shot comic. That comic's being released to comic book stores on Wednesdays! I read that comic like thirty times at my booth, and so I'm very glad it was a good comic. (It introduces Victorion, the fan-voted lady combiner.)
If you like transforming robot ladies in facepaint and tattoos wielding weapons larger than themselves which they use to cut down giant Transformer combiners, then this set is probably up your alley.
BotCon's been over for a week, but I've been pretty lax in getting some talk up on my site about the stuff I picked up. But hey, here's Galva Convoy! He built him myself, separating all his plastic parts from the sprues, pushing in pins and screwing in screws, and painting/stickering him. I really enjoy the process of putting the BotCon Customization Class toy together, which is why I keep going back every year. It's just calming to sit there and assemble a guy.
Galva Convoy is a redeco of Nova Prime (the super racist) and Lio Convoy (the ... lion.... guy...) who were both offered from the Transformers Collectors' Club this year. He's in homage to the original Galva Lio Convoy, who was an extremely limited (like, 50 of him) version of Beast Wars II Lio Convoy in Beast Wars II Galvatron's colors.
He comes with a fan-made Covenant of Primus book, designed after its appearance in Beast Wars. They were given to you in the class upon completed assembly of your Galva Convoy, as part of an incentive to actually put it together, since a handful of folks take the class just to take their Galva Convoys home unassembled still on the sprues. And, y'know, probably sell it. That's not in the spirit of the class! And also Hasbro's like "dude, we only safety-tested these things assembled, so that kinda leaves us wide open legally" so, yeah, the class gave us this small gift for assembly. It was "handcrafted by Japanese fan Myu" according to the written materals. It opens up to a 90 degree angle and has a 5mm peg at the bottom. The written materials also say the accessory is "neither manufactured by nor endorsed by Hasbro." Does that last bit mean this little thing can even go on TFWiki? I dunno.
Since the toy was mostly black plastic, there was more steps to painting areas of the toy than usual, since some of the colors required a base coat. This is true of the stuff painted lavendar, red, and gold. The black and blue violet got away without needing a base coat. The end result is very pretty, though. Not enough pink guys in Transformers.
There was a lotta stuff at Toy Fair this year, from the giant-ass Devastator to the Combiner Wars guys to a buttload of Kre-O stuff that'll never come out, but this friggin' Ultra Magnus was at the top of my list. This friggin' Ultra Magnus!
When we first got store listings that hinted at a Leader Class Ultra Magnus, there were a lot of different ways the toy could have panned out, and there were even a "he tell me" folks around who were insistant that this Magnus would go those ways. But naw, dudes, this guy ended up being everything I personally wanted. He's no strictly 1984/5ish redesign like the Megatron and Jetfire before him, he's a purposeful translation of Ultra Magnus as currently seen in the IDW comics, down to having a little tiny Minimus Ambus friend to go with him. That last part, especially, I wasn't expecting to see in a toy -- not only because production costs are rising and parts counts falling to match, but also because it's celebrating a very specifically current unorthodox treatment of Ultra Magnus. Sure, we get a lot of white cab Optimus Primes here and there in lieue of an Ultra Magnus, but actually getting our little mustachioed reimagining of that concept I thought was unlikely.
And so I am amazingly pleased.
Minimus Ambus himself is very very small. He's about half the size of a Legends Class figure, so he's amazingly dainty. Even at this size, though, he's not as simple as he could be. His car roof and robot backpack is on this hinged arrangement that seems too rich for this toy's size's blood. In Ultra Magnus's robot mode, he fits inside the chest, all mech pilot like, with his fistholes pegging onto control joysticks. Because this is where the larger robot's head fits into during car carrier mode, Minimus can't stay here when you transform Ultra Magnus, but Minimus transforms into a car, and so I think there might be a place for him in vehicle mode, if you think about it.
(Japan is apparently going to do him in white and purple and red and pretend he's Alpha Trion, while painting the larger Magnus robot more like how he is in the IDW comics, because I don't know why.)
The larger Ultra Magnus part of the toy's had a lot of thought put into it as well. His shoulder missile thingies and his two rifles combine into an axe, which is a callback to his Animated counterpart. (Which obviously also makes me amazingly pleased.) Articulation abounds, despite the way Ultra Magnus's design usually being a stumbling block to such. His head turns, despite it being part of a mask that goes over Minimus Ambus's head. His arms manage to articulate outward from the torso, despite those tall shoulder pylons. The shoulder missile launchers are even on hinged tabs so they can move out of the way of his outward bicep articulation. And Magnus has, like, has actual working thighs, despite that whole area needing to be a flat plane for cars to ride on in vehicle mode.
A lot of these ideas are shared by the Masterpiece Ultra Magnus that came out earlier this year, but concentrated in this less-expensive form. The walling of the trailer mode piling up on the back of his legs is another, as is the way his forearm armor accordions around his fists. The result is a very playable robot figure with a number of weapon configurations, who transforms into a vehicle mode that can carry your other Transformers, who also includes a little pilot guy. This toy goes down my list and checks everything off.
Surplus to all this is the little sculpting details all over him that suggest he transforms into a truck cab that's several stories tall. There's tiny ladders and tiny doors everywhere. Each of his wheels would be larger than my apartment. This doesn't distract from the toy at all, and really only creates a conversation starter, but what?