Yay, 3D printing! It's getting to be not-crappy! Now that Shapeways (the online 3D printing folks) has introduced a new material, black high-def acrylate, and my pal Trent Troop had a Dinobot head to purchase, I was like, yes, I will try this thing.
Shapeways' high-def acrylate, which currently only comes in black, is pretty close to looking like normal-ass molded plastic. You don't see any layers in the plastic, like you're looking at a toy made out of lasagna, and the sculpted detail is very fine. The only downside, at least for this project, was the piece comes in black, and I needed to make it gold and blue. This meant.... base coat layer! I was painting like some kind of adult, with preparedness and forethought and everything. Whaaaaaat. Luckily I had some medium gray acrylic paint sitting around from when I was painting up my BotCon Ratchets.
After that, it was only a matter of getting the gold and metallic blue paint on there. After using plain-ol' Gold Leaf, I decided the gold needed to be a little more orangey-er, and so I mixed some orange into my gold and painted it again. At this point, I think I've started to lose a little of the sculpted detail, but, eh, I don't feel like scraping it all off and starting over. It looks nice, though! I like it.
Trent/TheRobotMonster's got over 100 heads to choose from in his Shapeways store. There's some Optimuses, some Pretender Monsters, Skeletor, the goddang Sogmaster, Krang, Rung and Tarn... there's a bunch there. And all you gotta do is screwdriver away the head on the Titan Master toy itself, replace the head with the new one, and screwdriver the screw back in. Easy cheezy. You can make any Titans Return headmaster guy into Dinobot. Or the Sogmaster.
I gambled and it worked out. Remember my blogpost about Titans Return Wheelie? About how he's a great little robot and the transformation is interesting but he's kind of absolutely ruined by his car mode not holding together? At all?
Well, I got a second one (the one on the right in the photographs), the Japanese TakaraTomy one, and that one holds together fine.
Some American ones reportedly hold together in vehicle mode all right. Maybe some Japanese ones don't. But this one is good. It's probably just plastic tolerances. The design is maybe just not engineered in a way that it will hold together under all manufacturing conditions, I dunno. But this one is fine.
Ironically, I like the robot mode colors better on the new one, but the old one's car colors look better to me. The one with the car mode I can't get to stay together is the one with the better colors. Great. But the robot mode on the new one is still alot better, as I said, so it's not all bad. I like the gunmetal legs and the replacing of silver plastic with orange. Plus it's nice that all of Wheelie's head is painted appopriately, not just his face.
The one thing I don't like about the new one's robot mode is the much clearer translucent plastic canopy. The smokey translucent plastic of the old one looked better on the robot chest, I feel. Thankfully, you can just easily swap that, easy as one pleases. Snaps off, snaps on. The only downside is that it gives him THREE Autobot symbols in vehicle mode instead of the still-ridiculous two. Ah well.
I've got a photo of what that looks like on the left, with the slingshot accessory I stole from a previous Wheelie.
Wheelie comes with Go Shooter, who is the little boy who transforms into the head of who we call Siren over here. It's nice that this Wheelie stays together when you try to fit Go Shooter inside. I got so mad trying to get the old one transformed into car mode for the second photo above that I just gave up in a fit of rage. Well, stole your canopy, sorry, and into the bin with you!
Weirdwolf is yellow and teal, and this is like 99.99% of why I like him so much. That plus the offwhite and red trim to me is the Italian finger kiss of color schemes. It's the same reason I love RID Destructicon Bludgeon. It's why BotCon 2007's Weirdwolf redeco of Cybertron Snarl is one of my all-time favorite convention toys. I love those colors. They're great. A++ Would buy again.
I decided to get the TakaraTomy version of Weirdwolf for a handful of reasons. One, he comes with a yellow and teal monkey, which is hard to say no to. Rarigo (which is "gorilla" spelled backwards in Japanese) is a redeco of Apeface's Titan Master vehicle, which triplechanges from gorilla to jet to gun and back. If I can get a Weirdwolf that also comes with a monkey, why wouldn't I get the one that comes with a monkey?
Secondly, judging from online photography, TakaraTomy's Weirdwolf had a teal I liked better than Hasbro's. Mind, this is going off of promo renders and colors-not-always-true-to-in-person photography, but I did my best to judge the two teals, and I decided on the Japanese one instead of the domestic. I am very particular about my teals! The BotCon Weirdwolf's teal is a smudge too green, and it's not SO green that it ruins the yellow-and-teal deal for me, but it's on the edge. TakaraTomy Weirdwolf looked just right.
Plus their Monzo got his face painted, which is a plus.
Things I'm missing by not having the Hasbro one, are the nice translucent red highlights inside the wolf head. Takara paints over a lot of that with light gray. On the other hand, I really like the two-toned red of the eyes and face. The face is a tad pinker than the eyes, and it's a nice, subtle effect.
The toy is pretty adept for your run-of-the-mill quadruped-to-biped transformation. The arms transform into forelimbs and the legs transform into hindlimbs, as often the case with beastformers. But it's a much better four-legged mammal than Alpha Trion's unikitty mode, with hind legs that look a lot more natural, and so I'm pleased. The torso expands for beast mode and collapses to a shorter length for robot mode. The wolf head rotates at the neck, and also there's a small amount of left-to-right movement as well. The jaw opens, which is usually a feature on beastformers, but is still always welcome.
Weirdwolf's tail becomes a sword, and there's a cannon weapon that plugs into his beast mode's hindquarters which can also be a seat for a Titan Master head dude. And, of course, Weirdwolf can point his gorilla gun around if he wants.
I hope the next Transformers line-wide gimmick is Monkey Weapons.
I went on and on about Cerebros a while back, and here's his Japanese counterpart, Fortress. Unlike Cerebros, who had a completely-made-up-head-for-animation-for-no-known-reason, Fortress was a much more toy-accurate design. He has box-shaped shades instead of eyes, and that's essentially the only difference between his animation model and the toy. Cerebros was decked out in blacks and whites and grays, while Fortress stuck to the gray-and-also-gray of the toy. And so in a roundabout way, it'd be easy for me to have nostalgia for Fortress just because he looks just like the toy I had when I was 8.
Additionally, because I am old, I can have nostalgia for stuff I experienced when I was twenty, and so I can also have affection for Fortress because of his depiction in the Headmasters anime, particularly with the so-bad-it's-amazing Omni Productions English dub. And because Cerebros and Fortress have different heads, color schemes, and personalities, it's really easy to mentally segregate them into two very distinct characters rather than different interpretations of the same guy.
But, honesly, the reason I got Fortress was because I wanted the Fortress Maximus body that he came with. As previously noted, I spent a good chunk of third grade obsessively crafting cardboard Fortress Maximuses, and so I have some very deeply rooted Fortress Maximus Opinions. For example, Fortress Maximus has red hip-nipples, dammit. Does the new American Fort Max have red hip-nipples? No! They're silver! Unacceptable. And so I purchased the new Japanese Fort Max, which is much more slavishly adherent to the original toy. Ultimately, I have the American Fort Max for the Cerebros and the Japanese Fort Max for the Fort Max. Plus, bonus Fortress!
Like Cerebros, Fortress has electronic lights and sounds. Unlike Cerebros, whose sounds are mostly sound effects interspersed with a few trademarked phrases like "CEREBROS" and "FORTRESS MAXIMUS" so that his toy still makes sense to non-English-speaking folks in various markets, Fortress's sounds are of his original Japanese voice actor saying full Japanese sentences, and also a clip of the Headmasters anime theme music. I don't understand Japanese, and so these phrases are mostly lost on me, but I do recognize them as sentences, so at least Fortress sounds way more articulate than Cerebros, who is only good at saying his own name.
At the end of the day, Fortress is good to have in order so that my Fort Max has a head in robot mode, while Cerebros is off being Cerebros with his pals.
anyway fort max doesn't fit in my lighting studio, so i hope you like me talking exclusively about his detachable head
Rounding out the last of the original five Autobot Headmasters recreated in Titans Return is Chromedome. A few years ago, Fun Publications made us a Chromedome out of Transformers Prime Wheeljack, with a More Than Meets The Eye-styled head. Well, the MTMTE-styled head is back for this new toy, same as with Brainstorm. The stars of the (ending yesterday but relaunching as Lost Light #1) MTMTE comic book series get to have MTMTE-inspired heads, while the other Autobot Headmasters get a mix of toy- and cartoon-inspired heads.
Chromedome's body is also designed after MTMTE, but not on the modern-day body he has for most of the series, with the giant wheels on his shoulders and the skinny, streamlined appearance. This is sadness to me. I love that design. Instead, his sculpt is based on the design he has in pre-war flashbacks, which was inspired more strongly by his original toy. Which is okay, but, sure. Whatevs.
Beyond taking its cues second-hand from the original 1986 Chromedome toy, Chromedome is a very familiar figure. He's not a retool of the Combiner Wars Dead End/Streetwise/Prowl/Dustup toy, but he has similar engineering, down to the chunk of bicep that's molded in nonpaintable nylon plastic. Chromedome transforms essentially the same as Dead End, with the shins opening up so they can swallow the thighs, the chest flipping up under the hood (which stores on the robot's back), and the arms compressing into the sides of the car mode. The lone real difference is the addition of a drivers compartment inside the car, which results in the roof folding up on the back of Chromedome's legs instead of flipping down behind the back like on Dead End.
Again, he's not a retool. He's entirely new parts, just with a borrowed transformation style.
Like the other Titans Return Deluxes, he has a smaller weapon and a larger detachable weapon/thing that his head can sit in when his head is a little dude. Also like many of the other Titans Return Deluxes, his smaller weapon is a Starscream-style null ray. Lotsa guys have this damn null ray -- Blurr, Brainstorm, Chromedome... I've got a pile of null rays now. I wonder if this is a hint at a future Starscream/Seeker toy, or if someone just likes null rays.
I got the American version of Chromedome because, duh, MTMTE head. The Japanese version, which is not released yet, has a different, Headmasters anime-styled noggin, which itself is different from the American cartoon-style head. I'm tempted by the Headmasters-headed one, if only because of the goofy English dub, but that would always have to be a secondary purchase. Like Rewind, my heart will always belong to the MTMTE-style Chromedome first and foremost.