I really really like Beast Hunters Prowl's robot mode! And since it comes packaged in it, you can just leave it in robot mode forever and never transform it. In fact, I recommend that! Heartily!
There were two reasons why I bothered transforming him. One, I figured I might need a photograph of his car mode for this blog. And two, I forgot how much I hated transforming the Smokescreen version of this toy. Oh, man. It is really the worst. You get the legs transformed, and you sort of get the doors in place, and then the rest of the process is about 45 minutes of trying to get his arms and the piles of car panels on them to line up with the rest of everything. He's like if Beast Wars Neo had cars. ...or, right, that's what Car Robots was, never mind.
But that robot mode! I love it! Smokescreen is retooled to have the Prowl head design from Transformers Universe, the online game that used to be an interesting-sounding game until they removed all the things from it anybody would possibly want or were excited about and also will never ever come out ever at this rate I'm pretty sure. Did you know we "reserved" our in-game names about 30 months ago? It was coming out in a few months then. It's always coming out "in a few months," in perpetuity. It's been coming out soon since Transformers Prime began, but now TF Prime is over, so OH WELL. But Prowl's a really nice design, and so I'm glad it's become plastic. The paint applications try to approximate the design as well, best it can. But the result, regardless, is something I really like.
He's a G1y Prowl in a TF Prime animation style with hints of the TF Animated version of the character, particularly the unified eye-shades. And boy does his light piping work. Oh and they dropped the Beast Hunters net and armor that came with the Smokescreen version. He's only got the missile launcher. The only thing he's really missing is the "Justice Hammer" the Cyberverse version of Prowl comes with, because, come on, JUSTICE HAMMER.
He's just classy.
Just forget he's a Transformer, please.
(The toy version of the comic also removed his alcoholism.)
(Because he's an alcoholic.)
(You see, because his 1984 tech spec said he was inefficient at metabolizing fuel, so...)
Anyway, now that Trailbreaker's out, your roster of 1984 Autobot Cars is complete! He was the last out the door, much like at the bar every night OHHHHHHHH! Ha ha ha, gems like that are why I'm a popular webcartoonist. And once Hoistand Skids come out in the upcoming waves, your 1985 Autobot Cars'll be done, too.
Like Skids (and also like upcoming Legends Class Tailgate and Swerve), Trailbreaker is based on his appearance in the current ongoing More Than Meets The Eye comic book. His robot mode, anyway! Also like Skids and Tailgate and Swerve, the toy gives him an Earth-ish style vehicle mode rather than the wacky-looking Cybertronic vehicle he is in the comic proper. This makes Trailbreaker look less like his comic book robot mode design than he would otherwise, because about 40% of his robot mode is his truck's front end. But make no mistake, the parts of his robot mode that aren't parts of his truck mode are definitely based on Alex Milne's design. Check out those Milne-style forearms (larger box connected to a smaller box with a little tab between them) and the sculpted FOC-style light-stripes Milne put on the thighs. Also, well, the feet. The armored-SUV parts are the only non-Milne stuff to be found on him.
The truck bed cover is removed during transformation to robot mode to become either a shield or be attached to his back to give him his usual double-cannoned silhouette.
His transformation hits that sweet spot between simplicity and complexity. His hood/torso area's multilayered and takes a short while to figure out, but it's not rough to do. The arms fold underneath as you'd expect and his legs collapse in on themselves. The only point of real annoyance for me are his shoulders. Not because they don't functionally work, but because even though the joints are tight enough for his arms to stay in the right place, it's obvious that the grooves which should lock on to the side view mirrors aren't attaching fully. It's a neuroses thing.
He's the size that Deluxes are now. On the smaller end of Deluxes Through History, but still clearly a Deluxe.
I like him. He's fun. And he's an alcoholic except when edited for children. And he's in a comic I like.
But then Hasbro decided not only to make a toy of it, but to also commission of comics about the toys they were making to include in the packaging. And so we got this amazing comic book both written and illustrated by Nick Roche. I wish Nick Roche would write more. Hell, I wish he would draw more. .... while he writes. He also both wrote and drewSpotlight: Kup, which is another fantastic Transformers story, easily one of the best. The connect between what the story wants to do and what it actually does is strong. Not an inch is wasted.
You might roll your eyes at a "Spotlight: Megatron" issue because, yeah, oh boy, FINALLY, there's gonna be a focus on Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, ABOUT TIME, but the comic book lives up to and exceeds your expectations. We see Megatron returning to life in a new body amidst his crumbling army, and we see how we begins to build that army back up again. He has a way of things, a formula, and center to that formula is Starscream. However, Starscream's as much in shambles as the rest of the Decepticons, and so Megatron literally spends the issue beating Starscream back into his usual self again. And Jesus God, is it slashy, and not in a kind way. By issue's end, you have a perfect idea of how Megatron's brain works. It's brutal, but amazingly executed.
ANYWAY NOW I CARE A BUNCH ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR MEGATRON BODY I GUESS. Thanks, comic. Stupid excellent storytelling.
Stealth Megatron is a Deluxe. This means he's on the small size for towering over much of your collection as he should, but there's a Starscream who's arriving on pegs at the same time who is just about the right size relative to him. Legends Starscream is also an IDW comics design, but a discarded one that was never used for Starscream himself (just Thundercracker). Also, this Starscream comes with a tiny Waspinator partner/weapon. I'm just piling on the reasons to own these things, aren't I. And so I've been having my Deluxe Megatron smack my Legends Starscream around my desk since Megatron arrived in the mail. They're a good pair.
Despite Stealth Megatron's Deluxeness, he's pretty meaty. His arms have a great mass to them, and he just looks like this intimidating chunk of dude who could mess you up... so long as you don't put him next to anybody else in his size class. He transforms by bunching up into this pentagon-shaped thing, and then you tear his arm cannon in half and plug them into the ends for wings. It's a little complicated and messy the first time you try it, but on the second tries and beyond it gets pretty simple. The learning curve is fairly short.
And of course the comic book comes with it. If you don't own the comic book, pick up the toy just to read it, dammit. (Or here it is on Comixology.)
People are still scrambling Toys "R" Uses this week to get their hands on Masterpiece Soundwave. He's scarce and tends to be bought up in the first five minutes of whatever store he appears at. It's been a mad dash, and hopefully more will continue to filter into stores. I got mine at Comic-Con, from Entertainment Earth's booth, thanks to some help from Phillip Donnelly and his magical mug. (Brandon Bird also owes PD some thanks, as the mug was not only magical but transferable.)
How is the toy? Well, long story short, it's the best robot toy you'll ever own that folds up into a box. And man, does it fold up into a box! I know there's something in my brain that pumps happy juice through my body when I know a robot can transform into something, but damn if that Box Mode ain't superfluous. It's not like you can't do all the stuff you can do with his box mode in robot mode! That mini-cassette door still opens and everything. And it's not like Box Mode actually looks like a micro-cassette recorder -- he looks like a box with a very tiny window in it. This is entirely because his cassette door is still the same size as the original's to accommodate identically-sized micro-cassette toys, but the robot mode which surrounds that door is a chunk larger, and so you have this ridiculous... thing. Like Soundwave's altmode got elephantiasis.
The door still opens when you press the eject button on the top/shoulder. This time around, there's room inside him for three Recordicons. The back wall of the cassette storage area can slide in by pushing on it, and a button on Soundwave's backside will reset this wall to the usual one-cassette-deep width, so long as he's not full of dudes at the time. The arrow buttons on his crotch also depress, but those don't accomplish anything. There are ridges on both Soundwave's shoulders and his forearms that Buzzsaw or Laserbeak's feet can plug into, all perch-like.
He transforms about as simply as you'd expect -- very similarly to the original toy -- but with a few added wrinkles of some additional fold-out panels to cover up his articulation. His shoulder-mounted missile launcher and hand-held rifle are also included, but this time they don't transform into his batteries and store inside a battery compartment. Mind, they still transform into the same battery shape, but you don't put them inside him like batteries inside his battery compartment anymore (that's where his head goes) and instead they kind of just peg behind him and fill up space easily viewable from behind. D'oh well.
Soundwave also comes with a plethora of additional accessories, other than the five Recordicons and their stuff. He has a little vacuum cleaner attachment for his wrist, he has a digital-readout screen which you can plug into his chest door to make it look like he's computing stuff, he has an energon cube which you can pull the lid off of and plug into his chest door to make it look like he's making energon cubes -- all things he did in the cartoon. I'm not a big cartoon guy, so those won't get much play from me. He also comes with a nontransformable Megatron rifle. I think it's the same one that came with earlier MP toys.
Unlike the Japanese release, though, this Soundwave has yellow eyes instead of red, which reflects more his original toy and early comic book appearances. I welcome this change! I was happy to learn he was getting yellow eyes. On the other hand, his Frenzy seems to be purpler than the Japanese Frenzy, in order to make him look more like cartoon Rumble, even though the packaging still calls him Frenzy. Buzzsaw's accent color is now more yellow than orange, and I think there may be some other very slight color differences all around.
IMPORTANT: Be careful with Soundwave's dang index fingertips. Seriously, this piece will drop from him like ripened fruit. The only thing keeping the fingertip on the rest of his finger is the tiniest bit of friction, and trying to articulate it without it sliding out of "joint" (I use this term loosely because there is barely a set of bumps in there to keep it in place) will almost always cause it to go diving for whatever floor or table or couch you're over at the time. You will be looking for this finger constantly. Years from now, there will be no Soundwaves with complete index fingers. I prophesy this.
G.I. Joe Ravage is a newly-molded nontransformable Ravage for Baroness to keep on a leash. This pairing homages an OTFCC 2004-exclusive cover to Devil's Due's Joe Vs. Transformers #3by Mike Nortonand an unreleased First4Figures statue based on that cover. Both Baroness and the leash are removable from Ravage, and Ravage's articulation consists only of a balljointed neck (at the shoulders).
Masterpiece Ravage is also newly-molded, surprise! Like the other Masterpiece Recordicons, he still transforms into the same-sized microcassette tape as the original toys, and so he works in either MP Soundwave or either of the original Soundwave or Blaster toys. He looks great from the front, but the back isn't terribly great. It's kind of a mess back there, beyond what you usually expect from a Transformers Mini-Cassette guy. Usually it's at least flat back there, if not obviously an arrangement of animal parts, but here the backside is mostly a hollow pit surrounded by legs. MP Ravage does not have a very pretty backside, no.
It's in service of a fully articulated, as-cartoon-accurate-as-possible-at-the-scale jaguar mode, though! Like Buzzsaw and Laserbeak, Ravage's previously-removeable weapons are integrated into the transformation itself. He's pretty damn intricate! He kind of has to be, at the size he is. Lots of overlapping skinny parts and, really, he's a jungle of hinges. He's not bad, though, other than the aforementioned pit at the back of his cassette mode. He certainly aims to do what he aims to do. He's just not terribly fun, though, and despite how fully-articulated he is, he doesn't feel as fun to me as Universe 2008 Ravage (the guy who came with Universe Hound). I like transforming that Ravage back and forth, but this guy's got way more steps (and a foreboding feeling of fragility) that keeps that fun from happening. Maybe if he had a articulated jaw.
But hey, he can do his stock art pose, so hurrah!
Now all we need is Masterpiece Skids, I guess, so Masterpiece Ravage can get knocked into an abandoned mine shaft and be forgotten in American comics for like fifty issues.