I was gonna talk about the new Whirl first, but he kind of snapped his leg off at the knee before I could even get stickers on him. SO HERE'S ARMADA STARSCREAM, COVERED IN MY TEARS
Armada Starscream is, obviously, a new toy of the Starscream design from Transformers: Armada. Since these toys are being featured in the IDW Transformers comics that come packaged with every Deluxe, Armada Starscream's design is also now a IDW comics continuity G1 Starscream toy! For those of you keeping track, this is the second time in a row a Starscream toy that represented Starscream from a different continuity family has been used as a G1 Starscream in this comic. With both Aligned and the Unicron Trilogy out of the way, once this Starscream also repurposes an Animated or Movie-style version of himself, I think this dude will have collected the whole set. He will become Meta Starscream, the Allscream, Devourer of Alternate Starscreams.
The toy itself is fantastic. While it is, broadly, a smaller version of the original Armada Starscream toy but with joints, the sum is more than these parts. He feels solid and dynamic and feels like he has a presence, and he has more weapons than you expect of a toy in these expensive times. While the original Armada Starscream would pop off his entire wing to make a sword, this new Armada Starscream hides his (now-translucent) swords behind his wings. They just fold up and plug into the backs. He also gets two, instead of just the one. Also, dude's got double missile launchers. It's been a while since those were the norm! They're the push-pressure kind, not the spring-loaded kind, and they sit in his maneuverable shoulder intakes. Starscream's also got Mini-Con hardpoints on both his forearms and on the back of each of his launchers, as is right and good.
If you're more discerning about your Starscream purchases, I'd check out this guy. He's one of the best Starscream toys, I feel. Or you can wait until we get that Jhiaxus retool out of him we seem to be receiving. New cockpit, new wings, new tailfins, new head. When I'm at Toy Fair in a few weeks, I hope we get to see him.
In Bumblebee and his redeco/retool Goldfire we've got a little microcosm of toy-pushed fiction. The Bumblebee toy was designed to mimick a comics-only design that appeared years back. Later in the comics, he'd be rebuilt into a "Goldfire" version of that same body because the comic had to advertise the redeco/retool. As I type this, I realize no one else is going to care. BUT TOO LATE, YOU READ IT.
The toy is simple enough, and for that it's a fun buy. Back of the car becomes the legs, the sides become the arms and the hood becomes the shoulders. The torso untelescopes to reveal the head, and everything else piles up on his back. It works better as Bumblebee -- my Goldfire has trouble keeping the torso locked together in robot mode.
That's about it.
Cosmos is Swerve's casemate but I'm way less excited about him. Mostly because, well, we got a pretty similarly-sized Cosmos a few years ago. It's kind of like a partial upgrade. The rest of my malaise is that I'm in a pretty strong More Than Meets The Eye groove at the moment, toy-wise, and Cosmos is kind of the odd guy out. In the current comics, Cosmos is a pretty big guy! (as you'd expect a guy who transforms into a spaceship to be, probably) And this is a small toy, albeit marginally larger than the other one. I also think this design isn't quite what's in the comic, either, though it's hard to tell. Cosmos mostly likes to be in the back of big group shots.
That said, it's still.. an upgrade! I mean, it's clearly a better-looking robot and a slightly more interesting saucer mode. He's a bit larger and he comes with a little Micromaster guy. The Micromaster parter transforms from robot to shuttle to weapon and is clearly supposed to be Blast Master despite being named Payload instead. This guy's pretty cool. I like him.
Cosmos himself isn't bad or terrible, but he kind of feels like a rerun. I'm sure there are some Star Wars collectors out there rightfully mocking my tears as they buy their sixteenth Han Solo with better-painted belt buckles or whatever, but oh wells.
This new one's red, too, in addition to being (almost) perfect. Swerve's always been pretty cool! He's a Transformer who can't drive, despite being a car. He never really got any good fiction, like, ever, though, so all he's had to go for him all these years has been that Tech Spec write-up. Until recently, that is! The "More Than Meets The Eye" ongoing comic book series (which you may have heard me talk about for forever and ever) has thrust him into the spotlight as an insecure loudmouth jokester. And he's pretty great. And this Legends Class toy is really really good at looking like that Swerve does.
Sure, the toy transforms into an Earth vehicle instead of the Cybertronian car he does in the comic, but that's details. What's important is that he's a tiny ball of annoying energy and that perfectly sculpted little always-yackin' face of his. Even his toy can't keep his mouth shut.
He transforms pretty simply, as you'd expect. Unfold his legs, pull out his arms, and collapse his hood back over his roof. Remember to push forward his head from his shoulders so he's not staring at the sky. I mean, you can have him do that, if you want -- he's pretty short, and so up articulation on his head comes in handy sometimes. This articulation means his head can't turn left and right, though. That's no big deal.
Up there, I put (almost) in parenthesis in front of "perfect." The only thing that keeps him from being so, really, is that I really wish he were sculpted with fingerguns. You know, index fingers out, both of 'em. That woulda made him perfect. Dude needs some third-party forearms.
Swerve comes with a little Micromaster dude who's basically Sky High but named "Flanker" for trademark reasons. Sky High transforms from robot to weapon to jet and back. I know less about Sky High as a character (there's not much to know) so I'm less excited about him. Here's a gallery on Tumblr if you wanna look at him and more of Swerve.
I got mine from RobotKingdom.com. He's not in the United States yet. I'm sorry, but you have to wait.
If I had a time machine, I would probably use it to go back to like 1999 or so and tell myself that this toy would exist. Look, little dude, you don't have to pull all the parts off your Rhinox and sculpey yourself a more show-accurate one. Just... wait a while. You'll lose that thing anyway.
Also in a few years you're going to stop believing the Earth is 6000 years old, so why not cut that shit out earlier. You'll be free. Let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door!
The original Rhinox toy was designed to be kinda like a samurai guy. He's got his samurai skirt and he gets a sword and a mace weapon and his mutant face splits out and kinda looks like the sides of a samurai helmet. The cartoon model was all "hell naw" and removed a bunch of that and ignored his sword and just made him this huge unstoppable bruiser who's also super-smart and really good at being a leader and settling disputes and... okay, Rhinox was kind of on the edge of being annoyingly perfect. But he was humble and kind of a homebody, so that kept that from happening. Rhinox was never "i have to go now my home planet needs me," and other folks mostly ignored that he was clearly the most awesomely competent dude in that show.
The original Rhinox toy was also a mess. God dang. Everything hangs everywhere. He transformed from rhinoceros to a Christmas tree, I'm pretty sure. Just cascading panels everywhere. Thank goodness the newer, bigger Rhinox toy emulates the cleaner look of the television show. The back end of the rhinoceros does split into quite a few parts, but they all compact neatly around him and usually lock down. A hanging crotch skirt piece remains as the single remaining callback to his original samurai look. (You can fold it up under his jaw-chest if you want to erase that motif completely.)
In rhino mode, he's a very satisfying rhino, if immobile. His butt and tail and horns and ears are all made of soft plastic. There are no gimmicks in this mode. He will look pretty and that is basically it. Don't even open his jaw. It's not supposed to be opened. The jaw is for transformation and there's rows of very very not-rhinoceros-like sharp teeth in there for robot mode and the whole thing is hinged too far back in the jaw anyway to look good. Don't do it! Enjoy your static rhinoceros, dammit.
In robot mode, Rhinox has the articulation you expect, though I'm appreciative that his balljointed neck allows him to look up, which facilitates some nice chaingun of doom poses. Speaking of which, he comes with two of those, as is Proper. As with the original (single) weapon, pump the lever and the chain spins. As not with the original, it's an actual chaingun thing, and not a weird rotating mace sawblade thing. If you don't want your Rhinox to be encumbered with his weapons, you can shove the 5mm handles into the deep screwholes in the backs of his shoulders. We always wondered where Rhinox was reaching when he'd grab behind himself and pull these outta seemingly nowhere, and now we know.
Rhinox is packaged mistransformed so that his torso is elongated. Properly transformed, his crotch compacts deeper into his torso. He's depicted this incorrect way on the packaging as well. But done correctly, he's rightly stout.
Two things I don't like about him: 1) His legs are a little loose! Sometimes he's hard to stand. 2) I wish they'd kept his lips. This new toy's mouth is more of a simple sculpted line. Not only can't he be a samurai anymore, but he can't be a black dude, either (who is voiced by a white dude). Stop this cultural erasure, Hasbro!
you totally need to buy him, for reals
he's so great