Two of the three Autobot Small Headmasters differed between North America and Japan -- Hosehead was no different from Cab, Nightbeat was drastically different from Minerva, and Siren was... sort of different from Goshooter. While Siren's toy was a gray and blue fire chief car, Goshooter was a white and blue police car. Thing is, when Siren appeared in the Marvel Comics back in the 80s, his grays were rendered as white, so in my brain there is very little difference between the two. Marvel Comics Siren is what inhabits me, and so when I see Goshooter, I think "oh, hey, Siren."
So I was all over this new Japan-exclusive version of Goshooter made from Generations Nightbeat. (Another wrinkle in all this is that the Marvel comics swapped head designs for Nightbeat and Siren, meaning Nightbeat's head is pretty damn appropriate for a Goshooter toy.) Goshooter was the winner of a magazine poll that offered ten redeco concepts -- other possibilities included Alpha Trion from Scourge, the Omnibots from various Universe/Generations toys, Beast Wars Silverbolt from Beast Hunters Grimwing, and crazily enough The Fallen from Fall of Cybertron Onslaught. All of these concepts showed up in the magazine's manga, including The Fallen, who combined with and controlled the Fall of Cybertron Wreckers. Of all of these, I was hoping for Goshooter the most, so I could use him as Siren, and the universe ultimately smiled upon me. I mean, I wouldn't have turned down another The Fallen, but I have plenty of The Fallens and only the original Siren, who is an immobile giant thing.
Goshooter comes with Shuta Go, a redeco of Blazemaster meant to represent Goshooter's human pilot. I figure he can hang out with Daniel and Stylor.
Goshooter is extravagently decoed, though it has some trouble dealing with the unpaintable nylon plastic that makes up part of the car shell, resulting in some incongruous blue patches. Also, my particular Goshooter is pretty floppy in the ankles, and so at times he has trouble standing. Otherwise, he completes my desire for new toys of the Small Headmasters, along with my Nightbeat (with new chest I got from Shapeways) and Hosehead (who's really a Hot Spot with an altered head). All three are on the Lost Light in More Than Meets The Eye, so that's more crewmembers for that display, too.
Hooray! Goshooter and/or Siren!
Finally the second wave of BTAS and TNBA-inspired 6-inch figures from DC Collectibles is out, delayed a month or two to address concerns about quality control. Apparently DC Collectibles discovered a few years later than everyone else that translucent plastic isn't the best choice for joints. Poison Ivy is being held back even more, since she has more stuff to be fixed.
But here's Man-Bat! He came in a huge box, rather than being carded, with his gigantic outspread wingspan in full display. Despite this, he costs the same as the other guys, 25 bucks. It'll all even out when you pay that much for TNBA Robin.
Sure enough, nothing on him seems fragile! He feels much less breaky. However, dang are his shoulder joints loose! Man-Bat comes with two sets of arm/wings -- unfurled and furled -- and when I first looked at him in the box I worried I might break him just trying to yank his shoulders out to swap parts. THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE PROBLEM, IT SEEMS. His shoulders just fall out whenever. So he's kind of annoying to play with and pose. I'll have to look into this Clear Nail Polish solution I've heard about over the years. Y'know, tighten up those joints with some clearcoat.
Other than that, I am strongly enamored with him. But then, it's hard to hate a toy that LOOKS like this, even if it falls apart when you touch him. Also, he comes with a cassette tape and three prescription pill bottles, the latter of which I'm sure will get some hilarious use in conjunxion with other toys. (It has to be with other toys, since Man-Bat himself is not sculpted to hold any of them.) I am also darkly amused at my sweet new cassette tape accessory. I like to jokingly mock it for being a toy of a cassette tape while sitting in full view of all my Ravages and Buzzsaws.
I've had enough of these Combiner Wars guys to make a full combiner since Christmas, but I didn't have the right components to make an official team until Thursday. And so I figured I'd wait to talk about the combined forms until then, when I could show off a completed group. The first two waves of Combiner Wars staggered the teams, with one or two missing members of the two completable teams held off until the second wave. (Optimus Prime being a third wheel.)
Here are the Stunticons! There are four of the original members here, with two new members of the team. Wildrider has been replaced by Offroad, partially for "we lost the trademark" reasons and partially for "wouldn't it be nice if one of these guys weren't a sports car" reasons. You gotta vary up your allotted retail space. Offroad himself is sculpted to be a new Ruckus, a Triggercon from the late Eighties, but it was determined for one reason or another that his toy would instead become a new guy in colors that would look like Wildrider when in combined mode. (I think "Ruckus" itself is another lost trademark, but I'm not sure.)
The other new member of the team is Blackjack, who was originally a Micromaster from the Sports Car Patrol, but is now the guy who forms Menasor's chest. The original Menasor had a little black car-like drone on his chest that came with Motormaster, the semi truck torso guy, and Blackjack is the new approximation of that. The new Blackjack toy itself, like Offroad, was sculpted to be a different guy, Runabout, the Battlecharger. But they didn't have the trademark to that guy the last time a Runabout toy was made (he was a Transformers Collectors' Club exclusive renamed Over-Run), so that toy became another small black car, Blackjack. S'just as well, since I'm not ready to replace my Over-Run yet, and am happy to have a new Blackjack.
Wildrider won't be completely forgotten, as he's getting a limited release through online retailers(?) as a Dead End head-retool named Brake-Neck.
Like the Aerialbot limbs, the Stunticons share some engineering ideas. Offroad transforms the way most Combiner Wars limbs do so far, with the head placed at the far end of the combiner connector piece, the front of the vehicle folding over onto the back of the robot, the arms splitting off from the sides of the vehicle, and the legs pulling out from the rear. Dead End and Breakdown differ similarly from this formula in that their heads are not attached to the connector piece at all, but are hidden under the hood of the car during vehicle mode, attached to the front of the torso which wraps over the tops of the shoulders and over the connector piece in robot mode. Drag Strip's head is done similarly, but without the chest wrapping part.
Breakdown is super obviously going to be Sunstreaker eventually. He looks like Breakdown, sure enough, and there aren't really any compromises on Sunstreaker's behalf, but Breakdown's foot/hand/gun is Sunstreaker's car engine thruster dealio, and it can peg onto Breakdown's back appropriately, as well as slot into Breakdown's car mode in a way that better approximates Sunstreaker's vehicle mode than the usual orientation. Breakdown will likely get some new parts, like a head and chest, and some new colors and be a pretty good Sunstreaker.
The highlight of these guys, however, is the combination engineering, The connection points are a dream. There's no shoving or excessive force, and yet it's incredibly sturdy and poseable. I'm in awe of its simplicity. You really can play with the larger combined robot as if it were a single entity, without fear of anything falling off. (With the exception of Blackjack for some people, as mentioned above.)
This is probably pretty good, since this is a line titled Combiner Wars, so the combining should probably work.
I was pretty damn satisfied with my 2006 Classics Megatron. He was gray and black and green and orange and purple and he transformed into a motherfuckin' Nerf gun. The green and orange and purple was really only there to help him pass toy gun regulations, but it really made me love him. Plus, you know, Nerf gun. Bonus.
And so when we were first introduced to the new, bigger Leader Class Megatron, I was initially a little meh. The new toy was in classic colors, meaning the purple and orange and green were gone, and he was back to being silver and black and red. Silver and black and red are fine colors, it's just, y'know, not as interesting to me. Plus the toy fell into the body proportion aesthetic a lot of the new Transformers team's stuff seemed to find itself in -- wide body with thin legs. It's a good set of proportions for Animated Batman, but I prefer my bots to be more stompy.
But, well, Stuff is happening in the comics. Megatron's an Autobot now. He's joined the cast of my favorite Transformers fiction, and it's phenomenal. And this new Leader Class Megatron toy would include a change of Autobot faction stickers to represent that development. Suddenly the toy became Lost Light Megatron, and I had to have it. Sure, the rest of him's not specifically designed after the body he has in the comics now -- it's more of a generic "G1 Megatron as a silver tank" thing -- but it's close enough and that's its official intent and that's how my brain works. Plus he's a big enough toy to actually fit in with my Lost Light display. Slapping an Autobot symbol on my Classics Megatron would result in a guy who stands eye-to-eye with my Rodimus and Brainstorm, and that just won't do.
Original misgivings aside, he's a great toy in person. His skinny legs aren't bothersome when he's actually in front of you in 3D, and they ratchet to and fro with satisfying clicks. Plus his legs are shaped that way to accommodate his real working rubber treads. He's got a set of real working rubber treads on his back and a set in his legs. They don't combine into one single pair of working treads in tank mode, but that's fine.
That the toy is mostly covered in silver paint also helps. He's this giant shiny attractive thing, and there aren't huge spots of unpaintable nylon plastic breaking up his silver like some metallic-painted Transformers have. Sure, there are a handful of unpainted silver spots, but they're not conspicuous or incongruous. Despite not having purple or green, he's an attractive chunk of plastic. He does have some orange detail, though. I'm sure it helps.
In tank mode he's got a rotating turret... if you leave him half-transformed. The proper instructions have you close his pelvis onto the back of the turret, locking it in place, but if you don't connect that piece, he's engineered so that the whole turret rotates. He's got springloaded missile launcher in his barrel/arm cannon, and also both of his secondary tank weapons combine into a longer rifile for him to carry in robot mode. When you lift up his chestplate during transformation, there's a sculpted spark casing under there, with details borrowed from its appearance in Beast Wars.
This toy is also available in Armada Megatron flavor, if you so choose. That version has a new head (with the antlers) and is mostly green, gray, purple, and florescent orange instead of mostly silver and black. But that dude isn't in my comics and I like my original one better, with the real working wrist-shiv deployment, so screw it.
The only huge disappointment with this guy is the sticker sheet. Sure, I like the Autobot logos, and they work well enough on him, but Hasbro also put his original toy's chest deco on there. You know, the little swirly loops that look like chest hair. The problem is, they printed them on a white background, like his symbols, instead of a clear background, so they look pretty terrible on his chest. Reprolabels better solve this one for us. I need those chest swirlies. I'll keep the real swirlie stickers on him until then, because my love for the chest swirlies slightly edges out how terrible I think these stickers look.
Lookit me, I got another Arcee. The one on the right is Japan's deco. She's the new one.
There are things I like about the plain ol' domestic version on the left. I like the use of black, for example. I think it adds a nice contrast color to her that gives her some visual interest beyond the kind of value-samey white, pink, and gray. I like that the larger rifle is painted, which if you think about it is a bizarre choice, since why would Hasbro waste paint applications on the rifle? 99% of the time they leave weapons unpainted, since using up your paint budget on the actual figure seems preferable, but both of Hasbro Arcee's weapons have paint. The smaller gun has just the sliver of gray, while everything that isn't a handle or a peg is painted on the larger gun. And it's both black and gray paint, too. (Okay, the larger rifle is pink if you don't paint it, and maybe Hasbro didn't want a pink gun, I dunno.) Also the Hasbro one's like $15 domestic instead of $30 imported, so, you know, half as expensive.
But those positives aside, and even though I thought that I'd always prefer the Hasbro deco, I changed my mind a bit once we got to see the TakaraTomy deco. Since Finally Arcee's First Toy The Way Most People Would Define As Such is kind of a big 30th Anniversary event, I thought it might be worth it to splurge for the "deco the way the designers intended," aka slavishly adherent to the original cartoon colors. And while import Arcee's larger rifle remains unpainted, there's a lot of stuff I like about the robot's deco that's a fair trade to me. For example, the paint wraps all the way around her torso instead of ending abruptly at the seams. And Hasbro's version looks like it was trying to avoid the whole "pink bikini" look by not painting the crotch of the pink bikini, but honestly it just looks like a crotchless pink bikini without that deco there, so, um, whoops. The gray lower midsection is more cartoon accurate AND its relative darkerness obscures the uncanny-valley organic round tummy-with-a-bellybutton the sculpt has. So that's nice.
Anyway, I felt okay splurging because this toy was surprisingly fun to own. When I preordered her and Chromia, I expected Arcee to be kinda whatevs and Chromia to be the fuckin' bomb, but in person Chromia's remolding makes her a chore to deal with and Arcee's fun. Shellformery fun, but fun nonetheless. And so I'm happy to get the more expensive version. Her toy's a milestone, after all.
Plus now I can steal the painted larger rifle from the Hasbro one to give to the other! Best of both worlds! (And eventually scrape out the support struts from inside the new one's palms so she can hold her weapons non-ridiculously, to match what I did with the Hasbro one.)