Scrounge was -- at least in my Marvel UK-less childhood -- one of the first Transformers non-toy characters, sharing an issue with a bunch of others. He didn't have a toy. He was just created to be in a story only to die. Blaster, the anti-hero badass, needed his little pal to get offed so as to give him some manpain. You know how it is.
Other non-toy guys from that issue have already gotten toys over the years -- Ferak, Straxus. Ferak was a jet. Straxus was a (flying) tank. But Scrounge never got a toy, and for good reason. He transformed into a wheel.
There aren't a lot of Transformers wheels.
I remember when that Star Wars Transformers toy of General Grievous came out. It transformed from Grievous into Greivous's little death wheel vehicle thing. Hey! They should add a Scrounge head to that and make a Scrounge, some said! We were desperate. There were no other wheels. Wheels are probably a hard sell to a kid in the toy aisle. There's jets, tanks, animals, cars.... and, what, a wheel? What kid's gonna choose the wheel???
(A similar problem exists these days with Rung. Dude transforms into a STICK.)
But 30 years later, we have a Scrounge. There was a new Cosmos toy -- you know, the UFO flying saucer guy -- and, hey, if you turn that on its side, that's kind of wheel-like, right? Right???? Look, it's goddamn close enough. Hasbro gave it a new Scrounge head, decoed him (and the toy's partner) in yellow, and wham-bam it's Scrounge. At least, as close to Scrounge as one could realistically expect. Some would say way closer. Dude's a wheel, man.
And I'm happy. It makes me happy. It's kind of healing, you know? The poor guy died heroically, and also died horrifically. Like, got his arm ripped off (his special arm, there is none other like it) and then chucked into a smelting pool, where he was melted alive. But! Not before he could chuck a cassette at Blaster, offering priceless proof that Optimus Prime and his warriors were indeed alive somewhere. Nobody liked the little guy, only to realize at his death who they had lost. Finally having a toy of him means he wasn't forgotten, that what he did mattered. And sometimes that realization is helpful here in the real world, too.
Scrounge's little shuttle partner is named Cybaxx, which is another nonsense sci-fi name like "Straxus" or "Xaaron" are. He's a new guy. Since his gun mode has two bulbous barrels, it makes me think of Scrounge's Special Arm, the one that had extendo audio and video fingers, the one that Straxus ripped off right before his death. And so Cybaxx, to me, is just Scrounge's arm. Maybe his arm was always a guy? I dunno.
Also new to Scrounge is that he is now a Technobot, and part of the combiner robot Computron. He should definitely stay attached to that combiner robot guy. You probably don't end up in the smelting pool that way.
He's why I bought this box set.
He's worth it.
For the second year in a row we got a fancy-colored Windblade as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive! Last year, we got a red and goldish Windblade in a "Combiner Hunters" giftset, and this year we get a new Windblade in a "Titan Force" giftset! ... and I do mean "new." There's a new Windblade toy that's based on the Robots in Disguise cartoon design, and this is the actual-factual first way to get it. The domestic retail one's yet to hit stores, and the Japanese version of the same thing is either arriving shortly before or after it. So this San Diego Windblade is a new toy!
Sort of, I guess?
I mean, it's still Windblade, and a Windblade design that's not too far removed from the first Windblade toy. This new RID Windblade transforms..... very similarly to the first one. Nosecone flips on the back, legs fold out from the thrusters, arms just kinda unpeg from the underside of the jet. Like, it's all the same stuff, but everything is kinda simplified. It's a toy that's the same size and the same general design, but with fewer details. There's fewer parts, and it's streamlined a little.
New Windblade even comes with a sword and sheath that are nigh-identical to the original. One might be forgiven for assuming they're exactly the same tooling, but they're not. The 5mm peg is moved to a new location and the whole sheath thing is skinnier now. Like, it's as if they took the same 3d model and squished it a bit and moved a peg.
The fan still removes from the back of her head, and the turbines on her wings still rotate. As such, she retains most of the original toy's functionality, it's just, again, everything's a lot simpler. And she stands better, too, with new feet that aren't so fiddly.
She's decoed in Fortress Maximus colors -- gray, blue, and red -- since she's a Cityspeaker and Fortress Maximus is a city with which to speak. (And the other SDCC exclusive.)
People have been feeling kinda sore over the last new (non-live-action) Galvatron toy we got, way back in 2008, because that toy was garbage. It was! It's one of the few toys I skipped from that line because it just looked terrible all-around. It was way too short and it looked awkward and it just wasn't very good. I did end up getting a later redeco of that toy as part of a box set that came with a comic book I wanted. My feelings did not change.
Since then, folks have been clamouring for a Non Sucky Galvatron, one that was a little more substantial. And eight years later, lo, there was another Galvatron, a size class higher, who transformed into his classic cannon mode instead of a realistic Earth tank, and also there was a third jet mode, sure, why not. WILL THIS BE THE GALVATRON WE WERE WAITING FOR???
I waited for the TakaraTomy version of the toy, which had some additional paint apps I wanted, though the plastic colors itself are a little too lilac for me. The American one's a very dark and vibrant, classic purple. But, eh, I have plenty of toys in that purple, and at least the lilac's kind of a change of pace.
In-hand, the toy hits just about everything you'd want in a Galvatron toy. It's sizeable, it transforms fine from robot to cannon to jet mode (jet mode's more interesting than cannon, I feel), and it has a good presence. What's wrong? Well, first of all, the arm cannon kind of gets in the way of itself. It's so large and bulbous that Galvatron's right arm can't do much at all. Getting it into positions is either a chore or impossible. The cannon is easily removable -- it's required for transformation -- but a Galvatron without a cannon is probably on nobody's want list.
But the big deal is his goddamn head. The Leader Class toys, Blaster and Powermaster Optimus Prime, have big-ol' helmets that deploy from the back and fold over the Little Head Dude, almost completely covering it. And these helmets are included on the neck rotation hinge, and everything's fine. Galvatron's little head dude (who is Megatron) plugs into the neck fine enough, but like the Leader Class toys, the part of the head that makes him look like Galvatron is stored elsewhere. You open the chest, and the front of Galvatron's three-pointed crown helmet spring-load flips out and sort of almost does its job completing the look. The face itself is buried a few millimeters deep behind the flip-out helmet part, and it looks kind of awful from any angle but head-on.
The real kicker is that the head can no longer move. Oh, you can get a few degrees of movement left or right, just a fraction of a millimeter or so, but this is an inperceptible difference. Though the inside of the torso looks like it might accommodate some rotation, it's the connection of the helmet to this rotational stuff that gets in its own way. Effectively, Galvatron cannot turn his head.
And so, between that and the very awkward way in which his cannon negatively impacts his arm articulation, there is not much you can do with his robot mode that does not make him look dippy. It's such an incredibly frustrating problem, that quite a few folks have modded their toys, removing the Galvatron head piece entirely from the flip-up part and gluing it permanently onto the little head dude. Without the flip-up part contraption, the head can move fine. But this takes a lot of skilled kitbashing work, and you end up with a little Megatron headmaster dude that no longer fits into the cockpit of his own toy because of the added Galvatron helmet part.
So if you're cool with a Galvatron toy that only looks good from directly head-on, then this is your guy. I mean, his other two modes are pretty good, the jet in particular, but goddamn.
Finally, I got my hands on a Titans Return Deluxe Class toy. Weirdly enough, it's a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive (no, I didn't go personally this year), and it's a drastically retooled version of a wave 1 toy that's been out in stores but I haven't gone looking for. So I kind of feel like I skipped ahead instead of starting from the beginning.
Titans Return Brainstorm is the second Brainstorm toy in just about as many years, with Thrilling 30 Brainstorm coming out shortly before Combiner Wars got its start. That Brainstorm was a Voyager Class (translation: bigger) and it was directly based on Brainstorm's More Than Meets The Eye comic book series design. This new, much smaller Brainstorm is.... sort of based on MTMTE. It's a heavy retool of Titans Return Blurr, and so it primarily looks like Blurr with wings glued on. That's an oversimplification of the changes done, but it gets across the idea that this toy was not created with Brainstorm first in mind, not like the previous toy.
However, most importantly, he does have MTMTE Brainstorm's face. There are a number of other styles of Brainstorm face Hasbro could have gone with, such as his cartoon/Marvel design, or the weird faceplateless version from Japan's Headmasters (which is a face we can assume Japan will get on their version eventually), or another interpretation of the original toy's face. But naw, we get a second MTMTE face, which is fine by me. I likely wouldn't have much use for this new toy otherwise.
So why bother with him at all, if the previous Brainstorm toy was closer to his MTMTE look? Well, a few reasons. First is me reminding you that I am obsessive. Second is his size. The previous, Voyager Class Brainstorm was kinda a honkin' huge toy, and Brainstorm's not quiiiiiite that tall a guy. And so this toy feels better scaled to everyone else. Third, the SDCC version of this toy has a specifically-MTMTE-y deco, with the more cyanish teal and the teal on the legs instead of bare gray. And probably most importantly is he comes in a three-toy box set with a new Fort Max-themed Windblade that I definitely wasn't gonna not have. (The third toy is a translucent orange Sentinel Prime, which, again, yeah. You know me.)
But all that said, this Brainstorm toy is a better toy than the larger, earlier one. The previous Brainstorm was pretty damned simple. You fold his legs under himself and he's done. ...Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Simple toys can be more fun to play with than complex toys, but this new Brainstorm his a better sweet spot between simple and complicated. The new Brainstorm transforms a little upside-down compared to the old one, where instead of the feet folding underneath the front, you flip Brainstorm around so his feet fold up into the rear of the spaceship mode. The arms unravel from the sides and you flip them front-to-back as well. The giant nose of the spaceship, which just folded behind the back of the previous Brainstorm toy.... still folds behind his back, but you can also remove it and use it as an arm-mounted weapon or as a vehicle for his little head dude.
(his little head dude is called Teslor, by the way -- back in 1987, his head's name was Arcana, but i guess that trademark isn't available anymore, so it's TESLOR, which is............... definitely a real historical guy's name with -or on the end of it, ain't it)
Versus either of the "official" ways to store his giant spaceship nose, I have decided to do it my own way. I hang it upside-down on his back so that Brainstorm keeps the over-the-shoulder cannons that he has both in MTMTE and his previous toy. (As seen in this post's first image.) They're an important part of his silhouette to me, so first thing out of the package I tried to find a way to recreate them. They definitely don't plug in securely, requiring gravity to do most of the work, but if you angle the support structure just behind his head just so, you can kind of hook his nosefins across the large tabs back there and have it stay in place well enough.
If you don't want to have to buy a SDCC-exclusive Brainstorm, well, sort of good news! There's a single-carded version of him coming as an exclusive to Walgreens very shortly. The Walgreens Brainstorm tries to be more like the original toy, with a mintier green, warmer grays, a yellow cockpit window, and minus the teal on his boots. Also his helmet might be a darker gray, we dunno for sure yet.
If you have a Walgreens nearby, I recommend trying to pick him up. I thiiiiiiiiiink he starts showing up in August?
Backing up, Brainstorm is a retool of Blurr, right? Well, that means he has the same partially-open canopy that Blurr does. Which means Brainstorm is a spaceship without a fully-enclosed canopy. Better hope whoever's driving can breathe in space!
Rewind here is in the same size class as Wheelie, who I mentioned was not a Triple Changer unlike some of his wavemates. Well, Rewind is some of Wheelie's wavemates! He goes from box to box-with-turret to boxy robot. Pretty simple. But, like, none of these modes fall apart at the touch, so he's already better than Wheelie in that respect.
It's funny, a year or so ago when we got a Rewind from Fun Publications and their Figure Subscription Service, I was so happy, since it was OBVIOUSLY the only time we'd see such a MTMTE-centric head on a Rewind toy, head-camera and all. WELL HEY GUESS WHO'S WRONG. And... happy to be wrong, sort of? I mean, I don't like making expensive exclusives redundant with better representations of characters that sell for $10 at retail, but I also sort of really do. I am torn.
Regardless, as this toy is not a hulked out space tank robot (while still transforming into a space tank), it's a better MTMTE Rewind toy than the one I previously had. And still have. Look, it's cool, there's two MTMTE Rewinds, technically, so now I have one of each! The alive one and the also-probably-eventually-to-be-revealed-as-still-alive one!
Rewind transforms from a suitably boxy robot to a cellphone or similar electronic device. He's a rectangle with a screen with a battery power, signal strength, and wi-fi icons in the upper menu, so he's definitely phone-ish, but he also has a stylus, which is very Dumbing of Age ca. 2010, but whatevs. The stylus is a great idea, btw. It stores in the side of the phone, becomes Rewind's handheld (or arm-mounted) weapon, and then in tank mode it clips into the turret as the tank's barrel.
In phone mode, he can be inserted like a cartridge into Leader Class Blaster (or Soundwave when he later comes out).
Unlike Wheelie, Rewind doesn't have as interesting an integration with the tiny head robot dudes. He has no cockpit, just some pegs on the roof of his tank's turret that you can stand some tiny head robot dudes on. Because, you know, that's the best place to be on a tank. Standing on the top of it.
TakaraTomy's gonna do this guy themselves later, but they're gonna try to paint his very MTMTE-y face into what his face looked like in the original cartoon, where he had separate eyes and a nose. Why, TT, why. You're monsters! Who even cares about cartoon Rewind? Nobody, that's who!