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.
Hey, everyone! It's Highbrow! You may remember him as the stuffy one. True to his name, he's smart in a kind of condescending way, with just enough Thurston Howell III in him to give you that quick first impression but not so much that he's basically Tracks.
In the American cartoon, anyway. Highbrow didn't leave much impression on me in any of the comics. Naw, in the (original) comics, who I remember is the guy that eventually became his head, Gort. Gort left his mark by being one of two humans the Autobots (well, just Highbrow) made first contact with on Nebulos. When Highbrow showed up, Gort was making out with a girl and fell off a cliff and hit his head real hard. Later, he'd get up out of the Nebulan Hospital For Brainpounded Dudes to volunteer to be surgically cyborged to become Highbrow's head. He hit his head real hard.
Anyway. Highbrow is partially Scourge, who I talked about the other day. Highbrow's not, like, as much Scourge as Brainstorm is Blurr, but he does share some integral, mostly internal parts. Just like Scourge, you yank Highbrow's robo legs down by the spine-strut and you fold his legs in on themselves. The two toys share that spine strut, the thighs, the inner shoulder joints, and the fists, and Scourge's feet are reused for Highbrow's heels.
The top of the toy transforms slightly differently -- both Highbrow and Scourge's arms sort of straighten along the sides of the torso and peg in, but unlike Scourge, Highbrow's aren't covered up by giant hull shell pieces. Instead, they hang there in plain sight, since the helicopter wings are molded on there. The cockpit of the helicopter is behind the torso of the robot and folds back up for vehicle mode.
Highbrow comes with a pair of chainguns that can combine into a seat for Gort to ride, or you can stick Gort inside the helicopter cockpit.
I decided to get the American version of Highbrow instead of splurging on the Japanese version. The decoes are negligibly different, and the American head is based on the Rebirth/Marvel design rather than the toy/anime. I love me some Rebirth heads.
And, between you me, I'm excited to finally have a toy of Gort.
- Guy I already had a good Generations toy of.
- Hasbro deco was so bland that I basically shrugged off the idea of buying the toy entirely.
- Then TakaraTomy was all "hey look, colors" and I was then all "oh hey there"
- Extra head transformation step where you pull up the forehead thingy.
I guess #4 seems out of theme for that emotional journey of consumerism, but it's true, both Blurr and Scourge, out of the entire rest of the line so far, have that one forehead-yanky thing in common.
But seriously, Hasbro, what the what. Why is your Scourge robot entirely blue. Sure, his altmode kibble is a very light teal, but other than that stuff which in robot mode is shoved all in the back, you've got a solid blue robot from head to toe. Like, not even his thighs or fists or feet are a different color. And with that slightly waxy blue his plastic is molded in, he looks like someone carved him out of a bath bomb.
Anyway, TakaraTomy broke his deco up with some gray and he looks presentable. The blue of their toy is surprisingly attractive. It's this milky blue that I just want to touch or maybe eat. Other than adding some parts to his robot mode that are not blue, my favorite part about this deco on the toy is that the arms of the little head dude aren't the same blue as the rest of Scourge's face. This creates negative space behind Scourge's head, bringing out the actual shape of Scourge's head, which is not a block but a skinny trapezoid. It makes him look a tangible percentage more like Scourge.
Unlike the previous Generations version of Scourge, this new toy is not a real-ish Earth vehicle, but something much closer to Scourge's original 1986 altmode, which was... a flying space bar of soap? I dunno. Some kind of space boat. The transformation to robot mode isn't very involved, as half the job is just unfolding his hull into his robot mode wings. Surprise, there's a robot torso and arms under there! The legs manage some real transformation, requiring you to pull them both down from the torso on a slider, flip them open, reconfigure them, and then push the legs back up on the slider into place.
Of course, Scourge's head transforms into a little dude, and that dude can fit into the windowed canopy of the vehicle mode or into Scourge's double-barreled weapon.
An undocumented feature of this toy, one that is carried over from the previous Scourge toy, is that you can stick Scourge's head up on the back of his altmode so that he's a flying soap ship with a head on top. Believe it or not, this ridiculous configuration is part of the early model sheets, and it's goofy and so I heart it. Mind, the previous toy achieved this through a transformation step, while on this guy you just plug the head into the 5mm port that remains when you remove the vehicle's weapon.
I keep thinking, hey, I should get some of the Hasbro Scourges to be my TakaraTomy Scourge's Sweeps, but whenever I see the domestic toy at Target, I remember how much I dislike its deco. Like, why am I buying MORE of the one I thought was unattractive enough to skip entirely in the first place, just to troopbuild? Man. When I'm unwilling to get more toys, you know something's going wrong.
Overall, Scourge is a pretty conventional Deluxe-sized toy. Not as fun to play with or to transform as Blurr, but not terrible. I think my favorite attribute of his is his milky blue. It's just a great blue. I'll try not to lick it.
Hey, more Titans who are Returning! The Transformer Who Was Voiced By That MicroMachines Guy doesn't really strike me as any sort of "titan," really, but here he is anyway, being a Titan and being Returning.
As I mentioned back in my Titans Return Brainstorm blogpost, Blurr is that toy's original tooling. Subtract Brainstorm's wings and substitute in a different hood for the vehicle mode, and you've got Blurr. It works a little better as Blurr, partially because it was obviously designed as him first, and secondly because... well, it's an open-top canopy, and Blurr isn't a spaceship.
When we first saw this toy, I wasn't sure I was gonna get it. I have a Blurr toy from back in the 2010 Generations toy, which was a retool of Drift, but the colors were a nice set of contrasting blues. But Hasbro decided to make their Blurr a solid teal color? Don't get me wrong, I love teal, but I'd also like another color in there. Like, a color #2 would be great.
Anyway, TakaraTomy later showed off theirs, and it had multiple colors, and then I was sold. It also helps that Brainstorm is a pretty fun toy with an interesting transformation, and, y'know, Blurr is mostly that same toy. Good colors on a good toy is good!
I think my favorite thing about Blurr is his little antenna on top of his head. (You know, the head that becomes a tiny robot that can ride inside him.) You can yank that up so the antenna rests higher on the noggin. It's an extra transformation step for such a tiny dude/head, and I appreciate it.