Ratbat is an expert at shrewdly spending resources, and so I don't think he'd be pleased by how much I paid just to get him. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be in pretty big trouble. I'd probably be fired.
Masterpiece Ratbat comes with Masterpiece Soundblaster, who is Soundwave with his blues swapped out for black. As I've stated previously, the two kind of look the same if you squint. It's not a very daring redeco. I've bought Soundblasters to get exclusive Recordicons before, but the Soundblaster-to-Recordicon ratio has never been quite so staggering. I paid $20 to get Fall of Cybertron Buzzsaw. I paid about $70 to get Enemy and Wingthing. But Masterpiece Soundblaster and his one exclusive little guy is about $150 depending on where you get him from. I don't expect to see Ratbat released in any other manner -- would Toys"R"Us USA bother with a black Soundwave and a bat? -- and so a bullet was bitten. I have to have Ratbat. And, hey, I have pornlord money now, so pornlord money spent!
And, yeah, it's not like it's going to be lucrative to unload the unwanted 90% of this arrangement on eBay. Nobody's buying him for the black Soundwave, and if they were, they probably also want, you know, Ratbat. It was kind of funny to see some folks claiming they'd just buy Ratbat separately, loose, on eBay, from those who only wanted the Black Soundwave. Yeah. You try that. Meanwhile, I'll find Bigfoot.
Anyway, Ratbat himself is pretty great. WHICH HE'D DAMN WELL BETTER BE, CONSIDERING. Just like the two condors and Ravage, all his parts are integrated into his transformation. You don't pop those gold chrome weapons into him at the end -- those parts are built into him from the start. And, like the condors, it's pretty amazing that it works. He's just a tiny bit more complicated than them, but not so much that it's annoying. And he's way less fragile-feeling than Ravage.
The only thing that bugs me about him is his fake kibble. He's got little sculpted cassette spools in his chest right next to his actual cassette spools in his shoulders. I understand why this is a thing that has occurred, but it's still something Ratbat's engineering suffers that the others don't, to the best of my recollection.
And he's leader of the Decepticons. Have I ever mentioned that? I probably have. But I mentioned it again. Plus he kicked Fortress Maximus's ass. He's a tiny god. A tiny accountant god.
I wasn't super-interested in Masterpiece Sideswipe when he was first announced, and I was kind of disappointed when I fiddled with my friend's, so that lack of interest felt vindicated.
I gladly threw down dollars when it was announced that Masterpiece Sideswipe was coming out in his Generation 2 color scheme with a new snarly face and two new giant Derek Yaniger guns and two spikey wheels for his shoulders and a new sword. The only thing that's missing is his bandolier. I really want that bandolier. (Okay, fine there's also a third gun we saw on his back that's missing, but eh, mostly I'm about the bandolier.)
The toy is about what I remember when I tried to transform my friend's. Masterpiece Prowl was involved but pretty intuitive and easily do-able, but Sideswipe gets in his own way too much. Sideswipe feels more fragile when you move stuff around. He definitely seems more complicated than he has to be. I mean, the original toy's legs just pulled out and you flopped the feet down. I'm not entirely sure why this toy can't do that rather than having each shin blow up into shards which you reassemble to get basically the same look.
The toy comes bare, but there's a sticker sheet included if you want to push the look of the G2 toy. The comic book's Sideswipe left off the toy's green, so if you wanna strictly comic-accurate Sideswipe you should leave those off. But while I'm in love with that first G2 comic book issue, I'd rather my toy be prettier and acknowledge the original toy more, so I applied those stickers first-thing.
All the extra parts combine into a megaweapon which attaches to the roof of the car just like in the comic. Yeah, that can also include the wheels and the sword. It's pretty awesome.
I'm not likely to transform Sideswipe much since he's kinda a chore, so I'm glad he makes a pretty great action figure in robot mode. Visually, he's everything I've ever wanted from a Sideswipe, for seriouslies. Sideswipe is just kinda boring unless you G2 him up.
Here's your damn Whirl! I was gonna talk about him, like, a week ago, when I got my FIRST one, but he kind of got his leg snapped off at the knee, so I had to get another. Those knee joints? They are a large thigh and a large shin piece very very tightly connected via a thin knee strut and rough ratcheting joints. Whoof. Be careful. I was just trying to get mine into helicopter mode to put on his stickers and BAM the kind of damage you can't pop back on.
OTHER THAN THAT I guess I kind of like him? I mean, I'm super up for a Whirl toy now that he's been pretty glorious in the past few years of More Than Meets The Eye. He's that archetypal anti-social pathological hyperviolent jerk who's somehow an Autobot. Who doesn't love that guy? No one, that's who!
Unfortunately, he's not actually the design from the comic book, which is awesomely inventive. Instead, he's a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the original Whirl toy, but with digitigrade legs because that's how he is in the comics now I guess. Seriously, this toy's just straight-up the original thing with joints. I mean it. He comes with STICKERS, and they nearly all replicate the original stickers. That's how weird this thing is.
Again unfortunately, that means they're those clear GIJOE-style stickers which I am not terribly fond of, so they leave me feeling kind of cold. And since most of them are based on the original stickers, sometimes you get stuff like the triangular stickers which originally fit into the triangular space directly behind the cockpit on the first toy, but this new toy doesn't HAVE that triangular space, so you kind of just have to put them floating there awkwardly behind the cockpit somewhere. Whaaaaaat, why?
Whirl has a third mode, dubbed a "heloped," which is really your traditional gerwalk mode. You know, like with Veritechs or whatever, in which you half-transform it so it's really a jet with backwards legs and some arms. In this toy's case, it's not strictly a midtransformation, as there's a slider along the underside of the cockpit for the crotch and legs to slide back on and center themselves on the vehicle. It's not needed otherwise. I guess it's cool this exists? It's superfluous to my needs, though.
(Another thing the instructions probably get wrong -- I'm pretty sure that it has the leg configurations for the heloped and robot modes switched. The robot mode should get the digitigrade legs, since they actually look like actual functioning legs that would actually work to walk with, and the heloped mode should get the simply backwards-kneesed legs, since that matches other "gerwalk" modes and, say, ED-209.)
(Oh oh oh oh and you can collapse the shoulder struts into the torso, y'know, the long stalks that connect the arms to the body. They're on ball-joints, but you can push them in farther regardless and then yank them out for transformation.)
Whirl comes with four weapons, all of which I believe correspond to the weapons the original toy come with. They attach via 5mm pegs or those c-clipy deals which were a big thing in Transformers a few years ago. I don't really need them, and now that I have my first Whirl AND my replacement Whirl, I've got entirely too many of these things sitting around. Oh well.
Overall... Whirl's good? I mean, he's good enough. He's Whirl. I wish he didn't try to be the original toy so much. It's not exactly that I wish he were the current design in the comic so much that I wish this toy weren't trying to be specifically the old toy with joints. Even though he's a brand new toy, his look is kinda dated. Maybe that's what they were going for. Who knows.
Anyway, be careful with his knees. And thanks to Big Bad Toy Store for being super helpful about getting him replaced.
Hey, it's a new toy of Scoop, why the hell not? He's one of those guys I had a toy of from my childhood but who never became important beause he really got much fiction, so this feels like one of those times that Hasbro reaches into my specific nostalgia.
Mind, since these guys have to be presented in the comic books they come packaged with, Scoop's getting some characterization now. However, it's kind of hard to figure out what it is. Broadly, he seems to be a religious zealot, but specifically, he's kind of violently bipolar about how Starscream fits into those prophesies he totally buys into. Does he like Starscream? Does he hate him? Depends on what issue it is! Is he a jerk? Is he a hero? Is he just misguided? Does he believe what he's saying or is he putting on a front? I'm not sure the story knows?
Anyway, New Scoop is a little more deceptively complex than you'd think by looking at him. Visually, he looks like the original toy but with joints, but there's a lot more going on in that torso than is first apparent. The whole front of his chest is just a panel that folds down, and his shoulders are both on a rotating tumbler separate from the real meat of the body. It's all fine in robot mode, but in vehicle mode, nothing really holds together very well. The slots and tabs are pretty shallow, and there's always one of them kinda hanging loose, it seems. So if you want to buy this for a young kid to smash around, that's probably not gonna end well. It's gonna come apart pretty easily. It's not a sturdy brick like the original Scoop. (I bring this up because I've been asked about it a few times already, and so it seems like a common concern.)
His Targetmaster partners, Holepunch and
Tracer Caliburst, are not immune from problems either. Their gun modes' pegs are on rotating joints which are held between their legs by a shallow hinge rather than being pinned through, and it takes a lot less force to punch that chunk of plastic out than it is to push the peg through any kind of fist of peghole, so that's kind of frustrating. You have to be kind of calculating to get the peg into the hole without the toy disassembling.
Also I kind of wish the yellow paint on the shovel hadn't been budgeted out of the production version.
Those are some definite negatives, but he's not all bad! I am very happy with his colors. He's mostly orange, which if you know me is a big plus in my brain, and his yellow is this very attractive faded yellow that I hope we see more of. It's kind of a shortcake color. I want to eat it. The robot mode is great, as noted, and I love that we get new toys of Holepunch and Tracer and that they combine into their double weapon still. And he comes with a comic book! ...though if I recall correctly, he spends his time in it being a weird religious creep behind bars. I'm not sure if that's gonna make him some kid's favorite character.
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.