In a world where Arcee is basically the only girl Transformer who ever gets toys on the regular, while the powers that be are reluctant to redeco toys that aren't originally female into more females, female Transformers sure always look exactly like Arcee, huh? Heck, just in the past month or so, Fun Publications has given us three female Transformer toys all based on three different versions of Transformers Prime Arcee. Whoof!
It's BotCon's 20th year, and so BotCon gave us a bunch of toys that reimagined some of the toys of years past (like Shokaract). Flareup and Flamewar were from Fun Publications' first BotCon in 2005, and both were toys based on Energon Arcee. (Though Flareup got a new head.) So here they are again, now as redecoes of two different versions of Transformers Prime Arcee.
Of the two, Flareup is my favorite, I think. But then, she's exactly the colors of my luau shirt I wear to conventions (orange, black, orange, and yellow), so I may be a little biased. She's a straight redeco of Transformers Prime "Robots in Disguise" Arcee, the second version of Prime Arcee that followed the brief "First Edition" toyline. I prefer this version of Prime Arcee the most, I think. It's a little simpler than the First Edition and easier to transform, and so it's a little less unwieldy. And so I'm happy to get it in orange.
Flamewar is a straight redeco of "Robots in Disguise" Arcee's heavily-retooled Beast Hunters iteration, with lots of wings and sharp edges. I don't have the retail version of this Arcee, partially in the hopes that we'd get a redeco of her as a different character later for BotCon, and my hedging has obviously paid off. The Beast Hunters version of the mold also has a giant crossbow weapon which feels about as large as the rest of the toy. It's kind of ungainly. It's the reason I prefer the earlier version of the mold. I mean, I like the wings and talons and what have you, but that huge-ass weapon is often annoying to deal with.
If you've been following BotCon news, you've probably heard about these two in the convention comic book. Yeah, they, uh, get pretty objectified in there. It's kind of distracting. The comic pushes forward with the plot, as per normal, with pretty excellent art, because everyone else is all dudes, and then suddenly BAM, boobs and contorted torsos and panty-shots. Oof. Well, um.
A G1-redeco of Energon Scorponok was not something I thought I wanted until this thing was presented to me. The original Energon use of the mold was G1y enough for me already. It had enough green for me to think of it as passably G1 Scorponok and I didn't figure the-same-thing-but-with-purple would be interestingly different enough for me to care.
I guess I didn't count on the unforeseen insanity of giving the guy a new transforming Headmaster head in addition to the tweaked colors. Honestly, that kind of stuff doesn't happen at this level. We get a new head occasionally, sure, but the weird extra mile taken here took me aback. Here's how it works: Encore Fortress Maximus came out recently, a reissue of the original Fortress Maximus. That means tooling for the little Headmaster guy, Spike Witwicky, is viable. So what Fun Publications did was retool Spike Witwicky a new Scorponok face to go on his back, then retool a new neck connector piece for the combined robot mode. That piece just flips down into the chest cavity where the original head used to go in the other two modes. So in the end you've got two separate toys being combined unnaturally into this new entity, using a multiple of new pieces.
Energon Scorponok is one of my favorite Transformers toys ever, and so even though I kind of shrug at the idea of doing a G1-style version, I'm happy to have another in general. There's something delightfully monstrous about him. Some folks don't like his proportions or the way his torso looks, but for me that's part of the appeal. He's dwarfed by his own massive claws. He looks like he could grab planets out of the air. The whole damn thing projects this feeling of menace. And, so, sure, I'll take another one of those with a new transforming head, why not.
The retooling does solve a few minor problems with the toy, as well. It ditches the original head's visor, which in latter releases was getting loose and having trouble staying on. That's entirely gone, so problem dissolved. Also the new neck connector piece makes the head sit up higher on the torso, so that looks a little better to me for the character, bridging the monstrous Energon Scorponok's feel with the slightly more housebroken G1 Scorponok.
The toy is, however, assembled wrong. The green and orange panels on either side of the purple torso (along with the panels' purple backings) are swapped left-to-right. This doesn't impede transformation, but it does keep his shoulders from sitting properly in robot mode by a fraction of an inch. Just unscrew the two screws behind the panels on either side, remove the arms, swap the panels-and-backings, re-attach the arms, and rescrew. Huzzah.
Scorponok still transforms into three modes -- robot, scorpion, and jet. The new Headmaster can kind of stand in the small gap remaining inside the cockpit, in between the new neck piece and the wall of the torso, but it looks a little awkward. The scorpion mode, as always, is great. It's really just a pile of construction equipment - shovels and hooks and treads - assembled into the shape of a scorpion. That's always really done it for me. The jet mode is still that surprisingly awesome thing as well. You wouldn't think you'd get a great jet out of a scorpion made of construction parts, but you do. The electronics are gutted, however, as BotCon electronics tend to be.
The box set sold out, so the only place to get this guy now is on the secondary market. Good luck with that.
Way back in 2000, my third BotCon, we got two exclusive toys. The first was Apelinq, Wrecker Commander, and the second was Shokaract, cruel lord of all time and space. Once a lowly near-nameless Predacon grunt, the Hunter found the Dark Essence of Unicron buried on Earth and was awarded the Matrix of Conquest. Now he was Shokaract, rule of Cybertron's future, powerful beyond measure, speaker of hilariously over-the-top Simon Furman villain dialog. But since time travel exists, he guarded the Dark Essence zealously. Of course, his own paranoia led to his downfall, and Shokaract's reign was erased from existence.
There's no way there'd ever be a toy of the Hunter! That'd be just crazy!
Well, sometimes crazy works, and here we are fourteen years later with a danged Hunter toy. Very recently we got a new toy of Beast Wars Rampage as this year's club membership exclusive toy, which mounted a very very very tiny new head on the body of Deluxe Transformers Prime Megatron. A great idea with a kind of hilarious noggin. Don't get me wrong, the thing is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. But that tiny, tiny head. (It has to be, to fit in vehicle mode.) Since Shokaract was originally a redeco of Rampage, folks clamored for a Shokaract redeco of him. I did not. I didn't think it'd be what I wanted. Shokaract should be huge, not a deluxe. Why would I want a tiny Shokaract? It's not like they'd designate him his pre-Shokaract Hunter form. And once we learned Club Rampage had a tiny head, that was another nail in the coffin as far as I was concerned. Did not want!
Well, old me was dumb. I love this thing. It's probably my favorite toy of the whole set. Somehow, amazingly, in these different, darker colors, Shokaract's head doesn't look so puny. I'm not sure how. Maybe it's just the color scheme creating an optical illusion. But it's surpisingly okay. And the toy itself is astoundingly pretty. Shokaract was always pretty, so it shouldn't be that surprising, but still here we are. And, yes, the goddamned thing is officially the Hunter, pre-finding-the-Dark-Essence. It's like a toy just for me!
Plus it comes at a pretty opportune time, since the original Shokaract is covered in blue chrome that does not survive well decades past his production. The chrome on mine was falling off like autumn leaves just by picking him up and moving around -- and that's without all the dusting I had to do to make him presentable. I was dabbing lightly with a cloth to keep from scraping his surface off too much. Oof. Some day I will just have to bite the bullet and send the thing to Cheetimus to scrape and repaint the blue. It won't be chrome, but it'll be something I can friggin' transform again. It sucks when you can't handle one of your favorite toys which is super expensive to replace.
Anyway, the new one doesn't have chrome and so it's something that can actually be played with. It's very, very welcome. As of this writing, he's still available (with his fellow pirate Brimstone) on the Collectors' Club website and on Big Bad Toy Store.
Slash is a Transformers velociraptor with feathers. *points to review title*
Yeah, some folks don't like this thing. It has some faults. But it's a friggin' feathered dinosaur. *points to review title again*
I mean, he's not, like, a great feathered velociraptor, by which I mean it's not terribly accurate to what we currently think dinosaurs like that looked like (for example, the totally made-up forelimbs), but it's a damn sight more accurate than those fancied-up lizards from Jurassic Park! I'm lookin' at you, Beast Wars Dinobot.
Part of folk's problem with him is his limited articulation. Mind, he techgnically has full articulation, it's just shallow. He has elbow joints that don't really do anything because of the bulk of his arms, and he has fully-functional legs if the thighs weren't so short or constantly getting in their own way. He has a lot of stuff going on and it all wants to be going on in the same confined space.
But other than that? This dude is beautiful. The dark teal and lime green are together one of my favorite color schemes to come out of Age of Extinction's toyline so far. Part of my brain keeps suggesting that maybe he'd make a great Beast Wars Dinobot redeco, and then the rest of my brain reminds me that, dude, that'd be going from this glorious color scheme to friggin' brown. BROWN. That is a serious step down.
And, again, feathered dinosaur.
Can't understate that.
Tankor's wavemate is Rattrap, who's a Deluxe Classed version of his original 1995 Basic Class toy. Back in 1995, all of the Basic Beast Wars figures had autotransformations -- in Rattrap's case, you move his rat mode tail and he springloads roughly into robot mode. Most of these worked by cramming robot limbs up inside the altmode, resulting in a standard "robot guy with huge altmode backpack and a chest made from the head or ass or something" look across the size class. Rattrap made it onto the Beast Wars television show, so it was established that Rattrap is that guy with a rat head on his chest and everything else from his rat mode piled up on his back.
Well, now it's 2014 (ninteen years later!), and it's time to make a larger, non-autotransforming version of that same design. He definitely still has most of his rat mode on his robot mode back -- if he didn't, he wouldn't look like Rattrap -- but there is an attempt to integrate more rat parts in with his robot mode. Well, okay, only his hind legs. Those unfold and pack into the back of his robot mode legs. His rat hindfeet become his heels. The rat backpack does collapse in on itself better than the original's does, which is nice. (The show Rattrap's backpack SHRANK, which isn't exactly an option here.)
Since new Rattrap doesn't auto-transform, that means all the business of shoving his robot mode limbs into his animal shell is now your job! And, yikes, is it a job. It is a quagmire down there, with everything competing for the same spot at certain points. There's about three separate joints in each knee that need to be bent and compiled in a way Just So in order for everything to fit together as it's supposed to, and until you figure out this correct way, transforming him may take you quite a while.
That said, his rat mode is wonderful. It's got a prehensile tail (it's soft plastic with a wire running through it) and he's got somewhat poseable legs and feet. He's also got an openable jaw. But what really blows my mind is that he's also designed to stand upright if you want. There's a patch of fur-textured gray plastic you can rotate up behind his rat head so that when you bend the rat head forward while upright, there's no unsightly gap in the back of his neck. Of course, there's always going to be those robot arms in place of his rat stomach, but making the rat mode able to get on its hind legs goes a real long way towards making the toy feel like Rattrap the character. I think this is my preferred mode.
The robot mode is great, but there are some small limitations. His elbows can't bend a full 90 degrees, for starters. This limits the amount of things you can do with his arms. It'd be nice if his wrists rotated, too, and they look like they do, but it's possible this was something budgeted out at some stage. His rat ears are also pretty large and tall (as they should be for rat mode) but they get in the way of most of his peripheral vision. Photos of him need to be head on or from slightly above or you aren't going to see his head.
On the plus column side, he's got some interesting weaponry in this mode. He has a rifle that can split up into two separate guns. Open up his left forearm and you can pull out one of his sticky bombs which he used on the show.
In summary, this is a Rattrap toy with two great modes, some minor flaws, and an annoying transformation. The latter deal should be somewhat mitigated once the proper leg transformation order is discovered, but not entirely. It's a toy full of character and stuff to do.
(Like Tankor, his comic book pack-in is published with terribly out-of-order pages.)