I haven't been buying all of the Masterpiece Transformers, just the guys that I really liked when I was a kid or think make interesting new toys. And so I've skipped guys like the original Sideswipe, Red Alert, Smokescreen, and Bluestreak. And it occurs to me, as I put Wheeljack on my shelf next to Prowl, that if things keep going as they are, I am going to have a buttload of white guys. Other Autobots I'd buy are, like, Jazz and Ratchet. Apparently I'm super into the Autobots who were white with some other trim color. What a boring-looking shelf of favorite characters I'm going to have. Hopefully Bumblebee will help break that up a little.
I've talked about being into Wheeljack before, with older reviews about other toys of him. As a child, I focused on his appearance in the nineth Marvel US comic book issue, "DIS-Integrated Circuits," in which he and Jazz fight Frenzy and Starscream. It was one of the first comic books I've ever read, and due to the realities of media availability at the time, I reread that comic book a billion million zillion times at any point of my choosing, while I could only watch the cartoon whenever it aired. Prowl also pops up in that issue, but nearly as much, and Ratchet also features, but he like super-features in all the comics leading up to that issue, so that was more of a Ratchet chaser than a main course. Even Buzzsaw's in that one. What I'm saying is, that was basically my Transformers Ground Zero, as far as Characters I Like.
I didn't have toys of any of these guys at the time, and so I'd meticulously study the panels in which they transformed, trying to figure out how they worked. This was mostly a fool's errand, since none of the art was particularly accurate to how the toys really worked -- and they couldn't be, since the robot mode character models were truly fiction -- but Wheeljack's sequence of panels where he transforms in that issue was meat enough for me.
That personal history is partly why I sought out Wheeljack's Masterpiece toy. For the first time, that one thing can actually become the other thing, from Lancia Stratos to character model. And the toy does a pretty good job of it, as much as any toy really could without involving size changing of certain parts. The shins and feet still have to be the actual hood of the car, unable to shrink down into thin little legs. The wheels and other car architecture can't just disappear as the animator wishes, and so it all has to go physically somewhere. On the original toy, the entire back of the car behind the canopy merely folds out into his giant gorilla arms. Here, some of the back becomes his normal-sized arms, but much of it buries itself behind his chest, inside his torso. This is where the rear wheels hide. The forward wheels don't hide, which is fine, I feel. They remain on the outsides of his shins, though sandwiched between the hood and the doors of the car. The roof of the car splits up asymmetrically so that his head can fit inside while in car mode, and then it latches back together once this is done. The wings remain attached throughout the process, unlike how they were merely removeable accessories before. There's hinges at their base so you can choose to point them back at a slight angle, if you wish. He looks a little more dynamic that way.
Though his wings were integrated into the transformation, his weaponry was not. His shoulder cannon and its detachable missile has to be removed, and it can be repegged onto his roof once you're done putting him back in car mode. The handgun pegs underneath as the exhaust pipe.
Complexity-wise, he's not as gloriously straight-forward as Prowl, but also not as frustratingly fragmentary as Sideswipe. Over time, the reality of the original Wheeljack toy has contaminated my mind's eye version of Wheeljack, and so it's a little odd to see Wheeljack as this perfectly-proportioned humanoid guy, rather than the gorilla-shape of the 1984 toy. He looks skinnier than I expect him to be, but the intended goal was to look like the skinnier, more-humanoid cartoon drawing, so I can't fault the toy for it.
What I really need is a Ratchet. Okay, what I really really need is a Ratchet with a red helmet and white chevron, but I know I'm going to have to paint that myself.
Look, I don't know if anybody knows what was going on here. We finally got a toy named Jhiaxus that's sculpted to look like Jhiaxus but then they tried to color him like the other Jhiaxus and they failed at doing so. What is even the deal?
I like my orange stuff. I do! And I'd be up for an orange Jhaixus, and I certainly was. But, man, you know why old orange Jhiaxus worked? There was some color contrast. He was orange and light gray and black. New orange Jhiaxus tries to do that but it ends up this entire orange/gray single-value lump. If you put him in grayscale he'd look all the same color. That's the problem.
To be honest, Jhiaxus's "real" colors (white, yellow, teal) don't look great on this mold either -- I've seen people try to paint it up like that and I don't think it really works. But, at least, it avoids the single-lump-of-the-same-value-everywhere problem.
Everything else about this guy is great. He's based on the phenomenal Generations Armada Starscream toy. He's got heaping amounts of retooling -- new wings, new torso, new head, new weapons. He's ORANGE. But orange in THIS way, versus another color that doesn't set apart from the orange at all, is what plummets this toy into the Aw Dammits. This toy is the result of somebody's Monkey Paw wish.
Yay, Windblade is here! I've been needing her toy in my life for some time -- though admittedly, it's not because of her toy specifically, but who her character is and what she represents. Many of her attributes were chosen through fandom voting, such as her red and black color scheme, her altmode, her weapon, and, of course, her gender. It's the winning gender option that set a lot of weirdos off, which, as my comic strip had noted previously, it's not like anyone was mad that "male" was an option. But "female" won, and so here we are. Viva democracy!
Her character is also important to me. So often Transformers characters are defined by how badass or snarky they are, but Windblade's strength is in her empathy. Optimus Prime may often make speeches about how peace and harmony are important while simultaneously beating someone's face in, but Windblade's compassion is presented as an actual important skillset. Sure, she's good enough with a sword (and getting better with training), but the care in which she interacts with other people wins her more battles. She easily could have been another aloof loner rebel warrior whatzit, but no.
And so Windblade's toy, the result of a Thirtieth Anniversary Hasbro website poll, has had some equal care taken with it. In a world of increasingly budget-strained decisions in the action figure industry, Windblade is obviously a case of some extra mile being taken. In addition to the base figure, which transforms from a robot to a VTOL jet, she also comes with her sword, the blade of which fades from translucent purple into translucent clear. The sword stows in a scabbard which can be held or pegged in numerous ways -- there's a 5mm port on one end, a grip for her hand on the other, and a notch that can lock into a slot on either of her hips. The fan can be removed from behind her head and be held in her hand as a weapon. Her VTOL jets can be rotated forward, plus they spin. As with recent Transformers toys, there's a plughole under her nosecone (which relocates to her robot mode back) that is compatible with some action figure stands.
There are a few negatives -- for example, she's not easy to stand. Due to her wings, she's a little backheavy, and so her tiny footprint is sometimes not sufficient, and the way her heels like to easily fold back up into her legs doesn't help either. She can be stood if you're patient, but you can't just plop her down on a desk when you're done swooshing her around.
Her jet mode also has a few holes in it. The top of the jet is obviously a pair of shins, and there's an open gap between these two parts that looks kinda bad. And because the toy had so much work put into it, she's a little fiddly. She's got a lot of joints and hinges packed into her. Things plug in fairly well in both modes, but there may be some times that stuff moves when you're trying to move other stuff.
Windblade hasn't really hit North American retail yet (I got mine from Big Bad Toy Store), but when she does, I think she's worth taking a look at. She's important for many reasons and her toy does some neat stuff.
Ways T30 Jetfire is worse than Classics Jetfire:
- Retail price is twice as much
- Booster rocket backpack doesn't fold out into over-shoulder guns
- Jet cockpit doesn't become robot chest mode cockpit
- Only one missile launcher (versus two)
- Lots of empty gaps in limbs as a result of saving on number of parts
- Red chrome dye is already flaking off
Ways T30 Jetfire is better than Classics Jetfire
- Toy size is twice as large
- Booster rocket backpack can rotate 360 degrees
- Booster rocket backpack's jets are articulated
- More armor pieces
- Armor pieces can combine to form super weapon with rifle
- Mask looks better than Classics helmet
- Mask can stow on rifle when not being worn (albeit goofily)
- Better robot mode proportions and articulation
- Jet mode is massively better
- Not old enough yet to be yellowed hunk of shit
I think the only other one is Tigatron. And he was married to an actual lady tiger. A lady tiger he scanned for his own altmode. What I'm saying is, his crudely-sentient tiger wife was into banging herself, apparently. Look, I know wildlife can get kinda inbred, but wow.
By comparison, Chromedome is your normal type of widower, the kind that isn't a clone of his other-species husband. You see, there's some actual lawful consent going on in this situation.
Anyway, ignoring all that, Chromedome is the guy I've been looking forward to the most out of this year's Subscription Service toys. Other than a Transformers Jr which is... somewhere...? ... I don't own any Chromedome toys, and so ol' Domey fills a very important vacancy in my Lost Light crew. What made me especially excited for him was that his head was designed by Nick Roche to reflect the look he has in the ongoing IDW series. And with Rewind being the final guy in this year's subscription service (due next month) that means I can finally own a pair of gay-married Transformers. (Okay, I own a few Rewinds, but not THIS Rewind.)
The toy itself is a good enough match for IDW Chromedome. He's got wide shoulders, though if you want to keep them from being gorilla-like, I'd leave them half-transformed so the elbows aren't down by his hips. The new head sculpt is fantastic -- one of the best Fun Publications has ever done -- and it didn't come out all duckfaced or anything like this year's Devcon's did.
Short of being an entirely new toy designed to be IDW Chromedome, this is the best IDW Chromedome you could hope for. He's a very pretty color scheme, put on a pretty good toy, with an awesome head sculpt, as a very engaging character. Just ignore the swords. And Stylor.