I spent Saturday getting my usual metric buttload of new Transformers toys, as it was the official street date for Age of Extinction stuff to go out. The Targets didn't have much, and Walmarts weren't much better, but Toys"R"Us at least fulfilled their part of the contract, so I didn't go home empty handed. Transformers movie toy street dates have kind of diminished over the years. For the first movie, the street date felt like an actual event that stores cared about. Everyone put their stuff out immediately and everywhere. Everyone had their own exclusives out the first day, too. It was a Thing. These days, it feels like they're shrugging a little, even though TF movie stuff still outsells the non-movie stuff by a large margin.
I've decided to talk about Crosshairs first, since he was a pleasant surprise. I mean, of course the Dinobots are gonna be sweet-ass Transformers dinosaur toys, and there's an Optimus and a Bumblebee as per usual, but Crosshairs I actually had pretty low expectations for. It's probably related to how poorly most folks seem to transform him, Hasbro included. In a lot of images of him, his shoulders aren't transformed out of car mode, so he's got this giant immobile block of plastic surrounding his torso and head. But hey, no, that all moves away and into position. The rear bumper folds back behind the torso and the shoulders lower and separate. The wheels fold back. He looks way less like an upscaled Legends Class toy when properly converted.
He also has, you know, a trenchcoat. And goggles, too, but the trenchcoat is a neat motif! Rubberized parts fold out from inside the car kibble to plug into his ribcage so it looks like a spreading open bit of clothing. Man, I bet the folks at Hasbro saw concept images of this guy and thanked whoever their respective gods are. I mean, he's got a kibble coat. You don't have to engineer most of the car panels into robot parts, you just have to hang them off the back of him and he's accurate.
For this reason, he isn't very hard to get back into car mode. You just take everything and plug it back in, for the most part. There is some fiddling, and everything moves, but nothing moves very far.
The only weirdness is that only one half of his car mode gets deco. Is the actual real-life vehicle like this or something? Because it doesn't really make any sense -- he's packaged in robot mode, so it's not like Hasbro's putting the painted half of the car mode out in front of the package like a bunch of dicks. It is legitimately boggling.
He comes with three weapons. He gets two smaller pistols which peg into the insides of his coat and one larger rifle. In the one clip of him in the trailers, he has two of that larger rifle. Dangit. Oh well.
I like him, at any rate. Doesn't-Realize-Matrix-Trilogy-Isn't-A-Thing-Anymore trenchcoat dude is all right by my book.
Years ago, I really liked DC Direct's move into doing toys based on certain artistic depictions of characters from various story arcs. I have so many Ed McGuiness toys, you guys. But then the New 52 happened, and DC Direct toys kind of disappeared for a while, and then when they came back they were all kind of generic. BUT NO MORE. I'm getting my damn Greg Capullo artstyle-based toys, you guys. And I am super happy.
Along the way, I'd bought one or two Batman toys based on the New 52 Batsuit, figuring if I kind of squinted at it, it'd look like Greg Capullo's art. This was not terribly effective, but that doesn't matter now. I have the real deal.
I'm also happy that DC Direct's toys seem to have gotten an articulation upgrade. Before their articulation was kind of standard -- they'd look pretty, but they didn't move much. This new Greg Capullo-style Batman has articulation closer to what you'd expect of a Mattel toy. In addition to the usual shoulders/neck/waist/elbows/hips/knees articulation you expect, there's mid-thigh and mid-torso and multi-directional wrist articulation. Also the head is on a balljoint, while the ankles go in a number of directions, too. The choice between DC Direct Pretty and Mattel Articulation is now kinda moot.
Greg Capullo Batman also comes with three small Batarangs. He has no pockets for them, but there are similarly small gaps between four of his fingers on one hand. This means you can wedge them in there to give Batman some Wolverine-style daggers. They don't bury as deep into his palm as they seem to in the comics when Batman does this -- they stick out a bit -- but it's still a neat thing. It's also kind of nerve-wracking to get them all shoved in there, as the area you're maneuvering these small pieces into is kind of small and you can easily bump one out of place and cause a domino effect. But it's still a fun thing.
These things don't seem to come with stands anymore, but Batman does have a peghole under his right heel.
I picked up the Riddler and Talon, as well. There was no Nightwing left when I'd gotten to the store. I'll find him elsewhere.
I have finally forced myself to talk about this toy. I bought First Edition Age of Extinction Optimus Prime more than a month ago, maybe two, and owning it put me into a deep depression. I'm not being hyperbolic. This thing made me feel sad inside. For a few days I had trouble getting things accomplished. I considered punting it out the front door, but then someone neighbor kid might try to have fun with it and that would be too cruel.
It's not that the thing is simple and meant for younger children. That would be fine! A large simple toy for kids that has a quick-and-easy transformation would be a fun toy, even to me as an adult. Yeah, you wrap the truck parts around the robot to make the truck. Yeah, you close the lid on him when you're done like he's sitting inside. Ha ha, big deal. No, that's not what made me sad.
What made me sad was that the toy failed at being fun and simple. It's definitely not complex, it succeeded at that -- but it in no way fits together in truck mode in a way that is intuitive or in a way that doesn't try to break physics. It wants you to fold both his arms behind his chest. You can't. They don't both fit. You have to use some sort of magic to get them to occupy the same space before you start closing the truck parts around him. It's not fun. It's anti-fun. I check the instructions, I tried the toy again, I check the instructions again to see if I'm missing anything... it was a chore. It took me 45 minutes to figure it out. And for a toy that's purposefully simple, that's just not good.
It's also very large and takes up a lot of space, which is all the more aggravating when it doesn't do what it's supposed to do. It's like a dishwasher that doesn't work, sitting in the middle of your living room. It's just there, taunting you.
Also I hate chrome, and this guy's covered in it.
I TALKED ABOUT THE DAMN THING
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.