Every year at BotCon, invariably there's an exclusive toy that really feels like somebody was saying, "hey, what's some cracked-out shit that Walky kid would like?" Well, this is this year's. This is Under-3.
Under-3 was a McDonald's Happy Meal toy way back in the early Beast Wars days. He wasn't part of the regular assortment, but a very simplified toy with minimal moving parts that was intended for children under the age of three. Hence the name. "Under-3" was printed on his baggy in the same space that the names for the other guys went. He was a lion head that flipped open like a clam to reveal a robot sculpted inside that looked kinda like Optimus Prime/Primal. That's it.
Bogglingly, a toy based on him is part of this year's BotCon offerings. He's a strait redeco of Combiner Wars Streetwise, meaning instead of transforming into just a head, now he can transform into just an arm or just a leg. And a yellow police car, but whatever. His name is "Unit-3" on his profile card because I don't know. The point is, that's just a callsign he uses, so his real name could easily be "Under-3." That's what really matters. Renaming Under-3 something else puts you on my shit list.
He's a very striking-looking toy, making him easily one of the best exclusive toys available this year -- and that's in the company of TM3 Megatron. He loses a little of the charm of the original toy (well, a lot of the original charm) by not transforming into a disembodied lion head, but I think being a new toy of that crazy-ass Happy Meal dude is its own separate charm. He's Under-3. For adults.
don't talk to me about the comic he appeared in just yet, there would only be swears
Gonna quickly scrawl this Masterpiece Shockwave review before I head out later today to the airport on my way to Seattle! It's Emerald City Comicon weekend! You can find me at booth 112 with Cyanide & Happiness. It's also BotCon weekend, but I made my choice between the two. I'm still gettin' the toys (through my buddy who's going), so I'll have them to talk about shortly after I get back... which explains why I gotta get this Shockwave post done first! It won't happen if I have a bunch of new Beast Wars combiner guys!
Anyway, Shockwave. At first you might think, man, what does a Masterpiece Shockwave bring new to the table? Because, really, his show model isn't all that different from his original toy, and honestly his Masterpiece is about the same size as his original toy, and that original toy wasn't a complete loss when it came to articulation, and so you're left with a pretty close copy of a toy you might already have had for like 30 years.
AND YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WOULD BE RIGHT, BUT WHO CARES, MASTERPIECE SHOCKWAVE IS PRETTY DAMN GREAT
I love this guy. And admittedly a huge part of that is "I love Shockwave," but I swear the toy is objectively cool besides that. He still transforms into a purple space gun, and he's still a one-eyed one-handed dude (unless you give him his alternate extra hand), and he's still electronic. It's only lights this time instead of lights and sounds, but I'm pretty cool with just the lights. I have twin boys. I'll have enough toys that make noise soon enough. The lights are real strong, too. He really glows (and has separate batteries for his gun-mode light and his wrist-gun light).
Masterpiece Shockwave transforms a little differently this time around. I mean, it's 80% the same. He puts his arms over his head and bends over. You can't really change that if you want a Shockwave that looks like the original Shockwave in both modes. But now the designers decided his barrel wouldn't be a separate piece you kept aside in robot mode. Now there's a long die-cast arm that folds up and places the barrel on his back. Meanwhile, the part of the gun that USED to be the part that USED to fold up on Shockwave's back folds down and bolsters up the bulk of Shockwave's legs so they aren't so half-a-gun-handle thin. Oh, and there's a weird garage door of abs that slides down and covers up his trigger penis. Other than these changes, it's the same transformation.
If you're upset that Shockwave's backpack is no longer purple and looks like his old gun barrel, there's a separate piece you can slip over the new backpack to make it look like the old backpack. Pretty silly, admittedly! But it also doubles as a stand for Shockwave in gun mode, so at least it has a secondary purpose. Speaking of silly, Shockwave also comes with a small handheld version of himself in gun mode, because there was once an episode of the cartoon where Shockwave fired a small handheld version of himself. As you do.
And finally, Shockwave comes with a large assortment of various hands. He's a got solid lavender hand and gun-hand. He's got a solid lavender replacement hand for that gun-hand in case you want to revisit that one time he was drawn in the cartoon with both hands. He's got a saluting right hand so he can salute. And he has ALL OF THESE THINGS AGAIN also in translucent plastic to match the original toy and also facilitate the electronic lights. There are choices, is what I'm saying. Like how you can choose between stickers of the proper Decepticon logo and the dorky misdrawn one from the cartoon.
Much ado has been made about Shockwave's purple coloring. In some photos it's looked kinda pinkish, while some folks pine for the dark purple of the original toy. I can tell you that in person, his color... well, it's hard to explain. It's a very deep purple, but not a dark purple. It's essentially Shockwave's color of purple from his old Action Master toy, but milkier. I don't mean "milkier" in that it's whiter, but that it absorbs and reflects light in a certain way. It... really absorbs light. How the purple looks is drastically altered by the lighting ambience. It's difficult to photograph. Sometimes it looks really different just from photo to photo in the same lighting. Hell, if you want him darker purple, just stand him in front of something black. But regardless it's a real attractive color in person. Like I said, it's deep. It's like he's carved out of purple milk chocolate.
My one annoyance with the toy is the head. You need to pull up on it (and the neck/collarbone section) to lock it into place in robot mode, but there's a real good chance you'll take the head off the neck balljoint instead. And then you spend time trying to get a head to pop back onto a balljoint that's affixed to a swinging hinged piece from which you can't hold in place. You know how it is. I recommend grabbing the head from all corners and pulling directly up, keeping the head looking forward, when you try to lock it in place. That generally keeps the head from popping off first.
Anyway, he's excellently articulated, and a waist swivel and an ab crunch is something I never really expected a G1 Shockwave toy to have. And given how G1 Shockwave tends to appear in his original toy body in basically any G1 story more than any other guy (up until the RID ongoing title in IDW, for example), this toy feels like, more than many other Masterpieces, to be basically any G1 Shockwave. He can be cartoon, he can be Marvel, he can be Dreamwave, he can be IDW.
And it makes you wonder if Senator Shockwave also transformed into a flying laser gun.
anyway, it broke, like, immediately, and had to have it replaced, but that took only like two days because AMAZON PRIME and so no huge bigs
(it's silverbolt's fist, it snapped unfixably when i tried to turn it on its wrist hinge for combined mode, crumbling like so much old cheddar cheese)
BESIDES THAT Combiner Wars G2 Superion is a pretty great recreation of the original Generation 2 Superion. It doesn't copy its color scheme off a fan work based off another fan work or anything! As far as we can tell, Hasbro actually did this deco themselves, based on the original toys. Amazing, I know. So if you remember G2 Superion, who wasn't canceled like 4/5ths of G2 Menasor was, then you basically know what you're getting here, Air Raid's Spider-Man wing deco and all.
Superion also comes with a redeco of Powerglide in "what-if" Generation 2 colors, since Powerglide wasn't otherwise in Generation 2. They inverted his colors, basically, just like G2 Sideswipe's were, and there you have it.
Like Menasor who came with Wildrider instead of Offroad, Superion comes with Slingshot instead of that helicopter guy Alpha Bravo. So Superion is all jets once again. I'm of two minds on this. My first mind's all "oh man but Alpha Bravo is kinda cool and he's a new guy and it's nice that they're not ALL jets, for, like, variety." My second mind's all "hooray, a new G2 Slingshot that won't crumble to dust!"
You see, G2 Slingshot was made of that notorious "gold plastic" which disintegrates under a light breeze. Eventually. It will happen. It's inevitable. The chemical composition of the plastic, with its swirly glittery whateverness is what does the deed, I believe. But this new Slingshot is not made out of that kind of gold plastic. There's no swirls, it's just kinda a flat gold color. It should be safe. Hasbro promised us Slingshot would be safe.
Note they promised absolutely nothing about Silverbolt.
Quickly: So, like, in the Nineties there was almost a Generation 2 Menasor, but he was canceled and BotCon got to have one-fifth of him as an exclusive, the rest being limited to a small handful of samples, causing him to be amazingly valuable.
But now there's a Combiner Wars giftset that does Menasor in his G2 colors (sort of), so everyone can have one now! Hooray! And mine was an early birthday gift! Yay, thanks, Scott!
Combiner Wars G2 Menasor is one slick package. I mean, obviously, you get all these guys at once, rather than having to get them piecemeal in stores or online, and so that's good. You open up the box and you see everything all arranged there in a plastic tray, and life is good. Also inside the box is a large paper envelope, which contains your instructions, a collectors card, and a cardstock-quality poster of Menasor. ....well, G1 Menasor, not G2 Menasor. But it's still friggin' cardstock paper inside an envelope, so. None of that floppy thin paper nonsense, this is the fancy stuff.
I have some quibbles though. From all appearances, the deco on this toy was taken from some guy's DeviantArt digital mockup. (to the point that the official Transformers Facebook account used his mock-ups exactly in a promotional image, including the yellow Offroad you don't get in the set) That's kinda shady. And it also means we get a Breakdown with purple and silver instead of pink and gold, since I guess the DeviantArt mockup guy was working off this fan-painted version of the canceled G2 Stunticons and not the BotCon version people actually know.
Also, if you're expecting Blackjack to be at all snug when connected to Menasor's chest, don't.
That said, this set is a pretty good deal, especially if you don't have any of these guys yet. You get six brightly-colored toys for $100 (or less, as Amazon inevitably drops it a few bucks like they did Superion) that combine into a robot and visually emulate a toy 99.999999999999999% of Transformers collectors can't ever own. Plus, y'know, the poster. I have no idea why I love that poster so much, but I do. You may love the poster less.
If you're dead inside.
I wasn't super sold on the last MP Rodimus, in general. I got him strictly because he was a large Hot Rod-type guy who could be more in-scale with my Beast Era Wreckers toys than the original Hot Rod toy. Nobody who got the toy seemed to like it, and also it kind of liked to break easily. But I needed that large Hot Rod, and all he really needed to do was stand at the back of the shelf and be a big Hot Rod, so I got him.
But seriously, he was not great. I've never successfully transformed him. I've gotten close, but at best I end up with a convex automobile, with the vehicle mode sort of bent in the middle in a way that keeps both axels of wheels touching the ground. There was something I was doing wrong, but just transforming the thing was such a chore I couldn't be bothered to investigate. What a fiddly mess.
The experience left such a bad taste in my mouth I didn't really pay much attention to the NEW Masterpiece Hot Rod for the longest while. But folks seemed to like him when he came out. He was relatively simple to transform. (I mean, he'd have to be.) And he was play-withable. And he wasn't a clusterfuck. But I didn't really see a need for a Masterpiece Hot Rod, so I continued to not really care.
...until I went back and looked at that Beast Era Wreckers groupshot and realized that its Rodimus is shorter than Primal Prime, not taller. Huh! I could get the new, smaller toy and chuck the old piece of garbage that I hate. And so I did.
Yeah, I like this Hot Rod. Other folks weren't lying, he's much easier to transform. He's a bit of a shellformer, to be sure, as a large chunk of his altmode folds up and compacts onto his back, which is one step down from the older larger version. However, he's otherwise a billion steps up. All that kibble pegs together very securely at every step of compression and the result is not as bad to see in person as you'd think from photography.
In fact, this new guy tends to be, as a rule, better in person than photographed. Our first photographs of the test shot caused people to scoff at his flat chest and kibble backpack and skinny legs, but when he's in front of you, the three-dimensionality kind of smooths those flaws over.
This new Hot Rod comes with almost all the same stuff the older Rodimus did. He comes with his buzzsaw arm attachment, and his two guns (but they don't combine), and now he comes with a fishing rod. I wish I could set aside my extreme fatigue with the animated Transformers movie long enough to enjoy how objectively awesome it is that a Transformers toy comes with a fishing rod. I should be tickled by the goofiness. But, well, eh. I'm all TFTM referenced-out. Hot Rod does not, sadly, come with a transforming Targetmaster Firebolt partner like the American Rodimus did. This Hot Rod can hold him fine in robot mode, though. Not, like, properly, with the notches fitting into the sculpted slots or anything, but he can get a good grip around the handle regardless. Unfortunately there is no way to attach the Targetmaster gun to vehicle mode other than friction and gravity.
Have I mentioned I like that this guy's pink? Hot Rod in the animated Transformers movie was pink. Pink and yellow orange and gray. But when he become Rodimus Prime, he's red, and his toys are invariably red, even the non-Prime ones. I appreciate that this toy is the proper hue.
I also appreciate that it's not fragile, untransformable garbage.