We’ve gotten quite a few new Stepper/Ricochets over the years, but never a new toy of his buddy Artfire until now. The pair exist because Japan didn’t want to do Cyclonus and Scourge as Targetmasters, I guess, and so they gave their Targetmaster partners to redecos of the Jazz and Inferno toys. Redoing white Jazz toys in black as Stepper/Ricochet makes pretty solid retail sense, but redoing the red Inferno as, uh, mostly red Artfire probably seems like a less good idea. Artfire was never very visually distinct from Inferno, roughly being an Inferno with a white chest, so that’s likely why he hasn’t shown up until now. (Also because we get a dozen times more Jazz toys than Infernos.)
But somebody over in Japan was willing to do an Artfire as an exclusive, so here we are. He’s got Inferno’s head and hands and the Grapple retool’s crane arm, so he’s a parts combination that hasn’t been done before. Artfire also comes with two Targetmasters, one being the fifteen zillionth redeco of Universe Nightstick and the other being a redeco of one of Power Core Combiner Pinpoint. The former is intended to be Artfire’s original partner, Nightstick, whose name causes the Transformers Wiki much grief, and the latter is intended to be Sparks, which was the Marvel Comics name for Firebolt, Hot Rod’s Targetmaster partner.
Because Artfire has Grapple’s crane and not a ladder, the instructions tell you to peg both of his Targetmaster partners through the crane’s hook so it becomes this sort of water cannon thing. Inventive!
I KIND OF HAVE A LOT OF THIS MOLD.
At least there’s three different heads to go between them. (You’ll note the handpainted Hot Spot head I gave to my Pyro.) There aren’t many G1 firetrucks even left to still make this guy into. There’s probably still a Micromaster firetruck, right? And Hosehead. Both of whom are probably red and black, so, well, you know. And, heck, they could probably still get away with making a Hauler, and I would be very happy to buy it. I say that not only because I don’t have an original Hauler (I got my Sunstorm long after he was released and so after the duo had been split up on the secondary market), but because I still really like this toy. And thank god for that.
Here’s Beast Hunters Bumblebee. I found him and nobody but him when I was out looking for his wave, and as I am weak, I snatched him up. He wasn’t on my list or anything, since my place is kind of lousy with Bumblebees already, but after seeing some photos of him in-hand on the Internet, I saw that he was pretty neat-looking. And, hey, Bumblebee with spikes all over him. He reminds me of Johnny Five at the end of Short Circuit 2 where he covers himself in random spikey punk rock shit and then uses his last five minutes alive for spiteful vengeance, as you do.
As you might notice, he is heavily retooled! Not much of the original toy survives, though the engineering and transformation is the same. Let’s see, the middle of his upper torso, all of the gray of his middle torso and thighs, and the non-vehicle-y parts of his lower legs, plus his arms from the biceps on down… those are all old parts. The head and pretty much the entirety of the vehicle mode (other than that middle hood section) are new.
He still comes with the two arm-mounted blasters of the original tooling, plus a crossbow-like weapon that mounts on his hood or his arm or in his hand. He comes with a whoppin’ six dang missiles, which the crossbow-thing can fire with a spring-loaded mechanism. This dude is armed. He will murder you. If you’re a beast, anyway. Or so I think the story goes.
He’s pretty hard core.
Instead of finishing up the little Recordicon Data Disk guys, I thought I’d talk about the other toy of the exact same Soundwave I got this past week-or-so. It’s him from the future and/or our present! And he’s lost weight!
Hasbro’s new direction for the Transformers Prime toyline is called Beast Hunters, which was a title that was first used for Beast Machines in its preliminary stages. The forgotten Predacon race of Transformers dragons has returned! And the Autobots and Decepticons apparently have covered themselves in spikes and shit to combat them! I found the new spikey Bumblebee first, and I think he was a pretty successful execution of this concept, but I’ll talk about him later. Soundwave, though, I dunno.
I bought him only for Ravage, as I do, because Ravage is awesome and I ain’t not gonna buy a Ravage. Like the first Soundwave toy’s Laserbeak, Ravage does the splits and fits X-shaped into Soundwave’s chest. You can swap him with Laserbeak and vice versa, as I demonstrate in that first photo up there on the left. And, yes, Ravage’s butthole is placed under Soundwave’s nose and Ravage’s head is reaching for Soundwave’s crotch. Let’s acknowledge this and move on.
Soundwave himself is heavily retooled from the original Transformers Prime Soundwave. The yellow and dark blue parts on Beast Hunters Soundwave remain from the original tooling, but everything else is new. The result is kind of a mess, I think. I’m not really sure what’s going on, and it kind of detracts from Soundwave’s sleek design. On the other hand, he does transform into something that now looks less like those things the President uses to kill civilians in other countries!
Beast Hunters Soundwave comes with a new grappling claw weapon as well! It’s one of those spring-loaded missile launcher deals but with a string. It’s not pictured because I forgot about it.
So let’s sum up: Ravage comes with a Soundwave that’s kind of a mess and possibly ultimately forgettable. He transforms exactly the same way, but he’s got more stuff on him. And he has a grappling hook. Maybe I’ll come around on him later? Right now, he’s just hard to visually resolve.
Hey, guys, Soundwave’s got a new toy where little guys fit into his chest and pop out and you can buy a whole army of the little buggers. There’ve been other Soundwave toys since 1984 where a guy fit into his chest, but this was always a limited enterprise of one or two dudes. This Soundwave’s got six so far, not counting the five upcoming Autobots which also utilize the same interaction.
Soundwave‘s part of the first wave of Voyager Class ($25) Generations figures. Who does he share that first wave with? HIMSELF! One out of every four figures in the case assortment is actually Soundblaster, a same-character redeco of Soundwave based on his black-gold-and-red Headmasters appearance. That’s right, it’s “New Soundwave,” as regaled by the infamously terrible English dub of those episodes. Soundwave comes with Laserbeak (red) and Soundblaster comes with Buzzsaw (gold).
I wasn’t super keen on either Soundwave or Soundblaster, honestly, but I can’t not buy a Buzzsaw toy. Buzzsaw is awesome. (Also, turns out I kind of have a growing nigh-complete Recordicons display, and the inclusion of these guys is perhaps mandatory anyhow.) So when I found Soundwave and Soundblaster buried deep in the Batman stuff while I was in San Diego, I put Soundwave back where he goes and grabbed Soundblaster for myself. Besides, I already have a toy of Aligned Laserbeak, so this particular iteration of him isn’t super-high priority. He can wait for sales.
I had already found the sets of the other guys (Frumble/Ratbat and Frumble/Ravage), so I knew I was gonna like Buzzsaw. Ratbat was the best of those guys, and Ratbat’s just a reshell of Laserbeak/Buzzsaw. The reason why he’s the best is that he’s the simplest and least irritating. When he drops in Data Disk mode onto the ground and the button underneath him springloads him into “vulture” mode, that’s it. That’s the end of the transformation. There’s no more left to do. And he’s easy to put back in Data Disk mode.
Plus, y’know, he’s Buzzsaw, whose predecessor was a frightening friggin’ monster who will kill you with his face.
I will talk more about the gimmick itself when I write later about the other Recordicons, but it will suffice to say this now: WHEN THE INSTRUCTIONS TELL YOU TO PUT THE DATA DISK INTO SOUNDBLASTER’S CHEST WITH THE BUTTON FACING OUT, THIS IS A HORRIBLE LIE. DO NOT DO THIS. EVER. PUT THE DISK IN BUTTON-FIRST, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Soundblaster himself is basically a larger version of the Deluxe Class War for Cybertron Soundwave from a few years ago, but now with a chest that flops open when you press a button on his shoulder. He’s got lots of tightly-ratcheted joints, so he’s pretty solid. I dunno if his vehicle mode is particularly inspiring, as it’s a box with wheels, but I suppose that’s probably better than a box without wheels, which is what Soundwave usually transforms into.
(Comics return on Monday, btw.)