Posted February 20, 2018 at 12:20 am

Here it is!  The toy I was most anticipating in the entire Power of the Primes lineup.  And I know it's the one I would most anticipate because Hasbro retailer presentation slides of the whole gaddang line were leaked months ago.  At the time, we thought, whoops, the first half of the line got leaked!  Ha ha, no, that was the actual whole thing.  Power of the Primes is apparently pretty short, capping out at wave 4 instead of wave 6.  

But, like, yeah, a sizeable Elita One has been on my wish list for years.  I never thought we'd get one.  Hasbro doesn't tend to make Transformer women larger than Deluxe.  In 1999, we got a Mega (today's Voyager) Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia, and since then we've got... well, Victorion, the 6-member combiner team we voted on and made Hasbro produce.  So my confidence in $25-$30 lady robot seemed like a pipe dream.

Because Elita One should be big and stompy.  She's Elita One, dammit.  Her name means the same thing that Optimus Prime's does.  She should be his equal.  Like, a big truck thing, and she should look like she could crush you.  

But I will also allow "big jet thing."

Power of the Primes Elita-1 (why do they keep spelling it like that) is a massive retool of POTP Starscream.  She's got an entirely different robot mode (well the biceps are the same), some new wingtips, and mostly the same jet mode.  That's a lotta retooling.  The toy otherwise operates and transforms exactly the same.  Which is fine, because I really like POTP Starscream.  The only thing I dislike about him are the...stickers.

Ugh, Elita One's stickers.  Like Starscream, she has them covering the full surface of her wings.  I will try to keep them, if only because they add more pink to her color scheme, and pink is very important.  If Reprolabels comes up with replacement stickers that have equal or more amounts of pink, then that is what will happen.

or these will fray and peel from even minimal use like these stickers tend to and i'll have to yank 'em off regardless, who knows

Elita One is not quite the giant pink jet I was hoping for, if only 'cuz her color scheme skews towards red.  It's an... almost pink dark red she has over most of her body, with a salmony color for accents.  These plus the white and black result in a very striking color scheme, so it's not, like, terrible that she's not more pink.  I prefer pink and also pink of the cartoon, but she still looks great.  

Like Starscream, she forms the torso of a combiner robot.  Unlike Starscream, we got the name for her combined form at Toy Fair.  It's Elita Infin1te, with the 1.  I don't know if I love or hate this.  I may never know.  It's an ongoing, mercurial process of acceptance and groaning.

Posted February 14, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Everything old is new again, but with joints!  EVERYTHING.  Back in the day (1987), there were this pair of Decepticons called Duocons because they were singular robots who each formed out of two separate vehicles.  The individual vehicles didn't do anything themselves other than form half a robot.  It's like, y'know, Overlord or a backwards Sky Lynx.  Battletrap was one of those Duocons, and he was a robot formed from a helicopter humping an SUV.

*freeze frame, zip-fast-forward through 30 years, slight pause at BotCon 2015 to say "huh" at the Springer redeco, finish zip-fast-forward, abrupt stop in 2018, record scratch*

Anyway, now each of Battletrap's two vehicle components are their own guys!  Battletrap is now formed from Battleslash the helicopter and Roadtrap the SUV, each turns into a robot, and they're sold separately.

I like to think they're married and that the combined form Battletrap is their child.  Like, you know, one of them is J.D. and the other one is Turk, and J.D. hops on Turk and instead of running around yelling "EEEAGLE!" they are a consolidated robotical form.  The World's Most Giant Doctor.

I am in awe of the complexity involved in these toys.  Like, the other Legends Class toys are.... fairly simple.  They're all Windchargers and Brawns, who transform the usual Transformers way of rotating out the legs and pulling out the arms and being done after three steps.  But each of these two guys, Battleslash and Roadtrap, have a lot going on.  A lot of pieces going on.  I wonder how they budgeted this.  (probably by making the other guys Windchargers and Brawns)

Both guys have enough parts to not only form individually-articulated robots but also a fully-articulated combined robot form.  Heck, Battletrap's kind of got an ab crunch, even.  It's kind of nuts.  Yeah, a lot of the articulation doubles up -- Battleslash's neck joint is Battletrap's waist joint, for example -- but it's all still very impressive.

Well, okay, the vehicle modes are probably the weak link.  Both are vehicle-ish shaped blobs.  Roadtrap's SUV form is very obviously 50% a robot mode chest.  Battleslash's helicopter mode is obviously a bunch of wadded up robot parts.

Despite that, these two toys are very easy to recommend.  There's going to be some kids out there who only have one or the other (I don't think it mentions the combining aspect on the packaging, only in the instructions) and... I think their purchase will be good enough, really, without the other half, but these two really are a pair.  

It's guy love between two guys.

Posted January 23, 2018 at 12:35 am

 When Action Toys first got the license to make Machine Robo toys, I figured some toy-accurate recreations of old Machine Robo stuff was the closest we'd ever get to new GoBots.  Heck, we'd heard that Action Toys specifically got the license to stuff that appeared in the Revenge of Cronos anime, and that animation didn't even feature prominently a lot of the guys we'd recognize most readily from Challenge of the GoBots.  

(GoBots rights are complicated, yo.  Hasbro bought Tonka long ago, but do they own the animation now?  Does Hanna-Barbara?  Does Bandai still own the original toy likenesses???)

And so a while back I got this tiny little Bike Robo (pictured below), who's kind of like Cy-Kill if Cy-Kill had a normal regular boring robot face.  No five-o-clock shadow, no yellow teeth -- I mean, those are the main draws, obviously, but with GoBots rights being such a quagmire, I figured it was the closest possible deal.

Fastforward to a BIKE ROBO DELUXE being announced by Action Toys, and oh hey what what it has extra Cy-Kill faces you can swap in what the holy fudge.  Can they do that?  Hell, I'm not sure they DID do that.  The one I ordered I had shipped taken out of its package so that it could fit into a smaller box for international shipping, but I've read that folks who had theirs shipped unopened had the extra Cy-Kill faces sent outside the packaging in a baggie.  So maybe Action Toys is just skirting the terms of their license by offering FREE FACES WITH PURCHASE or whatever.  Iunno.

But the point is, I bought the heck out of it, because Actual Cy-Kill With Five-O'Clock Shadow is a thing I have to have.  

As I said, he's BIKE ROBO DELUXE, which means he's large.  Well, larger than the other Action Toys Bike Robo, at least.  Relatively large.  He's kind of a Transformers Voyager or, more accurately, the size and bulk of aTransformers Masterpiece Autobot Car.  He sees eye-to-eye with MP Prowl or Sideswipe and has a similar heft.  (His ... chest is die-cast metal, I think?  Something in the torso.)

The other first thing you notice is that he comes with a little printed sheet that tells you which parts not to turn a certain way or they'll break.  GOOD TO KNOW, I GUESS.  You both want to see that first and not want to see that first.  This is not your typical mass-market Transformer where they see how long it survives with a five-year-old before putting it in stores.

Otherwise, he seems to be a pretty solid guy.  I'm careful with him, because, again, he's not a Hasbro toy so I don't know what I should expect durability-wise, but nothing seems like it's on the verge of breaking.  His transformation involves bending him over into a crouch while undoing all the teeny tiny details along the way that make him into a more pleasing Cy-Kill-esque robot.  Both his wheels partsform, but they kind of have to if you want to keep both modes' accuracy.  They attach with magnets, which is neat.  I mean, they also peg in, but mostly it's the magnets keeping them there rather than friction.  The tires are rubber.  

Also there's a white panel to replace the face panels in motorcycle mode.  I'm happy keeping the Cy-Kill face in there, though, 'cuz that's how Cy-Kill rolls.  Literally.

The only frightening part about the transformation is when you gotta push his legs together for cycle mode.  There's a diagonal cut through his thighs, and that's the joint that The Paperwork tells you will break if you don't move it correctly, and so making sure you're doing the thing you're supposed to do and not the thing you're not supposed to do is a few moments of anxiety.  Apparently The Paperwork just doesn't want you to think that's a rotational joint!  I'm not sure I'd have tried to rotate it there without the warning, but I'm sure as heck not gonna try it now, so mission objective achieved, I guess.

Bike Robo/Cy-Kill is pleasingly articulated at about the same level that current Transformers Masterpieces are.  Hell, I'm pretty sure he's just supposed to be a Masterpiece-style Cy-Kill.  He has double-jointed elbows and his fingers and thumb are somehow articulated even though they're big cylinders.  (He has actual unarticulated big cylinders to replace his fists with if you prefer.)  He's got a waist and an ab crunch and his head turns and, yeah, he does stuff.  

My only regret is that his head assembly doesn't bend up in motorcycle mode so he can look where he drives like in the cartoon.  

He also comes with some flame attack parts you can peg into his wrists, if you want him to be shooting stuff or whatever.

He's got three Cy-Kill faces: neutral, smug grin, and frustrated. (linked 'cuz my lighting studio photos of his frustrated face were all blurry)  I prefer the frustrated face 'cuz you can see his yellow teeth.  Those yellow teeth are important.  

I only put in the Bike Robo face for a review photograph.  Probably not using it again.

I have never inserted the blank white motorcycle mode panel.  I likely never will.

Everything else is pretty amazing, though.  He makes me so happy.  

Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:45 pm

Shortpacked! started running on January 17, 2005, and ended on January 17, 2015!  So, uh, happy anniversary or whatever, to either this website's birth or death.  Let's talk about an orange bat!

Remember Action Masters?  The Transformers who can't transform that ended Transformers forever and ever?  (transformers was honestly pretty dead before then)  Well, Action Master Soundwave came with a little transformable partner named Wingthing, and he was an orange and black bat.  A few years ago, Ratbat was redecoed in orange and black as an updated Wingthing, and this new Masterpiece Wingthing updates that toy again.  (Surprise, it's Masterpiece Ratbat in orange and black!)

Masterpiece Ratbat is one of the best Masterpiece cassettes, probably coming in a close second to MP Laserbeak/Buzzsaw.  Ravage is kinda okayish and Frenzy/Rumble is comparatively boring because it's just a boxy dude, but Ratbat is pretty darn good!  And so, you know, Wingthing benefits by also being MP Ratbat, but in different colors.  Somehow this mini-cassette-shaped thing becomes this three-dimensional robobat -- essentially, everything that's not wings triples up on itself to create a block of torso.  That includes what used to be removeable accessories on the original toy; like MP Buzzsaw/Laserbeak, those parts are now integrated into the transformation.  And it's pretty rad!

There are little grooves underneath Wingthing's feet so that you can slot him onto corresponding grooves on MP Soundwave's shoulder or forearm.  

He's also got a pink mini-cassette case, same as the other three guys he comes packaged with.

If I had a complaint, it's that his head isn't black, like the original Action Master partner.  I assume the original Ratbat redeco had an orange head instead of black because of how the plastic layouts work, but there's nothing stopping painting MP Wingthing's head black along with his black-painted torso.  I guess it was decided to mirror the Ratbat redeco version of Wingthing rather than the original Action Master toy.  Iunno.

Posted January 15, 2018 at 5:01 am

I am tickled to death that while there is yet to be a Masterpiece, like, Jazz or Galvatron, there is now a Masterpiece toy of That Voicechanger Thing That Was Just A Red Frenzy Head.  

I mean, honestly, I dunno if I'd even get an MP Galvatron (I'd wait to see if it comes out later in toy/Galvatron II colors, probably), but I am hella up for Masterpiece Enemy.  That's right, this red Frenzy is named Enemy, because that's what was written on the Voicechanger Thing's packaging.  I'm sure we've covered this corner of the franchise before.  

And so here he is.  Masterpiece Enemy.  He's primarily red with some dark, very desaturated blue.  His eyes are now cartoon red, which is kind of a disappointment.  I feel like keeping the silver eyes from the Voicechanger (and the eventual real toy that preceded this Masterpiece version) would make him look more like Enemy.  I mean, we knew very few things about this guy for decades, and one of them was that he had silver eyes.  But, well, cartoon Decepticons have red eyes, so whatcha gonna do.

He comes with piledrivers, a backpack attachment for those piledrivers, of course those little silver guns you can also peg onto his back, and a pink mini-cassette case.  (I think the case is pink so that it can also look like Energon cubes when Soundwave smushes them flat in the cartoon.)  

I display my Rumble and Frenzy with mirror-imaged weapon placement (Frenzy right-handed and Rumble left-handed), and figured I'd keep the symmetry going by displaying Enemy with both of his weapons on his back.  The piledrivers are probably never going to be used again.  That's Rumble's thing.  

Enemy comes with three other Recordicon dudes I will probably also talk about later.

Posted December 23, 2017 at 2:40 am

Power of the Primes Starscream is probably the toy from this line I was looking forward to the most.  Transformers fiction was giving that a little boost admittedly -- the toy is sculpted to adhere to the same Starscream design that the comics currently use.  And Starscream in the current comics (especially his portrayal in Till All Are One, which ended with an Annual just this week) is friggin' fantastic.  I've been wanting a Starscream to go with a Deluxe Windblade for so long, and the other two designs that have appeared alongside her -- Deluxe Armada Starscream and Leader King Starscream -- were not appropriate sizes for hanging out with a Deluxe Windblade. 

Voyager Class is just about perfect.  It's perfect size for Starscream in general, at least fiction-wise.  (If we were going true vehicle scale we'd probably have to start doing him in Titan Class, and that's.... inconvenient in so many ways.)  If Hasbro wanted to do this Starscream toy in every Seeker variety, I'd be cool with that, and I'd buy them all.  

(mind, they'd have to do, like, several dozen more limbs so they could all be combiners simultaneously, but)

Plus I just like the proportions of the robot mode.  I love big punchy fists and big stompy feet.  It's a great robot mode.  It's dynamic.  

The jet mode is... like 99% of every other jet Transformer.  There's a robot hanging underneath the jet parts.  Just a pair of arms and a chest, unaltered, attached under there.  But that's generally what you expect with a Transformers jet.

There's some to-do about how his robot mode chest cockpit is "faux kibble," but, y'know, the real jet cockpit becomes the torso mode's chest, so I'm okay with it.  As long as one of the modes uses the cockpit for a chest, I count that.  The torso mode clearly is taking some inspiration from Movie Starscream, with the big triangle shape made out of wings (and, again, with the cockpit in the middle), and I love that.  The combiner mode head is just a bigger Starscream head with a TFTM crown on it.  It makes me wish that Grimlock's combiner mode head gave him HIS crown.  They both have canonical crowns!  It could have been a nice pairing!

but, lordy

lordy lordy lordy

For a few years, the larger Transformers have started giving toys these foil stickers.  They're terrible.  They're tacky-looking, they start peeling off pretty quickly, and all-around they're just not great quality.  And they're factory-applied, so you don't even get to have the fun of ruining your toy yourself.  There's no ownership in them.  They're just there to look gross.

And, like, I dunno whose idea it was to use foil stickers to cover the entirety of Starscream's jet mode wings, but I think I hate them.  It looks so amazingly terrible.  The photos here don't really capture it in all its shiny, reflective glory, but the stickers just drive me mad.  

And you can't pull them off, because then his wings lose their red strips and the Decepticon logos.

Sure, yeah, eventually Reprolabels will have replacements, and those stickers will be real stickers made of material that doesn't tear like Kraft singles, and be, like, matte so they mesh with the rest of the jet surface, but... not everybody's gonna want to spend more money to make their toy not look shitty.  

So, like...


why would you destroy this toy that i otherwise would have loved unreservedly with such a travesty

Posted December 21, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Power of the Primes Grimlock has... two out of three good modes.

Unfortunately, the bad mode is the dinosaur.   You don't want the DINOSAUR to be bad.  That's like why you're here.  It's his milkshake in his yard.

I'm just staring at this bent stick they're calling a Tyrannosaurus rex and, like, no, guys.  No.  It's slightly less bad if you're cool with 1980s cartoon Grimlock, who always stands up-right like a dog begging for scraps, since this toy tries to do that.  It still doesn't hit the mark very well, but it gets closer if that's how you're evaluating it.  But if you want it to look like an actual dinosaur, not so much.

However, every terrible, terrible compromise made to the dinosaur mode has its roots in making this design work as a pretty great combiner torso.  Why does Grimlock have these odd, misshapen dinosaur hindlimbs?  Because that's where the Combiner Wars-style arm attachment ports go.  Those are elements you can't just shrink away because they look odd.  They've gotta go there, and they have to be that exact size.  The leg attachment ports are inside his robot feet, which is a nice bulky area that accommodates the port well, thankfully.  It does mean he's got big-ol' feet jutting out of the underside of his tail, a tail that otherwise tapers from torso to tip successfully.  

The result is a combiner torso that plugs together tightly and looks pretty nice.  It looks even nicer if you take some spare Power of the Primes combiner hands and plug them into his abs.  (And you will have an extra pair, since each limb comes with a hand, and, well, combiner robots only need two hands.)  You can also plug the hands into the back of the two combiner feet that Grimlock comes with to serve as extra heel support.  It's your choice!  (Or maybe do both, if you eventually have enough POTP Deluxes.)  

There's some strong ratcheting joints involved, and with more teeth settings so that you don't have to choose between 90 and 45 degree angles on everything.  This solves some Combiner Wars-era stability problems.  

The robot mode is pretty good.  Not great, but it works and it looks like Grimlock and it's not fantastically awkward or ugly.  The double-jointed elbows (needed for torso transformation) really help give him some nice "dukes up" posing possibilities.  

Other than the two combiner mode feet, he does not come with any weapons.  No sword.  But the feet kind of look like Wolverine claws when attached on his forearms, sort of.  There's also an Enigma of Combination pluggy-in thing.  It's like the Prime Masters in the smallest pricepoint, but it doesn't transform.  It's just the plug-in element, and it's there only to fuel imaginative play, rather than activate any toy gimmickry.  

He has factory-applied foil stickers.  They're not good foil stickers, but they're not toy-ruining, either, like Starscream's.  But I'll get to him later.

In short, Grimlock's dinosaur mode is garbage.  His robot mode is good and his torso mode is great, and the torso mode is likely the thing that this Grimlock will do that won't be replicated in later Grimlock toys, sooo... priorities, I guess???  There are so many other Grimlock toys, meaning if you need a better non-combiney Grimlock, those exist.  There will definitely be more Grimlock toys in the future, as well.  But if you want to form a giant Dinobot combiner, this is your Grimlock.  

Posted December 9, 2017 at 8:45 pm

Fine, I have another Doublecross.  (Or another Twinferno, if you want to go with his new and frankly superior name For American Trademark Purposes)  I didn't really have a desire for a new Doublecross, since Hasbro's is fine, and Takara's colors are sort of different but not in an amazingly spectacular way.  

But I needed his gun!  TakaraTomy decided belatedly to start giving their Targetmaster characters their Targetmaster guns, meaning Hot Rod and Kup got Firebolt and Recoil.  But Blurr was already out, and so instead of selling him again with a new Haywire, they gave that Haywire to Doublecross.  

And so I have a second Doublecross.

There are some parts of the paintjob that I appreciate more than the Hasbro one.  The inside bottoms of the dragon mouths are painted red, as well as the lower set of teeth being painted white.  And I guess it's okay that they painted the toothed disk on his dragon chest so it stands out more, but that kind of just reminds you that he's sculpted to look like he has a gimmick the original toy does while not maintaining it.  Everything else feels like a lateral move.  Definitely not something I would have gotten without having a much higher love for Doublecross, which I don't, really.

But I dig me some Haywire.  

Another deco improvement is the Titan Master that Doublecross's head turns into.  The toy is sculpted to look like White Leo, the leader of the Battle Beasts, and the Japanese deco puts some extra care into making White Leo look more like White Leo. This is nice.  I'm not at all into Battlebeasts, but I recognize this is nicer.

(meanwhile, the comic that comes with this toy decides that Haywire is actually the armored form of White Leo's little sister.  that's right, haywire in japan is a sexy catgirl)

Anyway, Haywire really needs to go to Blurr, because, like, Doublecross doesn't have hands.


Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:35 am

I'm thankful that TakaraTomy announced their plans for Misfire and Slugslinger before Hasbro's versions were available.  I didn't have such luck with Triggerhappy, who I ended up needing to rebuy.  TakaraTomy's versions come with their Targetmaster partners, see, and in Misfire's case, his is the most important Decepticon Targetmaster of all, to me, because of a terribly-presented scene in the original cartoon that had endeared itself to me.

Aimless, introducing himself: "I live only to destroy our mutual enemies!"

Misfire: "I think the name Aimless suits you better!"

Which, as presented, sounds like Aimless is saying his name is "Lives Only To Destroy Our Mutual Enemies," or at least Misfire believes so.

Regardless, Aimless is the best Targetmaster, and obviously if there's a proper new toy of that guy, I want it.  And so I passed on the American version and waited patiently for the Japanese version.

Misfire has Triggerhappy's legs, but everything from the crotch up is essentially new.  Sure, he keeps the same fists, biceps, and shoulder joints, but the rest of the arms and torso -- and essentially 90% of the toy's transformation -- is original.  Mind, Triggerhappy's best feature, the swoosh-swap-spin torso magic in the transformation to jet mode, is gone, so Misfire isn't going to be exactly as cool.  However, Misfire has a few small tricks of his own that make him stand out.  It takes a fairly straightforward transformation trope, flipping the nose of the vehicle back and pulling up the arms, and adds enough little levers and hinges to make it interesting.  Essentially, the arms and wings rotate and push up to the top of the torso while maintaining their vertical orientation.  It's neat and is entirely cosmetic.  

The original Misfire toy was content to fold the nosecone straight back, hanging down over his butt.  The cartoon/comic model, however, had the double-pronged nose of the jet poke up over the backs of his shoulders.  This gives Misfire an interesting and unique silhouette.  This new toy happily recreates this, double-hinging the nosecone piece so it can stay pointing up rather than pointing down.  

This new toy also gives Misfire his cartoon model's head, which has goggles and no antenna, rather than the original toy's singular eyes and pointy ears.  This matches the Marvel comics, the American cartoon, and the Headmasters anime, but it doesn't match the more toy-accurate design Misfire was given in the IDW comics, where he's a popular character in the MTMTE/Lost Light series.  Thanks to the head-swapping gimmick of the toyline, though, you can get a pretty good approximation of his IDW/toy head by substituting in Titan Master Ptero (Swoop).  

The toy is a crazy magenta pink that I adore.  The bright blue of Aimeless and the jet's cockpit window contrasts it perfectly.  He's a pretty fuckin' toy.

I haven't seen the American one in person, so I can't tell you how pretty his pink is.


Posted December 1, 2017 at 3:30 am

Dreadwind is the Nihilist Arby's twitter feed if it could transform into a jet.  

I'm not sure I could sell him any better than that, and I'm wondering if I should just stop with that one sentence and call it a day.

*sigh* FIIINE I guess I'll ruin everything and actually talk about his toy.

Power of the Primes Dreadwind is unique among the first wave of Deluxe Class guys because he's just a retool of Combiner Wars Skydive.  Other than the technicality of Jazz's combiner peg (Dragstrip's), everyone else is all new!  I mean, Dreadwind's retooled a lot, but he's still got the legs and large parts of the jet still left over. 

His transformation is different in one way -- his wings fold down onto his legs instead of staying on his back.  You might think this is weird because, like, Dreadwind's first toy's wings were on his back, so why retool him to make him less like himself?  The answer is that -- also like the first toy -- Dreadwind can combine with Darkwing (wave 2) to form a huger superjet, and those wings of his fold down to his legs to help facilitate a better combined jet mode.  

In robot mode, those giant wings on his legs are... cumbersome.  They are quite large.  I will give that they make standing him up amazingly stable, but they're kinda an eyesore.  They're less so when photographed from head on, like he is above, but believe me, it's worse in 3D.

Another important non-cosmetic change is that his mid-chest combiner port plug has a little flip-up bit that flips down to reveal a 5mm peghole.  This is how you attach his combiner fist to his torso as chest armor.  If you decide you want to do that and stick Prime Masters in him, anyway.  

Dreadwind's a great character, and this is an okayish toy of him that's much like an earlier toy that was redecoed/retooled a dozen times already, but now it's retooled in a way that's kind of dorky so that you can do something cool with him later when the next wave comes out.  

Definitely should have ended with that first sentence.

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