Posted June 30, 2019 at 6:00 pm

We're just gonna have to face some facts -- Springer gets pretty great toys.  Well, okay, not the first one.  That toy was... not super great.  But the BotCon 2007 redeco of Cybertron Defense Hot Shot?  The Universe redeco of Cybertron Evac?  The GDO retool of Movie Tomahawk?  And (pen)ultimately, the Thrilling 30 Springer that was the first triple-changing Springer since the original and is widely considered to be one of the better Transformers of all time?  

Yeah, well, the new Stege Springer is up there, too.  

Thrilling 30 Springer was so good that a lot of folks are saying, yeah, okay, so why do I need this other new Stege Springer?  It's a legitimate question!  And there's no definitive answer.  But I can definitely say that Stege Springer is a great toy in its own right.  It fits in that category that so many other War for Cybertron: Siege [sic] toys hail from -- aka, ugh it's just the cartoon design, oh wait, once it's in my hands it's pretty satisfying, what is this??? oh no I like it.  

While Thrilling 30 Springer was a glorious adaptation of Nick Roche's IDW Springer, albeit too skinny to get the exact feel of it, Stege Springer is a fairly faithful adaptation of Springer as we remember him from the cartoon.  This time, though, he's not lanky.  He's wide.  He has the presence.  He's got that Han Solo-esque charisma.  

It helps immensely that Stege Springer isn't as... Stegey as Stege often gets.  For example, Stege Starscream is a chunk of technogreeble detail that overwhelms the eyes if you look at him in focus.  Stege Chromia's another where you want to say, yikes, guys, scale it back a bit.  But Stege Springer doesn't suffer from that at all.  He's not overdetailed, he's just detailed.  Heck, his entire chest front is an absolutely flat box with nigh a sculpt line across it.  

And while he's a big pile of boxes, it's nice to see a few curves on him nonetheless, from the exhaust ports on the back of his canopy, to the wheel wells, to his helmet.  His toy strikes a good balance between edges and curves, between detail and negative space.  

He feels very at home with Titans Return Hot Rod, Blurr, and Kup, and Thrilling 30 Arcee.  ...not so much with Stege Ultra Magnus who is, again, looks like somebody was sculpting uniform detail across him while zoomed in at a billion percent.  

Some folks have described Stege Springer as fiddly, and, honestly, he's not any more fiddlier than Thrilling 30 Springer.  Perhaps less fiddly.  It is up to you whether the end result of that fiddliness results in very faithful renditions of Springer's original collaboration-of-boxes altmodes.  These aren't the reimagined car and helicopter modes of the Thrilling 30 Springer toy.  These, again, are just what he looked like in the cartoon, for better or worse.  He'll fit in well, again, with your newer Hot Rod, Blurr, and Kup toys.  

Springer comes with quite a few accessories, which is surprising considering how much Stege's gimmick is "buy these other toys to arm your other Stege toys."  His helicopter blade splits into three pieces -- two swords and a connector piece.  He also comes with two guns which combine into a longer gun.  You could probably get away with doing a Springer with just the swords in these budget-conscious days, but he comes with guns, too.  You can combine all the accessories together to make a larger cannon, though it's just the longer gun on top of the propeller connector with swords on the side.  Otherwise, he's got more weapons than he has hands, so I like to put the guns on his back, pointing upwards, to call back to his 2007 BotCon toy.  The propeller connector also fits back there, out of view.  

He looks good using the effects pieces that come with the two Battle Masters that transform into swords.  

He's fun and I like him.  He's an excellent Springer and an excellent toy.  


Posted June 4, 2019 at 11:27 pm

So anyway, there's this Decepticon who transforms from a robot into a stick.  And then that stick can wad back up into a box, and if you get two more of the same robot-to-stick toy, you can make combine those three boxes into a larger box!

This Decepticon is Refraktor, the trademark-sidestepping name for Reflector, the ol' three-guys-become-a-camera dude.  Remember him?  The toys were all different, but the show just took the middle guy and made two clones out of him, but without the lens on his tummy.  And, honestly, the execution of this new toy is better than it sounds?  It's almost satisfying.  It's so very close.

I mean, let's get this out there: one Refraktor is worthless.  As stated, you get a robot who lays down and you put his gun between his ankles and you put his shield over his head.  That's a spaceship!  Maybe!  And every single shortfall of this toy is entirely because it's saving its engineering for the occasion in which you have three of him.  The gun combines with two other guns to become a tripod.  The shield combines with two other shields to become a camera lens.  The robot transforms into an unremarkable plank because that robot also needs to become an unremarkable third chunk of a camera.  

And the real kicker is that if you buy this toy and plug in the blacklight code into the website, you get a tease for a better possible version of the toy you just bought, with a flashcube and other extra parts.  That's just mean, Hasbro.

I'm less down on the toy than I seem, I'm pretty sure?  I mean, at the end of the day, it's three guys who combine to form a camera, which is neat.  The gun-tripod and shield-lens are good engineering.  And it's Reflector, the camera guy.  You can even yank the tummy-lens off two of them (plugging them into their butts), so you can have the regular tummy-lensed guy and his two non-tummy-lensed sidekicks.  

He just, you know, exists almost entirely on the steam of recreating something from the cartoon, without a lot of gas put in the tank of "is this fun for people in general."  And it works for me, because I've been in Transformers for 35 years and so I put value in these sorts of things.  But it's.... probably not a good sell to anybody else?  Unless they like Transformers who become sticks?

And lord knows I do if their name is Rung, but, like, he's a real character, and Reflector -- the perpetual cameo -- is so not.  

dang this came out a heck of a lot more sour than i was expecting

Posted April 16, 2019 at 11:05 pm

gonna get this out of the way first, but the rubber ducky is a season two thing, and this is a season one megatron toy, so no it wasn't gonna ever come with a rubber ducky and no it's not weird or wrong that it doesn't

Many people assume Dinobot is my favorite Transformers character.  I do like him a lot, and I collect him religiously, but he's not actually my Number One.  My favorite Transformers character is actually Dinobot's nemesis, Predacon Megatron.  Megatron's an intellectual and physical powerhouse whose only weakness is he loves being evil with style and class.  He's not just a jackass, he also enjoys being a jackass, and he wants you to know he enjoys being a jackass.  It's fun to watch him fail, it's fun to watch him succeed -- it's just fun to watch him, which is rare for a Megatron.  

So the Masterpiece toy line has finally gotten to my favorite Transformers character, and... it's a big'un.  He's not the biggest Masterpiece toy so far (Ultra Magnus and Star Saber are larger), but he towers a bit over the G1 and Movie Optimus Primes and G1 Megatron.  Masterpiece toys have long maintained a strict robot mode scale, and if you want Megatron to be in scale with Masterpiece Optimus Primal and the nearly-as-large Masterpiece Dinobot, you're going to have a giant-ass Beast Wars Megatron toy.  

Like the other Beast Wars Masterpieces, Megatron is meticulously decoed.  He's got metallic paint and/or plastic to match the look of the mid-90s CGI.  He's got texture-mapped deco across his dinosaur skin surfaces.  The color matching is meticulous.  There's no places where the paint runs out because it goes around a corner and the budget's thin.  He's painted from every angle.  

He's electronic!  Batteries go into both of his heads.  The batteries in his robot head make his eyes light up.  The batteries in his tyrannosaur head play speech clips.  They're all in Japanese, of course, but there are quite a few of them.  

For the reasons listed above, he's also pretty expensive!  Amazon.jp has pretty good discounts on preorders, but without them, he was the most expensive Masterpiece toy thus far.  That is, until the third Masterpiece Optimus Prime comes out this fall.  (Prime's shorter, but he comes with, you know, a trailer.)

Megatron comes with a handful of accessories.  He's got two extra faces in addition to the neutral one.   There's the trademark grimace, which should remind us of the original toy's expression.  And most importantly, there's the Grin.  Some call it the Triangle Grin, some call it the Eric Cartman Grin, but it's the Grin.  I love that face.  It's the "Yeeessss!" face.  It's the "I love being an evil jackass" face.  And finally it's in plastic.  

There's also a toothbrush.  Yeah, there's a toothbrush, so you can replicate that scene in "Before the Storm" where we catch him with all his extra parts off brushing his dinosaur hand's teeth.  ...the extra parts also all come off.  You can yank off the hip guns, the tail itself from the arm, the kibble piled on his back, and the shoulderpads.  This leaves you with a pretty skeletal Megatron robot that's only got the dinosaur hand, his dinosaur boots, and the dinosaur taint.  And it's all so you can more faithfully replicate that time he brushed his dinosaur hand's teeth. These Transformers folks at TakaraTomy are madmen.  

Megatron comes with the shotgun he carries in "Call of the Wild."  He also comes with an adaptor for Dinobot's stand so you can mount Megatron on the stand's arm so that Optimus Primal can stand under Megatron's raised body -- also to replicate a scene from that same episode.  (There are also stand adaptor pieces for both robot and dinosaur modes.  There is no stand itself included -- you've gotta use Dinobot's or get a second Dinobot.)  There's also a weapon blast effect that you can plug into one of the shotgun barrels or into Megatron's open tyrannosaur mouth.  

Transforming him the first time isn't fun!  The instructions actually come with a second, smaller sheet of... corrections, so that you transform him properly without breaking him.  Some of his hinges -- especially within the pile of tyrannosaur hide that bunches up on his back -- feel a little fragile.  The instructions want you to fold them in the proper order.  It's also difficult to pull the tyrannosaur hide parts apart the first time.  They're locked together pretty well, and you don't know yet where the connection pieces are and where the hinges are.  It's a pretty large web of interconnected thin plastic sheets.  

The second problem area is transforming his torso.  Most of it pulls out along a slider, and that sucker is, like, paint-locked or something.  It requires excessive force to pull out the first time, and you're not really sure what you can leverage against without breaking something.  I recommend... pushing with your thumb against the inside of the top of the pelvis while yanking back?  I dunno. 

It's all much easier the second time around.  You know where the tabs are, you know where the weak points are, and everything stops being so hard to yank out as it was the first time.  Which is good, because both modes are excellent (unlike Dinobot's) and so you're actually going to want to spend time with both of them.  

Some people have reported problems with the purple swirly plastic in the crotch.  A handful have reported cracking, and a few more have reported fear of cracking.  It's swirly plastic, and there are already some carved grooves in there, and so once you hear about splitting, every facet looks like breakage.  Mine, so far, doesn't seem to have any problems.  It's been suggested that the problem is not actually weak plastic, but that those few handful of cracked crotches were because of a rarely-occurring gear misassembly inside the crotch.  Meaning, hopefully, that it's not something inevitable that will happen to everybody's Megatron, but something that will happen immediately to maybe five people once they move a hip in any direction, and everybody else's will likely be fine.  

Since mine seems to be okay, really the only downside to this fucking gorgeous toy is that my kids expect me to transform it constantly, and also transform it immediately.  Like, children, okay, but come back in half an hour, all right?  This is not a satisfactory answer to them.  They want dinosaur mode right now.  

I hand them Rescue Bots T-Rex Optimus Prime.  You just twist that guy's waist and he's done.


Posted March 22, 2019 at 10:21 pm

When I was a much younger lad, in those golden years before even the term "Autobot" had made a resurgence within Transformers stuffs after a long nap, when buying a new Optimus Prime (not Primal) toy seemed like a crazy pipe dream, I had lots of ideas about What Optimus Prime Should Look Like In Real Life.  It was largely based on the aesthetics of the original 1984 toy, with its giant box for a torso atop a pair of comparatively skinny legs.  It was very "this thing is a truck first and a robot second," with this shell of a Freightliner housing this skeleton of pistons and gears.  This foggy concept floating in my brain was my Idealized Prime.  And you could nourish that sort of thing for forever as it grew and grew, because in that desert bare of any possibility of a Transformers revival, that was all you figured you'd ever have.  

And then, you know, suddenly came the parade of reimagined Optimus Primes across countless aesthetics, culminating in a recent snap-back to the source material (by which we mean the cartoon).  

But Bumblebee Movie's Optimus Prime is so very close to what was in my brain all those decades ago.  Mind, I'm talking more about the action figure itself.  What we see on screen has less of what I want.  The CGI model is, you know, just An Optimus Prime.  The toy, though, has to become a truck.  And so that toy IS truck.  The robot IS truck.  

And what a friggin' great truck it is.  Unlike usual, this Voyager Class Optimus Prime toy feels like it's prioritizing the truck and then making a robot out of that truck.  It's not just an Optimus Prime chest with robot legs poking out the back.  It's an actual truck.  The back of it doesn't look like legs.  Instead, about half of the legs folds up into the back-end of the cab.  This leaves a more realistic-looking hitch section behind, which should really be just some railing for wheels to attach to.  

The rest explodes and then recompacts into a solid robot form.  Most of the bottom front of the truck, including the bumper, flips and turns around to become Optimus Prime's back.  His arms hide inside the cab in the usual L formation, but some panels cover them from view.  Some parts might pop out of their hinges in the process if you're not gentle, but they snap back on.  This is the toy's only frustration.  

The result is a robot that looks like it's made of truck.  An Optimus Prime made out of truck parts, rather than a truck made out of Optimus Prime.  I prefer to keep the silver stripe ab pieces folded down.  This is not accurate to the CGI model, but it's accurate to how I view the shape of Optimus Prime's chest.  It's a giant box.  Flipping the stripe-abs down approximates this.  

Plus if you got a hankering to go watch this design in motion, you'll see an Optimus Prime who shoots to disable, not shoots to graphically disembowel.  That's an extra bonus.

Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Transformers Stege is just tearing through Universe (2008) Autobots with so-so toys and replacing them with solid entries.  Universe Sideswipe, Ironhide, and Prowl were all toys with some problems, and these Stege iterations are just dancing on their graves.  (The lone exception is Hound, whose Universe 2008 toy is still nigh-perfect.)  

The issue with Universe Prowl was that he was impossible to transform without his door wings popping off.  There just wasn't clearance, and the balljoints weren't very secure to begin with.  It was easier to just yank those car parts off to begin with before attempting transformation just to get it over with and out of the way.  Plus he commonly had some bad paint that reportedly came off in lots of folks' hands, and his painted translucent plastic doors (the ones that pop off) always had kind of a sticky texture to them. 

More subjectively, the dude was a little too tall and gangly to read perfectly as Prowl to me.  And when I got him off the shelf to take pictures of him for this, apparently he's hard to stand?  His heels are not sufficiently large.  He just likes to fall over backwards a bunch.

(Note: The Universe Prowl pictured below has been customized with stickers and had his thighs swapped with Universe Smokescreens.)

But this new Stege Prowl?  I have been excited for this Prowl ever since we got to see stock images of him.  He's deliciously short and stocky (the original 1984 Datsun toy has the platonic ideal for Autobot Car proportions, I feel), and he's in a toyline where there hasn't really been an issue with toys being too fiddly or fall-aparty.  And sure enough, Prowl's toy takes some cues from Stege Sideswipe's execution.  During transformation, everything fits neatly into place.  It's very simple.  There's no cramming anything past anything else.  Nothing pops off.  (The only balljoint on him is his neck.)  He's just efficient, straightforward, and compact.  

The result is a very good Prowl robot mode (with the standard Stege articulation which includes waist and ankle tilts) which transforms into a reasonably space-y police car.  I mean, okay, this space police car has Japanese patrol car markings on the hood, but that's just what Prowl looks like, so whatever.  I like his giant clompy feet.  I like his meaty fists (which are on rotatable mushroom joints).  He's got a great look to him.  

Some people don't like his legs.  These people are wrong.

Prowl comes with two accessories.  One his his lightbar, which plugs into his roof with a 5mm peg.  The other is his rifle.  You can plug the lightbar into the top of the rifle.  You can also plug the rifle into the top of the lightbar!  Or you can, just like, leave the lightbar on the roof in either mode and have him carry his gun around normally without a big flashing bowtie on it, I dunno.

I did make some visual modifications to this guy.  I painted his thighs, abs, and gun silver.  I'm a big fan of original Prowl's silver accents, but Transformers toys tend to keep Prowl a black/white-only guy, so I tend to have to finish his deco myself.

Posted March 9, 2019 at 2:08 am

Transformers Stege is moving on to wave 2, and so here's Starscream.  He's half of the second wave of Voyager Class guys, and gaddangit, I like him.  I hate that I like him.  

First of all, like, dude, he is very Stege.  His legs look like a close-up of the Death Star trench run.  Like he was carved out of a Cheddar Bay Biscuit.  Like he is literally a sponge.  I could go on.  It's not an aesthetic I like.  There's not an art to his leg details, it just looks like detail for detail's sake.  An obsession with lines without understanding how they fit into the whole.  It's like drawing in Photoshop while zoomed in too much.

The silver lining is that the soot and scorch marks they slop all over his legs has a flattening effect!  There's just so much detail on top of detail that your eyes kind of glaze over and can't focus on it!   *uneasy thumbs up*

It's maddening that this is the style they chose for this particular Starscream, because otherwise this particular Starscream is superb.  He is... delightfully poseable.  He's more poseable than the Masterpiece.  (though the Masterpiece is admittedly pretty stiff)  It's not just the amount of articulation points, but the range.  His elbows are double-jointed.  His wrists turn and can hinge down a bit.  His knees aren't double-jointed, but when you fold his legs up, the thighs collapse into the shins, allowing the legs to bend as much as a human's.  (there is a spring-activated piece of plastic back there so that his shins don't look hollow from behind)  And, universal across Stege toys Deluxe and larger, a dedication to giving each figure ankle tilts and waist rotation.  Yeah, that's right.  A Starscream toy has waist rotation.  You'd think that'd be impossible, based on, you know, how his chest canopy window usually has to reach across to his happy trail area, but this toy says LOL and splits that canopy in two so you can twist his torso as you please.  And also, he's got extra hinging at his shoulders for transformation that also allow you to get his arms across his torso into one of the best approximations of folded arms I've seen in a Transformers toy.  

As a result of this, you can give him a lot of personality.  This is what will sell you on owning him once you have him in hand.

He transforms like a Transformers jet.  You know, he's got a robot on the bottom and a jet on the top.  In Starscream's case, you kind of put him in a limbo pose and then fold his backpack around him while twisting his shoulder intakes into the jet's nose.  And by "jet," I mean this guy is a Cybertronian Tetrajet, as seen in the first episode of the original Transformers cartoon.  And by "Cybertronian Tetrajet," I mean this guy is a Colonial Viper.  

I'd love for this guy's face sculpt to have a smirk.  Instead, Thundercracker seems to have the smirk head, if the samples at Toy Fair last month were indicative of the final production run.  Smoove move, guys.  You got Seeker noggins switched.  (i guess they switched the original tech spec numbers around in the 80s, so maybe this is an homage)

To sum up, if you like Starscream and don't mind that his leg texture looks like an Escher print, get your hands on this guy.  He is a great toy in spite of himself.  I originally planned to buy him only because he's so Steged that he looks like the overdetailed art of Underbase-powered Starscream from the Marvel Comics.  But now I just genuinely like him.  It sucks.

Posted February 19, 2019 at 3:38 pm

So far the Studio Series Leader Class toys have been pretty baller.  Like, Blackout and Grimlock?  Very good.  And here comes Dark of the Moon Megatron and... oh no, he's also baller!  Dang!  Oh no!  These are all great!

For Dark of the Moon Megatron, it's about time.  He's my favorite live-action Megatron design, largely because he actually turns into some kind of Earth thing.  Plus he's wearing a tarp on his head like he's Obi-Wan Kenobi, chilling in Africa shooting elephants (but only in a scene cut from the movie but left in the various adaptations).  He's such an impressive visual that Megatron even looked like that for a bit in the IDW Generation 1 comics.  

The original Dark of the Moon Voyager Class toy of this design was Not Impressive!  He was this dinky, skinny little thing.  Gangly, even.  And so that never really satisfied.  

But this new toy does that design very well!  Does it an amount of justice!  You may be put off at first by the soft goods, since it's very obviously a small piece of beige fabric that does not look like it is actually a very large tarp on a very large robot.  But you can squish it around a bit in your fingers, or get it wet and drape it better until it dries, or other kind of weathering techniques, and it starts looking pretty okay.  I am not really done playing with mine yet, because I didn't want to make too many changes before taking photography.  Didn't want to give off too false of an impression.  But I'll be wadding it up a bit now that I'm wrapped here.  See if I can get properly to Ragged.

Impressively, Megatron scales well to Studio Series Optimus Prime in vehicle mode.  Like, their semi cabs are the same size, with Megatron towing a large covered trailer behind him.  How does this work, with Megatron transforming into only a slightly larger robot?  Here's the secret:

the truck cab is essentially hollow

For real, look under it, and there will be nothing in there.  It's a shell.  It breaks up into pieces and then compacts into his legs, which are much less hollow, because they are several strata of truck cab wadded up.  And then his thighs and upwards become the entirety of the trailer.  Fold the tarp over the top, wrap his little rubber chain harness across that, and you're done.  It's a very large truck-and-trailer mode, and it looks very neat.  Very Mad Max, with the spike bumper and what-have-you.  

And then you unwrap it back into a large hunchy robot with half its skull blown off and wearing a hood.  He's got a lot of personality and I like it.  

Bonus: He comes with Igor, the little disembodied head guy who appeared in the movie but otherwise didn't receive a toy, possibly because Hasbro didn't know he existed until it was too late.  Hasbro also didn't know DOTM Megatron carried a shotgun, and they released the shotgun with an Optimus Prime from the following movie.  It happens.  But hey!  Igor!

I really like Megs and Igor.  They're neat.

Posted February 3, 2019 at 9:53 am

Everyone remembers Bonecrusher!  Y'know, from the 2007 movie?  Guy who smashes through a bus?  Doesn't have a single line of dialogue, but kinda echoed some sort of gutteral moan through his Squinty Owl face?  Lived approximately 30 seconds?  

I guess he mostly lived on through online memes, huh.  You know, the "Bonecrusher hates everything" running gag.  Sometimes when somebody's just a not-even-roaring monster, you gotta pull some character mythos out of yer rear.  I remember in the early days of fandom, when people would write fanfic screeds about, say, Reflector based on single lines of dialogue from the cartoon with an inflection that only the writer could discern.  And the folks surrounding those people'd be all "look, we're pretty sure none of this is actually in the original text, this is an asspull, you desperate nerd."  And then ten years later that same snarky audience is all big into Bonecrusher, who smashes through a bus and then dies.  

Regardless of this self-reflection, I still like Bonecrusher.  I mean, sure, he's literally beige.  He is a beige robot.  But he has an angry flower made out of forks that he'll stab you with, and he roller skates.  He is not a person, he is a monster, but he is a roller-skating forky monster.

This twelve-years-later Bonecrusher update is Voyager Class, not Deluxe Class like the original '07 model.  This is very good, because, man, I gotta tell you, that Deluxe Class Bonecrusher was some weak sauce at the time.  In the movie, Bonecrusher only interacted with Optimus Prime, and Optimus Prime's toy was Leader Class.  In the movie, they're the same size.  In toy scale, Bonecrusher was Optimus Prime's toddler son.  And so it scratches a decade-long itch to have a Bonecrusher who's roughly the same size as the concurrent Optimus Prime toy.  In Studio Series, Optimus Prime is downgraded to Voyager, and so they can just about interact plausibly.  That's really the best selling point of Studio Series -- everything aims for scale.  It doesn't always exactly hit the precise mark, but it tries.

New Bonecrusher transforms very similarly to the Old Bonecrusher.  The arms form the top half of the vehicle and the legs form the bottom half.  The two halves connect at the front of the vehicle, where the torso is.  Some of the smaller details are different, but the broad strokes are there.  That's not to say this guy isn't improved.  He's got a lot less giant vehicle kibble hanging off him where it doesn't go.  The new toy is way more efficient at putting stuff where it goes.  And he's got his back-wielded pair of mine-clearing forks which can fold together, sort of, into the angry flower weapon we see briefly in the movie.  It still regrettably looks like a pair of forks facing each other, rather than a circle of prongs, but there is an attempt.  

Studio Series Bonecrusher is a satisfying recreation of a noncharacter who we like despite not him not really putting in the work for it.  And he's rightfully huge.  Thumbs up for you Bonecrusher stans.  

Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:55 am

War for Cybertron: Siege "Stege" Shockwave is a toy that I'm disappointed in because of an expectation I had built up for myself.  Like, okay, Stege's thing is interchangeable armor parts that work with everybody else, right?  Cog comes apart and he fits on other guys.  And everyone has identical placement of 5mm ports all over their bodies.  Clearly Shockwave's Shockwave armor is going to be able to similarly fit on other Stege toys.  

This is not the case.

And so I'm a little grumbly about it.

  

You can... sort of fit Shockwave's Shockwave armor on Skytread/Flywheels.  But I think this is just by accident.  Everyone else's shoulders are just off from being able to fit his shoulder armor on by, like, millimeters.  It's frustrating.  There's always some different kind of ridge that keep things from connecting properly. 

I am denied giving everyone Shockwave armor by the smallest of technicalities.  I'm a little put out.

I mean, you can still give him Shockwave's platform gun shoes.  And you can peg his shoulder/arm thingers elsewhere, haphazardly, but it's not quite what I wanted.

Other than that, Shockwave is very ... serviceable!  He's like a scaled-down Masterpiece Shockwave, transformation-wise.  The barrel folds up on his back, connected by long stretch of plastic.  His legs break up and become "the handle" and the butt of "the spacegun."  And I put those in quotes because he's one of those "no it's not a gun it's a, uh, submarine" things.  You flip his altmode upside-down, the "handle" is now a command tower, and it's "a spaceship."  Then you can connect all his extra parts to this spaceship mode to make a bigger more spaceshippy mode.  It's a pretty nice bigger spaceship!  The smaller spaceship is, uh, a spacegun upsidedown.

You can also connect all his extra bits together to make a little Shockwave Head-shaped hoverplatform for Shockwave to stand on.

As per the rest of Stege, Shockwave's robot mode is intended to be in cartoon scale with the rest of the line.  Thus he's a head shorter than Megatron and Optimus Prime.  Cartoon Shockwave was a little shorter than the leaders in the original cartoon (and in the original comic on the rare occasion someone looked at the height charts).  

Also as per a lot of Stege, Shockwave is absolutely covered in detail.  Some would say... too much detail!  Shockwave's got a lot of stege on him, is all.  Just so much stege.  I've got astigmatism, which means I often have trouble with horizontal and vertical lines, so if I, like, don't focus too hard on Stege Shockwave I sometimes forget that he looks like he's covered in mecha-scabs.  Detail is fine but this detail is just so... homogeneous.  It's all the visual interest of a chicken tender.

I imagine he'd be pretty ugly if I had crystal clear vision.  

Posted January 13, 2019 at 10:03 pm

Remember back in 1986 when Ultra Magnus had this white Optimus Prime inside him?  That was weird!  And then the cartoon and comic ignored it, and then Dreamwave remembered it, and that inspired a bunch of white Optimus Prime toys, and then IDW said "actually you know what inside Magnus is this tiny white mustached guy," and then Hasbro made THAT a toy.  But throughout it all, we never really got an Ultra Magnus toy that had a white Optimus Prime inside.  Sure, we got White Optimus Primes, and we got Big Combined Mode Ultra Magnuses, but never again an intersection between the two, where one fits inside the other.  

Well, Stege Ultra Magnus has stepped forward to finally make that dream come true.  For the first time in forever, Ultra Magnus is a white Optimus Prime toy which armors up into an Ultra Magnus toy.  And.... 

...That's about really the best it has going for it!

All the other zillions of kinds of Magnus toys kind of do better all the things Magnus toys tend to do.  Like... Stege Magnus doesn't even work as a car carrier.  He's too full of armored parts that you snap around your White Optimus Prime.  So unlike, say, Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus, you can't cram a car into him somehow.  

Stege Magnus is also pretty short.  I mean, it makes sense.  He's a Voyager-scale White Optimus Prime (albeit different from the actual Voyager-scale Stege Optimus Prime) that adds armor parts to make him a slightly taller robot.  He weighs more than Combiner Wars Magnus, despite being a fraction of its height, just because how he works makes him so dense.  He's full of things.  (Which, again, probably helps keep him from working as a car carrier.)  But White Optimus Prime works as the skeleton of Armored Ultra Magnus, so Armored Ultra Magnus can only be so large.  

I also don't really like the aesthetics of Stege Magnus.  He's just so busy.  He is very Stege.  

I do like some small non-White-Optimus-Prime aspects of him.  Like, he's an actual Space Truck, rather than Stege Prime's "1980s Freightliner with the serial numbers filed off" truck mode.  That's appreciated!  I also like how he has flippable underwear that swaps between smaller and larger robot modes.  Oh, and how his Space Truck bumper transforms along a track of plastic up his spine.  

But, like, in most respects, once you start comparing to other Magnuses, for me this is a disappointing Ultra Magnus.  I definitely prefer the Combiner Wars one overall.  And that's before we get into Laser Magnus or Masterpiece Magnus or Animated Magnus, etc.  BUT: if you like the White Optimus Prime Guy who wears parts to become Big Ultra Magnus, this guy's your guy.  That's what this Magnus specializes in.

You just gotta... weigh how much that means to you versus other things Magnuses tend to do.

Wait!  Almost forgot.  There's more thing this Magnus can do that others can't.  He has waist articulation.  Not even the Masterpiece had waist articulation.  This is in part due to, you know, how Magnuses tend to transform.  There's too much going on in the abdominal area for waist articulation to make sense and/or not break physics as we know it.  But Stege Magnus breaks up the car carrier trailer into smaller parts and fits it on a smaller toy with waist articulation and takes care to not obstruct that articulation.  

So, hey!  Waist articulation on an Ultra Magnus!  That's the innovation we've been waiting for.  

Note: Later, this guy's gonna be retooled into Optimus Prime.  He'll have a new truck front/chest and probably a new trailer/armor parts.  We haven't seen the actual toy yet, but IDW's started drawing him into their next Transformers continuity, which begins this March.  And the art for that Optimus gives him a Transformers Cybertron-styled cab chest, and Ultra Magnus comes with Transformers Cybertron-styled leg guns, soooooooooo...

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