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...

Posted December 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

I really liked Masterpiece Shockwave, but wasn't entirely sold on the weird milky lavender color they did him in.  But no worry, TakaraTomy would release a newer version this year in the dark purple everybody wanted to begin with!  And for twice the price, because I guess it's exclusive to somewhere maybe, I dunno!  

So I sold my original MP Shockwave on eBay and put down for the new one.  

The review for this one is pretty simple: He's as great as I said the other one was, but purpler now!  

Okay, a wrinkle: His gray gun barrel backpack thinger is now painted.  And so it's a snugger fit into the purple backpack you can clasp over it to make him look more charater-model/original-toy accurate.  I think it might scrape a bit if you're not too careful.  

He also has his Decepticon logos tampographed on rather than there being a sticker sheet provided.  Which is fine for me, since they tampographed on the logos I wanted anyway.  

Anyway, PURPLER.  Better!  More expensive!  ... but a downpayment via selling the first one helps.

Posted December 1, 2018 at 11:38 pm

Pardon my appropriating of Lindsay Ellis's lexicon, but dang.  

I spent nine full days trying to get Masterpiece Bumblebee Movie Bumblebee from robot (how he's packaged) into Volkswagen Beetle mode.  Nine days!  Several attempts!  Each time, I'd end up with this gross, annoying mess.  And the instructions are zero help.  They obfuscate more than they illuminate.  They're terrible.  The whole process is not fun!   Thanks, I hate it!

Do not recommend.

I mean, MP Bee Movie Bee is probably fine if you're cool with a very okay robot mode action figure that's based on a prototyptical version of Bumblebee as seen in the finished film.  That's, you know, the problem with making a Masterpiece toy based on a movie that isn't out yet.  The designs aren't finished.  That's why the current Masterpieces (and Studio Series toys) are so much more accurate than the original toys based on those designs -- the toy designers had a chance to actually see finished footage of the characters.  Making a Masterpiece simultaneous to the source material's release is... a gamble. 

For example, you end up with this MP B Movie B with giant door wings.  Bumblebee in the film doesn't have the door wings!  They decided to flatten them down against his back.  This toy can't do that.  The door wings are jointed to be exactly the same as basically every Movie Bumblebee toy until this one.  

I mean, okay, I might be getting a little petty.  But I hated transforming this guy.  Hated it.  And it hated me.  And the instructions threw some hate both our directions.  It was a hate three-way.  A big ol' orgy of hate.

Anyway, MPBMB comes with an alternate armored faceplate, a stinger sword and a stinger blaster.  They all can peg into his back if you want to store them there rather than in the box.  Also his chest halves flip up to reveal missile racks or whatever.  *shrug*

At least he's shorter and rounder and cuddlier than his hulked-out steroided-up future self.  

Posted November 16, 2018 at 11:00 pm

Here's a toy which I own because TFSource wasn't selling Stege Megatron separately and reviews on his casemate Optimus Prime were pretty strong.  I'd been pretty underwhelmed with Stege Optimus just from promotional materials, partly because, well, it's Optimus Prime.  We get a lot of those!  And the only new thing he brings to the table is his half-assed Cybertronian altmode.

Yeah, it's very partially assed.  It literally looks like a licensed Freightliner cab but with some boxes tacked on last-minute, like the Earth truck underneath was a stash of weed you needed to disguise from your parents who barged in unexpectedly.  This vehicle mode is the Standing Up Against A Billboard Pretending To Be A Part Of It of preEarth forms.  

Having the toy in-person doesn't change that a whole lot.  What does help partially is that you can rotate the wheels facing down as if they were, like, hoverpods or something.  Then, suspended by a display stand (sold separately), Prime looks more like a floating Tetris piece than a badly-disguised Earth truck at first glance.  Second-through-eleventy glances he looks like a badly-disguised Earth truck again, though.

But I can see why he's been getting positive reviews.  Though his robot mode is Just Optimus Prime again, it's a great robot mode to fiddle with.  It's well-proportioned and has all that Stege-level articulation you expect (ankle tilts!).  His head has a greater range of motion than Megatron, though, plus his elbows are able to bend at a little more than 90 degrees, which gives him a more natural "holding gun up" stance.  

What really strikes me about him (and Megatron and to a lesser extent Sideswipe) is the little things they can do with his transformation now that they're not allocating budget and parts to making him a combiner torso or a little guy which turns into his head.  Stege Optimus has so many little panels here and there that "complete" his transformation and make the robot mode feel more "finished" than there would be otherwise.  Hell, there's tiny little flaps on his knees that fold out in truck mode just to cover up his thighs more.  There's no real super need to do this, but it's nice that the toy has the bandwidth to spend on this kind of small stuff.  

Optimus comes with an axe that folds up into... into something that plugs onto the back of his truck mode, and he comes with his signature ion cannon.  

It's the first Classics-style Optimus that Just Transforms since... well, Classics Optimus in 2006.  So if you weren't around then, or if you feel like 12 years is plenty time to justify an upgrade, then this toy's your dude.  This toy's like that one in a few ways but easily better, though its altmode may make you roll your eyes.  

Posted November 15, 2018 at 12:10 am

Honestly, from initial photos, I was kind of meh on this guy until I mentally envisioned what he'd look like with a darker helmet like Marvel Comics Megatron and suddenly dang I needed him.  I haven't painted it yet, as of this writing, but it will be very soon.  

I was initially kinda meh because, like, it's another G1-style Megatron.  I have a few of those!  And Combiner Wars Leader Class Megatron is pretty great already.  I use him on my Lost Light shelf, since he's properly Magnus-sized.  And my regular ol' Decepticon shelf has Classics Megatron, who is an amazing toy.... but is severely yellowing.  But is still an amazing toy!  It would hurt to replace him.  He transforms into a Nerf Gun.  It's hard to beat that. 

I didn't think I needed yet another Megatron.  I already skipped the regular Titans Return Megatron for the same reason.  (I later ended up getting the purple Takara Tomy redeco of him because, well, he's really Beast Wars Megatron and comes with a tiny Savage Noble.)  

But here I am with another Megatron again anyway.  And, you know what?  This is a pretty solid Megatron toy.  He's just trying to be a really good Megatron, The Way You Remember Him.  And he generally succeeds.  Sure, he transforms into a Cybertronian-style tank and not a gun, but the latter isn't gonna happen again and Megatrons transform into nonEarth stuff all the time now.  Megatron's been a Cybertronian vehicle for three out of his four movie appearances.  He was a Cybertronian jet for all of Transformers Prime.  He was a Cybertronian tank for all of More Than Meets The Eye/Lost Light.  And so, like, Megatron not being an Abrams tank or a Walther-P38 but some kind of space tank doesn't really register on the Not Megatron scale anymore.  He could be exactly this toy in a toyline full of otherwise licensed Earthy guys and you wouldn't blink an eye.

If you're a fan of 1984 Megatron, other than a gun transformation, this toy has basically everything you want.  He's obviously cribbing a lot from the original cartoon/comic book character model.  He's got an arm-mounted cannon that looks like a gun scope instead of a tank barrel.  His head is incredibly buckety.  And he even comes with a big sword, if you pine for the original Megatron accessory Japan got but we didn't.  You can peel the blade away and attach the tank cannon inside the sword on his back, if you want to duplicate the barrel placement of the original Megatron model.  (It may take some Cog pieces to get it to attach around his hip like the original toy.  I haven't tried, but it might be possible.)

Again, Stege emphasizes articulation.  There's that ankle tilting again, though you can lock those ankles in place completely vertically if you want.  Megatrons rarely have rotating waists, due to their transformations, but this Megatron manages.  His head really only turns left and right, but it's on a panel that rotates forwards and backwards a little before you rotate it too much and it looks kinda dippy.  

The transformation is more involved than you'd think.  I mean, he's a Cybertronian tank, so he could look more like a pile of Megatron parts if Hasbro wanted him to be.  But his chest tucks away underneath, and the hull of the tank folds out of his back and wraps around the front.  Like Sideswipe, a panel opens up on his legs to give room for his thighs to hide inside, though Megatron's thighs do some 90 degree bendery to make it more interesting.  The arm-mounted cannon pegs onto the arm via the usual 5mm peg, but it doesn't remove for transformation; it rotates around, pointing backwards in the middle of the turret that the arms fold.  The sword transforms into the tank's barrel and plugs into the back of the arm-mounted cannon.  The sword halves themselves tuck under the turret.  The turret can rotate in tank mode, which is always a welcome feature as it's not always possible.  The feet, uh, stick out the back.

The feet sticking out the back is really the toy's only visual downside.  

If you want a good, no-nonsense Megatron that gives you a good feel for the classic iteration of the character, you can't really go wrong with this guy.  Again, I think that's essentially what they were going for.  

Posted November 13, 2018 at 12:44 am

Sideswipe is not an interesting character!  I can think of, like, one good Sideswipe story out of all three decades of Transformers fiction, and he dies in it.  Even his design is kind of the Default Transformers Look.  You fold down the hood, yank the arms from the sides, and pull out the legs.  The end!  But he was the Red Sportscar Guy in 1984, and that's always given him an artificial sense of importance.  

And so when War for Cybertron: Siege (aka Stege) was first unveiled, and Sideswipe was part of that unveiling, I had to fight back a yawn.  (I failed.)

But I am here to give you good news: Stege Sideswipe is GOOD.  Oh my gosh, I really like him.  I hate that I like him.  It's like when somebody you dislike on the Internet says something you agree with, and you're torn between going ugh, fine, and wanting to alter your entire worldview just to put yourself on the opposite side again.  I really like Stege Sideswipe, and so I worry I'm a bad person.

Let me try to explain why.  I think it's the transformation.  There's a lot of car Transformers where you kind of have to fight and fiddle to figure out where, say, the arms go.  And they maybe sometimes just kind of fold under loosely, sometimes it's a fight, and you hope for the best.  But Stege Sideswipe's arms are a dream.  They fold into little Ls, you tuck the fists in as far as they go, and they just... fit underneath in an extremely satisfying way.  There's no fighting over the same physical space.  There's no forcing them over other parts.  And then some car kibble folds down over the biceps and plugs in, securing them.  

The leg transformation is pretty good, too.  you pull out the front leg panels, smoosh everything inside in layers, and close the front leg panels back again.  

Again, it's hard to state exactly how satifying everything is.

Sideswipe has 5mm pegholes everywhere so you can plug in parts from other toys in the line.  There's one on his back, one underneath each foot, one on the outside of each shin, and one on both his shoulders and forearms.  He's also pretty well articulated for a toy his size.  He's got ankle tilts, which seems to be standard in this toyline, which really ups his shelf presence.  

He's supposed to be a Cybertronian-style car, but he passes for a fancy concept car from Earth if you squint.  He's going on the shelf with my other Earth car guys, so that's fine by me.

Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:26 am

So, phew, Transformers has been going down the checklist of "Guys Who Haven't Gotten New Toys Since the 80s" like friggin' mad over the past few years, and we're finally... running out... of guys to remake?

I mean, we must be, if we're getting a new toy of Cog.

Make no mistake, I love myself some Cog, but.... Cog was the pile of accessories that came with Fortress Maximus and assembled into a robot.  He's a wheeled vehicle and a treaded vehicle and two guns, and they peg together into a robot.  Not transform --  peg.  He's literally spare parts.  Sure, he's appeared in fiction, but clearly only by accident.  

BUT NOW HE'S BACK.

A new toyline trilogy from Hasbro is upon us, and the first chapter of this "War for Cybertron" is titled "Siege."  Or affectionately(?) "Stege," if you were around on the Internet a while back when a fan to mocked up a news graphic using the Star Wars font and the letters melded together a bit.  

I will be referring to Siege as "Stege" on this website henceforth, as a heads up.

Regardless, Cog is a Deluxe Class toy in Stege, and he's a special kind.  He's a Weaponizer, which means he primarily exists to split apart into weapons and armor that other toys can wear.  It's a good role for a guy whose prior Transformers experience was transforming by coming apart and pegging back together in different ways.  And make no mistake, new Cog transforms essentially identically to the original Cog.  But with joints!  Lots of joints.  He's got all the articulation you'd expect, plus some fancy stuff like waist rotation and ankle tilts.  The only new wrinkle in his transformation is his face folds away in vehicle mode.   Before, his face was a seat.  A seat that Spike Witwicky would sit on.  Oof.  But no worries, that head flips out of sight now.

And as described, Cog is created by a bunch of stuff 5mm-pegged together, and it can reassemble into various kinds of armaments that other toys can wear.  The front car can fold out into a shield, or it can stay unfolded-out and peg into a shoulder as some armor.  The back car's shin-treads can become, I dunno, blocks the other robot can stand on and become taller.  These blocks also have guns.  The thighs and pelvis can peg into the back of a robot and you can plug Cog's arms into that backpack, giving a robot over-the-shoulder launchers.  Everything's modular, so if you want, you can take the tread-stilts off and place them into the middle of the over-the-shoulder launchers, making them mightier.  

There's lots of 5mm pegs and pegholes on Cog, and each non-Weaponizer Deluxe Class toy has a wealth of 5mm connection points.  

Which means Cog is a pretty crummy toy by himself.  You need another toy to unlock all the actual neat stuff he does.  Because, frankly, he's a lousy Transformer and his two altmodes aren't much to write home about.

That's what makes him an excellent Cog, though, if nothing else.  To thine own self be true, Cog.  

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