Posts tagged with "beast wars" - 1
Posted November 10, 2020 at 9:44 pm

The third part of the War for Cybertron Trilogy, Kingdom, wasn't forecast to hit stores until March, and yet here we are, in November, with the initial trickle of them into one or two stores.  Amazon's even scoot up their estimate for delivery of these guys from February to next week.  Iiiiiit's happening!  Anyway, I threw my preorders in the garbage and grabbed a set of the first wave of Core Class figures from eBay.  

'Cuz if I can get a Rattrap now I'll get a Rattrap now.

Part one of WFC, Stege, was about the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron, pre-Earth.  Part two, Earthrise, is about them eventually getting to Earth and grabbing up some Earth alternate modes.  And Kingdom?  Apparently it's about Beast Wars!  I mean, there'll still be some Autobots and Decepticons, but we're here for the animals.  And taking the place of the $10 Micromaster two-pack pricepoint is the new Core Class pricepoint, which is some scaled-down G1 guys and some smaller Beast Wars folks.  (Presumably, the scaled-down G1 guys are for interacting with this year's Titan Class playset, which we don't officially know much about, but it'll be the Ark.)  

Rattrap is the lone returning Beast Wars character in the first wave.  (The other two are Vertebreak, a new Predacon; and a mini Optimus Prime.)  

The War for Cybertron Trilogy has been doing their best to deliver cartoon-accurate robot modes of Generation 1 Autobots and Decepticons, and it was interesting to learn how that design ethic would handle the Beast Wars characters.  It turns out that the way we're going is robot modes that do their best to ape (aheh) the Mainframe CGI models, while the beast modes are taking a more naturalistic approach.  This is versus the Masterpiece Beast Wars toys which aim to copy the CGI models in both robot and beast modes.  So Rattrap's rat mode, you see, tries to look more like your typical actual rat than it does the cute CGI rat he transformed into in the cartoon.

And, honestly, I'm big into that aesthetic.  I mean, I've got the Beast Wars Masterpiece toys if I need my Dinobot to transform into an awkward featherless duck or whatever.  I'm very happy for Kingdom to embrace better animal modes.  Rattrap's in particular is very pleasing!  It does indeed look like a little rat.  Enough so that I guess you should worry a little if you've got a-rat-nophobia or whatever.  In rat mode the toy is essentially immobile.  There is no articulation.  It's just a rat.

Which, at this scale, is fine enough.  This is a smalllllllll toy.  Maybe two inches long.  And I gotta tell you, this is the most complex toy I've ever seen at this tiny size.  He's got a lot going on in transformation.  Lots of little steps, and thankfully it all plugs in together well, mostly using various tabs that fit into the cooling vents in his balljoints.  Very economical.  It has to be, at this size.  

The perfect rat transforms into an unreasonably-well-proportioned robot mode.  Other than the more-realistic rat head on the chest, it achieves the look of the lanky CGI model.   The only real compromise is the robot feet, which become the rat's rear feet.  The was a choice to make them fully robotic or fully rat feet, and the choice was to go with a creepy midpoint.  Rattrap's feet are an organic redesign of his three-toed metal robot feet.  It's a compromise, again, but this is the scale we're working at.  Two inches.  

A friggin' incredible Rattrap at two inches.  

Posted December 18, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Hey, did you know that Masterpiece Blackrachnia's boobs are actually smaller than original toy Blackarachnia's boobs?  Hard to believe!  I mean, technically they started out being Tarantulas's pecs and looked more like a pair of golf balls, but it's somehow true!

Anyway, here's MP-46 Blackarachnia.  She's about the size of a large Deluxe Class toy.  (She's practically identical in size to Animated Blackarachnia, for example.)  I mean, you can tell she costs more just by looking at her -- she's ... a lot of paint and her parts count is massive.  But this is what size Blackarachnia's gotta be if she's gonna be in scale with everyone else in the Beast Wars Masterpiece range.  She wasn't a large gal!  The shortest character on the show, actually, ranking below Quickstrike, Rattrap, and Scorponok.  

Her size is relevant insomuch as she has to transform from one thing into another thing, and the two things share essentially zero parts.  Masterpiece Dinobot was also like this, and what he did to get from velociraptor to robot was... turn entirely inside out.  He was a Popple.  But he could do this because he was massively large.  There was enough of him that he actually could turn inside out.  Blackarachnia, though, uh.  She be small.  There's not enough of her to do what Dinobot does.  

She tries, though.

Obviously, by looking at her, the robot mode's accuracy was emphasized.  In robot mode, she's a perfect action figure of the CGI model.  The only thing that's even a tiny bit off is the exact curvy shape of the spider abdomen stuff on her back, and even that's getting picky.  It's hard to tell that she even transforms into something, at a glance.  She's got spider legs on her arms and that's it.  

The spider mode is definitely where all the compromises landed.  Her tiny head and thorax sit atop a massive pile of robot mode arms.  Her robot mode legs are too large to tuck entirely inside her spider mode abdomen.  The thing is, there's just not anywhere for all this stuff to go.  Her two modes are largely incompatible, and she's too insubstantial to be as creative with the transformation as one'd like.  Cramming all the accuracy into the robot mode seems like the best idea between "favoring robot," "favoring spider," and "making both look bad."

Blackarachnia comes with one stand square (Dinobot came with two squares), a support arm for the stand, four web parts that combine with each other to form a complete web and attach to the support arm, and an attachment piece to help you connect Blackarachnia to it in various ways.  This stuff is larger than the toy itself, so even though Blackarachnia is pretty small, you get a big chunk of plastic.   

There's also two alternate heads (nigh-identical smiling and laughing-while-green-eyes-glowing), a harpoon that attaches to the harpoon weapon that forms out of part of her abdomen, a second harpoon attached to a string which you can use to swing or hang Blackarachnia from, and a VR mask attached to a wire and a separate extra wire.

Masterpiece Blackarachnia is a small but incredibly intricate toy that transforms from a 100% perfect robot mode (which is extremely poseable) to a spider-mode that looks okay if you haven't put your contacts in yet, comes with a few extra faces, a large diarama stand, and some weapons.  How much you want this for the price she asks depends on how much you dig Blackarachnia.  

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 October 14, 2018 at 9:17 pm


Man, remember when these Transformers Fan Vote things resulted in new characters? I guess that was just the first two years, but since, like, Windblade is in EVERYTHING now, you'd think Hasbro'd be all... hey, that worked out for us pretty well, why don't we do that, like, a second time. But, naw, these days we just get to choose which pre-existing old guy to remake.

And for this year's, we weren't even originally sure what the end result of the vote would have been. Hasbro said simply "CHOOSE THE NEXT PRIME" and gave us a smattering of pre-existing characters and told us to vote for our favorite. (Sure, one of those was "UNKNOWN EVIL," but unknown evil was technically just Deathsaurus.) It wasn't until later we learned that, oh, we're taking the winning character and giving him a Leader Class toy where they have a smaller-scale figure that folds up into a portion of a larger-scale figure. Really makes you wonder how that would have worked out if, say, Arcee had won. Maybe one of her halves would have been a giant techno-organic spider, I dunno.


Anyway, who won was Optimus Primal. Because, as Hasbro should really have figured out by now, if you have a list of guys and only one of them isn't G1, folks vote for the not-G1 guy. Any more than one not-G1 guys, you're gonna split the not-G1 vote and end up with, say, Wheeljack or whoever, but otherwise you're gonna have a Beast Wars character every time one's on the list. So Optimus Primal won! And Hasbro had to make him a toy! Had to! We made them do it! There's always some crank somewhere who claims that these votes are always rigged (because he didn't get what he wanted and/or thinks girls are stupid), but the fact that we got Optimus Primal and not Star Saber definitely puts lie to that conspiracy. I feel like this team really wanted to do Star Saber, and they only do Beast Wars literally when we force them to.

Since the theme was "early form merging with later, larger form," seen elsewhere in the Power of the Primes toyline as "Hot Rod becoming Rodimus Prime's chest" and "Orion Pax becoming Optimus Prime's chest," this new Optimus Primal toy has a mechanical-looking Optimus Primal becoming the torso of his later, larger, Optimal Optimus form. And if you're worried they forgot about that intermediate Transmetal form, it's given a tip of the hat through the Optimal Optimus gorilla mode being able to ride on Optimus Primal's spaceship mode like a surfboard.


It's nice that they found extra things for this Optimal Optimus re-do to do, because they cut out the fourth mode, the wheeled armored transport. He's just the big robot, the big gorilla, and the big jet. The smaller robot doesn't turn into a gorilla, just a spaceship that looks an awful lot like Optimal Optimus's torso flattened out with a rolling pin. The Matrix fits into the cockpit of the spaceship, which helps you play out your favorite "Optimal Situation" moments.

Some other changes are attempts to make the appearance more cartoon-accurate. In the cartoon, Optimal Optimus could retract his shoulder guns. The toy couldn't, because they were, y'know, electronic. But in cartoons, you probably don't want giant missiles constantly blocking the face of your super tall character, so they tucked away. So on this toy, you can yank those off and plug them elsewhere if you want. The bigger robot's face is also just the show's version of his head, instead of having the more stylized, angular mouth of the toy.


Also there's no chrome. Which is probably better in the longer run. Or it would be, the toy didn't have stickers. And as you have probably heard me grumble about more than once on this blog, Hasbro's current factory-applied stickers are garbage. They start peeling and shredding under all possible atmospheric conditions. And on this new OpOp, those stickers are right on the torso part that you shove in between the parts of the rest of his torso. Woo! So, you know, one step forward and all that.

oh and the original optimal optimus's backpack is made out of sparkly brown plastic that is kind of brittle so, uh, yeah, this may be a welcome update for some people


It's an okay toy. It's got a lot of different configurations, a good combined robot, an okay gorilla, and a jet because we say so. And that gorilla can ride himself as a surfboard.

This toy hasn't shown up at regular North American retail as of this writing, and so mine is the Japanese release, which is absolutely identical to ours but with a sticker on the packaging. And we're running out of time for this guy to come out over here before the next line (Stege) starts hitting stores this winter, so it's entirely possible Hasbro's "fan vote winner" will end up getting shat out into places like TJ Maxx and Marshall's. Who even knows.

Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:08 pm


This guy is Ravage!

You can't convince me otherwise.

Ravage used to be one of those Transformers characters who had twice the toys of any other guy just through his involvement in Beast Wars.  This was, you know, before Generation 1 stuff made a comeback and you started getting Optimus Prime and Bumblebee toys on the reg.  But Ravage had a bunch!  He had his original toy, and he had the Beast Wars Metals toy, and he got Tripredacus Agent, and he got that McDonald's panther dude, and he got two friggin' Alternators, and he got Shadow Panther.

Sure, Shadow Panther wasn't Ravage in Japan.  He was just a black Cheetor redeco to fill out their line.  Give Rhinox somebody to be packed with in a versus set.  (Takara liked to do versus sets in addition to their single-pack toys back then.)  He was a "disguise warrior," which I'm guessing, knowing absolutely zero Japanese, is just a bad translation of "undercover agent."  (G1 Ravage was a saboteur.)  Shadow Panther had to be an undercover agent because back then, Maximals were, you know, mammals and birds and such, while Predacons were evil bugs and dinosaurs.  And so a Predacon panther would have to be one who's pretending to be a nice panther.  

But Ravage showed up in season two of Beast Wars, and Hasbro was all, "oh hey guess what, in lieu of an actual toy for this guy, we've decided this black cat guy we sell imported on our website is actually that Ravage, somehow."  I mean, they couldn't out-right call him Ravage.  In those days, someone else owned the trademark.  And so the official website called him "Tripredacus Agent," which was Ravage's role in the cartoon.  Later, Walmart would get a black and gold redeco of Transmetal 2 Cheetor named Tripredacus Agent, with a bio that continued to assert vaguely that he was Ravage without being called Ravage specifically, while also talking about all the previous jobs and bodies he's had, wink wink nudge nudge.  Ravage 3 Bodies Evolution indeed.  

Since then, every damn body from G1 has inserted themselves into Beast Wars.  But in the late nineties, before that explosion happened, Ravage's inclusion was special.  It was a fun time.  

Anyway, TakaraTomy redecoed Masterpiece Cheetor as Masterpiece Shadow Panther.  Their Shadow Panther continues to not be Ravage, but I don't care.  I got him, and he's Ravage to me.  

MP Shadow Panther has a few accessories left out of Cheetor's release.  He's got the little communication device that he used in "The Web."  Two of them, actually.  One sized to fit on his robot arm, another to fit on his beast mode foreleg.  He's also got the "mutant head" that the original toy had but cartoon Cheetor did not.  It plugs onto the toy's face, rather than the head itself flipping over like the original.  All three of these pieces are chromed.  

Shadow Panther is a little less extensively decoed than Cheetor.  Cheetor's a cheetah, and so 90% of him is covered in spots.  Shadow Panther is black!  I mean, he has some areas of his black deco that's also covered in some fur-like tampography, similar to MP Optimus Primal's, but it's not over every surface.  

His cheetah --er, panther mode is still hella awkward.

But he's Ravage, from back when being Ravage meant something unique and special, and so I love him.

Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:37 pm


I may have once related through the webcomic medium about how, for a while, there was an arms race between Hasbro and Takara to make a more show-accurate Dinobot.  There was the original toy, and then Takara put a gold helmet on it and de-pinked it a bit, and then later Hasbro tried to do more-show-accurate colors from scratch (badly), and then Takara tried to one-up them again (to limited success), and then Hasbro had a new Dinobot toy which was sculpted to look more cartoon-accurate, and then Takara painted it to match...

Kind of felt like, you know, a game that would go on forever.

WELP I THINK IT'S OVER NOW.


Witness Masterpiece Beast Wars Dinobot.  He painstakingly recreates both the robot mode and the beast mode from the CGI cartoon, and somehow transforms back and forth.  For good or ill.  See, the problem with Dinobot's CGI robot mode is that it's clearly not anything that can transform into a raptor.  It's just a robot with fleshy arms and a flattened-out raptor head on the chest.  Everything else is robot.  How does it become an organic, scaly velociraptor?  Well, in CGI, it happens through replacing one model with the other in a fancy way through which hopefully you won't notice.  Slight-of-hand, mostly.  

And the problem with Dinobot's CGI velociraptor mode is that it looks like garbage.  I mean, all praise where it's due -- this was 1996 computer animation for television.  But, like, it's, uh, not a good velociraptor.  I like to think the completely new Cyber Raptor models for the third season were a "hey look we can make a good velociraptor CGI model we swear" moment for the crew.  


What I'm beating around the bush at is, uh, yeah, this toy transforms from a robot IMPOSSIBLY into a terrible, terrible velociraptor.  On purpose.

And I love it.

Please take me seriously when I say this toy turns inside out.  It does.  The walls of the velocraptor torso are all robot bits sculpted on the inside, and the walls of the robot torso are all scaly on their insides.  To get from raptor to robot, you open up the torso, shove the velociraptor head inside, and close up the robot torso walls around it.  The raptor head doesn't become the robot chest, despite that being the original transformation and the CGI model's intent.  It hides away inside the torso while the stomach of the velociraptor unfolds into the flattened, torso-shaped velociraptor head chest the CGI model had.  This achieves the purpose of the endeavor: to have a Dinobot robot mode that looks like the CGI.  


The velociraptor mode is definitely the second priority.  It does its best, and doesn't QUITE achieve the actual shape of the CGI raptor, with its giant torso and slightly undersized head.  But it tries.  ...to be a terrible velociraptor.  

Again, I love this.  SOME toy should try to be the terrible show model and succeed.  And this is that toy.  No expense spared!  

His rotate blade still spins when you push a lever.  This is important.  A Dinobot without his rotate blade is no Dinobot indeed.  He still has his segmented sword.  


What's extra this go-round are a lot of smaller things and one big thing.  The big thing is his giant display stand with the giant display arm.  Dinobot is a pretty large, heavy toy, and sometimes a dude needs support.  Especially in velociraptor mode, where like 99% of the weight is in the torso, which is not centered with the legs, and the tail is like a few grams at most, so it's not great at standing.  The stand helps.  It comes with a translucent piece that plugs around his stomach.  There's a different piece for robot mode that wraps around his butt.  

He also comes with the Golden Disk!  The Voyager "Sounds of Earth" one.  This is a season one toy, and the second Golden Disk, the alien one, had no association with Dinobot until season 2.  There's both a translucent stand for the disk and a little attachment to help Dinobot hold the disk in his hands in either mode.  


Dinobot also comes with FOUR different faces!  There's default, angry, smirking, and LASER EYES.  Laser eyes face comes with a further attachment that plugs into his eyes and makes him look like he's shooting laserbeams.  The mouth on each is articulated, so you can achieve an incredible range of expressions across the four options and their variants.  Put two button batteries into his head, press the button at the back of his skull, and his eyes glow red.  Hold down the button and the eyes glow green for the laserbeam attachment.  


Pros: It's goddamn fucking Dinobot and it's beautiful, even the parts that are ugly, because it's goddamn fucking Dinobot.  He comes with four faces with articulated mouths.  He's massive and huge and scaled properly to everyone else in the Beast Wars Masterpiece range.... which is why he's massive and huge.  He's incredibly impressive to behold.

Cons: Takes a while to transform, what with the flipping inside out.  His weight is not distributed evenly and so most poses require the stand.  Some people have had problems with one of the shoulder ratchets.  He's $200.

For me, I mean, the pros and cons were irrelevant.  It's a toy of Dinobot.  I was gonna have it.  


Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm

A few months ago, I spent some time marveling at how much Masterpiece Optimus Primal dedicated itself to looking like the CGI model.   Well, motherfuckin' Masterpiece Cheetor is here, and he's all like, ha ha ha, that's cute, but get a load of fuckin' me.

Beyond the observations about Generation One Masterpieces I made in regards to MP Primal, here's another: I feel like the G1 Masterpieces.... homogenize the style a little bit.  They sand down the edges, scootch things to and fro to make a toy look more what a character looks like in your mind's eye.  Heads are shrunk, hands are less big and mitteny, proportions are massaged, etc.  But Cheetor, moreso than Primal, makes apparent to me how much of a bigger commitment there seems to be to making the Beast Wars Masterpieces especially media accurate.  Yes, sure, it has been remarked upon frequently that the spots on Cheetor's surfaces are purposefully made to look stretched like the 90s CGI surface texturing the cartoon model had.  But.... Cheetor's THUMBS, man.  Cheetor's CGI model had long-ass freakish thumbs.  And yet here they are on this toy.  Long-ass freakish thumbs.  No sanding down the edges, no massaging the visuals to look more like Every Other Masterpiece Fist.  He closes his fingers into a fist and his thumb still stretches far beyond like the head on a coiled snake.  It's just Cheetor's actual freakishly awkward CGI hands, replicated in plastic.

And I eat this shit up.  I do.  It's embracing the wrinkles of Beast Wars and not just our fuzzy happy half-memories of it.  It's not Beast Wars: But FIX'D, but just... Beast Wars.

The toy itself, much like Primal, transforms similarly to the original.  The cheetah forelegs still end up on the back, the robot forearms still hide under the spine just behind the cheetah head, the robot legs still become sort of cheetah hind legs.  There's a t-bone steak-shaped piece on the small of the cheetah's back that flips down to be Cheetor's crotchpiece.  The differences between old and new are all in the details.  The cheetah forelegs are now articulated (versus not at all) so that they can fold across each other on Cheetor's back.  Pulling the robot arms out of the cheetah's back is a little more complicated now; there's way more moving pieces involved to get things just so.  The hind-leg-to-robot-leg transformation is... I mean, you still see robot parts easily in cheetah mode.  You're going to.  It'd be impossible to engineer otherwise.  But it minimizes the robot parts as best as one could hope while also making a more natural cheetah hind-leg shape.  

And, yeah, the cheetah head on the robot mode chest is fake.  The real cheetah head is buried inside the robot torso JUST BEHIND the fake robot mode cheetah head.  There's little wire cheetah whiskers rooted into the real cheetah head, which bend a little when shoved inside the torso cavity, and you kind of have to groom them back into shape whenever you transform him back.  Whether I think this whole charade is a good creative decision changes depending on what time of day it is.  

There is a crazy amount of paint on this guy.  I spent a good while trying to identify places on it that were unpaintable nylon plastic, because 99% of his parts have paint on them somewhere.  But there are a few small hinges here and there that appear to be unpaintable nylon, like the yellow inside the cheetah forepaw's wrists.  (Unpaintable nylon is generally used for structural reasons, which is why HasTak bothers to use it at all, and it's why you can find it buried within MP Cheetor's joints only.)  All of Cheetor's gold is paint, so you don't hafta worry about GPS.  Altogether, MP Cheetor is just ... visually dense.

Like MP Primal, he has a set of swappable heads with different expressions for both robot and beast modes.  For robot mode, he's got Stoic and Grrrr Angry and OH SHIT, and for beast mode, he's got Half-Lidded Stoned, Grrrr Angry, and OH SHIT.  The beast mode head's jaw is openable in each iteration, and also there's three sets of eyes you can swap into whichever beast mode head you're using.  One set looks left, another center, another right.  It's not QUITE as elegant an eye articulation solution as with the Figma Elsa (let it gooooooo) I have where the eyeballs are literally articulated (but you have to use a little pick to move them), but I appreciate that this is an option at all.

MP Cheetor comes with two guns.  The original toy had two guns, as well, but only one of them made it onto the cartoon showed up much at all.  The original toy had a water squirter gun fashioned from Cheetor's intestines.  You heard me.  Anyway, that's the one that was frequently represented on the cartoon.  The Masterpiece version doesn't watersquirt, sadly, but it does finally paint those intestines pink.  The second weapon, was Cheetor's cheetah ass.  You ripped off his ass and folded back the tail and there was a barrel under there and Cheetor grasped his own ass and shot his ass at you.  The Masterpiece version is very similar, only differing in how the tail folds underneath instead of over the top.  My favorite part is how the Masterpiece version of the gun borrows some of Cheetor's midsection and sculpts them into the buttocks-shapes of the original toy's ass gun.  Cheetor's ass gun is no longer made out of ass, but transforms from non-ass into a more ass-like shape.   For nostalgia.

You can stow both weapons on his back in robot mode.

THIS TOY IS AMAZING.  It is not perfect, though.  One, he's really bad at holding his ass gun.  It doesn't peg into his palm like the gut gun, and you kind of just have to wedge it loosely into his grasp and hope gravity and friction work.  Secondly, and this is the biggest, he doesn't seem to, like, peg together in his cheetah midsection in beast mode.  Mind, when you set him down in cheetah mode, this self-resolves, because he is jointed so that he closes himself up if he's standing on something.  However, once you pick him up, he kind of flops open like a real cat hanging over you lazily but if a real cat also showed you the robot parts inside him while he did so.   Cheetah mode is FOR DISPLAY ONLY, it seems.  You pick him up to play with him and he kind of goes ploop.  It's weird, because the rest of him is so satisfyingly stiff.

That's it, that's what's wrong with him, setting aside the "is the fake cheetah head on his chest a bad thing" situation.  There is so much love in him, though, those bits are overshadowed pretty strongly.  I don't even fucking like Cheetor that much, and I have fallen hard for this action figure.

NOW WHERE IS MY DINOBOT, GIVE ME DINOBOT, HE WAS ANNOUNCED, SHOW ME PICTURES

Posted November 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm

When your stomach is in knots and you find yourself just dreading the very act of passively existing, I find it beneficial to find small things to force myself to do, just to keep momentum going.  Momentum is king.   You might not do those small things well, 'cuz your brain isn't quite working at capacity, but you kinda just have to make yourself do things anyway, pushing up and through your emotional numbness.  "Fake it until you make it?" maybe?  Not quite, I dunno.  Too platitude-sounding for what shitshow's going on in your mind.  But it's close enough.

With that in mind, let me talk for a bit about Transformers Masterpiece Beast Wars Optimus Primal.

It's Beast Wars' 20th anniversary, and while Hasbro's been all "beast wars, what is that, optimus isn't no dumb monkey, have g1 recycled forever," TakaraTomy has stepped up and given us this amazing thing.  (I've been singing TakaraTomy's praises in contrast to Hasbro a lot more these days, I feel.  Am I weeabooing up or something?)

Let's consider the Generation 1 Masterpiece toys.  Generally, they try to replicate a look from the cartoon, and the cartoon they're sourcing from was cell-animated.  And so the toy, despite all its attempts to look like the cartoon as much as possible, must always fall short, because.... hey.  Three-dee object existing in front of you.  Flat cell-animated image.  And you get into these debates like with the upcoming new Masterpiece Generation 1 Megatron: should he have a silver/chrome finish like a gun or his original toy, or should he have a flat matte light gray like the cell animation?  There's always this dissonance between the source and the product, no matter how hard one tries.  Masterpiece Shockwave might be the closest to achieving a seamless transition.

But Beast Wars' source material is a whole other animal.  (so to speak)  It was CGI, albeit mid-Nineties television CGI, and so the characters from the cartoon are "real."  They don't look different when you look at them from the side versus the front or back, they have texture, they have alternating gloss and matte... and, frankly, they're more visually interesting.  Ironhide and Ratchet are just cardboard box towers.  A CGI model like Optimus Primal has curves and contours and nuance.  Relatively speaking.  This was 1996, again.

And that's where Masterpiece Optimus Primal really succeeds.  He's glossy where he needs to be, he's matte where he needs to be, and, god of gods, his terrible texture-map-in-lieu-of-actual-modeled-fur-because-this-is-1996 is honest to god printed all over him.  It doesn't come out well in my photography, but it looks like someone lightly hand-painted fur pattern everywhere on him that needs to be so.  These interplays of various glossies and faux texture map honestly make the toy come alive.  It's like the CGI model is standing on your shelf.

The painted-on-texture also has me a little on edge.  Does this stuff scratch off easily?  I dunno!  I don't wanna test its endurance so much!  And so I'm extremely careful with this guy.  There is a small bit on his forearm, right over a seam between two adjacent plastic pieces, where you can see the texture painting wasn't successfully applied.  And so I'm always eyeing that.  During transformation, you have to rotate his robot head out at the same time as rotating in his gorilla head, and you have to get the rotation just right through this very tight space so there's no scraping the top of the gorilla head.  I worry that I'll untransform him some day and find a scrape.  And I have no idea how baseless this fear is, as this is a new painting technology to me.  

The transformation is similar to the original, mostly because it kind of has to still be "arms become arms, legs become legs," but the differences are interesting to me.  In the original toy, the ape head folded down and flipped over to become the robot chest; on this new toy, the robot chest is formed from the gorilla's stomach, while the gorilla head hides inside the torso.  The gorilla back rotates upside-down for robot mode.  The gorilla legs are a huge mess of parts on its way to becoming robot legs, rather than the original "just unfold them at the knees, switch the feet, the end" deal.  Lots of flipping and turning there.  I do recommend having fingernails.  There's parts that require a very thin edge with leverage to unsecure them from their location.  Usually on Transformer toys, there's little helpful edges or nobs that give you leverage, but that would mess with the contours and accuracy of each mode.  

He's electronic.  Push down his robot head, and his robot eyes glow.  He comes with a number of alternate faces.  Four for robot mode (neutral, screaming, Dreamwave smirk, and mouthplate deployed) and three for gorilla mode (neutral, growling, smiling).  

He comes with his swords, which he can hold or store on his back, and he has both his flip-out shoulder missile launchers, and his forearm-deployed cannons.  You definitely need your fingernails for the latter.  You can do some folding on his backside to reveal his flight jets.  

Other than my apprehension regarding the texture painting, there's not a lot for me to complain about.  It's about as perfect as a Season 1 Optimus Primal toy as can be possible.   In robot mode, he might as well be a fancy maquette reproduction of the CGI model.  In ape mode... there are seams, but they're all understandable.  And the choice of different faces brings whatever character is otherwise missing.

I think I'll like him if my emotions come back.

Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Yay, 3D printing!  It's getting to be not-crappy!  Now that Shapeways (the online 3D printing folks) has introduced a new material, black high-def acrylate, and my pal Trent Troop had a Dinobot head to purchase, I was like, yes, I will try this thing.

Shapeways' high-def acrylate, which currently only comes in black, is pretty close to looking like normal-ass molded plastic.  You don't see any layers in the plastic, like you're looking at a toy made out of lasagna, and the sculpted detail is very fine.  The only downside, at least for this project, was the piece comes in black, and I needed to make it gold and blue.  This meant.... base coat layer!  I was painting like some kind of adult, with preparedness and forethought and everything.  Whaaaaaat.  Luckily I had some medium gray acrylic paint sitting around from when I was painting up my BotCon Ratchets.

After that, it was only a matter of getting the gold and metallic blue paint on there.  After using plain-ol' Gold Leaf, I decided the gold needed to be a little more orangey-er, and so I mixed some orange into my gold and painted it again.  At this point, I think I've started to lose a little of the sculpted detail, but, eh, I don't feel like scraping it all off and starting over.  It looks nice, though!  I like it.

Trent/TheRobotMonster's got over 100 heads to choose from in his Shapeways store.  There's some Optimuses, some Pretender Monsters, Skeletor, the goddang Sogmaster, Krang, Rung and Tarn... there's a bunch there.  And all you gotta do is screwdriver away the head on the Titan Master toy itself, replace the head with the new one, and screwdriver the screw back in.  Easy cheezy.  You can make any Titans Return headmaster guy into Dinobot.  Or the Sogmaster.  

Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:15 am

Here is another post in our series of "i bought another beast wars toy because it was painted a little better than the beast wars toy i already have."  Today's subject: LG-EX Waspinator!

Like TakaraTomy's Generations Rhinox, so too was their Waspinator heavily metallic.  This didn't look nearly as weird on him, since wasps are all chitinous (I looked that up, thank you) and less leathery than rhinos.  But it meant his yellows were gold, and so even though it painted his face a little better than the domestic Waspinator, I passed.  I did reconsider a few times, but that version of Waspy's pretty popular and so he's hard to find on the secondary market.  ... thankfully, because then this version was announced.

Bye-bye, gold!  Hello, more-accurate yellow.  And, important to me, they've finally painted the bee stripes on his robot head antenna.  They don't tend to do that!  Probably because that's a hella lotta paint operations.  I mean that's... *counts* 12.  Twelve paint operations spent on 1% of his overall surface area.  If you've got a paint budget, you're not gonna blow it all on danged antenna.  But dammit, it's appreciated.  Thank you, limited-release convention exclusive!

My to-be-imminently-replaced domestic Waspinator has more differences to catalog, versus his replacement.  I love the darker green around his eyes.  I love the brown tusks on his cheeks.  I love his mouth having yellow in it.  

I do like the darker green replacing the lighter lime green plastic on his body.  It makes him a more uniform color, but the additional yellow paint operations balance that out, plus it calls attention away from how made-of-robot-parts his wasp mode is.  His thorax is now a homogeneous patch of dark green at a quick glance, rather than a jumble of green with some lime green biceps and fists thrown in there.  

I do kinda miss the Predacon symbol that was on the domestic version's beast mode.  Ah well.

Briefly, foolishly, I give my brain the luxury of believing that, yes, this is it, this is the best Waspinator, I don't need another ever again unless it's like a Combiner Limb or something.  And then I remember that, oops, oh, right, they've just started making Masterpiece Beast Wars toys.  In a year or several, we might have a Masterpiece Waspinator.  And once again, what was once sufficient will then be insufficient.  

But that's probably not for a while.  I can enjoy this one until then.

ADDENDUM: There is also a redecoed Rattrap from this set, but I didn't bother getting him.  Either he wasn't different enough or my current Rattrap is fine or any combination of the two.

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