They just really have trouble replicating Kup's head in plastic, don't they? Every single time it just looks a little off. Maybe it's the need to put bags under his eyes that sets everything else off, I dunno. It wouldn't be so surprising this time around if Studio Series '86 Hot Rod's head weren't so absolutely spot-on. But Kup (and Blurr a little bit) noteably miss the mark when next to Hot Rod.
Anyway, it's Kup! I love Kup. Always have. I'm sure a lot of that is me having a Targetmaster Kup toy when I was a kid moreso than me being drawn naturally to Old Robot Grandpas Who Transform Into Sort Of Pickup Trucks And Have Terrible Names. But he's teal! Either a bright teal or a washed-out teal, depending on if you're going for animation-accurate or original toy-accurate. Teal with orange highlights? Yeah! Do that to me! Do that to me in toy form!
Since '86 Kup is supposed to be faithful to The Transformers The Movie, he of course transforms from his animation model truck to his animation model robot. (with a larger chin than necessary, honestly) There's a lot of interesting ideas in his transformation, though the execution is a little tedious. In truck mode, he ends up shoving his arms through his crotch between his legs, which is a place to put his arms that allow them to be Not Short, since the original toy just bunched them up under his own chest. But you got to fasten a few panels together over all this arrangement, and that's the Not So Fun part. I mean, it's not the worst. Transforming Kup's second toy, the first Generations one with the giant rifle -- that's the worst. But the Titans Return/Legends Targetmaster one managed to do a similar design but was much more fun to convert.
Kup comes with both his animation-accurate gun and a container for Energon goodies to feed Allicons. The container fits into the top of his fist with a 5mm peg, and both it and the gun slot into the side of the vehicle mode using much smaller pegs.
Kup's arms and legs also come off at the mid-bicep and mid-thigh areas so that you can replicate the scene in The Transformers The Movie where Hot Rod has to rescue him from a giant robot squid and then repair him. (Hot Rod's toy can swap out one of its fists for a welder torch for this same thing.) This is neat, but what's most neat about it is that everything is done with 5mm pegs so that you can do all sorts of nutty stuff using Weaponizers and Fossilizers. Want to give Kup a T.rex arm? Of course you fucking do. Do it. Give him a T. rex arm.
Joining TakaraTomy's Targetmaster Hot Rod and his retooled chest is TakaraTomy's Targetmaster Kup and his retooled arms and face. Hasbro's Kup seems to be based off IDW's Kup circa the All Hail Megatron days, with his blocky, squared-off arms, and TakaraTomy was all noooooooope we're cartooning this guy up. And so Targetmaster Kup's got new spherical shoulders and rounded forearms with his gauntlets or whatever those are supposed to be. The biceps remain the same.
Which is fine, since those are what you see from the outside when you transform him into pickup truck mode. They're not as obviously humanoid robot arms filling in the back of the passenger compartment with those rectangular biceps there.
The other new addition to Kup himself is the new face. Hasbro's Kup face wasn't the best Kup face (it kind of looked like he's smelled a fart), but TakaraTomy's isn't super great, either. I mean, the proportions are better, helmet-to-face ratio wise. But that expression, man. He looks coked out or something. Or like the alien from Mac & Me. (named "Mac," but if i just say "he looks like Mac" and no other context nobody probably knows what I'm talking about)
Now, the paint job is indeed an improvement. Hasbro's Kup, despite being a very appealing shade of teal (in person, if not photography) was really super plain. I ended up painting his forearms and hands gray so he looked better (and matched his Marvel comics coloration). There were so many sculpted details on him that were obviously meant to be painted, like the stuff on his translucent truck mode canopy. Targetmaster Kup painted those details on, thankfully, as well as his belt and the yellow "L"-shaped stripes on his forearms. Lots of little things like that. He's not an appealing a brilliant teal, though he is almost entirely various other shades of teal.
But, like Hot Rod, my biggest focal point was his Targetmaster partner, Recoil. I had Targetmaster Kup as a kid, and dammit, I want my weapon-alt-mode Recoil, goddammit. I've had Targetmaster Kup's Marvel comics character model etched into my brain since I was a child, and so having that huge-ass long-double-barreled nonsense weapon in his fist just kind of makes everything feel happily complete.
In the included mini-comic, Recoil is a very young girl, Sue, the daughter of Marissa Fairborneand Dirk Manus. Sure, why not. That's already more information than I can recall about Nebulan Recoil off the top of my head. And she's not old enough to be awkwardly sexualized, so we can avoid that whole... issue...
i mean she is still, like, an 8-year-old who transforms into an assault weapon, but
*puts finger to ear*
okay i'm being told that in weapon form she shoots beams that make enemies nice, rather than physically harming them
Look, you guys, you have to take my word on this. Titans Return Kup's colors are pretty good! He's not, like, various flavors of cyan as most photographs of him seem to claim. I swear to you, his torso, crotch, and half of his legs are this amazing vibrant teal. This amazing vibrant teal is impossible to photograph correctly, and not even Photoshop color correction can produce it. I tried. I can get close. You will look at these photographs and think, okay, whatever, that's kinda teal, but nothing to write home about. But it is. You would write home about this teal.
Unlike Sixshot (and Perceptor), Kup is not just his 1980s toy with more articulation. He's the flavor of Titans Return toys that tries to do a little something new. Mind, he still looks generally like his original robot and futuristic pickup truck in either mode, but how he gets there is a fun jaunt. For example, on the original 1986 Kup toy, you merely bent him back at the waist, tucked his arms under his hood, and generally you were done. This new version's a bit more complicated. The entire lower third of the vehicle, from front hubs to back hubs, unwraps and then rewraps to form his legs. The arms fold out of the back of the cab, which has an open drivers compartment which you have to compact in on itself for robot mode. The head, as always in Titans Return Deluxes and larger, is a little robot guy. His guns can combine into a larger gun which the head guy can ride, or it can plug into his back to replace the missing "hood" that his new transformation no longer creates.
I've talked about the teal, but beyond that, Kup's colors seem to take their cues from his original toy (and Marvel Comics appearances) rather than his appearances in animated media and subsequent comic book series. The dark gray helmet (and partially dark gray legs) are a clue to this. To me, this means this toy represents Marvel Kup, who I also call Murderkup, because he likes to murder. His earliest characterizations in the Marvel comics were that he had an insatiable battlelust. Mind, this was partly because the writer needed counterpoints to the more pacifistic Fortress Maximus to keep the desired narrative happy, but in the absence of Kup's "I'm old and I have many stories about being old!" characterization from the cartoon, his battlelust is a striking take. He just wants to kill and kill, because it's fun and he's good at it. I think this might have seeped a little into Kup's IDW appearances, where, sure, he's an old guy (and currently billions of years older than the universe itself, which is a.... long story), but he's also a member of the ultraviolent Wreckers.
I'm just sad he doesn't get to have a cy-gar this go-round 'cuz it'd futz with his Titan Masters gimmick. Also because Hasbro would never sculpt a damned cigar into their robot toy for children. That too.
It can't be great that both of the popular old guys in Transformers are just a color swap away from each other. What I'm saying is, making Ironhide into Kup shouldn't result in that great of a Kup, yet it does. I mean, it's good that it's a great Kup, y'know, for purposes of having a great Kup, but not so good in a world-building sense. You don't want the two guys who share an archetype to be even more interchangeable. It makes one of them redundant.
For some reason, the toy that was originally designed and solicited as Transformers Prime Deluxe Class Ironhide, based on Ken Christensen's design for Prime Ironhide, ended up being redecoed and released as Kup instead. And like I said, it works pretty well. They're both pickup trucks who are old guys who have windows on their chest, and neither of them is particularly shy with weaponry. But Kup is green and Ironhide is red. This is how you tell the two old guys apart.
The design itself is a great hybrid of elements of various Ironhide incarnations, particularly his G1 and live-action movie versions. He's red and has his mohawked dome head with the cylinder ears and a windshield chest, but he's a pickup truck with giant cannons on his arms, his head embedded within his massive shoulders. Since this version of the toy is Kup, I've not been attaching his giant cannons to his arms, opting to combine them into a larger hand-held cannon. It makes him look less Ironhidey.
Ironhide's character is pretty huge, especially in these post-Michael Bay days, and this toy's design reflects that. What I mean to say is his head is tiny compared to his body. In a more perfect world, he would have been a Voyager Class toy. Instead, he's the size of Deluxe Arcee and with a head half the size. It makes him look kinda Classicsy, really, since a frequent feature of G1 toys is their pinheadedness. He's got a small head and he's blocky and rectangley. Plus he has a nose. Deluxe is a better size for Kup, I think, but his tiny head makes him look really out of place next to other Prime toys.
I like how the doors fold in half to make his forearms. I don't like how hard it is to get the center of his hood to split off from the rest of his hood and headlights. I was afraid I was gonna break it when I tried to separate them the first time. They click together pretty solidly. After a few tries, the hood comes apart more easily, and also comes off the hinge entirely, which it's not supposed to do. But if I put it back on upside-down in robot mode, that actually solves the problem of it sticking out pretty annoyingly from his back. So, hey, making lemonade.
I'm sad this guy isn't who he was originally supposed to be, with no known stateside release at the moment, but I do like Kup way better than Ironhide, so that works for me.
UPDATE: I have added an image of Deluxe Kup next to Cyberverse Commander Ironhide because many folks are apparently confused about Kup's size and there was no way to slip any more iterations of the word "Deluxe" into this blog post without sounding like a jerk.
I gave in to my chattering inner demons and gotiGear's replacement Kup head. It's the one that's colored to match the eHobby redeco of him that I prefer because of all the bright teal. You actually get two heads, one with the cy-gar and one without, plus a tiny screwdriver. These both are snug inside some foam inside of a plastic box that fits perfectly in Kup's truck bed. A nice touch, but that feature probably won't ever be used by me.
It's not that the original head was offensive to me. Some folks think it looked terrible, but I never minded it too much. It looked like Kup and it matched the body well. But having the cy-gar in his mouth trumps everything. For serious. (It doesn't hurt that the new head looks like Guido Guidi's art, though, that's for sure.) I just like cy-gars. They're great props that can add personality to Transformers. I made sure that Commissioner Garboil had one, for example. I mean, can you even BE a head of law enforcement without a stogie? I'm pretty sure you can't.
When I preordered Scrapheap's three-pack, I knew I'd be selling off at least one of the two other guys. Blue Rodimus was a no-brainer. Screw that dude! I don't need him! And I figgered I'd probably be selling off the extra Kup, too, since I was pretty satisfied with the colors of the Generations Kup that I already owned. He was green!
And the photography of the e-Hobby three-pack Kup depicted him as bright blue, almost a cyan.
Part of the reason for Kup's often-blueishness, though, is his original toy just doesn't photograph right. When you put a camera to it, photos come out cyan-y. I can't imagine Hasbro or Marvel or whoever could be bothered all that much to make sure that they were color-correcting all of their reference material as they sent it back and forth from one another. So, well, blue Kup.
(For the record, I would totally dig a blue Kup if they went through the trouble of swapping his helmet and face colors like the toy's. I would love a Big Looker Storybook Kup.)
And a small part of me hoped the same was true with the official photography of e-Hobby's Kup.
Indeed, e-Hobby Kup is deliciously teal. Bright and vibrantly so. (After I took photos and he insisted on coming out cyan, I attempted to color correct his colors as much as possible in Photoshop.) As much as I liked the darker minty green of Generations Kup, I can't resist a more vividly teal color scheme. So it looks like it's my Generations Kup that has to go.
Another thing that sets this Kup apart from the other decoes is his painted battle damage. There's silver paint scrapes painted up and down the surface of his vehicle mode. This is a look that's appropriate for Kup, so I'm glad to have that as well. It's a nice bonus. It wouldn't have been enough without the teal, but with the teal it's something I won't scoff at.
Kup is right up there in my upper tier of favorite characters. Part of the reason for this is his prominence in the later Marvel Comics stories. There wasn't a particular reason for Kup to stay around in those latter-year stories. He was even around for the G2 stuff, years and years later. His toy wasn't on shelves any more, and by the time those G2 issues were out, it'd been about a decade. But he's just a good archetype. He's an important one to have around. You need an old, grizzled dude who won't bullshit you, and who's just a little crazy, what with the millions of years of combat under his belt. A dude who has the spark of horrible, unspeakable violence under the whole grandpa pastiche. Kup's a really old warrior who's still around because he's just that good, for all the positives and negatives that implies.
I really like the direction that IDW comics has taken Kup these past few years. Kup, I think, has benefited the most out of all the other Transformers characters they've handled. Spotlight: Kup was the first IDW story I truly enjoyed genuinely on every level, rather than "hey it's a Transfomers story, of course I enjoy it." He was a robot past his prime, left on a planet to die... if not for the intense radiation that not only kept him going, but was giving him paranoid hallucinations. Kup was so good at what he does that he took down every single unnaturally-animated zombie that came his way... unaware that these were actually Autobot soldiers sent to retrieve him.
But what really clinched it for me was birthed out of All Hail Megatron. I know, I know, please don't hit me. I know. But say what you will about Shane McCarthy's work, Kup adopting a cigar into his body language really made him come alive as a character. It was a simple prop, but it embodied what I feel Kup is. Artist Casey Coller has apparently always envisioned Kup as Sgt. Rock, which is a character angle I appreciate. Throw some Nick Fury or some Hannibal in there, and I think the picture is complete. That was the difference between the original cartoon's Kup and the one in the Marvel stuff. The Kup of the cartoon is just your grandpa. The Kup of Marvel is a seasoned warrior who's pretty rough around the edges. Adding the cigar brings in that Marvel-esque aspect, solidifying and focusing it into a stronger character concept all-around. Plus it forces artists to incorporate unique body language: is he holding it in his teeth? Is he pinching it in his fingers? No other Transformers character does this, since none of them have ever had a cigar.
(I-Gear is planning to sell third-party Kup heads with cigars. I'll have to think about it. I can prooobably make my own cigar for pretty cheap, should I decide to. I need, what, a grain of rice, glue, and a silver Sharpie?)
But anyway, back to Kup's new toy. Despite how important I feel Kup is, he doesn't get many figures. He got his original toy in 1986, plus the Targetmaster retool the following year, and then nothing nothing nothing nothing, all the way up to 2009, when BotCon did a figure of him. Man, I was so excited to get that Kup, even though my excitement was dulled by how much I hated the toy they were making him out of. It was the wrong kind of vehicle, it was the wrong kind of body shape, and it was an annoying toy to transform. But it was Kup and I loved it. Because, man, I'll take my Kup love where I can get it.
Generations "Sergeant Kup" has arrived now, however, and it is my hero. It's exactly the Kup toy I've always wanted. I remember when Alternators were the big thing, and I was all about Kup being a Chevy SSR. Kup's name is taken from the last three letters of "pickup," you see. He should be a roundish pickup truck thing, and the Chevy SSR fit the bill perfectly. Generations Kup isn't exactly an SSR, but it's certainly the same kind of vehicle. It's a roundish retro-style pickup truck. This was my ultimate wish.
His robot mode's not too shabby, either. Despite being a roundish pickup truck, he still transforms into a recognizable facsimile of his original robot mode. I love his thick blocky legs and his rounded arms. Plus there's his old man belt and the fake truck grill tummy that the cartoon made up. And one of the best details is the slight fake windshield that rises up out of his collarbone. I can't help but feel that it's a callback to his pre-Earth War Within design from the Dreamwave comics.
The transformation isn't exactly as no-fuss as I'd like, but it's far from murderous. I'm still a little confused on how to get his torso to go from one mode to the other in a more streamlined fashion, since I always feel like I'm kind of forcing it instead of taking the right steps in the right order. (Instructions are never really any good at helping with these minor things.) And if there's one nagging detail about the robot mode itself, it's the door kibble that hangs off his forearms. It's hard to get them not in the way. Looking at them, you think they need to be rotated up and away from his hands, but that just gets them in the way of his elbows and his shoulder wheels, and that's the vehicle mode configuration anyhow. The proper positioning does give him more freedom of movement, but they look a little awkward hanging out so far past his hands.
Kup still comes with his musket laser, as always. No matter what Kup toy you're dealing with, it has a laser musket. It might be a little cyan sci-fi gun, it might be a dude who turns into a gun, or it might be an arm-mounted black cone. In Generations Kup's case, his musket laser (or laser musket, as the packaging calls it) looks more like an actual musket. This is pretty nerdy and awesome, since someone on the design team had to have done this on purpose, rather than "laser musket" being something the packaging copy guy added later after Googling "what the hell was Kup's old weapon called?" at 3am. In vehicle mode, the musket laser becomes one of his exhaust pipes, or you can clip it to his rooftop on one of the C joints. Kup has two C joints on his roof/backpack, plus two more on each of the aforementioned wrist-mounted kibble bits.
I also adore Kup's colors. Kup's colors are often botched. His original toy was one of those colors that just don't photograph accurately, as it hovered somewhere between cyan and teal. The toy in person is decidedly on the greenish teal side, but Marvel really liked coloring him in light blue. Generations Kup is very minty, which pleases me greatly. It's not exactly a color Kup has been before, but it's a color that I feel suits him. Anything but blue, really. Kup is not blue. Kup should never, ever be blue. (Except in the Big Looker storybooks, which I allow to live on a technicality.)
Kup is starting to pop up at Target and Kohl's, folks. You should (wait a week or so and) go find him.