Posts tagged with "studio series" - 1
Posted March 22, 2019 at 10:21 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 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 August 20, 2018 at 11:07 pm


man wtf

So, like, there were these four dinocassette guys who were only ever released in Japan, right?  Four dinosaurs who transformed into mini-cassettes, and each pair combined into a bigger robot, much like Squawkbox and Slamdance.  These were super hard to get even in Japan when they first came out, and they were never reissued or, really, mentioned ever again.  And so you can imagine these guys went for a pretty huge price on the secondary market!  If you could even find them! 

(let's set aside that these four guys were not very good)

(look, they're dinosaurs, and we can't have them, so we don't really care how good they are)

In the past few years, there'd started to be some knockoffs of these guys.  They were, like, you know, AVAILABLE, unlike the actual original toys, so lots of people jumped on them.  Enough jumped on them that even the knockoffs go for a crazy price.  We're talking hundreds of dollars.  For cassettes.  Knockoffs of cassettes.

So for San Diego Comic-Con this year, Hasbro was apparently all sure let's throw two of these guys (Dile and a bizarro Zauru, named Uruaz) into a set with a golden Camaro live-action movie Bumblebee.  Now, the original molds are clearly lost, and so these toys were recreations.  Hasbro took the original wooden two-ups (back when Transformers did wooden test shots at larger sizes and then shrunk) and did their best to recreate them faithfully.  

Now, uh, there are some hiccups.  


I'm pretty sure some of the surface detailing is based on, well, the knockoffs themselves.  The wooden two-ups wouldn't have had any sculpted detail -- they'd just be a demonstration of the transformation engineering -- and so the sculpt itself would need to be copied from somewhere.  But the surface detail of the SDCC versions seems to have more in common with at least one of the iterations of knockoffs rather than the original, actual toys.  The face doesn't have a mouth, for example.  Another difference between the knockoff and the original is that some sculpted hashmarks are put in different places on the biceps, and the SDCC Uruaz's hashmarks match the placement of the KO Zauru.  So, uh, whoops.

Another whoops: the feet of the combined robot are fucked up.  One is hinged higher than the other for no reason.  It just is.  It doesn't affect stability, but it looks goofy as hell.

When you combine regular-style Dile and Zauru, you call that guy Legout, but I don't think Hasbro's told us what the combined form of Dile and Uruaz is.  Maybe it's Legtou or Gelout.  


This is still a crazy gift from the gods, regardless.  Toys that are so rare you can't even buy them for an unreasonable price are now available again for like $60 (including a Bumblebee nobody wants or cares about).  

A second set (exclusive to Entertainment Earth) with a different Bumblebee will include Uruaz in his original colors properly as Zauru and a reverse-colored Dile to complete the set.  Yeah, they gave them both evil twins and then split them up so you have to buy both to get properly-colored original guys and a set of reverse-colored evil twins.  (and ultimately two bumblebees you probably don't want)

But, like, you can still combine the two from each set, so to most folks it probably doesn't matter too much.  It's still these molds, released officially, all insane-like.


Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Live-action Grimlock is, uh, sort of there in the movies!  He's in about 2% of Age of Extinction, during which Optimus brutally beats him until he submits and then rides him around town a little, and then he's also sort of in The Last Knight, where I think he disappears like a third of the way through.  

Thankfully, a giant robot T. rex toy is something that sells itself on its own merits.  

If you have any other movieverse Grimlock toy, throw that thing in the garbage.  This is it.  This is what you wanted.  What were those other previous movieverse Grimlock toys even thinking?  They are mere boys in the world of men.  

Studio Series Grimlock is large and massive.  In robot mode he's a little taller by a smidge than the usual Leader Class, and also pretty wide.  And he looks amazingly decoed, even though he's really mostly the same plastic color all over and most of him is covered with a metallic green paint wash.  It's the incredible sculpted detail and the beefy proportions that make him look impressive, and to the eye it cheats him even bigger than he already is.

It does some weird yet impressive stuff in service of making him look as much like the movies' CGI model.  There, he has a full dinosaur head on each shoulder.  Like, a copy-pasted entire Tyrannosaurus rex head, even though he transforms into, you know, a single-headed Tyrannosaurus rex.  All of his earlier toys unsurprisingly split the head in half for transformation and put each outward-facing head on each shoulder.  This toy says nah.  He has both full heads.  But only one actually transforms into his actual Tyrannosaurs rex head.  The other splits open and integrates into his tail.  

The tail is also formed out of his right arm (which ends in a spikey ball) and his coattails.  These three elements -- the head halves, the coattails, and the arm -- sort of loosely form a pretty good tail shape.  It's a better solution than the usual approach, which is "oh hey look, actually this tail pops off and becomes a weapon!"  It's interesting and fun AND it means that a third of the toy's mass isn't being used for a weapon -- it all becomes robot mode, baby.

In dinosaur mode, Studio Series Grimlock is the best thing my kids have ever seen.  I kind of have to keep it out of view or they go nuts.  (I, of course, let them handle it with supervision, I'm not a monster, but I can't have them being crazy for hours of the day.)  I don't blame them, because it's a great stompy dinosaur toy.  The only thing I think is missing is I wish its head could turn side-to side, or even up or down at all.  The transformation prevents it, but I still feel a need for it.  This is why Beast Wars Tenth Anniversary Megatron is still one of my favorite Tyrannosaurus rex Transformers -- the full neck articulation.  

As with the other Studio Series toys, it comes with a cardboard display stand/background.  It's less appealing paired with this toy than the others only because Grimlock is so large.  He barely fits against the backdrop in robot mode, and his dinosaur mode is entirely too wide to fit onto the stand.  But this is damning with faint praise.  He's a large toy, posed on his bent knees to even fit into the packaging, and this is ultimately good.

Beyond those small complaints, there's very little wrong with this and so much right.  It justifies the entire Studio Series line all by itself.  

Posted February 28, 2018 at 2:00 am

The Transformers live-action movies are over a decade old now, so we're getting a new ... commemorative(?) toyline in Studio Series.  It seems to be taking the place of last year's The Last Knight toyline on store shelves (you gotta maintain your retail footprint), and towards the end of the year it will eventually encompass toys related to December's Bumblebee The Movie or whatever its specific title is.  

Among Studio Series' strengths, seen from a distance, is that it goes back and gives a few older characters newer, better, more appropriately-sized toys.  A Leader Class-sized Blackout, for example.  A new Leader-Class-sized Grimlock that's actually based on his finalized screen appearance and isn't a half-chromed awkward curiosity.  A Revenge of the Fallen Megatron that's not bizarrely teal.  

Another strength is that... extraordinary lengths (for Hasbro) have been traversed to make each toy roughly in scale with the rest of the line while in robot mode.  That means that despite Bumblebee and Ratchet both being Deluxe Class toys, Bumblebee is a very small Deluxe and Ratchet is more on the large size.  So, bravely, Hasbro is trying to sell some smaller toys at us for the same price as the bigger dudes, but altogether, the toyline will look nice standing up in a row.

(also there's a cardboard display thingy inside)

Weaknesses?  Let's talk about Ratchet.  

Ratchet is a completely new toy, though he transforms pretty similarly to the last Ratchet toy, the Deluxe Class Dark of the Moon version, which was recently done up in fancy paints by Takara in their "Transformers Movie The Best" line.  Studio Series Ratchet does not compare favorably to The Best Ratchet in the paint department.  There are some areas that TB Ratchet underperforms, to be sure -- he has no shin paint, for example, nor are his flashers painted -- but overall, TB Ratchet just looks better than SS Ratchet.  Actual movie CGI Ratchet's face is more gunmetal than green, but SS Ratchet's head is mostly unpainted green plastic, and the likeness strongly suffers for it.  

Studio Series Ratchet also has trouble staying together in vehicle mode.  His roof railing stuff is rubbery plastic, and it has trouble laying flat across the roof, even though there are pegs to plug in.  It just wants to bend outwardly.  (Also, since it is one long rubber piece, it hangs off his back like a cape, rather than being able to be folded up and tucked away.)  Additionally, the panels on the sides of the vehicle which are formed from his shins have trouble staying pegged in, and they like to puff out.  It is very annoying!

Things that are better about him?  I love that the light and piping stuff is finally included on his shoulders.  In recent Ratchets, they were fine with just leaving his wheels up there unadorned, but on Studio Series Ratchet you can rotate the wheels around in robot mode to display his proper kibble.  I also like that his buzzsaw weapon is included.  It'd been a while.  And, yeah, it's appealing that he's a larger Deluxe than usual.  Plus he's a very bright green!  Movie Ratchets are often a desaturated yellow or a gross pea green, but this one is properly sunny-looking.

I bought him because I like Ratchets, and this was a completely new tooling.  It's hard to strongly recommend him otherwise.  

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