Posted April 22, 2021 at 3:30 pm

Okay, let's try to actually write something down here.

Haslab Unicron is goddamned massive.  I know every other disbeliever on the Internet for two years was all "lol he's just a few inches taller than Titan Class Fortress Maximus," but seeing him in person brings up that ol' Pizza Equation.  See, a large pizza actually has twice the area of a medium pizza, even though the diameter's just a few inches more.  Things can be bigger in more than one dimension, and that's where the calculus is off.  

You have to back up a few feet to actually see all of Unicron at once.

That's why it's hard to, like, focus on something about him you might dislike?  Oh, is the backpack of planet plates too big?  Honestly I have to be reminded it exists, because this dude is overwhelming my senses.  I look at him, focus my eyes on his face and chest, and have to actively dart my eyes around to find other shit.  He is a three dimensional object, and photographs just flatten him to the point where they're worthless.  Again, he's got a backpack?  Yeah, sure, like eight inches behind where his torso is.  That may as well be in another state, as far as field of depth means anything.    You take a photo of him, and you don't get the actual experience of seeing him.   

Transforming him requires all the upper body strength you have.  Even with him on the stand, up on his shipping box (which you will need to keep around to help transform him), you're going to need some good biceps.  And it takes a while.  And it's not very pretty for most of it.  Lots of planet slabs, and they all pile up like lasagna on his legs and back.  Everything fits together perfectly when you're done, but until then it kind of hangs there.   It's a literal juggling act until everything eventually snaps into place.  

Unicron fits on my desk, but my desk was already primed to fit two Titan Class toys at once (Scorponok and Fort Max).  He takes up the same space they took up, together.  At some point in the future where I'm ready to move him off my desk, there's a spot in my shelving in my office.  It's IKEA shelving, but it's not a Billy.  Unicron would not fit on a Billy.  He definitely isn't going to fit inside or even on top of a Detolf, despite a handful of folks getting one of those for him in anticipation.  No, mine's a larger unit, a LIATORP, and the lower third of that unit is 35"x30", with a depth of 15".  He fits into that space just barely in robot mode (if he's off his stand or you unscrew the back leg off of the stand), and absolutely won't fit in planet mode.  If he's in planet mode, he has to go on my desk.   Again: Fucking huge.

I'm almost entirely talking about size, but this is honestly what I wanted.  I wanted the largest Unicron Hasbro could give me.  Any larger than this and we probably start bending physics without collapsing under its own weight (or comes shipped in a box too big to fit through a door).  

He comes with some extra stuff.  The unforked chin is what he comes packaged with, but you can swap out that chin for the forked one and then forget it exists.  There's also a busted up face you can replace the rest of his face with, for replicating those post-movie episodes where his disembodied head orbits Cybertron.  Both the chin and the extra face can be stored underneath the stand. 

There's also an Autobot shuttle, centimeter-tall Rodimus and Galvatron microfigures, and a stand for all three of those guys and the head when it's removed.  The stand has room for later expansion, with slots for future microfigures and probably another spaceship or two.

These are nice, but... the important thing is...

HE'S BIG.  

I'm extremely happy with him.

Posted March 20, 2021 at 9:14 am

Every round of reimagined Beast Wars characters usually only goes so deep.  You always get your Cheetors, Primals, and Megatrons, and maybe also your Dinobots, Waspinators, and Rattraps.  But Transformers: War for Cybertron: Kingdom is the first time we've been able to scratch beyond that surface to some other characters.  In that respect, Kingdom Airazor is the first genuinely exciting Beast Wars character to appear in it!  Airazor's last beast toy was in 1998, the Transmetal.  (It was redecoed for Armada in 2003.)   There've been two vehicle mode style Airazors from BotCon since, one being Energon Slugslinger with a new head and the other from the Slipstream retool of Windblade.  But again, both jets, and both retools and redecoes of other toys.  Kingdom Airazor is just... a new toy of Airazor, from the ground up.  

And it's pretty dang good!  It spends a lot of its budget on hinging the heck out of her wings, which helps with falcon poses.  They can fold up beside her body for when she's perching, or they can spread out for when she's flying.  They're jointed enough they can fold in on themselves enough to minimize their size in her silhouette in robot mode.  (They shrunk a lot during transformation on the cartoon.)  They're nice, big expressive wings.  

She transforms by wadding up her robot mode a bunch, just like the original toy, though stuff now has places to go and lock in, rather than just hanging underneath loosely like originally.  Though it looks like a mass of robot parts from underneath the bird mode, it still achieves the rough shape of a bird, so it still feels right.  My lone complaint is how robot-techy her legs are.  On the show, they were round and organicky, and if the Kingdom toy attempted a more show-accurate look in at least that one respect, her legs would work better visually in either mode.  They oddly stand out amongst the rest of her toy, which borrows heavily from the CGI model.  They really wanted to give her robot legs, I guess.

Airazor comes with two wrist-mounted weapons that can unplug and replug under her beast mode tailfeathers.  She's as articulated as you expect from a War for Cybertron Trilogy toy, including the waist articulation and ankle rockers.  Her neck in either mode has a good range of motion, and the falcon's beak opens.  

A pretty solid toy all around, which is what Airazor deserves after so dang long.

Posted March 14, 2021 at 11:44 am

Huffer was one of my favorite Transformers when I was a kid.  This happened because 1) he was a toy I owned and 2) he was featured in one of my first comic books.  In the cartoon, Huffer sounded like if Mr. Slate from The Flintstones were a whiny Peter Griffin, and in general he just wants to go home even though he can't.  He was a little orange forky-handed minitruck, he made reluctant friendships with big meaty trucker humans named Bomber Bill, and I loved him.  

Kingdom Huffer is the first attempt by Hasbro to actually try to make a new Huffer that's named Huffer?  In Transformers Cybertron, there was Armorhide, a new Huffer in all but name.  He was a tiny truck that transformed into a tiny robot with Huffer's head.  BotCon 2007 would do that toy in the proper colors and connect the rest of those dots, and that one's been My Huffer since then.  There was Power Core Combiners Huffer, which was an orange truck but didn't look much like him except in the extreme abstract.  And there was a redeco of a smaller-scale Optimus Prime toy with a new Huffer head, but that... well, it was a small orange Prime with a Huffer head.  

So here's Kingdom Huffer, who's A Huffer!   He's got the entire semi cab on his back, as is appropriate, and his arms still turn into the giant-ass smokestacks (but with humanoid fists at the end, instead of the original toy's sporks), and he's the cartoon's orange and lavender-ish colors.  Like the recent Cliffjumper, Warpath, and Bumblebee/Cliffjumper toys, he's an undersized Deluxe Class toy so that he can be in scale with other recent toys.   He's not quite as short as Bumblebee/Cliffjumper, but he's still a bit smaller than a regular Autobot car.  

He comes with a shield and a rifle.  The rifle can split in half and join with the shield to form a truck bed for the vehicle mode, if you want.  I've read from others that his rifle is basically a "Spartan Laser" from Halo.  Possibly lightly plagiarized.  Huffer's one of the few 1984 Transformers whose altmode seems to actually be made up rather than being something real that these days you'd have to license, so I guess this "borrowing" is merely checking off that box in a different way.  

Kingdom Huffer has a slightly more complex transformation for what you'd expect a Huffer toy to pull off.  You gotta open up his torso, fold the front set of wheels out of his torso (though the hinges there are stronger than the pegs for the wheels, so they pop out a little too easily), configure his arms, fold out his heels into the truck's trailer hitch and... well, okay, it's not that complicated.  Mostly the wheel hiding and the leg folding are the new wrinkles. 

The truck cab backpack is thankfully on a multi-part hinge, because you'll be pulling it out of the way whenever you want to fit your fingers in to turn the robot's head.  And I've got tiny girl hands, so imagine how much more difficult it'd be for real men.  Other than this small roadblock, Huffer is a pretty luxurious action figure for a Huffer.  He's got the now-typical waist rotation and ankle tilts, and all of this is stuff Huffer's never had before.  He can now do sweet action poses, which is apparently something this Huffer is capable of when he's not being a whiny butthole.  

Posted February 22, 2021 at 11:31 pm

Yeah, yeah, I know, Transformers: Kingdom is where Beast Wars is making its big return, and yet Kingdom Inferno isn't the Predacon fire ant.  It seems awry!  Well, it seems a little less awry when you remember Inferno (and Transmetal Scavenger) shelfwarmed so hard you could still find him five years later.   Reportedly Polar Claw was in the cards in the early days, but they moved up Tigatron out of Deluxetown to take up his Voyager spot, so even when Hasbro had more Beast Wars spots available, they'd dragged out Polar Claw instead of Inferno!  They went to a non-cartoon guy!  That's how bad Inferno shelfwarmed.

(additionally, BW Inferno can't take the spot of G1 Inferno, as G1 Inferno is a simple Grapple retool, and BW Inferno would be all new, and so their budgets are not equal)

they'll probably get to him eventually if Kingdom does well

ANYWAY, here's boring ol' Kingdom (G1) Inferno!  So boring he's got a boyfriend in every continuity!  He Princess Carries Red Alert around in the cartoon, and snuggles up with Smokescreen in the Marvel UK stuff.  And he's got a girlfriend, too!  Everybody wants a piece of Inferno!   He's clearly got something going on.  Look how long his ladder is!

Inferno's a retool of Earthrise Grapple (another shelfwarmer), but he's the superior version for a handful of reasons.  One, he's a fire truck, and fire trucks are rad.  Two, love those wings on the sides of his head.  Three, little hoses on his legs!  And four, and most importantly, his retooling includes modified pegs that attach his headbox to his soles in vehicle mode.  That broke a lot on Grapple if you yanked too hard, but now the pegs are shorter and more strongly attached to the headbox.  That's miles better just there.  

Also he's got more boyfriends than Grapple.  Has Grapple had any boyfriends?  I don't think so.  Checkmate.

Posted February 17, 2021 at 3:51 pm

If I'm being completely honest with myself, my primary interest in Transformers: War for Cybertron: Chapter Three: Kingdom is as a vehicle to deliver me additional Dinobot toys.  Yeah, I mean, I'm not ever gonna turn my nose up at More Beast Wars Action Figures, but they're side dishes to this main course.  Cue ObiWan_thats_why_im_here.gif.

Regardless, I'm in a weird place, Dinobot-toy-wise, as we live in a post Masterpiece Dinobot world.  I already have the perfect representation of Dinobot in plastic form, there's zero chance that a $30 mass release Dinobot is going to approach that level of accuracy, and so... I'm not sure what I'm actually asking for in Dinobot toys in this moment in time.  Anything Dinobot would likely please me, because I'm here for the General Dinobot Content.  Like, any style direction for him I'm game for.  I've got Super Accurate, let's see what else we've got up Dinobot's sleeve.  

Kingdom's seeming goals for Beast Wars characters in Kingdom are "more-realistic animals with animation-accurate robot modes."  And as such, Kingdom Dinobot slots right into those priorities, with the caveat that he's a more-realistic 1990s Jurassic Park velociraptor, not an actual Velociraptor mongoliensis, which was more like a turkey with teeth.  Kingdom Dinobot is large, he's scaley, and he's got slappers not clappers.  He's pretty successful at his chosen goals, though his wrists are pretty limp-looking due to how they gotta fold up to store inside his ribcage, and he's got his robot mode's double thumbs sticking out of the back of his raptor feet.  His robot legs hide surprisingly well underneath the torso.  I mean, they're obviously there, but at the low-end of "obvious."

Dinobot's robot mode head looks like it's the Masterpiece toy's CAD information scaled down.  Which is to say, it's perfect.  It's the Dinobotest.  It may be my favorite thing about the toy itself, though it's in a bloody battle with the way his dino thighs split and become his robot mode torso.  It's an idea that solves so many problems perfectly.  Problem 1: Dinobot's robot arms don't look like velociraptor thighs, especially his big golden shoulder pads.  Problem 2: Where does Dinobot's fake raptor head chest torso come from?  Problem 3: If Dinobot's robot mode torso weren't stored in the velociraptor torso, it'd be easier to hide his giant robot legs up in there!  So, like, BAM, this elegant solution to this multitiered problem.  

It does negate any dino-hip articulation, however.  The transformation execution is more important to me than this, though.  Articulate him at the knees and below all you want in the meantime!

His sword is purple.  In the show it's often silver chrome and kinda pinkish in some lighting, the latter of which was reflected in his Masterpiece toy.  His Kingdom sword is just full-on purple, though.  I like it, honestly, if only because I see it as a reference to Beast Wars co-story editor Bob Forward's legendary "purple-headed pole of pontification."  If you don't like the purple sword, that just means you're not a cool nerd like me who gets things.  

His rotate blade doesn't rotate.  ...and considering how he transforms, it's easy to see why.  His finally proportionally-large head takes up all that space back there for any push-lever gearing.  Pretend it spins, just like you pretend G1 Megatron's fusion cannon shoots things.  

The place to be is robot mode, though.  What a fantastic action figure he is here.  His arms have so much movement, aided much by his articulated wrists that not just rotate but bend to and fro.  He's got waist articulation, which is a new one for a mass release Dinobot, and his neck lets his head tilt as he pleases.  And, of course, the now-standard ankle tilts.

My one actual real gripe is the dropping of tan/gray stripes from his chest in robot mode between the back-of-the-box renders and actual production.  Those would've really helped!  He looks kind of paintbare in robot mode because all of his dino mode stripes vanish themselves during transformation.  I feel a small need to match the tan/gray paint and put those stripes back myself, matched only by my probably larger need to have a "stock" Dinobot to display with my otherwise unaltered Dinobot collection.  I can't start hand-painting them NOW.  And, again, I already have the perfectly-decoed Dinobot in the Masterpiece, so...

Kingdom Dinobot's good.  

Posted February 4, 2021 at 11:05 pm

Stege Sideswipe's a pretty solid toy, so I'm basically okay with them pumping out like sixteen recolors of him.  And it's a good thing I am, because they are!  

Deep Cover started out as simply a black redeco of the Diaclone toy Sideswipe was gonna be, released only as part of a three-toy box set including a redeco of the Diaclone toy Ultra Magnus was gonna be and a red redeco of the toy Mirage was gonna be.  He had big gold Lamborghini logos on his hood and his doors, because you could do that back then without licensing without getting sued.

BUT in 2003, eHobby reissued that deco as a new Transformers character, Deep Cover, with the Lambo logos replaced with a similar-looking but far more generic and IP-friendly starred badge.  Deep Cover was an undercover policeman!  ...With kind of conspicuous giant golden badges on his doors and hood, so we assume he wasn't a great undercover policeman.

Generations Selects Deep Cover recreates that deco on the Stege Sideswipe toy, golden badges and all.  The Stege car mode for Sideswipe doesn't have, like, bare, stickerable doors, per se, so the door badges kind of go up on the edges of the roof.  It looks fine.  I mean, the whole thing looks great.  Black and blue and white is a great combination on this toy, even if it's really just a red/blue swap for the Generation 2 Sideswipe we got two years ago.  

He just went up online for preorder a few days ago (I got mine from a smaller independent toy store), so, like, if you want one, it's a good time to grab him.  He's expected to ship imminently from most places.

Posted January 20, 2021 at 10:35 pm

Transformers is about Robot Mode Scale now, and honestly that's the highly-addictive drug I've gotten hooked on.  And while I am definitely into robots who can stand next to each other and look the correct height -- so much so that I've re-bought so many live-action movie robots in Studio Series thus far -- sometimes it means getting a slightly ... worse...? Grimlock than I have already?   Masterpiece Grimlock is pretty dang similar to Studio Series '86 Grimlock, and I even have the fancy Marvel Comics-colored one, with the silver finish and the blue-for-black and the crown.  But it's a head or two too tall, and word is Studio Series '86 is gonna give us the other four Dinobots in turn, and I can't have one of them looking out of place.  

Because, honestly, having a full set of appropriately huge Dinobots is a long-dormant dream of mine.  I mean, it's been fine to have the Dinobot combiner Volcanicus fill in for them, since robot scale means a little less when they're all combined into a super robot.  There's some wiggle room there.  (or rather there isn't, since a combiner has to fit vertically on a shelf, so that limits things)  

Volcanicus shouldn't worry.  I've already found alternate display space for him.  He's a combiner and I love combiners, so he was never really in danger of disappearing into a bin.  

Anyway, Studio Series '86 Grimlock is pretty close in feel to Masterpiece Grimlock!  They're about the same size, and they're roughly the same visual design, and they transform very similarly.  SS86 Grimlock's a little chonkier, and the tail-to-legs transformation is a little less fussy, and he's missing the Turn-Head-Wag-Tail gimmick, nor is he electronic, and he doesn't come with a sword.  Cartoon Grimlock?  Didn't actually have a sword!  He had his double-barreled rifle in his model sheet and no sword.  And so SS86 Grimlock only comes with the rifle.  

He does come with Wheelie, though!  A small, nontransforming Wheelie that exists entirely to be fit onto the top of Grimlock's dinosaur neck or robot shoulder.  He's sculpted into a permanent squat because, again, he's a little prop.  His arms are posed just enough you can get him to aim his slingshot in plenty directions.  (The slingshot does remove from the fist and I think it's a 3mm port)

I have a perfectly fine Wheelie who's not sculpted permanently into a teabagging stance and can also transform, so I think I'll keep that one around for display.  But for those of you who missed out on Titans Return Wheelie from several years ago, this is your chance at him again.  

What's better about SS86 Grimlock that isn't his precise scale?  Well, he's cheaper than MP Grimlock, for one.  Most of his joints are ratcheted, while my Masterpiece's joints are all friction-based and getting kinda floppy after twelve years.  I like the range of motion his robot mode dino-rib wings have.  His articulation is a little more solid.  There's a 5mm port for effects parts inside his dinosaur mouth.  He can steal the Masterpiece's sword (since it also used a 5mm port) and crown (it barely balances on his head, but that was true of the masterpiece too honestly).  

Both still transform into that ugly-ass dinosaur mode, though.  I mean, we all know dinosaurs were birds, but it's weird when you see a T. rex waddle around like an upright duck.  However, he's releasing at the same time as Beast Megatron and Fossilizer Paleotrex, so it's not like there aren't other style options for Transformers tyrannosaurs!  See, they also come in both flesh and naked.  (And both with more realistic posture.)

there's just been so many grimlocks that transform this exact same way from the exact same terrible dinosaur to the exact same robot mode, you guys

Posted January 15, 2021 at 2:59 pm

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.  

That's what this new Kup is really for.  

Posted January 11, 2021 at 11:07 pm

Reveal the Shield Jazz came out 11 years ago, and we were all thinking at the time, okay, this is the Best Jazz Possible.  There is no topping it.  No reason to buy any other G1 Jazzes!  And Power of the Primes Jazz came out 2017, and it was definitely a step down from RTS Jazz, but it became a combiner limb, so at least it serves a different sort of purpose.  So RTS Jazz still reigns supreme.  Unsurmountable.  Impossible.

And then Hasbro decided to reboot everything under a strictly adhered-to style (heavily cartoon-based) and also a unified scale.  RTS Jazz suddenly finds himself too tall and style-wise out-of-fashion.  He's clearly from a Different Era.  By the time Studio Series '86 Jazz was announced, you're already wishing for a Jazz that fits in better with everybody.  

I mean, if you'd rather your collection have a wider spread of styles, which is definitely a neat-o thing to do, then, yeah, keep your RTS Jazz.  It has its faults, but so does this new Jazz.  They're pretty similar in their placement on the joy vs annoyance spectrum, and about equally as complex.  New Jazz is definitely smaller (and about $5 more expensive after adjusting for inflation), but, again, he won't tower over the other guys he should be the same size as.  He does the job he's supposed to.  

The obvious difference between the two is that SS'86 Jazz tries to Be The Cartoon Model, and that means it needs to tuck those door wings away.  I'm pro door wing for Jazz in general, but this toy does an okay job of hiding them.  You tuck one layer of roof into another layer of roof, tuck the doors inside, and then just pile all that on his back.  Giving him door wings would be a more interesting use of that mass, but again we're trying to be the animation model.  

It is pretty great that despite having sixteen billion Transformers toys that transform with hoods folding down into chests, we're still discovering new ways to make that happen.  How will we have to fit the arms under there this time???  Well, in SS'86 Jazz's case, you ... rotate the abs around the spine to make room for them.  That's a new one on me.  

Jazz comes with a Moonbase One backdrop and a rifle.  Unlike Kup and Blurr from his wave, he doesn't come with a non-gun The Transformers: The Movie-inspired accessory.  

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