Posted October 19, 2020 at 10:39 pm

Remember how I told you I broke my Earthrise Bluestreak?  Well, his fellow Datsun bro Smokescreen came and his rifle popped in half right out of the plastic tray!  WHY CAN I NOT HAVE AN UNBROKEN EARTHRISE DATSUN BRO. 

Anyway, it's a few weeks later, and I have a replacement.  I used scissors to remove the plastic tray from around the rifle this time instead of just squeezing it out -- I mean, I'm 99% sure it was just a problem with my individual rifle specimen that first time and not an actual persistent problem, but I WAS BEIN' FRIGGIN' SURE THIS TIME.  It is NOT fun to have something break before you even have the guy out of the goddamned box!

Earthrise Smokescreen is unsurprisingly like Bluestreak!  Who knew?  He's got two important retoolings -- one, he's got his Face In A Box, as seen in the cartoon/comic.  Secondly, and more unusually, he's got his front fender retooled to be taller.  Because the original Smokescreen toy was a rally deco race car, and so it doesn't have to worry about being street legal.  Usually when Smokescreen gets toys they leave the car itself alone, and just let him be a regular ol' Datsun build like Bluestreak and Prowl.  No, this time Smokescreen also gets his dadbod.  

More niche but important to me is Earthrise Smokescreen gets white thighs!  It's been............. forever since he's gotten white thighs.  Like, since the original toy (and the Masterpiece).  Siege gave him black thighs, Combiner Wars gave him blue thighs, Universe '08 gave him silver...  And, like, I dunno, for some reason those white thighs are important to me.  Back when Universe '08 Smokescreen and Prowl came out, PROWL had the white thighs, and so I swapped them.  Back then stuff was easier to swap.  More screws, fewer pins.  (Doublechecking photos, their hips were balljointed, and the knees were pinned, but there was a second joint just below the knee that was screwed, so I musta swapped both the thigh and that sub-knee section.)  

Meanwhile, Prowl should have silver thighs.  But they were white on the cartoon and Hasbro's never gonna waist paint or a separate plastic sprue on silver thighs anyway, so fuck me forever, I guess.  I'll probably be taking a Sharpie to the Earthrise one when it comes out in a few weeks.

Dunno why I'm so hung up on the thighs.  Maybe it just helps achieve a certain important color balance.  Smokescreen with darker-colored thighs just makes him too dark all-over.  There's a value contrast equilibrium that must be maintained.  

Despite Smokescreen coming with his cartoon head and his cartoon chest, he comes with Bluestreak's cartoon shoulder launchers!  This is no super big deal if you have Stege Smokescreen, 'cuz Stege Smokescreen came with Smokescreen's cartoon shoulder launchers, and they're compatible.  Just toss those Earthrise launchers in the garbage and plug in last year's Stege launchers.  The pegs are a little too tall for the hole, but that was an existing problem with the Stege mold.  They're just very long pegs.  I chopped off the edges a little with some toenail clippers, taking a full 6 seconds to do this, and now they're flush with the hood.

Now all I need is some reprolabels from Toyhax to finish his look.  You know they're coming.  I'm a-gonna need his bumper to read SUN and MOON and his crotch to have a splash of green.  

still need to find a bluestreak replacement, but they're starting to hit walgreens now, so hopefully it won't be too long

Posted October 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm

The Allicons (portmanteau of "alligator" and "decepticon") were known as the Quintesson Guards in the The Transformers: The Movie script, and didn't officially receive that name until Dreamwave adopted it in 2004!  So we have one more thing to thank Dreamwave for beyond Optimus Prime always having backwards friggin' toes.  

But, yeah, you know!  Allicons!  The first transforming beings Kup and Hot Rod meet in the animated film.  Kup and Hot Rod use the Universal Greeting on them, feed them some Energon, and then the Allicons try to hump them or something.  I forget.  But it's a pretty big scene for a buncha transforming robots that never got a toy.  Until now!  

i mean, the allicons got to speak and the sharkticons didn't, and the sharkticons got a toy

the sharkticons have gotten several toys

Anyway, it's Allicon!  Transforms from stumpy robot to stumpy bipedal alligator robot.  Has a shark fin on its robot head, even though he's the alligator robot, while the sharkticons don't have fins on their robot heads.  I don't get it!  Comes with a spear, and also a portion of the tail can split out to become a... tail... thing.  Tail whip?  I dunno.  

The big thing is Allicon transforms VERY SIMPLY!  Like, you yank up the tail, flip it around, and place it on backwards from where it was.  That's basically it!  Sure, okay, the robot arms plug into place for alligator mode.  And you straighten the legs a bit sometimes.  It is not complex!

And goddammit, I am frickin' GLAD.  Allicon is a troop builder.  You'd want to have like a half-dozen of these.  And troop-builders that take a year and a half to transform are NOT FUN.  You want all your Reveal-The-Shield Junkions to go from robots to motorcycles?  Well, better carve out a goddamn afternoon.  And take your blood pressure medication.  And prepare for one of them to break.

So thank god these guys are simple.  I got three and I can swap them all from one mode to the other in under five minutes.  

And you're gonna want plural.  There is zero point to One Allicon.  It's not like with Sharkticon, where technically he was sold as Gnaw, and so this Single Sharkticon could just be Individual "Gnaw" Sharkticon.  No, Allicons are always in groups.  Unless it's "The Killing Jar."  Otherwise, it's like owning one friggin' Stormtrooper.  

Posted October 2, 2020 at 10:30 am

1) cut a hole in a box

2) put your chick in that box

3) they make you open that box

and that's how you transform her

Dang, got deja vu here.  Back in July, I talked about Cyberverse Arcee, who is a box which you yank a woman-shaped robot out from.  Well, here's Earthrise Arcee, who is the sequel.  And like many sequels, it's not as good!!!!!

Like, you can fault Cyberverse Arcee for many things, but it had style.  Some visual panache.  She transformed by stepping out of her car box, which you then folded up onto her back, but at least she looked rad!  Earthrise Arcee..... has some problems!  Like, okay, Transformers these days are pretty lax about closing up their shapes in plastic from certain angles, so if you look at them from behind or below, you might see some hollowness.  Materials and labor and shipping are getting expensive, I get it, and we don't want our Deluxe Transformers to be $30.  It's fine.  But Earthrise Arcee steps out of her car box, and then you fold it up on her back, and .... you're just staring at a bunch of frontward-facing hollowness surrounding her robot mode.  It is not ideal!  I mean, it's not ideal in many ways, what with the stepping out of her car box part, but you get it.  Earthrise Arcee really needed some extra plastic parts to make her shoulder kibble look good from, like, the most important angle.  

You can remove half of the car mode from her back and have her stand on it, if you want.  This doesn't fix the frontward-facing facade problems over her shoulders, but it does remove half of her backpack.  However, she is also standing on herself.  Which is ridiculous.  She is surfing on her own spine.  

So, yes, this Arcee toy is evidently deficient in many obvious ways.  Why do I own it?  Let's talk about Earthrise Arcee's strengths, category: relative.  Five years ago, Arcee got her first Proper Transforming G1-Style Toy, for the Thrilling 30 line.  It was honestly a Moment.  It'd taken so long.  29 years, at the time.  And, yeah, you had to fold up a lot of car onto her back, but surprising amounts of Arcee Robot actually became car!  The thighs became car!  The chest became the tip of the hood!  And... okay, that was it.  But that is 100% more than Earthrise Arcee.  

But the problem with Thrilling 30 Arcee is pretty evident when you stand her next to Earthrise Arcee.  T30 Arcee was evidently designed by somebody who is incredibly thirsty for Arcee.  She's got a very sexy arch in her back, she's somehow got sexy cleavage carved into her hood chest, she's got a sexy round tummy area, she's got, like, g-string underwear...  It is A Look.  A Horny Look.

Earthrise Arcee doesn't have all this.  Yes, she's still shaped like a thin human female, but she's a faithful recreation of the decidedly less thirsty 1986 model sheet for Arcee.   It's a much more neutral look for her.  It's just a little bit less embarrassing.  She's not standing like she's trying to shove her cleavage in her own mouth.  Plus, like, her arms reach past her torso.  That's nice!  

Other pluses: She has waist articulation, ankle swivels, some better range of movement all around.

So that's the thing.  There's a choice of Arcees where one stepped out of a Liefeld comic but can transform a little, and one that is 90% less fetishized but takes off her car mode to stand on it.  

[THAT-CURB-YOUR-ENTHUSIASM-GIF-YOU-KNOW-THE-ONE.GIF]

Posted September 26, 2020 at 10:53 pm

Back in the early preproduction days of Transformers, Sunstreaker was gonna be a yellow Sideswipe and Sideswipe was gonna be a red Sunstreaker.  That's why Sideswipe's profile mentions all this stuff like rocket boosters and piledrivers that Sideswipe's toy didn't have but matched Sunstreaker's toy pretty well, and why Sunstreaker had red stickers on his shoulders -- they were supposed to match his car mode but when they changed the color to yellow, they didn't alter the stickers to match.

Thus Tigertrack, a yellow redeco of Sideswipe, is basically a Preproduction Sunstreaker toy.  He is now his own guy with his own name, though!  His personality is... that he has a lot of scanners.  Very good scanners.   Incredible scanners that are of no help to him in any of his trivial fictional appearances, it seems. 

Sometimes he pals up with Stripes, the Autobot tiger cassette!  Stripes is similarly a character based on preproduction material, and their names are both tiger-based.  I guess it makes thematic sense.  

I was kind of underwhelmed when I got him, since even though he was New Toy of a New Character (to me), he's just... he's just Sideswipe with yellow instead of red.  That's why I often feel lukewarm on Diaclone/Pre-Transformer rehashes.  They're just not very interesting colors!  It's just swapping one primary color for another.  Throw some purple or teal in there!  I need razzle dazzle!

His yellows are entirely painted instead of bare plastic, like Sideswipe's reds, so that is nice, at least.  

Tigertrack is one of those Generations Selects online-only exclusives, and GameStop claimed an earlier delivery date, so I preordered from them, they indeed got theirs in early, and so that's why I have mine now.  If you ordered him from anywhere else, don't freak out about not having him yet.  

I like to give my Tigertrack the Sideswipe Rocketpack accessory from the Centurion Drone set, because that's a thing Sideswipe only has because they wrote him as Sunstreaker's toy, so it seems appropriate.  

Stripes and the rocketpack are sold separately.

Posted September 19, 2020 at 10:15 pm

When listings for Earthrise toys started leaking last year and we began to learn we'd get a few of the Cybertron-mode Stege guys back in new Earth mode toys (hello Starscream and Optimus Prime), many of us figured, yeah, okay, they probably won't do a new Earth Megatron.  There's a long history now of Megatrons just sticking to their Cybertronian modes, the Stege toy is fine and a passable tank, and honestly it's the one toy from the Voyager Class pricepoint range that tends to shelfwarm.  We knew we were getting a Grapple, so wouldn't that slot be better taken up by Grapple retooled into Inferno?  

BUT NOPE!  

EARTHRISE MEGATRON!  

And he's like the Stege Megatron toy, but retooled to be worse!  See, one of Stege Megatron's nicest features was that his tank barrel transformed into a sword.  The blade halves folded out from underneath, eclipsed around the barrel, and bam! sword.  A sword that was sword-shaped!  It just had a neat barrel encased in the middle.  I liked that!  It was based on the sword that the original 1985 Japanese version of Megatron came with (in lieu of the fusion cannon, actually), which isn't precisely my cup of nostalgia tea, but it did the job very well!  

Earthrise Megatron just sticks the tip of that same sword design onto the back of a giant chunk of Abrams tank that includes the barrel.  You peg it onto Megatron's forearm.  It looks like a giant chunk of tank with a little pointy pokey part.  If it weren't so wide, he could probably use it to stir his morning coffee.  And then you remove a part of the tank from the back (from between where the legs go) and peg it onto all that.  

It's a terrible, embarrassing change that makes a toy worse.  

I mean, the reason that chunk exists is that they want to keep Megatron having his little 1984 Walther P-38 pistol hammer halves on his shoulders.  The chunk of Abrams tank covers them up when you transform him into tank mode.  Stege Megatron transformed into a Cybertronian tank, so he could have the front of the tank look however it wanted.  (though the tops of the arms transformed a little to obscure them)  

But it's... super not worth it...?

Beyond that, Earthrise Megatron is actually a pretty extensive retool of Stege Megatron.  They essentially transform the same, and all the new parts are shaped similarly to the old parts, but like 80% of him is different.  New head, new, chest, new crotch, new shins, new Abrams tank front half parts, new fusion cannon, new backs of his upper arms, new... barrel shield pointy stick... 

All this is in service of making him more of an Earth tank who transforms into something even closer to the old cartoon Megatron design.  He's got those little vents on his obliques and smoother, slopey legs that sort of resemble gun handle shapes better.  His fusion cannon looks more like a pistol sight.  He's got a ... new cartoony Megatron head that looks worse than the Stegey cartoony Megatron head.  

And he's two to a case, with one Quintesson Judge filling out the third spot!  Oh boy!  

anyway because of this he's much easier to get one's hands on, i got one, and i stole stege megatron's head and arms and sword/barrel, stuck them on earth megatron, painted his obliques red (the stege head had already been painted by me), and now i have an earthier Marvel Comics-style Megatron that has a better-sculpted noggin and doesn't carry a dumb-looking chunk of terrible tank/barrel/butterknife around on his forearm 

(see image on right)

Sure, in tank mode the barrel area doesn't look as Abramsy, but THAT'S AN OKAY TRADE-OFF.

(the plastic colors are the same, and the head and arms swap real easy, don't even gotta unscrew anything)

i recommend doing this, if only so you all help get these guys off shelves before Kingdom shows up next year, if straggling earthrise megatrons are the reason there's no shelfspace for a new dinobot toy to reach saturation i will murder everything

(walmart-exclusive netflix stege megatron pictured in comparison images)

Posted September 14, 2020 at 8:43 pm

So back in 1985 they left the heads untransformed when they designed animation models for the second batch of three Decepticon Planes, and 35 years later we're getting new toys of these guys where tiny, blunted animation-accurate jet nosecone hats tuck inside vehicle-accurate long pointy jet nosecones for transformation.  What a wild ride!

Yup, you just sheath those smaller nosecones inside the larger nosecones, like a Russian nesting doll.  That's what you do.

This has been my review of Earthrise Dirge and Ramjet.

Posted September 5, 2020 at 10:34 pm

Prowl/Bluestreak/Smokescreen, the three Datsun Autobot guys, they actually have different animation models, despite being drawn from the same toy.  Prowl was in the very first batch of animation models done, Bluestreak was designed slightly later and was slightly different, and Smokescreen came the following year, and his animation model was completely different.  Completely different from Starscream and his Seeker guys, who are literally all just the same model but in different colors.  

When Hasbro goes back to the three Datsun Autobot guys to make new toys, they tend to do Prowl's head.  It's the most toy-accurate of the head designs, while Bluestreak's is more abstracted and Smokescreen's is just... a face in a box.  Bluestreak and Smokescreen will get Prowl's head and they'll like it!!!!  Sometimes Smokescreen gets his own head, because it's bizarrely different, but Bluestreak?  Basically never. 

But EarthRise Bluestreak is it -- the Bluestreakest Bluestreak.  This is a Bluestreak with Bluestreak's head!  And PROWL (coming out later in a two-pack with Ironhide) is the one who gets Bluestreak's head!  Take that!  Looks like this year, All Cops Are Bluestreak.  

No one's exactly sure how EarthRise Bluestreak will be released.  Probably Amazon, since he has a listing there in other countries, but he's not officially announced yet.  HOWEVER, he came out in Asia and TheChosenPrime imported him, and I bought one during that 15-minute window they had him in stock.  And so I have him (he arrived in a DAY), despite him being the only one of the three not yet officially announced.  Smokescreen's in the second wave of retail Deluxe Class toys which is just now beginning to hit Targets, and Prowl's in that aforementioned Amazon two-pack.  

Last year's Walmart-exclusive Stege Bluestreak, ostensibly a Cybertronian alternate mode version, feels a little scrawny compared to this Definitely A Datsun Sportscar version.  EarthRise Bluestreak is blocky and beefy and substantial, while Stege was a little on the scrawny side.  Stege was a little shorter, too.  That's not to say that EarthRise is superior in that regard.  The Stege Prowl/Bluestreak/Smokescreen toy was actually pretty solid and easy to play with, despite how anemic it appeared from some angles.  You could collapse his thighs into his shins in a snap.  Satisfying.  I liked it.  EarthRise Bluestreak takes some fussing to do the same, and the way his spine accordions is often confusing.

In fact, I just flat-out broke my EarthRise Bluestreak trying to get him into car mode once.  He's brokes.  The little translucent hooks on the thin translucent windshield/roof part just shattered.  I pushed the wrong thing trying to get him into car mode and the weakest point gave.  SO BE CAREFUL WITH THAT I GUESS.  I glued the windshield back on -- not to the hinges, since that's just impossible, but to the broad red support beam underneath it.  The actual tiny hinges are still shot, but the functionality remains.  All my pictures here are taken afterwards, even.  It's just super annoying to know those hinges are broken.  And I can see the superglue smeared in the windshield.  I'll try to get a replacement when he's made available properly.  

Honestly, having the roof break off your Bluestreak is pretty integral to the Vintage Generation 1 Transformers Experience.  A++++ nostalgia.  

Grumble.

Posted September 4, 2020 at 11:02 pm

In 1986, Hasbro retooled a buncha older Mini-Vehicles into some newer guys.  Brawn got a new face as Outback, Huffer got a new face and transformation as Pipes, Windcharger got retooled into Tailgate, etc.  And Cliffjumper got a new head as Hubcap!  Hubcap is, like, often misremembered as some sort of packaging error, but he was a legit 1986 character!  We just don't see much of him because, like, these days Cliffjumpers are usually just red Bumblebees, so if you make a yellow guy out of Cliffjumper you just end up with Bumblebee with a new head.  Even Generation 2 released Hubcap in red, just to get around the issue of There Already Being A Yellow One.

But finally, in Earthrise, it's Cliffjumper who's the primary use of his tooling!  And Bumblebee is actually gonna be a Volkswagen Beetle, so that frees up Cliffjumper to be redone as good ol' yellow Hubcap without any redundancies.   Thus Generations Selects Hubcap is born.

(Generations Selects is where Hasbro takes retail toys, gives them new paint jobs and/or heads and releases them as online exclusives.  Think of essentially BotCon toys released at regular retail prices.)

I love me some Hubcap (he's a grifter!!!) and so I was on top of this.  In person he's... well, not the yellow you usually expect Bumblebee to be.  Close, but it's a very banana yellow.  Very creamy, yet bright.  And 90% of his yellow is painted.  The only exposed yellow plastic is on his forearms and his head.  This means you get an entirely painted yellow car mode, and it looks very nice.  None of that plastic/paint mismatch that usually happens with yellow car Transformers.  

He gets Cliffjumper's assortment of bazooka and ski parts, too.  They make less sense with Hubcap, but whatcha gonna do.  There's a few different arrangements you can attempt if you want to keep the bazooka proper a Cliffjumper-exclusive deal, like splitting the bazooka in half into two smaller weapons, as the instructions suggests.  

The toy is literally EarthRise Cliffjumper, and so he's as good or bad as you think that toy is.  Yeah, half his altmode pops off to become a shield, and, yeah, he's a few heads shorter than most other Deluxe Class toys, but there's positives in both those negatives depending on your priorities.  

Alternately, who cares, it's effin' Hubcap!

Posted August 9, 2020 at 11:25 pm

It took four toylines (Titans Return, skipping Power of the Primes, Stege, and EarthRise) to finish the 1987 Decepticon Headmasters, but here we are!  Snapdragon is here!  Trailing Scorponok by only a little.  It's been remarked upon that Titans Return was a toyline with the express gimmick of Headmastering, with the secondary gimmick of Voyager Class guys who triple change, and for some reason it didn't give us Apeface and Snapdragon, the larger Decepticon Headmasters who could triple change.  But, well, it is what it is, and they're both here now.  Apeface sputtered out just barely at the end of Stege, and now Snapdragon is here for Wave 2 of Earthrise.  

Snapdragon, again, is a Headmaster who Triple Changes!  He's a robot, a spaceship, and an extremely-widely-hipped dragon.  I guess dragons are fictional, and so they can have as wide a stance as they like.  His head transforms into Krunk, who is not Patrick Warburton from Emperor's New Groove.  That's Kronk, with an O.  Common mistake.

The best thing about Krunk, other than his name, is that the little cockpit area he sits in has decoed control panels.  That's wild for a mainline toy!  They never do that.  I mean, it looks like a little LEGO control panel, with buttons tampographed onto a slick surface, but it's still great.  (Getting the cockpit window halves to split so you can place Krunk in there, though, is a workout.)  

Unlike the original Snapdragon, Krunk doesn't become the entirety of both the dragon and robot mode heads.  He still transforms into the full robot head, but in dragon mode his legs become the lower jaw and the rest of him is shoved up into the roof of the mouth of the rest of the dragon mode head.  It's amusing because Snapdragon's dragon mode head has Krunk's arms sculpted and painted onto his cheeks, so that he matches original Snapdragon despite transforming differently.  

Snapdragon's transformation into all three modes is pretty straight-forward.  If he's a jet, you bend out the wings and engines into either robot arms or dragon legs, and then you either need to make the jet's nose into robot legs or bend them into a dragon tail.  There's not as much peg-to-slot massaging as with Apeface.  

I do wish Snapdragon had better shoulder articulation in dragon mode.  The shoulders only rotate up and down, not outwards.  He does have balljointed elbows, you can point his tiny tyrannosaurus-esque arms out to the sides, but working this motion only reminds you that his shoulders don't move much.  

It explains why Daniel Witwicky had to jump directly on Snapdragon's head to get within reach of his jaws.  Those tiny forelimbs would be no help.

Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:18 pm

The Last Stand of the Wreckers is TEN YEARS OLD this year, and it took a decade to get a new Rotorstorm.  There have been so many helicopters since then, and five of those years we had a BotCon, and yet no Rotorstorm made out of anybody more important.  Finally, Generations Selects (Hasbro's online exclusive toyline of retooled/redecoed mainline toys) has given us a Rotorstorm.  

("HOW DID YOU GET HIM EARLY" you may ask, and the answer is All Time Toys in Maryland got in some a few days ago ahead of release date, and had them in stock for roughly 15 minutes, and I jumped on that sucker like a me on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.)

Rotorstorm was properly announced by Hasbro in one of their Fan First Friday livestreams on Facebook.  They showed off Rotorstorm, who's Stege Spinister with a new head, and were very excited to tell us about his new head that looked like Rotorstorm.  But, funny story, he still had Spinister's head.   Thankfully, in the next Fan First Friday, Hasbro was like "lol our bad, our sample had the wrong head, Rotorstorm gonna have Rotorstorm head" and we all sighed a sigh of relief.  

'Cuz this is the Transformers of 2020, where guys get their own heads, not the Transformers of early BotCon, where your Sideswipe will have RID Prowl's head and you'll like it.  (You will.)

Rotorstorm has GREAT colors.  Of course he does.  He's from the mid-Nineties.  Mid-Nineties EUROPE.  He was released over there in that one off year the United States had between Action Masters and Generations 2.  We got the mold redecoed and sold over here as Machine Wars Sandstorm.  Machine Wars Sandstorm had very drab colors.  Brown and green.  But Rotorstorm says FUCK YOU I'm dark blue and electric blue and silver and teal and yellow and PINK.  It's a better choice.  Go bold or go home.

The fun thing about Stege Spinister's toy is that he has a fake cockpit for one leg and a real cockpit for the other.  Hasbro was trying to duplicate his box art, I guess, and so they just gave him two identical cockpit legs, one of which becomes the actual cockpit and another which tucks underneath the helicopter mode out of sight.  Gotta keep him symmetrical!  The reason I bring this up is because since original Rotorstorm's cockpit was on his chest, in order to make this new Rotorstorm look like Rotorstorm, Hasbro painted another fake cockpit on the new toy's chest on top of Spinister's robot chest details.  

That's right.

Rotorstorm effectively has three cockpits, two of which are fake.  THREE COCKPITS.

It is absolutely ridiculous and I honestly love it.  It's a story.

Rotorstorm would laugh.

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