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.

Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:34 pm

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


Ah, the eternal battle of "Arcee toys should look like Arcee" versus "Arcee is a human woman who transforms into a box."  How will we wad up the robot inside the car shell this time?  Will the chest actually become the hood of the car, or have we now given up on that completely?  Will, in fact, any part of the robot become part of the vehicle mode?  

The answer with Cyberverse Deluxe Class Arcee is: just the forearms this time.  You unfold the car on her back, fold her knees back, and tuck her inside her altmode.  Panels on her arms form a portion of the sides of the vehicle.  

Her animation model on the Cyberverse cartoon smartly expects this.  If you see her from behind, yeah, there's an entire car drawn/rendered back there, just shrunk a little.  So, you know, at least it's ... accurate.  I remember when Animated Arcee was redesigned between seasons to have vehicle kibble hanging off her butt 'cuz whoops I guess she's going to be a toy now and not be just a cameo.  Whoever designed Cyberverse Arcee's animated appearance seems to have been genre savvy enough to put that massive backpack in to begin with.  

Despite all that!!! Cyberverse Deluxe Class Arcee is an appealing-looking toy.  She's a very vibrant pink.  She has enough paint to make her dazzle.  And I really like how her shins look like, you know, robot shins instead of naked human lady legs painted white.  It's just a pity those robot legs aren't also vehicle parts.  It could have saved on so much backpack.

Arcee comes with a blaster, two blue effects parts so you can either make the gun look like it's shooting or her vehicle mode look like it's zooming.  She also comes with Build-A-Figure parts for Maccadam, specifically his biceps and weapon.  Just one Thunderhowl left to go until I can finish that guy!

Posted July 25, 2020 at 10:39 pm

Both Stege and EarthRise like to beat the hell out of that 1984 drum, but ever so often it'll give us a small crumb from the margins of the original toyline.  So, hey, say hello to Doubledealer!  This 1988 Double Powermaster is back, minus his Powermasters, sort of.  

Transformers has been steadfastly adhering to the old Eighties cartoon as its bible, and so Doubledealer comes in like an enigma.  We like to have things look like the cartoon, but Doubledealer only appeared in animated form in a commercial which you can only find fuzzy versions of on YouTube.  We like things to be SCALED like they were in the cartoon, but, again, same issue.  What Doubledealer looks like and how big he is are largely things Hasbro could make up.  And so EarthRise Doubledealer takes its lead from the original toy a lot more than it would otherwise.  And it turns out Doubledealer is a pretty chonky dude!  He's Leader Class, which recently means "Voyager Class-sized robot with extra stuff," but in his case he's extra wide and a little extra tall and a higher parts count.  He's dense.

The original Doubledealer was pretty lanky, but EarthRise Doubledealer adds girth so that his torso can encompass a gimmick borrowed from Soundwave.  Yeah, he's got a tape cassette compartment!  That's how the Powermaster angle is achieved with him this go-round.  His Powermaster buds were released separately as part of an online-exclusive mini-cassette four-pack, and so instead of attaching them to him as little engines, you slot them into a big box on his chest.  Knok (the red humanoid partner) has his details sculpted into Doubledealer's abs, but you can still put Knok into Doubledealer's chest compartment, unplug a portion of the engine detail from the abs, and replug it onto Knok.  Ditto with Skar, though Skar doesn't seem to be sculpted into Doubledealer's bird mode.

(That was Doubledealer's double deal.  He was an Autobot-aligned robot who transformed into a Decepticon-aligned vulture/chicken/thing, and his missile truck mode was the... neutral mode?  In practice, he was pretending to be two folks -- Both an Autobot robot/truck guy and a Decepticon bird/truck guy.   Just... two guys, both with the same missile truck mode.  You weren't supposed to connect the robot guy to the bird guy.  Optimus Prime wasn't very perceptive, I guess.)

EarthRise Doubledealer is... complicated!  Like I said, he's got a high parts count.  Lots of hinges and stuff, all of which help you get a pretty okay robot to an acceptable missile truck to a block with a head and wings on it that's a bird because we say so.  When there's a robot/vehicle/animal Triple Changer, I feel it's the animal mode that suffers the most.  And being a bird doesn't help, either.  Transformers has trouble with birds.  There's a not a lot of volume in a bird for stuff to go, and so you end up with situations like Doubledealer where he looks like a chicken that's trying to poop a truck.  Like half his beast mode is truck butt, with a tiny little bit of tailfeathers on top.

The original Doubledealer placed his giant missile slung under his torso in bird mode.  Earthrise Doubledealer realizes, yo, this looks like a huge dick, and officially the missile gets placed on his bird mode back.  ....however, there's 5mm pegs placed underneath if you still want to give him that huge traditional bird dick.  And it's not a happy accident, they're definitely there for that purpose.  Gotta keep the fans happy with bird dick!

That's essentially EarthRise Doubledealer's deal!  1) Hooray, a minor character from the latter days of G1 who's not, like, the 30th Prowl toy!  And 2) oh dang he is fussy.  He's just trying to do so many things at once, but not any of it well.  Not any of it TERRIBLY either, just, you know, he's solidly in the middle.  

Posted July 15, 2020 at 10:15 am

The early 80s were a wild time!  For example, you could sell a kids toy robot that transformed into a racing car with the logo of a cigarette company painted across it.  In Japan, a variant of the toy that would later be repurposed by Hasbro as Wheeljack had a new head, plus Marlboro's distinctive red and white angles across the hood.  Marlboro was misspelled (probably purposefully) as Marlboor, and so the little guy was known in collectors circles as Marlboor Wheeljack.

It wasn't until 2015 that TakaraTomy tried to integrate Marlboor Wheeljack into Transformers proper as Exhaust.  A retool of Masterpiece Wheeljack (so that he got the new head), Masterpiece Exhaust's photos promised a slightly altered arrangement of the hood deco.  But, whoops, that wasn't enough, and Marlboro had them change it even more.  The toy was released with a weird stairsteppy version of the usual clean red angles.  

Five years later, we've got Generations Selects Exhaust!  A retool (again, for the new head) of EarthRise Wheeljack, his car mode has an even more Game-Of-Telephoned iteration of the red hood deco.  Just, y'know... going that extra mile to not get the attention of Marlboro.  There's very little resemblance to the original deco, other than color.  Which is honestly fine.  Collectors know Exhaust is about cigarettes.  He's still got that hint of illicit marketing.  And I betcha five bucks ToyHax has stickers ready to go to recreate it.  

Also, "Exhaust" is misspelled three times on the toy as "Exhuast."  Let's... pretend that's a purposeful reference to the vintage "Marlboor" mispelling, and not, like, an accidental typo.  Let's pretend it very hard.

Generations Selects is the online-exclusive line of Hasbro toys that's supplemental to the ongoing retail mainline.  Exhaust (and Greasepit) showed up for order from a few of the smaller online stores a few weeks ago, but Hasbro's yet to acknowledge the toy exists.  It's possible it's going to be available as a "see it and buy it now" SDCC-timed exclusive in a week or so, at which point HasbroPulse and the rest of the usual online retailers will put theirs up for sale.  

Honestly, if Hasbro was gonna do an Evil Wheeljack, I woulda preferred Slicer.

Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:53 pm

When a new $80 "Commander" size class for Transformers was announced last year , just so that a Jetfire toy would be at cartoon scale, the amount of eye-rolling in my reaction was non-zero.  I mean, sweet, new size class, yes, and yeah actually I do like scale, and the Jetfire it produced was actually surprisingly good, but... what else could this new avenue bring us?

Well, David of the past, nuts to you, because this year's Commander Sky Lynx is glorious, actually.  And it's largely due to his size.  He's just... an enviable chonk of Sky Lynx.  He's a big dude!  Well, two big dudes that combine into one bigger dude.  ...fine, one bigger dude that separates into two smaller dudes.  You know what I mean.  He's a lynx.  He's a bird.  He combines into a dragon.  The dragon transforms into a shuttle on a transport.  The shuttle can detach from the transport.  There's a lot going on here!

There's apparently a lot of budget room to work with on an $80 Transformers toy.  Jetfire spent its moolah on a lot of smaller things like hands that disappeared their 5mm ports when the palm opened and little handholds for smaller Transformers to hold onto while Jetfire airdrops them into battle.  There aren't many things exactly like that on Sky Lynx, but he feels like he has a robust budget all the same.  His poseable neck and tail, the ankle rockers on all six of his limbs (the bird has two), the myriad of ways you can pose his wings... Sky Lynx is just impressive.

Because he's a large Earthrise toy, he's got a new base mode.  You unfold the lynx into a shuttle launch pad with multiple ramps!  The ramps each have connectors to attach to other EarthRise base modes.  There's two broad white cannons  you can awkwardly attach to the lynx feet in this mode, helping you pretend these are towers and not, you know, feet.  This is probably the weakest aspect of the whole arrangement.  In lynx or dragon modes, you can attach these cannons to his hips.

One of the biggest joys of Sky Lynx is standing other guys next to him and getting this sense of scale.  Again, he's a big guy, and it's neat to see Optimus Prime small next to him.  Plus, like, huge winged dinosaur thing.  And, yes, his face is just a shuttle cockpit with a jaw, but it still possesses this shocking charisma.  

EarthRise SkyLynx's altmode is actually licensed by NASA.   Like, it's got the NASA logo on there, and on purpose, and he transforms into a very accurate 80's style space shuttle.    His shuttle name is the Magnificence.  Later this summer, there's a pair of Micromasters that transform together into a shuttle which also have the NASA logo printed on them, so Hasbro went for broke this year, NASA-wise.

I'm just always delighted to see this thing on my desk.  I need to eventually put him away where he needs to end up in my display shelves, but he's just gonna be mostly hidden behind so many other guys, and I'll be sad.  I put him there once just to make sure he fit (he did, amazingly), but had to yank him out soon enough so I could love him more.  

Though it's also possible I'm just going mad from being inside for 4 months, I dunno.

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