Posted October 31, 2021 at 2:58 pm

Hasbro's been poking at some enjoyable buttons for me this past year.  We got a new Dinobot AND a retool/redeco of that Dinobot as Grimlock.  We got a toy colors Galvatron.  We got a Shattered Glass Goldbug (who I can steal a head from to give to Bumblebee).  And this year's PulseCon exclusive is... Beast Wars Ravage?  C'mon you guys, it wasn't even my birthday.

This is the second Beast Wars Ravage toy -- the first, "X-9" Metals Jaguar, was a retool of Transmetal Cheetor, reusing only the toy from the legs down and the cheetah's forelegs, with everything else essentially being new.  The robot face became the janguar face, and the robot arms had no where to go in beast mode so they just kind of hung underneath.  You could open up the chest to reveal a sticker of your choice.  I chose a screaming, drunken G1 Megatron, because obviously.  This sold for about $30 at the time, but now will cost you hundreds of dollars if you can even find it for sale.  

So, you know, a newer one is nice!  

Covert Agent Ravage is similar in execution to the original -- it keeps Kingdom Cheetor's robot from the legs down, plus the cheetah's forelegs, with everything else once again being essentially new.  The two big differences are 1) this transforms into an organic, furry beast instead of a robotic one, and 2) the robot arms actually have a place to go!  You open up the abdomen, stuff the arms inside, and the furry backsides of the forearms poke out the top of the beast to fill in the shoulders.  A greater attempt at Beast Wars cartoon accuracy is made here, with the robot head looking more like the Tigatron CGI model as it did in the cartoon, rather than Generic Robo Cat.  Unlike the cartoon, the head is sculpted furry to match the rest of the organic beast mode, and so while it looks more like CGI Beast Wars Ravage, it does have a furry rather than metallic texture to it.  

And, of course, since it uses Kingdom Cheetor's legs rather than a Transmetal Cheetor's legs, this Beast Wars Ravage has the distinction of looking more like CGI Ravage from the waist up, rather than from the waist down.

Benefits to this newer Covert Agent Ravage include: the head can turn.  Metals Jaguar's head was completely immobile, as it was on a telescoping series of hinges to accommodate the transformation.  Neck articulation is built into this new Beast Wars Ravage, though, and the requisite War for Cyberton-era ankle tilts are also present.  Covert Agent Ravage has two show-accurate rifles that he can wield in his hands or holster on his hips.  

He comes with an original 1984 Ravage, albeit with the microcassette deco painted on both sides of the microcassette mode for the first time -- there's no jaguar side and microcassette side to this version.  Both Ravages come packaged with a cardboard diorama of the interior Ravage's Beast Wars spaceship, including a cardboard sleeve to put G1 Ravage inside.  The idea is you can pretend Covert Agent Ravage can transform into the other Ravage's cassette mode, as he did (magically and impossibly) on the cartoon.  

This PulseCon exclusive was made for me.  I like it.  It's not currently sold out (and is priced above the Free Shipping threshold), so maybe give it a looksy.

Posted September 5, 2021 at 11:30 am

Back when, uh, thieves first unveiled Kingdom Blackarachnia to the world, one stolen sample came with an extra face piece for Blackarachnia that mimicked her original toy's head.  When you get stuff "borrowed" off the assembly line, you can end up with more or less pieces than will come with the final production toy, and extra parts included in the tooling for later releases are produced along with everything else, so it's no big surprise that extra face was there to grab.  But "original toy head" is a bit of a misnomer.  It resembles the toy head, sure, but it more accurately resembles the packaging art head.  

And so I am full on for Transformers Kingdom "World's Collide" Blackarachnia, because she not only has a head based on the original packaging art, but her deco leans heavily into that direction as well.  This could have been a simple original toy colors redeco, but no, this toy goes hard.  

Let's go down the list:

  • Blue iridescent sheen on black areas?  Yes
  • Leopard print on the boobular section?  Yes
  • Three boomerang shapes painted on each claw?  Yes
  • Pale yellow/greenish face (instead of the toy's white)?  Yes
  • Black harpoon instead of gold?  Yes

It's all very satisfying!  I mean, strict toy colors would have been interesting enough, honestly, but this feels like a very worthy deeper-dive.  The original Beast Wars packaging art gave us a glimpse into an alternate universe of these characters before Mainframe's cartoon series took them in a different direction, and it's good to see a window back into that world.  

Blackarachnia comes in the Target-exclusive World's Collide 4-pack, of which they produced maybe six.  Four of them are on eBay.  


Posted September 1, 2021 at 7:08 pm
I got the original Fangry on my... ninth birthday, I think?  He was a 1988 guy, and I was nine in 1988, so minus some potential timeline complications, that's probably accurate.  He was a gift from a friend at my birthday party at Aladdin's Castle, which is an arcade, which is a place you play upright video games for quarters, for you young people.  (kidding, i know you know what arcades are)  I had no idea Fangry existed at the time -- he was completely new to me -- and since I was a literal child, I remember thinking, who the heck is this weirdo, why isn't he Hardhead or Brainstorm or a Headmaster I actually know?  

But I'm thankful I got him, because 1) Fangry is rad.  There is no 2).  Just 1).  That's all we need.  He's a pissy winged dragon wolf who violently reacts to being given orders and, wow, actually got some play in the Marvel Comics I read slightly later as a child.  In 1988 terms, he was important! 

Titans Return gave us a tiny Head Only Fangry that sort of plugged into a tiny winged wolf that also became a dragon, but no Normal Sized Proper Fangry.  So I made my own!  I got a second Titans Return Grotusque, who was 90% the way to Fangry already.  He was a purple winged gopher instead of a purple winged wolf.  All he needed was a bit more purple, some wolf ears to fudge the animal head closer to wolf, and the existing Titans Return Fangry head.  A pretty simple and effective Fangry custom!  I was proud of it.

And I'm even prouder now that Hasbro's done the exact same thing.  Okay, they did some retooling, because they can, but it's effectively the same thing I did.  Because I'm smart!  Kingdom Fangry is a slightly pinker Titans Returns Grotusque, using the same TR Fangry head, a new wolf head, new shoulders, some new wolf hands (instead of the three claws), and a new chest and crotchplate.  But yeah, glad to see both Hasbro and I were super geniuses.  Watch me preen.

Fangry is part of a $85 Target-exclusive "Worlds Collide" four-pack that, so far, has shown up in like five Targets.  That was a month ago.  No hint of them in Columbus yet.  But I found my unicorn on eBay, a person selling the four-pack minus the Bumblebee, who's the only guy I have no use for.  (I didn't want to pay double for the whole set to some scalper if I could help it.)  So I now have my Fangry, who's essentially the completed version of my Proof Of Concept.

I love the new wolf head, which is based directly on the original character model, down to its toothy expression.  The jaw is hinged, so you can close that mouth up, if you want.  Grotusque's beast mode head transformed the jaw out of the chest, but Fangry has the entire head and jaw as a separate apparatus, while the new chest piece merely hangs around down there like window dressing.  Brisko, the name of Fangry's head, has some different plastic layouts and paint choices as well, giving him a more vivid treatment.  (The face itself seems identical.)  The new chest shows Fangry's tech-spec readout, same as the original toy.  And Brisko can hide inside the stomach compartment when Fangry's in wolf mode, same as originally.  

The Grotusque mold has seen some better days, though.  Many folks have reported weak knee joints, and mine had a little of that, but nothing I couldn't fix with some brushed-in clear floor polish.  The robot feet chunks have trouble staying on their hinges, also, and I might try using floor polish on those as well. This mold's just been used too much.  Doublecross/Twinferno, the original use of the mold, was also retooled into the other two Monsterbots before we got to Fangry, so this tooling's been around the block a few times.  

But it's Fangry, and so I'm pleased.  

and i can keep him in beast mode without thinking dang that's a gopher with wolf ears
Posted August 7, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Wreck-Gar is part of the second chunk of Studio Series '86 guys, following Slag (have I talked about him yet?), and with Gnaw not far behind.  How many other Transformers are named after Hagar the Horrible?  (Get it?  Wreck... Gar?  instead of Hagar?  "Cuz he's a viking from a garbage planet?  Look, it's better than "Kup.")  Not many, I'm pretty sure!

As always, Wreck-Gar is super-relatable because he lives in filth and he speaks in memes.  And he's had a handful of toys over the years, but never one that actually tried to look like his appearance on the cartoon.  There was the original toy, which was based on Floro Dery's preliminary artwork, the Generations "Reveal the Shield" toy that tried to give him a more modern day spin and have him transform into a more realistic earth motorcycle, and the two Combiner Wars Wreck-Gars which were retooled from both Combiner Wars Grooves.  But a toy that attempts his finalized model sheet?  New territory!  

The first thing that strikes you about '86 Wreck-Gar is his colors.  His toy was a bunch of tans and mustard, which is interesting in its own way, but the actual animation colors?  It's a mixture of colors you've never see combined on a Transformers toy before.  Everything's cranked a little into the red category, and it's beauty to behold.  It's sharp and bold and it's hard to take your eyes off of.  After a toyline trilogy of guys based on the primary-color-plus-black ethos of Diaclone color schemes, seeing hazard red and reddish beige and brown and... parma rosa?  Is that a color?   Whatever the color name of "mixing alfredo and marinara sauce together" is.  Maybe "clay" works.  Anyway, getting sidetracked by the inability to describe the colors Wreck-Gar has because they're that unusual.

In robot mode, Wreck-Gar is an immaculate Wreck-Gar action figure.  He's got all the usual currently-expected articulation, including ankle tilts and waist rotation, plus wrist rotation and a bit of an ab crunch because of his transformation!  He looks like Wreck-Gar stepped off the screen.  Yes, his axe looked like a pinwheel in the movie, too, we're sorry.  The only thing they really had to compromise on was his beard, which is drawn to hang over the edge of his chest, but that doesn't really work on a head you need to be able to rotate.  So it's a lot stubbier.  

His gun barrel nipples are balljointed.

He's also properly huge!  Wreck-Gar was drawn about Rodimus/Springer size, so him getting a Voyager Class figure means he's finally as tall as he needs to be, after a long period of Deluxe Class attempts.  

The transformation is relatively simple, which is just as well since his motorcycle mode is clearly a robot bending over and straddling a pair of wheels like Cy-Kill.  The only complexity is the way his torso accordions out in three directions, and figuring out which exact configuration you need to unaccordion all the struts back together.  The wheels are partsforming, which you kind of have to do if you want an accurate Wreck-Gar.  The robot head, which originally transformed into the handlebars and headlights of the motorcycle (you just flipped a door to cover the face), now tucks inside the actual handlebars/headlights of the new vehicle mode.  You can see his painted fake windshield forehead just under the translucent actual windshield.  The robot head and vehicle mode analog are just two different shapes, so I can't think of a better solution.

The axe plugs into the back of the motorcycle.  There's two kickstands underneath, tucked under the robot legs.  

Another bonus of Wreck-Gar being Voyager Class means he's big enough for more of your toys to ride!  His handlebars are 5mm pegs, so as long as your rider has fists that can rotate to grip them, Wreck-Gar is rideable.  Undoubtably we will get at least one retool of this toy into other Junkions.  I think there's a store listing for Junkyard.  

This is a very good toy of Wreck-Gar, who sounds like Eric Idle gargling salt water while repeating television jingles.  Get him if you see him. 

Posted July 27, 2021 at 11:27 pm

So, like, there's this Target-exclusive subline of Transformers called "Buzzworthy Bumblebee," right?  Mostly it's recycled old Bumblebee and Bumblebee-adjacent stuff, like some repackaged Studio Series Bumblebees and giant electronic Bumblebee Movie stuff.  It's not really advertised by Hasbro at all.  It just sort of exists, and when stuff appears, it appears.  There was one new toy developed for it, a Core Class-sized Bumblebee that transformed into Bumper's car mode and came with a small Witwicky, and that was sorta neat.  

But now there's a second new toy developed for it, "Origins" Bumblebee.  It's a brand new War For Cybertron-scaled Deluxe Class Bumblebee that transforms into the flying saucer altmode seen in the very first scene of the very first Transformers cartoon episode.  It comes with five of the fuel rods he and Wheeljack are seen stealing from the Decepticons in that scene, plus a rocketpack and a blaster.  What the what.

Anyway, yes, it attempts to transform Bumblebee's cartoon robot mode, which obviously looks like it transforms into some kind of superdeformed Volkswagen Beetle, into the flying saucer altmode.  And it's... generally successful?  I mean, okay, it's got some large panels hanging off his back and legs, but stuff folds up pretty cleanly, that stuff has to go somewhere, and while most of Bumblebee's robot mode is tucked underneath his unfolding spaceship kibble, it does keep some robot mode parts in vehicle mode.  The chest transforms into the very front of the spaceship, just like the animation shows us, which is pretty impressive, and also Bumblebee's crotch forms part of the, aheh, rear.  For a store exclusive, it's a pretty rad amount of effort, honestly.

The only really annoying part is that he doesn't hold his fuel rods very well.  They're not 5mm compatible or anything, and so you kinda have to try wedging them in between his arms and torso, and keeping them supported there is always more luck-based than skill-based.  Otherwise they kind of just sit there on the ground.

Origins Bumblebee is just starting to hit Targets now.  He's 8 solid to a case, so there shouldn't be too much trouble tracking him down.  

It's pretty weird that this is coming out two years after the line specifically about Transformers with Cybertronian altmodes.  

Posted July 13, 2021 at 1:44 pm

In the margins of Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Kingdom's spread of Beast Wars guys, Hasbro's trying to round out the 1985 guys the previous two parts of the Trilogy left behind.  That's right, we're finally getting to Tracks.  I mean, we're not gonna get to Skids this trilogy apparently, even though we've done like 4 Sideswipes, but we'll get a Tracks!

Kingdom Tracks feels a lot like Kingdom Rhinox to me.  This Tracks is fussy and you worry you might break it, and its transformation doesn't feel as streamlined or as enjoyable as most of WFC has been so far.  WFC seems like it had things down to a science, transformation-wise, and Tracks feels like he's off the field somewhere.  Hasbro was having a bad day when they designed both Rhinox and Tracks.  

Tracks' legs are a mess of thin panels that... don't really lock well together?  There's some shallow tabs that connect the outside of the shins and the feet with the rest of the shins, and, well, it's not enough.  And maybe I'm doing some thing wrong, but I feel like I have to push parts through other parts to get them into place.  

And most of Tracks' vehicle mode roof is a pair of thin translucent plastic parts that pile up on his back, which normally I wouldn't mind, but what bothers me about them is trying to push them into place in car mode.  It's not very elegant, and I feel like I just gotta push too hard to get tabs locked in.  I don't wanna end up with broken tabs.  

He also feels a little loose, which might just be my copy, and I brushed some floor polish on him anyway to mostly solve this.  

Tracks is NOT like Rhinox in that he looks exactly like Tracks!  He's not based on some weird video game version of Tracks with ears or something.  And there's no ugly gaping transformation hinges on the front of his legs.  He OPERATES like Rhinox, but he doesn't belong to Rhinox's weird visuals department.  And so at least this Tracks looks like he works next to your other WFC toys.  

Tracks, because he's Tracks, has a third flying car mode.  You untransform his arms and flip the wings out.  There's also tailfins to pull out, but they also want you to stack his guns back there between them, and his guns are as tall as his tailfins, so I'm not sure how useful or purposeful those tailfins are.

Anyway, Kingdom Tracks is good if you want something that looks like cartoon Tracks on your shelf.  He's not a great Transformer.  

Posted June 23, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Don't get me wrong, I love Titans Return Galvatron's jet mode.  I love that jet mode.  It barely looks like a jet, sure, but I like it.  I think it's a good altmode for Galvatron to have if you're not gonna do a space gun.  To quote Marge Simpson, I just think it's neat.  BUT, like, dude, that guy had no head articulation.  And that guy's head looked like one of those tourist-trappy things where they cut a hole in the picture and you put your face through it, but not really threw it, more like a few inches behind it.  It was a crucial blow to that otherwise pretty dang solid Galvatron toy.  

Galvatrons have had trouble over the years, huh?  The first one, honestly, is an amazing toy on its merits -- electronic, incredibly poseable for its time, large and imposing -- but many folks will tell you he's absolutely the wrong colors.  They changed them between toy production and animation.  And then there was the Generations Deluxe, which was just an absolute dogshit toy.  It was neat that it transformed from a gray tank into a purple robot, but, like, at what cost, man, what cost.  And clearly too small for a Galvatron.  Then the Titans Return one, which folks thought was finally gonna be Our Guy, but then the head was immobile and dumb-looking.  And then... I guess he was a Combiner Wars torso.  That was neat, I suppose, but probably not what folks were looking for.

But here, it looks like Hasbro and TakaraTomy knuckled up and decided, okay, we're doing this right.  We're so doing this right that we're gonna do him at Leader Class pricepoint just to make sure he's got the budget we need to do him right.  Throw in some accessories to fill out the packaging window, why not.   

And, hey, I'd say they've mostly succeeded with Kingdom Galvatron.  Folks will have quibbles, for sure.  Some don't like the areas of damage deco on his chest, arms, and ankles.  Some don't like exactly what shade of purple he is.  Some don't like him because he was stolen from factories months ago and photographed by somebody's camera with an extremely unflattering lens focal length.  Some don't like that earlier samples of him have a shoulder misassembly that leaves his arms a half-centimeter lower.  (Personally, I think it just makes him look more like Floro Dery's design -- dude loved dem low shoulders.)

In hand, though?  I'd say this one'll be hard to top.  It has the gravitas you want a Galvatron to have, which is not really something afforded to a Galvatron since Transformers: Energon.  Kingdom Galvatron is a wide, beefy boy, and a head taller than Megatron.  He's got presence.  He doesn't have skinny arms or thin thighs.  He didn't skip any leg days.  Kingdom Galvatron looks like he can fuck you up, which is what you want a Galvatron to look like.

His head turns!  His barrel can mount on either his forearm or his bicep!  (and not inside the elbow, restricting movement)  He's got waist rotation and ankle tilts!  He's got double-jointed elbows (for transformation) that allow for even more poses.  

If Galvatron has a real weakness, it's his cannon mode.  Not because it's bad, because it isn't, but... I dunno, if I weren't into Transformers, I'd wonder what on Earth it is.  It's an extremely faithful-to-the-cartoon cannon mode.  It's just, y'know, kind of a weird thing to behold outside of context.  So he gets down on his elbows, which have treads on them, and moves his cannon from his arm to his torso?  S'just weird.  But it's "accurate," and these toys aren't for kids who don't know who Galvatron is anymore, so whatcha gonna do.  

Galvatron comes with three accessories (if you don't count the two pieces that make up his arm cannon).  First is a Matrix-on-a-chain deal that fits either over his head or over his barrel in cannon mode.  In cannon mode there's even a little tab to help you secure it in place.  He comes with two replicas of his Unicron-granted spaceship, which he can wield as separate blasters or combine into a larger blaster.  You can also attach them on his back in robot mode or on either side of his cannon mode.

I'd be happy to buy this guy in many other decoes.  Toy-accurate gray?  Yes.  The same thing again but a bluer purple?  Sure.  Give him a new head and call him Straxus?  Why the heck not?  This toy is good and I like it.

Posted June 18, 2021 at 7:48 pm

Get it?  RINO?  Rhinox In Name Only?

Okay, fine, that's not actually something I believe, I just thought it'd work.  But it's not strictly true, so I guess it's not funny.  Well, I'm not rewriting the title of this thing.  We're doing this live!!!  LIVE!!!!

Anyway, after Kingdom toy after Kingdom toy just knocking Beast Wars out of the park, Rhinox feels like a... departure.  In more ways than one!  All the other Kingdom toys follow a very specific design motif pattern: realistic animal mode transforms best it can into a recreation of the cartoon's CGI model for the robot.  Optimus, Rattrap, Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Megatron, Airazor, Dinobot (well, a realistic... Jurassic Park animal...), all these follow that pattern.  And then along comes silly ol' Rhinox, whose robot mode is... seemingly based directly on the Forged to Fight phone game Rhinox?  With the big ear muffs and the weird nose and the robot mode loosely translated from the Thrilling 30 Rhinox toy from seven years back?  It barely looks like Rhinox in the same way everyone else looks like themselves.  Who asked for this?  Nobody asked for this.

And on top of all that, like, it's probably the first legimately bad transformation experience in all of the War for Cybertron trilogy of toylines.  It's not fun!  It's anti-fun!  His legs are a nightmare of panels that need to push through each other every step of the way.  And it's not like it ends up looking nice after all that effort.  The giant ugly open seams are on the FRONT.  What on Earth.  Who let this happen?  So many questions.

I mean, it does get some things better than previous toys in new ways.  The rhino chest jaw being a faux part that folds away instead of becoming the actual rhino's lower jaw results in some better show accuracy AND a rhinoceros head that doesn't have a jaw that hinges at the very back of the skull, muppet style.  And the robot feet are fake rhino feet as well, so you're able to have the robot foot poke out between the rhino toes, rather than out the back.  Everything else seems like a weird step backwards.  

It's not a fun toy and I hate it.  It doesn't pose unawkwardly, it doesn't look nice even stood statically, it's a murderous chore to transform, and its rhino mode honestly looks like a potato.

The only thing engaging about the toy is how off it feels from all the others in this toyline just by merit of not being great.


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.

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