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.

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.  

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