Posted November 19, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Those of you trying to remember who's Runamuck and who's Runabout, RunaBout is the Black one.  It's simple!  Keep that in your brain.

Anyway, it feels like six decades ago Hasbro had their last "vote on some stuff to see who we'll make," and we chose Runamuck, and so Hasbro made Runamuck (at regular retail), and they also released Runabout (as a Target exclusive).  They were the two Battlechargers back in 1986, which meant you pulled them back and they raced forward and autotransformed into robot mode.  Y'know, like 1987's Throttlebots but with autotransforming. 

Because of this, their robot modes were pretty simple!  The roof of the car flung forward, and there were sort of arms and sort of a face, and both wheels stayed behind on the ground.  They didn't really have arms (just door panels folded out) and so the guns attached on the toys by clipping over their shoulder.

Well, now you can replicate most of this again, just minus the pull-back motor autotransforming!  Runamuck and Runabout's weapons can be held in their hands, sure, but there's also 5mm ports on the tops of their shoulders so you can have them don their weapons like the original toys.  And even the character models drew both sets of wheels behind their feet, and so, yes, these new toys have two sets of wheels behind their feet -- though one set's fake, while the real rear wheels fold behind their torso!  Ridiculous cartoon accuracy isn't just for 1984 characters, my friends!  The Battlechargers are getting in on it, too!

Their transformation(s) are... a little more involved than the other carformers in Stege/Earthrise so far?  Like, they've been finding a nice happy place where transformation isn't super simple but also isn't annoying complex.  Things just go where they're supposed to, easily!  But the Battlechargers kind of throw a small-sized wrench in this trend.  Even forgetting that they have fake roof-chests in robot mode that they... honestly don't seem like they need to have, there's a lot of fiddly manuevering in the robot shoulder area during conversion.  It's not a fun time!  I mean, it's not the worst or anything.  It's just not fun.  The bar has been pretty high for a while, and this kind of whiffs it right below.  

Runamuck comes with Runabout's gun.  Runabout comes with... both of their guns, which combine end-to-end.  

Posted November 13, 2020 at 3:18 pm

y'know that "generations" tag was a lot more useful for searches before Transformers Generations became, like, 99% of what I collect, huh

Here's Vertebreak, Kingdom's first-wave Core Class Fossilizer!  Fossilizers are going to be skeletal animal creatures (likely all prehistoric animals) that transform into robots.  The larger Deluxe Fossilizers will break apart into bone armor for other toys, same way the Weaponizers and Modulators did in previous lines.  However, Vertebreak is just Core Class, so there's no taking apart action.  They just transform and that's that.  You can give the skeletal tail sword to other toys, though, as it's still 5mm compatible.  Maybe even stick a head at the end of it, pretend it's a spine, and have somebody go all Mortal Kombat fatality on somebody else.  

Vertebreak transforms into a skeletal dracorex (possibly a juvenile pachycephalosaurus).  Legs become legs, arms fold into the torso, head becomes chest... the toy's basically a simplified Universe '08 Dinobot.  An interesting thing to me is that even though Vertebreak's jaw slides with the rest of the skull into the lower torso during transformation, the jaw is also sculpted on the back of the robot head.  Faux kibble!  When there doesn't even need to be, since this is an entirely new character!  I guess the control art was just insistent on the placement of the dinosaur jaw in robot mode.  

So far, Vertebreak has no available profile information, so we don't have a gender for them.   Sub-Deluxe size class toys who weren't Laserbeak or Ravage didn't make it into the Netflix cartoon, so it's possible we won't ever know!  

Posted November 10, 2020 at 9:44 pm

The third part of the War for Cybertron Trilogy, Kingdom, wasn't forecast to hit stores until March, and yet here we are, in November, with the initial trickle of them into one or two stores.  Amazon's even scoot up their estimate for delivery of these guys from February to next week.  Iiiiiit's happening!  Anyway, I threw my preorders in the garbage and grabbed a set of the first wave of Core Class figures from eBay.  

'Cuz if I can get a Rattrap now I'll get a Rattrap now.

Part one of WFC, Stege, was about the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron, pre-Earth.  Part two, Earthrise, is about them eventually getting to Earth and grabbing up some Earth alternate modes.  And Kingdom?  Apparently it's about Beast Wars!  I mean, there'll still be some Autobots and Decepticons, but we're here for the animals.  And taking the place of the $10 Micromaster two-pack pricepoint is the new Core Class pricepoint, which is some scaled-down G1 guys and some smaller Beast Wars folks.  (Presumably, the scaled-down G1 guys are for interacting with this year's Titan Class playset, which we don't officially know much about, but it'll be the Ark.)  

Rattrap is the lone returning Beast Wars character in the first wave.  (The other two are Vertebreak, a new Predacon; and a mini Optimus Prime.)  

The War for Cybertron Trilogy has been doing their best to deliver cartoon-accurate robot modes of Generation 1 Autobots and Decepticons, and it was interesting to learn how that design ethic would handle the Beast Wars characters.  It turns out that the way we're going is robot modes that do their best to ape (aheh) the Mainframe CGI models, while the beast modes are taking a more naturalistic approach.  This is versus the Masterpiece Beast Wars toys which aim to copy the CGI models in both robot and beast modes.  So Rattrap's rat mode, you see, tries to look more like your typical actual rat than it does the cute CGI rat he transformed into in the cartoon.

And, honestly, I'm big into that aesthetic.  I mean, I've got the Beast Wars Masterpiece toys if I need my Dinobot to transform into an awkward featherless duck or whatever.  I'm very happy for Kingdom to embrace better animal modes.  Rattrap's in particular is very pleasing!  It does indeed look like a little rat.  Enough so that I guess you should worry a little if you've got a-rat-nophobia or whatever.  In rat mode the toy is essentially immobile.  There is no articulation.  It's just a rat.

Which, at this scale, is fine enough.  This is a smalllllllll toy.  Maybe two inches long.  And I gotta tell you, this is the most complex toy I've ever seen at this tiny size.  He's got a lot going on in transformation.  Lots of little steps, and thankfully it all plugs in together well, mostly using various tabs that fit into the cooling vents in his balljoints.  Very economical.  It has to be, at this size.  

The perfect rat transforms into an unreasonably-well-proportioned robot mode.  Other than the more-realistic rat head on the chest, it achieves the look of the lanky CGI model.   The only real compromise is the robot feet, which become the rat's rear feet.  The was a choice to make them fully robotic or fully rat feet, and the choice was to go with a creepy midpoint.  Rattrap's feet are an organic redesign of his three-toed metal robot feet.  It's a compromise, again, but this is the scale we're working at.  Two inches.  

A friggin' incredible Rattrap at two inches.  

Posted November 9, 2020 at 12:42 pm

It's Sunstreaker!  You know, Sideswipe's brother (because they both transform into Lamborghinis and so I guess that's how being a brother in Robotworld works)!  Also known as the first Transformer to be designed, back in the day?  He was #1.  These days, they wait to do him whenever because Sideswipe is more popular (he's red!!!), and since they both transform into the same thing, Sideswipe gets priority. 

But here he is, in Earthrise, a year later after Sideswipe got released in Stege.  You avoid the alt-mode overlap that way, but in Earthrise, there's another kind of overlap.  Both Wheeljack and Runamuck transform essentially the same way!  They all get hood feet and roof chests.  You could easily just make one toy and swap out heads and deco to get reasonably faithful versions of all of them.

HOWEVER, Sunstreaker is entirely new!  .....he's.... extremely similar to Wheeljack, to the point that they essentially share engineering, but the two share zero parts.  Both have an empty torso box that you flip the head into, both put their car roofs on a lever that you rotate around the torso during transformation, both wrap their arms around the back of the car mode (though in different directions), both telescope out their legs the same way...  They feel like the same toy, even though they are not.  

(Runamuck, meanwhile, is absolutely different engineering up and down)

A fun thing about Sunstreaker is that instead of rotating his feet around for robot mode, his feet are sculpted and painted to look like car hood on both sides.  Saves you a step and some engineering, I guess!  

A less fun thing about Sunstreaker is that, unlike Sideswipe, his car mode isn't entirely painted.  This means only his translucent plastic parts get painted yellow to match his yellow plastic, and so he isn't as coherent as Sideswipe is.  Photography of Sunstreaker drastically exaggerates the difference between paint and plastic in person, to the point where you honestly don't notice that there is a difference most of the time.  But put Sunstreaker in front of a camera, and his yellow plastic and paint contrast flares up like this is They Live or something.  Keep Sunstreaker away from cameras!

Which would seriously bum Sunstreaker out.  Dude's vain.  

Posted November 4, 2020 at 8:52 pm

Quintesson Judge is a Transformer, sort of!  I mean, okay, the character isn't a Transformer.  And also the toy... barely transforms.  Into not a thing.  So a certain sub-100 percentage a Transformer!  

But you don't care!  In fact, if Quintesson Judge transformed better, into a real thing, he'd probably accomplish Looking Like A Quintesson Judge less well than you'd want.  And you just want a Quintesson Judge toy!  The sort-of transforming is just there to justify his placement in the toy line to the marketing execs.

Yeah, you just venitian blind up his five faces, pull down some ramps, unfold his chair, and balance his hat on his faces.  It's a.... tower!  With a flattened chair!  And a cage?  Yeah, a cage.  The cage is neat!  You can put Rung in it and have him do sexy cage dances.  

Two of the five Quintesson faces don't come assembled.  You attach them yourself!  In theory!  Some folks, many folks, nearly all folks... have expressed difficulty.  I know of at least one friend who ended up returning his because he couldn't get the red one attached.  It's the red one that gives the most difficulty.  And a reported few just gave up, shaved off the connectors, and just fuckin' glued the face onto where it goes.  

I spent... 30 minutes getting the red face on mine to connect properly?  My fingers were very sore!  I have a second Judge as of today, and I expected to battle it out with this one, and then it just popped on in 15 seconds and I actually was a little disappointed.  I was all geared up for a fight.  But it means... some won't give trouble, I guess?  Or maybe I'm just getting better at it.

(The Judge who comes with the Hasbro Pulse exclusive Pit Of Judgement set, back up for preorder currently, comes completely pre-assembled, if you're looking to avoid this situation.)

Anyway!  Judge!  He judges.  Press a lever on his back and his heads rotate a click around.  That's all anybody wanted, and the toy delivers.  

Plus he comes with a chair.

I love toys that come with chairs.

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)

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