It’s 10 months late, but welcome to 2016! I know – I’m behind in documenting my purchases. But I feel like I’m making good progress towards catching up, and I have been putting more effort into this blog. Things are trending in the right direction.
There were some years where January kicked off with a whole bunch of TFs, like 2013 and 2015. And there were years where I only got a handful of TFs in January, like 2012 and 2014. This being 2016, it follows the even number trend. The only acquisitions this month are two Masterpiece figures.
- Masterpiece Tracks, hlj.com, $50.58
- Masterpiece Road Rage, hlj.com, $47.76
Tracks and Road Rage are repaints of each other. There are some minor mold differences, such as the head, crotch, and thigh. To this day I still have not opened Road Rage. So the rest of this post will focus on Tracks.
If you were a boy growing up in the 80s, you probably loved Transformers. And if you loved Transformers, you probably loved Tracks. Seriously, Tracks was a absolute fan favorite among every kid in school. I can only guess at the reasons. Maybe it’s that sexy Corvette alt mode. Maybe it’s that he’s so stylish and debonair in his G1 persona, while being an above average warrior for the Autobots.
As for the G1 Tracks toy, I never had the official US G1 version. I had a Diaclone red Tracks. The Autobot cars from the first two seasons were Diaclones localized for the US. Decades later I would buy an official Tracks re-issue, around 2004 when I got back into TFs. Now that I think about it, Road Rage is probably a an homage/retcon for the red Diaclone Tracks.
As much as I loved Tracks the character, I was not that impressed with the toy back in G1. He was ok, but not great. There were many other better Diaclones, such as Sideswipe, Jazz, or Smokescreen (and their respective repaints). The alt mode for Tracks was perfect, no complaints there at all. But the robot mode seemed a bit lacking. Transformation felt too simple even for G1 standards. He also seemed to have less diecast when compared to his brothers.
When I heard that Takara is doing Tracks for the MP line, I was totally thrilled. I love MP Sideswipe, and it would be so awesome for Tracks to get the same treatment. Did Takara succeed? Let’s find out by first taking a look at the alt mode.
Now that is TRACKS! This alt mode is exactly what I envision Tracks to be in MP form. This Corvette looks perfect. I love the shape of the alt mode in this gorgeous blue. Tracks is kinda pompous in the way he behaves, but if I looked like this I might act the same way too. He’s quite durable in this mode, and rolls well on a flat surface. The flames design on the hood comes painted on, so you don’t have to mess with decals or anything. The Autobot symbol on the car’s roof is on a panel that can be flipped. Perfect if Tracks wants to go undercover in alt mode like we have seen him do. Notice the Blaster alt mode mini-figure sitting inside, which comes as part of the package. He can be removed from Tracks. This is so awesome that I don’t have the words.
Below is a size comparison pic. I really wanted to find my Generations Turbo Tracks for the compare, but he’s located in a box at the back of the closet. The only thing I can find handy is Generations Sideswipe, so here they are.
At this point I should also mention that this MP fig can transform into Tracks’ flight mode. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics when I had Tracks in this mode. Just know that it’s possible and it’s fairly well done. Tracks also comes with a Raoul figure, who appeared in the G1 episodes “Make Tracks” and “Auto-Bop”.
Now let’s take a look at the robot mode.
This robot mode looks great. You can see that the designers of the figure really looked at the G1 show, and constructed a robot figure modeled after the cartoon. He’s got a fair amount of articulation, you can get some good poses out of him. He’s still got the iconic red face and wings. The missile launchers are incorporated into the toy, as opposed to having extra accessories to attach. That’s always a plus in my book. The gun accessory is clearly modeled after the G1 show and not the G1 toy.
Things are not all gravy, however. My biggest complaint about MP Tracks is that he feels really flimsy. This is true especially in transformation. He’s kind of a jumbled mess when you go from alt mode to robot mode, similar to ROTF leader class Optimus Prime. But ROTF OP comes together well after the transformation is complete. Tracks, not as much. If I remember right, the back section doesn’t peg in anywhere. The car’s rear section kind of just hang off his back. The flimsiness makes transformation more difficult than it should be, and so I don’t see this figure has having that perfect balance of fun and complexity in the transforming mechanism. Tracks’ parts somehow feels lighter when compared to other MP cars. There are no diecast on any of the MP cars, but Sideswipe and Wheeljack feel like they have a nice heft to them, like the plastic is solid and sturdy. Tracks feels light and hollow.
So all in all, I put the Tracks mold behind the Sideswipe and Wheeljack mold, but ahead of the Prowl mold. Despite the negatives, he’s still a recommended purchase. There are way more pros than cons in this figure. It’s just that I was really hoping for a perfect MP like Sideswipe, and in the end the MP toy suffered from some of the same issues that the G1 toy did. I’ll open up Road Rage soon, and see if she (yes, she) is any better or worse than Tracks.
Time to Make Tracks… Transform and Roll Out!
As promised in a earlier post, I am compiling some stats on my TF purchase and spending habits. But before that, let’s take a look at how 2015 breaks down.
A total of 77 figures were purchased in 2015. This is by far the lowest total since I started tracking my TF acquisitions in 2012. The figures in 2015 break down as follows:
- 2 figures from Age of Extinction
- 4 Masterpiece figures
- 3 figures from Generation Thrilling 30, which ended either late 2014 or early 2015
- 47 Combiner Wars figures (yikes!)
- 5 figs from Robots in Disguise
- 1 Generations fig
- 15 Third Party figures
These numbers are pretty much what I expected. 77 total figs for 2015 is good. I have way too many TFs already, so it’s a good thing to be more selective about what I buy. This number is trending in the right direction, and it comes to about 6.5 figs a month, or about 1.5 figs every week. As for the individual categories, it’s no surprise that Combiner Wars accounted for more than 50% of all purchases. CW was the main thing going in 2015 for hardcore collectors. As a whole I think CW is ok, but could have been better. I probably bought up everything that was put out as CW, and in retrospect some of those I probably should have left on the shelf. Age of Extinction and Generation Thrilling 30 were already on its last legs by the time 2015 rolled around, so the low count here is completely expected. 4 Masterpiece figs seems about on par with all the other years. Robots in Disguise was the major mainstream TF line for 2015. Personally I’m not terribly impressed with this line, which accounts for the modest 5 figs. The 1 fig from Generations was that rare and weird find of Scourage.
As for Third Party items, 15 also feels about on par with how much I buy every year. But since my total purchase count went down, Third Party items now account for a bigger percentage. As a whole, Third Party items are getting better every year. Multiple companies will often now do the same character in the same time frame. Choosy collectors like me have lots of pick from.
OK, now let’s take a look at how things shake out from year to year. Gathering all the stats I have from 2012 to 2015, below is a plot of how many TFs I buy from month to month, in this 4 year span.
The vertical axis is number of TFs bought in the month, while the horizontal axis is the month. Years are coded by color. The obvious thing that sticks out here is that October seems to have the most action. With the exception of 2013, all other years in this period have Oct as a TF heavy month. I have mentioned that several times on this blog already. And looking at the plot as a whole, most purchases seems to be centered around 2 periods, one at Oct-Nov, and the other at Feb-Mar. Oct-Nov I can understand, since it’s right before Christmas. Not sure why there is an increase in activity around Feb-Mar. Also of note are years where there is a TF movie. In this period, 2014 was the only year with a movie (Age of Extinction). So I guess it’s no surprise that 2014 behaved differently from all the other years. Only 2014 had a sharp peak in the summer months, which is probably all the movie toys.
I’m not sure what other conclusions I can draw from this plot. Maybe it will help me in budgeting. But I usually just buy something when I see it, so perhaps not. Ironically enough, the TF heavy months are also when those of us that live in the United States pay property tax (in California anyway). For you foreign readers out there, property tax in the US is super steep. Not a good time to be releasing non-essentials in these months. But it appears I’m still very active in my TF shopping during property tax time, so perhaps this has no impact on the TF community whatsoever.
Now let’s look at some trends from year to year. Below are two bar graphs that summarize my purchase counts and spending totals from 2012 to 2015.
Again, 2014 seems to be the oddball year in this 4 year period. I guess having a movie in the year really makes that much of a difference. 2014 was the only year where I spend more than $3000 total on TFs. The obvious thing to point at is AoE. But I didn’t like the AoE toys that much, so I would be surprised if the all extra spending really went there. I’m gonna have to look at my detailed stats for 2014. Other than that, the overall trend is I’m buying less TFs. Again, that’s a good thing. I got too many. Which reminds me I really need to start selling off some of these figures.
I will start cataloging my 2016 purchases from this point forward. A bit late since 2016 is almost over, but better late than never. Hopefully soon I catch up to where I am currently, and I can have my purchase posts at the end of every month for that month like I used to.
Transform and Roll Out.
Another year has gone by. I totally forgot about the anniversary for this blog until WordPress reminded me. The stats appear below.
Stats wise, this has been a lackluster year at only about 55,000 hits. Last year I vowed to do better, and I didn’t exactly meet that goal. I will say though that we are kind of in a drought as far as overall TF interest. When you go into the toy aisle these days, other franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars totally dominate the store space. There are times that I have to look long and hard at where the TFs are. So this does account for some of the low traffic this past year. But I’m not making excuses. I have not been making enough time for this blog.
I won’t let this die though. I did get a new job recently, and hopefully I will be able to make more time for TF Matrix with this new job.
Next year is a movie year. As much as I hate another Michael Bay crapfest, I will say that it does do favors for my blog 🙂 That alone should increase traffic, but I promise to make more time to writing.
Transform and Roll Out!
Finally! We have come to the end of 2015. Here are the purchases for the last month of 2015.
- Combiner Wars Devastator, tfsource.com, $109.99
- Masterpiece Exhaust, hlj.com, $44.51
- FansProject Function-X4 Sigma L, tfsource.com, $69.99
- Warbotron Whirlwind, gift
This may be the first month were I only got Decepticons! Long live Decepticons!
First on the list is Combiner Wars Constructicons and Devastator. This group needs no introduction. The Constructicons were the first combiner group to debut in G1, and I’m glad Hasbro is doing this team justice by giving them unique molds that are completely different from the rest of the Combiner Wars line. I reported on this set back in this post and this post, and at the very last month in 2015 I finally have this awesome set in my hands. For it’s 2015 Black Friday sale, TFSource was letting this go at a very reasonable price. I wasted no time buying these Constructicons as soon as I saw the sale.
Individually, each Constructicon look quite nice their vehicle modes. They are true to their G1 appearance, and build quality is solid and robust. In the individual robot modes, some figures are better than others. Long Haul is one fig that looks quite awful in robot mode. And that is clearly because of the function he serves in combined form. And that combined form is the main attraction of the set. So without further ado, I give you… Devastator!
Now that is an awesome Devastator! He is freakin’ huge! Check out the pic below of him next to a standard deluxe size CHUG Seeker.
Hasbro has done some pretty stupid stuff with combining robots in the past, such as the Movie Devastator and Power Core Combiners. You may be left jaded after buying those products, but believe me, all is forgiven after seeing THIS Devastator in person. I don’t know if this figure is meant to scale with CHUG or MP figs, but it doesn’t matter. He’s so big and tall that his size would be appropriate when displayed next to either set. This combiner is solid. The leg combining mechanism is quite clever. It’s easy to do, and at the same time provides a most solid connection. The body and arm connections are more standard fare when compared to the 3rd party Devastators, such as TFC Hercules and MakeToys Giant.
Much like all the modern Constructicons, Devastator’s head is part of Hook, and no connection pieces are required between any of the six components. The only extraneous pieces are the forearms, fists, chest shield, and Devastator’s gun. Hasbro has designed places for them in alt mode, and they can be used as accessories in robot mode. Glaringly missing are the individual hand held pistols for each figure in robot mode. Not a big deal if you ask me. In G1, it was difficult to remember who had which gun. And this set was meant to be displayed combined in the awesomeness that is Devastator.
Devastator has got some limited poseability. He’s got all the standard articulation points that you would expect, but as a combiner the range of poses would be more limited than a standalone figure. Personally I don’t think that’s an issue. This figure is so big, so solid, and looks so G1 that you have to get it if you call yourself a G1 fan. Sure, there are some 3rd parties out there now that are doing Constructicons that may be superior (such as ToyWorld and Generation Toys), but their sets would cost 6 times as much. For the price, the Hasbro set can’t be beat. Get this now if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
Next up we have Masterpiece Exhaust. I’m not familiar with this character at all. His origin may have been from the Japanese continuation of G1, but I could be wrong. I got him because I love the MP Wheeljack mold. Plus HLJ was having a pretty good sale on the figure. Exhaust looks absolutely stunning in his alt mode. His flashy and vibrant colors adds a lot to the already beautiful Lancia Stratos Turbo. This alone is worth the price of admission. I like the new head mold in robot mode, and he comes with plenty of extra accessories, including Wheeljack’s “Immobilizer” from the famous G1 episode of the same name. Construction and transformation is just as solid as Wheeljack. I highly recommend this figure even if you already have Wheeljack.
Now onto the 3rd party offerings for the month. Function-X4 Sigma L is by FansProject, and this is their homage to Mindwipe. Function-X is the label that FP uses for all their HeadMaster figures. I was really impressed with Function-X3 Smart Robin (aka Brainstorm). I have G1 Mindwipe from back in the 80s (and still in pretty good shape too), and TFSource had a sale on this Sigma L. For all these reasons, I got the figure. Overall, I say he’s ok. I like the robot mode, and I definitely like the twin shotguns, even though he had nothing of the sort back in G1. In this mode, the wings kinda get in the way, so it becomes difficult to have him posed with the arms raised in any way. He looks fairly cool in bat mode. Construction of the figure is solid. I was hoping that Sigma L would offer some new ingenious mechanisms in transformation like Smart Robin, but that’s not really the case here. It seems like FP decided to give their own spin on this figure. Like they took Dracula and vampires and adapted that whole motif to a HeadMaster robot, the result of that being Sigma L. I applaud them for giving Mindwipe a new spin, but all in all I’m not quite sure it works. There are no obvious shortcomings with the figure, but at the same time it doesn’t wow you either. I guess I give this fig a weak recommendation. If you need a Mindwipe to complete your HeadMaster collection and you find this fig at less than retail, then go for it. Oh, and the name. Why he’s called Sigma L is beyond me. When I see Function and Sigma mentioned in the same phrase, I keep thinking this is some kind of math equation here. Like let’s get the Sum L from this Function X.
Last but not least, there is Whirlwind, Warbotron’s interpretation of Vortex. Whirlwind is a Christmas gift from my wife. This is my 2nd fig in the Warbotron Combaticons, after Sly Strike. I like Whirlwind. I don’t think he’s as good as Sly Strike, but he’s solid nonetheless. He looks great in robot mode. I like all the different ways that the helicopter blades can be configured in this mode. You could leave them on the back, like the Vortex G1 look. Or you could put two on each forearm, and have them point back up the shoulder in rest position, or have them point forward like he’s Wolverine. Or use two in each hand (one up one down), so it looks like he’s wielding 2 twin blades, like if Darth Maul wielded 2 twin-bladed lightsabers. I like his colors in this mode, very G1. Some G1 purists complain about the clear orange canopy on the chest in robot mode, but I think it’s fine. I don’t think it’s distracting at all. In alt mode, the helicopter comes together quite nicely. My biggest gripe in this mode is that, when you spin the main rotors, they would often times make contact with the tail fin rotors. I also don’t like how the front nose cone area of the helicopter is formed by attaching a shield/pistol accessory. Makes me feel like he’s a bit of a parts-former. Constructions wise he’s pretty solid for the most part, but there are more tolerance issues when compared to Sly Strike. Some accessories don’t peg in as well as they should. But overall I still recommend Whirlwind. He’s a worthy addition to your MP-scaled Decepticon lineup.
Below is a pic of some of these figs, in what appears like a bunch of random Decepticons jammed together for one photo shoot. I had these figs scattered about here and there at the time, so I gathered them all up for a pic. Clockwise from top: Sigma L, Scavenger (from CW Devastator), Exhaust, and Megatronus (who snuck in there for no good reason).
Since Whirlwind is not in the pic above, he gets a solo shot.
He also gets a shot of him looking up at Devastator, waiting for the rest of his teammates so Bruticus can devastate Devastator.
Not only was this month all Decepticons, this month was also all on-line purchases. No in-store purchases whatsoever. Not too surprising considering the items acquired. And not counting Whirlwind since he was a gift, all figures were bought on sale. I am the ultimate TF bargain hunter!
That is all for 2015. I’m gonna compile some stats for 2015 and have them ready for the next post. Stay tuned my fellow TransFans. Transform and Roll Out!
November 2015 is back to buying only a handful of Transformers. The 3 figures appear below.
- Age of Extinction Chainsaw Thrash Vehicon, Ross, $5.99
- Combiner Wars Battle Core Optimus Prime, Target, $24.99
- Combiner Wars Motormaster, Target, $24.99
Chainsaw Thrash Vehicon is yet another budget impulse buy. I was semi-impressed with Spinning Grinder Galvatron, and at $5.99 there’s no real reason to be conservative. The TF Movie universe took a cue from TF Prime and adopted the concept of a drone robot army made up of Vehicons. In AoE, Vehicons are man-made Transformers used by Cemetery Wind, as opposed to the non-sentient but self-operating drones in TF Prime. As far as I know, there is not a Generations version of Vehicon in the AoE toys, so this Chainsaw Thrash Vehicon will have to do. I like this figure. His alt mode is unique. I don’t know of any other TF (official or otherwise) that transforms into a Rally Fighter. In robot mode, the chainsaw gimmick is semi entertaining, but adds only marginal value for the adult collector. Kids of today would probably enjoy the gimmick for a good 10 minutes before their super short attention span turns them elsewhere. Transformation is painfully simple. Overall, this Vehicon is a nice distraction on a dry TF month, but not a required purchase by any means.
Battle Core Optimus Prime and Motormaster are repaints of each other. In fact, they are repaints of my purchases from January and March of 2015, respectively. By now, most fans are aware of the hip problems that earlier versions of these figures have. This is why I bought Motormaster again. As for Battle Core Optimus, I got him only because I like his head mold so much more over the standard Optimus fig. So the million dollar question is: are the new figs better than the old ones? Yes and no. In robot mode, the figure now looks better when standing in a neutral pose. And in combined form, the fixed ratchets help to stabilize the gestalt in the legs and hips. This is the biggest improvement in the new figures. However, the truck mode does not come together as nicely. This figure compacts itself quite a bit when going to alt mode, and the slight ratchet tweak somehow made it much more difficult to collapse all the pieces and panels properly. This is the case with both Battle Core OP and Motormaster, so I’m convinced this phenomenon is present on all the new figures (I did not detect this on the older figures). Also, they still did not fix the poorly fitted connection pegs located on the chest (for Rodimus or Blackjack). So is it worth it to buy these figs again? I dunno. If you really must have a more stable combined mode, then go for it. Otherwise, I would suggest you save your money if you already have the older figures.
We are almost at the end of 2015. One more month to go, then onto 2016.
Transform and Roll Out.
Since I started tracking my purchases on this blog, October has provided no shortage of TF action in either figure count and/or spending. October 2012 holds the record for highest TF count in a single calendar month (at 24 figures), and October 2014 holds the record for most TF spending in a single calendar month (at $885.90.. yikes!).
In true October fashion, this month is also filled with TF purchases that are way above my average monthly tally. I don’t think October 2015 sets any new personal records, but there are a lot of figures here nonetheless.
- Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus and Minimus Ambus, amazon.com, $40
- Combiner Wars Ironhide, Target, $14.99
- Combiner Wars Prowl, Target, $14.99
- Combiner Wars Sunstreaker, Target, $14.99
- Combiner Wars Mirage, Target, $14.99
- Combiner Wars Cyclonus, amazon.com, $17.89
- Masterpiece Bumble G-2 Ver., hlj.com, $36.47
- Perfect Effect Perfect Combiner PC-05 Upgrade Set, tfsource.com, $32.99
- Before & After Omega Launcher for MP-17 Prowl, tfsource.com, $14.95
- ToyWorld Devil Star, tfsource.com, $119.99
- Warbotron Sly Strike, tfsource.com, $75.99
- Fans Toys Sever, tfsource.com, $179.95
Let’s start with Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus. This is hands down my favorite Ultra Magnus figure of all time! That’s a strong statement, considering I own almost all of them. I like this figure even better than Masterpiece UM, because the CW fig is less blocky and more playable. I have gone into details about this figure back in the post, so I won’t do it again. Minimus Ambus is a character I know nothing about. I believe he’s from the IDW-verse of comics, but I could be totally wrong here. The Minimus Ambus figure in this package is completely forgettable and adds nothing to the Ultra Magnus toy.
Below is pic of my two favorite Ultra Magnus figs of all time.
Combiner Wars continue with more figures that are very minor reworks of what’s already out there. In this month we get Ironhide, Prowl, Sunstreaker and Mirage. Hasbro really knows how to milk us hardcore G1 fans by tweaking existing molds very slightly and then releasing them as popular G1 characters. I probably could have skipped this foursome altogether, but I’m a total sucker for G1 characters from the first 2 seasons. And I needed figures that would make sense to combine with CW Optimus. Ironhide, Sunstreaker, and Mirage are reworks of existing Stunticons (Offroad, Breakdown, and Drag Strip, respectively). Prowl is a rework of Streetwise. I won’t go into detail since the rework here is so minor that we may as well just call them repaints.
Cyclonus is yet another rework in the CW line. But this is one rework that feels truly like a rework, and not a repaint with different colors and a different head. A rework of CW Silverbolt, I really dig this Cyclonus figure. He looks absolutely fabulous in the stunning purple paint. Robot mode is nicely proportioned, and the jet mode looks fast and sleek. In addition to the different head mold, Cyclonus offers different wing molds and different nosecone mode in jet mode. And of all the CW body figures, the Silverbolt/Cyclonus mold offers the best combining mechanism, in both function and appearance. The combined head mold is also different, as it is a good representation of Galvatron and not Superion. It’s too bad Cyclonus’s weapon is an exact repaint of the Silverbolt’s weapon, but in this case that’s a minor nitpick. I highly recommend Cyclonus. There are enough difference here from Silverbolt that it feels like you are buying a brand new figure.
Galvatronus is the name of the combined form when Cyclonus is the body. Supposedly CW Cyclonus has the power to mind control other limb components and have them merge with him. That’s kind of a hokey backstory, but whatever. I wish they made Scourge and Sweeps as limb components to form Galvatronus, which makes way more sense. That’s actually a pretty awesome combination now that I think about it. Maybe some TF modder out there has done this already. Anyways, below is a pic of Galvatronus using the 4 CW limb Autobots acquired this month.
The only official Masterpice figure this month is G-2 Ver Bumble. I already stated many, many times about how I love MP G1 Bumblebee. The G2 Ver of the figure is the exact same mold, except he’s covered with shiny gold paint that I initially thought this would be Goldbug. And instead of the Spike figure, we get a second face plate that more resembles the original G1 toy, and a nice rocket pack that we have seen Sideswipe or Optimus use (it’s unclear to me if Bumblebee ever used the rocket pack). If you already have the first MP Bumble, then it’s not necessary to get this figure. But I did anyway, because I love this mold, the new shiny paint job, and all the extra accessories.
Perfect Effect Perfect Combiner PC-05 Upgrade Set and Before & After Omega Launcher for MP-17 Prowl are two upgrade kits that are similar to the upgrade sets that I bought back in June of this year. Specifically, they are repaints of Perfect Combiner PC-02 and Alpha Launcher for MP-18, respectively. Perfect Combiner PC-05 is meant to be used with Combiner Wars Superion, but technically you can use them with any of the CW figs in combined form. Omega Launcher are non-firing shoulder missile enhancements for MP Prowl. Again, they are exact repaints of what came before, so I won’t go into them too much. Actually, I have not even had the chance to put Omega Launcher on Prowl. But in theory it should look just as awesome as Alpha Launcher on Bluestreak.
Devil Star is ToyWorld’s interpretation of Astrotrain. I love ToyWorld, and I love Astrotrain, which is why I pre-ordered this figure as soon as I learned that they are doing a G1 cartoon accurate version (TW had another version of this figure prior to this called Evila Star, with colors that are more similar to the original Takara toy). I have so much faith in ToyWorld that I knew they would do Triple Changers justice. However, I later watched some reviews of Devil Star (and Evila Star), and learned that this guy is an absolute pain to transform. He’s very much a panel former, which doesn’t bother me that much. But it’s excruciatingly unpleasant to get all the panels to line up in both alt modes. I wanted to cancel the pre-order as soon as I found out, but I was a little too late on the trigger and the pre-order came in before I knew it. So now I have it stuck in my possession. To this day, the figure is brand new, never opened. And I don’t plan to. Maybe one day he will be worth big bucks and I’ll resell it. Devil Star is a limited edition figure. In the pic above, the big box is the figure itself, but the little box on top are these exclusive train tracks that are produced in very limited quantities. I am looking to sell the figure. If you’re reading this and want to make me an offer, contact me.
It took some time, but it finally happened… I got a figure from Warbotron! I wrote about Warbotron more than 2 years ago before this month, and I’m ashamed to say that it took a sale for me to finally buy something from them. My buddy Gemini has the entire Warbotron Combaticon set, and he thinks Sly Strike (aka Swindle) is the best of the bunch. So I have been eyeing Sly Strike for quite some time now. I almost bought the figure at regular price, and I’m glad I didn’t when I saw that TFSource was selling them at $14 off from MSRP. I wasted no time getting one. Gemini did not let me down – Sly Strike is awesome! He comes packaged in robot mode. The body stylings is modeled more after the G1 toy and not the show, but body proportions is definitely updated to modern standards (old G1 body proportions would be awful). His face and head mold looks like it jumped straight out of the G1 cartoon, as its got the famous purple eyes and that discriminant black-market salesman grin that only Swindle can possess. Chest area has a similar purple molding like the G1 toy, though fans have come up with an alternate configuration for the robot mode where the jeep hood area can form over the chest for a more Binaltech/Alternator appearance. The figure is also designed so the wheels over the shoulders and the back area can be transformed differently to suit your taste. Warbotron took more liberties with the alt mode, and in my opinion that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In G1, Swindle transforms into a FMC XR311 combat support vehicle. Munitioner by FansProject uses a military Humvee as the alt mode. Warbotron decided to use a Jeep type vehicle, like the Jeep Wrangler Commando. Some fans may complain this is not G1 enough, but I think it’s a good modern update. The detail, colors, and moldings of the alt mode is terrific as well. Transformation of the figure is fairly straightforward. It’s not overly complicated, but at the same time complex enough to satisfy collectors of 3rd party items. Construction wise, Sly Strike does suffer from some slight tolerance issues, but nothing so glaringly bad that it would distract from the enjoyment of the figure. As for his weapons, the hand held pistol is almost an exact replica of G1, updated to MP scale and modern detail standards. Warbotron took more liberties with the cannon and gave it a translucent pink barrel, and personally I think it’s a nice touch. All in all I highly recommend Sly Strike as the MP scale figure for Swindle. I thought I got a good price for Sly Strike at $75.99, but TFSource has been clearing them out at $66.99 for the past few months! Get them while they last!
Last but certainly not least, we have Sever, Fans Toys’ interpretation of Snarl in MP scale. Sever is the 2nd figure that I got in the Fans Toys line of MP Dinobots. The first one was Scoria (aka Slag). FT released Soar (aka Swoop) in between Scoria and Sever, but I didn’t have a chance to buy that one. Scoria is generally considered a good figure, but he’s not without his faults. He’s got the now famous loose shoulder issues that many fans complain about. Surprisingly, mine is fine in the shoulders (I did buy the repair parts for $4 just in case). However, my Scoria is quite loose in the hips. If I pick up Scoria, the legs would definitely droop down at the crotch, and he won’t be able to hold any cool poses. Part if this is because there’s so much weight in the legs. Other fans have complained about some other minor construction issues. Overall I like Scoria, but he was not the perfect MP dino that I thought he would be, because of the loose hips. So when Sever came out, I was a little nervous that he would also share similar issues. But I chose to buy him anyway, because of the $20 early bird discount. I am happy to report that Sever is absolutely perfect! I detect no construction issues whatsoever. All joints are just the right amount of tightness. Some fans complain the joints are too tight, but I think they’re fine. He can hold some terrific poses, and the figure has enough articulation to take full advantage of the solid construction. In both mode, Sever looks like he jumped straight out of the G1 show. Transformation is also superb. He’s not terribly difficult to transform, but at the same time there’s enough going on in the mechanics that hardcore collectors of this line would not find him too simple. The details on this figure would satisfy even the most picky. The weapons for Sever are awesome as well. They both have light up LED capabilities, though batteries are not included. Check the LED operation of the weapons as soon as you get Sever, as I heard some fans complain about them not working. And if I have to make one small nitpick, it’s that there’s no place for the weapons in Dino mode. But that aside, it really feels like Fans Toys is taking all their lessons learned with Scoria, and they have implemented them in Sever. (They may have done that with Soar as well, as I have heard nothing but praises.) This is 3rd party MP Dinobot at it’s best. To this day I still have Sever out for display, because I like him that much. I highly, highly recommend Sever. Fans Toys have fully restored my faith in their line of MP Dinos. I am now looking forward to getting both Soar and Stomp (aka Sludge), the latter of which came out after Sever.
That ended up being a way longer post than I meant for it to be. October of 2015 had 12 purchases, for a total of 11 figures and 2 upgrade sets. This is the last month in 2015 with a high number of purchases. This month was also a lot of repaints. By my count, only 4 purchases are not repaints or reworks. Even the 2 upgrade sets are repaints. Sometimes I buy TFs purely based on if I like the character; I think in the future I need to be more mold conscious. I am very happy about Sly Strike and Sever, two of the more expensive purchases this month. A bit regretful that I should have cancelled Devil Star when I had the chance.
Til next time… Transform and Roll Out.
September of 2015 is another month of only 2 TFs.
- Generations Thrilling 30 Acid Storm and Venin, amazon.com, $8.13
- Robots in Disguise Megatronus, Toys R Us, $14.99
Acid Storm is yet another repaint of the legend class Seeker mold. As if having Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp is not already enough. I could have easily passed on Acid Storm (and you should too if you’re on the fence about buying), but at about $8 I figured why not. Plus I never saw him in store before. I got this through Amazon, but it was a 3rd party seller. The seller was The Chosen Prime. This was my only experience with them. I have heard good things about them, but to this day I have not ever made a direct order. I’m gonna have to try them soon. Anyway, Acid Storm does not feel as sturdy as the others Seekers of this mold. I guess they used the mold one too many times. Venin is an exact of repaint of Waspinator that came with Starscream. I have said before that Arcee and Chromia are the last of the Thrilling 30 figs. I totally forgot about Acid Storm. He really is the last of the Thrililng 30. And now as I write this, I realize he’s packaged a bit different from Starscream. Weird. Compare pics here and here.
The only other purchase this month is Megatronus from Robots in Disguise. Megatronus is definitely one of the better figures from RiD. His robot mode and alt mode looks good. Transformation is fun. Hasbro managed to make him feel solid and robust despite the cheap plastic. His joints are the right amount of tightness for some nice poses. I got here the Toys R Us exclusive version, which hit stores first. This version has the head of Megatronus in some kind of battle helmet. A mass retail version would come out later (which I also have). Overall I highly recommend this figure. I think he’s my 2nd favorite of the RiD figs, right behind Drift.
Below are some pics of the 2 figs.
2 figs last month, and 2 figs this month. That is very unlike me. But there was a good reason. I went to Europe at the end of September of 2015. I will make a post soon about my TF hunting experience there, much like I did for when I went to Shanghai. Til next time… Transform and Roll Out!
August of 2015 continues with Combiner Wars. Both figs this month come from CW, though neither one realistically combines. More on that later.
- Combiner Wars Rodimus, Target, $9.78
- Combiner Wars Thundercracker, amazon.com, $40.58
CW legend class Rodimus is a repaint of Blackjack, with your classic Hot Rod color scheme and a new head mold. Technically he does combine to be the chest plate, when Optimus or Motormaster is used as the body component. But this feature feels tacked-on like an afterthought or gimmick. I mentioned before that Blackjack has got some poorly fitted connection ports when trying to be attached as the chest plate, and Rodimus shares this same problem. Shame to see that Hasbro did not fix this. The weapon/wing accessory has a right place when Rodimus is in alt mode or chest plate mode. But in robot mode he can only hold the weapon, and not have them attached to his back as wings to have that classic Hot Rod look. For Blackjack this is a non-issue, but I expected more for Rodimus. I can only recommend this figure if you’re a completist or if you are dying of TF thirst. Pass otherwise.
This is the 2nd Thundercracker to be released in the CW line. The first one was a legend size figure. This figure is Leader class, and he is a minor rework of the awesome Jetfire from Generations Thrilling 30. I like this figure. He feels different enough from Jetfire to warrant a re-release of this mold. In addition to the different color scheme and head mold, Thundercracker has a different chest mold, different shoulder molds, and differently styled wings that resemble more like an F-15. He also has extra twin guns for the wings, instead of the the Jetfire thrusters pack. I love the sleek blue jet that is Thundercracker in alt mode. The one knock against this figure is the size. At Leader class, Thundercracker is the same size as Ultra Magnus, Megatron, and Jetfire, and that is just is too big to scale well with the rest of your CHUG lineup. A Voyager class Seeker mold would work better here, such as Cyber Battalion Starscream.
August was a light month in terms of TFs. More will come soon… Transform and Roll Out.
For July of 2015 it is back to Combiner Wars figures. All but 2 purchases this month are CW. Not only that, more than half the figs here are Protectobots. This may as well be Protectobot month.
- Combiner Wars Warpath, Toys R Us, $9.99
- Combiner Wars Viper, Toys R Us, $9.99
- Combiner Wars Skywarp, Toys R Us, $9.99
- Combiner Wars Groove, Target, $10.99
- Combiner Wars Rook, Walmart, $14.96
- Combiner Wars Streetwise, Walmart, $14.96
- Combiner Wars First Aid, Walmart, $14.96
- Combiner Wars Blades, Walmart, $14.96
- Combiner Wars Hot Spot, Toys R Us, $24.99
- Age of Extinction Spinning Grinder Galvatron, Ross, $5.99
- DX9 Invisible, eBay, $82.99
First let’s take a look at the Combiner Wars legend class figs. CW Skywarp is the last repaint of these legend size Seekers. We’ve seen this mold many times already. Warpath is a repaint of Megatron, while Viper is a repaint of Powerglide. So I won’t describe these too much, other than say that they have different head molds and different color schemes. This Warpath probably scales better with other CHUG characters, if you want to faithfully represent G1 scale ratios. Viper has gotta be a homage to the Cobra Rattler from G.I.Joe. His alt mode and color scheme looks just like the Rattler. And his name of Viper is an homage to the famous foot soldiers of the Cobra infantry. Fitting too that he is a Decepticon. I am very happy that Hasbro created this homage character. On a side note, I wonder why Hasbro doesn’t make some figures of G.I.Joe vs Transformers characters. That would be totally awesome. I think there would be demand for it, and licensing should not be an issue considering both are Hasbro properties. Maybe some third party out there will attempt this.
Last one of the legend size figs here is Groove, which is a good segue-way into the Protectobots. Of all the G1 combiners to appear in the first 4 seasons, the Protectobots are the only group where I have never played with any of the G1 toys. That is true even to this day. But getting all these CW Protectobots in one month more than makes up for it. Hot Spot is the voyager sized body figure. Blades, First Aid, and Streetwise are deluxe size figs for the limbs. The last limb figure should be Groove, but in this case Hasbro released a legend size fig that can transform into a weapon for Defensor. To make up for the last limb, Hasbro made Rook, who transforms into kind of a SWAT armored vehicle. All six are new molds (Blades being the only repaint, though really Hasbro should have not released Alpha Bravo and went straight to Blades). My favorites out of this group is probably Blades and Streetwise. As Defensor, the combined mode looks kinda boxy, and poseability is not that good when compared to CW Superion. Overall I’m fairly satisfied with this set. They certainly don’t blow my socks off, but they’re a fun distraction to have around. Up to this point, the only Protectobot I have in my CHUG lineup is Hot Spot. But those figs always seem to be an afterthought, as the figure is always a repaint of either Inferno or Grapple. This is the first time we got all new Protectobot molds since G1 (again, Blades should have been a new mold). This group more than adequately represent the Protectobots in my CHUG collection. Below is a pic of Defensor.
For the G1 purists out there, Hasbro would later release a deluxe size Groove that can transform into a limb for Defensor. This Groove would be released as a shared exclusive between Amazon and some 3rd party TF retailers. Asia got this Groove first, and I sort of went into my Asia hunting excursion for Groove in this post.
Spinning Grinder Galvatron was a pure impulse buy. I spotted this figure at Ross. As a hardcore TransFan, I don’t pay close attention to gimmicky Transformers that are made for the general public or young kids. But I hunt for Transformers so often that I can’t help but see what’s out there. So it’s not often that I spot a figure that I have never seen before, such as this Galvatron. So I bought the figure. His truck mode is not too shabby. In robot mode, the poseability is extremely limited. Transformation is super simple. The spinning grinder gimmick is kidna cool, but as an adult collector, that kind of thing gets old real fast. I would only recommend this figure for the young fans out there, or if you’re experiencing such a TF dry spell that you need to buy something to tide you over.
Last but not least, we have Invisible by DX9. Invisible is a Masterpiece style homage to G1 Mirage. Up to this point, I only have one product by DX9, and I was pretty impressed. But that was an upgrade set and not a standalone figure. I read and watched many reviews online for Invisible, and everyone was singing high praises. So I bought Invisible from a seller on eBay. And I’m glad I did! This is a beautiful figure. I like both modes, the transformation is fun, and the figure is well constructed. He scales well with official MPs. I really like the box too. It sort of reminds me of old style toy boxes from the 80s. Invisible is mostly sold out as of this writing, but if you can find one I would recommend you snatch him up quick. Mastermind Creations has a competing product dubbed Sphinx. I have not seen that figure, but lots of fans recommend Sphinx as well. Personally, I like the look of Invisible better.
Below are some more pics of of this awesome figure.
Go Protectobots! Go Mirage! Transform and Roll Out!
June of 2015 is Robots in Disguise month! Check out all the RiD figs below. There are some third party items here too.
- Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime, Walmart, $14.97
- Robots in Disguise Drift, amazon.com, $12.80
- Robots in Disguise Jazz, Target, $14.99
- Perfect Effect Perfect Combiner PC-02 Upgrade Set, tfsource.com, $32.99
- Before & After Alpha Launcher for MP-18 Bluestreak, tfsource.com, $14.95
- ToyWorld Grimshell (Corelock), tfsource.com, $149.95
Before this month, I only bought one RiD figure. That was Grimlock from back in January. I was not terribly impressed with RiD Grimlock. So you might be wondering why I bought all these RiD figs here. Truth be told, I only bought them because there wasn’t a whole lot of other TFs on the shelves. Combiner Wars was in a slight retail pause, and my 3rd party orders haven’t come in yet. But I’m glad I got the RiD figs here. Drift is a great one. If you can only get one RiD fig here, get Drift. Both modes are good, transformation is fun, and build construction of the toy is solid. I love his twin swords. Jazz is a nice one too. I don’t know if I’m feeling that spear/gun weapon, but the figure itself is a worthy addition to Jazz. The Optimus Prime figure is not great, but not bad. There’s some fun stuff going on here, but overall he’s too simple and too small. It’s kind of the same gripes that I have for Grimlock. Though Grimlock is getting (or has gotten) a bigger, beefier version for the collectors. I hope OP gets the same treatment.
Now onto those 3rd party accessories. Perfect Combiner PC-02 Upgrade Set is meant to enhance Combiner Wars Menasor. I got some picks from back in this post. Most fans seem to be gushing over these sets, which is why I got them. I don’t know. I think they’re ok, but in my opinion they don’t add that much to the combined form. Maybe I’m expecting too much. Alpha Launcher for MP-18 Bluestreak by Before & After is an excellent upgrade! I got one pic below that shows it off. I like how the MP toy designers incorporated launchers as part of the transformation. But they are more reflective of Bluestreak’s cartoon look, and they look a tad small. With these Alpha Launchers, Bluestreak now has the firepower to be the true gunner that he’s meant to be. This upgrade set also comes with decals for the MP that are much like the decals of the original G1 toy. I did’t put them on. But know that it’s an option for those that like their figures all decked out with decals.
I have written about ToyWorld Grimlock several times already. He’s officially listed as Grimshell on the box, but sometimes he is listed as Corelock on store sites. Anyway, I have raved on and on about this figure here and here. So I won’t repeat my G1 fanboy praises yet again. Just go read those.
Below is a group photo of the bunch (minus the upgrade set for Menasor).
Transform and Roll Out.