Archive for March, 2010

Transformers: 25th Anniversary Matrix Of Leadership Edition

March 27th, 2010 1 comment

I started this blog on Oct 9th of 2009, and it was around that time that Shout! Factory released their version of the complete DVD set of the Transformers G1 animated series. Rightfully titled the 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership Edition, this version is supposed to be superior in every way to the Rhino release that came out in the early to mid 2000s. This box set was released on Oct 20th to be precise, and so I made the news of its release my 2nd post in the history of this blog. You can read about that post here.

The first time I saw this set was at Botcon 2009. It must have been at the Shout! Factory booth. However, it was behind the counter in the display area, not available to be touched or inspected up close.

Today, I am happy to report that I have in my possession this awesome box set, and I will do it justice by giving it the proper review that it so deserves. Amazon frequently has this on sale for $86.99, and that’s what I got it for. This is the best price that I have seen anywhere for a new version of this box set. Definitely check Amazon if you are considering buying this set.

Let’s start with some pics. Here are the front and back of the box while it’s still sealed in the shrink wrap.

As you can clearly see, the graphic of the Matrix is printed on the front of the box. This box set is freakin’ huge! To give you some idea of its size, check it out next to a soda can.

The whole thing weighs quite a bit too. Sometimes I wish I had one of those things that you can weigh parcels with, like at the post office, so I can give some precise readings.

Now we get to why this is called the “Matrix of Leadership” edition. To open up the box set and remove the contents, what you do is slide out the boxes on the two sides away from the center until the middle portion is revealed. The side sections can only slide out so far, they will not fall off all the way. Now you can re-enact the scene where Rodimus opens the Matrix inside Unicron all you want.

“Now, light our darkest hour!”

Is that cool or what? Feel the power of the Matrix as you open it to watch some G1 Transformers.

After you have opened the Matrix, flip up the center cardboard piece to get at the knowledge inside.

The inside lid that flipped up contains a nice holographic image of none other than Optimus Prime. Looks very cool. After you take out all the contents in the middle section, at the bottom of the box is a nice image of Megatron. Check it out below.

This is basically the coolest DVD box that I have ever seen. Some fans have complained that the cardboard here is too soft. I guess it could have been cool if Shout! opted to use more solid material, like the ones used for the Limited Edition of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. 1 box set. And it probably would have been nice to put LEDs into the center Matrix graphic so that it lights up when the box is opened. But all this is just nitpicking and wishful thinking, so let’s not lose sight of the fact that Shout! gave us a well-designed box that is way beyond anything that anyone else has ever come up with.

Now let’s take a look at the contents. You get everything in the pic below.

What you get is the complete 98 eps of G1 Transformers on 16 DVDs held in 4 cases. Each case has a graphic of an Autobot or Decepticon leader. In the center there is a collected book that contains episode summaries and some bios of the major Transformers. This book is made of high quality material and the print quality is superb. In the pic we also see the Autobot and Decepticon magnets. I currently have these up on my fridge. Show off your TF enthusiasm with pride!

The DVDs themselves look very cool. See for yourself.

The inside cover of each DVD case is the color graphic corresponding to the leader that appeared on the cover. The graphic printed on each DVD is also very nice. Shout! certainly paid attention to all the little details.

As of this writing, I have only watched 2 eps from Season 2. The transfer quality looked really good. My understanding is that Shout! took the best master of every scene so there should be no color goofs, unless of course the goof was never corrected in the 80s to begin with. Before I bought this Matrix set, I bought the complete Season 1 set, also from Shout!. I’m going to assume the transfer is exactly the same in both. In the Season 1 set, the picture quality was inconsistent for some eps, like for instance “Heavy Metal War”. This particular ep the varying of the picture quality is really noticeable, probably because the master came from different sources, but overall it’s not a distraction.

There are also a bunch of extras on the DVDs that I’m not going to list. Go to the Amazon listing of this item and see it for yourself.

Overall, I’m very happy with this box set. This is the definitive version of the G1 Transformers animated collection. I was kinda sore when I missed my chance to buy the Rhino releases (especially after they went OOP and dealers put an insane amount of markup on them), but this more than makes up for it. As a kid I dreamed of owning every episode of Transformers. Shout! has made this dream possible and at very reasonable price too.

At last, All Are One! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Top 10 Most Difficult Transformers

March 18th, 2010 16 comments

Transformers have come a long way since the 80s. Back in the glorious days of G1, instructions were never necessary. I usually read them anyway, not because I can’t figure them out, but to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In G1 you could always tell how a figure transforms by looking at pics of all the modes (the six-changers may be the lone exceptions, but I never seen the toys so can’t comment).

As TransFans matured, so has the toys. Certain toy lines in the TF Universe, such as Masterpiece, Binaltech/Alternator, and Revenge of the Fallen, are meant to be difficult, and will test your Transformer IQ to its limits. Some have suggested that an engineering degree is required to transform them. These are the figures that will make you pull your hair out and tempt you to throw the figure at the wall in frustration.

I still remember my TF mishaps from back in 2004, when I first came out of my TF hiatus (not counting a short G2 stint in the summer of 94). Not having touched a TF for 16 years, the first piece I attempted to transform was Alternator Smokescreen. I thought I was a TF badass, and my G1 training would be more than sufficient. No words could capture what a gross underestimation that was. I began to fully appreciate the complexity after I started transforming Smokescreen, and I stood in awe of the TF evolution that had taken place in my 16 yr hiatus. But the whole time I was thinking you must be a rocket scientist to transform one of these. 75+ minutes later, after much blood and sweat and tears, I got him into robot mode. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from completing the transformation of such a difficult piece.

For this post I’m compiling a list of such Transformers. This list is limited to TFs that I have transformed. I know there are difficult TFs out there that belong on here, such as Armada Unicron and Trans Scanning Optimus Prime, but I have not had the pleasure of these toys so I assume nothing. Also, the difficulty is based on my experience of transforming it the first time. Some of these pieces gets much easier the 2nd time and onwards, but is frustrating enough to make you scream in agony on the 1st attempt.

The following 10 figures are not your daddy’s TFs. Choose to transform them at your own risk.

10. Sunstorm (Voyager Class)
Series: Transformers Animated
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Sycophant
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: TFA Starscream, TFA Skywarp
Difficulty: Easy

Figures from the TF Animated line are usually not at all difficult to transform, and Sunstorm is no exception. But he’s a classic case of bad instructions misleading the transformation process when it would be simpler to figure it out yourself. Going from robot to jet, I had a feeling the arms would go between the legs at the bottom towards the back, VF-1 style. But the instructions never indicated that you should do this. I wasted a good 20 min trying to do it like the instructions, but the arms just kept getting in the way. Then I finally gave up and simply started placing parts at where I think they should go, and lo and behold the jet mode practically formed itself. Once you know what to do, transforming Sunstorm is a breeze. But the bad instructions earns him a spot on this list.

9. Ironhide (Voyager Class)
Series: Movie (2007)
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Weapons Specialist
Mode in Package: Truck
Known Redecos: all other versions of Movie or ROTF Voyager Ironhide
Difficulty: Medium

Figures from both Michael Bay films are usually on the difficult side, partly because their designs are so radically different from what TransFans are normally used to. Love or hate the Movie designs, the toys themselves did do good of capturing the Movie look, but this meant some very unorthodox implementations in the transforming mechanism. Movie Ironhide gave me a lot of trouble on my first try because he’s got this funky thing you gotta do with the chest part that didn’t seem all too intuitive. At first I thought it was only me, but then I stumbled upon this thread of TransFans discussing their most difficult TFs. Read thru the thread and you’ll see that Movie Ironhide is mentioned repeatedly. Its good to know I’m not the only one that was confused. I don’t have the figure in front of me as I write this, so I can’t recall exactly why the chest area was so mind-boggling, but once you figure it out its not too bad. But it is frustrating enough for inclusion on this list.

8. Cliffjumper
Series: Alternity
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Warrior
Mode in Package: Car
Known Redecos: Alternity Bumblebee
Difficulty: Medium

Alternity Cliffjumper is complex with lots of moving parts, but overall he’s not too bad. The only real issue is in the legs. There’s just so much there and its all compacted into a relatively small area which makes it hard to figure out. The instructions did not help me in this area and I found watching Youtube vids of other people transforming him to be a big help. I gave him a full review some time back. CJ is not the most difficult piece I’ve seen, and I’m betting other pieces in the Alternity line is just as complex if not more so. But he is the most difficult I’ve come across since I started this blog so I put him on here.

7. Optimus Prime (MP-04)
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Autobot Leader
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: MP Optimus Prime (MP-01), MP Ultra Magnus (MP-02), US versions of Masterpiece Optimus Prime, MP Nemesis Prime (upcoming)
Difficulty: Medium

MP Optimus Prime is really not that difficult. I’ve done one round trip (from robot to truck and back) and I really didn’t see any issues, and I feel I can do it from memory if I need to. But he’s on here purely because of the complexity of the figure in terms of the number of steps you have to do to transform him. This is not a figure you can transform fast (at least not for me), because there is so much involved. In essence, not hard to do, but a lot to do. MP-04 is the best Optimus Prime figure ever made hands down, and I expected nothing less from a Shoji Kawamori piece. If you’re a TransFan and you have not transformed him, shame on you.

6. Galvatron (Deluxe Class)
Series: Classics
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Decepticon Leader
Mode in Package: Tank
Known Redecos: None
Difficulty: Hard

OK, now we’re getting into figures where things can get really frustrating. Galvatron is the only deluxe figure I put on this list, and that’s saying something. There are other deluxe figures that have challenged me (ROTF Sideswipe, Classics Tankor), but Galvatron takes the cake. He is by far the most complex deluxe figure I have ever seen in terms of number of moving parts and steps required to transform. Hasbro really crammed a lot into a $10 figure, and in this case I really can’t say if that’s a good or bad thing. My theory is that Galvatron was originally designed to be a Voyager class figure (which explains the pieces and the complexity), but for whatever reason Hasbro decided to make him deluxe. Adding to the difficulty is that a lot of pieces are designed to come off to prevent you from breaking them. If you are transforming him for the first time, I guarantee some parts will cast off (and I don’t mean in the good way like anime figures).

5. Optimus Prime (THS-02)
Series: Hybrid
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Autobot Leader
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: Hybrid Nemesis Prime (THS-02B)
Difficulty: Hard

Hybrid G1 Optimus Prime can be thought of as a miniature version of the MP-04. But when you take one of the largest figures in the TF universe and shrink it down to one of the smallest, all while keeping much of the same complexity, the figure becomes frustrating. Hybrid Prime is not even 4 inches tall. Trying to transform such an intricately small piece would test the hands of even the most dexterous. My hands are small by guy standards, and I had a difficult time with Hybrid Prime. The overall mechanism on the Hybrid is dumbed down a little from the MP-04, but the complexity is still too much for a figure of this size. On the toy there are also these pieces covering Prime’s hands that love to fall off. To add insult to injury, Hybrid Prime’s truck mode looks unflattering at best. It kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you realize you spent a good amount of time and energy to produce an alt mode that many have described as box on wheels. I did one round trip of this figure (robot to truck and back) and I’ve had enough. I will probably never transform this piece again, unless someone pays me.

4. Smokescreen (Alternator #1)
Series: Binaltech/Alternator
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Diversionary Tactician
Mode in Package: Car
Known Redecos: Alternator Silverstreak (#4), Alternator Ricochet (#20), Binaltech Smokescreens (both BT-01, both BT-07), Binaltech Streak (BT-03), Binaltech Asterisk Alert (BTA-01), Binaltech Bluestreak (BT-19)
Difficulty: Hard

As already outlined in the intro above, Alternator Smokescreen is difficult enough to bring a grown man to his knees. I first attempted this on the Alternator version, but the Binaltech versions transform exactly the same (I got both BT-07s). Smokescreen looks good in both modes so the transformation is well worth it. I’ve done 3 or 4 round trips now, and it does get a little easier with each attempt, but he’s still quite a challenge. Smokescreen kicked off the Binaltech/Alternator line, and even after a dozen or so molds later (and all of them challenging), he still remains one of the most difficult.

3. Brawl (Leader Class)
Series: Movie (2007)
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Ground Assault
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: Movie Deep Desert Brawl
Difficulty: Super Hard

Of all the TFs I opened, Movie Leader Class Brawl gets the proud distinction as my least transformed Transformer. I got him around late 2007, and to this day I have not even made one round trip transformation of this figure. I got him from robot to tank, twice. Let me explain. I bought him at TRU. He comes in robot mode, and after I got him to tank mode, I realized there’s a peg that came broken (this is unlike Samurai Prowl, where I broke the peg). So I returned him and bought another at Amazon, where I transformed him again from robot to tank. So yeah, I did this twice, but never from tank back to robot. He’s stayed in that tank mode for 2+ years now. The reason I haven’t even tried is because he’s so damn difficult. The first time it was hard, and the 2nd time it didn’t feel much easier, so I just left him in the alt mode. But that tank is pretty good looking, and he’s got some cool lights and sounds, so definitely worth the effort to transform him.

2. Optimus Prime (Leader Class)
Series: ROTF
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Autobot Leader
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: None so far, some upcoming in 2010
Difficulty: Super Hard

There’s hard, and then there’s HARD. ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime is not for the faint of heart. This is an updated figure over the 2007 Movie version. While the 2007 version was already very good, the ROTF version improves on it by leaps and bounds by being much more movie accurate in both transformation and appearance. However, this figure will test your skills as a TransFan. Keep in mind that ROTF Prime was made to be a toy, and not a collector’s piece, yet I put him at #2 on this list which means I feel he is more difficult than most MPs and Binaltechs. I applaud any TransFan who can do this piece without looking at the instructions. Not only are there a gazillion steps, each step must be performed in the right order or you wind up backtracking and undoing steps you’ve done to account for stuff you didn’t do. And once you know what to do, actually doing them is no easy task. There are so many pieces on this thing that if they’re not combined in perfect harmony, they don’t combine. I know all this sounds tough, but you feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment when you get him into that equally awesome-looking truck. If you are attempting this, just know that all the pieces on this figure are designed to come together, and with enough time and patience you will get there. I’ve done 3 or 4 round trips of this now, and each time it is still a challenge, but going from truck back to robot is not half as bad. On the box it says age 5 and up, and I’m sure there are some genius TF kids out there, but I sincerely believe this is not for the typical 5 yr old.

1. Megatron (MP-05)
Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Decepticon Leader
Mode in Package: Robot
Known Redecos: None
Difficulty: Excruciatingly Hard

Masterpiece Megatron. These words alone evoke pain and fear from all TransFans, much like Megatron’s name evokes the same feeling from Cybertronians all over the galaxy. Ask any TransFan worth his Energon to name the most difficult TF ever, and 4 times out of 5 MP Meg will be the answer. The complexity of this piece is unquestioned. Like the MP-04, there’s a lot to do. But unlike MP Prime, many of the steps required to transform him is not by any means easy. MP Meg is designed to be a collector’s piece and it shows in the construction. He is more delicate when compared to TFs of the “toy” variety, but at the same time, he’s got some parts and pieces where some force is required to budge them from their place. So on one hand you need to apply pressure to transform him, but on the other you need to be careful that you don’t break such an expensive piece. MP Meg is the only TF where my hands actually began to hurt midway thru, because of the tight pieces and the sharp angles. Transformation from gun back to robot is equally as hard as robot to gun. To this day I have only done one round trip, and I’m hoping it will be easier on future attempts now that I’ve loosened up the pieces somewhat. SEANxLONG of TF Youtube fame has described this piece as “excruciating”, so he’s selling (or has sold) his. While I do agree with the adjective, I question his choice of selling it because MP Meg is the symbol of the ultimate Transformer challenge. To have this in your collection and to say you’ve transformed it and survived is proof that you belong among the elite of TransFans. Many brave souls were lost in their attempt to transform Masterpiece Megatron. The process may be harmful to pregnant women and small children. Consult your physician before attempting.

If you have successfully transformed any of the pieces (or their redecos) listed above, pat yourself on the back and take a bow. You are among TransFans that never give up and never say die. Lesser fans would have threw up their hands in defeat, but you persisted til the end. Leave no Transformer un-transformed!


I want to remind all TransFans that, when the going gets tough, there is only one thing to do: Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Top Ten

Toynami Robotech Masterpiece Beta Review

March 13th, 2010 4 comments

Today I will once again review something that is not related to Transformers. I have a treat for all the Mospeada and Robotech fans out there. I will be doing a full review of the Beta Fighter from Robotech New Generation, also known as the the Tlead in Mospeada. This will be the 2nd time in the history of this blog that a post will have nothing to do with Transformers (the first time being my Yamato 1/60 VF-11B review), but seeing as how this is a transforming robot, I don’t think many of you will mind. 🙂

As all Robotech fans will tell you, Genesis Climber Mospeada made up the 3rd arc of the original Robotech series called The New Generation. The two main fighters in Mospeada are the Legioss and Tlead, respectively ported over to Robotech as Alpha and Beta. I will be using Robotech names from this point forward, since the Toynami figure is made in reference to Robotech and not Mospeada.

The Alphas are the main forward strike fighters. The Betas can act as bombers on their own, or they can function as artillery and flight boosters when attached to the Alphas. These fighters came in 3 variants of blue, green, and red for most of the show. The blue fighters are typically the “H” variants reserved for combat officers and aces, much like the “S” designation in the VF fighters of Macross. The Toynami Beta I will review today is of the “H” variant (VFB-9H). In the show, this fighter was usually attached to Scott’s Alpha, though sometimes we do see it piloted independently by Rand or Lancer.

As far as the toys go, there have been several attempts at making the Alpha. I’m aware of 2 in the 80s and 2 in this decade, all of them less than spectacular. Each mold has its own strengths and weaknesses so thus far no one has made the perfect Alpha figure. As for the Beta, I read somewhere that there was never a toy made for it in the 80s. The Beta was a concept that only existed for the show and no one attempted to bring this figure to life until the last few years. What you see here is the attempt by Toynami at making a Masterpiece Beta figure.

Let’s start by looking at the box:

This is the same kind of box used for all the Masterpiece figures made by Toynami. In case you’ve never seen one, it is shaped like a book. The front cover opens to reveal the robot figure inside, like you see in the pic above. The Certificate of Authenticity appears on the inside cover. I should’ve took a comparison shot, but just so everyone knows, the Beta is much larger than both the VF-1 and Alpha fighters from Toynami, so a much bigger box is necessary. Personally, I’m not too big on packaging. I ultimately judge the value of a purchase from the figure itself and not how fancy the box looks or feels. However, I know there are many fans out there that do place a certain amount of importance on the packaging, so I will say that the Toynami Masterpiece book-style boxes are impressive. If you’ve seen one, then you know what to expect, only that the Beta box is bigger. If not, then check out any of the boxes for the VF-1 or the Alpha from Toynami and you will get a good sense of what this is all about.

The tray that holds the figure in the box slides out from the top (like all Masterpieces). For the Beta, there is a separate tray on the bottom that holds all the accessories, as shown in the pic above. There are quite a few items here. The big X piece at the bottom and the angled piece to the left of it makes up the display stand. Above that on the left are the 3 landing gear pieces. The missiles that are positioned over the back in robot mode appear on top. Next to it is the pilot figure, I’m guessing this is Rand since his artwork is featured on the box. The two long white pieces in the bottom right corner are the attachment pieces that are required to connect the Alpha. The left one is used to connect the Alpha in jet mode, while the other one for robot mode. The square piece above them is just a filler piece to disguise the square hole in the Beta when the attachments are not used.

Robot Mode
The figure is packaged in this mode so I’ll start with this. The first thing you will notice after you take this out (and there are quite a few twist ties here so removing the figure is more work than normal) is that this figure is freakin’ heavy! As far as I can tell, the only die cast parts are the lower legs, but that alone is enough to give this figure significant weight. I don’t think this piece is as heavy as MP Optimus Prime, but it probably weighs more than most Binaltechs. In the show, the Beta is not the most agile fighter, but its got power to spare. It’s nice to see Toynami give the figure a solid and heavy feel to accurately reflect that fact.

Anyone that’s owned an Alpha fighter from Toynami will tell you that it’s biggest flaw is in the construction. In robot mode, the Alpha does not hold poses well, and gravity quickly misshape the figure into a convoluted mess the moment you pick it up. I’m happy to report there are no such issues with the Beta. Being such a heavy figure, I was afraid that this piece might suffer the same issues that plague the early Titanium TFs (metal pieces supported by weak joints that can’t support the weight). However, all joints on this figure are well reinforced. Most joints are of the ratchet variety, and they all have a nice clickly feel to them. The Beta certainly have no problem holding poses. I’m glad that Toynami have made significant strides in this area.

The colors on this figure accurately reflects the show colors, so no complaints here. The figure is also nice detailed. The Beta kinda has a simplistic appearance to begin with, but I think the level of detail that Toynami has provided here is more than sufficient. I know my figure may look a little plain, but that’s because I didn’t put the stickers on. As a kid I used to love putting stickers on my figures. But now I guess I’m either too lazy, or I just prefer to leave them off and keep the figure slightly more mint, in case I decide to sell it later.

For a figure that is so heavy and big, the Beta is actually quite well articulated. There is plenty of movement in the arms, and they can be positioned just about any way you want. The legs also rotate and bend in all the proper places. The head swivels 360 degrees, but will not look up and down (not that it really needs to). There is no waist articulation, but in this case I don’t think its really necessary. The Beta does not have any hand weapons, but it more than makes up for it with missiles on the back and chest. There are also some serious guns built into the forearms, near the hands. Speaking of hands, the Beta hand mold is way better than the Alpha’s. On my green Alpha (the only one I opened), both hands are broken because of weak joints and shoddy plastics used to make them. The Beta has no such problems.

The pic above shows the Beta getting ready to punish some Invids with some serious chest artillery. We saw this quite often in the show. Extra points to Toynami for including this feature.

Overall, I have no complaints about the Toynami Beta whatsoever in robot mode. I think Toynami has really made a Masterpiece of a robot Beta here. Bravo!

Jet Mode

I’m going to skip the Guardian Mode of this figure and go straight to Jet Mode. The reason for that is I really don’t think the Beta has a fully qualified Guardian mode, even though the instructions does provide for it. The “Guardian” for the Beta is really just the jet standing on its legs. Kinda boring if you ask me.

The transformation to Jet mode is not at all difficult. In fact, it’s probably one of the simplest transformations I’ve done in a long time for a figure of this size. The Beta kinda reminds me of G1 Transformers made in season 4 in terms of mechanics and complexity. Figures of that era are solid, durable, and not hard to transform, and the Beta captures that essence well. There’s nothing too revolutionary in the transformation process so I’m not going to describe it. Just know that it is simple to do, but at the same time complex enough to make it feel like the figure has transformed.

The Beta figure in Jet mode looks just like how it does in the show. As far as appearance, I have no complaints. This is how the Beta looks and Toynami did good of accurately portraying its design.

I do have a few gripes about the Jet mode. As you can see in the 2 pics above, I attached the connection piece that is used to link up the Alpha, even though the Alpha is not there. The reason I did that is because the Beta cannot be placed on a flat surface without it. This piece is required to attach the front landing gear, which leads me to my next gripe: landing gears are not built in and need to be attached. Vigilant readers probably already noticed this when I went into the Beta’s accessories earlier in this post. Most other premium jet figures that transform (whether they be Yamato, Bandai, Hasbro, or even Toynami themselves) have landing gears built into the unit. I seriously think the designers of this figure could have implemented a proper landing gear mechanism, but for whatever reason they decided against it.

My third gripe about the jet mode, and this is difficult for me to say, is that the figure is too heavy. I know, in the above sections, I went into how this figure is nice because its heavy. Well, that works for the robot mode, but in the jet mode it doesn’t work so well. There are pegs and holes on this figure that are designed to hold the jet as one cohesive unit when the parts come together. However, because this is so heavy, they don’t stick to each other as well as they should because the weight is pulling it apart. I seriously think that if this figure was all plastic, the jet mode would come together much nicer. Or if they decided to make the chest housing die-cast instead of the lower legs, I think that would work too. The chest is a relatively un-transformed area in the figure. So if that was made die-cast, the figure would still be heavy, and at the same time doesn’t really affect the transforming mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, its not like the jet mode will come apart as soon as you touch it or pick it up, but it does require some careful handling.

My fourth and final gripe about the jet mode, and this is really a direct consequence of the third gripe, is that this figure is really hard to hold in your hands in jet mode. This is kinda hard to explain in words, but there’s not a part on this jet that you can easily grab. Part of this has to do with how this jet is shaped. VFs and Alphas are more aerodynamic whereas the Beta is more bulky, so its kinda like holding a stick versus holding a block. But the bigger issue is that the Beta is heavy and parts don’t come together well, so unless you handle it carefully by holding the legs, some pieces are likely to come apart. I guess the Beta in jet mode is more of a display piece than something you want to play with.

Combined Mode

The above pic shows the Alpha and Beta linked up as one. I only have the green Alpha opened, so here they are. We do see this combination occasionally in the show. To perform the link up, simply fold down the cockpit unit on the Beta, spread out the feet pieces a little and fold in the tail fins on the Alpha, and place the Alpha on top of the connector piece. Surprisingly, this mechanism actually works quite well. You might think the connection here is weak based on the way its described, but in practice the combination is solid. Other than the connector, there are no pegs or grooves that would hold the two units together. But the Alpha is positioned in a way that it would not easily detach from the Beta. However, I should point out that I did not try inverting the combined unit. I have a feeling the Alpha would fall off if that’s attempted.

As you can see in the above pic, the display stand is quite small when compared to the two units combined. I keep mentioning that the Beta is heavy, and the whole thing gets even heavier when the Alpha is attached (the Alpha has a decent amount of die-cast as well). While the whole combined unit does sit firmly on the the stand, I have a feeling the stand will not endure the pressure over time. The combined unit is simply too heavy, and the stand is not large enough to support this IMO. I only had the units on the stand for a brief period to snap these pics, and it already felt like the stand would give out. I do not recommend displaying the figures this way. If you really like to display the combined mode, then its probably better to use the attached landing gears.

It is also possible to attach the robot mode Alpha to the Beta. A different connector piece would be used to do this. We saw this configuration frequently in the Shadow Chronicles movie. I did not try this. Toynami Alphas are quite flimsy in robot form and both hands are broken on my green unit, so I really didn’t feel like getting it into robot mode. There are Alphas made by Aoshima, which is the same mold with supposedly reinforced joints, but I read they are even worse than the Toynami ones. But I’ve never seen the Aoshima units first hand so it’s not something I can confirm.

The combined form is not too bad overall. I guess my only gripe, other than the weak stand, is that connector pieces are necessary to perform the link up. I kinda wish the toy designers came up with a way to hide the connector piece somehow into the Beta’s frame when it’s not used.

As a side bar, I want to point out that the only other Beta ever made to my knowledge is by CM. CM made an Alpha and Beta pair a few years back, and together they retailed for around $350! The price was definitely a turn off so I don’t think they were purchased by too many. I have read reviews of the CM versions. The Alpha is a toss-up between Toynami and CM, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. However, Toynami wins the Beta hands down. I don’t have the CM versions so its not like I can validate these claims, but at $350 a pop I think I’ll pass.

Overall, I highly recommend the Toynami Masterpiece Beta figure. The robot mode is awesome, and I will most likely display this piece in robot most of the time. I know I made it sound like there are a lot of weaknesses, but I’m trying to be as objective as possible. I’ve read way too many reviews that simply raved on and on about how this Beta figure is the best thing ever made, and I’m here to offer a counter opinion. I’m not saying the Beta is bad by any means. I’m just saying that this is a very good figure, but it does have its shortcomings. I bought this for $99 on ebay ($114 if you count shipping), and I think it’s worth every penny. That is a very reasonable price IMO. If you are a Robotech fan and you got money to splurge, you should not hesitate to get this.

Well, that’s all for now. Toynami I salute you! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Before Carly 2

March 5th, 2010 2 comments

Welcome to the 2nd edition of Before Carly on this blog! The first Before Carly post appears here.

As usual, I’ll start with the official description that was on

“Spike is quite the ladies man. He eventually married Carly, but she was not the only one to have fun in the backseat of Bumblebee.”

Spike led the ultimate bachelor life. He had Autobots as friends, a hottie of a girlfriend in Carly, and many adventures helping saving mankind from Decepticon invasion. And between these busy activities, he found time to get his freak on with all the babes that appear below.

The name of each girl is made to sound like various characters in the TF universe, and each part of every name is based on real names I’ve seen. See how many TFs you can identify. The answer is written in white below the name of the girl. Click and drag over the section to highlight the answer (or hit Ctrl-A, which highlights all text). Sorry for this lame way to reveal the answer. locks out all javascript so I can’t build something easier to use.

Enjoy the pics!

Pearl Rincon


Raye M. Page


Kate Go


Mandy Gray
Manta Ray


Drew Ewing


Tracy Baker


Debra Stater


Blair Stoffel


Gail Vaughn Tran


Sumiko S. Karin


I don’t know who is the girl that I called Sumiko, but I wish I did. She gets extra points for wearing a TFans bikini. I did not add those Autobot and Binaltech labels; I found the image like this. Some TransFan must appreciate her the same way I do. 🙂

Before Carly Babes… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Top Ten