Archive for August, 2011

Kre-O Starscream Jet Mode Review

August 24th, 2011 5 comments

At BotCon 2011 I first learned about Kre-O, Hasbro’s entry into the building block toys such as Lego and Mega Blocks. Transformers is one of Hasbro’s most successful franchises so it makes sense for them to first market Kre-O replicating toys and characters of the popular robots in disguise. As a kid I loved playing with Lego. I had quite an impressive Lego collection growing up, with sets mostly from the Lego Town and Space lines, and some from the Castle and Technic lines. I had to leave many of these sets behind when we moved to the United States. Only some of my absolute favorites were brought with me, and today they’re sitting in a closet somewhere.

I still played with Legos after the move and I even bought some sets here, but then I also got into Transformers. My parents, being strict as they were, didn’t buy me a whole lot of Transformers. And so I built many of them out of Legos. Its too bad I didn’t take pics of my creations. I remember building a Metroplex that was pretty G1 accurate, for Lego standards anyway. He was fully transformable too. I studied his design from a TF catalog since I never had the figure. Metroplex is kind of a blocky character, a good choice to do in Lego.

Anyway, when I saw the Kre-O at BotCon, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. This is a combination of two of my favorite kinds of toys. Many people were looking at Kre-O at the Con and it sure appears that Hasbro generated a lot of interest with these sets. Of course, the obvious question that was on everyone’s tongue was if these sets could transform. At the Con it was unclear if they would, and Hasbro reps seemed to be dodging the question every time it was asked. We now know that Kre-O sets DO NOT TRANSFORM. You build one mode, take it apart, then build the other mode. In some ways this was kind of a letdown. TFs that don’t transform… maybe they should have called them Kre-O Actionmasters. But regardless, I was still intrigued by the notion of TFs made from building blocks, even if they did not transform.

The second questions that was on many people’s mind was how are the quality of the blocks themselves. I don’t have any Mega Blocks, but many online reviews have suggested they’re crap. Blocks that don’t stick together are reported often. Blocks that don’t fit is another popular complaint. Hasbro went the route of doing the blocks themselves instead of partnering with Lego. So it was anyone’s guess how the Kre-O blocks would turn out.

Less than two weeks ago Amazon had the Starscream set on sale for slightly more than $20. I figured this was the perfect time to find out about these sets for myself, so I got one. It took me about two hours to put this together. It wasn’t too difficult, the hardest part was probably finding the pieces (there are 316 in the set). If you’re used to building Legos than you won’t have any problems. I haven’t really built anything since I was 12 so I thought I might be rusty, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I guess some things you never forget, like riding a bike. Anyway, here it is.

The jet itself is quite amazing to hold in your hands once complete. The size is impressive, easily on par with a Leader class or Masterpiece figure (I go into size comparison below). There’s also some good weight to the finished figure. In jet mode he used almost all 316 pieces. There was only about 7 or 8 pieces that wasn’t used, 1 being the head and 2 being the hands. As far as quality goes, these pieces felt just like Legos to me. Everything fits just right, and with some minor exceptions, everything locks into place. The jet is very robust and it can withstand reasonable rough play. The core of the figure is very solid and I really don’t see any construction issues. The design on the layout of the pieces is on par with anything Lego has come up with, and so the jet is not likely to fall apart. Hasbro has done a pretty good job with the mechanics of this set in jet mode.

This Starscream is obviously G1 inspired. The shape of the wings suggest that he is an F-15. The colors are also true to the G1 incarnation with a base of light grey and bits of blue and red. Overall there’s quite a bit of detail for a building block figure.

I applied all the decals on him. The stripes on the wings are decals. The Decepticon emblem and markings near the cockpit are also decals. Once applied, they stick tight to the building pieces so you don’t have to worry about them falling off. However, I should point out that when I first opened the set, one decal was kind of falling off the sticker sheet. It was one of the long stripe patterns for the wings. Hasbro could probably use better QC in this area.

Here is a shot of the back. I like how they implemented the rear thrusters and I like the way they look. The tail fins are angled. This is done by placing them on hinged pieces. So you can also position them straight up if you want to.

There are landing gears on the jet and they are retractable. See the two shots below.

In these pics of the bottom, you can see that Starscream has more than enough missiles on the wings to punish some hapless Autobots running for their lives on the ground. The missile pieces are attached to the wings, but they can be a little loose and they come off the jet more easily than all the other pieces. But this is not an issue when the jet is only used for display.

The above shows that you can open the cockpit and insert Kre-Ons or Lego minifigs into it. Only the rear cockpit piece can be opened. One gripe that I have here is that it’s hard to place the Kre-Ons into the seat (more on the Kre-Ons later). The black pilot fig is designed to fit, but getting him in there can take some work, even if you choose to take apart the front cockpit piece first. If you want to get the Starscream Kre-On in there, you have to first remove the back wing piece (like standard Lego minifig backpacks) and his arm cannons. Another gripe I have about the cockpit is that it’s hard to get the two cockpit pieces to align with each other. Getting one piece in place is likely to pop off the other piece. It takes some fidgeting to get them flush.

Above is a pic for size comparison with the Kre-O next to Classics Starscream. The Kre-O is obviously much bigger. I don’t have MP Starscream handy or I would’ve took a pic with the Kre-O next to it, but I suspect the Kre-O is a bit longer than the Masterpiece figure in jet mode. Notice I built the Decepticon emblem on the wings so that the crown is towards the rear. This is how I prefer it to look. Hasbro can’t seem to make up their mind when it comes to the orientation of the wing emblem. Half the time they go one way and half the time they go the opposite way. The instructions does indicate you should build them the other way, like how they appear with Classic Starscream in the pic. But the cool thing about Kre-O is that the Decepticon emblem sticker is placed on a square piece, so you can easily rotate the piece to suit your preference.

There is one more feature I want to point out. The set does come with a ladder piece that can be used in jet mode for display. See the pic above on the back of the box.

And of course there are the Kre-Ons. A lot of people buy these purely for the Kre-Ons. On Ebay, auctions for the Kre-On figs alone can fetch a decent price, testament to their popularity. This set comes with two, a Starscream Kre-On and a black pilot fig. Kre-Ons are exactly the same size as Lego minifigs. The only key difference in construction is that Kre-On legs are on ball joints so you can move them pretty much any way you like. Lego minifigs on the other hand can only rotate the legs forward and backwards. Kre-On hand size is the same as Lego minifigs, so you can probably give them Lego accessories. Head size is also the same, so feel free to swap hair or helmets to your heart’s content.

To summarize, I’ll just quickly point out some pros and cons.


  • Great value at MSRP of $29.99. You get 316 pieces and a similar Lego set would cost you about $40 to $45. Amazon has this set on sale often at barely over $20.
  • Lego quality pieces! No crappy Mega Blocks here.
  • You can build 2 modes. I only built the jet mode here, but don’t forget there’s still the robot mode.
  • Fully compatible with Legos and Mega Blocks.
  • Jet mode is robust and solid.
  • Easy to follow color instructions that explains how to build both modes.

  • Does not transform.
  • Missile pieces a tad loose.
  • Difficult to proprely align cockpit pieces.
  • One sticker came half-way off the sticker sheet.
  • I got one wrong piece, it came in a different color than it was supposed to. In all the Lego sets that I bought, I never had any missing or wrong pieces. See if you can spot the wrong color piece in the pics above. 🙂

As for that last gripe above, I realize that Hasbro just started in the Kre-O business so I’m not going to complain too much. And I found that they will supply replacement pieces. I’ve provided a handy link here if any of you need it.

My final verdict is that I highly recommend the Starscream Kre-O set. I did point out some weaknesses, but there are way more positives here. If you are a Lego fan, or if you are a TransFan that like putting things together, then do yourself a favor and buy this. I know it doesn’t transform and that’s a shame. But if you approach this as more of a Lego toy then you won’t be disappointed. Hopefully in the future Hasbro will produce Kre-O sets that can really transform.

I will be taking this apart sometime soon and build the robot mode. Until then… Transform and Roll Out!

EDIT 09/14/2011:
Hasbro sent me the replacement piece. It took several weeks but it got here eventually. Thank you Hasbro!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Customized DOTM Sideswipe

August 16th, 2011 2 comments

Here we have another Gemini custom. This is the DOTM deluxe Sideswipe figure. I thought about buying this figure when he first hit the shelves back in May. This is a new movie-verse Sideswipe mold and I like how he’s a convertible this time. But the dull grey paint job just did not do it for me. Check out these pics on Seibertron to see what I mean.

Once again Gemini felt the need to correct this. And so he took this figure and painted him silver all over. The result is quite remarkable. This is Sideswipe as he was meant to appear. Check out pics below.

The last pic above shows off DOTM Sideswipe (center) with DOTM Walmart exclusive blue Sideswipe (left) and HFTD Sidearm Sideswipe (right). Don’t mess with DOTM Sideswipe in all his silver blingin’ glory!

In related news, it appears there will be a repainted version of this figure as Dark Steel. He’s looking pretty good and I will get this if/when he hits the shelves. I’m digging the color scheme, and using a new head mold is always a welcome feature. I included some pics below but you can see all the pics here.

As TransFans we all knew it was only a matter of time before Hasbro started repainting all the DOTM figs. It would be interesting to see what else they decide to repaint. And hopefully they will continue to make new molds too. The movies may have ended, but they toys don’t have to stop. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, TF News

Customized Generations Red Alert

August 8th, 2011 4 comments

One of the biggest differences between the US version of Generations Red Alert and the Japanese Henkei equivalent has to do with the color of Red Alert’s head. The Henkei figure has a red head, accurate to the G1 animated series and to the G1 toy. The US Generations figure, however, comes with a black head, same as Universe Sideswipe. So once again, fans on this side of the Pacific gets the less show accurate version. Personally I don’t think it’s a big issue, but many other G1 fans other than myself feels strongly against the mis-coloration.

And so my friend Gemini comes to the rescue (much like Red Alert himself). As a customizer he did an excellent job of painting Red Alert’s head red for me. While he was at it, he painted the gun silver. Check out pics below.

Customized and uncustomized version side by side.

With his good buddy Inferno.

I think a black head on Red Alert has a charm of its own, but as a G1-er I certainly appreciate a red-headed version. Now if only someone will make his G1 missile launcher…

Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics