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Archive for September, 2011

Transformers Friday! Dark of the Moon Blu-Ray and DVD Released Today

September 30th, 2011 No comments

Title of the post says it all. It has only been about 3 months since the release of the movie. Personally I thought the movie was pretty good. The GF didn’t like it one bit.

Now I maintain the position that only crappy movies get a quick home release. And that’s what makes DOTM so hard to classify. According to Wikipedia, DOTM is one of the most successful movies ever financially. It grossed $1.18 billion worldwide, and is the 5th highest grossing film of all time. However, critical reception was mostly negative and is usually not liked by anyone outside the hardcore Transformer fandom. I guess the quick home release makes sense if viewed from that perspective.

One of the very first post that I did when I started this blog was the release of Revenge of the Fallen. I definitely liked that one the least out of the three. Read that post to see my thoughts. Even Michael Bay himself has admitted that “Transformers 2 was crap.” Overall, DOTM corrected many of the flaws found in ROTF. DOTM cut out most of the juvenile non-sense, with the exception of that Asian character played by Ken Jeong. Story was more coherent. Bringing Cybertron to Earth is a worthy homage to the Ultimate Doom story arc in G1. Sentinel betraying the Autobots is an unexpected twist. In recent stories, Optimus’ predecessor has been less than perfect and the movie really explores that concept. I think Leonard Nimoy is destined to voice villains in the TF franchise. The acting was your standard Michael Bay cheese, but with so many big names in the cast it doesn’t get that bad. I liked Patrick Dempsey’s role. Good thing McDreamy and Josh Duhamel were there to keep the GF interested with their good looks or she might have fell asleep. But yeah, I liked DOTM, but the first film was still the best.

DOTM wrapped up things pretty good. I can’t think of any loose ends. All the baddies you expect to be killed off are terminated in spectacular fashion by the Autobots, or in some cases humans. I think this means we have seen the last of the Bay TFs. Shia LaBeouf has stated very clearly he’s not doing any more. That’s probably just as well. I think my interest for this trilogy has run its course and it’s time for something new. I like to see a new director take over and steer TFs more toward their G1 roots. J.J.Abrams perhaps? Every franchise he touches turns to gold.

But Michael Bay sure walks away a rich man. I don’t know how much of a cut he had in the 3 films and related merchandising, but he’s gotta be one of the wealthiest men alive in Hollywood today. That’s some good fortune for a director whose craft is questionable at best. He’s got TransFans to thank for this.

So am I gonna get the Blu-Ray? I don’t know. I like to get it on sale. A few months back I finally got ROTF on sale for about $10 at Amazon. I guess if I see one now for around $15 I’ll buy it, but if not I’ll keep looking.

The Bay TF movies have been fun, but I think I’m done with this franchise and I’m ready for another live-action reboot. I wonder what Hasbro has in stored for us besides TF Prime. One can only wonder… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: TF News

25th Anniversary Unicron with Kranix

September 28th, 2011 5 comments

When I went to BotCon 2011, one of the TFs that I learned will be released is the 25th Anniversary Unicon. This is the same figure that was released in the TF Armada line, but slightly repainted to be more G1 Movie accurate. At the Con it was indicated he will be an Amazon exclusive, but I didn’t notice that from all the TF excitement so I actually didn’t learn this fact til later.

I saw some Armada Unicron figs when I first got back into TFs in 2004. Some stores were even clearing them out at around $50. At that time, spending that kind of money for TFs were unthinkable. Plus I really didn’t want figures this massive. So I missed my chance to get Unicron, a decision I’ve come to regret. Well no more! 7 yrs and 400+ TFs later, I’m almost completely immune to TF spending. Opportunity was knocking once again for me to get a Unicron, this time in a new color scheme that looks better than Armada’s if I dare say so. This figure was most definitely on my radar.

Being an Amazon exclusive meant I had to check the website often, especially with all the scalpers out there these days. This figure went up for sale late Aug and the scalpers quickly bought them all. I was beginning to think I would miss out again. But Amazon did release more later on, and so I got one last week as soon as I saw it was available. MSRP is $59.99.

Unicron is huge! He is without a doubt the biggest TF figure I own. Check out pics of him in the box below.

Gimmicks galore! Glowing eyes, light up fist, chest opening for missile, leg missiles, Kranix as Mini-Con, and much more.

Those are some insane stats!

  • Strength: ∞
  • Intelligence: ∞
  • Speed: 10
  • Endurance: ∞
  • Rank: 10
  • Courage: 10
  • Fireblast: ∞
  • Skill: 10

I threw in Rodimus in that last shot for size comparison. The star of the G1 Movie that destroys Unicron has to make an appearance if we’re talking about the Harbinger of Chaos.

Check Amazon often for Unicron’s availability. Do not pay dealer prices! As this very moment, he is available at MSRP direct from Amazon. Sometimes Amazon will sell out and there are no stock except from greedy scalpers, but don’t give in to their demands. I think Amazon withholds inventory to be released in phases for whatever reason, but they made more than enough. Just wait until its available again if you don’t see it.

I plan to open this soon. Unicron cannot be stopped! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics

Masterpiece Rodimus Prime Review Part 2

September 22nd, 2011 5 comments

OK, after more than 6 months of reviewing MP Rodimus Prime in alt mode in Part 1, today I’m going to review the robot mode in Part 2. I know, its way too late and I’m procrastinating way too much. But I just hate to do Part 1 then not do Part 2. Better late than never I always say.

Click here for pics of the box if that’s your thing.

Just like in alt mode, this Masterpiece figure will let you transform it as both Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime. Though I should point out now that the differences between the robot modes are slight. Let’s start by looking at the Hot Rod robot mode.

I think the first thing that should jump out at any hardcore G1 TransFan is how show accurate this figure is. MP figs are revered for their show authenticity and this fig did not disappoint in this area. Just look at it. This is exactly how Hot Rod looks in the G1 movie. The MP designers certainly did their homework and engineered a figure that captures Hot Rod down to the last detail. The colors are unmistakably Hot Rod with the red, orange, and yellow flames. They even got the legs right as that’s dark gray just like his G1 movie appearance. And speaking of legs, I’m particularly impressed here, because the shape of these legs is exactly like the animated design. The head mold is perfect Hot Rod. As far as toys go, this is most show accurate Hot Rod ever made. No complaints here.

Some might be quick to point out that Hot Rod did not have twin guns in G1 animated. In fact, he never really used guns as Hot Rod. In the Movie he simply shot lasers out of arm cannons the whole time. However, the G1 figure came with twin guns. The guns here is simply an homage to that fact, and personally I think he looks quite cool with the twin gun action. And if seeing Hot Rod with guns ain’t your thing, then don’t use them.

As far as poseability goes, this figure does a pretty good job. There’s plenty of articulation below the waist. The hips, knees, and feet are all capable of a wide array of motion. Ratchet joints are used at the hips and knees so he’s able to hold poses well. He can rotate at the waist. The head can turn from side and side and look up and down. Hand articulation is good, thumb and the rest of the hands are separate pieces like all the other MP figs. The arms suffer a little in this area because the shoulders are a little long. If you raise the arms straight up, the shoulders start to come in contact with the frame and that limits his overall arm motion. But that’s a small complaint for poseability and I feel there’s enough here to satisfy most fans.

The above pic shows off some of the gimmicks of the figure. We see Hot Rod use these features, though this fig is designed so you can use them in either robot form. The first one is the blue visor. We see Hot Rod use them as binoculars and for targeting early in the G1 movie. These visors are kept in the helmet of the fig. To display them, simply slide them down over the face. The second gimmick featured in this pic is the saw blades. You can do this on either hand. To use the saw blade, rotate the hand into the forearm at the wrist. The saw blade attachment is flipped out when you do this. The blade is a separate piece that you have to attach. There’s no place for it when its not in use.

MP figs of the Autobot leaders will always come with a Matrix. This figure continues that trend. This Matrix is smaller than the one that comes with MP Optimus Prime because the figure is smaller. It can be stored in the chest area like in the above pic. You simply flip down the lower chest panel to reveal the housing for the Matrix. You can take it out and have Hot Rod hold it as if he’s gonna open the Matrix since there is enough hand articulation designed to do just that.

Above is a pic for size comparison. The MP fig is obviously much bigger than the Classic fig. I probably should have taken pics of Hot Rod with other MPs but I didn’t have any handy.

Now let’s look at the Rodimus Prime robot mode.

Transformation from Hot Rod to Rodimus Prime is very subtle. All you have to do is the following:

  • Stretch out the legs at the hips. Look carefully at the very top portion of the legs where it’s orange, at the location connected to the waist. Notice that as Rodimus Prime, the legs are lowered more.
  • Raise the wings up a tad, and angle them in toward the center. This is hard to see from the pics (and I probably should have took some back shots). Its a very minor change. Most fans probably won’t even notice unless someone points it out.
  • Change the face plate. This is probably the most obvious difference. The figure has a cool mechanism of how to do this (again, should have took a pic). Both face plates are built into the head. To change, raise the helmet and position the face you want in front while the other one hides behind it. I know it doesn’t make much sense when I describe it in words, but believe me it’s cool.
  • Combine the two guns as one into a larger rifle. G1 Rodimus Prime used a rifle and it’s good to see the makers of MP not forget this. The concept of combining the twin pistols into a larger weapon is also ingenious. A very slick way of accounting for the weapons of both robot modes.

There you have it. That’s all there is to transforming Hot Rod to Rodimus Prime. Extending the legs out does make Rodimus Prime a little taller than Hot Rod, but not by much. The face plate change is good as the figure does look older and wiser as Rodimus Prime, and the twin guns combined as the rifle is a nice touch. But still, I don’t feel there’s enough of a difference here. I was really hoping for more distinctions between the two robot modes. Maybe some mechanics that clearly make Rodimus Prime larger. As is, the surefire way to distinguish between the two robot forms is the face. But if you’re looking at the figure from far away, it can be hard to tell if Rodimus is supposed to be Prime or not.

Poseability as Rodimus Prime is exactly the same as Hot Rod, so I won’t go into it again.

The Rodimus trailer converts to a battle station, just like the G1 toy. To do so, simply press the black button on top of the trailer and the two halves of the trailer shell will fold down (to see the back button, check out pics from Part 1). Then lift the cannon stand to an upright position and pull it up. Finally, raise the cannons themselves forward and rotate the handlebars up. A very simple transformation, but this piece feels very solid. Rodimus Prime can then ride this battle station like the pic below.

I should also point out that the trailer can hold all of Rodimus Prime’s accessories.

Unfortunately, this figure is not without its flaws. I touched on some of them already, both in this post and in Part 1. But there are others that I’ve yet to mention. Below I list them all in bullet points.

  • There are construction issues galore. The first one I will mention is the one concerning the visor gimmick. The visor has a tendency to fall down in front of Rodimus’ face when you don’t want it to. Many other fans have complained about this problem. With this issue present, I almost wish they didn’t do the visor.
  • Another construction issue: the hands are way too loose and way too weak. It’s not too bad when he’s not holding the gun, but the problem becomes obvious the moment you try it. Wrist joints have practically no support so it’s difficult to have Rodimus hold good poses with the guns. This is especially true when using the combined rifle since it’s twice as heavy. But more importantly, it’s very hard to place the guns in Rodimus’ hands. There are holes in the palms of the hands that are designed to have pegs on the guns stick in, but they just don’t work well. The guns fall off real easy if given a slight shake. I’m very disappointed with the whole hands mechanism. I almost wish they just keep it simple and do your standard fists with holes.
  • The figure is not good value. MSRP was $200. There are no diecast pieces. At first I thought the feet would be diecast, but upon closer inspection I don’t think they are. They are just high quality plastic with good paint.
  • More construction issues: the back of the figure does not hold up too well, on mine anyway. There is a tab mechanism that is supposed to lock the back in place, but more often than not it doesn’t work. On mine it’s always coming apart when I’m trying to pose him. He’s also a bit back heavy which further contributes to this problem.
  • I mentioned this in Part 1. But to re-iterate, transformation to alt mode is complex. You have to align everything just right or the alt mode won’t come together. The transformation process is not necessarily hard, but it’s very unforgiving. The slightest mis-alignment will mess up the alt mode’s appearance. And even after you do everything right, there are still gaps that appear on the sides of the vehicle. I expect more out of a MP figure.
  • Transformation to Rodimus Prime alt mode is lame, another thing I mentioned in Part 1. Having a front cab piece that folds over the figure like diaper is not my idea of transformation.
  • There’s not enough differences between Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime in their robot modes.
  • Rodimus Prime is not to scale with other MPs, with the exception of Grimlock and the upcoming smaller Optimus Prime MP. So the natural conclusion to draw here is that Takara is starting to scale them down. I guess this gripe applies to new MPs as a whole and it’s not exclusive to Rodimus Prime, but it’s something worth noting if you were expecting this figure to scale with previous MPs.

That’s a lot of gripes. MP Rodimus Prime is not a figure I can wholeheartedly recommend. Certainly not at the full MSRP of $200, which is what I paid. There are some design flaws, but what really chaps my hide are all the construction issues I listed.

At this point I should mention that Takara is working on a Version 2 of this figure. That will be the 2nd release and supposedly they will have fixed all the construction issues. My review is for the 1st release. Many retailers have the 1st version for $150 now, maybe because they know Version 2 is coming.

My final verdict is that this figure is good, but far from perfect. Rodimus is the weakest of the MP figures in my opinion, so get all the others first before you consider this one. He does have his strengths, the biggest one being the show accuracy of the figure in both alt and robot modes. But too many construction issues, combined with some questionable design choices and the high price tag, prevents me from giving this figure a strong recommendation. If possible, check out a friend’s first to see if you really want one. Or as an alternative, try to locate the US TRU exclusive version, which is only $59.99 (Rodimus only, no trailer). This version, however, has been released once already and scalpers quickly bought them all. No word on if more are coming.

In G1, Rodimus never really lived up to Optimus. It’s sad to see this trend continue, even in the Masterpiece line of TFs. But I think we should be appreciative of the fact that Takara tried something new and produced a MP Rodimus figure. Of course, right afterwards they went back to their usual ways of re-working the same old figures (eg. the new Optimus MP). C’mon Takara, enough is enough. Don’t forget that pioneering spirit that made Transformers so successful in the first place. Don’t forget to take transforming toys into new areas. Don’t forget to… transform and roll out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Hercules Combined Prototype Pic

September 17th, 2011 2 comments

As many of you already know, TFC Toys is making their own Constructicon Set called Hercules. The first figure released in the series is Exgraver (aka Scavenger), already available for some time now. I missed out on the first shipment of Exgraver since I was still on the fence over its $100 price tag, but good reviews of the figure has left me no choice but to buy. And so I pre-ordered Exgraver and now I’m waiting for the 2nd shipment to arrive. As of this writing, Heavylabor (aka Long Haul) is also available for pre-order.

If any of you are wondering how Hercules will look combined, below is a pic. Thanks to my friend Gemini for providing the pic.

I’m getting excited just looking at this. Hercules is gonna be huge! As far as scale goes, the only other fig that I recognize in the pic is Alternity Bumblebee, in the lower right. From that I can get a sense of how towering this gestault will truly be.

I don’t have Exgraver in hand, but if he’s as good as everyone claims he is, then Hercules should be a high-quality figure. Scrapper and Mixmaster appears to be the last 2 molds that TFC will produce. Their alt modes also appear in the pic and each fig is shaping up nicely I must say.

But let me point out again that it is $100 per figure! Hercules is a $600 investment. I’m already committed to Exgraver so I guess I’m in for the Long Haul (pun intended). That’s some crazy spending for a bunch of toys. But I’ll get over it. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, TF News