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Archive for February, 2017

Titans Return Trypticon

February 28th, 2017 No comments

OMG! News recently broke that Hasbro will release a new Trypticon figure in the Titans Return line! The Decepticons now finally have a city-sized bot to counter Metroplex. Early pics look nothing short of spectacular! Check it out for yourself.

Dino Mode

City Mode

Spaceship Mode

MSRP will be $149.99. Planned release is Fall 2017. I can’t wait!

Based on early pics, it’s nice to see that this new figure is so G1 accurate. The Dino mode and City mode are pure G1 homages, but updated to modern standards. I’m really diggin’ that new spaceship mode too. Modern G1 origin stories portray Trypticon as capable of space travel. In Fall of Cybertron, Trypticon was permanently reformatted to be Nemesis. So the spaceship mode makes perfect sense.

However, I always felt that, if Trypticon was gonna trans-scan to have an Earth mode, then one of his modes should be an aircraft carrier! Think about it. He would definitely have the size for it. And with all the Decepticon planes that make up the bulk of their army, having all these jets land on the carrier would be way too cool. Maybe a third party will attempt this.

Click here for more details.

Decepticons… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, TF News

Transformers Purchased in June 2016

February 22nd, 2017 No comments

My fellow TransFans, June of 2016 is a historic month! For the first time in the history of this blog, I have acquired more 3rd party items than official Takara/Hasbro items! I think something like this phenomenon was brewing for a long time now. And it finally happened. I’ll comment more on this later, but for now let’s take a look at the figs for the month.

  • Combiner Wars Groove, bbts.com, $24.99

  • ToyWorld Iron Dreg, bbts.com, $91.99

  • Fans Toys Grenadier, bbts.com, $82.99

  • Spark Toys Alpha Pack, gift

  • Warbotron Heavy Noisy, gift

First let’s look at the lone offical Hasbro purchase and get that out of the way. Combiner Wars deluxe Protectobot Groove is a shared exclusive between Amazon and some of the bigger online TF retailers. This figure is not to be confused with the legend size Groove released in 2015, which is available in mass retail. I have wrote about this before, and it’s worth stating again. For the Protectobots, Hasbro gave us deluxe Rook instead of deluxe Groove. I can only guess that this is a cheap ploy to sell more figures. Those of us that are hardcore G1 had to buy deluxe Groove the hard way. Boo Hasbro.

Deluxe Groove on its own is not a bad figure. Both modes look solid, and at first glance there’s not much to complain about. I’m fairly certain he’s a new unique mold, but he feels awfully similar to the other CW limb components. The toy itself feels quite cheap, but all CW deluxe figs share that flaw. The only real reason to get this fig is for hardcore G1-ers to complete the Protectobots with the right characters in the right scale. Below is a pic of CW Defensor formed in the proper G1 configuration.

Now onto the good stuff. First on the agenda is ToyWorld Iron Dreg, their tribute to Dinobot Slag. I believe this figure was bought back in the March of 2016. At the time, I already had Roar (Snarl) and Corelock (Grimlock), and I was so thoroughly impressed with those two that I vowed to complete the TW Dino set. So when I saw Iron Dreg at a discount in March, its purchase was a no-brainer. He wasn’t shipped and received til this month, because I wanted to ship the stack out along with Grenadier and Groove.

As of this writing now in February of 2017, I have 4 of these Dinos, the only missing one being Spear (Swoop). Though I gotta say, out of these 4, Iron Dreg is the weakest figure. I love the dino mode. It is a good modern update of Slag as a powerful metallic triceratops. The transformation and robot mode is where this figure falls a bit short in my opinion. The overall transformation schema is very close to how Slag transformed in the G1 toy. The only noticeable difference is having the rear dino legs fold inside into the lower legs in robot mode, a common motif among all modern interpretations of Dinobots. There are other minor differences, but nothing that really sticks out as a significant mechanical enhancement to the figure. Hardcore G1-ers would probably appreciate this close resemblance to what came before and see this as a plus. Normally I would wholeheartedly agree, but in the case of Iron Dreg, I feel there’s not enough updated from the G1 toy. As a CHUG update, I feel like a modern figure needs to move the toy forward in terms of engineering. It’s one thing to update aesthetics (something that fans passionately debate over), but it’s quite another to update mechanics. Everything feels too familiar. Don’t get me wrong, Iron Dreg is still a decent update of how Slag would be today. But when compared to ToyWorld’s efforts on Corelock, Roar, and Muddy (Sludge), Iron Dreg feels lazy. I guess it’s no accident that Iron Dreg was the 2nd to the last figure released in this team of 5. While we’re on that note, Spear is the last TW Dinobot released. I have read reviews that Spear is not that great of a figure, so I am debating if I want to spend around $100 to buy a bad figure, just to complete the set. First world problems – woe is me 🙁

As for Iron Dreg’s robot mode, I got the same gripe as its engineering – it feels too similar to G1. Again, Iron Dreg is still leaps and bounds superior to the G1 figure. It’s just that there’s nothing that wows me about this robot mode. All the updates that you expect to be there is there, but that’s all. TW most definitely did not go above and beyond with Iron Dreg, and the result feels like a minimally done update to Slag by 2016 standards.

I know I sound really harsh here, but I still recommend Iron Dreg if your aim is to complete the TW Dinobot set. As part of a team, he is solid enough of a figure that he warrants a purchase to occupy a space on your shelf. But as a standalone figure, I would say pass. There are other Dinos from TW that are way better. If you only wanted to get one Dinobot, you would probably get Grimlock anyway. Below is a pic of Iron Dreg in robot form.

Here is a link to the 4 TW Dinos I have thus far, in their dino modes. I love how the team looks together.

Let’s now take a look at a character that’s very dear to me: Bombshell. I have outlined how Bombshell is my very first official Transformer. And for that reason, I try to buy all the modern updates to the character. I have one set of G1 reissues, the FansProject update (as Stormbomb), and the recent Combiner Wars legend figure. I even have Hardshell, a spiritual update of the character in the TF Prime Beast Hunters line.

By the middle of 2016, many third parties have attempted MP interpretations of everyone’s favorite robotic insect pests. I read and watched some reviews, and the general consensus is that Fans Toys make the best MP Insecticons. And since Bombshell is my favorite of the 3, I bought Fans Toys Grenadier. I know many fans prefer the grey chest toon version of this figure. But I elected for the toy version with the purple chest, because that’s how the G1 toy was. I played with this figure over and over as a kid, and transformed him countless number of times that today this figure is in fairly poor condition. The G1 figure had a purple chest, and that’s what I remember, so I went for purple in Grenadier. And honestly, I didn’t even notice that Bombshell had a grey chest in the cartoon until very recently, when third parties started doing their MP Insecticons.

FT Grenadier comes packaged in robot mode. The first thing that you will notice about this figure upon taking it out of the box is that it’s got some decent heft to it! Seriously, Grenadier weighs more than most figures I own, and that’s saying a lot! Below is a pic. This figure is a wonderful representation of Bombshell in MP scale.

FT was smart enough to mold a design on Grenadier’s chest that’s a perfect fit for third party Decepticon stickers. Notice on my Grenadier I have a faction symbol on his chest, using stickers by Ocean Designs that I bought sometime in 2015. I love the look of Grenadier in robot mode. Appearance wise, he’s a perfect homage to Bombshell, and in my opinion he strikes the perfect balance between how he appears in the cartoon and how he should appear as a toy figure. He scales nicely with other MPs on the shelf. Grenadier has got some decent articulation, capable of some dynamic poses if you want to re-enact scenes of Bombshell in action.

Transformation to bug mode can be a mediocre challenge, but not for the reasons you think. As a rule, I think transforming plastic pieces is usually easier than transforming metal pieces. Transforming Grenadier, it feels like the whole figure is metal. I know that’s not true, but the figure has a fair amount of die-cast, and the plastic used is super high quality. While I applaud the materials used, transforming the figure becomes difficult. There’s very little wiggle room for error when such hard pieces on the figure are used, and thus the process becomes unforgiving. The tight joints also do not lend to an easy transformation process. However, all this is balanced out by the transformation mechanism being on the simple side, resulting in a figure of average difficulty on the challenge scale. In a nut shell, not a whole lot of steps in the transformation, and it’s obvious what the next steps should be. But performing the steps could take some work.

In beetle mode, Grenadier does not disappoint. He’s got the same weighty feel and robust construction that he has in robot mode. The appearance of the bug is tremendously faithful to his show likeness. Fans Toys even included a set of alternate legs for the bug mode. I’m not sure what they are for entirely. It’s possible that, in some episodes, Bombshell had legs that looked more like the alternate legs. I should have took a pic of Grenadier alone in beetle mode. Scroll down to the bottom of this post of Grenadier in alt mode in a group shot.

I highly recommend Grenadier. Here is a pic of Grenadier in robot mode with some of his Decepticon cohorts.

The next two figures are gifts from my wife. I have wishlists set up on my favorite TF retail sites, and she just looks at these when she buys me TFs as gifts. It’s always kind of a surprise which figs she would choose.

The first of these is from a new company called Spark Toys. They decided to do their take on a War Within Optimus Prime. Back in 2006, when it was only 2 years after I started collecting TFs again, Hasbro partnered with Galoob to release the Titanium line. The very first figure released in this line is a War Within Optimus Prime. In all fairness, that figure wasn’t bad. I liked both modes of that figure. The transformation, while simple, captured how a Optimus Prime figure should transform. The paint applications of the figure was solid. Where that figure fell apart is in the construction. The selling feature of the Titanium line is that they include die-cast parts. But they say die-cast construction is a lost art, and in the case of Titanium figures, it’s very true. Titanium OP had some of the worst joints imaginable in a TF. They could not support the weight of the die-cast pieces. The result is a figure that can’t hold any kind of pose, and picking up the figure yields a floppy mess of a Transformer.

Well, that was then. 10 years later in 2016, Spark Toys makes their attempt to do justice to War Within Optimus Prime, in MP scale no less. And since they are third party, the name they are calling OP is Alpha Pack. I’m glad to report that Spark Toys’ efforts is a success! The first thing you will notice about getting this guy out of the box is the spectacular paint job! I think of all the TFs that I have acquired, this guy may have the best paint job ever. The reds, blues, and silvers have this shiny and glossy metallic property to its appearance, and it’s great to see that the application is uniform across the figure. Front head lights and rear tail lights are all accented in bright yellow paint. The tires a made of rubber, and in vehicle mode, Alpha Pack rolls well on a flat surface.

Alpha Pack comes with 3 accessories: the famous OP rifle, an axe (not the energon variety), and their take on the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. In alt mode, Alpha Pack can carry the rifle in the top rear area of the truck. To do this, there is a nice little attachment handle that flips out of the rifle, and this can be hidden when Alpha Pack is using the rifle in robot mode. Very very cool. The Matrix can be comfortably stored in the front grill area (which becomes the chest in robot mode). But there is no room for the axe in alt mode.

Below are some pics of the alt mode of Alpha Pack. I love the look of Alpha Pack in this mode – he looks like he jumped straight out of the comics. I applied an Ocean Designs decal to him as well.

Below is a pic of Alpha Pack next to the awesome DX9 Carry (which I will go into next month).

Transformation to robot mode is not difficult at all. I’m going by all memory here, but in terms of the transformation paradigm and overall number of steps, it feels like the Alpha Pack is only slightly upgraded from the Titanium figure. The mechanics of how that’s achieved, however, is a vast improvement. Alpha Pack does not have any die-cast pieces as far as I can tell, but in opinion that’s a good thing. It makes for a more playable figure. And as far as transformation and poseability, not having die-cast poses less issues in these areas. Alpha Pack has nice joints to support the figure, but not having die-cast means it doesn’t need extra joint reinforcement to begin with.

Alpha Pack looks great in robot mode. The figure feels true to his War Within appearance. Look at the top banner of this blog for a pic of War Within OP if you are not familiar with that incarnation. The outstanding paint job shines in this mode as well. Some fans have mentioned that he looks a tad too bulky in robot mode. When standing next to MP-10, it’s hard to argue against that complaint. But personally, I kind of dig this bulky look. This is how a lot of the comic book artists choose to stylize Optimus Prime in his Cybertron days, and I am glad to see Spark Toys hold true to this design. Below is a pic of Alpha Pack next to the US Version of MP-10.

One gripe I have about Alpha Pack is the poseability. Because he is a bit on the bulky side, his range of poses are more limited. This is something to note if you are one of those collectors that love to display your figures in dynamic poses. But despite this weakness, I still highly recommend Alpha Pack. This figure has way more pluses than minuses, and if you are a fan of War Within or any of the modern G1 Transformer origin stories of their era prior to Earth, you should pick up this figure.

The other figure that I got as a gift from my wife this month is Heavy Noisy, which is Warbotron’s rendition of Brawl. This is the 2nd time that my wife has chosen to get me something from the Warbotron Combaticons (the first being Whirlwind, or Vortex). My wife knows nothing about Transformers. She picks out the figures on my wishlist based on appearance alone. She has always joked that she identifies more with the Decepticons, so perhaps she knows more than she’s letting on.

Heavy Noisy is the 4th figure I have in the Warbotron Combaticon line. I gotta say though, this one feels like the weakest out of the four so far. He’s still a decent figure, but something about him just don’t feel quite up to par with the other team members. Both modes are satisfactory. Transforming the arms into tank mode is a bit of a pain because they are so tight, and it’s even worse when you try to get them back to robot mode. I’m also not thrilled about the tank turret becoming a shield. It feels too much like puzzle forming in my book. But Heavy Noisy is not a bad figure by any means. He is solid enough to earn a place in your collection, and you still need him to form Bruticus. I’ll reserve my final thoughts for when I have all 5 members of Warbotron. As of this writing, I have purchased Air Burst (Blast Off). I should have him in hand soon.

Below I have a pic of all the 3rd party figures acquired this month in a group shot.

It’s quite a sight to see how far 3rd party products have come. I still remember my very first 3rd party figure, which was Defender by FansProject. Third parties have really stepped up their game since then. Most of the figures produced recently seem to be in really high quality. They rival anything that Hasbro/Takara has produced in the MP line, and blows away anything that you would find in retail store shelves. Third party products are not getting any cheaper, though. So many companies are getting into this game that I can’t count them anymore. Very often, multiple companies will produce their version of a particular character. As fans, I am glad I have so many options on something that Hasbro will not produce, but I also feel handicapped by all these options. Many studies have been done on the paradox of choice; that too many options can actually make a person unhappy. As for third party TFs, is too much of it presented to the buyer that decision paralysis is now an issue? I was gonna sum up my thoughts on this topic in a short paragraph here, but now I think this may deserve it’s own post.

June 2016 was a great month. So many great figures, by so many different companies. More to come soon… Transform and Roll Out.

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics