Transformers Purchased in July 2016
July 2016 is blessed with a heavy dose of TF goodness. This month marks the start of a new TF line – Titans Return! TR is Hasbro’s official update of Headmasters, and I have been looking forward to this series of figures for quite some time now. July also includes some excellent third party acquisitions.
- Titans Return Galvatron, Toys R Us, $24.99
- Titans Return Sentinel Prime, Toys R Us, $24.99
- Titans Return Skullsmasher, Toys R Us, $16.99
- Titans Return Hardhead, Toys R Us, $16.99
- Titans Return Scourge, Toys R Us, $16.99
- Titans Return Blurr, Toys R Us, $16.99
- Titans Return Stripes, Target, $10.29
- Combiner Wars Starscream, HasbroToyshop via eBay, $35.99
- Masterpiece Ramjet, tfsource.com, $179.99
- ToyWorld Muddy, tfsource.com, $80
- DX9 Carry, tfsource.com, $129.99
Quick sidebar: I started a new job in July. It was bittersweet to leave my last job, after 9 and a half years there. For reasons that I won’t go into, it became obvious that I should no longer stay at that job. I like my new job. I won’t say that it’s better than my old job in all aspects, but I’m playing the long game, and I’m confident that this new position will work out better for me in the long run. Besides, my new job allows me more time to dedicate to this blog. This was the first post after starting the new job. I have been more consistent in making new posts since then.
Those of you that read this blog regularly know that I like to hit up stores at lunch time and hunt for TFs. And just like my old job, there is also a TRU near my new job. The very first week on this new job (I think it was Day 2), I found the Titans Return figures at the TRU! I say this is a clear sign that I made the right decision in taking this job.
So let’s go over these TR figures first. I found all the Wave 1 deluxe and voyager figures in one shot. The 4 deluxe figs are Blurr, Scourge, Hardhead, and Skullsmasher. And I like them in that order, from best to worst.
Blurr is an awesome fig. The alt mode is extremely cartoon accurate in appearance. The robot mode is nice and proportionate. Transformation is smooth and intuitive, complex enough to feel like it’s not made for kids, but not too complicated that it distracts from the fun. Construction of the figure is superb, no joints too loose or too tight, and no tolerance issues. My only gripe is the color. The US version of TR Blurr is like this dark turquoise color. Why they decided to go with this color scheme is beyond me. Especially since the Japanese version (called Transformers Legends) has G1 accurate colors. For that reason, many hardcore G1-ers have decided to import the Japanese version. I may do that myself at some point. Blurr was never a Headmaster in G1. In TR, his Headmaster partner (now called Titan Masters) can fit comfortably inside the vehicle in alt mode, and attaches nicely in robot mode. All in all, TR Blurr is highly recommended, despite my gripe with the colors.
TR Scourge is a solid fig. Like Blurr, G1 Scourge was never a Headmaster. And like TR Blurr, the Japanese version of TR Scourge has a color scheme more similar to G1. TR Scourge has a much more accurate cartoon alt mode appearance over the Generations figure that was released around 2011. Sometimes in the cartoons, you see Scourge fly around in alt mode with his head exposed, on top of the spaceship. With TR Scourge, you can reproduce that look. All you need to so is stick the Titan Master in head mode on top of Scourge in alt mode. I like the robot mode as well. When compared to the robot mode of the Generations fig, it’s debatable which is more toon accrurate. They each have their pros and cons. But in my opinion there are no obvious weaknesses with TR Scourge in robot mode. He’s fun to transform, and he’s well built. Scourge became a Targetmaster in Season 4, so I guess making him a Headmaster is not that far-fetched.
Hardhead was one figure that I was really looking forward to in TR. I always regretted not buying the G1 figure, and I had many opportunities to. As a kid in the 80s with a very limited allowance, G1 Hardhead was a bit out of my price range. But I always liked his alt mode, and the robot mode wasn’t too shabby for G1 standards. I do have Hardbone, ToyWorld’s take on Hardhead. I highly recommend that figure, though as of this writing, you may want to consider Iron Will by MakeToys if you are in the market for a 3P Hardhead. Anyway, back to TR Hardhead. He’s only ok. I like the alt mode and the robot mode, but the figure feels a bit flimsy. During transformation, the figure feels extremely hollow. I think the reason for that is equal parts design and construction. And speaking of construction, Hardhead is not the best. He’s ok, but some parts are too loose for my liking, especially in the legs and hips. This figure could have turned out so good if they made some design tweaks, and if the build was improved to have better tolerances. His floppiness is so not worthy of the name Hardhead. As is, I can only recommend Hardhead to hardcore G1 devotees like myself. Casual TransFans should invest their money elsewhere.
Last of the deluxe TR figs is Skullsmasher. In G1 he was called Skullcruncher. I can only assume Hasbro renamed him for license reasons. This alligator Headmaster is probably one of the most unique in the world of TF. I mean, what other figure transforms into an alligator? And on that point, Skullsmasher is awesome. I love his alt mode. The toy designers really hit it out of the park with the look of the mechanical alligator. That alligator head mold has to be seen to be believed. Even the paint job is superb for a $15 toy. Some parts of Skullsmasher have this shiny, metallic finish that you only find in MP or 3P figures, and I commend Hasbro in this application. However, I mentioned that this is my least favorite of the 4 deluxe figs. Transformation and robot mode is where this figure falls apart, literally. Construction of the figure is beyond poor. Many joints are way too loose, and I guarantee you some limbs will fall off the first time you transform the figure. Holding action poses for Skullsmasher in robot mode is difficult if not impossible, due to the weak joints. Some glue or nail polish application in the ball joints should address this, but it’s not something I should have to do. Skullsmasher is recommend for hardcore G1 fans only.
Hasbro, IDW, Paramount, and whoever else is behind the Transformers have been super inconsistent with Sentinel Prime’s appearance. He’s a large and pinkish-red modern fire engine in the Movie-verse, a medium size blue pick-up truck in TF Animated, and (mostly) various shades of orange and yellow in different CHUG lines. Even when focused strictly on CHUG, it’s hard to pin down Sentinel’s appearance. And due to that reason, he’s the perfect character for a first lease of a new mold. Hasbro does this because hardcore fans like me would buy anything when it’s a new mold, then they repaint this mold with a more famous character later and I’ll buy it again (damn you Hasbro). In this case, TR Sentinel Prime is using a mold designed for Astrotrain, which they intend to release later. The body styling resembles Astrotrain, and he’s got a space shuttle alt mode and a train alt mode. All Hasbro had to do is repaint the mold and give the figure a new Titan Master for a different head design. Personally, I think this mold is not half bad. But it’s more appropriate to look at this mold in more detail when Astrotrain is released, so I’ll reserve final thoughts til then. But I will say this now… Sentinel Prime is way too orange. It kind of makes for a goofy looking Transformer.
Last in this TR lineup, but certainly not least… behold… Galvatron! Hasbro has not made that many direct G1 updates of Galvatron in the modern era. The only one I can think of is the deluxe Generations fig that was released in 2008, which was way too hard to transform to be any fun, and no Galvatron fig should be smaller than voyager class. Age of Extinction Galvatron doesn’t count as a real Galvatron. Combiner Wars had Galvatronus (formed with Cyclonus as the main body), but that’s not a standalone figure. So a real voyager sized, G1 inspired, and standalone Galvatron figure is a real treat! And Hasbro did not disappoint. TR Galvatron is the definitive CHUG Galvatron that we have been waiting for. The figure comes packaged in robot mode. This is hands down the most show accurate looking Galvatron produced to date (not counting 3P products). The figure in robot mode is well built and nicely proportioned. I don’t detect any construction issues, and he’s got enough articulation for some nice poses. He’s voyager size, so he scales well with other leaders of this size, such as Optimus and Cyclonus (quick sidebar: I hope Hasbro will one day make a CHUG voyager size Rodimus Prime, but that’s for another day). This Galvatron is both a Headmaster and a Triple Changer. I can see some G1 purists scoff at this change, but I personally don’t see it as a big deal. One alt mode of TR Galvatron is the futuristic Howitzer-like cannon first made famous in the G1 Movie, and the other alt mode is a jet with the huge orange cannon attached in the front. Both alt modes are pretty cool. The transformation mechanism is well designed and superbly implemented. Some parts in certain configurations could probably have been better tabbed in, but it’s a minor gripe. The Titan Master feature is ok. Hasbro chose a weird implementation where there is a helmet that flips out over Galvatron’s chest and it covers the head. I guess this was done so you can use any Titan Master figure with Galvatron. It looks ok, but I still wish he had a non-Headmaster head. I’m hoping that some third party will make a separate, G1 accurate head for TR Galvatron. I highly recommend this figure. Despite some minor negatives, it is the best official Galvatron figure made. Go out and get yours if you haven’t already.
Oh, I should mention that I also got Stripes this month. I found Stripes on the very last day of the month. Seriously, I took all the pics for the figures I got this month earlier, thinking I won’t find anymore. Then Stripes sneaks in on me on the last day! I think Stripes is a totally made up character. This mold is meant to be for Ravage, and the release of Stripes is just another quick cash grab for Hasbro (like Sentinel Prime before Astrotrain). I should have just left him on the shelf at Target, but the TF collector in me won’t let me. I’ll go more into Stripes when I do my purchase post for next month. I found the other 2 figures in the same wave as Stripes next month, so it makes more sense to mention him then.
By the middle of 2016, the number of CW figs have dwindled. TR is now in full swing, and that is now the active line considered to be CHUG, catered to mature, adult collectors of TF. Nevertheless, some CW figs are still out there. And here is one that I did not purchase during it’s initial release: Leader class Starscream.
I love Starscream. There is no other character like him in the entire TF universe. I try to get all Starscream figures produced in MP or CHUG form. I bought CW Leader class Starscream one day before I started my new job (on Hasbrotoyshop via eBay). This Starscream is an exact repaint of Leader Thundercracker that came before it. And for that reason, I won’t go into too much detail. I don’t like paying full price for something so similar, so I waited for a bit of a sale before committing to buy. But know that he does come with the bling-bling crown he wore during his gaudy coronation ceremony, shortly before being vaporized by Galvatron, in the 1986 movie.
The lone MP figure this month is Ramjet. And I’ll get right to it… he’s disappointing. I wanted to like this figure, I really did. Hasbro and Takara have pumped out so many repaints of the 2nd generation MP seeker, and like an addict I bought all the US versions (including Thundercracker, Acid Storm, and Sunstorm). And I think that’s part of the problem… Hasbro/Takara has used this mold way too many times. I have been told that, when a mold gets used for manufacturing repeatedly, the later batches of figures comes out vastly inferior in quality to the early batches. I don’t exactly understand the specifics of why that is. But many industry insiders have assured me that this is a common problem. In the case of Ramjet, I understand that he’s reworked quite a bit off the standard MP Seekers. But most of it is still the same, and I’m betting this mold is getting seriously old and worn down that the end product is just one lousy mess.
The real problem with the figure is in the construction (probably from the bad mold I just described). It’s most evident in the robot mode. Most of the joints are way too loose, especially in the legs. The arms ain’t much better. Supposedly, this figure was already delayed because of serious issues with the shoulder joints. Takara recalled the figure from the retailers, and they went back to the factory to be repaired. I don’t know, in the end they’re still kinda bad. I would hate to see how this was before the repairs. In robot mode, this figure does not feel like a cohesive whole in the least. The overall design also don’t help matters. This mold was meant to be for the standard Seekers, and modifying it for Conehead Seekers feels like a tacked on design choice. The head transformation is bizarre. The jet nosecone kind of just hangs off the back of the robot mode, and there’s nowhere to plug it like the standard Seekers. Coneheads have their wings on their legs, and doing that in this mode, the robot mode looks too bulky below the waist. Combine that with the awful construction and you get one jumbled disarray of a figure. Takara took the cheap route and decided to rework an existing mold. They should have re-designed the Coneheads from the ground up.
I do like MP Ramjet’s alt mode. It looks show accurate. Some of the transforming mechanism is worthy of recognition. I like how the missiles cover over the guns. Some of the wing and thrusters additions are quite neat. Everything else is what you have seen before. Below are some pics of the alt mode, since this is the better mode.
MP Ramjet is not at all recommended. The nice alt mode is not enough to save it from the painfully crappy robot mode. And when I think that I paid $179.99, it really hurts. You may want to consider ToyWorld Combuster (or Jets) if you are in the market for a MP sized Ramjet.
To this day I still don’t have a 2nd generation MP Starscream. I missed out on MP-11 when it was first released, and I never found the TRU exclusive US version in store. But I got a MP-11 re-issue on pre-order. I sincerely hope that this re-issue will be better built. Though I have heard that the TRU version is horribly flawed in construction… so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The first of two awesome 3P figures this month is ToyWorld Muddy, their homage to Sludge. Just like Iron Dreg last month, I also bought Muddy on sale, and he was shipped to me this month. Out of the 4 TW dinos that I now have, Muddy is my favorite. This may be because I never had a Sludge figure. But Muddy is genuinely impressive. The dino mode is fantastic. I love how he looks as a brontosaurus. In robot mode he looks cool too. I had reservations at first, because I thought having the dino front legs hiding in the wings in robot mode would look weird. But having the figure in hand, it really doesn’t look bad at all. And because of that design, the transformation from dino to robot works really well. He’s fun to pick up and play. The transformation is not difficult by any means, but at the same time complex enough for older collectors. One common gripe among fans is that his sword is too small. Yes that is a legitimate complaint, but seeing as how it’s made to compact itself into the neck in dino mode, I’m willing to give TW a pass. Having room to account for all accessories in every mode is always a plus in my book. Like I said already, I think Muddy is the best TW Dinobot out of the 4 that I have. Corelock (Grimlock) has an awesome T-Rex mode, but his robot mode leaves a bit to be desired. Roar (Snarl) is a good figure, but his tail keeps coming off during transformation. And as for Iron Dreg (Slag), it feels like TW didn’t update him enough for today’s standards. Muddy is the only one out of the four where I don’t detect any obvious weaknesses. I like both his modes, he’s well built, transformation is fun, and he’s a good modern update that will do Sludge proud. Muddy is a figure that belongs in your collection.
I reserved the best for last. My fellow TransFans… I am proud to give you (drum roll please)… Carry! Yeah, that name doesn’t do it for me either. But this figure takes 3P TF engineering to new levels. Carry is a homage to Rodimus Prime by DX9. I touched on this figure when I did my purchase post for June 2016 (pictured with Alpha Pack). Hasbro/Takara has given us only one Masterpiece Rodimus Prime figure (MP-09). That figure was met with mixed reactions from fans. Earlier in 2016 there was a MP release for Hot Rod. This figure is awesome, but it’s Hot Rod and not Rodimus Prime. So there is certainly room on my shelf for a 3P Rodimus Prime in MP scale. DX9 answered the call… and the result is amazing. Both modes are great representations of Rodimus in Prime form. He scales nicely with other MPs. Construction of the figure is nothing short of superb. And the transformation engineering of this figure is where DX9 Carry really shines. It is times like these that I wish I did video reviews, because writing about the transformation really does not do it justice. DX9 implemented some very clever mechanisms in the way that Carry converts from vehicle to robot and back. The process is smooth and fluid. The mechanics proceed logically from one step to the next. The transformation is complex yet intuitive. There are lots of steps in the process, but you really don’t feel stuck at any one time in the overall paradigm. He’s a great figure to just pick up and play, and at the same time there’s enough going on that this figure easily classifies as MP. And unlike MP Rodimus Prime, Carry is able to transform from robot to truck without external attachments. The entire truck is wholly contained within the figure. And what’s more amazing is the size differential between robot and alt mode. Carry in alt mode is only about voyager size, but in robot mode he is fully MP size. Some fans have complained that he’s too small in alt mode, but I see this more as testament to the great engineering of the figure. Another minor nitpick from some fans is how his wings appear in robot mode. Personally it doesn’t bother me. Carry comes with a Targetmaster figure. This fig is ok, but in gun mode he can be too heavy for Carry to hold properly. I don’t think of Rodimus Prime as a Targetmaster anyway, so I usually have Carry use some other weapon. The rifle from CW Silverbolt is a good substitute. I got Carry on sale at $129.99, but even at the full retail of $169.99, he’s worth every penny. I give Carry the highest possible recommendations.
Since there are so many TFs this month, I thought it would be fun to take some group pics. Check them out below! (And like I mentioned already above, no pics of Stripes. He’s coming next month… promise.)
Titans have returned! Transform and Roll Out!