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Archive for June, 2018

Transformers Rub On Faction Decals, More Pics

June 30th, 2018 1 comment

I have previously reviewed these awesome faction rub on decals for your Transformers. Today I’m gonna show off some more pictures of them being used on my 3rd party and 4th party transforming figures.


Kubianbao MP-10V Optimus Prime – white backing
 


Mech Planet Hot Soldiers Bumblebee – clear backing
 


Fans Toys Mercenary – clear backing
 

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Pics

Transformers Purchased in July 2017

June 26th, 2018 No comments

Only 2 Transformers were purchased in July of 2017. This is the lowest purchase count in a month since March of 2014. But what was lacking in quantity, this month makes up for in quality.

  • Titans Return Seaspray, Walmart, $9.84

  • Fans Toys Stomp, thechosenprime.com, $199.99

I already reviewed Titans Return Seaspray. He’s a terrific little figure that all G1-ers need in their collection.

Now let us focus on Stomp, a 3rd party Masterpiece interpretation of Dinobot Sludge. Stomp is produced by Fans Toys, and Fans Toys is probably the highest regarded 3rd party toy company in the TF fandom. And I’ll get straight to it: Stomp is an awesome figure! FT hit this one out of the park and delivered a MP Sludge figure that exceeded all expectations.

Stomp is the 4th Dinobot figure I have from FT. FT calls this line of figures the Iron Dibots. The first one I got was Scoria, their tribute to Slag. Scoria was pretty good for it’s time as the first MP style Dinobot by a 3rd party. But it is kind of lacking by today’s standards. And from a build and engineering perspective, Scoria was not without its issues. Many have complained about loose shoulder joints. Mine is ok, but I don’t like how Scoria’s hip joints droop down when the figure is picked up, because the weak hip joints cannot support the heavy die-cast legs. Next I got Sever (Snarl) and Soar (Swoop). These 2 were much better. I hold both of these in very high regard, close to TF perfection. Now I’m happy to add Stomp to the mix.

Like I mentioned already, Stomp is awesome, like his brothers Sever and Soar. Stomp deserves a review of its own, but I will mention here some quick points on why you need Stomp in your collection.

  • Look great in both modes! Robot mode is well proportioned, and dino mode is large and intimidating.
  • G1 accurate transformation. Sometimes 3P takes too many liberties in the way a figure transforms. I give that points for creativity, but some may consider it straying too far from the original source. Stomp’s transformation scheme is identical to that of G1 Sludge. Obviously it’s implemented with modern day engineering, which takes me to my next point…
  • Solid build and engineering. It seems that FT took all the lessons learned from the previous FT Iron Dibots, and improved on their design choices in how Stomp is constructed. The drooping hips/legs issue I mentioned for Scoria, none of that applies to Stomp. There is a spring tabbing mechanism that locks Stomp’s hips into place in robot mode. So despite the heavy legs, no drooping occurs. Bravo Fans Toys!
  • Quality materials used for the figure.
  • Comes with working LED blaster and sword.
  • Premium paint job.

There are other pros about the figure, but I’ll stop here. Check out some pics for yourself.

Stomp comes packaged in robot mode.

With his pal Soar.

Stomp in his awesome dino mode.

With his creator Wheeljack.

With ToyWorld Muddy.

Now I am debating if I should buy Fans Toys Grinder (Grimlock) to complete the set of FT Iron Dibots. I have MP Grimlock, but he’s too small when scaled next to the Iron Dibots. I can’t have have the leader of the Dinobots be the smallest one!

And I’m also considering getting the next evolution in Scoria, which is Perfect Fusion Cesium. As far as I know, Perfect Fusion is a spin-off sister company of Fans Toys. PF took everything wrong with Scoria, went back to the drawing board, and produced another version of MP-style Slag called Cesium that fixes everything wrong with Scoria. I am tempted to buy Cesium. However, in robot mode he seems to big. In fact, he is even a smidge taller than Grinder. For that reason I am hesitant. At $139.99, Cesium is a bit cheaper than the Iron Dibots (usual MSRP is $199.99). I may get him. Or not.

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics

Titans Return Seaspray Quick Review

June 20th, 2018 No comments

All G1 TransFans need no introduction to Seaspray. He is perhaps the only Transformer ever to have a hovercraft alt mode (not counting characters that are repaints of Seaspray in any one of his toy molds). G1-ers also immediately recognize his unique gurgle speech.

Titans Return finally gave us a modern update of this famous Minibot.

Seaspray in modern form and holding true to his G1 aesthetics.

Back of Seaspray is pretty clean. No nasty kibble here.

Helmet is modeled after the G1 animation model, while the eyes are more G1 toy accurate. Probably a good thing, the Seaspray cartoon eyes on a toy might bug me.

Articulation is limited, but decent for a $10 figure.

Holding a random weapon that belongs to another Transformer. Big prizes to anyone out there hardcore enough to identify the weapon.

With G1 Seaspray.

Notice in the above 3 shots, Seaspray has a module attached to his chest. The module can be seen packaged in the upper right corner (first pic). I guess you can detach this for a more accurate animation look, or attach it to look more like the G1 toy. I’m not sure if there exist other reasons for this extra attachment.

Transformation from robot to hovercraft follows almost the exact same scheme as G1, so I won’t describe it too much. The only real difference is that, for the alt mode, the arms point backwards in TR, as opposed to forwards like in G1.

Rear view of the hovercraft. Those are working spinning propellers.

A Titan Master can ride inside in alt mode.

With G1 Seaspray.

Seaspray with his Season 2 Minibot cohorts in modern form.

Go Seaspray! Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

The Last Knight Nitro Quick Review

June 14th, 2018 No comments

Figures from The Last Knight are fairly unremarkable as a whole. But some stars stand out among all this mediocrity. Voyager class Nitro is one of them.

In the movie, his name is Nitro Zeus. For the toy, he’s just Nitro. I don’t know why the name is shortened. But he is one of the few figures you should have for your TLK collection.

Let’s take a look. I’m starting in robot mode because that’s how he’s packaged.

Nitro in your standard A stance.

He’s capable of some dynamic action poses.

Striking another pose.

Up close face shot.

A little known feature is that Nitro’s head can be removed, and any standard Titan Master can be inserted and used as the head. Here I have the head of Twin Twist on Nitro’s body. Why Hasbro saw fit to give us this feature in this TLK figure is a mystery, but I suppose it’s kind of a cool gimmick.

Rear view. He’s got some junk on him. I wish the rear tail fin hanging off his ass can be folded upwards towards his back.

Missiles on the top of the backpack can be removed.

Transformation to jet mode can be challenging for the casual TF fans out there. I have transformed Nitro to jet mode twice. On my first attempt, I needed the instructions. But even with that, the conversion process proved demanding. I remember having a hard time aligning the legs. On my 2nd attempt, it felt just as difficult, but in a different area. I had to resort to watching YouTube vids of other fans explaining the process. Turn out I had the shoulder of the jet nosecone arm configured directly reversed from how it should be. On yeah, Nitro is a non-symmetrical Transformer (like many of the motorcycle figures). I have always felt that non-symmetrical TFs are in general more difficult than symmetrical ones. If I was compiling a top 10 most difficult list today, I am really tempted to put Nitro on there.

When done right, Nitro is a fantastic looking jet. Look at the first pic below. Yes the transformation is hard, but the end result is so worth it. Everything comes together nicely. In fact, if something doesn’t come together nicely, you know you have done something wrong.

Jet looks beautiful from the rear.

A Titan Master can sit in the cockpit. Very cool. We already saw that Titan Masters can be used as heads in robot mode. Nitro can be a full fledged Titans Return figure if Hasbro chose to repaint the mold and include a repainted Titan Master.

Underneath the Jet. Nitro packs in rather well. Overall shape is clean without too much bulk.

Nitro with Studio Series Starscream. They are both Voyager class. Notice SS figs got much smaller, but that’s a topic for another day.

Hasbro saw fit to repaint this mold as Studio Series Thundercracker, SS-08. That was my final purchase from Toys R Us before it went belly up.

Go Nitro! Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Transformers Purchased in June 2017

June 9th, 2018 1 comment

The purchases for June 2017 were all part of a single wave.

  • Titans Return Sergeant Kup, Target, $15.29

  • Titans Return Perceptor, Target, $15.29

  • Titans Return Topspin, Target, $15.29

  • Titans Return Quake, Target, $15.29

All figures are deluxe class, from Titans Return. All have Titan Masters that transform into the head (or Headmasters, if you prefer G1 terminology).

Kup

The last time we got a Kup figure in the CHUG-verse was back in 2011, so we are long overdue for an update. We already got updates to Hot Rod and Blurr in Titans Return, so Kup should come as no surprise.

I like TR Kup. For starters, this Kup has an alt mode that is most G1 accurate since the original G1 figure. I like the 2011 Generations Kup, but that figure’s alt mode did not resemble G1 Kup’s alt mode in the least. TR Kup has ample room up front to fit the Titan Master in vehicle mode, and the twin weapons can be stored on the bed of the pickup.

TR Kup offers one of the more refreshing transformations that we got in recent years for a retail deluxe figure. The leg transformation is worth mentioning. The truck side panels open up, and folds upward to form the legs. It’s very cool and very original. Arms are tucked behind the cab in alt mode. The cab area collapses on itself to form the torso in robot mode.

Fans will undoubtedly compare this Kup to 2011 Generations Kup. It’s hard to say which is superior. They each have their pros and cons. TR Kup has a more show accurate alt mode and an overall cleaner design. Generations Kup has a more show accurate head mold (since he’s not a Headmaster). Other aspects are up for debate. I would keep both Kups in my collection.

Perceptor

I think this may be the first time we got a Perceptor that transforms into a microscope since G1 (not counting G1 re-issues). In TR, Perceptor too is a Headmaster, but it doesn’t bother me.

I like the microscope alt mode. It doesn’t really look like a real microscope in my opinion, but the G1 toy had the same issue as well. I believe TR Perceptor has another alt mode where he’s a tank, with seat area for the Titan Master. I didn’t try this though.

Transformation to robot mode is fairly simple. If you look at the two pics, you can kinda see how he would transform. And you would be right. There aren’t any hidden surprises to this transformation. And that’s not a bad thing. Not every Transformer needs to have original engineering mechanisms. Sometimes sticking to the tried and true is best, if it’s executed well. Perceptor comes with a long rifle type weapon, complete with built-in gun rest. I think this totally works. In battle, I see Perceptor as the type that would stay back and pick off his enemies from long distance with extreme precision.

I would say this is the most show accurate G1-style Perceptor that we have got. For that reason, I recommend TR Perceptor. He is a bit flimsy in construction in my opinion, but nothing here is so bad that it’s a deal breaker. Fans would undoubtedly compare TR Perceptor with Generations Perceptor (who also was released at the same time as Generations Kup). TR Perceptor is way more show accurate, but there are things I like about Generations Perceptor too. They both have a place in your collection.

Topspin

TR Topspin is my favorite figure this month. I am not sure if Hasbro has released any direct updates to this character since G1. This may be the first time, and that’s a treat. Topspin and his near-identical clone Twin Twist were Jumpstarters in G1. The gimmick of this little known subgroup is that they have pull-back motors and they auto-transform. You start in alt mode, lay them on a flat surface, pull back, release, then watch them roll forward and automatically “jump” and transform into their robot modes. Yeah, it’s a crazy gimmick that only kids would dig, but it represents toy technology that was popular back in the 80s.

Because of this gimmick, the Jumpstarters had very simple transformations, even for G1 standards. There are really only two steps to the transformation: legs rotate forward by 180 degrees, and stand the figure. That’s it. Transformation is achieved automatically through the gimmick. I imagine modern day 2-Step Changers are highly similar, but I don’t have them so I can’t say for sure.

The Jumpstarters never got any love in the G1 cartoons. I imagine they were last minute additions in Season 2 in the toy line, so they got left out in the cartoon planning. The toys themselves were also forgettable to the more mature collectors. I’m gonna guess that, for these reasons, Hasbro never saw fit to update them. Until now.

And what a update it is. Using toy technology available today, Topspin is a very impressive figure from a engineering perspective. Yet he still retains that 80s futuristic and blocky robot aesthetics. This is definitely a figure catered to fans that grew up with robots in the 80s, and I commend Hasbro for giving us something so advanced and so nostalgic at the same time.

The Jumpstarters are supposed to be futuristic or Cybertronian in their alt modes. Topspin is a jet, while Twin Twist is a drill tank. The G1 toys were near clones of each other (think G1 Bumblebee and Cliffjumper), and in TR that still applies. I like Topspin’s alt mode. It’s unmistakably Topspin, there are no other alt modes that resemble this in the entire TF Universe. Colors and paint job are superb. A Titan Master can sit comfortably in the cockpit. The twin guns can be stored underneath the wings.

Transformation is where this figure truly shines. In G1 it was super simple, but in TR it is 10 times more advanced. The legs come apart where they are in alt mode, and then they are extended Combiners Wars style. Flip out the feet and collapse the rear leg panels. Fold the knee panels forward. Arms come out from the sides of the vehicle alt mode. Extend the arms and flip out the fists. Rotate the wings back. And here’s the part where it’s really cool: rotate the entire chest assembly 180 degrees, so the legs are now directed the other way. Open the cockpit and remove the Titan Master, then fold the front nose assembly into the cockpit area. Then close the cockpit. Rotate figure at the waist. Transform the Titan Master to head and insert. I’m glossing over the process very quickly, but you can already see it’s a pretty involved transformation for a retail deluxe figure. I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult by any means, but the number of steps required does surprise you. In some way I say this is the best kind of Transformer as a toy: involved enough for the mature collector, but not difficult or frustrating.

In robot mode, TR Topspin is a perfect homage to G1 Topspin. His overall appearance is trademark Topspin. Articulation of the figure is decent, and overall construction is solid. Topspin and Twin Twist both had very blocky heads in G1, so as Headmasters, it works. I cannot recommend this figure enough. Get yours now. You may have purchased Apex and Geminus by Mech Ideas. I like those figures too, but I would still get TR Topspin and Twin Twist if you got those 2. Mech Ideas and TR are separate efforts on updating the Jumpstarters, and both efforts have produced quality figures worthy of inclusion in your collection.

Quake

Kup, Perceptor, and Topspin were bought from Target on the same trip. I initially did not wanna buy Quake, because he’s a repaint of Titans Return Hardhead. And Quake is one of those repaints that make little sense. In G1, Quake’s tank mode is that of a modern day battle tank (Leopard 2), and this TR futuristic/Cybertronian tank mold used for Quake is unique to Hardhead. Plus Quake was a Targetmaster, not a Headmaster. Using this mold for Quake reeks of cash-grab desperation.

Still, the G1 purist in me got to me. I have G1 Quake, so I figured what the hell. One more repaint won’t hurt. So I went back to Target a few weeks later and obtained Quake. See my review of Titans Return Hardhead for my thoughts on this figure. I think Quake is a bit better constructed than Hardhead, at least on my copy. He doesn’t feel as flimsy.

I give Quake a mediocre rating. If you didn’t get Hardhead, or if you simply have a thing for Quake, then go ahead and buy this figure. Otherwise this is an optional purchase.

Below are group photos of all the purchases this month.

I should mention that there is another deluxe figure as part of this wave. That figure is Krok, a repaint of Skullsmasher. I was not terribly impressed with Skullsmasher, and I never even heard of Krok the character, so I left this on the shelf.

Grades for the month.

Recommended:

  • Topspin
  • Kup
  • Perceptor

Mediocre:

  • Quake

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics

Goodbye Toys R Us

June 7th, 2018 No comments

As a TF collector, it’s no accident that I would frequent Toys R Us. As of this writing, Toys R Us is no more in the United States. It’s sad to see the giant toy chain go under.

I moved to the Unites States in 1984. And on the very first ride from the airport to where we would live, I saw a giant Geoffrey sign right on the side of the highway. I didn’t know any English at the time, but I would very quickly learn later that it’s a toy store. And what a toy store it was. Coming from Taiwan, the toy stores at the time were all small mom-and-pops, or a small section in a department store. There was nothing in the scale of Toys R Us. First time I went into one, I found myself in complete shock and awe. Here I was in a store the size of a present day Walmart, with nothing but toys! God bless America!

Growing up in the 80s, I loved going to TRU. I don’t care how down I was. If my parents said we were going to TRU, that lifted my spirits almost immediately. I stopped playing with toys in the traditional sense starting in the late 80s, and moved on to video games. But this still made me visit TRU on occasion, going straight to their electronics section. In 2004, my interest in TF rekindled, and this only made the visits to TRU more frequent. As a TF hunter I made visits at least once a week. Sometimes twice a week. Especially if I’m bored at lunch (I’m lucky to always have a TRU store near work). Most of the time I wouldn’t find anything new. But that didn’t make me stop visiting. I’m filled with anticipation every time I hit up a TRU. In some ways I find the trips therapeutic. There has definitely been some days when work is pissing me off, and I needed a quick getaway from the office to recharge my batteries. A trip to TRU would always do the trick. I may not find anything, but for me, it’s calming just to be in the toy aisles, with nothing but me and my beloved Transformers.

As much as I love TRU, one thing I never liked about the store is that nothing is ever on sale. Sure they got “sales” every now and then, but it’s all the crap you don’t want. All the TF figures I bought there were all at regular price. If something was on sale, it’s only because it was shelf-warming for months and they had trouble moving the merchandise. It was the same for video games. Other retailers (like Target or Best Buy) would sometimes have real sales for just released games, and TRU never does. As time went, it was clear that TRU was not competitive in its pricing. In some ways the bankruptcy does not surprise me.

My daughter was born in late 2017. And upon hearing the store closure news in early 2018, I thought about taking her to TRU, so she could see it for the first and last time before it’s gone for good. When TRU had their inventory sale, I went on the first day of the sale by myself after work. It was such madhouse in the store that you could hardly get around the aisles. And the sales weren’t even that good. TRU was having a fire sale without the fire sale prices. The lone purchase I made for TF Studio Series Thundercracker was at regular price, and I only did so because that was a TRU exclusive. The checkout took forever, with so many shoppers. The store employees seemed less than helpful. They were either temps that knew nothing and were brought on board just to help with the sale, or long time staffers that appeared angry that the store is closing and not motivated to do their best work. I went back there the next day, trying to grab another Thundercracker for my buddy Gemini. It was all gone. There were even more shoppers, and I didn’t see any new sales. After these 2 trips, I decided not to take my daughter to TRU. The toy chain has such fond memories for me, but it’s not the same now. Fighting through the masses just to look at the store and not buy anything seems like a waste of time. She’s not gonna remember this anyway.

In 2017, I bought some items from TRU, but less than previous years. There was Stormshot in January and Sixshot in March. There was Roadburn in May, like I mentioned in my last post. Around July, my wife and I happened to be near a TRU, so I decided to stop by to look for some TFs. I found nothing. But we happened to wonder into the electronics section, and we saw that they had 2 units of Nintendo Switch! The Switch was rare at the time, so I got one along with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In December I made 2 purchases online from toysrus.com, for Titans Return Arcee and Grotesque. And around March of this year, I made the purchase for Thundercracker that I already mentioned. These were my last purchases at Toys R Us.

Toys R Us’s demise is a perfect storm of changing shopping trends coupled with its own failure to evolve. My very first TF purchases in 2004 were online from Toys R Us, but fulfilled through Amazon. I know they had tried to do their own online operations before that, but failed horribly and had to resort to using Amazon. It was too late by the time TRU got their online act together. By then they had already racked up massive debt. Older toddlers were also playing with electronic app based games in addition to traditional toys. And I already mentioned their non-competitive pricing. None of this is a recipe for success.

It’s unclear to me what this will do to all the Toys R Us stores around the world. I know all stores are closing in the UK. I’m glad I was able to see a Paris store and a Shanghai store. I regret not going to a store in Sydney, but the current rumors are that Toys R Us will stick around in Australia.

Goodbye Toys R Us. When life kicked me down, you were there to pick me up.

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized