Archive for the ‘Toy Reviews’ Category

My TF Legend Collection

November 27th, 2012 2 comments

Legend class figures are some of the smallest figures that Hasbro makes. Sometimes they’re called Legion figures. Since they’re so small, I put them all in one box, regardless of which series they came from. This way it’s easy for me to find them. They are all super easy to transform. I usually don’t buy them, but they can be a fun distraction every now and then. So I was kind of surprised when I took them all out and see that I have this many. Guess they add up like everything else.

From left to right:
Back row: Vehicon, Motorbreath, Thundercracker, Megatron
Middle row: Dualor, Warpath, Trailcutter, Gold Bumblebee, Beachcomber, Prowl
Front row: Wheelie, Optimus Prime, Hoist, Bumblebee, Brawn, Bluestreak

Some random thoughts in bullet points:

  • I recommend all of these, except Vehicon and Dualor. Deluxe Vehicon is way better, both FE and RID. Dualor is just a waste of space.
  • As of this writing, 4 of these are readily available: Thundercracker, Motorbreath, Hoist, and Bluestreak. Get to your Toys R Us store if you want them.
  • For a lot of these figs, I’ve only seen them once. They include: Optimus Prime, Wheelie, yellow Bumblebee, Brawn, Beachcomber, Warpath, and Dualor. It’s safe to say they’re rare.
  • The only one I would say is not that rare is Gold Bumblebee, though I think I’ve only seen him like 3 or 4 times.
  • As a G1 purist, I would say the must gets are Wheelie, both Bumblebees, Brawn, Warpath, and Beachcomber. Their small size accurately reflects how they were in G1. Though it’s worth noting that Warpath and Bumblebee have more impressive Deluxe versions too.
  • For the time being, I would also get Trailcutter and Hoist, just because these are the only way to get CHUG representations of the characters. I’m still holding out hope that Hasbro will give us Deluxe versions of these guys. Then the Autobot cars from the first 2 seasons would be CHUG complete in Deluxe or larger (sans Skids, but I don’t care much for Skids).
  • Prime, Megs, Thundercracker, Prowl, and Bluestreak are all good figs. But their larger counterparts in CHUG are way better. And as Legend they make no sense scale wise. So only get them if you’re hardcore or a completest.
  • Conspicuously missing is Cosmos. He’s super rare.

Bluestreak: Hoist, it’s your turn to mow the lawn.
Hoist: No way dude! I did it last week.

Legend figures… Transform and Roll Out.

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Masterpiece Sideswipe Robot Mode Review

November 19th, 2012 4 comments

I’m procrastinating way too much, but today I’m finally getting to the robot mode review of Masterpiece Sideswipe. The alt mode review appears here. But before I go any further, let me just say this now: I am impressed with MP Sideswipe! IMPRESSED! Just go out and get one now. Don’t even waste time reading the rest of this review. But if you like to know why I like this figure so much, I will explain why.

First things first though. There are some things I need to re-state or correct from the alt mode review, so let me do them now. First, I mentioned that the tires are made of rubber, but they are actually high quality plastic. The paint job on them is so good though, and something about the material of that plastic makes them feel like rubber if you are not paying careful attention. I would’ve liked to see them use real rubber, but this works too.

Another thing I mentioned in the alt mode review is that there are other pieces besides the tires that will rub the surface. After transforming Sideswipe to robot mode and back, I find this to be less of an issue. You will still need to line up everything just right, but it’s not too tough to position everything so there’s enough bottom clearance.

The last thing I want to point out about the alt mode is you can attach the missile launcher on the car if you want. The gun can then be attached to the side of the launcher. Sideswipe is now ready for some serious drive-by. I think he looks better in alt mode without it, but it’s nice to see the toy designers account for the weapons. There is a swivel joint mechanism for the missile launcher attachment, so you can angle the whole thing up or down if you wanted to.

OK, now on to the robot mode. Check out Sideswipe in all his G1 robot glory.

Now is that Sideswipe or is that Sideswipe? This is the ultimate interpretation of G1 Sideswipe. Masterpiece figures are known for detail and show accuracy and this figure certainly does not disappoint. The designers of this figure must have looked at G1 cartoon screenshots over and over, and came up with a figure that captures Sideswipe’s look down to the last detail. They say life imitates art and vice versa. In this case, it’s toy imitating cartoon imitating toy. G1 Sideswipe’s cartoon appearance, though based on the G1 figure, is way more enhanced than what the toy was really capable of. Masterpiece toy designers have made that interpretation a reality.

Detail on this figure is nothing short of amazing. Take a look at Sideswipe’s face. That is pure G1. I thought the face mold on the Generations figure was good, but this blows it out of the water. This has got to be one of the most show accurate face molds I have ever seen, on any TF. Paint job on the face is also a nice silver, good to see that Takara wasn’t afraid to splurge for this figure. The chest is your typical Sideswipe car hood. That is probably the most iconic thing about Sideswipe’s robot mode, so they be crazy if they changed it.

I really like the look of Sideswipe’s limbs. Again, it’s as if the toy designers reproduced his cartoon appearance exactly. I won’t describe it too much. Just look at the pics. Same goes for the lower abdomen and hips area. I’m amazed at how faithfully they can get Sideswipe to look while the figure still transforms.

Speaking of transformation, the overall transforming schema is fairly similar to G1 (hood becomes chest, rear of car form the legs, arms at the sides, etc). But they made some heavy improvements to how everything is implemented. Hood of the car still folds down to form the chest (no surprise here). But the top of the head folds back in alt mode, like it’s sliced off. This allows for more room to store the head, since the alt mode is so flat. The arms are still tucked to the sides of the car, like G1. But they are angled more inwards, and the door pieces don’t account for as much of the robot mode, resulting in less kibble for the arms. The biggest transformation difference from G1 is probably in the legs. In G1 you simply pull them out. For the MP, the mechanism is much more complex. In fact, in the instructions, most of it devotes to how the legs are transformed. MP Sideswipe’s legs use more of a rotate-at-the-knees mechanism that we’ve seen used heavily in G1, like G1 Windcharger or Gears. However there are other pieces at the legs that needs to be transformed as well, resulting in a refreshing take on a familiar scheme.

Overall, this transformation is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. MP figures usually don’t disappoint in terms of the transforming mechanism. However, often times, the transformation is complex to the point where it takes the fun out of playing it as a toy (think MP Megatron or MP Rodimus). Sideswipe do not share that problem. The transformation of this figure is challenging enough to be worthy of MP, but at the same time still fun when played with as a toy. In my opinion, Takara has achieved the perfect balance of transformation complexity and fun in MP Sideswipe. This is very rarely done in the world of TFs. And let’s not forget, this is a figure that looks good in both modes. Usually figures that look this good does not transform. So when you consider a transforming mechanism that is ingenious yet intuitive, coupled with a alt mode that Lamborghini felt confident in branding its logo, and with a super show accurate robot mode added in for good measure, you realize what a gem you have on your hands.

Poseability of the figure also does not disappoint. He’s got moving joints just about everywhere: head/neck, shoulder, elbows, hips, knees, feet, and hands. He’s capable of some really good poses. And for once, I like how the hands are implemented on MP. Usually for MP, they try to make articulation down to the fingers. I know there are fans out there that enjoy that feature, but I’m not one of them. Usually too much finger articulation translates to poor holding of weapons by the figure, so I’m glad Takara chose a simpler mechanism here. The non-thumb fingers will move as one piece, but that’s about it. In my opinion, that’s enough.

Articulation would mean nothing without proper construction. I’m glad to report that MP Sideswipe has no construction issues whatsoever. All joints will move like you expect them to, nothing too tight and nothing too loose. In alt mode everything comes together nicely, and in robot mode he’s able to hold poses without problems of any kind. I wish all TFs were this well built.

Here’s a shot of the back of Sideswipe. As you can see, he’s really kibble free. Some might argue there’s a bit of kibble on the back, but in my opinion this is nothing to complain about.

Now for some extra gimmicks on this figure. He comes with pile drivers that you can attach in robot mode. Just flip the hands back into the forearms and attach them. We saw him do this in one episode. Very show accurate, though why someone like Sideswipe would have pile drivers is beyond me. Also, the missile launcher can be attached on either the right or left shoulder. I stuck it on the left since that’s how he had them on the show. In robot mode the missile launcher can be angled up or down, just like alt mode.

Here are some size comparison shots. Sideswipe scales well with the newer MPs. I also placed them next to some CHUG figures, so those of you who only has CHUG can see how he compares.

Sideswipe: Hey Grimlock, I got the MP treatment just like you did.
Grimlock: Me Grimlock still look better!

MP Sideswipe is good value. I got mine for about $75 shipped from Japan. That’s actually quite reasonable these days for a figure of this quality. Also, MP Sideswipe is not a figure that will take up a lot of space on your shelf. In the alt mode review I mentioned he comes in a really small box, a good thing in my opinion. When MPs started getting smaller, I was complaining like everyone else. But now I’m beginning to see the value. It keeps the cost of the figure down, and if you have a large collection like me, the smaller size benefits in being a space saver.

To sum up, this is a figure that must be purchased. If you call yourself a TransFan, then do not hesitate to add this piece to your collection. It is rare to come across a TF of such high quality. I seriously detect no weaknesses in this figure. Hands down, this is my favorite new figure for 2012. I know there’s still about a month and a half left of the year, but right now I can’t imagine anything topping this. Takara has really outdone themselves. MP Sideswipe is TF perfection.

Now I must go pre-order MP Red Alert somewhere. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Masterpiece Sideswipe Alt Mode Review

November 5th, 2012 4 comments

This past summer, rumors began to surface of the next wave of Masterpiece Transformers that Takara will produce. I’m always excited to hear of new MPs, and the characters that Takara chose to do this time certainly did not disappoint. I don’t remember who came first, but it was announced that they will do Sideswipe, Red Alert, and Soundwave. Actually, I’m guessing Sideswipe must have came first since that’s the only one I pre-ordered.

On Thursday when I got home, I see a mail pickup slip left at the front door. Lo and behold, it was for MP Sideswipe! I didn’t have time to go pick it up til Saturday. And today, here are some pics of the box and his alt mode.

I did not know that Takara obtained rights from Lamborghini to make this figure. Bravo! The Lambo logo is shown proudly on the front of the package. It was too bad that they could not secure Lambo rights when they did Binaltechs and Alternators, but I’m happy they worked out something now.

Also from the back of the box, it’s clear that this figure is made to scale with the new MPs, like MP-10 Optimus Prime. Looks like the alt mode will go into the Prime trailer just fine, and in bot mode he comes up to about Prime’s lower abdomen. Very cool. I still have not opened MP-10 (don’t even know what the heck I’m waiting for), but after I transform Sideswipe, that will be my next priority.

This has got to be the smallest box ever produced for a MP! Actually, I think that’s a good thing, since space is always an issue when you got as many TFs as I do. Anyway, check it out next to RTS Jazz.

Sideswipe comes in clear plastic like all MPs. Pic below shows him in the package.

I wasted no time taking this guy out. This is pure G1 Sideswipe! If there are any hardcore G1-ers out there that actually have complaints about Sideswipe not appearing G1 enough, they need to be shot. Check out some pics below.

Paint job on this figure is superb. I don’t detect any die-cast pieces, which is a shame. But the paint job is so good that some pieces look die cast. He is mostly in his iconic red. On the hood, the Autobot emblem is painted on. It’s rare to see such a large faction emblem painted on any TF, but in this case it works and it looks great. And right below the Autobot symbol, there is the Lamborghini badge. Very cool. Headlights are made of clear plastic.

At the rear of the vehicle, the taillights are all painted. There are also the words “Lamborghini Countach” written in what I’m assuming is the official Lamborghini font for this vehicle. Windows appear to be clear black plastic. Side mirrors are painted black as well. On my figure I don’t detect any paint splatters for goofs.

Like all other MPs, the tires area made of rubber. I wish they would make the tires of all TF figures out of rubber, but that’s probably too much to ask for.

Functionally, in alt mode, the figure feels like one cohesive unit. I don’t detect any dangling pieces, or parts that easily come apart from anything else. Sideswipe is robust and solid to say the least.

Below is a pic of the MP next to Generations Sideswipe.

The MP is slightly bigger. Initially, I was worried that this MP would be deluxe size. But now that I see he’s bigger, I feel slightly more justified in paying what I did (about $75, shipped from Japan).

Now I do have one small complaint. This seems to be the trend with many of the new premium car Transformers, and it’s that there’s too much stuff underneath the vehicle. Place Sideswipe on a flat surface, and the large black pieces near the rear will make contact with the surface. In my opinion, the tires should be the only thing touching the ground, but for this figure it’s simply not so. Masterpiece Rodimus has this problem, many of the Human Alliance figures has this problem, and MP Sideswipe also shares this problem. Here’s a pic of the bottom of the figure in alt mode.

I have not transformed this figure at all. Let’s see if this problem will go away when I transform him back from robot mode. But even so, don’t let this small gripe distract you from buying the figure if you’re eyeing one. He’s got way too many positives to warrant a purchase.

I’m gonna transform him real soon. Look for a follow up review on his robot mode. Transform and Roll Out!

EDIT 11/18/2012:

Click here for review of the robot mode.

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Mindwipe and Sunspot/Laserbeak Combination

October 6th, 2012 4 comments

When people mention Transformers, my first thought always go to G1 and its derivatives (CHUG, MP, Binaltechs). Very often, it actually takes a sec or two for me to realize they mean Transformers of the Michael Bay variety. Movie TFs will forever be secondary priority for me, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good figures from this line. In fact, one of my favorite figs from the past few years in any TF line is ROTF voyager Mindwipe. I don’t think Mindwipe made an appearance in the movies, but he’s an excellent figure that every TransFan should pick up. He’s a good update of the G1 Headmaster character for the modern era. The fact that he transforms into a stealth bomber is very fitting, and his color scheme certainly doesn’t disappoint those of us that can still recall the G1 character.

Some months ago, I stumbled upon a listing on Amazon for this G2 Dreadwind & Smokescreen Set. I’m aware of the Strafe repaint, but I did not know about this one. Anyway, at first glance this blue repaint didn’t seem all that cool. But upon closer inspection, I see that there’s a drone sitting on top of Dreadwind. Looking even closer, I see that the drone is actually a repaint of Sunspot! I bought Sunspot when I went to BotCon 2011. Sunspot is not a bad figure. But I had no idea that these 2 figures can be combined like that. I’m not sure if Hasbro advertised this feature anywhere.

So then I did come quick Googling and found that there was a Scout figure called Skystalker that was released at the time Mindwipe was released. I have seen Skystalker in the stores, but back then I paid little to no attention to Scout figures. Which is shame because Skystalker is now worth big bucks. Skystalker’s color scheme is designed to match well with that of Mindwipe’s, and the two combined looks pretty awesome. Lots of fans apparently knew about this combination gimmick. I guess I missed out for not paying attention.

I mentioned in my last post that I bought a bunch of GDO figures, including Laserbeak. Laserbeak is a repaint of Skystalker/Sunspot. Laserbeak arrived this week, so I thought it’s time to dig out Mindwipe and try this combo for myself. But first let’s see how this looks with Sunspot.

I got mixed feelings about this particular combo. I kinda like the black and white contrast, but it does look weird. Still, I now verified first hand that this can be done. Now I’m wondering if there are other figures out there meant to do this sort of thing.

But now let’s see how it looks with Laserbeak.

Much better in my opinion. The black on the 2 figures match real well. The red on Laserbeak is also a good match for Mindwipe’s cockpit. All in all I like this look quite a bit.

If you’re wondering how this is done, take a look at the pic below. There are pegs on the bottom of Laserbeak that are designed to go into holes on the top of Mindwipe.

I guess the Laserbeak mold is designed to perch on Mindwipe’s shoulder in robot mode, but I think it looks kinda goofy.

Below is a proposed Mindwipe and Laserbeak combination in robot mode. Some fan came up with this, I can’t take credit. The result is pretty cool, though it looks quite freaky too. Like some kind of Gerwalk/Alien thing. Definitely resembles something Michael Bay could cook up.

That’s all for now. Lots more TFs to come! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Team Prime: First Edition Figures

June 23rd, 2012 2 comments

Several weeks ago I went into a post about all my Team Prime figures in the Robots in Disguise (RID) line. Today I’m featuring the same Autobot figures, but in the First Edition (FE) line.

Let me point out real quick right now that Ratchet is not FE. This is the RID version. I don’t think there is a FE Ratchet. I just put him here to be complete. It would not be Team Prime without Ratchet.

I’m going to give some quick thoughts below on each figure between the 2 lines.

Optimus Prime: I definitely prefer the FE version. I think the FE figures looks better in both robot and alt modes. Color wise, I think the FE also looks a little more show accurate. The weapons of the FE figure also looks cooler. The silly mech-tech weapon of the RID just don’t make sense to me. However, I can’t really say which transformation is more show accurate. On the FE figure, the chest plates do not form the cab windshield, which in my opinion is kind of a letdown. From a mechanical engineering perspective, they are both pretty good, but the FE wins out by just a little. There are some little paint touch-ups that I like better on the RID figure, such as the silver around the chest, and how the headlights are colored yellow. But the final verdict is that the FE is the superior figure. Unfortunately the FE is not available in mass retail in the United States, so online dealers are your only bet. I got mine for fifty some dollars, and I’ve seen online dealers ask for more than 100. If that price turns you off, then by all means pick up the RID. It’s not as good as the FE, but still a very good figure.

Bulkhead: Again, this is a figure where I strongly recommend the FE over the RID. In alt mode, I think both figures are pretty good, and I just be nitpicking if I recommended one over the other. However, in robot mode is where the FE really shines. It’s not that the RID is bad, it’s just that the FE is oh so impressive. He’s well articulated and all parts lock into place well where they should. Take a careful look around the chest and shoulder area of both figures, and right away it will be apparent that the FE is a lot more show accurate. Many fans also complain about the wings on the RID version, that they shouldn’t be there. Mechanical engineering on the FE is a great feat in TF design, a lot more so than the RID. And the mech-tech weapon on the RID is just a huge conglomeration of crap that I won’t even bother writing about. But just like FE Optimus, FE Bulkhead is not available in the US. Hasbro loves to stick it to us. I got mine FE from eBay for about $70. Definitely buy the RID figure, because it’s only $20 and it’s very good. But if you’re after true Bulkhead greatness, you will need to get the FE.

Arcee: For these shots, I used the FE pink version since that’s the only one I have opened. I also have the blue FE version, but that one is still sealed in the package. Comparing between the FE and the RID, I think they both have their pros and cons. The FE has a more impressive design, but the RID is better built. I also like the paint apps on the RID figure a little better. FE comes with two blades, while RID comes with one blade and a gun. Transformation is probably a little more accurate on the FE. I think these are both very good figures. I would just buy them both.

Bumblebee: Hasbro has been making way too many Bumblebees that I don’t even feel like comparing the two. A lot of fans bash the RID figure, which in my opinion isn’t that bad. I think the RID figure is very playable, a lot more so than the FE figure. I think of all the TF Prime figures that I bought, I find Bumblebee to be the least impressive (both FE and RID). It’s not that either one of them is bad, it’s just that these figures really don’t offer anything new when compared to the movie Bumblebee figures. Mechanically they feel very similar. Most fans would probably say that the FE figure is better. I guess I’m so sick of Bumblebee that I’m not even interested enough to agree or disagree with that assertion.

Ratchet: Same figure. RID Only. I’ve said before that I think this is the best Ratchet figure I own. That should be your hint to go out and get one now.

There you have it. My thoughts on each Team Prime figure in each toy line. Overall, they’re all really good. Hardcore TransFans would probably get both versions anyway. For the more casual fans, find the FEs if you can, especially Optimus and Bulkhead. But what’s in the stores is very good too, and is a good substitute if you don’t feel justified in spending more than $20 for a TF.

Team Prime… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics, Toy Reviews

Kre-O Starscream Robot Mode Review

May 19th, 2012 Comments off

Back in August of 2011, I reviewed the Kre-O Starscream set in jet mode. Now I’m gonna review the robot mode, 9 months later. As I mentioned in the jet mode review, Kre-O figures do not transform, which is a shame. In December of last year, I took apart the jet mode and built the robot mode. Here we go with the review.

Starscream looks quite nice in robot mode. I like the level of detail. His appearance in this mode is obviously G1 inspired, with the intake on the shoulders, the cockpit down the chest, and the wings on the back. The overall shade of grey with red and blue touches here and there is also very G1. And if you still need further evidence of his G1 roots, just check out the head. With the exception of Masterpiece and CHUG Starscreams, the Kre-O has the most G1-looking head of all the Starscreams made. I like the weapons on each arm. They don’t really resemble his G1 null rays, but they got a charm of their own. On his right arm there appear to be twin machine guns, and on the left arm there are a cluster of 4 missiles. Don’t mess with Screamer!

The robot mode uses a lot less pieces than the jet mode. I’m just estimating here, but I would say there are around 30 unused pieces in robot mode.

Starscream in robot mode is quite poseable. He’s got joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and neck. With the exception of the elbows and knees, all joints I listed are on ball joints. For a building block toy, the level of poseability is impressive. Check out some pics below.

Here are some pics of the back. The wings can be moved forward and back. The thrusters on the upper back can also be raised and lowered.

Here is a shot for size comparison. As you can see, the Kre-O figure is pretty large.

For the robot mode, I do have a gripe about the joints. Like I mentioned already, I had this in robot mode since December. At first the joints felt really tight, and the figure can hold poses well. I didn’t play with him all that much between now and then, just had him posed on the shelf this whole time. Now the hip joints feels quite loose. Kre-O Starscream does weigh a little more than your average TF, and over time it does feel like the joints won’t support the weight. If you decide to build the robot mode, I would recommend that you don’t have him posed in robot mode for too long. I’m going to take this apart soon and store it in the box. Maybe in the future when I build the robot again, the joints would be ok. But this is not something I can confirm at this time.

Also, the quality of the head piece feels poor. I mentioned how I like that it’s G1, but the detail on the face looks pretty bad. The helmet portion also looks like it could be sharper. I know it’s hard to see from my pics, but believe me that the head could look better. This is nowhere near the quality of Masterpiece head molds, which is about the same size for Starscream. Perhaps a customizer can swap a Masterpiece head onto the Kre-O.

Between the robot mode and jet mode, I definitely like the jet mode better. Overall it feels more solid, and uses more pieces. The robot mode’s not bad, but if I can only pick one I would build the jet mode.

The Kre-O Starscream set can be found fairly cheap now at many places. I’ve seen it for about $20 at Walmart. My friend Gemini said he found his for $10. At these prices I would definitely recommend the set if you like building block toys. It doesn’t transform, but you got two modes to build, and all pieces are fully compatible with other building block toys out there, like Legos and Megabloks. I’m hoping in the future, Hasbro will come out with Kre-Os that can really transform. Perhaps I will design a Starscream figure that can transform, using these Kre-O pieces with Legos. That sounds like a fun project. I might try that when I have some time. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

TFC Toys Hercules

April 8th, 2012 5 comments

As the first combiner team in the TF Universe, the Constructicons are the most recognizable gestalt group among hardcore TransFans. Many combiner teams have come since their appearance, but no other unit has had the legacy that is claimed by this platoon of six Decepticon construction vehicles. They made their first appearance in 1984 in the G1 episode “Heavy Metal War”, one of my favorite G1 eps of all time. The six evil builders sneaked into the Ark for some mischief, not expecting to be overpowered individually by the Dinobots. And just when it looked like the Dinos were gonna turn them to slag, the Constructicons combined to form the fearsome Devastator!

Since the introduction of Classic figures in 2006, hardcore G1-ers such as myself have been crying for an update of the Constructicons that would fit well into the Classic-verse. We all knew that the chance of it really happening was small. Hasbro has not made a true combiner team since god knows when. Their recent approach to gestalts, such as the ROTF Constructicons and PCCs, are nothing short of disappointing. A true combiner team in the G1 spirit does indeed feel like a heavy undertaking, something Hasbro was not prepared to invest in.

Enter TFC Toys, a third party in the same vein as FansProject or iGear. I don’t have any background information on this company. But they were willing to give us what Hasbro will not. Similar to the 2010 FansProject homage to Combaticons, TFC Toys is giving us “Hercules”, a team of six constructions vehicles that can each transform into a robot and combine to form the giant Hercules. Since TFC Toys is not affiliated with Hasbro in any shape or form, they cannot use official Hasbro names to the characters. But it’s obvious that this team of 6 is an homage to the original Constructicons.

This set is not cheap. Each figure is about $100. I’ll let you do the math for how much it cost for the entire set. Clearly this is for hardcore collectors only. Each figure is about Voyager size. I bought the first one back in Oct of 2011, and I completed the set in Feb of this year. Each is packaged in robot mode. A group shot of them individually appears below.

Top row (left to right): Exgraver (Scavenger), Heavy Labor (Long Haul), Neckbreaker (Bonecrusher).
Bottom row (left to right): Madblender (Mixmaster), Dr. Crank (Hook), Structor (Scrapper).

And here is a group shot of them individually in their alt modes.

Each figure in the set is well constructed and feels solid and robust. From a pure aesthetics perspective, these figures draw heavy influences from G1 and the Classic-verse (no weird Movie designs here). Transformation for each figure is also not difficult, and should be obvious to anyone who has played with enough G1 or CHUG toys. I won’t go too much into each figure individually. Just know that I am impressed with each of the 6.

I should point out however that there are 2 constructions issues. The first one has to do with Heavy Labor’s hip joints. TFC was willing to acknowledge the issue and has included a replacement part with Neckbreaker. This post goes into the fix in good detail. The other issue has to do with Neckbreaker itself. It’s a pretty easy fix that I did in about 5 min. Check out this post for the fix. I realize that at $100 a piece, they should be issue-free. However this is TFC Toy’s first attempt, and they were responsible enough to provide fixes, so I don’t see it as a big deal.

Ok, now onto the real reason I bought this set, the giant Hercules. This figure is awesome when combined! Check it out!

Hercules is such a towering giant of a robot that you can’t help but be impressed when the figure is witnessed in person. Transformation of each of the individual components is not difficult, but putting them together to form Hercules does require some work. The joints that connect each component is super tight! I really had to apply force to get the pieces to combine. That’s probably a good thing, considering that each figure is Voyager size, so the tight connection will help Hercules stay combined.

Neckbreaker also comes with a visor that you can put over the eyes of the head of Hercules. This is so you can decide between how you want Hercules to look, either more like the G1 toy (no visor) or more like the G1 show (with visor). The picture above is the only one here where I did not put on the visor. Personally I like how he looks in the G1 cartoons, so the visor is included in all shots below.

One thing that I really like about this set is the fact that extraneous pieces are not required for combining. With the G1 toys, merging into the mighty Devastator required a extra head piece, a extra chest piece, a extra hip piece, 2 extra forearms, and 2 extra fists. Many of these pieces had no where to go when the Constructicons are separated, in either or both alt and robot modes. Combining the toys were impossible without the head and hip piece. The Hercules set has no such issues. Extraneous pieces are not required for combination. Almost everything needed is built into the figures. Take Hercules’ head for example. It is built into Dr. Crank’s back. All connectors are also built into each component. The only pieces that can be argued as add-ons are the fists and chest shield. However, there are places to store these in both individual alt and robot modes, so they are accounted for. Even the guns used by individual figures are accounted for when combined (more on this later). I give TFC Toys high praise for engineering a combination mechanism where add-on pieces are very minimally used.

Below are some size comparisons pics. See for yourself what a massive figure Hercules really is.

For a gestalt, Hercules is quite poseable. There are pivot points at the neck, shoulder, elbows, fists, fingers, hips, and feet. The only key places absent of articulation are the knees. The gestalts made by Hasbro are not articulated at all, so I feel TFC Toys has given us more than enough.

One last thing that I wanted to show is the giant rifle used by Hercules. Take a careful look at the picture below. The rifle is formed by taking the six pistols used by each figure and combining them. Very very cool. I did not know of this until I bought the set. TFC Toys really put a lot of thought into the design of Hercules.

To summarize, I cannot say enough good things about Hercules. I give this set the highest possible recommendation. Yes I know the price is gonna be a turnoff for many, but it is so worth it. As of this writing, BBTS has a sale on third party figures, which may alleviate some of the financial burden of owning something so awesome. If you like combining transforming robots, you owe it to yourself to acquire this in your collection.

With Hercules, TFC Toys has established themselves as a solid 3rd party in the Transformers Universe. I look forward to what they will produce next… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Generations Sky Shadow Quick Review

December 20th, 2011 Comments off

About a year ago, I reviewed Generations Thunderwing. A repaint of this figure was finally released recently, also in the Generations line. Today we’re looking at Sky Shadow. Longtime TransFans already knew this was coming, because in the instructions for Thunderwing, the diagrams was illustrated with Sky Shadow’s head (go look at it if you don’t believe me). We didn’t expect Hasbro to take a year to do it, though.

I won’t go into the mechanics of this figure. Read the Thunderwing review to get my thoughts. I’ll just say that I really like the look of Sky Shadow. The black color fits well for a stealth jet fighter. I like the head mold, as its different from Thunderwing’s. The only other mold difference I detect is in the chest. Check out the pics for yourself.

Joints on Sky Shadow seems to be a little tighter than Thunderwing. Other than that, they are virtually the same mechanically.

If you missed your chance on Thunderwing, or if you just really like this mold (like I do), then by all means pick up Sky Shadow. It’s good to see Hasbro return to the Generations line. And I like the recent trend of making minor modifications when they release a repaint, so it doesn’t feel like you’re buying the exact same thing in a different color.

More TFs to come on Christmas… Transform and Roll Out!

EDIT 01/04/2012
Here is a pic of Sky Shadow with his arms raised completely forward. To do this you must rotate the shoulder guns to the side.

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

My Human Alliance Collection

October 20th, 2011 2 comments

Today I’m showing off all my Human Alliance TFs. They’re called that because each TF comes with a human figure. All HA TFs are of the Movie-verse. Hasbro started this in ROTF. I don’t have that many. Here they are in a group pic.

The following are my scout class HA figs, all from DOTM.

Tailpipe and Pinpointer, with Sergeant Noble
Tailpipe is the black motorcyle, and Pinpointer acts as his Targetmaster weapon. The pic above has Tailpipe in robot holding Pinpointer as a weapon, while in the first pic, Sergeant Noble is riding Tailpipe as a bike while Pinpointer is a robot standing to the side. This figure is alright. Tailpipe is not a bad figure with both decent robot and alt modes. But Pinpointer is very poorly constructed. I like him as a weapon, but his robot mode is a joke. It’s difficult to place Sergeant Noble on Tailpipe to make it look like he’s riding. Attaching Pinpointer as a weapon on Tailpipe in bike mode also takes some work.

Sandstorm, with Private Dedcliff
In my opinion, this is the best of the HA scout figs. Sandstorm has both a spectacular dune buggy alt mode and a balanced robot mode. He’s well constructed and he holds poses well. Transformation is refreshing for a scout class figure. There’s good amount of detail too. Getting Private Dedcliff to ride in the dune buggy is also easy since there’s plenty of room and the roll cage can be lifted to get him in. If you can only get one one scout class HA fig, get this one. When the DOTM toys came out, this was one of the first TFs that I got and that was a good decision.

Whirl, with Major Sparkplug
Whirl is not too bad. I like him a little better than Tailpipe, but he’s not as good as Sandstorm. I like the helicopter mode. The chest area is a tad bulky in robot mode, and he appears as if he’s on skis. Transformation is fun. Major Sparkplug can fit inside the helicopter without too much trouble. I’m pretty sure this Sparkplug is an homage to the G1 character in name only.

Technically, all the scout class HA figs are triple changers. They all have a 3rd “weapon mode”. However, this 3rd mode doesn’t really do it for me. It seems like the toy designers simply chose some halfway configuration between the alt and robot modes and called it a 3rd mode. I usually don’t bother with this weapon mode.

Below are the full size HA figs.

Leadfoot and Steeljaw, with Sergeant Detour
Leadfoot is the red Target Impala. I like the alt mode. The sports cars is nice and sleek. He rolls well on a flat surface and all the pieces come together well. However, getting Sergeant Detour inside takes some work. There’s not enough area inside for the legs. Leadfoot has probably got one of the worst robot modes in recent TF memory. And because of that, I can’t really recommend this figure too much. Steeljaw is the robot dog next to him. He turns into a weapon.

Bumblebee, with Sam Witwicky
These two partners need no introduction. Some fans have argued that this is the best Movie Bumblebee figure ever made, while others think this figure is pure crap because of how the seats appear on the arms in robot mode. Personally I can’t decide which is the best Movie Bumblebee figure. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. But as for me, I like the HA figure. I have no complaints about the alt mode, and in robot mode the seat issue is not nearly as distracting as some fans make it out to be. If I’m forced to pick one, I probably choose deluxe Battle Blade Bumblebee from ROTF as the best Movie Bumblebee. But the HA figure would be a close second. The human figure looks kinda like Sam too so that’s a plus.

Jazz, with Captain Lennox
HA Jazz is without a doubt the best Movie Jazz made, and to my knowledge this is something most fans agree on. The deluxe Movie Jazz is a horrible figure. HA Jazz has none of those weaknesses. He’s got both a solid alt mode and a robust robot mode. This figure comes with a bike for Captain Lennox, and the bike becomes a weapon for Jazz in robot mode. He does have one weakness in car mode. There’s too much stuff underneath the vehicle, so on a flat surface there will be other things touching the ground in addition to the wheels. As a result he does not roll well, but that’s a small gripe. The Captain Lennox figure leaves a lot to be desired though. He looks nothing like Josh Duhamel.

Roadbuster, with Sergeant Recon
Roadbuster is the green Chevy Impala. He is by far the most difficult HA figure that I have come across. In fact, I think the difficulty here rivals most Binaltechs and Alternators. The HA figure is way better than the deluxe. He’s got a good alt mode and a good robot mode so definitely pick him up, but smaller kids will most likely need help to transform the guy. He’s also quite large when he’s standing in robot mode. If you can only get one HA fig from DOTM, get this one.

I really should have took pics of these guys in robot form, but I was too lazy to transform them all. Oh, BTW, all of these are Autobots. I think some Decepticon HA figures are slated for later, but we’ll see. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

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