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Kre-O Starscream Jet Mode Review

August 24th, 2011 5 comments

At BotCon 2011 I first learned about Kre-O, Hasbro’s entry into the building block toys such as Lego and Mega Blocks. Transformers is one of Hasbro’s most successful franchises so it makes sense for them to first market Kre-O replicating toys and characters of the popular robots in disguise. As a kid I loved playing with Lego. I had quite an impressive Lego collection growing up, with sets mostly from the Lego Town and Space lines, and some from the Castle and Technic lines. I had to leave many of these sets behind when we moved to the United States. Only some of my absolute favorites were brought with me, and today they’re sitting in a closet somewhere.

I still played with Legos after the move and I even bought some sets here, but then I also got into Transformers. My parents, being strict as they were, didn’t buy me a whole lot of Transformers. And so I built many of them out of Legos. Its too bad I didn’t take pics of my creations. I remember building a Metroplex that was pretty G1 accurate, for Lego standards anyway. He was fully transformable too. I studied his design from a TF catalog since I never had the figure. Metroplex is kind of a blocky character, a good choice to do in Lego.

Anyway, when I saw the Kre-O at BotCon, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. This is a combination of two of my favorite kinds of toys. Many people were looking at Kre-O at the Con and it sure appears that Hasbro generated a lot of interest with these sets. Of course, the obvious question that was on everyone’s tongue was if these sets could transform. At the Con it was unclear if they would, and Hasbro reps seemed to be dodging the question every time it was asked. We now know that Kre-O sets DO NOT TRANSFORM. You build one mode, take it apart, then build the other mode. In some ways this was kind of a letdown. TFs that don’t transform… maybe they should have called them Kre-O Actionmasters. But regardless, I was still intrigued by the notion of TFs made from building blocks, even if they did not transform.

The second questions that was on many people’s mind was how are the quality of the blocks themselves. I don’t have any Mega Blocks, but many online reviews have suggested they’re crap. Blocks that don’t stick together are reported often. Blocks that don’t fit is another popular complaint. Hasbro went the route of doing the blocks themselves instead of partnering with Lego. So it was anyone’s guess how the Kre-O blocks would turn out.

Less than two weeks ago Amazon had the Starscream set on sale for slightly more than $20. I figured this was the perfect time to find out about these sets for myself, so I got one. It took me about two hours to put this together. It wasn’t too difficult, the hardest part was probably finding the pieces (there are 316 in the set). If you’re used to building Legos than you won’t have any problems. I haven’t really built anything since I was 12 so I thought I might be rusty, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I guess some things you never forget, like riding a bike. Anyway, here it is.

The jet itself is quite amazing to hold in your hands once complete. The size is impressive, easily on par with a Leader class or Masterpiece figure (I go into size comparison below). There’s also some good weight to the finished figure. In jet mode he used almost all 316 pieces. There was only about 7 or 8 pieces that wasn’t used, 1 being the head and 2 being the hands. As far as quality goes, these pieces felt just like Legos to me. Everything fits just right, and with some minor exceptions, everything locks into place. The jet is very robust and it can withstand reasonable rough play. The core of the figure is very solid and I really don’t see any construction issues. The design on the layout of the pieces is on par with anything Lego has come up with, and so the jet is not likely to fall apart. Hasbro has done a pretty good job with the mechanics of this set in jet mode.

This Starscream is obviously G1 inspired. The shape of the wings suggest that he is an F-15. The colors are also true to the G1 incarnation with a base of light grey and bits of blue and red. Overall there’s quite a bit of detail for a building block figure.

I applied all the decals on him. The stripes on the wings are decals. The Decepticon emblem and markings near the cockpit are also decals. Once applied, they stick tight to the building pieces so you don’t have to worry about them falling off. However, I should point out that when I first opened the set, one decal was kind of falling off the sticker sheet. It was one of the long stripe patterns for the wings. Hasbro could probably use better QC in this area.

Here is a shot of the back. I like how they implemented the rear thrusters and I like the way they look. The tail fins are angled. This is done by placing them on hinged pieces. So you can also position them straight up if you want to.

There are landing gears on the jet and they are retractable. See the two shots below.

In these pics of the bottom, you can see that Starscream has more than enough missiles on the wings to punish some hapless Autobots running for their lives on the ground. The missile pieces are attached to the wings, but they can be a little loose and they come off the jet more easily than all the other pieces. But this is not an issue when the jet is only used for display.

The above shows that you can open the cockpit and insert Kre-Ons or Lego minifigs into it. Only the rear cockpit piece can be opened. One gripe that I have here is that it’s hard to place the Kre-Ons into the seat (more on the Kre-Ons later). The black pilot fig is designed to fit, but getting him in there can take some work, even if you choose to take apart the front cockpit piece first. If you want to get the Starscream Kre-On in there, you have to first remove the back wing piece (like standard Lego minifig backpacks) and his arm cannons. Another gripe I have about the cockpit is that it’s hard to get the two cockpit pieces to align with each other. Getting one piece in place is likely to pop off the other piece. It takes some fidgeting to get them flush.

Above is a pic for size comparison with the Kre-O next to Classics Starscream. The Kre-O is obviously much bigger. I don’t have MP Starscream handy or I would’ve took a pic with the Kre-O next to it, but I suspect the Kre-O is a bit longer than the Masterpiece figure in jet mode. Notice I built the Decepticon emblem on the wings so that the crown is towards the rear. This is how I prefer it to look. Hasbro can’t seem to make up their mind when it comes to the orientation of the wing emblem. Half the time they go one way and half the time they go the opposite way. The instructions does indicate you should build them the other way, like how they appear with Classic Starscream in the pic. But the cool thing about Kre-O is that the Decepticon emblem sticker is placed on a square piece, so you can easily rotate the piece to suit your preference.

There is one more feature I want to point out. The set does come with a ladder piece that can be used in jet mode for display. See the pic above on the back of the box.

And of course there are the Kre-Ons. A lot of people buy these purely for the Kre-Ons. On Ebay, auctions for the Kre-On figs alone can fetch a decent price, testament to their popularity. This set comes with two, a Starscream Kre-On and a black pilot fig. Kre-Ons are exactly the same size as Lego minifigs. The only key difference in construction is that Kre-On legs are on ball joints so you can move them pretty much any way you like. Lego minifigs on the other hand can only rotate the legs forward and backwards. Kre-On hand size is the same as Lego minifigs, so you can probably give them Lego accessories. Head size is also the same, so feel free to swap hair or helmets to your heart’s content.

To summarize, I’ll just quickly point out some pros and cons.

    PROS:

  • Great value at MSRP of $29.99. You get 316 pieces and a similar Lego set would cost you about $40 to $45. Amazon has this set on sale often at barely over $20.
  • Lego quality pieces! No crappy Mega Blocks here.
  • You can build 2 modes. I only built the jet mode here, but don’t forget there’s still the robot mode.
  • Fully compatible with Legos and Mega Blocks.
  • Jet mode is robust and solid.
  • Easy to follow color instructions that explains how to build both modes.
    CONS:

  • Does not transform.
  • Missile pieces a tad loose.
  • Difficult to proprely align cockpit pieces.
  • One sticker came half-way off the sticker sheet.
  • I got one wrong piece, it came in a different color than it was supposed to. In all the Lego sets that I bought, I never had any missing or wrong pieces. See if you can spot the wrong color piece in the pics above. šŸ™‚

As for that last gripe above, I realize that Hasbro just started in the Kre-O business so I’m not going to complain too much. And I found that they will supply replacement pieces. I’ve provided a handy link here if any of you need it.

My final verdict is that I highly recommend the Starscream Kre-O set. I did point out some weaknesses, but there are way more positives here. If you are a Lego fan, or if you are a TransFan that like putting things together, then do yourself a favor and buy this. I know it doesn’t transform and that’s a shame. But if you approach this as more of a Lego toy then you won’t be disappointed. Hopefully in the future Hasbro will produce Kre-O sets that can really transform.

I will be taking this apart sometime soon and build the robot mode. Until then… Transform and Roll Out!

EDIT 09/14/2011:
Hasbro sent me the replacement piece. It took several weeks but it got here eventually. Thank you Hasbro!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Star Wars Transformers Anakin Skywalker Jedi Starfighter Scout Class

July 30th, 2011 Comments off

Today I’m doing another Star Wars Transformer review. I’ve only done one of these and it was the Commander Cody Clone Turbo Tank.

This was a pure impulse buy. I was at Target yesterday and saw this smaller Star Wars TF of Anakin. I didn’t even know they made these. Up to now, all Star Wars TFs came in one size, which is somewhere between a deluxe and voyager class. Looks like Hasbro is extending into more petite scale for the Star Wars line as well. This figure looked pretty good in fighter mode so I bought it.

Check out pics in the package.

I’m not exactly sure if this figure is scout class. Star Wars figs never have their sizes stated on the package. I’m only saying it’s scout class based on its price of $7.99.

In fighter mode this figure is fairly robust. For the most part, all the pieces come together quite nicely so nothing would flop around. There’s a lot of good detail. The colors look pretty accurate to Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter. For something this small, I don’t have any complaints about the appearance.

As far as gimmicks go in alt mode, you can extend the tips on the wings like the typical Jedi Starfighter. There’s also a retractable landing gear located on the bottom of the cockpit area, making it possible for the jet to be posed with the wings out on a flat surface.

Check out this pic below for alt mode size comparison, next to DOTM scout class Sandstorm.

My main gripe with the alt mode is that there is nowhere to store the lightsabers. I only expect non-storage for accessories with G1 figures. TFs today really shouldn’t have this problem anymore and I find it unacceptable. Come and think of it, my full size Obi-Wan Episode II Jedi Starfighter TF that I got at BotCon also had this issue. Earlier Star Wars TFs didn’t seem to have this issue though.

Transformation to mech mode is not at all difficult so I won’t describe it. He looks okay in mech mode. Construction is pretty solid. Details and colors are also adequate for figures of this size. Having twin lightsabers is kinda cool too.

There are many weaknesses in mech mode. Poseability is extremely limited. The arms are not bad, but there’s not too much to work with in the legs. The head appears to be able to rotate, but there’s so much kibble behind it I don’t think you can. He’s way too much of a shell former in the G1 Scourge fashion. The shells/wings end up on his back. This makes him totally back-heavy that it’s very difficult to pose him standing up without falling backwards. I also don’t like the wing tips on the arms. I guess they’re supposed to be shields, but functionally they’re really awkward and I just don’t like how they make the arms look.

Below is a pic of Anakin in mech mode next to Sandstorm in robot mode. Notice Anakin is much smaller. He’s probably more of a commander class figure.

Even at $7.99, I can’t recommend this figure all that much. The alt mode looks kinda cool, but that’s about it. Sometimes I think about opening one of my full size Ep III Jedi Starfighter TFs and see how they compare to this. Hopefully the larger ones are much better, but the Force is not with these smaller figures.

Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Generations Thundercracker Quick Review

April 30th, 2011 3 comments

Here is a quick review of Generations Thundercracker. Much like the quick review for Generations Dirge, I’m just gonna point out some differences between the recently mass-released Generations Thundercracker and the semi-limited Henkei Thundercracker. I think all TransFans who are even remotely interested in Classics-verse figures are already familiar with this mold, so there’s no need for me to go in-depth.

As far as I know, the Generations figure is the third Thundercracker released in the Classics-verse. The first one was a Botcon 2007 exclusive (released with exclusives of Thurst and Dirge) and it was extremely limited. The second one produced was the Japanese only Henkei version. The price of the Henkei was more reasonable, but the figure still had a limited status so it wasn’t cheap either. I bought mine for about $60 to $70 at Botcon 2009 from BBTS so I could complete my Seeker squadron.

TransFans who bought Henkei Thundercracker will tell you that, construction wise, this is the worst figure produced by Hasbro/Takara of all the CHUG Seekers. The joints on this figure is way too loose. In jet mode its not too bad since everything comes together as one, but in robot mode the problems become obvious. The leg/hip joints swivel way too easily. The back wings do not stay up. And worst of all, the cannons do not stay on the arms! Seriously, shaking the figure just a little in robot mode, and the cannons come right off. Either the pegs are too small or the holes on the arms are too big. Many fans have resorted to buying the KO version of this figure even after they got the Henkei, simply because the KO version is better built. At one time I thought about buying the KO also. But then I kinda forgot, and before I knew it Hasbro announced they will be doing a mass release Thundercracker in the US in the Generations line. I got mine for about $12 and received it early this month. I’m happy to report that Generations Thundercracker have no quality issues. This is the figure to get. But there are paint and color variations between the two. Below I point out some key differences.

JET MODE:

  • Generations is a darker shade of blue. I think Generations is more G1 accurate to the toy. More on this later.
  • Generations has the nosecone painted black which is accurate to the G1 toy. Nosecone on Henkei is blue and that’s G1 accurate to the show. No preference from me here.
  • The Decepticon symbols on the Generations fig have the crown towards the rear, while Henkei has it in the opposite orientation. I like the orientation on Generations better because when you transform into robot, the symbol will be right side up. Generations also has a silver outline around the symbols so they look better. Generations wins here.
  • The red and white stripes on the wings and tail fins are slightly different. See the pics above. They both look good.
  • Henkei has a small Decepticon symbol on the nosecone and Generations does not.

Check out the pic above with the 2 CHUG figures next to a G1-reissue. I know it’s hard to tell from this pic, but it looks to me like the blue on the Generations fig matches closer to G1.

ROBOT MODE:

  • Henkei has chrome on the guns while Generations does not. This is about the only thing that is hands down better on the Henkei.
  • Shoulder stripes on Generations are painted red while on Henkei they’re painted white.
  • There’s a little bit of red painted near the waist on Generations. The same area on Henkei only has the base blue color.
  • On the legs of the Henkei, there are panels near the knees that are painted silver and black. This same area on Generations is unpainted.
  • Pattern on the shoulder/intake are different. Generations has little triangles painted red. Henkei has the base design painted black.
  • I didn’t take a pic of this, but Henkei also has Decepticon symbols on the back of the wings (wing underside in jet mode). Generations does not.
  • The launchers on Generations are mostly black. Henkei launchers are mostly blue.
  • In the chest area near the cockpit, Generations is colored silver. The same area on Henkei is colored blue.
  • There is a small Decepticon symbol on the chest of the Generations. Henkei does not have this.

One last thing that I wanted to point out are the missile launchers. On the Henkei, the missile shoots farther, but its kinda hard to press the button. Sometimes it feels like its stuck. With Generations, the missiles don’t fly as far, but pressing down on the button is not an issue.

Below is a pic of all my opened Thundercracker figures.


From left to right: Generations, Titanium, Henkei, Movie

In conclusion, I definitely recommend buying Generations over Henkei. It’s way cheaper and way better built. Only buy the Henkei if you must have that particular Thundercracker color scheme. Back in 2009, I had a feeling Hasbro would eventually mass produce Thundercracker, but wasn’t 100% certain so I bought a Henkei anyway. I should have more faith in my own TF instincts.

This reminds me, I still need to buy a MP Thundercracker. I’m hoping Hasbro will do one here in the US like they did Starscream and Skywarp (both Walmart exclusives). Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Masterpiece Rodimus Prime Review Part 1

March 14th, 2011 4 comments

As mentioned in my my last, I bought Masterpiece Rodimus Prime. Here is part 1 of the review. I’m going to go over the alt modes first, even though he comes packaged in robot mode. I transformed him to alt mode so I figure I do this now before I transform him back.

Here is a pic of the figure as Hot Rod.

As far as appearance goes, this is probably the most show accurate Hot Rod alt mode in the history of TFs. The G1 toy was very good for its time, and the Henkei/Classic version was an excellent update of the star of the G1 Movie. But in terms of show accuracy, the MP figure has them both beat. Take a look at the outline of Hot Rod’s vehicle mode. This is exactly how he was shaped in the Movie. Masterpiece figures are known for show accuracy and this figure certainly did not disappoint. I think this is even more obvious when you look at the rear of Hot Rod’s alt mode, which is pictured below.

Check out the scene where Hot Rod races up the hill with Daniel to catch the shuttle, early in the Movie. During this scene there is a good shot of Hot Rod from the rear view. This figure has captured that look perfectly. No other Rodimus figures even come close to the MP as far as reproducing this look.

The colors on this figure is classic Hot Rod. I think everyone knows what his colors are supposed to be so I won’t go into it. The red, orange, and yellow on the figure is reproduced faithfully. Windows are painted blue and that is accurate also. All the chrome bits that you would expect are there, including his side thrusters, engine, and rims. Clear yellow bits are used for the headlights. Overall, no gripes from me about the paint apps or the detail on this figure.

Tires are made of rubber like other vehicles in the MP and Binaltech line. Hot Rod comes with two guns like the original G1 toy (the non-Targetmaster version). On the engine you can attach a gun like pictured below. You can do this with either gun, but not both at the same time. Personally I think it’s kinda lame, but it was a G1 feature so it’s good to see the MP fig still account for that.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few issues with the MP Rodimus. I will go into each of them.

Hasbro/Takara stopped using die-cast in TFs long time ago, even in the MP line. Rodimus is no exception. Only die-cast I can detect are the feet pieces. Considering I paid over $200 for this fig, I expected a little more die-cast.

Transformation from robot to car was quite difficult. He is complex in terms of design, and in my book that’s a good thing. But what makes it an issue is that the pieces on this figure do not come together as well as they should. Add to it the already difficult transformation and you have a figure that is simply frustrating to do. Hasbro/Takara has made complex figures before, such as MP Megatron and leader class Optimus from the 2nd Movie. But those figures are well engineered and all part and pieces fit where they’re supposed to go when you do it right. MP Rodimus is not one of these figures.

My main gripe is on the sides of the vehicle. Check out the pic below.

Notice there is a very large “hole” on the side, around the thrusters where his hands go. This is pretty much the best that I can get it. I’ve checked the pics on Seibertron and they have it at about the same configuration. The figure is designed so the parts would come together more, but this is simply not the case. I really don’t like the design of the hand placement. It gets in the way of the connection. The pic below shows a bottom view and illustrates how the hands are placed in this mode.

I’ve checked the instructions carefully and I looked at Seibertron pics and I’m confident this is the proper placement. There is simply too much there for the sides to come together nicely. The irony is that the hand is designed so it can fold into the forearm. The reason for this is so Hot Rod can whip out his saw-blades (I’ll go more into this in part 2), but I would rather they ditch the saw-blade feature if it means there’s room to fold in the hands so in alt mode the sides would come flush.

The other construction issue I have has to do with the large bottom black panels towards the rear in the leg area, also pictured above. Mine doesn’t seem to want to snap in nicely, at least on one side. Not sure if I can get this to be better. It is sometimes dangling off, and this leads me to my next issue. There is practically no clearance on the bottom in alt mode. Those black pieces I mentioned, the large red piece right next them, and the head, they are almost touching the ground when Hot Rod is placed on a flat surface in alt mode. And they will touch the ground if you don’t get everything just right. This figure is not meant to be rolled around or you might damage these pieces.

Below is a shot for size comparison. MP Rodimus with Animated and Henkei Rodimus.

Now let’s look at this figure in Rodimus Prime alt mode. To do it, you attach the trailer that comes with the figure. He looks quite solid in this mode. It’s show accurate the the details and colors do not disappoint. He kinda looks like an RV in this mode, but that’s just how he looks. Maybe that’s why he never lived up to Optimus.

My main gripe with this mode is has to do with how the trailer is attached. The trailer comes with a hidden front piece that resembles Hot Rod’s hood and seat area. To attach the trailer, the Hot Rod fig goes into the trailer head first, then that front piece come around and covers Hot Rod’s ass. See the pic below for yourself.

I’m very disappointed with this mechanism. I didn’t think that front piece would be necessary and the trailer can attach toward Hot Rod’s rear, like MP Optimus.

Last pic for part 1 shows off MP with Titanium Rodimus.

I’ll reserve my final thoughts for when I do part 2, which is the robot mode. Until then… Transform and Roll Out!

EDIT 09/22/2011:
Click here for Part 2 of the review.

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Reveal The Shield Turbo Tracks Review

February 21st, 2011 Comments off

A while back I did the review for Reveal The Shield Special Ops Jazz. Today I’m doing the review for Turbo Tracks, also in the Reveal The Shield line of TFs. These two figures came out at the same time. I bought both of these from HasbroToyShop.com right before Christmas. That turned out to be a good decision because I still have not seen these guys in the stores, and February is almost over!

Tracks first appeared in Season 2 of G1 Animated. He kinda just appeared. So as to how he arrived on Earth, your guess is as good as mine. Everyone remembers him for having a super sexy Corvette as hit alt mode and his suave and debonair ways of operation. Tracks is way too into himself, but he is one of the Autobot’s better warriors so I guess his peers put up with it. Tracks did not appear in the G1 movie and I don’t remember if he appeared at all in Season 3. Back in the 80s, he was one of the most sought after figures among the kids in my class, probably because he turned into a Corvette. It’s good to see Hasbro finally give him the update in the CHUG line that he so properly deserves. I guess due to licensing issues, he is called Turbo Tracks.

Let’s start by looking at the alt mode. I don’t think Hasbro got the rights to Corvette for Turbo Tracks, which is kinda strange considering they got it for the Alternator and Movie figs. But regardless, Hasbro came up with a pretty sporty alt mode that still does Tracks justice.

The shape of this alt mode deviates a little from how I think the Corvette looks, especially in the front grill area. The car also feels a little wide to be a Corvette. However, all the Autobot cars in the CHUG line are clones of the vehicles that they’re supposed to be. In the case of Tracks, I feel this is close enough. If I simply saw an outline of the shape of this car and had to guess, I would’ve guessed Corvette. And seeing as how they’re going to repaint this mold into Wheeljack (with minor alterations), the alt mode here will work for both characters.

As far as the colors go, this shade of blue is undoubtedly Tracks. G1-ers will notice immediately that the flames on the hood are reproduced here as well, albeit somewhat modified. Hasbro took the effort to paint the rims silver this time, something I complained about on Jazz. The front windows are kind of a clear black and in this case matches well with the figure. The front lights are painted silver, rear brake lights painted red, and the grill painted black. All in all, the paint job is pretty good, much better that it is on Jazz. Tracks does look a little plastic-ish in alt mode, but that’s kinda true on all $10 deluxe figures, so I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

The “Reveal The Shield” rub sign is locate don the roof of the car. I think in G1 they put it in the same place.

Functionally, Tracks is fairly solid in alt mode. All parts and pieces come together to form a cohesive whole. Hasbro engineers have done a good job of hiding body parts into the vehicle construction. All accessories are accounted for in alt mode. Notice the missiles are tucked underneath the sides of the vehicle. The gun is hidden the rear area of the car that forms Tracks’ back and it can only be removed during transformation. The mechanism works really well and is leaps better than the usual placement of under the hood. The missiles can also be placed on the rear of the car, where the spoiler would go if he had one. To do this, you would need to rotate this one panel that contains the pegs. I really like this mechanism, because if you didn’t want to attach the missiles, you can then hide the pegs for a sexy and smooth look for the car. Hasbro didn’t have to do this and I commend them for paying attention to the little things.

I have 2 small gripes about Tracks. The first is the placement of the missiles underneath the door. It looks pretty cool in that location, but there really isn’t enough clearance underneath. So they kinda scratch the ground when they’re placed there if you try to roll Tracks on a flat surface. The second gripe has to do with how the rear part of the car doesn’t come up flush with the rest of the body. Check out the pics above and you’ll see what I mean. There is a very noticeable seam line between the door and the side rear, and it runs over the roof. It is possible to get it slightly better than how it looks in the pics, but everything has to come together just right and could take some time.

Turbo Tracks is also capable of transforming into his flight mode, like G1. Below I have a pic. I don’t think Tracks is a fully qualified Triple Changer. However we do see him do this from time to time in G1 animated. Very nice to see Hasbro incorporate this into the toy.

Below are some pics of Turbo Tracks with Tracks from other TF lines. The red Tracks is an actual Diaclone from the 80s (BTW, the Autobot sticker on the roof came from an extra G1 Hound sticker sheet). The blue G1 Tracks is an early 2000s TRU re-issue, and the yellow Tracks is Binaltech.

Transformation to robot mode is a combination of the G1 mold and the Binaltech/Alternator mold. The hood of the car forms the legs, which is the same for all Tracks. The roof of the car forms the chest, like G1. However, the arms are hidden in the rear section of the vehicle, and this is more like Binaltech. Overall, I don’t see anything really innovative in the transformation, but in this case it’s not a bad thing. We all know the general mechanics of the Tracks transformation and I think Hasbro did the right thing by sticking with the old familiar formula. I should point out that there is a little bit of Auto Morph in the chest and head mechanism. I usually hate Auto Morph features, but in this case it works pretty well.

I am lovin’ the looks of Tracks in robot mode. Take a look at the pics and see for yourself. This Tracks simply screams G1! The overall body styling is an homage to both the G1 toy and the G1 character. All the famous characteristics that make Tracks is here, including his overall colors of blue and dark grey, his wings, his over-the-shoulder twin missiles, and his signature red face. I didn’t think it was possible to make a Tracks figure that’s even more Tracks than the Binaltech, but Hasbro proved me wrong. Nice job Hasbro!

Construction wise, I see no issues with Tracks in robot mode. He’s well articulated and hold his poses well. I’ll let the pics do the talking.

You can remove his missiles if you like, and the gun can be placed in either hand. Nothing on Tracks looks out of place. He’s well balanced, he’s proportionate, and he’s not front or back heavy. I really can’t find any gripes with this robot mode. I also really like the detail on this figure. The grey area on the legs has a nice paint finish that makes it look diecast. Some parts look a little plastic-ish, but all $10 Hasbro figures (if not all TFs) have this problem so I’m not going to bash Tracks here.

Here’s a shot of how the back looks.

And here’s Tracks with other Tracks figs in robot mode.

In my opinion, this is the best Tracks figure ever made. The Binaltech figure is very good too, but it’s got too much kibble and it won’t form the car-jet. Turbo Tracks does not have these obvious weaknesses, plus it’s got all the strengths I mentioned. If you can find one anywhere near you, buy it now.

By my count, Hasbro is almost done re-doing all the Diaclone cars from the first 2 seasons as a deluxe or voyager in the CHUG line. Wheeljack and Grapple is on the way. This only leaves Trailbreaker, Hoist, and Skids. Actually, I’ll live if they don’t do Skids since he never really appeared that much. But I want the other two! C’mon Hasbro make it happen!

That’s all for now my fellow TransFans. Get out there and get your TFs… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Reveal The Shield Special Ops Jazz Review

January 16th, 2011 6 comments

Happy New Year! This is the first post for 2011. And as the first order of business, I’m going to review Special Ops Jazz from the Reveal the Shield line of TFs.

Jazz has always had a special place in my passion for Transformers. I have loved the character ever since G1. He’s one of Prime’s go-to guys. His alt mode is a Porsche. He’s got crazy sounds and light shows to disorient bumbling Decepticons. He’s got above average combat skills. He’s resourceful. And last but not least, he’s just too damn cool. He completes his missions with so much flair and pizazz you can’t help but like him. Oh, and his G1 toy ain’t too shabby either. Of all the Diaclone cars, G1 Jazz is among the best molds, along with the toys for Smokescreen and Sideswipe. I think his G1 toys still holds up well today. As a kid, I would sometimes pretend I’m a Transformer. Very often Jazz would be my character of choice.

When rumors first broke of a new Jazz mold that will be released to fit into the Classics universe, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I waited a good portion of last year for news of this to materialize, and finally towards the end of 2010, we got Special Ops Jazz in the Reveal the Shield line. And it’s about damn time too. Most other non-special-team TFs from the first 2 seasons have been re-made in some form in the CHUG line. Jazz is such a recognizable character that he really should have been one of the first. But, better late than never I always say.

I documented my purchase of Jazz in this post. He comes with those famous rub-signs that all true TransFans should be familiar with. I think that’s suppose to be the gimmick of the “Reveal the Shield” line. Hasbro could not secure the rights to use the name Jazz, so they had to call him Special Ops Jazz, after his G1 function of Special Operations. I like this better than the lame Autobot Jazz or the Japanese name of Meister.

First lets take a look at the car mode.

In alt mode, this is vintage Jazz. Hasbro did not get licensing rights to Porsche, but they have came up with an alt mode that resembles the Porsche in always every way without actually being a Porsche. This is an alt mode worthy of Jazz with its sleek and sexy body outlines. The colors are a pure homage to the G1 figure. The white overall color scheme, with the blue and red racing stripes and the number 4, is unmistakably G1 Jazz. Below I have 2 pics of this Jazz with the G1 figure side by side. That’s an actual G1 folks, not a re-issue!

As far as construction goes, I see no issues with Special Ops Jazz. All the pieces come together quite well to form one cohesive unit. The car is balanced on a flat surface and it rolls well despite the plastic tires. I kinda wish that the tires are rubber like the G1 figure, but Hasbro seemed to stop doing that for $10 figures long time ago. The gun (not pictured in alt mode) sticks right underneath the hood, so you don’t have to worry about if there’s a place for it. The gun needs to be transformed to be able to fit, but the mechanism is simple yet robust. The storage mechanism here is way better than the one used for the CHUG Prowl/Smokescreen/Silverstreak mold. In that mold, the gun attachment is weak, and is constantly falling off the car. This is not an issue with Jazz. The gun sticks well when properly tucked.

To please us G1 fans, Hasbro implemented Jazz’s famous G1 speakers into the figure. In alt mode, you open the doors and flip out the speakers, if you want to simulate Jazz blasting music or noise like he does in the G1 cartoon. Very very cool!

The rub sign is located on the roof of the car. These rub signs used to be square with the shape of the insignia centered in the middle. For the Reveal the Shield figures, the signs are modified so that the shape of the sticker is the shape of the symbol. Not sure that I like this approach, but it’s just a personal preference and does not affect how I like this figure one way or the other.

Now about the gripes. The most obvious one is the lack of paint or detail in the back of the alt mode. Many fans other than myself have pointed this out. See for yourself.

Alt rear

I think Hasbro could have at least painted the rear windows here, so it doesn’t look so plain. Maybe add some color to the tail lights, or paint the rear bumper red like the front bumper. Or maybe color the tailpipes silver, like his face (more on this later). While we’re at it, I think the rims could have been painted silver too, like Reveal the Shield Tracks (a review for this figure will come later).

The overall paint job on Jazz is only mediocre in my opinion. While what’s there is adequate, Jazz does look kinda plastic-y, if you get what I mean. Since he’s white, he looks unpainted. Its kinda like putting together a car model that is already white, and then you only apply the stickers for the racing stripes. That’s how Jazz looks in alt mode. On my figure I also detect slight paint splatters.

The above pic has Special Ops Jazz with Animated Jazz and Alternator Jazz. Special Ops is about the same size as Animated in alt mode.

But other than these weaknesses I mentioned, the alt mode still gets high marks. The shape of the car looks good, and functionally there is nothing wrong. Now let’s look at the robot mode.

Take a look at the above pic, and I dare say this is the most G1-like Jazz Hasbro has ever made. Everything about his appearance is a G1 homage. I already mentioned the colors, and in robot mode it’s really no different. The shape of his chest, legs, arms, wings, his face and head, they all scream G1. Of course this is 25+ years later, and with the toy technology we have today, Hasbro has managed to produce a Jazz robot mode that looks both like the G1 toy and the G1 cartoon. Before this figure, the most G1-like Jazz produced would be the Binaltech/Alternator version. While that’s a great figure, his legs looked very different from G1, and he’s only white (assuming you don’t use custom Repro Decals). Special Ops Jazz is the definitive G1 update. I’m especially impressed by the shape and look of his feet and shins. This design is pure G1.

Transformation from car to robot is nothing we haven’t seen before. That should be obvious by looking at the robot mode and seeing where all the car parts go. The only major difference between this and G1 is the arms. G1 has the arms fold rectangularly under the hood, while Special Ops Jazz folds them to the side by the doors. It seems as if Hasbro simply took the G1 mold and updated it with 2010 toy technology. I think in this case it’s really not a bad thing. The G1 transformation is tried and true, and don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, I always say.

The biggest knock against G1 figures is articulation, or lack of it. G1 Jazz is no exception. Special Ops Jazz addresses that and then some. This figure is capable of a wide array poses. I won’t describe it. Just look at the pics.

The gun can be held in either hand. I guess I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t include a missile launcher like his G1 self, but I’ll get over it. And just like the car mode, the speakers can fold out over the doors/wings.

As far as construction, I see no issues with the figure. The joints are just right, not too loose and not too tight. This means he can hold his poses well. Jazz is also nicely balanced. He’s not front or back heavy, and in my opinion he’s got just the right amount of kibble. He stands easily on 2 legs, even if you choose to do action poses. Transformation difficulty is just about right too. He’s complex enough to be regarded as a real Transformer, but simple enough to be fun.

Below is a shot of the back in case you’re wondering.

As for size comparison, below is shot next to Generations Dirge. Everyone should know the size of CHUG Seekers by now so its a good standard to use. Jazz in robot form is pretty tall for a deluxe.

Unfortunately there are weaknesses in the robot mode as well, and once again it has to do with the paint. I think his paint job in robot mode is better than the alt mode, simply because he’s got other bits on him other than the white, so he doesn’t look so plastic-ish. However, some gray plastic bits really stand out, like the abdomen, shins, and feet. If Hasbro painted these silver like his face, they would look so much better. Oh, I should point out that the paint job used on the forearms look really good. They are plastic, but the paint makes it look die-cast. Bravo!

One other gripe that other fans have is that his chest doesn’t lock in place in robot mode. This means if you want to raise his arms, his chest will go back up. While I do consider this a minor issue, as a G1-er, I instinctively hold down his chest if I want to move the arms because in G1 the chest/hood didn’t lock either. So if you’re like me, you may not see this as a big deal.

The pics below show off Special Ops Jazz with Jazz from various other TF lines in robot mode.

That very last pic above, that’s Pretender Jazz if any of you are wondering. That’s right, Jazz was made a Pretender late in G1. Pretender Jazz is without a doubt the worst Jazz ever made. Even worse than Movie deluxe Jazz, and that’s saying a lot. But Pretender Jazz is not something you will see often so I put him in these pics for pure awe factor. In case you’re wondering just how bad he really is, check out this review below (not by me).

There you have it, my review of Reveal the Shield Special Ops Jazz. I pointed out a few gripes and they’re mostly paint issues, but overall he’s still highly recommended. This Jazz is definitely in my top 2 of all Jazz ever made. I have a hard time deciding which Jazz I like better, this one or the Binaltech/Alternator. Do not hesitate to get one if you see one in the stores. He’s still pretty rare right now. I had to get mine from HasbroToyShop.com.

“Do it with style or don’t bother doing it!” Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Generations Dirge Quick Review

December 26th, 2010 Comments off

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! I spent most of today watching all 5 NBA games and opening some TF figures. My beloved Lakers got embarrased by the Heat. No effort and thus no holiday cheer for the Lake Show.

On this day exactly a year ago, I reviewed ROTF Dirge. So in keeping with that strange holiday tradition, today I will review Generations Dirge.

There’s been so many figures made out of this mold already, so I think by this time everyone already knows what the CHUG Seekers are all about. So I’m just gonna point out some differences between Generations Dirge and Henkei Dirge.

First some background info. The first CHUG Dirge produced was the Botcon 2007 exclusive Dirge, which is really just a repaint of Classic Ramjet. This was extremely limited and online dealers wasted no time asking $150+ for the figure. Then in 2009, the Japanese only Henkei line released a new Dirge that had a more G1 accurate wing mold. This was also a limited release so most likely you would’ve paid between $60 to $70 for one, but getting one from an importer was not difficult. Generations Dirge is the first CHUG Dirge produced for mass retail, MSRP at $12.99, though usually you can find him at around $9 at Target or Walmart.

The following compares Henkei with Generations Dirge. I apologize for not taking pics of the two Dirge side by side. I am home for the Holidays and I left Henkei Dirge in my apt, so the following comparisons come from me looking at the Generations toy and old pics of Henkei dirge on this blog.

JET MODE:

  • Generations Dirge has red and white stripes in a pattern that is more G1 accurate on the wings, as opposed to Henkei’s blue and white stripe patterns.
  • Generations shade of blue seems a little more G1 accurate. The blue on the Henkei figure looks too bright.
  • The Henkei figure has a nice Decepticon logo on the nose cone. Generations does not.
  • The grey bits on the Henkei figure is painted black on the Generations figure. I think grey is more G1 accurate here.
  • The wing Deception logos are painted closer to the body and in one orientation on the Henkei figure (crown towards the nose) whereas the Generations figure has it farther out and in the opposite orientation (crown towards the rear). Honestly, half the time they go one way and half the time they go the other way, so I really don’t know which orientation is the right one. However, Henkei Dirge has a smaller Decepticon logo on the nose, and it doesn’t match the orientation on the wings.

ROBOT MODE:

  • Henkei Dirge has some nice chrome bits on this guns. Generations Dirge gets no love on the bling.
  • Again, most of the grey bits on Henkei Dirge is painted black on Generations Dirge. I think grey is more G1 accurate.
  • Generations Dirge has a small Decepticon logo on the chest that Henkei Dirge does not.
  • The Henkei figure has stripes painted on both sides of the wing so in robot mode you can still see the pattern from the front. Generations figure has stripes painted on one side only.
  • There are other minor color scheme variations between the two figures, such as the locations of the blue, red, and black/grey. These are two separate interpretations of the character. Generations Dirge has black forearms which is accurate to the G1 toy but not the G1 show (grey forearms). Henkei Dirge has blue forearms.

So which one of these is better? I really can’t say. Construction wise, I think the Henkei figure is a little better, though the Generations toy is also very good. Neither of these is like Henkei Thundercracker in terms of mold quality so it’s a non-issue here.

If you can only get one, I definitely recommend you get the Generations figure since it’s so much cheaper and they’re really about the same. If you already have the Generations toy, then I would not recommend getting the Henkei because spending $60 for something so similar is not a good investment in my opinion. Conversely, if you got the Henkei and is considering getting Generations, I say go for it since its so cheap. But you won’t lose either way. Both figures are great interpretations of the character.

On a related note, I think I have a total of 13 figures of this mold if my count is right. They are: Classic Starscream, Classic Ramjet, Classic Skywarp x 2, Universe Starscream (G1 color) x 2, Universe Acid Storm x 2, Henkei Thundercracker, Henkei Thrust, Henkei Dirge, Generations Thrust, and now Generations Dirge.

That’s all for now. I hope all TransFans got all the TFs they wanted for Christmas. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Generations Thunderwing Review

December 16th, 2010 7 comments

As I mentioned in my last post, I was in the process of moving. Moving is such a pain in the butt, especially when you have a lot of collectibles. It pretty much took up all my time for the last 2 weeks so I haven’t really had time to hunt for TFs or write in this blog. I finally got done with the move last Friday, so on Sat I had some time to do a hunt. I went to Target and I was lucky enough to find Thunderwing. He is a rare find as of this writing. There are 28 sightings on Seibertron currently, but only one of them is in California. He’s also all sold out on Hasbrotoyshop.com.

I’m done moving, but a lot of my stuff is still unpacked at the new place. I need a break from unpacking so I’m gonna do a review. Here we go.

Below is Thunderwing in the package.

For those that are not familiar with the character, Thunderwing was a G1 Pretender. Pretenders came around after the US G1 cartoons officially stopped. Thunderwing was a Mega Pretender (the shells transform), and they appeared even later. So yeah, he arrived just in time to see G1 come to an end. I’m only aware of the character because he played a fairly significant role in the comics. He is also the lead villain in Stormbringer, where he is depicted as being huge and very powerful.

This Generations figure seems to take cues from both the G1 and Stormbringer versions of the character. His alt mode seems to be some kind of stealth jet fighter. I really like the look of this jet. His appearance in this mode is sleek to say the least. Hasbro has been really good about hiding the bulk for their jet figures as of late, unlike earlier figures (especially from the first Movie) where the bottom is pure bulk. Thunderwing is no exception. I also like the shape of the wings, the canards, and the tail fins. There’s some nice detailing all over the jet.

The colors are a pure homage to G1, where he is mostly white with stripes of blue here and there. I don’t remember what was the color of the cockpit in G1, but in this version I like the bright orange. It kinda gives the colors that little extra something. The missiles are also the same orange to match. The thrusters and missile launchers are purple, and I think that was the color of his G1 weapons. The Decepticon logo is printed on the end of both wings. A very nice color scheme overall.

Thunderwing has enough guns in jet mode to seriously take out some Autobots that dare get in his way. He’s got two black guns near the intake. These can be rotated to shoot to the side. The missiles on the wings do fire and they can also be rotated. Oh, these are probably some of the most powerful launchers I’ve tested in all my TFs.

The shot above shows the bottom of the jet. He’s got landing gears at the usual positions that you would expect. Obviously they can be retracted. It is not hard to get these landing gears out.

As you can see from the pic above, the front nosecone area can be detached to form a mini-drone. I think this feature is a pure homage to G1. The G1 figure, as far as I know, also had some kind of drone, so it’s nice to see Hasbro not forget us older fans. I don’t think this drone serves any real purpose on this figure, but it’s still kind of a nice feature. You can simply ignore it and leave it on the main figure if you find it useless.

I do have one gripe about the jet mode, and it is best illustrated with the pic above. In this shot, I purposely left the wings extended to the side. This is what you do when you transform him to robot mode. My issue is that it is really easy to accidentally misshape the jet into this configuration. This is because there is nothing locking the blue pieces of the wings in place where it needs to be. So if you’re trying to rotate or remove the missiles, or if you’re just being a little too rough with the figure, the wings will come apart as shown above. I think the easiest thing that Hasbro could have done here is put a tab on the arms somewhere, and that can stick into a slot on the underside of the wings. This way, both the wings and arms are locked in place.

But other than the issue mentioned above, Thunderwing in jet mode is still well made and well engineered. I find no other weaknesses with the jet mode.

Thundering is only rated a 2 on the new transformation scale of 0 to 5. This ranks him as easy, and I agree with this score. He’s about the same difficulty as Generations WFC Megatron (who is rated a 3 but I think it should have been a 2). Hasbro came up with some very clever and new twists on the jet to robot transformation. When I describe it here in words, it will sound like the same tried and true formula for a jet transformation (ex: nose and wings form the back, sides become the arms, back of jet form the legs, etc). However, there are refreshing implementations to how all this is done, and the result is a transformation that feels like nothing we’ve seen before. For example, the waist and upper legs have a mechanism that folds outwards in robot mode to extend the legs, instead of the usual method of pulling the legs out. However, I should point out that the transformation is pretty easy. Fans that found issues with the simplicity of Universe Silverbolt may also find issues here, though Thunderwing is not that bad. Personally, I think this is a nice change from all the more difficult TFs we’ve been getting recently. You can really have fun with this figure and transforming him won’t feel like work.

I mentioned that in G1 Thunderwing is a Pretender. In this version, his robot mode resembles the Pretender shell and not his G1 robot mode. ROTF Bludgeon started this trend for G1 Pretender characters and I’m happy to see it continued.

Thunderwing looks quite cool in robot form. His appearance is without a doubt G1 inspired. His head mold, color scheme, and overall body styling resembles the shell closely. However, since this robot mode is not a shell, Hasbro is able to make him appear nice and lean, unlike G1 shell toys where they’re all clunky and bulky. In the comics, Thunderwing is almost always inside the shell, so this is the robot form that we are used to. It’s awesome to see this figure represent that interpretation faithfully.

This figure can be put into a wide array of poses. He’s got no waist articulation and the knees are not on a ball joint, but I think those are the only limitations. I’m sure there are fans out there that will cry and whine over this, but it’s something I can easily live with. Construction-wise, I see no issues. Thunderwing hold his poses well. All his joints are just right, not too tight and not too loose. I don’t detect any paint or assembly goofs on my figure. Some might say he’s got too much kibble on his back, but I like the way it looks. Kinda reminds me of the design of the Aerialbots, having a mini-jet on the back. Besides, I think this is how he looked in the comics.

Thunderwing is able to hold a weapon in each hand for some serious twin gun action, or you can combine the two guns into one giant rifle for some heavy fire power. There are tabs and holes on the launchers designed to do this, though you won’t see that anywhere on the instruction manual. I saw someone point this out on YouTube. Oh, btw, I want to take this time to commend Hasbro for printing transformation instructions to go forward and back, instead of simply saying to reverse the process to go back. They’ve been doing this in the latest batch of figures. Personally I don’t need it, but I know it’s been a complaint by the more casual fans, such as parents trying to transform it for their kids.

I do want to gripe about the scale of this figure, and I guess just with Generations figures in general. They are all deluxe class, meaning they’re all the same size. Scale wise, that’s just wrong. Bumblebee cannot be the same size as Megatron. Thunderwing is supposed to be HUGE in the comics. Don’t get me wrong, having a figure is better than not having one at all, but Hasbro could improve on the size. I understand that Deluxe is their best selling class. But the Generations figures are really aimed at a more seasoned audience, who in my opinion would spend the extra dollars if some of these characters are released as Voyager or Leader class figures.

But that aside, I highly recommend the Thunderwing figure. He is a great update of the character. Don’t let the wing and scale issues that I mentioned discourage you. He’s got way more positives than those minor negatives. Do not hesitate to get one if you spot one at your favorite retailer.

Until next time, this is Hsunami Prime, reminding you to… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Animated Rodimus Minor Review

October 22nd, 2010 1 comment

I think by now, all TransFans are aware that Transformers Animated have officially ended. All remaining TFA toys that were planned are exclusively released in the United States through Toys R Us. Iā€™m really only aware of 4 figures: Cybertron Mode Ratchet, Arcee, Rodimus Minor, and Cybertron Mode Ironhide. Cybertron Mode Ratchet came out as early as January of this year, and I think I found them locally in February. Toys R Us ordered way too many of this figure. Every store I visited recently is overstocked with Ratchet. This is not true with the rest of the figures. Arcee I only saw once in May, and never again. And because of this, I had a feeling that Rodimus and Ironhide were gonna be rare finds as well.

Fans have been reporting sightings of these two figures as early as August, so I’ve been keeping my eyes open. I was lucky I was able to find some right before Columbus Day weekend. My local Toys R Us didn’t have that many either, only 4 Rodimus and 3 Ironhide figures. Needless to say, I quickly grabbed some and proceeded to check out. I only left one of each on the shelves. The girl at the checkout was like, “Damn, you got them all! People have been asking about these!” LOL. I have been back to the store once since, and yeah, they’re all gone. I don’t anticipate my TRU to get anymore either. Ebay dealers ask a minimum of $25 for these, and that doesn’t include ship. These appear to be rare indeed.

Anyway, today I’m doing a review of the Rodimus Minor figure. I have not yet opened Ironhide, but he’s a repaint of Ratchet so I already know what to expect. I may do a review of him and Ratchet later in a future post.

Check out some pics of Rodimus Minor in the package.

I really like the look of this Rodimus in alt mode. His appearance is most definitely G1 inspired. The figure is mostly red with some stripes of yellow on the hood and on the wing. In G1 he had flames, but I think the yellow triangular stripes actually looks better. The window is in that famous blue like all other Rodimus figures. The engine on the hood is faithfully represented here. In G1 and Classic Rodimus, the side exhaust pipes are located on the side bottom of the vehicle. However in Animated, they’re located higher on the side, a little above the rear tires. I rather like this design, it manages to make the look refreshing, but still identifiable. Compared to other Rodimus figures, the shape of this one is more streamlined and more sleek. I have no complaints on the looks of the alt mode whatsoever. I haven’t seen Season 3 of Animated so I can’t comment on show accuracy, but if it looks anything like the package image then I would say the figure represented his look faithfully.

Functionally, Hasbro’s toy designers did a great job in the engineering of this figure. Rodimus is quite solid in this mode. As with most other TFA figures, the various parts and pieces come together well to form the vehicle. Everything snaps together nicely, and there are no dangling bits to be found. The alt mode will not come apart easily even if you choose to play rough with the figure as the car. On a flat surface, Rodimus rolls well on all 4 wheels and I see no balancing issues. The only noticeable seam line is towards the rear, above the wheel area, but that is something I can easily live with.

Size-wise, Animated Rodimus is a little smaller compared to Classic or Henkei Rodimus in alt mode. Check out the pic below.

His bow-type weapon can be attached in alt mode. Simply plug the pegs on the weapon into the slots on top of the vehicle. The missiles fire a good distance, though it’s not the strongest when compared to recent Hasbro offerings. If I was to name one gripe, it’s that the weapon is not that easy to attach in this mode. This weapon is angled upwards when mounted, and the tail end of the missiles make contact with the wing, so attaching this thing is harder than it looks. Not only that, the obvious place to apply force downwards on the weapon to mount it is exactly where the firing buttons are, so you almost always accidentally fire the missiles. I’ve learned to attach the launcher first, then connect the missiles. Also, even with all this, it’s real easy to accidentally make contact with the weapon, in which case you will almost always knock it off the figure (very similar to Arcee’s wings, though not that bad). I opened two Rodimus figures (more on this later), and they both have these issues with the weapon, so I’m going to assume this is an issue with the mold. Still, this is just a little gripe, and I think he looks better without the weapon in alt mode anyway so I just prefer to leave it off.

Overall, I’m very happy with the alt mode.

The transformation to robot mode is quite unique for a Rodimus figure. The standard transformation for Rodimus in other lines has the hood forming the chest, cockpit and wings becoming the back, the sides folding out to be the arms, and rear section of the car as the legs. Animated Rodimus Minor puts a slight spin on this familiar theme. The legs are buried entirely underneath the vehicle, with the feet connecting to below the front hood area. The arms go over the rear wheel area, and during transformation there are joints that will connect them with the chest. The front wheels also fold into the chest, and the engine can flip over in robot mode to reveal the Autobot insignia. It’s nice to see Hasbro trying something new in the transformation. The result is a process that feels both refreshing and familiar at the same time, something not easily achieved for such a recognizable character. And in my opinion, the transformation difficulty level is just right. It’s complex enough to be a fully qualified Transformer, but at the same time still fun enough that it doesn’t feel like work to transform it.

In robot mode, Rodimus looks great. He’s well proportioned and there’s not any body parts that look too big or too small. Again, I have not seen this character in the cartoon, but it appears that the toy captured the look of Animated Rodimus quite well. The paint job on a standard $10 Hasbro figure usually leaves a little to be desired, and on this figure it’s no exception. However, I don’t detect any color goofs, so at least Hasbro got that right.

Design wise, there is no mistaking that this is Rodimus. Anyone who is vaguely familiar with G1 Hot Rod will easily identify this character. His overall color scheme, his trademark wings, and his arm cannons are all here. The figure is capable of a wide range of poses. Ball joints are used almost everywhere. Fans big on poseability will find nothing to complain about here.

Functionally, Rodimus is well built. All pieces lock into place where they should, resulting in a solid robot mode. When I transformed him the first time, I thought the chest piece would dangle around. But after you lock in the cockpit window into the upper back, everything stays put. The side exhaust on the upper legs also clicks into position. The figure is very, very well engineered. Overall, I have no complaints about the robot mode of Rodimus Minor whatsoever.

Below are some size comparison pics with other Rodimus figures. Notice in robot mode, Animated Rodimus becomes a little bigger than Classic/Henkei Rodimus, whereas in alt mode he was smaller.

I mentioned that I got two of these and I opened both of them. For really rare figures that don’t cost much, I sometimes buy multiples, one to open and one to keep mint in the package, maybe to sell later or just to hang on to so I can say I have a mint one. Well, the first one I opened came with two left hands! Check out the pic below. The two-handed one is on the right. Functionally that’s just wrong, so I opened the other one as well. By the time I opened them, there were none left at TRU so exchange is not an option. I could return it, but I thought I keep it just for laughs. I googled this and I don’t see any other fan reporting this issue, so I’m forced to assume this is an isolated incident. But just keep in mind this could happen if you find and buy a Rodimus figure. And I’m just happy that I got a 2nd one so I don’t have to live with the two left-handed one.

So there you have it, my thoughts on Animated Rodimus Minor. I can’t recommend this figure enough. Compared with other Rodimus figures, I would say this is the second best one of all time, right behind Classic/Henkei Rodimus.

Come and think of it, all the recent figures that I opened have been really good. Hasbro has been on a roll when it comes to doing new molds. I will be doing reviews of some other great figures that came out recently, so stay tuned. Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Transformers Animated Arcee Review

May 30th, 2010 Comments off

As promised, here is the review for Animated Arcee. I first opened this figure about a week ago.

I’ll start the review with the alt mode. Check out some pics below.

As you can see from these pics, Arcee is one sexy and sleek ride. I have yet to see Arcee in Animated, so I can’t really comment on the figure’s show accuracy. But like I mentioned in my last post, I’m making the assumption that her appearance in the cartoon is just like the package art, and if that’s the case then this figure has properly captured the look. As far as colors go, this Arcee is undoubted G1 inspired. The overall pink with white stripes is unmistakenly G1, and I like the the yellow headlights painted on the front hood. The Autobot symbol is painted on the windshield. The shape of the alt mode also takes heavy cues from G1, only major difference is probably the inclusion of wings on the Animated version.

In alt mode, Arcee rolls well on a flat surface. The two swords that she uses in robot mode can be placed into the rear wheel compartment, and it’s always a plus in my book when all accessories are accounted for in every mode. The wings can be detached if you prefer the G1 look. Hasbro certainly did not forget the hardcore G1ers when Arcee was designed. Like all other Animated figures, Arcee is all plastic.

Below are some size comparison pics. The only thing I have handy is Classics Hot Rod so here they are. In alt mode she appears to be just a little smaller than Hot Rod.

I do have several gripes about the alt mode. The first is that her wings just love to fall off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they will cast off if you simply invert the figure or if she’s given a slight shake. They generally stay on ok if you don’t touch them, but that’s the problem. The wings are positioned so that you will probably always accidentally make contact (especially during transformation), and the slightest physical touch will probably knock them off. I kinda wish the peg and hole mechanism here was better fitting. My second gripe is that Arcee is one of those figures where you will have to measure if you got all the parts into their proper locations when you transform her back into alt mode. Most other figures in the Animated line have mechanisms in place that helps you connect the parts and pieces together, such as tabs and grooves in well-situated locations. I like to think of them as “guides” that let you know a part is placed into its proper configuration in alt mode. Arcee for the most part does not have such a mechanism. Most of the parts, especially in the limbs, you will have to figure out if you got them into the right spots. In the alt mode pics above, you can kinda see that she’s not perfectly symmetrical in a lot of the shots, and that’s a direct consequence of not having this mechanism. This would be less of an issue if Arcee wasn’t so well articulated (more on this in the robot mode section), but the fact is she is capable of a wide range of motion, and without the “guides” that I mentioned it can be tough to get her to look perfectly balanced unless you’re willing to spend a long time doing it.

Now let’s take a look at the robot mode. I like her transformation process. I recommend first taking the wings off when you transform her, because they will probably fall off anyway. Going to robot mode is not at all complicated, but at the same time it’s complex enough to feel like she has transformed.

Overall I really like the robot mode. IMO this is probably the best-looking Arcee figure Hasbro has produced. Most of the time, Arcee is either a character that is conjured up by the show creators without a toy (G1 Movie and season 3+), or an afterthought added to a toyline in which she did not appear (Michael Bay movies). For these reasons, most of the time, the Arcee toys doesn’t look quite right, or we simply don’t have a basis to gauge the toy’s accuracy. This is not the case with Animated. The character appears to be properly planned and a toy accurately produced. The look and feel of this Arcee is a great representation of the character. I think with a little modification, this toy can even pass for G1 Arcee. I would love to see a TF customizer attempt this.

In the pic above, you can see that the swords are stowed in the same place as alt mode when not in use. In robot mode this becomes her back, a very appropriate place to hold her swords.

In robot mode the wings are just as likely to fall off. Sometimes I take them off during transformation, then forget to put them back on in robot mode. This is why in all the pics below she appears without the wings. She’s got great articulation, though. I won’t describe it, just check out the pics for yourself.

Below are some size comparison shots, one with wings and one without. In robot mode, she actually appears a little bigger than classic Hot Rod.

I do have one gripe about the robot mode. There is a slight construction flaw in the figure. On my figure, there is a tab in the right knee joint that prevent the lower right leg from straightening all the way. The knee joint does have a hole that is meant to go over the tab, but either they made the tab too big or they made the hole too small. I guess I can take a knife and either file down the tab or cut the hole bigger, but I feel I should not have to do this. Out of the package she should be without these kinds of flaws.

My final verdict about this figure is you should pick one up if you see one at your local TRU. But keep in mind that I can’t recommend her as highly as some of the other Animated figures due to the shortcomings I mentioned. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by other figures in this line, but I have come to expect a very high quality from the Animated figures. The construction and mechanical design flaws that I mentioned keep this figure from getting a higher recommendation. However, this figure does have some great aesthetics, great poseability, and is perhaps the most accurate Arcee ever produced. And let’s not forget she is produced in extremely limited numbers, hard to find and indeed very rare. So if you see one, do not hesitate to buy one.

“Truth is power.” Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews