Goodbye Toys R Us

June 7th, 2018 No comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Transformers Purchased in May 2017

May 26th, 2018 No comments

Repaints and more repaints! That is the theme this month. There were 7 TFs purchased in May of 2017, and 5 of them were repaints.

I never kept stats on how many repaints there are in a month, but I can’t remember one that was this high. 5 out of 7… that’s more than 70%. Hasbro is being plenty lazy here, but perhaps I’m the sucker for buying so many.

Below I proudly present the TFs where most of these molds has been previously used on a different figure.

  • Titans Return Blitzwing, Target, $24.99

  • Titans Return Octone, Target, $24.99

  • Titans Return Brawn, amazon.com, $9.99

  • Titans Return Roadburn, Toys R Us, $9.99

  • Robots in Disguise Skywarp, Walmart, $14.97

  • Masterpiece Megatron MP-36, amiami.com, ¥17280 (about $159.09)

  • Masterpiece Starscream MP-31, amiami.com, ¥9770 (about $89.95)

Blitzwing and Octone

Blitzwing needs no introduction. As perhaps the most famous Triple Changer in TF history, Blitzwing saw plenty of action in G1, including the G1 Movie. Even casual TransFans could identify both his alt modes: a MiG-25 jet fighter and a Type 74 battle tank. Titans Return Blitzwing is a repaint of Titans Return Megatron. Or to be more precise, Megatron is a “prepaint” of Blitzwing.

In my opinion, TR Blitzwing is way better than Generations 30 Blitzwing. I enjoy the transformation of TR Blitzwing. All 3 modes look pretty good, and it doesn’t have the famous construction issue that Gen 30 Blitzwing had.

It feels weird to write Octone. His name should really be Octane, the fuel truck and fuel jet Triple Changer that came about in G1 Season 3. Titans Return Optimus Prime is a prepaint of Octone.

In the early years of the Generations line, Hasbro released a deluxe version of Octane called Tankor. That figure was really not that good. TR Octone is leaps and bounds superior to Tankor. And just like Blitzwing, all 3 modes are pretty good. There isn’t one mode that is obviously inferior to the rest, like many other attempts at Triple Changers. I commend Hasbro for coming up with modern Triple Changers where all the modes are properly represented.

G1 purists will no doubt argue that Blitzwing and Octane were never Headmasters. They would be right, but I don’t think it’s such a big deal.

Hasbro did make enough mold changes to Blitzwing and Octone that buying these repaints feels a bit more justified. If you didn’t purchase TR Optimus or Megatron, then there is no reason to not buy these 2. But even if you did, I still recommend them. The molds here were always meant for these 2 characters. Sell off Prime and Megs and put Octone and Blitzwing in your collection if you have a no-repaint rule.

Brawn

Brawn is one figure that uses a brand new mold this month. I have a quick review for him here. He is most definitely recommended.

Roadburn

I don’t think there was a character named Roadburn in G1 (though it won’t surprise me if I’m wrong on this). Instead, I think this character is meant to be Chase, a member of the Throttlebots. Roadburn’s color scheme and head mold is a dead on for Chase. I have G1 Throttlebot Chase. I also have ToyWorld’s MP scale interpretation of Chase, called Trace. My Chase collection is now complete with the acquisition of Roadburn. This totally unknown character deserves his 15 minutes of fame. Maybe I will do a separate collection post dedicated to Chase.

Anyways, Roadburn is a repaint of Titans Return Bumblebee. Roadburn has a different head mold, but that’s the only mold difference. Read the post on Bumblebee for my thoughts on this figure. If Chase the character means something to you, then go ahead and get this figure. Otherwise it is a skip. This figure really doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done before.

It should also be noted that Roadburn is one of my last in-store Transformer purchase from Toys R Us before the giant toy chain went under in early 2018. I started to write about my thoughts on TRU here, but then it got so long I realized it should get its own post. So that’s what I’ll do. A “farewell to TRU” post is coming soon.

Skywarp

Robots in Disguise Skywarp is a figure I debated about buying. I saw him on the shelves in late April or early May and decided to skip it. He is an exact repaint of RiD Starscream, which I have. I like the figure, but it’s not worth buying again in a different color.

About a week or two goes by, and I gave in to my urges and bought Skywarp. I guess it’s because I like Skywarp the character, I like the figure in the black and purple color scheme, and there was really nothing else to buy (I was not counting on the two MP figs to arrive later in the month). Read the RiD Starscream post for a more detailed discussion about the figure. Skywarp is solid, but not a required purchase by any means.

Starscream

What can I say about MP Starscream that hasn’t already been said? The mold used for this figure has been around for so long and Takara is still abusing it. What I have here is the official 2017 re-issue of MP-11. I’m fortunate enough that my Starscream doesn’t seem too bad, but it comes as no surprise that many fans report inferior construction quality with this figure (loose joints, weak tabs, etc).

I got this re-issue because, up until this point, I don’t have the famous Decepticon Aerial Commander in the newer MP Seeker mold. I have MP-3 Starscream, but that was done in the older MP Seeker mold (with the side skirts, among other things). It’s a crime not to have Starscream updated, so when I saw this re-issue, I bought it. Though, now in 2018 as I write this, 3Ps are doing their own MP style Starscream that appears to be superior (one example is MakeToys Meteor). So in retrospect, maybe I should not have bought this MP-11 re-issue, especially considering the questionable build quality.

MP-11 with MP Thundercracker and MP Skywarp. MP Thundercracker is in the new Seeker mold like the MP-11, while MP Skywarp is in the old Seeker mold like MP-3.

MP-11 in full coronation gear.

It should be noted that having the figure stand with the coronation gear is pretty difficult. It takes forever to position it so Starscream doesn’t fall ass backwards when wearing the full gear. Another reason to not get MP-11.

Megatron

I saved the best for last. Here we have the big prize of the month – Masterpiece Megatron, designation MP-36! This is the other figure having a new mold this month. Much like MP Optimus Prime that was first released as MP-1, then later got an improved but smaller version of MP-10, Megatron first received the MP treatment back in 2007 with MP-5. Now 10 years later, he is getting an updated version as MP-36, and he is meant to scale with MP-10.

MP-36 Megatron is a fantastic looking figure. Imagine if Megatron stepped out of the G1 cartoons and became a solid, tangible figure. That is how MP-36 looks. Take a look at the pics below. I cannot say enough about the show accuracy of this Megatron. He really is something to behold.

Back view. The upper back is a bit messy, but nothing I can’t live with.

Construction of MP-36 is superb. All joints are tight and clicky. No cosmic rust syndrome here.

MP Megs with the famous MP-10. Look how well they scale together.

MP Megs with his top MP lieutenant.

MP Megs up close and personal.

Look at all these accessories!

Obviously I never even took these out of the box. There’s a lot here to accessorize the Decepticon leader with. Other than the scope / fusion cannon, included are:

  • The silencer
  • The stock
  • 3 alternate face plates
  • Key to Vector Sigma
  • Energy sword (appears in the epic fight with Optimus Prime in the G1 Movie)
  • Pistol (also in the same fight)
  • Damaged chest plate (as a result of same fight with Prime)
  • Energy ball and chain (during fight with Optimus Prime, in Ep2 of More Than Meets The Eye, which he only used once ever)
  • Helmet (used in some Ep in G1 that I no longer recall)

I’m ashamed to say that, even after having this figure for about a year, I still not have transformed it. It’s not that I don’t want to. I took a quick look at the instructions, and it is more than daunting. This figure could very well make it into a top most-difficult list (btw, I really need to update that post and make a 2018 edition). I promise I will transform MP-36 soon.

Grades for the month:

Recommended:

  • TR Blitzwing
  • TR Octone
  • TR Brawn
  • MP Megatron

Mediocre:

  • TR Roadburn
  • RiD Skywarp

Not recommended:

  • MP Starscream

Again, TR Brawn and MP-36 Megatron are the only new molds in this list of Transformers. All others are repaints, and their purchase is at your discretion.

The Decepticons far outnumber the Autobots this month. Poor Brawn and Roadburn… these 2 tiny Autobots had better get back to headquarters and rustle up a few more friends (G1-ers will recognize this reference from Fire on the Mountain).

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics

Titans Return Brawn Quick Reivew

May 13th, 2018 No comments

Brawn is one of the more recognizable characters out of G1. He can make a case as the most famous Mini-bot after Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. He is known for his toughness despite his small size, and G1 fans love to point out that he was the first character to die in the G1 Movie.

I don’t have that many Brawn figures. One is DOTM Brawn, which I reviewed. I have a legend sized Brawn that came out a few years ago, included in a group shot in this post. I have a G1 Brawn made into a keychain. And finally I have a small Titan Master Brawn that I never even opened.

Now we are finally getting a G1 update of Brawn in the right size, later in the Titan Returns line. This post is a quick review of the figure.

In the package.

In alt mode.

G1 accurate and rolls well. Even has the iconic tire on top of the vehicle.

Rear view of alt mode.

A Titan Master can sit inside.

With some of his Autobot brothers.

Transformation is painfully simple. Detach the tire piece on top of the vehicle and rotate out the legs. Pull out arms at the sides. Rotate at elbows so the fists face forward. That’s pretty much it. It’s a very basic transformation that we have seen hundreds of times. But it works for this figure. TR Brawn is catered for TransFans that appreciate this character, and in that regard no originality in the transformation is necessary.

In robot mode.

Up close and personal. Great face sculpt that does justice to the G1 animation model.

Rear view. Notice the top tire piece that was detached stays on the back in this configuration.

That tire piece can be used as a shield, seen below.

With other Autobots in robot mode. Scales really well.

If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably already decided you want TR Brawn. At about $10, he’s a great addition to your updated G1 collection.

Go Brawn! Transform and Roll out.

 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Transformers Purchased in April 2017

May 6th, 2018 No comments

There was no shortage of purchases in April of 2017. Figures from every TF line of the time was represented this month, including Titans Return, Robots in Disguise, and for the first time, The Last Knight. Even third party products were not left out. Some of these figures are pretty darn good. And some of them, not so much. If you just want to get to my final thoughts about a figure, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get to it.

  • Robots in Disguise Soundwave, Walmart, $14.97

  • Robots in Disguise Blurr, Walmart, $14.97

  • The Last Knight Barricade, Walmart, $15.83

  • Titans Return Broadside, Target, $24.99

  • Titans Return Sky Shadow, Target, $40.99

  • Titans Return Bumblebee, Kickback, Gnaw, tfsource.com, $32.99

  • Keiths Fantasy Club E-Nergeon Cubes, tfsource.com, $9.99

  • FansProject Function-XV MADLAW, tfsource.com, $39.99

  • Warbotron WB03-A Turbo Ejector, tfsource.com, $79.99

Soundwave and Blurr

The two Robots in Disguise figures this month are Soundwave and Blurr. I found these two very early in the month.

I could never get enough Soundwave figures. I love the character, and I’m pleased he has a figure in the RiD line (though I don’t watch the show so I don’t know if he makes an appearance). RiD Soundwave takes design cues from many previous incarnations of the character. In robot mode, he’s got the iconic Soundwave colors and right-shoulder mounted cannon. Overall body shape takes design aesthetics from War For Cybertron Soundwave, and the head mold is an obvious homage of Transformers Prime Soundwave. I dig Soundwave’s overall appearance in robot mode. The red featureless face is a good fit for the character, and works well as a light piping feature. The figure is capable of some good poses in robot form, though most of it is achieved through cheap plastic ball joints. Transformation of RiD Soundwave is not difficult by any means. But unless you do it all time, there are some minor twists to an overall familiar motif that could have you very slightly stumped during the process. I don’t transform the figure that much, and every time I do it, I find myself asking silently, “How do I do that again?” RiD Soundwave’s alt mode is most certainly taken from War For Cybertron. But that’s not a bad thing. The Cybertronian car/SUV works well for the character. In my opinion, there are not that many good figures from Robots in Disguise, but Soundwave is one of them. This is a recommended figure. Get it.

Let’s look at Blurr next. The figure features the iconic Blurr colors that we have grown accustomed to. His head mold is an unique take on Blurr. It looks like he’s wearing a helmet with a visor, something Blurr would use if he was a human race car driver. I dunno, I think it’s design gimmicks like these that turns me off on Robots in Disguise. The show heavily attempts to humanize every Transformer, and I think they’re forgetting that they’re robots, not humans. Blurr is super easy to transform, just like every other figure in the RiD line. His transformation motif features nothing that we haven’t seen before. Arms to the sides, snap the legs together, and fold the back assembly over to the top of the vehicle. Flip in the feet pieces and line up the spoilers. That pretty much describes the entire transformation. It’s painfully simple, even by RiD standards. Granted, the alt mode does look cool. This futuristic race car reminds of me Crasher from the GoBots. I bet a customizer has already made a Crasher using this figure. Blurr’s weapon is in a translucent blue, and it comes with 2 pegs so you can position the weapon in two different orientations. All in all, this is not a bad figure, but offers nothing new for the mature collector.

Barricade

I am pleased to introduce my very first figure from The Last Knight: Barricade. There has been many deluxe movie Barricades made, and none of them are that good. I have the very first Barricade, from the 1st movie, as part of “First Encounter” 2 pack. And I have deluxe Barricade from Dark of the Moon. DotM Barricade is slightly better than the first Barricade, but neither one set the world on fire.

Hasbro used the term “Premier Edition” to label TLK toys that are more geared towards collectors, kind of like how Age of Extinction used the “Generations” banner. I started seeing the Premier Edition figs at Walmart in early April. Right away I liked the packaging. Even for the deluxe size figs, they are packed in boxes and not on cardboard. That’s always a plus in my book. In addition to Barricade, there was Bumblebee, Berserker, and Slash in the first wave of Premier Edition deluxe figs. I’m pretty sure Bumblebee and Slash are repaints from AoE. Berserker didn’t look all that interesting. That only leaves Barricade. Out of these 4, he does look the best in the box. And since I was never satisfied with the previous Barricades, I was really hoping this figure would be better. So I left the store with only Barricade.

I’m gonna go over the alt mode first. Barricade’s police car paint job is quite good. This Barricade is more of a dark blue, and not black. The Decepticon logo and the “POLICE” markings are painted very sharply on both sides. Front headlights and the police siren lights on the grill are also nicely painted. Same goes for the rear brake lights. This Barricade still has the phrase “To Punish and Enslave” written in cursive right above the rear wheels, and this application looks better than ever. What I find most impressive about this alt mode is that it’s got room for all his accessories. There are peg holes for the pistol and the night stick underneath the vehicle. And with those attached, there is still plenty of clearance for the police car to roll well on a flat surface. But what’s really impressive is how the arm cannon is placed in alt mode. The round arm cannon fold apart to form 2 semi-circles, and in this form the cannon is pegged in on the rear windshield. It’s a very cool effect and I commend Hasbro for this design. Barricade feels cohesive in this mode, nothing dangling or flopping around. If I was only judging this by alt mode, this is the best Barricade ever made.

Transformation to robot mode is pretty simple. That seems to be the trend for movie figures these days, even the ones made for collectors. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from the movie line, so I won’t describe it too much. In robot mode, Barricade looks ok, not great. I feel that his proportions are off. The legs appear a bit short in my opinion, giving more of a stocky look. The big weakness of the robot mode is that there is way too much back kibble. The roof of the car is draped over almost the entire back side. In fact, the roof of the car accounts for about 70% of the height in robot mode. It’s not AoE Crosshairs bad, but pretty close. Articulation is decent for a fig in this class, though I gotta point out there is no waist articulation and the head only moves from side to side, not up and down. The pistol and nightstick can be held in either hand. The same peg holes for their storage in alt mode is now positioned to the side of the thighs, so he can store them there in bot mode for kind of a cool look. The arm cannon can be wrapped around either arm. In my opinion, the robot mode is mediocre at best.

So should you get Barricade? I do feel this is the best Barricade made to date, but that’s not saying too much. Alt mode is excellent, but bot mode is so-so. If you’re not crazy about the character, then perhaps wait for the MP Barricade that is due out sometime this year.

Below is a pic of Barricade with some other TLK figures, that will come in later months.

I mentioned in earlier entries that I made a visit to New Zealand and Australia in 2017. That was a great trip! And I wanna go back there so bad. Anyways, that happened in April of 2017. The 3 figures featured so far were found before the trip. All other figures this month were acquired after the trip. And believe me, I tried hunting for Transformers in Australia. I did locate some Toys R Us stores on Google Maps, but they were too far out of the way from where we stayed and where we went for attractions. Bummer. I would have liked to see Toys R Us in Australia, like I did for Paris and Shanghai. And now that Toys R Us is officially closing all stores here in the United States (and in the U.K.), I wonder if the international stores will survive.

Broadside

TR Broadside is one of the last figures I found in April, but I’m gonna talk about him now. For a long time, I was really hoping Hasbro would make a Broadside. I featured my CHUG Wreckers a while back, in this post. Look on the 3rd shelf, and I got all the original Wreckers updated in modern day form. Except for Broadside. So now having Broadside is a dream come true. That is, until I opened the figure.

Broadside is one of the original Autobot Triple Changers, along with Springer and Sandstorm. His 2 alt modes is a jet and an aircraft carrier. The concept of such a figure already boggles the mind. From a story perspective, Broadside has to be doing some crazy mass shifting to go from a regular sized bot to an aircraft carrier. And as for the toy, it’s very, very had to implement in physical form, because the shape of an aircraft carrier is very different from the shape of a jet. I never had the G1 toy, but I understand it’s not the best.

Titans Return is taking a stab at doing this difficult figure to please the hardcore completist fans, and I do appreciate them trying. But the end result is less than stellar. The aircraft carrier mode is decent, the robot mode is passable, but the jet mode is horrendous. The front of the jet looks ok, but the rear of the jet looks like something a fan would make up out of a toy as another mode. It’s as if the toy designers did not know what to do with the robot legs, so they kinda just stuck it in an awkward configuration for the rear of the jet called it a day. There is so much bulk at the back that this can’t be considered a good jet mode by any means. I don’t recommend this figure. Here are some pics.

Sky Shadow

Another figure I got towards the end of the month is Sky Shadow. He’s the last TR figure for the month. I did a quick review for him already, so read all the juicy details here. Sky Shadow is a recommended figure for this month.

Bumblebee, Kickback, Gnaw

The 3 TR legend class figures were bought as a set, for $32.99. I did find them all individually later in store for cheaper, but I wanted to lock them in early since legend figures always go fast when they first come out.

TR Bumblebee is not bad, but not great. Transformation uses the tried and true Bumblebee formula. Poseability is decent and construction is solid. I love the head and face sculpt, it’s done really well for a $10 figure. The Autobot logo is also nicely painted on and not a cheap sticker. The alt mode, while not a G1 bug, resembles something that Bumblebee would choose to be today. This figure doesn’t do anything that previous CHUG legend Bumblebees haven’t done, with the exception of one thing: A Titan Master can ride inside him in alt mode. You read that right. Most figures first released under the Titans Return line can have a Titan Master ride somewhere in their alt modes. And legend figures are no exception (if the alt mode is a vehicle). In Bumblebee’s case, the chest cavity is made hollow enough that a Titan Master can be squeezed in there in alt mode. However, this does mean that getting the car mode to clean up nicely after transformation is a bit tougher. The panel pieces surrounding the hollow cabin can collapse on itself inwards. My final verdict is that TR Bumblebee is a nice offering. Worth picking up if you have no other CHUG Bumblebees, or if you dig the the Titan Master riding feature. As for everyone else, this is an optional purchase.

TR Kickback is the last of the 3 famous Insecticons to be released in legend scale, in some kind of Generations line. We already got Thrilling 30 Skrapnel (Shrapnel) and Combiner Wars Bombshell (glad they could keep the name and not use Bombshock). Titans Return Kickback completes the trio. Overall, I like this Insecticon less than the other 2. The figure is ok, but he’s more flimsy than his Insecticon brothers. Construction of the figure feels cheap. He’s got parts dangling about in both modes, but that’s more of an issue with the initial character design. The insect mode is the weakest of the 3, by far. The mechanics of the transformation seems rushed and lazy. All TR legend figures use cheap ball joints, but Kickback’s implementation of them appear really obvious. If you got the other 2, than by all means pick up this figure to assemble the trio. But if you don’t, Kickback can be a skip. Or better yet, get one of the other ones first. My favorite out of these 3 is Bombshell, and it’s not because I’m partial to the character. He’s the most robust and solid out of the 3 Insecticons.

The last in this set of threesome is Gnaw. Anyone who has seen the G1 Movie knows that Gnaw makes up the drone soldiers of the Sharkticon army, under direction of the Quintessons. A G1 figure of Gnaw was made, and I think his allegiance was Sharkticon on the Tech Spec Bio. However, they still put a Decepticon logo on the toy, and I don’t recall if the name Gnaw was ever used in the G1 Movie or Cartoons. So was a figure made after the Movie designed this character, or did they take this toy and then make up the whole Quintesson backstory? We may never know. But what I do know is that TR Gnaw is pretty cool. He is one of the most unique figures that I have purchased in some time. His colors are unmistakably Gnaw. In robot mode he’s kinda stocky, but that actually reflects how he looked in the G1 Movie. Transformation to the metal shark creature is one of the most unique I have seen, and mechanically it actually works quite well. Robot head folds back, and the legs go backwards and form the shark back and head. Robot arms become the shark legs. The weapon becomes the shark tail. It doesn’t do justice when I describe it in words, but trust me it’s cool. I love how Gnaw looks as the shark creature. He’s got nice clear yellow eyes and a working lower jaw. Shark arms can be rotated, and the shark legs has a decent level of articulation. The alt mode also comes together well, forming a solid cohesive piece despite the fact that he’s got arms and legs. My only gripe is that he’s only legend class. In the Movie he’s actually a tad bigger than Hot Rod and Kup, so a deluxe or voyager class figure would have made more sense. But as legend class, I suppose some hardcore fan out there can get a bunch of these and assemble a Sharkticon army. I give Gnaw the highest level of recommendation. This figure is a required purchase for G1 fans.

E-Nergeon Cubes

I made quick post about these cubes here. See that post for a more in depth look at this high quality 3P accessory made to scale with your MP figures. Highly recommended.

MADLAW

Sixshot is not the only Six-Changer in the TF Universe. There is also an Autobot Six-Changer: Quickswitch. Only the most hardcore of G1-ers know about Quickswitch, and that’s for good reason. The toy came about way too late in G1 to matter. And, to be quite frank, G1 Quickswitch is not the best figure by any standards. In robot mode he looks like he’s wearing diapers, the puma mode is a mess, and his weird color palette of red and green is worthy of arrest by the Cybertron fashion police.

MADLAW is FansProject’s attempt at a modern Quickswitch, much like Hexatron is to Sixhot. Upon first hearing about MADLAW, I was quite excited. When he was finally released, there wasn’t much fanfare or fan buzz. Then the figure faded into obscurity, buried among the many 3P products that we are now saturated with today. Now I know why. Unlike the awesome Hexatron, Quickswitch is not a figure that will knock your socks off.

I purchased MADLAW sometime in late 2016. Tfsource.com had a sale for it at $39.99. I figured you can’t go wrong at this price. I didn’t have anything else to ship with MADLAW so I waited til now. And MADLAW did not make this worth the wait. He’s packed in robot mode. He looks alright in this mode, not great but not bad. He’s significantly smaller than Hexatron. So I guess MADLAW is meant to scale with CHUG.

The first mode I tried to transform him to is the boat mode. I didn’t get very far before I noticed something weird. On one side, the foot piece wouldn’t rotate and line up correctly to go into this alt mode no matter how hard I tried. Turns out, I got left foot pieces on both legs! At this point I gave up on trying to transform the figure and MADLAW stayed in robot mode all this time.

I contacted Tfsource.com to have the situation remedied. Tfsource made me take pictures of the issue, so I did and sent it to them. Then they come back saying I contacted them after 30 days, and per their policy they can’t do anything after 30 days. I got two problems here. One: why did they make me take pictures if all they are gonna say is this is past 30 days? That was a total waste of my time. Two: quoting a policy to not remedy the problem is simply hiding behind policy to do nothing. Real good here, tfsouce. Aren’t you the one that makes the policies? There is no faster way to alienate customers than hiding behind stupid policies. I have since given tfsource way less business. Both capturedprey.com and thechosenprime.com have gone to much greater lengths to take care of me. I mentioned how capturedprey.com got a replacement stand piece for me for Soar. And more recently, thechosenprime.com got me a replacement piece for Contactshot. On a part that I broke! And I broke it about 4 months after the purchase! I now give these 2 much more business. Screw Tfsource!

Anyways, back to MADLAW. Even without the foot piece issue, I don’t think he’s such a great figure. He is kinda small for today’s standards. The only alt mode I tried to get him to didn’t look all that good, even if there was not a wrong foot piece getting in the way. Transformation for that one mode also didn’t feel that smooth. I realize I didn’t fully give the figure a chance here, but if FansProject had better QA, I would have. I blame FP for including the wrong part to begin with, and tfsouce for not fixing the problem. As it stands, I do not recommend this figure. For that reason, I’m not gonna include any pics of MADLAW out of the box. My thoughts about the figure may change, if I choose to dig out this figure and play with it more. But that seems highly unlikely.

If you’re wondering why this figure is called MADLAW, it’s because each letter in the name is also the first letter for each of the modes. For example, W stands for Wood Runner (the puma mode).

All this reminds me of the time I got two left hands for the TF Animated Rodimus figure. How do errors like these happen? Sometimes I really wonder what goes on at a transforming figure toy factory. I have a feeling I might not wanna know. I hope it’s not as bad as what I read about Apple factories.

Is another 3P going to take a stab at their own Quickswitch? Only time will tell.

Turbo Ejector

Last but certainly not least, I have to mention Turbo Ejector. This awesome figure is Warbotron’s interpretation of Technobot Afterburner in MP scale. I did a quick review of the figure. Go read that for all the details, or just trust me and go buy this figure now.

To summarize, these are the grades for the figures this month:

Recommended:

  • RiD Soundwave
  • TR Gnaw
  • TR Sky Shadow
  • E-Nergeon Cubes
  • Warbotron Turbo Ejector

Mediocre:

  • TR Bumblebee
  • TR Kickback
  • RiD Blurr
  • TLK Barricade

Not Recommended:

  • TR Broadside
  • FansProject Function-XV MADLAW (though this may change)

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: On The Hunt, Pics

KFC E-Nergeon Cubes Review

May 2nd, 2018 No comments

Gemini and I have said for a long time that some 3P should make some Energon Cubes, in either CHUG or MP scale. I don’t know anything about manufacturing, but some clear plastic cubes in either pink or purple doesn’t sound hard to do. And it finally happened. Actually, it’s been done for some time as of this writing. I just finally got some in April of 2017. And that was over a year ago. I got them because I needed something cheap to push a order over $150 to get free shipping, but that doesn’t mean they are not worth getting.

I decided to go with E-Nergeon Cubes by Keiths Fantasy Club, often abbreviated KFC (no relation to the famous fried chicken chain). This set is a good deal. 9 MP scale Energon Cubes for only $9.99. All other cubes I have seen cost more. The colors of this set is somewhere between pink and purple. There are 3 different types of cubes in the set, 3 cubes for each type, for a total of 9 cubes.

As you can see, there are 3 kinds of cubes here. The first kind on the left is your standard Energon cube in it’s normal appearance. The 2nd kind (pictured in the middle) is seen sometimes in the cartoon when a Decepticon would push down a bunch of cubes stacked together and they get flattened into one cube. The last kind (seen on the right) takes some explaining. It’s hollow at the top, and you see Energon molded in liquid form flowing inside. This is so you can take a MP scale Decepticon and have him pose with this cube like he’s drinking it. See my interpretation below with FP Grenader, as best as I can get it.

All in all, I really like these set of cubes. If you are looking for some MP scaled Energon Cubes, you will not be disappointed with this set.

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Warbotron Turbo Ejector Quick Review

April 25th, 2018 No comments

We have to talk about Turbo Ejector. This figure is Warbotron’s interpretation of Technobot Afterburner in MP scale. And I’ll get straight to it: I really like this figure. I have heard of high praises for Turbo Ejector for some time before this purchase. In fact, I tried to buy it in 2016. Saw a eBay listing at a good price, but too many eBay scammers in recent years made me hesitant. So when I saw him on sale at $79.99, I quickly got one (MSRP is $95.99). And that was a smart decision.

Before we look at the figure, let’s take a peek at the box. Even the box is high quality. Construction of the box is one of the sturdiest I have seen, made of high quality cardboard all around.

Box open flap. Nice artwork on the inside flap.

Tab on the side of the box for easy pull out.

In the packaging.

Turbo Ejector is about the same size as the other Warbotron Combaticon limb figures. He actually weighs quite a bit for a figure of this size. I don’t detect any diecast. For him to weigh this much, the fig has got to be made with some high quality plastic.

Back view.

Alternate back configuration for the G1 purists.

All armored up.

I’m ready for my closeup. Great face sculpt.

Ready for some serious action. Check out the awesome light-piping.

Construction of the figure is super solid. Warbotron figure are usually plagued with tolerance issues, but I detect no such problems on my Turbo Ejector. Everything fits snugly where they need to be. Joints are just tight enough to hold some good poses, but not so tight that transformation becomes frustrating.

Speaking of transformation, Turbo Ejector follows the same overall motif as G1 Afterburner. It’s good to see that Warbotron did not stray very far from the character’s G1 roots and implemented a modern transformation that is true to the original toy. Turbo Ejector’s transformation difficulty is somewhere between easy and average. I like that, actually. This is a figure you can just pick up and play.

I love this alt mode. Afterburner is my favorite Technobot, and part of that is because of his awesome motorcycle alt mode. It looks like a futuristic bike, like those Tron bikes.

Alt mode with weapons attached.

Alt mode with weapons attached more G1 style.

Back view of the bike.

Turbo Ejector forms the right arm of Computicon (Computron). I didn’t try this, since I don’t have the rest of the guys. And on that point, I did hear that Turbo Ejector is the best fig in the group. That makes me hesitant to get the rest. But who knows… if I’m lucky enough to find his cohorts for cheap, I will.

I cannot recommend Turbo Ejector enough. He is far superior to Quantron’s Overheat. Again, Afterburner is my favorite Technobot. I’m happy there is a high quality MP scale figure made of him. Transform and Roll Out!

 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Titans Return Sky Shadow Quick Review

April 22nd, 2018 No comments

Titans Return Sky Shadow was acquired about a year ago. I only have one other Sky Shadow, which is a repaint of Generations Thunderwing. TR Sky Shadow is also a repaint. Actually, he’s what I call a “prepaint”. I should officially coin this term before someone else does. What this means is that the mold used is meant for a more famous character, but HasTak is releasing a different character first using this new mold. This way, hardcore buyers would first get this character because the mold is new, and then buy it again when the more famous character is released later. I ranted about this so many times now I’m repeating myself, so I’ll stop. I hate the practice of prepainting, but I fall for it every time.

Sky Shadow is a prepaint of Overlord, who would be released towards the end of 2017. It’s super obvious once you see the alt mode. To be fair, Sky Shadow is not a bad figure. I have Overlord too, so I know they made enough mold differences between the two figures that buying Sky Shadow is a bit more justified. Sky Shadow reminds me of G1 figures from Season 4: he’s big and blocky, easy to transform, and full of gimmicks. Sky Shadow is a Headmaster, Triple-Changer, and Duocon, all rolled into one.

The figure is packed in bot mode. I like his overall colors of black and red, and the paint job is nice for a mass retail store proudct. As a leader class fig, his size is impressive. For such a blocky figure, his articulation is actually not half bad. He is a Headmaster, and Ominus (the Titan Master) is attached has the head in all the bot mode pics below. Other than the Titan Master, he comes with 2 accessories, a gun and a jet nosecone piece. In bot mode, the jet nosecone can function as a shield.

Sky Shadow has a base mode. In this mode, he can supposedly connect with other base figures in the Titans Return line, such as Fortress Maximus. I didn’t try this. Before doing this transformation, I thought this mode would be a half-assed fan mode. But then I tried it and it’s actually quite nice. The Titan Master is featured in the pic below. There are plenty of Titan Master ports on the surface of the base mode for other Titan Masters to stand on.

As a Triple-Changer, Sky Shadow has one more mode. Or maybe I should say modes, because he splits into a jet and a tank. That’s right, Sky Shadow is also a Duocon! Well, maybe he was never officially classified as such, but that’s essentially what was a Duocon is in G1 (a robot that splits into 2 alternate modes). Check the pics below. The Titan Master can fit inside either the tank or the jet.

And like I said already, he’s quite easy to transform. Very easy to just pick up and play. Easy to handle too, since he’s so large. At first he seemed a bit too gimmicky, but the way in which all these gimmicks are implemented is well done. I highly recommend this figure based on the fun factor alone.

And now I just realized that both of my Sky Shadow figures got quick reviews. What are the chances of that? This was not deliberate… another weird trend fated by the TF powers that be.

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

MakeToys Quantron Pictorial Review

April 6th, 2018 No comments

MakeToys Quantron is a third party homage to my favorite Autobot combiner team, the Technobots. I got this set back in October of 2014. A quick search for them on this blog revealed that… gasp!… I never mentioned them again since that post! That’s a crime. So here they are getting their 15 minutes.

Packaging and Manuals

Alt Modes

Robot Modes

Combined Mode

I’m going to quickly list out some things I like about this set, and some things that I don’t.

Pros

  • Metalstorm (Scattershot) is a great fig. I thoroughly enjoy this fig, in both robot and alt modes
  • Materials used for every figure in the set is quite good. High quality plastic all around.
  • Quantron (Computron) combined is impressive.
  • There are plenty of detail on each fig. No plain or simple looking figures here.
  • Relatively G1 accurate, though that’s debatable.
  • Plenty of accessories to satisfy even the most demanding accessory fiend.

Cons

  • My biggest gripe: Overheat (Afterburner) has to be the left arm, and Blindfire (Strafe) has to be the right arm. WHAT?! That’s reversed! MakeToys, why?!!!
  • Combining into Quantron is more work than fun. So much to assemble – it feels like putting together LEGOs and not transforming.
  • Too small for today’s standards, even for CHUG scale. The only one that’s ok is Metalstorm, the rest too small.
  • Transforming each figure is more difficult than it should be, mostly because they’re so small.
  • SonicDrill (Nosecone) is a horrible fig – poor construction and poor design. A very unstable fig that doesn’t work well in either robot or alt mode.

This set was ok, but it was far from perfect. I no longer own Quantron; I sold the set some time ago. Most 3P TF retailers are now clearing out this set for around $200 to $250.

The only other 3P Technobot set that is available at this time is Warbotron Computicon. I have one figure in this set: Turbo Ejector (Afterburner). Turbo Ejector is leaps and bounds better than Overheat. Though I’m told that Turbo Ejector is the best one in the set. I may get the rest of Computicon. Or not.

Technobots rule. Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Pics, Toy Reviews

Happy St Patrick’s Day 2018! Green Transformers Gone Wild

March 17th, 2018 No comments

Here we are again. Another St Patrick’s Day, another post for my green Transformers.

Featured in this year’s green and mean machines:

For the first time in the history of these St Patrick’s Day posts, the number of third party figures outnumber the official HasTak figures. Very indicative of the trend in the hardcore TF fandom.

Another weird trend: this is the 4th blog post in a row that I have featured MakeToys Gundog. This is not be design. Maybe I’m secretly in love with Gundog. Smart readers will notice that I took this pic before my last post about the rub on decals, since Gundog still is shown here with his sticker faction logo.

And in the tradition of these St Patrick’s Day posts, I have to mention March Madness. My beloved UCLA is already knocked off in the First Four! They couldn’t even get to the First Round. And I never thought I would see this in my lifetime, but a No. 16 seed has knocked off a No. 1 seed! UMBC just eliminated Virginia in the First Round! This totally busts by bracket. Yes, I picked Virginia to win it all. This is much like 2012, when I picked No. 2 Missouri to win it all and they were upset by Norfolk St. I don’t even know why I try. But this is historic! UMBC didn’t just win, they completely dismantled UVA. And Virginia wasn’t just a No. 1 seed, they were the overall No. 1 in the Tournament. UMBC is a school you have never heard of (unless, of course, you’re from there). You could Google what UMBC is, but after tonight, everyone will know them as U Must Be Cinderella.

Here are links to previous St Patrick’s Day posts:

2015
2013
2012
2011

Have a safe and happy St Patrick’s Day everyone. And congratulations to UMBC! Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Pics

Transformers Rub On Faction Decals

March 14th, 2018 No comments

Many of my 3P figures use faction stickers that are independently purchased. I have used both official (such as Ocean Designs) and unofficial (such as TOYHAX) stickers. For the most part they do the job. But once in a while I wish they could be better. Take MakeToys Gundog, for example. The figure is seen in last month’s post with an Autobot faction sticker applied. It looks ok, but it can certainly be improved.

My buddy Gemini recently introduced me to rub on decals of faction symbols. He got some and was super impressed with the results. This I had to see for myself, so I got some too.

The sheet of decals appears below. I forgot to take a pic of mine before I started using them, so here I’m using the pic that Gemini took of his.

The full sheet is pretty big, about the size of a standard 11″ by 8.5″ piece of paper. They decals are organized into 3 sections. Decals across the top section are all clear backing, and across the bottom section are all white backing. Those in the middle section is a mix of clear and white backing.

Notice on the left hand side are some Hasbro logo decals. I used these for practicing before I really applied one. Not sure why anyone would want to put Hasbro logos on anything.

I peeled off the Autobot sticker on Gundog and applied the rub on decal. The results are amazing! He looks way better. After application, they have a slight 3D look to them, as if they are engraved or molded on. Very very cool. Take a look at the pics below of some 3P figures using rub on decals.


MakeToys Gundog – clear backing
 


Fans Toys Sovereign – white backing
 


DX9 Gewalt – white backing
 

It does take a bit more skill to use these decals, though. Lining up the faction symbols so they are in alignment can be tricky. Often times, your first try can be off center, in either position or rotation. They also don’t peel off easy. I don’t know of an easy way to get them off once they’re applied.

Despite these negatives, using rub on decals are still the way to go. They look many times better than stickers. I highly recommend them for use with your 3P Masterpiece style figures.

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Pics