Friday, 21 July 2017

Tribute Orion Pax

Tribute Orion Pax

When loose images of this toy first appeared in late May 2017 people weren't 100% sure if it was the assumed Targetmaster Crosshairs toy people were expecting from Kup or a new version of Orion Pax who'd been an eHobby repaint of Reissue Targetmaster Kup. The Instructions which emerged a few days later confirmed the toy to be Orion Pax, with the Box and box back images following.

Now I'm in he UK, we didn't get much exposure to the cartoon so I'm not married to the idea of Orion Pax being a pre war Optimus Prime like some fans are. However I don't have any objection to the idea of Optimus Prime being something before he became Optimus Prime and since this is a previous established character repaint, I've no problem with them pulling the same trick again.

Mostly it's a set of simple colour swaps. The grey of the legs and lower body becomes a paler grey, the mint green on the inner sides of the legs and under the feet becomes a pale blue colour which is shares with the parts previously in grey on the guns & Titanmaster. The wheels & chest plate become clear blue. Everything else is red, with the two grades of plastic in the arms not quite matching. A new blue face piece, featuring Optimus Prime's head with it's mouth-plate changes to a mouth, finishes the toy off.

My immediate reaction is the blue looks too pale for Optimus Prime but a quick image search confirms it's just about right for the blue used on Orion Pax in the Cartoon. There's a bit too much red on the outer side of the leg too. While which parts are on which sprue may have influenced that decision there's no reason I can see that this couldn't have been painted, like the leg fronts are, and the effect on the vehicle wouldn't have been too detrimental.... in fact looking at the vehicle I'd have liked the leg fronts cast in blue to give an all blue flatbed for the pick-up: the red rather stands out!

Minor colour gripes though. The overall effect does the job adequately and Kup was a fun toy with an interesting transformation so this is too. My only concern with doing this is that it's colours are very similar to those for a Targetmaster Crosshairs so does doing this rule that toy out?

And, although this is obviously a pre Earth Optimus Prime pack with Orion Pax packed with a fairly similar to the original War For Cybertron Optimus Prime, it might have been nice if they'd sneaked in a repaint of Titans Return Wheelie as Dion further mimicking the eHobby Targetmaster Kup recolour that this Orion Pax was inspired by.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Titans Return Twin Twist with Flameout

Titans Return Twin Twist with Flameout

As soon as a Titans Return version of Topspin was rumoured people began to speculate on Twin Twist being done too and done as a retool of Topspin. Although very similar in many ways the originals don't actually share any parts but I could see the reasoning. The week before Toyfair he turned up on a Case Listing from a retailer and then the night before the show he was accidentally revealed on Twitter by Hasbro themselves, the latest in a long line of similar mishaps, before being officially revealed in the showroom, alongside his brother who was already out, with his official images following later that day.

In contrast to the original Twin Twist the Titans Return version appears to be largely reused from Topspin, albeit with a great many parts swapping colours. The blue lower arms leg fronts and Titanmaster arms, lower legs & head become white while the white of the guns, chest and upper part of the upper legs become blue, the latter acquiring a coat of white paint. The white of the waist, knees and Titanmaster chest & upper legs stays the same resulting in Burnout becoming all white. New parts are all white and include the deluxe robot head, upper arm, tank treads, drill section, feet, which look identical in this mode but aren't, and back of the legs. This last section, under the vehicle and behind the robot, might seem an necessary remould but it's been changed to include wheels to allow the toy to roll along better in vehicle mode. The tank tread look a little odd on the side of the shoulders and towering over them, the original Twin Twist had his treads built into the back of his arms.

Transformation is nearly exactly the same as Top Spin's. The only real difference is when the arms are pushed into the body of the tank the tank treads need to be folded down.

Vehicle mode is, yes you've guessed it, a drill tank with twin drills at the front! While the original Twin Twist had drills whose thread indicated they turn the same way, the Titans Return version has threads which oppose each other indicating they'd turn in opposite directions. Of course, like almost every other Transformers drill tank they don't turn! He feels longer than the original toy, more than Twin Twist did who length was balanced by the wings to the side. Two wheels under the rear and one under each tank tread allow Twin Twist to roll along. The rear of the vehicle has new, rectangular thrusters formed from the rear leg section and new feet. With the wings gone you need to look for somewhere else to mount the guns and you're left with either the 5mm peg holes on the sides of the rear, inherited from Topspin, or new 5mm holes on the sides of the tracks. Either way you're looking at something that extends the width of the toy. I'd have been very tempted to replace the guns with new weapons that could be placed flat against the side of the vehicle mirroring his original gun. Once again there's no way to attach the combined weapon to the top of the toy so the Titanmaster can sit in it and no used for the twin rectangular slot on the top of the toy which really look like they should do something.

I like Twin Twist, I really do,but he's not blowing me away like Top Spin did and the reasons why not are quite varied. Top Spin's Titan Return version really was an improvement on the original, which felt like a wedge with wings whereas the new version feels like a space fighter. Of the original Jumpstarters Twin Twist always was the better, the drills felt like they did something and gave the toy a purpose that Topspin didn't have so the addition of a cockpit here doesn't feel like that great an improvement. The Titans Return mould feels like it's designed to be Top Spin and adapted to be Twin Twist and that's keenly felt in Twin Twist's arms that do nothing to camouflage the tank treads. And I really, really wish they given them different guns!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Titans Return Misfire & Aimless

Misfire & Aimless

Having already done two Decepticon Targetmaster, Triggerhappy and Scourge, it wasn't a surprise when Misfire as a Triggerhappy retool was rumoured. What was slightly more surprising was when he didn't show up with his wavemates Windblade & Twintwist in the Toyfair 2017 showroom. We didn't have to wait too long though as both Misfire and his retool Slugslinger were revealed at the Australian Toyfair via an Australian fan event.

The parts shared between the toy are everything on the legs, the shoulder joints, the lower upper arms and the Titanmaster. Misfire's Titanmaster, Aimless, has the upper legs flipped but there's a small extra difference on mine: between the front of Blowpipe's knees is a small number 2 but on Aimless between the rear, same side remember because they're flipped, is a small number 1! I can see the piece is probably on the same sprue as the feet, both parts are on both toys and have the same colour change from white to black, but am wondering why the labelling has changed.

Robot mode: when we first saw Misfire he has a purple face but thankfully in the meantime this has been changed to black to match his original toy. As the parts list above will lead you to suspect he's Triggerhappy from the hips down but virtually everything else, all the material on the upper body moulded in purple, is new. He comes with a pair of new guns which individually can be hand held or mounted in 5mm peg holes on his shoulder, where they sit in jet mode. The guns can be combined together side by side to form a dual barrelled weapon with a Titanmaster seat in the rear and, hallelujah, the combined weapon can be hand held with the Titanmaster sat in a normal position while the gun barrels are side by side. Big plus points for this, not ony because it makes sense but also because the original Aimless Targetmaster was a dual barrelled weapon.

Transformation: remove the weapons and Titanmaster. Fold the jet's nose up off his back into where the head was. Straighten the arms and fold the fists in. Pull the shoulders out to the sides and down, they're connected by a joint to the middle of the body, so that the shoulders are by the waist. Make sure you pivot the wings as you go so they remain in the same orientation in relation to the body. Fold the waist forward 90° and then transform the legs just like Triggerhappy folding the heel spurs into the legs, the feet back as far as they'll go, tabbing the lower legs together and bending them back at the knees and hips so the legs fit in behind the cockpit on the robot's back. The arms then tab into the sides of what was the robot's knee. The wings tab onto the robot's shoulders, the guns peg into them and the Titanmaster sits in the cockpit.

In a way Aimless lacks the ingenuity of Triggerhappy's transformation but it's produced a superb new version of his original jet mode with the inherited Triggerhappy legs, which gave his jet a different look at the rear to what we were used to, working really well here.

Works well as a toy in both modes. The combined weapon being able to be held properly is icing on the cake.

Top toy. Triggerhappy needs his brother in arms and it all bodes well for Slugslinger who seems to share some of Misfire's new parts as well as the legs from Triggerhappy.

Titans Return Windblade & Scorchfire

Titans Return Windblade with Scorchfire

Since Scourge had already had one major remould as Highbrow I didn't expect to be looking at the mould again except as a Sweep or Beast Machines Obsidian repaint. The first sniff of a Windblade came a few days before Toyfair 2017 when a rumour stating she was a Highbrow retool emerged, to some doubt which wasn't 100% silenced by her reveal in the Toyfair 2017 showroom.

I could spot from a distance some shared parts, notably round the upper legs, but now she's in hand I can list a whole load of parts that are the same: Scourge's feet (Highbrow's heel spurs), the spine/inner waist, the knees, upper legs, hips, shoulder joint, elbow, bellow the bicep on the upper arm, the Titanmaster connector and the Titanmaster's chest, upper & lower legs. There appears to be some mould degradation as a few of these, the spine and the upper legs in particular, look to have slightly changed shape and definition while retaining the same detail.

Her Titanmaster Scorchfire is all black with a new head and arms which helps to separate her from Xort, Fracas and the forthcoming Legends Sweep head. She, and I'm presuming a female Transformer's Titanmaster would also be female, transforms into a head with a really good representation of the Windblade face on it.

The figure itself is slightly odd: the top half is y our typical slim armed busty Windblade but the lower half looks too big for the upper half. The Upper legs, carried over parts remember, are far too square and chunky in comparison with the arms while the lower legs are similarly large in order to accommodate having the upper legs folded into them during transformation. It isn't a complete disaster by any means, and stands far far better than the original Windblade did, it just looks ever so slightly odd.

Articulation: foot bends at the ankle, bending knees, thigh swivels, universal joints at the hips, shoulders that shrug down a bit at the body as part of the transformation, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, bending elbow and a neck joint provided by the Titanmaster. As it's the same Titanmaster connector as Scourge and Highbrow some people have reported problems with it but I can't see anything major on any of the the three toys and their heads stay attached fine for me.

Weapons: because it's Windblade she needs a sword and here she has not one but two! The design differs from the curved blade seen on previous deluxe Windblade toys, she now has a pair of straight blades, cast in clear yellow plastic, and painted silver everywhere bar the handles, leading blade edge and a tab used for storing the weapons on each wing. The swords can be held individually but can be combined into a double bladed weapon which she can hold by one of the handles. The weapon by itself can also function as a Titanmaster vehicle, via a seat at the back which accomodates a Titanmaster who'se feet peg onto the front of seat area. It's not great as a stand alone vehicle to be honest and works better as a weapon though, as we'll see, it can attach to the vehicle mode too. For storing the combined weapon, fold down the landing gear on Windblade's back and place tha Landing gear's foot into the rectangular hole imediately in front of the Titanmaster's seat.

Transformation: Remove the weapons and the Titanmaster. Straighten he arms to the sides and swing each in 90° at the bicep. Extend the spine by pulling down on the legs/waist. Tab the arms into the back panel. Fold the wings forward. Fold the nose up off the back and into place. Fold the feet down. Lay the toy down on the robot's front. Fold the lower legs forward 180° at the knee so that the feet rest between the wings, Tab the weapons in under each wing, open the cockpit and sit the Titanmaster inside.

So much simpler than the T30 version to transform and so much more stable in jet mode: rock solid here compared to the floppy mess of the T30 version. The shape is broadly similar to both existing Windblades with the pivoting fans still present in the wings. She's mainly red, with black highlights so is more similar in colour to the Legends versions rather than he mainly black Generations toy. There's two individual Titanmaster footpegs either side of the body should any Titanmasters want to stand on her. Her combined sword weapon tabs in behind and projects out over the cockpit. It looks a bit odd but I can see what they were going for and if you don't like it then stor the blades under the wings. The slot for attaching the weapon is a little odd: it's cut over and through a 5mm peg hole behind the cockpit that's useless tio Windblade as she comes here. Her swords, while possessing 5mm handles, are tapered to the end and won't fit in it. I can only presume that it's present at Takara's request to accommodate a Titanmaster accessory in weapons mode or a Targetmaster. The only problem with that is Haywire, Blurr's Targetmaster, has been done with Doublecross, Fracas would be surely with a Decepticon, all the other Targetmasters have either been packed with their toys or their toys haven't been made yet and there's no real Titanmaster sword weapon! I await Takara's version with interest to see what they do!

Proportions of upper to lower body aside I think Titans Return Windblade is a decent toy. It's a far better Windblade than the original to my mind, having a jet mode that doesn't fall apart when you look at it helps there! I probably should get rid of the original but I think it will have to stay because there's a slight chance I might want to use it's sword with this toy!

Future Repaints

Windblade has Combiner Hunters and Titan Force versions this toy could be repainted into, with my preference going to a Titan Force repaint as that was already associated with Titans Return. The original Windblade was also remade as Legends Slipstream and Botcon 2016 Airazor.

Titans Return Blitzwing with Hazard and Octone with Murk

Titans Return Blitzwing with Hazard

If the design of Voyager Megatron wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings revealed a Voyager Octane which was released in Titans Return Wave 5 somewhere between May and July 2017 depending on where you were in the world. Essentially it's mainly a simple colour swap with the darker grey, light grey and red becoming purple, sandy beige and very dark grey respectively. He gets a new chest and face in robot mode, the jet mode is essentially the same but purple but the tank mode gets a little interesting. He has a new purple tank barrel, which the seated weapon carried over from Megatron can attach to the top of. But this gun barrel is removable, leaving just a 5mm peg behind which in turn raises the question that should Megatron's short gun barrel should also be removable? The longer tank barrel can also attach to the front of the seat weapon to form a long handgun for robot mode while the fusion cannon is gone replaced by a sword.

Sadly the problems with transforming the legs persist, even harder than I remember them being for Megatron.

So.... Is it a decent repaint of Megatron? Yes. Is it a better Voyager than the Generations T30 effort with the notoriously dodgy shoulders? Oh yes! Job done then.

Titans Return Octane with Murk

Now it's painfully obvious that Optimus Prime with Diac and his opposite number Megatron with Doomshot were due to be new versions of Octane & Blitzwing. But while Blitzwing has some serious issues with his most recent version, Octane's never been done in the Voyager scale that the rest of the Triplechangers have been done in. Astrotrain has already been remade in Titans Return as a repaint of Sentinel Prime, another use of a "pre paint" where the repaint comes out before the obvious intended version.

If the design wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings reveal a Voyager Octane, which was released in Titans Return Wave 5 under his Japanese name Octone.

Whereas Blitzwing is the second use of that mould after Voyager Megatron, Octone is this mould's fourth outing after Voyager Optimus Prime, Chaos on Velocitron Leader Prime and Legends Black Convoy. Fortunately there's some remoulding to help differentiate him. In robot mode Octone, like Blitzwing gets a new face and chest plate. The front of his shoulder towers are also changed, but to my mind they should be folded down for Octane anyway. Gone is the sword, replaced by a gun modelled after his original, but the double barrelled gun with seat remains. One of the remoulds for plane mode is visible in robot mode too: the straight wings with hinges in the middle are gone replaced with slanted solid one piece wings. Transforming to plane mode also reveals a more rounded jet nose. The tanker mode is largely the same, albeit recoloured, but changes to other modes have reportedly caused problems with the tanker holding together in places.

Decent repaint and remould, does the job just fine and improves the jet on previous versions.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Siege on Cybertron Tidal Wave

Titans Return Tidal Wave

Of the rumours coming out of the Transmissions Podcast a Titans Return version of Armada Tidal Wave from Broadside seemed one of the more likely. Both were triple changers, of a sort, with sea and flying modes involved. Aside from Micromaster Flattop there weren't many other sensible suggestions for reusing Broadside queing up.

Titans Return Tidal Wave was revealed at Toyfair 2017 with official images, albeit with a mis-transformed robot mode, released at the same time. Both sets of pictures show Tidal Wave in a colour scheme which resembles his cartoon colours, as sported on his Japanese repaint MD-06 Shockwave. Unfortunately the colours shown at toyfair and in the image release aren't quite right with the purple being too pale.

Thankfully though by the time the toy was released that had been corrected and he sported a much darker purple nearly matching his earlier toy complemented by pale grey and a clear orange for his canopy and gun pieces. The other benefit of these colours are he fits right in with the other three Titans Return Decepticon Triplechangers who also use grey and purple, making it feel as if the 85/6 toys have finally found their long lost brother. The odd sloping forward tail wings make some sort of sense this time as they now match what the wings on the original Tidal Wave did.

I like my Tidal Wave, they've done a smashing job on the colours, far better than the toyfair showroom and official images show him. Yes, for the character, he could be bigger, but for my money he's better than Broadside.

Tidal Wave forms part of the Siege on Cybertron boxset, also known as the Strength set, which is a BBTS exclusive in the USA. The boxset also contains Magnus Prime, a repaint of Legends Ginrai, Metalhawk, a Triggerhappy repaint, and new toys Pounce & Titanmaster Thunderwing.


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Future Repaints

Tidal Wave's colours are close to his Micron Legend version but that still leaves his Armada or Energon versions as possible repaints.

I've always thought that an ideal repaint of the original Broadside would be Micromaster Flattop and the same applies to his Titans Return version.

Titans Return Cloudraker & Wingspan

Titan Return Cloudraker

It came as something of a surprise when Cloudraker & Wingspan were shown as a 2 pack at a Taiwanese toy exhibition, later revealed to be a Walgreens exclusive in the USA. The expectation was that Cloudraker and Wingspan would follow in the "Intelligence" and "Fireblast" boxsets expected to follow Chaos on Velocitron ("Speed"), which has Fastlane/Fastclash, and Siege on Cybertron ("Strength"), which has Pounce. Nobody knows for sure why the plans have changed, and the picture may be slightly clearer in a few days times post SDCC 2017, but my guess is that the last two boxsets were cancelled based on the sales of the Combiner Wars sets. We know, from rumours leaked to the Transmissions Podcast that the Strength and Speed sets were in development early 2016 at around the point the first sets hit. My guess is that the sales numbers on the first sets caused Hasbro to pull the plug before any serious work was done on the last two Titans Returns sets, reduce the numbers on the last Combiner Wars and first two Titans Return sets and make them exclusives. Left with two new Clones unused they bundle these in a box together. Now Clones fans are happy with this decision, as they don't have to buy the rest of two more boxsets to get the toys they want!

From the front Cloudraker looks almost exactly like his brother Fastclash, which is exactly the look he should have. He feels slightly less bulky having lost the prominent spoiler behind his head and the wheels on his back and lower legs, all of which went into Fastclash's vehicle mode, which are replaced by a small fin, the jet nose and the folded up wing panels respectively. The lower legs and shoulder joints are different between the two toys but otherwise all the robot parts are the same leading to identical articulation. The transformation however is rather different.....

Start by rotating his head 180° so the fin faces forward. Then fold his hands into his forearms, straighten the arms and raise them so the point straight up before folding the shoulders in 90° so they're over the front of the chest. Split the inner part of the waist in two and fold 90° out to the sides: this joint was present on both Fastlane and Pounce but not used by either toy. Unfold the black wings from behind the lower legs, so they're pointing down, and fold the feet back into the lower legs. Fold the legs back a further 90° at the hips and connect the slots on the lower legs to the tabs on the sides of the shoulder. Unfold the jet nose from the back of the robot so it snaps into place under the waist, pointing down where the legs were. fold down the landing gear and stand.

The centre of the jet mode looks a bit boxy and square, but Cloudraker always did, and this is more than offset by the wings to the sides and the nose to the front. The tail fin, on the back of the robot's head, is all but hidden away sitting in between the folded back arms which we must assume are engines of some sort. Under the nose is a fold down landing gear and a hole for a flight stand. There's two similar holes further back under the toy that are also present on Fastclash: Then I thought they might be used here but now I suppose they too must be intended as flight stands. Since the toys share the same body and chest piece, Cloudraker also has the ability to carry a Titanmaster in vehicle mode: the seat folds back between the arms/jet engines.

There's only one slight criticism I can offer: the folded back legs seem to pop off their securing tabs in jet mode a bit to easily. Perhaps slightly deeper tabs were needed. But apart from that, and the lack of guns common to the Titans Return Clone, he's a fine toy far better than his brother Fastclash.

Titan Return Wingspan

Wingspan's changes from Pounce are very similar to Cloudraker's from Fastclash: new lower legs & shoulder joints and replacement alt mode parts. But that doesn't quite do justice to the changes nor does it reflect how much the design has been updated from the original toy. The robots modes look the same again and have identical articulation, including that odd bicep swivel rendered necessary by the ball joined elbow. The transformation is different to both Pounce and his original and that's where the changes come through:

Rotate the head 180° and fold the new beast head up off his back. Straighten the arms, fold the arms in over the chest at the shoulder and then rotate the lower arms in 90° so the new claws under the forearms are on the front of the chest. Swing each leg 90° out to the side at the thigh swivel so the inner leg faces forward. Just like Cloudraker separate the inner waist and fold each half, and leg, 90° out to the side. Fold each leg up 90° at the hip and down 90° at the knee so the front of the knee is level with the top of the robot's shoulder and a tab on the rear of the shoulder fits into a slot in the near. Unfold the wings from the robot's leg and stand on the beast claws.

Even before we saw Wingspan we knew there was something going with his arms thanks to the empty pin holes through Pounce's arms and we now find those holes holding the beast's claws in place with the legs becoming the wings. On the previous Wingspan the robot legs became the beast legs, the wings were pegged on his back and easily lost while the arms just sat there at the side of the body. This new version uses the robot parts better I think albeit at the cost of slightly bulkier less articulated wings. To make up to this you've got some options with the the best legs which lets you stand the bird either so he's parallel with the ground or, by bending robot elbows & shoulders, at 45° angle. A new tail completes the look, attached at the base of the robot's back which still has the seat for the Titanmaster which Pounce had.

Easily the most changed of the four clones, justifying the decision to include the split waist on Pounce which I really couldn't see the point of beyond possible parts sharing with Cloudraker. But it's a great update and I'm glad to have all four in my collection especially when the first have proved hard to get! I'm grateful for the final two being bundled together a a cheap price, which has probably saved me in the region of £220, but do wish they'd managed to make these in their traditional Fastlane & Cloudraker/Pounce & Wingspan combinations and had bundled some weapons with them. I await the Takara versions now to see what changes they make....

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