Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chaos on Velocitron


Chaos on Velocitron

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Chaos on Velocitron Quickswitch

There isn't a lot to link Sixshot and Quickswitch beyond them both having six modes. They aren't even the same six modes:
Sixshot: Robot, spaceship, laser gun, wolf, tank, off-road vehicle

Quickswitch: Robot, a Cybertronic jet, a laser pistol, a puma, a drill tank, a hovercraft

Even the modes that are the same look nothing like each other, especially the robot mode. So repainting one for the other is a bit like repainting Astrotrain as Springer just because they both have three modes.

At a push you could say the first three modes are the same with the wolf & "boat"/upside down gun acting as substitutes for puma & hovercraft. But it's a big push.

Sixshot has he fans but outside of the Japanese Headmasters cartoon was little used. However that's a massive fanbase compared to Quickswitch who has one Marvel UK comics appearance to his name.

I've never owned the original Quickswitch toy either: it seemed to sit on shelves forever with it's collection of modes that don't quite look like what they should be and one of the worst set of colours of any original Transformers toy.

But repaint Sixshot as Quickswitch Hasbro have and found him a home in the Chaos on Velocitron/Speed boxset. I'm guessing it's the quick bit of the name which got him there! Rumoured some way in advance he was eventually revealed at Toyfair 2017. His Official Images who him with a brand new face and helmet but the showroom photos provide a warning of what was to come when they showed him using Sixshot's helmet.

Here's how Sixshot is recoloured into Quickswitch which sheds some light as to which parts come on the same sprue as others

Parts Sixshot Quickswitch
Leader upper arms, wolf head & neck and Titanmaster lower legs White Pale Green
Leader guns, tread hinges, elbows, neck connector,little wheels, wolf jaw and Titanmaster upper legs & face plate White Red
Leader shoulder tops & hip flaps and Titanmaster Head, body & arms Green Pale Green
Leader lower arms & waist White White
Leader tank treads(painted black), beast claws, hands & lower leg fronts Black White
Leader body & chest Green Grey
Leader chest wings,upper legs, knees & feet Black Red
Leader lower legs Purple Pale Green
Leader car wheels Black Black
Leader helmet White ? Painted Red
Leader wings & wing mounts ? Painted Silver Pale Green
Leader windscreen Smoked Clear Blue

As for the toy..... I'm sorry it just looks like one of those Multi coloured knockoffs you see occasionally. It's just a nasty, garish version of Sixshot which says Quickswitch in name, colour and face only. The new helmet would have helped but wouldn't have made a huge difference.

There are some things you can do to help him though. The tops of the shoulders can be turned so the wheels are at the back and the slopes at the front: the shoulders now look much more like the original Quickswitch. Then open the chest up and fold the chest wings in. Then fold the wings down behind his back to conceal them. It's not much, but it helps.

Similarly most of the other modes can be tweaked in some way to make them different from Sixshot but I'm afraid there's no way you're getting a drill tank out of this toy!

Compared to Sixshot, Quickswitch feels like it's built better though, much tighter joints. The only one that was really a problem on mine out the box was a very loose right wrist. Unfortunately cycling through all six modes has loosened him somewhat, especially the knees.

Some photos:

Robots

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Jets

Cars

Tanks

Guns

Subs

Wolf/Puma

In a boxset of a Leader, a Voyager, A Deluxe, a Legend and a Titanmaster the leader forms a substantial part of what you're buying, somewhere close to half. As such one I feel is substandard doesn't really do the job for me. If you're looking for a recolour to sell a set then Delta Magnus, Soundblaster & Twincast are all repaints of recent Leader toys which have their fans and haven't been done yet.


Chaos on Velocitron Laser Prime

Personally I'd have been happy to see this mould go away and never be heard from again as I didn't get on with Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac. However rumours persisted that he would be repainted in the 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime, which I suppose makes sense given the design. Unfortunately G2 Laser Op is another toy I didn't particularly get on with, and I know I'm in a minority there so I wasn't enthused when Laser Prime was revealed at Toyfair 2017.

However now I have the toy in hand I'm rather impressed with it as the new deco is absolutely stunning. For some reason the black works far far better on this mould than the original Optimus Red and Blue. The stickers feel far better on this version as the toy which is a good thing as they're needed to replicate the pictures the original tanker trailer had on it's sides. They're not showing the wear that the ones on the Voyager did as soon as I opened it.

The robot mode really pops compared to the previous Voyager, helped by the sword looking so much better in clear blue. The solid light blue of the robot's face, chest and toes looked a little off in the earlier pictures but is great in hand. The pale blue of the robot's face is carried over to the head of his unnamed grey Titanmaster.

I don't think anything is really going to salvage the design of the jet mode but even that looks better in the the G2 Laser colours.

Stunning redeco, the star of the Chaos on Velocitron set deco wise. If you've not bought the Voyager Op yet then don't, this is far far better.


Chaos on Velocitron Nautica

Of the three female Transformers introduced during IDW's Dark Cybertron story, Windblade & Chromia received toys immediately. Unfortunately for Hasbro the character that really caught fans' imaginations was the one without a toy, Nautica, who went on to appear as a regular in More Than Meets The Eye from issue 28 with her alternate mode, a spaceship/hovercraft with fans to the side, revealed in issue 33. More Than Meets The Eye fans have already enjoyed new versions of several cast members so it was hoped Nautica would get her own toy quite quickly.

Rumours of a Titans Return Nautica toy turned up during 2016 and she was revealed at Toyfair 2017 to be a modified repaint of Titans Return Blurr.

Where Brainstorm is a remould of Blurr, the only part of the toy that's physically been altered for Nautica is the faceplate. Essentially she is the original Blurr toy with two extra pieces for her distinctive fans attached to the sides of the vehicles/her arms. Even bearing in mind we haven't seen that much of here vehicle mode, I'm not sure Blurr's car really captures it's shape that well.

In Robot mode the only bits that really say Nautica are the new pieces. The fans are pretty good, and the face could be worse. Yes it's missing her visor but she doesn't always have that visible. The face itself has many of her features but it somehow doesn't feel quite right, like the pieces haven't been made the right shapes and put together in the right way. Blurr's long limbed design doesn't do badly for her but nothing looks like it should do. The Autobot symbol on the chest is a nice touch, even though it's not there in the comics, but even that causes trouble because it's the wrong way round on her vehicle window!

Then there's the colour.......

It might not help that Nautica colour has changed a few times, She was purple on her first appearance, then became blue and was that colour when her vehicle mode was revealed, but has now reverted back to purple again - google Transformers Nautica to see. When fans got their first glimpse of Nautica, courtesy of a Hasbro Toyfair Tweet of Trypticon that "accidentally" revealed a bunch of other toys (They just can't help themselves can they?) there were immediately voices that said "That's the wrong colour" and even some that questioned if the toy wasn't Nautica and was actually Arcee, whose Generations design would translate quite well to being made with Blurr. But no, Nautica it was as we saw the next day under what were thought to be poor lighting conditions. Her Official Images promised something better, with a darker purple and they look better than that on the box back where the elbows and upper legs are a silver grey.

But in hand, oh dear, it's a grave disappointment. Most of the toy is a very bright purple plastic. I'm trying to think of another Transformer in that shade and am struggling! The vehicle isn't helped by the clashing yellow paint highlights. Transforming to robot mode reveals the body, elbows, hands, feet and upper legs are a very very pale pink. It just looks wrong!

The colours on the box were better, but not perfect. For a toy that's pushing it design wise, the colours needed to be perfect - compare her with Metalhawk in the Siege on Cybertron boxset. However I think this toy proves the concept of Blurr working as a female Transformer, hopefully paving the way for Arcee, it's just that the Transformer they've made here isn't really Nautica. Like many others in the Chaos on Velocitron box I don't think she really fits with the theme of the set either. Apart from Blurr's original car mode there's nothing about her that really says speed. An Intelligence/Caminus set strikes me as a better home for the character.


Chaos on Velocitron Fastclash

The Clones weren't toys I was aware of when I was younger. They were like many Transformers absent from the UK range. So the probable first point I became aware of the was in late 1989, by which time I was at sixth form college, when the Transformers Universe Profile for Cloudraker appeared in Transformers #57, which also introduced me to Slugfest & Overkill another pair of UK absentees. Fastlane's Profile followed in Transformers #69, an issues that stands out in my memory because neither of my local comic shops got a copy, followed by Pounce's Profile in Transformers #78, a comic I can remember getting on an early University comic shop trip. That left just Wingspan, mentioned in Pounce's profile, without a Universe entry.

I didn't encounter the toys for another couple of years until a friend managed to obtain some Grey Imports of the Chinese Transformers and got me, amongst others, Pounce & Wingspan. I loved the concept: two identical robots turn into different vehicles. Alas we were unable to get Fastlane & Cloudraker who to this day I have never owned. I love the robot designs too, almost textbook Hasbro Transformers, with the Autobots in particular looking like Pretender without the shells in both modes with Cloudraker almost being a dead ringer for the similarly named Cloudburst.

Rumours of Titans Return Clone toys spread during 2016 and both Fastlane and Pounce were revealed at Toyfair 2017 as part of the Chaos on Velocitron (Speed) and Siege on Cybertron (Strength) boxsets respectively with Cloudraker and Wingspan expected to follow in boxsets for Intelligence and Fireblast, the other two areas measured on Titans Return tech spec cards. I'll be honest: I don't think splitting the Clone pairs up is a terribly good idea. Part of their appeal is getting two identical robots together and not knowing which turns into what. Needing to buy not one but two $100 boxsets to complete the pair of Clones is also very annoying, especially when, at the present moment in tie, the contents of the boxes carrying the second clone in each pair have yet to be confirmed!

As it is Fastclash, whose name is changed for presumably trademark reasons, is the only toy which really fits the theme of a Speed/Velocitron boxset. Velocitron was introduced during the Cybertron toyline as a planet featuring Transformers involved in an endless series of races on different tracks, so associating that planet with a speed theme in a series of boxsets which link a section of the tech spec with a known Transformers planet is a good idea. The problem comes from the toys chosen for the boxset. Rodimus.... well Hot Rod has always been associated with being fast but he's just a Titanmaster. Quickswitch has presumably made it in for the speed of transformation implied by the name which is implied by the name, but just isn't there in reality. Neither of his ground vehicles feels particularly fast and neither does Laser Prime's tanker truck. Nautica is either a sub or a spaceship, albeit one based on a car, and doesn't feel that fast especially on ground. That just leaves Fastclash who comes in his traditional form of something resembling a racing car/dragster. You could see this competing in one of the Velocitron races!

The vehicle mode looks very, very similar to the original Fastlane, the only obvious compromise is now having his front wheels mounted on the sides of his legs which to my eye only improves the design. A second change helps him fit in with the rest of the toys in the Titans Return toyline. The middle section of the vehicle rear, what is the centre of the robot's chest, now can be lifted up via a hinge at the rear to form a seat for a Titanmaster to sit in so the bodyless Rodimus does actually have a ride! By comparison Fastclash is a little longer than the average Legends car when I measured him against Brawn and Bumblebee. There's some fun to be had with the car mode courtesy of the 5mm peg the spoiler at the rear is mounted on. Removing the spoiler allows you to mount various Arms Microns Minions on it. It's a solid post so it will need to be a Minicon with a 5mm hole and not one of those with the earlier Armada style socket. And because the post is 5mm the hole car can effectively be held as a gun by larger Transformers.

Transformation: Fold the front bumper up to form the feet. Separate the front of the vehicle to form the legs. Fold the wheels at the rear down under the vehicle, which brings the tops of the rear down to form the arms. Fold out the hands. Rotate the spoiler so it points down and the connected head reveals it's face.

The robot mode looks almost exactly like the original Fastlane, but at Legends size. The only real thing that's missing here are the guns which the original had, which is a bit of a shame. There's even a sticker on the chest mimicking the second rub sign the Clones had showing their vehicle mode. I suppose it looks a bit like a car.... I haven't got any real attachment to these, the Chinese Clones all had a foil faction sticker instead of a second rubsign as you can see on Pounce & Wingspan's galleries at Transformers at the Moon and the same is true of the Autobot Clones as you can see at Fred's Variants Chinese Transformers Page

I've long said that what Transformers fans really want from their updated toys is the original but with more articulation and Fastclash certainly succeeds on that score: whereas the original had just rotating shoulders & neck, the new one has a rotating neck, ball jointed shoulders & elbows, the later of which negates the need for a bicep joint, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, bending knees and ankles that bend as part of the transformation.

Criticisms: not sure about the painted white faces, which seems to have been done to match their appearance in Rebirth. The other bit of painting that annoys me is the hands. That'll wear round the peg holes with use. Why not just mould them in the slightly softer off white plastic used for the legs?

Fastclash is also the only all new toy in the box, the closest any others comes is Rodimus, and even he shares his head, arms and legs with Ptero. But I suspect he won't be unique for long because Fastclash is also interesting for those of us that like to guess what a mould will be reused for. Siege of Cybertron Pounce already seem to use a very similar chest and waist. Then there's some very interesting and unused joints in the waist that enable the groin to split in two and each leg fold out to the sides. I'm guessing that they will be used for Fastlane. Turning the toy over we see unused holes on the back of the waist, mounting points for Cloudraker's wings perhaps, and a pair of holes opposite each other in the sides of the wide indent running along his spine which look like where Cloudraker's jet nose might mount.

A lack of weapons and the paint on hands & face aside, this is a decent update to Fastlane. I look forward to seeing his brother and their opposition soon.


Chaos on Velocitron Rodimus Prime

I'm not sure I quite see the point of the Titanmaster in this set.

He's named Rodimus Prime so I'm guessing he's meant to be used to upgrade your Titans Return Hot Rod to Rodimus Prime. Fair enough, but Hot Rod's Head and Rodimus Prime's Head are virtually identical. The most major differences between the two on the toys here is the crest is segmented in two on Hot Rod while Rodimus Prime's is one single crest slatted and that Rodimus Prime has some purple paint on him. If there was a real, discernible difference, like between Bumblebee's toy and comic/cartoon heads or between Bumblebee & Goldbug's heads I could understand it. But the difference here is slight.

Deluxe Hot Rod's Titanmaster Firedrive is a plain grey colour in robot mode. In robot mode the Rodimus Prime Titanmaster is coloured to look much more like Hot Rod, in a similar way to how Titanmaster Brawn, Blaster's Titanmaster Twincast Galvatron's Titanmaster Nucleon look like larger characters. Lower legs are painted black, upper legs are moulded orange and arms & head are moulded red. All these parts are inherited from Ptero, with all the detailing intact.

The chest, and the plate for the face are both new and are die-cast, a first for a Titanmaster. I don't think the die cast pieces really work here: for a start they're giving the Titanmaster robot a heavy backpack which will inevitably unbalance the figure. The paintwork is fine from the front but the back of the face, exposed when he lifts his arms, is unpainted. The edge between the two sides is very obvious when looking at the front of the robot. The design of the chest isn't really screaming Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime at me but the colours are doing their very best to make up for it. The Die Cast is obviously a big thing, not many Transformers have it now, I was expecting a big flash near the picture of the Titanmaster saying something like "Featuring Die Cast Parts!!!!" or similar, but the callouts on the top & front are very restrained and there's nothing on the back.

I suppose Rodimus Prime can serve as Fastclash's driver in the Chaos on Velocitron set, that intention would seem to be followed up in Beige on Cybertron where Pounce is likewise packaged with a Decepticon Titanmaster, Thunderwing, who is a repaint of Rodimus Prime with a new head. Yes it adds something to the set but I can't help feeling that it's place would have been better filled by weapons for Fastclash or an all plastic Titanmaster with it's accessory.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Titans Return Perceptor with Convex


Titans Return Perceptor with Convex

Perceptor has become a popular character in Transformers, but I personally don't feel that the original 1985 toy is quite given it's due. However the Reveal the Shield version of Perceptor is rightly acknowledged as being flawed. It's not fun to transform and the robot mode has difficulty staying together. I sold my original one in a clear out, got hold of a replacement very cheap about a year later and never opened the replacement! So Perceptor was due for another go and wasn't surprised to see his name show up on the Transmissions Podcast Rumours list in April 2016. We first saw Perceptor at New York Comic Con 2016, the first wave 4 deluxe revealed, where he was shown to be returned to his original alternate mode, a microscope.

Perceptor's Titanmaster Convex, named after the sort of lens that makes things bigger. He's a black Titanmaster with red lower legs and since his detailing is modelled after Perceptor, it's just the legs which prevent him from looking like Perceptor's Microman version, later done as the E-Hobby exclusive Magnificus.

The Perceptor deluxe robot looks like his cartoon/comic model which, bar the head, is very very similar to the original toy. The legs are a bit longer but the original toy's legs felt a bit short. He's much better proportioned that the RTS toy was so he beats that already but still feels rather small compared to the original toy, which always feels awkward. He comes with a very long rifle, complete with a Titanmaster seat at the rear and fixed bipod at the front. Evidentially meant as a sniper's weapon this harks back to his function in several IDW comics. It's held by a 5mm peg underneath but there is an additional peg on each side of the Titanmaster seat. The robot in turn comes with, in addition to the 5mm holes in his hands, peg holes on the outer side of each wrist plus a peg hole in his back for storing the weapon and another peg hole on his shoulder cannon. The shoulder cannon annoys me: the original toy could move it over either shoulder but I always pictured it over his right shoulder and that's what the RTS toy had. However the animation model had the cannon over his left shoulder and it's only his left shoulder the cannon can be positioned over here which I'm finding annoying. The cannon will annoy, and worry me, further later. The cannon pivots up and thanks to the transformation can be folded onto his back out the way for storage. The cannon is completely removable, held on by a 5mm peg, and can be used as a hand weapon and replaced by the sniper gun

Deliberately Flipped Photo!

Articulation is about what you'd expect: ball jointed neck from the Titanmaster, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels and bending elbows. There's no waist, which is a shame, but he has hips that rotate & bend to the sides, thigh swivels, an odd bend to the sides joint above the knee which can give him a bow legged stance, and bending knees.

Transformation: Remove the rifle and the Titanmaster. Straighten the arms & legs and fold the fists into the forearms. Pull the black panel on the top of the body up about 2cm. Rotate the arms so the blue forearms point up. Pull the arms down & in so they fill the cavities at the side of the body & between the top of the body & the black panel. Fold the feet down 90°. Fold each leg forward 90° at the hip, then out to the sides 90°, also at the hip, and then in 90° at the mid thigh joint. Tab the red kneepads into what was the shoulders. Fold the Autobot symbol on his lower chest down, then fold the slide tray down. Slide the cannon mount into the middle. No really it does slide along that metal bar. Yes I know it's very stiff. Scary joint, there's going to be a few of those broken in years to come so be careful, which is very hard when you're having to use excessive force to move something! Fold the cannon forward to form the Microscope lens so the pivot is flat on the top of the microscope.

The first thing that strikes you about the microscope mode is how small it is! It looks the right size for Generations Metroplex and Titans return Fortress Maximus to be using! The deluxe class hasn't done a non vehicle/beast toy in a very very long time and you can see why: it doesn't work as a real life object at this size. The official pics show that the slide stage is designed to accommodate a Titanmaster lying down, and there's a Titanmaster footpeg on each leg, but there's no obvious storage point for his rifle, so it's a good job it can function as a stand alone weapon.

Like the original Perceptor the Titans Return version is a triplechanger, another function not seen in the deluxe line for some while. Fold the cannon forward & up so that the loop under the lens catches on the tab at the front of the neck. Fold up the small silver chest panel. Fold out the blue blocks in the back of the legs so they're flush under the feet. Fold the legs out to the sides and back 180° then bend the body down at the hips till the slanted tabs on what were the outside of the legs can mesh with the slots on the shoulders. Try to stand the Titanmaster behind the silver panel and give up because the central tab won't fit between his feet.

Not keen on this mode at all. The slanted body doesn't really work. There's wheels underneath it so it's obviously meant to be mobile and probably more tank like, as the cannon is shown on the original's instructions, but I prefer the more flatter, tank like, version that it's frequently seen in and packed in for his Universe reissue. Thankfully it's the work of seconds to flatten the mode out and potentially reposition the cannon so it's mounted on the other 5mm socket on it's barrel to make the mode look much better.

I've struggles with this toy. I think the robot and Microscope are decent enough for their size but their size, especially the Microscope, just feels too small. He'd have been better as a Voyager, and he does have the triple changer requirement to be a Titans Return Voyager, or as a Leader, with the cannon mode incorporating base mode connectors so you could link him to his frequent companion Titans Return Blaster.


Future Repaints

The Transformers Collection reissue of Perceptor was repainted into the Decepticon Magnificus, based on the toy's original Microman colour scheme, and paired with a Microman figure named Ga'Mede. An ideal name combination for a Transformer and Titanmaster repaint especially since a further 2013 Japanese Generations Magnificus was issued as a repaint of the Reveal the Shield version. The only slight fly in the ointment is that both Magnificus were e-Hobby exclusives so that might prevent a general retail release.

Other than that I'm stumped for Microscope repaints.

Given that Titans Return Perceptor was rumoured as a deluxe, I thought a repaint of Titans Return Hardhead was a possibility, since both have the over the shoulder cannon look and Hardhead's tank mode harks back to Perceptor's cannon mode. Instead Hardhead was repainted in the same wave as a new version of Quake. Even so I'm still quite keen to see a Perceptor from Hardhead and am surprised I've not seen a custom done yet.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Titans Return Kup with Flintlock


Titans Return Kup with Flintlock

Kup's last release was as Generations Sergeant Kup where the line was taking the Movie characters and giving them more contemporary Earth vehicle modes. Blurr & Scourge have very similar updates in that line leading to Titans Return Blurr & Scourge being done giving them their more familiar vehicle modes. With Hot Rod, another 1986 Movie toy that was Targetmastered in 1987, following in Wave 4 it was inevitable that Kup would follow. The Titans Return Kup was first revealed in the final TFCC magazine in December 2016 with further toy pictures following on BWTF.com. Oddly, I don't believe Kup's official renders have ever been released to websites by Hasbro.

The original Targetmaster Kup came with a Nebulon called Recoil which acted as his Targetmaster. He's been translated into Kup's Titanmaster on the new version of the toy but, apparently due to trademark reasons, the Titanmaster is called Flintlock, a name used previously on Dual Targetmaster Flintlock, one of Landfill's weapons. Confusing! Flintlock is an almost all grey robot with just his mint green chest breaking the grey up. He transforms into a reasonable impersonation of Kup's head, though some feel the sides of the helmet intrude over his cheeks too much.

The robot for the Kup toy is rather odd, it's almost as if someone's taken a look at Kup and tried to do the upper body with just straight lines. Kup's always had round arms, even on his original toy, and to see them squared off is most peculiar. I thought that even before I saw the remoulds on Legends LG-46 but due to tardiness didn't get it written down before then! The chest is just as bad: Kup's always had a more projecting at the top, sloping in as you go down chest to him, on toy, animation and comics design. A straight, almost square flat chest doesn't work for him at all! The legs as well are traditionally straight up and down so it's something of a surprise to be seeing him with much bulkier lower legs. The colour balance is slightly peculiar too: mint arms where I'd have expected grey, which doesn't help the squared off look there. The mint is also used in patches on the lower legs with some grey paint and some aquamarine, which also appears in it's usual position on the chest.

Kup comes with two mirror image guns that feel a lot shorter than many Titans Return weapons. Each has an open barrel that looks like it should hold a 5mm peg but doesn't. The guns lock together to form a dual cannon that a Titanmaster can sit in the top of while it's being held. There's a pair of 5mm peg holes on his back for storing the weapon in combined mode, or separately, plus a peg hole on each ankle for the individual weapons.

Articulation: Ball jointed neck from the Titanmaster, shoulders which shrug up at the body and are ball jointed at the arms. Bicep swivel, double bending elbows and hands that oddly swing out to the sides as part of the transformation. His waist turns, there's ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, bending knees and an ankle pivot for the foot.

Transformation: Oh this is a bit interesting: remove the weapons and the Titanmaster. Straighten the arms and legs. Fold the body back 90° at the waist, then fold the clear chest front up at the top of the body. Fold the vehicle's front out of the chest and tab into the waist. Close the canopy back onto the upper part of the body and fold forward till it meets the nose. Fold the hands outwards as far as they'll go. Bend the elbow 180° so the front of the lower arm lies against the front of the upper arm and the peg on the shoulder recesses into the small hole on the wrist. Rotate the arms forward & up 90°at the shoulder ball joint and then fold the body's shoulder joints in 90° so the arms meet each other on the top of the robot's neck and the tabs on them slot into slots on the top of the body. Rotate the waist 180°. Untab the car nose from the waist and then fold back 180° so the waist is under the folded back hands. Fold the panels on the top of the flat bed, what was the front of the legs, forward 180° towards the cab. Fold the outer panel on the leg, with a wheel embedded in it, back 90° so it sticks out to the side and is level with the bottom of the leg with it's folded in foot. Fold the bottom of the leg back 90° so it, and the outer leg panel, are level with the inner leg panel. Fold the inner leg panel out & forward 180° to form the entire side of the vehicle. Tab the flatbed plates together and fold up the rear of the vehicle. Tab the sides of the vehicle into the cab. Sit the Titanmaster in the vehicle's cab.

The leg transformation is radio rental and reminds me very much of the origami insanity which was the Prime Vehicon!

Seeing this side by side with the original Kup with both toys in vehicle mode it becomes clear the new toy is a crackingly good redo of Kup's original vehicle mode, albeit one that blatantly has the arms folded up against the cab! The weapons can be mounted individually on the sides of the vehicle, using the peg holes that were on the lower legs, or in parallel on the flat bed, courtesy of a pair of 5mm holes. The weapons can also be combined together and mounted via one of the handle in one of the holes, emulating how Recoil worked with the original Targetmaster Kup's vehicle mode, but unfortunately off centre enough to really annoy you. The holes there could almost do with being a lot closer together. The flatbed also has 3 pairs of Titanmaster pegs, one pair fully on each side designed so the Titanmaster can stand behind the weapon and fire it off to one side, and one pair with a peg on each half of the flatbed so the Titanmater stands in the middle. The flatbed here feels far more useful than the one on the original toys did! I never really saw the point of it until the Targetmaster mounted on it on the revised version and never grasped he was meant to be a pickup truck till much later. This feels like a better vehicle than the original in that respect.

So.... Decent vehicle mode but slightly odd robot mode that somehow doesn't feel quite like Kup. There's a nagging feeling in the back of my head that Hasbro want to use Kup for something else, probably a Targetmaster Crosshairs retool. The problem with that is one of the odder bits of the Kup robot design, the arms, would be one of the main things I'd change to make Crosshairs.


Legends LG-46 Target Master Kup

On April 5th 2017 news broke that Sharkticon, Hot Rodimus and Kup would be the September 2017 Legends releases with some speculation over the Target Master description given to both Hot Rodimus & Kup. Neither toy was released as a Targetmaster in Japan in 1986 but their Transformers Collection reissues were each modified to allow them to use both their original and Targetmaster guns. Official Images followed 5 days later revealing a new Targetmaster companion in addition to the existing Titanmaster plus a number of colour and moulding changes. Kup's head design changes and he receives new, rounded, arm pieces. However at the same time he takes on an all grey colour scheme, reminiscent of how he appeared in the US cartoon story The Rebirth.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

UW-EX Unite Warriors Baldigus


Unite Warriors Greejeeber

I'm finding it rather hard to get excited about Greejeeber. As it's a Japanese toy they've used the original darker Greejeeber colours, as opposed to Rollbar's more olive green: TFU has a good comparison between the two. The shade coupled with the US army star on the bonnet makes him a dead ringer for Combiner Wars Hound in vehicle mode. The robot mode is slightly better but still looks like a slightly darker Hound with a Swindle head and an orange chest.

All the deluxe toys in the Unite Warriors Baldigus Boxset have lost their Hand/Foot/Gun and in it's place Greejeeber gains Long Haul's gun from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset. This improves both modes considerably closer emulating the big and small guns the original Swindle and Greejeeber toys had.

This toy was always going to struggle alongside Hound and they've done the best they could but it's easily the least exciting thing in the Baldigus boxset.


Unite Warriors Hepter

There's not a lot of difference between Car Robots Hepter and it's American counterpart Robots in Disguise, as TFU's comparison shows. The blue helicopter with an orange chest and red legs & weapons translates well to the Unite Warriors Vortex mould whose rotor assembly holds together much better than the one I got in the Unite Warriors Bruticus Boxset. As with the other deluxe toys in the Unite Warriors Baldigus Boxset he's lost his hand foot gun but instead has Mixmaster's gun from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset. A slight complaint here is it's gun metal grey, matching the other imported UW Constructicon weapons, which I assume are gang moulded, and not red like his other weapon and the weapons on the original Hepter. Even though it's a little off model, I think I'd have been tempted to paint the missiles on he helicopter/arms red too.

Otherwise a decent job done.


Unite Warriors Shuttler

There's a little bit of excitement about Shuttler in this set: For a start it's only the third use of the mould, after Unite Warriors Blast Off and Unite Warriors Strafe. It's only the second use of the space shuttle version after Blast Off and this time it's in more authentic black & white shuttle colours, like the original Car Robot Shuttler and Robots in Disguise Movor, which are very similar as TFU's comparison shows.

The alternative assembly & transformation has used here which means the arms fit onto the wings better in vehicle mode and in robot mode the unsightly shuttle nose chest is relegated to his back with a more traditional Combiner Wars chest, painted in orange. It had been used previously on the remoulded Strafe but this is it's first official use on the shuttle version of the toy and it's a BIG improvement. I hope that WHEN a Combiner Wars Deluxe Shuttle Blast Off comes out it will use this configuration!

As with the other deluxe toys in the Unite Warriors Baldigus Boxset Shuttler has traded his Hand Foot Gun for a weapon from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset, in his case now possessing Scrapper's gun.

I personally had no problem with the assembly of my Blast Off but I'm aware others have had difficulty in arm mode. No problems of that nature have yet been reported with this toy. The pins on Shuttler's neck joint have been enlarged to stop the head falling out when it's transformed this tweet shows.

Great repaint, a vast improvement on UW Blast off in colour and robot form.


Unite Warriors Dangar

Definitely Car Robots Dangar, who is a brown camouflaged sandy colour, and not Robots in Disguise Armorhide, who is a dark blue camouflage on light blue body. The difference is obvious and unlike the rest of the limb characters in this set you don't need to see them bellow each other in their TU entry to tell the difference!

Of all the former Combaticon deluxes in the Unite Warriors Baldigus, Dangar misses his Hand Foot Gun the most in vehicle mode as it provided the tank mode's dual cannon: I'd have given some serious though to including it for that reason alone. In it's place we get Scavenger's gun, from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset. It's a decent substitute for Dangar's previously missing small gun but lacks the presence of the larger cannon.

Transforming to robot mode reveals a brown plastic head with similarly coloured limb pieces and, thank the lord, a decent waist.

Looks good but I'm missing that dual cannon!


Unite Warriors Dolrailer

The main difference between Car Robots Dolrailer Robots in Disguise Mega Octane - I still think Mega Octane should have been called Scourge and the petrol tanker Scourge Mega Octane - is in the combiner accessories. But look closer at the comparison pictures in TFU's Mega-Octane page and you'll see that there's a chest panel that changes from gold to grey, as do the cannons on the robot's back, and the green of the vehicle turns from olive to a darker shade as the toy moved west. The Unite Warriors toy reflects the original Japanese version, lots of olive green, lots of gold. Oddly the guns originally included with Combiner Wars Hotspot are black on this toy not gold, albeit with gold painted tips. They have changed colour before without seemingly affecting the rest of the toy, notably on Combiner Wars Onslaught & Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Bludgeon, so why not here? Odd. Even odder is that Dolrailer has all but lost his camouflage pattern, he's now a plain olive drab EXCEPT for the top of the rear of the vehicle. A camouflage paint mask exists for this toy and was used on Combiner Wars Generation 2 Onslaught, why not use that? Despite hthese slight oddities the vehicle mode looks good and the robot mode looks even better, with just the gold tops of his guns peaking over his shoulders.

One of the problems with Combiner Wars Onslaught and Bruticus is thathe could either have hand guns or the cannons on his back. Unite Warriors Dorailler solves this by giving him some more guns! Whereas the deluxe members of the Unite Warriors Baldigus Boxset got their new guns from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset Dorailler's come from Unite Warriors Scattershot. Like Onslaught's guns these can peg together front to back via 5mm peg hole in the barrel and a corresponding peg on the rear. In vehicle mode we find them pegged into the front of the existing guns to form much larger vehicle cannons, more reminiscent of the original toy. I wish the pegs fully recessed, they can't because of the fin moulding on the back of the gun, but the clutch between the two pieces is easily enough to hold them in place.

So, a nice loking toy, and the addition of the gun probably makes this the best version of the Onslaught toys. But, and for a repaint it's a big but, they could have got closer to the original than they did by colouring the back cannons better and incluing the camouflage pattern all over the vehicle.


Unite Warriors Baldigus

Unite Warriors Baldigus was teased in silhouette on 20th October 2016, with a filename for the picture which rather gave the game away, and fully revealed on 25th October 2016.

Car Robots Baldigus is a Japanese repaint of Bruticus sold during 2001. It was subsequently imported into the west by Hasbro as Robots in Disguise Ruination where the colour of one of the limbs and the combiner hands, feet, chest armour & helmet were changed: The two toys are definitely different and I much prefer the original Japanese version with the gold armour.

But in my collection I already have Combiner Wars Bruticus, Unite Warriors Bruticus & Combiner Wars Generation 2 Bruticus. What does the Unite Warriors Bruticus Boxset have to offer me, apart from new colours? Quite a bit actually.

Gone are the Hand Foot Guns for the deluxes in this set, replaced with weapons from the Unite Warriors Devastator Boxset. Replacing them in combined mode are the hands & feet from the Combiner Wars Computron Boxset, which haven't seen release in Japan before. The ankle joints in the feet, like those used with Combiner Wars Victorion & Unite Warriors Megatronia, offer sideways movement and provide a more masculine look to the toy that the pointy shoes used on it's female variants.

As I said the individual toys in the set all have new weapons too. Here's a quick guide to who has what, together with what their RID and original Combaticon names are

CR/UW RiD Combaticon Weapons
Dangar Armorhide Brawl Scavenger
Shuttler Movor Blast-off Scrapper
Greejeeber Rollbar Swindle Long Haul
Hepter Ro-tor Vortex Mixmaster
Dolrailer Mega-octane Onslaught Scattershot
Baldigus Ruination Bruticus Computron

The additional weapons, like the Original Baldigus Weapons, can combine into super weapons for the combined robot to hold.

The smaller weapon is formed from Shuttler (Scrapper's) long gun with Hepter's red gun and Greejeeber Jeep cannon pegged into the sides.

The larger weapon uses the two new guns with Dolrailer (Scattorshot's) pegged together with the handle on the rear gun facing down and the handle on the front gun facing up. Onto the front handle/peg attach the new long gun from Greejeeber (Long Haul's) which has a 5mm peg hole on it's underside. On the peg sticking out of our right of the front gun attach the new gun from Hepter (Mixmaster) and into the right of that peg in Shuttler's own white gun. Onto the rear left peg attach the new gun from Dangar (Scrapper's) The big gun goes in Baldigus' right hand, on our left, with the smaller one in his opposite hand.

When combining the toys you'll find that Dolrailer has the same alteration to the leg moulding that Unite Warriors Megaempress does, as shown in this tweet, which helps secure the upper legs better in combined mode.

The assembled combined robot looks exactly as it should: Unite Warriors Bruticus in the Baldigus colours. Like all the toys in the set a top job has been doe with the repainting. Alas he suffers from leaning forward syndrome, but all the Defensor/Bruticus variants do so that's to be expected. The addition of the different hands, feet and weapons sets him aside from being a straight Bruticus repaint and really adds something to the set. I'll be sad if this turns out to be the last Unite Warriors release but if it is, then they've gone out on a good set that's given us a Combiner Wars combiner we didn't have in the western line.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Titans Return Topspin with Freezeout


Titans Return Topspin with Freezeout

I remember Topspin & Twintwist being a big part of the Transformers advertising in 1985 when they first came out, playing on their auto transforming feature. But somehow they never really featured in the media, having to wait till nearly the end of 1986 for their first comics appearance as part of the Wreckers. Over the years the toys have become increasingly disliked due to their simplicity and with it their characters too, to the point that when Roberts & Roche bumped off their IDW versions in Last Stand of the Wreckers nobody batted an eyelid! The Topspin name has been reused a few times but the closest to redoing the characters was the Fall of Cybertron Topspin & Twintwist, part of the FoC Wreckers/Ruination and even then they're just repaints.

Now I've always quite liked the Jumpstarters: our first Transformer was one, Topspin, and the sculpting on them is superb, a classic example of the Transformers house style in robot mode. I always wanted Twin Twist but never owned one until relatively recently.

Then The Transmissions Podcast reported a rumour of a Titans Return version on 21st April 2016 and his release was confirmed in December 2016 when a picture of the toy was seen on an early Skyshadow sample. Hasbro didn't show the toy or release official images till the New York Toyfair on 17th February 2017 by which point they'd been released in the Far East for a month!

The first thing that strikes you about Topspin, even when he's still in his packet, is what a big boy he is, tall and chunky, towering over his original which is just taller than the Titans Return version's waist. He looks very similar to the original with the major detail being ported over including the wings mounted on the upper arms and the blue head with a blue visor over a silver face.

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Articulation is pretty good: Head turns courtesy of the Titanmaster's ball joint, the shoulders shrug up & down at the body as well as being ball jointed at the arms, each arm has a bicep swivel and double bending elbow, his waist turns, his hips are ball jointed, his knees and his knees bend. While not articulation as such the shoulder mounted wings bend back and forth which should help prevent breakage.

Topspin comes with two dual barrelled blasters that are the opposite of each other. These tab together to form a four barrelled gun, with a 5mm peg handle underneath the combined weapon that he can hold while a Titanmaster sits in it. The only problem is that this doesn't look much like his original gun but fortunately he can, just about, hold the original too! The original gun has a 4mm peg, which would be far too loose in Titan's Return Topspin's 5mm fist hole but near the top is 5mm ring which just about provides enough clutch for the newer toy to hold. It's a bit loose and will fall out if you move it but is fine for static posing.

Transformation: Removing the Titanmaster Freezeout and transforming him reveals a mini robot with the same colour layout as Topspin: blue limbs & head, white chest. Open the panel on he underside of the forearms, fold the hands in and fold the forearm back so the elbow section recesses inside the forearm. Close the forearm door again. Rotate the waist 180°. Pull the upper portion of the waist joint away from the rest of the torso and fold forward 90°. Turn the torso behind the chest panel so that the neck & Titanmaster socket end up at waist level and what was the waist is at the top. Fold the waist back 90° over the neck. Open the cockpit canopy. Fold the prongs at the front of the vehicle & the landing gear out and forward. Swing the arms alongside the cockpit, tabbing into place. Seat the Titanmaster in the cockpit with his arms raised in front and close the canopy on him. Fold the rear of each leg back about 80°. Collapse the upper leg by folding it into the lower leg and tab the legs together then fold the knee pads down & closed and the feet into what was the front of the leg. Tab the guns under the wings or peg into what was the legs and lower the landing gear.

Interesting Transformation, the moving the waist to the neck is similar to Titans Returns Triggerhappy while the legs are a variant on the method used to shorten them since the Combiner Wars Aerialbots.

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The finished spaceship looks just like a proportionally flatter & narrower version of the original with an added pilot's cockpit in the middle. That detail alone vastly improves the look of the vehicle mode making it feel like an actual vehicle someone could be using, albeit a very science fiction space fighter. Each wing has a Titanmaster foot peg on it to accommodate additional crew.

Love it. Superb update.

Topspin was sold at 2 per case in Titans Return Deluxe wave 4.


Titans Return Twin Twist with Burnout

As soon as a Titans Return version of Topspin was rumoured people began to speculate on Twintwist 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 Twintwist the Titans Return version appears to be 90% reused from Topspin! The parts changed are the larger robot face & the front of the shoulders with the wings on the arms & front of the vehicle exchanged for moulded caterpillar treads and a new vehicle front with drills respectively. 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!


Future Repaints

The Diaclone Versions of the Jumpstarters, both Jet Type and drill type provide two alternate colour schemes for each toy.

The Jumpstarters also have a number of South American variants in Salt-Man X, Salt-Man Z, Robot-Man X & Robot-Man Z.