The Transforming accessory is now replaced by a Decoy Suit, about 5cm high x 3.5cm wide x 1.5cm deep, based on the shell of a 1988/1989 Pretenders Character. This opens up, via a hinge on the feet, to accommodate a Prime Master inside. Since Prime Masters & Titan Masters are the same size your old Titan Masters can also fit inside the Pretender Shell. The shell has holes in it's feet the same size as the Titanmaster footpeg holes, but the spacing varies from toy to toy. The shell's arms are articulated at the shoulders allowing them to raise. The hands are a 3mm peg hole which it can use to hold it's weapon. The weapon can also be attached to the Pretender's back via studs on the side of the weapon which fit dimples either side of a gap on the back. The gap size varies between the different shells so a shell can only store it's own weapon like this. The Pretender shell itself can transform into a weapon: the weapon on the back folds up so it's pointing out from the head and a 5mm handle folds out between the shell's feet enabling it to be held with the plainer back of the Pretender shell facing up. The transformed Prime Master can attach to the top of the weapon via two footpegs, forming a cube that powers the weapon, or the Prime Master can sit in it and act as a gunner. The weapons are perhaps a little large for a deluxe, suiting the Voyager and Leaders toys better.
There is something of a discontinuity having a different character inside the shell instead of who the shell originally belongs to!
Metalhawk is probably the most popular Pretender behind Thunderwing & Bludgeon, who both did stints as Decepticon Leader in the Marvel Comics. Thunderwing's popularity though is more based on infamy than anything else: he was a Japanese exclusive and the last original Transformer to feature die cast metal. In recent years he's been used by IDW in the Robots in Disguise comics and been released as a 2012 Botcon exclusive and another exclusive in Titans Return. We'll have some fun with this last toy later.
The Decoy Suit is a near perfect reproduction of the original Metalhawk's Pretender shell with the proportions slightly altered to fit the standard Prime Master size. The body is moulded in dark grey plastic with the arms & front of the suit in blue plastic, with generous paint applications to the front of the suit. He comes with a large silver cannon for him to hold. The Metalhawk decoy suit has no face, just a gap through which you can see the Primemaster looking out. Opening the shell reveals the Vector Prime Primemaster who is blue with a grey chest & lower legs and a painted silver face, which gives it a very different look to the original Metalhawk's inner robot and previous versions of Vector Prime.
The weapons mode essentially looks like and old Targetmaster gun, with a dark grey main body, blue arms to the sides and silver gun barrel.
This one has attraction just because it's Metalhawk. Unsurprised to see it repeated in the second wave. Works well for me.
Cloudburst was the flying Autobot Pretender in the wave of 1988 Pretenders distributed to the US and the UK and was also available for retail sale in Japan. His Decoy suit version has a grey body and red arms & front. Like Metalhawk he has a gap instead of a face for the Titanmaster to see out of but the gimmick doesn't work nearly as well here because the slot is smaller and positioned higher so all you can see is the Prime Master's forehead! He comes with a dual Gatling gun weapon.
Opening the suit reveal the red Micronus Primemaster, who has grey lower legs and chest, with a painted blue face. Thh grey and red may be moved round a bit but he looks much more like the Cloudburst inner robot than Vector Prime in Metalhawk does.
Thje weapons mode is proper 90s big gun madness and again feels very Targetmastery.
Another success. Cloudburst/Micronus is only packed 2 per case in wave 1, compared to the others 3 per case, and unlike them he doesn't return in Wave 2 either!
Skullgrin probably counts as the most popular of the rest thanks to his distinctive appearance and starring role in a comics episode. The shell is a good rendition of him, but I worry for the longevity of the horns made out of hard plastic. Unlike the Autobot Decoy Suits there's no hole for a face, instead a series of smaller holes for eyes, mouth and oddly the side of the waist. His body is a much paler grey than the Autobots, with purple arms and chest which is again heavily painted. Since Liege Maximo is generally depicted as having horns in his comics appearances you can see why they chose Skullgrin to be his Decoy Suit!
The purple Liege Maximo Primemaster, with grey lower legs & chest, is probably the closest to the original inner robot of the Wave 1 Decoy suits thanks to some grey paint on the heads helmet and some moulded detail including tank tracks on the legs which makes him look just like Skullgrin's robot!
The point this toy falls down is the weaopon, a 3 pronged bent fork/claw. It looks odd hand held and odd attached to the shell in weapons mode. What little we can see so far suggests the Decepticon Primemaster Decoy suits turn into melee weapons and the Autibot Decoy Suits into guns but on the evidnce here the Autobots got the better deal.
Shame about the weapon, the rest is great!
Grand Maximus is a Japanese repaint of Fortress Maximus that comes with an extra Pretender shell for the larger head robot, Grand. When Takara announced they were to recolour Titans Return Fortress Maximus as Legends Grand Maximus there were conditions: The first was it needed to reach 2000 preorders at TakaraTomyMall to get made. The second was that if it passed 3000 preorders then an additional Primemaster Decoy Suit would be included for Grand Maximus's smaller Headmaster, Gran, to use. These targets needed to be reached by midday on November 2nd 2017. Pictures of the toy showed us the Decoy Suit was superficially a recolour of Cloudburst, with the twin Gatling guns and clear green arms & suit front. Close examination of the details on the suit revealed that it was actually a repaint of an as yet unrevealed Waverider remould of Cloudburst:
On 27th October 2017 Takara announced the 2000 unit limit has been passed. However on 2nd November Takara announced that Grand Maximus had not reached the 3000 order level and thus the Decoy Suit for Gran was cancelled.
I'm not convinced that this is the end for the Gran decoy suit and suspect it may show up as a convention exclusive down the line. If anything Gran's suit has confirmed to us that a Waverider Prime Master is in the works.