Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Titans Return Skytread


Skytread

Like Clobber, Skytread is another character who is known better by a different name, in this case the Duocon Flywheels. Now for a long while I've had this theory that Flywheels and Battletrap are named the wrong way round as there's no moving wheels on Flywheels while there is on Battletrap, who's name would more suit a tank & fighter jet than a van & helicopter. Flywheels is also "due"! Battletrap got a new version at Botcon 2015, a repaint of Generations Springer and at the time many felt that Springer's case mate Blitzwing would make a good new Flywheels, but that never materialised.

Although Flywheels, like wave mates Clobber/Grimlock and Brawn, wasn't initially a Headmaster he was sold in 1988 alongside the Headmasters so if anyone was going to get made a Headmaster, the Duocons, Monsterbots & Clones are prime targets and, if rumours are to be believed, the later two groups also have representatives coming in Titanmasters.

Skytread is a direct colour swap with Terribull: blue becomes a pale brown and grey becomes a raspberry pink. Gone is the paint app on the tank turret, replaced by an all over raspberry pink coating on the jet nose, mimicking Flywheel's red jet. In many ways the tank/jet makes much more sense for Flywheels than Terribull and, like Clobber/Grimlock, I'm guessing this was the original intended use for the toy.

The same colour swaps apply to the Titanmaster, they're not mixing and matching yet like they did with the repaint Powercore Commanders & Minicons yet but I can see that happening later down the line. Like Clobber again Skytread has a new face which has all the major features of Flywheel's face yet somehow looks a little different from the original.

I can see this being the shelf warmer in wave 2: it's not a new mould and it's not a big character like Grimlock. But if you're a fan of the 88 era toys pick it up: the mould is still fun and, as I said, it makes much more sense as Flywheels than Terribull.

Titans Return Clobber


Clobber

Except it's not REALLY a new character called Clobber, it's Grimlock, presumably name changed to avoid confusion with the RiD 2015 Warrior.

Clobber is mainly a straight colour swap with Crashbash: purple becomes a dark, almost brown, metallic grey and pale grey becomes mustard yellow. One the Titanmaster this results in a colour layout resembling the original Grimlock, with a yellow chest and dark grey elsewhere, but although I can see what they're going for this doesn't quite hit the mark. Dragon mode looks OK with the silver paint app moving from the neck to the head. This in turn gives the T-Rex a silver tail, like original Grimlock, but Grimlock didn't have yellow legs. The area of gold on Grimlock's body is much smaller than Clobber's yellow but despite this it's evident that this mode is modelled on the original Grimlock and raises the likelihood that Grimlock is the originally intended use, rather than Crashbash (Squeezeplay). Grimlock's Dinosaur mode is completed with an Autobot symbol on his nose.

Since the legs & wings are on ball joints, and the body's hinges are holes that pop on over studs it should be a simple matter to swap parts between the two and make an all grey Grimlock dinosaur. Popping the wings out their sockets and back in is rather scary though so be careful and the writer takes no blame for any damaged incurred modifying your toys!

The head mode is quite important here and it's a pretty good Grimlock head. I've already seen one superb custom using a version of the FOC Grimlock. I can't see Grimlock going down the "Human for a head" route used in the Marvel comics but the Japanese version where the head is a smaller less powerful robot downsized for energy reasons that joins with a larger body for battle.... yeah, I can see Grimlock going for that and indeed have money for a toy like that Hasbro....... and I want it redone in purple as a full size Decepticon Dinosaur Crashbash too!

Crashbash was the star of the first wave so bringing him back quickly and repurposed as a famous character makes sense. He'll sell well on the Grimlock link alone.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Titans Return Apeface


Apeface

Having been rumoured for some time Apeface was revealed at Botcon 2016. He's the first of the 1987 Headmasters to be released in the Titanmaster size and, to be honest, you'd have thought Apeface's Robot-Jet-Ape combination would, along with his fellow Horrocon Snapdragon, have been more suitable for the triple changing Voyager size used by Sentinel Prime & Galvatron, even if it meant them loosing the triple changing head and the Titanmaster riding inside their beast modes like all the other beast Headmasters do.

As it is Apeface's Titanmaster has just one head mode, the robot's, and that's a pretty good reproduction of the original albeit with better proportions. The Titanmaster robot is purple, with black arms & head, which has similar detail to the large head and would make a passable Optimus. He retains the features of the other Titanmasters: the grooves in the back of the head to fit the neck clips & Crashbash/Clobber, the leg back holes for securing on a Leader, the heel spur for balance & securing when sitting down and the footpeg holes.

Apeface's accessory comes in ape mode and stands about 1cm taller than a Titanmaster. It's mainly moulded in black & purple plastic with a lot of white paint. He's posed so he looks like an a frame from the side, but the balance is good enough that you can raise one of the arms, but not both at the same time. The shoulder joint is the only articulation. Fists are posed with a side on hole which doesn't look to be any of the standard used peg hole sizes. A significant space is provided in the reverse of the plane mode's nose cone on his back and two foot pegs at the bottom of this space allow the Titanmaster to stand on his back.

It is recommended you leave the purple handle for the gun mode folded away. Folding it forward, produces a rather suggestive looking ape mode!

Transform: fold the ape arms back as far as they'll go so they lie parallel with the body. Fold the jet nose forward off the ape's back and lie on the ape's tummy.

The Jet mode isn't a bad representation of the original Apeface jet. All the major features are there: the wrong way round wings, the white nose with red tip and the angular canopy. There's enough space in the back for the Titanmaster to sit there loosely but his official mode of connection here involves lying him down, with his face looking up and tucking his head under the cockpit canopy with the heel spur tabbing into the rear of the jet.

As with the other Titanmaster accessories, Apeface has a weapons mode. From jet mode fold the beast arms down and forward 180° so they lie parallel with the jet nose. Fold the weapons handle down from the rear of the jet.

Big chunky triple barrelled weapon, with the arm barrels ending in diagonal slants. It looks OK, but the middle barrel is evidentially the jet nose, complete with red tip and is very distinctive.

Good solid toy, I like it, but it's not blowing me away as being as innovative & fun as Crashbash.

My sample was obtained from BBTS when they, briefly, had stock in early July 2016 along with the rest of Titanmasters Wave 2. Sadly, as you may have read elsewhere, my Brawn was incomplete so you'll need wait for a replacement before I review that!

Apeface's accessory is scheduled to be used as a pack in with Legend LG-30 Weirdwolf where black & purple are swapped for yellow & blue/green respectively. The Titanmaster is later packed with Legends LG-38 Condor (Laserbeak) but no western repaint is yet scheduled. Optimus Primal perhaps?

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Titans Return Rewind

Rewind

A tank mode isn't what you automatically associate with Rewind who is usually depicted as being a tape. But in 2014 the Transformers Subscription Service did Rewind & Eject as repaints, with new heads, of United Rumble & Frenzy. It's the second Legends tank mould after Megatron, which was reused as Warpath, and, As FOC previously showed us, a a toy mould for one tape robot will do fine for all four so we can expect to be seeing a bit more of of it.

So tank test time:

Does the gun barrel elevate? YES! Hurrah, pleased about this.

Does the turret turn? NO! A little disappointing as this has been done in the size, and smaller, but I can live with this here where at deluxe and larger I'd be cross.

The tank rolls along courtesy of three small wheels in the underside. Titanmaster comparability is provided by two pairs of foot pegs on the turret's roof so a pair of Titanmasters can stand side by side. They're probably the best footpegs on any Titans Return Legend so far too, no complaints about them. A small unintended extra is provided in tank mode: there's a 5mm peg hole in the side which can be used for mounting extra weapons. The hole's official use becomes becomes apparent during transformation:

Start by removing any Titanmasters. Pull the weapon forwards away from the turret: it's rear is a two pronged fork with a dimple on each fork's inner edge which fits into a pair of slots on the turret. The turret splits in two down the middle, with one slot on each half so the gun is actually holding the turret together, and folds out to the sides. Fold the tops of the tank forward, with one of the Titanmaster pegs recessing into a hole in the tank tread. Place the gun in the recess of the side of the tank.

Now the hole is at the bottom of the recess for the gun, lying beneath the handle. Now I see it in tape mode the handle doesn't quite stretch into the hole which makes me wonder why it's there! But bonus points for storing the weapon in this mode! As per the other Titans Returns "Tapes" he's more an iPod, complete with 3.5mm audio jack socket on the bottom, than a tape but since this mode fits in Blaster or Soundwave tape it is. Up is defined by the direction of the Autobot symbols on the front of the toy which amusingly has a tape detail pattern on it.

I must relay a conversation I had with my son Jonathan, who is starting to like Transformers thanks to the RiD cartoon, about this toy and the weapons storage:

Philip: Jonathan, don't forget to remove the gun before you transform it to robot mode.
Half an hour later....
Philip: Jonathan, why is Rewind's weapon bent?
DO NOT FORGET TO REMOVE THE WEAPON BEFORE STARTING TO TRANSFORM TO ROBOT MODE!

The first step in the transformation involves folding the bottom of each side up to lie alongside the toy in the same configuration they are for the turret. You will damage the gun if you leave it in place and we'll see an awful lot of bent tank barrels in years to come! Pull each turret half out to the sides so they're alongside the top of the toy which now forms a T shape. Rotate each turret half down & back 90°. Reverse the toy so you're looking at the tank's underside and can see a 5mm socket facing forward from the end of each bar of the T shape. Pull the black tan treads to the sides, exposing the robot's lower legs, fold down at the knees and then rotate each lower leg in 90°. Fold the bottom of the leg up to form a foot. Split the top half of the toy in two and fold the bars of the T shape to the sides to become the arms. Open the chest, fold the head out and close the chest. Place the gun in the 5mm peg hole hand.

The robot mode is going for a very More Than Meets The Eye appearance for Rewind: While the chest is the traditional design the shoulders have a red outline round the panels and the head has a camera moulded into the side which, if I'm honest, could do with a small dab of red paint on it. The head sculpt in general is superb which unfortunately is spoilt somewhat by the quality control on mine: the joint on the head is very loose to the point you could hold the toy by the head and spin it round. Sadly the neck platform is also a little loose too so it tends to rock backwards & forwards a bit. The arms feel very blocky and chunky but he can hold his weapon in his hand which makes him better than the original straight off! You can also peg the weapon into the extra hole, which is now on the side of the right arm. Articulation is good, shoulders shrug up to the sides and are ball jointed, bicep swivels & bending elbows plus ball jointed hips & knees plus the aforementioned dodgy neck joint.

Despite the dodgy neck joint easily the best Eject they've done so far which is good as this is a "get used to it, you'll see it again a few more time" mould as they do Rumble, already scheduled in Wave 2, then Eject & Frenzy.

Titans Return Stripes


Stripes

The name Stripes does has previous form, being used as a Ravage repaint, but the suspicion is that this toy is mean to be Steeljaw, as per the Fall of Cybertron Steeljaw, which was also the Fall of Cybertron Ravage remould. However the presence of Steeljaw as a major character in Robots in Disguise probably put paid to that!

Stripes comes packaged in plane mode. The plane mode falls into the "If you squint hard enough" category of Transformers alternate modes, usually seen on multichangers. It's got a plane node, wings and tail fins so it must be a plane, right? Even if the "tail fins" are evidentially a pair of his beast mode legs folded up!. Two Titanmaster footpegs top the jet and, if I'm honest, don't hole the Titanmaster in place terribly well unless you get him on just right!

To transform him into his tape mode fold the "tail fins" forward so the feet tuck under wing hinges. Since this is a somewhat tricky manoeuvre, it might be easier to fold the wings & plane side upwards, fold the legs in and fold the side & wings back down. Whichever way you choose you finish by bringing the wings together over the tape body and fold the jet nose under and into the tape.

I say tape but like his predecessor Buzzsaw he's more of an iPod type item, complete with a 3.5mm audio jack socket on the top. It'll get called a tape because they're all descended from the original tapes and fit into the Titans Return Blaster & Soundwave so tape mode it is.

To transform into beast mode start by folding the head out from the jack socket end of the toy, the other end to where the plane nose was folded in. Swing the wings right the way back and fold the tail up. Fold each wing section, and tape side, in so the wings are closer together and parallel. Fold the rear legs down and then fold the front legs down. Bend the shoulder section at the base of the neck up and pose.

Tape beast modes occasionally leave a bit to be desired. The FOC Steeljaw/Ravage mentioned above was a disaster but the original Ravage, used for the first Stripes is amazing. New Stripes falls somewhere between the two. I think the main problem is I can still see a rectangular block in the centre of the toy, an image created by the striped sides of the tape folding up beside the black central spine to form a tape sized width. There's lots of hints that they were going for a lion here, and more specifically Steeljaw, with the hints of a mane on the the head & neck and the swept back wings being reminiscent of a detail found on the original Steeljaw's weapons. Against that he's mostly coloured bright orange with stripes on his side which say Tiger. As well as the central core & neck base, all four lower legs & feet are coloureds black and these bend at the knee & ankle. The shoulders, connecting the forelegs to the body, are ball jointed yet the rear legs are connected by a joint that just turns and, worse, one that's limited and won't move back beyond straight down restricting the poses you can get out the toy. The tail & wings all pivot and, like the now concealed plane nose, are made of a yellowy gold plastic which would have been perfect for Steeljaw and seem somewhat out of place here almost making me think there was a late change in plastic colour which didn't get altered for this piece. The head pivots up & down, as part of the transformation, at the base of the neck but half way down the neck there's a point with round detail on each side that, like God Ginrai's elbows, looks like it should bend and doesn't!

You can still stand a Titanmaster on the beast mode back but it even harder to attach him with the sides restricting access so I'd recommend folding the rear legs forward, folding the sides & wings down, standing the Titanmaster and unfolding the sides & legs again.

The more I play with this I think it's Steeljaw. I don't think it's a good Steeljaw but it's a better Steeljaw than the FOC version so points there. For Stripes it probably needs the alternate Tiger head found on the Ravage repaint but as it is it's a better Stripes than a Steeljaw. The plane mode is a bit Meh and the beast mode could have been both better and a lot worse.

I await to see if Takara produce a Steeljaw in the original Steeljaw colours from this!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Titans Return Nightbeat


Nightbeat

Nightbeat was unveiled at NYCC 2015 and of all the Titanmasters he probably caused the most fuss. Unlike Squeezeplay/Crashbash, Horri-bull/Terri-bull and Siren/Loudmouth-44302, who have been all but ignored since their initial appearance, Nightbeat is a popular character who has appeared regularly in the comics and had several versions, the most recent of which was only 2 years ago. So having Nightbeat released as just a head caused some ruckus. To be honest I'd be surprised if we don't see Nightbeat and his fellow Wave 1 Titanmaster and Siren returning as Chromedome repaints down the line.

Then there's the matter of which Nightbeat face he has. Over the years some confusion has arisen between Nightbeat and Siren over who has which face! Generally most depictions of Nightbeat include a visor over the eyes following it's use in the original comic including IDW's More Than Meets The Eye and the most recent toys. This toy however has gone the opposite route and used the same design as the original toy showing Nightbeat as having full yellow face with no visor. However while the original Nightbeat Headmaster figure, Muzzle, was yellow with black legs the Titanmaster follows the colour pattern of the original toy by being all pale blue with a yellow body and upper legs. The official images, released after NYCC 2015, show this wasn't always the plan as the render there has all yellow legs!

Nightbeat's accessory is a little light blue and yellow jet plane. Nightbeat lies on top of the plane, face down, to pilot it with his feet being pegged into the rear of the jet. There's no slot for his heel spur/foot tab so he can't be turned the other way up.

To transform Nightbeat's accessory turn it the other way up, fold the wings in, fold the jet nose down and into the body revealing the drill nose and fold forward the yellow piece resting behind the jet nose.

The drill mode is a little bit of a let down. For a start the jet nose is clearly visible in the body of the drill tank. The drill itself doesn't turn. There's nowhere really for Nightbeat to sit but you can just about perch him on the back with his feet tucked under the yellow piece halfway down the tank. The intention here is that you put the head mode into the rear of the vehicle, face down with the legs on top and the peg holes pointing forward as gun barrels. Unfortunately his Titanmaster head, and any Titanmaster head, seem very unwilling to slot into the yellow piece of plastic where it's meant to. Those that have had success getting the head in have later reported problems getting the head back out again to the point the head stays put and the rest of the Titanmaster comes away!

This drill tank mode forms the basis of the handweapon mode, simply fold down the handle from the back of the toy.

Yeah. Easily the worst of the Wave 1 Titanmasters but he'll sell cos it's Nightbeat.

In Japan the Nightbeat Titanmaster is mildly repainted and packaged with LG-28 Rewind. I'll imagine we'll see it again repainted as Minerva. Meanwhile the jet/drill accessory will be packaged with LG-32 Chromedome later on in 2016.

Titans Returns Terribull


Titans Returns Terribull

Terribull is another Transformer who is visible on Titan Wars Banner "accidentally" revealed at Botcon 2015. He was officially unveiled at NYCC 2015.

Terribull is the new name for the 1988 Headmaster Horri-bull. The colours have moved around from Horri-Bull's Headmaster Kreb, with the head and arms now being blue while the lower legs are grey leaving just the blue upper legs and grey chest in the same place. His head mode, mainly dark blue with a goldy brown faceplated face, is a pretty good match for the original.

Terribull's accessory, the item that was seen on the Titan Wars banner, is a small tank with a pair of double barrels on the front, reminding me of the GI Joe Armadillo. Each pair of barrels can elevate, but that's your limit of movement. Terribull can sit behind the gun barrels with his foot holes plugging into foot pegs while the tab on the rear of the leg recesses into the floor. Sadly there are no wheels on the tank.

The accessory's alternate mode is formed by removing Terribull, turning the vehicle over, folding a jet nose from the front and folding the sides down to become wings.

This jet mode is a bit stumpy, but is quite fun with the guns hanging from underneath. Sadly you can't seat Terribull in it: he's designed to be led on his back in it, head under the rear of the nosecone, legs tabbed into the slope at the rear.

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From here the weapons mode is formed by folding down a handle from the rear of the vehicle. This looks a little odd with the jet nose on top and gun barrels underneath but it works.

Not the worst of the Wave 1 Titanmasters but not special like Crashbash his.

Terribull is repainted, with a new face on the Titanmaster, as Sky Tread, a new version of Flywheels, in Titanmasters wave 2. His accessory swaps sides and gets a green recolour to become an extra Weapon for Hardhead as part of Legends LG-21. We'll wait slightly longer for his Titanmaster when he appears under his Japanese name Bullhorn and is paired with Jaguar (Ravage) in LG-37, due out towards the end of 2016.