Sunday, 15 January 2017

Legends Convobat


I like repaints. Every review I write I include a section at the bottom entitled "Future Repaints" where I try and guess what the toy I'm writing about will be turned into with a few splashes of paint and maybe a couple of new/remoulded parts. I frequently include Beast Wars characters for anything animal related but very seldom get rewarded. As soon as we saw Mindwipe I thought "you might get a decent Bat Optimus Primal out of that" but seeing as the basic bat is Optimus Primal's lesser well known form the suggestion was more a shot in the dark.

Blow me if E-Hobby only went and took us up on the idea! The toy was announced on 5th August 2016 and during the period the toy was available to order from E-Hobby a number of promotional comic pages were issued :

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
In addition more promotional images were released via Twitter but it wasn't until promotional images of the next E-Hobby exclusive were released that people noticed that Convobat was missing his tail element, which is included with the forthcoming Magna Convoy.

To make up a new version of the Optimus Primal bat TakaraTomy have taken the Titans Return Mindwipe body and repainterd it a grey & blue. Blue is used for the upper arms, hands, waist and upper legs. The body is blue too but doesn't look it due to a large amount of grey paint on the chest to make it resemble the original basic toy's bat head. It's squared off but I can see what they are doing. All the rest of the toy is now moulded in grey with the exception of the clear bat chest door which is now clear orange. Red highlights on the knees, forearms and body remind you that the Optimus Primal bat was originally meant to be a new beast version of 1984's original Optimus Prime.

In order to give the toy an Optimus Primal style head, the repainted Mindwipe body has been paired with a blue version of Sentinel Prime's Titanmaster Infinitus. I'd been wanting to see this part in blue since I first same it on Sentinel Prime and it works very well as an Optimus Prime head, albeit a slightly angular one. The same Titanmaster will serve a similar purpose as the head of Legends Lio Convoy, the Japanese repaint of Alpha Trion.

The package contains a second Titanmaster head, Megalligator which is a green version of Galvatron's Titanmaster Nucleon. This is meant to to act as the head of Alligator Megatron, the toy which was originally packed in a VS Pack with Bat Optimus Primal. However here's no body for Megalligator included but his green does perfectly match Legends LG-22 Skull and his Titans Return version Skullsmasher.

The original Optimus Primal was armed with a pair of swords and in order to mimic this Convobat is paired with the swords from Transformers Prime Wheeljack which, when not in use, can peg into the holes on the wings.

Like the Legends deluxe toys which were originally Headmasters Convobat is paired with a Titanmaster accessory. His is Ape-X Arms a new repaint of Titanmaster Apeface's Ape/Jet accessory in the colours of Optimus Primal's final Beast Wars form Optimal Optimus. It's a nice repaint but it is broadly similar to Rarigo, the yellow repaint of Apeface that came with LG-30 Weirdwolf.

This is a top toy package. The deco on the main figure really brings the mould to life in a way that Mindwipe didn't for me. Love it, it's a great toy and I'm very pleased to own one.

Classics Voyager Optimus Prime

So .....

I dug the Classics Voyager Optimus Prime file out to make some notes for Magna Convoy. Once I got the file in front of me it became obvious that I was missing a few versions. So ....

Voyager Op, Magnus and SDCC Nemesis Prime are essentially the original reviews as written with the rest being new additions.

Classics Voyager Optimus Prime

Classic Optimus Prime is a re-imagining of the 1984 original Optimus Prime Cab. The basic body shape is similar, but with an aerodynamic cab top, longer cab and slanted front windows. Other than that in looks very similar to original Op. The cab feels nice and chunky, and as an estimate is a similar size to the Powermaster Optimus cab.

To Transform start by folding back the blue panels under the back of the cab revealing the upper legs. Fold the legs down under the cab, fold the feet out and fold the knee caps up. Remove the smoke stacks. Pull the sides of the cabs out from the side of the front grill and fold out to the sides. Fold the sides of the back of the cab out forward. Straighten, fold and bend the arms out do the blue panels on the shoulders and the yellow strips on the forearms are facing forward. The cab side halves fold under the arms and along the outer edge of the arms. Pull the cab roof back and fold up the head. Fold the front wheels in under the grill and rotate the cab from the windows upward round 180 degrees. Fold the cab top onto his back. Take the smoke stacks, and fold the bits out within the smokestacks. Fold them together, and fold the handle out the back of the gun.

The resultant robot looks very similar to original Optimus Prime, the main difference being sloped windows. His neck can turn, shoulders move forward and back, swing to the sides, rotate at the bicep and bend at the elbow. He swivels at the waist, has universal joints on the hips, a swivel above the knee and bends at the knee. You can pose him well, he's comfortably kneeling on the table beside me. He does look a little small - more the size of an old Mega than the previous Cybertron Voyagers. He's a good inch or so taller than the Armada Optimus.

Op's forearms have the holes that take the smokestacks - these are just large enough to take the small posts from the Robotmaster missile launchers.

The cab roof - now on his back - can be swivelled so the flat edge is at the top. The hand gun can be opened up and clipped into the back pack, which then can fold forward to position twin cannons over the shoulders.

The cab roof can also TF into a hand gun: Fold the sides down till they lock together, fold the top back and fold out the gun barrel. It doesn't look like a typical TF gun but it works as an extra weapon.

Classics Optimus is a nice stylised toy. But for some reason I'm not feeling that it's as special as it could be for it's price point.

In addition to being available at the Voyage price point Optimus Prime was also released in a twin pack with his recolour Ultra Magnus - this set wasn't available in the UK or the US.

Classics Ultra Magnus

Both the toys in the Battle for Autobot City pack - exclusive to Target in the US and Woolworths in the UK - are much as you'd expect - Magnus is mainly white in both forms, Skywarp Black with Purple Highlights.

Magnus Truck mode is something of a departure featuring a pale blue truck base, which was white on all previous Ultra Magnus toys, especially the 1986 original. There's some further blue highlighting, as well as clear blue windows (and lightpipe eyes in robot mode). The exhaust pipes/gun are still black as - when you transform to robot mode - are his hands, both of which are rather odd looking and out of place, should both have been white. His face plate is Silver - blue would have been better - and the head is painted white which jars with the rest of the cast white. Of the Prime repainted white as Magnus figures - Original, Laser Rod, Armada Supercon and Masterpiece - this is probably sort of mid table (my fave's the Supercon version)

Seeing as the original versions of these would have set you back £30, the £20 Woolworths were asking for the set is a good deal.

In addition to being available in this exclusive two pack, Ultra Magnus was also released in a twin pack with Classics Voyager Optimus Prime - this set wasn't available in the UK or the US.

Shattered Glass Optimus Prime

For the Shattered Glass set in Botcon 2008 the theme of alternate universe evil Autobots good Decepticons was taken. The bad Optimus Prime swaps red for purple, the blue & grey for a darker grey and the clear blue for a clear yellow orange. Lots of damage deco is added - like a cracked window transfer - and he includes inscribed on him the motto "Till All Are Gone", a play on words on the motto heard in the original & best Transformers Movie.

It's an interesting and different Prime repaint.

Henkei C-01 Convoy

It took nearly a year and a half but Classics Voyager Optimus Prime was finally released as C-01 Henkei Convoy in Japan in March 2008. This release removes some of the white striping, darkens the red plastic, makes the grey more silver and chromes the front grill.

Henkei Crystal Convoy

In the spirit of 2001's Crystal Rodimus, Crystal Convoy is the Classics Voyager rendered entirely in coloured clear plastic parts.

Looks absolutely gorgeous, I have a weakness for clear repaints so I want one!. Unfortunately the price is very much "HOW MUCH?????" so I suspect this will be an item I will just have to look at the pictures for!

Crystal Convoy was sold at Tokyo Toy Fair 2008 where 1000 units were available and then on the internet through e-Hobby.

SDCC 2008 Nemesis Prime

I think you can guess what this involves ;-) Red becomes black, blue becomes a dark grey blue and the grey becomes a little darker. It's a classic evil Prime repaint which was an exclusive at San Diego Comic Con in July 2008 and later sold through

United Ultra Magnus

Six years after the western Classic Voyager Ultra Magnus the Japanese version was issued in 2012. This takes the western toy and looses almost all of the blue, bar the face plate, crest and clear windows, resulting in a toy which is coloured much closer to the colour scheme used on the original 1986 Ultra Magnus.

Although a more monochrome looking toy I much prefer this over the Classics Voyager who'd blue lower legs I always found very distracting!

United Black Optimus Prime

Very similar to SDCC Nemesis Prime this Tokyo Toy Show 2012 Japanese exclusive now has red windows and mint green stripes.

Alfes shows the toy in blog entries 1567, 1568, 1579 & 1580.

Having seen the two compared I think this is the better Evil Optimus toy: the clear red plastic used on the windows brings the toy to life. A quick look on eBay reveals that while expensive this toy can be had for a relatively reasonable price still!

Cloud Convoy

The summer of 2014 proved to be a very busy time for the Classics Voyager Optimus mould with it getting three uses in quick succession. It's first appearance was in Japan where it serves as the launch toy for the Autobot/Cybertron half of the Transformers Cloud line of Generations Voyager repaints. The exclusive line led an odd split life: Optimus Prime and the other Autobots were exclusive to Takara Tomy Mall while Megatron and the Decepticons that followed were exclusive to E-Hobby.

The deco here is dark blue lower legs/flatbed, white upper legs & waist and a dark red body & arms/cab. The cab top is now cast in black, reminiscent of Generation 2 Optimus Prime but is adorned with a white normal Autobot symbol. There's very little extra pant or detailing on the toy making it look simple but effective.

At the time this came out in late May 2014 I didn't own a Classics Voyager Optimus, having sold my original some years previously, and was tempted to pick it up but sadly the Takara Tomy Mall Autobot were harder to obtain overseas, where as the Decepticons were later sold through HLJ, so I missed out.

Botcon Knights of Cybertron Ginrai

Now I get what this Botcon 2014 toys is about: it's the classic Voyager done in the Fire Guts God Ginrai Japanese Exclusive colours. But Fire Guts God Ginrai has never really done it for me, I didn't like the colours and it always annoyed me that there was a God Bomber included with that set and not with the black Nucleon Quest Convoy! I've mellowed on the colours somewhat over time, thanks mainly to the arrival of Sentinel Prime and I could conceive of this being repurposed as another version of the Titans Return character.

I won't be going out of my way to find one though.

Ginrai was sold as part of the Knight of Cybertron boxset at Botcon 2014 held from June 19 to June 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California,

Age of Extinction Evolution Optimus Prime

The third third Classics Voyager Optimus Prime that year came in a TRU Exclusive Evolution 2 pack with a redeco of Age Of Extinction Evasion Optimus Prime which has blue flames on the side.

This version of Optimus is broadly similar to the original Classics Voyager. The shoulders have lost their blue paint and many of the yellow highlights have gone. The clear blue plastic is now uncoloured clear plastic. Like the Henkei version the cab mode's radiator is now chromed but so are the upper legs and waist giving the toy an appearance close to the 1984 original.

First found in the USA in August 2014, I wasn't willing to pay £40 for the 2 pack when it came out here to get one toy I didn't want! But after the set had sat in my local Toys R Us for over a year through various price reductions I bought it when it was reduced down to £24.95. For that price I think I've got a pretty decently painted classics Voyager.

Platinum One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall Optimus Prime

When images of this toy first appeared on eBay in January 2016 I put this down as an unfinished prototype due to the large panels of clear plastic on the side of the vehicle. "Show it to me when it's finished" I thought "A blue windowed Prime would be nice". But no, the images showed the finished article that would appear in the Platinum One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall set!

Seeing as this was the third western use of this mould as Optimus Prime, and the previous one released two years before was still shelf warming in it's movie two-pack this toy really needed a dynamite deco for it to sell. To tell you the truth it's not bad apart from those unpainted cab sides which just look horrendous! If they're meant to represent Prime's battle damage in the fight with Megatron then they're not doing a good job as we never see his vehicle mode after he's damaged and the robot mode looks OK still. In fact this is a more than passable Prime just left in robot mode.

Unfortunately the set does have other problems too namely a somewhat eccentric deco for Megatron to get him past the gun laws and an astonishing £100 price tag at TRU in the UK! The set has reached as low as £30 at certain online retailers but that still isn't low enough to get me to touch it!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Legends LG-34 Wipe with Servant

Legends LG-34 Wipe with Servant

Takara's been busy with Mindwipe. We'll start with the material colour swaps:

Feet, tail, gun & Titanmaster lower legsPurpleBlack
Lower arms, hands & shield clawBlackpurple
Head, small bat wings & wing tipsBrown/RedRed
Chest hatchClear PinkClear Red

The head has then had a layer of brown paint added to match the Japanese Headmasters cartoon which unfortunately now limits the movement of the jaw.. The same brown paint now lines the tops of the wings. The fronts of the wings, which really should have been moulded in red, are now painted red.

The overall effect here is slightly too busy colour-wise especially on the wings where you can see red, brown and purple on the same parts.

A new face piece for the Titanmaster has been added which is slightly larger than the Titans Return version hiding the smaller robot's arms better. It's also lot more angular than before, closer matching the appearance in the Japanese cartoon but neither it nor the Titans Return version look much the toy's original head which I much prefer.

Placing a Titans Return Crashbash repaint with Mindwipe is somewhat controversial since it is the second time Crashbash has been used as a pack in having been previously included with LG-22 Skull. However the pack ins with original Headmasters seem to be limited to the first two waves of toys. That means there's six unique toys to be shared amongst 7 Headmasters and since there's only two Beast accessories and Takara are looking to match the accessories to the deluxes as vehicle to vehicle and beast to beast, then the choice is a little limited!

The colours chosen here are great: a metallic dark grey for Crashbash's purple and a dark burgundy red for Crashbash's grey resulting in a colour scheme on the dinosaur very VERY similar to the Tomy Zoids Iguan. It's a shame he has no matching Titanmaster to complete the look, the arms on Wipe's Vorath are purple and stick out a bit in Dinosaur mode.

Neither version of Mindwipe has quite hit the spot for me. Although the wing/leg engineering is clever it creates colour problems either on the wings, which should be red, or the lower legs, which should be purple. Neither head quite works for me either and paint has hampered a feature on the Legends version which has a few too many colours on it.

Legends LG-33 Highbrow with Karugo

Legends LG-33 Highbrow & Karugo

Titans Return and Legends Highbrows look very very similar. So similar that you really need to see them side by side as in this Legends Comparison Post on Facebook. When you get both Highbrows together you'll see the the blue on Legends Highbrow is darker while the grey is lighter, almost white. The weapons have gone from being gunmetal grey to silver. In vehicle mode he's lost the stripes down his tail and the Autobot symbol on his back. In it's place is a mass of grey/white paint attempting to make the waist of the robot the same colour but breaking up the blue on the tail. New small Autobot symbols are on each wing.

As with the other 1987 Headmaster deluxes that have reached the Legends line they've tweaked the heads and added in a new accessory. Highbrows heads look quite similar but the Japanese one is slightly more rounded and a little bit lacking definition compared with the western version. The Titanmaster now more closely resembles the 1987 original being completely dark blue with a gunmetal grey chest and added paint highlights on the head.

Highbrow's package also includes one of the Titanmaster accessories. Since Legends is following the Autobot vehicles, Decepticon animals theme he gets a vehicle: Karugo, a repaint of Loudmouth's flying car. pale grey is swapped for dark grey while the red becomes a blue which matches Legends Highbrow. a dab of red paint added to the windscreen helps the toy. Unfortunately the blue used doesn't match either blue used on Go Shooter, who was sold with Legends Wheelie but even so paired together they make a more attractive combination than the original Titans Return Loudmouth.

It's fractional but I think I prefer the Titans Return Highbrow for my Highbrow, especially on the head. However the Titanmaster robot & accessory are better than their western versions.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Generations Titans Return Kickback

Generations Titans Return Kickback

Since Shrapnel, Bombshell & Kickback first appeared together as the Insecticons in 1985 we've never had all three remade. We had characters called Insecticon in Beast Wars, Energon & Hunt for the Decepticons. Bombshell appeared as an Action Master and Kickback as Fall of Cybertron deluxe but both were missing their colleagues. So when Shrapnel (Skrapnel) was released in the Generations Thrilling 30 line in 2014 as a Legends size figure which worked really well and suited his size hopes were high that all three could be done in this scale. Legends Bombshell followed in Combiner Wars in early 2015 but we've had to wait another 2 years to complete the line up with Kickback who was revealed at Cybertron Con 2016.

There slight variations in tones of colour between Skrapnel & Bombshell, notably the yellow/orange used for their chest panel. Kickback continues the trend by being different again: he has clear yellow plastic for his chest, just like the original, which also makes up his wings which have moved from being mounted between body & arms to the tops of his arms. Kickback's arms were previously formed from his legs. Now his legs hang off the arms, which will form his tail. But his legs, chest and head do a pretty good imitation of the original. Shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are on ball joints making him easy to get decent poses out of. The head turns and looks up, excessive articulation for a Legend but it's used in the transformation. Wings are attached to the arms by a ball joint and are hinged at their base too.

The wings bother me. A lot. They were a weak point on the original, being long and thin. They've tried to compensate here by improving the articulation. Where previously they could only move backwards and forwards they now move round as well thanks to the ball joint. But they're still long & thin and to add top that they're made of clear plastic which is notoriously fragile when use in situations like this. I think we'll see some more broken Kickbacks in years to come. The antennae on the head both me too. They're made of thin rubbery plastic and look like they should rotate at the sides of the head but don't. Another area of potential breakage in the future.

Transformation: the the head to fold back 90° and then rotate 180°. Fold the insect head up off the robot's back to cover the head with the antennae sticking out. Unfold the rear inset legs from the back of the lower legs. Raise the arms straight up then fold the shoulders away from the body and down so the arms are behind the toy. Tab the lower arms together to form the tail and tab that into the robots waist. Fold the legs out to the sides and swing the wings back.

The tail is a nightmare. The arms do not want to tab together and then don't want to tab into the waist. I've managed it twice now so I know it can be done but it's not easy. I opened this toy the same afternoon as Voyager Optimus Prime so neither toy made for a particularly fun experience!

When you get it into insect mode it's pretty much what you'd expect from a new version of Kickback, with the caveat for the now clear wings. Although the articulation in the rear legs is still there, the joints are effectively useless due to needing to keep the legs in the correct position. No articulation is provided by the front legs so all you're left with is the wings which turn on their ball joints and flap back & forth on a hinge at their base.

The clear plastic chest panel opens up to provide a space for a Titanmaster to sit, held firmly in place by two foot pegs. However, unlike the original with a Diaclone pilot, it's impossible to close the hatch on the Titanmaster enclosing it.

Obviously I'm pleased Kickback's been done but the frustration of the arm/tail transformation, the static insect and worries about the wings durability have detracted from my enjoyment of the finished product.

Kickback was released in Titans Return Legends Wave 3 where he was 2 per case, making him slightly harder to find than Gnaw & Bumblebee who were packed at 3 per case.

Future Repaints

Skrapnel was released in his Diaclone colour as a Botcon Exclusive Zaptrap so a Shothole exclusive repaint isn't beyond the grounds of possibility even though Bombshell hasn't yet been done as Salvo.

Since Skrapnell was remoulded as Chopshop, in my opinion not remoulded enough as I'd have given him new mandibles, I could see Kickback being redone as the vaguely similar deluxe Insecticon Ransack.

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Impactor

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Impactor

There's been ONE toy version of the Wrecker's leader Impactor and that was in the Fall of Cybertron line where Impactor was a repaint of Fall of Cybertron Onslaught and, in all honesty, had his colours swapped in proportion to what they usually are.

The TFSS version of Impactor, announced in July 2015, does much better: Rook's white is swapped for purple and blue becomes white. He gets a new head and gains some extra weapons: recolours of Generations Arcee.

I've never bought a Transformers Subscription Service toy before. This year I'm having all of them due to them being Combiner Wars and Impactor was the one I was looking forward to the most.

Unfortunately when you get the toy in hand it's not so good. The fist holes are a bit too wide to hold Arcee's blades and worse the head has lost a level of definition since the earlier images and looks a bit like a not terribly good custom. It's not terribly well painted either.

A big shame. The rest, bar the hands, is great but in the plastic the head really spoils the toy.

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Blue Bluestreak

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Blue Bluestreak

There were two mistakes on the rumoured list of Botcon 2016 exclusives I saw. Airazor from Slipstream wasn't on it, replaced with Arcee from Legends Blackarachnia, which I thought made sense as there was a previous Botcon Arcee from Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia.

The other thing missing from the rumours list was the Customise Class Ratchet, which I would have considered worthy of a more main line release as part of another Autobot Combiner. The item the list had on it was Blue Bluestreak from Dead End/Streetwise. This made vague sense: there's already a Streetwise use in the Botcon exclusives and the customise class toy tends to be a reuse of one already in the exclusive packages. Although Blue Bluestreak is a "variation" that doesn't exist in the original Transformers line, although it does as a Diaclone toy , there's a lot of interest in it due to that being the way Bluestreak appears on his boxart and in early catalogues. In the last few years there's been a Binaltech Blue Bluestreak, Beast Hunters Legion and the popular Masterpiece MP-18B Blue Bluestreak. Plus the use of a Blue Bluestreak as a convention toy allows a "proper" silver/anime Bluestreak to be done in the main Combiner Wars line or as part of another Autobot Diaclone Combiner boxset.

Alas it was not be and with Ratchet's appearance my dream of owning all 18 Diaclone Autobots in Combiner Wars form took a severe dent.

Or so I thought....

When the final two toys from Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 arrived the incentive toy was revealed as Blue Bluestreak and in a bag labelled Botcon 2016 no less!

Bluestreak is mainly moulded in blue plastic, with black for the wheels, connector to HFG, knees, waist & combiner connector and white for the softer plastic on upper legs, hips & lower arms/elbows. The bonnet is covered in silver paint, a little too far to the edges for my liking but seemingly accurate towards the original. The lightbar is still on the roof and is a little more obvious here than on Smokescreen as it's been picked out in black. The use of the word turbo on the side of the car looks a little odd though and yes, the white upper arm/elbow pieces do rather break up the side of the car.

Robot mode looks superb though, no complaints there.

After getting excited about the possibility of it being at Botcon and then let down, I'm really glad this toy has been brought out by the club and very pleased to own one.