Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Metalhawk


Siege on Cybertron Metalhawk

Probably the biggest surprise of Toyfair 2017 was the reveal of the deluxe repaint in the Strength Boxset. Leaks publicised by the Transmissions Podcast had indicated a deluxe figure called "Iron Apex", a new version of Apex Bomber/God Bomber would be included. A new version of Metalhawk from the then unrepainted Triggerhappy was came rather left field....

Exclusive to Japan Pretender Metalhawk gained fame not just for not being released in the west but also for incorporating die cast metal in it's design. A popular character in the Japanese cartoons his one transformable re-release is as a Botcon Exclusive Remould of Generations Thunderwing.

It isn't that drastic a repaint actually: all the blue stays blue except for the chest and it's side pieces which become a bronzey gold. The grey all stays grey too, maybe changing in shade a bit, except for the shoulders and guns, which become red although the shoulders are then painted blue which is really annoying as the blue wings are also painted but this time to red. Clear red replaces clear blue in the cockpit canopy and a new face modelled after his original version's inner robot face is also included.

The jet looks completely different, the robot looks different albeit with the colours in the right places but somehow this really works for me. Getting the robot colours right is a big plus in helping that and from there it's easy to see the vehicle as a Cybertronian version of Metalhawk.

Now can we have a reissue of the original please?

Monday, 19 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Pounce


Seige of Cybertron Pounce

I'll freely admit I was looking forward to Pounce, a toy I loved the original incarnation of. Straight out the box it's obvious they've done a decent job updating it. A lot of the purple has gone, replaced by white on the front legs and lower rear legs. The only purple that's left is more cerise now and is paint covering a new panel, moulded in blue, covering the back of the robot's upper legs in beast mode, with the tail, now blue, hanging off that. Behind the head is a moulded depression for a Titanmaster to sit in. The beast articulation has been significantly improved with the front legs jointed at shoulder & knee while the rear legs bend at hip & knee. The only thing he's really missing are the holes to mount weapons on the shoulders but since he doesn't have any weapons that point is a bit moot.

Transformation: fold the beast head back. Rotate the robot head 180°: it needs to be reversed and facing straight for the beast head to fit snugly over it. Fold the front lower leg forward onto the front of the upper leg which is then folded back 90°. Fold the compacted legs up 90° onto the beast's back beside the head which in turn swings the robot's arms out from under the beast. Fold the blue tail end back onto the cerise tail base. Straighten the rear legs. Fold the rear lower legs into the rear upper legs and straighten to form the robot legs. Rotate each leg 180° at the thigh. Stand.

I find the robot mode here very interesting: he's exactly the same size as Fastclash and there's plenty of evidence that one is a retool of the other but I'm struggling to find many parts that are identical. The chest has a lot of detail in common but they're distinctly different piece: Fastclash features a fold up chest panel which becomes a seat for a Titanmaster with a slot for the Titanmaster's heel spur on the waist. Here the chest is a solid unit with a Decepticon symbol at waist level. The legs and arms are completely different while the shoulder joints, which fulfil a similar function on both toys by swinging in across the chest, are almost identical bar the detailing on the front. The only parts that are definitively the same are the ball joints in side the hips which stretch up into the waist causing the waist to split in two in a manner not used by either transformation!

Basic articulation is identical to Fastclash: ball joints at elbow, shoulder and hip, thigh swivel, bending knee and rotating head. Design is fab, looks just like the original but, like Fastclash, I'm missing the guns.

I loved the original Decepticon Clones and I'm liking this new one a lot too. Give me his brother Wingspan now!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Magnus Prime


Siege on Cybertron Magnus Prime

The first hint of this toy came via the Transmissions Podcast who in Episode 157 on March 3rd, 2016 said
Leader "Powermaster Prime" has a blue repaint. Called Magnus Prime/Super Ginrai.
Now when I heard this my immediate thought was that somehow the telling had go a little garbled here and we'd get a Diaclone Powered Convoy repaint of Combiner Wars leader Ultra Magnus: These colours had been reused in Transformers as Movie Preview Ultra Magnus and more recently as Masterpiece Delta Magnus. But I could live with owning a blue Powermaster Optimus Prime, it would hit the idea of the Blue Cab Prime being Delta Magnus. Then in the meantime E-Hobby announced plans for their Classics Voyager Delta Magnus. Had the two toys been mixed up in what Transmissions were told? Or did the E-Hobby toy force Hasbro to change their plans? We shall never know, but if you're reading Hasbro there's still room for a Delta Magnus repaint of CW Ultra Magnus in my collection.

So when Delta Magnus was revealed at Toyfair 2017 as a slightly modified deco of Takara's Legends Super LG-35 Super Ginrai, there was a mixed reaction. The Magnus name was a problem for many people as they didn't feel it matched the toy at all. Those who already had it wanted either Delta Magnus or the rumoured blue Powermaster Prime. But those who hadn't bought Super Ginrai were pleased because it gave them an opportunity to get a Powermaster Prime that looked more like Powermaster Prime than the Titans Return version did. The inclusion of the Japanese version also made people wonder if Godbomber was coming to the west, possibly in the Firepower boxset which would seem an appropriate home for him.

The version shown at Toyfair had a metallic painted trailer but his Official Images show something more grey. In the end the release of the toy ended up looking a lot like super Ginrai than many people expected, as you can see in This Comparison Gallery.

The waist, was white now is blue. The Autobot symbols on the truck mode are larger. The shades of red and blue are slightly different. The guns are now black. None of these I particularly have a problem with, in fact, if pushed, I think I even prefer the Delta Magnus colours. The problem is the Titanmaster. Super Ginrai's Titanmaster is a dead ringer for Powermaster Optimus Prime's Powermaster Hi-Q. This isn't. Along with the super robot's waist, the Powermaster's lower & upper legs and face are now blue. Since these parts, and the waist, were grey on Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime I think we can conclude that they're moulded on the same sprue. It's a shame, it was so good on the Japanese version.

Many people have complained of problems with Super Ginrai's ankles not holding the toy up. I didn't have that issue till I put Godbomber on him. However my Delta Magnus falls over backwards if I look at him funny or knock what he's standing on. I can't see I'm doing anything different, he just doesn't stand as well!

It looks a more than adequate substitute for Super Ginrai in every department bar the Titanmaster but the ankles scare me, especially if I was intending to put Godbomber on him.

Legends LG-42 Godbomber & God Ginrai


Legends LG-42 Godbomber

Even after all these years there's something about he original Godbomber that is special. He was one of the first Japanese exclusive Transformers, he's the the first Transformer to act as a "Power Up" for another and he's he first one for AGES to have a missile launcher. He might be the first toy designed for the Transformers range to come with a missile launcher, beating the Turbomasters and Predators in Europe by 4 years and G2 Megatron by 5 years. I can remember seeing him in friend's Japanese toy catalogue and marvelling at how he powered up Powermaster Optimus Prime to become God Ginrai. Not long afterwards I got the opportunity to own one and though I parted company with it no long afterwards I have owned one for the last fifteen years as part of the God Ginrai reissue. Against that, although he does the job powering up Optimus/Ginrai, Godbomber commits the ultimate sin by having to be dismantled to transform him and isn't 100% secure in robot mode with both legs and arms held on by just one 5mm peg each. He's not that well articulated either by today's standards but it's not that out of line with other toys of the time.

As soon as Legends LG-39 Super Ginrai was revealed in July 2016 people started speculating on the existence of a new version of Godbomber anfd that toy was revealed in early December 2016 ad released in May 2017.

Godbomber's vehicle/trailer mode is broadly similar to the original, with some tweaked proportions on certain elemments: the GodGinrai arms feel bigger and the prime trailer like sections feel smaller. Dye to the nature of the toy's construction it feels a little bit unstable and I'm almost convinced I've done something wrong transforming it back to this mode! Under it's front bumper is a fold out clip which allows it to attach to the back of Legends Ginrai's trailer, just as the original toys could join together in vehicle mode.

I'm not keen on how the cannon is mounted here, it's sort of sitting there between the arms with slots on it's pivot mounted on very small tabs on the inside of the arms sections. With the right adaptor, and our old friend the Zoids Blox strikes me as being useful here, the cannon could be mounted on one of the minicon pegs to the rear of each side. In addition to those two pegs there's a 5mm on the side of each arm section, another on each side of the striped Prime trailer section, one on each wing, one on each arm fin, two on top ofthe cannon and another two on the cab. Plenty of room for expansion here. The cannon also has a pair of Titanmaster pegs, spaced to fit feet peg holes, and there's a further peg on the front of the arm section. Godbomber has an unnmaed Titanmaster who is almost all blue in robot mode bar his grey head, with a red visor who can use those pegs buthis more natural home is in the cab. The original Godbomber cab was just a shell over the front of the vehicle, but the new one has had a significant upgrade based on the Masterforce cartoon. The front of cab folds forwards, it's rather stiff so you may need to put something into the 5mm peg holes on the cab tops to level it forward. Inside is a 3 Titanmaster driver compartment designed to accomodate Shuta, Cab & Minerva. To date only Shuta has been released as a Titanmaster, with LG-29 Legends Wheelie so you'll have to pick another spare Titanmaster to sit next to Shuta & Godbomber's. The Titanmasters are visible through the clear cab windows. Lovely touch suiting both the gimmick and the history of the character.

One of the major advantages this toy has over it's predecessor is the lack of taking apart in the transformation. There's little still, mainly involving the cannon, which is removed first, and the Titanmaster, which needs to come out the cab. Leave the cab open. Fold the front third of the silver panels with the blue stripes on them back 180°, then fold each arm section, with the red wings, 90° out to the side. Fold the rear of the cab compartment back 90° so the back of it becomes the top of the robot's body. Do not try to do this with the cab closed, close it after doing this step! Fold the cab back between the wings: there's holes in the body top that fit tabs projecting back and tabs on the side of the vehicle mesh with slots inside the shoulders. Unfold the legs under the robot, revealing the chest, and seperate them. Unfold the black feet. Fold the hands out of the arms and then fold the inner part of each lower arm down. Rotate the wings back behind the shoulders. Place the Titanmaster into it's socket on the top of the robot. Pull off the rear of the cannon which become a helmet which is place over the Titanmaster and peg the rest of the cannon into a socket on his shoulder.

So that's the transformation in theory. In pratice one or both lower arms will come off: a tab on the back of the lower elbow section fits a small slot on the rear of the arm and a peg on the inside of the front of the arm fits a hole on the other side of the lower elbow section. You'll get used to reattaching them rather quickly, I find the come off quite often, partly due to them clipping the body when moving the arms and partly due to the arm panel joints being relatively weaker than others. I'd move the arms by holdingnthe front& back of the lower arms between your fingers.

The articulation on the original Godbomber was limited to the arms turning at the shoulders care of a pair of 5mm pegs: Legends Godbomber considerably improves on that! On the arms alone the shoulders turn, which actually causes something of a problem because the wings, hinged to an independent panel between arm and body, tend to turn with them! The tabs jholding the shoulders onto the body also have a tendancy to pop off. Back to the arms: There's also a bicep swivel, bending elbows, rotating wrists, bending fingers and a ball jointed thumb. I'm not a fan of hands with no peg holes bu I can see why they wewnt this way here in order to store the hands flat in other mode. I suppose it helps thatthe original Godbomber isn't associated with weapons other than his shoulder cannon! He does have an extra weapon,. A sword that's really intended for his combined mode and is stored under & in the cannon. The hand does have a tab on it's palm to enable him hold the sword but the tab isn't fitting into the sword's handle on my toy. Worse I do seemed to have snapped off the very thin tip of my sword's handle, which recesses in the missile, removing the sword handle from the cannon just now! Back to the articulation: head turns as you'd expect a Titanmaster to, hips move out to the sides, with a corresponding sideways ankle tilt to compensate, as well as bend, there's a very low thigh swivel just above the knee and the knees bend. Physically it looks like the original Godbomber albeit with the wings the other way up! Like the vehicle mode he's covered in expansion ports: 5mm holes on each shoulder, one of which is taken by the cannon, one on the cannon itself, behind each wing, on each arm fin, on each forearm, on the side of each leg, one on the chest where original Godbomber would have mounted the cannon in vehicle mode and one on the front of each hip!

We need to look at the legs: it's inevitable the toy mus come apart to form the armour for his combination with Super Ginrai to form God Ginrai, and we've seen how the arms attached already when they came off, but they've done something very clever with the legs. The lower legs remove just above the knee joint by sliding them out to the side, with just above the knee being revealed as a Combiner Wars connector and the rest of the upper leg a Combiner Wars socket. This means any Combiner Wars deluxe can form a slightly larger leg for Godbomber, a fabulous way to increase his play value. His legs can also be used with CW Voyagers but since they're shorter than most CW legs they'll look a little stumpy forming part of a combiner.

The removable arms and legs also come in handy for creating a "super mode" Godbomber with the vehicle mode cab/combined mode chest facing forward and each limb reversed and swapped sides!

Like the other Titans Return leaders he has a base mode of sorts. Start from vehicle mode, it's easier, by folding the red wings down to the sides. Folder back the front portion of the Prime trailer panels and slide each half of of the truck base out to the side. Bend the bottom half of the upper leg back and position each half with the upper leg part to the rear to the rear and the panel from the side of the vehicle pointing out to each side. The red wings clip onto these lower legs towers.

Um...... From the front it conspicuous looks like it's the vehicle mode with the lower half gone! The rear is possibly a better way round to view the base mode, with some garage space visible underneath. The flaps folded out to the sides each end in a Titans Return base mode connector and an additional Titanmaster peg hole is found on each folded out wing.

They've tried, but given the limitations of what the rest of the toy has to do I can understand why the base mode hasn't quite worked.

So on Godbomber alone.... both robot and trailer look like the original, and massive points for making them transform without major disassembly. Both modes are slightly unstable with bits coming off the robot and moving when you don't want them to every time you touch the arms.

But that isn't the whole story....

For a gallery of the toy's three individual modes see Alfes 2789


Legends God Ginrai

To form God Ginrai start by removing Super Ginrai's weapons then slide his fists forward, extending an extra section between fist & forearm, then folding down the ramps under the arms. Fold the heel spurs in.

Now to God Bomber: remove the legs, sliding them off to the sides, then the arms, head & cannon. Replace the Titanmaster's helmet into it's position on the rear of the cannon. So you've got two pairs of limbs, a body, a cannon and a Titanmaster.

God Ginrai's feet first, which is the easy bit: take the legs and fold the black feet down 90° under each leg. Put the front of the legs down flat on a surface, striped Prime trailer side facing out, and fold the blue feet down 90°. On the underside of Ginrai's feet is a grey rectangular hole that fits the red block projecting up from the God Bomber leg parts. Clips on each side of the block lock into the sides of Ginrai's feet. Raise the Combiner Wars connector legs parts behind Ginrai's feet.

Next, for the quite easy bit, take the Godbomber arm pieces and look at how they're built. Fold up the flap on the inside of the arm. Fold the top of the arm up at the top joint between it and the side. Fold the bottom of the arm down, turning the entire arm piece into a flat panel. Fold the hand back under the panel. On the underside of the top panel is a peg, which fits the peg hole on Ginrai's forearm, and a tab, which fits the slot on the arm extension Fold the side of the arm back 90° using the lower of the two joints connecting it to the top. Fold the underside of the arm piece under Super Ginrai's arm, tabbing into place round the top. Fold the grey arm panel back. Fold the inner arm panel between arm and body.

Finally Godbomber's body, and this bit isn't easy: Alfes Blog 2794 has some pictures of what you're mean to end up with. Bend each elbow 90°. Turn each arm back the bicep 180°. Raise the arm at the shoulder 180°. Separate the chest. Fold the leg up behind the chest at the sideways hip joint. Straighten the wing and swing out to the sides. Swing the arm in behind the chest. Tab the lower arm stubs together and secure by placing the helmet over slots on the bottom of the arm stubs. The red panels that were within God bombers body slot onto tabs on the cab's flatbed on Ginrai's back with hooks going into the wheel arch and the cab folds forward over the body. The cannon pegs into a whole on the blue strut over his right shoulder. The weapon configuration on the instructions is guns mounted behind the head and dual cannons on the side of the feet but I always wanted the dual cannons on God Ginrai's shoulders and this toy gives me the opportunity to do that so they go there and the guns go in his hands.

The perennial problem with modern "power up" combiners is a weakness in the legs. The original Super Ginrai, and his successor Star Sabre, had no leg articulation so their powered up forms were solid. Robots in Disguise Omega Prime suffers so much in his hips & knees that leg articulation is all but eliminated in his Armada successors Optimus Prime and Megatron. With Legends Super Ginrai the hips & knees are find, the problem is the ankles which have proved notoriously wobbly. Mine have been better than most people's in robot mode and he'll stand in a neutral position quite easily. However when loaded with the chest & back armour the single ankle joint struggles to take the extra weight causing it to frequently topple backwards. There is a sweet spot for standing it but it makes me scared to adjust the pose of the arms just in case I knock it over. You really feel some way of securing the ankles should have been provided. You can bodge something with Super Ginrai's heel spurs and God Bomber's knees but it is just that, a bodge.

And that's a shame because they've done a bang up job of updating the toy: see Alfes Blog 2792 for pictures. As per God Bomber's cab, the chest now opens to seat Titanmasters inside it, which is a great little touch. It's not the only place you can store Titanmasters either: each foot is a seat for a Titanmaster, reminding me of some of the old giant Diaclone robots which didn't become Transformers, with a peg hole in front from weapons for them to use. In fact the toy is covered in peg holes: each foot, two on he side of each leg, one through each hand, one on each forearm, one through each arm fin, one on the side of each shoulder, two on the top front of the cab chest one on the top of each shoulder strap - there's another, inaccessible, on each side - one on each side of the back pack plus a bonus one on one side, one on each wing and one on each cannon. Raid you Titanmaster accessory and 5mm weapons boxes to really tool this toy up: see Alfes Blog 2801.

As we said with Godbomber he comes with a sword, formed from two parts hidden in the cannon, to use with this mode to use to fight Deathsaurus as he did in the Victory cartoon episode where he was slain. The cannon it's housed in is a bit of a problem in this mode: with no obvious spot to lean the barrel on it droops somewhat. The backpack isn't perfect either, it looks a bit of a mess from behind. It's hard to tab together and relies on Godbomber's helmet to properly secure it, which can drop off of it's own accord or when the toy falls over.

Not perfect. This is one of the combined robots which will be better stood on a shelf looking nice rather than to be played with because it will fall over unless balanced properly which is a major minus point. But it looks superb and is a great update to the original toy.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02


DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02

I want to talk about DA-07 Cosmo Battles v2 but to do that I need to quickly talk about DA-01 Diabattles v2, which is formed from three vehicles which can be combined in a variety of different ways and all come together to form one robot. Battles 01 is a one man space pod, with engine to the rear, that forms Diabattles body. Battles 02 is a large winged spaceship, with engines under each wings. This becomes the back of Diabattles with a channel formed between Battles 01 & 02 which allows the engines to slide forward to become the arms. The front of Battles 2 removes to form a one man spaceship. Battles 03 is a tracked vehicle which form the legs of Diabattles with it's cockpit forming a separate two man spaceship that can be combined with the one man ship from Battles 02.

I liked Diabattles but it didn't set my world on fire. Plenty of spare bits left in the box, including 6 alternate gun barrels, and an odd feature where the front of each shoulder lifted up to allow you to slide the arms out. I also didn't feel it was worth the money I paid for it and that, together with really not feeling that the following armoured suits were worth it led me not to pursue the line any further.

In September 2016 at a Japanese Toyshow TakaraTomy revealed a new version of Diabattles in white with a new toy in the place of Battles 02 which was DA-06 Dia-Battles v2 Cosmo Maneuver Type. I liked the look of the new toy but didn't want to pay out for 2/3 of an expensive robot that hadn't wowed me again. Fortunately the new toy was released by itself as DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02 and in colours matching the original toy. Unfortunately it was a TakaraTomyMall exclusive and proved hard to find prior to release but I eventually secured one from Kapow toys.

Like the existing Battles 02, Cosmo Battles 02 is a winged spaceship with engines under the wings and a removable front cockpit/spacehip, this time for two pilots. The rear of Battles 02 and Cosmo Battles 02's removable cockpit/spaceships are identical meaning that can be swapped between both toys and Cosmo Battles 02 mini spaceship will attach to the one from Battles 03. The connector has been improved and indeed a revised version of Diabattles using it is due shortly. The engines once more slide forward to form the arms when attached and, like the previous Diabattles, feature Depth Charge like flip out hands. However here we have not two but three hand versions. Firstly there's the engine version. The top & bottom of the forearm open up to flip the engine round to form the hand, now with a 4mm socket unlike the 5mm found on Diabattles. However the engine version also has hinges at the top & bottom to allow it to become a claw hand. The 4mm sockets on the fist hands can't hold the swords from the earlier toy but instead have a pair of blocks that can be inserted into them which in turn have holes to mount the spare gun barrels from the previous toy. These blocks also fit into the side of the small 3 man spaceship.

Back to the Cosmo Battles 02 spaceship: The wings here are smaller, but still bend at the base & end as well as turn at the base. The ends of the wings feature the same width slot as found for the shoulders into which two HUGE booster engines are inserted. These boosters rotate at their shoulder joint connector and have two holes at the front which can also take spare gun barrels from the original toy. In robot mode this forms wings on the robot's back with boosters/cannons on the end which can be turned to face forward.

On top of Cosmo Battles 02 are two MASSIVE dual barrelled cannons, also mounted on the shoulder connectors and at the other end of an L shaped slot to the arms/engines. In robot mode these usually sit as shoulder cannons but if you open up the front of the shoulders, the mysterious unused feature mentioned above, the arms can be slid out, the cannons slid down the L shaped slot to take their place which then unfold to become a new pair of arms topped by the front half of the cannon.

We've now got 4 separate pairs of pieces that use the shoulder slot & joint system which massively increases the combination options here. Cosmo Battles 02 also includes an adaptor that allows pieces with the shoulder joint to be mounted on the back of the smaller ship from this set or Battles 02. This piece also allows them to carry the containers the Armoured figures come in.

Love this set. Really enhances the toy I bought a year ago, making sense of some odd decisions there. It gives Diabattles vastly increased firepower and even looks fab by itself. Yes, it wasn't cheap but I think it was worth it.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chaos on Velocitron


Chaos on Velocitron

100_3703

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.