Saturday, 22 October 2016

Legends Scourge & Titans Return Highbrow

Legends LG-26 Scourge

Now I hadn't intended to obtain both the Japanese and western version of every Titans Return so far but through a series of impulse buys and mistakes and mistakes I have. However I intended to get both Titans Return & Legends Scourge from the moment I first laid eyes on him. They're differently coloured enough that one can sold as Scourge while the other can be a sweep.

They've pulled an interesting trick with the head: the arms of the Titanmaster are now done in a very pale blue, as opposed to the same colour as the rest of the head, which makes the whole head look a lot thinner like you're use to with Scourge. The light blue is extensively used elsewhere on the upper legs, upper arms and hands making the robot look significantly different to the western version.

Since Scourge wasn't an original Headmaster in Japan he, like Blurr, isn't deemed worthy of an extra Titanmaster accessory.

Top toy, well worth getting even if you have the western version.

Titans Return Highbrow & Xort

The 1987 Highbrow was my favourite of the original Headmasters when I was younger yet of the Four Warriors From The Sky he's the only one not to have a real attempt of updating. His only name reuse is with Hunt For The Decepticons Highbrow, who looks nothing like him, while a pair of toys that do, Beast Machines Obsidian and, to a slightly lesser extent, Movie Incinerator, have never been re-released in the correct colours.

In the run up to release a number of parts were noticed to be similar to Scourge including the Titanmaster Xort, previously known as Gort, which has changed from all blue to blue, with off white chest & upper legs. Otherwise that's exactly the same figure with a new faceplate for robot mode that looks very close to Highbrow's US Animation model.

If you said "Give me an articulated version of Highbrow" then what you'd imagine would look pretty much like the deluxe robot you get here, so we're off to a good start. The colours are in the right place and, glory be, he's got twin guns! It's bigged me through the initial Titans Return releases that the Autobot Headmasters, who original had two matching guns, now have on or non matching weapons. Highbrow's don't match exactly, they're mirror images of each other and we'll see why later. His chest folds down slightly to simulate the missing tech spec readout. It's not essential, but a nice feature. About the only thing that slightly bugs me here is the wings don't fold back and are stuck out to the sides.

Articulation: a match to Scourge, so I'll copy & paste! ball jointed head, provided by the Titanmaster, shoulders that shrug up at the body & are ball jointed at the arm, bicep swivels, bending elbows, universal hips, thigh swivels and bending knee.

It's in robot mode that Highbrow shares the most parts with Scourge with the hands, shoulder joint, hips, thighs and heel spurs, previously Scourge's feet, being the same. However the most obvious connection between the two toys is only revealed during the Transformation!

Start by removing the Titanmaster and the weapons. Fold the hands back into the forearms and straighten the arms. Fold the heel spurs in. Pull down on the waist revealing an extending spine, another shared part identical to Scourge's. Rotate each thigh swivel 90° out to the side. Gold each leg up 180° at each hip while folding back 180° at each knee, locking the lower legs over the upper legs and round the spine so that in the same manner as Scourge's legs form the the front of his vehicle Highbrow's form the rear of his. Fold the helicopter's cockpit up off the robot's back and into the space vacated by his head. Swing the arms back along the Helicopter's body so that tabs on the body meet slots in the arms & the knee pads recess into the space the hands have folded into. The rectangular tabs on the guns' sides fit into the hex holes under the wings with the 5mm pointing towards each other. Moulding on the guns provides rear landing wheels while the front landing gear folds down under the cockpit. Fold the cockpit canopy forward and sit the Titanmaster inside.

In vehicle mode Titans Return Highbrow is almost like holding a slightly smaller version of the original Highbrow toy if it wasn't for one thing: the designers in their wisdom have decided that Highbrow needs only two rotors on each wing instead of the three he originally had. The blades spin freely and look like they were originally intended to fold away for storage in robot mode.

Should you wish to vary how the guns are mounted, or tool Highbrow up further, there's a 5mm port under the edge of each wing and a further pair on each side of the cockpit. The guns themselves can be removed completely to slide together to form a dual barrelled cannon for the Titanmaster to ride in. The 5mm handles now stick out the sides of the combined unit allowing it to be pegged into the sides of the cockpit, or any other toy you want to mount it. Sadly there's no 5mm peg underneath so it can't really be mounted as a traditional gun emplacement.

Bar the lack of a third rotor blade, this is a top update which I'm loving. I'm amazed at the way he & Scourge share parts & a transformation idea yet look totally different!

Highbrow is sold in Titans Return Deluxe Wave 2 where he's packed 2 per case with Chromedome, Wolfwire & Mindwipe.

Future Repaints

The dual rotor helicopter mentioned above provide a rich vein of repaints that are possibilities for Highbrow with both Movie Incinerator and his Black Takara Repaint suggesting themselves. Beast Machines Obsidian has several versions: in addition to his original green there's the desert camo Robots in Disguise version but the blue Transformers Universe is probably a bit too close to Highbrow's colours.

Scourge's vehicle mode is a little odd but since Botcon 2009 Scourge was a repaint of Cybertron Sideways how about Titans Return Scourge in black as him? An added bonus here is that Sideways' Armada version was also a Headmaster! Sideways was also repainted as Universe Ratbat so if Ratbat isn't done as a tape for Soundwave that's another possibility.

Titans Return, SDCC & Legends Fortress Maximus

Generations Titans Return Fortress Maximus

In 2013 I wrote this when talking about Metroplex and speculating about future reuses of the toy:
Could you retool him as Fortress Maximus? Maybe. But the retool would have to be quite extensive involving new legs, feet, his right chest and head
Then at Botcon 2015, in the midst of Combiner Wars, Hasbro "accidentally" brought with them a banner showing what many people thought might be the next Transformers line which included a new Fortress Maximus who was seemingly remoulded from Metroplex. A further leaked image appeared to show the toy in robot mode before the line was confirmed at NYCC 2015 and Fortress Maximus confirmed in an online release that November. All we saw of him that day was art, we had to wait until New York Toyfair 2016 to see the toy and it's official images. Thereafter Max was a regular in Hasbro displays at Botcon and the Australian Toyfair giving Transformers fans a look at how the toy was evolving and certain parts changed colour.

Fortress Maximus' Titanmaster is Emissary. The original Fort Max's Headmaster was names Spike, a human, while Emissary was the name used for Brave Maximus' larger robot which turned into his head. Pretty standard fare for a Titanmaster, in grey with silver upper legs and blue lower legs.

The robot Emissary merges with is called Cerebros, the same as he was on the original Fortress Maximus. He's a similar looking figure to the original but with a different colour palate: the original was varying shades of grey, the new one is grey and black with blue shoulders. The main difference to his look is provided by Emissary who turns into his Visored & Face-plated head, very similar to what was seen in the 1980s Marvel comic. The articulation is substantially beefed up: Ball jointed Titanmaster head, arms that turn at the shoulders, fold out to the sides and bend at a ball jointed elbow, hips that turns & bend to the sides, thigh swivels and bending knees. He has an open sided 5mm peg hand which can use the black dual cannon found inside the Fortress Maximus base mode as a weapon or any other 5mm weapon including the Master Sword which wasn't included with the Hasbro version but instead used as a promotion for a number of chains in the far east. Behind his head is a single Titanmaster peg which lets a Titanmaster look out over the head and is also useful in Max's other modes which Cerebros forms part of.

Cerebros has built in electronics which play a number of noises. There's three phrases "AUTOBOT!", "DECEPTICON!" and "FORTRESS MAXIMUS!" plus a number of effects sequences. The sounds Cerebros makes vary between the different versions of the toys.

To transform Cerebros into a mode used by both of Fortress Maximus' alternate forms start by removing Emissary. Straighten the arms and legs, with the peg holes facing forward. Fold the shoulders forward onto the front of the chest. Fold the feet onto the front and heels onto the back of the legs. Make sure the face is covered by the forehead and ears are folded in.

Onto Max.

Fold the ramp on his back up into the space where his head would be. Straighten the arms an raise them so they point straight up. Pull the sides of the waist away at the back and bring them together in front of him. Move each leg in at the knee slider, familiar from Metroplex, so they're closer together. Lay him down on his back. Fold the feet forward so the base of the feet rest on the bottom of the leg. Fold the front, towards the cannons on the leg, of the tower forward. Slide Cerebros, with the face cover forward and arms to the rear, down into the slot. Getting Cerebros in here properly IS the most frustrating thing about the toy! Stand Emissary on the Titanmaster footpeg as Captain of the Battleship Fortress Maximus.

Effectively this is Max laid on his back where Metroplex's battlestation is him sitting with his legs stretched out but I've always had a soft spot for Fortress Maximus' battleship mode since it appeared in issue 49 of the US Transformers comic, reprinted in issues 206-207 of the UK comic. In that frame both Blaster & Powermaster Optimus Prime are stood on Max's vehicle mode as it floats in the sea emphasising the size of it. At that point I'd never seen the original toy, not sold in the UK! The floating scene there, and the forward facing cannons, has always made me think of it as a Battleship and indeed the Japanese version of the new toy names it as such. The raising cannons are present, as per the original version, and even house a little surprise which we'll come to in robot mode. The control tower is a shorter, bulkier structure than before which I'm not sure I like. I was fond of the the cockpit for Spike being up high, now the tower is lower and there's no cockpit for Emissary to sit in, he has to make do with standing on the peg on the top of Cerebros. The other thing the tower, like Brave Maximus, is missing is any weapons. No hand held cannons to attach to it. The arms stretched out the back are covered in ramps which makes a decent landing strip for Autobot jets. Guns, Legs and the rear of the vehicle are loaded with Titanmaster pegs for other Titanmasters to stand on to crew Fortress Maximus. The Battleship moves courtesy of some rollers under each leg and the back.

There's two problems I'm finding with this mode. One is the feet are a little droopy, just relying on friction to hold them in place in mid air. The other is that Cerebros is integrated into it where before he effectively formed a larger robot to crew it. Since he forms part of the city and super robot mode too there's now no mode that Cerebros is free to be used in robot form for.

To transform to city mode fold the robot's legs out to the sides Fold the clear panel back over the leg and the panel on the top of the robot's shoulder forward.

The Titans Return Fort Max city mode looks nothing like the city mode we're used to from the original version, in fact i's more like the mis-transformed battleship seen on the catalogues issued with toys in 1987 and 1988. If you're expecting a feature packed toy, like the original Max base, then forget it. There's a ramp to roll toys down and a recessed command centre under the raised clear plastic chest piece and that's about it in terms of features surviving from the original toy. No elevator, no ramp launcher, no rotating radar dish. This last one is especially annoying as they've even moulded a detail on the chest which looks just like the radar dish's turntable!

So what have we got? Inside the command centre door is the black plastic dual cannon we mentioned earlier in connection with Cerebros. A Titanmaster can ride in this and it can be pegged into one of a myriad of 5mm peg holes on the base's surface which can also be used with Titanmaster accessory weapon modes. There are Titanmaster pegs everywhere: two on top of the dual cannon, two behind the dual cannon and a further pair set into the base of behind the cannon, which need to be used by the same Titanmaster. There's two more on each upper leg piece, making 7 Titanmaster positions per leg. There's one on the Cerebros tower, two near the top of the ramp, one in the command centre and four on the dual gun on the side of the leg, which slides off to become a tank. So if I'm counting right that makes 21 different Titanmaster standing positions.

Then we have the ramp connectors, a feature I was very excited about in the run up to Titans Return release. There's a dead end connector, as in it doesn't lead anywhere except to a wall, on the rear of the Legs that stretch out to the sides of the toy. Another is found on the ramp that folds down for the left hand side of the front of the toy, but connecting to that is a little restricted by the main sloped ramp. Then there are then ramps that fold down from what would be the robot's shoulders. They're not long enough, following the tradition set by Metroplex's base mode ramp. They will physically connect to the ramps on Blaster or Soundwave but the combined ramp will be almost vertical removing it from any useful play value. The indication is the Ramps on Max should have been much longer. They stretch halfway across the shoulder without fully covering it, which looks odd, and the reverse has a slot on it which looks like it should cover an unused tab further down the shoulder. I await a Third Party ramp that does stretch fully across the shoulder. To top it off the ramps here are red which really makes them stand out!

Then there's the runways down the back of the arms. On the original Fort Max there were ramps on the ends which leg down to floor level. Here the runways are reused from Metroplex and are just flat on the back of the robot's arms. No ramp at the end, again meaning you can't roll a wheeled toy off the runway onto the floor, but also exposing the robot's hands at the front of the toy.

For a base mode that just sits there it has it's faults, many of which could have easily been fixed. Comparing it to the original Max base is just no contest. It only real win is the ability to use Titanmasters and other 5mm weapons with it. I'm not the only one to be dissatisfied with it either there are several Fan base modes out there including some that take advantage of a feature inherited from Metroplex, but not used here: the legs still open up.

To transform to robot mode fold the legs behind the base and slide the lower legs out to the side at the knees. Stand. Close the ramps and the clear chest cover. Remove Cerebros. Fold the tower halves back. Fold the arms down. Fold Cerebros' legs up to the sides and tab into his body. Turn the other way up. Fold the face cover up and his ears out. Attach Emissary if you wish. Attach head to Fort Max's body.

At first sight the new Fortress Maximus looks very very similar in robot mode to the original. When we first saw Fortress Maximus at Toyfair 2016 he had grey hands and red feet, which thankfully were gone by the time he came to production but there's still on real colour oddity there in the really noticeable red surrounds for the leg cannons! Everything else, fab. The new arm door on his right arm stands out a bit in red, but the opening doors on he original Metroplex arms were red too, so we can let that slide. Sadly they're gone on this version, as are the forearm guns hidden underneath, because his arms are entirely inherited from Metroplex. The black dual cannon will function as a substitute for one of the forearm guns but placing it there makes me think they should have gone for emphasising the connection with this piece and moulded it in red plastic.

We probably should talk about what Fortress Maximus has inherited from Metroplex. Here's a list I've drawn up:

lower legs, but swapped over
waist, but reversed
folding arm joint & shoulder
lower arms
bottom of tank, formerly Metroplex's shoulder cannon
runways on arms
As the hands are the same as Metroplex's he can't hold any 5mm weapons straight out the box which is a shame as the Hasbro version seemingly has no hand weapons of his own. Now I've been a Brave Max owner for nearly 16 years on and off so I'm used to weaponless a Max but it somehow feels wrong here. However he's only *Seemingly* without hand weapons: both the dual cannons on his leg slide off and have a fold down handle which allows Max to hold them as dual cannons similar to his original or even mount them on his shoulder.

But even so it still doesn't feel right having a Max without a nice big gun.

With a lot of shared parts his articulation is virtually identical to Metroplex: Knees bend, thigh swivel, universal hip joints, rotating waist & head, shoulders that turn at the body and raise to the sides, bicep swivel, bending elbow, rotating wrist, four fingers that bend at the first knuckle and a thumb that folds sideways. The major interesting point there is that the head still rotates, a major advantage over the original Fortress Maximus who was fixes looking in front. Indeed, as we said for Metroplex, the articulation is a considerable step up from the original Fort Max.

There aren't many Titanmaster pegs that are dedicated to this mode, or of practical use. There's two on his right shoulder and one on his left. That might seem like that but if his right arm is raised and rotated in 90° two more are revealed on the new cover for his arm compartment: they're obviously intended to be used here as in the other modes they're covered by the ramps on his arms.

Max has also inherited the two 5mm peg holes on each forearm that Metroplex had, which are useful for mounting the black dual cannon on, but there's another 5mm hole on top of the body portion of his left shoulder and one on the leg cannon pod/tank. Two more 5mm holes are inherited on each reused foot as well as five 3mm peg holes per foot, a peg size standard who's stock has somewhat fallen in the last few years.

The chest compartment I found annoying to start with: it's slightly too narrow for Spychanger Optimus Prime/Scourge, frequent occupants of Brave Max, to stand in and face straight forward. The reason for this only became obvious when I saw a picture in a photo gallery: by accident or design, and I'm suspecting design, the slot is exactly the same width and just slightly taller than a Titans Return "tape". One tape fits in the space with it's front face level with the outer edge of Max's chest before the door closes. It can't recess any further due to a rounded piece of plastic projecting out of the base of the compartment. This allow you to push in on the base of the tape causing the top to pop out for easy removal. Failing that, pop open the ramp on Max's left shoulder and push the tape out from behind.

Given the large parts reuse from Metroplex there's nothing wrong with the robot really that some paint a nice big gun won't fix. The Battleship mode is pretty good too though I'd prefer a taller, more dedicated tower with, again, a big gun on the side. The city/base mode is the only one that really lets the side down somewhat. It doesn't look a think like the original Max city/base and it's connectivity is hampered by short ramps on the shoulders and none leading from the runways on the arms.

Such a big toy has obviously been photographed a lot: here's some of the ones I've seen:

Alfes Toy Blog Fortress Maximus galleries:

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Departure Time Fortress Maximus galleries:
Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Metroplex is jealous of Brave Max's Matrix Blade:

But the postman has bought him a present to play with:

His own (for now*) Master Sword!

"Have at thee Brave Maximus!"

* Should I tell him it's for Titan's Max if the Legends version doesn't have one?

Fortress Maximus Sword

I don't really associate Fortress Maximus with a sword, if I think of Max and a weapon it's more his big gun that comes to mind. The sword is primarily associated with the Japanese version of Max and his repaint Grand Maximus, but not Brave Maximus: he gets stripped of all his weapons and they can only been found on the lucky draw/campaign version. However the sword itself is repurposed into the Matrix Blade used by God Fire Convoy. I have a knock off version of the Brave Maximus/God Fire Convoy sword in my collection, indeed all my Brave Max weapons are knock offs and the guns are in fact the wrong colour: Mine are the blue Fortress versions and not black like Brave's should be (but everyone thinks should be red to match the leg cannons!)

The first hint at a Titans Return Fortress Maximus sword came with the first leaked image of the toy which people quickly interpreted to mean that the regular version of Titans Max WOULDN'T have a sword but there would be as San Diego Comic Con version, like SDCC 2013 Metroplex, packed with an extra the regular release didn't get. In Metroplex's case one of the main draws was a second hand gun, carried over to the Japanese TG-23 Metroplex, so it was of no surprise to see Legends LG-31 Fortress Maximusteased with extra swords.

Four days after the SDCC 2016 Fortress Maximus with sword was officially revealed story takes a twist and leads to the toy I have in hand here. News broke that Hong Kong Toys ‘R Us were offering a limited sword to the first 100 preorders an offer subsequently emulated by Taiwan TRU's mailaway offer.

My copy came from Kapow Toys, bought when I started to have doubts about if the Japanese version will have a sword. The mail away master sword is mainly constructed from clear orangey red transparent plastic with a back plastic handle and edging producing a weapon that looks very similar to the original Master Sword but with the added bonus of being clear plastic which nicely caches the light.

The entire sword is 45.5 cm long, a little shorter than the knock off Master Sword I own.

The handle has two 2.3 cm long plastic struts along each side of the handle which are designed to lock onto rectangular gap on the inside of the hand of Titans Return Fortress Maximus or his related toy Generations Metroplex.

A quick experiment suggests that maybe the gap between the struts works better around the outer of the longer edge of the slot in the palm of the hand rather than both struts inserted into the slot. Your mileage may vary on this matter. The struts force the sword to be held side on, perhaps two more pairs at right angles would have been useful to allow a face on grip on the sword. The sword itself splits into smaller units. Just over half the total length, 23cm from handle end to sword tip removes to become a large sword for your Voyager & Leader figures. A second separation allows you to remove the tip of that sword to form an 11.5cm sword for Deluxe figures and Cerebros. The swords connect together by having the handle on the upper portion slide into an open sided tube on the lower portion with tabs and slots holding it in place. There's a significant tab on the base of the handle of the two smaller swords that passes through the open side of the tube the handle sits in. It's forcing the sword to be assembled the correct way round but does mean the two smaller swords can't be held by a toy with a closed fist which is a considerable shame. My only thought is that it's to prevent them being stuck upright in 5mm peg holes, like on Metroplex & Max's arms, and being snapped off.

I like this as an add on for Max, but the missing large gun is more a problem for me. I'm not 100% sure it's worth what I paid for it though! But I've bought it now, so that should ensure there's one packed in with the Legends version!

SDCC 2016 Fortress Maximus

We return to the initial leaked image. Studying the text and seeing words like "exclusive sword", "exclusive Titanmaster" and "Premium G1 deco & labels" with volume numbers for "3k in the US and 9K Globally" quickly led fans to deduce they were looking at something concerning an exclusive version of Fort Max. Since San Diego Comic Con had been the home of an exclusive Metroplex in 2013 and Devastator in 2015.

The image was leaked on 13th November 2015 following which silence from Hasbro. We learnt of another SDCC exclusive, Titan Force Boxset at Botcon 2016 on April 9th 2016 but nothing about a SDCC Fortress Maximus. Since the Hasbro version had been well seen by then and images publicising the Japanese version were by that point in circulation it was easy to guess that the SDCC version would have the same Toy & Japanese cartoon accurate Titanmaster head and, even though we'd not seen it on the Japanese version yet, the same sword, even if in slightly different colours.

So it proved when SDCC Fortress Maximus was announced on Facebook on the 17th June and stock images & boxed pictures were revealed shortly after. The Titanmaster was exactly as expected and the sword was identical to the Asia exclusive sword but recast in solid red plastic with the amount of black paint reduced back to the handle and the very base of the blade. Max itself was very, very similar to the Western Titans Return version, save for some white paint on the upper chest/base mode command centre.

The toy did have a hidden feature not present on the original version: pressing and holding any of the buttons that made the noise for 5 seconds causes Cerebros to play as version of the original cartoon theme music.

The SDCC version feels an odd toy. It's not different enough from the original toy in Robot mode and certainly doesn't fit any annoyances like the red leg surrounds. If you wanted the different Titanmaster & Sword you'd go for the Japanese version which does fix those problems. As such the toy has rather sat at some of the importers who've bought it leading to 33% discounts in sales.

Legends Fortress Maximus

On the 25th March 2016 a silhouette image from a trade catalogue was leaked showing Legends Fortress Maximus costing ¥25,000 and being released in September 2016. We saw it had a sword, indeed our first glimpse of any of the Fortress Maximus swords, but that was about it for a few months till on 13th May Official Images were released showing a colour scheme closer to the original Fortress Maximus with updated images following on the 24th June confirming the new head for Cerebros, which by that point we'd already seen on the SDCC version!

It wasn't until the 19th August 2016 that TFYuki & Dengeki Hobby Magazine revealed the Japanese Mastersword on Twitter, giving buyers of the Japanese version some months of worry as to why their sword had not been shown and had TakaraTomy changed their minds on including one. Broadly speaking the new sword is very similar to the SDCC version, both being cast from red plastic with black paint, but with slightly different paint applications.

The main Max toy is also very similar to the US version, and the changes are quite subtle. The red arm door and ramp becomes blue, with red being added to the arms to simulate the lost dual cannon covers and the red gun surrounds become grey, which looks so much better. The inner sides to the tower, which form the robot's outer lower body, used to be clear blue but are now clear red: looking at them I think the clear plastic should perhaps have been visible through the holes on the front of his body simulating the missing cannons.

The difference between Japanese & US Cerebros is more obvious with the colourful blue & black becoming a more muted and cartoon accurate grey as well as changing the Titanmaster's head. Cerebros also features a new sound chip with dialogue recorded by the original actor for the Japanese Headmasters cartoon. It includes "Transform!", the "Head On!" activation call from when the smaller robots become the heads of the larger ones and also plays the Japanese Headmasters theme tune.

Sadly there is a downside to the Japanese version. The legs don't open up. It appears as if the two halves were glued together during assembly removing a level of customisation in the ability to create different base modes from the toy. The opening legs isn't an intentional feature and is purely one available from the recycled Metroplex parts but it's still a shame to see it gone.

As with the US version there's been plenty of photos taken of this toy, here's Alfes Toy Blog Galleries:

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The Legends Max was the version I went for: I thought the colours worked better, it had the Titanmaster I wanted and had the sword. These lift what was already a good toy into a really good one. Yes the base mode isn't as good as the original and even then still has problems with not long enough ramps. Yes he still needs a big gun. But this is a really good big, fun toy. It's not just an articulated robot, there's opening panels, points for adding on extra weapons, removable leg weapons, electronics and the Headmaster gimmick. In a direct showdown with Metroplex, Max is easily the winner.

Third Party Add Ons

As with most larger Transformer toys, and many smaller ones, that people think have missed something the original had there are a number of third party add ons available.

Perfect Effect, one of the more productive 3p companies, are making PC-13 Titans Return Fort Max master sword. I suspect this particular product was dreamt up before it was realised how easy it would be to get a Fort Max with an official Master Sword, as I can't see too many people who want one not buying the Japanese or SDCC versions.

However their PC-14 Titans Cannon I can see getting much more business providing a much needed big gun for Fort Max. In fact, given that there are knock off original Fort Max guns in circulation and 3P Metroplex guns I'm very surprised to see nobody taking the handle off the later and attaching it to the former.

Shapeways now have a wealth of goodies available:

I'd been hoping to see an adaptor to let Metroplex's hand hold 5mm guns for some while and finally with the release of Fort Max one has been made! OK, at the moment it's missing the Minicon post at the other end which I'd really like but I've suggested that to the makers along with a similar adaptor to let Titans Max hold original Max's weapons.

The issue of the "too short shoulder ramps" is partially addressed by this ramp extension. I suspect there may be some sag in the middle where this ramp is attached resulting in a not straight connection but they'll be useful. Longer versions, at multiples of that length, would also be useful. Personally I'm hoping someone redoes the shoulder ramps so they stretch across the full width of the shoulder, and not half way, with the tab hole on the back correctly positioned over the tab on the shoulder.

A number of other Titans Returns Ramps exist from the same seller including a curve, right angled junction and crossroads which I'm looking to try out very soon.

I'd really like to be able to link my Titans Returns bases to the previous base mode standard for Micromasters. To that end I'd like a ramp with a Titans Return connector on one end and a Micromaster base connector on the other. Who's going to make it for me?

Which Fortress Maximus is which?

So how can you tell which Max is which just by looking at it? Here's a helpful table:

Part Hasbro SDCC TakaraTomy
Head Horns Grey Grey Blue
Chest Door Green Blue/Green Green
Upper Chest Grey White Pale Grey
Lower Chest Middle Grey Grey Blue
Lower Chest Sides Blue Blue Grey
Lower Chest Outer Sides Clear Blue Clear Blue Clear Red
Knees Grey Grey Blue
Leg Outers Red Red Grey
Ramps & Arm Hatch Red Red Blue
Dual Cannon Black Black Grey
Cerebros Comic/Rebirth Toy/Headmasters Toy/Headmasters

max compare

Here also is a comparison of the swords. From left to right we have SDCC, Legends and Asia Exclusive:


Future Repaints

Fortress Maximus has two obvious repaints: Masterforce Grand Maximus and Car Robots Brave Maximus. Of recent there's been several toys that could make good Car Robots/Robots in Disguise repaints: CW Hotspot as Super Fire Convoy/Optimus Prime, CW Bruticus as Baldigus/Ruination and CW Optimus Prime/Titans Return Voyager Optimus Prime as Black Convoy/Scourge so the possibility of a Brave Maximus to go with them isn't so much of an unlikely suggestion.

Titans Return Wolfwire & Legends Weirdwolf

Titans Return Wolfwire with Monxo

Weirdwolf was never my favourite Headmaster, or even Decepticon Headmaster - that honour goes to Skullcruncher. However since the original release Transformers Beasts have got a lot better and there's been a few decent wolves of which was repainted into Botcon 2007 Weirdwolf. So what's the new version like?

For a start the Titanmaster Monxo is a pretty good version of his original Headmaster Monzo, note the spelling change. The limbs and body are very nearly the right colours with just the upper legs changing from blue/green to off white. His head mode is intended to mimic the original, with it's grey unpainted visor which just looks wrong, but it's not done a good job with the grey panel looking like it's protruding over the face with then eyes, the same red as the face, underneath and odd red patched to the sides.

The main robot mode however is superb, a much better proportioned version of the original with all the right colours in all the right places. Really the only fault I can find is that you can't conceal the missile batteries in the shoulders like you could on the original. If you look closely you can see there is some significant variation in the shade of yellow between the chest, which is painted off white plastic, the body which is a paler yellow plastic and the shoulders which look to be a different moulded yellow plastic. The legs, bar their armour, and lower arms are all the traditional blue/green and that matches well throughout.

Articulation is ball jointed ankles, bending knees, thigh swivels, ball jointed hips, turning waist & head, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels and bending elbows. He's got 5mm pegs hole hands, open top one side, for holding his sword and HUGE cannon both of which has 5mm pegs on the side so they can be mounted in the holes on his shoulders or hips.

The fold down chest panel to reveal the tech specs is missing from all the Titans Returns toys but in Wolfwire's case his entire chest front folds down at his waist in an undocumented feature;

Transformation: remove all weapons and the robot head. Fold the beast head up off the robot's back and onto the robot's neck. Open the forearms, fold the hands back into them and close again. Fold the paws down from behind the arms to take their place. Fold the back cover forward and bring the beast body rear out of the robot body, noting the slot the tabs have come out of and making sure they fit into the slots at the bottom of the body. Close the back panel. Fold the armour covering the lower robot legs up to cover the upper legs. Fold the heels spurs into the robot feet. Fold he arms & legs out to the front of the robot and stand the beast on it's feet. Put the sword's post into his backside form the tail. Slide the tabs on the top of the cannon into the slots on the tail base.

With the cannon mounted on it's back Wolfwire is very reminiscent of a Zoids Command Wolf or even more so it's Irvine's Command Wolf repaint. As such it's a much leaner looking wolf than the original Weirdwolf but with the colours in roughly the same places: blue/green rear legs & lower front legs, yellow body, upper fore legs & rear leg armour and an off white head, rear body & tail. The head is nice and angular, with clear red insets and teeth, similar to Legends Skullcruncher. The head feels like it's ball-jointed at the neck, but moving the head to one side this looks like it's achieved through a series of hinges and features an opening jaw. Forelegs have the arm articulation, with the addition of a ball jointed foot, while the back leg is ball jointed at the hip, bends at the upper knee, ball jointed at the lower knee and ball jointed at the ankle.

Monxo can be sat in a seat recessed in the cannon, like the Command Wolf's gunner, or inside the beast itself. To get into the wolf you need to remove the cannon and then raise the panel on the beast's back via a hinge behind the neck. There's windows in this panel for the Titanmaster to see out and they're moulded in the same pinky red clear plastic that the head panels and teeth are.

There's plenty of opportunity to reposition the cannon: it has a 5mm peg sticking out the top, which was previously used as it's handle in robot mode, plus another one sticking out each side. On Wolfwire there's 5mm sockets on each shoulder/hip plus another underneath the beast.

Good, good toy. Better than the original in almost every way bar the head design and the lack of slide out panels to cover the missile batteries. In fact it's probably the best techno wolf, as opposed to organic wolf like Beast Wars Wolfang, that Transformers have ever done. You want one.

Wolfwire was released in Hasbro markets during August/September 2016 and packed in a case with Highbrow, Chromedome & Mindwipe where all three were packed at 2 per case.

Legends Weirdwolf with Monzo

LG-30 Wolfwire was released in September 2016 Japan very quickly after it's western release. As per all the other original Headmasters the Titanmaster has been tweaked so his faceplate resembles the animation model used for the Japanese Headmasters series. In Weirdwolf's case it results in a squarer larger face, looking the closest of any of the Headmasters to the original head style, and having a much better defined visor & face. The plastic colours have been tweaked so that the off white/grey is now moulded in yellow, which gives the wolf an all yellow body and results in the beast head, centre of the chest panel and sword being painted. In fact the only grey plastic I see on the toy is the new face and existing legs & chest on the Titanmaster. Another painted piece are the pieces added on to the head resulting in silver teeth and inset panels in the head. Where Skullcrucncher's teeth were silver for Titans Return and clear for Legends, Weirdwolf is the reverse! From what I can see on the cockpit window the clear pieces are a more orangey red here. The yellows meanwhile are a lot more closely matched in colour and generally takes a slightly paler tone than the western version.

RIMG0001 RIMG0002

As with the other original Headmaster remakes in Legends Weirdwolf is packed with a recoloured Titanmaster accessory: his is Rarigo, a repaint of Apeface which swaps black for yellow and purple for blue green. While the new colours are a good match for Weirdwolf, earning Rarigo the nickname Bananabot, they'll make a dreadful Apeface when combined with the Apeface Titanmaster which will follow in December as a pack in with Legends LG-38 Condor (Laserbeak).

Given a choice between the two the Legends version wins it for me with it's matching shades of yellow and better robot head. However I much prefer the clear plastic in the head on the Western version and, if it was just mounted on a ball joint, I'd be tempted to pop the beast heads off and swap them.

Future Repaints

The original Weirdwolf hasn't ever been repainted but there's lots of other wolves in Transformers. A technological version of the organic Weirdwolf would be nice as would a new Cybertron Snarl, who formed the basis for Botcon 2007 Weirdwolf. Wolfang was repainted/remoulded into Beast Wars K-9, Best Wars II Max-B and Beast Wars Telemocha Volfang all of which are good repaint options a would Toy's Dream Project Galaxy Force Fangwolf, Snarl's limited edition Black Repaint.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Combiner Wars Dezarus & Liokaiser


There are not many options for repainting Sky Lynx. In fact your best bet might to be go something mad and shattered glass. But Hasbro managed to come up with a sane, albeit slightly off the wall, suggestion in a new version of Deathsaurus. The main connection here would appear to be likening Deathsaurus' upright dragon mode to Sky Lynx's 4 legged dino beast. It's odd, but it kind of works ..... and kind of doesn't either.

To be clear, throughout this review the original Destron leader is referred to as Deathsaurus, as that's the version of the name I'm used to, and the new toy is Dezarus as per the spelling on the box

The only real piece of remoulding in Dezarus' modes adds a sharper swept back crest to the top of Sky Lynx's head and shuttle, much larger than the small one which was already there. It looks like they've cut that chunk out of the existing mould and plonked a new piece in as there's a very visible gap between the old and new pieces.

Otherwise the differences are supplied by remoulding and paint. The head and jaw, previously white, are now an off white as are the combined mode lower chest & waist, which were blue. The new combine mode head *LOOKS* to be moulded in the same white plastic, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. The rest of the white all becomes greeny blue as does the red used previously on the lower legs. The red on the upper legs, and some of the neck joints, stays red which looks a little odd in "dragon" mode. The rest of the neck joints and all the grey becomes a pale blue. Blue paws become black. Black paint is used abundently.

For a new version of Deathsaurus these are some odd colours. Liokaiser fans will recognise them from Leozack which gives a hint at the combined form's purpose. I can see why they went Dezarus with the name. It doesn't quite fit the toy, but fits it better than Leozack would and helps maintain the Victory Breastforce connection than any other name choice.


Liokaiser is a very much desired Japanese toy which would probably in most people's top 3 Most Wanted Japanese Reissues lists. Most of the components lend themselves well to repaints of existing Combiner Wars toys. Drillhorn & Killbison become CW Drillhorn & Iron Bison by repainting Brawl and his remould Nosecone while Hellbat & Gaihawkare turned into Combiner Wars Fellbat & Guyhawk by repainting Combiner Wars Skydive & his remould Air Raid. Guyhawk & Hellbat are so similar I'd have been tempted to use the same toy twice and the remoulding between the two Combiner Wars jets makes them feel slightly too far apart. In all cases the effect is completed by a new robot head but otherwise they're very similar to their Combiner Wars predecessors.

The problem is Leozack & Jaruga, who form the original Liokaiser's body. All Combiner Wars toys have had a single body and, for better or worse, the use of two new toys for a giftset combiner torso was ruled out, which is where our Sky Lynx remould Dezarus comes in. Whatever doubts you have about Sky Lynx as a new version of Deathsaurus it makes an exceptional impersonation of Leozack & Jaruga's torso mode. Dezarus' shuttle tail fins, and the rear beast legs when painted as they are do a great impression of Leozack's cockpit and chest formed from his wings aided by some gold paint in just the right place on the legs to hint at the wing details. We have a new head, similar to the last one, but looking a lot more like Liokaiser's head complete with faceplate. The sides of the head appear to be the same off white plastic used elsewhere on Dezarus but the top of the head is black, like other paint apps, where it might have been nice to have a green/blue paint app to match the plastic.

Throw a couple of extra CW jets dual cannons into the box and a preassembled Arms Micron Gul as Iron Scythe, to represent the Breast Force companions, and you've got a decent set. Yes there might be some doubts about the individual robots but, combined, this feels like Liokaiser even though the torso isn't formed out of Liokaiser's original two body components. I might hesitate if you want the individual bots buts for a combined Liokaiser I think this makes a really good attempt at the original which hasn't quite been captured by the photos of it out there.

An Entertainment Earth exclusive in the US, it was available from far east suppliers in late September 2016.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Titans Return Rumble


Reusing the same toy as both Autobot and Decepticon robot cassettes has become a bit of a thing in recent years as Fall of Cybertron Rumble & Frenzy became Rewind & Eject in 2013 and then the following year second edition of the Transformers Subscription Service turned United Rumble & Frenzy into their Eject & Rewind. Here the favour goes the other way.

Rumble was first seen at Toyfair 2016 and immediately caused some concern when Rumble & Laserbeak official images showed Rumble with same head as Rewind. What had happened is Rewinds picture from the Wave 1 Official Images had been reused and New Rumble & Laserbeak images were later issued. The same fate also befell Ravage, who used a recoloured Stripes official picture even though he had a new, slimmer, head. Amusingly the wrong Rumble image does pop up on the rear of his packaging!

New head aside, Rumble is a simple recolour. Grey becomes red. The black of the lower portion of the upper arm, chest wheels & gun, becomes a *slightly* different red while the rest of the black stays the same. The flat chest detailing is changed to resemble Rumble's original chest so that the robot mode, which is the one that matters, is a top job. The tank gets a red turret & gun now which is OK and the tablet becomes black, with red slides. The sticker on the tablet feature some information about seismic imaging which is clever.

I think I like this toy better as Rumble than Rewind. The black & red works well in contrast. My one worry about it is how it's packed in the Wave 2 case: he's 2 per case so is packed shorter than Laserbeak or Ravage, who are 3 per case. He's the only one with a humanoid robot mode and, to date, the only one with no known Japanese Legends release yet, so he'll be in demand. As it is the current Legends Wave 1 is sitting, badly, and Legends is the only size class not to reach Wave 2 on UK shelves. I can see a scenario where Wave 2 arrives late, because of Wave 1 sitting, and Wave 3 (Bumblebee, Sharkticon & Kickback, absolute gold, three new moulds) DOESN'T come out here.

I think if it came to a choice I'd rather we DIDN'T get Wave 2 than Wave 3.

Future Repaints

Rewind as Eject and Rumble as Frenzy are obvious no brainers. At the time of writing neither is scheduled, or strongly rumoured, for either Titans Return, in the west, or Transformers Legends, in Japan.

Original Rewind has also been used as Flipsides, Rosanna & Solarbot. At push he'd make an OK Scrounge to pair with Blaster

Enemy is the other possible Decepticon robot tape repaint though I'm sure there's a few more cartoon variants out there.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Titans Return Blurr, Brainstotm & Chromedome

Titans Return Blurr

Blurr as somewhat mixed form with his remakes. The Armada version is fun and captures the spirit, if not the form and colour, of the original. Retool the hands, give it a new head and new colours as Cybertron Blurr and you're much closer the original though. Generations a mixed attempt at giving Blurr a more current rather than futuristic alt mode. The problem is he'd go for something sleeker and faster, possibly even a racing car, and being blue that takes us into Mirage territory. Kup does far far better taking this approach. A similar approach is taken for the Animated version, albeit with the twist of the animated style which I'm not keen on. So there's a hole there for a Blurr that looks like his 1986 version in both modes. Since Blurr was reused as a Targetmaster in 1987 it makes sense to do a new version of him in a line who's main focus is the 1987 characters.

The only problem is Titans Return's gimmick is effectively the new version of Headmasters so Blurr's Targetmaster partner Haywire becomes his Titanmaster Hyperfire. In head mode Haywire has a nice little feature with a pop up antennae/spoiler, a smaller version of what the original Blurr had. Transforming him into his Titanmaster robot produces an all blue figure matching Blurr. He is very plain, just like the monochromatic larger robot.

The photos I've seen of Blurr look OK but every time I see him on the shelves he looks the wrong shade of blue, almost with a greeny tinge to it. Apart from the colour Blurr looks fab in robot mode, they've got the design dead on, even down to him having a shield made from his vehicle nose like the original did. The only real complaint I have is the gun, here moulded in the blue and painted silver on ll but the handle. It's a bit generic, and reminds me of the gun used with the GI Joe figure Lady Jaye that Dapol sneakily reused with their Ice Warrior.

The shield comes mounted on his arm via a 5mm peg on the shield which plugs into a 5mm hole the outer side of either forearm or can be hand held. The shield can be attached to Brainstorm's back either way via a pair of slots in the shield that match tabs on the back. However it only looks sensible pointing down. As well as the 5mm handle there's a 5mm peg hole in the gun that lets you mount it on one of the pegs on the side of the shield. The shield can also be detached and, with the aid of a fold out landing gear in the soft off white plastic, be used as a separate vehicle

Articulation: like all Titanmaster toys the head is on a ball joint. The arms shrug up at the shoulders and also rotate. There's a bicep rotational joint, bending elbows and rotational wrists. Waist turns, hips are ball joints plus a thigh swivel & bending knee. Foot bends up as part of the transformation. The outer set of wings, on the outer side of the rear of each arm, are hinged, but the inner wings, hinged on previous versions to form the tail fins, are fixed in place.

Remove the Titanmaster and hand gun. Mount the shield on his back pointing down. Straighten the arms and point them up. Close the covers over the hands. Fold the feet up, revealing wheels, then fold the front of each lower leg out to the sides. Fold the tail fin out of his right (on our left) leg. Tab the lower legs together and then back at the knees so the lower legs fold round the upper legs then close the leg fronts back up. Open the chest front, fold the seat back and sit the Titanmaster in the cockpit before closing the chest front/canopy. Fold the shield up off the back to become the nose in place of where the head was. Pull the arms out to the sides at the shoulder, then towards the back of the vehicle and finally bring them in with the tab on the strut which connects the arm to the shoulder slotting into the inside of the upper arm and the pegs on the side of the shield fitting into holes on the inner side of the lower arms. Peg the gun into the side of the vehicle or under the nose.

Again the vehicle mode is spot on, bar the colour which needs to be a lighter blue maybe broken up a bit for variety. The canopy on the vehicle opens to allow the Titanmaster to sit inside. The car moves courtesy of some small wheels on the underside.

Dead on in both modes sculpt wise. Shame the colour isn't quite there.

Titan Force Brainstorm

The new deluxe version of Brainstorm is probably not onto a winner here. First he's been done recently, as Generations Thrilling 30 Voyager Brainstorm, which was a wildly successful and popular toy albeit at a completely different scale to the Titanmasters. Then he's a blatantly obvious remould of Wave 1's Blurr. Finally he's an exclusive, either as part of the San Diego Comic Con Titan Force boxset or, with an altered deco, as a single carded release through the American Drug Store Wallgreens.

Where Blurr's Titanmaster Hyperfire was all blue, Brainstorm's Titanmaster Teslor is cyan with an off white chest, which suggests the chest is on the same parts sprue as the robot's upper legs given the colour and quality of the plastic used. The face of the Titanmaster's head mode is all new: by the look of it it's painted all over and I'd guess it's grey plastic like all the new parts on the larger robot. Attached to the deluxe body the Titanmaster head looks slightly too big: this is my first deluxe Titans Return toy so I can't comment as to how this compares to the others.

Brainstorm comes in robot mode and here his similarity to Blurr is striking. The body & legs look identical to Blurr. Lower legs are a hard off white plastic, painted cyan on the shins, with the upper legs made from a softer off white plastic. Waist is the hard off white plastic again, this time painted cyan, while the majority of the body is a soft cyan plastic with the chest covered by a clear windscreen. The lower abdomen, later the vehicle seat, is dark grey plastic the same as the feet which are the only reused parts to be cast in this colour. The hands, forearms & elbow are inherited from Blurr, cast in cyan plastic (painted grey), hard off white plastic (painted grey) and soft off white plastic respectively. The upper arms, both set of wings, and the hand cover folded under the forearm are all made from a hard grey plastic, with the exterior of the shoulders painted off white. The hand guard hinges are the off white plastic.

Finally the weapons: the gun is the cyan plastic used for the body and, unlike Blurr, is unpainted, while Cyan shield is surprisingly moulded in the hard dark grey plastic and painted! Unfortunately the paint job on mine is a bit poor - could they not spring for a sprue of the cyan plastic to mould it in? So the gun barrels at the front of the shield, grey on this release, aren't an extra paint layer as was first thought (they're the same cyan as the rest on the single carded version) they're the native colour of the piece!

The shield, although physically different, maintains all the functionality of Blurr's shield and indeed the two can be swapped between the toys. The guns on the shield, which becomes the front of the jet, are a major problem for me. On the original Brainstorm they were removable as his twin handguns, a feature carried over onto the T30 Voyager. Here they're moulded in place and that's very very annoying. Worse his replacement hand gun is identical to Blurr's in all but colour and seems to be one of the parts reused on the Chromedome & Breakaway/Getaway remoulds too. Dumping that gun and moulding removable guns would have added significantly to the toy.

At the time of writing I didn't own Blurr, I was waiting for the Legends versions, but now I have him in hand the transformations are identical.

Given Blurr as a starting point, they've not made too bad a job of Brainstorm. The new nose, hand covers and wings significantly change the shape of the toy. However there's a price to pay with the wings: the new shoulders, which become side pieces in jet mode, have lost the Titanmaster footpegs. Blurr's spoiler is replaced by one single tail fin which looks very odd as we're used to him having two. I also found the canopy not stretching all the way back to cover the entire cockpit more than slightly annoying. The paint flaws on the nose, mentioned earlier, are particularly obvious here especially round where the landing gear folds out in the shield's stand alone vehicle nose. The off white of the landing gear now sticks out and makes you wonder why it couldn't have been moulded on the cyan sprue. But he maintains Blurr's wheels on his underside which makes rolling him along quite fun.

I can understand why Brainstorm is an exclusive and a remould: he's had his own general release Voyager version relatively recently. But he is a popular character through More Than Meets The Eye and as such probably deserved a little bit more love than this. The vehicle mode changes and choice of plastic for the nose particularly annoy me. This is a fun toy, but it could have been better.

Brainstorm was sold at San Diego Comic Con 2016 as part of the Titan Force Boxset which also contained a transparent version of Sentinel Prime and a redecorated RID Windblade. When this set was sold at the UK Film and Comic Con Brainstorm was renamed Charon due to a trademark problem.

Titans Return Brainstorm

Over the course of the start of 2016 various pictures of Brainstorm including a grey prototype were leaked, all of which indicated a remould of Blurr was on the way. There was disappointment when the Titan Force Boxset was revealed as it meant he'd be limited. Hope for a carded version was raised when card art was leaked indicating slightly different colours to the Titan Force version which was all but confirmed in this now deleted tweet from Walgreen's Toy Buyer Steven G Anne which is reproduced at 2005 boards.

As you can see in these tweets from Autobase Aichi showing the robot mode & the vehicle mode, this gallery, there has been some alterations!

Now that single carded Brainstorm is here I can see the differences for myself: The Titan Force version is closer to T30 Voyager Brainstorm in colour, but very slightly paler, whereas single carded is positively green by comparison. I say his "blue" is Aquamarine, Liz says Jade. Either way it's a more greenish tinge than we're used to on Brainstorm. The blue paint app has gone from the front of the legs and also the grey one from the hands which are now aquamarine/whatever. There's extra paint on the gun barrels, making them the same colour as the rest of the shield. The faceplate is now orange rather than yellow and there's added stickers on the front of the wings in robot mode and the back of the vehicle mode.

Honestly, if it were the only one available this toy would have done me as a Brainstorm but the I believe the Titan Force version is better and I can see this being moved on PDQ

Legends Blurr

As is usual for Takara the inspiration behind Blurr's colours are his appearance in the cartoon which creates a much more contrasting robot, almost a dark blue one covered by pale blue armour. The gun, and Titanmaster limbs, become grey here, with the Titanmaster chest upper legs & knees plus the back hinge becoming dark blue. The feet & hands are white while virtually everything else is pale blue. Unfortunately that last colour is *slightly* off, a bit *TOO* Vibrant a blue. But even given that it's a better set of colours for him than for the Hasbro version. Fandom agreed and, despite the lack of a Titanmaster accessory like the previous deluxe Legends, pre orders were snapped up. Good luck finding one now!

Blurr was released as Legends LG-25 atthe end of August 2016.

Titans Return Chromedome

Chromedome is a popular character at the moment thanks to his starring role in More than Meets the Eye and he always was a popular character in Japan thanks to his lead role in the Headmasters cartoon series. Surprisingly he's only had one real new version made Transformers Subscription Service 2.0 Chromedome, a repaint of Transformer Prime Wheeljack with a new head. So a new Titans Return version is welcome.

However Titans Return Chromedome isn't a remould of Combiner Wars Dead End/Steetwise/Prowl, as some people say he is, it just looks & feels like he is. A lot. It's only when you get them alongside each other, as this photo gallery shows, that you see how different the two are. In fact there isn't one shared part between them!

Titans Return Chromedome does share parts with another toy and, incredibly, that toy is Blurr as TFWiki's comparison of the two shows. Two sprues are shared between the toys, one containing the smaller of Chromedome's guns and the Titanmaster's head, arms and legs. This was blue on Titans Return Blurr, pale plue on Titan Force Brainstorm, Jade on the Walgreens Brainstorm Grey on the Legends Blurr and is red here. Another sprue, consistiung of the knees, upper legs, hips, hands & Titanmaster body is also used: Blue on Titans Return Blurr, Off White on both Brainstorms,and Dark Blue on the Legends Blurr is used here in brown. Such a small number of reused parts has provokoked a heated arguement on if this still represents a retool. In my view it does, and so he's reviewed wih Blurr & Brainstorm.

So the Titansmaster robot is an identical toy to the prveious uses, albeit with a brown body & red limbs, and the same articulation.

Transfromation: Here's what I wrote for Dead End:

Turn the waist 180 degrees. Straighten the arms & fold the hands into the wrists. Fold down at the shoulders to the sides of the body. Fold the front and outer side of each leg out to the sides. Bring the legs together with the combiner connector pointing towards the waist. Fold the lower legs up at the knees so they contain the lower legs then close the sides of the legs to form the rear of the car. Fold the back pack down to form the nose of thecar and fold the windscreen down. Fold the chest plate up to cover the face. Peg the weapon into the side of the car as an exhaust pipe.
Apart from the windscreen folding forward from the rear of the car and the weapons tabbing onto the roof, via some tabs that match the bottom of the larger gun, that's about right for Chromedome too. Of course the weapons COULD have pegged into the sides of the car if you'd chosen.

The car mode is a nice chunky representation of Chromedome with dark clear wheels like the toys from Velocitron, Transformers Cybertron's speed planet. The real fun here is folding the roof of the driver's compartment back so Stylor can sit in the vehicle. There's somethinf about sitting drivers in Transformers cars that appeals top me as a fan of the 1984/5 Diaclone cars!

Returning the car to robot mode highlights the Combiner Wars Dead End similarities: the arms physically looks very similar, including the 5mm peg hole in the shoulder and the small differently coloured elbow piece. The fold down chest plate and the way the upper legs look are very Dead End too but the lower legs here are virtually straight with a seperately moulded foot while Dead End's legs spread out the further down you get.

Articulation: I quote from my Dead End review again:

Articulation is good: bending knees, ball jointed hips, turning waist, ball jointed head, shoulders that raise at the body and are ball jointed at the arms, bicep swivels and bending elbows.
Weapons: Chromedome has inherited Blurr's gun, now in red. Chromedome's guns were never that distinctive t me so I'd have been happy with two of these for him. However he comes with a second, larger, gun that is capable of have a Titanmaster sit in it: a heel spur slot is provided. A 5mm peg underneath lets Chromedome hold it and 5mm pegsin the side allow it to be plugged into the car mode with it's Titanmaster gunner still seated properly. A peg on the top allows it to be wielded upside down and a 5mm hole in front of the Titanmster's seat allows the other gun to be combined with it.

I've enjoyed Chromedome a lot, in fact I think he's a lot better than the original which never really worked for me. This is a good thing as I suspect we'll be seeing it again for a few more car characters before Titans Return is done.

Legends Chromedome

Legends Chromedome takes the Titans Return vesion, gives it a new face, and pairs it with a brown version of Titanmaster Nightbeat's drill/jet accessory.

Legends Brainstorm

Legends Brainstorm takes the Titans Return vesion, gives it a new face, and pairs it with a blue version of Titanmaster Brawn's gun/jeep accessory. It's not the first blue jeep in Transformers and unfortunately it has brought the disturbing image of Energon Strongarm back to mind.


Getaway is another character who has come to recent prominence due to More Than Meets The Eye. He's had another version previously, Wal*Mart/Asda exclusive Breakaway, a repaint of Cybertron Hotshot originally meant for the Universe 2 toy line.

A colour chart for Titans Return Getaway, and several other toys, was leaked in April 2016 revealing it to be a straight repaint of Chromedome with a new face. Hasbro then accidentally revealed Getaway, now under the name Breakaway again when product brought to Cybertron Con 2016 showed the toy on Hot Rod's cardback!

Future Repaints

Blurr & Brainstorm, with near identical robot modes & Car/jet vehicle modes, are considered to be the likely base for Autobot Clones Fastlane & Cloudraker.

Chromedome I think will be repainted till the cows come home. If he doesn't get done as Nightbeat I'll be very surprised and I can see him as Siren too, which in turn means he's a good candidate for their Japanese versions Minerva & Goshooter.

Concept drawings exists showing the original Chromedome repainted as Arcee and I've already seen a Titan Return Arcee digibashed from Chromedome which was also turned into a custom. I've also seen an Arcee from Blurr and another from Hot Rod!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Titans Return Soundwave

Titans Return Soundwave

I don't think anyone was remotely surprised when Titans Return Soundwave was revealed in January 2016 to be a repaint of Leader class Blaster. The appearance of Legends Buzzsaw in Combiner Wars Legends Wave 5 was by itself a good indication that his boss would be along at somepoint and so it proved.

As ever the renders used for the preview images don't tell the whole story. The Titanmaster is completely different colours, it swaps Blaster's red for dark blue and black for dark grey to produce a Titanmaster which colour-wise is bang on for Soundwave. The moulding on the leg fronts is a little strange, retaining Blaster's speakers, but the Titanmaster figure has a new head which is a dead on likeness to Soundwave. Depending on how much you like the Titanmasters this might be incentive itself to buy the figure and if so you're going to be in a lot of trouble shortly!

Be careful attaching the Titanmaster: I had a small scare where the clip got knocked off centre. Attempting to right the clip pushed it down into the body from where it was retrieved and, with the aid of the Titanmaster head, successfully reinserted but all it's held in by is a mild bump on the outer edge of the clip so be warned!

In head mode the Titanmaster produces a Soundwave face with faceplate, yellow visor for eyes and above that some circuitry moulding that looks a little like robotic brain. This is covered when the larger figure's helmet is folded into place forming a REALLY good Soundwave head. If I was being picky, and since this is a repaint/remould I can be, the faceplate could have been slightly higher and the visor slightly shorter. From the sides & rear the hinge on the back of the helmet really stands out as it matches neither the rest of the helmet & bulk of the toy, blue, or the Titanmaster's legs/back of the head, dark grey, but is a very pale grey.

As expected we now find the 5mm peg on the shoulder occupied by Soundwave's Shoulder Cannon which stores on the other 5mm peg on the rear of his waist in radio mode. Great addition to the set but unfortunately his other gun is screaming "Blaster's gun in blue" at me. I'd have gladly lost this completely, preferably for Soundwave's other battery gun but I think the set would have worked without a hand weapon at all.

The red on Blaster's upper body now becomes blue, as do the black hands, while the black upper arms and & red forearms become grey, perfectly matching Soundwave's colour layout. The tape door here is now completely clear, and is a new piece. It looks a little odd projecting out from his body like it does as previous Soundwaves have had flat tape deck doors.. You can't see it on the renders but between Blaster & Soundwave the thighs have swapped legs! On Blaster the diagonal lines were on the outer half of each leg but on Soundwave they're on the inner. The lower legs are the part of the toy where Soundwave struggles the most: the fronts need to be flat, and original Soundwave's were anything but flat. There's lots of moulded detail but it doesn't capture the toy or cartoon leg designs in all bar one respect: there's some yellow ridged detail round the knee present on both animated & toy versions.

Legs aside, it's a really, really good Soundwave robot. It almost works better as Soundwave than Blaster. Almost.

When I first saw the Blaster design I wondered if an alternate arm/leg transformation might be possible to give Soundwave a thinner tape deck mode. Alas Hasbro weren't that clever but they've changed the leg panels that form the back & sides of the legs to form newly designed speaker panels. It's not your 1984 Soundwave in tape mode but it's the closest any non Masterpiece toy has got. It IS a tape deck and it's a tape deck that isn't just Blaster, coloured blue. But it's a tape deck that is demonstrably Blaster in origin. As I said before the battery shoulder cannon attaches to the 5mm post on the rear of the waist, evocative of the battery function but not replicating it. As before the gun also attaches to the rear of the toy but since I wrote Blaster's review I've seen it suggested you might want to tilt it up diagonally to act as an aerial for the tape deck. Be careful with the gun though: I snapped half the handle off removing it from Blaster's hands the last time I transformed him!.

From the renders the base mode looked the same as Blaster but there's some changes there too. The moulded patterns inside the flat panels are changed, which shouldn't be a surprise as these are the reverse of the new speaker panels. The pattern is very similar, but is different. The front edges of the base now feature a 5mm peg for you to mount the shoulder cannon missile battery on. Oh my goodness, I've played with Soundwave since 1984 and only just realised that the shoulder cannon formed from a battery contains a missile battery! I knew the design was there, just never put the word for it together with it's alt mode function! The inside of the platform formed from the tape deck is different too, now being a solid platform with one Titanmaster peg on it.

Why did they choose the robot's ankle hinges, only really visible here as the ends of the base mode walls, to be red? Matches no other colour on the toy so they could have been any colour like blue, light grey, dark grey, that was used on the rest of the toy but no they choose red which stands out a mile!

At the time of writing this toy has only showed up at Smyths in the UK and isn't on their website. We don't have a Smyths in Swindon so mine was obtained from the Cribbs Causeway Bristol store while en route to a week away. It was the only toy I had for the week so Soundwave's Battle Disco got more attention than many of my TFs do. I was expecting to think "this is just a Blaster repaint" but the changes to the moulding and colours work really well and elevate it beyond that. Definitely worth getting, even if you got Blaster!