Friday, 4 April 2014

Cyberjets

Transformers Cyberjets

Transformers Cyberjets


Phil loves the Cyberjets.

I can remember the day I first saw them: I was working in Merton Park and used to drive to Wimbledon for a walk around the shops at lunch time. In the town centre, where The Entertainer is now, was a little independant toy shop which was on my regular route. One day I walked in there and they had a range of new small Transformers jets on the shelf. Now I have a thing for small TF jets: It amazed me that there never did them in the early years of the line as a counterpart to the mini Autobots. The first range of small jets, the Aerialbots in 1986, went to the Autobots. The first small carded Decepticon jets are Triggercon Windsweeper and Dual Targetmaster Needlenose in 1988, and the first range of small carded jet is The Predators in 1992 followed by Skycorchers in 1993 afteer which it had gone quiet again for a couple of years. So confronted by small jets I decided I could only really afford one of them. Which to buy? Hooligan, Skyjack or Spacecase? I went for Hooligan, mainly due to the plane mode's resemblance to Jetfire.

I went back to the office, I think I may have been there by myself for the afternoon, and decarded my new toy. And was absolutely blown away by it:

1) Ball Joints ! Ball joints had showed up the previous year (1995) on the hips of the Laser Rod cars and the Stealth Bomber/Fighter. The Cyberjetss are the first to use ball joints for all their joints (with one exception) This represents a huge step forward articulation wise for TFs. Some of the larger early TFs were quite well articulated but in general articulation on G1 TFs isn't good - especially bellow the waist - as each point of articulation requires multiple parts and thus has a cost at assembly. Some TFs are effectively bricks - Powermaster Optimus springs to mind as a G1 TF that would be stunning with a few more points of articulation. Ball joints allow a full range of articulation with just 2 pieces - each limb part involved. You even get some bonus articulation thrown in - a ball jointed elbow effectively serves as both an elbow and a rotational bicep joint in that it allows the lower part of the arm to move up and down (which you'd expect at an elbow) but also allows movement from side to side. They pop out easily preventing breakage for the most part and a worn ball and socket joint can be easily restored with a bit of clear nail varnish. Make no mistake, this is a gigantic leap forward for TFs as you can now get some good action poses out of your toys - this is the point where TFs truly become action figures.

2) Light Pipes ! I love lightpipes. It's a simple action feature adding real value to a toy. This is where there's a piece of coloured clear plastic running from the eyes/visor etc on a toy through to the back of the head. Light shines through and makes the eyes glow. The only down side is a clear coloured panel in the back of the head but to me that's an OK price to pay. It's also been used effectively on Star Wars Jawa figures and most modern R2 & R4 units. Light pipe eyes first show on the Euro G1 Turbomasters and Predators in 92 so were quite common by the time the Cyberjets showed in 1995

3) Marble missile launchers ! We'd had a string of weak missiles, then huge oversized missiles. These missiles are long, yes, but they look a reasonable size for the launcher, and don't have any springs involved. Nice touch.

4) Landing Gear ! Each plane has 3 sets of fold down landing gear (which previously would have been a treat on larger toys)

5) Missile storage ! It's a small thing but each of the Cyberjets can stow their spare missiles on the vehicle mode.

6) Swing Wings ! Swing Wings had been done precisely ONCE on Transformers before and that was on the much larger Jetfire. Never has such a feature been attempted on a transformers toy this small and it's this that puts Hooligan above the other Cyberjets.

To this day Hooligan is in my top 5 Transformer toys EVER and I don't think the design has been topped for a jet toy. I think there's better decos of the toy mould but Hooligan still wins out because he was the one I encountered first, he's the toy that is the big step forward.

Of course the next day I went back and grabbed the other two. They're fabulous toys in themselves but inevitably they're overshadowed by Hooligan. And as much as I loved Hooligan what I *really* wanted was that same toy done in the Jetfire colours. When a repaint of Hooligan appeared as Jetfire it was frustratingly in the wrong colours. It wasn't until 2004's Robotmasters release of R-Blade that I got what I wanted. Robotmasters, in the same initial release in July 2004, also gave me Ligier, the correct Mirage colours of Machine Wars Flipchanger Mirage which was another repaint I'd been yearning for for years, so I'm extremely grateful to that line.

Since the initial release Cyberjets have been redone en masse several times, first in Generation 2 as Autobots in contrast to the initial Decepticon release, then Robotmasters (two Cybertron and one Destron) and finally in Universe (one Autobot, two Decepticon). Hooligan also makes a solo repaint appearance in the Botcon 2005 set,

Here's how each toy is named in each release:

  G2 D G2 A RM TFU Botcon
Swing Wing F-22 Raptor Hooligan Jetfire R-Blade Wind Sheer Ricochet
Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk Skyjack Air Raid Delta Seeker Air Raid  
Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut Space Case Strafe X-Gunner Space Case  

Now because these toys have been released in series together, and the same parts appear in the same colours across the series, we can come to the conclusion that these toys are in general gang molded. In fact the only part that seems unique to each jet is the main colour of the jet body:

  G2 D G2 A RM TFU
Upper Limbs & Bodys Red Blue Red Burgundy
Landing Gear Black Black Black Yellow
Launchers & Hooligan's Wings Black Black Black Burgundy
Missiles Yellow White Yellow Yellow
Lightpipe Eyes & Canopies Orange Yellow Blue * Yellow
Hooligan Orange Grey White Silver-Grey
Skyjack Black Black Blue-Green Blue
Spacecase White Green Silver-Grey Grey

* The Robotmasters release of the Cyberjets has different lightpiping for each jet: R-Blade is Blue, as per the normal for Autobots/Cybertrons, Delta Seeker is red and X-Gunner has purple eyes but a blue canopy. We'll conclude that the clear blue is thecolour used for the set, because it appears on more than one toy and either new or extra pieces were made. Somewhere in parts bins there may be several colours of unused Cyberjets lightpipes & canopies. But the Robotmasters and TFU sets would be in production at around the same time: it's possible new parts may have been made. The TFU set is the only one where the landing gear isn't the same colour as the launchers.

But seeing this information laid out brings to our attention something that completely passed me by on their initial release. After the colour of the jets themselves, the second most dominant colour is the upper limbs which unites them as a teamset. For the Decepticon Cyberjets it's red, which is a colour most commonly associated with Autobots. Seen by themselves, not an issue. However then look at the Autobot repaints: the colour used there for the upper limbs is a pale blue. Really you'd have to say that that's more of a Decepticon colour.

Has there been some sort of factory mistake and the wrong toy been released at the wrong time under the wrong names?

From just the limb colours you'd be thinking probably. But there's another factor in play here too. Both Jetfire & Strafe feature G2 Decepticon symbols on their rear stabilisers. These are the only toys in the first two sets of Cyberjets to feature faction symbols. So I think you have to conclude that Hooligan, Skyjack & Space Case are actually Jetfire, Air Raid & Strafe and vice versa!

So Jetfire is now Orange, Air Raid Black and Strafe White, all with black limbs. Black & Red is sensible for Air Raid: the black suits his vehicle mode, and both black & red were used on Aerialbot Air Raid. So now I'm looking at Jetfire and thinking "Why is he orange? He'd be better in white. Like Strafe is." Now White and Red kind of make sense for Strafe as they were used on his original Technobot version. But is you look at the Technobot he's got orange missiles, a frequently used colour on the Technobots. Is there a second factory muck up here? Should the swing wing jet have been white and red, with blue highlights, as a Jetfire homage and the Space Case repaint been the one in orange with the Tigerstripes?

I'm forced to conclude that Cyberjets have been at home to not one, but two mistakes. The Autobot repaint set, looks designed to be quite a tight homage to the original names used once you swap the colours round. Unfortunately they came out the factory wrong. Then, either to cover the initial error, or as a second mistake the Autobots get released as Decepticons and vice versa. which further leads me to think .... If they've got the Autobots wrong should the proper version of Hooligan be green and Space Case grey?

Now I've got my authentic G1 Jetfire courtesy of Robotmasters..... But how about a Strafe with an orange tigerstripe vehicle mode?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Generations 30th Legend Starscream & Waspinator


Starscream and Waspinator

When Reveal The Shield launched it's Legends line they used Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron & Starscream. The same four characters form the initial four releases in the new Generations Legends size - A scout class robot and a smaller "Minicon" size robot.

So how does Starscream fare?

As seen in the package he's not too bad, but we need to look at the Jet first and to do that we need to0 transform him: Peg the legs together, fold the feet & heels together and fold the tail fins out to the sides of the legs Fold the wings back and clip them into the legs. Fold the shoulders out to the sides and down, attaching a slot on the back of each wrist to a peg on the underside of the wings. Fold the middle of the chest up to form the cockpit and the nose-cone out from underneath it. If necessary attach the null ray cannons.

I say "if necessary": this is the first Starscream it's possible to Transform with the null rays attached!

Instead of Generation 1 Starscream's tradional form, The F-15 he's now presented in his movie vehicle mode the F22 Raptor. It's a decent solid jet with rear wheels molded into the robot's knees while there's a fold down landing gear under his nose. The null rays are under the wings, but pegged into the sides of the jet fuselage. You can, just about, mount them either side of the cockpit too in a pair of screw holes but the fit is a bit loose. On mine you can turn them upside down and they won't fall out. The bottom of the null ray peg is a 3mm peg so they can be held by Cyberverse characters. There's holes on the sides of the weapons that look like 3mm pegs holes but are slightly too large. The top of the null ray handle is a supposed 5mm peg but mine feels larger than that: I've tried it on a few 5mm peg holes and had trouble fitting it in. Sadly the 5mm peg hole on the back of the jet is a prime example (and it is a 5mm hole: I've tested it with other weapons) so the only thing in the packet you can attach there is Waspinator

At first glance Waspinator and Starscream are an odd pairing. But Waspinator was possessed by Starscream's ghost during the Beast Wars episode Possession and then Transmetal Waspinator's vehicle mode is modelled after Starscream's F-16 mode. Waspinator's insect mode isn't too bad with the traditional dark green body and a lime green used for the forelegs and tail sting.

Transformation is simple: fold the sting up, stand on the back of his abdomen and fold the beast head down. Simple.

What you get looks like Waspinator again, albeit with the majority of the abdomen visible between the legs. The only real articulation is the arms which can raise. Yes the legs can turn at the hips but they're linked and the adomen remains in place. His hands are 3mm peg sockets so he can hold Starscream's guns or any other Cyberverse weapon.

From here push the top set of wings together to extend the weapons mode gun barrel then fold the stinger under the feet and forward to form the weapons handle. Fold the head up to lock the barrel in place.

Hmmm. Yes it's a round looking gun. Not the best gun mode and it looks very odd mounted on Starscream's back. The colours clash hideously too which doesn't help!

In fact Waspinator is probably the worst of the first four, indeed six, Generations mini robots/weapons. Rounded organic shapes don't lend themselves to be shrunk down.

To transform back to robot mode fold the landing gear in, then fold the nose-cone down under the cockpit. Fold the cockpit down and into the cavity in the jet fuselage, which is nicely detailed inside. Unpeg the arms and fold the shoulder panels up into place. Fold the wings onto the robot's back, fold the tails fins back, separate the legs and fold out the feet and the heel spurs.

Starscream's robot mode is essentially the same as the Generation 1 version but a more stylised version, less blocky, with less parallel lines. It's identifiably Starscream still with it's red body, cockpit on the chest, grey limbs, and blue hands & feet. The wing panel folded onto the back displays the Decepticon symbols the right way up, something of a bugbear of mine on previous versions like the Transformers Collection Anime, Robotmasters and even Masterpiece versions. The articulation is good: ball joints at shoulders, elbows and hips. The knees bend - why no ball joints here? - and the ankles & heels pivot. His hands are moulded with a 5mm hole and can hold his null rays by the 5mm ring at the top of the peg but the fit is VERY tight which, see above, appears to be the fault of the ring on the weapons rather than the fist hole. This turns what should have been a great feature into an annoyance.

Starscream's not a bad toy..... The problem is at this size he automatically invites comparison with The Cyberjets and despite being 18 years older they come off better by having moving heads, ball jointed knees, lightpiped eyes, clear cockpits and firing missiles. Throw in the problem with the hands holding the weapons, plus Waspinator's position as the worst companion/weapon, and I'm left with a not so good feeling about a toy that is OK. It just could have been a lot better.

Starscream and Waspinator were sold in the second 30th anniversary Legends wave alongside Megatron & Chopshop. This wave hasn't reached the UK yet. In Japan Starscream and Waspinator were sold in a 2-pack with recolours of Megatron & Venom.


Acidstorm and Venim

when it comes to Starscream recolours the first two cabs off the rank are usually his 1984 compatriots Skywarp & Thundercracker. So when Acidstorm's name turned up on a list of names from Hasbro's customer service computers I did wonder about how long the line was going to last if they didn't think they could do both Thundercracker & Skywarp.

Acid Storm swaps pale green plastic for grey and black for blue. I'm not sure what colour the red plastic pieces, the chest and the null rays, are as both appear to be painted on the pictures I see. Venim (why not the more correctly spelt Venom?) swaps Waspinator's dark green for black and light green for purple creating an insect in the G1 Insecticon colours. Phil needs an actual Waspinator toy in these colours now!

It looks OK if nothing spectacular but extra Decepticon plane troops are always welcome.


Future Repaints

I mentioned Thundercracker and Skywarp above: If Hasbro won't do them maybe we'll see them in a 2 pack like Robotmasters Skywarp & Thundercracker 2-pack. A third option would be Sunstorm.

As for Waspinator the most obvious route to go down is Beast Wars Waspinator's repaint Buzzsaw in yellow/black or purple. A more out there suggestion would be a black insect body and blue limbs as Bugly.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Generations Trailcutter & Hoist


Generations 30th Anniversary Trailcutter

Poor neglected Trailbreaker. He's probably had the least amount of remakes before this figure of any if the Diaclone Autobots: just 2011's RTS Legends Trailcutter and 2013's Beast Hunters Cyberverse Trailcutter spring to mind. I've seen it argued that Universe Spychanger Ironhide is meant to be Trailbreaker but you could argue that it's also a homage to the then unreleased in Transformers Diaclone Ironhide colours. He didn't get a reissue till 2008 (Sunstreaker, Mirage and Wheeljack are still waiting). Classics Updates of the Diaclone cars started in 2006 with Mirage, followed by many more in Universe 2, Generations and Reveal The Shield. Left on the shelf at the start of 2012 are just 3 of the Diaclone Cars: Trailbreaker, his mould brother Hoist and Skids all of which are due updates in the 30th anniversary portion of the Generations line.

The 30th Anniversary deluxe when released in the USA came packaged in robot mode with a comic book. In Trailbreaker's case it was Spotlight Trailbreaker, underlining how he didn't want to be known as being just the robot who produced forceshields. The UK/European version omits the comic book (boooo! :-( ) and, somewhat ironically, shortens his bio note down to just one line: "Deploys an Impenetrable Force Shield"! If you're after the spotlight comic that should have come with him then Download it here from Comixology OR Order the Dark Prelude tpb containing it from Amazon (which also contains the comics for all the other toys in Generations 30th Anniversary deluxe Waves 1 & 2).

To transform into robot mode: Turn the head round and fold down. Pull the chest up. Fold the body back at the waist. Fold the feet in and slide the lower legs up over the upper legs - it's hard to describe this joint, a hinge bellow the knee connected to lower down the inside of the leg - but Universe Sideswipe *really* needed it. Straighten the arms. Fold the shoulders inside the underside of the chest/bonnet locking them together. Unfold the sides of the lower arms. Fold the hands in. Fold the arms into the car with the sides of the lower arms becoming the door. Fold the handle into the shield and lock onto his back.

That's a lot easier to describe than it is to do. The arms in particular are a pig to get right!

Trailcutter's vehicle mode resembles the original Trailbreaker Toyota 4WD Hi-Lux camper truck. There's diagonally mounted windows between front and side windows which change the look a lot bit the main difference is the appearance of two guns projecting over the front window and the force field projector array, usually found behind the robot's head, on top of the vehicle. I can cope with each if they were fold out extras but they look odd here. His doors each gave a 5mm peg hole in them, with another mounted in close proximity just behind each door. There's another two 5mm peg holes on the top of the vehicle, so you can tool him up with any spare weapons/Minicons that you can find. Why two holes on the top? They're close next to each other so it's hard to mount two weapons in them. One in the middle would be better as we'll see much lower down.

To transform back to robot start by removing the top portion of the flat bed, with it's attached missiles, to form his shield from which a handle folds out. This leaves you with a pickupish truck which boded well for a decent Hoist repaint. Fold the arms down from under the vehicle and then out to the sides. Fold the hands out and fold the forearms closed. Pull the back of the card out to the sides slightly and back to form the legs. Fold his feet out. Fold the Front of the car forward and then down to form the robot's chest. Lock the arms in place with the shoulder plates notching on the vehicle's wing mirrors. Fold the head up and turn round.

Trailcutter's robot mode is quite a chunky chappy. Comparing him to his original version most of the distinguishing features are there just moved around and modified a bit. He's mainly black, with some red (knees, elbows and shoulder paint) and grey (upper legs and hands). But somehow he just doesn't feel like Trailbreaker. I can't quite put my fingers on what it is though! Generally he holds together well but the shoulder plates can come unpegged and you'll occasionally get a wrist panel flopping open. Articulation is good: bending knees & elbows, swivel bicep, turning waist, ball jointed hips & shoulders and a turning head. The head includes a blue lightpipe for his visored eyes and features a grey face more along the lines of the cartoon model than the faceplated original toy. He's got 5mm peg holes on each shoulder, wrist and knee plus another in the top of his head array, which can pivot backwards, and another pretty inaccessible in his back. You can use the head array plug to mount the shield on..... but to do this the array needs to be folded back. There's no way to get the missiles pointing up and the array facing forward which means it's impossible to duplicate what is for many the signature look of the original toy. The shield has a handle that can be folded out for Trailcutter to hold as a traditional shield or it can be pegged into his wrists as a double barrelled weapon. Again there's no way to simulate Trailbreaker's missile hands look.

Trailcutter is, to my mind, a good toy. He's probably had more playing time than any of my other Generations toys. He's just not a great representation of Trailbreaker. There's too many features that are limited or not quite right.

Trailcutter appeared in the Generations 30th Wave 1 case with Megatron, Orion Pax and Bumblebee who were all packed at 2 per case. This wave is the only Generations 30th deluxe wave to reach the UK, exclusively through Toys R Us, where they're missing the comics. He was sold in Japan in a 2 pack with his repaint Hoist.

See also: TFW 2005's Trailcutter gallery


Generations 30th Anniversary Hoist

G1 Trailbreaker's repaint and considerable remould Hoist has had a fair few versions over the years. It's the default name for a Transformers tow truck, but most of them haven't been green and orange like the original (I'm still waiting for a properly coloured version of the flipchanger) or have been green versions of a non tow truck toy like the Legends Hoist created from Legends Trailcutter with no alterations to the vehicle mode. The best version of Hoist is probably ROTF Hoist which hits most of what I need from a Hoist dead on.

So how does Generations Hoist do?

Badly. Very badly.

Gone is the shield and missile array. The head's been replaced too, with something that looks like Hoist's G1 head, and that isn't too bad, if a little thin. Black becomes green and red becomes orange so well done on getting the colours right. It's what replaces the shield that's the problem. It's a towing hook on an arm. Just a towing hook. It plugs into the back of the cab and doesn't really stretch much over the back of the vehicle. The hook and the arm pivot, and there's another pivot half way along. To be honest the vehicle mode just looks like there's something missing with all of Hoist's bright orange towing gear not there. The missing missiles, that pointed over the cab with Trailcutter, draw attention to the back of the head poking up through the top of the cab something that's not nearly so noticeable with Trailcutter!

Robot mode is nearly as bad. The towing hook becomes a gun, which is ok but Hoist never had a gun, he had wrist mounted missiles/tools. Gone are his signature wings behind the head something I'd hoped to see on a Generations version.

Honestly I feel conned. Much less plastic than Trailcutter, it doesn't feel decent enough value for money. He'd have worked better with Trailcutter's shield in orange and the hook hanging off the back of that. (that then would mean the tow arm would be lopsided, because there's two holes). I ordered Hoist cheap off Amazon.com with his wave mate Thundercracker and by the end of the day he arrived he was in the toybox.

Hoist shipped with Thundercracker and various wave 1 repaints. He wasn't sold in the UK (Amazon.com if you need one) and by the looks of it some online retailers had their orders shorted of this wave. It's a cheap repaint wave but Thundercracker is the better toy having all the parts the original does and a huge weapon :-) In Japan Hoist was sold in a 2-pack with Trailcutter.

See also: TFW 2005 Hoist Gallery.


X2 Toys XT-003 Strength Equipment

It seems I wasn't the only person who felt that way about Hoist because X2 Toys very quickly announced an add on kit for both Hoist and Trailcutter.

The main part and selling point of the set is an add on for Hoist: it fits over the back of his truck bed building it up and providing a hole for the tow arm that allows it to sit further back. It totally changes the look of the vehicle mode. Once attached it remains in place when you transform the toy, folding down to form a backpack. From the backpack mode you can fold out a pain of wings, mounted on ball joints, to give Hoist his signature look. Top stuff. It's a simple piece but it improves the toy no end.

Hoist also comes with a replacement hand cannon: tab it into the underside of his right fist and then rotate the fist back into the wrist straightening the cannon out. Another missing element added into our toy. The hand cannon can have the gun/tow arm mounted on it to form a bow, which is nice, and in vehicle mode stores on top of the added on tow gear piece. Well done for integrating in both modes. The original version was grey, like the toy, but there's a second chromed version out there. Beware of the peg: I tired to mount it on the hole on the side of the wrist but it's slightly too big and stressed the peg hole :-(

Of course Trailcutter can use the hand cannon too but he has his own cannon which is more a two piece job made of a black plastic panel, which pegs into his left wrist, and a gun barrel, which like Hoist's cannon, is either grey or chrome. It looks decent in place, and like Hoist's cannon stores in vehicle mode by folding up and pegged into the top of the toy.

The final piece in the set looks like a little black gun and can be used as such by either toy. as well as storing on top of the cannon add on in vehicle mode. However the peg hole on top of the gun, which is set further back than the handle, hints at an alternate function. Insert the gun handle into the inaccessible 5mm hole in Trailcutter's back, with the barrel pointing down. This has the effect of moving the socket back and up so that you can plug the shield into it which gives the robot his "missiles behind the shoulders" look while allowing the array on his head to be turned forwards. It's a little piece of plastic but it does a very effective job.

I'm not keen on third party Transformers toys: Transformers is a Hasbro/Takara/TakaraTomy/Songkong toyline. However I do like some of the various add on kits and this is a particularly good one. It boosts both toys, especially Hoist, by adding in fan favourite features that Hasbro didn't include. I'd say this kit is a must if you got Hoist!


Future Repaints

The obvious Hoist repaint, his Machine Wars version is probably a no go due to being too close to Trailcutter's colours and having been done on another toy for Botcon 2013. However MW Hoist was repainted in Yellow as Hubcap, green and purple as Car Robots Wrecker Hook/Towline, Clear Orange and Green as Car Robots promo Wrecker Hook and Black, Red and Blue as Robotmasters Wrecker Hook.

Then we break the Diaclone colours out: The Hilux Wrecker (what became Hoist) was also available in Red & Yellow and Blue & Yellow while the Hilux Camper (Trailbreaker) had additional Yellow and Blue versions.

While most of them may not be suitable for retail I'd lay money on there being Botcon versions down the line!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Generations Waspinator


Waspinator

It's always a bit of a worry when Hasbro does a new version of a Beast Wars toy. 10th Anniversary Optimus Primal and Megatron can't decide if they're Organic or techno organic, with Primal in particular being a cross between the Beast Wars Ultra and Transmetal versions. Then Universe Cheetor and Dinobot are just poor toys. we've not had a Beast Wars update since till we got Rhinox, Waspinator and Rattrap as part of Generations.

In fact this deluxe Waspinator isn't the first Waspinator in the Generations line. He's already been a Minicon in the Legends line with Starscream. A seemingly odd tie in on the surface but one that makes plenty of fictional sense: In the Beast Wars cartoon Waspinator was at one point possessed by the ghost of Starscream.

Waspinator comes with a copy of Robots in Disguise issue 22 which Waspinator appears in. Unlike all previous Waspinators he's in robot mode straight out the packaging so we'll need to transform him to look at his beast mode first:

Fold the stinger part of his gun under the barrel and peg it into the wasp's abdomen. Fold the chest & head up and forward, folding the head into the robot's back/wasp abdomen. Pull the shoulders out to the sides locking both halves of the beast head together. Fold the shoulder joints under the toy with the arms pointing forward then turn the the beast legs to point forward too. Fold the robot waist down and rotate, via it's attachment to the abdomen, through 180 degrees. Fold the waist back against the abdomen and fold the abdomen down. Fold the legs forward at the knee and bring the robot feet & heel spurs together pointing straight out the end of the leg. Fold the insect legs so they point out the end of the legs. Fold the arms out to the sides then fold the upper legs up to fill the spaces in the sides of the abdomen. Bring the arms back along the body so the pegs on the elbow sink into the holes on the thorax and the rectangular peg on the wrist locks into the outside of the robot knee. Fold the robot feet under the beast head.

There's a few really scary moments in that transformation: folding the shoulders in, folding the abdomen down and anything that involves touching the insect legs: they are easily the scariest looking part of a transformer toy I have seen in a long time. They feel sturdy enough but no part that thin is ever going to survive being manipulated long term. They are strong enough to support the Wasp mode by themselves though. The wasp mode looks superb: articulation is limited to the ball joint at the base of the fore legs and the rotating joint at the base of pairs of back legs. The wings are each mounted on a ball joint to allow them to move but the ball joints in turn are link to a mechanism powered by a button on the wasp's back: press it and the wings flap forward and back. The beast mode is surprisingly solid: the arms pegging into the sides secure everything in place. The downside here is that the robot's hands are visible near the base of the abdomen. The toy's pose is bent a little, like a wasp about to sting, so it fits nicely into the hand to operate the wing gimmick. Compared to the original Waspinator the beast mode is a huge step up: the robot legs integrate much better, there's clearly six insect legs on the toy and the gimmick is a lot of fun. The only downside is due to the orientation of the wing's ball joint it's harder to pose the wings: the ball joint allows for turning and up/down movement but won't allow for forwards and back: that's provided by the mechanism.

To transform back to robot mode start by popping the arms out to the sides. Fold the legs back, fold the abdomen back then fold the robot waist forward and rotate 180 degrees. Fold the waist up to meet the underside of the thorax. Fold the feet forward and the insect legs up. Fold the robot shoulders out to the sides. Fold the insect arms up behind the robot arms. Fold the insect head forward onto the chest, revealing the robot head, and peg into the waist. Push the shoulders in to split the beast head in two to reveal the robot chest. Pull the top of the back of the abdomen off and fold out the sting to form his gun.

To this day I still think the original Waspinator robot mode is satisfactory: it's one of the close ones to it's cartoon appearance. The head on the 10th anniversary repaints was painted better but that's about all that I thought needed improving. Thankfully, unlike previous Beast Wars toys, they've not mucked about too much here. Essentially Waspinator's robot mode is a slimmed down version of the original which has been accomplished by reducing the size of the central chest piece. We've lost original Waspinators robot head too but the mutant head, the one he used in the show, is now a near dead likeness for the cartoon. Thankfully he's kept his lightpipe eyes and the multifaceted panels used for the large bug eyes look superb lit up. I use the light off my phone's torch: they light up with the light pointed directly at the pipe but if you point the pipe down, reflecting the light off the body plastic, they glow green. The other major loss in robot mode is the missile launcher but the stinger here looks really great with it's clear barb. The stinger is two weapons in one really: it can be held with the stinger fully extended or folded back, as in beast mode. He can't hold his original weapons: the fist size is now 5mm as opposed to the 4mm (approximately) that it was before but that does mean he can use his Minicon self or any other Minicon/Arms Micron/5mm weapon.

Articulation: I think every range of motion on the original is replicated on the new version, plus some additions: the ball joints on the neck, shoulder and hips are still present. The bicep swivel & bending elbow are replaced by a ball jointed elbow and he gains a turning wrist. The knee ball joint is replaced by a thigh swivel & bending knee and the foot & heel spur now pivot at the ankle.

Top toy in both modes. Transforming between them is a little worrying though!

Waspinator was available at 2 per case in Transformer Generations 30th anniversary deluxe wave 3 (2014 deluxe wave 1). This wave hit US stores before Christmas and was quickly cleared out. Many online retailers didn't receive their full allotment from Hasbro: I got fed up waiting for BBTS to receive theirs a month and a bit after US on shelf sightings and ordered off eBay. As usual this wave doesn't appear to be scheduled for the UK market. However Waspinator is scheduled to return, along with Scoop, in Generations 2014 Wave 5 alongside new toys Arcee & Chromia and Hasbro UK have announced this case as shipping April 2014 so there's still a chance for UK fans to get him. Waspinator is available in Japan as Transformers Generations toy TG-30 where he has a more metallic finish.


Future Repaints

The most obvious repaint for this toy is to follow the Beast Wars example and redo him, with a new robot head, as Buzzsaw but for goodness sake get the purple right and use the original US shade rather than the muted Takara one which, along with the grey instead of green, sucked the life out of the toy. A very similar looking toy would be to go with yellow and black, with another new head, as Beast Wars Bumblebee, a choice I'm really surprised never got made during Beast Wars. Black and red would give us Transmetal Waspinator while grey and blue would give us a version possessed by Starscream. How about in black as Pretender Bugly? Or a big retool as Dirge Gun?

Colour schemes I do not want to see on this toy: Fox Kids Waspinator! (Though the clear blue wings are fab!)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Generations Skids


Skids

Poor Skids. 1 per case in the G1 toys. Underused in the cartoon. Dissected in a US comic, sent to another dimension for 100+ issues in the UK comic. And last of the Diaclone inspired Autobots to get a "classics" update.

His new Generations toy comes packaged in robot mode and packed with a copy of More Than Meets The Eye 22, which features Skids. MTMTE 2, his debut issue in that series, might have been a better choice as there's a frame from that that this toy owes a lot of debt to!

First up: Skids is misassembled straight out the packet: his hips are on the wrong side. This limits his poseability: his legs swing back not forward at the waist. If you look straight at him, and turn him to your left you'll see a little R for Right on *his* left hip, and if you turn the other way a L for Left on *his* right hip. So pop both legs off at the hips and swap them over. The pop both legs off bellow the hips at the thigh swivel and swap them back.

So to transform him into car mode remove his hand guns. Fold the blasters down under his wrists. Fold the missile pods on his shoulders back then pull the back plate down and store the shoulder cannons in his back. Yes that's a lot of guns! Fold the chest forward, fold the head down into it (there's some nice detailing inside the chest) and then fold the chest back up into the space where the head was. Rotate each foot 180 degrees so the toes point backwards. Fold the foot out to the sides and up. Fold the toes on each foot in. Peg the lower legs together and rotate the waist 180 degrees. Push the shoulders in so they lock with the sides of the chest to form the car's bonnet. Peg the arms into the hips, there's a pin joint mid bicep that lets the arm bend slightly in. Fold the legs forward to become the back of the car. Swing the robot backpack wings back so they're flush with his side windows to form the car doors. Fold the back plate down to fill the gap on the top of the car. Fold the car doors into place and manipulate everything so it locks. Peg the guns onto the sides of the car.

Skids' vehicle mode is a car, which looks a little like his Movie version or a squashed G1 Skids. He's got a blue body shell which, if I'm honest, is far too lighter blue for Skids. It's almost a blue/green original Seaspray blue. Could do with being darker: this might be a "double dip for the TakaraTomy version". Present are the white and red stripes down the sides. He's got painted headlights: yellow at the front, red at the back, a silver grill and red wheel hubs. On the sides of the car just in front of the rear wheels is a 5mm peg hole on each side. Use these to mount his weapons on, or indeed any other weapons: I think Universe Tankorr/Octane's twin cannons might work quite well. Officially it's part of the transform, but you can fold the sides of the car up as gull wing doors. Finally the windscreen can slide up and back, which triggers the spring loaded folding out of his robot mode shoulder cannons allowing them to fire out the front of the car!

There's just a little bit more here than you get with the average Generations (classics etc) vehicle mode, I like this a lot. The only downside is there's a step somewhere in the transform that's causing slight stress marks to appear on the slatted rear window.

Transform back to robot mode: remove the weapons, raise the doors and swing the lower door panels out to the sides. Fold the rear of the car back to become the legs: it's best to fold both the knee and bellow the knee joint back to their maximum position. Fold the toes down. Swing the rear wheels and their arches down under the toy to form the feet. Yes just like the original Skids his wheel are face down in his feet! Turn the feet round so the toes point up. Unpeg the arms from the legs then pull the sides of the front away from the bonnet till there's a gap of about 5mm on either side. Raise the roof of the car and spin the waist round 180 degrees. Fold the front of the car right the way forward, fold the head out and then fold back to form the robot chest.

You've now got the standard unarmed Skids robot and it's a good robot: while different it's got enough hints to the original Skids - the car front chest, door wings etc - that you're comfortable with it being Skids. Articulation is generally good: ball jointed ankles, ratcheting knees, thigh swivel, ball jointed hips, waist, ball jointed neck, shoulders and elbows. The shoulders though have caused some people problems. For a start they need to be pull out to the sides to give maximum mobility, a step that has evaded a few people looking at the toy. Then the large shoulders have a habit of colliding with the back panel. Or the wings. And when they don't the forearms will inevitably collide with the protruding chest or the lights sticking out the side of that. You're never going to be able to raise the arms to the sides much anyway so the poseability in the arms is limited despite the articulation. Some people have reported problems balancing the toy: most of these can be solved with the hip swap and/or making sure the mid lower leg joint is right the way forward. I've found having the car's main window folded onto the back, as opposed to being raised, can overbalance the toy slightly.

For some reason I really associate Skids with having Hot Rod esque exhaust pipe guns on his arms. This hasn't been helped by Movie Clocker so at least one other Hasbro designer has the same thought. It's here again on this toy with his wrist guns stowed as a pair of tubes under his arms.

It's time to weaponise Skids: Fold the twin guns out from under the arms. They're geared so folding one out should fold the other. That's a bit of a pain actually because there's plenty of situations I can think of where just folding the outer one out would be good as the inner one keeps colliding with his chest! These guns are reminiscent of the twin electron blaster on the original Skids toy. Next fold the outer portion of the shoulders forward to reveal moulded missile pods as seen on the comics version. Pulling the back panel down and then up again should release the dual cannons which will spring up over his shoulders, again as seen in issue 2 of More Than Meets The Eye. Then there's his hand guns: the larger one is modelled on the G1 toy's Liquid nitrogen rifle. The smaller one is modelled on the Binary Gun/Nudge Gun that Skids was carrying when he arrived in MTMTE issue 2. Both guns have a 5mm peg handle and a 5mm side peg to mount on the side of the car mode. The barrel of the binary gun can also slip into a corresponding hole in the back of the nitrogen rifle to form a larger combined weapon.

For a bit of fun look at the soles of Skids' feet. As well as the hub of the wheels facing down there's also the two 5mm holes from the side of the car. That then means that Skids can use a 5mm peg as a foot stand. It's time to dig out a few Armada toys and Beast Wars X Optimus Primal's Surf Board to see how Skids looks riding them.

Skids isn't a perfect toy: there's a few flaws, annoyances and issues. But he is a very, VERY good toy, lots of fun to play with and lots of extra toys to pack in. Well worth getting....

... Unfortunately that might be an issue now: He appears in the Transformers Generations 2014 Deluxe Wave 1 (Generations 30th Deluxe Wave 3). This wave hit US stores before Christmas and was quickly cleared out. Many online retailers didn't receive their full allotment from Hasbro: I got fed up waiting for BBTS to receive theirs a month and a bit after US on shelf sightings and ordered off eBay. As usual this wave doesn't appear to be scheduled for the UK market so if you want one you are going to have to pay a rising import cost to get it.


Crosscut

Fortunately if you're interested in the toy, as opposed to the character, there is a repaint/remould due. Skids was originally a Diaclone toy: The Honda City Turbo, available in several flavours. But that toy is a modified version of the Honda City R diaclone toy, which had a different head. When Skids was reissued in Japan in 2002 as Transformers Collection 3, the accompanying e-Hobby repaint used one of the Diaclone colours schemes with the modified head and called it Crosscut. So when a repaint of Generations Skids was needed Crosscut was chosen and rather handily Crosscut has recently appeared in Robots in Disguise issue 25, which is included with him.

Crosscut is an easy set of colour swaps: silver for blue, black for grey and some red paint with a new faceplated head.

Looks great!

Crosscut is 2 per case in Generations 2014 deluxe Wave 3, packed with 3 each of Tankor and Rattrap. This case has yet to be released anywhere at time of writing but Hasbro UK have announced this case as shipping April 2014 giving hope that the UK may actually receive this toy! I'll believe it when I see it.


Future Repaints

There's plenty of room for Skids repaints looking at recent repaints of the original Skids toy: Quantum Operative Skids, a green version based on his Movie colours or even Screech, a homage to Movie Skids twin Mudflap.

However for me I think the direction they should go it to look at the Diaclone Honda City R and Honda City Turbo. There's an unused in Transformers Red colour scheme, with blue head and hands. Apply that to the Crosscut version of the Generations toy and you end up with a very nice looking Optimus Prime toy. If you then painted Crosscut in black he'd make a really good vehicle mode Optimus Primal, with the shoulder cannons and wrist guns hommaging the similar features on the original Ultra Ape.

Hasbro, I have money for you!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Generations Legends Cosmos & Payload


Cosmos & Payload

1985's Cosmos hasn't had much love over the years: a 2007 classics version never got passed the design stage and A Titanium Series toy with the same design got cancelled after being prototyped, with just the very rare 2009 Legends Toy being made in homage to the original. So news of a new Legends version was welcomed.

He comes packaged in robot mode so some transformation is first necessary to see the vehicle: Fold each arm forward at the elbow and back at the shoulder to create parts of the saucer ring. Fold the lower ankle joint back and the upper ankle joint forward to form two more parts of the saucer. Rotate the saucer halves made from the lower legs in so they face each other. Fold his back panel up then rotate the waist through 180 degrees. Fold the waist forward. Fold the arm halves under the shoulders and push his hands together behind his back to form the rear of the saucer ring. Click the robot back panel into the indentation on the rear of the saucer. Fold the lower leg saucer halves back so they cover the upper legs and form the front of the saucer. Then, and be forewarned that undoing this step is difficult and I'll be ranting about it later, push the head into the robot's body to form the top of the saucer.

It's Cosmos' saucer mode, just larger, flatter, with a tail find, engines and two pipes sticking out the front that might be guns. It's good, it does the job of updating the original, but it somehow doesn't quite feel like it fits together right. It might be something I'm doing but no attempt at transforming it quite gets it right. Another obvious problem is, that unlike the other five legends, there's no obvious point to mount his companion's weapons mode.

Cosmos comes with Payload, a white robot. His articulation is limited to arms that turn at the shoulders.

Payload transforms by lying him on his front and folding his wing pack forward. Very simple, but effective. Instead of the normal three engine, one tail upright fin configuration you see on real life shuttles you get two engines and two diagonal tail fins. The two engines exactly match the size and spacing of the pipes on the front of Cosmos allowing the two space ship modes to dock together.

The name Payload has been used for various Minicons, two of which were in Space Teams, and the pilot of the GI Joe space shuttle so there's existing space naming connotations there, but this is the first time it's been used on a Transformer Space Shuttle, which is what he turns into. There's evidence that wasn't always his name as web pages initially labelled the smaller toy as Blast Master, a name previously used for one half of the Autobot Micromaster Combiner Space Shuttle.

Payload has a third, weapons mode: fold the shuttle wings back and fold a yellow peg, the only piece of plastic tooling he shares with Cosmos, down. Payload's weapon is a blaster using the shuttle's twin engines as it's double barrels. But to use it you need to put Cosmos back into robot mode and that way terror and trauma lies....

Separate the front of the saucer, pulling out to the side and then fold inward. Turn each saucer part so the edge faces down, then bend the end forward to form the feet. Fold the rear part of the saucer out and up to form the arms. Swing them down to the sides and fold the ends out to form the lower arms. Swing the waist under the body and rotate 180 degrees. Fold the back panel down.

Then try to raise the head.

And get very, Very, VERY frustrated!

I know how this is designed to work: there's a slot in the back of the head, and a gap behind the head when it's pushed down. You're meant to be able to read into the gap and lever the head up. But you can't, it's too stiff to come up with that little purchase. In the end I got a pair of long nosed pliers and, after slightly scratching the red paint work, managed to pull it up. But it's disinclined me from pushing the head down again.

By scratching the paint on the head I've revealed it to be the same white plastic as the neck, both of which are obviously from the mould sprues used for Payload. The neck piece in particular really sticks out: Surely it would have made more sense to cast it from the same green as the body? Or even make it yellow like the limbs? The edges of this one white piece sticking out looks very odd. And while there's no read plastic used maybe the head should have been made of the yellow, as per Cosmos' upper limbs, and painted red, instead of painting the white red and then adding a painted yellow face?

But apart from that moan I love the Cosmos robot. He's got the same chunky heft that Swerve has giving him a superior feel to the earlier 30th anniversary Legends. His articulation is top notch for the size: two ankle joints, ball jointed knees & hips, turning waist & hips, up & down motion at an inner shoulder joint, a ball joint outer shoulder and then a forwards & back movement under the shoulder as part of the TF and ball jointed elbows. 5mm peg hole hands complete the robot mode allowing him to hold Payload's weapon.

Make no mistake this is a top toy, especially in robot mode which produce the best Cosmos robot yet seen. It's far better than the previous 30th anniversary Legends. But the "not quite togetherness" of the saucer mode, the problems raising the head and the plastic colour of the neck take it down a notch from the shear perfection of Swerve.

Repaints

The E-Hobby Pathfinder might be one way to go. Or an all white version entitled Enterprise would be nice.

Generations Legends Swerve & Flanker


Generations Legends Swerve & Flanker

If you looked the name Swerve up in the dictionary then, until recently it would have one word beside it: Repaint. If you were going to do a red Autobot repaint of an Transformer you'd call it Swerve. It didn't matter which Transformer: Minibot Swerve is a repaint of Gears, Universe Swerve of Armada Blurr *, Alternator Swerve of Alternator Tracks, Movie Scout Swerve of Energon Clocker, ROTF Swerve of ROTF Sideswipe, ROTF Legends Swerve of ROTF Legends Sideswipe, GDO Generations Swerve of Generations Kup and Arms Micron Swerve of Arms Micron Breakdown. The only exception is the exclusive Swerve which could be obtained from Chevrolet dealers in 2008 & 2009 and even then there's a sense that they wanted a generic name for the toy. His fictional appearances are minimal: one G1 cartoon episode and no entry in the original Marvel Transformers Universe series.

And then IDW's More Than Meets The Eye happened, where the fast talking Swerve serves as the barman on The Lost Light (* oddly Blurr does the same job in Robots in Disguise. I point you at the above list: Universe Swerve is a repaint of Armada Blurr)

And suddenly everyone loved Swerve.

The Legends size in the Generations line has had a rough ride: Starting out as pairs of data discs they solidly warmed the shelves for ages. It then became two waves of Basic/Commander(ish) sized leading characters paired with a Minicon sized toy. With the Swerve wave it becomes smaller Transformers characters with a Minicon but the main character has had a bit of beefing up compared to the previous wave: Swerve is chunkier than Optimus Prime or any of the previous larger Legends characters.....

.... I struggle with the use of the Legends name here, and I don't think I'm the only one: Legends is the tinsy tiny now called Legion size of Transformers.

Swerve comes in robot mode. To transform to vehicle, fold his bonnet up off his back. Straighten the arms. Pull the waist forward, pulling the centre of the chest out on a slant by a hinge at neck level. Puch the arms up and in, locking the tabs on the inner wrists into the centre chest piece (I missed this out the first few times I transformed him and wondered why he was as floppy as anything!). Straighten the legs, and then bend the lower legs back at the knee so they cover the back of the upper legs as per the original Gears transformation.

Essentially this is Swerve's G1 pick up truck vehicle mode, but longer, removing the super deformed Choro Q element that Swerve inherited from Gears' original Micro Change version. Unfortunately he does inherit the "front of my lower legs are on my vheicle mode's flatbed" which has annoyed me for years. It's less pronounced than it was but I like an empty flatbed on my pickup and of all the Transformers only Generations Kup really does that properly. Swerve gains a 5mm peg hole on his cab roof and that's used for mounting his weapon on which is formed from his companion, Flanker.

The original Flanker is a Micromaster combiner jet which forms part of Sixwing. It's not 100% obvious but I suspect this new version is maybe meant to be Eagle Eye, another member of the Micromaster Air Patrol like Blazemaster who came with Bumblebee - early information labelled this toy as Sky-High who originally was a third member of this team. He's a dark blue robot with a white head & chest and red face & chest plate. The only articulation on his is his arms raise. In a change to the previous minicon sized robots he's lost the 3mm hands so can't hold anything, bot that there's anything in this pack to hold!

Flanker's vehicle mode is a small jet: fold the wings forward from behind his shoulders, lie him flat and fold the nose cone out from behind the feet. You can fold a red plast peg down from under the nose - the only body part he shares with Swerve's tooling - that lets you mount the plane mode on Swerve.

Flanker's third mode is a gun: from robot mode fold the chest & leg fronts forward and up revealing a gun barrel that locks into place covering the head then fold the red peg down so it can be mounted on the top of Swerve's car mode.

To transform Swerve back to car mode fold the flatbed back to form the lower legs and separate them. Pull the sides of the car out and back to form the arms. Push the centre of the undercarriage back to form the middle of the chest. Stand, and fold the bonnet down and back onto his back.

The robot mode is the mos gloriously perfect representation of a character I've seen in a Transformers toy for a long, long time. It's just spot on, even his happy smiling face just looks great. He puts the earlier figures in this line to shame really. He's got 5mm hands for his weapons, and the bulkier form I mentioned earlier makes these look more appropriate to the toy. He bends at the knees, has ball jointed hips, outer shoulders & elbows plus a raising inner shoulder joint that's part of the TF.

Just perfect.

All he needs is a tray of drinks and a My First Blaster weapon! (And I'm certain that some third party firm will oblige us with one of these.

Buy this toy. If we see anything better in 2014 I'll be very surprised.

So far Swerve and Cosmos have only been released in Hong Kong. There's no sign of them reaching, or being offered for order, in the western markets yet.

Repaints

Gears is coming. He's been seen listed under two parts numbers in the Hasbro computer and with two different companion names:

A7805 GEARS & EAGLE EYE
A6686 GEARS & AUTOBOT EQUINOX

As to whether he'll get released .....