Friday, 31 December 2010

Reveal the Shield Turbo Tracks and Generations Wheeljack

Reveal the Shield Turbo Tracks

Tracks is one of those toys that you know you're going to have to get used to as he's already got a repaint scheduled as a prominent 1984 Transformers character. Straight out the package he looks pretty similar to the original 1985 Tracks with one major change: the firebird on the bonnet is gone replaced by a red & gold flame logo. I'm not 100% happy about that as the firebird is a pretty significant detail and it's almost enough to get me to order the Tomy Transformers United version which does have the firebird. Included in the package are two white missiles with grey 3mm clips attached to a hinge on the bottom of the missiles. Bend the clip back at a right angle and attach each missile under the car doors to 3mm posts under the car.

A famous feature of the original Tracks is it's winged car mode, and there is an attempt to replicate it here. Remove the missiles & fold the doors down to the sides. Swing the doors back, the swing the wing out from the end of the doors. Hmm. Well the tried, but it's obvious that the bulk of the wings is just the blue doors with the white wings, smaller than those on the original, effectively providing just the wing tips.

Transformation: start by folding the wings out as above. Raise then windscreen & roof up, pull the front of the car forwards and then fold the windscreen & roof back down. I had to use some force the first time I did this bit as the front of the car would not extend. Pull the front of the car forward & down and then fold it back so the headlights face up and Track's feet are pointing down. Rotate the front of the vehicle/legs at the waist so the feet point up and the bonnet points down. Fold the rear of the car back,. noting the robot's forearms attached to the inside of the rear with the elbows pushed right the way back, the gun folded up with the hinge pointing towards the front of the car and the open side of the shoulder ball joint facing up. All these details will be useful later when you try to transform him back to car model. Unpeg the arms, straighten them out, fold forward then swing out to the sides, folding the shoulders down. Rotate each arm out 90 degrees at the bicep and then rotate the hands in 90 degrees at the wrists. Fold the rear wheels forward so they're on the front of the arms. Slide each wing out to the sides at the body, then rotate it's attachment to the body up 45 degrees. Remove the gun from the rear of the car and set aside. You don't have to for the next step of the transformation to work but leaving it in will mean that the gun is stored in the robot's backpack. Fold the rear of the back of the car down onto the robot's bottom and lean it backwards. Fold up the grey plate on the inside of the roof of the rear of the car, then fold the top of the rear of the car forward, the tabs on the front of the grey plate recessing into matching holes on the back of the robot's body. Slide the car roof, now serving as the robot's chest, up revealing the robot's head at the top and it's waist at the bottom. Clip each missile onto the bars on the grey plate behind the robot's neck. Fold the gun barrel out to the side and place the gun into the robot's hand.

Track's robot mode looks like a pretty good replica of the original Tracks, albeit one that looks shorter and wider than the original. Position the wings right and they look like they're projecting out behind the wheels on the front of the shoulders rather than mounted on the folded out doors. The head looks pretty accurate in white plastic with a red face and a new dark blue lightpipe and while the missiles are very different from the original and positioned differently they do remind you of the original versions. The arms are thin, but so were the originals. The moulded hands I'm having problems with as this set make it easy for the gun to go in and slip out having slightly too large a gap. However these are the first of the new style hands that I've had this problem with. The articulation is good with turning wrists, double bending elbow, bicep swivel and ball jointed shoulder. The head & waist turn, but the latter is a little limited by the edge of the windscreen hanging down from the bottom of the chest. The hips are ball jointed, there's a swivel immediately above the knee which in turn bends as does the ankle where it meets the leg while the foot is connected to the ankle by a ball joint, with the other side of the ankle connected to the heel spurs formed from the front of the car. While the missiles are nice, the gun doesn't really do it for me. For a start mine won't lock together properly when the barrel is folded out. The look of the thing is wrong too, it's more like a missile launcher with it's rounded silver barrel than the longer gun the original Tracks uses. Yes there's a reason for this but the reason has nothing to do with Tracks and is all about his repaint which we'll look at bellow. The only redeeming feature about the gun is the 3mm clip on the rear.

Decent enough new version of Tracks. Yes the wings could be better and yes we'd like the Firebird but.....

Tracks was released in the first Reveal the Shield wave with Jazz
, Mindset & Fallback. In Japan Tracks was part of the second wave of United toys released in January 2011 where he was numbered UN-11 and released with Jazz (again!) and the Voyager sized Grapple & Lugnut. United Tracks features a more metallic blue plastic car body and a firebird logo on the bonnet.

For some reason Reveal the Shield Turbo Tracks' TFU entry has a hidden message behind the picture reading "Will eventually change his name to Sworn Enemy"

Generations Wheeljack

Now 1984 Wheeljack & Tracks aren't two toys I'd normally link, except in the sense of "Wheeljack and Tracks are two Generation 1 Transformer toys with no repaints" and even that is a little suspect given the red European Tracks variant. But there we go: Tracks is repainted as Wheeljack (or possibly the reverse: Universe Sideswipe was produced before but released after Universe Sunstreaker).

Looking at the pictures we have for pre-orders we know this much: Wheeljack is Tracks, but moulded in white with a new head and the legs turned the other way round. The front of the car - heel spurs on Tracks, now the feet - are remoulded, as are the missiles which become tools for Wheeljack to hold while the gun becomes Wheeljack's shoulder cannon, yet more evidence of the cartoon bias shown this year: The original Wheeljack toy has two. I'll just have to steel the gun from Tracks for the other one, it looks rubbish there anyway. See also: Speakers on Jazz and the blue Rumble scout toy amongst others.

I'll come back and have another look at Wheeljack when I have him in hand.

Wheeljack is a Wave 7 Transformers Generations toy, packed with Thundercracker as well as Kup & Scourge which are carried over from the previous wave. He's due to be released in Japan as Transformers United toy UN-22 alongside the Rumble & Frenzy 2-pack, Scourge & Generation 2 Optimus Prime.

Future Repaints

The original Tracks provides us with two obvious repaints: the red Diaclone version used for the European variant and E-Hobby's Road Rage plus the black used for the rare black Diaclone Tracks. The Alternator Tracks provides us with another repaint colour: the yellow used for the first version of Binaltech Tracks.

Diaclone Wheeljack meanwhile has a differently coloured version that could be used. Alternator Wheeljack is a repaint of the silver Alternator Grimlock, while Armada Wheeljack gives us a different back colour scheme. Meanwhile Wheeljack's Energon form, Downshift has a Cybertron toy which could give us a green & black version.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Reveal The Shield Special Ops Jazz

Reveal The Shield Special Ops Jazz

By the end of the 2008/2009 Universe toyline most of the Autobot cars imported from the Diaclone toy range in 1984/5 has had new versions made of them. Those outstanding were Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Hoist (but the Movie version is a pretty good substitute) , Grapple, Skids, Tracks, Red Alert (who had been done as part of the Henkei line) and Jazz. When Generations was announced we expected a number of these to be produced, and Red Alert showed up quite promptly. Jazz and Tracks were shown but in a surprising move they've ended up not as Generations, but as a parallel line called Reveal The Shield, which is the latest extension to the 2009 Movie Line. Reveal The Shield reintroduces the rubsigns seen on earlier Transformer toys, but this time die cut round the symbol and missing the grey border.

Jazz's vehicle mode is pretty similar to the original. Obviously the Martini stickers have now gone, but the other differences include a smaller spoiler mounted further forward and new clear blue headlights mounted above the round headlights seen on the original. A broad dark blue stripe runs down the centre of the car, with a thinner red stripe in the middle. The combined effect of these produces a face with the stripe as a nose, the headlights as eyes, unpainted grill as a mouth and the round lights as dimples on the cheeks, Or have I been watching Roary the Racing Car too much? A white number 4 is painted over the stripe on the bonnet and black 4s are on each of the opening doors. The front and side windows, part of the doors, are moulded in clear blue plastic. When the doors are opened his special feature is revealed: attached to the inside of each door is a speaker. Now apparently Jazz uses speakers in car mode in a cartoon episode, but I being a comic and toy fan did not know this, and didn't like the look of them. Fortunately they can be tucked away in the car and extended when you want them. It's important to note how they're stored: The speaker faces downwards and points points forward, with the shorter edge against the door and mounted on two tabs. The arm that attaches the speaker runs over the top of it, with it's ball joint facing down and the clip attaching it to the door bellow the arm. Any other way and the door won't close right, so it's fortunate that the instructions show you this in some detail. To deploy the speaker unlatch it from the open door and bend back. Rotate the middle of the window so the speaker is on the opposite side of the door. Close the door and position the speaker. Now in the course of this you'll have probably noticed the speaker is attached to the door by the now familiar clip & bar gimmick. So the speakers can in fact be removed and plenty of other weapons from your no doubt sizeable stockpile of clip & bar armaments can replace them. I think he looks rather good with Tomahawk's missile launchers but your mileage may vary. I'm wishing I had a Recon Ironhide so I could try all of his weapons!

Transform: Open the doors - it doesn't matter if the speakers are deployed or not. Remove the gun from under the front bonnet. Fold the arms down from along the sides of the car to pointing underneath, then swing them out to the sides rotating the wheels up and making sure they're folded as far out as they can. This opens a hole in the bonnet where the four was so that you can fold the front of the car forward 90 degrees raising the head through the bonnet. Move the roof of the car forward from the rear and fold onto the robot's back. Fold the rear of the car up, fold the robot feet out from underneath, then fold the rear of the car towards the spoiler. Straighten the legs out, separate and pose. Fold the doors back, fold the arm back then swing it down to the side and fold the doors back forward. Place the gun is his hand.

Jazz's robot mode is as you'd expect if you've seen the original toy albeit enlarged to deluxe size - you sometimes forget how small the old Diaclone car toys are and Jazz feels a lot bigger and beefier than the original. Head sculpt is dead on and complete with a clear dark blue lightpipe. The head is mounted on a ball joint as are the shoulders. The bicep turns, the elbow bends twice and the wrists are ball jointed. The waist turns, there's a thigh swivel, a double bending knee and poseable ankle joint. The only real oddity here is the missing shoulder mounted missile launcher, but a rummage in your clip & bar weapons should render an adequate substitute.

Undeployed the speakers can still be sat behind the doors, but they can be folded forwards as per the vehicle mode. Personally I think that this looks very silly and would happily not have them there so was very happy when I found out they were removable. But I was overjoyed when I found out what you can do with them now, no not throw them in the bin! Each speaker attaches to the side of his gun and can be folded forwards, pegging into the sides of the barrel turning Jazz's gun into a larger double barrelled gun with slanted front, similar to what you may have seen in a 1990s comic. It looks fab, but assembly can be a little tricky with the bars on the side of the gun being an exact match for the clip width and the ball joints on the back of the speakers being prone to popping off!

Good stuff, lots of fun and even the bit I was worried about, the speakers, turned out OK and to have a use.

Special Ops Jazz was released in the first wave of Reveal the Shield toys with Tracks, Mindset & Fallback. Jazz is due to be released in Japan in January 2012 as Transformers United toy UN12.

Future Repaints

Jazz has some pretty obvious repaints. The original Jazz was repainted as
Stepper, so that's an obvious choice simply swapping the black & white round and adding a firebird to the bonnet. As a bonus, there's already a Targetmaster available for him. Stepper's Targetmaster Nebulon was also used as Cyclonus' Targetmaster Nightstick. Cyclonus with Nightstick has already been done as a Universe toy so take the Nightstick Targetmaster, rename him & include him with the repaint. Loose the speakers, and maybe the gun, replacing the speakers with a 5mm peg hole cup attached to a 3mm clip allowing Nebulon to be hung out the window or mounted on Stepper's shoulder.

There's a Shattered Glass Botcon Jazz from 2008, which is a repaint of Cybertron Crosswise/Galaxy Force Autovolt itself pretty close in colour to Stepper. There's two additional repaints of this mould: In red as Ricochet and in purple as Jolt. By an odd coincidence Alternator Meister(Jazz) is repainted in red as Zoom-zoom (that's got to be a fan name!) and in purple as Shockblast. So Stepper plus a red version and a purple version it is! I'll lay money on the last two turning up as Botcon repaints but am hopeful we'll see Stepper in the main line or Tomy's Transformers United.

And of course the Movie Jazz appears in silver so there's another version.

Thursday, 23 December 2010



Thunderwing is a new version of Mega Pretender Thunderwing. Since this is the first time I've reviewed anything Pretender related let us review where he stands. Pretenders was a major Transformers sub range in 1988 & 1989. The base idea is that your Transformer was housed within a shell allowing the robot to disguise itself, usually as an Autobot Human or Decepticon monster.. Once the shell was opened the inner robot could transform as normal. Most were boxed. The Pretender line consisted of the following:

Pretenders Bog standard Pretender toys. Three series: The first 1988 series was sold in the US, Europe and Japan. The second 1988 series was sold only in the US (and associated markets) while the third series in 1989 was carded and sold in the US & Europe Oh and there was an additional toy exclusive to Japan in 1988.

Pretender Beasts Here the shells were 4 legged animals and the Transformer within became a mechanical beast. One series of four toys in 1988 sold in the US & Europe.

Pretender Vehicles Now the silliness creeps in. The outer shell is a vehicle. But Transformers can become vehicles already ! One series of four toys in 1988 sold in the US & Europe. I believe these were a Woolworths exclusive in the UK.

Classic Pretenders Standard Pretenders but with an older Transformers character inside. One series of 4 sold in 1989 in the US & Europe. The inner robots were later a carded store exclusive in the USA and boxed together in Japan.

Mega Pretenders Like the original Pretenders but the humanoid shell can also transform into a vehicle and then combine with the Transformer within's vehicle mode. One series of three toys in 1989 in the US & Europe, two of which were remoulded for Japan the same year.

Ultra Pretenders Essentially a Mega Pretender in a second vehicle shell. The Transformer robot could ride in the vehicle mode formed from the inner shell. One series of two in the US & Europe in 1989. *VERY* silly.

Pretender Combiners a series of six small Pretenders in Monster shell where the inner toys could combine. Sold in the US & Europe, again a Woolworths exclusive in the UK I believe. Released in Japan as the Dinocons with new shells.

Generations Thunderwing differs from either of the jet modes possessed by his predecessor. Formwise he's quite close to the Raptor jet used by BWII Flipchanger Thrust, but the white colour, blue wing highlights and nose fins remind me of Universe Ramjet (admittedly the nose fins are on the Armada Starscream mould which Ramjet is remoulded from). The cockpit canopy is moulded in clear orange plastic with the cockpit detail pictured inside. The front of the wings swing out to the sides giving the jet a much more alien appearance. Turning him over, straight out the package, will show you most of the robot mode, but that's because he's mistransformerd in package with the head showing. The middle of the robot's chest folds up to cover the head which improves the look of the underside slightly. Staying with the underside, the nose of the jet and the underside of the lower legs both contain fold down landing gear complete with moving wheels. With the forward landing gear down you're able to detach the front of the nose complete with fins to act as a recon drone. On the original this was the position occupied by the inner Thunderwing robot. I can see a Minicon/Legend sized version of the inner robot being released. If Hasbro don't do it, some third party manufacturer will! Under the end of each wing is a 5mm peg hole that allows you to attach one of the two large purple missile launchers included with the toy, which each launch a clear orange missile. Each side of the missile launchers includes a moulded missile of 3mm width which allows you to clip Clip & Bar weapons onto the side of the launchers and further tool Thunderwing up. Unfortunately the pegs for these launchers are only 3mm deep which means there's less contact holding them in place and they can easily be knocked to one side. In addition to these missiles launchers there is a gun barrel at the base of each wing which can be folded out to the sides. The engines at the rear of the jet form the robot's feet. If you open them up in jet mode then the jet can stand on it's rear for a vertical launch like the space shuttle.

Transformation: Remove the missile launchers and fold up the landing gear. Turn the jet over and fold the chest panel down. Lift the waist & chest up, which will pull the lower legs away from the jet and angle them upwards - they need to be pointing upwards before the body is returned to position when reversing the transformation. Pull the legs back folding them out on the strut that connects them to the back of the body. Fold the body back down. Fold the tail fins down to the sides and swing the front edges of the wings out to the sides. Fold the nose of the jet forward. Fold the rear of the jet, everything between and including the wings, forward to cover the middle of the jet. Close the wing edges back against the wings. Fold the nose back so it sits on the robot's back pointing upwards. Fold open the engines at the back of the jet and stand. Place the missile launchers into the 5mm hole formed in the centre of the robot's hands.

Thunderwing's robot mode is distinctly recognisable as the Pretender shell of the original Thunderwing, albeit with some jet wings on his back. If you've seen what the original Thunderwing looks like, and if you haven't then click here, then that's what you get here. The head is lightpiped with clear orange lights. The guns on the shoulders swing to the side. Articulation is good: bending knees, thigh swivel, ball jointed hips, turning head, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivel, bending elbows and turning wrists. The hands are moulded with fingers but with a more obvious 5mm gap between them than on some of the other toys with sculpted hands (as opposed to fists with holes in the middle). He can hold his missile launchers from vehicle mode in his hands but once again they could do with slightly deeper pegs to make them easier to hold. Yes he is a little on the small side, especially next to Darkmount, but his head is at a similar level to Starscream's.

Decent and plausible, if not authentic jet mode. Accurate robot mode that if anything improves on the original robot mode design. Apart from the pegs there's no real complaints but I could see this working better as a larger Voyager size toy with a transforming drone that could fit inside the chest compartment.


A slight retool as Black Shadow, Mega Pretender Thunderwing's Japanese retooled version, is inevitable and appears to be shown on Generations Thunderwing's instructions.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Power Core Steamhammer & Constructicons


Construction vehicles combiners have been a Transformers staple since 1985's Constructicons. So it's no surprise to see a Power Core Version. In fact the name Steamhammer has been used before on Constructicons: Steamhammer was the leader of the Energon Constructicons.

Steamhammer is a tracked bulldozer, like the original Bonecrusher. Mainly neon green in colour he has black tracks and a grey elevating shovel. On the top of his control cabin is a Minicon port allowing you to augment him with the smaller Minicons - Mine's been using Chopster as a cannon, turning him into a tank.

Transformation: Pull the cab up, then fold the front of the tracks out to the sides. Pull the rear of the sides back and in to form the legs - excessive force may be required as they are quite firmly attached in place under the bulldozer. Fold the legs down under the bulldozer, the Power Core Blocks back as heel spurs, and fold the front of the legs forward as feet. Rotate the knees in 90 degrees so the legs bend in the right direction and then turn the lower leg back so that the feet face forward again. Split the cab in two and fold out to the sides then down as arms. Reach into his back and slide up the grey tab to raise his head, which then needs to be pulled into position. Fold the front track halves against the shovel then fold the shovel down onto the robot's back. Raise the tracks up as guns.
Fold the claws up under his hands.

Our robot is mainly neon green but with black lower legs, waist and chest. He feels very slight compared with the other Power Core commanders, with a large part of his mass being made up of the shovel which is now on his back, and he's dwarfed by Sledge, another Decepticon construction vehicle Power Core Commander. The head looks like it's designed to be lightpiped but isn't, with a square piece inserted in the back of the head but in the same colour as the rest of the head. Articulation is good with a swivel above and bellow the bending knee, restricted ball jointed hips, ball jointed arms, swivelling biceps and bending elbows. The hands are 5mm peg holes sunk right through so he can hold Chopster's axe mode, but he lacks a chest Minicon port to use any of the armour modes. In fact the only Minicon port in this mode is found on the back of his left elbow which is possibly the worst placed Minicon port ever. He's got a pair of claws under each hand which give him a little bit of a Wolverine look.

To form Steamhammer's combined robot mode start by bending the arms and swinging them back 180 degrees at the bicep. Fold the shovel forward so it covers the robot's shoulders revealing the combined mode head stuck to the underside. Fold the arms back till the claws lock onto the back of the shoulders. Fold the legs up to the sides so the clips on the side of the upper legs lock onto the waist as the do in vehicle mode. Fold the chest plate down to cover the waist. Bend the knees back, and then rotate down at the thigh so the lower legs points down. Fold the Power Core connector blocks down under the legs, and rotate the lower legs in 90 degrees.

Although Steamhammer's core torso mode can be used with any drones he's most suited to the Constructicon Drones which come with him:

Drill Drone: A grey tracked vehicle with a drill arm on the font. The drill can be pointed straight a head or bent downwards so it's drilling in front of the vehicle. A Minicon port is found on top of the cab. Push the back of the vehicle onto a shoulder Power Core Block and he transforms into an arm which then needs the thumb folded out. The arm has a moveable wrist.

Front End Loader Drone: An orange tracked vehicle with a ramp on the front, a moveable scooping arm above it and a conveyor belt leading back from the ramp. Minicon port on the cab roof again. Push him onto a shoulder port and he becomes an arm, again with a fold out thumb.

Plow Drone: The plow drone is off white, with a grey shovel and painted green roof atop which is his Minicon port. Fold the plow up and plug him into a leg mounted Power Core block to form a combined robot leg.

Steamroller Drone: I'm not sure there's ever been a Transformers Steamroller before. In fact I think all these drones are vehicles new to Transformers. We have a yellow vehicle with rear wheels and a large black roller at the front. A Minicon port is mounted towards the rear of the vehicle. He too turns into a leg.

Steamhammer's combined mode works. The common construction theme running through the toys helps of course. The Torso is transformed from the smaller robot with the new upper body being provided by the back of the shovel with a new neon green head with triangular eye occupying the entire face which again looks like it should have a functioning lightpipe, maybe it will on the single carded repaint? Unlike virtually all the other 5-pack commanders, Steamhammer has a fold out Minicon port on his chest that lets him wear Minicons in armour mode, thought mine's currently using Throttler's drill mode. His articulation consists of turning shoulders that raise up to the sides, turning hips, a thigh swivel and bending knee.

My one real complaint here involves turning the toy back to robot mode, and it's the same problem that afflicts Steamhammer moving from vehicle to robot: the smaller robot's thighs are locked round his waist. Excessive force is required to release them which usually results in the thigh swivel coming to bits - "helpfully" the open side of the thigh swivel points down here meaning it's easier for the joint to come apart than the leg to unlock!

Fine toy, better than most Power Core combiners. The only problem is he pales beside his case mate Grimstone, who is superb.


I suspect the drones in this set will rematerialise with a repaint of Sledge, possibly all in a coherent green. The Steamhammer core I see being repacked as a single figure, with one of the other Minicons in with it probably in either yellow like Movie Rampage or red like NEST Rampage.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Power Core Combiners Grimstone & Dinobots


Boys love robots and love Dinosaurs so the combination of the two as Robots that Transformed into Dinosaurs caused the Dinobots to be a HUGE hit and, to my mind at least, a large part of what made Transformers so successful. Grimlock (a Tyrannosaurus) and his four companions (three if you lived in the UK deprived of Swoop (a Pteranodon)) were first released in 1985 - the other three Dinobots are Slag (a Triceratops), Sludge (a Brachiosaurus) and Snarl (a Stegosaurus). Grimlock returned in 1989 as a Pretender and in 1990 as an Action Master where he was joined by Snarl. Grimlock, Snarl & Sludge had European classics re-releases then Grimlcok, Snarl & Slag return as Generation 2 recolours. Grimlock himself returns in the Beast Wars, one of the few original Transformers to return there. At this point some new Dinosaur Transformers were made as part of Beast Wars Neo, which were then reused at various times during the early 2000s.

Very soon after the Dinobots initial release they were opposed by Predacons who combined into Predaking. This immediately set Transformers fans wondering "why couldn't the Dinobots combine?" Takara would eventually produce the Dinocons/Dinoforce which did combine into Dinoking but had beast modes formed from Pretender shells, but the western version is substantially altered to form Monstructor (you can argue which came first, Monstructor or Dinoking). Beast Wars Neo's Magmatron is formed by combining three Dinosaurs and Energon's Mega-Dinobot, a poor toy formed from bad versions of Grimlock and Swoop (seriously,it's a very bad toy, don't pay the huge amounts it goes for these days) are the only two modern combining Dinosaur toys. So given that there haven't been many new Dinosaurs recently and that combining ones have been even rarer, a Dinosaur combiner makes an obvious candidate for the Power Core Combiners line. However many of the previous Power Core toys have had issues of stability and holding together in combined mode, how would a toy with a non vehicle design hold up?

Grimstone is a Styracosaur, like Beast Wars Neo's Killerpunch, not a Triceratops as the instructions say: he's need much longer horns for that. He's mainly grey, with a red underside, gold head, silver neck frill with gold spikes and some black joints. Ok, yes, there's the blue Power Core Connector blocks hanging off the legs.... But otherwise it's a great choice of colours, these are the same as the original Dinobots so an obvious homage is intended, while the name Grimstone automatically puts Grimlock into your mind. But there's not been an actual Dinobot Styracosaur so these colours plus a robotic styling to the beast makes him fit right in with the original Dinobots. Grimstone's limbs turn where they meet his body with the front legs bending at the knee while the rear legs bend twice and have a rotational joint - useless here but serve a purpose when the rear beast legs become the robot legs. The tail is fixed, with a Minicon port on the end, while the head sort of has an opening lower jaw formed from the robot head.

NOTE TO SELF: It's hard to write reviews while listening to the I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Christmas CD. :-)

Transform: Fold the tail under the beast and stretch the rear legs back behind the beast. Rotate each leg at the thigh and fold down the heel spurs. Fold the front legs back, split the frill & back in two down the middle and fold out to the sides to form the arms. Fold the Dino head down onto the chest then fold the robot head forward,

Grimstone's robot mode immediately hits all the right notes with it's black head, red chest and grey limbs. The gold dino head has ended up on the chest so while he's unable to wear any Minicon chest armour he has his own built in. The Minicon peg on the tale has ended up on his back in between his shoulders, which isn't the worst spot it could be in. I've already mounted Chainclaw there and bent the missile tubes over Grimstone's head as well as using Chainclaw as a hand held weapon for Grimstone via the 5mm hole formed from his moulded hands. Sadly, like Skyburst the hole isn't that deep and has a panel at it's base preventing Grimstone from holding Chopster's axe mode. His articulation isn't bad: the head turns as do the shoulders, but these can be a little restricted by the frill halves hanging off the back of them. The shoulders also bend upwards and forwards, the arms bends at the top of the elbow and has a ball joint at the bottom, the hips turn & bend out to the sides, there's a thigh swivel and double bending knee.

So pretty good so far. But what's the combined mode like? We'll start with transforming Grimstone to torso mode. Lean the robot head back, and fold the beast head up to cover it. Lift up on the back of the beast head, revealing the face underneath. Swing the panel back and then fold forward to become the top of the combined mode's head. Swing the arms in over the body locking the lower arms and the beast neck frills, from behind the shoulders, together. Fold each of the front beast legs back at the knee pegging them onto the robot mode shoulder to form the shoulders of the combined robot Torso, at which point the Power Core Connector Blocks are folded out to the sides. Rotate each leg at the thigh then fold the lower leg up in front of the upper leg, folding the heel spurs in.

We now need the help of Grimstone's Dinobot drones.

Pachycephalosaur Drone: One of the two drones labelled as a Parasaurolophus Drone this looks nearly identical to Beast Wars Neo Hardhead/Beast Machines Dinotron and I know that's a Pachycephalosaurus so that's what I've labelled this as. It's a grey Dinosaur with red arms which move in tandem at the body, gold feet and silver guns & skull cap. There's a Minicon port on his back. It will just about transform into a leg by itself but the hole is behind the head and a little restricted so pulling the head and arms forward first may help.

EDIT: apparently Pachycephalosaur is a sub-species of Parasaurolophus - see Wikipedia's Pachycephalosaurus entry.

Ankylosaurus Drone: Again we have a Beast Wars Neo version of this Bazooka/RID Dinobot Slapper. Mainly grey with a gold back, containing his Minicon port, silver head & tail ball and black cannons. The head bends backwards on this drone, who like the Pachycephalosaur becomes a leg. The port for the connector is found at the top of the base of the tail.

Spinosaurus Drone: Now this one is a little odd. While the neck looks like a Spinosaurus the legs, body and tail are more like a Dimetrodon, such as Beast Wars Neo Sling/RID Dinobot Sludge. Again a grey body with a gold sail, silver head and read tail which terminates in a Minicon port. The top of the head folds back to open the jaw and the tail folds upwards. He transforms into an arm courtesy of a port on his underside, with the opening mouth serving as a hand.

Parasaurolophus Drone: The second Parasaurolophus drone is more like what I see on Wikipedia's Parasaurolophus page. A grey raptor like Dinosaur with an elongated crest projecting out of it's head, he has red ball jointed arms, silver feet & tail and pair of black cannons mounted on his back. Each cannon has a Minicon port on the side. To the best of my knowledge there's never been a Parasaurolophus Transformer before, and I don't think this has been used for a Zoid either. The Power Core socket is on the front of the toy under the neck, but you may want to pull up on the tale to help him turn into an arm, with the legs becoming a claw like hand.

Behold your Plastic Pontiff! Worship at the feet of the DINO POPE! Almost as soon as pictures of Grimstone were released he acquired the Dino Pope nickname due to the Mitre like crest on top of his head. The name has stuck :-)

Grimstone is more solid & stable than any of the other Power Core Combiners. None of the limbs show any signs of popping off and he's perfectly stable thanks to the large footprint presented by the Ankylosaurus drone and, thanks to it's tail forming a massive heel spur, the Pachycephalosaur drone. I've stood it on the table, shaken it and he's still stayed standing. He's stood on the sofa, he's stood on a mound formed from Mrs Toys' coat. You can move the arms without them falling off or him falling over. You can even pose him with his knees bent! This beats all the other Power Core toys I've played with so far. While the drones are a large part of this, Grimstone himself contributes by giving the toy the largest and most solid upper legs in the toyline. There's no mucking about here: Grimstone's combined mode upper legs are the single robot's upper legs. The articulation is great: knees bend, hips turn and fold to the sides, head turns and the arms turn at the shoulders which rise up to the sides. The neck frills of Grimstone's beast mode form a skull like set of chest armour here which is a nice touch. My only small complaint is that the toes of the Pachycephalosaur leg, formed from it's arms, can fall off easily.

You can of course use Grimstone with other drones, I loaned him the recolour Combaticons, and the Dinobot drones can be used with another core robot, I tried them with Icepick, with some success but really they form a team and come as a unit that you don't want to split. The style, using animals instead of vehicles, is different from the other Power Core toys and they don't match as well with the other toys whereas here they're a coherent unit.

Top toy, best Power Core Combiner by a country mile. Lots of call backs to the original Dinobots with the style & colours but by using five modes not used by the original Dinobots this becomes a decent addition to the team that you could happily place with the original Dinobots in any of it's modes. It's good, you need to buy one.


I see these being repainted as a unit, rather than split up. Maybe a black/purple Dinocon version would be good?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Hunt For The Decepticons Brimstone and Reveal The Shield Chopsaw

Hunt For The Decepticons Brimstone

Brimstone is a Decepticon chopper style motorbike with A grey frame and blue bodywork which overlaid with a metallic green flame deco. The wheels turn but I can't get the front forks and handlebars to move to the sides. My Brimstone has difficulty locking both sides of the handlebars together, and locking the engine into the underside of the fuel tank, both of which affect the look of the vehicle mode. The handlebars are 3mm wide so you can clip weapons onto them that support the clip & bar gimmick.

Transformation: Pull the engine down, separate in two down the middle, then pull the underside of the engine halves down and forward to form the legs. Split the front wheel, handlebars and fuel tank down the middle and fold each half out to the sides so that the fuel tank halves lock onto the sides of the saddle. Pull the legs & waist back so they're under the rear wheel. Fold the saddle back. Fold each front fork forward to act as an arm, rotating out to the sides & forward at the bicep and bending at the elbow. Rotate the mudguard halves forward,fold out the hands and turn the head forward.

Brimstone's robot mode looks more like an alien than a Transformers toy. Yes there's some Bay influence here but the design here feels different to the likes of Movie Bumblebee or Barricade. We get an almost skull like head with a row of teeth but missing a lower jaw - he wouldn't look amiss in a scene of Transformer Zombies. I like the buzzsaw blades, formed from the front wheel, built into each forearm. Each arm bends at the elbow, turns at the bicep and is ball jointed at the shoulder which in turn swings backwards & forwards at the body. The head & hips are on ball joints too, while the knees bend. The waist does turn but if you've got the saddle folded up the robot's back that will fix the waist in place.

Yes the bike has problems, well on my one at least. But the robot mode is a little different and would make a good army builder.

Brimstone is a first wave Hunt For The Decepticons Scout toy released in 2010.

Reveal The Shield Chopsaw

Chopsaw is a repaint of Brimstone replacing the blue with purple on the bodywork with yellow highlights. The paint colours used here immediately put me in the mind of Armada Sideways. I don't yet have one in hand so I don't know if he has a heat sensitive rub sign like the other Reveal The Shield toys, but if he does I'm not sure where they'd put it. I'm also a little unsure as to which faction he is (again a nice throw back to Sideways) though I'd be putting money on him being a Decepticon.

Chopsaw sits in a case with lots of previously issued toys and one new mould, Windcharger. At the time of writing this case is the only announced Scout case for Reveal the Shield.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Armada Hoist & Refute and their repaints


My original Hoist review contained the following "Refute rolls along with his jaws/arms/whatever opening and closing - he's got a geared gimmick and will connect with Cyclonus and work. "

Refute is the Minicon packed in with Armada Hoist. I've no idea what kind of vehicle he's meant to be ! In the Armada story Hoist is an upgrade of Smokescreen, whose Minicon was Liftor, a forklift truck. Refute may be meant to be something similar (and indeed may be an character upgrade of Liftor)

The main body of Refute is long and orange more racing car like than a piece of loading machinery - there's even four exhaust pipes sticking out the back ! The body is moulded in bright orange - different from the orange used on Hoist's shovel arm, waist and feet - and unique to the Minicon in this set. His rear wheels are the same brown as Hoist's legs and shovel (see Japanese information bellow) and his "claw", robot arms & upper legs are the same grey/blue as Hoist's bumper, left elbow and Minicon ports.

Refute's Minicon port is on his underside allowing him to be wrist mounted as a claw weapon. Alternately rotate him so his back is facing and use him as a quad cannon with the exhausts forming the gun barrels.

What's odd about Refute is that he has a gear gimmick just like the Destruction & Adventure teams. It is strongly suspected that hoist was meant to be the second toy that could power the gear gimmick, possibly through a port on the shoulder of his shovel arm where the Autobot symbol now is located. Roll Refute along and the claw opens & closes.

TF: Pull out the back of the vehicle, rotate at the waist and stand on the rear.

Robot has bending hips, rotating waist and bending elbows on arms that are far too thin. His claw is raised either side of his head Shrapnel style. The head itself is huge, far too big & tall for the robot which is itself amongst the taller Minicons (beaten by Rollout)

In Japan he was known as Sparklift and available in MC-11 with Supermode Grapple. Grapple's original Micron was called Lift so I think we can be sure that in Japan at least he's a powered up version of Lift (Liftor). Sparklift also has a small paint difference to Refute - his wheels are moulded in silver plastic matching Supermode Grapple's shovel & legs. They are also available in MS-07 with the Adventure team.

Universe Refute

Refute returns in the Universe "Battle in a Box" series as an exclusive to the Meijer and Kohl's stores in the USA. They were also released through the Entertainer in the UK. He's packed in with a Decepticon version of Hoist recoloured, slightly remoulded to remove the Autobot symbol and renamed as "Ransack". also in the box are Autobot recolours of Smokescreen & Liftor.

Refute's wheels stay brown matching Ransack's legs. His claws and robot arms & upper legs are now pale blue, again matching the bumper on Ransack. His body is cast in a bright green - a horrible car crash of colours.

I've long maintained that both of these rank amongst the worst repaints I've ever seen. This is what my original review of Ransack said: "Horrible. And as for the green Refute that just clashes badly with the rest of him....... "

But I've been thinking. What if the colours ended up on the wrong bits ? Move the green to where all the purple is on Ransack. Move Ransack's purple to his legs and Refute's wheels. Get rid of the brown or move it to Refute. You then get an eminently sensible Constructicon Scavenger with colours close but not exactly like the G1 originakl (scavenge and ransack aren't that far removed in meaning so you can see where they plucked the name from) packed with a Minicon you could have easily named Shrapnel for a second G1 hommage.

Micron Booster Clamp

In Galaxy Force in 2005 four Armada toys - Hoist, Sideswipe, Cyclonus & Blurr - were substantially remoulded to resemble older toys and to link their gimmick to a Galaxy Force planet key. These toys were then put in VS packs: Longrack (Hoist) came with Runabout (Sideswipe) and Blurr (Blurr) came with Buzzsaw (Cyclonus). What the toys didn't come with was the Minicons their predecessors had. By this time Fandom had worked out that the Minicons were (mostly) being made on the same parts trees as the larger toys and wondered what had happened to the parts for the Minicons. In due course these then showed up in Micron Booster V3.

Clamp is a repaint of Refute - Hoist's Minicon - and nominally is Longrack's partner. Clamp's a more sensible colour scheme than the last Refute repaint we saw with Ransack But teal green - why ? you have total freedom on his body colour as it's separate from anything in the main toy - and red (same as the excavator's hands) clash slightly. Gimmick still works which is a blessing.

There's a fourth version of Hoist out there - the Armada 2006 Dinobot. Somewhere out there they may be another new set of Refutes waiting to go with sandy coloured rear wheels and bright blue claws & arms ......


Hoist (and Wheeljack) are the last original mould Supercon toys for Armada and come after a bad patch of new toys in this size class. Hoist is in the Cartoon the upgraded form of Smokescreen. This new toy is an excavator - only the second one of this size ever done in Transformers after Grimlock (RID) / Build Hurricane (Car Robots). What we get here is a white cabin which can rotate round 360 degrees on top of brown tracks (moulded with embedded wheels) and an orange arm ending in a brown shovel. When I see construction vehicles I automatically think yellow (not Constructicon green !) but the colours used here are sensible and realistic. The name Hoist I connect with tow trucks but save using the Grimlock name (surely better used for a Dinobot) I can't think of anything more appropriate for this toy.

There's four Minicon ports on the toy, one each side of the cab and one on each side of the back of the cab - these are moulded in the same grey blue plastic as the grill on the front of the cab. The Minicon post behind the shovel arm is meant to power a gimmick that unlocks the shovel arm for use - there's a tiny piece of blue plastic behind & under the shovel arm that prevents you from moving the arm and this is meant to spring back when you place a Minicon on the post. It doesn't and in fact on mine it's now broken and won't even lock in place. This leaves the gimmick permanently active - push in on the post on the back of the cab that the shovel arm is attached to and watch the arm extend & spring forward then automatically pull back on release. Great for knocking other TFs over with ! I remember demonstrating this to John Cullen in the pub the London TMUK mob drank in on Charring Cross road and him loving it - it's a great action feature in keeping with the toy's function.

There is some speculation that Hoist is meant to power the Adventure and Destruction team's gear gimmicks - indeed Hoist's Minicon Refute also has a gear gimmick. I suspect this would have been mounted where the Autobot symbol is on the shovel arm (or possibly on the side where the Minicon port is) It's a shame it's not included as I feel it would have added to the toy.

TF: Rotate the tracks so they're as under the cab as it's possible to be and the little wheel between them is at the front. Unclip the tracks from each other at the back and fold each track out to the side and forward. Fold the connecting pieces out so they're flat against the front of each track and fold the feet up. Pull each track/leg out the side slightly and then fold down under the vehicle. Swing the shovel arm down at the front so that the Autobot symbol faces forward. Swing the shovel out to the side 90 degrees and fold down the claw/thumb in opposition to the shovel. Swing the opposite side of the cab down at the back to form the other arm, folding the claw out at the end, then rotating at the bicep joint so the larger claw is on top. Fold the head up from behind the cab and turn to face forward.

The resulting robot is *VERY* posable almost at the BW deluxe level, with adjustable feet (clever) that can either be flat or slightly bent in at one side making a slightly spread legs pose the default, forward bending knees (as well as a sideways joint from the TF), ball jointed hips, shoulders - that swing out about 20 degrees from the side of the toy as well as turn, left arm has a bicep swivel and a bending elbow, an opening claw as his left hand with the right arm ending in the shovel which looks big at first but works better than you think and there's even the opposable claw/thumb against the shovel. His head - mounted on a ball joint -is moulded in the same brown as the treads and has a resemblance to the Beast Wars toy Dinobot which is quite neat because Dinobot was repainted as Grimlock which was the name of the previous TF deluxe excavator.

He's got four Minicon posts - two on the side of each shoulder, one at the top of the right shoulder, and the other in the left palm. If you flip the right arm round - so the shovel is extending out the back of the shoulder - you end up with 2 otherwise symmetrical arms with minicon posts at the end of either arm..... Time for some fun. Try to reinact a great Death's Head moment by placing Sky Blast on the end of an arm as a missile. Indeed you can connect the entire Requiem Blaster onto the end of the arm using Skyblast or at right angles by exposing the hole on Payload. Or try putting Ransack onto a post to form a grappling line attachment for him - his good interaction with Ransack is another little clue to him perhaps being meant as a gear powering toy. A little further experimentation shows that putting some blu tack on the posts allows the original Ultra Magnus large fists to attach to this..... or plug a Zoids Blox (Z-Builder) Block into the end of the arm which can act as a hand and let him hold most TF (and many Zoid) Weapons. OK he doesn't have 5mm peg holes for hands but makes up for it by having plenty of Minicon ports on his arms allowing him to use most of the combined Minicon weapons.

Wow. For what is possibly to be the last original Armada Supercon - only repaints known of at this time - this is the best. It's a fantastic toy - and that's even including a minicon that's no good - best of this size for Armada and an absolute must have in my opinion. If I was forced to choose just one Armada toy then this would be it, and I rather suspect he'd be floating in my all time top ten Transformers list. He's that good and towers over the rest of the Armada Supercon line.

Hoist was available in Japan as Micron Legend toy MC-11 Grappe Super Mode (Grapple) and also in giftset MS-07 with the adventure team strengthening the thought that he may originally have been meant to be powering their gear gimmick. The Japanese version swaps a silver/grey for the brown.


Ransack is a complete train wreck of a repaint ! He's Armada Hoist - which was a favourite of mine in the line - the white is now purple, with pale blue replacing the blue grey on the shoulders and bumper on the front. The Autobot symbol has been flattened and replaced with a Decepticon symbol painted on. The legs/tracks are virtually unchanged in their brown and orangeness. Now the orange sort of works ok with the arm, but I'm afraid the brown just makes it look like the new body has been stuck on the old legs - and then the old head was stuck on top. No offence but this really is a half arsed repaint. The legs/tracks needed to be a different colour, and to be honest this was possibly crying out to be done with a green body and purple legs as a constructicon Scavenger homage. Horrible. And as for the green Refute that just clashes badly with the rest of him.......

I've long maintained that Ransack and his Minicon Refute (repainted in Green) rank amongst the worst repaints I've ever seen. But I've been thinking. What if the colours ended up on the wrong bits ? Move the green to where all the purple is on Ransack. Move Ransack's purple to his legs and Refute's wheels. Get rid of the brown or move it to Refute. You then get an eminently sensible Constructicon Scavenger with colours close but not exactly like the G1 original (scavenge and ransack aren't that far removed in meaning so you can see where they plucked the name from) packed with a Minicon you could have easily named Shrapnel for a second G1 homage.

Hopefully the Galaxy Force Longrack repaint will ease the pain of what's happened here !


Longrack is a remould of Armada Hoist in the colours of BW Neo Longrack.

An odd choice perhaps ? Well both of these have very mismatched arms, with the larger arm on the right. Hoist has gained a beautifully moulded and coloured mini version of Longrack's head. Hoist's "rear of shovel mechanism" has been remoulded to vaguely, and I mean *VERY* vaguely resemble a Giraffe head. His right shoulder has a remould and that's where the force Chip goes. Without the chip the shovel can't move, which was some of the original intention of Hoist's Gimmick.

Colourwise all the white is now yellow with brown stripes applied on the cab, and the legs - whether brown or orange are now grey. Red replaces the blue/grey for the hands and shovel while the cab bumper and robot shoulders are a very dark blue

It's a Very nice colour scheme that works as both animal and construction vehicle. He has a Cybertron Autobot Chip.

Overall - lovely job, favourite of the 4, makes up for the horror that is Battle in a Box Ransack.


Dinobot is part of a boxset of Beast Wars characters in their pre Beast Wars vehicle forms that was for Botcon 2006. As well as Dinobot it included the other four Beast Wars Maximals from the start of the first series: Optimus Primal (a Cybertron Crumplezone repaint), Cheetor (Cybertron Clocker), Rhinox (Cybertron Landmine) and Rattrap (Cybertron Ransack)

Dinobot uses the Longrack version of the Hoist toy but with one modification - it has the original Dinobot like head. All the white is now brown with gold stripes, the orange is gold, the grey/blue is a very bright blue and the legs are all beige. The shoulder panel has a purple Predacon symbol painted on it.

It's a decent enough repaint, but I suspect the only reason for choosing it as Dinobot is the head.... Though the Dinobot = Grimlock thing and Grimlock being the name for the Cybertron Excavator may also have come into play.

Possible Future Repaints

You know what I'm going to say. Constructicon Scavenger ! It has to be done. Along with Armada Wheeljack as Sideswipe and Night Slash Cheetor as Cheetor this is one of the most obvious repaints that's never been done. Make it happen Hasbro !

Monday, 13 December 2010

Power Core Combiners Sledge & Throttler

Power Core Combiner Sledge

Power Core Combiner Sledge is an excavator. He isn't the first Sledge to be a construction vehicle: The Micromaster, Energon & Classics toys with the same name have all been Decepticon Construction vehicles. His main colour is a dull yellow with black used for the tracks and most of the excavator arm and some patches of a dark purple. One end of the vehicle has a pair of shovels with a narrow gap between them through which can be lowered a spinning buzzsaw. Or should be lowered.... the buzzsaw mounting is attached to the stiffest joint I've ever seen on a transformer. At the same end of the vehicle, but off to one side is the driver's cab complete with a black Minicon post in the roof. On the other end of the vehicle is it's Excavator arm which bends at the base, mid point and at the end where it's connected to the shovel which this time points towards the toy. I've always thought the shovel on Energon Steamhammer looks odd facing away from the vehicle. There's another Minicon post mounted on the back of the shovel which allows you to attach Throttler's drill mode. Two of the Power Core connector cubes can be found at this end of the vehicle with the other two forming part of the suspension between the tracks and the rest of the vehicle.

Transform: Split the shovel bucket and arm in two down the middle and fold each half out to the sides via a joint mid way down the vehicle. Fold the tracks back behind the vehicle to form the legs and fold the shovels up to form the feet. Fold the cab to one side, then fold the buzz saw forward and down into the body bringing the head up out of the vehicle. Fold the cab back over then clip the crane arms onto the side of the vehicle to form the robot arms. Stand with the top of the vehicle facing forward. Rotate the arms at the bicep joint so that the yellow panel behind the shoulder is rotated round to the side of it. Fold the end halves of the shovel arm up pinning them to the elbow. The elbow is then turned 90 degrees to each side so that the shovel sits beside or covers each shoulder.

Sledge's robot mode mainly uses the same colours as the vehicle: the legs are black, formed from the treads, as are the centre of the chest, the head and shoulders. We get a little more purple in this mode one the forearms and hands. The shovel halves and their arms have ended up alongside the robot's arms. These can then be folded down to cover the forearms and folded round so the act as shovel hands. His articulation includes bending ankles & knees, thigh swivel, universal hip, ball jointed head & shoulders, bicep swivel & ball jointed elbow. His head is reminiscent of Robots in Disguise Megatron with a pair of panels folded out to each side. The ball joint for Sledge's head is quite small and the head can pop off easily especially when you're trying to bend the joint that's attached to the buzz-saw's mounting. One of the Power Core combination cubes is mounted on each shoulder while the remaining two each form a heel spur. He's got two Mini-con hard posts in this mode, one on the end of the shovel, the other on the cab mounted on the right of the chest. Attaching Throttler in drill mode to this chest peg does result in something a little suggestive (Nipple drill mode!). Fortunately the buzz-saw in the chest can be folded back a bit and the cab folded out to form a slightly arched panel over the chest with a Mini-con post in the centre, which is a much better configuration for mounting Throttler's impressive chest armour. Sledge's hands are useless for holding Throttler by his post. In my opinion *any* toy with a Mini-con should have 5mm peg hole hands but Hasbro doesn't share this view. However there is a 5mm peg hole under each wrist that allows Throttler (or another Minicon) to be mounted under the hand.

Like all the other Power Core Commanders, Sledge has the ability to covert to a torso mode and combine with drone limbs. Start by folding the control cab out across the chest. Close the flaps over the face on the head and turn the head 180 degree to reveal the newly exposed combined mode head complete with visor, face plate and horns. It's one of the few combined mode heads that looks small enough to be used with the smaller individual robot. The shoulder and the Power Core connectors cube on each side are mounted on a piece that rotates round a diagonal cut joint. Turn this to swap the position of the Power Core connector cube and the arms. Rotate the arms so they point backwards and then fold the shovels forward to cover the smaller robot's shoulders. Raise the upper leg diagonally to the side. Turn at the thigh so the silver side of the vehicle tread faces forwards. Straighten the knee at the usual knee joint and then fold down at a second knee bellow the first. Fold the shovel out to the sides, fold the Power Core connector cube down and then rotate the entire bottom of the foot so the shovel faces out the front. From this point attach drone limbs of your choice: I'm using the Combaticons because I only have the wave 1 5-packs and I don't like the Aerialbots ! We get an industrial looking robot with turning shoulders, albeit ones that sometimes cause the cut joints to move, universal hips , bending knees and a swivel bellow the knee.

Overall: Decent robot and vehicle mode, OK torso mode albeit with one where the arms could be a little further from the body to allow decent clearance from the legs. Factor in a superb Mini-con and you're onto a winner.

I would have placed money on Sledge being recoloured green and being made the centre of the new Steamhammer & Constructicons 5-pack but it appears as if Steamhammer is an all new mould. Nevertheless I expect to see Sledge in Constructicon Green at some stage as a repaint and I look forward to trying either version with the Constructicon drones as limbs.

Power Core Combiner Mini-Con Throttler

Throttler is a purple Mini-con robot that's supplied with the Power Core Combiner commander Sledge, who's a yellow excavator. Throttler is a clear purple Mini-con who has a black head and upper limbs and a painted silver face. There's a Mini-con port dead centre on his chest,and if you look closely from the top you'll see that his head is a Mini-con post which will allow you to have some fun. I've already mounted Chainclaw, Icepick's Mini-con on it in weapons mode to give Throttler a missile launcher head :-) There's some nice moulded detail on the toy including the hands inside the parts that form the arms. The lower legs are at something of an angle and point forward when going from foot to knee and gives him pointed knee caps. His articulation is tip top, with ball joints at the elbows, shoulders & hip, a thigh swivel and bending knee. These last two joints could have been combined if Hasbro had given him ball jointed knees too.

To convert Throttler into armour mode, fold the lower legs back 180 degrees at the knees so the lower legs cover the upper ones. Point each leg diagonally out to the sides then turn the Mini-con over and round so it's back is facing you and it's head points down. Fold the arms up so they now run diagonally under the underside of the legs. Pin onto Sledge (or any of the other commander figures) using the chest mounted Mini-con port with the larger robot's head looking out through the V formed by the legs.

This is probably the best of the Mini-con armour modes that I've seen so far, really works for me giving the impression of being some sort of jagged electrical bolt mounted on the larger robot.

To transform into weapons mode, fold the lower legs back 180 degrees at the knees so the lower legs cover the upper ones. Twist each leg round at the thigh swivel so that what was the open front of the folded up leg now faces inwards. Fold both legs back at the hip and bring them together - there's a small tab at the bottom which has a slot it fits in to to hold both parts loosely together. Fold each arm back and slide the tab on each arm into the slot on the flat surface of each leg.

What you get out the end is a clear purple drill. And it's the work of genius: a multi faceted cone that looks convincing as what it's meant to be. Any robot with a 5mm peg hole hand can hold Throttler as a hand weapon but since the back of the drill is the robot's chest complete with Mini-con port he can be mounted on any decent facing Mini-con peg. There's one on Sledge's shovel that allows Sledge to use him in vehicle mode as a drill attachment. Our old friend and favourite Armada toy Hoist was to hand when I opened Sledge and Throttler and quickly appropriated Throttler to peg onto the Minicon port on the inside of his fist. And of course any of the Power Core Commanders can attach him to their chest port to use him as a chest mounted drill. It was at this point I tried to turn Throttler figuring that if he's a drill he might as well go round when mounted on a Mini-Con post. Turns out the post fitted a bit tightly but Throttler still turned thanks to a pivot mounted between the chest and the rest of the body. So while the chest stayed still the rest of the toy, now the drill, span.

Overall: What a superb Minicon! Looks good in a robot mode which is full of articulation, is a decent armour mode and while, compared to some of the earlier Power Core Minicons, he only has one weapons mode is a good one that works, has some functioning articulation and is appropriate to the toy it's initially packed with. Superb stuff. Longarm is feeling that his "Best Minicon" status is threatened!

I fully expect a repaint to show up later packed with a different toy.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Beast Wars Optimus Prime

Beast Wars Ultra Optimus Primal

No single TF has cost me more money than this one. OK at the time he cost me the £20 (or less) that I had to pay a friend to bring me an Ani Mutants version back from France nearly a year before Beast Wars hit the UK. No the cost came later. Because at that time I'd be cold turkey TF for 2 or 3 years having sold all the originals I owned. Indirectly the cost of every TF I've bought since then - that's every BW toy, every BM toy, all the new molds in BW II and Neo, all of Car Robots, everything in RID that wasn't in Car Robots, All the Armada and Energon toys plus countless Minicon repaints, most of Energon, all the Robotmasters, countless reissues, the Movie toys and all of Classics. All down to the Monkey. I should hate it with a passion that man may not know. My bank manager does for taking my money. My wife and mother .do for filling our lofts with so many toys. But without this toy I wouldn't be here.

Since I've got an Ani Mutants box I might as well mention it. Text in French, German and Dutch. 3 co sell panels - the Op vs. Megatron pack, Razorbeast, Iguanus, Terrorsaur and Rattrap from the basics, Cheetor, Waspinator, Dinobot and Tarantulas from the deluxe.

Optimus Primal is an ape this time - his previous basic form was a bat in the aforementioned 2 pack. He's mainly black with some grey highlights. Op's back legs bend at the hip, while the arms bend forward, backwards & out at the shoulder and elbow and swivel at the bicep. There's a lever in his back that controls the action features in his arms - you need to flip the gorilla's shoulder armour up to control this. The armour is held in at the back by a peg so you need to pull back slightly and raise the shoulder panel up. There's a little slider on each arm that you can position up or down - it's best that the 2 arms match. Up means he swings his arms round at the elbows, down means they move from side to side. You can get some good Alpha Monkey chest beating action in here.

TF: Flip the shoulder armour up (as above). Turn the legs round 180 degrees at the waist. Turn the beast toes in 180 degrees to expose the heel spurs. Flip down the robot feet. Pull out and down on the beast head so it's just resting on top of his chest. Press in on the beast's jaw and the face panel spins round to reveal a more robotic chest. Pull the robot chest down and lock it onto the beast chest - the struts connecting it recess into slots on the top of the body. Fold the head up slightly - the Mutant head/mask will be at the front.

The mutant head can best be described as a grey version of Wolverine's mask - with the eyes and the mouth in red. Lots of teeth. There's the double barrelled effect at the ends of the jaw familiar from the Powermaster Prime. A red crest is visible between the 2 mask points.

This isn't the toy's robot face - all the first year larger than a basic Beast Wars toys has a mutant head and a robot head - sometimes it's a mask that folds away, sometimes the reverse of the other head, and in one case it's a completely different head. Optimus Primal's mutant mask folds down onto the top of his chest and then the robot head turned or can be turned round with the robot head. I go with the first usually, what's the point of the hinge otherwise.

The resulting head is Optimus Prime. Spot on. No mouth on these early versions just a faceplate which is the way I like it. Most of the head is blue, the eyes are red and the faceplate and antennae at the sides are grey. Perfect.

The robot mode is packed with articulation: his ankles bend - there's a nice feature here with a strut running the front of the robot lower leg which recesses into the leg as the ankle moves, the knees (beast hips) bend, ball jointed robot hips, turning waist, limited ball jointed neck, the shoulders turn & swing out to the sides, there's a bicep joint and the elbows bend. The arm articulation is even more impressive when you think that the mechanisms for the action feature run through it. Said action feature still works in this mode. There's a lot more white exposed here on the upper limbs and feet, with the waist being picked out in grey. The chest is mainly grey with some red internal detailing. Right in the centre of it is a recessed red circular hole framed by 2 red recessed rectangles on either side which I think is meant to be putting you in the mind of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership from the movie. The Matrix would show up for real a few years later in Big Convoy.

Onto the weapons. Well he doesn't appear to have any does he ? That's because like all BW toys from here onwards they're concealed in the body.

Firstly press the small grey button on his back. Panels running the length of the sides of his back flip up and over the beast's shoulders bringing with them a pair of missile launchers - all in black, with a red tip and blue missiles. There's 2 more of the same missiles in a rack behind the robot's head. The exposed sides of the back can now be seen to hold a curved sword each - attached by a peg on the sides of the swords that fits a hole in the back. Place one in each hand or hold them in either side of the same hand. This works especially well with the spinning forearms action feature.

Secondly his right arm (on the left as you look at it) has a hidden compartment in the forearm. Pull up from the sides and fold back at the elbow. Inside is a morning star - a spiked ball on a chain (or in our case a bit of string) connected to a handle. The blue handle is recessed into the ball, but the ball in this case is a grey skull.with spikes coming out of it. He can hold one end of the handle - the other end is a smaller peg that looks like it might fit some of the deluxe toys. Again this is good used with the action features in the arms.

Finally his left arm (on your right) also has a hidden compartment in the forearm. If you open it by loosening the catch on the arm then the bottom of the forearm drops down while still being attached at the elbow and out folds (spring loaded) a double barrelled missile launcher (one on top of the other). Fold the top of the arm back and insert the missiles stored behind the head into the launcher. The slight disadvantage to this weapon is that it does render the left hand useless while it's deployed. When Primal was animated in the cartoon they made the launcher pop up onto the arm, which is sort of carried over into the downsized Robotmasters Primal which has the tops of the arms lifting up and the weapons popping out. Maybe it might have been better to make this launcher removable - pegged into the elbow at the back, another peg underneath to act as a handle so it could be hand held. As it is Primal cannot deploy and use all his weapons at once ! That's no bad thing.

Summing up: The monkey is OK, decent action feature, but isn't really anything that special. The robot is superb - action feature, so many hidden weapons and a spot on likeness for the Optimus Prime. You can believe this is Prime in beast form - which I believe was the intention before the cartoon came along. It sets the bar very very high for Ultra figures. Although they are generally very good in Beast Wars - being just 2 a year there was a decent amount of time spent on them - few match the high bar set by Optimus Primal - to my mind just Big Convoy and Galvatron. It's a great toy and worthwhile getting.

Clear Beast Convoy

Repaints rule 8 "8: Try a clear plastic: Rare one this outside of Japan but a clear version of a toy is frequently quite nice "

Not the first TF toy to get a clear repaint - I think that's the G2 Firebots and Firecons closely followed by some of the G2 Gobots this is certainly the first larger toy to get the treatment. The toy is rendered completely in clear plastic bar some internal pieces and the blue weapons which are black. It's a tinsy bit boring but a nice curiosity piece.

Burning Beast Convoy

IIRC Burning Convoy appears in the cartoon movie crossover between Beast Wars and Beast Wars II. He's the result of a power up that he and Lio Convoy undertake resulting in Burning Convoy and Flash Lio Convoy. Burning Convoy is similar to Crystal Convoy except all the clear material is now a clear but slightly more opaque orange colour, the inside black bits are no longer visible, the weapons are still black and the face is painted gold. There's a smaller affordable version of this in the Robotmasters range.

Universe Optimus Primal

WARNING: Click on the link at your peril. This is a real contender for "Worst Repaint Ever !" up there with Universe Silverbolt, Energon Strongarm and FK Waspinator and TM Rhinox

Awful, awful, awful. And now I have to describe it to you. My eyes. The sacrifices I make.

All the red is bright yellow, as is the blue on the weapons and missiles. The forearms and outer Prime head are burgundy. White becomes dark green. I can't see properly from the photos but the rest of the black is a sort of very dark purple nearly brown. There's a red and silver stripe from his face back over the head. So so bad. And this was a toy used to launch a line of repaints. No wonder Universe failed. They should have just dug the white (for black, grey and the Prime head) & pale blue (everything else) out and given us a Yeti Ultra Magnus - I'd have bought it.

10th Anniversary Convoy

This version gets a new Robot head and chest, plus a new beast face, looses the mutant head and grey's down the black fur. I think it looses some of it's character and vibrancy doing this - the new head with the mouth takes away the Primeness of the toy.

If you get one, track down the original. Widely available in the UK there are some on eBay most of the time. Check that all the parts are there though !

There's a Robotmasters version of Optimus Primal (Beast Convoy) that I reviewed here

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Transformers Blurr & Targetmaster Blurr with Haywire

Transformers Blurr

Blurr is one of three futuristic cars introduced in the Transformers toy range in 1986 to tie in to the movie. Blurr is a futuristic blue race car. He's thin and pointed with an outrigger on either side that ends in an engine like you'd expect to see on a jet. The window to the passenger compartment is moulded plastic set in the middle of the vehicle with a small fin set behind it. Turning the car over we find four small wheels that provide the movement.

I get Blurr's vehicle mode in a way that I don't quite get Kup's. You can see what they're getting at here, this looks like it's advanced and fast.

Transformation: pull the nose of the car off and set aside for later. Fold the robot's legs out from under the car, then rotate the wheels at the bottom of the legs back to reveal the feet. Pull the outriggers forward to form the arms then pull the front of the outriggers forward & fold them back under the arms to reveal the hands. Fold the rear of the car down & under the car to form the robot's back and fold the head up. Place the Electro-Laser into one of his fists while a peg on the back of the nose front allows it to be held as a shield.

Blurr's robot mode looks nice, with the engines ending up on his shoulders, the windshield forming the chest and the fin ending up on top of a rather square, almost television set like head. His articulation is severely limited though: his arms swing forward & back at the shoulders and that's it.

Look good in both modes. Better than Kup, but I think I prefer Hot Rod out of the future car trio.

Blurr was sold in the US & UK in 1986, though stock was available into 1987. In Japan he was sold in 1986 & 1987 as Japanese Transformer C-79 Blurr.

Blurr has never been reissued but several remakes have been produced: Armada Blurr which was remoulded into Cybertron Blurr and
Animated Blurr.

Targetmaster Blurr with Haywire

Like Hot Rod
and Kup Blurr returned to the shelves in 1987 as a Targetmaster. His fists, and the peg on the shield, were modified to the 5mm size. A new 5mm peg hole was added to the vehicle, at the front of the windscreen, to allow his new companion Haywire to be mounted there in gun mode.

Haywire is a typically static Targetmaster with a grey upper body and lower legs - these colours are common to the other four western exclusive Targetmaster Guns: Firebolt (with Hot Rod)
& Recoil (with Kup) and Fracas (with Scourge) & Nightstick (with Cyclonus) as well as the reuse of the Decepticons guns as Nightstick (with Artfire) and Nebulon (with Stepper) respectively. The toys that were released in both countries use a different colour scheme: The Autobot Targetmaster guns, Pinpointer (with Crosshairs), Peacemaker (with Pointblank) & Spoilsport (with Sureshot), all have a common red & black colour scheme while the Decepticon Targetmaster guns, Aimless (with Missfire), Caliburst (with Slugslinger) and Blowpipe (with Triggerhappy) all use a grey & blue colour scheme. Haywire transforms by folding his chest forward onto the front of his legs revealing the single gun barrel extending from his body behind his legs and his 5mm peg handle mounted in the middle of his back.

I like the addition of Haywire even if it has cost Blurr his gun.

Blurr is the only 1986 car redone as a Targetmaster yet to be re-released. Hot Rod
and Kup both had superb Transformers collection releases including the original & Targetmaster weapons. We await the day a similar version of Blurr is released.

Friday, 10 December 2010



Computron is the combined form of the Technobots composed of the following toys:

TK-01 Afterburner

TK-02 Nosecone

TK-03 Strafe

TK-04 Lightspeed

TK-05 Scattershot


Afterburner's robot mode forms the basis for both limb modes. Remove the gun and fold the arms to the sides to start

Arm Mode: Fold the head forward to form the Scramble City connector. Plug a fist into the robot's feet.

Leg Mode: Plug a foot into the hole in the robot's feet.

The instructions show Afterburner serving as Computron's right arm. When in arm mode Afterburner can mount both of his vehicle mode weapons as extra firepower for Computron. I put the Plasma Pulse Cannon on the top of the arm with the Incendiary Missile Launcher underneath.


Nosecone's robot mode is the basis for both his limb mode. Start each of them by folding the lower legs back 180 degrees, folding the arms to the side and re-attaching the missiles.

Leg Mode: Plug a foot into one of the holes at the bottom of the toy.

Arm Mode: Fold the head forward to form the Scramble City connector. Fold the drill back into place. Plug a hand into the hole on the bottom of the toy.

Nosecone usually serves as Computron 's left leg. Nosecone is capable of becoming a longer limb if you leave the robot legs folded out: there are 5mm peg holes at either end of the leg. I prefer the more compact version.


Strafe's construction is unique amongst the Scramble City/Special Team combiner limbs: he lacks a fold out peg. The connection for both modes is done through the head with the body's articulation moving it round. Start from jet mode for each limb configuration, but fold the robot head out so it points out the front.

Arm Mode: Fold the head down so it points out under the jet. Peg a fist into the rear of the jet.

Leg Mode: Fold the wings down and peg a foot into the rear of the jet.

Both modes allow you to keep the light-pulse blasters attached. The instructions show Strafe as Computron's left arm where the light-pulse blasters look good sticking out the top of the shoulder.


Arm Mode: Use the car mode, but pull the front of the car - from in front of the front wheel - forward and up to reveal the peg hole. Peg the fist in. Fold the Scramble City connector out from under the car.

Leg Mode: Use the robot mode, retract the legs and swing the arms to the sides of the body. Fold the feet backwards. Peg a foot into the bottom of the toy so that the Computron foot is facing out of the same side as the front of the robot.

The instructions show Lightspeed serving as Computron's right leg.


Scattershot forms the central body of the Technobots combined form Computron. Take Scattershot's robot mode, remove the gun and shoulder cannons, fold the arms down to the side and then in so they're along the sides of the body. Bend the lower legs back at the knees. Slide the larger chest plate round the sides of the smaller one attached to the robot. Slide the Computron combined robot head like a helmet over Scattershot's head.

The four smaller Technobots then attach to Scattershot to form Computron, with one of the arms holding Scattershot's gun. It's important to note that even though Computron's western boxset pictures the combined robot holding two guns, only one is supplied in both the boxset and the individual Scattershot.

Similar colours used throughout the toy give Computron a cohesive feel, while the advanced limb vehicles make decent arms and legs that don't look for the most part like there's obviously bits of vehicle hanging off. All the limbs can incorporate their vehicle weapons in this combined mode, with Strafe looking
especially good with his attached. The vehicle weapons for the other three toys all have 5mm pegs (Strafe's does to, but his have an extra notch) so Computron can use these as hand weapons. My only complaint is I'm not sure that the red face on the brown head quite works white or silver would separate the two more. Articulation is limited as is usual for these combined robots: The shoulders and hips turn and that's it.

Computron works for me. Love it.

Computron was sold in the US or the UK in 1987 either as the individual toys listed above or in a box set.

The Japanese Takara version of Computron was called Computicon. He was made up of the following Japanese Transformer toys:

C-86 Scattershot

C-87 Nosecone

C-88 Strafe

C-89 Lightspeed

C-90 Afterburner

Computicon was also sold as a giftset numbered C-91. These toys were first sold in 1987. I have a Masterforce leaflet showing them to still be available into 1988.

Computron's Japanese name is Computicon. It's odd seeing the -con suffix, usually associated with the Evil Decepticons, on a heroic toy. In Japan the factions have different names: The Heroic Cybertrons and Evil Destrons. The -tron suffix there is generally associated with the Destrons (Megatron, Galvatron) so the name for Computron changes.

Computron has never been re-released or repainted in either Japan, the US or the UK. However at one point he was rumoured as a repainted boxset for the Beast Machines toyline to supplement the Vehicon forces.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

TK-05 Scattershot


I've been a Doctor Who fan since I was 5ish, a Star Wars & Blake's 7 fan since 7 and a Star Fleet fan since I was 9. So I like my Spaceships. But do I like Scattershot's spaceship mode? We've a white cannon at the front, mounted on a cherry red cockpit which is in turn on a white a brown body that expands up, down & to the sides as it stretched to the rear where there are a cherry red wing on either side. There's loads of detail moulded into the odd block shape including a pair of grey gun barrels just as the body starts to rise behind the cockpit, large moulded engines in the rear of the toy and a brown rotating cannon on top of the rear of the toy. The toy has an action feature: press down on the grey roof of the cockpit and the cannon splits in two down the middle, folding out to the sides allowing the middle of it to extend and exposing the silver grey end. A fold down landing gear can be found under the cockpit.

Scattershot has a documented Attack jet mode: Take Computron's chest shield (supplied with Scattershot along with the head, hands and feet of the larger robot) and position it with the two points at the top facing forward. Slide Scattershot into it, providing the spaceship mode with a more secure & stable base.

Scattershot also has an undocumented tank/ground vehicle mode: Fold the landing gear down, then fold the wings down to the side so that the small wheels in the tips of the wings touch the floor. These wheels are not mentioned in any of the instructions, so this is a nice little bonus using them.

Scattershot also has a defined base mode: Fold the sides of the jet down 45 degrees and stand. Slide the points of Computron's chest shield over the sides of the cannon and open the cannon up. Lovely chunky ground based cannon.

Now Scattershot is based round the cannon, and it is obviously a cannon. But it does occasionally put me in mind of Perceptor and his Microscope. The advanced Technobot theme vaguely fits with Perceptor's Autobot scientist role and you could see Scattershot as a space telescope. So if Scattershot is Perceptor who are the rest of the Technobots? Well Perceptor came out in 1985 and there's a drill tank in 1985 so Nosecone becomes Twin Twist (Twin Missiles + Drill), and where you have Twin Twist you also get Top Spin who is a good fit for Strafe in terms of the vehicle mode. Two toys left, and there is another paiting of Autobots in 1985: The Deluxe Autobots. Roadbuster, the jeep serving as the ground assault commander is a good match for the heavily armed Afterburner leaving Whirl to become Lightspeed, which I will freely admit is where the analogy breaks down. Totally.

Transformation: Remove the Computron chest shield, if present, and fold the cannon down 90 degrees. Swing the sides of the ship forward 180 degrees. Rotate the rear of the ship so that the top cannon & grey dual cannons are on your right so it becomes the robot's body. Fold the cannon upon to the robot's back. Fold the top an bottom of the rear of the ship out to become the arms. Fold the chest plate down and raise the head. Fold the wings back. Peg another cannon into his right shoulder (on your left) and place the gun in his hand.

Scattershot's robot mode is big and chunky: it feels a bigger and more solid robot than the previous Special Team leaders. The robot mode repositions all the colours: the brown ends up on the shoulders, upper arms and lower legs as well as the additional automatic acid-pellet gun. The white forms the body, head and upper legs. The cherry is confined to the waist, chest shield and lower arms as well as some vehicle mode kibble attached to the back and legs. The face & visor and painted light blue which makes them hard to tell apart: I'd have painted one of them silver, probably the face. Articulation: the cannons on the shoulders stiffly turn but the shoulders themselves are much looser. Each arm bends in twice at the elbows allowing them to be folded across the chest. If you fold back the cannon the waist will turn. The legs turn at the hips and bend at the knees. I think this makes him the most articulated of the Scramble City Special team leaders.

Scattershot forms the central body of the Technobots combined form Computron. Take Scattershot's robot mode, remove the gun and shoulder cannons, fold the arms down to the side and then in so they're along the sides of the body. Bend the lower legs back at the knees. Slide the larger chest plate round the sides of the smaller one attached to the robot. Slide the Computron combined robot head like a helmet over Scattershot's head.

The four smaller Technobots then attach to Scattershot to form Computron. It's important to note that even though Computron's western boxset pictures the combined robot holding two guns, only one is supplied in both the boxset and the individual Scattershot.

Overall: Top, top toy. I liked it when I saw it in 1987 and couldn't afford to buy one. I love it in 2010 now I own one. Best Special Team/Scramble City leader.

Scattershot was sold in the US & UK in 1987 as boxed Technobot TK-05 and, as we've already said, was part of a Computron giftset. He was first sold in Japan in the same year as Transformers toy C-86 Scattershot and also as part of the C-91 Computicon giftset. I have a 1988 Masterforce leaflet showing the toy for sale the next year as well.

Scattershot has returned once, as a Legends sized toy which is a slight repaint of the very similar Legends of Cybertron Vector Prime, in the Universe Legends Special Team leaders box, while a similar name has been used several times for other toys which aren't the same character: Cybertron Scattorshot, Cybertron Defence Scattorshot and Movie Scattorshot.