Monday, 8 August 2011

Roller & The Ark

Autobot Roller

For more photos CLICK HERE

Roller is essentially a robot skeleton, thin even by the standards of the Bayformer toys. The white plastic used for his arms & upper legs doesn't help! His lower legs, obviously vehicle tracks, and the body & head, a single molded piece, are cast in grey plastic which doesn't look to be the same as any of the greys that are used in the Ark's vehicle shell. The lower chest is painted gold while the shoulders & head are painted blue. The head is very Prime like, as is fitting a toy who's only previous name use was as a vehicle with the original Optimus Prime. It's not just the colour, because the head possesses a crest, face plate and ears though a lot of the moulded detail is lost in it'd paint job. His articulation isn't bad: both knees bend and both hips are ball joints as is his left shoulder. His right shoulder turns and the elbow on that arm bends inward. Unfortunately his right hand, a 3mm c-clip claw, is orientated so the open face points to the side of the robot, not forward, which makes you think that a ball joint at the right elbow would have been better allowing the lower arm to swivel round. On the side of the lower arm is a scientific instrument that looks like a moulded together version of a ball missile & launcher with the tail of the missile pointing out the back! The tail is a 3mm bar for adding extra weapons and there's an extra 3mm under the arm too. The robot itself is bigger than a Legion class figure but not quite as big as a Commander so the chances of it being released by itself might be slim. He fits perfectly into the Ark's cockpit in robot mode.

Fold the inner halves of the lower legs forward to give Roller a tracked robot mode.

To Transform into vehicle mode: Fold his left arm across his chest so the hand is over his crotch. Oh dear. Pull his right shoulder away, there's a slot underneath it which meets a tab on the body, then bend back and swing round so the right arm is above his head. Fold the inner lower legs down so they point out the bottom of the legs. Fold the legs forward 45 degrees at the hip and then the lower legs forward 135 degrees at the knee, locking the slot on each lower leg onto the tab on the shoulder. Place on a surface with the robot's chest pointing down. Fold up the solar panel & radar dish.

Roller's vehicle mode is a space rover vehicle, similar to those being used by NASA for unmanned exploration. It's tracked, with a wheel at either end of each track, and a manoeuvring arm sticking out the front. The arm swivels at it'd base and then has three alternating joints down the length of the arm, the last of which is the elbow of the robot's right arm: I mentioned changing this to a ball joint above and doing so would have no impact on this mode. The vehicle mode can roll down the Ark's ramp perfectly well.

The only remotely similar vehicle mode Transformers to this that I can think of are Micromaster Countdown and Armada Comettor. It's always nice to get something a bit different but he feels a bit unstable: in particular the tracks don't peg into the side of the body that well. It might help is the hips or, more especially, the knees of the robot mode locked at the angle they were meant to be for the vehicle mode. But the vast majority of people who own Roller won't have bought the set he's in for him anyway.

Roller was sold in 2011 with the Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Ark playset. In Japan this set is numbered CV-01 and was released in July 2011.

Cyberverse Ark

The Ark has been a part of Transformers history since th word go featuring in both the comic & cartoon versions of the story and reappearing in Beast Wars & Armada. So it's not a surprise to see the Bayverse having a shot at it. What's more surprising is this ids the first version of the Ark to interact with other Transformers figures. It's only previous toy representation was a Titanium miniature which bore more of a resemblance to MB's Starbird toy than the fictional ark! I thought that Hasbro had gone for the double here as this new version bears a big resemblance to the Star Wars: Clone Wars Magna Guard Ship but I am assured by someone who has seen the film that the Ark toy looks like what appears on the screen even if I can't find an image on the Interweb to back that up.

Transformers has a history of vehicles that can work with smaller toys: Action Masters & Micromasters come to mind and, to a much lesser extent, Armada. But this is the first time for a while Hasbro's had a real good go at it. It's 22cm x 22cm x 8cm in size so while it won't take larger toys it's on the right sort of scale for Legends figures and the Cyberverse figures it was made for. On the front of the ship is an opening cockpit. Sitting a figure inside makes a noise and activates a space ship cruising sound. Yes, I have broken the habit of a lifetime and put batteries (2xAA) in s toy I'm reviewing! Roller fits in perfectly as do most Cyberverse Legion figures, with a few exceptions. Commanders have proved more troublesome, but Optimus Prime fits if you shorten his legs. The size looks large enough for a Star Wars figure: my Y-Wing pilot fitted in ok, but not only would Admiral Ackbar not fit in but his head popped off as I attempted to get him in and now it won't go back OK onto the body of my prized Mon Calamari officer!

Besides the cockpit is a small button that when pressed fires the guns under the ship which light up accompanied by an appropriate noise. To the left & right of the cockpit are a sizeable weapon array consisting of a quad gun with a missile projecting out of the middle and an array of moulded missile lubes. One of the quad guns is a missile launcher, with a trigger projecting out the top while the other is non functional which is a bit of a shame. However each quad gun & missile array is removable when the Ark is in base mode and since the quad guns are otherwise identical they can be swapped. Each weapons unit is attached via a 5mm post which means they can be used by other Transformers toys. The Ark itself has four 5mm peg holes mounted into the hull which the weapons can be attached to. There's an additional two guns supplied that can peg into these holes: each gun bends where it's attached to the 5mm peg but the connection is very poor and easily come apart. On the top of each gun is a 3mm bar allowing them to be held by Cyberverse toys or to have extra weapons attached. The 5mm peg holes are also subject to varying quality control: the pegs struggle to fit into several of the holes and when you have got the pegs back in removing the extra guns becomes a two step process: try to pull the gun off, leaving the peg behind and then remove the peg with a pair of pliers! In addition to the 5mm holes there are three 3mm Cyberverse post holes on each side of the toy for attaching Cyberverse weapons to the ship. There's two 3mm bar as well, but these are both on the same side of the ship and are intended for attaching extra Cyberverse base toys when you transform the ark.

Transformation: pull each side of the toy out, causing the centre of the toy including the cockpit, to rise up forming a tower and sounding the transformation noise. Fold each half of the side out further to expand the bas area. Fold the ramp forward at the front of the toy. Fold the cockpit down to form a platform in the tower. Raise the repair bay on the left hand side of the toy & fold out all five pillars on the space bridge on your right.

In base mode the ark expands out into a semi circular platform formed of five segments. At the front of the middle segment is a ramp, with the tower at the rear and a gun in the middle. To it's left is a segment with a raised repair bay & one of the weapons set and to the left of that there's another segment which is empty space. I'd have stuck the repair bay on this as the opposing segment on the far right has the space bridge with a flat platform segment separating it from the middle. Even just a floor panel, the same as the blue panels with hexagonal holes in that cover the middle three segments, would have improved the appearance.

The cannon, in the middle of the central segment, is mounted on a base that turns 90 degrees to either side. The cannon has both a 5mm & 3mm peg socket on the top of it. One the cannon's turntable base are two Minicon ports either side of the cannon. To the right of the ramp is a button which when pressed causes the cannon to light up. Placing a car on the top of the ramp causes the lights either side of the ramp to glow and an alarm to sound. Pressing the button to the left of the ramp causes the top of the ramp to lift propelling any car in place down it to the sound of weapons firing and the guns either side of the ramp lighting up. The lower half of the tower is a jail cell, with a pair of spring loaded doors. Half way up is a platform for figures to stand on with the cockpit window behind it producing an effect similar to the large window behind the Emperor's throne on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. The tower platform just sits there, and while adding extra weight to it might cause it to sag, a few 3mm Cyberverse post holes round the edge to plug the smaller, lighter weapons into might have livened it up a bit.

The repair bay is little more than a raised table with a 3mm Cyberverse peg hole at each corner, one of which can be used for the little plastic arm supplied with the set. Good luck getting that to go in! With the exception of the main gun there's no other new 3mm holes in this mode, but there's several 5mm ports: one on the top of the ramp, one now exposed on the top of each of the moulded missile bays, two hidden in the floor pattern of the central segment, two unintentional ones using the screw holes at the back of the central segment and one each on the outer edge of the toy. The space bridge teleport platform is just moulded detail and doesn't have a function, you feel it's just wasted space that could have been replaced by a pop up cannon or even just another flat platform like the middle three segments, with another covering the opposing exposed segment on the other side to give a solid floor right round the playset

The Ark is designed to be used with other Cyberverse playsets and each other outer segments has four connectors for attaching other toys to it: two along each side and two at the rear. As per all the Cyberverse playsets the clips are on your left and the bars on your right. Unfortunately both bars & clips are sunk into the bodywork of the base mode meaning you can't connect Arks together side to side to form a complete circle.

Overall: nice spaceship and decent base. There's a few places where the detail lets it down like the lack of floor plating on the outer base segments, the add one guns that come apart too easily and the inability to connect two arks side by side. Nice to see a couple of Minicon ports on the base mode, but would it have hurt them to add a couple to the space ship's hull? On a similar note, and this is really critical of them, but how much cooler would the toy have been if that ramp at the front had had Micromaster base connectors at the bottom and on the outer edges of the base mode? Kids could ignore them and the fanboys could go sqweeee!

See here and here for more pictures.

The Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Ark playset was sold in 2011 with Roller. In Japan this set is numbered CV-01 and was released in July 2011.


Hasbro have dropped strong hints there's a gold coloured repaint of this coming down the line.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Commander Powerglide

Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Commander Powerglide

When pictures emerged from the 2011 toyfair one of the things that drew the most attention was Cyberverse Commander Powerglide. It appears some people weren't 100% happy with Universe Ultra Powerglide. I'll give you that the initial version was the wrong colour but it's been repainted twice (once each in Japan and the USA) in the correct colours. People moaned it was too large (they moaned that Universe Legends Warpath and Cosmos were too small) and wanted a new version at deluxes size. I'll bet they'll be upset that this one's too small as well! I thought it a bit odd that the Movie line was going for an obvious G1 reference so early on, it's almost as if there wasn't enough confidence in the Movie product. As it turns out this seems to be what people want: he sold out within hours of being advertised at Big Bad Toy Store and on the only two occasions I've seen Cyberverse Wave 2 on the shelves the Powerglides (1 per case of 6) were gone. (OK, I found some in sealed crates in an overhead rack in Swindon's Tescos)

Cyberverse Powerglide has got the look of Minibot Powerglide down to a tee: Purpley red all over with grey arms, upper legs & weapons. He's got bending ankles, ball jointed knees & hips, turning inner shoulders & ball jointed outer shoulders, bending elbows & wrists that bend in. He comes with two hand weapons formed from the vehicle's missiles. One is a pair of missiles connected by a 3mm bar to a third missile, the other is a cluster of four missiles folded together and held by a peg. If I have one complaint about the robot it concerns the shoulders & the body: The shoulders are attached to panels that peg on to the body but the peg connection isn't the strongest and they can easily come off.

Transformation: Fold the feet into the front of the legs. Fold the head down into the chest bringing the nosecone into place with it. Fold the waist down and back. Unpeg the shoulders & fold them down so the panels stick out to the sides. Rotate each shoulder panel by 180 degrees. Fold the shoulder panels down & bring them together. Fold the hands into the forearms. Swing the arms down so they point forward along the plane's body. Fold the arms up and swing the wings round & peg them onto the body of the jet. Bend the legs at the knee & hip and bring them forward onto the back of the jet body to form the engines. Fold both missile units out and attach to the slots under the wing tips, with the peg fitting into a hole in the folded up arms.

Vehicle mode is a pretty good A-10 Thunderbolt which is what it should be. Purpley red all over save for the arms, stored under the wings, and the missiles. There's some lovely detail on the toy including a chin gun, moulded cannons under the wings and three sets of fold down landing gear. The plane isn't without it's problems: it's back heavy and tends to tip backwards if left on it's landing gear and the wings don't attack that securely to the body.

Not a bad Powerglide at all, and probably the best of the first six Cyberverse commanders.

Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Commander Green A-10

Powerglide has a repaint scheduled. The purple/red is swapped for green and the grey of the waist & shoulder panel hinges becomes bronzey orange. I don't know it's name, who it's for or when it's due - all we have is that picture from Botcon.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Commander & Action Set Optimus Prime

Cyberverse Commander Optimus Prime

Cyberverse takes the two smallest sizes of Transformers, the Legends and Scouts, and renames them as Legion & Commander using them nearly exclusively as smaller versions of larger toys. The Deluxe toys become Legions, the larger toys become commanders. Over the entire line the hands are molded with 3mm c-clips to use with a new 3mm standard of weapons handle.

Cyberverse Optimus Prime comes in robot mode but as per usual we'll start with the vehicle mode. As per usual with Movie Primes, he's a long nosed truck, mainly red but with a blue cab and flame details. The truck feels elongated overall, with the cab in particular feeling too long. The flatbed at the back of the cab has a 3mm bar mounted at about the point where the trailer hitch would be: the bar is set so it runs front to back. There's another longer bar running along the back of the cab. Either can be used to attack weapons with c-clips, but the one of the flatbed is used here with the jet pack supplied with him which gives the truck cab wings and engines like a jet plane. I'm told this comes from the films but I think it looks very, very silly. On the top of the pack are a pair of 3mm holes which can be used to mount Optimus' twin guns on to give him some firepower in vehicle mode.

Transformation: Pull the nose of the truck forward. Fold the sides of the rear of the truck cab out and forward till they're flush against the sides of the front of the cab. Fold the front of the vehicle down to form the legs, rotate at the waist 180 degrees and peg in under the cab. Push the waist forward. Fold the top of the rear of the cab down revealing the head. Separate the flatbed down the middle and fold up onto the robot's back. Unfold the arms.

Prime's robot mode is nearly the same height as my RTS Windcharger but considerably less bulky: his shoulders come out as far as Windcharger's chest does. The height is achieved using an extension to the legs: I think this makes him look too tall and the robot works better with the extension retracted. The blue in robotmode is confined to the chest, with the red on the lower parts of the limbs and black/painted silver upper limb pieces. His articulation included ball jointed shoulders & hips plus bending elbows & ankles. In theory his waist turns on a ball joint, but the stability of the toy relies on the waist being pegged in properly when it faces front. Unfortunately it's a little hard at times to get the small connector into the slightly smaller hole!

His hands in this mode are 3mm c-clips allowing him to hold his weapons or hold onto 3mm bars on the other toys. I understand why the Scouts in Energon all had 5mm peg hole hands but a peg hole that size then dictates the size of the arm and thus the hand. I've liked many of the Scout class toys but always felt the Basic class used previously and slightly smaller was better. The Commanders feel more like a return to that scale. Prime's jet pack, using a different c-clip, attaches to the trailer hitch 3mm bar and looks far better in robot mode. Once again the weapons can be mounted on the backpack. With the jet pack removed you can still mount the guns on him courtesy of a 3mm hole on each side of his back, formed from the underside of the flatbed whose halves don't quite mesh together in this mode due to the trailer hitch sticking out of his bottom.

Overall: I'm not 100% keen on the aesthetic of Movie Primes. The vehicle mode looks too long and I don't like the way the flatbed halves don't mesh together. The main thing wrong with this toy is the price: It's not a £9 toy. £7 maybe. If you want an Optimus Prime try and skip this one: the action set version looks much better value for money.

Optimus Prime is a "get used to it" toy. It was sold as a preview toy in the USA with a pair of 3D glasses, is packed 3 per case of 6 in the first wave of Cyberverse Commanders, returns in the second wave, is repainted with new weapons in the third wave *and* is included as a minor repaint with a new transforming trailer piece in one of the second wave Cyberverse Action Sets.

Cyberverse Action Set Optimus Prime

Now when you think Optimus Prime, you think truck: a cab towing a trailer. Yet in recent years trailer less Prime cabs have become more and more common. Combat Hero Optimus Prime doesn't have one but he has got a massive cannon on his flatbed. It's not until 2002's Armada Supercon that the floodgates really open following which Energon 2-Pack, Universe Spychanger, Masterpiece, Robotmasters, both Classics Voyager & deluxe and Reveal the Shield deluxe come with no trailer. In addition no version of Movie or Animated Optimus has ever had a trailer till now. So when it was announced that in Dark of the Moon Prime would have a trailer many people were pleased.

The Cyberverse Action Set takes the Cyberverse Commander Optimus Prime as it's base. Prime looses the jetpack and the pair of guns for this release, and has his deco simplified with no flames and bright plastic colours. But essentially it's the same commander toy so your decision on whether to buy the Commander or not hinges on how much you like the accessories and whether you want to help clear the shelves of a substantially overpacked toy.

The new trailer is mainly silver with pale blue edges and front. A wheel array is under the rear but only one of the two wheel pairs turn. Connection is via a c-clip under the front of the trailer, but the C-clip is fixed in place, unlike those seen on many modern weapons, so the trailer is fixed in it's orientation to the cab. Fixing this would have been simple but I can see that may have made things more difficult later. On the front of the trailer is a 3mm bar for added on weapons. There's a long clip and a bar on the rear of the trailer which will let him just about tow Bumblebee's APC. On the roof is a 5mm peg hole for Mechtech and other weapons and a 5mm peg. Sadly the peg isn't a Minicon port, that would have been nice. Most of the roof of the trailer will pull away (eventually) allowing you to see that there's a missile launcher and missile on the underside which can then be pegged into the 5mm peg hole which has remained in the remaining roof pieces.

The Trailers two alternate modes are far better defined than Bumblebee's APC's base modes were. Transformation starts with removing the roof/missile launcher and un-hitching the trailer. Separate the middle of the trailer and fold down to the sides. Unpeg the grey arms and swing the sides of the trailer out to the sides. Fold the panel the arms are connected down under the trailer so they point down. Fold the side panels of the truck out to the sides and back do they point away and forward from the front of the trailer and their fronts slot into the front of the trailed. Fold the wheels out from under the back of the trailer to form a ramp leading down from the now raised platform. Peg the missile launcher into the 5mm peg hole.

The Base mode you get is a ramp (yeah!) with a V shaped section of Wall sticking out behind it. You'll need to swing the cannon out to the sides to get some higher vehicles onto the platform and only shorter ones will fit due to the space at the rear of the platform being taken up by the support for the missile launcher. The platform deck has 4 3mm halls for Cyberverse weapons.

The second alternate mode for the trailer is a power up for the Cyberverse Commander Prime. Fold the ramp so it points down at an angle of 90 degrees from the ramp. Unhook the trailer sides. Remove the missile launcher and fold it's support back. Raise the front of the trailer up. Stand on the wheel assembly. Clip the trailer hitch on Prime's back into the c-clip on the transformer trailer. Slide each foot into the clips on the wheel base. Fold the arms forward and rotate the black pieces so the 5mm holes are on top. Slide Prime's hands over the handles then turn the trailer sides down so that the Autobot Symbol faces the right way up.

Prime's Assault Vehicle Mode isn't a proper robot formed from a combined cab and trailer like Ultra Magnus or Powermaster Optimus Prime, more like a person in a mech suit like the Power Loader in Aliens. Both sets of arms move well together which is better than on some similar toys I've seen where as soon as the figure is holding on it immobilises both sets of arms. The right arm ends in a claw while the left has a double barrelled cannon. There's a 5mm peg hole on the top of each and another peg hole on each "foot". There's a 3mm bar on each shoulder and another one on the top of the 3 barrelled launcher above the robot's head.

Just adding a trailer to Prime would be enough to please some people, but to get a base and an OK power up out of it as well is a good effort. I don't feet either mode is quite perfect: the base isn't as good as Bumblebee's APC Base and there are better power ups to robot out there. But still for the size it's a nice toy and there's a feeling that the more Cyberverse pieces you have that you can connect together, the better.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Action Set Bumblebee

I have not gone out of my way to own Movie Legends Bumblebee's but have ended up with two different moulds in two packs which I've bought for other toys. Movie 1 Legends Bumblebee with Battle Damage came with the superb Scorponok while ROTF NEST Bumblebee came with Shadow Striker aka EVIL Universe Wheelie. Truth be told I've not exactly bought this set for the Cyberverse Legion Bumblebee either. A new mold, Bumblebee's third movie legends version, it looks like the Camero used in the film.

Transformation is easy: the doors and front wheels pull out to form arms, the bonnet folds forward to become the chest, the legs unfold and the feet fold down.

As you mignt be able to tell from that, his articulation has had a major upgrade from the ROTF model with bending ankles & knees, ball jointed hips & outer shoulders plus inner shoulders that swing back. His left hand has a c-clip shape moulded into it for him told hold Cyberverse weapons. He's presently stood in front of me touting Ironhide's combined blaster. Bumblebee comes with a V shaped jetpack that clips round his back. Sadly he can't wear it in car mode.

But it's not the figure you want me to talk about is it?

Bumblebee comes with what's labelled as an Mobile Battle Bunker. Once you transform it into vehicle mode, it's a green APC towing a grey trailer. There's space on the trailer and the roof for a Cyberverse vehicle: Ironhide's sitting on the back of mine with Barricade riding on the roof. On the front of the vehicle is a 3mm bar and matching clip: you could connect two of these nose to nose, have him towed by Optimus Prime's trailer or mount weapons on the front. Littered over the vehicle are a number of 3mm peg holes, three on each side and two on the top, for Cyberverse weapons to be plugged into. I've got Prime's Blasters plugged into my roof holes and still have room for Barricade. The instructions show Bumblebee's jet pack attached to the top of the vehicle but I can't find any way to properly attach it so have stored it under the trailer where it fits nicely. He comes with one weapon you can peg in to the holes: a missile. When not in use the missile is also stored under the trailer. If you get the balance right Bumblebee can just about hold it. The missile fits into a launcher formed by folding the upper car deck up & forward then swinging the car plates down 180 degrees. The launcher then sits over the front of the vehicle, and a 3mm bar is exposed on it's stem.

By folding out the missile launcher, then folding the ramp onto the back of the APC and facing the cannon backwards a mobile armoured missile platform can be formed.

For his official base mode one remove any added and stored weapons from the APC mode. Turn the vehicle onto it's roof, then turn the trailer so the top faces up. Fold the trailer down to form a ramp. Split the cab of the APC in two down the middle and fold to the sides. Raise the towers out of the APC cab halves.

Basically it's a ramp. We like ramps. And as a bonus it's a ramp with a launcher! At the top of the ramp is a platform and at the back of the platform is a little black lever that when pressed raises the platform catapulting any vehicle on it down the ramp. The towers each have a 5mm peg hole in the top of them allowing additional larger Mechtech weapons to be mounted there. The 3mm bar and c-clip connector have ended up on either side of the base mode allowing it to be attached to any of the other Cyberverse bases. However due to the way the back of the base is made from the opened out APC cab it should be possible to connect a pair of these bases back to back to form a larger structure. If I've one complaint about the base mode then it concerns the towers: They're obviously 6 barrelled Gattling Guns and my inclination is to fold either them forward or swing the cab halves forward so they point in that direction.

Base Mode 2 is formed by taking Base Mode 1 and folding the missile launcher out from underneath it, up the back of the base and pointing it forward over the ramp. Bumblebee or another Cyberverse figure can then stand behind the base and hold the missile launcher using the 3mm bar handles at the rear of the launcher.

This set is top stuff, especially when you get a few other Cyberverse sets to link it up to. Because the set includes a Legends/Legion size toy, the accompanying base is larger and more substantial than the bases that come with the Commander figures in the wave 2 Action Sets. If you're going to own the Cyberverse bases you need at least one of these to form part of it.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

UN-20 United Rumble & Frenzy and Reveal The Shield Demolition Rumble

Transformers United Rumble & Frenzy

Since the original Rumble and Frenzy are repaints of each other, the mold being a repurposed Microchange toy that was sold previously in both colour variants, we readily accept that you can do one as the repaint of the other. However I'm struggling to think of many other occasions that two toys made from the same mould were packed together. Build Typhoon and Build Cyclone are heavy remoulds of each other that featured in the Car Robots Build King boxset, and similarly there's two of each limb type in boxsets of the Superlink combiners (Bruticus, Buildron and Superion) and their later western repaints for Classics & Universe 2/Revenge of the Fallen. Robotmasters Skywarp and Thundercracker are packaged together, but are repaints of Starscream which was previously available.

Rumble and Frenzy come in robot mode so we'll start by transforming them into their vehicle mode. Remove the weapons. Fold each arm down to the sides. Fold the chest plate up past the head. Straighten the legs, peg them together and fold the waist up 90 degrees till it won't move any further forward. Fold the feet forward 90 degrees and then fold the heel spurs into the feet. Fold the legs up a further 90 degrees plugging the tabs in the feet into the slots on the underside of the folded back chest plate. Fold the pile drivers, under each arm, up on to the top of each shoulder. Swing the arm round 90 degrees at the bicep and retract the ends of the pile drivers. Fold each forearm and wrist in, pegging the underside of each hand together, drawing the arms in to form the sides of the tank and slipping a tab on the end of the combined hands into a tab under the back of the tank. Clip the guns into each side of the tank turret.

You usually associate Rumble & Frenzy with being tapes, but if they had to be a vehicle I suppose a tank is a good one allowing them to incorporate the weapons from robot mode and giving them a base reminiscent of the shape of the cassettes they used to be. The tank mode is a dual barrelled anti aircraft vehicle similar to those used for Energon Blight/Kickback. I've heard it suggested that they might be either a Japanese Type-87 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun or a Russian Zsu or 9K22 Tunguska

It's Transformers Tank Test Time!

Does the turret turn ? Yes a full 360 degrees plus the gun & grenade launcher unit on the front of the turret swings out to each side.

Do the guns elevate? Yes, courtesy of the ball joint that each C-clip is attached to, they both elevate independently.

100% pass!

Having the silver painted gun barrels attached by c-clips gives you the option of customising the tank's weaponry. From my stack of C-clip weapons I think (unsurprisingly) Darkmount(Straxus) has the best weapons to lend to these two but as ever Tomahawk's missile launchers work well while the Rumble/Frenzy guns look good attached to Tomahawk's wing tips. There's an additional 3mm bar behind the turret to add weapons onto plus each a bar on the side of the base of each gun barrel. The side gun barrels themselves can be used as 3mm bars albeit that any attached weapon will be a little loose and the same is true for the grenade launchers and small central gun barrel. There are a pair of genuine 3mm bars hidden under the back of the tank but these aren't wonderfully accessible. As ever the tracks are moulded stationary with movement provided by wheels embedded in the tracks. Colourwise this mode is mainly black for Rumble and dark blue for Frenzy with some red/light blue respectively and silver paint applied to the gun barrels and some panelling. A close examination of the tank reveals the familiar tape robot chest forming the back of the tank body.

Now we need to transform his back to a robot. Pull the hands out of the back of the tank and fold the tank treads out to the sides. Fold the legs & waist down. Fold the feet down and the heel spurs out. Fold the rear of the tank down over the robot's head to form the chest. Push the arms up at the shoulders - his right shoulder on my Rumble is difficult to lock into place, but my Frenzy is fine. Fold the tank treads sticking out the top of the arms back. Fold the tank treads sticking out the front of the arm out to the sides. Point the gun barrels on the back up.

The original Rumble & Frenzy have several distinguishing features: their small cube like heads, tape like chest, monochromatic colour scheme and weapons that can be mounted either on the back or arms. The new scout design includes all of these. The head is a mix of the original and the cartoon heads, which were quite similar to start with. The chest is a similar design too with the tape holes on each side and lines crossing the chest between them. As for the colours, the following are used on each toy, which are a pretty good match to the originals:

Upper Legs, Shoulders & Turret Base*RedBlue
Lower Limbs, Chest & Head*RedBlue
Tank Treads, Elbows & WaistBlackDark Blue

* The colours on these pieces are subtly different.
The RTS version bellow shows these are different sprues.

As transformed the gun barrels end up on the robot's back reminding you of the back mounted guns the original have. As we mentioned above the gun barrels are attached with C-clips so they can easily be removed and clipped onto the 3mm bars on the back of each arm's hand making them resemble the arm mounted weapons of the original tape robots. The bar on the back of the turret is now behind the robot's head so you can use that for mounting extra weapons.

Articulation is good: the foot bends in the middle, the ankle bends forward, knee, hip, neck & shoulder joints are all ball joints, there's a bicep swivel, the elbow bend as does the wrists. The waist bends in the middle as part of the transformation and that may or may not be of use to you here.

Rumble and Frenzy were, in the cartoon, known for turning their arms into pile drivers, an ability probably sourced from Rumble's tech spec where he can produce Earthquakes via a completely different means. However the pile driver gimmick, previously seen on Alternators Rumble, now makes it way onto both Rumble & Frenzy. A small amount of transformation is involved: fold the tank tread, hanging off the back of the shoulder, up onto the top of the shoulder. Straighten the arms and then swing each arm through 180 degrees do that the robot arm points up. Bend the elbow and the wrist on the robot arms so they're hidden behind what is now his shoulder. The pile drivers that are now hang down from the shoulders are functional: press the silver panel in the side of the arm to deploy the pile driver in a punching action.

I like this pair of toys: they're obviously who they're meant to be, they incorporate a gimmick, the figures aren't bad, the vehicles, while small, work well and there's good use of the C-Clip system. I was a little unsure at paying Japanese Voyager price for 2 scouts (£30 after postage and a narrow escape from a CUTA action) but that's looking like a very good buy: reported as being sold out on the day of release, I've seen the Rumble & Frenzy set, a mere two weeks later, going for TWICE that on eBay. Why? See Reveal The Shield Rumble bellow.

Frenzy & Rumble were released as UN-20 on Friday 24th March in Japan, along with Scourge, Wheeljack and "Generation 2" Optimus Prime.

Reveal The Shield Demolition Rumble

Rumble is Red, Frenzy is Blue. I don't think you can argue this from a toy point of view: look at the original Rumble & Frenzy and you'll see that's true. Frenzy's only subsequent toy releases are a reuse of the name as a purple G2 Gobot and a drone in the Bayverse movies. Rumble meanwhile reinforces the argument by being consistently Red (and black) as Alternators Rumble and Robot Heroes Rumble. The argument's sole weak point comes from the 1980s cartoon which, due to production errors, consistently colours Rumble as blue and Frenzy, when he appears, as red. Unfortunately since the Cartoon was watched by a lot of fans, especially in the USA, an incurable schism has emerged in Transformers fandom on this matter. As a UK fan brought up on the toys (where Rumble is Red) and comics (where Rumble is Red) who hardly ever saw the cartoon, I'm firmly on the "Rumble is Red" side of the argument.

Having seen that a United version of Rumble & Frenzy was to be released it was inevitable a Hasbro version would follow. And sure enough pictures of Demolition Rumble emerged showing a blue toy, and all but confirming that there's a cartoon fan working on the Hasbro toy range at the moment (see also: RTS Jazz's speakers & Generations Wheeljack's single shoulder missile). I'll repeat the table from above with a new column:

Reveal The Shield
Demolition Rumble
Upper Legs, Shoulders & Turret BaseRedBlueLight Blue
Lower Limbs, Chest & HeadRedBlueDark Blue/Purple
Tank Treads, Elbows & WaistBlackLight BlueBlack

(Compare United Frenzy & RTS Demolition Rumble here and here)

In addition the guns, previously silver in Japan, are now painted gold. To me this further points towards the toy actually being Frenzy rather than Rumble. Frenzy was initially sold with Laserbeak in 1984 where both toys were packed with silver weapons, but in 1986 he was repacked with Ratbat where both toys had gold weapons. Rumble is not known to have a gold weapons variation.

All in all a bit of a mess on the naming front for Hasbro, although the toy looks a good Frenzy.

The plan was that Demolition Rumble was to ship in the second Reveal The Shield scout wave with Bodyblock, a repaint of Breacher & Downshift, a repaint of Hubcap, along with repacks of Windcharger & Chopsaw. Unfortunately the Reveal the Shield Scout line was cancelled in the USA before Wave 1, which introduced Windcharger, made it to mass retail. The cancellation seems to be down to Hasbro trying to squeeze too much new product in before the launch of the Dark of the Moon line in May. RTS Scout Wave 1 has shipped to the UK, leading to an unfamiliar situation with US fans trying to get UK fans to buy product for them instead of the other way round. RTS Scout Wave 2 hasn't been seen in the UK yet, in fact it's only appearance is in>these photos taken in China from which we know carded samples exist. My advice, if you should see any of these, is to buy them on sight! So the lack of a Hasbro Rumble has sent the fans scurrying for the Takara one causing the price to rocket!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

PCC Waterlog & Undertow

Waterlog is the Minicon packed with Undertow, the Power Core commander speedboat.

Robot Mode:

Waterlog's robot mode is mainly clear green with a bronzey colour used for the arms and upper legs. Both colours of plastic are also used on Undertow. Connected to his back are a pair of wings which can be folded forward or back. Projecting up from the back are a pair of gun barrels. Put these two together and it looks like he's wearing a flight pack or, given the nature of this set, some form of aqua speeder. The water connection of the toy is emphasised by the diving mask and breathing apparatus that he's moulded as wearing. His Minicon socket is in his chest and there's a peg in the middle of his back. He's got ball jointed shoulders and bending hips.

Vehicle Weapons Mode:

From robot mode bend the legs back at the hips & the knees pegging the heel spurs into the base of the gun barrels. peg the port on chest onto a Minicon connector. Nice added gun emplacement, and as a bonus also serves as a vehicle mode producing something not dissimilar to Targetmaster Slugslinger.

Robot Weapons Mode:

From robot mode bend the knees right the way back then fold the legs forward at the hip till the bottom of the feet are along the line of his back. For taste, fold the wings up or down. Use the Minicon peg as a gun handle. Decent gun mode reminiscent of several dual barrelled Targetmasters. However the face is visible pointing upwards and the legs aren't secured. You're meant to plug the pegs on the side of the legs into the robot's hands but they just don't reach. A revolving waist, connected to the head, and holes for the heelspurs on the chest, as seen on Airlift, would have fixed both of these issues no problem.

Robot Armour Mode:

Vehicle Weapons mode, with the guns pointing down. Yes it means he has two..... things hanging down from the front of the chest but otherwise it's a decent piece of armour.


Decent Minicon, but a little tweak using technology seen on another PCC Minicon would have made it so much better. I'm a little surprised that it's not been used for a United campaign Targetmaster yet.

At the time of writing Waterlog is expected to be the final Power Core Minicon.

Power Core Combiners Undertow

Undertow is a catamaran attack boat, mainly black, with a light blue grey engine and cabin structure, gold like plastic weapons and a clear green cockpit canopy. To each side of the boat is a moulded 4 barrelled chain gun. On the top of the engine is a single Minicon port that can be used to mount Waterlog, his partner, or any other Minicon.

Transformation: Fold back the panels on the rear of the outer sides of the hulls. Fold each hull out to the sides and fold back behind the boat. Fold the front of each hull back of the rear of each hull to form the robot's legs and fold down the feet. Fold the sides of the engine down to form the arms, swinging each chain gun forward 180 degrees. Fold the canopy down to form the chest plate.

In robot mode the grey/blue takes over as the primary colour with the black being confined to the legs. Nice head with a green dome covering the eyes and upper front of the head. Decent articulation: bending knees, hips that turn and fold to the sides, rotating head, ball jointed shoulders, bending upper elbows and ball jointed lower elbows. Fists are 5mm peg holes so no problem holding weapons mode here. Chain guns now swung out under the arms. A single minicon port is found on his chest. There's just something about this robot mode which isn't right. It's hard to explain but I think each leg looks like it should be on the other side! Just something about the lines and the details.

Transformation to torso mode: Pull the chest plate out, fold the shoulders forward and the power core connector blocks to the side. Pull the chest itself forward, then fold the head backwards into the robot's back folding the chest with it which locks onto what was the small robot's back. Bend the arm right back at each elbow, then swing the lower arm round the back of the upper arm. Fold up and place the 5mm fist hole over the shoulder post. Bend the legs out to the sides at the hips and then back down above the knees. Turn each lower leg round 180 degrees and fold down the Power Core Connector blocks from the legs. Unpeg the front of the legs and move it so it sits about 1cm further up the leg

Undertow's drone commander mode is dominated by the head - a gold painted old fashioned diver's helmet, similar to An Action Man Deep See Diver which was around when I was a child. The exposed panels on it are clear green plastic powered by a light pipe in the top of the head. Slung over his shoulders are the chain guns from vehicle mode. Unfortunately the rest of the toy is thin & skeletal, and this look isn't doing anything for me here. The shoulders turn as do the head and the hip while the knees bend.

Yeah it works as a toy. But I'm afraid that, apart from the combined robot mode head, there's little to excite me here. Sorry.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Generation Warpath

Generations Warpath

Poor Warpath. He's not had much fortune with his re-imagined versions. First we get Movie Warpath, a repaint that you look at and thing "Why have they called that Warpath when Warpath's a tank?" until it hits you that the missile in the chest is kinda like Warpath's gun barrel. Then we get Universe Legends Warpath, a doubly cursed toy in that it was released in tinsy tiny numbers just before the second film came out (I can see two carded on eBay for £15 each. £15 for a Legend ? ? ? ?) and that a section of molding on the toy stops the turret from spinning meaning it's pointing backwards in robot mode. So when a new Generations version was announced we were all pleased.... until we realised that he'd be in the last wave of Generations toys before the 2011 movie came out and everyone's limited availability alert sounded again. I have one pre ordered. But when I spotted an eBay auction for one, a month ahead of release and at a reasonable price I jumped on it.

My first thought on seeing Warpath straight out of the box was "You're a bit small". The Tank mode has a footprint of 10.5cm x 8.5cm and is coloured a burgundy red, with a small amount of grey plastic and some silver highlights, especially on the treads.

It's time for the Transformers Tank Test!

Does the turret turn? Yes, a full 360 degrees and I didn't even have to saw anything off this time.

Does the barrel elevate? Yes!

100% pass for Generations Warpath.

I've seen Warpath described as an H tank, which I guess means the treads on either side and not much in the middle. That's a tad unfair. Yes the body of the tank begins 1cm further back than the front of the treads, but from there it stretches all the rest of the way back. Each side of the vehicle is actually formed from two treads, each with a wheel embedded in the underside and a small gap between the font and the back tread, very similar to the look employed for Universe Legends Warpath except that the slope forward (assuming you corrected your Legends version) is less pronounced on the Generations version. The front treads are rock solid in relation to the rest of the toy, but the back ones can be pushed down on if you pick the toy up. There's a tab on each that fits into a slot in the body and the slot has no restraint along the bottom of it. Each rear tread has a screw hole on the top near the front. I'd hoped these would be 5mm holes so I could plug some of my cache of 5mm peg weapons into the tank but alas it's not. They are however 4mm holes which although less used than the larger diameter does allow you to plug in the guns for Topspin, Twin Twist, Hot Rod, Classics Rodimus and thus Fansproject Sidearm and Targetroid Hot Flame.

The hatch on the turret opens revealing the robot's face within the turret. Yes you could raise the head up, turn it round and push it back in so the rear of the head is facing up but it's a tight, tight fit going in that way round and you'll be looking for a screwdriver to lever it out again. The turret has two additional weapons attached to it: To your left (from the front) is a dark grey missile launcher which fires a single burgundy missile, most of which sticks out the back of the launcher. To your right is a four barrelled grenade launcher array. Both weapons can be folded out to the sides or inwards closer to the turret. It a shame that these are attached weapons: a c-clip would have allowed the same motion and made them removable so they could be used on other toys or clipped onto the 3mm bars that Warpath has, two on each side of the vehicle, mounted on top of each tread portion.

Transformation: Pull back on the turret rotating it back 180 degrees so it's upside down and pointing out the back of the toy having brought much of the top of the middle of the tank with it. Fold both parts of what was in front of the turret forwards and then bring the turret back forward, using the joint in the middle of the robot's back, not the one on the waist that you used before. For each forward tread, pull it's base slightly out to the side, pulling it off it's tab. Fold the back of the tread forward bringing them so the base of the tread faces out the front of the tank. Separate the front of the tank in two to form them legs. Rotate each leg in 90 degrees at the thigh, then fold the tank tread foot back locking on to the end of the leg. Fold the rear treads down 90 degrees. Look at the top of each tread, now on the back of the toy, and open the door you find there, under the 3mm bar, out to the side. Fold the tank tread forward 180 degrees to form the lower arm. Fold the fists out. Close the arm doors. Fold the turret weapons up towards the body so they're not restricting the arms. Open the turret hatch and fold the nose up. Push the gun barrel back into the turret.

Warpath's robot mode is 13cm high by 8.5cm wide, the same as the vehicle mode. The robot retains the "tank treads as feet" look from original Warpath, but now makes them separate feet with fully articulated legs. The upper body formed from the turret and head out for the turret hatch are also from the older toy and while the arms look like they're a deviation from the original design with the added articulation, you'll find that the original's arms are also formed from the rear portion of the tank treads with the actual tread as the underside of the arms like here.

Articulation isn't bad: the feet tilt a little backwards and forwards, the knees bend, there's a thigh swivel and ball jointed hips. No waist but the head turns although it's a little hard to get a decent grip on it due to the turret hatch raised behind the head. The shoulders turn and swing out to sides, there's a low bicep swivel and a bending elbow that will bend a full 90 degrees but moves very stiffly for the last 20 or so of them. His hands are closed fists with 5mm peg holes - RESULT! I see you RTS Optimus Prime and your stress marked open hands that won't properly grip half my weapons. A 3mm bar has ended up over the front of each lower leg and the top of each wrist allowing the robot mode to be tooled up too. When the arms are raised there's a curious gap at the top of the wrists. This does allow you to place weapons inside the forearm, like Generations Wheeljack's Wrenches/Guns or RTS Tracks' missiles, and have them protrude from the front of the wrist above the hand. The 4mm screw holes have ended up on the back of shoulder so you can use that to store weapons on or mount shoulder cannons in this mode.

For a bit of fun you can get a different leg transformation out of the toy: Detach the foot from the leg and fold the front of the leg in. Rotate each leg out to the sides 90 degrees at the waist and peg together. Yes you loose all the leg articulation but the tank treads out to the sides of the feet look quite interesting.

When it comes down to it, Generations Warpath reminds me of Universe Legends Warpath, but upscaled. Yes there's some tweaks in the transformation here and there with the feet and the arms but essentially these two are the same toy at a different scale with the barrel retreating into the turret, rear treads becoming the arms and front treads & tank body becoming the legs. That's no bad thing as Legends Warpath is my probably favourite toy of that size and the changes made to the transformation are nice little tweaks that take advantage of the larger size to get more articulation for the robot.

Top toy, love him to bits.

Warpath is due to be released in the USA in late March/early April 2011 in a Generations case which probably won't be available for long due to the Dark of the Moon toys hitting in May. He is not scheduled to be released in the UK, and has no Japanese release scheduled due to United ending in March. If you want one of these, don't hesitate: buy one as soon as you're able to as my feeling is availability will be limited. Yes Hasbro have said at Toyfair that Generations will continue through 2011 but at this moment in time there's not much sign of that happening.

Future Repaints

Warpath's Instructions show an alternate head sculpt which looks a lot like Headmaster Hardhead so I think a green version of this is on the horizon somewhere.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Generations Wheeljack

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. For more cartoon bias 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.

Which I now do. The deco on the car mode is fabulous, with Track's blue being swapped for the whitest plastic I've seen on a Transformers toy for many a year with green & red stripes very similar to the Alitalia racing colours seen on the original Wheeljack. The front of the car is considerably longer gaining a narrow projecting edge at the bottom which extends about 7-8 mm in front of the car. The rear of the car now features a spoiler, and if you go back to Track's you'll find a rounded rectangle panel occupying the spot on the rear of the car where the spoiler now sits, secured by a pin that passes through it from the back of the car.

Transformation to robot mode is *nearly* identical except for the waist doesn't get turned. The front of the car become the feet, rather than the heel spurs and the former rather flat feet are now the heel spurs with the front wheels, now attached to the sides of Wheeljack's ankles, folded down beside them.

The most prominent remoulded feature of the robot mode is the head. We get a spot on likeness of Wheeljack's cartoon appearance featuring lightpiped eyes and ears. The fold out wing tips are remolded to resemble Wheeljack's wings. These are now painted silver as is the inside of the door panel serving as a wing giving the illusion of a longer, silver wing piece. Track's gun now becomes Wheeljack's single shoulder cannon and because it doesn't suit Tracks I've stolen his gun to act as Wheeljack's second cannon :-). Track's missiles are completely remoulded with just the C-clip remaining. We now get a silver barrelled handle of 5mm width allowing Wheeljack to hold them as a wrench. However each wrench now feature not one but two 3mm bars: one on the side of the shaft and one on the top next the c-clip but at right angles to it. If the opening on the clip had been in the same orientation as the bar on the end you could have combined them together as a staff. As it is I think they are meant to be used as weapons: There's some indentations on the c-clip end of the wrench making me think that perhaps they're meant to also serve as gun barrels. Wheeljack can store the wrenches when he's not using them: there's a 3mm bar located to the outside of each knee allowing them to sit inside the leg panels or be positioned pointing over the side of the knee as a gun barrel. Wheeljack's an inventor, I can see him trying out knee mounted guns. Turning Wheeljack round you'll see that the panels making up Track's leg fronts are completely gone replaced with a much simpler and plain design that allows the knees to bend in that direction where they were previously locked off by Track's knee pads. They no longer bend the other way thanks to a remoulded slider on the lower leg which also doesn't come up so far making Wheeljack's height a little short than Tracks. Most of the exposed white pieces remain the same colour but the joints that connect the wheels to the shoulders and the wings to the body are now a bright green plastic. I don't know if some minor remoulding has taken place or if it's just that the tolerances are out but I can no longer fold the wheels onto the front of Wheeljack's shoulders like I could with Tracks.

Top, top repaint/remould. I'm putting this as an early entry for toy of the year. It just works far better as Wheeljack than Tracks. That then makes me think is Wheeljack actually the original and Tracks the repaint/remould. I'm forced to conclude that Wheeljack must have come first. The mold suits both his modes better. The missile gun is more Wheeljack than Tracks. The odd shaped ankle with the bar out the side serves a function on Wheeljack but not Tracks. The Tracks feet work better as heel spurs. Yup, as far as I can see Wheeljack is the original.

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 carried over into the next Generations wave which introduces Warpath. He is scheduled to be released in Japan at the end of March as Transformers United toy UN-22 alongside the Rumble & Frenzy 2-pack, Scourge & Generation 2 Optimus Prime.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar

Wreck-Gar's first toy was a motor bike made to tie in with the first Transformers Movie in 1986. We waited Twenty Three years for a new version before Animated Wreck-Gar came out at the start of 2009, brilliantly reincarnating the collector of rubbish as a dust cart. Two years later we have another version of Wreck-Gar out as part of Reveal The Shield d this time we're back to being a motorbike. The new RTS version slims down the bike and makes it much more realistic than the original. The new one is quite high too, making it feel a bit like an off road bike. Both wheels spin freely, but neither is wide enough to support the bike so a fold down stand is supplied on the right side of the bike. The placement of this part will cause some problems later. Neither the front forks or handlebars turn out to the sides. The colours are similar to the originals with lots of brown, sandy brown and grey. The seat on the back of the toy has a nice feature: there's two slots on it which precisely match tabs found sticking down from the waist of Wreck-Gar's robot mode. This allows Wreck-gar, or one of his repaints to ride Wreck-Gar, rein acting the battle on Junkion scene in Transformers The Movie (The proper one!) At the rear of the seat is a single 3mm bar for c-clip weapons. Mine's not terribly well aligned, formed as it is by two parts attached to either side of the saddle.

Transformation: pull the exhaust pipe and attached rear wheel fork half away to the side - they're connected to the other half of the fork by a c-clip that passes between the wheel and the body of the bike. Pull the other half of the fork away from the body then bend the rear wheel up along the right side of the rear of the bike. Pull the saddle back and fold out to become one of the legs. Pop the front of the bike off the front forks and pull up. Push the windscreen & headlight back folding the front mud guard out & turning around to form a foot. Bring the hips together and turn the toy so the saddle form the leg on your right and the windscreen the leg on your left. Turn the upper half of the toy round so the flame & gun barrel side of the chest faces front. Fold the vehicle parts on the robot's back out to the sides to form the arms which are then unfolded. Fold the head up. Unfold the removed fork half and exhaust. Move the blades of the wheel hub at the end to form an axe, similar to the armour axe carried by the original.

Wreck-Gar's robot mode resembles the original, with more than a hint of the differences shown in his original design drawings. The head *looks* like it's shaped from the front of the bike, but isn't, that's ended up on his right ankle. The eyes are a clear lightpipe from the windscreen on the head, with the the eye end tinted red. The chest is a much more angled version of the original with added flame detail and the guns poking out in a position that I'm trying not to talk about. The original Hasbro publicity photos shows Wreck-Gar with a red chest but the version I have here is the same brown used elsewhere on the toy. His articulation isn't bad: turning wrists, bending elbows, bicep swivel, ball jointed shoulder although his left one is a bit of a problem as his left upper arm has the front wheel attached to it but the body side of the joint has the stand attached to it meaning they have a habit of meeting each other. It wouldn't of been too hard to make either part attach to the other side of the toy. The head is ball jointed, the waist turns, both hips are ball jointed, the knees bend but watch the transformation joint on his right leg that's near the knee and the ankles are on ball joints. Unfortunately, like RTS Optimus Prime, he suffers from plastic stress both on the palms of his hands and on the top of the ball joints for the shoulders, which have a pin passed through them to strengthen them. This is putting me off the open style of hand that's becoming common recently and I'm hoping the closed fists make a come back soon. The robot mode features three 3mm bars: one on his left ankle, one on his left knee and another on his back which can be used to store his weapon.

Overall: I like the toy in both modes but the stress mark issue brings it down a bit. Transforming back to vehicle mode can be a bit of a pig too!

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar was released in the US in January 2011 and in the UK a month later. If you're looking for one in the UK then visit Toys R Us, which, at time of writing (02/03/2011) is receiving them and pricing the toys at £9.97.

For more pictures see these Blog entries showing United & RTS Wreck-Gar and various toys riding Wreck-Gar

Transformers United Wreck-Gar

The Blog entry linked above has some wonderful comparison images of the two different versions of Wreck-Gar. Broadly similar in vehicle mode, the RTS Version has a sandy seat mount and brown windscreen mount while these paint colours are reversed on the United version. In robot mode United Wreck-Gar loose the flames on the chest and paints it red, with the grey of his right shoulder, waist and upper legs becoming a sandy colour. The differences aren't quite enough to make them into two different Junkion characters though.

Wreck-Gar was released in late February 2011 as Transformers United toy UN-18 alongside UN-15 Perceptor, UN-16 Blur & UN-17 Kup.

E-Hobby Junkion

Late in 2010 E-Hobby announces a pair of three packs featuring the Henkei/Transformers United versions Autobots and Decepticons from the 1986 Transformers Movie. The Autobot set consists of a slightly recoloured & battle damaged Kup, a clear blue Hot Rod, supposedly from the scene where Hot-Rod catches the Matrix in the Autobot sick bay, and a new Junkion character, as yet unnmamed. The bike mode is a darker brown with some more silvery grey while the dark brown on the robot mode moves to the hands, chest and lower legs, with red upper arms and waist and most of the rest silver. A new head, featuring a face plate and no handle bars is also included.

More Junkions are good. *REALLY* tempted by these two sets.

Generations Junkion Scrap Heap

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar's instructions show a second new head, this time with visored eyes and a visible face which will become Wreck-Gar's Generations repaint. At time of writing we don't know colours or the name for certain, though I have heard this toy referred to as "Scrap Heap", so we'll call it that until we find out otherwise!

Future Repaints

White and Pink with a new head as Arcee please!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Fansproject Sidearm

Fansproject Sidearm

When I reviewed Protector I said that 2010 had several Rodimus Prime related toys out. 2010's other craze was Targetmasters with several third party products available, Hasbro creating the Power Core Minicons as weapons which Takara repainted as Micron Targetmasters for the Transformers United toy range. Well Sidearm combines the two themes of the year by providing a Targetmaster for Classics Rodimus similar to Firebolt which came with Targetmaster Hot Rod.

Like Firebolt, Sidearm comes with a black chest and head. The arms & legs are mainly grey with black forearms and lower legs fronts. Again like Firebolt the face is painted red. Firebolt's articulation consists of the transformation hinge in the middle. Sidearm beats that by some distance: ball jointed hips, bending waist, shoulders that fold across the chest and turn and bending elbows. So not a bad little figure, on a par with many recent Minicons and Legends.

Transformation: Fold the arms straight down to the sides of the body and straighten the hips. Fold the arms upwards, then bring them together over the face. Fold the legs back at the hips and then fold the waist up locking the top of the legs into the top of the shoulders to form the gun mode.

Sidearm's gun mode is a mainly grey double barrelled gun with a black base and rear handle, barrel fins and stock. He's got two handles on the underside of the gun: the rear one is a 5mm peg which means he can be held by Protector, the original Targetmaster Hotrod and all transformers with a 5mm hole in the hand. The front peg is a 4mm one that should allow Classics Rodimus to hold it. *SHOULD*. Mine won't. The peg hole on mine, and the corresponding peg on his gun is slightly larger than the 4mm it should be. It appears I'm not alone here, as you'll see in some posts on the 2005 Boards Protector & Sidearm review thread, but it also appears as if Classics Rodimus affected by this problem are quite rare. I've got a Battle In Space Rodimus too and the 4mm peg on Sidearm fits him perfectly in both his hands and on his back, as well as fitting the 4mm peg hole on the top of Protector's roller drone. In addition there's a diagonal slit in the front of the base of Sidearm. This slides over the middle of Rodimus' spoiler allowing the weapon to be mounted on Rodimus in vehicle mode.

Sidearm comes with some bonus items: the fin for the front of Protector plus the extension fins for Rodimus, all chromed in gold. These might seem surplus to requirements but the extension fins, both chromed and those supplied with Protector, can slot onto the sides of Sidearm's gun barrels to turn him into a crossbow.

One small complaint: Sidearm doesn't feel that solid in gun mode and a little pressure on the gun barrels causes them to fold forward. Other than that it's a nice little add on. I suspect we'll see an inverse version and all black versions along the way. Yes he's designed for Classics Hotrod and Fansproject Protector, but the 5mm handgrip means that many modern Transformers can hold him so if you've got a toy that needs tooling up you might want to give Sidearm a look.

Fansproject Protector

Fan's Project Protector

Towards the end of 2010 there were a lot of Rodimus Prime items floating around, and most of them cost a penny or two. For me the choice was between the Fan's Project Protector armour and Takara's Masterpiece Rodimus Prime. I went for the Fan's Project Protector, because I already owned a Classics Rodimus and I have never been that enamoured with the Masterpiece line after my Optimus Prime just sat there on a shelf gathering dust. (However you'll be pleased to know my Masterpiece Grimlock experience has been a lot happier!)

The name Protector comes from Rodimus Prime's Function. The Protector set consists of a trailer for the Classics Rodimus figure, plus a set of fin extensions cast in the same colour as Rodimus. The larger fin clips onto the front of the Protector trailer, while the two smaller ones attach to Rodimus in either mode. Why make the front fin removable then? Well Protector's companion set, Sidearm, contains gold chromed versions of these fins.

Forming Rodimus Prime's vehicle mode is trivial: pull open the sides of the vehicle at the front, slot the spoiler fins on the back of Rodimus (without the additional extensions) as far back into the gap as possible and fold the side panels back in locking Rodimus in place. If you turn the vehicle over then Rodimus' rear wheels can be slid out to the sides to fill the front wheel arches on the trailer.

Combined together, the trailer and Rodimus form a pretty good version of Rodimus Prime. The Reds and Oranges are a good match between Protector and Rodimus. Yes Rodimus still has his engine, which is the major change between Hot Rod & Rodimus Prime. Other minor quibbles are the number of panel lines where the original was a solid piece and what's obviously the robot's chest in the front of the roof.

If you turn Protector there's a couple of features worth noting. The first is that Rodimus' Gun/exhaust should mount in a peg hole at the back of the vehicle. I say *SHOULD* because it's recently become apparent that there's a small number of Rodimus out there with non standard fist holes. Most should be 4mm, as they are on my Battle In Space Rodimus, but a few of the early Classics Rodimus have peg holes and gun handles that are *slightly* bigger. I own one of them and my Rodimus gun won't fit in the peg hole here. The other thing you'll notice on the underside of the vehicle is six double wheels housed towards the back of the vehicle. If you pull down on the structure between them you should be able to extract a Six wheeled Roller like Racing car which takes on some of the characteristics of Hot Rod. A panel on the underside folds back allowing Classics Rodimus exhaust blast to be plugged into it. Another rotating panel on the top of the vehicle allows you to plug Classics Rodimus gun or Sidearm into one hole or to rotate the panel and plug in any standard 5mm peg weapon. Nice stuff.

Reattach the car drone to the Protector trailer before removing Rodimus. Transform Rodimus to robot mode. Leave the feet and hands folded in. Bend the arms at the elbows, and then swing the shoulders back 90 degrees. Split the top of the Protector trailer in two and fold out to the sides. The chest armour at the top comes off bringing with it some of the front which forms the waist armour and the head for the combined robot. The top front corners of the trailer pull away: these will become the arms. At around halfway down the gun barrels it's possible to prise the inside of the sides of the trailer away allowing you to remove the sides of the feet to form the leg armour. From here fold the car down under the trailer, then fold down the black column at the rear of the trailer down allowing the trailer to stand on the column and car wheels. Fold up both silver gun barrels, remove the central black barrel and set to one side. Fold the silver barrels down and the clear viewing panel up. Rotate the folded out top sides of the trailer through 180s degrees to finish forming the tank like defence bay.

Back to the removed pieces and your Rodimus figure. Take each of the top corner of the front of the trailer pieces. Fold the three pipes on top out to the sides. Fold the hands forward and straighten to form the arms. Rotate the top pieces so the larger side is on the same side as the pipes on the outer lower arm. Clip each arm onto Rodimus' shoulders with the clip on the shorter side over the expanding ledge on the inside of the shoulder and the larger side round the wheels. Take the panels from the rear of the vehicle and fold the larger part of the side over to lock into the smaller part. Fold the panels for the rear under the doubled up panels to form the feet and heel spurs. This leg armour now clips onto the end of Rodimus' legs. Pull the head away from the chest armour, then slide the chest armour over the shoulders, clipping the waist armour under the waist. Slide the fin extensions over Rodimus' spoilers. Take Rodimus' gun and remove the exhaust flame, which you can store between the gun barrels or in the back of the roller drone. Take the black barrel removed from the Protector trailer, fold a 5mm peg back from the silver portion of the gun and slot into Rodimus' gun to form the combined weapon which Protector can then hold.

The Protector tank/base isn't bad, featuring elevating gun barrels and a set for Sidearm's robot mode to sit in. It's just about mobile when the roller drone is attached but that's easily removable to live a life of it's own.

The Protector armour meanwhile bulks the deluxe Classics Rodimus up to something approaching Voyager size. While the original Rodimus Prime was a little on the thin side this is a much chunkier toy. With everything connected right the toy is surprisingly solid. Articulation in the legs is as per Classics Rodimus: the legs turn bellow the knee, the knee bends, the hips turn and fold to the sides. This is all die to using the same parts as the classics Rodimus to provide the articulation. The same is true for the ball jointed shoulders but beyond that the arms are new with turning bicep swivels, double bending elbows and turning wrists leading to a hand which now has a standard 5mm peg hole allowing him to hold many more weapons such as the original Targetmasters, Minicon & Energon weapons and, to be honest, most modern Transformers weapons.

There's two nice hidden features in this set. Protector is supplied with an additional hand that allows him to re-enact a "classic" scene where he shakes hands with Ultra Magnus. The other involved the helmet/mask that goes over Classics Rodimus' head: the face plate slides out and can be replaced with any of the face plates supplied with the Fansproject Magnus set.

My Protector set has sat on my desk for a couple of weeks or so waiting for me to review it while various RTS toys got reviewed first. I picked it up today and easily transformed it back to trailer mode. The secret is to leave the trailer opened up until everything else is slotted back in.

Overall: Top job. Does what it should by making Classics Rodimus into Rodimus Prime. Improves the articulation, gives him standard hands and lots of other nice touches too. If you've got a Classics Rodimus you need one of these. And a Sidearm too :-)

Reveal the Shield & United Lugnut

Reveal The Shield Lugnut

Animated Lugnut is the second Transformers Animated character to get a toy made of it outside of the Animated toyline: 2008's Animated Lockdown became 2010's ROTF Lockdown.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm working with the Japanese Transformers United version to write this review.

Lugnut is a bomber type aeroplane, mainly cast in a military olive green colour. The cockpit windows are cast in a clear red plastic as are the gunner windows that form a large part of the jet's nose with a rotating gun each side of the window mounted just bellow a shark's mouth paint decoration, previously found on Animated Lugnut's Atomic Lugnut repaint. The mouth, displaying lots of teeth, stretches round the nose of the jet. The nose of the jet, well the portions that aren't clear, the guns and a flap covering the tail are all a very floppy rubber, a material I don't like to see used much on Transformers toys as it's prone to warping. Oddly one of the other toys I've noticed this material on is ROTF Lockdown,his fellow animated escapee. The wings are connected to the body by a large round engine with an exposed fan at the front. The wings pivot round the engine and can go from pointing straight down to pointing upwards at 45 degree angle. They're restrained from pointing straight up by one of two missiles on the top of the engine section that turns with wings and eventually makes contact with the body of the jet. I'm tempted to remove the missile with a knife so the wings can fold to a position where they point vertically upwards. No I've not learnt from the RTS Optimus incident and yes the cut is healing nicely. What's really holding me back is that the missiles are 3mm bar, used by the C-clip weapons system. In fact Lugnut is rather gifted in the bar department: each gun is a 3mm bar, both missiles on top of each engine, three under each wing, one on each wing tip, two each side of the undercarriage and one on the tail. I make that NINETEEN bars. I'm not sure I even have 19 C-Clip weapons! Hmmm. Skystalker has two weapons as does his repaint Sunspot, while Darkmount has three as does his repaint Skullgrin. That's TEN. Breacher has one and Tomahawk has two bringing the total to THIRTEEN. In Reveal The Shield Special Ops Jazz has his two speakers, Turbo Tracks has two missiles plus his gun and Wreck-Gar has his hand axe, six weapons in all bringing the total to NINETEEN. Finally Generation Kup & Generations Scourge have one each so that's TWENTY ONE. So only just! I think the only C-Clip toy I'm missing is Recon Ironhide who has another four weapons.

Back to Lugnut, who's also equipped with a number of action features. There's four wheels mounted on his undercarriage that allow the jet to roll along the floor. Under each wing there's a trigger that allows the mid wing engine and wing tip to spring about half an inch out to the side revealing a moulded 3 missile array within the wing. If you fold up the flap on the back of the tail you can fold down a missile launcher. The tail fin can then be folded down and the entire tail section rotated through 180 degrees so the missile launcher is on top of the jet and can be folded forward. The flaps on the back of the wings bend down authentically which is a nice touch. The top of the cockpit folds back revealing a space that should you have a Micromaster sized Transformer with thin enough legs you'd be able to sit them in it.

Transformation: Pull the undercarriage down under the jet and unfold to form the robot's chest, waist and legs. The bottom portion, the actual shell of the under carriage folds up on itself to form the lower legs and from there the claw like feet fold out. Fold each leg out to the side at the hip, rotate the hip joint forward 90 degrees, bring the legs together, fold down and rotate at the thigh 180 degrees. The reverse of that stage with the hips was the only bit of the transformation I couldn't get to work right and had to look at the instruction for! The flaps on the back of the wings bend down, allowing the wings to be bent back and then swung up & forward. Fold the wings back so they point out to the sides again, but upside down compared to their original orientation. Fold up the flaps that extend round the front of the mid wing engines. Fold the wing tips and mid wing engines back, then fold the wing tips up over the mid wing engines. Fold the arms down at the shoulders so they're alongside the robot's body. Pull back on the tail unlocking it, fold back so it points down, rotate the lower segment so the missile launcher is on the back of the toy and push the tail in to the robot's back. Fold back the cockpit top. Split the nose in two down the middle and fold out to the sides & back to form the sides of the chest. Fold the head back & up then slide the chest up and into place.

Lugnut's robot mode carries over the important features of Animated Lugnut: Cyloptic head, engines as shoulders, nose round chest. The robot mode is broadly similar to the plane in terms of colour, with just the purple chest, waist & upper legs and pale green head being parts hidden in jet mode. The head looks very similar to the original version, an important thing when producing a new version of a character, and comes complete with an opening mouth. Articulation: head is ball jointed, arms rotate out to the sides round the engines, there's a swivel under them and a bending shoulder joint under the engine, bending elbow, a joint at the base of the thumb, joint at the base of the fingers which are linked for the first part of the finger and then separate beyond the second joint. The waist turns as do the hips which also bend to the sides, there's a thigh swivel, double bending knee, bending ankle joint and hinged toes & heel spurs.

Lugnut has an action feature in this mode using the mechanism in the wings: If you press the trigger the hands spring forward to simulate the POKE attack (Punch of Kill Everything) that the Animated Lugnut had in the cartoon. The missile launcher can still just about be used by folding the tail up behind the head and folding out the missile launcher. I think all the 3mm bars can still be used in this mode but several are hidden under panels in the arms.

I like this toy. The plane design isn't a common one amongst normal Transformers, I think the Cybertron Jetfire is the only similar one. Loads of 3mm bars for you to tool him up, The robot mode is different from most Transformers and makes him look like a thug, some ominous muscle lurking in the background of the Decepticon ranks. Well worth having. And since the Decepticons can always do with some bulking out of the ranks it's a good thing there's a second version of this toy out in Japan!

Lugnut was released in the USA at the tail end of 2010 as part of the first Reveal The Shield Voyager case where he was 2 per case with 1 Strafe and 1 Grappel. He's carried over to the second RTS Voyager case, this time at 1 per case with 1 Grappel and 2 Deep Dives. Currently he;s scheduled for UK release but there's not yet been a positive sighting.

United Lugnut

Several years ago during the first Bay Transformers Movie line Incinerator was released in Japan as MD-22 Incinerator with a radically different colour scheme replacing the grey for black. Snapped up at the time, he commands a high price today. I suspect Transformers United Lugnut may be a similar case, replacing the olive colour with a much darker green that appeared black in publicity photos. It looks even better than the original and if I were you I'd be tempted to hunt one down as soon as possible before the prices start to rise. Which they will.

Future Repaints

Obviously the Animated Lugnut and Atomic Lugnut colour schemes would look good on a repaint of this toy. It'd be nice to see an actual black version of the jet too.

And a released with a "best of c-clip" weapons bag!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Reveal The Shield Optimus Prime

Reveal The Shield Optimus Prime

Reveal The Shield Optimus Prime has been described as "Generation 2 Optimus Prime" but in reality he's a mixture of that toy and the Movie Optimus Prime. Both are broadly similar long nosed trucks, and both have a flame detail. G2 Op has the shorter cab design but Movie Op has a blue cab like this one. So a bit of a hybrid here. The top of his exhaust pipes look like 3mm bars and while they will accommodate a C-Clip weapon they will stretch the clip somewhat. The side windows of the cab look a little odd, opaque orange plastic, when compared to the clear front windows.

Transformation: Fold the grey fuel cylinders up to the sides, then forward and then fold together behind the cab. Pull the flatbed apart and extract what will become his sword. Fold the rear of the flatbed down to become heelspurs then fold the feet back. Fold the lower half of the doors down and unpeg the arms. Separate the front of the vehicle in two down the middle and pull to the sides & back. Lift the roof of the cab, fold the head up and replace the cab roof. Fold the side windows of the cab in behind the front windows. Fold the cab forward and slide down over the robot's shoulders. Look at the back of the robot's legs. Open each panel up folding round over the inside of each leg to cover the connection points for the sword. Starting at the bottom of each leg rotate each wheel back on the peg it's mounted on as far as it will go the rotate the wheel on it's axle till the wheel can recess into the matching hole in the legs. Fold the sword's handle into place, then slide the truck's U shaped connector along the sword till the points pass the hinge for the grip, then fold over the grip to become the crossguard.

First reaction: Small. He's not much bigger than RTS/Classics Bumblebee, smaller than RTS Perceptor and dwarfed by Generations Kup. THIS IS NOT RIGHT! The robot mode however does seem to settle his lineage giving him the huge shoulders of Generation 2 Optimus Prime while making the chest from the actual front windows of the toy. We get a lighter blue used here, not really seen on the vehicle mode, for the head, hands and feet which is again reminiscent of the G2 version. Yet the Movie influence shows through here, especially in the head design with transparent forehead panels and the sword which is more reminiscent of the blades mounted on Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime than the one used by Generation 2 Optimus Prime. Articulation: wrists bend up & down at the hand and are ball jointed at the forearm, the elbows bend, there's a bicep swivel, the arms bend out to the sides under the shoulders, and the shoulders turn at the body. The head is ball jointed as are the hips, there's a thigh swivel, the knees & top ankle joint bend while the bottom ankle joint is another ball joint. Turning the you round we see that the fuel cylinders from the side of the vehicle have combined to form a backpack that looks like a jetpack and serves as a sheath for the sword. If you're wise that's where you'll be keeping it because there's a moulding fault on the hand which makes it difficult to get the sword hilt into the hand and when you do causes the hands to show stress marks. Not good at all. Other areas of criticism include the lower door panels, which just hang off the lower arms in robot mode, the lack of a gun, I used Fansproject Sidearm, but that stressed the hand more than the sword, and the peg on the right shoulder which makes it impossible for the right shoulder panel to point straight up. Fortunately this last one is easily cured using a sharp knife, though try not to cut yourself like I did!

Yeah there's some faults here. But I like the toy, I can see what they're trying to do here with creating a toy that would draw the Movie only crowd towards the older Transformer remakes. I might be looking at this toy more favourably than many Transformers fans because I don't see Generation 2 Optimus Prime as God's gift to Transformers Toys like many fans do (Read the review).

Optimus Prime was released in Reveal The Shield Deluxe wave 2 in January 2011 in the USA. At the time of writing he's expected in the UK but hasn't been seen outside of comic shops and import dealers. He's due to be released in Japan in March as Transformers United toy UN-22.


I think RTS Optimus Prime is another "we'd better get used to it toy". The instructions show a different head for a repaint which at the moment nobody know what it's for! Ultra Magnus and Scourge/Nemesis Prime repaints are inevitable but following the example set by Movie Voyager Optimus Prime when he became First Strike Optimus Prime I'd like to see a proper 1984 Optimus Prime set of colours on this. And I suppose they could swap the blue for black on the truck to give us a more authentic Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime