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

Reveal The Shield Perceptor

Reveal The Shield Perceptor

For such a prominent character Perceptor has had very few new versions of him made. He doesn't have an Action Master, unlike his close relative Blaster and in fact his only real re-imagining is Legends of Cybertron Perceptor, although you can argue that the similarly coloured Ultra scale version of the same toy, Universe Countdown, should be called Perceptor too! The new RTS version looks like a red Trailbreaker with tracks replacing the rear wheels. Windscreen, headlights and side windows are clear orange plastic as are the 3 lenses on the light array mounted on the cab roof. The middle of the array folds forward to become a gun with an extending chromed barrel. The middle of the barrel is a 3mm bar but attaching weapons to may harm the toy in the long run by scratching the chrome.

Transformation: Turn the vehicle over, pull the hands off the posts they rest on, note how the shoulders mesh together then fold the arms out under the front of the vehicle and fold them out to the sides, folding the wheels in. Pull the front of the vehicle forward and fold the windscreen down onto the bonnet. Pull the front of the vehicle forward, pulling the cab roof forward and extending the robot's legs. Fold the back of the vehicle up and back to form the front of the lower robot legs. Fold the feet out of the rear of the vehicle and rotate so they face upwards. Separate the legs, unpeg the tracks then fold them in 180 degrees then slide them backwards. Push each of the doors in and fold back into the rear of the vehicle pegging the treads into them, completing the robot's legs. Fold the waist back under the chest formed from the centre of the vehicle. Fold the searchlight array off to the side, fold the middle section forward, extend the gun barrel, then fold the outer sections back and together to form the rear of the cannon. Raise the range finder screen, then find the grey panel in the robot's back which you push up to raise the head. Fold the front of the vehicle onto the robot's back so that the rear of the the front wheel arch is roughly horizontal. Fold the outer shoulder panels forward so their bottom sits against the pegs. Position the arms so the silver discs face out to each side.

Robot mode: Perceptor. They got this right for the most part. We get a lot more black revealed on the hands and head with blue lower arms and upper legs, a clear chest that folds down surrounded by a chrome edging and chromed discs on the arms. The discs have two 3mm bars built into them for c-clip weapons, however repeated use of them for this purpose may well scratch the chrome. Hands are open but with a 5mm peg hole gap in the middle should you be able to find a weapon donor. The face is a little long for Perceptor, but the head sculpt is decent enough. He's got a yellow light pipe but unfortunately the eyes are painted over with yellow paint on mine ruining it. Articulation: turning wrists, bending elbow, bicep swivel, ball jointed shoulder (attached to a panel that stays in place better than many shoulders not directly attached to the body), turning head, no waist, ball jointed hips, thigh swivel, bending knees and ball jointed ankles. Yes the backpack - and thus the panels holding the shoulders in place - can come unpegged BUT it holds together in robot mode better than most toys of a similar design.

Overall: Happy with that, nice toy, works for me. Would like a gun though!

Perceptor was released in January 2011 in Reveal The Shield deluxe wave 2 with Optimus Prime, Wreck-Gar and Bumblebee.

Transformers United Perceptor

The Takara Tomy version of Perceptor is due to be released at the end of Febuary 2011 in the third wave of toys with Kup, Blurr & wreck-Gar. He will be numbered UN-15 and feature a metallic red colour scheme and clear, instead of clear yellow, windows.


I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this toy. A different head repaint has been shown, rumoured to be Reflector. Now I'm assuming this will be the cartoon version, where all the parts of Reflector look similar rather than the vastly different Spectro,
Spyglass & Viewfinder (who combine to form the Reflector camera) offered by Hasbro in the US. Original Perceptor has an E-Hobby repaint, Magnificus that is a possibility.

Classics Perceptor is a repaint of the Legends of Cybertron Red Alert and this new Perceptor isn't a million miles away from the vehicle mode Red Alert had in Armada and the start of Cybertron so I can see a white repaint.... and the Armada version has been repainted more than once.

Formwise RTS Perceptor's robot mode is reminiscent of Soundwave, especially with the shoulder cannon, and indeed there's already at least one splendid custom out there. And where you have Soundwave you can get Soundblaster and form there to Blaster & Twincast.

But I think the biggest possibility lies in doing a new
Trailbreaker from this toy. New head, replace the tracks with a panel attached to a wheel and you're laughing.

LOTS of potential here. I think we aught to get used to this toy!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Power Core Heavytread & Groundspike

Power Core Minicon Groundspike

Groundspike is the Minicon supplied with Heavytread. His robot mode, mainly clear blue plastic with olive brown upper legs, doesn't look anything special. It's quite poor in fact with a blank curved head, arms formed from the front of what look like wings connected by ball joints to the body. Both front and back of the body have Minicon sockets, the hips are ball jointed (poorly as it turns out), the knees bend the wrong way (a waist would have fixed this) and the ankles bend.

To transform into vehicle add on mode, fold the arms down to the sides, swing them back 180 degrees so they point upwards and then fold out to the sides to form one long wing blade over the front of the chest. Fold each leg out to the sides, probably popping off it's ball joint in the process, then bend the knee & ankle to form a claw. Peg onto the front of Heavytread's tank mode to form a device similar to the mine clearer found on the front of this Assault Breacher Vehicle. It's one of the more integrated Minicon/Vehicle combinations in Power Core.

From here fold the wing halves up and the legs down to form his armour mode. It's one of the better ones covering a large area of the robot's chest.

From there bring the legs together, still bent, and fold the wing tips back to form a claw weapon capable of being held by Heavytread or plugged into the underside of his right arm.

No two ways of saying this, it's a poor Minicon even before the legs fall off if you even look at it wrong.

Power Core Heavytread

The new Heavytread, not the first or even the second Transformer to bear the name, is a Power Core Tank. TFWiki.net think he's a Merkava Battle Tank. From the photo at the top of the Wikipedia page I was thinking no, but if you scroll down to the Mark III pictures you can start to see a resemblance.

Right it's time for The Transformer Tank Test !

Does the turret turn? YES

Does the gun barrel elevate? NO

50% score for Heavytread. We've seen better and much worse.

As usual we've got moulded plastic treads with inset wheels and an olive green body with a darker green camouflage pattern. His gun barrel is just about narrow enough to use as a bar for the clip & bar weapons. If you look at the front of the vehicle there's a 5mm peg hole on the left. The placement of this is a little odd giving the tank an unbalanced look as soon as you mount a weapon on it and restricting the turret's ability to turn. I'd have put the hole on the Turret's roof, but would have seriously considered swapping it for a Minicon peg. He does have a a fold up Minicon peg on the front of the vehicle, which allows his Minicon Groundspike to be attached to him to form a device similar to the mine clearer found on the front of this Assault Breacher Vehicle. It's one of the more integrated Minicon/Vehicle combinations in Power Core.

An alternative turret configuration is available: Fold the back of the tank up and out to the side to form a cannon. Swing the main gun round to the side to face the same way as the cannon. Rotate the turret so both cannon and gun barrel face forward. Yes the result is uneven and lopsided but it's a nice little variation.

Transformation: Fold the Power Core connector blocks at the rear of the tank down so they point backwards. Slide the rear sides of the tank out to the sides and back, covering the blocks and exposing the robot's upper legs. Pull the remaining front half of the sides out to the side and up slightly. Fold the legs down at the hip's hinge and then swing forward to lock into the underside of the middle of the front of the tank. Pull the legs slightly out to each side, unpegging from the panel between them which folds up to form the front of the waist. Fold the turret down onto the robot's back. Fold the panels attached to the other set of Power Core Block Connectors forwards. Pull the sides of the tank forward to form the arms, and then turn each forearm so the open hand faces up. Raise the small black backed head through the hole in the chest.

The robot mode feels a little odd. Essentially he's Combaticon Brawl, but with a bit more articulation. The forearms don't look right, too wide and the arm articulation is odd: swivel bellow the elbow, bending elbow, another bending joint bellow the shoulder, ball jointed outer shoulder that allows some movement to the sides and hinged inner shoulder which lets the arms shrug up. The head is on a ball joint and the neck can move to each side a little. While we're on the head, the visored eye and back of the head are both solid black, looking like an aborted lightpipe gimmick (it's the 96 Beast Wars basics all over again!). If they were clear plastic it would be so much better. The waist turns, the hips rotate and bend to the sides, there's a thigh swivel and the knees bend. The configuration in the instructions has the tank barrel pointing straight up in the middle of his back but rotating the turret to the side, folding up the gun barrel and swinging over the cannon allows you to beef up his weaponry in this mode. His fists might not look like it but the can hold the standard 5mm weapons pegs. However .... < Phil realises he needs a certain Minicon and spends half an hour in THE LOFT OF JOY trying to find them. > No, his fist hole isn't deep enough to hold Smoulder. Boo. His Minicon Groundspike can be attached to his chest, using the fold up Minicon peg that was on the front of the tank, or pegged into the underside of his right arm as a Wolverine-esque claw.

Transformation to torso mode: From robot mode fold the front of the chest forward and fold up the large robot head with the small robot head folding into the back of it just like Armada Overload. Fold the flap down when finished. Straighten the arms and raise them at the shoulder so they point forward. Rotate the forearms so the fists face in then fold them back against the shoulders. Push the arms in against the sides of the chest, locking the head hatch, and reforming the front of the tank, but with the Power Core Connector Blocks folded out to the sides. Straighten the legs, fold the tracks in front of the knee back and fold the covering of the lower legs up over the upper legs exposing the Power Core Connector Blocks there. Rotate the waist 180 degrees. Swing the gun barrel to the side, rotate the turret so the gun barrel face up and fold the back of the turret over his shoulder as a cannon.

Heavytread provides Power Core with probably it's best torso so far. There's no loose bits flapping around like on some other PCC toys, it's a solid lump with the body formed from the front of the tank and the waist & legs from the back. You can turn the arms without the shoulders feeling like they're going to come off. The articulation is worth mentioning here. The shoulders turn and bend up, the waist turns, we still have universal hips, bending knees and now a swivel bellow the knee. The tank's barrel points up over one shoulder and a rectangular cannon that can be elevated upwards leans over the other. There's a fold up Minicon socket on his chest and a 5mm peg hole on one side of the chest (I've had Airlift sitting in there). I've got him standing on my shelf wearing the Combaticon limbs which very much suit him. Top class stuff.

Overall: Decent tank. so so robot but superb torso mode. Well worth a look.


My first reaction would be Warpath but he's got a Generations toy coming soon so it won't be him. A desert version like Movie Brawl might be good or as a Generation 2 Megatron/Archforce.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Power Core Skyhammer & Minicon Airlift

Power Core Skyhammer

Skyhammer is a fighter jet and your guess is as good as mine as to what sort of jet he is. Actually if Kaptain Karl, my military aircraft expert is reading, could he tell me? Ta! His nose isn't pointed like many jets but looks like there's a chunk cut out of it. He has a pair of main wings, followed by a set of horizontal and a set of vertical tail fins. Both sets are hinged for the transformation so you can have fun altering Skyhammer's design geometry. The main wings can raise up too putting me in the mind of planes I saw being carried off to the Falklands years ago on carrier ships. He has a fold down landing gear under his nose and moulded down landing gear under the body, which is quite a solid affair but does feature moulded guns on the centre pointing forward. The bulk of the jet is grey/blue but there's some orange as well which can be found on several pieces including the Minicon peg that folds out of the jet's back. Blue and orange on a Decepticon jet immediately makes me think Dirge.

Transformation: Fold the wings and side tail fins up. Look at the underside of the aircraft with the nose pointing up, and fold away the landing gear. Slide the sides of the body out to the side taking them off their tabs then fold them back, with the rear of the undercarriage, to become the legs and waist of the robot. Fold the feet down at the front of the leg and the blue Power Core Block at the back to act as a heal spur. The centre of the undercarriage is the arms: Unpeg the hands off the posts near the back of the jet and fold each arm out to the sides at the shoulder. Fold the nose under the cockpit. Fold from the wings forward down 90 degrees, opening the hatch in the middle of the jet and revealing the single robot head which folds up, Fold the cockpit down 90 degrees and slot the tab at the bottom into the waist. Fold the arms down and pose. Fold the wings down 45 degrees between horizontal and vertical.

Skyhammer's robot mode isn't setting my world on fire. There's very spindly limbs attached to a scrunched up jet. As ever we welcome the lightpipe, in clear orange, and I'm pleased to see fold out Minicon pegs on his back (the same one located in his jet's back) and front (which was hidden in the cockpit, but not revealable in jet mode). The head & shoulders are ball jointed but the shoulders are on a hinged panel that isn't secured so they move about as soon as you touch the arms. The elbows bend at the top and have a ball joint at the bottom. There's no wrist articulation so his 5mm peg hole hands have to stay in line with the forearms. The waist is fixed.... well I say fixed, it's on a hinge connected to the back as part of the transformation and has the cockpit pegged into it. Touch the toy and the cockpit will unpeg and the waist fold down. This is the second toy I've seen behave like this recently, but I can't for the life of me remember what the other one was. Skyburst possibly.... Hips turn and fold out to the sides while the thigh swivels and the knees bend twice.

To transform into Torso mode, bend the lower knee joint back and then fold the upper knee joint forwards till the peg on the top of the kneecap slots into the hip. Fold the foot up and the blue Power Core Block heelspur down. Fold the wings up vertically. Fold the arms back at the elbow joints, so fist is in front of shoulder, than fold back pegging the inside of the forearm into the underside of the wings. Fold the Power Core blocks under each wing down round the fists. Open the helmet up behind the robot head, fold up against the back of the head and close.

Skyhammer's combined mode is dominated by the head, formed from the robot head and covered by an extra helmet, complete with flying goggles, which is a lovely touch! Nice to see the undercarriage guns finding a place to sit in this mode pointing forward, It's reasonably stable standing even when deployed with the notoriously difficult air drones who, despite their allegiance, would seem to be his natural companions. I've got the Fighter Jet and AWAC drones on him together with their respective repaints to make an all plane combiner (The helicopters from the same sets are all on Searchlight - that worked less well !) Unfortunately the combined mode again relies on the waist holding together which it completely fails to do especially if you try to do something silly like pick the toy up or raise one of it's arms. However it's easy enough to reattach when this happens but it occurs so often that it gets really annoying. He can still connect Minicons to either his front or his back Minicon pegs.

Very good jet mode, so so robot mode and a combined mode spoilt by the waist joint. Hasbro: when making joints like this that peg in and need to stay peg in please make the connectors large enough for them to hold together. This really needs a 5mm peg to make it work.

Power Core Minicon Airlift

Robot Mode: Airlift is the Minicon supplied with Power Core Skyhammer. His body and lower legs are cast in clear orange plastic while his upper legs, arms and head are solid black plastic, with most of the head covered in a layer of metallic paint. The arms are each a gun, moulded to resemble a chain gun. The knees, hips and shoulders are ball jointed plus the waist turns and in a neat twist (ho, ho) the head turns with it (Thank you to Mr Marshall for pointing this out to me on Saturday. In centre of his chest is a Minicon socket, while on his back is a Minicon peg.

Armour Mode: Bend the legs at the knee and the hip. Raise the arms up about 45 degrees and fold them out to the side by the same amount. Yeessssssss. Attached to a Power Core Commander it makes it look like the Minicon is doing something very naughty with the larger toy.

Vehicle Weapon Mode: Fold the legs back at the knees and the hip pegging the tiny pegs on the heel spurs into the back of the upper body. Raise the arms straight up and attach onto a Minicon post using the hole on the robot's chest. For an alternative weapons mode fold the barrels back 180 degrees so the majority of them runs alongside the bulk of the Minicon. Yes it is a box with gun barrels but the adaptability is nice.

Robot Weapon Mode: From robot mode turn the waist 180 degrees. Fold the legs up at the hips & waist pegging the tiny pegs on the heel spurs into the front of the upper body. Either point the arms straight up or fold the arms down to the sides. Yes, it's essentially the vehicle mode weapon again but I like the little twist to the transformation that results in the Minicon post not the socket sticking down.

I'm liking this toy. OK the armour mode isn't greet but the head turning with the waist and the way the weapons are similar but don't transform identically appeals to me.

United Targetmaster Micron Recoil

To launch the Transformers United range in Japan a promotion was run releasing recoloured Power Core Minicons as the Targetmasters for United and Henkei characters. Airlift was used as a new version of Recoil, Kup's Targetmaster. The black arts were kept but the clear orange was swapped for a more traditional solid grey, while the portions of the head that were coloured on Airlift now look like they're chromed. While a little different in form from the original Recoil the United Micron retains the dual barrelled design.

Recoil was a Toys R Us Japan exclusive sold on January 1 2011 with the purchase of Y3000 of United product: A United deluxe has an RRP of Y2300 and a Voyager of Y3600.