Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Generations Trailcutter & Hoist

Generations 30th Anniversary Trailcutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: TFW 2005's Trailcutter gallery

Generations 30th Anniversary Hoist

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

So how does Generations Hoist do?

Badly. Very badly.

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

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

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

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

See also: TFW 2005 Hoist Gallery.

X2 Toys XT-003 Strength Equipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Repaints

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

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

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

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Generations Waspinator


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Repaints

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

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

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Generations Skids


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Looks great!

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

Future Repaints

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

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

Hasbro, I have money for you!