Sunday, 18 September 2016

Titans Return Blurr, Brainstotm & Chromedome


Titans Return Blurr

Blurr as somewhat mixed form with his remakes. The Armada version is fun and captures the spirit, if not the form and colour, of the original. Retool the hands, give it a new head and new colours as Cybertron Blurr and you're much closer the original though. Generations a mixed attempt at giving Blurr a more current rather than futuristic alt mode. The problem is he'd go for something sleeker and faster, possibly even a racing car, and being blue that takes us into Mirage territory. Kup does far far better taking this approach. A similar approach is taken for the Animated version, albeit with the twist of the animated style which I'm not keen on. So there's a hole there for a Blurr that looks like his 1986 version in both modes. Since Blurr was reused as a Targetmaster in 1987 it makes sense to do a new version of him in a line who's main focus is the 1987 characters.

The only problem is Titans Return's gimmick is effectively the new version of Headmasters so Blurr's Targetmaster partner Haywire becomes his Titanmaster Hyperfire. In head mode Haywire has a nice little feature with a pop up antennae/spoiler, a smaller version of what the original Blurr had. Transforming him into his Titanmaster robot produces an all blue figure matching Blurr. He is very plain, just like the monochromatic larger robot.

The photos I've seen of Blurr look OK but every time I see him on the shelves he looks the wrong shade of blue, almost with a greeny tinge to it. Apart from the colour Blurr looks fab in robot mode, they've got the design dead on, even down to him having a shield made from his vehicle nose like the original did. The only real complaint I have is the gun, here moulded in the blue and painted silver on ll but the handle. It's a bit generic, and reminds me of the gun used with the GI Joe figure Lady Jaye that Dapol sneakily reused with their Ice Warrior.

The shield comes mounted on his arm via a 5mm peg on the shield which plugs into a 5mm hole the outer side of either forearm or can be hand held. The shield can be attached to Brainstorm's back either way via a pair of slots in the shield that match tabs on the back. However it only looks sensible pointing down. As well as the 5mm handle there's a 5mm peg hole in the gun that lets you mount it on one of the pegs on the side of the shield. The shield can also be detached and, with the aid of a fold out landing gear in the soft off white plastic, be used as a separate vehicle

Articulation: like all Titanmaster toys the head is on a ball joint. The arms shrug up at the shoulders and also rotate. There's a bicep rotational joint, bending elbows and rotational wrists. Waist turns, hips are ball joints plus a thigh swivel & bending knee. Foot bends up as part of the transformation. The outer set of wings, on the outer side of the rear of each arm, are hinged, but the inner wings, hinged on previous versions to form the tail fins, are fixed in place.

Remove the Titanmaster and hand gun. Mount the shield on his back pointing down. Straighten the arms and point them up. Close the covers over the hands. Fold the feet up, revealing wheels, then fold the front of each lower leg out to the sides. Fold the tail fin out of his right (on our left) leg. Tab the lower legs together and then back at the knees so the lower legs fold round the upper legs then close the leg fronts back up. Open the chest front, fold the seat back and sit the Titanmaster in the cockpit before closing the chest front/canopy. Fold the shield up off the back to become the nose in place of where the head was. Pull the arms out to the sides at the shoulder, then towards the back of the vehicle and finally bring them in with the tab on the strut which connects the arm to the shoulder slotting into the inside of the upper arm and the pegs on the side of the shield fitting into holes on the inner side of the lower arms. Peg the gun into the side of the vehicle or under the nose.

Again the vehicle mode is spot on, bar the colour which needs to be a lighter blue maybe broken up a bit for variety. The canopy on the vehicle opens to allow the Titanmaster to sit inside. The car moves courtesy of some small wheels on the underside.

Dead on in both modes sculpt wise. Shame the colour isn't quite there.


Titan Force Brainstorm

The new deluxe version of Brainstorm is probably not onto a winner here. First he's been done recently, as Generations Thrilling 30 Voyager Brainstorm, which was a wildly successful and popular toy albeit at a completely different scale to the Titanmasters. Then he's a blatantly obvious remould of Wave 1's Blurr. Finally he's an exclusive, either as part of the San Diego Comic Con Titan Force boxset or, with an altered deco, as a single carded release through the American Drug Store Wallgreens.

Where Blurr's Titanmaster Hyperfire was all blue, Brainstorm's Titanmaster Teslor is cyan with an off white chest, which suggests the chest is on the same parts sprue as the robot's upper legs given the colour and quality of the plastic used. The face of the Titanmaster's head mode is all new: by the look of it it's painted all over and I'd guess it's grey plastic like all the new parts on the larger robot. Attached to the deluxe body the Titanmaster head looks slightly too big: this is my first deluxe Titans Return toy so I can't comment as to how this compares to the others.

Brainstorm comes in robot mode and here his similarity to Blurr is striking. The body & legs look identical to Blurr. Lower legs are a hard off white plastic, painted cyan on the shins, with the upper legs made from a softer off white plastic. Waist is the hard off white plastic again, this time painted cyan, while the majority of the body is a soft cyan plastic with the chest covered by a clear windscreen. The lower abdomen, later the vehicle seat, is dark grey plastic the same as the feet which are the only reused parts to be cast in this colour. The hands, forearms & elbow are inherited from Blurr, cast in cyan plastic (painted grey), hard off white plastic (painted grey) and soft off white plastic respectively. The upper arms, both set of wings, and the hand cover folded under the forearm are all made from a hard grey plastic, with the exterior of the shoulders painted off white. The hand guard hinges are the off white plastic.

Finally the weapons: the gun is the cyan plastic used for the body and, unlike Blurr, is unpainted, while Cyan shield is surprisingly moulded in the hard dark grey plastic and painted! Unfortunately the paint job on mine is a bit poor - could they not spring for a sprue of the cyan plastic to mould it in? So the gun barrels at the front of the shield, grey on this release, aren't an extra paint layer as was first thought (they're the same cyan as the rest on the single carded version) they're the native colour of the piece!

The shield, although physically different, maintains all the functionality of Blurr's shield and indeed the two can be swapped between the toys. The guns on the shield, which becomes the front of the jet, are a major problem for me. On the original Brainstorm they were removable as his twin handguns, a feature carried over onto the T30 Voyager. Here they're moulded in place and that's very very annoying. Worse his replacement hand gun is identical to Blurr's in all but colour and seems to be one of the parts reused on the Chromedome & Breakaway/Getaway remoulds too. Dumping that gun and moulding removable guns would have added significantly to the toy.

At the time of writing I didn't own Blurr, I was waiting for the Legends versions, but now I have him in hand the transformations are identical.

Given Blurr as a starting point, they've not made too bad a job of Brainstorm. The new nose, hand covers and wings significantly change the shape of the toy. However there's a price to pay with the wings: the new shoulders, which become side pieces in jet mode, have lost the Titanmaster footpegs. Blurr's spoiler is replaced by one single tail fin which looks very odd as we're used to him having two. I also found the canopy not stretching all the way back to cover the entire cockpit more than slightly annoying. The paint flaws on the nose, mentioned earlier, are particularly obvious here especially round where the landing gear folds out in the shield's stand alone vehicle nose. The off white of the landing gear now sticks out and makes you wonder why it couldn't have been moulded on the cyan sprue. But he maintains Blurr's wheels on his underside which makes rolling him along quite fun.

I can understand why Brainstorm is an exclusive and a remould: he's had his own general release Voyager version relatively recently. But he is a popular character through More Than Meets The Eye and as such probably deserved a little bit more love than this. The vehicle mode changes and choice of plastic for the nose particularly annoy me. This is a fun toy, but it could have been better.

Brainstorm was sold at San Diego Comic Con 2016 as part of the Titan Force Boxset which also contained a transparent version of Sentinel Prime and a redecorated RID Windblade. When this set was sold at the UK Film and Comic Con Brainstorm was renamed Charon due to a trademark problem.


Titans Return Brainstorm

Over the course of the start of 2016 various pictures of Brainstorm including a grey prototype were leaked, all of which indicated a remould of Blurr was on the way. There was disappointment when the Titan Force Boxset was revealed as it meant he'd be limited. Hope for a carded version was raised when card art was leaked indicating slightly different colours to the Titan Force version which was all but confirmed in this now deleted tweet from Walgreen's Toy Buyer Steven G Anne which is reproduced at 2005 boards.

As you can see in these tweets from Autobase Aichi showing the robot mode & the vehicle mode, this gallery, there has been some alterations!

Now that single carded Brainstorm is here I can see the differences for myself: The Titan Force version is closer to T30 Voyager Brainstorm in colour, but very slightly paler, whereas single carded is positively green by comparison. I say his "blue" is Aquamarine, Liz says Jade. Either way it's a more greenish tinge than we're used to on Brainstorm. The blue paint app has gone from the front of the legs and also the grey one from the hands which are now aquamarine/whatever. There's extra paint on the gun barrels, making them the same colour as the rest of the shield. The faceplate is now orange rather than yellow and there's added stickers on the front of the wings in robot mode and the back of the vehicle mode.

Honestly, if it were the only one available this toy would have done me as a Brainstorm but the I believe the Titan Force version is better and I can see this being moved on PDQ


Legends Blurr

As is usual for Takara the inspiration behind Blurr's colours are his appearance in the cartoon which creates a much more contrasting robot, almost a dark blue one covered by pale blue armour. The gun, and Titanmaster limbs, become grey here, with the Titanmaster chest upper legs & knees plus the back hinge becoming dark blue. The feet & hands are white while virtually everything else is pale blue. Unfortunately that last colour is *slightly* off, a bit *TOO* Vibrant a blue. But even given that it's a better set of colours for him than for the Hasbro version. Fandom agreed and, despite the lack of a Titanmaster accessory like the previous deluxe Legends, pre orders were snapped up. Good luck finding one now!

Blurr was released as Legends LG-25 atthe end of August 2016.


Titans Return Chromedome

Chromedome is a popular character at the moment thanks to his starring role in More than Meets the Eye and he always was a popular character in Japan thanks to his lead role in the Headmasters cartoon series. Surprisingly he's only had one real new version made Transformers Subscription Service 2.0 Chromedome, a repaint of Transformer Prime Wheeljack with a new head. So a new Titans Return version is welcome.

However Titans Return Chromedome isn't a remould of Combiner Wars Dead End/Steetwise/Prowl, as some people say he is, it just looks & feels like he is. A lot. It's only when you get them alongside each other, as this photo gallery shows, that you see how different the two are. In fact there isn't one shared part between them!

Titans Return Chromedome does share parts with another toy and, incredibly, that toy is Blurr as TFWiki's comparison of the two shows. Two sprues are shared between the toys, one containing the smaller of Chromedome's guns and the Titanmaster's head, arms and legs. This was blue on Titans Return Blurr, pale plue on Titan Force Brainstorm, Jade on the Walgreens Brainstorm Grey on the Legends Blurr and is red here. Another sprue, consistiung of the knees, upper legs, hips, hands & Titanmaster body is also used: Blue on Titans Return Blurr, Off White on both Brainstorms,and Dark Blue on the Legends Blurr is used here in brown. Such a small number of reused parts has provokoked a heated arguement on if this still represents a retool. In my view it does, and so he's reviewed wih Blurr & Brainstorm.

So the Titansmaster robot is an identical toy to the prveious uses, albeit with a brown body & red limbs, and the same articulation.

Transfromation: Here's what I wrote for Dead End:

Turn the waist 180 degrees. Straighten the arms & fold the hands into the wrists. Fold down at the shoulders to the sides of the body. Fold the front and outer side of each leg out to the sides. Bring the legs together with the combiner connector pointing towards the waist. Fold the lower legs up at the knees so they contain the lower legs then close the sides of the legs to form the rear of the car. Fold the back pack down to form the nose of thecar and fold the windscreen down. Fold the chest plate up to cover the face. Peg the weapon into the side of the car as an exhaust pipe.
Apart from the windscreen folding forward from the rear of the car and the weapons tabbing onto the roof, via some tabs that match the bottom of the larger gun, that's about right for Chromedome too. Of course the weapons COULD have pegged into the sides of the car if you'd chosen.

The car mode is a nice chunky representation of Chromedome with dark clear wheels like the toys from Velocitron, Transformers Cybertron's speed planet. The real fun here is folding the roof of the driver's compartment back so Stylor can sit in the vehicle. There's somethinf about sitting drivers in Transformers cars that appeals top me as a fan of the 1984/5 Diaclone cars!

Returning the car to robot mode highlights the Combiner Wars Dead End similarities: the arms physically looks very similar, including the 5mm peg hole in the shoulder and the small differently coloured elbow piece. The fold down chest plate and the way the upper legs look are very Dead End too but the lower legs here are virtually straight with a seperately moulded foot while Dead End's legs spread out the further down you get.

Articulation: I quote from my Dead End review again:

Articulation is good: bending knees, ball jointed hips, turning waist, ball jointed head, shoulders that raise at the body and are ball jointed at the arms, bicep swivels and bending elbows.
Weapons: Chromedome has inherited Blurr's gun, now in red. Chromedome's guns were never that distinctive t me so I'd have been happy with two of these for him. However he comes with a second, larger, gun that is capable of have a Titanmaster sit in it: a heel spur slot is provided. A 5mm peg underneath lets Chromedome hold it and 5mm pegsin the side allow it to be plugged into the car mode with it's Titanmaster gunner still seated properly. A peg on the top allows it to be wielded upside down and a 5mm hole in front of the Titanmster's seat allows the other gun to be combined with it.

I've enjoyed Chromedome a lot, in fact I think he's a lot better than the original which never really worked for me. This is a good thing as I suspect we'll be seeing it again for a few more car characters before Titans Return is done.


Legends Chromedome

Legends Chromedome takes the Titans Return vesion, gives it a new face, and pairs it with a brown version of Titanmaster Nightbeat's drill/jet accessory.

Legends Brainstorm

Legends Brainstorm takes the Titans Return vesion, gives it a new face, and pairs it with a blue version of Titanmaster Brawn's gun/jeep accessory. It's not the first blue jeep in Transformers and unfortunately it has brought the disturbing image of Energon Strongarm back to mind.

Getaway/Breakaway

Getaway is another character who has come to recent prominence due to More Than Meets The Eye. He's had another version previously, Wal*Mart/Asda exclusive Breakaway, a repaint of Cybertron Hotshot originally meant for the Universe 2 toy line.

A colour chart for Titans Return Getaway, and several other toys, was leaked in April 2016 revealing it to be a straight repaint of Chromedome with a new face. Hasbro then accidentally revealed Getaway, now under the name Breakaway again when product brought to Cybertron Con 2016 showed the toy on Hot Rod's cardback!


Future Repaints

Blurr & Brainstorm, with near identical robot modes & Car/jet vehicle modes, are considered to be the likely base for Autobot Clones Fastlane & Cloudraker.

Chromedome I think will be repainted till the cows come home. If he doesn't get done as Nightbeat I'll be very surprised and I can see him as Siren too, which in turn means he's a good candidate for their Japanese versions Minerva & Goshooter.

Concept drawings exists showing the original Chromedome repainted as Arcee and I've already seen a Titan Return Arcee digibashed from Chromedome which was also turned into a custom. I've also seen an Arcee from Blurr and another from Hot Rod!

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