Saturday, 3 December 2016

Titans Return Twinferno & Dubaru

Titans Return Twinferno with Daburu

Rewind with me back to 1987. Young Phil is in the Beatties in Kingston, standing by the Transformers rack which at the time was to the left of the door, backing onto the front window, holding one of that year's new Transformers for the first time. It was one of the Horrorcons, probably Apeface as I have a memory of seeing that first. He turns the toy over and sees the battle scene art on the box back and sees the majority of that year's Transformers for the first time. One of the many that catch my eye is the two headed dragon fighting Mindwipe at the bottom right. I would later learn from the Headmasters limited series comic that this character was called Doublecross and he was a Monsterbot. There were two other Monsterbots Grotusque and Repugnus. Repugnus is also in that battle scene but all three Monsterbots, together with the giant Autobot Fortress Maximus and Decepticon multichanger Sixshot from the battle scene, were unreleased in UK that year. I was sad I never got to own one as I thought he looked fantastic. I got to play with one in 1992 when my friend Richard showed me his collection of imported Transformers. But somehow I've never got round to tracking down an original one myself.

So when a colour chart for Titans Return Doublecross, and others, was leaked I was quite pleased to see a new version of a toy I'd never had. However carded pictures of Deluxe Wave 3 revealed that his name had been changed to Twinferno, which shouldn't have come as a huge surprise as that name had been used for the character's last appearance in Tiny Titans Series 3 the previous year.

The same carded pictures revealed the name of his Titanmaster was Daburu but when we saw his official images there was a surprise to see the head was an eye patched lion head, a homage to the Beastformers character White Leo, seen in the Japanese Headmasters Cartoon episode Rebellion on Planet Beast. Doublecross was never a Headmaster in 1987 but it makes sense that he is as he's closely associated with them. He too features in Rebellion on the Beast Planet, and remains on the planet at the end of the episode, so a partnership with a Beastformer is perfect! As benefits the character he's modelled on Daburu is mainly white with a dark blue chest, similar to White Leo's armour, and grey upper legs. The sculpt is good enough to pick out the eyepatch detail on the Titanmaster's face and, when transformed, has a larger robot head that looks like the head on Doublecross. Win Win all round.

Cosmetically they've got Doublecross down to a tee with Twinferno, he looks nearly identical to the original. Changes include shrinking the previous chest detail down, making the lower legs black instead of grey and making the wings bigger, but narrower. They've preserved the 5mm peg hole hands in the sides of the dragon heads that form his arms and that's where we run into trouble. As peg the original having the dragon head side on means that the arms bend in at the elbows. To have them bend upwards Hasbro have added a bicep swivel to each arm. To bend the arm up you need to first rotate it 90° out to the side at the bicep which means the peg holes are now facing outwards! For me all Transformers should be able to bend their arms so the peg holes in their hands run top to bottom and the guns sit in the hands in a natural looking position and it's a major design failure on any that can't. The fix for it here would have been a swivel at the base of the neck which in turn would have given the dragon heads the ability to turn to the sides.

Almost to make up for this limitation the designers have gone all out with the guns themselves. Like Highbrow, and as the other Autobot Headmasters should have had, Twinferno has twin handguns. In addition to holding them via the 5mm pegs the guns can be mounted through a peg hole in the top corner of the wings. Forward of the peg on he underside of each gun is a thin tab and that can be plugged into a slot on Twinferno's red shoulder armour. Again like Highbrow the guns can be combined to form a dual cannon but, unlike Highbrow and Twinferno's wavemates Hot Rod & Triggerhappy, the guns combine so the 5mm pegs still face down so the robot can still hold the combined weapon sensibly, with the above caveats. The combined weapon uses the tabs on the underside to attach to the robot's back. There's a lot you can do with these guns, which have probably won my "best gun of 2016" award as this late stage but somehow the inability to bend the elbows and hold the gun right at the same time still grates.

We've mentioned the arm articulation already but in addition to the bending elbows and bicep swivels the arm folds out to the sides at the shoulder which also turns. The dragon heads open their mouths to simulate opening hands. The head turns courtesy of the ball joint in the Titanmaster's neck. The hips turn and pivot to the sides, the knees bend and, thanks to the transformation, the ankles rotate. The wings on his back can move 90° between folded back and straight out to the sides.

Transformation: Remove the head and the weapons. Straighten the arms out to the sides with the top of the heads facing back and the peg holes facing to the sides. Pull each shoulder away at the rear and fold over the chest, bringing both arms next to each other. Fold the chest, and both arms, up and back into the space occupied by the head. Now the theory here is that the slots on the shoulder pads lock onto tabs on the robot's neck. The practice is they don't easily on mine, with the slot on his robot's left shoulder (on our right) being to blame. From here fold the tail halves on the sides of the legs up which in turn allows you to fold the grey ankles and attached feet out to each side. You should then attempt to attach the legs together which has been another area of frustration for me as the tabs didn't want to lock into the slots. The lower legs then fold back over the upper legs at which point you'll probably need to put them back together again. It was at this point I went hunting for some pliers to help me and discovered both sets were missing! You might be tempted to fold the red crotch panel up now on the grounds that "it does move, so it should!" but don't or it'll cause problems later. The grey robot ankles then fold over the hips which should be tipped back about 40°. There's tabs on the back of the robot's sides, just above the waist. When the hips are orientated at the correct angle they should fit into the middle set of holes on the inside of the grey robot ankles. Again, another tabbing struggle but this one will eventually lock on solidly when you get it right! There's a pictorial tutorial on the 2005 boards that may help. Attempt to tab the tail halves together. Open the black smoked door on the chest, which would now be obscured by the crotch plate if you'd moved it, and seat Daburu inside. Mount the weapons either individually on his wings or combined on his back.

No deluxe transformation should be that frustrating! In the process I've had dragon wings, arms and heads come off and discovered that the hinges on the wings are a different size on each side.

Once completely transformed the dragon mode looks almost exactly as it did on the box back all those years ago. He's a grey dragon with black limbs & tail, black smoked wings and two white heads, each with two horns on the rear. There's a little red visible from the crotch plate and shoulders but not much. In many ways the colours are quite similar to the standard Dinobot colour scheme and both they and his general form fit right in with that team. His articulation is great: the ankles & knees bend, the hips rotate, the arms are on ball joints at the shoulders and both necks rotate at the base & bend half way down. Each head folds forward & features an opening jaw. With the dual cannon removed from his back there's a pair of Titanmaster footpegs for Daburu or another Titanmaster to stand on and when the cannon is attached there's a set for a Titanmaster to sit in.

I desperately want to love Twinferno. The transformation was a nightmare of tabbing, or rather things refusing to tab. I think I've sorted some of the problems there by adjusting how some parts, notably one of the shoulders, is fitted but the experience wasn't a fun one. The dragon mode is great, once properly tabbed together. The robot mode is good but the problem with the elbows & fist peg holes annoys me, it's one additional point of articulation per arm away from being really good. The guns are great, lots of fun with the options there. It's close to being really good and if I had one that worked as intended then I'd be happy. But I don't and from what I read other people have had similar issues to me.

Future Repaints

There aren't that many two headed dragons with wings in Transformers: most of the dragons have one head and most of the two headed creatures, like The Terrorcons, have no wings. However Robots in Disguise Megatron & Galvatron have both. Similarly replacing the two dragon necks with one the split in two to form the arms then he might make a really good Transmetal 2 Megatron/RiD Cryotek or Beast Wars II Galvatron.

Twinferno is, like Triggerhappy, packed at 2 per case in Titans Return Deluxe Wave 3 with 3 Hot Rods and a single Breaklaway/Getaway filling out the wave. Although he already has a a Titanmaster in Titans Return, a retool of Twinferno as Fangry seems an obvious thing to do. Simply replace the two dragon heads with a single wolf head that splits in two to form the arms.

I can see elements of Pounce & Wingspan

No comments:

Post a Comment