Monday, 31 July 2017

Titans Return Overlord with Dreadnaut

Titans Return Overlord with Dreadnaut

Having teased Overlord during the Botcon 2016 presentation and then trolled us by by revealing Sky Shadow first at NYCC 2016 we had then had to wait four months for his official reveal at Toyfair 2017!

Now I'm of the age where I can remember the gold boxed Overlord sitting on Woolworths shelves here in the UK and it's been a mater of some regret that I never bought one at the time and some frustration since that he has not yet been reissued. So I've been looking forward to this new version very much.

He comes in robot mode out the box but we'll look at the vehicles first: remove the gun and separate the toys by pulling down on the waist. At this point it should become immediately apparent that, apart from a new waist panel at the front, the legs and the Megatank that they turn into are identical to the tank sold with Sky Shadow. So see that review for more on the tank and how to transform it.

So returning to the upper body: fold open the top of the head and remove the Titanmaster Dreadnaut.

Sky Shadow's Titanmaster was modelled after Mega, one of original Overlord's powermasters. Titans Return Overlord has Dreadnaut as his Titanmaster and he's modelled after original Overlord's other Powermaster Giga - see this picture for a comparison. The Titanmasters have identical chests, which look like they're on the same sprue as the upper arms, elbows, Titanmaster clip and Leader robot hips judging by the colour changes, and identical black upper legs, which are probably on the same sprue as the base mode ramp connectors. However the arms, lower legs and head are new and the head has been painted cyan to match Giga's original head and chest. I'm willing to put money on both Titanmasters being with the Japanese version of Overlord.

So close the top of Overlord's helmet and reverse it. Remove the Megajet's nose from Overlord's arm, fold the peg in and clip the Megajet's nose into Overlord's backpack with the nose pointing down and the white side facing backwards. Fold the Megajet up and forward so it covers the head.

Once again there's no need to have removed the Titanmaster from the head for Transformation. This, coupled with the head being painted when it could be cast from the same blue plastic as the chest, makes me think we may end up with a deTitanmastered head on TakaraTomy Overlord. We'll deal with what will happen to the two Titanmasters I think will be included on that toy later .....

Fold the hands into the forearms. Straighten the arms and retract the elbows into the forearms. Fix the shoulders in relation to the body thanks to tab in the armpit and a slot on the arm. Fold the wings out the side of the arms, fold up the tail fins, fold down the landing gear.

Overlord's Megajet is a stylised SR-71 Blackbird, with black main body that's got more blockiness and straight lines that the Blackbird's sleek rounded lines. As per the original Overlord the engines and underside are cast in white slightly spoiling the appearance of the Blackbird as is traditional for Transformers versions of the plane: Snapdragon is the wrong colour, the Micromasters Fireshot & Vanquish need two robots to form the vehicle and Revenge of the Fallen Jetfire is a horror to transform that I'm still having nightmares about to this day! The cockpit canopy, cast in clear orange plastic, opens for Dreadnaut to sit in it, though the hatch is rather stiff! The floor of the cockpit is also clear orange and folds down. Really this is for his base mode but it gives the impression of a nice entrance ramp/escape chute. One the side of each engine and the middle of the rear are 5mm holes for you to mount his weapon on. Titanmaster Apeface's jet mode looks rather nice piggybacked on he jet, attached via it weapon mode handle mounted in the middle rear hole and indeed his weapons mode works rather well there too. Either side and slightly forward of the rear hole are a Titanmaster Foot Pegs with another on each side following about 4cm further forward. On the underside of the rear of the jet is a Titans Return base mode ramp connector should you wish to attach the jet by itself to something.

If this mode came in black and turned into a robot by itself I'd be perfectly happy with it and it's pretty good as it is paired with the existing tank. I think the jet is the better of the two halves though, not because it's newer but because the tank fees a little too short and doesn't have a raising barrel or rotating turret.

Like Skyshadow it is possible to link he tank and the jet but the connection is a little more tenuous here. Open the robot's chest doors on the underside of the jet. Place them round the front of the tank turret and press the tabs on them into the slots on the slide of the turret that you didn't know were there till you started looking for them to do this!

The hold .... could be better. You're liable to get them separating unexpectedly but hey, it's a working dropship combination!

The two vehicles also come together to form the base mode. The tank transforms exactly as it did with Skyshadow but the jet is a little different....

Start by pulling the nose of the jet off. Rotate the jet nose so the bottom faces up and reattach it. Pull up the plates that form the sides of the jet's top rear - I missed their equivalents on Sky Shadow when reviewing it - and pull them back so they are flat against the rear of the toy again but pointing out the back of the jet. Bend the back of the jet up 90° and stands on this with the white underside of the jet nose facing forward. Slot the tank into the rear of the jet, peg the gun into the hole on what was the jet's rear, and fold down the clear yellow hatch that was under the nose as a platform for Dreadnaut to stand on.

I think the base mode has done a good job of capturing the essence of the original Overlord base mode, and the tower formed from the jet is really similar to the original. The problem here is the tank portions: the split tank halves feel far too close to the main body. Here they're connected to it by the upper legs whereas the original had them further away and linker with ramps. Maybe if the upper legs could telescope out a bit to give them some distance or even fold out into three sections to form a thinner ramp? But as it stands the width of the base mode feels far too compact. There's a base mode connector at the end of each leg piece and another at the back of the jet tower. Each leg, and the base of the jet mode, has two Titanmaster pegs one it plus a further one on the tower canopy. But somehow the base mode doesn't feel busy enough. There's no space for the Titanmaster to stand behind the gun, like you could on Skyshadow, and it lacks the attachments, fold out weapons and even ramp to the front the original had.

Robot mode transformation: Remove the gun & Titanmaster and close the orange platform. Open the ends of the front tank halves to form the feet, fold in the base mode connectors, then fold each tank half 90° out to the side to become the lower leg. Fold the straightened leg in at the hip and then rotate it 180° out to the sides so they're the correct way round: the front of the base mode is now the robot's back. Fold the tower back down flat. Fold the rear jet panels, covering the robot's thighs, up onto the robot's back. Extend the arms, fold out the hands, fold the fins & wings back and pull the shoulders out to the sides untabbing them. Separate the nose of the jet, turn it 180° and reattach, folding the nose down onto the robot's back. Pull the jet nose off again, folding the landing gear in and the peg out and attach to one of the holes in the robot's shoulder. Rotate the helmet so it faces front, open the top and insert the Titanmaster. Place the gun in his hand.

Overlord's body follows the same pattern as the original with the jet's engines becoming it's arms, the underside of the jet body becoming the chest, with the jet nose becoming a shield while, as also per Sky Shadow, the tank forms the legs with it's barrel becoming the hand gun. So while the lower part of the toy is identical to the earlier leader the top half is very different and has been closely modelled on the original Overlord chest design. The six barrelled gun array is there on our right of the chest as is the grey box that on the original folded down with the Powermaster gimmick to become a missile array. With the Powermaster gimmick gone the box is now little more than moulded detail but if you lean him back at his waist another missile array is revealed hidden in Overlord's abdomen.

The Powermaster gimmick has sort of been emulated on Overlord, albeit in a way that doesn't do anything. His chest doors open revealing two cavities that a Titanmaster can be slotted into. Be careful though, I've found the fit to be rather tight and TFWiki agrees. The inclusion of this feature has made me thought that the Takara version might get a significant retool with a permanently attached head and both Mega & Giga Titanmasters retooled with Powermaster style engine. However it could just be a look ahead to the Power of the Primes Primemaster gimmick.

Articulation: identical to Sky Shadow, including the odd double shoulder joint I hadn't discovered when I reviewed that toy. I cant's see why the shoulder joint would raise to the side out of the body when this feature is duplicated by the shoulder sitting in the arm. 5mm hands of course but Sky Shadow's 5mm ports on the arm have moved up onto Overlord's shoulder for the purposes of mounting the jet/shield. 5mm port on the rear of his waist for weapon storage.

There's some fun to be had with this toy. Thanks to the "two vehicles become one" feature and the shared tank/legs with Sky Shadow the two toys can swap trousers in robot mode for some colourful combinations. The jet nose, in addition to being worn on his shoulder, can be used as a hand held shield, can be stored on his back or used as chest armour thanks to a slot on his chest and a tab on the jet.

Fans have been wanting a decent Overlord update for some time and this toy delivers. Jet, tank and robot deliver and the base mode is the only place it really falls down in comparison with the original but is itself OK by Titans Return standards. My expectation is hat we might see something interesting from TakaraTomy with this early in 2018.

Future Repaints

Having done Sky-Shadow surely Thunderwing is an inevitability? I can't see him being a Leader by himself: we think there's one wave of leaders left after Overlord and to do him there would mean repaints of the same toy released in three consecutive waves. I could have seen him more as part of a boxset, the only flies in that plan being that there was already a Titanmaster Thunderwing in the Siege On Cybertron boxset and that Hasbro seemingly went off the boxsets after the first two. However with [url=]Thunderwing featuring in the Power of the Primes vote[/url] I could see this toy being retooled with a new jet for legs to fall in with the leader's power up gimmick.

The Leader size might be a little large for him but the plane & tank combine to form robot transformation is surely an ideal fit for the Duocon Flywheels/Skytread?

I can't get over the leg configuration on Sky Shadow's base mode. With the tank turret part folded away it would make the perfect base for a Leader Perceptor with the upper body forming a different cannon tank by itself and then combining in Microscope & Robot mode!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Tribute Orion Pax

Tribute Orion Pax

When loose images of this toy first appeared in late May 2017 people weren't 100% sure if it was the assumed Targetmaster Crosshairs toy people were expecting from Kup or a new version of Orion Pax who'd been an eHobby repaint of Reissue Targetmaster Kup. The Instructions which emerged a few days later confirmed the toy to be Orion Pax, with the Box and box back images following.

Now I'm in he UK, we didn't get much exposure to the cartoon so I'm not married to the idea of Orion Pax being a pre war Optimus Prime like some fans are. However I don't have any objection to the idea of Optimus Prime being something before he became Optimus Prime and since this is a previous established character repaint, I've no problem with them pulling the same trick again.

Mostly it's a set of simple colour swaps. The grey of the legs and lower body becomes a paler grey, the mint green on the inner sides of the legs and under the feet becomes a pale blue colour which is shares with the parts previously in grey on the guns & Titanmaster. The wheels & chest plate become clear blue. Everything else is red, with the two grades of plastic in the arms not quite matching. A new blue face piece, featuring Optimus Prime's head with it's mouth-plate changes to a mouth, finishes the toy off.

My immediate reaction is the blue looks too pale for Optimus Prime but a quick image search confirms it's just about right for the blue used on Orion Pax in the Cartoon. There's a bit too much red on the outer side of the leg too. While which parts are on which sprue may have influenced that decision there's no reason I can see that this couldn't have been painted, like the leg fronts are, and the effect on the vehicle wouldn't have been too detrimental.... in fact looking at the vehicle I'd have liked the leg fronts cast in blue to give an all blue flatbed for the pick-up: the red rather stands out!

Minor colour gripes though. The overall effect does the job adequately and Kup was a fun toy with an interesting transformation so this is too. My only concern with doing this is that it's colours are very similar to those for a Targetmaster Crosshairs so does doing this rule that toy out?

And, although this is obviously a pre Earth Optimus Prime pack with Orion Pax packed with a fairly similar to the original War For Cybertron Optimus Prime, it might have been nice if they'd sneaked in a repaint of Titans Return Wheelie as Dion further mimicking the eHobby Targetmaster Kup recolour that this Orion Pax was inspired by.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Titans Return Twin Twist with Flameout

Titans Return Twin Twist with Flameout

As soon as a Titans Return version of Topspin was rumoured people began to speculate on Twin Twist being done too and done as a retool of Topspin. Although very similar in many ways the originals don't actually share any parts but I could see the reasoning. The week before Toyfair he turned up on a Case Listing from a retailer and then the night before the show he was accidentally revealed on Twitter by Hasbro themselves, the latest in a long line of similar mishaps, before being officially revealed in the showroom, alongside his brother who was already out, with his official images following later that day.

In contrast to the original Twin Twist the Titans Return version appears to be largely reused from Topspin, albeit with a great many parts swapping colours. The blue lower arms leg fronts and Titanmaster arms, lower legs & head become white while the white of the guns, chest and upper part of the upper legs become blue, the latter acquiring a coat of white paint. The white of the waist, knees and Titanmaster chest & upper legs stays the same resulting in Burnout becoming all white. New parts are all white and include the deluxe robot head, upper arm, tank treads, drill section, feet, which look identical in this mode but aren't, and back of the legs. This last section, under the vehicle and behind the robot, might seem an necessary remould but it's been changed to include wheels to allow the toy to roll along better in vehicle mode. The tank tread look a little odd on the side of the shoulders and towering over them, the original Twin Twist had his treads built into the back of his arms.

Transformation is nearly exactly the same as Top Spin's. The only real difference is when the arms are pushed into the body of the tank the tank treads need to be folded down.

Vehicle mode is, yes you've guessed it, a drill tank with twin drills at the front! While the original Twin Twist had drills whose thread indicated they turn the same way, the Titans Return version has threads which oppose each other indicating they'd turn in opposite directions. Of course, like almost every other Transformers drill tank they don't turn! He feels longer than the original toy, more than Twin Twist did who length was balanced by the wings to the side. Two wheels under the rear and one under each tank tread allow Twin Twist to roll along. The rear of the vehicle has new, rectangular thrusters formed from the rear leg section and new feet. With the wings gone you need to look for somewhere else to mount the guns and you're left with either the 5mm peg holes on the sides of the rear, inherited from Topspin, or new 5mm holes on the sides of the tracks. Either way you're looking at something that extends the width of the toy. I'd have been very tempted to replace the guns with new weapons that could be placed flat against the side of the vehicle mirroring his original gun. Once again there's no way to attach the combined weapon to the top of the toy so the Titanmaster can sit in it and no used for the twin rectangular slot on the top of the toy which really look like they should do something.

I like Twin Twist, I really do,but he's not blowing me away like Top Spin did and the reasons why not are quite varied. Top Spin's Titan Return version really was an improvement on the original, which felt like a wedge with wings whereas the new version feels like a space fighter. Of the original Jumpstarters Twin Twist always was the better, the drills felt like they did something and gave the toy a purpose that Topspin didn't have so the addition of a cockpit here doesn't feel like that great an improvement. The Titans Return mould feels like it's designed to be Top Spin and adapted to be Twin Twist and that's keenly felt in Twin Twist's arms that do nothing to camouflage the tank treads. And I really, really wish they given them different guns!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Titans Return Misfire & Aimless

Misfire & Aimless

Having already done two Decepticon Targetmaster, Triggerhappy and Scourge, it wasn't a surprise when Misfire as a Triggerhappy retool was rumoured. What was slightly more surprising was when he didn't show up with his wavemates Windblade & Twintwist in the Toyfair 2017 showroom. We didn't have to wait too long though as both Misfire and his retool Slugslinger were revealed at the Australian Toyfair via an Australian fan event.

The parts shared between the toy are everything on the legs, the shoulder joints, the lower upper arms and the Titanmaster. Misfire's Titanmaster, Aimless, has the upper legs flipped but there's a small extra difference on mine: between the front of Blowpipe's knees is a small number 2 but on Aimless between the rear, same side remember because they're flipped, is a small number 1! I can see the piece is probably on the same sprue as the feet, both parts are on both toys and have the same colour change from white to black, but am wondering why the labelling has changed.

Robot mode: when we first saw Misfire he has a purple face but thankfully in the meantime this has been changed to black to match his original toy. As the parts list above will lead you to suspect he's Triggerhappy from the hips down but virtually everything else, all the material on the upper body moulded in purple, is new. He comes with a pair of new guns which individually can be hand held or mounted in 5mm peg holes on his shoulder, where they sit in jet mode. The guns can be combined together side by side to form a dual barrelled weapon with a Titanmaster seat in the rear and, hallelujah, the combined weapon can be hand held with the Titanmaster sat in a normal position while the gun barrels are side by side. Big plus points for this, not ony because it makes sense but also because the original Aimless Targetmaster was a dual barrelled weapon.

Transformation: remove the weapons and Titanmaster. Fold the jet's nose up off his back into where the head was. Straighten the arms and fold the fists in. Pull the shoulders out to the sides and down, they're connected by a joint to the middle of the body, so that the shoulders are by the waist. Make sure you pivot the wings as you go so they remain in the same orientation in relation to the body. Fold the waist forward 90° and then transform the legs just like Triggerhappy folding the heel spurs into the legs, the feet back as far as they'll go, tabbing the lower legs together and bending them back at the knees and hips so the legs fit in behind the cockpit on the robot's back. The arms then tab into the sides of what was the robot's knee. The wings tab onto the robot's shoulders, the guns peg into them and the Titanmaster sits in the cockpit.

In a way Aimless lacks the ingenuity of Triggerhappy's transformation but it's produced a superb new version of his original jet mode with the inherited Triggerhappy legs, which gave his jet a different look at the rear to what we were used to, working really well here.

Works well as a toy in both modes. The combined weapon being able to be held properly is icing on the cake.

Top toy. Triggerhappy needs his brother in arms and it all bodes well for Slugslinger who seems to share some of Misfire's new parts as well as the legs from Triggerhappy.

Titans Return Windblade & Scorchfire

Titans Return Windblade with Scorchfire

Since Scourge had already had one major remould as Highbrow I didn't expect to be looking at the mould again except as a Sweep or Beast Machines Obsidian repaint. The first sniff of a Windblade came a few days before Toyfair 2017 when a rumour stating she was a Highbrow retool emerged, to some doubt which wasn't 100% silenced by her reveal in the Toyfair 2017 showroom.

I could spot from a distance some shared parts, notably round the upper legs, but now she's in hand I can list a whole load of parts that are the same: Scourge's feet (Highbrow's heel spurs), the spine/inner waist, the knees, upper legs, hips, shoulder joint, elbow, bellow the bicep on the upper arm, the Titanmaster connector and the Titanmaster's chest, upper & lower legs. There appears to be some mould degradation as a few of these, the spine and the upper legs in particular, look to have slightly changed shape and definition while retaining the same detail.

Her Titanmaster Scorchfire is all black with a new head and arms which helps to separate her from Xort, Fracas and the forthcoming Legends Sweep head. She, and I'm presuming a female Transformer's Titanmaster would also be female, transforms into a head with a really good representation of the Windblade face on it.

The figure itself is slightly odd: the top half is y our typical slim armed busty Windblade but the lower half looks too big for the upper half. The Upper legs, carried over parts remember, are far too square and chunky in comparison with the arms while the lower legs are similarly large in order to accommodate having the upper legs folded into them during transformation. It isn't a complete disaster by any means, and stands far far better than the original Windblade did, it just looks ever so slightly odd.

Articulation: foot bends at the ankle, bending knees, thigh swivels, universal joints at the hips, shoulders that shrug down a bit at the body as part of the transformation, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, bending elbow and a neck joint provided by the Titanmaster. As it's the same Titanmaster connector as Scourge and Highbrow some people have reported problems with it but I can't see anything major on any of the the three toys and their heads stay attached fine for me.

Weapons: because it's Windblade she needs a sword and here she has not one but two! The design differs from the curved blade seen on previous deluxe Windblade toys, she now has a pair of straight blades, cast in clear yellow plastic, and painted silver everywhere bar the handles, leading blade edge and a tab used for storing the weapons on each wing. The swords can be held individually but can be combined into a double bladed weapon which she can hold by one of the handles. The weapon by itself can also function as a Titanmaster vehicle, via a seat at the back which accomodates a Titanmaster who'se feet peg onto the front of seat area. It's not great as a stand alone vehicle to be honest and works better as a weapon though, as we'll see, it can attach to the vehicle mode too. For storing the combined weapon, fold down the landing gear on Windblade's back and place tha Landing gear's foot into the rectangular hole imediately in front of the Titanmaster's seat.

Transformation: Remove the weapons and the Titanmaster. Straighten he arms to the sides and swing each in 90° at the bicep. Extend the spine by pulling down on the legs/waist. Tab the arms into the back panel. Fold the wings forward. Fold the nose up off the back and into place. Fold the feet down. Lay the toy down on the robot's front. Fold the lower legs forward 180° at the knee so that the feet rest between the wings, Tab the weapons in under each wing, open the cockpit and sit the Titanmaster inside.

So much simpler than the T30 version to transform and so much more stable in jet mode: rock solid here compared to the floppy mess of the T30 version. The shape is broadly similar to both existing Windblades with the pivoting fans still present in the wings. She's mainly red, with black highlights so is more similar in colour to the Legends versions rather than he mainly black Generations toy. There's two individual Titanmaster footpegs either side of the body should any Titanmasters want to stand on her. Her combined sword weapon tabs in behind and projects out over the cockpit. It looks a bit odd but I can see what they were going for and if you don't like it then stor the blades under the wings. The slot for attaching the weapon is a little odd: it's cut over and through a 5mm peg hole behind the cockpit that's useless tio Windblade as she comes here. Her swords, while possessing 5mm handles, are tapered to the end and won't fit in it. I can only presume that it's present at Takara's request to accommodate a Titanmaster accessory in weapons mode or a Targetmaster. The only problem with that is Haywire, Blurr's Targetmaster, has been done with Doublecross, Fracas would be surely with a Decepticon, all the other Targetmasters have either been packed with their toys or their toys haven't been made yet and there's no real Titanmaster sword weapon! I await Takara's version with interest to see what they do!

Proportions of upper to lower body aside I think Titans Return Windblade is a decent toy. It's a far better Windblade than the original to my mind, having a jet mode that doesn't fall apart when you look at it helps there! I probably should get rid of the original but I think it will have to stay because there's a slight chance I might want to use it's sword with this toy!

Future Repaints

Windblade has Combiner Hunters and Titan Force versions this toy could be repainted into, with my preference going to a Titan Force repaint as that was already associated with Titans Return. The original Windblade was also remade as Legends Slipstream and Botcon 2016 Airazor.

Titans Return Blitzwing with Hazard and Octone with Murk

Titans Return Blitzwing with Hazard

If the design of Voyager Megatron wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings revealed a Voyager Octane which was released in Titans Return Wave 5 somewhere between May and July 2017 depending on where you were in the world. Essentially it's mainly a simple colour swap with the darker grey, light grey and red becoming purple, sandy beige and very dark grey respectively. He gets a new chest and face in robot mode, the jet mode is essentially the same but purple but the tank mode gets a little interesting. He has a new purple tank barrel, which the seated weapon carried over from Megatron can attach to the top of. But this gun barrel is removable, leaving just a 5mm peg behind which in turn raises the question that should Megatron's short gun barrel should also be removable? The longer tank barrel can also attach to the front of the seat weapon to form a long handgun for robot mode while the fusion cannon is gone replaced by a sword.

Sadly the problems with transforming the legs persist, even harder than I remember them being for Megatron.

So.... Is it a decent repaint of Megatron? Yes. Is it a better Voyager than the Generations T30 effort with the notoriously dodgy shoulders? Oh yes! Job done then.

Titans Return Octane with Murk

Now it's painfully obvious that Optimus Prime with Diac and his opposite number Megatron with Doomshot were due to be new versions of Octane & Blitzwing. But while Blitzwing has some serious issues with his most recent version, Octane's never been done in the Voyager scale that the rest of the Triplechangers have been done in. Astrotrain has already been remade in Titans Return as a repaint of Sentinel Prime, another use of a "pre paint" where the repaint comes out before the obvious intended version.

If the design wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings reveal a Voyager Octane, which was released in Titans Return Wave 5 under his Japanese name Octone.

Whereas Blitzwing is the second use of that mould after Voyager Megatron, Octone is this mould's fourth outing after Voyager Optimus Prime, Chaos on Velocitron Leader Prime and Legends Black Convoy. Fortunately there's some remoulding to help differentiate him. In robot mode Octone, like Blitzwing gets a new face and chest plate. The front of his shoulder towers are also changed, but to my mind they should be folded down for Octane anyway. Gone is the sword, replaced by a gun modelled after his original, but the double barrelled gun with seat remains. One of the remoulds for plane mode is visible in robot mode too: the straight wings with hinges in the middle are gone replaced with slanted solid one piece wings. Transforming to plane mode also reveals a more rounded jet nose. The tanker mode is largely the same, albeit recoloured, but changes to other modes have reportedly caused problems with the tanker holding together in places.

Decent repaint and remould, does the job just fine and improves the jet on previous versions.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Siege on Cybertron Tidal Wave

Titans Return Tidal Wave

Of the rumours coming out of the Transmissions Podcast a Titans Return version of Armada Tidal Wave from Broadside seemed one of the more likely. Both were triple changers, of a sort, with sea and flying modes involved. Aside from Micromaster Flattop there weren't many other sensible suggestions for reusing Broadside queing up.

Titans Return Tidal Wave was revealed at Toyfair 2017 with official images, albeit with a mis-transformed robot mode, released at the same time. Both sets of pictures show Tidal Wave in a colour scheme which resembles his cartoon colours, as sported on his Japanese repaint MD-06 Shockwave. Unfortunately the colours shown at toyfair and in the image release aren't quite right with the purple being too pale.

Thankfully though by the time the toy was released that had been corrected and he sported a much darker purple nearly matching his earlier toy complemented by pale grey and a clear orange for his canopy and gun pieces. The other benefit of these colours are he fits right in with the other three Titans Return Decepticon Triplechangers who also use grey and purple, making it feel as if the 85/6 toys have finally found their long lost brother. The odd sloping forward tail wings make some sort of sense this time as they now match what the wings on the original Tidal Wave did.

I like my Tidal Wave, they've done a smashing job on the colours, far better than the toyfair showroom and official images show him. Yes, for the character, he could be bigger, but for my money he's better than Broadside.

Tidal Wave forms part of the Siege on Cybertron boxset, also known as the Strength set, which is a BBTS exclusive in the USA. The boxset also contains Magnus Prime, a repaint of Legends Ginrai, Metalhawk, a Triggerhappy repaint, and new toys Pounce & Titanmaster Thunderwing.


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Future Repaints

Tidal Wave's colours are close to his Micron Legend version but that still leaves his Armada or Energon versions as possible repaints.

I've always thought that an ideal repaint of the original Broadside would be Micromaster Flattop and the same applies to his Titans Return version.

Titans Return Cloudraker & Wingspan

Titan Return Cloudraker

It came as something of a surprise when Cloudraker & Wingspan were shown as a 2 pack at a Taiwanese toy exhibition, later revealed to be a Walgreens exclusive in the USA. The expectation was that Cloudraker and Wingspan would follow in the "Intelligence" and "Fireblast" boxsets expected to follow Chaos on Velocitron ("Speed"), which has Fastlane/Fastclash, and Siege on Cybertron ("Strength"), which has Pounce. Nobody knows for sure why the plans have changed, and the picture may be slightly clearer in a few days times post SDCC 2017, but my guess is that the last two boxsets were cancelled based on the sales of the Combiner Wars sets. We know, from rumours leaked to the Transmissions Podcast that the Strength and Speed sets were in development early 2016 at around the point the first sets hit. My guess is that the sales numbers on the first sets caused Hasbro to pull the plug before any serious work was done on the last two Titans Returns sets, reduce the numbers on the last Combiner Wars and first two Titans Return sets and make them exclusives. Left with two new Clones unused they bundle these in a box together. Now Clones fans are happy with this decision, as they don't have to buy the rest of two more boxsets to get the toys they want!

From the front Cloudraker looks almost exactly like his brother Fastclash, which is exactly the look he should have. He feels slightly less bulky having lost the prominent spoiler behind his head and the wheels on his back and lower legs, all of which went into Fastclash's vehicle mode, which are replaced by a small fin, the jet nose and the folded up wing panels respectively. The lower legs and shoulder joints are different between the two toys but otherwise all the robot parts are the same leading to identical articulation. The transformation however is rather different.....

Start by rotating his head 180° so the fin faces forward. Then fold his hands into his forearms, straighten the arms and raise them so the point straight up before folding the shoulders in 90° so they're over the front of the chest. Split the inner part of the waist in two and fold 90° out to the sides: this joint was present on both Fastlane and Pounce but not used by either toy. Unfold the black wings from behind the lower legs, so they're pointing down, and fold the feet back into the lower legs. Fold the legs back a further 90° at the hips and connect the slots on the lower legs to the tabs on the sides of the shoulder. Unfold the jet nose from the back of the robot so it snaps into place under the waist, pointing down where the legs were. fold down the landing gear and stand.

The centre of the jet mode looks a bit boxy and square, but Cloudraker always did, and this is more than offset by the wings to the sides and the nose to the front. The tail fin, on the back of the robot's head, is all but hidden away sitting in between the folded back arms which we must assume are engines of some sort. Under the nose is a fold down landing gear and a hole for a flight stand. There's two similar holes further back under the toy that are also present on Fastclash: Then I thought they might be used here but now I suppose they too must be intended as flight stands. Since the toys share the same body and chest piece, Cloudraker also has the ability to carry a Titanmaster in vehicle mode: the seat folds back between the arms/jet engines.

There's only one slight criticism I can offer: the folded back legs seem to pop off their securing tabs in jet mode a bit to easily. Perhaps slightly deeper tabs were needed. But apart from that, and the lack of guns common to the Titans Return Clone, he's a fine toy far better than his brother Fastclash.

Titan Return Wingspan

Wingspan's changes from Pounce are very similar to Cloudraker's from Fastclash: new lower legs & shoulder joints and replacement alt mode parts. But that doesn't quite do justice to the changes nor does it reflect how much the design has been updated from the original toy. The robots modes look the same again and have identical articulation, including that odd bicep swivel rendered necessary by the ball joined elbow. The transformation is different to both Pounce and his original and that's where the changes come through:

Rotate the head 180° and fold the new beast head up off his back. Straighten the arms, fold the arms in over the chest at the shoulder and then rotate the lower arms in 90° so the new claws under the forearms are on the front of the chest. Swing each leg 90° out to the side at the thigh swivel so the inner leg faces forward. Just like Cloudraker separate the inner waist and fold each half, and leg, 90° out to the side. Fold each leg up 90° at the hip and down 90° at the knee so the front of the knee is level with the top of the robot's shoulder and a tab on the rear of the shoulder fits into a slot in the near. Unfold the wings from the robot's leg and stand on the beast claws.

Even before we saw Wingspan we knew there was something going with his arms thanks to the empty pin holes through Pounce's arms and we now find those holes holding the beast's claws in place with the legs becoming the wings. On the previous Wingspan the robot legs became the beast legs, the wings were pegged on his back and easily lost while the arms just sat there at the side of the body. This new version uses the robot parts better I think albeit at the cost of slightly bulkier less articulated wings. To make up to this you've got some options with the the best legs which lets you stand the bird either so he's parallel with the ground or, by bending robot elbows & shoulders, at 45° angle. A new tail completes the look, attached at the base of the robot's back which still has the seat for the Titanmaster which Pounce had.

Easily the most changed of the four clones, justifying the decision to include the split waist on Pounce which I really couldn't see the point of beyond possible parts sharing with Cloudraker. But it's a great update and I'm glad to have all four in my collection especially when the first have proved hard to get! I'm grateful for the final two being bundled together a a cheap price, which has probably saved me in the region of £220, but do wish they'd managed to make these in their traditional Fastlane & Cloudraker/Pounce & Wingspan combinations and had bundled some weapons with them. I await the Takara versions now to see what changes they make....

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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Legends Black Convoy

Legends Black Convoy

Evil Black Optimus Prime repaints aren't as obligatory as they once were but when your Optimus is modelled after the Laser Rod Optimus Prime design used for Car Robots Black Convoy/Robots in Disguise Scourge it would be rude not to. The only reasons I can think that it hasn't showed up in Titans Return is the mold has been used three times there (Voyager Optimus Prime, his Chaos on Velocitron Laser Prime repaint and also as the Octone remould) and that his western name Scourge has been used on it's original character. As I've said many times previously I think the Scourge name was wrongly used back in 2001 and that he should have been Mega Octane, a name with more fuel related connotations and linking to his alt mode.

You know that the robot mode is going to lend itself to being Black Convoy by virtue of the design and the black, accompanied by grey for the upper legs & elbows and some silver & blue highlights, looks fab. The look is completed by the sword being cat in clear pink. The tanker mode looks good, with the unadorned trailer sides painted silver. The silver trailer then helps the jet giving it a plain body, as opposed to the heavily stickered previous versions, which coupled with the black nose gives the plane probably it's best version yet.

As a bonus, Takara have created a base mode for this toy: The legs are stretched out to the sides with the body forming a tower, with the arms linked together round the gun, and the wings folded forward to form a platform. Far better than several of the official Titans Return bases!

Top repaint, glad to have got one.

For pictures, including comparisons with previous versions, see Alfes Blog 2803 & 2804

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Metalhawk

Siege on Cybertron Metalhawk

Probably the biggest surprise of Toyfair 2017 was the reveal of the deluxe repaint in the Strength Boxset. Leaks publicised by the Transmissions Podcast had indicated a deluxe figure called "Iron Apex", a new version of Apex Bomber/God Bomber would be included. A new version of Metalhawk from the then unrepainted Triggerhappy was came rather left field....

Exclusive to Japan Pretender Metalhawk gained fame not just for not being released in the west but also for incorporating die cast metal in it's design. A popular character in the Japanese cartoons his one transformable re-release is as a Botcon Exclusive Remould of Generations Thunderwing.

It isn't that drastic a repaint actually: all the blue stays blue except for the chest and it's side pieces which become a bronzey gold. The grey all stays grey too, maybe changing in shade a bit, except for the shoulders and guns, which become red although the shoulders are then painted blue which is really annoying as the blue wings are also painted but this time to red. Clear red replaces clear blue in the cockpit canopy and a new face modelled after his original version's inner robot face is also included.

The jet looks completely different, the robot looks different albeit with the colours in the right places but somehow this really works for me. Getting the robot colours right is a big plus in helping that and from there it's easy to see the vehicle as a Cybertronian version of Metalhawk.

Now can we have a reissue of the original please?

Monday, 19 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Pounce

Seige of Cybertron Pounce

I'll freely admit I was looking forward to Pounce, a toy I loved the original incarnation of. Straight out the box it's obvious they've done a decent job updating it. A lot of the purple has gone, replaced by white on the front legs and lower rear legs. The only purple that's left is more cerise now and is paint covering a new panel, moulded in blue, covering the back of the robot's upper legs in beast mode, with the tail, now blue, hanging off that. Behind the head is a moulded depression for a Titanmaster to sit in. The beast articulation has been significantly improved with the front legs jointed at shoulder & knee while the rear legs bend at hip & knee. The only thing he's really missing are the holes to mount weapons on the shoulders but since he doesn't have any weapons that point is a bit moot.

Transformation: fold the beast head back. Rotate the robot head 180°: it needs to be reversed and facing straight for the beast head to fit snugly over it. Fold the front lower leg forward onto the front of the upper leg which is then folded back 90°. Fold the compacted legs up 90° onto the beast's back beside the head which in turn swings the robot's arms out from under the beast. Fold the blue tail end back onto the cerise tail base. Straighten the rear legs. Fold the rear lower legs into the rear upper legs and straighten to form the robot legs. Rotate each leg 180° at the thigh. Stand.

I find the robot mode here very interesting: he's exactly the same size as Fastclash and there's plenty of evidence that one is a retool of the other but I'm struggling to find many parts that are identical. The chest has a lot of detail in common but they're distinctly different piece: Fastclash features a fold up chest panel which becomes a seat for a Titanmaster with a slot for the Titanmaster's heel spur on the waist. Here the chest is a solid unit with a Decepticon symbol at waist level. The legs and arms are completely different while the shoulder joints, which fulfil a similar function on both toys by swinging in across the chest, are almost identical bar the detailing on the front. The only parts that are definitively the same are the ball joints in side the hips which stretch up into the waist causing the waist to split in two in a manner not used by either transformation!

Basic articulation is identical to Fastclash: ball joints at elbow, shoulder and hip, thigh swivel, bending knee and rotating head. Design is fab, looks just like the original but, like Fastclash, I'm missing the guns.

I loved the original Decepticon Clones and I'm liking this new one a lot too. Give me his brother Wingspan now!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Siege on Cybertron Magnus Prime

Siege on Cybertron Magnus Prime

The first hint of this toy came via the Transmissions Podcast who in Episode 157 on March 3rd, 2016 said
Leader "Powermaster Prime" has a blue repaint. Called Magnus Prime/Super Ginrai.
Now when I heard this my immediate thought was that somehow the telling had go a little garbled here and we'd get a Diaclone Powered Convoy repaint of Combiner Wars leader Ultra Magnus: These colours had been reused in Transformers as Movie Preview Ultra Magnus and more recently as Masterpiece Delta Magnus. But I could live with owning a blue Powermaster Optimus Prime, it would hit the idea of the Blue Cab Prime being Delta Magnus. Then in the meantime E-Hobby announced plans for their Classics Voyager Delta Magnus. Had the two toys been mixed up in what Transmissions were told? Or did the E-Hobby toy force Hasbro to change their plans? We shall never know, but if you're reading Hasbro there's still room for a Delta Magnus repaint of CW Ultra Magnus in my collection.

So when Delta Magnus was revealed at Toyfair 2017 as a slightly modified deco of Takara's Legends Super LG-35 Super Ginrai, there was a mixed reaction. The Magnus name was a problem for many people as they didn't feel it matched the toy at all. Those who already had it wanted either Delta Magnus or the rumoured blue Powermaster Prime. But those who hadn't bought Super Ginrai were pleased because it gave them an opportunity to get a Powermaster Prime that looked more like Powermaster Prime than the Titans Return version did. The inclusion of the Japanese version also made people wonder if Godbomber was coming to the west, possibly in the Firepower boxset which would seem an appropriate home for him.

The version shown at Toyfair had a metallic painted trailer but his Official Images show something more grey. In the end the release of the toy ended up looking a lot like super Ginrai than many people expected, as you can see in This Comparison Gallery.

The waist, was white now is blue. The Autobot symbols on the truck mode are larger. The shades of red and blue are slightly different. The guns are now black. None of these I particularly have a problem with, in fact, if pushed, I think I even prefer the Delta Magnus colours. The problem is the Titanmaster. Super Ginrai's Titanmaster is a dead ringer for Powermaster Optimus Prime's Powermaster Hi-Q. This isn't. Along with the super robot's waist, the Powermaster's lower & upper legs and face are now blue. Since these parts, and the waist, were grey on Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime I think we can conclude that they're moulded on the same sprue. It's a shame, it was so good on the Japanese version.

Many people have complained of problems with Super Ginrai's ankles not holding the toy up. I didn't have that issue till I put Godbomber on him. However my Delta Magnus falls over backwards if I look at him funny or knock what he's standing on. I can't see I'm doing anything different, he just doesn't stand as well!

It looks a more than adequate substitute for Super Ginrai in every department bar the Titanmaster but the ankles scare me, especially if I was intending to put Godbomber on him.

Legends LG-42 Godbomber & God Ginrai

Legends LG-42 Godbomber

Even after all these years there's something about he original Godbomber that is special. He was one of the first Japanese exclusive Transformers, he's the the first Transformer to act as a "Power Up" for another and he's he first one for AGES to have a missile launcher. He might be the first toy designed for the Transformers range to come with a missile launcher, beating the Turbomasters and Predators in Europe by 4 years and G2 Megatron by 5 years. I can remember seeing him in friend's Japanese toy catalogue and marvelling at how he powered up Powermaster Optimus Prime to become God Ginrai. Not long afterwards I got the opportunity to own one and though I parted company with it no long afterwards I have owned one for the last fifteen years as part of the God Ginrai reissue. Against that, although he does the job powering up Optimus/Ginrai, Godbomber commits the ultimate sin by having to be dismantled to transform him and isn't 100% secure in robot mode with both legs and arms held on by just one 5mm peg each. He's not that well articulated either by today's standards but it's not that out of line with other toys of the time.

As soon as Legends LG-39 Super Ginrai was revealed in July 2016 people started speculating on the existence of a new version of Godbomber anfd that toy was revealed in early December 2016 ad released in May 2017.

Godbomber's vehicle/trailer mode is broadly similar to the original, with some tweaked proportions on certain elemments: the GodGinrai arms feel bigger and the prime trailer like sections feel smaller. Dye to the nature of the toy's construction it feels a little bit unstable and I'm almost convinced I've done something wrong transforming it back to this mode! Under it's front bumper is a fold out clip which allows it to attach to the back of Legends Ginrai's trailer, just as the original toys could join together in vehicle mode.

I'm not keen on how the cannon is mounted here, it's sort of sitting there between the arms with slots on it's pivot mounted on very small tabs on the inside of the arms sections. With the right adaptor, and our old friend the Zoids Blox strikes me as being useful here, the cannon could be mounted on one of the minicon pegs to the rear of each side. In addition to those two pegs there's a 5mm on the side of each arm section, another on each side of the striped Prime trailer section, one on each wing, one on each arm fin, two on top ofthe cannon and another two on the cab. Plenty of room for expansion here. The cannon also has a pair of Titanmaster pegs, spaced to fit feet peg holes, and there's a further peg on the front of the arm section. Godbomber has an unnmaed Titanmaster who is almost all blue in robot mode bar his grey head, with a red visor who can use those pegs buthis more natural home is in the cab. The original Godbomber cab was just a shell over the front of the vehicle, but the new one has had a significant upgrade based on the Masterforce cartoon. The front of cab folds forwards, it's rather stiff so you may need to put something into the 5mm peg holes on the cab tops to level it forward. Inside is a 3 Titanmaster driver compartment designed to accomodate Shuta, Cab & Minerva. To date only Shuta has been released as a Titanmaster, with LG-29 Legends Wheelie so you'll have to pick another spare Titanmaster to sit next to Shuta & Godbomber's. The Titanmasters are visible through the clear cab windows. Lovely touch suiting both the gimmick and the history of the character.

One of the major advantages this toy has over it's predecessor is the lack of taking apart in the transformation. There's little still, mainly involving the cannon, which is removed first, and the Titanmaster, which needs to come out the cab. Leave the cab open. Fold the front third of the silver panels with the blue stripes on them back 180°, then fold each arm section, with the red wings, 90° out to the side. Fold the rear of the cab compartment back 90° so the back of it becomes the top of the robot's body. Do not try to do this with the cab closed, close it after doing this step! Fold the cab back between the wings: there's holes in the body top that fit tabs projecting back and tabs on the side of the vehicle mesh with slots inside the shoulders. Unfold the legs under the robot, revealing the chest, and seperate them. Unfold the black feet. Fold the hands out of the arms and then fold the inner part of each lower arm down. Rotate the wings back behind the shoulders. Place the Titanmaster into it's socket on the top of the robot. Pull off the rear of the cannon which become a helmet which is place over the Titanmaster and peg the rest of the cannon into a socket on his shoulder.

So that's the transformation in theory. In pratice one or both lower arms will come off: a tab on the back of the lower elbow section fits a small slot on the rear of the arm and a peg on the inside of the front of the arm fits a hole on the other side of the lower elbow section. You'll get used to reattaching them rather quickly, I find the come off quite often, partly due to them clipping the body when moving the arms and partly due to the arm panel joints being relatively weaker than others. I'd move the arms by holdingnthe front& back of the lower arms between your fingers.

The articulation on the original Godbomber was limited to the arms turning at the shoulders care of a pair of 5mm pegs: Legends Godbomber considerably improves on that! On the arms alone the shoulders turn, which actually causes something of a problem because the wings, hinged to an independent panel between arm and body, tend to turn with them! The tabs jholding the shoulders onto the body also have a tendancy to pop off. Back to the arms: There's also a bicep swivel, bending elbows, rotating wrists, bending fingers and a ball jointed thumb. I'm not a fan of hands with no peg holes bu I can see why they wewnt this way here in order to store the hands flat in other mode. I suppose it helps thatthe original Godbomber isn't associated with weapons other than his shoulder cannon! He does have an extra weapon,. A sword that's really intended for his combined mode and is stored under & in the cannon. The hand does have a tab on it's palm to enable him hold the sword but the tab isn't fitting into the sword's handle on my toy. Worse I do seemed to have snapped off the very thin tip of my sword's handle, which recesses in the missile, removing the sword handle from the cannon just now! Back to the articulation: head turns as you'd expect a Titanmaster to, hips move out to the sides, with a corresponding sideways ankle tilt to compensate, as well as bend, there's a very low thigh swivel just above the knee and the knees bend. Physically it looks like the original Godbomber albeit with the wings the other way up! Like the vehicle mode he's covered in expansion ports: 5mm holes on each shoulder, one of which is taken by the cannon, one on the cannon itself, behind each wing, on each arm fin, on each forearm, on the side of each leg, one on the chest where original Godbomber would have mounted the cannon in vehicle mode and one on the front of each hip!

We need to look at the legs: it's inevitable the toy mus come apart to form the armour for his combination with Super Ginrai to form God Ginrai, and we've seen how the arms attached already when they came off, but they've done something very clever with the legs. The lower legs remove just above the knee joint by sliding them out to the side, with just above the knee being revealed as a Combiner Wars connector and the rest of the upper leg a Combiner Wars socket. This means any Combiner Wars deluxe can form a slightly larger leg for Godbomber, a fabulous way to increase his play value. His legs can also be used with CW Voyagers but since they're shorter than most CW legs they'll look a little stumpy forming part of a combiner.

The removable arms and legs also come in handy for creating a "super mode" Godbomber with the vehicle mode cab/combined mode chest facing forward and each limb reversed and swapped sides!

Like the other Titans Return leaders he has a base mode of sorts. Start from vehicle mode, it's easier, by folding the red wings down to the sides. Folder back the front portion of the Prime trailer panels and slide each half of of the truck base out to the side. Bend the bottom half of the upper leg back and position each half with the upper leg part to the rear to the rear and the panel from the side of the vehicle pointing out to each side. The red wings clip onto these lower legs towers.

Um...... From the front it conspicuous looks like it's the vehicle mode with the lower half gone! The rear is possibly a better way round to view the base mode, with some garage space visible underneath. The flaps folded out to the sides each end in a Titans Return base mode connector and an additional Titanmaster peg hole is found on each folded out wing.

They've tried, but given the limitations of what the rest of the toy has to do I can understand why the base mode hasn't quite worked.

So on Godbomber alone.... both robot and trailer look like the original, and massive points for making them transform without major disassembly. Both modes are slightly unstable with bits coming off the robot and moving when you don't want them to every time you touch the arms.

But that isn't the whole story....

For a gallery of the toy's three individual modes see Alfes 2789

Legends God Ginrai

To form God Ginrai start by removing Super Ginrai's weapons then slide his fists forward, extending an extra section between fist & forearm, then folding down the ramps under the arms. Fold the heel spurs in.

Now to God Bomber: remove the legs, sliding them off to the sides, then the arms, head & cannon. Replace the Titanmaster's helmet into it's position on the rear of the cannon. So you've got two pairs of limbs, a body, a cannon and a Titanmaster.

God Ginrai's feet first, which is the easy bit: take the legs and fold the black feet down 90° under each leg. Put the front of the legs down flat on a surface, striped Prime trailer side facing out, and fold the blue feet down 90°. On the underside of Ginrai's feet is a grey rectangular hole that fits the red block projecting up from the God Bomber leg parts. Clips on each side of the block lock into the sides of Ginrai's feet. Raise the Combiner Wars connector legs parts behind Ginrai's feet.

Next, for the quite easy bit, take the Godbomber arm pieces and look at how they're built. Fold up the flap on the inside of the arm. Fold the top of the arm up at the top joint between it and the side. Fold the bottom of the arm down, turning the entire arm piece into a flat panel. Fold the hand back under the panel. On the underside of the top panel is a peg, which fits the peg hole on Ginrai's forearm, and a tab, which fits the slot on the arm extension Fold the side of the arm back 90° using the lower of the two joints connecting it to the top. Fold the underside of the arm piece under Super Ginrai's arm, tabbing into place round the top. Fold the grey arm panel back. Fold the inner arm panel between arm and body.

Finally Godbomber's body, and this bit isn't easy: Alfes Blog 2794 has some pictures of what you're mean to end up with. Bend each elbow 90°. Turn each arm back the bicep 180°. Raise the arm at the shoulder 180°. Separate the chest. Fold the leg up behind the chest at the sideways hip joint. Straighten the wing and swing out to the sides. Swing the arm in behind the chest. Tab the lower arm stubs together and secure by placing the helmet over slots on the bottom of the arm stubs. The red panels that were within God bombers body slot onto tabs on the cab's flatbed on Ginrai's back with hooks going into the wheel arch and the cab folds forward over the body. The cannon pegs into a whole on the blue strut over his right shoulder. The weapon configuration on the instructions is guns mounted behind the head and dual cannons on the side of the feet but I always wanted the dual cannons on God Ginrai's shoulders and this toy gives me the opportunity to do that so they go there and the guns go in his hands.

The perennial problem with modern "power up" combiners is a weakness in the legs. The original Super Ginrai, and his successor Star Sabre, had no leg articulation so their powered up forms were solid. Robots in Disguise Omega Prime suffers so much in his hips & knees that leg articulation is all but eliminated in his Armada successors Optimus Prime and Megatron. With Legends Super Ginrai the hips & knees are find, the problem is the ankles which have proved notoriously wobbly. Mine have been better than most people's in robot mode and he'll stand in a neutral position quite easily. However when loaded with the chest & back armour the single ankle joint struggles to take the extra weight causing it to frequently topple backwards. There is a sweet spot for standing it but it makes me scared to adjust the pose of the arms just in case I knock it over. You really feel some way of securing the ankles should have been provided. You can bodge something with Super Ginrai's heel spurs and God Bomber's knees but it is just that, a bodge.

And that's a shame because they've done a bang up job of updating the toy: see Alfes Blog 2792 for pictures. As per God Bomber's cab, the chest now opens to seat Titanmasters inside it, which is a great little touch. It's not the only place you can store Titanmasters either: each foot is a seat for a Titanmaster, reminding me of some of the old giant Diaclone robots which didn't become Transformers, with a peg hole in front from weapons for them to use. In fact the toy is covered in peg holes: each foot, two on he side of each leg, one through each hand, one on each forearm, one through each arm fin, one on the side of each shoulder, two on the top front of the cab chest one on the top of each shoulder strap - there's another, inaccessible, on each side - one on each side of the back pack plus a bonus one on one side, one on each wing and one on each cannon. Raid you Titanmaster accessory and 5mm weapons boxes to really tool this toy up: see Alfes Blog 2801.

As we said with Godbomber he comes with a sword, formed from two parts hidden in the cannon, to use with this mode to use to fight Deathsaurus as he did in the Victory cartoon episode where he was slain. The cannon it's housed in is a bit of a problem in this mode: with no obvious spot to lean the barrel on it droops somewhat. The backpack isn't perfect either, it looks a bit of a mess from behind. It's hard to tab together and relies on Godbomber's helmet to properly secure it, which can drop off of it's own accord or when the toy falls over.

Not perfect. This is one of the combined robots which will be better stood on a shelf looking nice rather than to be played with because it will fall over unless balanced properly which is a major minus point. But it looks superb and is a great update to the original toy.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02

DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02

I want to talk about DA-07 Cosmo Battles v2 but to do that I need to quickly talk about DA-01 Diabattles v2, which is formed from three vehicles which can be combined in a variety of different ways and all come together to form one robot. Battles 01 is a one man space pod, with engine to the rear, that forms Diabattles body. Battles 02 is a large winged spaceship, with engines under each wings. This becomes the back of Diabattles with a channel formed between Battles 01 & 02 which allows the engines to slide forward to become the arms. The front of Battles 2 removes to form a one man spaceship. Battles 03 is a tracked vehicle which form the legs of Diabattles with it's cockpit forming a separate two man spaceship that can be combined with the one man ship from Battles 02.

I liked Diabattles but it didn't set my world on fire. Plenty of spare bits left in the box, including 6 alternate gun barrels, and an odd feature where the front of each shoulder lifted up to allow you to slide the arms out. I also didn't feel it was worth the money I paid for it and that, together with really not feeling that the following armoured suits were worth it led me not to pursue the line any further.

In September 2016 at a Japanese Toyshow TakaraTomy revealed a new version of Diabattles in white with a new toy in the place of Battles 02 which was DA-06 Dia-Battles v2 Cosmo Maneuver Type. I liked the look of the new toy but didn't want to pay out for 2/3 of an expensive robot that hadn't wowed me again. Fortunately the new toy was released by itself as DA-07 Diaclone Cosmo Battles 02 and in colours matching the original toy. Unfortunately it was a TakaraTomyMall exclusive and proved hard to find prior to release but I eventually secured one from Kapow toys.

Like the existing Battles 02, Cosmo Battles 02 is a winged spaceship with engines under the wings and a removable front cockpit/spacehip, this time for two pilots. The rear of Battles 02 and Cosmo Battles 02's removable cockpit/spaceships are identical meaning that can be swapped between both toys and Cosmo Battles 02 mini spaceship will attach to the one from Battles 03. The connector has been improved and indeed a revised version of Diabattles using it is due shortly. The engines once more slide forward to form the arms when attached and, like the previous Diabattles, feature Depth Charge like flip out hands. However here we have not two but three hand versions. Firstly there's the engine version. The top & bottom of the forearm open up to flip the engine round to form the hand, now with a 4mm socket unlike the 5mm found on Diabattles. However the engine version also has hinges at the top & bottom to allow it to become a claw hand. The 4mm sockets on the fist hands can't hold the swords from the earlier toy but instead have a pair of blocks that can be inserted into them which in turn have holes to mount the spare gun barrels from the previous toy. These blocks also fit into the side of the small 3 man spaceship.

Back to the Cosmo Battles 02 spaceship: The wings here are smaller, but still bend at the base & end as well as turn at the base. The ends of the wings feature the same width slot as found for the shoulders into which two HUGE booster engines are inserted. These boosters rotate at their shoulder joint connector and have two holes at the front which can also take spare gun barrels from the original toy. In robot mode this forms wings on the robot's back with boosters/cannons on the end which can be turned to face forward.

On top of Cosmo Battles 02 are two MASSIVE dual barrelled cannons, also mounted on the shoulder connectors and at the other end of an L shaped slot to the arms/engines. In robot mode these usually sit as shoulder cannons but if you open up the front of the shoulders, the mysterious unused feature mentioned above, the arms can be slid out, the cannons slid down the L shaped slot to take their place which then unfold to become a new pair of arms topped by the front half of the cannon.

We've now got 4 separate pairs of pieces that use the shoulder slot & joint system which massively increases the combination options here. Cosmo Battles 02 also includes an adaptor that allows pieces with the shoulder joint to be mounted on the back of the smaller ship from this set or Battles 02. This piece also allows them to carry the containers the Armoured figures come in.

Love this set. Really enhances the toy I bought a year ago, making sense of some odd decisions there. It gives Diabattles vastly increased firepower and even looks fab by itself. Yes, it wasn't cheap but I think it was worth it.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chaos on Velocitron

Chaos on Velocitron


Chaos on Velocitron Quickswitch

There isn't a lot to link Sixshot and Quickswitch beyond them both having six modes. They aren't even the same six modes:
Sixshot: Robot, spaceship, laser gun, wolf, tank, off-road vehicle

Quickswitch: Robot, a Cybertronic jet, a laser pistol, a puma, a drill tank, a hovercraft

Even the modes that are the same look nothing like each other, especially the robot mode. So repainting one for the other is a bit like repainting Astrotrain as Springer just because they both have three modes.

At a push you could say the first three modes are the same with the wolf & "boat"/upside down gun acting as substitutes for puma & hovercraft. But it's a big push.

Sixshot has he fans but outside of the Japanese Headmasters cartoon was little used. However that's a massive fanbase compared to Quickswitch who has one Marvel UK comics appearance to his name.

I've never owned the original Quickswitch toy either: it seemed to sit on shelves forever with it's collection of modes that don't quite look like what they should be and one of the worst set of colours of any original Transformers toy.

But repaint Sixshot as Quickswitch Hasbro have and found him a home in the Chaos on Velocitron/Speed boxset. I'm guessing it's the quick bit of the name which got him there! Rumoured some way in advance he was eventually revealed at Toyfair 2017. His Official Images who him with a brand new face and helmet but the showroom photos provide a warning of what was to come when they showed him using Sixshot's helmet.

Here's how Sixshot is recoloured into Quickswitch which sheds some light as to which parts come on the same sprue as others

Parts Sixshot Quickswitch
Leader upper arms, wolf head & neck and Titanmaster lower legs White Pale Green
Leader guns, tread hinges, elbows, neck connector,little wheels, wolf jaw and Titanmaster upper legs & face plate White Red
Leader shoulder tops & hip flaps and Titanmaster Head, body & arms Green Pale Green
Leader lower arms & waist White White
Leader tank treads(painted black), beast claws, hands & lower leg fronts Black White
Leader body & chest Green Grey
Leader chest wings,upper legs, knees & feet Black Red
Leader lower legs Purple Pale Green
Leader car wheels Black Black
Leader helmet White ? Painted Red
Leader wings & wing mounts ? Painted Silver Pale Green
Leader windscreen Smoked Clear Blue

As for the toy..... I'm sorry it just looks like one of those Multi coloured knockoffs you see occasionally. It's just a nasty, garish version of Sixshot which says Quickswitch in name, colour and face only. The new helmet would have helped but wouldn't have made a huge difference.

There are some things you can do to help him though. The tops of the shoulders can be turned so the wheels are at the back and the slopes at the front: the shoulders now look much more like the original Quickswitch. Then open the chest up and fold the chest wings in. Then fold the wings down behind his back to conceal them. It's not much, but it helps.

Similarly most of the other modes can be tweaked in some way to make them different from Sixshot but I'm afraid there's no way you're getting a drill tank out of this toy!

Compared to Sixshot, Quickswitch feels like it's built better though, much tighter joints. The only one that was really a problem on mine out the box was a very loose right wrist. Unfortunately cycling through all six modes has loosened him somewhat, especially the knees.

Some photos:









In a boxset of a Leader, a Voyager, A Deluxe, a Legend and a Titanmaster the leader forms a substantial part of what you're buying, somewhere close to half. As such one I feel is substandard doesn't really do the job for me. If you're looking for a recolour to sell a set then Delta Magnus, Soundblaster & Twincast are all repaints of recent Leader toys which have their fans and haven't been done yet.

Chaos on Velocitron Laser Prime

Personally I'd have been happy to see this mould go away and never be heard from again as I didn't get on with Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac. However rumours persisted that he would be repainted in the 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime, which I suppose makes sense given the design. Unfortunately G2 Laser Op is another toy I didn't particularly get on with, and I know I'm in a minority there so I wasn't enthused when Laser Prime was revealed at Toyfair 2017.

However now I have the toy in hand I'm rather impressed with it as the new deco is absolutely stunning. For some reason the black works far far better on this mould than the original Optimus Red and Blue. The stickers feel far better on this version as the toy which is a good thing as they're needed to replicate the pictures the original tanker trailer had on it's sides. They're not showing the wear that the ones on the Voyager did as soon as I opened it.

The robot mode really pops compared to the previous Voyager, helped by the sword looking so much better in clear blue. The solid light blue of the robot's face, chest and toes looked a little off in the earlier pictures but is great in hand. The pale blue of the robot's face is carried over to the head of his unnamed grey Titanmaster.

I don't think anything is really going to salvage the design of the jet mode but even that looks better in the the G2 Laser colours.

Stunning redeco, the star of the Chaos on Velocitron set deco wise. If you've not bought the Voyager Op yet then don't, this is far far better.

Chaos on Velocitron Nautica

Of the three female Transformers introduced during IDW's Dark Cybertron story, Windblade & Chromia received toys immediately. Unfortunately for Hasbro the character that really caught fans' imaginations was the one without a toy, Nautica, who went on to appear as a regular in More Than Meets The Eye from issue 28 with her alternate mode, a spaceship/hovercraft with fans to the side, revealed in issue 33. More Than Meets The Eye fans have already enjoyed new versions of several cast members so it was hoped Nautica would get her own toy quite quickly.

Rumours of a Titans Return Nautica toy turned up during 2016 and she was revealed at Toyfair 2017 to be a modified repaint of Titans Return Blurr.

Where Brainstorm is a remould of Blurr, the only part of the toy that's physically been altered for Nautica is the faceplate. Essentially she is the original Blurr toy with two extra pieces for her distinctive fans attached to the sides of the vehicles/her arms. Even bearing in mind we haven't seen that much of here vehicle mode, I'm not sure Blurr's car really captures it's shape that well.

In Robot mode the only bits that really say Nautica are the new pieces. The fans are pretty good, and the face could be worse. Yes it's missing her visor but she doesn't always have that visible. The face itself has many of her features but it somehow doesn't feel quite right, like the pieces haven't been made the right shapes and put together in the right way. Blurr's long limbed design doesn't do badly for her but nothing looks like it should do. The Autobot symbol on the chest is a nice touch, even though it's not there in the comics, but even that causes trouble because it's the wrong way round on her vehicle window!

Then there's the colour.......

It might not help that Nautica colour has changed a few times, She was purple on her first appearance, then became blue and was that colour when her vehicle mode was revealed, but has now reverted back to purple again - google Transformers Nautica to see. When fans got their first glimpse of Nautica, courtesy of a Hasbro Toyfair Tweet of Trypticon that "accidentally" revealed a bunch of other toys (They just can't help themselves can they?) there were immediately voices that said "That's the wrong colour" and even some that questioned if the toy wasn't Nautica and was actually Arcee, whose Generations design would translate quite well to being made with Blurr. But no, Nautica it was as we saw the next day under what were thought to be poor lighting conditions. Her Official Images promised something better, with a darker purple and they look better than that on the box back where the elbows and upper legs are a silver grey.

But in hand, oh dear, it's a grave disappointment. Most of the toy is a very bright purple plastic. I'm trying to think of another Transformer in that shade and am struggling! The vehicle isn't helped by the clashing yellow paint highlights. Transforming to robot mode reveals the body, elbows, hands, feet and upper legs are a very very pale pink. It just looks wrong!

The colours on the box were better, but not perfect. For a toy that's pushing it design wise, the colours needed to be perfect - compare her with Metalhawk in the Siege on Cybertron boxset. However I think this toy proves the concept of Blurr working as a female Transformer, hopefully paving the way for Arcee, it's just that the Transformer they've made here isn't really Nautica. Like many others in the Chaos on Velocitron box I don't think she really fits with the theme of the set either. Apart from Blurr's original car mode there's nothing about her that really says speed. An Intelligence/Caminus set strikes me as a better home for the character.

Chaos on Velocitron Fastclash

The Clones weren't toys I was aware of when I was younger. They were like many Transformers absent from the UK range. So the probable first point I became aware of the was in late 1989, by which time I was at sixth form college, when the Transformers Universe Profile for Cloudraker appeared in Transformers #57, which also introduced me to Slugfest & Overkill another pair of UK absentees. Fastlane's Profile followed in Transformers #69, an issues that stands out in my memory because neither of my local comic shops got a copy, followed by Pounce's Profile in Transformers #78, a comic I can remember getting on an early University comic shop trip. That left just Wingspan, mentioned in Pounce's profile, without a Universe entry.

I didn't encounter the toys for another couple of years until a friend managed to obtain some Grey Imports of the Chinese Transformers and got me, amongst others, Pounce & Wingspan. I loved the concept: two identical robots turn into different vehicles. Alas we were unable to get Fastlane & Cloudraker who to this day I have never owned. I love the robot designs too, almost textbook Hasbro Transformers, with the Autobots in particular looking like Pretender without the shells in both modes with Cloudraker almost being a dead ringer for the similarly named Cloudburst.

Rumours of Titans Return Clone toys spread during 2016 and both Fastlane and Pounce were revealed at Toyfair 2017 as part of the Chaos on Velocitron (Speed) and Siege on Cybertron (Strength) boxsets respectively with Cloudraker and Wingspan expected to follow in boxsets for Intelligence and Fireblast, the other two areas measured on Titans Return tech spec cards. I'll be honest: I don't think splitting the Clone pairs up is a terribly good idea. Part of their appeal is getting two identical robots together and not knowing which turns into what. Needing to buy not one but two $100 boxsets to complete the pair of Clones is also very annoying, especially when, at the present moment in tie, the contents of the boxes carrying the second clone in each pair have yet to be confirmed!

As it is Fastclash, whose name is changed for presumably trademark reasons, is the only toy which really fits the theme of a Speed/Velocitron boxset. Velocitron was introduced during the Cybertron toyline as a planet featuring Transformers involved in an endless series of races on different tracks, so associating that planet with a speed theme in a series of boxsets which link a section of the tech spec with a known Transformers planet is a good idea. The problem comes from the toys chosen for the boxset. Rodimus.... well Hot Rod has always been associated with being fast but he's just a Titanmaster. Quickswitch has presumably made it in for the speed of transformation implied by the name which is implied by the name, but just isn't there in reality. Neither of his ground vehicles feels particularly fast and neither does Laser Prime's tanker truck. Nautica is either a sub or a spaceship, albeit one based on a car, and doesn't feel that fast especially on ground. That just leaves Fastclash who comes in his traditional form of something resembling a racing car/dragster. You could see this competing in one of the Velocitron races!

The vehicle mode looks very, very similar to the original Fastlane, the only obvious compromise is now having his front wheels mounted on the sides of his legs which to my eye only improves the design. A second change helps him fit in with the rest of the toys in the Titans Return toyline. The middle section of the vehicle rear, what is the centre of the robot's chest, now can be lifted up via a hinge at the rear to form a seat for a Titanmaster to sit in so the bodyless Rodimus does actually have a ride! By comparison Fastclash is a little longer than the average Legends car when I measured him against Brawn and Bumblebee. There's some fun to be had with the car mode courtesy of the 5mm peg the spoiler at the rear is mounted on. Removing the spoiler allows you to mount various Arms Microns Minions on it. It's a solid post so it will need to be a Minicon with a 5mm hole and not one of those with the earlier Armada style socket. And because the post is 5mm the hole car can effectively be held as a gun by larger Transformers.

Transformation: Fold the front bumper up to form the feet. Separate the front of the vehicle to form the legs. Fold the wheels at the rear down under the vehicle, which brings the tops of the rear down to form the arms. Fold out the hands. Rotate the spoiler so it points down and the connected head reveals it's face.

The robot mode looks almost exactly like the original Fastlane, but at Legends size. The only real thing that's missing here are the guns which the original had, which is a bit of a shame. There's even a sticker on the chest mimicking the second rub sign the Clones had showing their vehicle mode. I suppose it looks a bit like a car.... I haven't got any real attachment to these, the Chinese Clones all had a foil faction sticker instead of a second rubsign as you can see on Pounce & Wingspan's galleries at Transformers at the Moon and the same is true of the Autobot Clones as you can see at Fred's Variants Chinese Transformers Page

I've long said that what Transformers fans really want from their updated toys is the original but with more articulation and Fastclash certainly succeeds on that score: whereas the original had just rotating shoulders & neck, the new one has a rotating neck, ball jointed shoulders & elbows, the later of which negates the need for a bicep joint, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, bending knees and ankles that bend as part of the transformation.

Criticisms: not sure about the painted white faces, which seems to have been done to match their appearance in Rebirth. The other bit of painting that annoys me is the hands. That'll wear round the peg holes with use. Why not just mould them in the slightly softer off white plastic used for the legs?

Fastclash is also the only all new toy in the box, the closest any others comes is Rodimus, and even he shares his head, arms and legs with Ptero. But I suspect he won't be unique for long because Fastclash is also interesting for those of us that like to guess what a mould will be reused for. Siege of Cybertron Pounce already seem to use a very similar chest and waist. Then there's some very interesting and unused joints in the waist that enable the groin to split in two and each leg fold out to the sides. I'm guessing that they will be used for Fastlane. Turning the toy over we see unused holes on the back of the waist, mounting points for Cloudraker's wings perhaps, and a pair of holes opposite each other in the sides of the wide indent running along his spine which look like where Cloudraker's jet nose might mount.

A lack of weapons and the paint on hands & face aside, this is a decent update to Fastlane. I look forward to seeing his brother and their opposition soon.

Chaos on Velocitron Rodimus Prime

I'm not sure I quite see the point of the Titanmaster in this set.

He's named Rodimus Prime so I'm guessing he's meant to be used to upgrade your Titans Return Hot Rod to Rodimus Prime. Fair enough, but Hot Rod's Head and Rodimus Prime's Head are virtually identical. The most major differences between the two on the toys here is the crest is segmented in two on Hot Rod while Rodimus Prime's is one single crest slatted and that Rodimus Prime has some purple paint on him. If there was a real, discernible difference, like between Bumblebee's toy and comic/cartoon heads or between Bumblebee & Goldbug's heads I could understand it. But the difference here is slight.

Deluxe Hot Rod's Titanmaster Firedrive is a plain grey colour in robot mode. In robot mode the Rodimus Prime Titanmaster is coloured to look much more like Hot Rod, in a similar way to how Titanmaster Brawn, Blaster's Titanmaster Twincast Galvatron's Titanmaster Nucleon look like larger characters. Lower legs are painted black, upper legs are moulded orange and arms & head are moulded red. All these parts are inherited from Ptero, with all the detailing intact.

The chest, and the plate for the face are both new and are die-cast, a first for a Titanmaster. I don't think the die cast pieces really work here: for a start they're giving the Titanmaster robot a heavy backpack which will inevitably unbalance the figure. The paintwork is fine from the front but the back of the face, exposed when he lifts his arms, is unpainted. The edge between the two sides is very obvious when looking at the front of the robot. The design of the chest isn't really screaming Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime at me but the colours are doing their very best to make up for it. The Die Cast is obviously a big thing, not many Transformers have it now, I was expecting a big flash near the picture of the Titanmaster saying something like "Featuring Die Cast Parts!!!!" or similar, but the callouts on the top & front are very restrained and there's nothing on the back.

I suppose Rodimus Prime can serve as Fastclash's driver in the Chaos on Velocitron set, that intention would seem to be followed up in Beige on Cybertron where Pounce is likewise packaged with a Decepticon Titanmaster, Thunderwing, who is a repaint of Rodimus Prime with a new head. Yes it adds something to the set but I can't help feeling that it's place would have been better filled by weapons for Fastclash or an all plastic Titanmaster with it's accessory.