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.