Monday, 9 October 2017

Hascon Arcee, Leinad & Ultra Magnus

Hascon Ultra Magnus

To recap:

We know from the Transmission Podcast rumours that Choas on Velocitron was originally the Speed set, which is reflected in it's Speed Tech Spec quadrant highlighted on the packaging and that set's Rodimus Prime having the "Ultimate Speed Boost" power revealed on the List of Titanmasters found on the Trypticon Cereal Box.

Similarly we know from the Transmission Podcast rumours that Siege on Cybertron was originally the Strength set, which is reflected in it's Strength Tech Spec quadrant highlighted on the packaging and that set's Thunderwing having the "Ultimate Strength Boost" power revealed on the List of Titanmasters found on the Trypticon Cereal Box.

There are four areas on the current Tech Specs: Strength, Speed, Intelligence and Fireblast. These were also shown in the SDCC 2016 Titan's Return Storybook which divided the first few waves of toys up between the four tech spec quadrants. The four quadrants are all illustrated as symbols on the Chaos on Velocitron and Siege on Cybertron boxsets with the Speed and Strength logos highlighted accordingly.


What happened to the Intelligence and Fireblast boxsets?

The the Transmission Podcast rumours places the Speed & Strength sets in development in March & April 2016. At around that time the Combiner Wars G2 Superion, G2 Menasor and Victorion sets were on sale. These sold poorly, ending up sitting with retailers for quite some time, and indeed some retailers still have them now even at large reductions some 18 months later. So I'd like to suggest this possible scenario: the numbers come back to Hasbro saying the boxsets aren't doing well and Hasbro pulls the plug. The last Combiner Wars boxset Liokaiser gets produced in smaller number and made an exclusive to Entertainment Earth in the US. The Speed & Strength boxes get given catchier titles, Chaos on Velocitron & Siege on Cybertron, which disguise their "one of four" origins and turn into exclusives for TRU and BBTS respectively.

We know a little about what would probably have gone into the Intelligence & Fireblast sets. Two Clones Fastclash & Pounce had been packed with Chaos on Velocitron (Speed) & Siege on Cybertron (Strength) respectively. I think it's likely that Wingspan's function of "data processor" meant he was destined for Intelligence and thus Cloudraker was for Fireblast. With the Intelligence and Fireblast sets not happening they end up in a 2-pack together for Walgreens. It's thought likely that a G2 Green version of Titan's Return Voyager Megatron would have ended up in Fireblast as a counterpart to Choas on Velocitron's Laser Prime remake of Generation 2 Optimus Prime, possibly alongside a US release of Legends Godbomber to go with Magnus Prime the mild recolour of Legends Super Ginrai found in the Siege on Cybertron set.

But we had no idea about which Titanmasters would be in which set until the Trypticon Cereal Box was released at SDCC 2017 on Thursday 20th July. A List of Titanmasters found on that box gave a number of then unknown Titanmasters, one of which was an Ultra Magnus listed as "Ultimate Intelligence Boost", just as Rodimus Prime and Thunderwing were listed as "Ultimate Speed Boost" and "Ultimate Strength Boost". Our Intelligence Titanmaster had been found.

Ultra Magnus toys generally take one of two forms: either a white Optimus Prime or a blue, red & white super robot. Very seldom do they do both so it's something of a surprise to find it attempted on a Titanmaster. The Titanmaster robot itself is all white, using exactly the same parts as Siege on Cybertron Thunderwing: the metal chest first found on Chaos on Velocitron Rodimus Prime plus the arms, legs & head from Fangry. The only paint is a blue mouthplate & crest plus red eyes. It's a good attempt at a white Optimus in Titanmastr robot form. OK you could have done better using Alpha Trion's Sovereign in white but....

Transforming to head mode is then a bit of a surprise as given the white Optimus robot you're probably expecting the white Optimus head. That's not what you get, what's here instead is a small version of the blue Magnus super robot head with silver pipes & face and blue eyes. It looks really nice, a lot better than photos made me think it would! Like Thunderwing, if Ultra Magnus had been done as a full size toy he'd have probably have been a leader so the Titanmaster there would have just supplied the face which would have been beefed up to a leader sized head by a helmet. Personally I'd like to see a redone version of Combiner Wars Leader Ultra Magnus with more 1986 like weapons, 5mm peg hole hands and a Titanmaster covered by helmet head, ala Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime, but there I would want a white Prime face if it was being completely covered.

As it is what we have here gives us a perfectly Ultra Magnus head for a smaller toy. No complaints there!

Hascon Titans Return Arcee & Leinad

The Future Repaints section for the Blurr/Chromedome reviews had this section in it:
Concept drawings exists showing the original Chromedome repainted as Arcee and I've already seen a Titan Return Arcee digibashed from Chromedome which was also turned into a custom. I've also seen an Arcee from Blurr and another from Hot Rod!
The obsession for a Headmaster Arcee starts from her appearance in The Rebirth cartoon story where she binary bonds with Spike's son Daniel. As we've seen there was a cancelled proposal to do her as a Chromedome repaint that leads to it being suggested whenever Chromedome turns up. Titans Return Blurr was suggested as a good body base for a female robot, a concept proved when he was used to make Chaos on Velocitron Nautica which in turn for me eliminated the idea of the Blurr Arcee being done as I couldn't see Blurr appearing in two boxsets.

Then on Thursday 20th July 2017 at that year's SDCC a Trypticon Cereal Box was released showing a List of Titanmasters which included number of then unknown Titanmasters, including Leinad whose power was listed as Healer. It was quickly spotted that Leinad is Daniel, the name of Arcee's Cartoon Headmaster, in reverse leading to many concluding a Titans Return Arcee was on the cards. Sure enough a few days later trading card art for first Arcee then very quickly afterwards Titanmaster Ultra Magnus, also found on the Trypticon Cereal List, were leaked onto Weibo. A few days later a 2-pack of Arcee & Titanmaster Ultra Magnus were announced by Hasbro to be premièring at their first Hascon convention held in Rhode Island on September 8th - 10th 2017 and then to be released at retail at a later date.

The Official Images of Arcee are quite interesting - they're all of the form "C3542AS00_TRA_HTC_COLLECTOR_CLUB_1_" and then an image number. Hasbro announced a new fan club in October 2016 but since then nothing has been heard. Was Arcee originally destined for there? I had thought that Arcee might be, like we think Titanmaster Ultra Magnus is, a refugee from one of the cancelled Titans Return boxsets. Exhibit A for that argument is her trading card art which is presented in landscape format and looks cropped from a larger image rather than in portrait format, with the head landing on her shoulders, like the other Titans Return Deluxe and Voyagers. However in hand she feels like she has slightly too much retooling to be a repaint from a boxset. So I think she was more likely originally intended for the cancelled/postponed Collectors Club or Titans Return Deluxe Wave 6, which in the end only featured one new toy in Slugslinger.

The retooling is itself rather interesting. With two major exception the parts changed are the same parts changed to turn Blurr into Brainstorm: they both have new shoulders, hand flaps, spoiler/fin, vehicle nose and robot faces. The new parts change the look of the front of the vehicle considerably, into a kind of squared off version of her Generations Thrilling 30 toy. You can see the Blurr in there, and she looks more like Blurr than Brainstorm does, but the flaps covering her hand and vehicle nose easily do enough to differentiate them.

The two changed parts don't really affect this mode too much: one is that her Titanmaster Leinad has a new, rounded head painted silver. Together with the white of the figure it's suggesting Daniel's exo suit from The Movie & the Rebirth. Unfortunately it looks a bit odd, not like it's on-screen appearance and worse will cause some problems later! Th other changed part, hallelujah, is that the gun has gone! I didn't mind it on Blurr but disliked it's inclusion on Brainstorm where I thought his new vehicle nose should have had removable side guns like the original Headmaster. It's also one of the few parts that was carried over to Chromedome, who I think also should have had twin dual guns like his original toy, and thus to Titans Return Chromedome's repaint Breakaway. So I think I now own 4 of the guns on Titans Return toys and another three on the Legends version and am thoroughly sick of the sight of it! In it's place are two small pistols modelled after ones Arcee uses in the IDW comics. Some distinct thought has gone into these as their handles aren't the typical 5mm peg, they're a thin rectangular piece of plastic which is 5mm from, front to back. They'll fit 5mm peg holes just fine but they'll also fit the narrow hands of the previous Generations Arcee. As per previous versions of the Blurr mould you can attach the guns under the nose in vehicle mode and that can be separated to act as a mini vehicle for a Titanmaster.

The robot mode is shaped very similarly to Blurr, but the pink and white used helps differentiate them a lot. The new rounded shoulder pieces, with fake car front sides on them help a lot as does the great new face. I want to say the chest looks wrong but some great attention to detail duplicates the pattern on Arcee's animation chest onto a differently shaped surface. Yes the legs are the same, but they work. The only real problem here is the Titanmaster: the rounded shape of Leinad's small robot head doesn't make for a secure connection at the back of the Titanmaster socket so turning Arcee's head to the side can cause Leinad's head to shift in the socket and Arcee's head to pop off.

I think Hasbro have done a really good job with Arcee here. Great remoulded parts, with the exception of the Titanmaster head, and fab colours have produced a toy which has made a really good Arcee. I think her US price of $24.99 looks very reasonable for her, a bonus Titanmaster in Ultra Magnus and some fancy packaging. Robotkingdom's $29.90 doesn't look too bad but it's still the best part of £40 before it gets to me in the United Kingdom, assuming it doesn't get customed. Kapow & ID Toys were both asking £35 for it initially, which given the far east price plus shipping plus customs plus overheads doesn't look absurd for them to be asking. However once again is all but £40 taking postage into account which feels a bit expensive for deluxe plus bonus Titanmaster, but I can't see these finding a home at UK retail so if you want it, that's the price you need to pay.

Siege on Cybertron Thunderwing

Siege on Cybertron Thunderwing

Siege on Cybertron's Titanmaster Thunderwing uses the same die cast metal chest as Rodimus Prime with a new faceplate and limbs & head taken from the Fangry Titanmaster. The arms are lavender, legs black chest white and head blue, so the aim here with the figure is to make it look as much like Pretender Thunderwing's Inner Robot as possible. The head mode looks more like Generations Thunderwing than the original putting it on the top 50% of Thunderwing heads: the last Thunderwing head, used on TFSS 5.0 Thunder Mayhem, was a disaster!

The Siege on Cybertron set highlights a Strength Set Logo and just like the Speed Logo on Chaos on Velocitron led top Rodimus Prime's power being "Ultimate Speed Boost", the List of Titanmasters found on the Trypticon Cereal Box reveals Thunderwing's Power to be "Ultimate Strength Boost", which given Thunderwing is traditionally shown as a strong Transformer makes some sense.

There's no Thunderwing Titans Return to to pair him with, though I've seen several photos using him as a replacement head for The Last Knight Nitro which makes sense as he's a jet who doesn't have his own Titanmaster. With Rodimus Prime having been unveiled as a Power of the Primes leader and Thunderwing appearing on the Power of the Primes fan vote some have seen the boxset heads as a hint to the identity of Power of the Primes leaders. Personally I'm a little surrprised that Thuderwing wasn't done as a leader in Titans Return as a retool of Sky Shadow just as his original toy Blackshadow and his Generations successor were a retool of Thunderwing and his Generations version. Of course if they went down that route the Titanmaster there would end up supplying the face, which would then be surrounded by a helmet to boost it to leader size, rather than being the whole head like this one is.