Wednesday, 28 November 2012

TFP Cyberverse Battlesuit Bumblebee

Transformers Prime Cyberverse Bumblebee Battlesuit

Every Transformers size has to have one of Bumblebee and/or Optimus Prime in it now. It's the law. And, having committed the heinous sin of releasing an assortment without either (gasp) in the first Prime Cyberverse Vehicles assortment they make amends here with a Bumblebee set here.

Included is the Bumblebee Legion figure that's been warming the shelves for months now. He's a lighter shade of yellow and comes with a clear pale blue version of the twin blaster sold with the earlier toy and several Legion figures since. Nice to see it in a different colour but unfortunately it doesn't quite match the rest of the clear pale blue on the toy!

The main toy comes in Battle Suit mode but I want to talk about the alternate mode first.

Transformation: Remove the cannon placing it behind the toy. Pull the structure behind the shoulders out to the sides which lowers the chest and raises cannons over it's head. Fold the arms straight at the sides then bend the elbows 90 degrees. Fold the hands into the wrists swinging out another cannon on the end of each arm. Raise the platform at the rear. Split each leg in two then fold forward and back, folding the toes down, to form caterpillar tracks for the vehicle. Peg the cannon into the 5mm hole on the top of the folded down chest.

It took me a while to discover that the shoulders were the trigger for the transformation, I'd been folding down the chest and that kept making it go wrong!

I'm not really sure what to say about the vehicle mode.... it's sort of a tracked battle platform but really it's just a bit of a mess with a few guns pointing forward.... There's space for one figure standing on the platform at the front and two on the platform at the back but due to the height of the platform they really need to be Commanders rather Legions. It's a bit difficult to attach it to the other Cyberverse vehicles base modes as bits keep getting in the way.... Wheeljack's simply won't attach right but Knockout's Energon Drill and Optimus Maximus will.

Fortunately I can get more enthusiastic about the robot battle suit mode: Fold the tips of the tracks at the front up, then bring both halves of the tracks together pegging the front into the rear. Fold down the platform at the rear. Remove the cannon and put it behind the toy. Push the shoulder sides in to auto transform the top half of the toy. Fold the cannons into the arms to reveal the hands. Stand the Legion figure in the chest with his arms out bracing himself against the front of the chest.

Transformers has tried battle suits for smaller robots before: 1991's Action Master Exo Suits Circuit & Thundercracker and the motorised Rumbler & Slicer (plus an Unproduced tank exo suit. Bumblebee is proportionately much smaller compared to his exo suit, standing in the body instead of forming the core of it like the previous versions. The chest has a V shape to it being reminiscent of the larger prime toy with a 5mm and a 3mm hole one each side to resemble the headlights of the car mode. If you raise Bumblebee's arms he sits snugly in the compartment.

Articulation: a little limited if I'm honest. The shoulders swing out to the sides, and in slightly, and the elbows bend. The hips move back and forth but that's mainly for the transformation. He's got wheels built into his feet which move well enough that he can slip down the slight slope on the front of my printer if angled right.

Like the two previous Cyberverse vehicles (Wheeljack with Star Hammer & Knock Out with Energon Driller) Bumblebee's Battle Suit comes with a light up weapon. It's a clear blue block, with a black trigger on the top, a 3mm peg in the rear & each side, a 5mm peg underneath and a Minicon peg (5mm peg with a hole down the middle). The batteries are held in the back of the battlesuit and connected to the weapon by a wire. Unfortunately the effectiveness of the weapon is reduced by the LED within being green: a blue LED or clear one would have worked much better. When locked into the back of the battlesuit's missile launcher it's useless: I pressed the button through the try me packaging when I was on my way home and saw nothing, so nearly ended up back at the shop for a refund. What should happen is the light should be transmitted down the missile launcher to make the launcher light up. The launcher has a 5mm peg handle of it's own, for when the light up weapon isn't attached, and another 5mm peg hole pointing forwards that lets you mount the weapon on the back of the shoulder so the missile is pointing over the toy's shoulder.

The missile launcher isn't the only weapon this toy has though: remember the arms became cannons in battle station mode? Well in battle suit mode you can still rotate the hands back into the wrists so the cannons project from the forearms. I like this feature a lot, it appeals to me somehow :-) You can raise the platform at the rear of the toy in this mode too to allow Cyberverse Commanders to ride on it's back.

The toy is covered in 5mm and 3mm ports allowing you to tool it up with all sorts of weapons from your Cyberverse and Minicon Arsenals:

5mm Holes: There are two on the side of each foot, on the front tread part, one on each side of the chest, one through the hand, one under each of the forearms cannons and one on the back of each shoulder. 12 in total. (I think they did miss a trick here: an extra 5mm hole in the front of each of the arm & shoulder cannons might have been nice to plug Arms Microns into)

3mm holes: one on the side of each heel, one one each side of the chest, two on the top of each forearm, one on the top of each forearm cannon and one on the back of each post sticking up from the shoulders. Again 12 in total

Considerable room for you to expand and tool up the toy. Plus there's also a number of bars for the 3mm clip system to use too.

This toy isn't perfect by a long way: the vehicle mode isn't good, it connects badly to other Cyberverse toys and some of the plastic, notably that used for the front of the lower legs, floor & back of the lower body, feels very cheap. But against that the robot mode has got quite a bit of personality and I can't stop playing with it. I'm not sure he'll tick the boxes for every older Transformers fan but he's a good fun toy.

Beast Hunters Breakdown & Decepticon Battle Armour

Having not been reused in Transformers Prime I wasn't surprised to see the Battlesuit turn up again. Unveiled at the 2012 New York Comicon this time it's in the hands of a green repaint of the Decepticon Breakdown. The toy has been broadly recoloured in shades of green but there's been a substantial amount of remoulding too: gone is all the clear blue pieces and the harder yellow pieces used for the chest and the forearms. They are replaced by new pieces moulded in bone grey plastic with the chest piece shaped like a skull. The hands become closing claws with a pair of 5mm ports and a 3mm on top of the hand and the arms. The electronics are gone as is the blaster replaced with a new quad missile launching weapon.

Somehow this new version isn't doing it for me like the original did.

Future Repaints

Several repaints quickly suggest themselves for this toy: in Red as Cliffjumper (even though Transformers Prime Cliffjumper has usually been a different mould to Bumblebee it'd be nice to follow the tradition and give them an excuse to repaint the Bumblebee Legion figure in red. The Legion's already been done in black as Quickblade Bumblebee so a black and clear yellow Mech Suit makes sense as does one in blue with a similarly recoloured legion to match the Hotshot repaint of Deluxe Bumblebee.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Legends Starscream

Reveal The Shield Legends Starscream

Starscream's had legends toys of his Cybertron, Movie and Animated versions. There's even been a previous Legends 1984 Starscream using the Legends of Cybertron Thundercracker mould. This version adapts his 1984 Generation 1 form to the Legends size.

The resemblance between the new RTS Legends figure and the original one is pretty good and the new on beats the original's articulation with a head that turns slightly, hips that swing to the sides and ball jointed knees & shoulders. Unfortunately one of the knee joints on mine is a little faulty so I can't bend the knee into the precise position needed for the toy to stand properly. I will keep my eyes peeled for a replacement that does.

Transformation: inventive. Fold the nosecone up from behind the head, then fold the head back and down so it's between the robot's legs. Fold each arm up so it points straight up and turn so the inner side of the arm faces forward. Fold the guns on the arms forward to become the back of the jet. Fold the wings on the back of the legs down. Fold the legs up alongside the body so the wings on the legs become the tailfins. Plug the tab on each leg into the slot on each wing.

Starscream's vehicle mode is a surprisingly accurate representation of the F-16 jet, albeit one with a thick undercarriage. Landing gear is provided by the knees & feet raising the bulk of the plane up.

Apart from the knees on mine this is a great little Legend. Nice reworking of the Transformation sequence.

Cyberverse Evolutions Starscream

The RTS Legend Starscream doesn't appear in the Cyberverse Evolutions set but I feel it should have done. The set includes retooled transparent versions of Movie Legends Starscream and Revenge of the Fallen Legends Bumblebee along with another Legends version of the same characters. Bumblebee is represented by the G1 inspired Universe Legends Bumblebee but Starscream uses Legends of Cybertron Starscream. I just feel that the G1 RTS version would have been a better choice and thematically matched the Bumblebee a bit better.

EZ Collection Thundercracker

Takara's EZ Collection has long been a home for Legends figures in Japan. However since the Dark of the Moon Legends are now rebranded as Cyberverse basics and sold in conjunction with the Cyberverse Commanders & Action Sets, Takara needed to do something different.

The first EZ Collection wave released alongside Dark of the Moon uses the western Reveal The Shield Legends as it's base and adds in new repaints of the Revenge of the Fallen Legends Optimus Prime & Megatron. Of the RTS toys Optimus Prime & Trailbreaker (Trailcutter) are essentially the same as their RTS versions albeit swapping the rub signs for faction symbols. Megatron too is broadly similar to his RTS version but there's one major difference: the EZ Collections lacks the orange safety tip on the cannon/gun barrel that RTS Megatron has, making the Japanese version more desirable. Prowl is missing, replaced by the similar looking Universe Legends Jazz, which hadn't been previously released in Japan. The Bumblebee in the set is different from the Goldbugesque RTS version and is very similar to the original Universe Legends Bumblebee, which also hadn't been released in Japan before, although the mould was repainted as Henkei Cliffjumper which in a three pack with minor repaints of Universe Legends Beachcomber and Brawn.

But what of RTS Starscream?

Starscream finds himself repaint as Thundercracker, swapping grey plastic for blue with a painted silver chest & faction symbol tampographs. It's an obvious repaint of course but it seems a little odd to be getting a hench jet before the main bot is done. Massive bonus points for painting the faction symbols so the points on the chin are facing front and thus are the right way up in robot mode. It so annoys me the number versions of the G1 Decepticon Jets that don't have their faction symbols the right way up in robot mode.

It is of course the first repaint of the Starscream toy and has appeared in Japan without any hint of a Western release. When the first ones appeared on eBay they were £9.50 compared with the £7 the seller was asking for the rest. I bought one then, and Megatron was the same price. They were then relisted at £10.50. Then £12.57. Then £18.55..... The last two that sold went for £21.44 & £24.50 with them now being listed for a massive £27.56 as at August 5th 2011! Madness, utter utter Madness. I wish I'd bought a few more when they were sub tenner. I'm looking at Wave 1 Case that BBTS have for $160 (These toys are sold blindboxed in cases of 24 with each toy appearing three times) and wondering if it's worth buying one....

Thundercracker? Looks fab and stands better than Starscream. But this is a £3-£4 toy, it's not a tenner toy even at import prices and it's certainly not worth paying the best part of £30 for! On release I predicted a western version in early 2012 and the howl of fanboys who overspent on the Japanese toy. And guess what ? ;-)

EZ Collection Starscream

A second EZ Collection wave has been announced and is available to pre-order at BBTS for $75, half the price of the Wave 1 case. All we have to go on at the moment is a grey scale photo showing the eight toys involved. The missing RTS Prowl shows up twice in the set of eight so I'm guessing one is Prowl while the other is a repaint, almost certainly either Bluestreak or Smokescreen. The Legends versions of Generation 2 Megatron, Hound and Rodimus weren't released in Japan when Henkei was running and including them here completes the release of the Universe Legends toy molds in Japan. Another version of RTS Optimus Prime is present in this case and I'm guessing this is probably a repaint as Ultra Magnus or possibly Scourge/Nemesis Prime.

The case photo also shows TWO of the Starscream mould. I'm guessing that one of them would be a Japanese version Starscream and the other probably Skywarp or Sunstorm. I can't really see Thundercracker being carried over to a second case as some people are hoping but his initial appearance instead of Starscream was a big surprise anyway so I won't be so shocked if Takara bowls us a googly and does something odd here too!

EZ Starscream is very similar to the RTS version: loose the rub sign and replace it with two purple Decepticon symbols which, like Thundercracker, have the point on the chin facing towards the nose so they're the right way up in robot mode. However there is a minor change to the paint scheme: the head is now black right the way round which means there's a black section on the nose of the jet which doesn't look so good.

Buy depending on if you like faction symbols over rubsigns. But there's a cheaper western version (see bellow) and a better version that have rendered this obsolete now unless you're buying the full case.

EZ Collection Skywarp

Completing the set of original 1984 Decepticon jets in the EZ Collection is Skywarp. You know the drill: black repaint, avoiding the problem with the head that Starscream had. Purple hands, feet and leg trim. Silver chest and faction symbols (again the right way up in robot mode) Job done on first attempt.

This did big money on release. Big big money. And it still commands a premium due to being the only EZ-Collection/Legends version of Skywarp who has yet to have a western release. It's also the only version of the 1984 jets not to have had a modified release.

Generations Legends Starscream

Sold through the Dollar General chain in the USA on a Generations Cardback this legend is effectively a western re-release of the EZ Collection Generation 2 Starscream listed above.

It was released alongside Optimus Prime (using the EZ Collection Volume 1 repaint), Tank Megatron (from Universe Legends Wave 2) and Bumblebee (a new repaint of the toy from Universe Legends Wave 4). Very few people took any notice of this assortment on release.... and then a while later something *VERY* interesting happened......

Generations Legions Thundercracker

From the EZ Collection Thundercracker review above I give you this quote:
I predict a western version in early 2012 and the howl of fanboys who overspent on the Japanese toy.
It didn't quite happen like that but ...

On the 11th March 2012 at Cybertron Con Transformers Generations Asia Exclusive Legends wave was announced. This wave recoloured four older legends figures, two in original colour schemes and the other two the same as previously available Japanese EZ Collection figures. To spice things up a bit all four figures were remoulded with 3mm clip hands, 3mm peg holes on their vehicle modes and new 3mm peg handled weapons resembling what their original Generation One forms had.

Thundercracker is almost exactly the same colours as used on the EZ-Collection version of the toy above. His jet mode has a 3mm hole through each wing which allows you to plus the newly moulded Null Rays into. These weapons which look like the longer version of the missiles & launchers found with the original 1984 jets have a 3mm peg handle and a 3mm peg on the rear. They are the only GDO Legion weapons NOT to have a 3mm socket in them. The robot mode already has Null rays, formed from the top of the jet, so in they either have to held like hand weapons or pegged into the wings, stored on the rear or projecting forward as shoulder cannons

Fab remould, but you almost feel like they needed a remould to loose the plane back on the arms so the Null rays could be plugged in there.

For a toy that's only been out a short time Thundercracker has already racked up an interesting release history: It was originally released on an English language Generation card to Hasbro's Asian markets as part of the GDO Legends wave where it was 2 per case alongside 3 of Motorbreath (repaint & remould of RTS Legends Wave 1 Optimus Prime), 2 of Hoist (repaint & remould of RTS Legends Wave 2 Trailcutter) and only 1 of Bluestreak (repaint & remould of RTS Legends Wave 2 Prowl). It was then re-released through Toys R Us as an exclusive with the card now sporting additional Chinese text (possibly as a sticker). Thundercracker then was released in the Ultimate Giftset alongside Legends Motorbreath, Street Rally Jazz (repaint of RTS Deluxe Jazz) and Combat Hero Optimus Prime (repaint of RTS Deluxe Optimus Prime.

EZ Collection Gum Starscream

I nearly skipped the EZ-Collection Gum wave: When the promotional images of the toys first appeared only the Megatron tank in metallic purple appealed to me. The what look liked chromed Starscream actively put me off and I really didn't need another Prowl, Optimus & Rodimus. Then in hand images of the toys emerged which completely changed everything. For a start the Megatron was fab. And, contrary to the publicity images which showed the original versions of the moulds, Optimus, Starscream & Prowl used the modified Asia Exclusive/GDO Legends moulds with 3mm clip hands. A pass transformed into a must have in seconds!

When I opened the case up Starscream wasn't chromed as I thought, Instead he's moulded in a silvery plastic. I'm pretty sure it's not paint as there don't appear to be any of the tell tale signs of silver missing in recesses. The exceptions are the upper legs, shoulders and vehicle back which are a grey plastic. Blue & red paint operations become metallic. It's a nice attractive looking toy and as a bonus can hold & and use 3mm bar weapons. The only downside is that it doesn't come with the new weapons produced for the Generations Legends.

Generations Legend Starscream Variant

So back to the Dollar General Generations Legends... The toys had been in circulation, and largely ignored bar a small interest in the Bumblebee variation, when this post appeared on the 2005 boards on 23rd August 2012. Now Transformers has had it's fair share of variants over the years but this is the first time I can remember a toy being this extensively changed mid run. Both Optimus and Starscream, while keeping the same deco, now use the tooling used for Generations GDO Legion Motorbreath and Thundercracker. So Starscream gains holes in his wings, 3mm hands and grey null rays.

Instant must have purchase!

Future Repaints

Starscream's got a rich repaint history so I expect we'll be seeing this toy again repainted as Sunstorm & Acid Storm or remoulded as Thrust, Dirge, Ramjet & G2 Ramjet. Plus there's two Japanese Starscream colour schemes that could be done: Black & Clear. I have friends that even as we speak are praying for an Action Masters Thundercracker version!

I wouldn't be surprised either to see another version of Skywarp with the modified hands and the extra guns either!

I would love to see a remould to enable the the new weapons to be mounted on the arms.