Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Legends LG-34 Wipe with Servant

Legends LG-34 Wipe with Servant

Takara's been busy with Mindwipe. We'll start with the material colour swaps:

Feet, tail, gun & Titanmaster lower legsPurpleBlack
Lower arms, hands & shield clawBlackpurple
Head, small bat wings & wing tipsBrown/RedRed
Chest hatchClear PinkClear Red

The head has then had a layer of brown paint added to match the Japanese Headmasters cartoon which unfortunately now limits the movement of the jaw.. The same brown paint now lines the tops of the wings. The fronts of the wings, which really should have been moulded in red, are now painted red.

The overall effect here is slightly too busy colour-wise especially on the wings where you can see red, brown and purple on the same parts.

A new face piece for the Titanmaster has been added which is slightly larger than the Titans Return version hiding the smaller robot's arms better. It's also lot more angular than before, closer matching the appearance in the Japanese cartoon but neither it nor the Titans Return version look much the toy's original head which I much prefer.

Placing a Titans Return Crashbash repaint with Mindwipe is somewhat controversial since it is the second time Crashbash has been used as a pack in having been previously included with LG-22 Skull. However the pack ins with original Headmasters seem to be limited to the first two waves of toys. That means there's six unique toys to be shared amongst 7 Headmasters and since there's only two Beast accessories and Takara are looking to match the accessories to the deluxes as vehicle to vehicle and beast to beast, then the choice is a little limited!

The colours chosen here are great: a metallic dark grey for Crashbash's purple and a dark burgundy red for Crashbash's grey resulting in a colour scheme on the dinosaur very VERY similar to the Tomy Zoids Iguan. It's a shame he has no matching Titanmaster to complete the look, the arms on Wipe's Vorath are purple and stick out a bit in Dinosaur mode.

Neither version of Mindwipe has quite hit the spot for me. Although the wing/leg engineering is clever it creates colour problems either on the wings, which should be red, or the lower legs, which should be purple. Neither head quite works for me either and paint has hampered a feature on the Legends version which has a few too many colours on it.

Legends LG-33 Highbrow with Karugo

Legends LG-33 Highbrow & Karugo

Titans Return and Legends Highbrows look very very similar. So similar that you really need to see them side by side as in this Legends Comparison Post on Facebook. When you get both Highbrows together you'll see the the blue on Legends Highbrow is darker while the grey is lighter, almost white. The weapons have gone from being gunmetal grey to silver. In vehicle mode he's lost the stripes down his tail and the Autobot symbol on his back. In it's place is a mass of grey/white paint attempting to make the waist of the robot the same colour but breaking up the blue on the tail. New small Autobot symbols are on each wing.

As with the other 1987 Headmaster deluxes that have reached the Legends line they've tweaked the heads and added in a new accessory. Highbrows heads look quite similar but the Japanese one is slightly more rounded and a little bit lacking definition compared with the western version. The Titanmaster now more closely resembles the 1987 original being completely dark blue with a gunmetal grey chest and added paint highlights on the head.

Highbrow's package also includes one of the Titanmaster accessories. Since Legends is following the Autobot vehicles, Decepticon animals theme he gets a vehicle: Karugo, a repaint of Loudmouth's flying car. pale grey is swapped for dark grey while the red becomes a blue which matches Legends Highbrow. a dab of red paint added to the windscreen helps the toy. Unfortunately the blue used doesn't match either blue used on Go Shooter, who was sold with Legends Wheelie but even so paired together they make a more attractive combination than the original Titans Return Loudmouth.

It's fractional but I think I prefer the Titans Return Highbrow for my Highbrow, especially on the head. However the Titanmaster robot & accessory are better than their western versions.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Generations Titans Return Kickback

Generations Titans Return Kickback

Since Shrapnel, Bombshell & Kickback first appeared together as the Insecticons in 1985 we've never had all three remade. We had characters called Insecticon in Beast Wars, Energon & Hunt for the Decepticons. Bombshell appeared as an Action Master and Kickback as Fall of Cybertron deluxe but both were missing their colleagues. So when Shrapnel (Skrapnel) was released in the Generations Thrilling 30 line in 2014 as a Legends size figure which worked really well and suited his size hopes were high that all three could be done in this scale. Legends Bombshell followed in Combiner Wars in early 2015 but we've had to wait another 2 years to complete the line up with Kickback who was revealed at Cybertron Con 2016.

There slight variations in tones of colour between Skrapnel & Bombshell, notably the yellow/orange used for their chest panel. Kickback continues the trend by being different again: he has clear yellow plastic for his chest, just like the original, which also makes up his wings which have moved from being mounted between body & arms to the tops of his arms. Kickback's arms were previously formed from his legs. Now his legs hang off the arms, which will form his tail. But his legs, chest and head do a pretty good imitation of the original. Shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are on ball joints making him easy to get decent poses out of. The head turns and looks up, excessive articulation for a Legend but it's used in the transformation. Wings are attached to the arms by a ball joint and are hinged at their base too.

The wings bother me. A lot. They were a weak point on the original, being long and thin. They've tried to compensate here by improving the articulation. Where previously they could only move backwards and forwards they now move round as well thanks to the ball joint. But they're still long & thin and to add top that they're made of clear plastic which is notoriously fragile when use in situations like this. I think we'll see some more broken Kickbacks in years to come. The antennae on the head both me too. They're made of thin rubbery plastic and look like they should rotate at the sides of the head but don't. Another area of potential breakage in the future.

Transformation: the the head to fold back 90° and then rotate 180°. Fold the insect head up off the robot's back to cover the head with the antennae sticking out. Unfold the rear inset legs from the back of the lower legs. Raise the arms straight up then fold the shoulders away from the body and down so the arms are behind the toy. Tab the lower arms together to form the tail and tab that into the robots waist. Fold the legs out to the sides and swing the wings back.

The tail is a nightmare. The arms do not want to tab together and then don't want to tab into the waist. I've managed it twice now so I know it can be done but it's not easy. I opened this toy the same afternoon as Voyager Optimus Prime so neither toy made for a particularly fun experience!

When you get it into insect mode it's pretty much what you'd expect from a new version of Kickback, with the caveat for the now clear wings. Although the articulation in the rear legs is still there, the joints are effectively useless due to needing to keep the legs in the correct position. No articulation is provided by the front legs so all you're left with is the wings which turn on their ball joints and flap back & forth on a hinge at their base.

The clear plastic chest panel opens up to provide a space for a Titanmaster to sit, held firmly in place by two foot pegs. However, unlike the original with a Diaclone pilot, it's impossible to close the hatch on the Titanmaster enclosing it.

Obviously I'm pleased Kickback's been done but the frustration of the arm/tail transformation, the static insect and worries about the wings durability have detracted from my enjoyment of the finished product.

Kickback was released in Titans Return Legends Wave 3 where he was 2 per case, making him slightly harder to find than Gnaw & Bumblebee who were packed at 3 per case.

Future Repaints

Skrapnel was released in his Diaclone colour as a Botcon Exclusive Zaptrap so a Shothole exclusive repaint isn't beyond the grounds of possibility even though Bombshell hasn't yet been done as Salvo.

Since Skrapnell was remoulded as Chopshop, in my opinion not remoulded enough as I'd have given him new mandibles, I could see Kickback being redone as the vaguely similar deluxe Insecticon Ransack.

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Impactor

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Impactor

There's been ONE toy version of the Wrecker's leader Impactor and that was in the Fall of Cybertron line where Impactor was a repaint of Fall of Cybertron Onslaught and, in all honesty, had his colours swapped in proportion to what they usually are.

The TFSS version of Impactor, announced in July 2015, does much better: Rook's white is swapped for purple and blue becomes white. He gets a new head and gains some extra weapons: recolours of Generations Arcee.

I've never bought a Transformers Subscription Service toy before. This year I'm having all of them due to them being Combiner Wars and Impactor was the one I was looking forward to the most.

Unfortunately when you get the toy in hand it's not so good. The fist holes are a bit too wide to hold Arcee's blades and worse the head has lost a level of definition since the earlier images and looks a bit like a not terribly good custom. It's not terribly well painted either.

A big shame. The rest, bar the hands, is great but in the plastic the head really spoils the toy.

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Blue Bluestreak

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Blue Bluestreak

There were two mistakes on the rumoured list of Botcon 2016 exclusives I saw. Airazor from Slipstream wasn't on it, replaced with Arcee from Legends Blackarachnia, which I thought made sense as there was a previous Botcon Arcee from Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia.

The other thing missing from the rumours list was the Customise Class Ratchet, which I would have considered worthy of a more main line release as part of another Autobot Combiner. The item the list had on it was Blue Bluestreak from Dead End/Streetwise. This made vague sense: there's already a Streetwise use in the Botcon exclusives and the customise class toy tends to be a reuse of one already in the exclusive packages. Although Blue Bluestreak is a "variation" that doesn't exist in the original Transformers line, although it does as a Diaclone toy , there's a lot of interest in it due to that being the way Bluestreak appears on his boxart and in early catalogues. In the last few years there's been a Binaltech Blue Bluestreak, Beast Hunters Legion and the popular Masterpiece MP-18B Blue Bluestreak. Plus the use of a Blue Bluestreak as a convention toy allows a "proper" silver/anime Bluestreak to be done in the main Combiner Wars line or as part of another Autobot Diaclone Combiner boxset.

Alas it was not be and with Ratchet's appearance my dream of owning all 18 Diaclone Autobots in Combiner Wars form took a severe dent.

Or so I thought....

When the final two toys from Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 arrived the incentive toy was revealed as Blue Bluestreak and in a bag labelled Botcon 2016 no less!

Bluestreak is mainly moulded in blue plastic, with black for the wheels, connector to HFG, knees, waist & combiner connector and white for the softer plastic on upper legs, hips & lower arms/elbows. The bonnet is covered in silver paint, a little too far to the edges for my liking but seemingly accurate towards the original. The lightbar is still on the roof and is a little more obvious here than on Smokescreen as it's been picked out in black. The use of the word turbo on the side of the car looks a little odd though and yes, the white upper arm/elbow pieces do rather break up the side of the car.

Robot mode looks superb though, no complaints there.

After getting excited about the possibility of it being at Botcon and then let down, I'm really glad this toy has been brought out by the club and very pleased to own one.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Titans Return Gnaw

Titans Return Gnaw

Here in the UK we never knew the 1986 toy Gnaw existed. Yes he had a Transformers Universe entry, but then so did Kranix, Arblus and the Junkions, also minor movie Characters, as did Unicron & Arcee, much more major characters! Years later I discovered a toy did exist and he case assortment with the Predacons, another set of toys the UK missed out on. I'll admit to not being impressed with the original toy when I saw one, based on the ball shaped Sharkticons in the Quintessons Judgement Chamber, preferring the longer sleeker versions seen earlier in the movie battling Hot Rod.

There's been one previous Sharkticon remake, the Energon Sharkticon, which followed a completely different design. Then in November 2013 one popped up on a Computer listing as a Legends class toy packed with a Minicon called Gnash and having the Hasbro product number A7804. But even then there was some doubt over his release with the listings showing another toy, Nemesis Prime with Spinister taking his product number. Since then every time there's been a toy reveal people have been hoping that Gnaw, and the similarly vanished from that list Legends version of Brawn would show up. Finally at San Diego Comicon 2016 Transformers Breakfast Event Legends Gnaw was revealed with Legends Brawn following at New York Comicon 2016.

Gnaw's robot mode looks very similar to the original: short and round with a large head. All the features look to be in the same place, including the teeth around his neck, and he comes with a moulded ball & chain weapon. His arms look a little odd, moulded so the straightest you can get them is a 120° angle, which I don't like. However it means they can be bent at the ball joint elbow so the lower arms rests against his upper arm. Ball joints at the shoulder & hip too with bending knee and rotating head.

Transformation: remove the ball & chain weapon. Fold the fin on his back down between his legs. Spread the legs slightly, slipping the 5mm handles of the ball & chain into the recesses in the upper legs and then bring the legs together tabbing the feet, and the robot upper jaw on his heels, together with the fin between the lower legs. Rotate his head 180° and fold it, and the lower jaw backward. Fold the lower legs onto the robot's back tabbing in behind the shoulders. Fold the robot's shoulders down towards it's waist. Bend the robot's arms to form the Sharkticon's legs and stand.

You get exactly what you'd expect here: a ball on legs with a shark's fin sticking out the top. I've always thought these Transformers were more Piranha than Shark to be honest! But it looks almost exactly like what you see in film and with the original toy. The arms turn at the shoulders and the legs, formed from the arms, are ball jointed at knee & hip. In addition to the 5mm peg hole through the foot, from when it was a hand, there's another UNDER the foot and for the life of me I can't figure out what it's for.

But the real fun in this mode is the mouth. Both upper & lower jaws open, almost to a 180°angle between them. A VERY wide mouth! In the lower jaw there are a pair of Titanmaster foot pegs letting you stand a Titanmaster inside it's mouth while the mouth closes around him. It's the maddest Transformer piloting position I've seen since Skullcruncher in 1987!

Mad toy! Just the right size for swarming all over deluxe figures and, because of the size, the right price to allow army building. You'll want more than one.

Gnaw is sold in Titans Return Wave 3 at 3 per case with 3 x Bumblebee and 2 x Kickback. It may not be enough Gnaws.

Titans Return Bumblebee

Titans Return Bumblebee

A new, proper Generations Bumblebee has been a little while coming. Classics Bumblebee was one of the first Classics toys and remains probably the definitive Generations work on the character have been reused four times (Wal*Mart, Reveal The Shield, Henkei & United) over the course of various Western & Japanese lines. He was also done really well in the small Legends size during Universe 2, and I've lost count of the number of times THAT has been redone! Since then however the various Generations versions have gone for versions that are slightly different from the traditional Bumblebee. The first Generations Bumblebee was a Fall of Cybertron toy, while the Thrilling 30 Deluxe and it's repaint Goldfire seem to be Movie Bumblebee inspired. Nobody is quite sure what the original Thrilling 30 Legends Bumblebee is meant to be! But after three Bumblebees in the first three waves of Thrilling 30 Generations the Character has gone away for a bit. It was something of a surprise when Rodimus became the repaint of Blackjack to be paired with Optimus Maximus as I thought Bumblebee would make more sense playing on the Sparkplug (Bumble in Japan) partnership with Armada Optimus Prime. But three years after his last appearance we finally have a new Bumblebee in Generations which was first revealed at San Diego ComicCon 2016.

Straight out the package Titans Return Legends Bumblebee looks like a shrunk down Classics Bumblebee. The only real difference is the upper arms, form from the rear sides of the car and the lower arms, which even from the first photo looked a little too short. With the rear side windows projecting forward from the arms it gives his arms an odd shape and when the arms are bent the 5mm peg hole hands don't come forward of the projecting windows. A minor problem is that the painted yellow on the chest doesn't quite match the yellow plastic. But the head is perfect and the general look really really good.

Articulation: head turns. Ball joints at shoulders, elbows & hips. Bending knees & ankles, the later rather high and more of a transformation joint to be honest.

Transformation: Fold the lower leg down at the "ankle" and back at the knee so the legs fold into the feet, obviously the front of the car. Straighten the arms and twist each lower arm in 90° at the elbow. Fold the neck & shoulders back, which uses the lower joint on the hinge, freeing the chest. Fold the chest forward & unfold it into the roof & rear of the car. Fold the neck & shoulders back up using the upper hinge joint and then shrug the shoulders up forming the sides of the car. Fold the roof back & tab into place in the rear of car.

The reality is somewhat different to the description. The roof & rear of the car will probably fall off due to a slightly suspect hinge but this isn't a bad thing as you can then see clearly what's going on elsewhere. The car is slightly too flexible to hold still stably mid transformation so they'll be some parts massaging. Having completed the car I then had to re-transform the front to get it all to fit together right as the rear of the legs wouldn't both slide into the slot they needed to go in!

But, in the end, I've got a pretty decent car mode Bumblebee out the end looking very much, again, like a shrunk down Classics deluxe. Sadly the slightly mismatched yellow is obvious here again.

Like all Titans Return Legends he is compatible with the Titanmaster figures which pleased me because it meant I could have Blaster's Titanmaster, in effect a mini Blaster, drive Bumblebee, homaging the Blaster/Golbug comic partnership. Access for the Titanmaster however involves folding the entire roof and middle rear of the car forward! But the Titanmaster sits in the quite comfortably.

Really good effort for the scale. We're not quite yet at the 2014 Swerve level of greatness for the Legends size but, slight colour mismatch aside, this feels a better Legend than most of the Combiner Wars offerings.

Bumblebee was released in Titans Return Wave 3 at 3 per case along with 3 of Gnaw and 2 of Kickback. Many fans felt that Bumblebee should have been 2 per case, with Kickback raised to 3, and I've seen some arguments for higher numbers of Gnaw which is generally supported by fans desire to army build him.

Future Repaints

Where there's Bumblebee Cliffjumper and/or Goldbug usually follow. I'd be very surprised to see this redone as anyone else before them.

However rumours suggest a forthcoming Throttlebot Chase, the red one, which could be a repaint. That in turn suggests his team mates Freeway, the blue one, and Searchlight, the white one, all of whom have similar car & robot mode.

As much as Hubcap is enjoying a popularity surge thanks to the Roche effect in The Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers he's just too similar to Bumblebee.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

TFSS 4.0 Thunder Mayhem Review

Transformers Subscription Service 4.0 Grabuge

You're never going to be onto a real winner doing a new version of Ruckus as the sandy beige and purple clash so badly. The Transformers Subscription Service make things harder for themselves by using Off Road, who's pickup truck mode looks NOTHING like Ruckus' traditional Baja Buggy. Honestly they'd have been better giving the seldom used Combiner Wars Dragstrip an airing, just 3 uses in Combiner Wars, painting that purple and beige. The First Aid. version of Off Road would have then made a decent version of his fellow Triggercon Crankcase, currently enjoying popularity as part of the Scavengers.

Not great. and as for the name.....

Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Windsweeper

Take the Windsweeper colours and do the Skydive mould in them. Job done. Extra Decepticon Combiner Wars jet. Throw in a bio note making reference to the frequently held belief that Windsweeper should be an Autobot Triggerbot, and pack with a Matrix, nicked from the Reveal The Shield Battle in Space set, for the combined mode and you're laughing.

Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Needlenose

Firefly's visored face makes him an ideal choice to serve as a new version of Needlenose, with Generation Scoop's Targetmasters serving as new versions of the original toys with Holepunch becoming Zigzag, now renamed Zputty, and Caliburst becoming Sunbeam. Coupled with Firefly's original hand gun and HandFootGun there's too many weapons now for the toy toy hold at once!

The only slight moan is that the Harrier Jump Jet vehicle mode isn't quite F-16XL the original had as a jet mode but since it's an extra Decepticon jet and the rest works so well I'm not complaining!

Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Spinister

Spinister has become a bit of a "go to" Decepticon Helicopter repaint in recent years appearing as a Revenge of the Fallen Legend repaint of Blackout, Botcon version of Tomahawk and a Legends Minicon repaint of Generations Legends Bumblebee's Minicon Blazemaster. Some of these, like the Tomahawk repaint, suited Spinister as they had his distinctive angled nose: why was Cybertron Bulkhead never redone as Spinister? Others didn't and I'm afraid the more rounded nosed Alpha Bravo very much falls into that category even if he does still have helicopter cockpit feet.

Generation Scoop provides the Targetmasters here with Holepunch becoming Hairsplitter, now renamed Shute, and Caliburst becoming Sunbeam, now named Singe. The helicopter & robot are both now very much overloaded for weapons.

Doesn't quite work, but just about makes it into the "it'll do" category.


I can understand why when making a new version of Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Bludgeon they chose the Combiner Wars Onslaught toy, as it's the closest of the Combiner Wars Voyagers to Bludgeon. However I'm still not sure it's really suited to him. Really Bludgeon should be a tank: If you're going to do him in Combiner Wars make him a Brawl repaint.


Although, in my opinion, Combiner Wars SHOULD have a Voyager Tank & combiner core available. I'd have done Megatron as a Voyager, to face off against Optimus Prime with Galvatron as his powered up combined mode. Do it initially in silver as Megatron then in G2 Green, Archforce Purple, Megaplex Grey & Blue and then whatever colour you want Bludgeon to be. I'd do the Tank & Voyager robot in the Bludgeon inner robot colours with the skull head folding out for the combined mode. Instead Combiner Wars gave us a Leader toy which didn't really fit with the rest of the range and struggled to sell it's repaint!


They've gone for Bludgeon's inner robot colours for the Voyager here too and I'm not sure it really works. The main body of the vehicle is green, with patches of brown and purple guns. Given that it's an unfamiliar vehicle mode I might have been tempted to go form the shell's orange. The combined mode's white head, concealed on the publicity image by text, also shows up really clearly in the middle of the turret where the Bruticus head previously blended in.

The new swords are nice, recyclced for Transformers Go Optimus Exprime but they don't quite work as the handles are too long for the closed ends of the robot mode's fists. Unfortunately that's the least of the robot mode's problems!

The robot looks even more patchwork with a large amount of brown revealed revealed on the chest and the shell's orange introduced on the shoulders. There's a new leering visored head in this mode and I really can't tell what it's aiming for. I suppose it's a bit like his boxart. If anyone recalls Bludgeon's original head then they think "skull in samurai helmet", nobody remembers the inner robot head! NEST Bludgeon used the Pretender shell's head and when Generations did a new version of Skullgrin as a Darkmount/Straxus repaint they stuck the Pretender head on the robot's body because it's more distinctive. I could just about, JUST ABOUT, accept this as Bludgeon's inner robot with a different vehicle mode if the combined mode was intended to be the shell with that head. But it isn't and there lies more problems.

Transformer Subscription Service 4.0 Thunder Mayhem

There are some good multicoloured combiners out there. Abominus from the 80s. Sky Reign.Optimus Maximus, if it uses the Red Voyager Optimus instead of Battle Core Optimus. Grand Galvatron is superb.

This is however is a train wreck of the highest order.

Physically EVERYTHING clashes. EVERYTHING. The main culprit is all the green on the chest and body which doesn't work with Vortex's pink. Or Grabuge's mutually clashing purple & beige. Or Windsweeper's red. Needlenose escapes by mainly being a more neutral grey.

The swords don't work in this mode, the handles don't recess into the combined mode fists without stressing the plastic. Not good.

The combined mode is, like we've said, not meant to be Bludgeon instead it's Thunderwing. THUNDERWING. OK, I get the connection all the toys in this set were in various versions of the Mayhem Attack Squad with Thunderwing. But the colours in no way suggest Thunderwing at all, who's mainly grey. They've slapped some off white paint on the chest but it's not nearly enough, the entire chest & waist piece needed to be that colour. Then there's the head. The collectors club hasn't had a good year in 2016 with their new heads. Ravage & Tigatron were distinctly 2d, you really don't wan to see these side on, and Impactor's head lost something in translation from design to plastic. Thunder Mayhem's head looked like a grinning loon from the word go though! OK the original Thunderwing head ain't great but they did a decent job with the Generations toy.

We mentioned that Voyager Bludgeon would have worked better if the combined mode had been his Pretender form and I think the same is true here. If you want to do Thunderwing then make him a Combiner Wars Silverbolt repaint as his inner robot and jet and stick the Thunderwing Pretender Shell head on instead of Superion's as a Matrix powered up Thunderewing.

A disaster as a combined mode!

Of the set the two jets are good, and the helicopter will do. The rest could be so much better, I'd have done the Ruckus from Mirage instead of Off-road. I'd have also thrown two extra toys in, instead of the Autobots in TFSS 4.0, to complete the sub groups involved, making Quake from Brawl and Crankcase from First Aid.

Club could have done so much better with their 2016 combiner, not impressed at all!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Titans Return Triggerhappy & Blowpipe

Titans Return Triggerhappy & Blowpipe

I've always thought the new 1987 Decepticon Targetmasters were better than they're Autobot brethren: Misfire has a nice design and a quirky character trait of being the Decepticon who can't shoot straight. Slugslinger takes this years theme of two beast heads on one body seen on Hun-grrr, Sinnertwin & Doublecross and extends it to jets while Triggerhappy just has lots of guns! Of the three only Slugslinger has had a new version and that was in the Energon toyline. Triggerhappy is the first to get a go in Titans Return.

Like Blurr, Scourge & Hot Rod, Triggerhappy's Targetmaster has become his Titanmaster and here he retains his original name Blowpipe. Blowpipe was originally a grey Targetmaster with blue legs but now he's a Titanmaster with blue lower legs, arms & head and white lower legs & chest. Looking at pictures side by side I can see some design elements of the Targetmaster carried across including the general shape of the helmet, the shoulder details and vague chest layout.

Triggerhappy has two distinct faces: his toy had visored eyes and an open face while his comic and cartoon version had vehicle yellow eyes and a red face plate. It's the latter version that's used on the Titanmaster. Unfortunately limits to the painting have given him blue circles round his yellow eyes which looks a little odd and the entire effect does resemble a badly painted Optimus Prime head!

The rest of the robot looks great, just like the other one with the jet nose & cockpit that was on his chest slimmed down and integrated into the body. OK yes, this has been done by mounting the actual jet nose on his back but ..... The really distinctive features, twin engines on each shoulder and twin guns folded against each arm have been carried over and there's some fun to be had with them. His hands fold into his forearms allowing the twin guns to fold down into his wrist socket and be used as weapons, perhaps inspired by how Blowpipe mounted as a Targetmaster in the Japanese Japanese Headmasters Cartoon.

He doesn't have a Targetmaster here but like the other brand new wave 3 deluxes, and leader, he comes with a pair of guns that he can hold that also combine into a dual cannon, which a Titanmaster can sit in. Unfortunately the combined cannon is pretty much useless here as it can only be held with one barrel above the other, not side to side. There's no 5mm peg hole underneath to insert an adaptor into, like with Sixshot, but there is a rectangular space that will loosely take one to simulate the effect. I await a 3rd party solution to this problem, maybe something that fits over two Titanmaster pegs and turn them into a 5mm handle would do the trick?

Plenty of fun can be had with the separated guns though. Naturally he can hold them in his 5mm peg hole hands. There's also 5mm holes on the base of the twin guns so they can be pegged in there as a third gun on each arm and that hole can still be used when the gun has been folded down onto the wrist. With the arms bent, or the guns folded down, another peg hole on each shoulder is exposed to shoulder mount them. Sadly they've missed a trick by not making his shoulder mounted engines 5mm peg holes on the interior.

Articulation is good: bending ankles & knees, thigh swivel and ball jointed hips. Ball jointed neck, provided by the Titanmaster. The arms have ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels and bending elbows.

Transformation: remove the weapons & the Titanmaster. Straighten the arms, fold the fists into the forearms & fold the twin guns over the wrists. Fold the wings forward off the back of the arm tabbing into both upper & lower arm. Fold the feet & heel spurs all the way back & tab the legs together. Rotate the waist 180°. Hold the toy with it's back facing down and chest upwards. Fold the jet nose down 90°. Pull the waist away from the body and fold that down 90°. Both nose & waist are connected to the same piece that runs up the robot's back. This is attached to a pivot in the middle of the robot's back which you use to rotate the torso and wings 180°. Fold the nose up to meet what was the bottom of the robot's body. Fold the waist up, it won't quite go flat against the robot's neck. Pull the wings away from the side of the jet's cockpit. Fold the legs back at waist & knee so they fold over the waist and tab into the the robot's neck. Fold the wings back and tab into the lower legs, a tab onto the hinge going into the robot's arms.

It is Triggerhappy's jet mode. Absolutely perfect, and solid as a rock. One example of a Transformer toy where tabbing things together really works.

Now I've had trouble seating the Titanmaster in jet mode when you open the canopy. The feet need to go through a quite small hole in the front of the cockpit to seat him right. I'm finding it far easier if I fold the nose down as well, giving me better access to the cockpit which allows me to seat the Titanmaster with his feet poking out the front then folding the nose back over them.

Failing that, there's two separate Titanmaster pegs, not a pair for the same figure, on the rear of the jet behind the cockpit. The nose has a fold down landing gear.

You'll not see a better update than this, almost perfect. The only real point of contention is the face that, as it is, could have done with better paint ops or, for some people's taste, being swapped for the other face.

Titans Return Sixshot & Revolver

Generations Titans Return Sixshot & Revolver

The UK has an interesting relationship with Sixshot. He's one of the many 1988 toys that weren't released in the UK. He didn't appear in the comics, bar a mention in one letters column where someone said they'd seen one on a visit to the USA, and only makes a fleeting appearance in the Headmasters cartoon that was released on video here. Yet in the early/mid 1990s large quantities of him showed up as "grey imported" Chinese Toys. Of the Chinese imports he's significant because he wasn't sold here previously and he was available in quantity. I can remember seeing them in the Gamleys in Staines and in an ad in model mart. For more on Chinese Transformers in the UK see this thread on the TMUK forum and especially the link in the first post! The original Sixshot has been reissued twice: first in 2002 in it's original colours & box and then later in 2012 in a new posh box with chromed parts. This is the first serious attempt at remaking him.

Like Twinferno he's another toy that was originally released in 1988 that wasn't a Headmaster or a Targetmaster so while thematically it makes sense for him to be associated with a Headmaster gimmick, there isn't an existing Headmaster, or Targetmaster/Powermaster, to associate him with. The name of his Titanmaster, Revolver, is quite clever because a fully loaded revolver would have six shots. In an additional slightly twisted joke the modelling on the small Titanmaster resembles Jack (Headmasters), a friend of the Headmaster Chromedome who Sixshot killed in the Headmasters cartoon. Folded up in head mode there's a further joke as Sixshot's head is wearing a headband with the kanji for six moulded into it!

Sixshot comes in robot mode. His box back shows all six modes in a circle follow that through Tank, Jet, "Submarine", Car & Wolf back to robot. There's a big difference between Sixshot and the other Titanmaster toys: you can safely ignore the Titanmaster gimmick if you want to, though one mode has a slight Transformation difference if you do. So start by removing the weapons and, if you want to, the Titanmaster within the helmet. Fold the front of the chest down and fold the helmet in. fold the black wings to the side of the chest back 90°, lining up with the slots in the sides of the body, and close the chest. Rotate the shoulder tops 90° so the wheels face you. Swing the tank treads on the upper arm round to the front. Turn the bicep joint 180° and fold the hands away. Fold the heel spurs down under the toy. Fold the legs back at the waist, knee & inside the leg, bringing them onto the robot's back. Tab the guns into the side of the ankles. The Titanmaster can sit in the cab under the weapons array formed by the legs.

Just like the original's tank mode. If I'm being picky the paired guns have gone from being vertical, folded out from inside the feet, to horizontal above the cab but that's relatively minor. The easiest set of Titanmaster footopegs to use is those on the tank reads but you can just about use the foot pegs on the wing bases here, and you can get to the ones on the wings if you fold them out slightly. This is also one of the better modes to use the base mode connectors on the wings to connect this mode to another Decepticon base.... which at time of writing means Soundwave but Sky Shadow is due in Wave 4. Having been two Autobot leader bases in Wave 1, it's nothing but Decepticons since with Overlord still to come!

Remove the white guns, fold the legs back and look at the underside of the tank. Turn each leg out to the side at the thigh. Fold the landing gear out of the lower leg. Fold each upper leg into the lower leg using the Combiner Wars car style knee joint and bring the legs together. Fold the black twin guns/heel spurs in, meshing with each other. Fold the side of the legs down 90°. Rotate the ends of the sides 180° so that the open face points down and the silver sloped face is on the top. Bring these pieces together to form the tip of the jet nose. Fold the shoulder tops in 90° so that the sloped edge is on the side and the wheeled edge is inside. Fold the wings back and rotate the shoulders 180°. Fold the shoulders down towards the robot's feet, front of the jet. Fold the wings out to the sides flat under the arms. Tab the white guns into the ends of the wings. Open the robot's chest and fold the tail fins out. If you're using the Titanmaster fold the head back behind the jet and sit the Titanmaster in the chest, if not leave the head where it is, but in both cases close the chest up.

Great update to Sixshot jet mode. If anything this one is better because it forces the guns top face forward and not wobble off to the sides.

"Submarine" mode: start by removing the guns and turning the toy over. Fold the tails fins and, if necessary, the head back into the robot's chest. Fold the beast head up 90°out of the toy and fold the wings up, closing round the beast head: there are tabs on the beast head that fit into slots on the wings to secure it. Rotate the robot's lower arms 180° at the bicep swivel. Separate the legs, extending the knee joint, and fold the landing gear in. Fold the front of the jet out to the sides 90°. Fold the twin guns out the front. Tab the lower legs together. Swing the very front of the jet nose round 180°. Tab the guns together to form a dual cannon and tab onto the front of the vehicle.

OK we'll start reviewing the vehicle as is. I'm not sure it makes a terribly great submarine. The wings round the head *could* be a conning tower but there's nowhere enclosed for the Titanmaster to sit. There's two Titanmaster seats just forward of halfway and another in the combined dual cannon. If anything this looks closer a boat than a submarine, with the wings forming the tail.

But really, *REALLY* we all know it's just his gun mode upside down! Us the wings as a gun handle, stand the Titanmaster on any of the four available posts. They've just turned it the other way up and given it a silly name to avoid a fuss!

Half way there!

Remove the guns and Titanmaster. Fold the wings out to the sides and fold the beast head in. Separate the front of the "submarine" mode, shortening the robot's legs at the knee again. Swing the arms round 180° at the shoulders. Pull the arms out to the sides so you can rotate the shoulder tops 180° so the Wheels there are on the outside and point down. Fold the tank treads onto the sides of the arms. Extend the lower arms by sliding them down bellow the elbow. Bring the arms in tabbing the wrists into the sides of the vehicle. Fold the wings down & forward. Open the wolf's jaw. Peg the guns onto the base of each wing.

The instructions show the car mode with the beast feet folded forward, and I suppose you could fold the twin guns forward too, but I prefer both folded back for a more streamlined look. Car rolls along nicely on it's wheels, no issues there. There's two Titanmaster seats again in this mode, plus a pair of Titanmaster pegs on the wing bases and another pair on the sides of the vehicle. Two more are on the wings themselves, but they're covered by the guns. This mode also has the base mode connectors facing out on the side of the wings.

Reversed, with the Titanmaster sitting in the cab on the rear of the vehicle, this mode almost looks like a piece of heavy machinery!

Remove the Titanmaster and weapons again. Fold the beast head out the back of the vehicle and fold the wings in towards the centre. Untab the arms, swing down 90°, fold the beast feet out and swing forward at the shoulder. Turn the shoulder tops in 180°. Separate and extend the legs. Rotate each leg out & down 90° at the thigh so the block on the side of the leg is underneath. Fold down at hip & knee and fold out the rear beast feet. Tab the guns together and peg onto the rear of the beast to form the tail.

As the wolf mode stands there's a big hole in the back of the wolf's neck. This can be filled either by a Titanmaster head or a Titanmaster sitting in the neck. There's a another seat in the combined guns at the base of the tail plus Titanmaster footpegs in the small of his back and base of his neck.

There's plenty of articulation here at hips, knees & shoulders but very little is meaningful as you need the wolf mode to stand up OK. The wolf head pivots at the base of the neck and the jaw opens: it could almost do with an additional pivot at the base of the head. It's certainly no worse than the original wolf and you can argue that it's better due to incorporating the guns which the original didn't.

Once more remove the Titanmaster and guns. Fold the wolf head into it's back. Fold the legs back at knee & hips and stand. Shorten he arms, fold the wolf claws back and the hands out. Open the chest, fold out the tail fins and robot's head. Insert the Titanmaster, if necessary, and peg the guns into each hand.

So out ninja Consultant has been returned to robot mode and he's doing a pretty good impersonation of the original Sixshot's robot mode. In most cases what people REALLY want from a Generations toy is the original, but with more articulation, and this toy effectively delivers on both counts. Ankles pivot to the side, knees bend, thighs rotate and there's universal hips. Head turns the full 360°. Effectively the shoulders just rotate but there's an odd joint in there, used in the transformations, which hinges the rotational part of the shoulder to much lower down the body giving you some extra, unusual, movement at the shoulder. Arms rotate at the bicep and bend at the elbow. The tail fins sticking out the sides of the chest may hinder the arms rotating at the shoulders but they can be folded away inside the chest as they were for most of the modes.

Criticisms: the crest of the eyes looks a little too big, 6mm worth of straight white plastic. some of the joints, especially the shoulders and his left, on our right, knee are quite loose. The combined cannon can only be held vertically, with the barrels on to of each other, not horizontally, with them side to side. This last point can be fixed with an adaptor for the 5mm peg holes on the underside but it would have been nice to see it work out the box, like Twinferno. Instead we have two short pegs close together that won't fit in the hands. The hands themselves are hinged at the top so an excessive amount of weight with make them bend back on the hinge. The shoulder will probably surrender first though.

But despite these this is a very good toy. It is the original, with more articulation and some extra features to accommodate Titanmaster thrown in. I've not owned a Sixshot for a very long time, despite almost rebuying a reissue a few times, but I don't feel I need to now I own this.

Sixshot is the only new toy in Titans Return Wave 3 Leaders.

Future Repaints

The obvious repaints for Sixshot are repaints of his previous toy. He has only one in Transformers, the Japanese Transformers Victory toy Greatshot, and it's quite possibly he is the target judging by this picture of prototype Sixshots with full faces seen at Cybertron con 2016. Sixshot has another repaint, but that's in the Japanese Brave toyline, which reuses several Transformers toys. He appears as part of Brave Police where he's called Shadow Maru.

The name Sixshot was reused in Cybertron where he is a sandy coloured repaint of Shockblast.

The Autobot Sixchanger Quickswitch and his Japanese Transformers Masterforce version Sixknight are rough contemporaries of Sixshot. The only other sixchanger I can think of is Robots in Disguise Megatron. Now he might make an interesting repaint ....

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac

Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac

I have never been that much of a fan of the 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime on which this toy is based. I didn't like the long nosed cab, which had admittedly already been done on both his Action Master & Star Convoy versions, I didn't like it was a black cab when to me Optimus should be red, I didn't like he was a Tanker not a truck, though did wonder why there wasn't an Autobot Tanker in charge of fuel. I didn't like the way the robot's articulation was hindered by the gimmick or how the chest wasn't the vehicle windows or how the base mode didn't really work in relation to Optimus' robot or the smaller Transformers at the time.

With age, I've mellowed on it somewhat as Optimus Primes which vary significantly from the original have been released. I think the best version is probably Robots in Disguise Scourge but I've continued to have issues with remakes of the Laser Rod toy. RTS Laser Optimus for example is a ****er to Transform as the stress marks on my version attest to! My favourite is probably the Universe Spychanger Optimus Prime repaint of Spychanger Scourge, which is the only version of the long nosed Generation 2 Prime done with a red cab, like 1984 Prime done up until now.

Let's start with the Titanmaster Diac whose name is a homage to Diaclone, one of the two toy lines that spawned Transformers. Like Hot Rod's Titanmaster Firedrive, Diac is moulded completely in grey. His legs are painted blue and his head is silver, a homage to the Diaclone line and the Microman (Micronauts) line that I believe Diaclone was spun off from. Unfortunately the head is completely painted silver which means the paint will scrape as it gets pulled in and out of the head socket. The tolerances are a little tight anyway, possibly due to the additional layer of paint. Transformed into Head mode we get a really nice Optimus head, albeit one mounted on a big grey lump! The blue on the legs helps soften the blow a bit but even then there's a layer of grey to get through.

I think IDEALLY an Optimus Prime Titanmaster would be Red, with Blue legs, and possibly blue paint down the outside of the arms to assist in head mode, and moulded to look like a small Optimus body. I have hopes that the rumoured Optimus Prime in the Titanmaster class will provide this.

As per all Titans Return toys, Optimus comes in robot mode. Start the transformation by removing the Titanmaster, gun and sword. Turn the tops of the shoulders 180°, so the grey detail on them faces back, then bend back 180° so they're behind what remains of the shoulders. Turn each arm out to the side 90° at the bicep, aligning with the shoulders and making sure the tab on what was the side of the elbow fits the slot on the shoulders. Fold the hands in, each forming half the grill. Bring the tail fins on his back together and fold over the neck socket so the end of the tail is flat against the neck base and the tail wings point up. Pull each shoulder away from the side of the body and bring together round the tail wings forming the cab. Fold the chest plate under the cab.

Lining everything up in the cab isn't fun. It'll need some practice and part massaging. Worse is to come.

The next step I've never seen anything like on a Transformers toy before. Push the hips back. In robot mode they're forward, in vehicle modes they're back but the toy comes packaged with the legs in a neutral position which isn't great for holding he robot up and will cause problems during Transformation. Swing the wheels on each leg out to the sides, fold the foot in, and swing the wheels back. Open the legs out to the sides. Fold the wings on the robot's back out to the sides and then swing them down & back 180°. Fold the wings together and then fold back a further 90° so they are between the legs. Close then legs round the wings with tabs on the inner face of each wheel mount fitting into holes in the wings and tabs & slots along the back of the legs meshing together. Fold the panels on the side of the lower legs up to cover the upper legs making sure the tabs on the top meets their slot on what was the robot's waist, each piece has a tab on the side of what was the vehicle but there's also one for the top of the vehicle on one piece, and that all the tabs & slots line up between the two halves. Peg the weapons into the side of the vehicle.

Got some more bugbears about the Transformation before I go on. The tabs aren't fun to line up, any of them. The ones on the side of the vehicle fit into stickered areas and any miss causes sticker damage which isn't good. After four days the side stripe down my vehicle looks tatty at the edges of the stickers where panels fold together.

Right, where shall we start? The colours. I've already mentioned the stickers on the side and they form a traditional blue Optimus stripe against a silver background. Combined with the red cab this gives us an Optimus Tanker toy in the original colours, which is a good thing, I always thought Laser Rod Op too garish and wouldn't mind seeing it repainted in these more traditional colours.

The cab itself has problems, it's a bit too large compared to the tanker, there's a grey lump sticking out the roof which is part of the tail fin, the Titanmaster can't sit in it and it doesn't turn in relation to the tanker. Frustrating. Is the first time Optimus has been done as a Voyager sized toy and included a Trailer? The closest I can think of is Dark of the Moon Armoured Weapons Platform Optimus Prime, and that bends in the middle with the rear becoming a battle station and the front a repaint of the Cyberverse Commander. Both Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime & Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus are recent cabs & trailers that turn into robots and they pivot but they're both leader size. I wonder if this vindicates the decision to just do Voyager cabs the last few years?

How you do store the Titanmaster is a little odd. He doesn't sit in the cab, which is a big black mark against the toy. Instead there's a space for him to sit in the forward section of the tanker covered by a clear yellow hatch. Odd. Even odder inside is the ability to sit him either way round, with a heel spur hole at either end. I suppose you could make him sit facing backwards, Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle style but in this mode alone it's strange. If you'd like him to stand on the vehicle then there's four Titanmaster footpegs along the spine of the tanker trailer.

Then there's the tanker forming the rear of the vehicle. It feels very thin and effectively is just a shell. I'm trying to remember the last time I felt a transformer like this and in an odd way it reminds of the Pretender shells, large hollow pieces of very stiff plastic. I don't like it.

The way the weapons are stored is odd, just pegged into the side of the vehicle. No concealing them at all. While I can understand the twin gun being mounted on the vehicle, though it is crying out for an identical partner on the other side, the clear yellow sword just looks odd.

So basically I don't like the tanker mode at all. But like all Voyagers in Titans Return he has two alternate modes so shall we see what the second vehicle is like?

Remove the weapons and the Titanmaster. Separate the legs and hold the wings out. Fold the jet nose halves out the back of the tanker and rotate 180°. Push the legs/tanker back together and lock the jet mode into place. Fold the tanker rear wheels back under the tanker. Split the cab in two and fold back 180° so they're alongside the tanker/jet nose and pointing to the rear of the tanker/front of the jet. Fold the wings out to the sides of the Titanmaster compartment.Fold the chest plate up over the neck socket. Fold the tail fin down and fold the the tail wings out to the sides. Peg the weapons back into the sides of the nose.


Anybody want to take a guess as to what the jet mode is meant to be? The air intakes at the front remind me of the Harrier Jump Jet but the cabin and rest of the jet are more like a traditional passenger jet. Once again the Titanmaster doesn't sit where you think he should, in the cabin, he's in the compartment facing the front of the jet, making sense of the extra hole for the heel tab. And again the weapons on the side of the vehicle look very unsightly. They're not helped by the halves of the truck cab being slung under the wings!

Not a winner in a Transformer's greatest plane mode competition either then. Oh well, Onto robot mode then.

Again remove the weapons and Titanmaster. Fold the window sections of the cab halves under the wings back 180°. Fold the ends of the wings in across the Titanmaster compartment. Split the tail fin in two down the middle and fold out to the sides covering the tail wings. Fold the tail back on top of the folded up robot wings. Split the plane body in two, rotating each nose half 180° before folding back into the jet body/robot legs. Swing the wheel sections round 90° to the sides, fold the robot feet out now the underside of the piece is exposed, and then fold the wheel sections down a further 90° to form the front of the legs & feet. Fold down the middle sections of plane body to become the sides of the lower legs. Fold the hands out the radiator grill and rotate each arm in 90° at the bicep. Rotate the tops of the shoulders 180° so the grey panels face front. Fold down the chest panel, replace the Titanmaster head and put the weapons into his hands.

And, leaving it till last to prevent you forgetting if you're coming to the robot mode fresh out of the box, PUSH THE HIPS FORWARD!

What you have here is a Voyager sized Optimus in the traditional red arms & chest with blue lower legs & head Optimus Prime colours. The only thing that's really making me think Laser Rod Optimus here is the raised shoulders, which have a grey panel front with two circles on like the G2 version. These look a little odd at the rear with a small section of cab window protruding in on the inner edge, a relic of the cab being cut oddly to accommodate the tail fin. If you don't like the raised shoulders then these can be rotated 180° and folded back 180°behind the shoulders, as per the transformation, to give a more traditional looking Prime.

Now I think the Titanmaster head by itself is doing a pretty good job here but, like the other Voyagers and Leaders, it gets a boost to do the job on a Voyager. If you press down on his chest grill a large pair of Optimus antennae "ears" shoots up beside the head. Um .... You know I think these would work better if the rest of the Titanmaster head was blue, the grey of the folded up robot separates it somewhat from the rest of the head.

Weapons: No complaints about the gun. Black double barrelled cannon modelled on the original Laser Rod Op Cannon. 5mm peg handle, 5mm pegs sticking out of both sides of the rear, seat for the Titanmaster, 5mm peg holes in front of & behind the seat. Decent gun, wouldn't mind couple more of these. The sword however..... Well I can see what they're getting at with the sword, it's a new interpretation of the G2 Laser Rod Op Sword but it feels a bit long & thin for a figure of this size. The colour doesn't help, a clear yellow like the Titanmaster hatch on the vehicle modes. Long handle tapering down from 5mm just bellow the cross guard, which has a 5mm peg for storage mounting sticking out the side. Op can hold the sword by the handle OK, but figures with peg hole hands that aren't open at the bottom won't be able to. The length of the handle, and indeed the sword, makes me worry for it's longevity given what it's made of.

Toy's balance isn't good. He REALLY could do with some heel spurs and it almost felt like the back of the leg is higher than the front. His knees bend, there's a thigh swivel and universal joints at the waist. Head turns at the Titanmaster ball joint with the ears lowered but when they're raised he's limited to a few degrees to each side just like Sentinel Prime and Alpha Trion. Shoulders rotate, but will be limited moving back by the folded up wings. Arms swing out to the side at the shoulders, turn at the biceps and bend at the elbows.

Every mode on this toy had something, usually more than one thing, that annoyed me. Getting between the modes wasn't fun either. I don't think it's intended to be Optimus but the tanker and robot were too good an opportunity to miss for giving us an Op repaint. I'd say avoid, and get the intended use when that comes out but I don't think that'll solve the basic problems this toy has.

Optimus Prime was release in Titans Return Voyager Wave 3 with Megatron & Doomshot.

Titans Return Octane

Now it's painfully obvious that Optimus Prime with Diac and his opposite number Megatron with Doomshot are due to be new versions of Octane & Blitzwing. Blitzwing, as mentioned above, has some serious issues with his most recent version, Octane's never been done in the Voyager scale the rest of the Triplechangers have been and 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, probably in Titans Return Wave 5 due circa May 2017.

Future Repaints

Personally I'd be happy to see this mould go away and never be heard from again but 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime colours would enthuse some people and I've already seen it customed as Scourge. There's also the Laser Rod Ultra Magnus & Year of the Goat repaints of the original Laser Rod.

RTS Laser Optimus also got repainted as Scourge. He has Shattered Glass, Cancelled G2 Combat Hero repaint and Ultra Magnus decos that could be used.

But please don't Hasbro. Make this mould go away.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Titans Return Ravage


Although expected as a Stripes repaint, our first look at Ravage came at a Toyfair Australia event. There was immediately some confusion as Ravage's Official Images showed him with Stripes' head but, as pictures from Botcon confirm, and you can see it in close up here, Ravage does indeed have a new, thinner head without the mane that closely resembles his original.

The same thing happened with Rumble: his official images showed Rumble with same head as Rewind but later images showed the correct head.

While Titans Return Laserbeak is too black, Ravage ISN'T BLACK ENOUGH! He is, bar the new head, a simple colour swap of Stripes: Orange and yellow become black, black becomes an off white grey. Unfortunately that makes a large portion of his body grey and that just doesn't look right in the pictures. I hadn't intended to buy it but in the plastic in looks considerably better, an almost metallic grey, but I still think the body needs to be black.

Ravage was sold in Titans Returns Legends Wave 2 where he was packed at 3 per case alongside 3 of Laserbeak and just 2 of Rumble. Rumble's the only one with a robot mode, so I find it odd he's the least packed one, all three are tapes and all three have similar black colour schemes. I didn't think this wave looked terrible good and, like the first wave, was likely to shelf warm so I'm quite grateful that, at time of writing, it's only showed up in small numbers in the UK which makes it more likely we'll get the desirable Wave 3.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Titans Return Megatron & Doomshot

Titans Return Megatron with Doomshot

I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been a Generations/Classics style Megatron triplechanger before now. His multi form version are limited to Robots In Disguise and Cybertron. He's been a tank for many years now and even before his Generation 2 version he was associated with a tank in Action Masters and that's been his most common form right up to his most recent version in Combiner Wars. The most common form for Decepticons is jets and Megatron's been one a few times. His first jet was in Machine Wars and, barring the multichangers mentioned above, he's also been one in Energon & Generations Thrilling 30. I thought Generations T30 Blitzwing, despite it's shoulder issues, had a good chance of being Megatron but the best opportunity to do that in Cloud was missed when Starscream was made from Blitzwing and Megatron was another reuse of the NEST Bludgeon toy that had previously made the Generations GDO Megatron.

Now it's painfully obvious that Megatron with Doomshot and his opposite number Optimus Prime with Diac are due to be new versions of Blitzwing & Octane. Blitzwing, as mentioned above, has some serious issues with his most recent version, Octane's never been done in the Voyager scale the rest of the Triplechangers have been and 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.

But it is nice to see Megatron and Optimus facing off against each other at the same size again. T30 Megatron didn't have an Optimus, just Orion Pax, while in Combiner Wars Megatron was done only as a Leader and not a Voyager combiner core like Optimus Prime was. The lack of a Voyager Tank Megatron core is a major bugbear I have with CW: Surely Optimus should have an opposite number to face up against? Megatron would have leapt at he chance of powering up, a Megatron that becomes Galvatron in combined mode plays towards established fiction and the tank mould could have been milked for repaints not least giving the club a better toy to base their Bludgeon on which really doesn't work as an Onslaught repaint. Finally there's the lone Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime, though I suppose you could have him face off against the CW Megatron ..... Anyway it's good to have the two leaders out at the same time and in a form where a battle between them seems a contest.

That rather lengthy introduction, apologies, leads us to the Titans Return Voyager and his Titanmaster Doomshot. Now I have opinions about Megatron and Headmasters. Even back in 1988 when I made up my own Transformers stories I had Megatron & Optimus binary bonded with with Nebulons. But there's no way Megatron was letting anyone else into his head even then so I had him be a Targetmaster while Prime was a Headmaster. I can accept the Japanese cartoon version of Headmasters where the Headmaster was essentially a small version of the larger figure which used the larger figure to power up. Well the small Titanmaster robot's head look like Megatron and the the grey arms, head & lower legs work for Megatron, but there's a bit too much red, chest & upper legs, and all the other detailing, especially the hint of a jet nose on the chest, says Blitzwing. The larger robot's Megatron face however is superb, oh to have that face mounted on Galvatron's Titanmaster Nucleon, a superb mini Megatron, in this set!

He comes in robot mode in his box with two pieces of weaponry which well come onto later. I'll cycle through the two alternate modes before returning to the robot. The Transformations were a little tricky to figure out the first time but once you know what's what and what you should do when it's reasonably easy. Unlike Titans Return Voyager Optimus Prime .....

Remove the Titanmaster and weapons. Fold the arms to the sides, with the peg holes in the hands facing forward. Open the doors on the rear of the legs. Fold the feet back into it, exposing the jet engines on the heels, then fold the knee & upper legs in, closing the doors, bringing the legs together and tabbing the inside of the top of the lower legs into the waist & hips.

A brief diversion: most of the real issues I have with this toy come from this step. I think that ideally the legs should be folded in together and for that the leg doors need to be open at the same time. The hinges for the doors are on the inner side of the leg and, due to moulded detail, both doors can't be opened at once. Stick the hinges on the outside of each leg and they could simplifying the process which would also let you open them fully later and fold the feet in, which you've inevitably forgotten to do! As an additional issue one of my doors refused to close properly the first few times I transformed it which looked a little wrong, especially as this locked together leg pieces stay the same in both vehicle modes.

Fold the jet tail fins down so they point down out the bottom of the leg. Fold the outer side of the upper arm on top of the inner side of the upper arm so the tank tread piece faces front. Rotate the arm in 90° at the bicep so the second tank tread piece on that, which extends under the elbow, lines up. Fold the outer side of the lower arm down 180°, covering the hands, so that the third & final tank tread piece lines up. Fold the arm/tank tread up at the shoulder, all the way it can go. There's a second hinge at the shoulder, effectively in the arm pit, and you need to fold the entire arm, tank tread and outer side of the shoulder down there. The tank tread folds along the side of the body & legs with the hand meeting a 5mm peg on the side of the tail fin's base and the tail fins recessing into the moulding on the front of the tread. Fold the outer portion of each wing in 180°, so it's against the middle portion, and then fold the middle portion down so it's at a 90° to the thin inner portion so the form the rear of the tank side. Fold the turret forward into position. The black gun fits over the short stubby tank gun barrel, with the gun barrel's sight tabbing into the black gun. They grey gun can then peg into the top of the rear of the black gun or directly into it's barrel, giving the tank a very long gun barrel. Lift up the orange cover to sit Doomshot in the turret or seat him in the chair of the grey gun.

A little long and a bit complicated. I liked the origami arms, arms are usually solid units on Transformer toys. The resulting tank is surprisingly sold when everything is transformed right and massaged into place.

We can go no further, It's time for Phil Transformer Tank Test!

1)Does the turret turn?
YES, full 360° rotation.
2) Does the gun barrel raise?
NO! It looks like the stubby gun barrel should raise but doesn't. Even if it did it would run into problems raising with the add on weapons attached and might not be able to hold up under the weight so I can see why they made that decision here.
So a 50% score here today.
While we're at it with the gun barrel it's a little disappointing that the grey gun doesn't peg directly into the tank barrel. Reconfiguring the back of the grey gun so it had a 5mm peg hole through the round projection on the back, rather than a 5mm peg which I haven't used yet while playing with the toy, would have sorted that one out.

If you want to stick with the short gun barrel then both guns can be pegged into holes on the sides of the tank, the reverse of the hands' peg holes. Unfortunately the lack of peg holes on the side of the grey gun with a seat mean that Doomshot can't sit in it, unless he wants to be sideways, so he either has to stand on the footpegs on the rear of the vehicle or sit in the turret. The turret doesn't afford Doomshot with much protection: Most Titans Return toys have a fully covered compartment for the Titanmaster, here there's just a clear orange screen in front of him instead of some armour.

Second Transformation: straighten the tank barrel and remove the extra weapons & Titanmaster. Fold the wings out to the side straight. Unpeg the front half of the tank treads and bend back at the arm's elbow so that the hole on the side meets the peg sticking out the rear of the tank sides. Turn the tank onto it's turret & roof. Raise the tail fins up so they, and the side tail wings, point up. Fold the robot chest back. Pull the entire shoulder assemble, including a thin inner panel down the side of the body, away from the body and swing down & back 180° then tab into the side of the legs under the tail fins making sure the tinsy tab on the tail fin meets the corresponding hole. Fold down the side tail wings. Fold the turret back out the way at an angle and swing the jet nose forward 180°. Turn the turret so it faces out under the jet and position on the underside of the jet. Fold the robot chest closed in the gap between nose & rear. Fold the canopy & top of the nose up to unfold the tip of the nose. Seat Doomshot in the cockpit and close it. Peg the weapons in: the robot hands on the side of each engine will give you the classics Decepticon "weapons under wings" look but you can also use the turret or a newly revealed peg hole under the nose.

The resulting jet, which I'm told looks like a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 which in turn was Blitzwing's vehicle mode, is grey with red accents provided by plastic, paint and stickers. The stickers are annoying and after one day are already showing signs of wear on the wings though the Decepticon symbol on the nose looks to be attached better than some I've seen pictures of. There's just something about having a Decepticon jet toy that looks like a real life jet that you can finally have a pilot seated in, something I've wanted since I saw the original Decepticon jets, which I now know were missing their original Diaclone pilots. In addition to the cockpit there's footpegs so you can stand a pair of Titanmasters on the top of the jet.

The instructions and official images suggest the tank turret should be pointing forward to mount weapons on but I'm finding this raises the nose slightly and creates a slightly unstable plane mode which is supported by two moving and one moulded wheel on the top of the turret. The turret facing backwards levels the jet and makes it more stable.

Back to robot mode. Remove the Titanmaster and weapons. Fold the nose tip into the cockpit and close it. Fold the remainder of the nose back 180°, lifting the turret to accommodate it. Raise the turret up to cover the jet cockpit. Untab the wing assembly and swing down 180° tabbing back into the shoulder joint. Fold the chest up into place making sure the small tab sticking out the front of each shoulder is inside the chest cavity. Open the doors on the rear of the jet and fold the upper leg out, tabbing the knee into place. Fold the feet out and close the doors on the back of what is now the legs. Fold the small tail wings up against the tail fins and swing back to act as heel spurs. Fold the tank treads out down the side of the robot. Move the shoulder joint back up and into position. Fold the lower third of the tank treads up 180° so they are alongside the middle third to form the lower arm which is then rotated out to the side 90° at the bicep. Fold the upper third out to the side to form the shoulder. Fold the Titanmaster up and attach as Megatron's head. Fit the grey gun under the rear of the the black gun and peg onto his right forearm.

We've seen a grey Tank Megatron recently in his Combiner Wars version and this looks very similar to that albeit shrunk down. The proportions have been tweaked a bit, this one feels wider in relation to his height which is a good thing as the CW Leader was a little tall & lanky. The usual accents are there, black and red. Actually there's quite a lot of red, painted on his knees & his chest and moulded in his elbows & the tank mode wheels which are visible in the bis of tread hanging off his arms. Like all Titans Return Voyagers he has a special feature to supplement the size of the head: lift his chest and hit the trigger there to raise moulded missile banks either side of the head.

Articulation: Knees bend, thigh swivel, universal joint hips, which are a little loose to the sides, no waist but a ball; jointed head thanks to the Titanmaster, shoulders that turn, fold up to the sides and, thanks to that bottom joint on the shoulder, can be bent so the arm folds straight across the chest. Bicep swivels and a bending elbow complete the arm. No wrist swivel either.

The 5mm hole on the side of the arm is important: It's main use is to take the black gun, which is shaped like the middle & front of the original Megatron Fusion Cannon. They've done a good job with that but it's a little let down by the grey gun forming the rear and it's seat. I would have moulded both in black, not grey. Even the black Fusion Cannon part is actually grey with black paint covering all but the 5mm pegs on the side. I like my Fusion Cannon on top of the arm, especially if there's scope to remove it, so I could have done with a bellow the elbow swivel to move the 5mm peg hole on the side of his arm onto the top of the arm while still allowing the elbow to bend. There's a matching socket on his left arm but seeing as Megatron always has his fusion cannon on his right arm (our left) I can't see it getting much use. With the weapons separated I suppose you could go for a Decepticon jet Warrior look with one on each hand. The weapons can also be hand held either separately or combined. In addition there's a 5mm peg hole either side of the rear of the head allowing you to mount the guns there but I think they're better used combined again and attached to the hole to our left/Megatron's right of the head as it then looks like Generation 2 Megatron's shoulder mounted Fusion Cannon.

I'm liking this toy a lot, far more than I thought I would. Properly transformed all three modes are solid. The different combinations of guns and where you mount them adds to the playability of the toy for me and of the box of Wave 4 toys I received Monday, all three Legends, both Voyagers and the Leader, It's Megatron that's really held my attention. It's a good Megatron, better than the CW Leader version I think, and a good toy.

Megatron is a Titans Return Wave 3 Voyager toy released in December 2016 and paired with a Voyager version of Optimus Prime.

Titans Return Blitzwing

If the design wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings reveal a Voyager Blitzwing, alongside a n Octane who's presumably a Voyager Optimus repaint, probably in Titans Return Wave 5 due circa May 2017.

Future Repaints

From Megatron G2 Green and Archforce purple would make good repaints.

Blitzwing has a "differently coloured" Platinum version, which has more than a passing resemblance to Flywheels, who many expected to be done as a repaint of the previous Generations Voyager Blitzwing.