Friday, May 31, 2013

Encore Fortress Maximus Part Two

Welcome to part two of my Encore Fortress Maximus review.  If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

As I stated in my last post, the reason that Fort Max is a two part post is because of frustration.  Frustration not because of the figure, but because of photographing him with the original.  I'm not even going to do much of a review, just give you some of the horrible, horrible pictures that I took and try to erase the entire experience from my mind.  

Here's where the trouble started.  

Last year I built a very large light box using wood and white sheets.  While not perfect, it worked for when I did my post on the original Fortress Maximus,  When I tried to do the picture above, I just couldn't get it right.  I kept adding more and more lights, but it just always looked the same.  That is actually the best looking picture I could get even after adjusting it in Photoshop CS2.  It just looks...rough.

Anyway, as you can see, I haven't put the decals on Fort Max yet.  I'm still debating as to whether or not I should keep him out of the box.  There really aren't any differences between the two, other than the huge honking sword.  I knew it was big, but I didn't realize that it was essentially the size of Scorponok!

There was a small Q/C issue with my Encore Fort Max as shown below:

Can you notice the difference?  Besides the sparkly eyes, the rubsign on the Encore is crooked.  ZOMG!  Quick, someone call Tomy!  The sticker is a little crooked!  I want my money back!

Overall, I'm really pleased with Encore Fort Max.  He's a worthy addition to my collection.  And that sword is awesome.  Enjoy the few comparison pictures that turned out decently of Fort Max in city mode!

On the right - no yellowing!

And finally, here's a few pictures of just Encore Fort Max in city mode.

Next post, we get back on track with better photography!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Encore Fortress Maximus Part One

Box Scan from
 Before I start this review, I'd like to point a few things.  First, I'm working on a buffer system, so this post was actually written a couple of weeks before it was posted.  I'm trying to keep up a post per week schedule, so I'm writing everything in advance.  Second, the reason that Encore Fortress Maximus is a two part post is because of pure frustration.  I'll explain more in the second post.

Ah, Encore Fortress Maximus, how you have haunted my dreams.  As I've posted before, I already own my childhood Fortress Maximus and he's complete.  If I already owned a Fortress Maximus, why would I be so happy and excited to get the reissue?  In one word: sword.  Seriously that's the reason I preordered this guy the second the preorder went up.  On May 2nd, he arrived and I couldn't be happier.

Essentially what I'm going to do with this post, and the one after it, is compare and contrast the two releases.  This first post will cover Spike, Cerebros, Gasket, Grommet, and Cog.  With that out there, let's get started!

Thanks to some unknown quality control issues, Encore Fortress Maximus shipped opened and then resealed.  I'm not really sure what they were checking for, but everything seems to be in order.  Everything that is...except for Spike!  Cue mystery movie music!

Yes, there is something wrong with my Spike.  There actually seems to be something wrong with everyone's Spike, judging from what I've seen online.  Not everyone seems to be aware of it, but it's there.  The thighs of my Spike are assembled wrong.  At least both of mine are, so it's not too noticeable.  I've seen instances of just one thigh being placed on incorrectly which is really jarring.  Take a look:

Raise your hands if you're sure!

The original is on the right, Encore is on the left.  As you can see, the thighs on the Encore are facing the wrong way.  It's not a huge deal, but they're still not assembled correctly.  I thought it might affect transformation into Cerebros' head, but it doesn't.

Actually, the incorrectly assembled thighs give a straighter edge to the top of the head.  One could argue that in this mode, it's an improvement.

Again, original on the right, Encore on the left.  Can you spot the difference between the two?  If you said the sword is the difference, you're correct!  The Encore Cerebros is holding the smaller Master Sword.  

There is another tiny difference that isn't visible at this angle.  I'll show you another angle:

The gun on my original Cerebros has extensive chewing on it.  Ah, the joys of having a dog coupled with an eleven year old's desire to not pick up his toys.  There's one reason I'm happy to get the reissue.  Having parts that aren't chewed up is nice.

Up next is Gasket. Everything here seems to check out.  The wheels are all there, so there's that. I was a little worried because I've seen a few accounts online where people had gotten 2 left arms or 2 right arms.  Luckily this was not the case with me. Spike gets the privilege of riding on Cog's face as he drives down the highway.  I"m going to skip Grommet since there literally is nothing about him to say.

Encore Spike is winning!

As a final point, here is Cog, the combined form of Gasket and Grommet.

Encore Cog is on the left and the original is on the left.  As you can see, they're identical.  Well minus the decals.  I actually thought that the decals for Cog, and by extension Gasket and Grommet, would have been tampographed.

Tune in next week for part two, where I dig into any Q/C issues and play spot the differences between Fort Max and his Encore reissue.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Year Special Convoy

Box scan from Botch the Crab

I love social media.  The day after my birthday, I was tagged in a Facebook post about New Year Special Convoy.  It seemed that my local comic store had one for sale on consignment and someone I knew happened to see it and alerted me to it via Facebook.  Back in the day, this sort of thing would've never happened.

After I got the alert from Facebook, I traveled to my comic store since I had to pick up my comics for the week anyway. I really wasn't that intent on getting New Year Convoy, because I really didn't think I wanted another Optimus Prime.  However, the closer to the store I got, the more determined I was to get him!  I kept worrying that someone would swoop in and get him before I could get there.  Luckily, I live 5 minutes from the store, so it was a quick trip.  Still, the fear and nervousness were there.

As soon as I walked into FOS Comics, I noticed that one of my friends was working the counter.  If I remember correctly, the only words that came out of my mouth were "Where is he?"  Since I'm the Transformer guy in town, apparently, they knew of whom I spoke.  I was allowed to take it out of the case.  Beautiful.  I turned it over and found a ding on the back side of the box, nothing major, but it was there.  I looked at the price sticker, and it was about half of what it goes for on eBay.  Still, that ding bothered me.  I was curious as to whether or not I could haggle on the price.  I knew that the item was on consignment, but I wasn't sure how much wiggle room there was.  Turns out, there was a great deal of room to negotiate.  Awesome.  So I got a new addition to the collection for a fraction of the price it goes for.  And he was MISB!  He's not anymore, but he was at the time of purchase.

Now that the acquisition story is out of the way, let's talk about the figure itself.

It came wrapped in plastic

New Year Special Convoy was released in 2002 and was available at retail in Japan.  When I acquired this figure, I incorrectly thought that this was a JAFCON exclusive.  It turns out that the JAFCON exclusive was cast in black.

Without plastic

There have been a ton of reissues of Optimus Prime, so what makes this one so special?  Well, let's find out!

Out of box
So, the first thing you'll notice is the honking huge mousepad.  Just another reminder that this isn't a recent reissue.  When was the last time anyone used a mousepad?  You'll also notice that there's an Action Master Optimus Prime in the package and a matrix.  Apparently, this is the same matrix used in the Galvatron reissue a few years later.  Even better, this Optimus Prime comes with both the bloated and thinner versions of his rifle!  There's also a sheet of Autobot insignia stickers.

Another great thing about this Prime is that his eyes and windows are blue, harkening back to his animated self.

Blue eyes, blue chest, blue heart?

Here's the a closeup of the Original Prime so you can see what a difference the blue eyes and windows make.

I'm missing my original Prime's fists
Above, I assembled the New Year Convoy with the Takara Collection Convoy (middle), and my old original Prime that has been battle damaged thanks to TF:TM.  My original Prime has the slimmer gun, the Takara Collection reissue has the bloated gun, and the New Year Special is holding both.  I really don't have a preference for the guns.  They're both great looking guns. Below, they are in truck mode, minus the trailers.

What I loved most is the Action Master Prime that came in the set.  I've always loved the mold, and seeing it in cartoon accurate is very nice.  I know that not a lot of people like Action Masters, but the Optimus Prime one is just great looking.

As you can see, this Optimus has white smoke stacks, light blue windshields, his legs are white and his forearms are red.  His eyes are blue and the crest on top of his head is silver.  Here's a comparison shot of the new Action Master and the old one.

Standing next to each other, the differences really stand out.  While I understand the cartoon accuracy of the newer AM Prime, I wish it had the blue forearms.  Maybe I could swap them out?  Nah, that's a bad idea.

 Here's a shot of their backs.  Notice the coloring differences.  The back of the original is grey while the newer version has an all-red back.  
So that's New Year Special Convoy.  While I thought that he was just another Optimus Prime when I originally skipped out on him when he was first released, I was clearly wrong.  The tinted windows, the inclusion of both guns, and the Action Master make this the definitive Optimus Prime, in my eyes.  I really want to thank Daniel Hathcock for alerting me to this great item being at out LCS.  As a thank you, I'd like to direct you to his Kickstarter.  Also, I'd like to thank FOS Comics for being awesome.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Throttlebot Rollbar

Box scan from Botch the Crab

Rollbar is the last addition to my Throttlebot collection. He was ordered in a bulk purchase from one seller on eBay with whom I have a good relationship. When I got the package and dug through all of the packing peanuts, I couldn't find Rollbar! Instead, I found this guy:

Yes, he's a Throttlebot, but one I already owned. After a quick email to the seller , a Rollbar was sent out and he told me to just keep Freeway! Sweet. The one I've had since childhood has a huge "A" on the rear window in laundry marker, so this was a pleasant addition.

There really isn't anything that I want to say about Rollbar, other than I really like the desert vista on the windows. Rollbar, and most of the Throttlebots really, is just one of those characters and figures that are just...there. I'm not the biggest fan of the Throttlebots, but it's always good to complete a subgroup and add another figure to the collection. Enjoy the pics of Rollbar.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


There's nothing better than still owning a childhood Transformer.  It's not so great whenever said figure is missing some parts.  Or a lot of parts.  Splashdown is such a figure for me.  

I actually love this guy. Unfortunately when I was digging things out of my parents' attic, I could only find Splashdown, the shield, the red gun and Pretender shell belt.  The shell, helmet, large gun, and spear were all missing.  Time to hit eBay!  Everything was pretty easy to find with the exception of the spear.  It took me about six months of active looking to find that freaking thing, but I eventually found it.  I must say that completing this guy was very satisfying.  Enjoy the pics celebrating my completed Splashdown!