Monday, January 25, 2016


I think that it's high time that I start clearing out a bit of this vintage backlog that I've acquired!  Since mid-November, I think I've purchased around 20 G1 figures that I really need to talk about.  Some of these guys have been sitting on my hard drive for a very long time.  Of course, the heart attack and the holidays played in to a lot of that delay, but I think now is as good time as any to get the ball rolling.  We'll start with a character and figure that has always been very near and dear to my heart - Cloudburst.
Picture from
Cloudburst has always been a dear figure to me for different reasons, and a lot of it has to do with the cover above.  See, I started getting Marvel's Transformers comics around issue 35, the issue with the Throttlebots, but I could only get them when my parents would take me on base to the Exchange, or Aafes, the PX or whatever you want to call the store on a military base.  They all had a different name based on the branch, if I remember correctly.  At any rate, getting my Transformers books on a semi-regular basis wasn't really cutting it for me.  There were gaps in my collection, same for my Uncanny X-Men  and Daredevil runs.  At any rate, with issue 53, my family had relocated to Norfolk, VA (again), and I found a comic store near my house.  This was at a time when it seemed like there was a comic store on every corner, and I remember walking to this one, Trilogy Comics, on a near weekly basis to get my books.  There was a woman that worked there that I always thought was cool because she would use curse words while talking to 12-year-old me.  This cover would also introduce me to the fact that Jim Lee cannot draw robots.  I'm just not a fan.  I remember getting this issue and then reading it at a Sizzler Steak House while my family and I ate dinner.  Good times.

I know what you're thinking - if I had such fond memories of Cloudburst, why am I just now getting one?  Ah-ha!  You see, this is my second Cloudburst!  My first Cloudburst I inherited from my brother not long after issue 53 came out!  My brother got Cloudburst when I got Bomb-Burst while my parents shopped for stereo components.  Nice guy that he was, my younger brother had a habit of giving me his toys for birthday presents.  Voila!  Instant addition to the collection.  Fast forward twenty years, and all I had left was this:

Gah!  Cloudburst had lost a foot, and his shell.  Well, that isn't accurate, I still had the front half, plus the helmet.  Still, not very good looking.  It was time for an upgrade, but I couldn't bring myself to just buy the first one that I came across.  Or the second or third.  It turned out that I had a set of criteria that I wasn't even aware of while shopping for a replacement.  First, Cloudburst had to be complete (duh).  Second, he had to resemble what mine looked like when I last remember having him in my collection.  Ok, so that wasn't really a set of criteria, but that second one was important.
After looking on and off for a couple of years, I finally found a specimen that I felt was up to par.  Cloudburst is one of the more plentiful figures I've seen on the secondary market, so I really had my pick of the litter, so to speak.  There are a lot of very nice, complete Cloudbursts to be had for small prices, which made this quest difficult.  I had to stop myself many times from just pulling the trigger on a mint version, which I found to be hilarious.  At any rate, this version looks like the one I had, but with an added foot!  So far, so good.
Cloudburst transforms just as a I remembered him in Marvel's issues 52 and 53.  Minus the skids on the bottom, of course.  One thing that never made me completely happy with Pretenders was the fact that the shells were always so big.  I've always wanted to recreate the scene where Cloudburst placed Landmine and his shell in vehicle mode to find those microchips.

As nice as the inner robot is, what about the shell?  In short, the shell is exactly what I wanted.  For the most part, it's pretty flawless.  The stickers look great, but where this sample puts me in my happy place is the small details, especially on the sides of the shell.

Look at those glorious scratches!  The kid that owned this must've been clumsy!  Just like my brother was.  It's amazing how small details like that can really add to an experience. 

Finally, here's a shot of the inner robot standing with the shell, which is how Cloudburst will be displayed in my case.  Sweet Christmas, it's good to have this guy back.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Masterpiece Road Rage MP-26

Look!  The Diaclone Masterpiece parade continues!  This is also known as "Figures I've Passed On As e-Hobby Repaints And Now Have To Pay Through The Nose For Them Extravaganza!"  That's...that's a mouthful.  Let's just get on to some pictures, shall we?
I'm not going to lie here - I really wasn't too enthused about Road Rage.  It really shows in the lack of pictures I took with her.  There really isn't any particular reason for my lack of enthusiasm - well, maybe there is.  Road Rage was released in close proximity to Tracks, and I don't think I've really absorbed Tracks completely.  Sure, there are some differences between the two, namely the newly sculpted thighs, and head, but it seems like she was rushed out the door too quickly.  Stupid, I know, especially since the Datsuns were all released within a month of each other I was excited about them.  Or Sideswipe and Red Alert.  Maybe it's because I knew about their history, their place in the fiction.  Road Rage?  I know that she was an e-Hobby release that is based on a difficult to find Diaclone version and even more difficult to find European Milton Bradley Transformers version of Tracks.  So...not much.  Hell, I wouldn't even know that much if it weren't for people like Maz or the TFWiki.
What I'm getting at is this - with the limited knowledge that I have of the character, I can't be seduced by it.  That isn't a bad thing, necessarily, it's just a fact. 
Still, that car mode is sexy, isn't it?  I don't even like Corvettes, and I can't help but like this car mode.  I even hate the color red, and I think that this color looks better than Tracks' blue.  Does that make me a hypocrite?  Probably.  Geez, I was so numb to the experience that I didn't even bother with the flying car mode pics.  Suffice it to say that it looks like Tracks', only red.  With the addition of a gun on the bottom.
How is it that the knees on Road Rage are tighter than the ones Tracks has?  Not that my Tracks has super loose joints, but Road Rage's are almost too tight.  Maybe it has to do with the new thighs.  It's gotta be the thighs.  I really like the added whites on her.  The G1 representation was pretty much red and black with a touch of blue.
Picture from
The whites break things up a bit and make the figure brighter, which is a plus.  My eyes are constantly drawn to the white fists every time I look at Road Rage.
If the Masterpiece version of Road Rage swapped the whites for blacks, I'm not sure that she'd be as strong a figure as she is.  Although, I'm not overly fond of the blue under the Autobot sigil.  I mean, yes, the insignia wouldn't show up if the thing was red on red, but I think a different color would have been better. 
Road Rage comes with fewer accessories than Tracks, and I've seen some complaints on that, but she was available at a lower price point with the coin, which is a fair trade-off.  Again, I'm not huge on the extras, and I don't see the point of Twincast.  However, a flight stand would have been nice.  That is a very noticeable miss for TakaraTomy, and I'm a bit thrown off by that.  But the gun?  The gun almost makes up for that.  Almost.
The gun may look familiar to some of you.  It's the gun that Masterpiece Tracks should have come with.  Yeah, I know that the comically small blaster Tracks comes with is cartoon accurate, but when I think of Tracks, I think of that honking huge blaster.  At least Road Rage has it.  When I first attempted to position the gun in Road Rage's hands, I wasn't happy as it kept popping off.  Then I realized that there's a tab on the gun that slots into Road Rage's forearm.  If proper care is taken in placing the gun, it won't budge.  At all.
Man, those two Corvette's next to each other sure look nice, don't they?  Until I start thinking about the people that I have known in my life that have actually owned Corvettes.  So many mullets.  Of course, I'm sure things are different now...
Finally, a shot of Tracks and Road Rage back-to-back, sitcom style.  Overall, Road Rage is much better than I initially thought.  Just while typing this review, she has grown considerably in my opinion.  Think I'll go get her out of the case and giver her a whirl.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Masterpiece Clamp Down MP-14C

I've never claimed to be an expert on Diaclone; I'd go so far as to say that I know nothing about Diaclone.  That ignorance led to me passing on just about every E-Hobby Diaclone inspired reissue in the early part of this century.  In my impetuous early 20's, I saw them as a cheap cash grab by Takara and no real G1.  Yeah, I was a bit of an ass back then.  At any rate, once I learned all that there was to know about how these E-Hobby figures were really inspired by Diaclone decos - and I found out what Diaclone was - I felt like I needed to start tracking these guys down.  I haven't been too successful, because they have really gone up in value on the secondary market.  Thankfully, Takara has given us some of these characters in the Masterpiece line.  First, there was Tigertrack, then MP-18B Bluestreak, and now we have Clamp Down.  And Road Rage, but I'll get into her next week.
One of the first things that I do whenever I get a new Masterpiece figure is that I transform them into robot mode.  I almost instantly curse at myself when I do this because I then remember that I have to take pictures a day or so later.  Keeping the joints as tight as possible has become a priority for me over the last year, which means minimizing the amount of transformations.  There's a logic there that I can't explain, just go with me on this.  During the initial transformation, the light bar popped off.  It appears that mine wasn't glued on at the factory.
Gluing the bar on is certainly an option, but I think I'll leave it as it is.  Clamp Down certainly looks a little sleeker without it.
For some reason, having full knowledge that the E-Hobby Clamp Down was a repaint of Red Alert, I was still surprised to see that Masterpiece Clamp Down was a straight repaint of Red Alert.  I had just assumed that they would combine elements of Sideswipe's head with Red Alert's, like what was done for Tigertrack.  It feels like a bit of a miss.
For accessories, Clamp Down comes with a gun in Red Alert's colors, and the requisite shoulder cannon.  There are also slightly remolded pile drivers that I haven't even thought about using.  I like the extras, in theory, but I rarely ever use them.  They mostly just reside in a storage box.
See what I was talking about with the straight repaint?  The reds on Clamp Down are a little lighter, there is a different shade of blue on the legs, and the chest is obviously in a different deco.  Then again, they are both in law enforcement, so maybe they should share a common theme.  Aside from the whole Lamborghini thing.
Turns out that I didn't take any pictures of Clamp Down in car mode, save for the one with the missing light bar.  And a few others with the Lambo boys, but nothing with Clamp Down solo.  I'll finish things up with some fun pics, I suppose.  Before I wrap it all up, let me say that even with the missed opportunity of his head, I still feel like Clamp Down is a win.  I'm covering him before Road Rage because Clamp Down generated the most excitement in me.  He's a sure fire must have.
Cops and Robbers
On this episode of "Cops"
Dead or alive, you're coming with me
Corporate espionage doesn't pay
Lambo's just hanging out
All the colors of the Lambo rainbow...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Enter the Nightbird

Here's a figure that came out of nowhere.  Nightbird isn't someone that I really felt needed a figure, but I guess I was wrong.  I've run across countless fan drawn art on the Internet depicting Nightbird as Megatron's consort, so I guess Takara is giving those fans something that they're always wanted.  Even though I wasn't expecting Nightbird, I'm glad that she was released.
Nightbird is a redeco and retool of Legends Arcee.  I really like the paint job Takara did with her, especially in vehicle mode.  The colors are highly evocative of Psycho, from the GoBots.
I know that it isn't obvious on first blush, but the sleek lines and all of the black and silver just shout "Psycho!" to me. 
At any rate, the details with the paint applications are just fantastic.  The purple seats and yellow windshield are fantastic.  Yes, this is just a redeco of Arcee, but it looks incredible.  I really cannot get enough of those purple seats.
Nightbird comes with Arcee's full complement of weapons, plus two sais.  To be perfectly honest, I could care less about the swords and the guns.  They looked funny with Arcee, and I believe they'd look even worse with Nightbird.  The stock photos showed Nightbird with weapons that are solid gold in color, but the release version features translucent yellow.  I like the translucent yellow, but the solid gold looks better.
The sais fit on Nightbird's wrists when not in use, and it's a nice look.  I prefer keeping one on the wrist, and one in hand.  The only down side is that Nightbird cannot hold a sais upside down, or at least I couldn't get her to.  I really like it when figures can hold sharp instruments upside down in a stabbing motion - it looks better that way. 
I realized that Masterpiece Track's flight stand worked well with Nightbird, so I snapped a few pics, trying to get some nice action poses.  I failed. 
I've seen some tutorials online showing how to take off the backpack kibble, but I think that's unnecessary.  The constant tinkering of toys is a tad annoying. 
Takara really knocked it out of the park with Nightbird.  The purple of the waist and mouthpiece really stand out.  So does the yellow on her waist.  For my last CHUG purchase, I think I could do a lot worse than Nightbird.  I'm actually a bit sad that I'm giving up CHUGs, but I have my priorities. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Unite Warriors Devastator

Facing one's mortality can sometimes make a person act strangely.  Some may withdraw into themselves and become depressed, while others may become overly jubilant.  Or there could be a mixture of the two.  I was definitely a mixture of the two and the result of the jubilation is Unite Warriors Devastator.  About a month before my heart attack, I made a conscious decision to sell off my CHUG collection, with the exception of  a few figures that I really liked, and just focus on Masterpiece and G1 only.  This meant cancelling the preorder that I made for Takara's Devastator, which I did in earnest.  Then the heart attack happened.  During the euphoric, glad-to-be-alive phase that I was in, I reinstated the preorder on Devastator, which then came instock something like two hours later.  After waiting for the guy to show up, I was pleased with myself.
I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on each of the Constructicons.  The Hasbro versions have been out for quite some time, and I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the re-tooling that Takara did with each figure.  What I will do is give my impression of the individual figures and then go on to Devastator.

Hook was always my favorite Constructicon as a kid.  Then again, I also broke every Hook I touched back then.  The G1 version was just not built to hold up to rough play.  2015 Hook?  This guy is a dream.  He looks very close to the G1 animation model, and he features the articulation that my old toy never had.  Knees that bend!  Elbows that bend!  His head turns!  One thing that the G1 figure has over this newer version is the telescoping crane arm.  Small gripe, I know.
Up next - Long Haul!  Through the years, I've seen different interpretations with this guy in regards to size.  Since he's a dump truck, I never had a problem with him being the same size as the rest of his team, but he's apparently been upgraded to a mining dump truck because he's freaking huge now.  In robot mode, he's pretty stocky, but it's a look Long Haul wears well.  Looking at him, you can definitely tell that he forms Devastator's waist.
Even with the bulk, Long Haul is able to pull off some nice poses.  As a matter of fact, he's one of the two Constructicons to feature waist articulation.  And behold - walking pose!
As a kid, Bonecrusher was my favorite Constructicon.  The bulldozer mode just did so much for me back then.  I remember running him through dirt and Play-Doh and then having to spend a good deal of time cleaning him up every time I played with him.  This new version is quite possibly my favorite of the set, and I'm sure that nostalgia plays a pretty good sized role in that.  I really like the purple fists.
The ankle tilts and improved knee joints do wonders for Bonecrusher.  And I'm really liking the purple on the legs/treads.  I'm not 100% sold on the kibble hanging off the back, but overall, this is a great figure.
I was never fond of Scrapper, and I don't think I ever will be.  He looks cool, but he just always grated on me in the cartoons.
I love this pose, however.  Scrapper's been lifting weights.
Hey, it's that guy that shot Prowl on the shuttle!  Purple treads look so much better than black.  Also, that gun looks better than the missile pod or whatever Devastator's hand is supposed to turn into.  There's still something about Scavenger that doesn't sit too well with me, aesthetically.  After spending an inordinate amount of time staring at Scavenger, I still can't put my finger on it.  Is it the face?  The fact that he seems to be a literal translation from AutoCad straight to plastic?  I'm not sure, but the more I look at him, the less I like him.  Oh, well, on to other things. 
 My only quibble with Mixmaster is the drum on his back.  It is so honking huge.  But those elbows, though.  Who doesn't like elbows?  The ankle tilts are an amazing touch. 
Group Shot!
Ok, now that all of that is out of the way, let's get to Devastator.
I knew that he was going to be big, but I didn't realize just how big.  When I assembled this behemoth, I was taken aback by his size, and not just the height.  Devastator is bulky.  He's massive.  He's freaking imposing.  I didn't think he'd be so - so damn wide.
He's pretty poseable, to boot; certainly more than the other Combiner Wars guys.  Stability isn't even sacrificed for the added poseability.  I'd show that, but the pictures I took turned out horribly.
The eye gimmick pretty neat.  I had assumed that it would work like Metroplex's, but I find what Takara did much better.
Devastator's forehead flips up and the visor just folds into the forehead.
Once that is accomplished, simply push Devastator's forehead down and you now have a Devastator with two eyes!
I'm still trying to decide which look I prefer, but I am leaning towards the visor.
Do you know what I find amazing?  That people are spending money on 3rd party upgrade kits for this guy.  Is that really necessary?  Do people really think that Prowl's head looks better up there?  As far as I'm concerned, this is the perfect Devastator and the extra's aren't needed.  Not even to cover Mixmaster's foot.

Next up - Something new!