Monday, March 28, 2016

Pretender Bugly

Picture from
I originally purchased Bugly last year, but I haven't talked about him due to worry that I had dominated last year with a lot of Pretenders.  You know, for a sub-line that claim to love, I seem to be in need of quite a few of them.  Bugly represents a bit of a transition point for me with Pretenders; I'm at the point where all that's left to get are the ones that aren't cheap.  Thankfully, I didn't have to pay a ton for him.  Not because I don't like him, but because he usually isn't cheap.
Photo from
This is my only real recollection of Bugly as a kid.  I remember him vaguely from the catalog, but this is what sticks in my mind: the old product (Skywarp) getting the best of the new product (Bugly) before the new product wins out.  What really got to me was Skywarp using the word "nor", which is something I had never encountered outside of English classes.  It just hit my hear wrong.  It certainly isn't something that a robot from another planet would say, I'm assuming.
Did you know that Bugly is a practitioner of the deadly art of Circuit-Su?  Did you know that there was more to Cybertronian martial arts than Metallikato?  I sure as hell didn't.  Circuit-Su apparently deals with the mind.  I guess that's how Bugly was able to predict where Skywarp would teleport to next in the above issue.  Neat.  At any rate, Bugly certainly has one of the better looking shells.  I love how pointy it is.  Yes, Iguanus has a lot of points on his shell, but I think the colors and wings just make Bugly stand out more.  Sadly, with a great price come a couple of blemishes.  There is a nick on the paint on Bugly's mandible, but I can live with that.

  There is also to the standard bit of spotting on the shell, this time on Bugly's wings.  It isn't as bad as I initially feared, but it's still present.  I wish there was a way to remove that stuff.  The antennae, I think, are what really make Bugly pop to me.  There's movable, so they can be in a variety of positions.  I prefer the down position, but I may put them up from time to time.
When I took these picture, back in freaking December, I didn't realize that I forgot to take a standard picture of Bugly's robot mode.  I have this close-up of his torso, so we'll make it work.  Bugly has one of the better Pretender inner robots.  The colors are very complementary and work well together.  Lavender and purple look nice next to each other, no?  There could be some color on the eyes, but I'm not complaining.  I've decided to leave the jet fins up while in robot mode to give Bugly a deadlier edge.
There really isn't anything to say about Bugly's jet mode.  It literally looks like every other Pretender transformation ever.  And I mean ever.  Still, the colors are nice. 
Finally, a shot of Bugly standing next to his shell.  While I was writing this, I purchased two more Pretenders.  Couple those with what I have in the pipeline, this may very well turn into the Year of the Pretender!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Triple Takeover Part II - Plastic Toe Sandstorm

Image from
Let's get this out of the way: Sandstorm is my favorite Triple Changer.  Ever.  There, I feel much better now that I have that off my chest.  My love of Sandstorm can be traced all the way back to Christmas of 1986 when I received him under the Christmas tree. 
He's behind Matt Trakker's Thunderhawk
I still own that Sandstorm, and he's still complete to boot!  The only issue is that time has not been kind to his legs as they will not stay locked in robot mode, giving him a bit of a lopsided walk, even with the 20 year old masking tape on the legs.  Also, there's old, decayed rubber band on the gun and it will not come off.  Seeing as how I still have so many figures left to get, it may be a bit off to buy another instance of a figure that I already own, but I just felt the need to get a better version.
Image from
One of the reasons that I love Sandstorm so much is that I was always puzzled by his personality.  His tech spec bio mentioned that he loved the heat of battle so much that he could count the rivets on the Decepticons that he was fighting.  Surely Sandstorm is a warrior of great standing.  Then again, on the third season of the show, he was a freaking pacifist.  A pacifist that would pal around with a Decepticon deserter.  They...they tried a few different things that season, and not all of them made sense.  However, this dichotomy of personalities with Sandstorm stuck in my head for a long time as a kid, and the more I thought about, the more I grew to really appreciate the character.  Eventually, I reached the age where I could care less about discrepancies between the show and the figure's bio, especially once I discovered the comic. 
If I had never watched the show, Sandstorm would still be my favorite Triple Changer of all time, especially when compared to the rest of the Triple Changers.  Most especially when compared to the Autobot Triple Changers.  Those guys are hideous.  Look at Sandstorm's dune buggy and then look at Springer's car mode:
God that thing is ugly.  Springer doesn't even look like a wheeled vehicle.  Disgusting.  Most of the helicopter mode kibble is hidden in Sandstorm's dune buggy mode, with the exception of the rear propeller. 
Helicopter is my favorite of the three modes.  I've always been fascinated by helicopters since childhood, and Sandstorm's is a thing of beauty.  I didn't know what kind of helicopter this was when I was a kid, but it looked like it could carry a lot of personnel or cargo.  It turns out that this is a Sikorsky S-62 amphibious transport chopper.  Looks like I was correct in that assumption.  When looking at this mode, I immediately want to start spinning the rotor and make chopper noises, you know the sounds I'm talking about.  Seriously, this is my favorite helicopter mode in all of the Transformers.
There are two versions of Sandstorm out there - metal toe and plastic toe.  Like every other figure in 1986, the metal version was released first and then a running change introduced a plastic version.  My childhood version is a plastic version.  I really wanted to find a metal toe version, but I never could find one that met the criteria that I was looking for.  When one pops up, I'll snatch it up.

In my mind, I had always associated Sandstorm with surf culture.  The part of the chopper that folds up on Sandstorm's back always reminded me of a surfboard.  Couple that with the dune buggy, something that I assumed was used on the beach, and it just stuck.  Now that I've put that out there, I'd like for someone to use that in fiction.  I feel as though Sandstorm should be using surfer slang.
It took me 28 years, but I was able to get the band back together with the addition of Springer.  Thanks to a Sandstorm that can stand without looking like a pimp, I can take a group shot with pride.  Compare Sandstorm to the rest of his Autobot Triple Changer brethren and tell me that he isn't the best.  Is it a contest that he won by default?  Nah.  Sandstorm is just gorgeous. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cliffjumper - Red and Yellow

I spent way too much time trying to achieve this pose as a kid.  Pic from
Cliffjumper is one of those figures that I can't believe I didn't have in my collection until now.  Well, when I started dabbling with collecting G1 again, I did manage to snag the Cliffjumper key chain reissue that came out around 2004, but he was always just a placeholder.   He took a backseat since then as he fell down the chain of importance, but as I'm nearing the last 100 G1 figures I need to finish off the US run, I figured it was high time to get him - in both colors. 
Mustard and ketchup
That's right, Cliffjumper was released in two colors.  Only the red version seemed to be officially recognized, but the yellow was released on red card backs.  Confusing to me as a kid?  Sure, but I'm sure my mind would have been blown if knew about all of the colors available outside the US.  Perhaps one day I'll branch into minbot variants, but I kind of like my sanity at the moment.   
For the six of you out there that don't know, Cliffjumper transforms into a super deformed Penny Racer style Porsche.  I recall having a few Penny Racers as a kid and losing them almost immediately, usually under a couch or a drain.  I purchased these guys separately from two different sellers about a day apart.  I purchased the yellow version first since he was so cheap, and the next day a great red version came up.  The rubsign on ol' mustard paint is prety much gone, but for what I paid, I can't complain.
Red Cliffjumper is everyone's favorite, of course.  I think that this makes like the sixth one I've owned in my life, not counting the key chain version.  Bumblebee was always my Penny Racer styled figure, but I can understand Cliffjumper's appeal.  Especially considering the way Cliffjumper was portrayed in the show.  It didn't hurt that the immortal Casey Kasem voiced the little scamp.  It took me forever to find a Cliffjumper that had tight joints and tires that weren't cracked.  I had no idea it would be that hard.  When I wanted a blue-eared Cyclonus, it took me a day to find him.  Cliffjumper?  Try off and on for a year.  That's ridiculous.
As I mentioned earlier, the rubsign on the yellow Cliffjumper is shot.  The clear top of the sticker is completely removed.  Other than that, his joints are tight, and his tires are in great shape.  I'm very pleased with him.  This is only the second time I've owned a yellow Cliffjumper, the first coming to me in 1984.  I was seriously confused by the guy that was colored as Bumblebee, but was clearly Cliffjumper.  My explanation for that had something to do with Cliffjumper going undercover.  Look, I was 7, get off my back.  When Hubcap was released in 1986, I traded my yellow Cliffjumper for something else, a decision that I regret in retrospect.
Here they are together in robot mode.  As you can see, the only difference is the color in which they are molded.  There's a lesson in that for you youngsters.  There's a reason Cliffjumper survived the carnage that was The Transformers: The Movie to tell the tale, and it isn't solely because of Mr. Kasem. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Masterpiece MP-28 Hot Rod

About a week ago, I was delighted to learn that my MP-28 Hot Rod had been delivered to my UPS Store mailbox.  I spent the few days after I received him just playing with him, trying to get a feel for the figure.  I wanted to do something I hadn't done before - learn every little thing I could about the figure before I actually started talking about it.  Hot Rod is a great figure to start this little initiative with.
Straight out of the box, I was impressed by how sleek Hot Rod looked.  And how together he was!  I still have nightmare's of MP-09 and how fiddly he is.  I actually used MP-09 in a comparison shoot I did, but the pictures were horrible.  At any rate, while MP-09 is certainly bigger, he is worse in just about every imaginable way.  However, I do have an issue with clearance on MP-28.  Apparently, I have to hold my mouth just right during transformation sequence to get Hot Rod flush in vehicle mode where the underside parts like the knees and neck don't scrape the ground.  There haven't been any major blemishes, but it's a little concerning.
Something that I never paid attention to on my G1 Hot Rod is the spoiler.  Notice how the G1 model's spoiler is supported by two extra fins on the side?  Those fins are nonexistent on MP-28, and to be fair, they weren't on MP-09 either.  Masterpiece Hot Rod also has a much nicer shade of pink than Hot Rod's pure red.  I'm not 100% certain, but I've been told that the shade of pink used on MP-28 isn't exactly perfect.  This isn't something that keeps me up at night.  It's not like they made Hot Rod purple.
In keeping with tradition, Hot Rod is able to mount a rifle on his engine for an attack mode.  Unlike tradition, Masterpiece Hot Rod's engine cover flips up to reveal a port.  While I've never been a fan of the Masterpiece attack modes, I could certainly see myself using this one often.  Could it be because this is what the G1 toy had?  Most likely.  I am big on tradition. 
Certainly something that isn't traditional is the attack mode where both rifles can be mounted on the hood of the car.  Sacrilege!  This is a look that I can certainly get behind.   Now that we've covered car mode, how does Hot Rod fare in robot mode?
Transformation into robot mode is smooth and easy; certainly easier than MP-09.  I really need to purge the evilness that is MP-09 out of my head.  We will not hear about him again.  Now, back to MP-28.  I was very pleased with how Hot Rod looked in robot mode.  From early pictures online, he looked like he had a very square chest.  And yes, it is square, but it doesn't look as bad as initial photos had me believe. 
It is extremely satisfying to have a Hot Rod that I can pose without it falling over while I blink.  And one that has knees that actually work and allow him to stand.  And one that has the ability to hold his freaking weapons.  Sorry.  No more condemnations of MP-09, I promise.  Something that really impressed me with Hot Rod's transformation is the backpack.  It's a simple and intuitive scheme and it pegs really well. 
Good lord is MP-28 poseable.  I think he may be the most poseable Masterpiece figure so far.  This is a pose that I have tried with several Masterpiece figures over the years and I was never able to achieve.  More than likely, it has to do with my inadequate skills, but I also think that the hinge on the waist that allows for chest movement may have helped.  Hopefully, this will become a standard feature now, much like ankle tilts.
This is seriously one of my all time favorite poses.  I thought I created this pose early last year when I was playing around with the Robotech poseable figures from Toynami.  I...was incorrect in that assumption.  Whatever the case, I love this pose, and I really haven't been able to achieve it with the other Masterpiece figures.  Then again, I haven't really spent the time to work out the details with the Datsun or Lambo molds.  Something else about this picture is that it manages to give a nice look at the backpack that I love so much.  It's a little thicker than MP-09 (seriously, I'm done mentioning him), but it looks so great.  It doesn't look like this in the movie, or series, but sometimes compromises need to be made.
Ironhide, MP-27, came with so many accessories that I wondered if maybe I got a package that didn't get through QC correctly.  Hot Rod, Hot Rod doesn't have nearly the amount of accessories that Ironhide had, but that doesn't mean that they aren't as cool.  Every Hot Rod must have the digital readout goggles so they can shoot at a hole in a shuttle.  They don't show up well in this pic, but they are pretty nifty.  I really like the fact that all you have to do is lift up the top of his head and flip the goggles out.
My favorite accessory is the saw blade.  It's honking huge, and looks like it's constantly spinning.  Playing with the blade in front of a light made me notice that the blade is painted over clear plastic, and not molded in that silver color.  The effects that come from painting over the clear plastic are great.
Hot Rod and fishing are inextricably linked thanks to one scene in The Transformers: The Movie.  I am actually indifferent towards this accessory.  Had a fish been included, sure that would have been hilarious, but just a pole?  Meh.  I didn't bother taking the sitting and fishing pose as I'm sure everyone has seen that one.  
Man, do I love that saw...
Know who else is in my Top 10?
It seems like each new Masterpiece figure that gets released becomes my favorite.  Well, maybe with the exception of the Tracks mold.  I like it, but I didn't get super excited about him or Road Rage.  Hot Rod?  Man, he is nice.  He has certainly vaulted into my Top 10 Masterpiece figures.  He may be in my Top 5...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Decepticon Targetmasters have had a mystical aura for me over the last few years.  As a kid, they were always on the top of my list to get, but I never managed to snag any.  Once adult fueled nostalgia kicked in, Decepticon Targetmasters became expensive totems to me.  Yes, I wanted them, but I didn't want to really pay that much for them.  Finding one in great condition, sans yellowing or broken parts with an intact Nebulon is difficult enough.  Getting one without mortgaging the future is nigh impossible.  Then I had the heart attack and I started getting a different outlook on life.  The first purchase I made when I got home was Triggerhappy. 

As a kid, Triggerhappy always appealed to me in the catalog that came with every figure from that era.  Something about that space ship mode just stuck in my head.  I've read where others believe that he shares some aspects with an X-Wing fighter, but I don't really see it.  I really wish that Triggerhappy had been used as a Headmaster just so we could have the canopy open.  That is one sleek spaceship.
I want everyone to take a good look at Blowpipe when he's not in gun mode.  This will most likely be the last time he's in this mode.  While mine isn't cracked or showing super serious signs of stress, I want to make sure that he doesn't break.  For the life of me, I don't know why Hasbro decided on clips for the legs on the Decepticon weapons but went with pins for the Autobots.  Mr. Brr-Icy pointed out a mod that I can do to Blowpipe that will take the stress off the clips, and I may try that.  If I try it and it works, I'll spread the word, but I have no reason to not trust what I've been told.
This is how Blowpipe will remain until I try the mod.  Triggerhappy, well, he'll be swapping modes a lot.  Lighting proved to be problematic during this shoot.  My Triggerhappy is not nearly this color of cream.  I'm not sure what happened, but the whites look yellow here.  Perhaps I should switch back to white backgrounds.  Whatever the case, I did come out with a very nice Triggerhappy.
 Here's a closer shot of Blowpipe.  While I only have the one large Decepticon Targetmaster, I think I made a great decision in making him my first.  In my opinion, Blowpipe looks better than any of the Autobot Targetmaster Nebulons.  Blue and grey work well together in this instance.  I'm extremely happy with Blowpipe.
As lovely as Triggerhappy is in vehicle mode, I find his robot mode much more desirable.  Still, something seemed off when I transformed him into robot mode.  It took me awhile, but I was finally able to out my finger on it - Triggerhappy's head  I went to and figured out why my memories of this guy were incongruous with what I was holding in my hands.
Image from
 I should have known that the figures in the catalog rarely, if ever, completely resembled what we actually got.  Especially when the prototype is using a painted Blaster head.  Duh.
Triggerhappy seems to be full of surprises.  Not only did he feature some nice leg articulation, thanks to the transformation scheme, but Triggerhappy also has some nifty arm articualtion!  His arms move at the shoulder, plus at the elbow.  This is something that I'm not exactly familiar with in figures of this era.  If there was some head and waist articulation, I'd say he has ready for some dynamic posing!  Alas, that isn't to be, but that doesn't mean that Triggerhappy isn't a phenomenal figure.  That price, however, leaves so much to be desired.  Collectors that only get MISB must be forking out a small fortune for him.  That's one Decepticon Targetmaster down, and the rest to go!