Friday, January 31, 2014

Monstructor Part IV - Birdbrain

We're at the halfway point!  Which better part of Monstructor to talk about than his midsection?

Birdbrain has the distinction of being the one Pretender Monster to appear in the Dreamwave comics.  He was in the Age of Wrath  mini-series that turned out to be a single issue.  According to his TFWiki profile, Birdbrain was a member of Ratbat's Ultracons.  This was surprising to me, as I don't remember this at all.  I mean, who show's Pretender Monsters any kind of love?  Other than that, Birdbrain was only ever featured in the Marvel issue "Rhythms of Darkness!" and all of those IDW issues where Monstructor showed up.  Like the rest of his team, there were no speaking lines.  Naturally.

Have you ever seen the movie Labyrinth?  Birdbrain's outer shell reminds me of a creature from that movie.  Maybe more of a creature from The Dark Crystal; definitely a Jim Henson creation.  I think it's just a stupendous design.  For some reason, I keep picturing Birdbrain waddling around chasing Jennifer Connelly and singing.  Maybe I have issues.  Or have a thing for Jennifer Connelly.

Obligatory junk in the trunk reference.
Birdbrain's torso accessory stores on the back of his shell.  I didn't think to look up his instructions before the photo shoot, so it's on incorrectly.  Don't worry, some Sharkticons showed up at my door and, uh, "showed" me the error of my ways.  It will never happen again.

Things go a little south when Birdbrain is separated from his outer shell.  He's, naturally, tiny.  Because of his alt mode, his arms are permanently bent.  The black and purple color scheme works really well.  Speaking of alt modes...

I have no idea what that is.  For some reason, I want to say it's a rhinoceros.  Birdbrain's box art suggests something more bird-like.  Wow.  His name is Birdbrain, so that should've clued me in.  I can be slow at times.  According to his TFWiki profile, he's an alce; something I've never heard of.  An alce is apparently some sort of wingless Griffin.  See, Transformers can teach our children new things.  I still say it's a rhino.

All that remains to be covered are the lower extremities and then we're on to the combined form of Monstructor!  Will the following posts continue to veer into oddball territory, or will I be able to pull it back together?  Check back next week to find out!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Thoughts Part 100

It "snowed" here in good ol' Alabama yesterday and they "snow" has basically frozen and I'm now surrounded by ice.  Seeing as how I've been playing with the kids outside, I haven't really had a chance to finish the article that I was working on, so I'll just post some random thoughts.  Why is it up to Part 100?  I can't remember where I left of with the last one and I'm too lazy to go back and look!

Masterpiece Wheeljack is a reality now that I've seen the prototype pics.  I'm loving him so far, even if others are thrown off by his chest.  I upgraded my preorder for the version with the coin and the anti-hypnosis device.  I am wondering if the wings will come off during transformation or if they're integrated into the car mode.  Either way, he looks great.  Now if only we can get a prototype of Bumblebee, Ultra Magnus and Star Saber...
As I was going to bed last night, I received an email from BigBadToyStore letting me know that they had just put up a preorder for an exclusive Masterpiece Bluestreak.  Before I even had a chance to react, I had preordered it.  There aren't even any details about it yet, but that's how much I love Bluestreak.  Hopefully it's the Diaclone colors. 

I can't find the wave that has Skids in it.  It's becoming a thing.  What makes me really ticked off is that I run a store!  Just two weeks ago, I ordered 12 cases of Generations figures to create a display, in the hopes that I would get Skids and the wave with Scoop.  The orders were cancelled by my warehouse, just as they've been doing since November.  I finally reached out to the big wigs at the Home Office to find out what the deal was, and they're blaming trouble at the ports where the ships come in.  This is not a good deal, man.  Not good.  I could just buy the entire wave from TFSource, but what's the point of that if I only want the one figure?  He's going for like $40 on eBay for some reason, so I'm apparently not the only one.  I'm hoping for a Takara United version like they're doing with Waspinator.  At least I don't seem to be the only person that's having this problem.
I've been really thinking about getting a Diaclone Fairlady Z.  I've been told that they go for $20,000 USD.  Is this true?  If so, that's insane.  Or is it insane that I think $3,000 is a fair price?  Why would I think $3,000 is a good price for a toy?  Have I been bitten?

I got a new light tent!  It's huge - 40 inches!  I can fit everything in there.  It even came with two lights that are brighter than the sun.  Since I have such a huge backlog of pics that I'm reviewing, look for those in a couple of months.  Speaking of which, I'm going to try to clear up the backlog by going to two posts a weeks, with the second post being on Fridays.  So, look for that starting this Friday.

Hey, if you want to talk Transformers, you can look me up on Facebook - I'm Alex Mendoza. 

Things have been busy here at the house, winter fun aside.  We're expecting baby number 4!  Here's how I announced it on Facebook:
That's it for this week!  Next week - back to regular articles!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monstructor Part III - Wildfly
So far I've covered Slog, Monstructor's chest, and Bristleback, who forms an arm.  Let's look at another arm - Wildfly.  This is actually my second Wildfly.  Since I bought the Pretender Monsters as a set, I wound up with a second one.  I've had 24 years to formulate a review on him, so we'll get started.

Like every other Pretender Monster, Wildfly hasn't done anything in fiction.  Here's the sumary:

"Rhythms of Darkness!"
He was apparently so much of a jerk that Icepick threatened to kill him in "Rhythms of Darkness!", so Wildfly has that to be proud of.  And then in the IDW comics, he was driven insane by Jhiaxus's machinations to create the first ever gestalt.  So yeah, these late in the line guys get all of the love.

Wildfly is red and yellow, which somehow works.  His gun is longer than his arms, which means that when his arms are posed straight down, the side with the gun is lifted up a tad.  The unique thing about Wildfly is that while the other limbs and Birdbrain are essentially based on two molds, Wildfly is not.  He's unique!

Looking at these pictures, I'm fairly certain that I have his legs transformed incorrectly.  No matter, it still works.

A vast, predatory bird

Flip up the bird face, push the legs up and fold the talons down and you have a...something.  It's a winged creature, that's for sure.  With tiny wings.

Judging by his profile art, I'd suggest that he's a demonic falcon, but what do I know?  All I know is that his tech spec doesn't say what his alt mode is and I've been thinking about it for over two decades. 

Just as Wildfly's alt mode is ill-defined, so is his Pretender shell.  It's a winged ghoul of some sort.  There is a downside to this newer figure that I didn't notice until after I had started taking pictures.  Wildfly's shell features numerous spots from degradation, I suppose.

If you'll click on each picture, the spots are really noticeable.  And all over.  I have no idea what caused them, but there you go.  It's a shame because I was actually thinking about flipping this Wildfly and keeping my original so that I might get a figure that I didn't currently own.  C'est la vie.

Up next, we'll look at Monstructor's torso - Birdbrain!  In the meantime, if you know what Wildfly transforms into, let me know.  Please.  I really want to know.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Can't We All Just Get Along?

As I'm writing this, I'm ending my mini-sabbatical.  Oh, you didn't know that I was on a sabbatical?  That's because I have figure reviews done until the beginning of March and the articles done until, well now, I suppose.  I just needed some time to recharge the batteries, so to speak.  In that time, I've been playing a lot of Lego Marvel Superheroes, and just kinda staying away.  I checked the blog to follow-up on any comments that anyone may have posted, but that was about it.  I just needed some time to reflect, I suppose; I didn't write anything during my time away, which I really need to since I still have a bunch of figures to get through.  Anyway, during this time a very interesting thing happened on one of the Facebook groups that I'm a member of and it brought me back in form the cold.

Pic courtesy of Abbie G.
This proved to be an extremely popular post on the Facebook group, and pretty much for the reasons that I'm sure those that read this blog are thinking - it's a female Transformer collector!  The comments were all over the place.  Some were commenting on her collection, others about the fact that she was a female collector and they couldn't get over that fact.  I found the premise of the picture amusing, but I was more intrigued by the ginormous collection behind her.  Which brings me to a point, and I'm sorry if this I stray while making my point, but bear with me.

I got intrigued by the comments from the above picture and it got me thinking about women in the Transformer fandom and in general "geek" culture.  I decided to contact Abbie on Facebook to ask her a few questions.  First off, she's had a lot of G1 figures as a kid, but started all over again about ten years ago.  During that time, she's amassed over 3000 figures!  That's something like 8 times the figures that I have!  No matter how you slice it, that's a hardcore collector.

When I asked her if she was expecting the reaction that she got, she told me that "Being in a male dominated world of transformers, it was apparent that it would happen - the pick up lines, the few side messagingI took no offense to any remarks, so no harm was done. So you can say I went in with an open mind."  That to me is disappointing.  Shouldn't anyone wanting to talk about Transformers or posting a picture be able to just do that without having to deal with that?  
My version of the pic.  My room is a mess
On that topic, Abbie felt that she's "had nothing but compliments and that feels great.  But...I know that day will come when I'll get some hate mail and I'm okay with that.  But to be completely honest, when I made my first post, I was nervous and thought I would get negative feed back right away. But it all worked out and that makes me a happy camper."  Which is good, and I'm glad that she's had a good experience.  She's also stated that "I have great conversations with other tf collectors. We can talk for hours on end and never get bored. Now I have had a small percentage of people to start out with tf talk then turn fast towards sexual talk. And then that's where I draw the line. They tend to forget we're in a tf page and assume we're in a dating site."  Why is there this expectation that just because she's a woman and into Transformers, that she wants to talk to other collectors about anything other than that?  Would these same guys approach another woman and start into sexual talk so quickly?  Or is it because a woman in into the same thing (Transformers, Masters Of the Universe, Star Wars, whatever) as the guy she's talking to, then she's fair game?

I talked about this with my best friend, Kelly, who has worked for DragonCon (yes, the infamous one) in Atlanta for the last few years doing publicity.  I figured that she would have some stories or insight into this.  One thing she told me was that from her experience, when guys at DragonCon see a woman that identifies as geeky, the assumption is that she's desperate and kinky.  Kelly related a story to me about the con last year when a guy about half her age was trying to get into her pants because of her geek tendencies.  Apparently, according to her, all social morays vanish and guys lose their filter when they're around geeky women.  I don't know if this is true or not since I'm not regularly around geeky women.

Which brings me to my point.  While a lot of the geek culture has gone mainstream to a point, the Transformers fandom is still pretty much on the fringes.  If I tell someone I'm into Star Wars or Star Trek or even Dr. Who, they'll want to have a three hour conversation about it.  I'm not into Dr. Who, just so you know.  Anyway, when I tell them that I'm really into Transformers, I usually get a stare and a derisive "you mean those robots that turn into cars?"  And since we're on the edges of the culture, should we really be alienating fellow collectors simply because they're a different gender?  A fandom is only strong unless everyone within that fandom is allowed to speak their opinions and add their point of view.  Giving a fellow fan unwanted advances simply because she posted a picture isn't the way to strengthen the fandom, only the way to weaken it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monstructor Part II - Bristleback
Welcome to Part II of my seven part series on Monstructor.  This time I'll be covering Bristleback, the other part of the GPS Pretender Monster duo.  There's so much gold plastic on this guy.  Without further ado, let's get on to Bristleback!

Bristleback, like the rest of his Pretender Monster brethren, has pretty much had zero presence as an individual in fiction.  I'm sure that there is fan fiction out there featuring Bristleback, but I'm staying away from it.  His only Marvel appearance was in "Rhythms of Darkness!" and I can't even remember if he had a speaking part!  He'd been featured in the IDW comics, but he still didn't speak.  However, at least he was shown as an individual.  Kind of.  His role in the IDW comics is to basically be there and then form Monstructor.
 Man, looking at Bristleback's box art, I can't help but feel a little gypped by the actual figure.  That monster mode is sweet looking.  Here's what the actual figure looks like.

Not awesome
Does anyone know what Bristleback is supposed to be?  If you do, please tell me.  Judging by the box art, I'd say some sort of winged wolf.  Judging by the figure, I'd say a flying pig with a fin on it's head.  Either way, he has an alt mode.  I just wish I knew what it was.

You know, I know that the Pretender Monsters are "small" Pretenders, but the other "small" Pretenders such as Bludgeon, Longtooth and the rest all have somewhere for their weapon to attach while in their alt mode.  It's a feature that I wish the Pretender Monsters had.

Want to know how brittle Bristleback is?  Even the TFWiki's picture of Bristleback is suffering from GPS!  As much as I tried, mine has a few side effect of GPS.  There are some cracks on the hind legs, right where the rivets are.  They appeared after I moved them too much.  Guess who's not getting touched ever again?

Bristleback has a very simple transformation, thank goodness.  The great thing about G1 figures that suffer from GPS is that they all feature the simplest transformations imaginable thanks to their being so late in the line.  Anywho, Bristleback is armed with an electrostatic pulse rifle and he can only hold it in an upright position.  His arms will only lower if he's not holding that gun, which was a surprise.

 Here we have Bristleback's monster shell.  It's kind of a turtle monster.  Actually, it's reminiscent of something from the Power Rangers or a Godzilla movie.  Bristleback is not in the shell.  For some reason, the seller packed Bristleback in his shell and I was desperate to get him out to inspect him.  Once out of the shell, there was no way he was going back in.  Like the rest of his crew, Bristleback's accoutrement can store on the back of the shell.  The fist becomes another cannon.

I will say that the person that designed this shell did a fairly remarkable job.  Bristleback's shell is perhaps my favorite of the Pretender Monsters.  It's just a great sculpt.  I can actually picture this thing crawling (well waddling) out of the ocean to kill me.

Rear View
I've read reports about these shells getting slimy over time, and I'm happy to report that I have yet to run into that issue with any of my Pretender Monster shells.  Although, I'm sure that eventually they'll get slimy.

Thus concludes our look into the Pretender Monster called Bristleback.  Join us next week at the same Trans-time on the same Trans-blog for continued coverage of the Pretender Monsters.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Holding Pattern

Ugh.  My purchases have effectively come to a stop.  The reason?  I'm waiting.  Waiting on a seller.  I'll explain.

In November, I walked into my local comic shop as I always do, to get my latest comics.  One thing to note is that there are only two customers at this store that buy any comic with a Transformer in it - me and some other guy that I don't know.  I have an idea who it might be, but I'm not sure.  At any rate, I've gotten into many a conversation with the shop owner about Transformers, that and I have a friend that works there so I've shown off my purchases there.  As such, I've become The Transformer Guy at the shop.  So in November, I walked into the shop, got my comics, and as I was leaving, the owner, Daniel, asked me if I ever bought Transformers.  I took a breath, and answered in the affirmative, and he began telling me about his friend.  This friend had just cleaned out his father's attic and came across his Transformers that had been in their original boxes since the late '80s.  Daniel wanted to know if I'd be interested in them.  Again, I had to take a deep breath, but this time it was to keep my composure.

I calmly told him that yes, yes I would, perhaps, be interested in purchasing some MIB figures.  Daniel told me that they were all "original Transformers from the first run", which is what people tell me when they're talking about G1 figures.  My initial question was about what year they were from and all Daniel could tell me was that they were all from the first run.  Could these be '84 figures?  Or could they be up to 1991?  Daniel couldn't answer, but told me that he'd have them in the shop soon.  I told him to let me know, and I'd be back to check them out.  Then, then I started to dream.
Dare I dream of this?
So here it is, the middle of January, and I still don't have anything to show for it.  Why is that?  Well apparently the seller has discovered his love of Transformers and has been playing with them.  I understand that.  Besides, it could help with the price.  Then again, it could hurt me with the price if he decides that he doesn't want to sell.  If he doesn't want to sell, then I understand.

There are a few other frustrations going on with this whole deal.  When I was originally approached about all of this, Daniel was pretty unaware that people would buy MIb or MISB figures.  This fostered hope that I would get some good deals.  I'm looking to fleece the guy, but I don't feel as though I should pay eBay prices either.  During my last visit to the shop, I tried to find out more about the figures.  Specifically, what figures this guy had.  Apparently, the seller doesn't even know what figures he has, which is troublesome.  If they're MIB, the names should be on the boxes.

"I dunno.  I think this is Jazz?"  TF Toy
Another potential deal killer - the seller wants to a number thrown at him.  This would be fine if I knew what this guy had, but I don't.  Then Daniel chimed in that he still had to see what they were worth.  This is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the whole deal.  To me, this means that they're going to check out eBay before they come up with a price.  Using eBay as a price guide is unreliable at best.

So, when all of these variables are factored in, why am I still in a holding pattern with the guy?  Why haven't I just packed it up and moved on?  Simple - I really want to see what this guy has to offer.  I want to be one of the guys that finds one of those lots at a great price with a lot of great pieces.  I want to have a G1 MIB figure with the insert.  I want a lot of things.  I want to make a splash.  More than anything, though, I really want to see what this guy has.  Could it be a cornucopia of 1984 figures?  Could I possibly find MIB Headmasters and Targetmasters?  Pretenders?  My mind is awash in the possibilities.  Hopefully, I'll find out soon what I can get my grubby little hands on.  Until then, I can't bring myself to purchase anything.  Why get something loose on eBay when I have the possibility of maybe getting one MIB?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mostructor Part I - Slog
Welcome to my first post that was influenced by what I read and see!  And as I stated towards the end of last year, the first three months' worth of posts would be dictated by my influences.  The decision to go ahead with Monstructor stems from flywheels doing his reviews on the Dinoforce figures, which are just recolors with different shells.  I've always wanted to get the rest of the Pretender Monsters, but I've just kept putting them off.  Reading flywheel's reviews gave me the push I needed to get off my duff.

Once I had the idea to complete the Pretender Monsters, I just kept an eye on eBay.  Generally, I'll find complete Monstructor's for closer to $350 or more, but I already owned a Wildfly, so I wasn't sure if getting a complete Monstructor would be necessary.  Then I started looking at prices for the individual figures.  Holy crikey!  Guess complete Monstructor it was going to be!  Besides, with the fact ol' Slog here is notorious for suffering from the ill effects of Gold Plastic Syndrome, I'd be getting a second one of him anyway.  You know, one to keep in Monstructor head form and the other to display in monster/robot mode.  Probably.  Enough of this.  Let's get to Slog.
 Here is Slog in his one fictional appearance in the Marvel comic, an issue titled "Rhythm of Darkness!".  Notice how he's still a short guy?  Then again, Jose Delbo didn't do Slog any favors with his art, but I digress.  "Rhythm of Darkness!" was just a plot device to get Galvatron to the present and took place in an alternate reality.  Which means that Slog wasn't even in the proper Transformer universe.  Does that make his appearance any less significant?  Was this appearance significant?

Slog has fared a lot better since those ignominious days at Marvel.  Slog has been featured quite a bit (some would say too much) as part of Monstructor in the IDW Transformer books.  I don't recall him having anything resembling a personality in the books, much less saying anything, but he's there.  Other than that, Slog hasn't gotten any recognition or favor from anyone.  

Like Arkvander, I had been toying around with the idea of using black backgrounds on my photos.  I got the inspiration from brr-icy.  His Flickr page is just chock full of beautiful portraits of Transformers and they're all on a gorgeous black background.  Turns out he's better at this than I am.  Figures.  Anyway, the Pretender Monsters will be the only shots I do on a black palette because I lack the time and let's face it, skill, to do black photos justice.

Above, you'll find Slog's Pretender shell.  I don't know what it's supposed to be.  A chibi demon?  No one seems to really be sure.  It is actually reminiscent of a Todd McFarlane design.  He'd be right at home with Clown in the Spawn comics.

Turn out the lights, it's time for Slog
As evidenced by the picture above, Slog's accessories peg neatly into his backpack.  I'm not so sure that I have the head on there correctly, but it works.  It's a nice feature.

"Why is everything upside down?"
When I got Slog, he was inside his shell and I had a helluva time getting him out.  I was super worried that the seller would ship him inside his shell, and he did.  Talk about frustrating.  I eventually got Slog to come out of his shell (hah!) without any breakage or too much cursing.  Slog will not be going back into his chibi demon shell.  Ever.

What is this?
If I didn't know what Slog's Pretender shell was supposed to be, I certainly don't know what the inner robot turns into.  It's a short boxy thing with long arms. 

This ill-defined, squat thing just demonstrates his real function - forming Monstructor's chest and head.  There really isn't anything to add about the monster mode, so we'll go into the robot mode.

I still can't get over how small this guy is.  Really, how small all of the Pretender Monsters are.  At least things are a little more defined in robot mode.  You can tell that he's actually a robot, so that's good.

There are a lot of pictures in this post, but flywheels suggested that I take lots a pictures as I probably won't ever touch these guys again due to the GPS issues.  And it was a good suggestion.  So far, Slog doesn't have any GPS breakage that I can see, but we all know what's going to eventually happen.  The clock is ticking it's slow tick of death.  If only there were a way to fix GPS.  Telethon, anyone?

So concludes the first chapter of my Pretender Monsters reviews.  Next up, Bristleback!  Huh, I just realized that I have a theme month going.  I'll think of a title later. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Goals for 2014

So, 2014 is now upon us.  That means that we're all just a little older.  Maybe a little wiser.  Well, I'm probably not any wiser.  I'm more contemplative, certainly.  With that in mind, I'd like to share some goals that I have set for myself for this new year.  These aren't resolutions, because resolutions don't seem to work.

Finish the 1985 Figures

This should be fairly straight forward.  I only have 10 figures left to get from this group: Roadbuster, Whirl, Barrage, Chop Shop, Ransack, Downshift, Overdrive, and the Powerdashers.  I could probably just cut out the Powerdashers and get the other 6 and be happy.  More on that in a bit.

Enjoy the Collection

I've been so busy over the past year trying to add to the collection that I haven't really had a lot of time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.  I've gotten quite a few (to me) figures this year, and I haven't really taken the time to, uh, play with them.  Perhaps "play" isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one.  What I've been doing is getting figures, transforming them a few times, and then they go into the displays never to be touched again.  It's sad.  Time to rectify that. get a little more child-like.

Like this dude.  Maybe better dressed.  Maybe.
If I'm to enjoy my collection more, that means there are some figures that will not be added to the collection.  There are really only a few figures that I've been dragging my feet on - the Powerdashers and the Mini Spies.  I just really have no desire to be anywhere near them.  Does that make me a bad collector?  I don't know and I don't really care.  It's my collection, and I want to have a collection that I like, so no Powerdashers and no Mini Spies.  Yay!

Get a Japanese Exclusive Figure

I've been circling this one for quite some time.  After seeing so many posts about Japanese figures, I've gotten the thirst for some Japanese exclusive figures.  The only thing that has kept me back has been the prices.  I actually tried to bid on the infamous Galaxy Shuttle  auction a few months ago, but I came to my senses before the auction hit new records of crazy. 

After the auction, I actually got extremely reticent about Japanese figures, as I don't want to spend the kids' college tuition on a few figures.  Doing my little favorite past time of making lists and weighing the pros and cons of a situation, I've decided which Japanese figures I really want: Star Saber, Dai Atlas, Overlord, Dezarus and Raiden.  The rest are nice, but these are what I'm really after.  If all goes according to plan (which it never does), I'll have one of these guys this year.  After I get these 5, I may set my sights on figures like Go-Shooter, Minerva, and Artfire.
Coming soon to my collection?  I hope so.

Become More Involved in the Fandom

This one is a little harder for me.  I'm kind of involved in a few Facebook groups, but nothing major.  I've had accounts on AllSpark and TFW2005 for over a decade now and I think I may have posted 4 times this year on each forum.  I need to fix this.  I've always just felt that it was a bit hard to join in on the conversations at these forums.  There is just so much history there that it's a bit daunting to me.  Perhaps if I had actually done more than lurk over the past decade, I wouldn't feel this way.  No matter, somehow, some way, I will be a presence on the boards.  Look for me.

Four goals for the year sounds simple enough, yes?  What about the rest of you?  Do any of you have any goals for the year?

Monday, January 6, 2014

MP-19 Smokescreen

MP-19 arrived at my house on the 20th, which was a shock.  I figured that with the high volume of packages that UPS had to deliver, he wouldn't show up until after Christmas.  Bully for me.  I've mentioned my love for Smokescreen before, and that extends to this release.
The Chin

Smokescreen, just like Bluestreak, is a re-deco of Prowl.  There has been some retooling of the mold.  The shoulders have been redone to have the tires on top to better emulate the look of the animation model.  The rear of the car has an added spoiler and, of course, the front end has been modified with a new bumper.  While Bluestreak was given a new waist, Smokescreen shares Prowl's. 

There are a few things that are very interesting with Smokescreen as compared to Prowl and Bluestreak.  The first thing that you'll notice is that Smokescreen has the animated cannons on his shoulders.  The cannons actually detach during transformation - which I'm not too big a fan of, but I understand.  Looking at the pictures online, I had thought that the cannons would simply go over the Prowl/Bluestreak styled cannons like the Japanese Amazon exclusive cannons.  That was an incorrect assumption.  Here's a little close-up of Smokescreen without his cannons.

As you can see, the original cannons have been removed and replaced with a tab.  Smokescreen's cannons just tab onto those.  Another interesting thing about Smokescreen is the head sculpt.  It truly adheres to his animated version.

The designers for this figure really knocked it out of the park.  They even went the extra mile with his rifle.  First I'll show you Bluestreak's rifle.

His rifle features a completely different design than Prowl and Bluestreak, just as in the cartoon. 

This is just a shot to show how poseable Smokescreen is

Let's take a look at Smokescreen in car mode.

I swear it's as though Takara just scaled up the original G1 figure.  It's breathtaking.

One thing that dawned on me while taking pictures is the lack of accessories that come with the figures nowadays.  Perhaps it has to do with the lower price points.  The reason I bring this up is that Smokescreen is a figure that could - and should - come with a few accessories.  First, there's the little cable that extends from his wrist so he can reprogram slot machines.  Second, there's the slot machine itself.  Really, when I think about Smokescreen, that's how I picture him - scamming slot machines.  I actually made a halfhearted effort to locate some sort of small scale slot machine to use for this shoot, but I was unable to.  Then again, I'm sure you figured that out when you noticed the lack of slot machine goodness in the pics.  When all is said and done, Smokescreen is still a great figure.  And now I have all of the Twisty Brothers®!  Take a look!

Stay tuned for the next entry to my collection!  For starting next week, I'll have over three months of reviews based solely on the influences of others!