Monday, June 30, 2014

Generations Swerve

I don't buy Legends class figures.  Seriously, I don't.  There just hasn't been any figure in that size that I've ever wanted.  Huffer came close, but I still passed.  Then Hasbro had to announce they were releasing Swerve in that size class.  What was more appealing was that he was going to be in all of his Nick Roche/ Alex Milne glory!  Oh happy day!  Swerve!  Seller of swill and quick of tongue!  Swerve!  Perpetual puller of practical joke!  Swerve!  Blurr's best friend!
Swerve transforms into a truck, which is reminiscent of his G1 version, minus the camper top on the bed.  It is a thing of beauty.  Just look at it while I load up the next picture.
Here is Swerve in all of his Roche/Milne glory.  Just take it in a moment.  I'll give you a shot of his face so we can appreciate just how detailed the sculpt is.
He's even smirking!  Just phenomenal.  It's so spectacular that it covers up a few deficiencies with the rest of the mold.  First, there's the head.  By now, I've come to expect at least some left to right articulation with the head.  What we instead get is a head that moves up and down.  It's ok, I suppose, but I'd rather have Swerve look left and right.

Swerve's legs are also kind of stationary.  I'm a little saddened by this.  His legs move at the knees and at the hips, but I was expecting some sort of twisting at the thighs like other figures.  Most of this is due to his transformation scheme, but I'm still a tad bummed about it. 
Like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee before him, Legends Swerve comes with a mini-con/ targetmaster weapon.  Swerve's partner is known as Flanker.  He's a jet.  Flanker looks like a stealth plane.
Out of the Legends figures that I have wrangled so far, Flanker is by far the best mini-con.  He's detailed and looks like a real robot.  Flanker reminds me of Strafe from the Technobots for some reason.
When Flanker transforms into his gun mode, he attaches to a port on the top of Swerve's truck mode.  I really dig Flanker's gun mode.  It's not a My First Blaster™, but it's nice.  I really wonder why Swerve didn't come with a My First Blaster™.  I bet someone annoys Hasbro about it at BotCon this year.
Here is Swerve, fully armed.  Flanker suits him well.  I still wish he had more movement in his legs; maybe some waist movement.  Overall, I'm really impressed with Swerve's sculpt.  It is certainly extremely detailed.  However, he isn't my favorite of the Legends released thus far.  My favorite?  That's coming up next.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Targetmaster Crosshairs
Awhile back, Brr-icy did a post about the large Autobot Targetmasters and it piqued my interest.  I already had Sureshot and Pointblank, but I did not own Crosshairs.  According to the TFWiki, everyone owns one.  The reason I never owned one, in fact, seemed to stem from this fact.  Looking on eBay, Crosshairs seemed to be one of the more ubiquitous Transformers.  Being so common, Crosshairs was always on the back-burner; sure I wanted him, but there were always more important figures to get.  Well, after reading Brr-icy's post, I decided to go ahead and complete my large Targetmasters.
The coolest thing Crosshairs ever did?
I'm not going to go into all of Crosshairs' fiction appearances, because there really aren't any.  He's popped up here and there, most notably in the Japanese Headmasters series, but I can't make myself sit through the first disc, let alone anything featuring the Targetmasters.  Maybe one day.  If you really want to know about what Crosshairs has done with his life, check out his TFWiki page
Crosshair's alt-mode is an off-road vehicle, maybe?  I'm not sure.  It's certainly Cybertronian.  The particular Crosshairs that I purchased had a scratch on the windshield, but he was super cheap.  Overall, the scratch doesn't really detract from my enjoyment of the vehicle more.  The big wheels give the sense that this thing would be fun to drive over a sand dune.  The back seems to give me the sense of a truck, for some reason.  Maybe it's an early version of the Warthog troop transport from Halo?  That would be cool.
Pinpointer is the name of the Nebulan that comes with Crosshairs.  He differs from from the partners of Sureshot and Pointblank in that there is an extra piece to unfold when transforming into gun mode.  He's more like Kup's partner, Recoil.  This makes Pinpointer larger in gun mode.
Once Pinpointer is transformed, he just plugs into the port on top of Crosshairs' vehicle mode.
Robot mode isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  The arms are a bit lanky and they lack the elbow joints like Pointblank and Sureshot, but I can overlook that.  The red and blue are really heroic looking colors.
Here is Crosshairs holding Pinpointer in gun mode.  I love the longer gun mode; it looks like an actual rifle now.  Very sharp.
Finally, a shot of all three large Targetmasters together.  Now, the only Autobot Targetmaster I need to get is Blurr.  Then I suppose I'll start on the Decepticons.

Monday, June 16, 2014

eHobby Anime Streak

As a kid, my favorite Transformer was a constant source of consternation, as I'm sure he was for everyone else.  Every day, I would play with Bluestreak, and he would look like nothing like either his box, or his cartoon version.  The version on the box, as we all know, is the infamous "Blue Bluestreak", while the cartoon featured a Bluestreak that was grey with a black hood.  My Bluestreak?  All silver.  Something wasn't right.  Thankfully, 18 years later, eHobby teamed up with Takara to correct this.  What we got was a version that was closer to the cartoon version.
We'll start with vehicle mode first, since that's how he came in the box.  Vehicle mode is what we've all come to expect from this mold.  The addition of the black to the hood really makes a difference.  It stands out.  Whereas Bluestreak was painted silver, Anime Streak doesn't not feature the silver paint.  To be honest, if the silver parts where there, I think that it would have clashed with the black.
Here's a comparison shot between Anime Streak and Bluestreak to drive home the differences in the paint applications.  And to show the shoddy condition of my Bluestreak. 
My Streak has a few issues.  As evidenced in the photo above, there are scuff marks of some kind on the rear windows.  This was a sealed specimen when I received him, so I think that this is just a Q/C issue.  Speaking of Q/C issues, I have a bit of a major one, in my opinion.  It's referenced a bit in the picture with the scuff marks, but here's a picture with a bit more detail.
The passenger (well, in the U.S., anyway) side door doesn't close.  There's something wrong with the hinge.  I'm sure it is probably an easy fix, but I'm afraid of ruining it more by attempting to fix it.
Here we have the two Streaks side by side.  The decals are the same for both releases, with the only difference being the "Fairlady" decal on Bluestreak's chest.  The black makes a difference.  As does the lack of paint on Anime Streak's face.
The red on his crest really stands out.  They look like they're glowing.
The great thing about Anime Streak?  The missile launchers that actually launch!  I can't even believe how happy that made me.  The missile launchers were swapped just so I could live out the fantasy of having a Japanese Bluestreak.  Man, it's nice.
A couple of scuff marks and a door that has too tight a hinge, I think I'm pretty happy with Anime Streak.  Now I need to decided if I'm going to break down and get Road Hauler or just dream about him.  Clamp Down is a no-brainier, and is easily available, but Road Hauler?  That dude is just ridiculously expensive for some reason.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Now, Masterpiece? Part II

What are we to do when TakaraTomy finishes whichever Decepticons that they plan on doing in the short term?  Surely they'll turn their attention back to the neglected Autobots of Season 1.  But I can't help but be a little pessimistic at our chances of getting everyone from the Ark Crew.  I know that there's a lot of speculation where it seems like a sure thing, but I'm not sure.  If TakaraTomy really were to complete the Ark Crew, wouldn't they have done Sunstreaker by now?  After all, there is already an agreement in place with the fine people at Lamborghini.  What's stopping them?
The wait is burning me up!
After giving this more thought that I probably should, I think that the reason we haven't seen figures like Jazz, Mirage, and Sunstreaker yet are pretty obvious.  If you think back to every single Masterpiece release since MP-10, and really since MP-01 with exactly 1 exception (Megatron), there has been one common denominator: repaints.  Repaints, repaints, and more repaints.  Just from MP-01, we got 6 different releases.  I can't imagine getting a Sleep Mode Sunstreaker.  Although, that would be pretty cool.  Take into account TakaraTomy's seeming aversion to acknowledging Diaclone paint schemes, I seriously doubt Sunstreaker ever sees the light of day.  Now, if TakaraTomy were to change course on Diaclone, then Sunstreaker makes sense.  There are quite a few variations on the Diaclone Sunstreaker mode out there: red, police car, and white, to name the ones I'm familiar with.
Same thing goes for Mirage.  As a matter of fact, I'm not aware of any Diaclone variations on Mirage.  Then again, I don't know a lot about Diaclone.  However, Mirage has always been one of my favorite G1 guys, and to not have a Mirage Masterpiece figure feels like a travesty.  It just needs to happen.  Now, I know what you may be thinking: what about Wheeljack?
Wheeljack has many more uses than just the one.  There's Malboor Wheeljack, the Decepticon version.  There's also Slicer.  Yes, the European exclusive Action Master.  So that's three versions right there.  I actually see Slicer being released next year as an exclusive.  This is one guy that TakaraTomy is going to get some mileage on.
Like, Wheeljack, I see Jazz having multiple uses.  Well, I see him having two uses: Jazz and Stepper.  Stepper is the most exciting proposition to me, if only for the Targetmaster accessory.  Can you imagine a Masterpiece-level Targetmaster?  I'm sure it won't be super articulated, but surely it would be more articulated than the Spike that came with MP-10.  I really want to see this. 

There is a Season 1 character that I actually see happening sooner than Jazz, if only because of the already built-in and easily identifiable reuse: Trailbreaker.
"Running to Shogo's house right now!"
Once Trailbreaker is out of the way, TakaraTomy is free to easily do a Hoist retool.  This will also add to the Season 2 cast, just as Sideswipe and Prowl/Bluestreak added to Season 2.  It's a no-brainier, right?
Same thing goes for Inferno/Grapple.  Having multiple applications just makes things easier for TakaraTomy to recoup money.  After all, if TakaraTomy can't make a profit, what's the point?  I'm not condemning them in any way.  It's just how business works.  Their continued profit enables future product.  Speaking of multiple uses, do you know who I actually think has a decent shot at being made before Sunstreaker?
Yes, Skids.  I know, his G1 incarnation...sucked.  Well, until James Roberts rehabbed him, of course.  Throw in the fact that he was never released as a single unit in Japan, and there are some definite obstacles to overcome.  However, with Crosscut being firmly established lately as his own character in the comics and with a Generations figure due out later this year, I see this as more of a possibility than Sunstreaker.  Then again, what do I know?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Here's a figure that I meant to cover awhile ago, but I completely forgot I had him!  Thankfully, I rediscovered the pictures on my memory card while I was doing some purging.  How could anyone forget that they own Roadbuster?  He's such a great figure.
I'll admit to a fair bit of trepidation before ordering this guy from eBay.  Thanks to the TFWiki, I was worried about making sure that every single piece was there.  When you think about it, this guy comes with a lot - five missiles, gun, all of the armor pieces, the little range finder.  That naturally means Roadbuster wasn't designed by Takara or Hasbro.  In fact, Roadbuster, like Whirl and Jetfire, was designed by Takatoku Toys and licensed to Hasbro.  Since Takatoku, and later Bandai who acquired Takatoku, was in direct competition to Takara, Roadbuster and friends never made it to the cartoon.  It's a shame, as I think Roadbuster would have been awesome.
Once I found a suitable looking Roadbuster, I had consider price.  Due to all of the little parts that come with Roadbuster, he can command a hefty tag.  Luckily, I found a seller with a good price on eBay that was willing to negotiate.  This was after I asked is he had every single little piece, of course.  The seller even threw in a couple of extra handles that were broken.  Why, I don't know.
I really like the vehicle mode.  It looks like it can traverse any terrain that it's presented.  The fact that it can only seat one person is funny. Then again, Roadbuster was originally a mech that was meant to be piloted, so I guess having one seat makes sense.  As you can see, the decals are shot on him.  Thank goodness Reprolabels is a place that exists.  Judging from the condition of the decals, there isn't one that's salvageable.
A couple of things stood out to me as I transformed Roadbuster for the first time.  The first was the transformation scheme with the legs.  I really thought that I had broken him, which would have not been very good.  Seriously, the legs just flopped about when I first tried.  Talk about frustration!
Second, the lack of articulation was surprising.  I don't know why I was expecting knee articulation, especially since I had gotten Whirl a couple of months before Roadbuster.  Still, for whatever reason, I was a bit disappointed.  Not that there's any real reason to be disappointed with a figure like this.  He's a very gorgeous figure.  The colors all go together beautifully.  The sorry state of the decals steal a bit of the focus, however.
Here's a shot of Roadbuster from behind.  Just look at all of the armor pieces that must be added to him.  Now I truly understand what the TFWiki was talking about when they mentioned all of the pieces.
Finally, here's a side view so the wheel covers can be seen a bit better.  Disgusting decals aside, I am really loving Roadbuster.  He's a fine addition to my collection.  If I'm counting correctly, this leaves me with just four figures from the 1985 releases left to get, and I still have 6 months!  Surely I can get this done.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What Now, Masterpiece? Part I

TakaraTomy recently announced that they would be focusing future Masterpiece output on the Decepticons.  This is good news, as we've been inundated with loads of Autobots over the past couple of years.  Yes, we had a retooled Starscream, Soundwave, Soundblaster, and the cassettes, but that's only one new mold for the big guys.  Since it's inception, the only Decepticons to be featured in the line are: Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Sunstorm, Megatron, Soundwave, Soundblaster, Rumble, Frenzy, Buzzsaw, Lazerbeak, Ravage, and Ratbat.  That's seven molds.  So, with this announcement, who can we expect to see?  I have a few ideas.

If one looks at what has been released thus far in the Masterpiece line, it's pretty much been a first-two-season-of-the-cartoon line.  There has been the odd third season figure like Ultra Magnus and Hot Rod, but those are pretty much outliers.  Hot Rod was, I believe, designed and released to coincide with the Welcome to 2010 initiative that TakaraTomy was doing to celebrate the third season.  At least, that's when he was announced.  Ultra Magnus is pretty much a heavily retooled MP-10. And of course, the initial Ultra Magnus was nothing more than a repainted MP-01.  Going by these guidelines, there aren't very many Decepticons to choose from, but I will go through those that I think we have the best chances of getting released.
The most obvious choice to me is Shockwave.  He's at perhaps the peak of his popularity now, which is no small feat for a figure that was released nearly 30 years ago.  Shockwave has featured prominently in the comics, and was even the main antagonist in the crossover from IDW comics.  The time is right for TakarTomy to strike.  Throw in the relatively recent release of Quakewave from FanToys, and all of the ingredients are there.  It's well known that both Hasbro and TakaraTomy are eager to steal focus back from the 3rd party companies after several high profile releases.  While Hasbro has nothing to do with concept, design, or release strategy with Masterpiece, designers from TakaraTomy must be under some pressure to out-do the unlicensed stuff out there.  Let's face it, Quakewave was universally praised.  So much so that I almost bought one.  Can TakaraTomy out-do FanToys?  I believe they can.
This is still a bit of a no-brainier, but less so that Shockwave.  Megatron has already been released in the line, albeit in a much-maligned incarnation.  Reports of tarnishing on the feet, instability, difficulty of transformation, and easy breakage have all contributed to Megatron being one of the most reviled figures in the Masterpiece line.  A do-over is certainly in order.  There's also the fact that Megatron is no longer in scale with the rest of the line.  Well, certainly with the Autobots.  He is in scale with the Decepticon releases, oddly enough; but he's still out of scale with MP-10.  It's...a conundrum. At any rate, ToyWorld pretty much destroyed the TakaraTomy Megatron with their release of the Hegemon figure.  By all accounts, it stands head and shoulders above Masterpiece Megatron.  TakaraTomy certainly needs to go back to the drawing board with this figure.
The Insecticons are a curious choice.  They are no doubt awesome.  Due to the size they'd have to be, I can almost certainly see these being released as a three pack.  Let's not forget that, according to the official scale guide from the series, the Insecticons pretty much stand at Megatron's knees.  Now that I think about it, Bumblebee is being released as a stand-alone with a ton of accessories including a new Spike in exo suit.  But what accessories could the Insecticons come with?  Energon cubes?  That is what came with the Takara Collection release.  Still, seeing the Insecticons release would be interesting just to see how many people buy.  The inclination, on my end at least, would be to buy at least two of each for the clone effect.  Would I be willing to shell out $79.99 each for multiples?  Maybe?  Only time will.
Hey, if you're going to go all 1986, there is no better 'bot to go with than Galvatron.  Who else is Rodimus Prime going to go toe-to-toe with?  Soundblaster?  Please.  Besides, everyone needs a Galavtron to menace Ultra Magnus with.  I actually think the odds of getting this guy within the next year are pretty great.  My only hope is that the gun mode is completely abandoned.
I nearly forgot about the Triple Changers!  Astrotrain is a definite must-have here.  More importantly, I want to see if the designers at TakaraTomy are up to the task of creating a highly detailed and articulated triple changing transformer without a bunch of kibble.  In my gut, I think that they are.  Besides, who wouldn't kill for a purple Astrotrain with that head sculpt?  Scale is of course going to be a huge concern with Astrotrain, but less so with Blitzwing.  After all, Astrotrain routinely transported all of his brethren in his shuttle mode but was routinely shown to be about the size of the Autobot cars while in robot mode.  I don't think TakaraTomy has the ability to make toys mass-shift.  If they do, they're in the wrong business and are losing a ton of money just from government contracts.  Maybe a bunch of sliding panels to make the space shuttle larger?  That has the potential to make for a very brittle figure.  I'm sure they'll find a happy medium.
The biggest want for me would have to be Masterpiece Devastator.  Do I think it will happen?  I don't really know.  I do know that it has to happen if TakaraTomy is really serious about putting a dent into all of the money flowing into 3rd party pockets.  There have been at least two 3rd party Devastators that I can think of: Hercules and Green Giant.  I believe that they've also been released in various colors (colours for my European readers) as well.  Designing the individual Constructicons should be easy.  The only problem that I can see is all of the extra parts for the figures.  It seems, and I could be wrong here, that a mandate of the Masterpiece line is to have as much as possible integrated into the figure.  Weapons are one thing, but necessary parts have always been built in and included in the transformation.  Partsforming is a thing of the past with this line.  So what to do with all of the pieces needed for combining into Devastator?  In the series, whenever the Constructicons merge, the parts are already there.  Take Scrapper as an example.  Whenever he forms Devastator's leg, the thigh is already there as part of the transformation.  I can see Hook having a built in head for Devastator, but I'm not sure about Bonecrusher having a built in forearm and fist.  Could this be why we haven't already been blessed with a TakaraTomy version?  The only other reason that I can think of would be problems with scale.  Robot scale shouldn't be much of a problem as I believe that they're roughly the size of the Autobot cars.  Vehicle mode could pose a bit of a problem, as construction vehicles are a fair bit larger than a car.  Who knows, maybe TakaraTomy will just surprise us.

I never really questioned why TakaraTomy went so Autobot heavy during this span of rapid releases.  There are just a ton of Autobots compared to Decepticons.  Besides, it makes sense from a business standpoint to go with the Autobots simply due to the number of repaints.  For all of the Autobot releases from 2011 though May of 2014, there have only been four new molds.  With two of those getting retooled into a total of seven releases with the eighth set to release this summer.  It just makes sense for TakaraTomy to get the most bang for their buck since tooling a new toy is expensive.  While figures for creating a mold are hard to come by, I can imagine it easily costing around $10,000 or more.  By going with what can be retooled and repainted, TakaraTomy can actually make a bit of profit.  Let's face it, with the exception of the Seekers, once a mold is made for a Decepticon, that's pretty much it.  Maybe a repaint of Astrotrain as the white Japanese version is possible, but I can't see other versions of Blitzwing or Shockwave, and certainly not Galvatron or Megatron.  Whichever way TakaraTomy decides to go with their Decepticon releases, I can't wait.  Bring it on, Takara, bring it on.

Monday, June 2, 2014

After I finished my review of Deep Cover, I ran through the figures that I had left in my queue and I somehow completely missed Reflector.  How in the world could I forget a figure (group?) like Reflector?  It's time to correct this grievous error.
Reflector has a weird history.  He was featured pretty prominently in the first season, up to "Autobot Spike" and then he just became a background character.  As an 8-year-old, I never really paid attention as to the reasons why.  I just knew that I could never find him in the store.  Then around 1985, I noticed that he was available, but as a mail away.  The cost was pretty minimal - two robot points and a cool $10.  I always had robot points, and I was able to save the $10, but my money generally went to figures I could buy in the store.  For some reason, I didn't trust ordering toys.  How things have changed.

In the series, all three robots that comprised Reflector all looked the same, with minor variations of the chest.  All three also had the same voice actor, Chris Latta.  Once I actually laid eyes upon the Reflector toy, I had no idea why the animators decided to have all three look alike.  Time?  Cheapness?  Both?  Whatever the reason, it's an odd decision.
Reflector did make some appearances in the comics, but he didn't do anything worthwhile.  Unless you can count being tricked by Wheelie as something incredible and memorable.  For the record, I don't.
Gotta love the 1970's look of the camera.
Here's Reflector's combined form.  Does that make him (them?) a gestalt?  It's a fairly good representation of a single lens reflex camera.  I'm not going to lie, I did walk around pretending like I took pictures with him.  Notice the hole in the flashcube?  A missile can be inserted there, for an attack mode.
You never know when you're gonna have to shoot your way out of a photo shoot.
I feel like I got a decent price on Reflector, but I'm still not too happy with the seller.  The seller assured me that all of the joints were tight, but in fact, Spectro had a loose left leg, which is common from my understanding.  Still, when I asked him to make sure that everything was tight, he kept saying that everything was fine.  After I alerted him to the loose leg, he did give me a partial refund, which I suppose makes things better.  I still would have liked to have gotten a 100% tight Reflector, however.
Since I'm complaining about the loose leg on Spectro, I'll start with him.  The looseness of the leg can't be seen in this picture, but in camera mode, it's prone to falling down very easily.  Color-wise, he's easily my favorite of the group.  The simple red and black just makes a statement. 
Next, we have Spyglass.  He's pretty much like Spectro.  His legs are the inverse of Spectro, with the black trim of the camera on the back of the legs.
Finally, we have Viewfinder, the defacto leader in my mind.  Thanks to the TFwiki, I learned about the gun configuration seen above.  Now he has a huge honking cannon.  In camera mode, you can actually see through the viewfinder, which is neat.  Viewfinder was actually the reason I bought this particular Reflector from the seller.  I looked at the detailed pictures of the arms to see how uniform the gray plastic was.  Swirls here generally denote a knockoff and I can't have that.

I don't have a lot to say about Reflector, other than I'm glad to have finally gotten over a bit of my K.O.-phobia with him.  If you can find him at a good price and the arms on Viewfinder look good, I'd say pull the trigger.