Monday, April 27, 2015

Deluxe Insecticon Chop Shop

Photo from
After a very extensive search, I have finally completed both my Deluxe Insecticons and the 1985 figures.  I don't know why it's been so difficult to find a good condition Chop Shop that wasn't going for an astronomical price, but it's taken a solid year of looking to get this guy.  Not only that, I managed to only pay $35 shipped for him, so I really can't complain about anything with this purchase.
Chop Shop transforms into a stag beetle, and he does a pretty good job of it.  As with the other Deluxe Insecticons, he is imported from the Takatoku line of Armored Insect Battalion Beetras figures.
Here's a closer look at the stag beetle mode.  As you can tell, the decals aren't in the best of shape, and I don't think I'm going to replace them.  I still have other figures to re-decal and I'm not really sure when I'll ever have time to do those figures.  No need to add to the pile.
Chop Shop has an odd robot mode.  The top half is fine, but his legs just look odd, what with the flaps on the sides.  However, I really like the face sculpt.  Looking at it, I get a sense of Darth Vader.  It most likely has to do with the mask over the mouth.  Yes, my particular figure happens to have a bit of a blemish on the white stripe on his chest, but again, for the price, I can't complain.
It's hard to tell in the photos, but Chop Shop comes with both a gun, and a trident.  The trident is extremely tiny.  This photo also manages to point out Chop Shop's limited articulation.  His arms move out to the sides as though he's attempting to become da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.  That is about the extent of articulation.  Well, his knees bend, but that's more for transformation than anything else.  Actually trying to any kind of pose with those legs is next to impossible.
Normally, I'd post a picture showing off all of my Deluxe Insecticons, but I was just too tired to do that, especially since I snap my photos at midnight or later.  Perhaps another day.  For now, here's another shot of Chop Shop's beetle mode.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Combiner Wars Bombshell

Funny what happens when you aren't looking for a figure: it generally just pops right into your life.  I had to make a stop at a store when I got off work one day to pick up some ink for my printer and I wandered over to the toy department and lo and behold!  Bombshell! 
Combiner Wars Bombshell is a spot on upgrade over his original incarnation.  I'm really impressed with his rhinoceros beetle mode.  It retains that old school look, but with modern flourishes.  Gone are the wheels and odd insect legs.  In their stead are actual legs!
Here's an overhead shot of Bombshell.  I'm still working on my black background photography, but I think I've gotten better with it.  I certainly like the results more than the white background.
Robot mode is where Bombshell stands out.  Waist and arm articulation are just outstanding on Bombshell.  He isn't as fiddly, if that makes sense, as Combiner Wars Powerglide and certainly much more sturdy than Tailgate/Windcharger.  The head cannon is at a much better proportion than the G1 version.
Bombshell's new found ability to pose allows for a Maz-styled running shot.  It also allows me to point out the cannons on Bombshell's knees.  Certainly, this is an Insecticon I wouldn't want to run into.  My only complaint with Bombshell is the lack of a hand-held weapon, but I can't really be too upset about that.  According to the TFWiki, Bombshell has a third mode.  Just what it is, I couldn't tell you, since it isn't included in the instructions.  Maybe one day intrepid scientists will discover this mysterious third mode, or I could Google it, but I'm a bit lazy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Masterpiece Star Saber

Ah, Star Saber.  Being a kid growing up in the U.S., I never heard of Star Saber until a couple of years ago thanks to the TFWiki.  God bless the wiki for teaching me so many things.  At any rate, I ran across Star Saber's entry while looking up Deathsaurus, who I remembered from his cameo appearance in the Dreamwave comics.  Looking up Deathsaurus led me down a rabbit hole of Japanese exclusive G1 figures.  Looking at the entry for the figure, I knew immediately that I had to have him.  I have yet to purchase him, however, for various reasons: price, completing the G1 U.S. run, etc.  Thankfully, Takara Tomy held a vote to commemorate the Transformers 30th Anniversary where people could vote on a significant figure to build in the Masterpiece and among those choices was Star Saber.  While I was unable to vote, I was happy that Star Saber was chosen.  If Star Saber had not won, I was really looking forward to a Fortress Maximus.  Man, that would have been an impressive figure.
The picture that made me drool
As soon as the pre-order went up, I was set.  As soon as he arrived, I shipped him from my pile of loot from BigBadToyStore.  As soon as he arrived, I opened the shipping box with excitement.  I did notice something a bit odd with my box, as the top of the box had two pieces of tape, but the bottom wasn't taped at all.  I could tell that the tape on the bottom hadn't been removed, it was never placed to begin with.  I opened the box from the bottom and went straight for the Saber figure since he was right there and ready to play with.  That's when my excitement began to ebb.
Yes, it's the two right hand picture.  Thankfully, after an email to the nice people at BBTS, I was able to ship just the Saber figure back to them with a prepaid shipping label and they fixed me up with a replacement.  I was able to keep the V-Star, swords, Brain of Courage, collector's coin, and all that jazz.  It took about a week, what with the shipping to them and then them shipping him back for all of this to go down, but the great people at BBTS communicated during the entire process and I wasn't really worried.  I know that there are a lot of TFSource fans out there, but I've been using BBTS since I got back into collecting with the Transformer Collection reissues over a decade ago.  Enough endorsement of a company that doesn't even compensate me. Let's get on to some pictures and details of the actual figure.  Be warned, I took close to seventy pictures to document Star Saber, and to get the best looking pics.  This will be a picture heavy post.
Since I started out discussing the defect with my Saber, we'll start with my replacement Saber figure.  Saber's jet mode is exquisite.  It really adheres to the original's aesthetic while adding some nice modern touches.  Again, I have no real point of reference since I don't own the original, but judging from the pictures on the TFWiki, there are some differences.  The landing gear are different colors, and the nosecone on the Masterpiece version appears to be longer and comes to more of a point.
The cockpit opens, allowing the Brain of Courage to pilot the craft.  I may be doing something wrong, as it always seems that I need to pinch the sides of the canopy to get it to open. 
Here's a bit of a closer shot showing the Brain of Courage in the cockpit.  Speaking of the Brain of Courage, this dude is small.
This is unfortunately as close as I could get to him to take a picture.  Any closer and my camera wouldn't focus.  Just know that he's small.
That small size allows him to fit neatly in Saber's chest, which will then push up Saber's face.
I really love Saber in robot mode.  He's much more proportioned than his G1 incarnation, which is to be expected.  He just has a dynamic look to him. Yes, the colors are a little primary, but they're pretty striking in their combination.  While the original only had a sword, known as the Saber Sword, that Star Saber could hold, the new Masterpiece version comes with a scaled-down version for Saber to wield.
The nosecone from Saber's jet mode attaches to his arm as a kind of arm shield, I suppose.  I'm reminded of Hun-Gurrr's (is that enough "r's"?  Too many?) shoulder shield.  Saber also comes with a rifle called the Saber Laser.  I'm sensing a theme here in regards to Saber's weapons.  My only wish for Saber is some waist articulation, but at the price-point and accessories that come with this guy, I can't really complain.
Here's the V-Star, the, uh, big part of the Star Saber jet.  I wound up much more impressed with this section than I thought I would.  There's a lot of die-cast in this thing, and not where you'd expect it.  The landing gears appear to be metal, the guns at the front are metal, and there's metal in the rear thrusters.  Add all of this up, and there's a fair amount of heft to it.  The landing gears are hidden under flaps in the feet and the panels that are on what turn out to be Star Saber's shoulders.
When you lift up the guns, there are missile pods located beneath.  I'm not sure if this is a feature on the original or not.  Still, it's a nice hidden feature. 
Saber and the V-Star combine to form a larger jet mode.  It's a fairly good looking form.  For some reason, the overall look reminds me of Gundam or Robotech.
Star Saber comes with a stand to display the combined form.  The stand is so much better than what comes with the Seekers.  It's small, does it's job, and has a dual purpose.
Transformation to combine Saber with the V-Star to make Star Saber is rather simple and straightforward.  The only drawback is removing Saber from the suit.  I have to use a lot of force to get him out, even while pushing the button on the back that should eject him.  More than likely, I'm doing something wrong.
 Star Saber is huge, taller than Masterpiece Ultra Magnus.  I love Star Saber's antennae.  While every other figure with antennae goes straight up, Star Saber's are angled.  They're gorgeous.  Star Saber is capable of holding the Saber Laser, but it looks rather small.  Really, when I think of Star Saber, I think sword anyway, so doubt the rifle will ever be used.
When not using any of Star Saber's weapons, they can be store on his back.  The instructions call for the Saber Laser to be stored with the barrel facing up, but I don't like it sticking out over his shoulder.  The blades for both swords store in Star Saber's back in hidden compartments.
Sorry for the bad angle, but the flaps that are positioned up are where the blades stow.
Star Saber's flight stand doubles as a shield.  The original didn't come with a shield, but it was featured in the Victory series.  I really like the shield.  One thing that I noticed while staging this admittedly lackluster pose is that Star Saber is able to bend forward at the abdomen.  That is a great feature that I wish other Masterpiece figures possessed.
There is an extra sword hilt that comes with Star Saber that makes it longer.  This allows Star Saber to hold the sword with both hands.
I think that I've said enough about Star Saber.  While there was a bit of a wait getting him, thanks to the Saber incident, but I think he was well work the wait.  The design is spot-on G1 goodness and very nearly quashes my desire for a G1 Star Saber.  Nearly.  I still want one.  I'm so very glad to finally have a version of Star Saber.  Now, if only that special package from Hong Kong would hurry up and get here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Here Comes MP Star Saber?

I had plans to review Masterpiece Star Saber in all of his glory, but a funny thing happened when I opened him:
My house is a mess

Can't tell what's up?  Let's look at a close-up:
Yup, two right hands.  Hopefully I'll get a replacement from BBTS soon.  Until then, I'll just enjoy the rest of him.  Actual review once my Saber figure gets replaced!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Combiner Wars Megatron Review

So there's a Leader Class Megatron out there and he's apparently a big deal.  Yes, he's large, being a Leader Class figure, but after viewing numerous pictures of him online, I was unconvinced that he'd be any good.  He just looked stiff.  Then again, Hasbro stock photography isn't known for being that great.  I've actually run into a few copies of this figure and passed him up multiple times, but I decided to take a chance on a $45 dollar figure just to see if I was wrong.
Out of the box, Megatron has a lot of mass; he feels much heavier than Leader Class Jetfire.  The sculpt is heavily reminiscent of the classic G1 look.  I do have a bit of an issue with the arm mounted cannon as it really limits the movement of Megatron's right arm.  Luckily, it can pivot a bit, allowing the arm to bend at the elbow.  Still, it's a bit of a letdown.  The tank treads on the back actually look better than anticipated. 
Megatron's cannon comes with a missile that launches a fairly good distance.  Range of motion was definitely a concern going in since every single stock photo made Megs look super stiff, but it isn't as bad as I thought.  He twists at the waist and his legs had have decent articulation.  I can't pull off a Maz-styled running pose with Megs, but he does what I need him to do - look menacing.
For some reason, Megatron comes with a rifle.  Megatron has a huge honking cannon on his arm, so he naturally needs a rifle too.  This will be the only time he sports it.  There are also decals to give him more of a G1 look and optional Autobot insignias if one felt the need to adhere to what's going on with the IDW books.  I've opted out of the decals entirely.
Since this isn't 1984 anymore, the days of a mass release Megatron transforming into a gun are long gone.  Tanks is the mode du jour these days.  I really, really like the tank mode.  To be honest, it's highly evocative of the No Limit Records tank logo from the 1990's, what with the silver finish.
The barrel is almost comically long in tank mode, but it still looks decent.  The turret itself is able to rotate a full 360 degree. The treads on the tank are rubber.  There are posts littered around this mode that I'm guessing are for the Armada Megatron redeco to use for Minicons.  I passed on the Armada version because, uh, that series just isn't for me.
The rifle that Megatron comes with breaks in two and can mount on the turret for added firepower.  It's a good look.
Finally, here's a shot of Legends Class Bombshell riding Megatron.  Until next time!